Cultural Catholicism …

While following Leah Libresco’s conversion to Catholicism, it started me thinking about Catholicism in general and my Catholicism particularly. For example, a lot of comments on her conversion are insisting that it is wrong and inconsistent of her to support the Catholic organization due to, well, all the usual gripes. But this leads to an important distinction, the distinction between “Organizational Catholicism” where you support the Catholic Church as an organization specifically, and say “Philosophical Catholicism” where you support or approve of the overall philosophical stance and worldview and not necessarily the organization itself. This means that you don’t have to support the politics of the Catholic Church or even the views of the hierarchy or even specific actions of the Catholich Church to be a Philosophical Catholic. In fact, you can even argue that the interpretations of the philosophy by some in the hierarchy are wrong and still, in fact, be a Philosophical Catholic. Leah seems, to me, to be a Philosophical Catholic; she doesn’t seem to agree with all of the interpretations and likely doesn’t support all of the decisions of the hierarchy, but finds the philosophical underpinnings to be mostly right. This means that then, for her, supporting the organization isn’t what she does, but she does support the underlying ideas and worldview.

Now, I used to be what I called a “Non-ritualist Catholic”, in that I held that it was the overall precepts that were important and not the specific rituals. This, then, would likely make me a sort of Philosophical Catholic, but not the same as Leah because I’m not as well-versed in the details of Catholic philosophy as she is. However, after spending lots of time doing philosophy, the gap became even wider because I turn for most of the things that Catholic philosophy would provide to, in fact, philosophy itself, particularly the Stoics and Kant. So, since my philosophical views are not heavily informed by Catholic philosophy, I can’t really even be said to be a Philosophical Catholic; I’d need to know more about and accept more Catholic philosophy to be one of those.

Thus, I think for me the best term, right now, really is “Cultural Catholic”. I grew up Catholic, and still do hold the beliefs outline in at least the Apostle’s Creed. So, it is the cultural influence that guides and maintains my Catholicism, which also means that it is what guides and mantains my theism. But it is indeed only that force that maintains it; there’s little else keeping it going.

It was, I think, a short step from my Non-ritualist Catholicism to Cultural Catholicism. And I’m sure that many people reading this will see that it looks like a fairly short step from Cultural Catholicism to atheism. But it also is a reasonably short step from Cultural Catholicism to Philosophical Catholicism, or indeed to at least a Philosophical acceptance of any other religion. So, in order to settle this, I’ll probably have to break down and look at the philosophy of the Catholic Church. I’ve looked at some already and found it interesting, even if I didn’t quite agree with it, but I’ll have to do more.

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