Class Warfare Blog

August 2, 2018

About Time … But …

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:29 am
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Breaking News—Pope Francis has said the death penalty is “inadmissible” and that the Catholic Church would work for its abolition across the world.

About time … but … while the Catholic Church in some ways seems to be one of the more flexible of the Christianities, its commitment to scripture seems to be waning. All throughout the Holy Bible, various infractions of divine and natural law are described including the punishment of … cue the Church Lady, cue the organ music, … Death! Got a teenaged boy who sasses his parents? Kill him! Got a bride who does not seem quite virginy enough? Kill her! Stone them! Kill, kill, kill! (Arlo Guthrie was right!)

I have not counted them but I suspect that the number of rules infractions in the Bible that include death sentences is closer to 100 than to zero. (The wages of sin is death!)

So, now the death sentence is to be taken off of the table. This, I think, is a good thing! It is a good thing all by itself (Vengeance is mine! … who said that?) and it is a good thing in that it undermines further the authority claimed for “holy” scripture.

If you can cherry-pick some of it, why not all of it?

 

 

 

 

 

December 9, 2017

They Are Still at It

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:11 am
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Pope Francis recently came out with a complaint, actually more like a whine, that the Lord’s Prayer is mistranslated into English. Since the prayer’s source is Jesus, this is a bit problematic. The line the Pope complains about is the one “and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The prayer is directly to “the Father,” and the only difference in the original Greek (the NT was written in Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic) is that all of the verbs up to the point of “lead” are in imperative mode, which is a bit tetchy when addressed to a god, with the “lead” being in a mode making it a request not a demand. But still, the prayer asks Yahweh to not lead us into temptation. Pope Francis wants no part of that, the tempter is Satan, not Yahweh … in his book.

It is all Greek to me!

Unfortunately, this ignores the myriad other times in the Bible that Yahweh is a source of temptation or evil. The entire Book of Job is one example that cannot be ignored, one in which Yahweh collaborates in evil with Satan over a bet. (How can Yahweh not know the outcome of any bet? How can Satan deny that Yahweh doesn’t already know the outcome? How stupid is the entire book?)

The problems with monotheism are being worked out … still. The major problem with having but one god is that to be able to claim that god is the source of all good, it must also be the source of all bad and evil. A god which is not a source of good is basically useless. In order to avoid this problem, Satan was invented. While Satan has god-like powers, he is not a god. (He is God’s enemy! How the heck can a god who can think a being out of existence have an enemy?) At some point a being with god-like powers gets a little confused with actual gods, you know the ones, the ones that … uh, hmmm.

There are all kinds of substantive issues brought up by reading the Bible, which is why the Catholic Church made damn sure you could not read it by forbidding the translation of the Bible into a language you could read. People were burned at the stake for the “sin” of translating the Bible into English. Now, the Pope himself is whinging about the quality of the translation. (How translating the Bible into English can make the trip from being a heinous sin warranting the death penalty (and a hellish demise) to being a subject of open discussion with the Pope is beyond me.)

Many people are unaware that monotheism in the Bible began with Abraham (Abraham stories, anyway) and wasn’t official policy of Israel until the sixth century BCE, which means that polytheism was common among the Hebrews up to that point (even beyond). Remember the Hebrews worshiping Baal while Moses was up on the mountain, hobnobbing with Yahweh? Ever wonder why they were so perverse? Could it have been Satan? (Shut up, Church Lady!) No, it was normal. Much of the Pentateuch is devoted to Yahweh beating the stubborn Jews into being monotheistic. Whether this concept was being pushed by the priestly class to give them more power (priests of Yahweh, anyway), it is hard to tell. But it does created the problem of one god being responsible for all supernatural and natural phenomena.

They are still working on it. (Hey, it has only been 2500 years or do! Things take time to work out.)

I can’t but help think about scientists in the same position. When a bit of theory comes up which is self-contradictory, that fact is stated loud and clear along with “there is something wrong at the core of this argument,” and “we are open to suggestions as to how to get out of this quandary.” Somehow I don’t see the Pope asking for similar help in this manner.

October 27, 2017

Catholics at War … Get the Popcorn

You won’t like me when I’m angry.”

In a long read article in The Guardian (The War Against Pope Francis) we are treated to the kinds of behaviors clerics deplore … in “the flock,” but by the shepherds themselves, hmm, apparently not so much.

For example, consider the following paragraph in that piece: “This summer, one prominent English priest said to me: ‘We can’t wait for him to die. It’s unprintable what we say in private. Whenever two priests meet, they talk about how awful Bergoglio is … he’s like Caligula: if he had a horse, he’d make him cardinal.” Of course, after 10 minutes of fluent complaint, he added: ‘You mustn’t print any of this, or I’ll be sacked.’” (Note: Bergoglio is the pope’s given name and using it is a sign the speaker doesn’t consider him a “real pope;” if he did he would refer to him as Pope Francis, or any of the other bullshit titles he possesses.)

