If you read a variety of blogs, you may have heard the news last week that a prominent atheist blogger dropped the bombshell that she was beginning the conversion process to Christianity. And not just any branch of Christianity… Catholicism.
Dun Dun DAH!
The news was met by a series of reactions:
1. Yay and Welcome! (from Catholics and some Christians)
2. Wow. O_0. (from other Christians and some atheists)
3. WTF is wrong with you?! Are you sick in the head?! (from other atheists)
That second reaction could be subdivided into another group though:
2a. Wow. So, yeah, that’s cool, but why CATHOLICISM? (And then they’d go on to list the reasons why the Catholic Church is bad… from the Crusades to picking on the LCWR.)
Leah is doing a fine enough job explaining her position and change of heart on her blog and I welcome you to read about it there, but I want to talk a bit about why I think people take such an issue with Catholicism specifically.
For the commenters who were OK with her decision to convert, many of them asked her why she didn’t consider Unitariansim, or a Congregational Church or Judaism, or Buddism, or any other religion that was more welcoming, all encompassing, accepting, etc. In their eyes, Catholicism is the religion of NO:
-No women priests.
-No birth control
-No sex w/o marriage
-No missing Mass
-No Same Sex Marriage (Leah self-identifies as bisexual and has admitted that this teaching is pretty challenging)
It basically comes down to this, in the eyes of some: Catholics are not nice, so why would an intelligent woman choose to become Catholic?
But, if you think about it… As Christians we are not called to be nice. We are called to be loving, but being loving is not the same as being nice. I love my kids more than anything, but they will tell you… there are times when mama and daddy are NOT nice.
Let’s look at it from a parenting point of view. Think about when you were a kid, usually everyone else’s parents were nicer than yours for some reason or another. And as a kid, nice usually means… permissive. The nice parents let their kids do more things than yours did, they bought their kids more stuff than yours did, the nice parents usually had fewer rules and were more laissez-faire, the nice parents were cool and well… nice.
We may want nice parents, but do we need nice parents?
Yes, the Catholic Church has rules but those rules allow us freedom. It sounds so contradictory (and maybe a little “1984″) but rules keep you safe. Speed Limits keep us safe on the freeways and streets, traffic lights keep us safe as pedestrians and drivers, laws keep us (relatively) safe from each other (and the government,) but when you boil it down… they are all forms of rules.
One of the reasons Leah cites for moving from atheism to theism was the concept of Moral Law and one of the things that Catholicism surely lacks is this idea of Moral Relativism… you know, the thought that everything is OK as long as it works for you, so why would it be so surprising to begin exploring true Catholicism and not media Catholicism?
God only knows what Leah will find on her journey toward Rome. I believe that God tailors each convert’s or revert’s or seeker’s journey to what they need to hear… not what they want to hear. The question is, will ears be opened to listening?
What do you think? Are being loving and nice the same thing? Are Christians called to be nice? What does nice mean?
Don’t forget to enter into my latest Giveaway! The Giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only (sorry!) and will remain open until midnight (PST) June 30. The winner will be contacted within 48 hours of the giveaway end and will have 48 hours to reply before a new winner is chosen!