Today's topic is Baptists versus Catholics, but first, a little personal historical perspective.
As everyone knows, I was born on the second floor of Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Georgia in 1959. In 1959, Marietta was considered a far out exurb of Atlanta. By 1972, that began to change and change fast. Marietta became one of the fastest growing suburbs of Atlanta. Ground zero for this growth was the area I lived in known as East Cobb.
Before 1972, the people that moved to East Cobb were mainly from the Midwest. The differences between someone from the Midwest and someone from the South are slight. We say "y'all" and they say "you guys". For some reason, all of the Ohioans I met pronounced "Wash" as "Wersh". They drive better in the snow than we do.
However, in 1972, the people that began moving to East Cobb were from the Northeast. The real Yankees. The people that were not the typical Southern mutt mixture of Scotch-Irish. The folks were of a definite ethnicity: primarily Italian.
I was in eighth grade when a girl named Lynn was brought to a class I was in. The teacher stumbled over her name (which ended in a vowel). Lynn corrected her and she had a heavy Boston- Pahk the cah(r) in Hahvuhd Yahd-accent. I remember looking at her thinking "I've heard about these people but I've never seen one before".
One thing all of these people had in common was that they were all Catholics. Before then I had known maybe three Catholics. Now they were everywhere. My brother told me that Catholics came in Masses and I believed him.
Now let's explore some of the differences between Catholics and my denomination, The Southern Baptist Convention.
Title of Clergy
Baptists: "Brother (first name)" or "Brother (last name)" or "Dr" if they somehow got a doctorate from an accredited seminary or if the seminary sounds accredited.
Catholics: Sprinkling babies
Baptists: Dunking kindergartners and then redunking them in high school after they have their first beer.
Catholics: It is okay to dance as long you leave room for The Holy Spirit.
Baptists: Dancing leads to sex, even with married couples, and therefore, should be avoided. (However, I will say every Southern Baptist girl I knew when I was young could really boogie.)
Catholics: Yes, please.
Older Baptists: NO! NO! NO! NOT UNLESS YOU WANT TO SPEND ETERNITY WITH LUCIFER AND SOME OF HIS LESSER KNOWN IMPS
Not As Old Baptists: It is okay unless you cause your brother to stumble and you wouldn't want that on your conscience now would we?
Young Baptists: Yes, please.
Of course there are many other doctrinal differences that I'm in no way qualified to discuss. However, there is one area of agreement: There is a God who loves us and sent his Son to die for us. God is interested in us and doesn't abandon us even though there are times when it seems he does.
Once during the initial stages of my wife's breast cancer journey, I was driving home in the typical Georgia December rain and I thought about 1 Corinthians 13: 12. "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." I burst into tears, which I never do. My brother had died seven months before and there I was facing the possibility that something bad could happen to my wife. But that verse gave me comfort because "I am fully known" by the creator of the universe.
I have a friend that was a part of the Great Northern Migration to East Cobb. She said that a boy came up to her at school and said she was a Yankee that was going to Hell because she was a Catholic. His grandmother told him. My grandmother never told me any such a thing and neither did my mother or father.
This friend has helped me pray my son into his first job and I've prayed for her daughter to escape a corporate downsizing, which she did. My friend lights a candle. I mention it during prayer and praise in Sunday School. God listens and he doesn't mind that we don't go to the same church.