If you did not see yesterday’s post, you may want to peruse it before you have a gander at today’s.
I hope you had a chance to think it over a bit and draw some of your own conclusions. What follows are some of my thoughts. Here are a few caveats however: He does not say that he is speaking about the Catholic Church but about Christianity in general, but this response will be from a Catholic specific standpoint. For the most part, issues already addressed in the videos will not be rehashed. And finally, these are just some immediate thoughts, not a complete thesis on the video.
So here we go. When I was in Junior High School, my “girlfriend” took me with her youth group to a local amusement park. On the way home on the bus she said she had something she wanted to talk to me about. We hunched down in our seats and she said, “You know, you Catholics worship statues and make Mary like a god and God specifically banned these practices and condemned such people to hell.”
While the conclusion of the argument may be correct, the premise was false. I remember leaning back in my seat and saying, “Whoever told you that Catholics worship statues or Mary for that matter was either seriously misinformed or lying.” To this day I find this a common practice. Someone will announce that the Catholic Church believes “X” and then go on to condemn the Church because of “X” when in fact the “X” itself is completely or mostly false.
The young man in the video makes a lot of scandalous accusations against religion. I agree with every point he makes – if and when they are true. For example; he accuses religion of building large building but failing to feed the poor. That is an outrage. But is it true? What evidence does he supply? None. What can we offer in return? That the Church (Catholic) is the largest charitable organization in the world bar none. Catholic Charities in northeast Ohio is the largest Catholic Charities in the world. (I am starting to encroach on the third video so I will leave it there.)
But what about those “large buildings?” They are for the poor also. The poor need more than food – they also need beauty. If they desire to part of the faith there is a pew for those of us who are poor - nobody pays for the holy water or the blessings. Those who can do (and have an obligation to do so) but that does suggest not having money means that the building is not for you.
Another accusation is that religion tells single moms that God does not love them if they’ve had a divorce. I would like one document, one official statement, one example of this being true for where and if it exists it should be condemned. Divorce, in the Catholic Church, does not even keep you from the Blessed Sacrament. You might find somebody who says that it does, but they would be wrong. Getting remarried while not separated from your spouse in the eyes of the Church would keep you away from the Blessed Sacrament true (as it would get you arrested for getting married while not getting a civil divorce first by the government) but never does God cease to love. Ever. Period. And all things are correctable. The idea is to protect that woman and the integrity of the sacrament not punish people for a failing marriage.
The idea that we can dress up on the outside but still be notorious sinners on the inside is acceptable to men of religion is just, once again, false. “Rend your hearts, not your garments.” Religion is there to help people do this who are open to it. Want an example of someone who acts religious but keeps sinning – I’ll give you plenty of examples. But an abuse does not negate the value of something that others find transformative. Sacraments of healing and forgiveness, of drawing closer and giving praise to God, recognizing the dignity of others – this is what good religion is supposed to do.
You get the idea.
Then some of his sweeping and misleading claims grow broader. “God does not support the self righteous.” This is true and I agree. But his inference is that all men of religion are self righteous – is an oddly self righteous statement. It is a kin to a statement made at the beginning of his video that simply calling someone else blind does not mean that you can see – could be a statement that ricochets back on him.
And does it have to be one way or the other? It is not about man searching for God but about God searching for man? Is it not both?
Did Jesus come to abolish religion? No, I believe He came to abolish bad religion. To say straight out that all religion is condemned by God requires the ignoring or fancy footwork around a LOT of Biblical evidence. Not the least of which is the Bible itself which was solidified for us by . . . the Church in the fourth century. Religion.
Okay – this is getting way to long. I hope you had fun thinking this through yourself and maybe had some conclusions that were not even touched upon by either this short essay or in the other videos. To tell the truth I like this young man. Think about it: He seems utterly sincere in his love of Jesus and he went through some considerable effort to spread what he sees as the Good News. Even if I disagree with him spreading what comes down to his version of religion (ironic), I am jealous for my own youth they are not all out there doing the same.