Contra “The Controlling” Catholic Church: Against the Caricature that The Church Loves to Brainwash, Lie, Deceive, Plays on Beliefs and Values regarding the Spiritual Unknown   Leave a comment

1. Introduction

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)

As a child coming of age into young adult years, my Reversion to Catholicism is one marked by an initial hatred for The Catholic Church as I understood it. I was the poster child of Progressive Modernist thought who yet embodied a fierce New Age Protestantism about things pertaining to The Church and the surrounding cultural and spiritual developments that I found myself growing up around in. This series is written to rebuke the writings of my Youth, a sort of self-imposed Penance to atone for my own personal ignorance. The writings of my youth are held on the internet at the Yahoo! Voices website, there are 4 Articles written between July to November 2007, just after my graduation from High School. It should be noted that the rebuke is thematically addressed rather than chronologically answered.

The First Article written in July 2007 was titled, “Christianity Vs. True Christianity: A Problem with the Church?” This article embodied perfectly my Anti-Catholic view influenced by Progressive Modernism, Protestant propaganda yet New Age influences at the time. The Second Article written in August 2007 was title, “Church of Christ: The Church is Not the Real Thing!” This article embodied my confusion and the varieties of cultural propaganda set against the Church, this article sounds most like what I hear today, and that I have come to most fight against today. The Third Article was written in the same month and was titled, “Is the Bible Really Full and Complete?” This article was my argument that the Bible was incomplete and that since it has been left to many revisions it is no longer a trustworthy book, this attack the notion that The Bible was the Complete and Final Word of God. The Fourth and Final Article was written in November 2007 and was titled, “My Road to Christian Gnosticism” Here it is showcased for all to see my love of Heterodoxy and lack of understanding of Orthodoxy, of course in celebrating fighting against the superstitious ignorance of the Church I now confess that I was the one being superstitious and ignorant.



II. My Argument Against My Past Self

As a rebellious teen who thought he knew everything I believed that The Church was purely a moralizing community, it was very legalistic, and very juridical in its nature being that it seemed so backward and I thought I was so hip and progressive I saw this antique institution as something that used fear mongering to get what it wanted, it lied, it manipulated, it deceived, and it loved playing on the individuals sovereign beliefs and values regarding the Spiritual Unknown. This paper is written to show that while such incidences have occurred before in the past, The King cannot be had without His Kingdom and that Dogma is designed to rationally explain (the best it could be explained) the Mystical Experiences that the community has.

Currently there is a wave of individualism sweeping the culture today, according to the fancies of contemporary society the Individual is the Center of the world. They say you are what you eat, well I believe this to be true of the ideas and information presented to us as well. The individual in our consumerist, faced-paced society can choose to have what he wants, when he wants it, and to what degree and what way he wants it. For those who seek True Spirituality this feature needs a lot of discernment and caution, lest Spiritual Pride, Psychological Myopia and Narcissism poison the spiritual work. Right now the Cultural Zeitgeist is, as one person put it, “popular to be dogmatically un-dogmatic.” With this understanding in place, it is apparent why so many people feel God as found in Religion to be a demanding and judgmental God rather than a Liberating and Merciful one, it’s also popular to hear someone say, “Spiritual but not Religious.”

Dogma however is found everywhere, as is Religiosity, as is Devotion. It may come in Secular terms or Religious terms, it maybe something as basic as food or as simply complicated as God, but in the end someone has a philosophy they live by and they may not realize the full import of what it is they live by, how they were lead there, or what it will lead them too. Everyone has a God, and how they live their life is an expression of what is at the center of their life: If a man puts sexual gratification at the center of his life, then his actions, his thoughts, and his emotions will conform accordingly, those are His Dogmas and those are his Morals, but we do not see nor do we blame him for being so dogmatic and religious in pursuing sexual gratification, perhaps being given the “ordained” title of a “Playa,” someone that others can maybe turn to in the hope of aspiring to being a “Playa” one day as well. However, as soon as man puts the Living God at the center of His Life and allows His Actions, His Thoughts, and His Emotions to conform accordingly to The Living God, he is accosted by the cultural propaganda that he is being too Dogmatic and Religious!

