09 May 2010

+JMJ+

Punk Catholic Thought of the Week VIII

Catholic blogging makes me feel like a reasonably well-adjusted former smoker indulging in "just one stick" for old time's sake. I hope you all don't mind if I light up . . .?

Apologetics is for Fundies.

(Do you hear me? Fundies!)

An American friend of mine has been trying to explain to me the impact Christian Fundamentalists--also known, if I understand him rightly, as Evangelicals--have had on American culture and politics, and inasmuch as we live in a "global village," on world culture and politics. He was still surprised, however, when I told him that there are a handful of fast growing "megachurches" in my own city, though he quickly recovered when he realised it fit the Fundie profile of not accepting Catholics as fellow Christians, to the point that they send missionaries to countries as Catholic as Malta. Which is like kind of like sending a hip-hop dance crew to give free lessons to the students at the Academy of Russian Ballet.

I may have to move to America and live there for a few years to get it properly, I'm sure; but one thing I feel reasonably enlightened about already, thanks to the aforementioned American-founded Evangelical churches in the Philippines, is the impact which "Fundies" have had on the Catholic Church in America--particularly in the area of apologetics.

(And this is where a stray breeze starts to blow my secondhand smoke in other people's faces.)

Apologetics, or the defense of the Faith, is always a worthy cause, yes--but so much of modern apologetics (which is almost to say, American apologetics) seems to be the rationalisation of the Faith. It's no coincidence that most modern apologists are converts from Evangelical churches, which are all about rationalising Christianity until it matches the Bible perfectly.

Predictably, convert apologists specialise in demystifying Catholicism by answering the question, "Where in the Bible is that?" It makes an interesting intellectual scavenger hunt, but it's also the rationalising of Catholicism until it matches the Bible perfectly. It's an attempt to stuff the Catholic Church into a Fundie box . . . and if you've ever seen the awful movie Boxing Helena, you'll have some idea of what I think convert apologists are doing to the Church.

There isn't a single Evangelical (i.e. literalist Bible-only) charge against the Catholic Church that can stand once the sola Scriptura pillar falls. One wonders why apologists need to ferret out so many verses for so many indirect parries, when a glorious chainsaw of logic is available in the Catholic tool shed. Part of the reason, as mentioned earlier, is the Evangelical training that demands that a Christian in good standing rationalise everything from altar calls to tithing ten percent of one's income. The rest of the reason is a burning desire to win new converts.

There seems to be a consensus among modern apologists that the best defense is a good offense. If Fundies can be persuaded not just to stop attacking the Catholic Church, but also to join Her, then isn't that perfect proof of the rationality of the Catholic position? And doesn't it justify the apologists' plea that readers who are already Catholics buy their books in order to learn how to be better witnesses (not just defenders!) of the Faith? What clever marketing!

It's also very bait-and-switch.

But it's around because the professional apologists know that if they limited their target readers to the Fundie crowd, they'd sell maybe twenty books, tops.

(Okay, I'm almost down to the stub of my last latest "coffin nail." I don't think I'll be lighting up another one today . . .)

Now, I just don't know . . . I feel weird about trying to attract Fundies by telling them that the Catholic Church is really just the Bible-believing church of their dreams. It's an "I'm okay, you're okay," win-win deal that has a sting in the tail.

Also, on a more personal note, I'd rather find a way to work on my fellow "cradle Catholics," who are still in the Church but who might not realise how beautiful She is. The apologetics industry can teach me how to reach out to Evangelicals, but if any of those clever ex-Evangelical writers thinks that pointing out the Scriptural basis of the rosary is going to get Catholic school graduates to start up the devotion again, then he's nuts. Besides, there's no Scriptural basis for the rosary, anyway.

Well, okay, the prayers we say can be found in the New Testament--but only about half of them. (There's a reason that Anglicans--so I've heard--who pray the rosary will say absolutely everything except the Hail Holy Queen. Some things are just too papist, even for non-Fundie Christians who understand a thing or two about Tradition.) We didn't develop the rosary by reading the Marian portions of the Gospels and picking out the verses we liked; we were taught to pray it when Mary herself appeared to St. Dominic and asked him to make this devotion to her and spread it all over Christendom.

