Friday, March 11, 2005
The oldest is the best
Here is an article about the newest version of the American catechism. Catholic authorities here seem to be caught up in the same black and white thinking many fundamentalist Protestants are. One thing that bothered them about older catechisms was gender neutral language. They have decided that God and man are in relation, leaving this woman to reason that God and woman are definitely at odds with each other and perhaps, exist in conflict.
What interested me most about this article, though, was a box or two at the end of it. Here is the content, it compares the assertions of past catechisms.
'Why did God make you?': A century of catechisms
The last century has seen changes in wording and emphasis in American catechisms. Illustrating this is the perennial question, “Why did God make you/us?”
The Baltimore Catechism Series (Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, 1885)
Catechism #1Q. 150. Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.
Catechisms #2 and #3Q. 150. Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.
Catechism For the Catholic Parochial Schools of the United States (B. Herder Book Co., 31st ed., 1927)
Q. #2. Why did God make us?
A. God made us that we might serve Him, and thereby gain Heaven.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Libreria Editrice Vaticana (Ligouri Publications, 1994):
1. The Life of Man -- To Know and Love GodGod, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. … He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength.
In 1885, the individual asserts "God made me . . . "
And then, later, we hear "God made us . . . "
Gender-neutral language, and much more personal. I am unoffended. But the last is just tripe. If you expect me to memorize and care about a sentence as contrived and hollow as that, I'll tell you to take a flying leap. This is not a sincere expression of religion, this is manipulation. God created man, so as a woman, I can reason with ease that it's entirely possible he did not create woman. As far as I'm concerned, the simplest expressions of faith, vision and emotion are the best. There's nothing wrong with reason, explanations and narrative rambling and even becoming complex, but faith is not reason. Faith is no substitute for reason. Just like creationism is not science, but teleology. Just like social darwinism is not evolution through natural selection. One is bigotry, the other is biology.