Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Are you a Stereotype Maker or Breaker?

[Listening to: Only One - Cheer Up Charlie - Singles (03:33)]

I was listening to a podcast The Court Jester pointed me to via Happy Catholic's coment to an earlier post of mine on Catholic music last night. In it Brad DeRosia, lead singer for Cheer Up Charlie made a comment about about 19 minutes into the interview about his struggles when he was considering becoming Catholic. He says:
For us it was a huge stumbling block when we were thinking about this whole Catholic do we resolve the Catholic" problem....we were Baptists to this point....we thought there was some truth here [in the Catholic Church] we'd go up to somebody who was excited about thier faith and we'd say, "Hey you guys worship Mary!" and they'd go, "No we don't". So you'd keep asking them and they would say, "Well, you got to talk to your priest." That is a stereotype maker, not a stereotype breaker...

That for me was a core reason I am trying to know more, read more, and pray more. I want to be comfortable and knowledgeable in answering questions others have about the Church.

It's like computer knowledge. You have heard the phrase, "I know just enough to be dangerous." I knew just enough about the Church and my own faith "to be dangerous" to myslef and to others.

What are you? Do you know just enough to be dangerous? Are you a stereotype maker? Or have you, as a Catholic, taken the extra step in learning more about what you say you believe, about what you profess to God every Sunday in the Nicen Creed?

1 comment:

ND EnviroChick said...

Wow - I would say that it depends on the topic whether I know just enough to be dangerous, am a stereotype maker, or know what I'm talking about.

I grew up in a Catholic bastion in the shadow of the golden dome of Notre Dame. Like every public school Catholic, I went to CCD as a child, then to Youth Group as a high schooler. Then I went to a faith-based college that was not Catholic... we had "chapel" every Wednesday at 10 a.m. instead of classes... and I naively joined a group called InterVarsity Christian Fellowship because I thought they meant that literally. Apparently, they don't consider Catholics to be Christians. I was shocked, dismayed, saddened, betrayed, hurt,... you get the point. I decided that I could either leave or defend my faith, and I chose to defend my faith, which required me to understand it in detail. So I learned - quickly.

I was a Spanish minor, and in my junior year of college, I had to do a paper on Hispanic literature. I chose to do a comparative analysis of the influence of the Catholic Church on Hispanic Literature (what was I thinking?!), and this required me to learn about the... "political" side of Catholicism - how doctrine is decided and Magisterium is determined, major papal edicts and their impact on how Catholics practice their faith. I have, of course, forgotten the details, but it gave me a new understanding of... the difference between Catholic "religion" and Catholic "faith," and I struggled with areas where I was conflicted with the rules and regulations, but still felt that I was called to be Catholic. That is another story for another time.

But this project gave me both a healthy respect of the papal authority, but also... an appreciation that all people, including the Pope, are human. I think this is the first time I considered myself a "grown-up" Catholic. Hispanic literature speaks much of Catholics as blind sheep, who follow the rules but do not understand them... and now I understand them, for better or for worse.

I would say that I have a good "intellectual" understanding of my faith, but where I am a stereotype maker is sometimes in my practice of it. Catholics are stereotyped as people who do not read the Bible, who go to church on Sunday and forget their faith the rest of the week, who sin all they want during the week, go to confession on Sunday, then go out and do the same bad things again... I say these are stereotypes because this is what I was confronted with by Protestant colleagues/fellow students. And yes, there have been times when I have been a stereotypical Catholic as defined above. I would say, if I may be so bold, not so much anymore, but there was a time... And there are still times when I falter, sometimes a lot, in this respect.

I can still do better, I can still learn more, I can still be a better representative of my faith and my religion in the secular world. I am proud to be a Catholic, and I hope that Catholicism is proud to have me among its community of believers.