End ofan era..

The death of Pope John Paul II was hardly unexpected, yet it is momentous. This was, I think, a Pope who was perhaps the most exceptionally talented and extraordinary man to fill St Peter’s shoes in a long time; one of the great men of the twentieth century, and like all great men, controversial–loved and hated.
Despite being brought up a Catholic, I wasn’t brought up to revere the Pope. That’s because I was brought up in a very traditionalist Catholic family–so traditionalist, in fact, my parents are against all the changes in the Church since Vatican II, and they, and most of my siblings, attend the old-rite Latin Mass, in France, where they now live. When we were kids we had to traipse along with Mum and Dad to a banned Latin Mass in Sydney community halls–along with the Gibson family, Mel included! (my claim to fame!) The Latin Mass Movement’s bitterness against the papacy, which they believed had robbed them of the right to refuse change to their religion, ran very deep. And so, though to many church people, John Paul II seemed to be a ‘conservative’, to them he was a radical of the worst kind, because they also believed he was, indeed, exceptionally intelligent and gifted. (His wartime underground theatre background was even held against him; it was said, once an actor, always an actor!)

I never shared my parents’ views on these things, though I understood their pain. I am deeply religious–in the sense that though I rarely go to Mass, I feel the presence of God very close to me–a feeling that has been with me since the earliest childhood–and that God I do apprehend through the images, rituals, words and understandings of Catholicism. But I’ve never felt the urge to convert anyone, feeling that everyone must clothe the formlessness of God in the form that best suits them, culturally and temperamentally. And when I looked at the Church, I didn’t see just a mass of corruption and double-dealing as my parents–and strangely enough, many people who would have been felt to be their philosophical opposites–did. I saw a very human institution, imperfect like all human institutions, which sometimes I detested, but which sometimes rose to the level one might yearn for, in the representatives of Jesus. Nearly always that was through the actions of exceptional individuals.
Such a one was Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II. Brave, intelligent and subtle, he was a man who was both conservative and radical; who championed the old understandings of the Catholic Church on moral issues but rejected the cruel distortions that have often turned murderous, such as the attitude to Jews. And he was very influential in ending the stranglehold of Communist fear in Poland, and helping to firm up the only genuine working-class movement to ever take off in communist countries, the Solidarity trade union. ..
I certainly do not agree with everything he said or did, but his strength of purpose, fortitude and high intelligence are rare indeed, and I think the next Pope will have very big shoes to fill. Rest in peace.

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Tim
Tim
2022 years ago

I’m going to go have wild gay sex to celebrate.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

Rather tasteless comment on Tim’s part. The Pope, for all his less palatable views, played a part in the downfall of the Gulag Archipelago. He was, unlike some ‘pro-life’ types at least consistently pro-life, caring about fully formed human beings (as evidenced by his stand on the war) as much as fetuses. His thinking was at least intellectually coherent, systematic, rigorous and wide ranging in scope, though he may have started from mistaken premises. This scholar-athelete embodies more Nietzschean virtues than people like Tim single-mindedly obsessed with defining themselves by whom they shag.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Tim’s comment resonates with all the maturity of a 6 year old deliberately farting in church. If you’re incapable of engaging in an adult discussion it’s best not to attempt it.

Factory
Factory
2022 years ago

“The Pope, for all his less palatable views, played a part in the downfall of the Gulag Archipelago.”
Eh? Hmm fighting against communists means you get a to have ‘unpalatable’ views? Well Hitler did far more fighting against communists than the Pope ever did, so I guess I can ignore anything else about his character.

/0-godwin in 4 posts.. w00t

Graham
2022 years ago

Well yeah. But I think it was already derailed at the first comment. Can we start again?

I dunno, myself. He was better than some, worse than others, pretty average in the end. Probably the most remarkable thing about compared to previous popes was all the travelling he did, up until quite recently.

But I’m an ex-Protestant atheist myself so I’m bound to have a fairly ambivalent view of the Church.

Mark
2022 years ago

I like the Latin Mass.

