Saturday, January 14, 2012

In Defense of My Response to Jefferson Bethke: Part 2

In my previous post I responded to "Rob B." Now we come to the "Anonymous" comment (made on 1/13/2012 at 10:19 PM). For the initial post that elicited these comments, see A Catholic Response to "Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus" by Jefferson Bethke. Anon's words will be in bold:

As a born-and-raised, tried-and-true Catholic, I can say that there are many, many sentiments Mr. Bethke shares in his video that I find myself in whole-hearted agreement with. As this is neither the time nor place to delve into each and every line of the poem (as PhatCatholic has done), I will address a few.

I too agree with some of the things that Bethke said. Let's see where you and I disagree ...

Firstly, let me present the thought that there is absolutely no reason to split hairs over "false religion". We, whether as indivduals in our daily lives or as the Catholic Church as whole all know someone (or numerous someones) whose only practice of religion manifests itself in the aforementioned form. No one is a fan of said "religion"...let's agree on that fact.

I agree. But I think it is also important to make the distinction between "true" and "false" religion. Bethke has not made this distinction, and his video suffers greatly as a result. If he was saying, "I hate hypocrisy" or "I hate self-righteousness" then that would be one thing. But, he has decided to make the more salacious statement "I hate religion" and to talk as if religion -- all religion -- is the embodiment of hypocrisy and self-righteousness. This is flat-out insulting and untrue. His statement is so bizarre I'm convinced that he really doesn't know what religion is at all.

Now, to pinpoint a few notes from both the video and phatcatholic's response: Religions have started many wars. Period; done; over with. The Crusades are not something created out of a mad historians mind; they happened. I don't like it anymore than you do, but it happened. I absolutely agree that there are times when war is necessary, but's let's not mince words here. Mr. Bethke did not state that "religion has started all wars"; he said "[religion] has started so many wars".

I never accused Bethke of saying that religion started all wars, so I'm not sure where this criticism of yours is coming from. Go back and read what I said again about religion and wars. My whole point is that you can't throw out religion because it has started wars.

First of all, not all religions have started wars. Secondly, even the wars that have been waged in the name of religion have not all been bad or immoral. Thirdly, if Akin is right (and I think he's on to something) it's hardly ever as simple as "religion starts wars." There are always political and material aspirations involved as well ... oh, and sin. Bethke has taken a very complex topic and crudely oversimplified it so he can have another snide remark for his poem. I refuse to let him off the hook for that.

Now, as Catholics, would we really let Jesus in to our church if he came? I mean really, really LET HIM IN. I love Catholicism, but I do not agree with everything that is taught. We "let Jesus into our Mass" in the Eucharist we receive (as mentioned in phatcatholic's response to this question), but if Jesus were just someone in off the street, we would not allow that individual to receive Communion; correct? Heck, we don't even allow someone who has attended mass his/her entire life but then went to college and began participating in a Christian service (or simply missed a few weeks of Mass or Confession) to receive communion, so we dang sure wouldn't allow a "new person", whether we knew he was Jesus or not, to partake.

I think you're wrong about this. If someone presented himself for communion and the minister of Holy Communion had no reason to believe that the person was not disposed to receive the sacrament, then the presumption would be that the person could receive the Eucharist and so he would.

At any rate, last time I checked, the status of one's living arrangement did not disqualify him to receive the Eucharist. The poor, especially those present at Mass, remind us to be hungry for the food that satisfies. They are always welcome in our churches. I don't know of any church that turns away poor people.

Phatcatholic took the easy road out on this one and went with the de facto, "Oh yeah, we would let Jesus into our church. We already do; he's in the Body, Word, and Eucharist." This shows one of two avenues of thought to me: 1) phatcatholic has intentionally misinterpreted Bethke's question, or 2) he correctly interpreted it in his mind but then chose to skirt it on his blog.

My answer was perfectly legitimate. The many ways in which Jesus is present in the Mass shows just how welcome He is there. People come to church with the intention of meeting Jesus there, receiving Him there. Surely this means that He is welcome among us! Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Last, but not least, let me note this: There are many Catholic churches (and other churches, most assuredly) that are a "hospital for the broken", but...and let me be clear here...just because a hospital has a Waiting Room, that does not make it a "hospital". A church having pews and an altar does not make it a "church". It must be a place in which someone is paid attention to and helped. The broken know they are broken; that's why they're the doctor in, or is he not?

Are you questioning whether or not the Catholic Church is a hospital for the broken? I know that it takes more than some pews and an altar to make a church. It takes people, and we have plenty of them. These people come to the pews and the altar to celebrate the Mass because they receive grace there, and they realize how much they need the grace of God to persevere to eternal life. The Church is not a waiting room, it is a place to receive the healing and consolation that only the Great Physician can provide. My Church gives people that. Are you really denying that?

Pax Christi,


  1. This set of, now three, posts on the infamous vlog are wonderful, even better (dare I say it?) than Jimmy's.

    Nice to catch up with your blog again.

  2. Not one but two man. ;-)
    Actually, clicking the link in the comment name takes you to my G+ profile where my links are visible in the sidebar - this is the newEST Google/Blogger way.

    But, let's march quick time: = my writing and, = my Catholic themed art (though I am in the process of moving it from so at the time of this writing there is not much to see. Take a peek at the sidebar on the last link to see some art while it's still there or wait until I upload to the new location

    and, thanks for asking.

  3. Golly, I guess if I was smart I would have hotlinked those. Here you go:



    old site for drawntocatholicism

  4. Thanks Owen, I added your article and the one from Russ Rentler to my collection of responses.


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