Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Higher Level of Apologetics

People get comfortable with what they know, but to promote the Faith this works against us.

I have seen it so many times that I would almost call it a law of human behaviour: what was, you believe always is.

 I fear that in about twenty years it'll make the JP II Generation look just as silly as the Spirit of V II Generation does right now.

So, what's the problem and how do we combat it?

The problem I am trying to address is who is the audience we need to target in evangelization? The 'defensive posture' of evangelization is apologetics.

 But there is a question even prior to this one. It is who ought to be the audience?

 What I mean by this is part of the whole problem with getting caught up in past realities. Apologetics from the first half of the 20th century, for instance, was focused on Protestantism. This is almost a silly waste of time now, since the least of our problems is with traditionally-leaning Protestants. And yet so much of the stuff I see coming out of 'Catholic Answers' and EWTN is targeted at this group. Why? Because that was the context of Mother Angelica's youth, and the youth of the heroes of the 'Catholic Answers' people, heroes such as Fr. Sheen, Msgr. Knox, etc. Gosh, we date ourselves! - like when Alice von Hildebrand quotes her late husband all the time - a man who died in 1977...

Who are the enemies of the Church, who are the people causing the most grievous harm to the world today? - this is the first question that we must ask.

It's easy to come up with a list, a little harder to do the second part, that is, to ask the 'whys': why are they this way?

To know these people we have to keep examining and re-examining. We can't get hung up in our conclusions. Things are constantly changing.


Let's give an example of the process involved:

If we were to try to address the teachers who have caused and will continue to cause so much trouble regarding the 'gay-straight alliance' nonsense, how would we go about this?

 First, we have to find an answer to the question, why are they doing this, which is really the question, what values are involved here, how did they arrive at them, why do they hold them? Ultimately we want to know this so that we can figure out what they need to hear that might make them question their positions.

 Much of their reasoning is rather straight-forward, those parts that are reasoned, anyway. A great deal is emotional, and we have to know how to respond to that too. They reason that unless homosexuality is endorsed violence against homosexuals can only result since such negative views encourage others' violence. This is akin to saying that unless one thinks that wealthy people are good, one encourages violence against them. But to think is all people do by nature. I like and dislike another person for a million conflicting reasons. Because they are black, tall, fat, have an English accent, wear white jeans, like scarves, baseball, humming, whistling, cherry pie, etc. Some things bug me so much. Some of these things are quite pervasive: like smoking. I dislike smoking very much. Do I crave to do violence against smokers? Whether I do or not (I do not) is irrelevant; it is way too per accidens: that one person somewhere would do violence against another for smoking doesn't mean that hatred of smokers should be punished by law, because hatred of smokers leads to violence against smokers.

So, let's treat the naive on the OECTA (Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association), for instance, in light of their caring concerns for little homosexual children. Sure, they fail to understand much about the origins, development and health of homosexuals, but regardless, they care; they believe they care. We would, then, need to emphasize, not at first the far more complex metaphysical points about 'the ultimate good,' nor even talk to them about the long-term good (liberals are intrinsically unable to think long-term). Rather, we should simply reinforce to them that of all people in the world, caring, active, family-oriented Catholics are the least likely to do violence. Look around you: where is it that family people do violence at all? Young, single people do the vast majority of violent acts. In fact, the family, the Christian view of the family is the best surety against violence there is.

You need to begin to create a mental space for them outside of what the mainstream media has forced them to believe. One specific problem is the villainization of Christians as bigoted, uneducated people. Get them to confront these lies. If one watched too much news one would end up with the impression that tornadoes are especially drawn to trailer parks: they're not, but tornadoes can make a real mess of them, that's why they are always featured in stories about tornadoes. Similarly, this is why a recent survey showed that people who watch a lot of TV think that homosexuality is much more prevalent than it really is. It's not truth, they need to know this.

Getting to the heart of the OECTA people. They are do-gooders. They have to see that it is not homosexuals who are the disenfranchised, it is Christians. Christians are the hated, the persecuted, the minority. Christians are tax-paying, hard-working, family people. Homosexualists are far more affluent, and thus have a great deal of political clout. Liberals are all about victimization: they need to see who are the real victims in all this.

 But of course, you need to know you specific audience. Some of these OECTA people care about the family, some don't; some care about religious freedom and freedom of speech, some don't; some care about the Church, some don't. Some of these 'Catholic' school teachers honestly believe that they can and should change the Catholic Church / school from within - that is their honourable goal. How to deal with extreme arrogance is different from dealing with someone who just simply thinks 'we can all get along - Catholics and homosexualists, because all they are asking for is acceptance, and it's no big deal if you change the Church's teaching ever so slightly, right? Things change all the time in the Church, right?'

The arrogant person needs to be taken down a peg. Easy enough to do to someone who spends their days with children.

The person who thinks 'we can all just get along' needs to recognize that we have our separate Catholic school because we have certain beliefs that we have a right to live out. Why are they attacking these beliefs? We didn't go into their school to tell them they must pray the rosary under threat of law; they came into our school and told us that we can no longer believe our Catholic Faith.


Now that I have in so many words said abandon history in apologetics - a strange thing for a man to say who devotes his professional life to studying the 5th century! - I would like to point out one use of 'the past' for evangelization (not for apologetics, which is just one small part of evangelization). This is that we need to study the lives of the great Christians of the past to remind ourselves how far we might have to go in defence of the Faith. We could go all the way back to the first martyrs, but we don't have to: we can just go to the Sudan today (thanks, Clooney!), or to China, or to the Soviet Union of thirty years ago. Nor is any of this to undermine what Christians are currently undergoing in this country in defense of life, in defense of marriage, etc. I am only saying it because our situation is such that it is getting more hazardous every day to be a Christian. But don't give up hope. As I have said and will continue to say, for as insidious as the homosexualists are, they are light-weights compared to Stalin.


  1. The reason Karl Keating and Mother Angelica focus on Protestants is that Evangelicals were bleeding churches of the faithful in the 1980s and 1990s in the U.S.. In the Southern US, Evangelicals are extremely aggressive in targeting Catholics for conversion. Have you ever read material along the lines of Jack Chick, Dave Hunt or Lorraine Boettner? When you see how prevalent these materials are in the US, you see how it makes sense to repeat stuff from the 1920s, because the same darn arguments keep popping up.

    In Canada, there aren't a whole lot of Evangelicals targeting Catholics, although they are making headway in Quebec. I remember riding through the Lower St. Lawrence in the 90s and seeing Mormon and JW halls in French Quebec. This was very shocking to me.

    I think our apologetics should maybe focus on badly catechized Catholics, because they're the biggest "enemy". They're the reason we, as a Church, can't get our act together.

  2. Yes, there is a difference between Canada and US, no doubt, but I'd worry less about a weak Catholic becoming a convicted Protestant than anyone becoming a radical atheist, homosexualist...

  3. This post is really helpful. I'm glad I know smart people like you! A friend and I are hoping to meet with the local trustee and high school principal (the latter thankfully knows both of us as concerned parents)to discuss the matter of GSAs in the local Catholic high school. I am going to re-read this closer to the time, as I think it will really help as us we go to plead our case. Thanks for the post!