Baptism Without Faith

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Roland Dodds

Roland Dodds is an educator, researcher and father who writes about politics, culture and education. He spent his formative years in radical left wing politics, but now prefers the company of contrarians of all political stripes (assuming they aren't teetotalers). He is a regular inactive at Harry's Place and Ordinary Times.

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  1. Avatar Alan Scott
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    says:

    A branch of my Mother’s family migrated here from Mexico as well. Her parents are Catholic, and she and her siblings were raised Catholic though only one is still a practicing member of that faith.

    The church, as a cultural and community institution, is something that fascinates me. When my grandfather died last year, at the age of 89, I became more acquainted with his church and his beliefs, both because of the religious rites that accompanied his death, and because I was exposed to a recounting of his history as an active member of his church community.

    For that matter, I’m also drawn to the moral teachings of Catholicism–not surprising since my Catholic grandparents have for many years been my moral exemplars. But for all that… I don’t believe in the literal existence of God, and I know I never will.Report

  2. Avatar Richard Hershberger
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    says:

    Protestants have historically condemned the domineering showiness of these Catholic visages, arguing that they replaced the meaning of the Christian faith with material grandeur.

    This is an over-generalization. Lutherans and Episcopalisms have always appreciated a sense of sacred space, often in the form of traditional church architecture. This is particularly apparent in churches built from the mid-19th century up to the First World War. It is the Reformed and Anabaptist traditions that rejected this. The over-generalization is an easy one to fall into because the Anglophone Protestant denominations in America tended to a greater or lesser, and a more or a less direct route, to be influenced by the Reformed tradition.

    I have sympathy with ardent Christians who fear the watering down of their practices to meet the demands of the modern world. At what point does Christianity simply become a theological version of Americanism?

    The critique from my direction is that the Christians most prone to such fears are the ones most enthusiastically Americanizing their theology. They are the ones totally buying into American exceptionalism, with flags in the front of their churches and worship services consisting of mediocre rock concerts. The churches with organs and liturgies aren’t the ones in hysterics.Report

  3. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    At what point does Christianity simply become a theological version of Americanism?

    About the time it acclaims partisan thugs like Jerry Falwell as its leaders.Report

  4. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    My wife & I are agnostic God Parents to a little girl.

    Building a community doesn’t need ceremony, it can happen simply by having reasonable adults agree to a commitment to be involved. This can happen in a church, or during a nice dinner with a shared bottle of wine.Report

    • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Oscar Gordon
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      says:

      This is true, but there are genuine organizational advantages to having an off-the-shelf set of ceremonies for major passages in life, and the major religions have been at it for a while. They have also had the help of folks like Bach and Handel, not to mention the lesser lights who wrote many traditional hymns that even non-believers like. The home-made ceremonies with tunes by poor imitators of Paul Simon can be touching, but the other guys have the aesthetic edge.Report

  5. Avatar Stillwater
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    says:

    When one can adopt any element of the church and reject those they disfavor, it undermines any theological and historical congruity, leaving the flock with an obvious question: why follow the faith at all?

    Ironically (or perhaps not!) the haphazard acceptance/rejection of various elements forms the basis of the Catholic Church! So, those folks would merely be following in the long established practice of the church itself, no?Report

  6. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    My sister in law had two kids. For the first, I was asked to be a god parent. They being catholic, a god parent is a pretty serious commitment; raising the child in the catholic faith if the parents are dead, and stuff like that. I was to be asked to swear an oath to a god I didn’t believe in to raise a child in a faith I had no, pardon the pun, faith in. Swearing to do that wasn’t something I could do at that time, so I declined.

    For the second child, I was asked again, with the kicker, “if we die, you’re going to be raising the kid anyway” since I was married to the mother’s sister. Well, when you put it that way…..There was a baptist and an “agnostic” for the god parents. I think the parents told the priest I was agnostic for convenience. I’m told he “sighed heavily” and consented.Report

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