And while I'm on the subject, I don't see why that non-biblical bit of history should be embarrassing . . . unless one wants to appear respectable to a Fundie.

43 comments:

Ligaya said...

Hey. ;D

This is an interesting post. I love, LOVE your "Punk Catholic" posts, they speak to me well and get me thinking.

I will admit that apologists do make one of the mandated works of the Church, which is to bring people into the Catholic faith, so much easier. But really, Scriptural basis on the rosary and the 3:00 Habit? Those are all devotionals. (How did they even know in those times about the o-clock system of telling time? For all we know the witnesses of Jesus' death in those days might have mean 12:30 pm. Just saying.) Fundamentalists and apologists alike are all taking certain elements of religion much too seriously -- and while that's all well and good, it ultimately does not contribute much to enriching the beliefs of everyone who follows it. After all, faith IS "not seeing but believing," trusting without proof, right? Besides, isn't rationalising such a tiring chore?

I hope I didn't miss the point. Expect something from me again. Don't forget to vote tomorrow! ;P

r said...

Sending missionaries to Malta? How unbiblical. The conversion of Malta is right there in the Bible.

dylan said...

LOL at that line about the hip-hop crew and the Russian ballet!

paul bowman said...

You can't help yourself! I love it. : )

-----

A little clarification, as I understand things: Fundamentalism isn't one-to-one with Evangelicalism. Evangelical is a very broad term — in origin equivalent simply to Protestant (in Germany, e.g., die Evangelische Kirche is still just the Protestant Church of Germany), but taking on certain shades of meaning in English & American churches in the last 2 to 3 centuries. In the U.S., both Fundamentalist & Evangelical have referred to a sort of mainstreaming effort promoting 'merely Christian', orthodox-'Bible-believing' Christianity among Protestants, beginning in the early 20th century. But the idea of Fundamentalism was always a good deal narrower, its coinage coming with a specific American reaction to the spread of 19th-century 'liberal theology' to American churches from Europe. (The history bit in the Wikipedia entry isn't bad.) I grew up in churches that identified themselves (on the sign on the street!) as 'independent & fundamental', by which they meant to be distinguished not only from the far gone 'mainline churches' (e.g., the Episcopal Church USA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the Presbyterian Church USA) but also from other Evangelical (in the contemporary sense) churches increasingly colored by what looked like theology descended from that same sneaky 19th-cent. Euro-liberalism. Today, of course, the term is so linked to terrorism, racism, & a long list of other evils that it doesn't play so well even among steadfastly 'independent Bible-believing' folks. Depends on where you go around the country, I guess, but people I know who would put themselves in this category generally avoid it.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Ligaya: As long as we're splitting hairs, don't forget Christmas! The day when we celebrate it is not just a Catholic tradition (unless, of course, you celebrate it when the Orthodox do), but also a baptised pagan tradition! I think there's a book somewhere that makes a solid case for Jesus' having been born early in August.

From there, a Bible literalist could swing either way, I think, because neither December 25 nor the first week of August are explicitly mentioned in the Bible.

R: I'd demand the chapter and verse where you found that, but I don't want to make you think I missed the point. ;-)

Dylan: Thanks! It's my own favourite line. Can you guess which one is my second favourite?

Paul: I use the terms "Evangelical" and "Fundie" interchangeably inasmuch as I mean any community of Christians which: a) has American roots, b) demands a biblical basis for absolutely everything, c) tends to interpret the Bible literally (except for certain embarrassing verses in John 6), and d) doesn't believe Catholics are real Christians.

After your little history lesson, I think I'll add one more to that list: e) is labouring under the delusion that it is "independent." But I'll have to ask my friend about that first.

paul bowman said...

