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The Dislike of Catholicism: Understanding the Holy in the Catholic Tradition – 5 – Psychological reasons

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Big Bad Wolf

Big Bad Wolf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Projection onto the Big Bad Wolf

Now we turn to those who dislike Catholicism mostly because of their baggage—that is, their unresolved psychological issues.

Some Christians routinely advocate angry, hateful behavior. And if they see any vice among individual Catholics they arguably project their own anger – and other shortcomings – onto Catholicism as a whole. This type of Christian is self-perceived as genuine and true while Catholics are deemed invalid.

The self-righteous Christian may try to engage others in heated messaging wars over specific points of doctrine. With these individuals, the ideal of loving within the mystical body of Christ gets twisted into something more like negative attention seeking, stemming from an unresolved personal issue.

Non-Catholic Christians certainly are not the only folks who project their personal issues onto Big Religion. All sorts of people are prone to projection. Projection is a convenient way to ignore the inside by blaming something outside.¹

For instance, individuals and groups from non-US countries often single out the US as the Big Bad Wolf, as if other nations aren’t acting in their own self interest and, perhaps, less humanely than the US.

English: Photo of graffiti: "MI5 train ps...

Photo of graffiti: “MI5 train psychic mind readers – fact!!” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Religion and Spirituality – mutually exclusive?

Some New Age believers and talk show psychics believe they have paranormal abilities or enhanced knowledge about unusual phenomena like aliens and UFOs.

These folks typically see religion and spirituality as categorically different. Religion is all bad. Spirituality, great. And there’s no overlap for these black and white thinkers.

If the perceptions of alleged psychics critical of Catholicism originate from God, it seems that their impressions, insights and intuitions would be accurate and applied to the common good. But often with alleged psychics we find arrogance, self-absorption, hypocrisy and really moronic science. Little or no attempt is made to verify their claims, even though boldly proclaimed through the media. And the possibility of analytic overlay remains unchecked. Analytic overlay is a concept used by Remote Viewers but it could apply to the general idea of psi.

Remote viewing also involves the awareness that we can incorrectly interpret incoming data. A misperception can occur when our conscious minds get in the way and our imagination or existing mindset fills in the blanks or jumps to a conclusion about a remote viewing impression. Remote viewers call this “analytic overlay” and good remote viewers take steps to minimize it.²

Some psychics seem so entrenched in their paranormal, imaginative, deluded or perhaps pretend world that they show no appreciation for Catholic mysticism. The self-important psychic knows best. And that’s all. Most mature Catholics, however, don’t flaunt or advertise their spiritual gifts for profit or self-aggrandizement. St. Paul says that any such gifts are meaningless without true, unselfish love.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.  (1 Corinthians 13: 1-4).³

Debate between Catholics and Oriental Christia...

Debate between Catholics and Oriental Christians in the 13th century, Acre 1290. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fallen Away Catholics

Another consideration is the so-called fallen away Catholic who dislikes Catholicism. “Fallen away” is a recent Catholic phrase. It’s the Church’s way of correcting itself over the old phrase, “lapsed Catholic,” which sounds a bit nastier.

Assuming fallen away Catholics did not suffer some kind of abuse in their past experience with the Church, it seems probable that some – certainly not all – began as cradle Catholics who routinely went to church, possibly coerced by their families. From their early conditioning, personality and other factors, these individuals might never have become firmly established in the Holy Spirit. Catholicism just didn’t work for them. And later in life they embrace something else that provides tangible numinous experience and communal support—for example, a non-Catholic religion or cult.

These individuals might remain happy with their newly chosen path for their entire lives. And memories of Catholicism might only serve to conjure up negative feelings of familial coercion, boredom, and so on. No wonder they’d dislike Catholicism as adults. Quite possibly they never felt the Holy within the Church. And if they once did, bad memories and new interests, together, could trump their recollection of positive Catholic spirituality.

