Thursday, January 20, 2011

Reading Anti-Catholic Books

Being someone who loves the Catholic Church, but also had significant faith formation in the Evangelical church, the whole Catholic/Protestant discussion is one that's close to my heart. Books have played a huge role in my love for the Church, particularly those by Scott Hahn, but I have also tried to keep a balanced and open view by reading anti-Catholic books as well, most of which were passed on to me by Protestant friends or family (incidentally, I'm not sure if a few of them actually read the books they recommended). In the past, I've read books like Another Jesus and just finished Once a Catholic. I'm also about to start Preparing Catholics for Eternity.

For me, it's not always easy to read a book from a differing view point than my own (like The God Delusion), but it's an exercise which I find satisfaction in afterwards. I don't consider myself particularly intellectual or an excellent apologist. I know enough to where I stand firm in my faith, though there's always more to learn, and I can talk intelligently about it.

As a result, reading these types of books is always a bit of an internal wrestling match for me. I suppose my initial stance is something like this. When I come across a point that's easily refutable, it's easy to feel self-satisfied and vindicated - "*roll my eyes* See? That's why my faith is the right one!" On the other hand, when I come across a point that seems valid and I can't think of a counter-argument, it's easy for me to want to blow past the section pretending I didn't see it or think that there has to already be a refutation from someone smarter than me or have a momentary flash of, "What if I've been wrong all along?" which is what I think the authors really want.

It's interesting to me to observe my own default disposition when it comes to this type of reading. Obviously, I'll come in with my critical eye on because I know that there are lots different agendas, world views, and experiences out there that I need to be weary of. I also know that if that's my only approach, there's also a whole side of the human experience that I'll miss and to be honest, it can get very tiring. It can be very nice to read things that don't trigger the critical eye and to take in information as fact or sub-consciously absorb it without question. Sometimes, I just want to read something and let it speak to me in all my subjective glory and not worry about all the different arguments on both sides. At the same time, absorbing everything unquestioningly is scary to me. Where is the balance in the middle?

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