By the way: It's true that the Fundamentalism I grew up with taught me that Catholics, like 'mainline' Protestants, added men's ideas to & and therefore didn't truly believe what the Bible said — and hence could not be regarded as 'saved', true Christians. But if you look at that Wikipedia entry's list of the 'fundamentals', you'll see a list of Catholic teachings. There is simultaneously a strong opposition and a strong connection of belief between fundamentalist Evangelicalism and traditional Catholicism. I don't doubt that many Evangelicals who have found their way to Rome have done so not because Catholics reached out to them (hahahahahaha) but, in the first place, because of the germ of Catholic faith planted in them through those 'fundamentals'.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

PS--It makes perfect sense that all Protestant churches would carry the seeds of Catholic thought. (Didn't I make the ultimate concession very recently when I called Protestantism "the one heresy that bore fruit"???)

paul bowman said...

You did! : )

Thought it worth highlighting the sense in which Fundamentalism, quite in spite of itself, has been from beginning a defense of the Catholicism that Protestantism carries.

Terry Nelson said...

Happy Mother's day hon!

I'm not a fundie, am I? Or am I?

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Thanks, Terry! *air kiss*

Now go back to your fundie hole! Who let you out, anyway?

Salome Ellen said...

Um. Some Evangelicals would be offended to be called fundamentalists. I'm not a good person to explain it, since I'm a "goes to mass with my family on Sunday/ goes to an Episcopal Eucharist on Wednesday/ likes charismatic worship best" type, and you can't get much more screwball than that, but I was an Evangelical for a long time, and we always respected Catholics as brothers and sisters in the faith.

Paul Stilwell said...

"The apologetics industry can teach me how to reach out to Evangelicals, but if any of those clever ex-Evangelical writers thinks that pointing out the Scriptural basis of the rosary is going to get Catholic school graduates to start up the devotion again, then he's nuts."

Can I bum a smoke off you?

cyurkanin said...

Best Punk Catholic Post ever.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Salome Ellen: Believe it or not,I know exactly what you mean! =P I certainly bristled when Mr. Bowman said that Catholics and Fundies have something in common. It's a little like saying that plagiarised work has "something in common" with the original, which is inaccurate and misleading.

Anyway, I do agree that not all Evangelicals are Fundies. On the other hand, I don't think there is a single Fundie in the world who isn't also an Evangelical.

Paul: Anytime! You can bum a light, too, if you need one. =)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Christopher: If it got you to comment, then it must be good!

Dauvit Balfour said...

Seriously, you and Arturo are going to get me in trouble, one of these days. I got into a conversation last night with some of my dear friends about the concept of intellectual or notional Catholicism, with all it's American protestant sensibilities, as opposed to your cultural (Arturo's folk) Catholicism, with all it's grayness, ill-defined boundaries, and beautiful, child-like simplicity.

Of course, like my friends, I will never really slough off my protestant upbringing (even after my parents returned to the Church, my father, and hence we all, didn't buy most of the Marian dogmas, and now that we do, it's hard to start a devotion with twenty years of skepticism to overcome).

My father has often accused me of falling prey to Western rationalism, mainly because I'm still skeptical of Medjugorje, and will probably remain so unless a declaration is made in favor, at which point I will assent with my mind. He probably has a point. I'm inherently uncomfortable with things about which I cannot reason. It is a defect.

One of our speakers at our young adult summer conference will be Alex Jones, a former pentecostal preacher turned Catholic convert and permanent deacon. I've heard him speak. I wonder what I will think of him now that I am ten years older and much different (I don't say wiser). Yet I will feel stifled, unable to give my opinions freely, because in affluent midwestern Catholic suburbia, protestant-flavored Catholicism is so much more appealing.

Of course, being a traditionalist in the strictest sense complicates things even more. It's all a big mess. I hope we all get to heaven. I bet a few will at least.

paul bowman said...

Don't misunderstand me. I don't make a case for any form of Protestantism, nor suggest that a protestantized Catholicism might be a good thing, nor anything of the kind.

It seems to me that the historical relationship between Evangelicalism, as it's evolving, and 20th-century American Fundamentalism, a dying if not already dead movement, is a story of greater interest to traditional Catholics than may at first be apparent (since Fundamentalism has been so loudly anti-Catholic). That's all. A little investigation of the history will confirm it, I think.

FrB said...