Sophie, it’s always been possible for the Novus Ordo Mass of Paul VI (the standard liturgy of the Roman Rite) to be celebrated in toto or in part in Latin. That’s the way the Pope regularly celebrated Mass.

Since the 1988 Indult, the Tridentine Mass is licit with the permission of the diocesan Ordinary (ie the local Bishop or Archbishop) where pastoral need requires it. Most dioceses in Australia have at least one Church where it’s celebrated regularly – for instance in Brisbane every Sunday at Buranda.

If you do a bit of googling, you can find a list of such Churches in Australia.

There is also now an order of secular priests encouraged by John Paul II (I can’t remember the name off hand) which is dedicated to the celebration of the Mass in Latin.

If what you’re referring to is Archbishop Lefevre’s movement, there was significantly more at stake than liturgical changes. Elements of the breakaway group accused John Paul II of heresy, and there were/are some pretty wacky conspiracy theories – some with anti-Semitic elements – for instance seen in the beliefs of Mel Gibson’s dad.

There’s no doubt in my mind that JP II’s major project was restorationist – ie restoring “order” to the Church after what he saw as post Vatican II excesses. This can be documented very easily.

derrida derider
derrida derider
2022 years ago

Its interesting to compare him with the other great pope of the last hundred years – John XXIII. John was a man of similar courage, but far more humanity. And John did far more good. It seems to me JPII was a stereotypical Pole – equal measures of courage, impulsive generosity, authoritarianism and stubbornness. The last two means that his legacy is not a good one.

If you want to read a fine phillipic on the man, try Christopher Hitchen’s effort in Slate. Hitchens may be an obnoxious drunk with odious politics (caught halfway between being a Trot and a neocon), but he can sure write – which (as Auden famously noted in his eulogy on Yeats) makes up for an awful lot in the long run.

saint
2022 years ago

Yes John Paul II will certainly stand above many of his predecessors and successors for a long time to come. Not without controversy and not beyond criticism but certainly above mediocrity and ordinary. And I say that as someone who is not Catholic.

P.S. Derrida, agreed, Hitchens can write, and bases the first half of his article on the false notion that a pope can’t resign (they can voluntarily resign, and some have done in the past.). As one has come to expect from Hitchens: lots of cheap shots.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Hitchens is a wonderful writer but on this occasion he misses the point. Suffering, in this context, is redemptive. From all we know of him, John Paul II would probably have welcomed his extended end life travails as a great and blessed gift from God. The only “resignation” acceptable in these circumstances is that inherent in submitting to divine will – which, though obviously deeply puzzling to Christopher, is widely understood to move in mysterious ways.

John Forth
John Forth
2022 years ago

The pope was a snake oil salesman and the creator of a grotesque personality cult. I thought Christianity was supposed to be about “jesus”. He was also the head (why not heart?) of an institution that has always deliberately kept genuinely liberating Wisdom from the masses.

The Buddhists have a suitable term to describe him—the stench of “holiness”.

There is nothing inherently redemptive about suffering at all–it depends on the context in every individual case and whether one is able to access Divine Grace in the midst of it.Otherwise it is merely overwhelmingly degrading.

John

C.L.
2022 years ago

John seems to think “jesus” may not have ‘existed’ – in which case he’d qualify as being a bit of a snakeoil salesman ‘himself.’

Fat Statue Worship (aka buddhism) is the childish, do-nothing religion of the self-obsessed – which is why buddhists do no pastoral or other care for the poor or anyone else in the world. (Popular amongst the rich because it makes no meaningful demands on them, apart from the exquisite contemplation of themselves).

It’s also why the people of Tibet were virtual slaves to lay-about ‘monks’ before being liberated by the Chinese.

