Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Who Are the Real Religious Nuts?

These weekly Merry Catholic essays are broadcast on WJMJ-FM, the radio station of the Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford, CT. Over the years I’ve had people say something like this to me, “Hey Bill, I heard you on the radio the other day. So, you’re kind of like… umm, INTO religion, huh?”

I can tell they’re trying to be polite, but what they really want to say is, “Hey Bill, you’re a religious nut, aren’t ya?!”

Well, in the eyes of our modern secular society, my public expression of faith in God is certainly a little counter-cultural. But let’s take a closer look and see if we can figure out whose behavior is truly nutty.
First, let’s look at people like me. We believe in God. We believe every human being has been given an eternal soul by God. We believe every soul will spend eternity in either Heaven or Hell. We believe God has clearly communicated to Mankind the path for getting into Heaven and avoiding Hell. If what we believe is really true, then there is no more important issue in all of human existence. After all, eternity is a whole lot longer period of time compared to a mere 60, 80, or 100 years here on earth.

If you really believe what I believer, then there is nothing nutty about sharing this crucial message with others.

Now, let’s look at atheists. They believe faith in God is a silly, ancient superstition. They believe human beings have no eternal souls, and when we die, we cease to exist. It’s understandable that these folks don’t like it when religious people talk about God in public, because to them, the message is completely false.

So, the behavior of atheists, given what they sincerely believe, is not at all nutty. It’s very logical.
OK, let’s look at a third group of people. These folks believe God is real. They believe human beings have eternal souls. They believe all souls will spend eternity somewhere, hopefully Heaven. But these people rarely think about these beliefs, and they really feel that anyone who talks about these topics in public is kind of a weirdo. Words and phrases most often used to describe those of us who talk about religion in public include, “intolerant,” “offensive,” “imposing your views on others,” and a term that’s become very popular in recent years, “hate speech.”

So, we have a group of people who claim to believe pretty much the same things we so-called religious nuts believe, but they’re convinced that thinking a lot about it and especially talking to others about it is wrong.

I’ve got some news for you: THAT is the nutty behavior.

That’s a lot like discovering a highway bridge just collapsed, but instead of warning motorists driving in that direction, you decide you don’t want to impose your views on them, so you stand there silently and watch car after car plunge into the river below.

If you really believe something is true, is it so awful to mention it to others? Especially if the message you believe in may be the difference between experiencing eternal joy or eternal torment?
If you haven’t noticed, many people in our culture don’t hesitate these days to “impose their intolerant views” on others. Have you crossed paths lately with a militant vegan, a climate change activist, a Cross-Fit fanatic, or a New York Yankees fan? They certainly don’t hesitate to preach their particular gospel to anyone and everyone. But when Christians do it, that’s somehow bad form? Hmm, I don’t get it.

Well, if people hear me on the radio and think I’m a religious nut, that’s OK. But I sure wish they would take a moment to think about their own beliefs and behaviors. They might discover they’re a little nutty, too.

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