The Christian ideal will always be a summons to overcome suspicion, habitual mistrust, fear of losing our privacy, all the defensive attitudes which today’s world imposes on us. Many try to escape from others and take refuge in the comfort of their privacy or in a small circle of close friends, renouncing the realism of the social aspect of the Gospel. (Evangelii Gaudium 88)
Recently I was talking with a friend of mine about different Catholic groups and movements that we’ve been apart of when one of us said, “Catholics need to stop being weird.” I have a lot of experience with weird Catholics. I was homeschooled growing up and “being different” was a badge of honor for myself and many in the homeschool group I attended, but it was only after I graduated that realized that maybe being weird wasn’t a positive thing.
Looking back as an adult, I realized that there were some pretty negative attitudes, spiritual disorders, present in the homeschooling community. Now, I wouldn’t change the fact that I was homeschooled and I’m certainly not criticizing all homeschooling families, but I think that these are things that homeschoolers, and other groups that isolate themselves from the wider community, are prone to.
I experienced a real fortress mentality that saw the outside world as bad or something to be afraid of. I mean, this was the reason many Christians chose to homeschool their children. However, this also created a “holier than thou” judgmentalism toward anyone who wasn’t like us. And since homeschooling was legalized only a few years before I started first grade, there was also a victim mentality were we saw ourselves as perpetually oppressed by the secular world. I had to unlearn these things as I made friends in college with people who weren’t like me and I’m still unlearning some of these things now.
This desire to be weird, to isolate ourselves from the world, is a spiritual sickness. I would go so far as to say that if we are look too different from the world around us we undermine our mission to bring about the Kingdom of God. Pope Francis speaks about this directly in his apostolic exhortation, The Joy of Love: