instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Like a bad sitcom

You know how sometimes, out of sheer peversity, you spend a minute watching some bad sitcom, and the obnoxious sex-crazed neighbor walks into the kitchen without knocking, and the main character says something harmless, and you say, "The obnoxious sex-crazed neighbor is going to misunderstand that as a sexual double entendre and make some bad joke," and the obnoxious sex-crazed neighbor misunderstands it as a sexual double entendre and makes some bad joke?

Today I received an email which began
Please consider and respond to my 4 comments.
There followed four tightly-packed, Bible verse-filled paragraphs on how Mary must have sinned and how St. Peter couldn't have been the first pope and so forth.

Being a good son of St. Dominic, I naturally replied:
No thanks.
Because fundamentalists who cruise the Net for Catholic emails they can hand-spam with their modified "Answering the Romish Scourge" tracts are not interested in learning, or really even in handing on the truth, but in bludgeoning, and prudence and experience tell me any effort I spend in hand-holding this fellow's way through his errors and misunderstandings will be wasted.

I assume that would be that, but later I got a one-line reply:
Blind yourself to the false doctrines you believe.
Which, you know, doesn't exactly make me regret characterizing him as someone not interested in learning or really even in handing on the truth. All movers move toward an end, and I wondered what end he thought his statement was moving him toward. But my end being Christian love toward all, I naturally replied:
I love you, too.
And got right back:
Same here but you are still blinded by the false gospel of Catholicism.
Then the scales fell from my eyes and I became a Christian fundamentalist under the mighty force of his assertions.

No, actually I decided to help him out with a little advice:
If you're actually sending out your emails for any reason beyond personal gratification, here's a tip: Catholics aren't Evangelical Fundamentalists. Arguing against us as though we were gets no one anywhere. Learn what we believe and why, then argue against it as best you can in some sort of rational fashion.
And then it came. The bad joke you who are reading this saw telegraphed from the very beginning, the bad joke I almost predicted when wondering about his motivation:
I know pretty well what you believe. I was a Catholic for many years.
Which, as anyone who has encountered it before knows, is the religious discourse equivalent of
Hello. I am ELIZA. How can I help you?