Predictably, convert apologists specialise in demystifying Catholicism by answering the question, "Where in the Bible is that?" It makes an interesting intellectual scavenger hunt, but it's also the rationalising of Catholicism until it matches the Bible perfectly.

Hmpf! Maybe I'm mis-analysing the content of your post, but if it's inspired by the particular former Evangelical Catholic apologist that I'm thinking about, I don't think your assessment is quite fair.

Firstly, I don't think he does what you accuse him of doing. He's very aware of the fact that Catholicism is not based on sola scriptura and that one has to look to the Tradition. If he pitches some of his arguments at Evangelicals in terms they understand, he doesn't seem content to stop there.

It seems to me pretty pointless to state that there isn't a single Evangelical (i.e. literalist Bible-0nly) charge against the Catholic Church that can stand once the sola Scriptura pillar falls. So what? How do you bring an Evangelical to that aha! moment when the pillar falls? You could spend all your intellecutual firepower pounding away at the sola scriptura pillar, but chances are, the evangelical will ignore you since you're not speaking his bible-believing talk. Or, you could build on the truths he already holds as an Evangelical and his love of scripture, in order to bring him to the conclusion that some of the Catholic stuff isn't the anti-biblical mess that he thought it was AND that his own sola scriptura outlook is an insufficient basis for faith.

I don't think that's a bad approach. Indeed, it reminds me somewhat of the way in which the early Fathers of the Church engaged with Judaism.

[By the way, you should read some of the early polemics against Judaism. They certainly sharpened Christian thought AND set the pattern for how we read the Bible. If you want to criticise the unnamed apologist for finding stuff in the Bible that you think isn't there, you'll probably choke on what the early apologists were doing! ;)]

And just like that engagement with Judaism, I think that the real value of this exercise for Catholics is that it draws our attention to the richness of our own tradition by approaching it from a new angle. This kind of apologetics won't inspire faith in a lapsed Catholic, but it does show the believing Catholic that many of the things taken for granted conceal hidden riches and connect with other parts of the faith in an unexpected manner.

I really don't see that as rationalising Christianity...

Belfry Bat said...

There's another reason pounding away at Sola Scriptura won't work: it isn't faithfully applied. Since it doesn't *actually* form the logical foundation of practical protestantism, refuting it won't convert a protestant to a Catholic understanding of anything.

My favourite Bible Study Biblical Scholar here in Urban Metropolis is rather fond of pointing out the unbiblical received traditions endemic to various protestant streams of thought and praxis, whether it's just poor exegesis of the devil's selected scripture verses, or the selection of texts recognized by protestants as scriptura, or the various ritual nonsenses that they include in public worship; sola scriptura is a slogan and not a foundation.

So the real problem with "sola scriptura" is that it distracts one's attention from other real problems.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Dauvit: You've been saying that for weeks, so you're probably not going to get into trouble in the end. ;-)

For what it's worth, I don't think one's "flavour" or "style" of Catholicism will have much bearing on whether or not one gets into Heaven. It's an earthly thing that merits our attention while we're trying to keep our civilisation from falling, but once it falls (as it eventually will), we will be free of it.

And I wouldn't say I practice "folk" Catholicism. (I'm too much of a city girl for that, I'm afraid!) But I do mistrust most explanations that justify a practice by pointing to a verse in the Bible. (Incidentally, that's how the Muslims do it, using their own holy book. It's that approach that made them into some of the most logical people in the world; but that doesn't mean they live in a very big circle, if you take my meaning.)

In that light, I think my favourite thing Scott Hahn ever said was that the Mass in Latin just feels better than the Mass in the vernacular.

Paul: But I'm not interested in Protestants! LOL! =P

Okay, that sounds bad . . . and it's not even really true. But my interest is less scholarly than combative, where any Protestants are concerned.

Fr. B: With all due respect, Father, I think you're being unfair by supposing that everything I write about apologetics is a reaction to [Him]-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. All these ideas of mine were in germination long before he showed up in my combox. The only thing that incident really changed was how I blogged about them.

