Most of us remember the hit 90’s sitcom ‘Seinfeld.’ Each character on the show was hilarious in his or her unique way. However, there was a character who despite having a stoic appearance was also funny. The character I am referring to is of course ‘The Soup Nazi.’ This chef served the best soup in town which brought in crowds. However, his martinet demeanor along with a display of stoicism made him a formidable individual. Those patrons who did not follow the established ritual of requesting soup were denied it by ‘The Soup Nazi.’ His famous phrase was, “No soup for you!”
I introduce this character to detail an experience I had with a ‘Catholic’ group on Facebook which has members that are as martinet as ‘The Soup Nazi.’ In effect, they have become caricatures that, unfortunately, does not bring about laughter but disappointment. On Monday, November 2, 2015, I noticed that the folder on my Facebook account entitled ‘other’ had some messages. This folder is a sort of ‘spam’ folder that collects emails from people who message you but are not on your ‘friends’ list. Anyhow, I read them and replied. One of them was from Paul Demming who wrote to me reprimanding me for posting my Sunday readings reflections to the ‘Catholic Converts‘ group. I found that a bit odd. What is wrong with posting a reflection on the readings for the Mass on Sundays? With the curiosity I always espouse, I replied to him. He did not reply. Since he did not reply, I decided to pose the question on the group itself and gave some advice which was met with several facetious replies including one from a deacon named Rob Embry stationed at St. Louis King of France Catholic Church. I posted this:
As a convert from atheism, I felt that restricting speech on a Facebook group for converts is counter-effective. From an atheist perspective, we love free speech and criticize religion for restricting it. In my many debates and arguments with atheists, I have tried to rid that misconceived taboo of a Church that prosecutes thinkers and restricts free thought. Unfortunately, individuals like Paul Deming, Rob Embry and those in the ‘Catholic Converts’ Facebook group are feeding that taboo which scares people away from the Church. My question was legitimate and touched upon the semantics of the phrase ‘self-promotion.’ The rules of the group are too broad and contradictory. In one instance it says content promoting the faith is permitted, yet Deming and those who replied to my post claimed such content is ‘self-promoting.’ Later on, he would reply and block me. See the full exchange and the rules here:
|‘Rules’ on ‘Catholic Converts’|
To my logical mind, this did not sit right and I kept asking for clarification hoping they were astute enough to see their fallacious way of thinking and poor wording of the rules. Logically speaking, when we create a Facebook account, we create a profile that identifies with our person or the self. Therefore, whenever and wherever we post or comment, we are in effect ‘promoting the self.’ These ‘Catholics’ did not seem to understand this and kept insisting something that was fallacious and devoid of logic. One member named Laura Hamil even insinuating that my post was ‘trolling.’ It seems Laura Hamil has given deaf ears to Pope Francis’ call for mercy and meeting people where they are at; or perhaps she does not have the intellectual capacity to distinguish between a question and trolling.
|Source: http://www.st-louis.org/ https://www.facebook.com/rob.embry.1|
Shortly after Laura Hamil posted the above comment, I was blocked from the group. So much for ‘mercy’ right?
What a sad state do these ‘Catholics’ live in where a simple question asking for clarification and the offering of some friendly advice given from experience can get one blocked by a ‘Catholic’ deacon and laypeople. Someone needs to remind the good deacon that he plays a public role in representing the Church in a quasi-fashion. I can assure anyone (speaking as a convert from atheism) that if you block or treat someone who asks you questions as a pariah, you have lost that someone. You can forget ‘bringing’ him or her to the Church.
Had it not been for the clergy, religious and laypeople who were open to me, patient, loving and overall, Christian, I would not be here answering a vocation and doing this online evangelization work. Moreover, atheists are not troubled necessarily with God, but with religious people and how they distort religion with their poor display of it. Many atheists worldwide while demonstrating anger with God are really more upset about how religious people are, their audacity to impose morals on others while not living up to their own measuring stick. The renown Indian man of peace Mahatma Gandhi said one time when asked why he is not Christian, he stated: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Had I been an atheist now experiencing the hypocrisy demonstrated by this deacon and laypeople, I would not have even bothered with the Catholic religion. Their bad behavior would have given me evidence supporting the idea that religion restricts freedom, thinking and is callous. It is too bad that deacons are not taught canon law which states:
Can. 285 §1. Clerics are to refrain completely from all those things which are unbecoming to their state, according to the prescripts of particular law.
Can. 287 §1. Most especially, clerics are always to foster the peace and harmony based on justice which are to be observed among people.
Any Catholic, ordained or not must be careful with how they present their faith. The world is watching and one slip up will bring on criticism and doubts. The events that transpired on Facebook is one of the reasons why I think the monitoring of sites, blogs, social network groups, podcasts etc by bishops run by those who claim to present Catholicism is necessary. In today’s world of technology, many young people will encounter religion online before they encounter it in a Church, Mosque or another kind of temple. Groups such as ‘Catholic Converts’ which prohibits free speech and blocks anyone simply for asking for clarification will scare away many people from the faith. Freedom is extremely valued in the world of today. That being stated, no one is going to want to join a religion that restricts it based on the impression a Facebook group, deacon or layperson gives. If these people block seminarians, imagine how they treat non-Catholics! I write this post not to shame anyone but to ‘admonish’ those whose thirst for control and power has let the aforementioned get the best of them.
The members and administrators of this group are not heeding Pope Francis’ call to be welcoming. Questions, requests for clarification and/or advice is not ‘trolling.’ These members need to learn how to interact with others. Simply expecting people to understand things based on colloquialisms or because ‘it just is’ does not work. Not everyone communicates on the same level or frequency so to speak. According to the Wechsler scale, I scored at 164 which indicates ‘very superior intelligence.’ I state this not to show off, but to make a point. According to cognitive and behavioral psychologists, those who score well on I.Q. tests tend to see the world in a logical manner, not emotional. That being stated, when I read rules or any text, my brain processes it logically and many times does not immediately detect colloquialisms and other forms of human common expression. For example, if I read “That was cool” the first thing that comes to my mind is a description of temperature, not an expression of something that is popular or attractive. As a kid, I recall being confused when cousins or friends asked me “What’s up?” Consider it a curse or a blessing, it can sure annoy others who interact with me. This is why I try my best to keep up to date with figures of speech, colloquialisms and slang so as to better understand people when they only communicate via those means. My question to the group was posted in good faith. Hopefully, this post will clarify this and warn people, especially those curious on the Catholic faith to avoid this Facebook group and be patient with ‘Catholics’ who fail to portray Christ in their lives. It is time to get rid of these ‘Catholic Nazis.’