Saturday, December 19, 2009

Because of the Diamond in the Middle of the Road

Posted by Webster 
I went to a Christmas party last night and spent the first hour talking about religion with a professed atheist and a cradle Catholic who has fallen away from the Church. How do you get such a three-way conversation started at a Christmas party that’s not especially religious? Easy. You drop a stink-bomb in front of the atheist by asking the cradle Catholic if he has read your blog.

Cradle Catholic: You have a blog?!
Webster (nodding): Roger.
Cradle Catholic: What’s it called?
Webster: Why I Am Catholic.
Atheist (look of incredulity): You what?
Webster: Yeah, that’s my blog.
Atheist (did I say look of incredulity?): You’re kidding, right?
Webster: I’m serious as death.
Atheist: When did you become a Catholic?

You would have thought I had made a loud, socially inappropriate noise.

But good things can come of such awkward moments. And as the conversation wound its way out of the thicket of embarrassment onto the open road of discourse, the Atheist clearly outlined three arguments against the Catholic Church: (1) It is ruled with an iron fist by a powerful bureaucracy. (2) It has been plagued by scandal. (3) It is nothing more than an answer to man’s unconscious needs—the old Marxian “opiate of the people” thing.

Whereupon, I had my glittering moment. I said, “There’s need and there’s truth. Truth is truth, regardless of what man’s needs may be. If there is a diamond in the middle of the road, it doesn’t matter what anyone is doing in the road. The jewelers can be corrupt. The diamond merchants can be guilty of horrible abuses. And people can lust after the diamond or they can ignore it altogether. It’s still a diamond.”

I knew I was making some sense because eventually the cradle Catholic came awake and moved slowly but sincerely to my defense. CC, an artist, took note of the passion with which I was speaking. CC said that whatever you thought of my argument, you had to admire my passion.

A bit further on, the Atheist as much as said, “Well, you can’t convert me.” Whereupon I threw my arms around CC and said to the Atheist, “I'm not concerned with you. I’m working on him.

As he went out the door, the cradle Catholic reminded me that I once had promised to take him to a Benedictine abbey to hear the monks sing. I smiled and said, “My bad. We’ll do it soon, brother.”