The parable in Mark 4: 2-9 of seeds planted on a path, rocks, thorns and good soil seems to apply here:

In his teaching he said, “Listen! A farmer went out to plant his seed. He scattered the seed on the ground. Some fell on a path. Birds came and ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky places, where there wasn’t much soil. The plants came up quickly, because the soil wasn’t deep. When the sun came up, it burned the plants. They dried up because they had no roots. Other seed fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and crowded out the plants. So the plants did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It grew up and produced a crop 30, 60, or even 100 times more than the farmer planted.” Then Jesus said, “Those who have ears should listen.”

But let’s not jump to conclusions nor generalize unfairly. No doubt many who leave Catholicism continue to experience God in their lives. And many could be on an extremely healthy path, according to God’s plan. Some Catholics might stop attending Mass simply because it no longer speaks to them. Or maybe it’s something as simple as vocational demands conflicting with a desire to attend. In their heart, mind and soul, however, these individuals still see themselves as true Catholics or, at least, as God-fearing persons.

¹ Projection can be adaptive to a point. But when a person matures, it becomes necessarily to strip as many projections as possible.

² Steve Hammons, ‘Remote Viewing’ has Basis in Science, Military Intelligence.

³ A similar idea crops up in Hinduism, where the holy person follows the dictum of “action without fruit.” This means that worldly reward (preya) is not sought nor expected for one’s good deeds. However, seeking spiritual reward (sreya) is okay in Hinduism. The key is to align the personal will with God’s will.

Copyright © Michael Clark, 2014.

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4 thoughts on “The Dislike of Catholicism: Understanding the Holy in the Catholic Tradition – 5 – Psychological reasons

  1. Having lived as a non-Catholic monk in a Catholic monastic community for four years, I’ve accumulated quite a few first-hand opinions and observations regarding Catholicism. However much I disagreed with certain Catholic teachings, I always tried to treat my fellow community members with the love and respect they deserved, simply because they, too, were created in the image of God. I didn’t agree with all the theologies of my own denomination (Assemblies of God ,at the time), but I didn’t want them judging me for the doctrines they disagreed with. Regarding our differences in theology, we chose to major on the majors, minored on the minors, but always tried to treat one another with love. It has been many years since I left that community, but I still keep in contact with some of the members. We have Jesus in common, and we haven’t been able to exhaust this commonality yet (see my last blog).

    • Jim, it sounds like you got the message of Christ loud and clear! Sorry for taking so long to respond. I don’t know why. I get so much junk mail (it’s really unbelievable), I probably just missed the notification for this comment. Appreciated. :)

  2. In Belgium lots of people who were baptised in the Roman Catholic Church either believe not in a divine Creator of when they believe in God have doubts about the papal position and are disgusted by the clerical people their attitude. Though we might say many Catholics in Belgium and Holland have stopped attending Mass simply because it no longer speaks to them. But there is also the non interest in spending time to go to a church service instead of staying longer in bed or instead of enjoying watching television. It is difficult to know exactly how most name Catholics or name Christians do feel. In their heart, mind and soul, it could well be that there are some, but not many, of those individuals who still see themselves as true Catholics might still be real believers in Christ and believers in God. But in the Low Countries most Christians are just born in one or the other religion, being Roman Catholic or being protestant, keeping traditions high, most of them do not believe at all in a god or the God and do not show to be God-fearing persons.

    • “But there is also the non interest in spending time to go to a church service instead of staying longer in bed or instead of enjoying watching television. It is difficult to know exactly how most name Catholics or name Christians do feel. ”

      Nicely put. I totally agree. We can’t really know what people are thinking inside. In one of these segments I allude to the idea that some conform publicly but when you talk to them, they express radically different opinions than those expressed during the Mass. This has happened to me with more than one person. Several, actually.

      I realize that my articles here are only scratching the surface. I just want to get the ball rolling for a positive discussion. So I really appreciate your further delineating some of the issues.

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