There is a thrill in arguing all the time. Some people even seem to make a career out of it. Stand in opposition, and you are the lone hero, the revolutionary, the innovator.
We need the contrarian, don’t get me wrong. But everything in moderation. We’re in a period of history right now where it’s in vogue to be the rebel – to be the one jumping ship and not the one trying to save it.
Again, sometimes quitting and starting something new is the only answer. I won’t judge that. But if there is anything growing up has taught me, it’s that arguing is overrated. When everyone chooses to die on their hill, you end up with mounting corpses and a wicked stench.
When I decided to leave Fundamentalism, I had the vigor of the zealot. I knew the holes in the arguments of my opponents (that’s what I called them in my heart) and was trying to stake my ground.
I was trying to defend it, actually, not totally secure in this new faith I was running to. The late nights of fighting with family members and friends trying to keep me in the fold was more to convince myself I was making the right decision than to convince them of anything.
But that was years ago. My Catholic faith has settled into a quiet peace now. I don’t have the same fire to prove to anyone, including myself, that what I believe is true. The dialogue is always welcome, but the spit and fury of those previous years has calmed.
What has taken it’s place, especially in this time of great division, is a new desire for connection. Part of this is inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti, but a larger part of it is that all the good aspects of my previous tribe still call to me. Only years later does the teenager who told his parents to drop dead realize they have good parenting advice for the Terrible Two’s.
In light of this, it matters more to me now than ever that the Catholic church teaches that fellow baptized Christians are still our brothers and sisters. They are brothers and sisters even if they are not part of the Catholic church itself.
You could ask, with all the division between Catholics and Protestants throughout history even up to just a few years ago, what is that reality actually worth?
This is what it’s worth. Right now, I would imagine that followers of Jesus all across the United States, and maybe across the world, are praying for our country. They are asking God to heal our land, to untie the knots that no one seems to be able to untie.
Those followers of Jesus are liberal, conservative, Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or any other one of the 30,000 denominations out there. But we are praying to the same God who hears us all. In the deepest and most intimate part of our hearts, we are united in begging the same Lord to bring good out of everything terrible that has happened this last year and even this last week.
In a country that is as bitterly divided as ours is, that kind of unity is a miracle in itself. Right now, it is an anchor of brotherhood and common cause that every Christian can not afford to let go of.
My hope is that, while we have the right, and maybe even the duty, to argue late into the night over what we believe in, we also dwell on those spiritual strings that tether us together.
We’ll find them if we take the time to look.
©2021 Catholic Anonymous
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