Thursday, April 24, 2014

This Just Might Be the Best Defense of Catholicism Since Aquinas




Did you see it? It's my new favorite.





It also just happens to star Frankie's godmother, my good friend Blythe of The Fike Life. It shows the beauty and joy of our Catholic faith, lived in the particular vocation of a big family.

If this somehow infuriates you <cough, some commenters, cough>, you must be one of those hundred Venerable Fulton Sheen was talking about. Because this IS what the Catholic Church really is.


I waited and waited to read the comments. I thought the video was so well done and so accurately represented my experience as a Catholic, and I care so much about the interviewee, that I wondered if I could bear to read people dismissing and misrepresenting and misunderstanding it.


But, because I wanted to share it here, I decided to brave the comments. And . . . they weren't as bad as I expected. Still, there are some comments we should talk about. Hey! Let's make it seven of them, shall we?



-1-


"Imagine if religion were shut off like a switch. Imagine the millions that would immediately lay down arms. Now that would uncomplicate some things around this joint."


According to the Encyclopedia of Wars (Phillips and Axelrod), of the 1,763 major conflicts in recorded history, only 123 of them can be classified as having been fought over religious differences. That’s less than 7 percent. (read the rest here)



-2-

"to have a religion forbid/teach against birth control is probably just fine for people like this lady who honestly don't care how many kids they have (and seem to be able to support them just fine) and are in a marriage where there's no concern for STDs.. but it's really a dangerous concept overall and pretty toxic for the majority :("



According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, there is insufficient evidence to claim that condoms are effective in preventing the transmission of STDs other than AIDS (and condoms are only 85% effective against the transmission of AIDS, which still seems awfully risky) and, of course, other contraceptive methods don't offer any protections at all against the transmission of disease.

Catholic sexual moral teaching, on the other hand, DOES allow for an entirely STD-free sexual experience . . . within the bonds of matrimony.


-3-

"If you claim authority outside of the bible than you're a heretic and heathen. The bible as God's word is the only authority over anything,we believe."



Catholic doctrine is based on the Bible, sacred tradition, and the teaching authority of the Magisterium.

I was raised Catholic, so perhaps I should refrain from poking the Sola Scriptura with this here stick.

But it seems to me that the main problem with Sola Scriptura . . . is that it's not IN the Bible. Christianity predates the compilation of the Bible by hundreds of years. It was sacred tradition and the teaching authority of the Magisterium that determined which were the divinely inspired books that would make up the Bible.


For more, see: According to Scripture.

-4-

"so basically she forces her children to study at home because she would be alone and she doesn't trust her children that they are going to study properly in normal education system? so does this suppose to make me feel "oh Catholics are just normal people", because this look like a selfish overprotecting mother that she does what she does supposedly because she is catholic"


I can't answer this for Blythe, but I can answer it for me. 

I homeschool not because I don't trust my children, or because I don't trust the government, or because I'm selfish, or overprotective, or lonely, or because I think it's the only thing good Catholics can do.

I homeschool because we looked at all the options and this is what worked best for our family.

-5-

"This is a very sweet video, however the lady is not exactly correct regarding natural family planning. It is not far reaching to say that natural family planning is a form of birth control; the purpose of birth control is to virtually extinguish the possibility of pregnancy and ultimately enjoy sex, the purpose of natural family planning is identical. So wether you wear a condom, swallow a pill, or wait until there is no chance of pregnancy, your mental state is the same, avoid pregnancy."




There is not, and never has been, a mandate within the Catholic Church that couples must have as many children as possible.

A woman is fertile sometimes and not fertile other times. That's the way God made us.
NFP is always open to the gift of life. Contraception turns against our fertility and tries to sterilize it. NFP recognizes God as the Author and Sovereign of all life, and during the woman's fertile period allows Him to decide if a new person shall be conceived. Contraception pushes God out of the picture, and attempts to take complete control over the possible procreation of a new person who will live forever. NFP takes advantage of the natural rhythms of fertility and infertility. Contraception suppresses and manipulates fertility, and refuses to practice periodic abstinence. (read the rest here)
Not having sex is pretty different than . . . having sex, and not "ultimately enjoy"able in quite the same way.

While the outcome might be the same -- to postpone or avoid pregnancy -- it's the mental state that couldn't be more different. 


