Donohue to citizens: stfu

I promised to pay more attention to Bill Donohue, so here goes. (It’s going to be irritating, doing this; the fingernails on a blackboard kind of irritating. The fact that he’s the only one who talks but he still finds it necessary to quote himself as if he were another person – that’s going to be very irritating.) He says Catholics can do whatever they want to so shut up.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the right of Catholic institutions to determine their own prerogatives: [Read more…]

Mine is better!!

Cristina Odone was very annoyed a couple of weeks ago that religions she takes to be inferior in some unspecified way are sometimes counted as Big Serious Grown-up religions like Catholicism.

Saint Morwenna, who in the 6th century built a church on a cliff with her bare hands, must be turning in her grave. Her beloved Cornwall, the last redoubt of Celtic Christians, is to teach witchcraft and Druidry as part of RE. The county council regards her religion (and that of other Cornish saints such as Piran and Petroc) as no better than paganism.

And? So what? If that’s true (which I doubt), what of it? Why shouldn’t Religious Education simply teach about all religions (or as many as there is time for in the curriculum) impartially? The county council is a branch of government, and as such, ought to be secular. The county council isn’t a branch of the Church of England…much less of Odone’s favored religion.

 When the BBC’s The Big Questions asked me to join its panel of religious commentators two years ago, I was taken aback to find it included a Druid. Emma Restall Orr rabbited on inoffensively about mother nature, but I was shocked that her platitudes were given the status of religious belief by the programme makers. Ms Restall Orr exults in her website that the media has stopped seeing Druidism “as a game” and now invites her on serious faith and ethics programmes from ITV’s Ultimate Questions to Radio 4’s The Moral Maze and Sunday Programme.

Well I’m shocked that Odone’s platitudes are given the status of serious thinking worth a spot in major media. Are Catholic platitudes really better (or more serious) platitudes than Druid platitudes? Odone gets invited on “serious faith and ethics programmes” even though she’s confused enough to think that “faith and ethics” make a natural and sensible pair, so why shouldn’t Orr be likewise?

H/t Roger.

The golden tree of bullshit

Mark Vernon, always eager to plow new ground and alert us to new insights and ways of looking at the world, asks

Is it just me or has the dialogue between science and religion become a bit stale?

Ok I was joking. That question is staler than last year’s bread. The very idea that there is such a thing as “the dialogue between science and religion” is not only stale but also blatant propaganda by pro-religion types who are desperate to convince everyone that religion’s claims to discover truths about the world are every bit as reasonable as those of science. It’s unpardonably naïve to talk about “the dialogue between science and religion” as if it were an obvious, sensible, reasonable thing with no trace of an agenda or vested interest. It’s unpardonably naïve to talk about it without pausing to thank the Templeton Foundation for all the cash. [Read more…]

Bruce on Day Five – Monday: Night of the Wankers…

A guest post by Bruce Everett

I’m sure you Americans in the readership have the same phenomena where you are, albeit with different tourists, most probably the English; ‘FAWCET-FAWCET-FAWCET-WELL-HOWDY-PARDNER-BATHROOM-FAWCET-MCDONALDS!’

Do you ever get sick of visitors to your country overusing your words, and using them wrong? Technically wrong; wrong connotations; wrong situation; mismatched nuance and misjudged tone?


Donohue’s success

Useful background on the Catholic League.

The Catholic League was founded in 1973 by Jesuit priest Virgil Blum. William Donohue assumed leadership in July 1993. Since then, the membership has grown from 27,000 to 200,000. According to Donohue, the League has “won the support of all of the U.S. Cardinals and many of the Bishops as well…We are here to defend the Church from the scurrilous assaults that have been mounted against it, and we definitely need the support of the hierarchy if we are to get the job done.” Thus it can be considered an arm of the Church. It supplements or replaces priest-controlled organizations of the past described by Blanshard and Seldes. The League apparently has a single mission: suppression of all mainstream criticism of the Roman Catholic Church. [Read more…]

The cruel return of gods

I’ve just read a very interesting and useful book by Ezat Mossallanejad, Religions and the Cruel Return of Gods.