Honestly, I was starting to wonder whether I choked on all apologetics, or just this modern brand. Your assessment that I wouldn't like what the early apologists were doing is a very pleasant surprise! =)

Oh, here's something more fun: have I mentioned that another Punk Catholic thought of mine is that Catholics in America shouldn't target Fundies for conversion? =P

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Belfry Bat: Interesting point!

A few months ago, I met a very nice Evangelical lady who went back and forth with me about whether or not her community believed in things that weren't in the Bible. I brought up the Trinity. She said that it's reasonable to believe the seeds of the Trinity were planted among the Apostles after the Resurrection. I thought she was too nice for me to laugh in her face over that statement.

iolanthe95 said...

As a Fundie, to use your term, I think I get as confused about how you all view the interaction of tradition and the faith as you do about why we all are so bible-based and "rational" (if that is the right way to characterize your view of non-Catholic Christians).

However, I find the whole thing interesting. I like to explore the Catholic mindset, and I like spending time with people who believe in the Trinity :)

I guess my point is that as much as we may disagree about doctrine, I have a lot more in common with you than I do with my atheist and wican friends.

Michael said...

@Enbrethiliel

The day when we celebrate it is not just a Catholic tradition (unless, of course, you celebrate it when the Orthodox do), but also a baptised pagan tradition! I think there's a book somewhere that makes a solid case for Jesus' having been born early in August.

I think that is true across the board, since for many centuries Catholics and Orthodox celebrated on the same day. It is still the same day, just reckoned differently.

I thought that book about a later spring/summer birth was pretty sound, until someone pointed out that sheep and their Shepard are out during the winter as well. :-)

(Okay, I'm almost down to the stub of my last latest "coffin nail. I don't think I'll be lighting up another one today . . .)

A well made cigar is tastier and lasts longer. :-0

(There's a reason that Anglicans--so I've heard--who pray the rosary will say absolutely everything except the Hail Holy Queen. Some things are just too papist, even for non-Fundie Christians who understand a thing or two about Tradition.)

For the most part, Anglicanism in America is dead. It is no longer even remotely Christian. It is weird, eerie, creepy, and not long for this world.

Also, on a more personal note, I'd rather find a way to work on my fellow "cradle Catholics," who are still in the Church but who might not realise how beautiful She is. The apologetics industry can teach me how to reach out to Evangelicals, but if any of those clever ex-Evangelical writers thinks that pointing out the Scriptural basis of the rosary is going to get Catholic school graduates to start up the devotion again, then he's nuts. Besides, there's no Scriptural basis for the rosary, anyway.

Liturgical formation is everything, as it forms/transforms us, marks us, and makes us who we are, but you already know my views about this, and since I am a guest at your blog that is all I am going to say.

Didn't I make the ultimate concession very recently when I called Protestantism "the one heresy that bore fruit"???

You did and it took everything in my power to bite my tongue.

Happy Mother's day hon!

You have children?

Your assessment that I wouldn't like what the early apologists were doing is a very pleasant surprise! =)

Maybe while your mind is weak but your flesh is willing you should read as much of the early Fathers as you can. =)

@Paul Bowman

I don't doubt that many Evangelicals who have found their way to Rome have done so not because Catholics reached out to them (hahahahahaha) but, in the first place, because of the germ of Catholic faith planted in them through those 'fundamentals'.

From my experience, that is the primary way people leave Protestantism.

@Belfry Bat

sola scriptura is a slogan and not a foundation.

Exactly!

One last point, sectarian Protestants (as opposed to Classical Protestantism) are basically "Christian Atheists." They don’t believe in the Church, in the saints, in the sacraments, or in the lived history of Christianity.

Michael said...

Perhaps this approach is more to your liking.

http://bit.ly/dd0VxC

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Iolanthe: I've used the word "rational" because Fundies who challenge the Church (and those who end up in Her) seem to want to be convinced, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Catholicism is completely true.

I think it's inevitable that we'd be confused about each other, and I'll admit that all I know about "your people" is what got carried over when some ex-Evangelicals entered the Church and wrote a lot of books purporting to demystify what Catholics believe. (And now I'm wondering whether you've read any of those books. Have you found them helpful?)

