Interesting theological discussion


Given my disdain for the entire field of theology, I did not think that I would write such a title for a blog post but author Gary Wills and Stephen Colbert, while both Catholics, had quite a difference of opinion on what their church should be like. While I liked what Wills had to say, I continue to be a little puzzled by why such people still want to be considered Catholics when they have so little in common with it.

(This clip was aired on February 11, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

Comments

  1. says

    I’m just as puzzled by Colbert’s continuing membership in that organization. He’s obviously aware of its flaws and is in disagreement with its dictates often.

  2. says

    I continue to be a little puzzled by why such people still want to be considered Catholics when they have so little in common with it.

    Perhaps they were raised with the idea that they’d suffer eternal torture if they reject their imaginary oppressor?

  3. AsqJames says

    I understand (mainly from previous threads here) that Colbert does some kind of charity work with his local/regional Catholic church. Maybe his personal experience of the church is of nice people doing nice things in a nice way for people who are poor, ill, or otherwise disadvantaged.

    I don’t doubt there are priests and lay members of the church who concentrate almost exclusively on the good works side and have rarely/never given any serious thought to the bizarre claims about reality it makes. Then once you’re in that “community”, have the companionship and support of those good people, have the validation and satisfaction that comes from helping others…at that point, even if you do come to recognise the silliness of the central claims (which I’d think is a major psychological hurdle in itself), you could easily convince yourself that renouncing your faith would be a morally reprehensible thing to do.

    What if the catholic run hospital doesn’t want you to raise money any more because you’re no longer a “catholic in good standing with the church”? I’m not saying I can see that happening, just that i can see someone thinking that, or at least basing a vague irrationally fear on it and shying away from confronting that feeling.

    Of course that may all be complete bollocks I’ve invented to rationalise the behaviour of someone I want to see in the best light. I’d probably refuse to consider such a charitable view of someone I otherwise thought was a complete arse.

  4. otrame says

    I don’t see how Catholics with any human decency can stay with the church and most importantly, give money to the church. I realize we all have lacuna in our ability to reason. I guess I can see the scenario that AsqJames conjures up. But there comes a time when you can’t continue to support the utter corruption. Unless you are corrupt yourself.

  5. Timothy says

    “While I liked what Wills had to say, I continue to be a little puzzled by why such people still want to be considered Catholics when they have so little in common with it.”

    Because …

    * Taking off the blinders is painful.
    * Leaving a community of ritual and tradition stretching back 2,000 years is incredibly painful. If you leave, nobody speaks to you.
    * Being Roman Catholic can be as much cultural as spiritual. Leaving one’s cultural roots/familiar space is always painful.
    * Many Catholic families orally pass along the history of persecution, suffering, and even death that their ancestors suffered for being Catholic. (Read about the history of being Irish Catholic in America, for example). Turning one’s back on the Catholic church is, for some, turning one’s back on one’s ancestors.

    And, as Marcus Ranum says, “Perhaps they were raised with the idea that they’d suffer eternal torture if they reject their imaginary oppressor?” I strongly caution those outside the Church (or other such organizations) not to underestimate the power/strength of indoctrination.

    What is surprising to me is not how few Catholics have left, but rather — given these conditions — how many.

    I strongly disagree with Otrame’s comment: “But there comes a time when you can’t continue to support the utter corruption. Unless you are corrupt yourself.”

    I don’t find these words true at all. I know a number of Catholics (including some vowed religious) who have strongly committed themselves to fostering reform from within. I myself have chosen not to follow in their footsteps, but I respect their choice tremendously.

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