Which is not to say that NFP isn't a pain in the butt. It totally is. But it's a statistically effective, morally acceptable pain in the butt.



-6-


"Catholics do not believe in the gospel. They worship men, popes, mary and all together idols. Repent."



Yes we do. 


No we don't.


Okay.



-7-

"I'm not a religious expert or anything but I thought that the Christian Orthodox Church was older than the Roman Catholic Church (since her reason for being Catholic was because she wanted to be part of the oldest branch of Christianity)"


it's on a t-shirt, so it must be right

I'm not a religious expert either, so I had to look this one up. And, whew, it's a doozy. But, like Blythe, I remain convinced that the Catholic Church is the church established by Jesus Christ, and that it has existed continuously since then, despite being made up of a bunch of human beings who have a tendency to muddle things up. For that reason I think it's the one I should be a part of.

----------------------------


So, big hugs from me to Zach, and Blythe, and Blythe's kids, and Blythe's chickens, and SoulPancake, and everyone involved in making this video. It's a beautiful representation of my experience of the Catholic faith.


These three books were really helpful to me, as a cradle Catholic who really didn't have much of an understanding of Catholic doctrine:



The Faith Explained


Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words

Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux 
Friends who have become Catholic from other faith traditions (or are considering it) have highly recommended these books to me:


By What Authority?: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition 

Catholic and Christian: An Explanation of Commonly Misunderstood Catholic Beliefs

Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism 



For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary.

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52 comments:

  1. I think that there are another two books you ought to add to your list post-haste. One is Mark Shea's "By What Authority?" and the other is Alan Schreck's "Catholic and Christian." Those two books have been hugely influential for me, especially Shea's book. It kind of smashed to smithereens of both my husband and my rather blind assumption that Sola Scriptura was obviously correct.
    As an aside, I don't know that I would recommend Leo Trese's book to those who are already very anti-Catholic, since it has some passages that are going to strike hard-core Protestants (or even soft-core ones like me) as being very harsh. Such as comparing visiting a Protestant church to visiting a mosque or a synagogue, and saying that a Catholic ought never to darken the doors of a Protestant church. Such statements are likely to further reinforce grudges and "See, I knew they were crazy" sentiments, in my opinion. It's not that it isn't a good book; I just wouldn't put it first on the list for people who already have an ax to grind.
    Whereas reading books by Mark Shea (for example), who started out as an Evangelical, is much likelier to gain some ground. At least, that's my guess. Also, just about any episode of "The Journey Home" is great (there are about 150 episodes on Youtube and I'm about 1/3 of the way through that list!) Also, www.calledtocommunion.com is a very intellectual site particularly geared towards Lutherans and Calvinists.
    I guess at the end of the day haters are gonna hate. It's sad, though, to see the haters hating who don't bother to educate themselves with anything other than CARM and Chick tracts and other anti-Catholic material. Intellectually speaking, if you want to do a bang-up job of proving something wrong, you ought to do so using primary sources from the thing you think is wrong. If it is wrong, the truth will out. Proving something is wrong using hearsay evidence is not very compelling.
    Of course, it's hard to get far with someone who insists that the Bible is the only authority needed (and I know both from being one of those people once upon a time and one who is trying to pick apart that ideology now). That's where "By What Authority?" is so handy. Really, it's a must read! If you haven't read it yet, Kendra, you really should. For you and other cradle Catholics it is just preaching to the choir, but it is a great way to see things from an Evangelical convert's perspective. Another book of his about the Real Presence was also good.
    Hmm, it appears as though I feel strongly about this topic ;)

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    1. Thanks Jenny, I really appreciate your take on this. The Faith Explained was a huge help to me as a cradle Catholic who was vaguely familiar with all the stuff I was supposed to believe, but didn't know the first thing about why. But I can understand why it might not be as good a fit for everyone. It has a very old-fashioned feel, which appeals to me, but, again, not everyone. Thanks for your recommendations, I added them to the list.

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  2. Also there's a typo in a graphic you used. It's not spelled "Morman." It is "Mormon."

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  3. Even in my very Protestant religious education, it's always been made obvious that the Catholic church came first.

    I am confused about the saints, though. Using them as intercessors seems...off..to me, but I think I might misunderstand the practice. (That very Protestant education.) I'd LOVE a blog post on "Catholicism for Dummies" or something like that.

