“I find it hard…It’s hard to find the will. Whatever. Nevermind.” —Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
I work with a guy who worships at the altar of indifferentism. You know the type: those who go on and on about the relative unimportant of religion, and how they’re all basically the same and you shouldn’t force your beliefs on others, etc., etc.
This guy has it down to such an art that he can bring up the subject of religion while I’m otherwise busy working and minding my own business, tell me that all religions are equal since we can’t prove who’s right and who’s wrong anyway, cite an example of someone he knows who is “intolerant” for disagreeing with that notion, but in such a way that really makes the other guy genuinely seem intolerant, not let me get a word in edgewise, and still leave me feeling guilty for offending him because I am religious! And if that sentence seems like a dizzying, hard to follow run-on sentence, it is. Welcome to my world.
But I’m sure you know at least one person, if not several, like this. To be honest, I much prefer the antagonistic atheist, or Protestant, or Muslim, than the indifferentist. Honest disagreement between fair and open-minded people can be a great thing. Trying to dialogue with a closed-minded person who preaches about being open-minded just ends up being a discouraging and frustrating waste of time.
And the irony of it is that during the course of these sermons about not sermonising, he can manage to say rather offensive things about my beliefs or the Church, and do so in a way that makes me worry I’m going to offend him! He goes on and on about not forcing anyone to believe something while trying to force you to believe in indifferentism. What he touts as the highest good is actually a mortal sin!
In the end, his arguments about religions being equal remind me about the fundamental truth of the Catholic religion: it’s not simply a philosophy or a moral code. God isn’t simply some remote deity who is unknowable except through an act of blind faith.
Authentic Catholicism, as Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis have stressed, is an encounter with the Person of Jesus Christ. I cannot meet Buddha. I cannot meet Mohammed. But I have met Jesus! And that has made all the difference.
Yes, the reasons and the facts help, but ultimately, information isn’t what will convert the indifferent. Only a grace-filled encounter with Jesus will.
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