This disconnect between what you think of Catholicism and what I think of Fundamentalism reminds me of something I read in the Quizzes to a Street Preacher pamphlet about Purgatory:

I must confess I find all this rather baffling.

You are outside Catholicity, and no more understand the spirit of the Catholic religion than a man standing outside a Cathedral can discern the wonderful beauty of the stained glass windows from within. But a reasonable man would say, "Well, I can hardly expect to perceive the real sense of the design from here. But there must be something in it, and if I cannot enter the building I must be content to be without an understanding of that window's real beauty." But you stand outside the building of Catholic doctrine, stare at practices you cannot expect to understand from outside, and express astonishment that you see nothing in them."


After answering forty-eight "FAQs" about Purgatory, giving both its doctrinal and scriptural bases, citing the historical record, and explaining that certain views really are misconceptions, the authors of the booklet admitted that a completely rational approach would never work if someone really wasn't Catholic.

In my old blog, I compared tradition, especially the liturgy, to the electron, which is both a particle and a wave. Tradition, like faith, is always in motion and can never be properly studied, because the very act of observation changes it. So I'm afraid that one would have to be in the Church to really know Her, no matter how much friendly exploration one does.

Of course, I'm willing to concede that I myself would have to be in Evangelicalism to understand it properly, though I think I see enough to say it's wrong.

Michael: I thought you had decided to lay low! =P

First of all, no, I don't have any children! LOL! I just thought I'd illogically wish Terry a Happy Mother's Day on his blog and he graciously returned the greeting.

I'll answer the rest of your comment later, as I spent my allotted fifteen minutes with Iolanthe and need to go!

Michael said...

I thought you had decided to lay low! =P

I did and I do want to remain so, but I guess you are too irresistible. =P

Michael said...

Maybe while your mind is weak but your flesh is willing you should read as much of the early Fathers as you can. =)

That should read, "maybe while your spirit is weak..."

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

The approach described in your link is definitely preferable. (No book, no matter how well written, can replace the "Come and see" experience. Not that, of course, records and experiences are mutually exclusive.)

On the other hand, I remember Kathleen Norris, who lived in a Benedictine monastery for two six-month-long stretches, wrote a lovely book on monasticism entitled The Cloister Walk, and then remained Protestant, simply because it was the tradition she was rooted in.

I remember thinking, at first, that it was such an awful waste of a great evangelisation experience, that perhaps the Benedictines she had lived with had not emphasised Eucharistic spirituality, etc. And then I realised that if Norris really hadn't got the point about the Church, despite having prayed the Divine Office and read many Catholic books during her stay, then I didn't really want to bring her over, did I? I think she's typical of many non-Evangelical Protestants who feel some ownership of Catholic culture (which, granted, all Christians do have) but don't look past it to its source.

Dauvit Balfour said...

Fairly put (I remembered after I posted that I had said much the same thing before). My own struggles with my surroundings, upbringing, etc. are different from yours. I enjoy reading your insights, and yet am very far removed from you, and didn't mean to imply anything either way about your own particular devotions.

I find myself wondering today (and perhaps every day, but especially today) where is the joy. Your own posts, and my own heart, and things I have read elsewhere, and people I have met, all seem so muddy and dark. It is disconcerting to be reminded that the Church is made up of sinners who often have a very dark tale to bring with them wherever they go. It is disconcerting also to realize simultaneously that things are not as they were, that things as they were are not the ideal, and that archeologism is a heresy (did I get that name right?)

Or perhaps that is merely my own projection onto everything, the darkness, the horror in which we swim. It's all very confusing.

Suburbanbanshee said...

First off: of course we're allowed to do anything that's not contrary to faith or morals, and that includes tons of stuff that's not "Biblically based". So of course it's not necessary to justify the existence of every little thing, and of course it's annoying when people assume we have to.

However... I've got some nitpicks with your arguments.