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    1. Catholics believe that the saints in Heaven are still a part of the church, still members of the body of Christ. So, in the same way that you might ask a friend to pray for you, you can ask a saint to pray for you.

      There's more about it at Catholic Answers: Praying to the Saints

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    2. Hi Susie - I was raised Protestant, too, but have just joined the Catholic Church. I highly recommend the book "Catholicism for Dummies."

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  4. I just discovered your blog, and I've so enjoyed reading your perspective on things. But this comment is just to say that I grew up in Fillmore, but live in Washington state now, so seeing glimpses of the church I grew up in made my night! Cheers to Blythe for representing Catholicism AND Fillmore so well!

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  5. I would like to cheer you on for not making fun of the poor wording used by the person who put down homeschooling. You're a good person.

    I worship a man, too. (Love You, Jesus!)

    And perhaps God or the pope has given you some glimpse of what is to come, but at this point Fulton Sheen is Venerable and not yet Blessed.

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  6. Annnnnd....I have bookmarked this to refer to when I encounter those (way too common) misconceptions about the Church. Great article!

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  7. I loved the video. (bravo, Blythe!) And I loved this post, Kendra. Thank you for representing our Faith and our Church in such a beautiful and real way! (It helps that you're both classy AND articulate!)
    Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

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  8. Whew. I am not brave enough for YouTube comments!

    Bravo on this post!

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  9. You're a brave, brave woman. I love this though, and Blythe we all think you're great - ignore the haters!

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  10. I loved the video and this post. You both are such beautiful witnesses of our Catholic faith.
    Thank you!

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  11. Kendra, what a great friend you are! Nice defense of Blythe's sweet video. Also, thanks for the reminder about The Faith Explained- love that book!

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  12. Thanks for getting the word out. I watched this video and it is awesome! What a beautiful family. I am impressed with the fact that she is only 31 and already has this beautiful family. It took me a lot longer to get my act together and get my priorities straight in life. Kudos to all the young women out there who put first things first!

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  13. You are far braver than I in dealing with comments, especially of the YouTube variety.

    Sigh.

    *I* really need to stop reading them. They make my heart hurt.

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  14. This video is flippin' awesome. Thanks for sharing!!

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  15. Love this post. Love the video. There's a lot of love on this Internet.

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  16. I have to add to number five--when they write "the purpose of birth control is to virtually extinguish the possibility of pregnancy and ultimately enjoy sex, the purpose of natural family planning is identical." It is most definitely more than just a mental difference. Abstaining is VERY different than having intercourse and using a barrier or hormone to prevent conception. Not having sex in order to avoid a pregnancy is not both "extinguish[ing]" the possibility of pregnancy AND "ultimately enjoy[ing] sex." You are forgoing the enjoyment of sex b/c you see the greater "good" of avoiding pregnancy at this time. Right? We don't really practice NFP (I have a mindset similar to yours), but this line of thinking drives me crazy.

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    1. Not to defend the line of thinking (which I agree is flawed), but most Evangelicals, particularly of the childbearing years, have been taught that there is nothing more sacred (in a marriage) than not "depriving each other" for any reason except a planned out time of prayer. Some go so far as to call it demonic, citing the same verse (1 Cor. 7:5).
      This, in addition to the more popular belief prevailing among several well known mega church pastors that once you're married anything goes in the bedroom as long as it doesn't involve other people, makes NFP and Catholic "rules" seem like horrible, hateful manmade traditions…just the kind of thing that anti-Catholics love to harp on.
      Again, I'm not saying I agree with the view I just mentioned, but I think it is worth realizing that it is out there and I can say from our own experience that it is very challenging to unlearn. So, we must have some compassion for those coming from this perspective. Many, many Protestant Christians today view non-abortifacient birth control (condoms, pull out, sterilization, etc.) as "God's gift to married couples." I can't tell you how many times I heard women in my Protestant church laugh about "getting fixed" or "getting their husband the snip-snip" or comparing methods of birth control they tried.
      And I (still technically a Protestant, although considering coming into full communion) never saw the least bit of problem with it until I started to comprehend Catholic teaching on the subject. Once you hit the idea that to use contraception is the same mindset as to abort ("The possibility of a child is unwelcome and to be prevented at all costs, except the cost of my own pleasure and freedom"), well, it's hard to justify as a gift from God anymore.

