Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Pamphlet War in New Jersey

I just left a parish Mass in New Jersey while on vacation. I was flipping through their fairly innocuous collection pamphlets when I found these little gems peppered in with trifolds about Sacraments and the dignity of all human life.

It's a weak and cowardly move to leave pamphlets instead of talking to people. I hate the passive aggressive Christian pamphlets that masquerade as comic books or fake money to get you to say a special prayer with the suggestion to find a church. But these pamphlets are the opposite side of the same coin. Filled with presumptions, mischaracterizations, and, worse, zero real engagement. It deals with the impression of Christians found in the media or in random family members rather than an entire tradition. The same goes with some Christian mischaracterizations of atheists. Both hardly deal with the real thing because it's so much easier to drop a pamphlet than deal with the real thing, have a good conversation, respectfully disagree or concede each other's fair points, and to find common ground in a world of division.

The really sad part is that both sets DID have a common ground if the person who dropped them bothered to read the others instead of cowardly dropping a couple papers and running away. There could have been a great conversation in that. Both sets of articles affirm the "dignity" of every person. "Dignity" means the inestimable wealth of every person, which involves the complicated amalgamation of thoughts, experiences, values, and understanding that make up each of us. To treat people with "dignity" involves not seeing them as deluded idiots, the kind that can be swayed by a silent, uncaring pamphlet.

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