Labels

I was reading RNS’s quote of the day from Deal Hudson.

I don’t want to be called a “Conservative Catholic” anymore.

That caught my eye. There’s a short piece in Catholic Online, and here’s a little more perspective:

Labels in politics and religion serve a purpose: There are discernible groups and coalitions within and between the worlds of the Church and government. Words used as labels serve the purpose of enabling us to distinguish between one group and the other.

But I don’t want to be called a “Conservative Catholic” anymore. In the last few months, I’ve read two headlines beginning with the phrase “Conservative Catholic” which contained comments that have effectively made the label, if not meaningless, represent a group of Catholics who are now spreading the virus of an identity crisis.

I don’t have a problem with labels at all. As long as the package in question is sticking itself with whatever identifies. Not someone else.

If Mr Hudson wants to bail on “conservative,” I have no worries on that. Labels are sometimes meaningless, especially when they lack friendliness, knowledge, and accuracy. In which case, they become weapons. And we don’t need any of that, really.

Conservatives have been shrugging off the “conservative” label for a number of years anyway. What Mr Hudson observes about some brands of Catholiccrazy is true enough. Many other Catholics wanted to distance themselves from GOP/Tea Party quagmires. The ex-conservative mainstream likes to style itself as “orthodox.” Like that adds meaning. It’s just another flavor of “my label is better than yours.”

I’ve called myself “orthodox” for three decades. Since I learned what it meant in grad school. A number of my Catholic brothers and sisters might object, “No, you’re not.” But the label is what it is. Accurate, or not, more or less. If you don’t like it, call me by my first name. I own that label, too.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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