I attack the Catholic Church and Calvinism with my usual reticence.
Yet I went to some trouble to be baptized in the Melkite Church.
Everyone in my family has left the Methodist “Church.” Yet I bitch about the Catholic Church and condemn Calvinists all the time.
This is not a contradiction. It is what the mountain climbers say about why they do what they do: “I climbed Mount Everest because it was THERE.”
Attacking almost anything that calls itself a church is a waste of time. How could you criticize a mainline Protestant denomination? Specifically, how could you attack their position on morality?
They don’t HAVE a stance on morality. If you already know what Mommy Professor says about it, you know what the latest Church Conference said, they just said it in the name of religion instead of Social Progress.
I attack Catholic doctrines because they HAVE doctrines. When I attack Calvinists I do not want anyone to get the idea that I am giving the mainline Presbyterians hell because they are hardly aware that such a man as Calvin even existed.
If there were a Methodist CHURCH my family would still be members of it. We have a number of my circuit-riding grandfather’s sermons and in my youth we were amazed to see “The Devil,” in caps, appear regularly in them. Even in the 50s none of us had ever heard Satan mentioned in a sermon.
I used to tell people that I spent six and a half days a week working in politics, so sometimes I went to church on Sunday morning to see what the other side was doing.
None of this will surprise an American. Americans have always been very religious and very anti-clerical. In plain language, we go to church and we bitch about it.
Americans bitch about their churches all the time. But for Europeans I have taken around, the marvel was that there are so many churches in such young buildings, and even more so that those churches were built and are maintained privately. Europe’s churches are almost all relics maintained at state expense.
It is funny for people today to hear a line from an old movie where Lee Marvin is being baptized and the preacher doing it says he wants to “save him from the Presbyterians.” In my own family, my Baptist mother agreed to raise us in the Methodist Church, but only if we could delay baptism until we were the age of Consent, a basic Baptist tenet.
All this sounds weird today. Today there is only Ecumenicism.
But the generations that bitched at their own and other churches also FOUNDED those churches. Today churches are sort of included in new suburban areas. They are rebuilt to modernize.
I cannot climb a mountain which is not there. I cannot bitch about a doctrine that I cannot FIND.
Someone once told me that it is frightening to follow a loved one into the Emergency Room when there is shouting and someone is pounding on their chest.
But there is another thing that is worse. Following a loved one into the hospital when all is calm.
When all they can do is move the sheet up a few inches.
Catholics and real Calvinists are important to our history and I attack them and beat on their chests.
But what is worse is when someone like me does NOT attack a church. The soul has departed.