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    2. Thanks KC, that is a GREAT point, and I updated the post a bit to include it. And Jenny, thank you for sharing this. It's such an interesting perspective. For me, it's an example of why the teaching authority of the Magisterium (the bishops and the Pope) is such a blessing and not a burden. What you describe SOUNDS very, very nice. And I can absolutely see how very well-meaning Christians could come to those conclusions. But, like you're doing, when I really examined what the Catholic Church teaches about contraception, I found it had a fullness of truth that included many aspects of the human person that things like voluntary sterilization do not include.

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    3. I would also add to this that the argument implies that the possibility of children makes sex unenjoyable, and that NFP followers also believe that. That couldn't be farther from the truth.

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    4. Jenny, as much as I think to myself "man, that is some backwards logic," I am so grateful you have shared that with us. Pulling out the culture and values I was immersed in during my formative years, I can see how society so commonly accepts these schools of thought. Again, thank you.

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  17. I so enjoyed her video. Thanks for addressing some of the comments. Frankie is blessed with a wonderful Godmother.

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  18. Thank you, Kendra! This was such a satisfying thing to read, especially as a mutual friend of Blythe's and also having braved the comment section on the video. God bless. Great blog!
    -Anne-Marie (who also has 7 kids, but struggles to remember how many kids I bring to the park with me sometimes ;)

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    1. Anne-Marie! I know you must be mortified, but I loved that so much. Every mom with more than four kids watched you miscount your kids and thought, "Yep, that lady's totally me." It was so cute.

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    2. Haha! Thanks Kendra. I got over my initial embarrassment and can appreciate the humor of it. I am glad you enjoyed my real life mom-of-many moment ;)

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    3. Just supporting Kendra's claim- I have 5 kids and at that part was like "Ha! Been there, love."

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  19. Haha, my fave part was: "Yes we do. No we don't. Ok."

    And that argument about a mom being selfish in homeschooling her kids...clearly a well-informed person when it comes to homeschooling.

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  20. A point my husband has made is, there is nothing in Church teaching saying that married couples are obligated to have sex. So whatever your reason is, if you're choosing not to, it's not wrong.

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  21. I haven't watched the video but might when I can do so uninterrupted. I will say this - I was born into a Presbyterian family and raised Baptist most of my life. Both of my husbands have been cradle Catholics, the first was absolutely lapsed and the other was mostly practicing (but we divorced because he had an affair with one of his employees and was abusive to me, to the point where I nearly died so there's that....). Without getting too deep into the doctrine of one faith or another I will just say that this group of Catholic Mommy Bloggers that I have the pleasure of following have demonstrated more to me about living their faith than anyone I've encountered in my almost 46 years on this planet. I believe that we are known by "our fruit" and you girls are excellent growers! There's a lot that we won't fully understand this side of Heaven and I'm always encouraged by people who are strong in their faith. *hugs* Heather

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  22. For a fantastic book on the early church, read "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic: The Early Church Was the Catholic Church" by Whitehead. It's very dense with information. You could read it eight times and not absorb it all. It has lots of great and surprising facts, and it addresses the early church stuff. So if you feel like reading something very in depth: http://www.amazon.com/One-Holy-Catholic-Apostolic-Church/dp/0898708028/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398442259&sr=1-1&keywords=one+holy+catholic+and+apostolic

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  23. I love posts like this because they give me something to point to when my friends look at me like I'm capital-C Crazy for running my mouth about misconceptions about the Catholic Church.

    Also, you're way braver than me because I'm terrified of wading into YouTube comments.

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  24. I can't wait to come back and read THESE comments, but I love that you responded to these youtube commenters. There's a lot of confusion about most religions so it's always a good thing to turn those misconceptions on their heads with truth.

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  25. For #7, I looked into this a few years back and it is a doozy. I was in RCIA, on my way home (thanks in part to the Hahn's book given to me by a Catholic counselor with whom I had been working), when someone commented on a thread about people who had become Catholic or started their journey to the Catholic Church while attending Oral Roberts University. The commenter replied to someone who mentioned belonging to the Church founded by Jesus by saying that they should be Orthodox instead because that was the true Church and that it was the Roman church that split with the Orthodox church. I didn't know anything about it, so looked into it. Articles like the one you linked to were very by helpful clarifying the issue. But the answer, though clear to me, is a doozy through which to sift.

