Catherine Deveny and David Schütz EXACTLY alike…

…but different.

I should have blogged on this days ago, but Catherine Deveny’s column in the Sept 3 edition of The Age (“Much to celebrate after 40 years on the roller-coaster of life”) struck a chord with me.

I am refering to her comment:

And the best thing I’ve ever done? Become an atheist.

Which is just like me – only I would have said

And the best thing I’ve ever done? Become a Catholic.

What? You don’t see the connection? Haven’t you learned yet that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, if they live long enough, will either end up an atheist or a Catholic? Catherine and I share the privilige of at least having ended up at one or the other of the final goals before shuttling of this mortal coil.

Of course, I am not saying it isn’t possible for one who has reached one extreme not to reach the other eventually, given that they live long enough. Oscillation is possible. Catherine may become a devout practicing Catholic once again before she dies. I firmly hope and pray that she does. Equally, I might end up an atheist… No, I agree. Not really in the realms of reality. But it could happen!

Regarding the dictum that everyone will end up either a Catholic or an Atheist if they live long enough: cf. Malcolm Muggeridge (who did live long enough), C.S. Lewis (who didn’t), and Oscar Wilde (who just made it). But on the other hand, God sometimes catches us as we are oscillating in the other direction, eg. Thomas Merton (who was leaning in odd directions towards the end after a very promising start) and Graham Green (did he still have faith when he died?).

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0 Responses to Catherine Deveny and David Schütz EXACTLY alike…

  1. Christine says:

    Not to mention John Wayne, who converted darn near on his deathbed!

    Good post, David! I share your observations.

  2. Joshua says:

    Watch out, David!

    You just know that you-know-who will soon add some sour grapes to this post of yours!

  3. Christine says:

    You just know that you-know-who will soon add some sour grapes to this post of yours!

    Well Joshua, then we are simply going to have to make some very tart wine out of those sour grapes!

  4. matthias says:

    I have considered converting to Catholicism,the only issue that holds me back is :
    -my belief in the right of women to use the oral contraceptive or men to use condoms,and i place this within traditional marriage.Which is a joke to the surrounding culture.
    Catherine Deveny’s column is one example of this attitude. Perhaps she will return to Cahtolicism,more importantly she needs to find Jesus.

  5. Joshua says:

    If I may say so, Matthias, it seems to me that believing contraception within marriage to be licit – which I myself hold to be illicit, BTW – is not on the same level as belief in the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, Christ’s founding of the Church on the rock of St Peter, etc., etc. Without holding to the dogmas of the faith, one cannot be Catholic; I would think one could be a Catholic and yet hold an incorrect view on contraception, just as, to use a common example from yesteryear, one could be a Catholic and yet think duelling to be OK, despite the Church’s strictures against it. Don’t get me wrong: I think it would be obviously better and correct to accept the Church’s teaching on this issue, but I don’t think it would be required of one on pain of being refused admission into membership of the Church.

    If you otherwise accept the Church, then why let this one issue hold you back?

    Guys, help! Am I right, or leading others astray here?

  6. matthias says:

    Joshua what you say re not letting contraception issue hold me back does make sense.I believe all the same doctrines that are central to Christianity.
    I suppose that my ‘hangups’ are a throwback to my staunch Protestant upbringing. so thank you for that Joshua ,i shall consider it deeply.

  7. Schütz says:

    Thanks, Josh, for your pastoral advice to Matthias, and I don’t want to pour cold water on it, but there is the difficulty of the formula in the rite of reception where the baptised Christian seeking full communion declares that he accepts “all that the Catholic Church believes and teaches”…and I think that would include the illicitness of artificial contraception.

    What Matthias needs to do is get out his kitchen scales and put “Trinity, Christology, Ecclesiology, Sacraments, Soteriology, Communion and the Authority of the Successor of Peter” on one side and “the pill and condomns” on the other and see how they balance up.

  8. Schütz says:

    In the mean time, I suggest to Matthias that he pull out a copy of Humanae Vitae, read it, then get a popular version of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body catecheses, and read that, and then get Joyce Little’s “the Church and the Culture Wars” and read that, and then come back to the question of the “right” for married couples to use artificial contraception.

    The conscience is a little thing that sits inside our hearts waiting to be educated…

  9. Joshua says:

    Matthias and David,

    I agree that of course one must educate oneself, and form one’s conscience, for if, as I would myself hold, contraception is not right, then to learn more about it is to seek truth with a good heart, which God will bless by enlightening us.