Suffering, of the kind often discussed these past few weeks, is only ‘degrading’ to cowards and those ‘yuck, look at her’ rednecks who murdered Terri Schiavo.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

CL is being unnecessarily offensive towards Buddhism. It has its good points – Antonio can probably add more here. But I’m pleasantly surprised at CL’s knowledge about Tibet and the dark ages it was under when Buddhist monks ruled over it. Of course two wrongs don’t make a right and the Dalai Lama has promised that a free Tibet will be a democracy rather than a theocracy but it’s true that Tibetan Buddhism gets a bit of uncritical free pass in Western eyes (South East Asian Buddhism, the background of my family is really just Confucianism with colourful ceremonies) when it was every bit as backward as anything from the Inquisition/

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Cut glass. Tip-toe. It is one thing to be robust about the Pope for his impact on the world, it is another thing to hack into people in general for their religion.

Severed limbs will be twitching in the gutters of the information superhighway.

Graham
2022 years ago

Bah. Fat Statues, Figurines of the Virgin Mary, all superstitious bollocks really.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

actually to further fan the flames of debate I should note that I’m not sure that Tibetan statues of Buddha are far. in that part of the world I suspect the Buddhas may be slimmer and more ascetic looking. the fat Buddhas are predominant in Southeast Asia and probably a reflection of the Chinese obsession with food,

C.L.
2022 years ago

Give me a break David.

The Pope just died and John’s contribution revolves around the word ‘stench.’ Particularly offensive to Catholics who believe he was almost certainly a saint – around whom, in our time-honoured phrase, there is the ‘odor Sanctorum.’

God I’m sick of this culturally limp-wristed bullshit. John was being “robust”; I, on the other hand, am hacking “into people in general for their religion.”

The only stench in this discussion emanates from John’s crap, the Dalai Lama’s exposed armpit and maybe Richard Gere’s gerbils.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

CL – you just proved my point. You took a general remark about people being sensitive on this topic and assumed I was attacking you. Why on earth would you not think that remark of mine applies to John too?

It is too easy for this to escalate out of control. We have a deep convention in our bit of the blogosphere about not slagging people over religion because it stops dialogue in other areas. And it is simply explosively divisive.

The person who makes the post sets the tone. I do not agree at all with the remarks made about the Pope by Sophie but she said it as a heartfelt statement of her position and she embedded it in her personal history. Here is not the place and time for gutter brawling or even chopping logic.

BTW , I am bemused by the idea that I can be both “culturally limp-wristed” and a redneck at the same time. I am after all one of the people who supports the “murder” of Teri Schiavo.

Mindy
Mindy
2022 years ago

I’m not religious and I have to say if there is a God I don’t think he’s as active in daily life as religious people would like to think. While I respect that Catholics are mourning the loss of their ‘Father’ I would like to ask – with so many poor Catholics in Africa and South America barely scratching out a living, why is the Vatican practically wallpapered in gold? (I’ve been there and I have the photos). Its something I’ve never understood. For a church that has done a lot of good (I’m not getting into the bad stuff its done over the centuries) why is it so richly decorated when it still expects its members to tithe, and why are so many catholics in third world countries living in such hardship? Surely any God would look more fondly on spending money on medicine, food, shelter and education for his followers than having a bunch of priests and nuns live in opulence. By this I mean the Vatican surrounds, because I don’t personally know what the Vatican apartments look like.

Also, why do they insist on catholics in AIDS ravaged countries not using condoms? Don’t they realise that sex without condoms is dangerous in an AIDS epidemic? Please don’t give me any crap about abstaining and monogamy – any church that has been around for as long as the Catholic Church should know something about human nature by now.

C.L.
2022 years ago

The Church does know something about human nature which makes me wonder why anyone would think a man who’ll cheat on his wife with an AIDS-infected prostitute will care less about what the Church says about condoms.

In other words, such a man is not likely to be reliable, honest or consistent in anything he does – insofar as his health or the health of his wife and other sexual partners is concerned. The idea that frangers are the answer to this deep-seated cultural, epidemiological and ethical problem is, frankly, stridently sanctimonious, unbelievable and immature. The Church asks for something more profound, as it always does. Christ made clear that following Him would be costly and involve sacrifice. He didn’t say ‘root anyone you like and wear a douche-bag.’

