On Eye-Plucking - #2

According to the editors of the World Christian Encyclopedia there are 34,000 separate Christian groups in the world today. The authors have compiled global diagrams, statistics on martyrdom, geopolitical-religious blocs, and other unusual tidbits, such as:
The 5 most dangerous of all Christian vocations (over 3% murder rates) are: bishops, evangelists, catechists, colporteurs, foreign missionaries.

Books primarily about Jesus in today’s libraries number 175,000 different titles in 500 lan - guages, in - creasing by 4 newly published every day.

Church treasurers are embezzling each year $16 billion out of church funds, but only 5% ever get found out.

Christians spend more on the annual audits of their churches and agencies ($810 million) than on all their workers in the non-Christian world.

The total cost of Christian outreach averages $330,000 for each and every newly baptized person.

My Aunt Mary didn't know squat about geopolitical-religious blocs or Christian outreach averages. But one thing was indisputable about the old school, old world woman -- she loved the Lord. Which disturbed me at the time. Why?

Because Aunt Mary was a Catholic.

I was raised a Catholic, drifted far from it and finally, broke hard. When I became a Christian in the spring of 1980, I quickly understood that the sterile rituals of my youth were worlds apart from my newfound relationship with Christ. I quickly found out some other things, too.

Like the Pope is the Antichrist and the Catholic Church is the Great Whore of Babylon.

That's just the type of info a young, impressionable believer needs to know, right? Wrong! I marched over to my parents' house, Bible in tow, spouted some Scripture and assigned them to hell. Along with the Pope.

Only six months into the faith and I'd become an eye-plucker. Kudos, Nimrod.

The assault was fueled by a small tract. Printed by Chick Publications, the graphic artwork and grim tone fueled my ignorant zeal. Jack Chick, his line of comic tracts and his anti-Catholic propoganda, have become almost legendary. Articles like The Satanic Roots of the Catholic Church sent me back to my Catholic friends with bullhorn blazing fervor. "Come out from among them," I bellowed, "and be ye separate." I purchased JC's anti-Catholic reference bible, The Two Babylons, and ingested it with glee.

And my eye pile grew.

But Aunt Mary had to spoil it. She would chuckle at my rants and say, "God love you, Mickey." Then she'd take my head in her hands, kiss my forehead and pledge her continued prayer. Which confused me to no end. "She's a Catholic," I wondered, "so how can she be saved?" In spite of her affiliation with the antichrist and the Great Whore of Babylon, the woman loved Jesus. And that reality, as uncomfortable as it was, kept me from complete blindness.

A little more...


Janet Rubin said...

Man, those Chick tracks have always freaked me out. I once worked for a real estate guy who gave them to everybody.
Yup, lots of people will be surprised when my Catholic Aunt Beverly and your Catholic Aunt Mary show up in Heaven. I don't agree with Aunt B on lots of things, but she sure puts me to shame when it comes to loving Jesus and demonstrating love to others. All comes down to the fruit sometimes...

siouxsiepoet said...

ah yes, i was hoping you'd blog soon mike. i was having a discussion about my sudden embracing of tradition. i went to church today a wreck (i usually roll in there a wreck, emotionally, spiritually, you name it), then we started the liturgy. ahhh. nothing like it.

the ringing of the bells at the fraction breaks me. it is symbolic and poetic and just what i need at this point in my life. beyond that, i don't know. i'd check out the catholic church if i didn't feel like i'm never appropriately dressed (do you have your habit on, i seem to be confessing a good bit of info here).

i'm just raw. i need the church of God whatever brand/label/form it comes in.

Ame said...

Love this . . . on lots of different levels . . . wonderin' . . . ya think there will be PB Jelly Bellies in heaven, too? hehehehehe

You know what I actually like best about those things? The colors . . . the plethora of different colors . . . all mixed together . . . very beautiful!

Gina Holmes said...

Mike, I wasn't sure my brain cells could expand enough to follow this series, but this struck me funny. I guess because it rang true for me as well. I told my Catholic coworker the same thing about the Pope. (You should have seen her horrified and irate face.)
My sister told me (she probably read it in the publication you mentioned). I laugh about it now, but it's not really funny now is it? It's the new zeal of the young Christian. We're like teenagers who think they know everything. Only when we truly do gain some knowledge do we realize how ignorant we really are and shall always be in this life.

Great stuff as always.

Michelle Pendergrass said...

Reading along and re-living my past.

Well, I didn't tell my grandma that the Pope was the anti-christ, but she asks if I'm still at "that" church.

Mirtika said...

Have we stumbled upon a Protestant rite of passage of sorts--that obnoxious period when we are prone to believe we know it all and dump it on the system we leave behind? I went through the same thing after leaving the RC church. With the rest o fmy nuclear family remaining Catholic, I had to be the noodge with the Chick comics (bigger than the tracts) and the Whore of Babylon articles.

I outgrew that. :)

When my mother lay dying--a year of agony for her, and for us--I would put on her fave Catholic radio show and discuss things with her. I'd read the Bible to her. And I sometimes prayed her beloved rosary with her. After so many years, we'd reached an accomodation. I would say the credo and pater noster, but I would not recite any of the Marian prayers, other than the brief bit that was Bible quote--the very first bit of the hail, mary. I knew she loved the Lord; she knew I did, too. But we had to honor our own way, even if we had disagreements. And in the end, I trust that the Lord, who forgives all, forgave her errors and sins as he's forgiving mine.

Hey, nice to be able to access your site on this other computer with the updated AOL. Cool not to have to use Mozilla.


Mike Duran said...

Mir, so good to have you back. Lovely entry about your mother and that precious reconciliation at her deathbed. Funny how, when we're facing death, some of the beliefs we defended so vehemently seem less important. What remains is what He always said: Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Blessings, Mir!