Thursday, August 17, 2017

Alternate title for David Mills' piece at Crux today: Crux STILL Telling Converts "Shut Up!"


Alternate title for David Mills' piece at Crux today:  Crux STILL Telling Converts "Shut Up!"

David Mills admonishes that "Newcomers to the Church should speak less, listen more." And here's the thing. On one level I DO agree with what Mills writes about converts needing a period of reflection, adjustment, and additional mystagogy -- of getting our feet wet, so to speak, before pronouncing on any and all things Catholic. In retrospect, I wish I had waited before i began to blog about Catholicism shortly after I converted almost a decade-and-a-half ago (I only had been Catholic for 9 months when I "took up the pen" in the Catholic blogosphere.)

But then Mills completely goes off the rails:
"... He may be full of book-learning. But of the real Catholic mind or imagination - the Catholic paradigm, the way Catholics see the world - he knows little. The new Catholic **must work for many years** to get that, and **never will get it fully**. (emphasis added)

"Most converts, as I wrote in The New Oxford Review, will never think and feel exactly as do cradle Catholics. They do by instinct what we will always do by analysis followed by choice.

"For a long time, and perhaps a very long time, the convert will see the Catholic Thing as you see a garden through a bay window, not as you see it when you’re standing amidst the flowers. He sees its design and beauty, but doesn’t feel the sun or smell the flowers or enjoy walking barefoot on the grass. Nor does he know what it is like to get caught in the rain or stung by a bee, or to spend hours weeding. He has to spend many years outside to know what life in the garden is really like..."

What a crock! This is fetishizing the cradle Catholic experience as being the *REAL* Catholic experience, and holding up any alternative to that as somehow less than. I used to do this exact same thing that Mills is doing when I was a new Catholic. I used to lament that I would never be able to experience the Faith with the instinct and the ethos of a cradle Catholic. That I would somehow always be an "incomplete" or not "REAL" Catholic like all my brethren born into the Faith and that I had somehow been "deprived" of my "birthright" as a "true" Catholic.

Now I recognize that for the utter horseshit that it is. It is nothing more than fetishizing cradle Catholicism ... in the same way many people fetishize the conversion experiences of the new Catholic. Converts are no less or no more "REAL" Catholics than are cradle Catholics. We all have our gifts that we bring to how we live our Faith and we all have our shortcomings. And NONE of those gifts or shortcoming are inherent, innate, ingrained, implicit, instinctive, distinctive, or integral (or whatever other word or clinical diagnosis you choose to plug in) to being either a cradle Catholic or a convert. And they are most definitely NOT fixed or inalienable based upon such status.

St. Paul was no more or no less competent to speak out against St. Peter for his having been a convert than were any of the other Apostles who had been with Peter all along. It is high time we stop criticizing and / or fetishizing the experiences of our fellow Catholics based on whether or not they are cradle, convert, or revert Catholics. How 'bout we all just be CATHOLICS?

UPDATE
Upon further reflection, this piece (and it's "speak less, listen more" headline) is actually far more condescending than "Shut Up!"

It's more like "Shhhhh."


UPDATE #2
For more background on the anti-convert dustup taking place at Crux (funded by your Knight of Columbus dues) and elsewhere, read Paul Zummo's excellent post at The American Catholic.


UPDATE #3 
Deal Hudson has written an excellent response to Mills' piece ... also published at Crux.

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