Say What?
Off the Wall, August 17 , 2017

Very often while down at the Latrobe Farmer’s Market I will greet people by stating, “Are you a Christian? Many times women in particular will respond, “No, I’m Catholic!”

What’s with that anyway? Aren’t Catholics Christians and vice versa?

Upon asking that question nobody yet has said to me, “No, I’m Jewish or no, I’m Methodist.

One gentleman recently told me, “I really don’t have any denomination.” Did I ask for a denomination? Don’t think so…

I happened to be talking to two young blondes who stopped in to look at the renovation of Holy Family Church in Latrobe. Both young women stated they were Methodists, but had to see what the church looks like since it was fixed up.

But it is different in this case. I didn’t pop the question if they were Christian. They just volunteered their denomination. But here again, only those who go to that church will spring the fact that they are members of that church.

Why is it that no others who belong to other denominations have to pipe up and immediately tell me they are Methodists? Never has anyone stated they were Baptists, Presbyterians or Lutherans. In my opinion, there must be some psychological reason behind all this, but I have yet to figure this one out.

Let’s get one thing straight. Christianity is a religion, just like Hinduism and Buddhism are religions. Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist and United Church of God are all denominations of the Christian religion.

I was talking to one young lady a while back and she was telling me that Catholicism was a religion. I told her she was wrong and that it was a denomination. She then stated, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.” What could I say to that?

Then just the other day I happened to be talking to a woman at the Latrobe Farmer’s Market who told me that, “There are a lot of Protestants that believe that Catholics don’t believe that Catholics believe in Christianity.” That certainly is strange, since the Catholic Church was the first Church, at least according to my research. The other denominations branched off from the first Church beginning with Martin Luther.

Do Catholics respond by stating they are not Christians but Catholics to differentiate themselves from Protestants who say they are Christians? That may just be the reason Catholics respond the way they do as a result of my approach. At least that is my take on this subject.
I actually did approach one good Catholic friend and ask him if it was taught in the catechism in his growing up years that Catholicism was a religion since so many Catholics seem to express their beliefs that way?

He smiled and even chuckled a tad, paused and then rightfully so, stated, “Not to my knowledge.” And then he chuckled a little more. “Then why do so many Catholics answer my question similarly,” I asked. He didn’t know.

In my opinion, not many people use the word “denomination.” It is not used much if any. If persons want to refer to something concerning a philosophy, the word “religion” surfaces first and foremost. Seldom if any is the word “denomination” used.

But why then when one refers to a garbage man does one pipe up and state immediately, “Oh, you can’t use those two words to refer to those people who perform that service?” They have to be referred to as “waste management specialists” or “sanitation engineers.”

To me, they are garbage men. They are specialists in their field that pick up the garbage. To refer to them as “waste managements specialists makes me wonder what they do with the waste they manage. The men that pick up my garbage just deposits it in their trucks, haul it away, and then dump it somewhere.

True, it’s waste, and they manage that waste by transferring it from Point A (my house) to Point B, but would that make them “specialists” or at best, “engineers.”

My father was a chemical engineer. He received collegiate education to get a degree for his vocation. Mind you, I’m not mocking the “G-men,” my term for garbage men, but I believe my term fit their profession. It still sounds swanky enough and takes the crudeness away the two words that are rather course in nature.

If I ask a “G-man” what service he provides, he would likely state, “I collect garbage.”

So why do Christians answer “Catholic,” now tell me that one?


- Paul J. Volkmann
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