RCIA update and a question for readers

While I’m gearing up for tomorrow’s kickoff of the new posting series (the topic is exploring the only religion I’ve ever wished I could join), I’ve been trying to do a bit of basic blogging housekeeping, and I have some questions for the readers.

Some time ago, a Catholic blogger who had stumbled upon this site shared her disappointment with her readers.  She was most put off by my Burden of Proof page, which I’ve since revamped (though I’ve buried a post containing the old version at this link, if anyone’s interested).  To her, I had come off as more interested in victory than truth.

The last line of her “Burden of Proof” is what made me wish I had never stumbled across this blog. “I’m in it to win it.” I’m not in it to learn something or anything to try to understand your point of view or your beliefs, I’m in it to prove I’m right and you’re wrong.

This blog, to me, is a great example of what secularism, humanism does at its core. It destroys our empathy. It makes us self-centered. It encourages our mania and destructive competition. It turns the world into a kill or be-killed arena.

I wasn’t able to have a dialogue with her, since my comments didn’t go through on her site, but it troubles me.  I do want Christians who come to the blog to not be too put off, since I want them to stick around long enough to ask me hard questions and possibly answer some as well.


Therefore, I’d like to throw to comment thread open to any suggestions for or problems with the blog that I should be mindful of.  Especially as I (hopefully) am approaching getting to share my thoughts with you on upcoming RCIA classes, I want to make sure I’m not offending by accident.  Thanks for your feedback!  I’m all ears.


Oh, and speaking of RCIA

The blogger I cited above was originally miffed, in part, because I’d changed the original tagline of the blog “An atheist tries RCIA” to the current line: “A geeky atheist picks fights with her Catholic boyfriend.”  Most of my atheists friends had never heard of RCIA so I wanted remove any confusion, but she thought I had been being disingenuous.

In fact, then, as now, I’m still waiting to hear if I’ll be allowed to attend classes at the local parish.  I would be interested in learning about Catholicism exactly as the Church likes to teach it (especially because it will lighten the load on my boyfriend, who I sometimes treat as The Idiot’s Guide to Catholicism). However, since, barring a miracle, I mean to jump ship at Advent (at Advent, students are asked to declare their intention to convert and enter the catechumenate), the priests want to be sure my presence won’t be an obstacle to the faith formation of real Catholics.  I’ll let you all know if I’m in when I hear back from them.

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  • Your critic from St. Monica's bridge is being a little unfair; if your empathy has been destroyed, or if you're ruled by a mania for destructive competition, it's not because of secularism. And a "kill-or-be-killed," smugly confident intellectual style is hardly unique to atheists.At the same time, she has a real point. This kind of argumentation just isn't what makes people religious. Despite the way some Catholics talk, religion first and foremost isn't a matter of theology. Theology's kind of an afterthought, icing on the religious cake. I have full confidence that the Christian religion can hold up to any dialectical challenges that are brought against it, and I have a great personal interest in intellectual questions of that nature. But if you were to ask me why I've continued in the faith, theological dialectics would have very little to do with it.And so this whole blog, on my view, has been rather missing the point. But it's not really your fault — the real reasons for faith are hardly the sort of thing that can be easily hashed out in a comment box. A confessional box, maybe.

  • Leah, as somebody who's taught philosophy (in both secular and Catholic institutions) and been an RCIA director, I offer a bit of advice. 1. Most parish RCIA programs lack leaders who can conduct a philosophical or even a theological debate respectably. Many of the leaders there are don't even adhere consistently to Church teaching. Chances are you'd be frustrated if you challenged them intellectually. For somebody like you, the best sort of inquiry into Catholicism would be with intellectually well-trained folk, such as the Dominicans or, if he's able, the priest who's "campus minister." The Dominicans do have a strong presence in New Haven. Check them out if you haven't already.2. As a Columbia student, I found myself eventually working my way back to Catholicism after a period of severe disillusionment with the Church. The process went like this: from agnosticism to theism, then from exploring various religions to focusing on Christianity, then settling back into Catholicism as opposed to Protestantism or Orthodoxy. I was never able to take Protestantism seriously: it struck me as reducing revealed religion to a matter of opinion. I took Orthodoxy much more seriously, but in the end I found its criteria for identifying what something called "the Church" teaches with divine authority to be too vague. In the absence of a strong center, too many questions are left open.I hope all this helps. You might also want to check out the Anscombe Society. (Yes, that Anscombe.) It's headquartered at Princeton and I believe has a Yale chapter.Best,MikeBest,Mike

  • I must say, I was pretty turned off by your Burden of Proof page as well, for different reasons. My concern was that you seemed to be willing to insist that your boyfriend (and by extension, it seemed, all religious people) come up with criterion for de-conversion, but that you were unwilling to come up with your own criteria for de-conversion from atheism (and by extension, it seemed, took atheism as a sort of default which needed no justification) and instead wanted to shift the onus outwards. That seemed like a very myopic approach to an issue which you claimed you wanted to be open about.I had the good fortune of reading a few of your posts first, though, so I stayed along and realized that you aren't nearly as bad as you sounded in your Burden of Proof post. I have spent a long time looking for an atheist blogger willing to (provisionally) see things from other points of view. I have time and again been disappointed. As it stands, I hope you are that blogger.Also, I do hope they let you into the RCIA course. It seems a bit anti-Biblical, let alone poor evangelism, to not allow you in it.

  • I can't speak for your parish, but you'd be welcomed with open arms into our RCIA program. We don't require a commitment from anyone at any time in order to attend. You would be more than welcome to continue to attend without making any declarations whatsoever.If you find resistance in a particular parish to you being in the RCIA program, I'd look for another. The Church is made of people and frankly some of them are idiots.

  • TheDudeDiogenes

    Pssh. I went to Catholic school K-undergrad. I double-majored in Philosophy and Theology at my Catholic university. Don't waste your time trying to understand the RCC's nonsense. Trust me, it's not worth your time. Not to mention, it's pretty much one of the most corrupt institutions on the planet, what with covering up child rape for decades, the Inquisition, and the Crusades.