Actually, all the latest historical evidence does seem to show that Christmas in December came from calculating against the date of the Annunciation/Crucifixion, and that the new Roman pagan feast of Sol Invictus was an attempt to subsume the hot new Christian religion into the emperor's new solar imperial cult, along with the mideastern religion stuff he'd ripped off first. But since that was a matter of Christians calculating dates from traditions (and probably lost historical records) and not the Bible, it's still a good example. Except for Christian groups that don't celebrate Christmas.

Actually, there's tons of evidence that while the Dominicans promoted the Rosary, St. D didn't invent it or have visions of it. It was this other Dominican dude (Blessed Alanus de Rupe, aka Alain de la Roche), much later, who had a vision of St. D being asked by Mary to promote the Rosary. Not D historically; D as a saint in Heaven. A sacra conversazione kind of vision. And the Rosary already existed in various forms at this point; visionary Dominican dude didn't invent it or get taught it by this vision; he was just encouraged to spread it. I guess we have books and books of his visions of St. Dominic, and his sermons promoting the Rosary. He sounds like he must have been the St. Louis de Montfort of the 15th century.

Historically, the Rosary and a host of other chaplet prayers were modeled after saying the Psalms and the Liturgy of the Hours, and from the Irish love of saying forty zillion zillion prayers. Spread around Europe for hundreds of years and stir, and you get the Rosary (and all the other chaplets). So it's a good example and a bad example for you to use, all at once! :)

On the whole, I'd say that apologetics are useful in their place. Most folks who do apologetics are fully appreciative that it's not the be all and end all. If anything, I'd say that the popularity of apologetics today is due to the incompleteness of the catechization that many Catholics our age have received. People want basic info for themselves because they never got it, and they need what they never got for helping non-Catholics. People who can't admit to themselves that they need education can admit they need apologetics info. :)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Dauvit: You remind me that everyone reading this (except Ligaya) is very far removed from me, and is probably taking me far too seriously! =P I really don't mean to be dark. If I really were painting my religious life, I'd try to do the kind of play of lights and shadows you'd find in a Vermeer.

Suburbanbanshee: I kind of expected you (or another familiar contrarian) to come apologise for apologetics, sooner or later. =)

Of course I'm aware of the naturalistic explanation of how the rosary developed. Incidentally, that's the version I gave someone majoring in "Religious Studies" when he got too lazy to do his own research and decided to ring me up instead. Why give anyone ammo with which to take fire at the Church? That's what the apparition would have been. Yet I think that anyone trying to use Scripture alone to defend any devotion to Mary deserves to have a Fundie kick his ass in debate.

As for the point that apologetics meets a very real demand: well isn't that excellent marketing by the publishers, who need to sell as many books as possible? (Even the terms you use, a variation of "apologetics has its place," are not your own, but some clever viral marketer's.) But let's say they're correct--for with all the money they make, they must be on to something. Why are we letting such an important function as apologetics/remedial catechesis be entirely in the hands of converts--and not just any converts, but those with Fundie/Evangelical backgrounds?

Michael said...

I remember thinking, at first, that it was such an awful waste of a great evangelisation experience, that perhaps the Benedictines she had lived with had not emphasised Eucharistic spirituality, etc. And then I realised that if Norris really hadn't got the point about the Church, despite having prayed the Divine Office and read many Catholic books during her stay, then I didn't really want to bring her over, did I? I think she's typical of many non-Evangelical Protestants who feel some ownership of Catholic culture (which, granted, all Christians do have) but don't look past it to its source.


Hmmmm...well the translator of the Orthodox service books into English spent a large part of her adult life worshiping in the Orthodox Church, but she never converted, despite her extraordinarily beautiful and faithful work.

We can only be faithful, it is God who brings the increase.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

My friend just reminded me of a sixth criterion for Fundies:

f) believes in the "Rapture"

Now that is embarrassing.

Cozy Book Nook (Lesa) said...

Well, I am a happy heathen so have absolutely no business in this discussion but I do live smackdab in the middle of 'bible belt' and all my cousins I've touched base with on FB are Fundamental Evangelicals. Such a disappointment.

Fundamentalism of any kind is scary--- so I hope it is dying out in the US like Paul Bowman stated. But the Evangelicals I know seem awfully fundamental.

