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Posts Tagged ‘catholic church’

I find things like this very confusing.

Regardless of the one-word religious label that best sums her up, Leah seems like one of the good guys. I haven’t made a habit of reading her blog consistently, but I’ve always got the impression that she’s well on the side of tolerance, intellectual honesty, and all-round being nice to each other. I’ve written before about her idea for the Ideological Turing Test, which was an excellent way of examining how well believers and non- can actually understand and empathise with each other, and accurately describe the opposing view.

She’s been a relatively high-profile atheist blogger for quite some time. A way bigger noise in the godless community than me.

And now she’s a Christian.

Which – with absolutely not a gram of malice intended towards Leah or anyone else – I find seriously weird.

There are plenty of ongoing discussions about what atheism is, but the most common proposition I keep hearing (from atheists) is that it simply describes the lack of belief in a god, and nothing more, regardless of how some religious people might want to stereotype or generalise about us. Perhaps it’s partly because of this oft-repeated truism that I tend to assume that, when it comes to the whole god thing, I’m on roughly the same page as other atheists – at least, those atheists firm enough in their convictions to, say, blog regularly about it. Whatever our other philosophical differences, and whatever the divergent nature of the paths that took us here, we’re of one mind now in rejecting god in all his/her/their forms.

But an announcement like this throws a whole new perspective on it. Apparently Leah and I have been worlds apart this whole time. I can’t begin to understand her reasoning process right now, and apparently that’s been true for longer than I’ve realised.

I just can’t really conceive of myself ever taking a step backward like that. It feels like I’m such an unfathomably long way from where she was when she made this decision. It’s not like I find atheism fundamentally unsatisfying, or miss the comfort religion used to offer. I’m not interested in “exploring my spirituality” in the inane way most people use that phrase. I’m not struggling to find some resolution to the metaphysical epistemology of moral reasoning. There’s just no God.

There are more interesting and complex and difficult questions than that, of course, just like there’s a lot we still don’t know about the history of the development of life on this planet. But the basic idea of common descent and Darwinian selection isn’t in crisis. And nor is my lack of faith.

Also, it’s not just that Leah now believes in God – she hasn’t simply been too troubled by the ultimate question of whether there isn’t something bigger than us out there, and fallen into a flimsy, tentative, unnecessary-but-kinda-understandable deism. She’s Catholic. Not only does atheism not adequately explain the visible world for her any more, but the people who had the right answer all along are the Catholic Church.

Seriously? This Catholic Church? The one right here? From not believing in any god at all, you’ve swung so far round that these despicable fuckers here now seem like the best bet for all the reliable facts about Jesus, and the meaning of life, and morality, which was the exact point of contention which led you to convert?

Apparently I’m more angry about this than I thought. I don’t know Leah personally, and don’t wish her any ill. It’s just quite bewildering.

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The New York Times faces an ethical quandary. When they’re writing about stuff people have said, should they bother to report on whether that stuff’s true or not? Is that an important or useful part of their role as a news organisation? They’re “looking for reader input” on this. Because they’re not sure.

Dear Dr Phil, if you want to actually help people as you claim to do, you have a responsibility to do better than this.

– A new addition to add to the list of Mother Teresa’s crimes against moral decency: she campaigned to protect a child-abusing Catholic priest, stressing “how careful we must be to guard the purity and reputation of that priesthood”.

Here’s a video which very neatly and briefly explains the distinction between a trend and a variation in data – for example, between the constantly changing weather, and the gradually shifting climate.

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– No, Rick Santorum, the National Health Service did not bring about the collapse of the British Empire. What does it say about the arguments against a public healthcare system if that’s the kind of thing a serious presidential contender is trotting out?

– You know who does altogether too much self-indulgent whining? Rape victims. I mean, geez, so another Catholic priest molested you too, like, pick a number and get in line, right? Right?

Fame.

– I’ve been vaguely considering getting back into playing the piano recently. I now realise that any such attempt would be entirely redundant.

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Last year (or to be more precise, three days ago), I wrote a thing making fun of the Archbishop of Chicago’s concerns that the gay rights movement might be starting to resemble the KKK.

Elly commented:

i think some gay rights organisations/individuals are fascistic to be honest. Many of them tend to serve the interests of middle class white man. They are often prejudiced against less ‘powerful’ minorities and individuals, e.g. bisexual people and trans people.