    But I am rather speaking to the issue of whether a person otherwise persuaded of Catholicism ought be put off by this issue: and I say, no.

    I base myself here on what a priest said about hearing confessions: if a woman, say, confesses various things, and inter alia alludes to her taking the Pill (without apparently considering it wrongful), then the confessor is NOT obliged to tell her off about this right away, especially if the person be uninformed about the Faith and coming back to regular practice of Catholicism. Rather, in this case the principle of economy applies: the penitent has confessed as best she can, and the priest mercifully absolves her, while of course when she returns to confession over time, as he prudently foresees, he can give her spiritual advice to perceive her unwitting fault in this area and so be in due course corrected.

  10. Perpétua says:

    I’m very hopeful after seeing the conclusion of the article – it seems that Ms Deveny does know that God is after all, and that He likes to laugh! Anyway, I think that it is sweet. The Baptismal character is permanent.

  11. Past Elder says:

    There is not another reference to atheism in her entire article, yet this is her point?

    The dictum “everyone will end up either a Catholic or an Atheist if they live long enough” is no dictum at all, it is a misquotation of something from John Henry Newman, who is not worth quoting at all.

    Nonetheless, he said no such thing. What he taught was, there is no rational or reasonable proof whatever for the existence of God, and unless one has nonetheless a purely interior conviction that there is a God, belief is impossible unless unless there is an infallible external authority, ie the Catholic Church, to settle it; therefore the one who does not have this internal conviction must be agnostic if being honest, and the one who has it will eventually become a Catholic. You left out the premiss on which it is built.

    Which is entirely at variance with Catholic thought, which maintains the reasonableness of the existence of God and natural religion, though not revealed religion — Newman being the prototype of what is now normal, construct your own interior Catholic Church and call the one around you the same thing.

    So: it is not a dictum, it is a sentiment of Newman; he did not say everyone will become either atheist or Catholic; he said there is no reasonableness to faith so only an infallible teaching authority can overcome the unreasonableness of faith; he said that those with that unreasoned interior conviction must then become Catholic and those without it must remain agnostic if they really think about it; all of which following from a completely un-Catholic understanding of faith which has replaced the Catholic one as Catholic.

    Sorry to intrude fact into fantasy. Delete if you must.

    What it really amounts to is — if you don’t have faith, there’s always the Catholic Church.

  12. Schütz says:

    It IS a dictum, PE, because I SAID it. I made it up. I am the author. If it bears similarity to something that the great JHN said, well and good, that just goes to show that we are on the same wavelength – but my reasons for coining the dictum (and I have done so, without plagiarising, because I was unaware than anyone else had) are entirely based on observation and the reading of history.

    Of course, the dictum is utter nonsense and cannot be either proved or refuted. I just like the sound of it!

  13. Past Elder says:

    Well, I suppose on the basis of the word being the neuter past participle of the Latin verb dicere, to say, the word could mean anything that was said.

    That is not how it is used in general English, where it is taken to mean not just something said, but something said with a certain authority. I was not aware that anything I or you said carried any particular weight of authority because it was you or I who said it.

    Which general use derives from its legal meaning, where it is anything that is part of a court decision, if it is part of the rationale for the decision it being a ratio decidendi, and those which are explanatory and not part of the binding decision are obiter dicta. I was unaware that either you or I have judicial authority either.

    So it’s your opinion. And it does not resonate with Newman unless it proceeds from the belief that belief is essentially ir-rational and unreasonable, therefore one who nonetheless carries such a conviction must eventually find the Roman Catholic Church as the exterior authority to confirm the interior belief, and one who does not carry the conviction must eventually revert to agnosticism.

    Apart from abstract logical proof, which simply validates that under certain circumstances language has behaved in a certain way, no statement can be proven but only disproven — a little Karl Popper helps here — and on that basis the statement that eventually one will either be an atheist or a Roman Catholic seems to have been disproven many times over.

    Though I note the usual Roman out-clause, here, that if they didn’t die atheist or Roman Catholic but a believer in something else, it’s only because they didn’t live long enough, making the statement utterly unverifiable and therefore useless except for the comfort of those who have otherwise decided to accept Rome’s claims.

    God bless me if simple facts aren’t nearly impossible to get across in a Roman environment! Maybe that’s why the Romans pass off unflattering facts as just bitterness or some such.

