My Blog Name Doesn’t Define or Confine Me

My Blog Name Doesn’t Define or Confine Me August 23, 2020

I Deal with a Very Wide Range of Topics in My Writing

Recently, in the controversies over a critique I dared make of someone else regarding pro-life issues, several people, in the midst of an avalanche of the usual tribalism and personal attacks (yawn), noted that this one article of mine had little or nothing to do with “biblical Catholicism.” They acted as if all I do is write stuff about “Bible and Catholicism.” Therefore, if I stepped out of that box for a little bit, somehow this was hypocritical or something, or dishonest labeling (or so the critiques seemed to assume; otherwise, why say such an odd thing?).
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I’ve been a committed pro-lifer and activist since 1982: eight years before I became a Catholic and just one year after I got interested in apologetics. Up until that year, I had been the typical ignorant, apathetic, vaguely “pro-choice” person (based on mostly politically liberal input in my life). It’s a serious commitment of mine: much as the civil rights movement was for many people in the early 60s. I’ve been writing about it ever since, and so, recently, I have been addressing the conflicts between the so-called “new pro-life movement” and the more established one that I’ve been part of (which has been pilloried quite unjustly in certain quarters): sadly, by fellow pro-lifers and Catholics. It’s all part of who I am. Being in that movement also played a key role in my becoming Catholic. The link was the issue of contraception (the first issue in which I changed my mind, in a Catholic direction).
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Sure, “Bible and Catholicism” is a big specialty of mine, and what I am most known for. I named my blog somewhat after my first book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism. But the title, “Biblical Evidence for Catholicism” (here’s a bit of trivia for ya) was actually more inspired by Josh McDowell’s book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict: which had a huge influence on me, in inspiring me to take up apologetics in 1981. And that book was entirely historical apologetics, not biblical.
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The titles of my first book and my website actually display some of my subtle “tweaking” and semi-provocative humor (which regular readers of mine are well familiar with). I knew that it would cause some anti-Catholic types of Protestants to blow a gasket, because the last two things they associate together are “Bible” and “Catholicism.” So that’s me puncturing through their false dichotomies.
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Truth be told, I’m actually more interested in Church history and history of doctrine, than in “Bible and Catholicism.” Development of doctrine is my favorite topic and reading Cardinal Newman on that topic was what persuaded me of the truth of Catholicism. But (my luck) very few care about that topic. My conversion had nothing whatever to do with “biblical evidence for Catholicism.” It was all history and moral theology and arguments about ecclesiology: especially infallibility (which I absolutely despised before my conversion).
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I started writing biblical defenses of Catholicism after my conversion in order to explain to my Protestant friends why I changed my mind. I took my cue and model from a book that I love: The Faith of Our Fathers by James Cardinal Gibbons. The most well-known version of my conversion story (in Pat Madrid’s book, Surprised by Truth) illustrates this quite well. It’s all about moral theology and historical arguments; not at all about “Bible and Catholicism.” And historical topics remain my favorite topics to this day.
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Don’t get me wrong: I really love the biblical stuff, too, because I love the Bible. I wouldn’t write so much on that theme if I didn’t (because almost always I write about things that I enjoy). I’m just making the point that this doesn’t define or confine me. I am about much more than that, in the scope of my writing. Anyone who peruses the titles of my 50 books and my 3000+ online articles and 50 or so separate web pages will quickly realize that.
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I even have extensive sections about holistic health and music. My one non-apologetics book is about classic rock music, because music is another huge love of my life. I loved music and history a dozen years before I gave much thought at all to theology or even God (I didn’t read the Bible till I was 18). I even majored in music at the great high school in Detroit (Cass Technical) that I went to (where the Four Tops, Diana Ross, Jack White, and jazz violinist Regina Carter also attended).
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To give people not as familiar with my work an idea of the range of my writing: I have an extensive web page on the Church fathers, and have compiled three books of their material (one / two / three). I’ve put together The Quotable Summa Theologica (St. Thomas Aquinas). I’ve edited three quotations books of St. John Henry Cardinal Newman (one / two / three), and others devoted to Chesterton, John Wesley, and Catholic mystics and contemplatives. Three of those were published by “official” publishers (as 21 of my books have been; the rest I did on my own).
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I have very extensive web pages about atheism and philosophy and science; about Romantic theology and Catholic conversion, the life issues, and sexuality. Anyone who follows me at all knows of the range of topics that I write about. I’ve written two entire books in response to John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (one / two) and two books about Martin Luther (along with extensive pages about Calvinism and Lutheranism). I’ve even written one of the few books that compare and contrast Orthodoxy and Catholicism (with co-author, Byzantine Catholic Fr. Daniel Dozier).
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I used to maintain the largest web pages online about C. S. Lewis, Cardinal Newman, and G. K. Chesterton, but stopped those recently, because they were too difficult to maintain (and Google pretty much replaced the function of such pages, anyway). 15 years ago, they were all prime locations for anyone online looking for material from these great men, and were noted as such by people like, e.g., Dale Ahlquist of the American Chesterton Society, and the men who started up the Newman Reader website with all his works. My Lewis page was cited more than once as a major source in the evangelical magazine, Christianity Today.
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So it’s a very odd comment, that these people have made. If they want to run me down, the least they can do is learn a minimal amount of information about what is actually contained in my website before making such a comment. But that is the problem so often today, online: folks opining before they think much or research that which they profess to know something about.
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Titles of websites are sort of like actors being typecast in a role. People love a particular role (think of, e.g., Edith Bunker or John-Boy Walton, or Fonzie) and start to think that this is all the actor or actress is about. And they hate that. Some never get out of it and their careers basically end. Musicians (composers) also detest being put into one box or style. They like to feel that they are always developing, and have a lot more to offer than one style only. I’m the same. I’d like to think that folks who read my stuff are aware of how many different topics I’ve covered, and that I am not only the “Bible and Catholicism” guy.
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It’s not that big of a deal, but it irked me and I was bored tonight, so I wrote about it (trying to get myself tired, now at 1:30 AM), because I usually write about what interests me at any given point of time. And (to end on a positive note) it was also an opportunity to let people know of the wide variety of Catholic and general Christian topics they can find on my large website: lots more than just “biblical evidence for Catholicism.” The title reflects a big emphasis (no question), but not the totality of what I do.
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(originally 8-5-17 on Facebook)
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