The incidents around East London Pride and those anti gay stickers involved a lot of racism and Islamaphobia.

AND there are even one or two gay groups calling for a gay nation, a gay only state.

The “gay state” thing is a new one to me, at least outside the realm of obvious satire. It’s certainly not representative of the gay rights movement as a whole, but a book of that name does exist, and from a cursory inspection (which, frankly, is all I have the energy for) it doesn’t seem to be wholly metaphorical. The kind of segregation implied, if you take the title literally, is a terrible idea.

It’s not an opaque or unsympathetic thought process by which some gay people might tire of constantly being belittled and bullied, and eventually become frustrated to the point of abandoning any hope that non-revolutionary acceptance and integration can ever be achieved. There are problems with the gay rights movement that can’t so easily be shunted to the fringe, though.

When I typed “transphobia” into Google just now, the first suffix suggested by autocomplete was “in the gay community”. Do the search yourself, and it’s not hard to find many examples of people battling for rights and acceptance, while seemingly denying the same to other groups of people who you’d think were in a similar boat.

I can’t speak to the nature of the slogans people might have stuck to things during a Pride march, or of the experiences of any gay folk from a minority race, or bisexuals, or trans people, or anyone else who might not have found the gay community to be the refuge they were hoping for. It’s always worth being careful about whether any particular group or subgroup is being systematically edged out, othered, ignored, or discriminated against, even if the movement in question is primarily focused around fostering broader acceptance and tolerance. Perhaps especially then.

However, I didn’t quote the Archbishop in full in my last post, and I think letting him finish his sentence might help with the point I was making (emphasis mine):

You know, you don’t want the Gay Liberation Movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.

And another quote from the Illinois Family Institute:

Cardinal George’s analogy is fair and apt. Many homosexual activists harbor unconcealed hatred for not only the Catholic Church but also for all Protestant denominations that hold orthodox views of homosexuality.

The idea, not just that the Catholic Church as a whole are in danger of being oppressed by a sexual activist group campaigning for greater tolerance and liberty, but that the gay activists are the main problem with this scenario, is what I was aiming to ridicule, and I stand by that.

But, while I’m certainly not condemning or demeaning any movement or organisation based on these concerns at the moment, QRG has a point. The very notion of gay activism becoming oppressive, unwelcoming, or even “fascistic” is not a comically unrealistic one, and is worth watching out for and guarding against.

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You don’t want the Gay Liberation Movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan,” the Archbishop of Chicago (they seriously have those?) recently said.

And he’s right. I certainly don’t want that. That would be terrible, if that happened.

In fact, here’s a list of some things which would be terrible, should they come to pass:

– The Gay Liberation Movement morphing into something like the Ku Klux Klan.

– The ACLU transmogrifying into three hundred Spartans.

– My fiancĂ©e being replaced by a clone of John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

– A plate of fish fingers eating me for dinner.

– My house being haunted by the ghosts of dinosaurs who used to roam the plains of ancient Kent.

– Discovering that my life is being written by Dan Brown and I’m about to be plunged into a web of intrigue and conspiracy and clunkily expository dialogue.

– The Catholic Church so ignoring the teachings of its heralded Messiah that it protects child abusers and puts thousands more young people at risk of serious harm by impeding criminal investigations.

Fortunately, I think I’m pretty safe from most of those horrendous possibilities. Nearly all of them, in fact.

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– What’s at the centre intersection of this Venn diagram of silliness? Catholic doctors curing gays with homeopathy. What exactly do they plan to dilute?

– Pretty much everyone except politicians seems to understand by now that the war on drugs is a disaster. Maybe we should just put TV writers in charge and things might start getting better.

– Winner of the Nobel Prize for awesome Paul Krugman has been schooling dishonest Republicans in healthcare lately, which has been quite fun to watch. One, two, three, four.

– BREAKING NEWS. These women have FEET.

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– You know how religion is one of the main things that organises charity programmes that help those in need, because of how religious faith inspires selflessness and altruism and unconditional generosity? No, me neither.

– Apparently the richer people are, the more money they donate, proportionally, to charities such as health and education organisations, and the less to religious groups. Which is peculiar.

– Related to my main post yesterday, some thoughts on why people might do work even when they’re not being forced to.

– And a potentially juicy scandal with a tax-funded school being cagey on how much cash it’s spent on “Political Lobbying and Media Relations“.

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