Just in time for the third anniversay of Pope Benedict XVI's election to the papacy, Time magazine's Tim Padgett penned a positively-intentioned yet patronizing defense of why he's "still a Roman Catholic." Suffice it to say Padgett's reasons don't ring with theological clarity or a sense of faith-filled awe at the central and essential claims of Catholicism.
No, Padgett made clear in his April 19 article that his Catholicism is one of personal preference, holding aloft not the Church as herald of the Truth, but its "quieter value" as a community in which to mark life's milestones from cradle to grave (emphasis mine):
Like everyone else, Catholics fall away from God on a regular basis and become pretty dismal human beings; and we benefit from the spiritual and moral guidance of priests and nuns....We may not impart the church's ban on premarital sex to our children, but we're glad the church is there to help us teach our kids that sex should be shared in a context of love, respect and responsibility. While many of us may object to the Vatican's blanket condemnation of stem cell research, it's still good to have powerful global voices like the Pope's warning us not to play Frankenstein.
We also know the church's profound value as a receptacle of culture — and we cherish its quieter value as a place to ponder deeper questions than our inane media consider, and to mark life from baptism to burial. Perhaps most important, it's where and how Catholics receive the redemptive tonic of the Eucharist, a sacrament that so palpably but transcendentally expresses Christianity's faith that in the end, despite life's suffering, light always defeats darkness.
Now, I myself am not a Catholic, but seriously: "redemptive tonic," "light always defeats darkness"? Those are, to say the least cartoonishly new-agey twists on any basic understanding of Catholic Church teaching on the Eucharist or of Christ and his crucifixion and resurrection. Indeed, "redemptive tonic" elicits more of a Marxian "opiate of the masses" feel than anything else.
I'm happy that Padgett, unlike many of his colleagues, can write openly about his faith, and aim to defend it. But Padgett's defense just seems to make the case of many a religious conservative about the media not getting people of faith: when it comes to the life-changing and life-governing faith and theology of practicing Christians, the media just don't get it.