You might now want to look again at the Apostolate of the Blog, which has its own page on this site. I suggest this because the excellence of the continuing discussion on abortion reminds me of how many of our contributors could be joining very effectively in the task of explaining the Church’s position on many aspects. On the Apostolate page we have developed answers on condoms and Aids, faith schools, abortion and other topics. And of course anyone is free to use and adapt these answers.
There is also an explanation of the procedures which we have found useful in pursuing this work.
I realise that this is not everyone’s vocation, and some people perhaps feel too grumpy with the Church to be enthusiastic. But at the moment, as far I know, the load is being carried only by Iona and me. Is there something odd about being fluent in discussion with fellow Catholics yet finding it difficult or burdensome to widen the message of the Church in the world outside?
Sorry Quentin, I must be dim, as I cant get the hang of it.
St. Joseph, I know you have considered this — and decided that it’s not for you. That’s fine. Everyone has to choose what they feel they can do, and would enjoy doing.
I feel grateful to a friend who introduced me to the work of Rene Girard.
Girard discusses the bible, not by assuming from the outset that it is a revelation from God, but rather how it makes sense from the standpoint of social anthropology and human behaviour. Human competitiveness, the desire for wealth, power, influence etc., feeds on itself: what is desired by others becomes more desirable to ourselves. This ‘mimetic contagion’ produces conflict, which can be resolved, for a time, by focusing the aggression onto one person or group: the scapegoat. “It is expedient that one man should die for the people”.
This works, as long as everyone thinks that the victim really is guilty. Oedipus, for example, is regarded as guilty, even by himself, although he was destined by fate to act as he did. The bible, says Girard, is unique in revealing the truth of this process: that the victim is innocent, and conflict can only be resolved by forgiveness. In the Old Testament we have the story of Joseph, who forgives his brothers, after he has attained power in Egypt and reveals himself to them. Then the ‘suffering servant’ in Isaiah: ‘the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief’, whose innocence is affirmed.
In the New Testament, Jesus, not Barabbas, is condemned. Even his disciples ‘all forsook him and fled’. The truth, and His innocence, is revealed at the resurrection. Whether we believe it literally or not, its meaning is clear: “A wisdom that the rulers of this world never knew, for had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory”. (1 Corinthians 2:8)
That being said, it seems to me unlikely that the beliefs of the ancient world can be regarded as totally separate, and that there may have been some mingling of ideas between Judaism and the religions of Babylon, Assyria, Egypt and Greece, and thence to Christianity. One thinks of Paul in Athens, and the altar inscribed “To the Unknown God”.
However, I think that Girard’s value is that an apostolate to anyone who is unconvinced, but ready to listen, must start from where they are, not from our own conviction. If the gospel doesn’t make sense in purely human terms, it can hardly do so by offering beliefs which are not already shared by the listener.
John Bunting, I think this all makes very good sense. If I am to hope to change your mind I must appeal not to a value which only I recognise but to one which I think you will recognise. For example, in condoms and Aids, I assume that people of good will want to find a successful way to curb the epidemic. Thus my aim will be to demonstrate the evidence that the Church’s approach is acknowledged to be most effective. Similarly, I will talk about faith schools in terms of the shared responsibilities of Parent and State. The first is met by the ethos of the educational approach, the second by the National Curriculum and the supervision of Ofsted.
John – absolutely, an apostolate to anyone who is “unconvinced but ready to listen” must start from where they are. In the few “Apostolate of the Blog” responses I’ve sent, I don’t think I have yet used an approach based on a theistic assumption, but try to focus on logic, or on established medical information.
I am afraid I am with StJoseph here!
Perhaps you could help us by listing a few anti-catholic blogs to which we might listen and learn.
Horace, thanks for your interest. It’s not a matter of looking at blogs but looking at themes on which comments are likely to be made. To take a concrete but past example, a theme I chose was the Pope’s visit. I went into google news to look at pope visit, and then, at the bottom of my page, asked google alert to remind me when new stories arrived. I looked at the new stories or commentaries and took those which already had an opportunity for comments or already had comments made. Where appropriate I logged in (keeping a note in case I needed to return) and gave my comment. The Apostolate of the Blog page gives some specimens. I would suggest using a nom de blog, and I use a Hotmail or spare address to keep the stuff clear of my ordinary correspondence.. Hope that helps. Q
I’m busy right now, but reconsider my previous position this apostolate idea in due course
Good news ,Robert. Thank you.
Quentin, I don’t immediately see the page (“its own page on this blog”) to which you refer. Could you give a link to it?
Tim you’re going to kick yourself. Move you eye upwards to see “Home” then look to the right of Home. I think you’ll find it. Q
Thank you, Quentin – I was about to complain that I couldn’t find ‘Home’ either, then I did. My sight is almost as good as ever, but increasingly I find it difficult to locate things in my field of vision – is there a name for that? “There’s none so blind as those that won’t see”. Apologies also for not coming back sooner to check for your reply.
Tim – it’s up at the top, – second item along, in the black bit just under Quentin’s picture of trees.
Iona – a very belated thank-you and apology for not having replied before. Had I read your letter earlier, even I could not have failed to find the link!