Anyway, this is a very interesting discussion-- I had no idea there was converting going on between the Catholic Church and Evangelicals. I wouldn't wish Evangelicals or Fundies on anyone-- but I hope the Church converts them all. ;o)

I can't get over the Pentecostal preacher converting-- that really tickles me. I grew up going to Pentecostal Churches so I know how askance they view Catholics and I know how the preachers preach-- Does Alex Grey start shouting, stomping, crying, dancing and speaking in tongues when he speaks at Catholic functions? The mental image I get makes me absolutely hysterical!!

Ok, enough of my silly and mirthful mental meanderings-- Please return to your serious discussion.

Cozy Book Nook (Lesa) said...

Oh yes, E-- I have listened to co-workers discuss the rapture over lunch-- One woman lived in fear of giant scorpians coming to get her so she hoped to be whisked away in the Rapture.... yep...

paul bowman said...

Well, no, not exactly. I was brought up with that form of Bible interpretation ('Dispensationalism') and know people who are still attached to it (e.g., my parents), but it wasn't something held by the originators of the movement, who were Presbyterians with a deeper scholarly tradition. That the Dispensationalists could dominate the movement, ultimately, does reveal something of its inherent weakness, I think. Dispensationalism is an embarrassment, and at the same time it demonstrates my point that the movement is a 20th-century movement in the process of dying. The cultural energy of Evangelicalism is with those who don't care for such crude systems — 'emergent church' types, who definitely repudiate that ugly label fundamentalist. Lahaye's Left Behind media phenom was sort of the last hurrah of the Dispensationalist camp. I'd say it's clear now that they're being ... um ... left behind.

It's instructive to raise the spectre of Evangelical Fundamentalism as you're doing, but again I recommend looking at the history. Wikipedia has a substantial piece titled 'The Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy' that might put a lot in perspective. Remember that there's a wider context of clashes between traditional and modernist views of Christianity, to which the emergence of Fundamentalism a century to century-&-a-half ago belongs. There're no simple parallels to draw, but knowing a little more about what was going on in this American Protestant case certainly can illuminate aspects of the larger conflict that come closer to home for Catholics.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Lesa: You know you're always welcome here, no matter the topic! I think the first thing most Fundies shed when they become Catholic is the belief in the Rapture, which is why I didn't remember it until late in the comments. Well, that's one relief, aye? ;-)

Paul: I'm not saying this to be mean, but I really have better things to read than the history of Evangelicalism!

Michael said...

My friend just reminded me of a sixth criterion for Fundies:

f) believes in the "Rapture"

Now that is embarrassing.


Yeah that is embarrassing and to think I once believed in the imminent rapture. Oh the grace of God.

I remember once a fellow traveler commenting on how much his life changed when he realized he was going to die. Funny and yet tragic all at the same time.

paul bowman said...

Evangelicalism is your topic here, not mine — and you seem willing to talk about it with some confidence. I just want you to have a clearer picture of the subject. But then too, I think you'd do well to see that the background on the subject isn't merely Evangelical background.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Michael: That makes me think that the reason Fundies like the idea of the Rapture so much (and are apparently willing to extend political support to Israel so that the Temple can be literally rebuilt) is that if it is all done within their lifetimes, they won't have to die.

Paul: I think you made your point with the first comment you left. Despite the strange turn the discussion took in the combox, the actual topic here is Catholic apologetics.

paul bowman said...

I did try, anyway. : )

My apologies if it seemed overkill.

iolanthe95 said...

Not all fundies believe in the Rapture. Church of Christ folks like me don't. After those Left Behind books came out, my bible study group had a long series of discussions on the history of that belief system and why we don't believe that. I tried to read one of those books just to see what all the fuss was about. I could never get past the first few chapters :P

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Fair enough, Iolanthe. =)

I'm not sure how I can be very definite one moment and then say, "But I don't mean you," in the next (except, perhaps, while secretly hoping that the person I'm speaking to will be equally combative and snap, "Yes, you do mean me"). But I realise that if I even try to work it out in this combox, I will go nuts.

So I'm locking this thread forever. =)