  14. Peter says:

    @ Josh

    It may or may not help to know that a fair number of Catholics still struggle with the practical application of the faith to their lives. By struggle I don’t mean ‘ignore and pretend that’s ok’ I mean they live the faith, but are still struggling to understand the WHY of some moral teachings.

    This is not blind obedience, but a complete trust that God only ants and commands us to good, and therefore I can do what is right, even being confused about WHY it is right, knowing that God will lead me to understand the truth in time.

  15. Past Elder says:

    And while we’re at it, what is your suggestion about Thomas bloody Merton — that God tossed a fan in the tub so he wouldn’t die a full blown Buddhist?

    Maybe he was simply extending the frontiers of both/and, Catholicising more than the current paradigms allow, for jumping Judas’ sake! He’ll be a saint by Vatican IV!

    I did enjoy his paraphrases of Chuang Tsu though. I’m a big Lao Tsu fan.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hey, past elder,

    To intrude fact into your theological (and epistemological) fantasy, prove sola scriptura e scriptura.

    Then, when you’ve done that, prove that Johan Tetzel sold indulgences,

    that Luther wasn’t thoroughly thrashed by Johannes Eck,

    …and lastly, that Luther was not the author of the letter correctly attributed to him in the possession of the Dominicans in Rome wherein he advises his mother, Margaretha, to remain Catholic.

    = Thomas Wolsey

    Archieps. Ebor.

    Card. Presbyter Sae Caeciliae trans Tiberim

    Legatus a latere

  17. Anonymous says:

    That should, of course, have been:

    + Thomas Wolsey

    Archieps. Ebor. etc

  18. Schütz says:


    I was not aware that anything I or you said carried any particular weight of authority because it was you or I who said it.

    Ah, you see, that is where you have it wrong, PE, ol’ boy. In this little universe I call “My Blog”, anything and everything I say carries definitive authority.

  19. Christine says:

    Ah, you see, that is where you have it wrong, PE, ol’ boy. In this little universe I call “My Blog”, anything and everything I say carries definitive authority.


  20. Past Elder says:

    Bless us and save us, Mrs O’Davis!

    Well, Your Eminence, I would respond to your post even though it has been responded to many times over by those much more qualified than I and even though it seems yet another Roman dodge to not address the matter at hand, except I am far to overcome to find your health so much better than reported.

    Sorry about the whole annulment thing. Where were those post conciliar Marriage Tribunals when we needed them, eh? Regards to Tom and Dorothy.

  21. Past Elder says:

    That should, of course, have been “too” and not “to”.

    And my apologies, best to Joan too.

  22. Anonymous says:

    “it has been responded to many times over by those much more qualified than I”

    Oh, no it hasn’t.

    And another thing, at least Joan was more attractive than your Martin’s Katy…

    + Thomas Wolsey,

    Archieps Eborac., etc

  23. Past Elder says:

    Ah, Your Eminence, I am sure my joy at your continued good health is only exceeded by the faithful of York, seeing their shepherd once again tirelessly preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments to them.

    BTW, any word on that More fella?

    It is my sad misfortune to not have known either Joan or Katy, separated as I am by centuries and an ocean, and being in Nebraska (where we also have a York), a hell of a lot of land too. Perhaps the estimation as to whether the theological matters have been sufficiently addressed admits of the same bias as the estimation of the relative attractiveness of the women.

  24. Joshua says:

    At last – someone to put PE in his place!

  25. Past Elder says:

    Ah yes, Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, that great champion and examplar of all things Catholic!

    How apt.

    Nonetheless I shall enjoy this unparalled communication, almost as much as I did the “Luther At The Movies” blog. And his ancestors and mine are both from Suffolk! God bless me ten times, perhaps we’re related!

    Not only has his being created cardinal one-upped him on that pesky Archbishop of Canterbury, but allows us to settle on “Eminence” rather than “Grace” (English) or “Excellency” (American) on the archbishop thing. God bless me sideways.

    Now if only my man Savanarola would start blogging!

  26. Past Elder says:

    I am wondering why you left out, Your Eminence, from your definitive confutations of Luther the Assertio septem sacramentorum? Especially since it came out in reaction to the work which so influenced me, De captivitate Babylonica.

    Or is it your characteristic modesty, not promoting your own work?

    Or did More really write the rest of the bleeder, and we don’t want to promote a work which invalidates the entire Anglican Communion under the name of its founder, let alone written by More?

    I think the “FD” does not appear on Aussie currency though.

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