As for the Vatican, it is a collection of large buildings constructed according to the standards and styles of former centuries. It was made to last, which is a less wasteful concept than building UN-style HQs every 50-100 years. It is decorated with religious art – upon which you place a monetary value. As all of it is not for sale and never will be – and as no-one ‘owns’ it – the question of how rich it makes the men and women who come and go from era to era is materialistic and largely pointless. So the Holy See sells everything, say, and buys “medicine, food, shelter and education.”

The world’s billionaires get their hands on da Vincis and Michelangelos and some corporation ships the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to its company headquarters. Then the money runs out and the people of the world – the ones who truly ‘own’ the artworks and treasures – never see them again – as you were lucky enough to do.

Throughout history, the poor have always been the ones who’ve strongly supported the building of beautiful churches and the like. That’s as true for Rome, as it was for Brisbane. I suppose, taken to its logical conclusion, we could bull-doze the Sagrada Familiar and sell Gaudi’s beautiful pile for scrap.

Finally, no institution on the planet does more for the “many poor Catholics in Africa and South America.” Agnostic and Buddhist missionaries are unheard of, funnily enough.

Mindy
Mindy
2022 years ago

I can see where you are coming from CL. I still disagree that the Church isn’t in part to blame for telling people that having safe sex is a sin. To claim otherwise is to ignore the huge impact that the church has on people’s lives. I’m not talking about men or women going to prostitutes either, I’m talking about people who contracted the AIDS virus either before they knew the risk, or who contracted it through unsafe sex with an infected partner of either gender. If they had had safe sex then they would have been right. How about partners who are married where one has contracted the virus through whatever means? Are you saying married couples should abstain from marital relations because one of them has the AIDS virus? What about children born with the virus from infected parents? Should they never marry assuming they live that long? What about the superstition that says raping a virgin will cure the AIDS virus? Shouldn’t prevention be a big part of missionary work? There are buddists and agnostics helping people in developing countries, they just don’t call themselves missionaries.

Why should all the riches stay in the Vatican for the lucky few to see, like me? Why don’t they loan or even rent them out to museums, make money from them to spend on education food etc. I’m not saying spend the investment, but use it to generate money to help people. Why should only the priviledged, like me, who get to travel to Rome to see the Vatican be the only ones to enjoy it. Get it out there for everyone to see. Maybe it will even inspire someone to convert to Catholicism. Isn’t that the point?

C.L.
2022 years ago

I reiterate my question: why would a person screwing around like the Marquis de Sade care less what the Church says about condoms or anything else?

The Church doesn’t tell people “having safe sex is a sin.” It tells them having sex outside of marriage is a sin. Don’t do it and don’t get AIDS. Guaranteed. Telling people condoms are the answer is really saying: ‘Y’know what? You’ve got a generalised right to screw around and do what you like – just wear a condom.’ Welcome back to the Middle Ages vision of the dignity of women.

A travelling exhibit of the Pieta, for example, would cost millions in insurance alone. If it organised that, the Church would a) be criticised for wasting money; and b) be criticised by art experts for risking another hammer-attack from a lunatic. Why not insist the Louvre clear out its collection? There are poor people in France aren’t there? Why not sell off or disperse to the regions the collection at our own National Museum? Not everybody can travel to Canberra.

Mindy
Mindy
2022 years ago

Okay CL, but my point still stands – why doesn’t the Church understand human nature and that people will have sex outside marriage – especially if they think its going to cure AIDS. Surely they can tell people “Don’t have sex outside marriage, but if you do, make it safe”? Its not perfect, but its got to be better than an AIDS epidemic.

On the issue of the treasures in the Vatican – you win, I can’t think of any more reasons to disagree with you.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

actually if one was a traditionalist you would have masss in koina greek not Latin.
Latin was the llanguage of the aristocracy whereas koina greek was understood by most of the people.

on the question of sex the Catholic denomination is the same as all denominations.
The bible says sex should only be between married couples.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Mindy, the argument that the Vatican – one of the the most extraordinarily evocative treasure houses of Western civilisation, amassed over many centuries – should be stripped bare because people are poor in South America, is frankly, fatuous. We could eviscerate the Kremlin, the Winter Palace, Westminster Abbey and a host of other treasure-house repositories and it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to the socio-economic status of anyone – except the purchasers of same maybe. We would, however, lose a huge amount of human history.

