An answer from a non-credentialled person written in literally
Non-Catholics and non-believers may be puzzled by this blog’s frequent entries about or alluding to a certain kind of churchmanship. Puzzling to those who wrongly think ‘Christian’ means ‘evangelical Protestant’ or ‘Christian conservative’ means ‘Protestant religious right’. Or the non-believing visitor might think, ‘How quaint’ or (patronising) ‘That works for you’ or simply ‘Why does any of this matter?’
The last is a powerful question and one that I can’t answer as thoroughly as I’d like but it’s only fair to try.
‘So you believe in this stuff. Why?’
I didn’t systematically go through all the books I could find comparing religions though unconsciously I did do some studying.
Like some said of Elvis ‘I was born believing in God’ but I largely got my cues from the clues all around me all my life in Western culture, all of which point to the faith, to the church, which ultimately points to God. Even secular things and natural phenomena point to a prime mover.
That and traditional moral theology — learnt (largely from a saintly priest taught by the old school with the Roman manuals) after I started doing things in church — I’ve personally found to be true.
And as you’ve probably noticed if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, the traditional rites and ceremonies evolved over centuries (not corrupt modern knock-offs reminiscent of Protestantism) best teach and express this Godwardness.
So it gives me a foundation, a worldview, a compass, a road-map and any better metaphor you can think of.
Fine, you might say. So do lots of other religions!
Protestantism is obviously man-made, an altered knock-off of the real thing. A quick read of history with an open mind demolishes it (in its ‘pluriform’ manifestations as Frank Griswold might say) easily. The trump-card for arguing with Protestants is ‘Where did your Bible come from?’ The Bible isn’t self-interpreting (thus thousands of squabbling sects) and it didn’t fall out of the sky; it’s the church’s book.
Back to the ‘squabbling sects’: the Protestant principle of private judgement is self-refuting. It breaks the law of non-contradiction.
As for non-Christian religions, the faith’s explanation of them as ‘good dreams’ from pre-Christian times (as C.S. Lewis put it) and containing parts of the truth is sufficient. They didn’t form my culture (except that Judaism, the mother of Christianity, partly did) and the faith makes room for everything that is good and true in other cultures. Wonderful.
Then there’s the personal matter of faith, your devotional feelings or your ‘personal relationship with God’. Just like the disciples’ account of their seeing Christ risen, which no-one else did, such can’t be proved but as with all of this (including Aristotle’s prime-mover idea) the Schoolmen for example did prove that it’s not unreasonable to believe. (It takes blind faith to be an atheist, not a Christian!)
Two or three people may try to write off my own faith and advocacy of it here as symptoms of Asperger syndrome. ‘There he goes again’, obsessing and perseverating. Of course God can use anything to speak to you, and if you are born into this fallen world with a disability (evil doesn’t come from him) he can use that. Yes, of course the rules and rituals can particularly appeal to somebody with AS in a way they might not to someone else. AS is a part of me, whether I like it or (often) not, but all that bringing it up does is show that (no surprise) I’m a less than perfect spokesman! The faith stands on its own.
It’s fashionable now among writers about autistic-spectrum disorders to speculate that famous people in history, from Newton to Einstein, had them but if you want to throw my faith in my face you have to prove that millions of people over millennia (what a cloud of witnesses!) had them, which I’m sure one can’t do.
(BTW, Dan Aykroyd and Steven Spielberg really do have AS.)
Since I’ve known about AS for five years and so can consciously compensate for/work with or around it, I dare say that, except for finding unusual ways to get my brain to work (to think and do things you might take for granted), it’s irrelevant, about as pertinent as whether or not a spokesman wears glasses! (I do.)
Incidentally this is how I think the Rosary works for somebody on the spectrum: it takes ‘stimming’ behaviour and applies it to prayer like putting a waterwheel in a river.
More on God and autism.
I know that there are ‘thinker’ blogs by people who’ve done their homework and can write that could put all this much better but I think that about covers it for now.