The Catholic Faith has always been a smart, beautiful religion. It has fostered the greatest minds and mystics of the last 2000 years.
But today we face an incredible change.
For the first time in human history, archives are being posted online. Translation and searching tools mean we can study books in any language. At the speed of wifi.
What this means for collaboration is astounding. Students and scholars can learn from anyone, anywhere, at any time. It used to take 6 months to send a letter. Now it’s 6 milliseconds. And this is shaking every educational field.
With so much data, research, and collaboration, scientists are challenging their assumptions. Historians are revising timelines and motives. And theologians are awash in answers that seem to contradict and confuse.
The average Catholic feels like a bowling pin, and the world keeps trying to knock us over. How do we cope?
- ‘Nones’: some become ‘spiritual but not religious.’ This allows us to still be smart, try to make sense of the data, but not identify with something backward. The danger is to lose connection with the Faith.
- Radicalism: in looking for confidence and answers, some seek to revive to an older Catholic culture. While this seeks to be deeply rooted in time-tested wisdom, it is usually at the expense of development from within the Church and secular society.
- Syncretism: seen as the open-minded option, some seek to unite around common truths with all religions and expressions. While it’s good to celebrate truth wherever it’s found, the danger is in losing your own identity and tradition.
- Average: Most of us do a little learning, have a lot of trust, and try to be good people. This tries to keep us connected to friends and family. But this usually means we don’t believe or understand the good news. Afraid of being thought unintelligent, we stay quiet.
There is another path. The Smart Catholic.
The smart Catholic constantly seeks the truth, wherever it takes us. We celebrate truth wherever it’s found (Phil 4:8), because we don’t see our Faith as an us-vs-them tribe. Being Catholic is not a ‘religious expression’. It is a universal reality, like gravity, like space, like sunlight. We hunt for the truth, because God is truth.
The smart Catholic understands that we are not called to check out from the world. We are not called to ignore our emotions, unplug our brains, or roll over. We are called to check in. To be more fully human. To love our world, our country, our culture, and the human being next to us.
The smart Catholic is done with religion portrayed as out of touch, bigoted, and stupid.
The effect of Christ in the history of invention, leadership, and smart thinking has shaped our modern world. It’s still shaping our future. God gave us brilliant intellects, and an infinite hunger for meaning and love. We need answers. Smart answers.
The smart Catholic today recognizes that much is different. It’s not our parent’s world. It won’t ever be again. The Church must be renewed with every new culture and generation (1 Thes 5:21). We embrace evidence from mysticism, science, and history to build a smart theology.
Shields will be shaken. But faith and reason are two wings that connect us to God. Our reason inspires our Faith. Our Faith allows us to reason well. We pray, and we are smart.
When Catholics understand our Faith in the modern world, we experience greater personal joy, and confidence in sharing the good news.