I agree with CL entirely on the Roman Catholic church’s manifest commitment to alleviating the effects of suffering in the developing world, the treasures of the Vatican Museum notwithstanding.

I also acknowledge that the church probably provides more direct assistance to those living with AIDS than any other institution. On AIDS prevention however, CL and I part company. The church has been as woefully inadequate in this area as it has been in addressing the reproductive reality of Catholic women in the developed world. In the latter instance, Catholic women have simply ignored the Church – overwhelmingly – and carried on regardless. In relation to AIDS prevention, I agree that the church’s official line on condoms is disgraceful, though individual priests, religious and aid workers in a host of global settings have once again done their best to overcome it. Still, ludicrous pronouncements like that of Cardinal Lopez Trujillo last year in relation to the innate “ability” of HIV to permeate latex condoms do provide extraordinary challenges.

In PNG where HIV is spreading like crazy, condoms are an obvious means of containing the spread of infection. Legions of young men in places like Moresby have access to an army of sex workers and then return to villages in the hinterland. And the church is actively opposing condoms.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“The Church doesn’t tell people “having safe sex is a sin.” It tells them having sex outside of marriage is a sin. Don’t do it and don’t get AIDS. Guaranteed.”

And more often than not CL, people nod sagely, go uh-huh and ran out and have sex outside marriage anyway. Effective epidemiological intervention is based on meeting people where they are, not where we’d like them to be.

It’s absolutely unarguable that the quantum of sexually transmitted infection is reliant on people having sex. The point is that they’re going to keep having it whether we like it or not. It makes sense, to me, to deploy all the strategies available to us in preventing HIV.

Mindy
Mindy
2022 years ago

Okay, I can see that perhaps in an ideal world my idea of using the ‘treasures’ of the Vatican to help people might work, but not in the real world of consumerism and insurance bills. I see your point too Geoff about losing centuries of human history – I hadn’t thought of it like that, but you are right.

anthony
2022 years ago

I’d personally prefer it if people didn’t die for their sins.

C.L.
2022 years ago

It’s up to them.

derrida derider
derrida derider
2022 years ago

Booooring. Lets get back to the slanging match where the tykes and the Buddhists started to go hammer and tongs about which statues are holy, before some do-gooder gave a lecture about the sanctity of civility (me, I’d be an iconoclast – smash the lot, I say).

I’ve never understood why religious dogma is so taboo as a topic. IMO it gets far too much respect. The fact that people get offended when their cherished beliefs are ridiculed indicates to me that these cherished beliefs *should* be ridiculed, for their anger indicates they hold them from emotional rather than evidentiary motives.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Yep. And people are going to take a chance on ‘sin’ everytime. Waiting for them to die from the consequences looks to be a bit useless as a public health response – especially where infectious diseases are concerned.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

DD, NO statues are holy.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Derrida – I am running the line that its a sort of God Wins Law.

I am not arguing for civility per se. I do think that there are more engaging things to sink the slipper about than religion.

I think this thread got much more interesting when Geoff started to discuss AIDS and contraception. A bit of yer actual information from someone who knows what he is talking about, rather than chinese burns down behind the shelter shed.

mark
2022 years ago

Homer, the Bible tells us that no statues are holy However, if a Buddhist or Hindu tells me “that statue there, that’s holy,” I’m not going to start an argument over the worship of idols. People who do that are no better than John up there and his generic “Popes are evil” argument. You may as well try to argue here that we Catholics aren’t Christian! Wouldn’t that be a public relations coup?

CurrencyLad, amazingly enough, most people don’t view morality as a sliding scale. There are even murderers who would stop short at theft, because Stealing Is Wrong. A lot of people are quite happy to pick and choose; “let’s see now, condoms, yes, they’re wrong, extra-marital affairs, hmm, but it’s soooo tempting…”. You could argue that such people deserve to contract AIDS and die to punish them for their sins, but I don’t think you will. After all, that’d make you no better than the people supporting Terri Schiavo’s “murder”, isn’t that right?

blank
blank
2022 years ago

Since having sex outside marriage is already an immoral act, using a condom as well does not matter.

