Thursday, December 23, 2004

I knew I'd get in trouble over that last post. Just a few points:

1. I have nothing against the Church. I disagree with the official Vatican line on many things, including the Iraq war, divorce, contraception, and first-term abortion. Not to mention papal infallibility. But I respect the Church as an enormous organization basically dedicated to doing good. Sure, the Church has its faults and failures, but I bet 95% of what it does is generally worthy, which is a pretty high percentage for an organization made up of imperfect human beings.

2. I repeat what I said about Catholic influence on Spanish culture. Spanish atheists and Communists, who are all radically anti-clerical, still maintain a way of thinking that I believe is indigenous to Catholic culture, most specifically as regards attitudes toward Protestantism, the state, and the market.

3. I, personally, am a hard-core agnostic about one inch away from atheism. My family is from the Methodist tradition, basically low-church Anglicans. I do not deny the influence that this sort of Protestantism has had on my own way of thinking.

4. Most Protestants have nothing to do with Calvinism; the only Calvinist groups of importance I can think of in the States are the Presbyterians, most of whom are about as Calvinist as my cat Oscar, and the Dutch Reformed. In the States, you've got the Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists and most American-based fundamentalists coming out of that tradition; then you've got the Lutherans and their Germanic ilk, and we mustn't forget the Catholics, who are the largest single group in America with over one-third of the population. I believe America has more practicing Catholics than any other country. The thing about America is there's a lot of competition in the religious market and the Catholics have to compete just like everyone else. This makes the American Catholic Church, in my opinion, a good deal more progressive and active than its European counterpart, since it has to keep its members faithful or they might run off and join the Mormons or whatever. In Spain and Latin Europe, on the other hand, you've basically got two choices, Catholicism or some brand of anti-clericalism. This leads to problems we have around here, like the dust-up going on between the government and the Church on whether religion should be a required course in the public schools or not.

5. No, most Spanish Catholics do not know that there are almost twice as many American Catholics as there are Spaniards of any sort.

6. I maintain what I said about Gypsies and Latin American immigrants often being members of the very lowest social classes in Spain, just as I would affirm that blacks, white rednecks, and Mexican immigrants make up a disproportionate amount of the lowest social classes in the US. That's not an insult; I think it's a neutral statement of fact. How many Gypsies and Peruvian immigrants do you see rubbing elbows with the Catalan bourgeoisie up in Pedralbes? I also maintain that most converts to Protestantism in Spain are Gypsies and Latin Americans, and that their brand of Protestantism is charismatic and evangelical.

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