Here is my latest published article for Integrated Catholic Life–on the use of material things in worship.
I was brought up in an independent Bible church in the USA, so my first visit to a Catholic church was a big culture shock, and it confirmed everything I was told about Catholics.
There were racks of candles guttering away in front of statues. There were images of Jesus on the cross, Jesus with his heart on the outside, Mary with baby Jesus, and lots of statues of nuns and monks and priests in various holy poses. Not only that — I saw people praying in front of the statues. “So it was true! Catholics do worship idols!” I thought.
It was an easy mistake to make. I’d been told that Catholics worship idols by my Christian teachers, and what I saw in the church seemed to match.
The same thing might happen if a Catholic kid were told that Protestants worshipped the Bible. Then when he went into an Evangelical church he saw the big pulpit as the central feature and heard a forty-five minute Bible sermon. He’d conclude that his teachers were right and Evangelicals really DID worship the Bible.
Prejudices are powerful because they seem like the truth, but both prejudices are equally off the mark. Just like an Evangelical would be partly amused and partly offended to think anyone might suspect him of worshipping the Bible, so a Catholic is partly amused and partly offended if anyone thinks he worships statues instead of God.
Read the whole article here.