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June 9, 2022
It Is Good To Question – It Is Better To Listen
As once a parent of pre-adolescents and teen agers, arguments about “Why?” got to be a bit boring! Perhaps I am overstepping here, but I believe that most arguments over “Why?” had more to do with pushing buttons, rather than an honest quest for truth. Once our children entered adolescence, my wife and I became less intelligent, more, old fashioned, and completely out of touch with reality. I believe that parents of most any generation, never shared the same pedestal for “unquestioned opinions” as did the clergy and religious, or their teen peers. I was raised Baptist, not Catholic, but I would never think to question my pastor. What we learned in Bible School and in Sunday Sermons were unarguable truths. Except by my parents, I do not remember a whole lot of adults promoting independent thinking in teens and young adults. For many people of my generation (early Baby Boomer) Catholics or Protestants, Christian, Jew of Muslim; truth was defined by the rank of the speaker. A Sunday School teacher did not share the same regard for an opinion as the pastor. A Lay catechist’s instruction could be completely disregarded if Sister Jane Francis said otherwise. Her opinion, or another religious, could be summarily dismissed if the priest said something else. The down side of this way of justifying a “truth” is that the validity of a statement revolves around the speaker, and not the statement itself.
I would argue that one of the most dangerous assaults against human society is the assault on truth. For many people today, the idea of truth is a political decision; truth is relative; truth is what a person says that I have already accepted as true. It is important that we, as adults seek a genuine, a valid truth that rises above speculation or popularity. I read an article in the news the other day where a candidate for Congress was suggesting that the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas was fake news, it didn’t really happen. This is, to me, such a horrible insult to intelligence and complete disregard for the families of those children and teachers. Such a candidate is wholly unworthy of public trust, to make such a claim. What frightens me more than the statement of this candidate though, are the number of people who will agree with him, because there is already a prejudice in favor of some favorite conspiracy theory. Truth, as truth has no value beyond personal convenience. I ask, is any society really safe if historical reality is dismissed if it competes against political ambition?
In the process of my becoming Catholic; of converting from my Baptist heritage, I was motivated mostly by why the Church taught what it did. I did not have to believe in a faith system based solely on what someone else thought, but upon the process of their discovery. I had been told many things about Catholics and the Catholic Church by my Baptist pastors and friends. Most were complete fabrications, many were misunderstandings, but all lacking in truth. I am also of the opinion that Catholics in general, would not be very good at accurately defining any other Protestant religion. Whether we are discussing religion, politics, science, history or any subject; it is best to ask – “And why do you say that?” More difficult that that, might be to give the person a fair chance to explain their views, their understandings. Speaking for myself only, being a patient listener is not easy or comfortable. I am quite patient and comfortable with my questions of “Why?” but not so much with someone else’s.
Deacon Bill Stimpson