Considering the contents of this blog, I am hardly in the position to cast stones at anyone’s efforts at evangelism, especially when they use the trappings of a classic science fiction show...
Must… not… cast… stones!
Anyway, those who have spent some time in evangelical churches like I have should be more than familiar with the practice of handing out tracts to non-believers. Passing along those little pamphlets is done in the hope of planting a small seed in the non-Christian’s mind that will eventually blossom and lead them to Christ. Tracts can range in content from benign bible musings to the notorious ravings of Jack Chick.
For better or worse, tracts aren’t quite as ubiquitous these days as they used to be. A few years back, Christianity Today even asked some prominent Christians if anyone should still be handing the things out at all. Christian Smith, professor of sociology at Notre Dame, was most definitely in the NO column, stating, “Very rarely. Most people become Christians through relationships, not by being handed pieces of paper. The latter usually has more to do with some Christians feeling like they are ‘doing something’ than anything that changes people.”
That being said, tracts are still around, even Catholic ones. Most Catholic bookstores have a few for sale and Catholic Answers has a whole section devoted to them, so if you feel called to pass some out, they’re available. Whether or not you should do so while speaking in a bad Shatner imitation, that’s entirely up to you.
Speaking from experience, the absolute worst use of tracts is to replace a tip when you eat out. Anyone who wants a tract left on the table for a server to have positive impact should leave a really generous tip.
Ugh, you win, I can't think of an example worse than that!
yep. a couple of weeks ago someone left leaflets on cars parked near cathedral. Then the following week some guy with a handful of them was standing outside the doors just before Mass bugging people. It was one of those fairly rare days when I didn't feel like going to Mass, but turns out I REALLY didn't feel like being hassled on the steps of my own parish. I grew up in the Bible Belt & folks who go after Catholic teaching with only a dim grasp of it really bring out my inner Italian bulldog. I didn't sin against charity, but if Mass hadn't been about to start.....
They're inescapable. When one of my family members learned I was thinking about returning to the Catholic Church, the tracts started appearing on my desk at work. They were laughably ill-informed.
I actually love tracts-- not to hand out, but when they're stuck where folks can pick them up for more information, or so you can have in a purse pocket for when someone says something silly.
Even the ones for other faiths, even Christian groups, are nice. When someone's talking, they can always declare that you just "didn't understand" what they said-- and those who are fairly skilled can even get you apologizing to them for them lying about Catholicism.
When it's written down, that isn't an option.
My personal favorite tract moment came when I was in third or fourth grade (it's been awhile) and visiting the church of a classmate. They picked me up with their church bus and gave me a Chick tract to read on the way there. It was about venereal disease. I repeat, I was in elementary school. In their defense, we were in Alabama. Also, I never did get VD, so there's that.
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