You can go to hell only once, so you may as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb.

Jerome
Jerome
2022 years ago

“Actually if one was a traditionalist you would have masss in koina greek not Latin.
Latin was the llanguage of the aristocracy whereas koina greek was understood by most of the people.”

If Koine Greek was the language of the masses, and Latin the language of the aristocracy, how do you explain languages and dialects of modern Iberia, Italy, France and Roumaia, which are are all Latin based?

How do you explain the name Vulgate for the Latin translation of the Bible? Had the vulgar folk all learned Latin by 382 C.E. (Christian Era)?

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

I think you will find that in biblical times koina greek was the most common form of speech to people in the roman empire.

your exposition is much further down the track hence not traditionalist

saint
2022 years ago

“Hitchens is a wonderful writer but on this occasion he misses the point…”

Geoff, my bet: he deliberately missed the point to take a shot…against Reagan rather than the Pope!

Jason: agree that Tibetan Buddhism gets a bit of uncritical free pass in Western eyes. Actually so does the Dalai Lama. He ain’t no cuddly bear.

mark
2022 years ago

Homer, are you trying to say that in the time of the Apostles people spoke Greek, but by the time the Church was formed and the Bible all sorted out everyone spoke Latin?

If so… well, why *wouldn’t* Mass be said in Latin?

Zoe
Zoe
2022 years ago

CL said: Agnostic and Buddhist missionaries are unheard of, funnily enough.

Can’t speak for the agnostics, but I can tell you why there aren’t too many Buddhist missionaries. Can you imagine someone knocking on your door and saying, “Hi, I’d like to talk to you about the messages that the Buddha thought it would be useful for you to hear. Point number one is that everything is shit, and you’re fucked”.

Buddhism might have some easy answers for some people, but it has some fucking hard questions.

Mark
2022 years ago

Well, to answer Homer, there was no formal liturgy in the early Church. When it developed, it was natural that the liturgy of the Western church was in Latin (then the common parlance – and church Latin is quite different from classical Latin) whereas the Eastern church’s liturgy was in Greek – as it still is in the Greek Orthodox church – it’s not in modern Greek, I’m pretty sure though…

saint
2022 years ago

No Mark it’s not in modern Greek (and it’s not koine either) and even presents difficulties for native Greek speakers. At one Greek Orthodox church service I attended with a Greek man, I asked what the priest was singing at one point and my companion just replied ‘same as last year’.

Use of the vernacular is an issue in all Orthodox Christian traditions e.g.

http://www.ocl.org/language.htm
http://justin.zamora.com/slavonic/

The use of the Latin and the Vulgate in the western church for so many years – past the time when it ceased to be the lingua franca – and how that has influenced the development/understanding of certain Christian doctrines is also interesting but way off topic for this thread.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

No My point was if one is a traditionalist you go back to the original language used which in this case was the working man’s greek of the day.

Latin came in a lot later.

however technically you are right there is no mass in the original documents that can be transubstantiated!

suzoz
2022 years ago

What an incredibly male oriented discussion about AIDS and condom use. It’s not “people” who go outside of marriage and get infected, it’s virtually always men. Then they come back into the marriage bed and infect their wives. Married women in Africa need to be given the okay to use condoms within marriage, to protect themselves, to save their own lives. Do these women deserve to suffer?

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

I wonder if all those child abusing priests used condoms. Probably not. That would have been a sin.

“In PNG where HIV is spreading like crazy, condoms are an obvious means of containing the spread of infection. Legions of young men in places like Moresby have access to an army of sex workers and then return to villages in the hinterland. And the church is actively opposing condoms.”

Quite so, And in remote northern and central Australia, there isn’t an HIV epidemic amongst Aboriginals, despite well-founded fears that it was going to happen.

