Quotes for the week

14 07 2010

The picture above just serves to express that my wife makes the best gumbo in the world, but that is not necessarily a picture of it.

When I started, I hadn’t wanted a restaurant. What I wanted was the know-how of people who ran restaurants. I didn’t want to be a chef: just a cook. And my experiences in Italy taught my why. For millennia, people have known how to make their food. They have understood animals and what to do with them, have cooked with the seasons and had a farmer’s knowledge of the way the planet works. They have preserved traditions of preparing food, handed down through generations, and have come to know them as expressions of their families. People don’t have this kind of knowledge today, even though it seems as fundamental as the earth, and, it’s true, those who do have it tend to be professionals – like chefs. But I don’t want this knowledge in order to be a professional; just to be more human.

-if you want to know the source, you have to click here

Today many U.S. Catholics and Jews think like Protestants. They believe that religion is something we choose as individuals rather than inherit as communities, and they view it primarily in terms of faith rather than practice. None of this comes from either the Catholic brain of Aquinas or the Jewish mind of Maimonides. The progenitor of this faith-based understanding of religion (who also happens to be the patron saint of religion rulings at the U.S. Supreme Court) is the American Protestant thinker William James, who famously defined religion as ‘the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine’.”

-Stephen Prothero, via this link

On this one, I was reminded of St. Thomas’ opening argument in the Summa in which he writes something to the effect that those who have faith have an easier road to some truths than those wise men who had to work out natural theology for themselves. Why can’t this be applied to cradle Catholics as opposed to converts? Why is it in some circles being a cradle Catholic is considered to be some sort of disadvantage? Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. What a great grace it is to be born into a collective situation where at the very least you are pointed in the right direction.

To this effect, I post this quote, just to be provocative:

We have more to learn from the worst cradle Catholics in the world than from the best converts. And don’t give me any of that “We all have a lot to learn from each other” waffling as if I don’t know that there are exceptions–which I do–because then you’ll clearly have missed the point and succeeded only in embarrassing yourself.




9 responses

24 08 2010

I posted a bit here about being a CradleCat vis a vis the converts:


24 08 2010

I posted a bit here about being a CradleCat:


18 07 2010
Arturo Vasquez

I think we are all weary of people coming in telling us how we need to re-invent Catholicism. We have enough problems with our own who want to do this, without a bunch of newbie upstarts trying to pitch in as well.

My rule is that if isn’t older than my parents, then it is up for grabs and I don’t have to take it seriously. The problem is that it is astounding how many “important” things in contemporary Catholicism don’t even pass that test.

18 07 2010

I have to agree with Ron, about everyone being at a disadvantage because everyone is at a loss, and Henry when he speaks of a false version of 1940’s Catholicism. But what really made me want to comment was Arturo’s statement that we have more to learn from the worst cradles than from the best converts. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we have nothing to learn from a convert, so long as they insist on acting like converts and refuse to become full Catholics. (And yes I’m going to sound like an a##hole on this one, but don’t I always?)

Here’s what I mean. As long as they call themselves Catholic, we do not have to accept anything about them that comes from their “old life.” Instead, I believe we would do them a kindness by pointing it out to them, and telling them that to become fully Catholic and not just a “convert,” they need to eradicate any and all traces of their former Protestantism. It is their obligation to learn from us cradles how to act Catholic, think Catholic, talk Catholic, and be Catholic. They have nothing that will enrich us in their old life; if their old culture was so great, than a) they wouldn’t have left it behind, and b) the Church would have absorbed the good parts long before they were born, so we really don’t need them to show us the way. Therefore, the only thing we stand to learn from them is how many brow-beatings it will take to make them fully Catholic or just chase them away entirely.

Now I know I’m totally in my jackass groove now (don’t say I didn’t warn you!), so I want to put it out there that I’m not all negativity, just impatient with idiocy. In point of fact, I know three such men, all freinds of mine, who have converted to the point of becoming fully Catholic, leaving behind any and all vestiges of their former Protestantism (Southern Baptist, Church of God, and ECUSA respectively), and I view all three of them as fellow cradles and not as converts; in fact one is my Acolyte, another is a priest, and the third is a bishop (whom I consecrated). They took Arturo’s words to heart, and learned from the worst cradles instead of striving to be the best converts, and I applaud them along with any other convert who manages the task.

Okay, now I know I’m just going to regret having posted this. . .

14 07 2010

But if you are a cradle Catholic in a context in which Catholicism is virtually indistinguishable from mainline Protestantism …… I don’t really see how that’s much of an advantage in terms of soaking in the Catholic ethos. On the other hand, reading the Tridentine Catechism is lousy preparation for life in a modern American parish. Trust me. I know. The truth, it seems to me, is that Catholicism is now in such a condition of advanced decadence that everyone is at a loss, and no one has the advantage.

14 07 2010
Arturo Vasquez

I agree with the “jinned up” version of such conflicts in the American context to a certain extent, but you should also keep in mind that the author of this quote is not an American. Americans seem to have a cultural myopia that is only made worse by the Internet. “Americans have the most computers, so that must mean that the American point of view is the only one out there.”

Still, I stand by my objection at least that the American way of looking at religion is individualistic. From an objective perspective, having the truth served to you from a community is better than having figured it out yourself, which is why until Vatican II the Catholic Church itself advocated a confessional state (and some would argue, at least on the books, still does).

The other modern prejudice is that truth and coercion (social, political, etc.) don’t go together. That may be a liberal dogma (in the sense of the Enlightenment), but it is not necessarily a Christian or traditional one.

14 07 2010
Henry Karlson

Wanting 1940s and only 1940s misunderstands tradition, and that is the point. It creates a false vision of Catholicism, and a false vision of 1940s Catholicism.

14 07 2010


I have to agree with your thoughts on this as you put it in your comment. I am one of those annoying converts too. lol

I do too think this is a rather internet jinned up conflict as I have observed played out over the years in comboxs

As to inheriting the Catholic faith via communities I don’t think evang converts oppose that. In fact I think they would very much like the 1940’s version of American Catholic life that we all have in our mind as the “good ole days”. Though as in all things it might be a tad more complex in reality.

14 07 2010

Meh. The whole convert v.cradle thing as being played on the Internet bores the heck out of me because it’s being conducted completely out of context.

I’ve never read a convert apologist – or apologists for convert apologists – speak in the way that your quotes indicate in a purely abstract way. The context is always – yeah, cradle Catholics who have been wretchedly catechized and whose Catholicism is bare-boned mainline Protestantism with a crucifix(maybe)might have something to learn from converts who are enthusiastic and on fire.”

Maybe they’d have more to learn from faithful cradle Catholics who have the wealth of tradition to share, but in the American context, those are few and far between, especially among those charged with catechesis andformation and simple leadership.

It’s such a false, jinned-up “conflict.”

So you don’t like the fact that the post Conciliar vacuum has been filled with convert apologists who know little about the big Tradition and are mostly in their heads? Then fill the gap yourselves, people. And maybe quit being such arrogant shits about it,too.

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