A couple of items that all apologists might want to chew over, especially the homers we know as Jason and the Callers.
First, notice the absence of logic in Russ Saltzman’s tu quoque-like decision to become a Roman Catholic:
While certainly Neuhaus was – crap, still is – a tremendous influence on me, Dianne’s announcement set me to examining my Lutheran life, and in some ways it’s not as Lutheran as it once was. I write regularly for a Catholic magazine. Everybody senior on the staff at First Things is Catholic. I know as many priests as I do pastors, people I hang out with on email and the like, and I point out not a few of those priests were once Lutheran pastors. Not to slight you or anyone you know, it has just happened in my life that my intellectual and best theological compatriots these days are largely Roman Catholic.
What I have always sought – since seminary on – is to be in a church that finally gives expression to the catholicity of the Augsburg Confession. There is no Lutheran expression doing that. Most of my 17 years as editor of Forum Letter was spent, so it seems, showing Lutherans how far we have fallen from the practice of parish life described in our own confession.
There are evangelically catholic centers of Lutheran congregational life, and some that are deeply so, And there are evangelically catholic-minded pastors seeking parish renewal by Creed, Catechism, Confession, and praise God for it. The Church must continually struggle “against forces that always strike the Church and gospel: the fashions and fads of Gnosticisms ancient and new . . . the devaluation of the sacraments through neglect, the socially accommodating spirit of Church Growth excitements, and the gross appetite of a politicized bureaucracy.” (Forum Letter 19:9, September 1990). It may be, I’ll find out, the best field for the contestation in that struggle is with Rome.
5) By the time I reasoned all that out, Step 5 was, like, why the hell not?
Yet, this is not for ease nor is it out of mere unhappiness with the state of Lutheranism. It rises from true conviction that has grown in strength since Richard’s death, that the essence – more like fullness – of the Church of Christ is in found communion with churches in communion with the bishop of Rome. It is not safe to deny one’s conscience or renege on conviction.
Notice especially the lack of urgency as in what must I be do to be saved? You can be saved in the ELCA or the RCC. But in which do you receive a fuller bang for your assent? (If all my friends are Detroit Tigers’ fans, do I abandon the Phillies? These days,
hell yes of course.)
And then comes word of the importance of the imagination, as opposed to logic, in the appeal of Roman Catholicism:
The literary shortcomings of Catholics in this era, he suggests, were due to an often combative and excessively didactic posture, which obscured human and artistic engagement with religious questions. “Religious function,” Ryan suggests, following Marcel Gauchet’s analysis in The Disenchantment of the World, needed to leave behind its role as a heavy-handed instrument of conversion and be “metabolized,” or drawn into an “aesthetic repertoire” infused with “Catholic ways of knowing and habits of being,” before Catholic authors could have a serious impact on American literature.
Orestes Brownson and Fr. Isaac Hecker, for example, both saw the potential of Catholic literature as a tool for combating anti-Catholic prejudice and educating the rapidly growing population of American Catholics. They imagined enormous possibilities for evangelization in the burgeoning printing industry, calling for a Catholic literature that would provide an education in the doctrines of Catholicism while instilling moral values, hoping to counter the influence of the wildly popular sentimental novels and scurrilous romances of the era.
While neither Brownson nor Hecker was successful in reaching a large audience, the novels of Jedidiah Huntington and Anna Hanson Dorsey, and the devotional writings of Cardinal James Gibbons, did become somewhat popular, even on par with the sentimental-didactic fiction of their Protestant contemporaries. Ryan points out that all three of these authors can attribute their relative success in part to their willingness to integrate into their fiction the literary themes and conventions to which readers of such fiction were accustomed.
So maybe the website should be called, “Imagine Communion.”