Is it because Aboriginals don’t have sex outside marriage? No.

It’s because of a highly successful campaign to get them to use condoms.

In CL’s world ciew – or more accurately, the world view he has swallowed whole from Il Papa, bless his soul, this is a bad outcome. Sure these Aboriginal people are still alive, but that carries no weight. What counts (boo, hiss) is that they are sinners.

The funny thing is, if the next Pope announces that condoms are all right after all – not very likely, I grant you, but you never know – CL will be ever so righteously say that of course the use of condoms is sanctioned by God, blah, blah, blah.

John Forth
John Forth
2022 years ago

John again on the pope as snake oil salesman.

I am not a Buddhist though I find it far more appealing, with its open ended invitation to free enquiry into any and everything, than any form of “conservative” Christianity with its cast iron dogmas and its “abdolute” “truths”. Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths and Eight (or Ten) Precepts for right living seem eminently sane to me.

No doubt there are some dirty secrets behind the closed doors of the Dali Llama’s day to day instututional life. It inevitably happens in any grouping of egos.

The difference between the Dalia Llama(DL)and the pope is that the DL claims to be a simple Buddhist monk and only invites all others to investigate the Buddhist dharma. No absolute “truth” claims.

The pope by contrast, claims to be the head of the One True Church, the only vehicle of “truth” and “salvation” in the entire world. All others are inplicitly deluded and dammned until they “repent” and come to “jesus” via the One True Church–which is also not Protestant.

This one “truth” claim has provided the “religious” underpinnings/justification for the collectively aggressive western ego and its imperialist misadventure. It still does.Plunder was always the motive and still is. And by not repudiating this obnoxious claim on all of humanity the pope was implicitly still an apologist for western imperialism–despite the smiling face.

Indeed some of the popes staunchest advocates (the First Things, Heritage Foundation, AEI mob) are also the loudest boosters of the current and most deadly phase of the western inperialist misadventure–bringing “jesus”, “freedom” and “markets” to every last square inch of the planet.

Buddhism, with its 8/10 precepts and its emphasis on sila (sanity and balance in all things), compassion and simplicity of living

We are at a moment in world history when the we all have access via the internet to the entire Great Tradition of Humankind. And at a moment when the ancient tribal cults (especially the three major semitic ones)are facing each other off on the world stage shaking their weapons of mass destructionat each other.

Perhaps such a time as this demands that we all rapidly de-provincialise our minds from the ancient cast iron tribal/cultic dogmas in which every aspect/dimension of our beings are trapped.

Again it seems to me that the pope created and became the centre of a grotesque personality cult.
A circus/zoo in which he was quite literally paraded around in a cage. He, the pope, became the object of adoration not the mystery of “jesus”.
And what did that have to do with the radical spiritual teaching/calling of the legendary character “jesus” of Nazareth to love the Lord Thy God with all thy heart, mind and body?

John

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

In the light of the discussion on the this thread, I will repost my post of February 16 2004. It says it all, really.

PYTHON: Vice-Pope Eric? What is the Catholic position?

VICE-POPE: Well I’ve never personally, er… so I wouldn’t…

PYTHON: No, no, on sex and marriage.

VICE-POPE: Oh. Well our main worry at this stage is intra-marital sex.

PYTHON: Oh. Sex within the marriage.

KRASZT: I missed that.

VICE-POPE: Oh yes! You see, it’s within marriage, people tend to forget, that most of this carnal knowing takes place.

PYTHON: But that isn’t wrong from a Catholic point of view?

VICE-POPE: Well, actually… it is. Yes. I mean we don’t often come straight out with it because our problem is that… like it or not, sex, at this moment in time, is still the best method we’ve got of reproducing ourselves. I mean we certainly recommend virgin births where possible, but we can’t rely on them, so for purely practical reasons we’ve been forced to turn a blind eye to intra-marital sex for the time being. But only of course for outnumbering purposes; not for fun.

KRASZT: Which is why you will not allow any form of contraception.

VICE-POPE: Exactly.

FRAMPTON: But you allow the rhythm method!