Gosh, “we can’t wait for him to die,” is that statement describing an attitude, like a child who “can’t wait for Christmas morning” or a statement of intent? If it is a statement of intent, one hopes it suggests some sort of legal proceeding rather than the time tested methods used to remove a troublesome prelate: poison or a pillow in the night

Here’s another “In 2015, American journalist Ross Douthat, a convert to Catholicism, wrote a piece for the Atlantic magazine headlined Will Pope Francis Break the Church?; a Spectator blogpost by the English traditionalist Damian Thompson threatened that ‘Pope Francis is now at war with the Vatican. If he wins, the church could fall apart.’ The pope’s views on divorce and homosexuality, according to an Archbishop from Kazakhstan, had allowed ‘the smoke of Satan’ to enter the church.

Ah, the threat of the smoke of Satan which, if one has asthma, might actually kill.

So, what’s the buzz, tell us what’s happening? The article expands …

The crunch point has come in a fight over his views on divorce. Breaking with centuries, if not millennia, of Catholic theory, Pope Francis has tried to encourage Catholic priests to give communion to some divorced and remarried couples, or to families where unmarried parents are cohabiting. His enemies are trying to force him to abandon and renounce this effort.

The question is particularly poisonous because it is almost entirely theoretical. In practice, in most of the world, divorced and remarried couples are routinely offered communion. Pope Francis is not proposing a revolution, but the bureaucratic recognition of a system that already exists, and might even be essential to the survival of the church. If the rules were literally applied, no one whose marriage had failed could ever have sex again. This is not a practical way to ensure there are future generations of Catholics.

Ah, Jesus (Remember him?) was willing to forgive whores and brutal tax collectors (armed thugs who collected taxes anyway they wanted to) but the modern Catholics can’t abide a divorce, even when studies show people get remarried at a huge rate, so divorce doesn’t undermine the institution of marriage; it undermines the ability of the church to control behavior. (The older church was more pragmatic; it would have sold indulgences (if an annulment wouldn’t do): good for one divorce, but I digress.) I guess this is one of those issues in which Catholics have rules on the books, and then ignore them. Let’s see, there are the 92% of American Catholic women who use artificial birth control, which is strictly verboten, and now we find out that “In practice, in most of the world, divorced and remarried couples are routinely offered communion,” also strictly verboten. And the ass-covering Vatican officials are willing to not only tolerate a schism over this, but to create one. Who was it who said “with friends like these you don’t need enemies?”

To top things off for now, the article stated: “Last month, 62 disaffected Catholics, including one retired bishop and a former head of the Vatican bank, published an open letter that accused Francis of seven specific counts of heretical teaching.

To accuse a sitting pope of heresy is the nuclear option in Catholic arguments. Doctrine holds that the pope cannot be wrong when he speaks on the central questions of the faith; so if he is wrong, he can’t be pope. On the other hand, if this pope is right, all his predecessors must have been wrong.

Oooh, I wonder if this is one of Satan’s dilemmas, or just an ordinary one.

This has the possibility of being the greatest spectator event of the century. No matter how it plays out Amazon or Netflix will make a bingable miniseries. (Too bad Sydney Greenstreet is dead, he would have been a great Pope Francis.) And, one also hopes, enough Catholics are so disgusted by the antics of the Vatican that they will look elsewhere for their … spiritual guidance. (I’m sorry, I can’t quite use the term spiritual guidance without seeing in my cartoon mind a sign that reads “This Way to the Haunted Mansion” or a Victorian book entitled “A Guide to Spirits, Ghosts, Spectres, and Other Ectoplasmic Manifestations.” If people using this term are referring more to something akin to “lifting one’s spirits” or as in high school “building team spirit,” one needs a cheerleader, not a dour Catholic, celibate, uneducated “advisor,” especially as a marriage counselor.)

December 25, 2013

Pope Flat Out Lies to Gathered Thousands!

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 2:32 pm
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In Pope Francis’ holiday message in front of 70,000+ people, the Pope told a couple of whoppers. Toward the end of his comments Francis said “God is peace . . .” and “God is full of love.” What god was he referring to?

The god of the Bible is the god who had Abraham sacrifice his own son as a “test of faith.” How much peace and love could be in a father’s heart after going through such an event. The god of the Bible is the god who led his chosen people across a desert to a “land of milk and honey” that he would “give them.” But instead of using his amazing powers to clear the land of its former occupants, he required the Israelites to wage war and put the indigenous population: men, women, and children, to the sword. This is not a god of love and peace. This is a jealous god.

The Pope really shouldn’t tell lies.

Eternal suffering awaits
anyone who questions
God’s infinite love.
‑ Bill Hicks ‑

March 17, 2013

New Pope, Same as the Old Pope, Maybe Not

Filed under: Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:10 am
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Newly selected Pope Francis has declared “Oh, how I would like a poor church and for the poor.” This is indeed a Sesame Street Moment (How is this one thing unlike the others?).

Since this attitude is completely contrary to centuries of behavior of the Church and previous Popes who have amassed immense wealth and worn Gucci pumps while bathing in glorified architecture and art treasures . . . and is a direct threat to the power mongers in the Vatican, I wonder if we should be setting up a pool to see how long this Pope lasts. They did away with John Paul without too much fuss, so they could do it again.

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