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  26. Wonderful post! I love how you are able to respond to the wacky comments and still keep your sense of humor and class.

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  27. This was great.
    I agree with you, of course, that Blythe rocked it.
    And the link you provided for "No we don't" (worship the saints) is the best discussion I have read - as a non-Catholic admirer of Catholics - on Catholic prayer practices relating to/interacting with saints. Thanks for including it.

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  28. Great post! Absolutely read Rome Sweet Home or any book by Scott and/or Kimberly Hahn. Amazing!!

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  29. Thanks for sticking up for the rest of us, Kendra. I've gone and put my nose in the arguments, against my better judgement; you can usually tell who is just in it to rant and rave and who is actually bringing an intelligent though usually uninformed argument to the discussion. Seems like a bunch of the former to me. :c

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  30. This is incredible, Kendra!! First, thanks for "introducing" me to Blythe. Second, thanks for the example you are for our faith. Love your blog!

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  31. I'm not Catholic, but I still found this a very enlightening video and discussion!

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  32. The Faith Explained is an excellent read. My religious couples book club read it and it and great discussion followed as we were cradle Catholics and converts.

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  33. I watched this video on a different blog (don't ask me where - I've been catching up on my backlog of entries allll day) earlier today, and enjoyed reading your rebuttal to several of the comments. Thanks for sharing!

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  34. Thanks so much for this! I love it, will be sharing it, and will definitely reference it. I also really loved the video. Like a ton. I am a baby Catholic (just a few weeks old) and still trying to "get it" in a very real, day-to-day sense. Though more and more everyday I am able to *be* Catholic I still think "okay but, how am I suppose to *be* Catholic, again?" The video really helped bring it down to earth for me. I watch it over and over. Is that weird? Whatever, I'm fine with it.

    To add to your suggested reading, this may sound silly but Catholicism for Dummies has been an amazing help to me and my husband. And though it's not a book the podcast Catholic Stuff You Should Know has also served to really help us. You know, I should really just write up a few blog posts of my own on becoming Catholic while it's still fresh in my mind.

    Thanks again!

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  35. Hi Kendra, Would you mind addressing a little more of comment number two, beyond just the STD aspect?

    I'm so happy to have discovered your blog and Blythe's as well. If only I had more cooperative hormones I would love to be living the homeschooling, big family lifestyle the way you and Blythe do and honestly I hold out hope that it is still possible for me. And maybe I would consider NFP for myself if that was actually something that could be relevant to my physiology. It has been nice not only to see other women practicing a lifestyle that I would choose for myself, but also see them articulate some depth behind why they have chosen it- especially when the ethics of choosing to have a big family can seem so questionable in the current state of our world and environment. I can't say that my anxieties are resolved, but it is still somehow affirming to identify with other women who have similar desires and inclinations.

    That said, you and Blythe seem so well-suited for the life of mothering big families. What do you think about people who are either not well disposed for mothering many children or simply don't have the resources to do it? I think it is really lovely to put NFP forward as an ideal, but I can't understand the Catholic church's political opposition to birth control. That is ok to say that abstinence is the only way to 100 percent avoid parenthood, but the reality is many people are not going to abstain. The church's opposition to birth control (e.g. the Catholic bishops opposition to obamacare) is something that has actually made me feel really embarrassed to call myself a Catholic.

    So...yuck. I hope I haven't made you think too poorly of me/ offended you. These topics never come up conversationally in real life for me, so I am not well practiced in talking about them. If you have any thoughts on what I've mentioned I would really love to hear them.

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    1. Laura, this is a good important question and I want to do it justice, but I leave the country in 16 hours and have all the things to do first. I will respond to you here when I get back a week and a half, if not sooner. If you email me at CatholicAllYear @ gmail . com I will be able to send you my response that way too, or just check back here.

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  36. well I just discovered your blog yesterday and now I have another blog I can add to my reading list:) catholic mum of 5 and 2/3 and loving it and love seeing other gorgeous young families who are living their faith and proud of it.
    Corrie:)

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  37. Love this video! Awesome job Blythe!

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    ReplyDelete

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