In response to my post Think Before You Convert, George comes back with some tough observations, which I reproduce below, with my comments interspersed:
I’m a catholic and this church feels so empty that I cannot recommend anyone to convert into the RCC. I am one of those “too enthusiastic” types, reading the Bible, volunteering at church, reading the catechism, etc… As noted in the article, this is an authoritarian church, there is not really a dialogue. If you know your Bible, and initiate a conversation with a priest, you will soon find they will not “encourage” you with a discussion on any topic where the validity of an RCC position is being discussed. The priest doesn’t have to defend anything, you can take it or leave it. That is the RCC.
It’s tragic that a church with such a broad-based intellectual tradition, where you can find the question “why”? answered (a question Evangelicals are notoriously flat-footed in dealing with) for a variety of topics. But the “take it or leave it” approach is not atypical at the parish level. I’ve always felt that one of the great gifts from God in my life was that my first parish used the chapel for the archdiocese’s major seminary, where I could interact with the priests and professors there.
Converting is also quite a long and boring process. And you will have to sit through a ton of presentations, and will be expected to shut up and nod in acceptance of whatever you are told. Not kidding, ask a question, and they get uncomfortable quickly. The RCC is not a place where questions are asked.
I think the RCC has the idea that, if they make the conversion process difficult, they won’t get “box checkers”, which they have in abundance. The problem is that the system, for other reasons, tends to encourage the formation of box checkers. It’s kind of like my old cat, who thought that, if he hid behind the chair, we would not see him, oblivious to the fact that his tail was sticking out in plain view.
The Bible mentions so many spiritual things like; casting out demons, healings, visions, dreams, voices from Heaven, etc… The RCC has an intellectual acknowledgement of these things, bur if anyone actually talks about these things happening today in the laity, they look at you like you are crazy. So it is an intellectual Christianity, not a Christianity of the heart.
The problem here is that the RCC (especially these days) is obsessed with all the grace from God flowing through the church and the sacramental system. That isn’t the way it works. As far as head and heart knowledge, it’s a favourite “either/or” proposition of churches, but I don’t think that this is was God’s plan either.
The RCC has had a long obsession with Latin. For a long time mass was held in Latin, which is not the vernacular of anyone. So they chose for a long time to teach the word of eternal life in a dead language that hardly anyone can understand. Jesus and the apostles after the holy spirit descended on them spoke in languages that people could understand. The RCC chose latin that no one could understand for whatever bizarre reason that pleases them.
In the years after Our Lord was on the earth, his apostles and their agents, successors and assigns (sorry for the legalese, I’ve hung around lawyers too much) spread the Gospel in the languages then current. One of those was Latin. It was intelligible in the Roman Empire and widely so for a thousand years and more afterwards.
Unfortunately the people’s ignorance of the language turned what was intelligible to what was not, and it became a mystery, which turned into mystique, one buttressed by the fact that Latin is generally chanted. It’s a good opportunity for parishes who want Latin Masses (and this applies to mixed ones too) to give Latin lessons, which would improve the people’s English to boot. It’s also a splendid opportunity to pitch the Church’s dreadful pronunciation of the language.
Quite frankly, finding Jesus in the RCC, while not impossible, is super hard. Just find yourself a better church and enjoy the good news of the gospel.
That’s a tragedy for a church with such far a far reach into society. Forcing people to make such a choice only impedes the advance of the Gospel and causes pain for many of us.