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Thursday, March 12, 2009

No wonder there's a 'shift'

Yesterday, I posted a little something about the result of the latest ARIS findings about religion in America.

The media reporting the ARIS findings were especially apoplectic about two things - the geographic shift of the numbers of Roman Catholics from the Northeast to the Southwest, and the .8% increase in the number of "Nones" - those who, when asked for a religious affiliation, listed "none."

The problem with the ARIS findings is that there is no analysis, no way to understand why there is a shift here or a decline or increase there.

Except, of course, there is.

Here's one piece of evidence sent to me by a parishioner. It's right out of the Catechism of the Catholic Church - 2nd Edition. It's provided for us online by the good Knights of Columbus.

Chastity and homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

The arrogance simply takes my breath away.

Here's my question: Is any one surprised. Really?

I mean, how bad does it have to get, exactly, before someone 'shifts' - geographically or to the column marked "None."

Wait. I think I know.

THIS bad.

With sincere apologies to and admiration for all my RC friends (waves at Fran) who are deeply committed to changing the institution from within - or, at least, blooming where they are planted.


Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Isn't this paragraph a tad circular ;=)

Bill said...

I know, this is too long winded, but. . .
I never doubt that I did the right thing in leaving the Roman Church but every now and then I hear about people still inside that institution who are fighting for change and I feel a tremendous sense of guilt. Should I have stayed and fought the good fight? That sounds like the honorable way to do it. And then I remember how I was made to feel about the issue of homosexuality and I say no. Why should I choose to stay with a Church that quotes scripture and calls me an abomination?

Part of the problem with leaving the Roman Church is that you are taught since childhood that it is the only true religion. There is no other way to God and heaven. Everybody else is wrong minded and doomed to the outermost darkness. They’re fairly arrogant in that respect.

When you finally decide to leave the church it’s in part because you have agonized over the ramifications of leaving and in the process analyzed the true nature of religion and God. The RC way isn’t the only way. I know that’s hard to believe. There are other choices out there. There are churches that have embraced twenty-first century culture and norms. There are in fact churches that are not Christocentric and yet they are God fearing (loving) people. It’s a shame that people are leaving the institutions of God behind and striking out on their own, but, wherein does the fault lie. Is it the fault of the people who feel disenfranchised or is it the fault of the churches for not meeting the needs of the people. “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves”

It’s really a lame argument to say that the church is always right and the people must conform. Christianity began because Christ was a non-conformist. Christ was a Jew. He didn’t want to break away from Judaism, he wanted to reform it. That’s why ninety percent of the Bible is the “Old Testament”. Luther didn’t start out to break away from the Catholic Church, he wanted to reform it. The American Anglicans didn’t want to break away from the Church of England; they just wanted to make their own bishops without bowing to the English Crown. None of the so called great schisms began as new religions. They just wanted change and the old institutions wouldn’t budge.

So, is it any great leap of faith to understand the underlying causes for the most recent shift away from organized religions? The institutions for the most part will do what institutions have always done; blame the people. In their minds, they are right and the rest of the world is wrong.

IT said...

BIll, that is intensely powerful. THis is what my wife is dealing with, exactly: the idea that she is "rejecting the one true religion" while wrestling with the fact that it has already rejected her. I am printing out your post and sending it to her. Thank you.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Bill, Thank you for your painfully honest post. Leaving the RC church of my youth and childhood was one of the most painful things I've ever done - almost as difficult as coming out. Some folk don't understand, but for some, being RC is almost like being a Jew. It's part of your ethnicity and your identity. It's like denying a big part of who you know yourself to be. Leaving that part behind is no easy task.

Most of my friends who stay and fight do so with eyes wide open. I have a certain admiration for them that, like you, comes out of a place that still has not completely healed all these many years and miles later in my spiritual journey. Unfortunately, I am not that strong. Or, the fight simply isn't worth it to me.

Or, to put it another way, one of the most powerful dynamics I was very carefully taught as an RC was guilt. It still creeps up on me when I least expect it. Amazing.

Thanks, Bill. I'm sure you'll help IT's wife and I have no doubt that others will be helped enormously by your honesty.

JCF said...

This inclination, which is objectively disordered

The Popoids love throwing around the word "objective" or "objectively" (and/or "Natural Law").

It means nothing more than "Our Opinion, which We're Prepared to ENFORCE Upon Everybody, If We Can!" (See re PropH8. See re all their efforts to outlaw abortion, beginning w/ their neologism "partial-birth abortion", when no such thing exists).

Whereas ConEvs appeal to "Biblical" principles---as if their beloved "Christian Nation" merely needs to be called back to the Bible (as they define it!)---Popoids use this "Objective" blather, trying to fool generations of (US) Americans who've had at least a smidgen of the scientific method in school (AS IF the Popoid "objective" were in any way empirical, and could be tested? Hardly!)


[JCF, Cradle Episcopalian---PRAISE THE LORD!!!! :-D]

JCF said...

Off-topic, but was anyone else "Shocked, Shocked!" to hear that among Our Moral Betters, the resolutely-heterosexual Palin family, Bristol Palin has now BROKEN UP w/ her Baby-Daddy, whom she NEVER married?

See, gang, we have to "protect marriage" for Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston (and offspring)---even though they didn't want it---from the same-sex predations of IT and her BP (with their children). Everybody clear on that?


Doorman-Priest said...

That cartoon gave me a sharp intake of breath.

Good, though.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Big hugs for expatriate RC's Bill and our own dear blogmiester Elizabeth.

I am sure you all have a special brand of guilt. Elizabeth hit the nail on the head, it's like being's a part of your ethnicity, not just your spirituality.

But FWIW, we all have our "brands", much like divorcees. In the back of our minds, we think, "Um...I left one church...does that mean I'd strike my tent on this one, too, if something doesn't suit me? Does it mean I just don't have the guts to stick around and fight?"

When I left the LCMS, at the time, I claimed it was over their stance on female clergy. Well, that was only partially right. When you get right down to it, it was because week after week, in the confession of sin, it was that line, "And we justly deserve Your eternal punishment."

From childhood on, my mind went, "No, I don't," in answer to the question. Over time, I came to realize that was what drove the bus, along with the fact I was made to feel like a dog who was not allowed on the living room carpet over having the wrong set of "altar chromosomes." But my feelings about the altar were rooted in that "justly deserve eternal punishment" stuff, too.

My guilt creeps in when I start worrying about "Hmmmm. Right now I think all God wants to do is love me. Maybe I better check to make sure he's not mad at me, though..." A tiny part of that "justly deserve Your eternal punishment" junk creeps in...

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Kirke.