Going back to what I said earlier, our culture prides the individual and personalization to the individual’s desires and likings, he can customize things according to his whim. However as soon as someone else comes in and tells someone else to try something different, it feels like as if our will needs to begrudgingly submit to the others will and recommendations. This is modern mans predicament, in his pride he cannot submit and surrender. The problem here is that, if one were to put the Living God at the center of their lives, they would need to conform their desires, thoughts, feelings, and actions to His Will. Here lies the problem; these are not Dogmas, Rules, and Conventions custom created by the individual so the modern individual feels threatened. The cure is simple, learn to see that God does not want you to be a doormat, that He wants Cooperation not Dictation, that Submission to Him is not like submission to your fellow man, that Your Submitting to His Love not worldly fear.

Dogma pervades all things, currently people think they are not being dogmatic, but most people (especially the youth) are uncritically conforming to the Dogmas of Contemporary Popular Culture Modernism, Progressivism, Relativism, Pluralism, and Hedonism, and when it comes to understanding Christianity a Secular Protestantism with an over Judgmental Godhead, this is not their fault entirely for they were born into it, I was raised up in it, however if they were to admit this truth they could begin to see things differently and have a real choice in the matter not caught in a world defined by the Spirit of the Age as found in the expressions of the Popular Culture.

The Church with its Dogmas, has them not because they were arbitrarily arrived upon, but because to be considered a Theologian in the strictest sense one needed to be a Mystic themselves. The notions of The Trinity, The Incarnation, The Resurrection, The Ascension, The Assumption, The Immaculate Conception, The Dormition, The Sacrament of Reconciliation, Baptism, Confirmation, Matrimony, Eucharist, The Afterlife, The World To Come, etc… All these things come from living a life with God rather than just abstract thoughts that were made on a whim. I look at authors of New Age books and Popular Spirituality and yet we do not accuse them for coming up with abstract thoughts on whim with such General and Broad Spiritual Statements, but as soon as some specific and particular Spiritual Statement is made we are taken back, like as if we didn’t think someone/thing would talk back to us, but this is an insult to The Spirit and The Spiritual Life if one were to think about it, we act like as if we are doing this to amuse ourselves rather than cultivate a serious yet Joyously Life-filled relationship with the Spirit.

If it is true that when it comes to Living a Spiritual Life we are called to cultivate a relation with The Spirit then why does it shock us that things would become increasingly more specific and particular? Consider a human relationship, (something pretty profound in itself) when you first meet a person you understand things in a very general and vague way, but as they begin to trust you and reveal more about themselves to you then the understandings will certainly become increasingly specific and concrete, you’ll know specifically what they like and dislike, what makes them jump for joy and get upset over. So it is with religious dogma, so it is with the Dogma and Rules of The Catholic Church, not because they are designed to control you and be legalistic quite the contrary they are the very vehicles through which the Living Grace of God shines through and helps to cultivate that relationship, they are designed to liberate and fulfill you:

– If I want Forgiveness, I can either choose to do some abstract prayer to God, vowing not to do it again in word (but fail in time in deed) or I can go to an ordained minister whole-heartedly repent and actually hear the words, “I absolve you of your sins, Go in Peace.” Which one would bring the point home to you?

– If I want to Have God in Me, I can either choose to do good works and hardcore ascetic practice (which doesn’t really work so well) or I can go every week or everyday to receive God on the Tongue in His House and hear His Word and in that reflective silence give praise, thanks, and surrender to Him in Spiritual Silence (assumes one goes to the Traditional Latin Mass).

– If I want to understand the Dignity conferred upon being a Human, I could just believe some general and vague sentimental or spiritual statement or I could read St. Athanasius’ “On the Incarnation of the Word” to actually concretely grasp how much dignity is placed on Creation and on Man.

In the end, being Dogmatic is not a sign of Narrow-mindedness it’s a sign of a mind making very specific conclusions about things. The Dogmatism and Rules, give concrete expression for a person seeking spiritual practice, a vaguely “spiritual but not religious” person has no concrete expression, is lost among a sea of spiritual wisdom with no dry land from which to begin building a relationship with Spirit, and finally can be easily mislead to confuse the spiritual with the egoic, especially in a society like ours. Dogmatism does not exclude entire, but illuminates the Seeds of Truth found elsewhere. Rather than concluding with my own words, I will conclude with the words from the author G.K. Chesterton regarding Dogma,

“So far as a man may be proud of a religion rooted in humility, I am very proud of my religion; I am especially proud of those parts of it that are most commonly called superstition. I am proud of being fettered by antiquated dogmas and enslaved by dead creeds (as my journalistic friends repeat with so much pertinacity), for I know very well that it is the heretical creeds that are dead, and that it is only the reasonable dogma that lives long enough to be called antiquated.”


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