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This morning I was browsing through one of those free newspapers you find at bus and train stations, and I came across a letter sent in by a reader. Said reader fulminated against protests lodged by political party SGP about the use of the lyrics of the Green Day song ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ in a secondary school exam. The SGP complained about those lyrics because they perceived them to be anti-Christian. That by way of providing context. The writer of the letter wrote that people of faith shouldn’t complain, because religion is ‘just a choice’ and ‘they shouldn’t bother other people with it’.

For the record, I don’t agree with the SGP position on this. But I also don’t agree with the letter writer. Religion or faith can’t be limited to ‘just a choice’, as if it is the same as the choice of what colour socks I’m going to wear on a given day. Because that is all that the word ‘choice’ entails: a conscious decision to do something or other some certain way.

When I look back at the road I’ve travelled in the past years, I can say it did start with a choice: not the choice of being Christian or not, but rather the choice of going to see what Mass was and to talk about it with people. From there it quickly developed into something far greater. My decision to let myself be baptised came from a growing conviction that it was the right thing to do: it was not about what I would like, but about what I thought I’d need. I said yes to that sacrament because I had grown to believe that it was something I needed to do to be able to live my life to the fullest.

In that way the ‘choice’ became the foundation to my entire life. It is far more than something that merely appeals to me; it is the framework, reference and source of who I try to be and do.

Saying then that religion is ‘just a choice’ completely misses the point. When I see, read or hear something that is an insult to my faith, it is also an insult to me, and I should be allowed to ‘bother others with it’. That is simply an element of human social conduct, and a tool that society uses to maintain cohesion: there are lines that must be drawn, otherwise society becomes a shapeless chaotic mass. Calling others out for their statements not only protects me from future insults, it also points others to the effects of what they’re saying.  And hopefully we can all learn from that.

The lyrics of the Green Day song, although making heavy use of religious imagery, are not an insult, but it’s easy to see how a superficial glance at the words may lead some to conclude otherwise.

About this blog

I am a Dutch Catholic from the north of the Netherlands. In this blog I wish to provide accurate information on current affairs in the Church and the relation with society. It is important for Catholics to have knowledge about their own faith and Church, especially since these are frequently misrepresented in many places. My blog has two directions, although I use only English in my writings: on the one hand, I want to inform Dutch faithful - hence the presence of a page with Dutch translations of texts which I consider interesting or important -, and on the other hand, I want to inform the wider world of what is going on in the Church in the Netherlands.

It is sometimes tempting to be too negative about such topics. I don't want to do that: my approach is an inherently positive one, and loyal to the Magisterium of the Church. In many quarters this is an unfamiliar idea: criticism is often the standard approach to the Church, her bishops and priests and other representatives. I will be critical when that is warranted, but it is not my standard approach.

For a personal account about my reasons for becoming and remaining Catholic, go read my story: Why am I Catholic?


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Netherlands License.

The above means that I have the right to be recognised as the author of both the original blog posts, as well as any translations I make. Everyone is free to share my content, but with credit in the form of my name or a link to my blog.

Blog and media

Over the years, my blog posts have been picked up by various other blogs, websites and media outlets.

A complete list would be prohibitively long, so I'll limit myself to mentioning The Anchoress, Anton de Wit, Bisdom Haarlem-Amsterdam, The Break/SQPN, Caritas in Veritate, Catholic Culture, The Catholic Herald, EWTN, Fr. Ray Blake's Blog, Fr. Z's Blog, The Hermeneutic of Continuity, Katholiek Gezin,, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, New Liturgical Movement, NOS, Protect the Pope, Reformatorisch Dagblad, The Remnant, RKS Ariëns, Rorate Caeli, The Spectator, Vatican Insider, Voorhof and Whispers in the Loggia.

All links to, quotations of and use as source material of my blog posts is greatly appreciated. It's what I blog for: to further awareness and knowledge in a positive critical spirit. Credits are equally liked, of course.

Blog posts have also been used as sources for various Wikipedia articles, among them those on Archbishop Pierre-Marie Carré, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Archbishop Sergio Utleg and Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki.

Latest translations added:

1 December: [English] Archbishop Stephan Burger - Advent letter 2014

29 November: [English] Bishop Frans Wiertz - Homily for the opening of the Year of Consecrated Life

29 November: [English] Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke - Advent letter 2014

27 November: [English] Bishop Johan Bonny - Advent letter 2014

27 November: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Toespraak voor het Europees Parlement.

25 November: [English] Bishop Gerard de Korte - Advent letter 2014.

17 November: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Toespraak voor de conferentie over de complementariteit tussen man en vrouw.

10 November: [English] Pope Francis - Letter to the Church of the Frisians.

22 October: [English] Bishop Gerard de Korte - The doctrine of the Church must always be actualised.

9 October: [English] Godfried Cardinal Danneels - Intervention at the Synod.

Sancta Maria, hortus conclusus, ora pro nobis!

Sancte Ramon de Peñafort, ora pro nobis!

Pope Francis

Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Rome, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the Servants of God

Bishop Gerard de Korte

Bishop of Groningen-Leeuwarden

Willem Cardinal Eijk

Cardinal-Priest of San Callisto, Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht

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