VICE-POPE: Ah, but only because it doesn’t work.

PYTHON: But are you not worried that the population explosion may lead to greater poverty, disease and eventually war?

VICE-POPE: Well you must remember, our concern is for the next world. So the quicker we can get people there the better.

FRAMPTON: Your vice-holiness, can you advise me how I should tell Eddie about sex. Whenever I try to bring the subject up casually, he becomes embarrassed.

VICE-POPE: Well, frankly, it’s not easy. I mean, take the sex act. Please. (LAUGHTER) Well, none of us can work out what God must have been thinking of when He dreamed it up. I mean… you know what these people actually do, do you? It’s a mind-boggler isn’t it! Going to the lavatory is bad enough but…

KRASZT: That’s not a sin though.

VICE-POPE: Only if indulged in to excess. Voluntarily that is. Bona fide diarrhoea is morally impeccable, but, if deliberately self-induced, can be a venial one.

PYTHON: To return to sex. (CHEERING)

STALIN: What about Communism?

PYTHON: Later, later. Vice-Pope, did Christ himself say anything about sex being sinful?

VICE-POPE: Apparently not, no. This was obviously an oversight on his part, which fortunately we have been able to rectify, with the help of the teachings of Paul…

PYTHON: The Pope?

VICE-POPE: No, no, the saint. The woman-hater.

PYTHON: Oh, the pouf.

VICE-POPE: So they say, yes. Anyway, we’ve managed to pass this off as Christ’s teaching, rather successfully as I think you will admit.

ALL: Absolutely. First class job.

FRAMPTON: Had me fooled.

VICE-POPE: So that even where sex has been… well, permitted, the guilt’s been in there, doing its job.

FRAMPTON: Does this necessity to sub-edit Christ sometimes worry you?

VICE-POPE: Not really. After all, you can’t treat the New Testament as gospel. And one must remember that Christ, though he was a fine young man with some damn good ideas, did go off the rails now and again, rich-man-eye-of-camel for example, which is only to be expected, because he came from a difficult background… an under-privileged Jewish family, his father, God, God the Father that is, was all over the place, in addition to which He wasn’t married to Christ’s mother.

FRAMPTON: But Joseph was.

VICE-POPE: Yes, but Mary was a virgin you see, so the marriage could never have been consummated and so was not legally valid.

PYTHON: So, either way, Christ was a bit of a bastard?

VICE-POPE: Yes, an almighty bastard of course but… This sort of thing helps to explain, too, why he became polygamous in his after-life; all nuns being brides of Christ, as you know.

KRASZT: But with certain exceptions, you accept his teaching?

VICE-POPE: Oh yes, it’s been an invaluable basis for our whole operation really. Of course people accuse us sometimes of not practising what we preach, but you must remember that if you’re trying to propagate a creed of poverty, gentleness and tolerance, you need a very rich, powerful, authoritarian organisation to do it.

Mark
2022 years ago

Thanks for the info, saint – and Homer, that’s definitely one of your best jokes!

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

it’s in the blood!

Mr Pink
Mr Pink
2022 years ago

Marriage and HIV risk is way more complex than ‘no sex outside marriage and you won’t catch it’.

First, marriage often leads to HIV infection – good data came out last year showing married young women in Africa with higher HIV rates than their sexually active unmarried age-counterparts – see
http://www.peopleandplanet.net/doc.php?id=2166

Second, let’s not do the ‘women as victim’ act as suzoz suggests – risk goes both ways (don’t we all?)

– (I well remember the heartfelt anguish of an international conference attendee who deplored the ‘sugar mama’ who had infected him with HIV)- with far more younger women than men infected, men can find entering a marriage puts them at risk of HIV infection from their wives (although not always):
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12869843&dopt=Abstract

Learn to deal with complexity folks – demonizing loose women as HIV spreaders is just about as true/false as sanctifying women as blameless victims.

and, third, in case you though poor people are more at risk – being rich and married are the real risk factors (at least in South Africa) – see here:
http://www.journ-aids.org/reports/07082003e.htm