Mossallanejad is a survivor of torture in Iran – torture under the shah, not the ayatollah. He escaped to Canada in 1985 and is a Counsellor and Policy Analyst with the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture. The book is a scorching and thorough examination of religious cruelty and bullying around the world. It’s an immensely useful reference source because it goes region by region and country by country, covering most of them.

Her lunch with George

So Jemima Khan interviewed George Galloway for the Staggers over lunch (halal and alcohol-free) in Bradford. A coupla converts sitting aroung talking.

Jemima’s mother started life with the handle Lady Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart, daughter of Viscount Castlereagh, later the 8th Marquess of Londonderry. Jemima of course married the cricket fella who is now a politics fella. She was besties with Diana and all that kind of thing. Just the ticket for the Associate Editor of the New Statesman. George’s history is rather different, as is his performance of self.

Anyway, the point is, she said forthright things to him about his conversion to Islam, which he apparently prefers to keep shtum. [Read more…]

Read Lauryn Oates

Do be sure to read Lauryn Oates’s new article at ur-B&W.

Here’s how it begins:

Foreign Policy has a superb series out now called The Sex Issue. In their own words, here is what it’s about:

When U.S. magazines devote special issues to sex, they are usually of the celebratory variety (see: Esquire, April 2012 edition; Cosmopolitan, every month). Suffice it to say that is not what we had in mind with Foreign Policy’s first-ever Sex Issue, which is dedicated instead to the consideration of how and why sex — in all the various meanings of the word — matters in shaping the world’s politics. Why? In Foreign Policy, the magazine and the subject, sex is too often the missing part of the equation — the part that the policymakers and journalists talk about with each other, but not with their audiences. And what’s the result? Women missing from peace talks and parliaments, sexual abuse and exploitation institutionalized and legalized in too many places on the planet, and a U.S. policy that, whether intentionally or not, all too frequently works to shore up the abusers and perpetuate the marginalization of half of humanity. Women’s bodies are the world’s battleground, the contested terrain on which politics is played out. We can keep ignoring it. For this one issue, we decided not to.

The articles’ criticisms are aimed squarely on the worst offenders in the oppression of women, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as commenting on discriminatory practices elsewhere such as sex-selective abortion in India.

An article by Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy called “Why Do They Hate Us” co-opts the question so often said to be asked by Americans, and asks it as a woman. Eltahawy is particularly forceful in her indictment of the misogyny so prevalent in the Middle East:

Name me an Arab country, and I’ll recite a litany of abuses fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend. When more than 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt — including my mother and all but one of her six sisters — have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty, then surely we must all blaspheme. When Egyptian women are subjected to humiliating “virginity tests” merely for speaking out, it’s no time for silence. When an article in the Egyptian criminal code says that if a woman has been beaten by her husband “with good intentions” no punitive damages can be obtained, then to hell with political correctness. And what, pray tell, are “good intentions”? They are legally deemed to include any beating that is “not severe” or “directed at the face.” What all this means is that when it comes to the status of women in the Middle East, it’s not better than you think. It’s much, much worse.

Eltahawy says not a word of a lie. She tells it like it is, merely describing practices and actions on the part of men towards women that are violent and depraved. When you read such descriptions, free of the sugarcoating so often slathered on by those who squirm at the very idea of criticizing other cultures, you realize just how rare it is to hear the devastating truth.

Read on.

The air is full of feathers

I can never catch up. You know how that goes.

And I can even less catch up right now because I read one post and then I have to read posts linked in trackbacks and before you know it the afternoon is gone. This will not do! I could have built a cathedral in the time.

I read this self-confessed rant about Carrier on Ehrman (and, somewhat mystifyingly, also on PZ on Carrier on Ehrman). I read Ehrman on Carrier on Ehrman. I’m going to read Vridar on all three and our friend Eric on all three.

I’ll tell you the truth: I’m not reading them to get a better understanding of the scholarship on Jesus. I’m reading them because there’s so much in them that’s funny. That’s also why I’m sharing them with you. Don’t bother with them if you’re interested in Jesus studies, but do if you want a laugh.