I hope more Xians catch on to the big lies they’ve been sold


Isaac Bailey is not an atheist, but he makes the atheist case strongly.

I’m struggling to hold fast to my Christianity— because of Donald Trump. Not exactly Trump himself, though, but the undying support of the self-professed Christian pro-life movement that he enjoyed. My faith is in tatters because of that alliance. And I am constantly wondering if I am indirectly complicit because I dedicated my life to the same Jesus the insurrectionists prayed to in the Capitol building after ransacking it and promising to kill those who didn’t do their bidding.

If Christianity can convince so many to follow a man like Trump almost worshipfully—or couldn’t at least help millions discern the unique threat Trump represented—what good is it really?

Yeah? What took you so long, Mr Bailey? This isn’t a problem that suddenly appeared years ago — it’s been a property of the American political establishment since day one. It’s gotten worse in relatively recent years, since at least the 1950s, when the evangelical Christian movement was sinking their claws into our government, making lip service to Christianity a prerequisite for running for office. Where were you in the Reagan years, when cloaking oneself in piety and patriotism while practicing the politics of greed became de rigeur? This behavior flares up regularly in American history, where Christianity surges up and wrecks the country. How can you miss the corrupting influence of religion, and the hypocrisy of its most vocal advocates?

He seems to have been caught up in the most successful propaganda campaign American Christianity has waged: the “pro-life” movement, in which we get people worked up over a medical procedure and tell them it’s baby murder. It’s not, of course, but it has become such a deeply ingrained dogma that embryos are people from the instant of conception that you’ll never talk them out of it, and that lie is the wedge they hammer in to tell you that you have to vote Republican or you’re a baby-killer. But Mr Bailey is finally starting to see through it.

Trump oversaw a 200% increase in civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria during his first year in office. He presided over more than 460,000 COVID-19 deaths, far outpacing any other industrialized country. He repeatedly demonized a group of men, women and children seeking refuge in this country from the violence and uncertainty they faced in their own. A man picked up an AR-15-style assault rifle and committed a massacre in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh after becoming convinced Jews were responsible for the despised caravan of vulnerable brown people. He murdered 11 people; how could Christians have supported the man whose conspiracy theory he quoted?

The body count didn’t end there, though. Trump incited an insurrection that resulted in at least five deaths, dozens of injuries and a stain on America’s reputation so severe it will be harder to get other countries to take us seriously when we demand that they honor life and not commit human rights abuses. Aided by “pro-life” Supreme Court justices, Trump was able to fast-track 13 federal executions during the final months of his presidency, the most by any president in more than a century. Even the abortion rate slightly increased in the middle of Trump’s term, a reversal from major declines during Barack Obama’s two terms in office.

If you can’t quite see yourself leaving Christianity fully (I did, it felt good and honest), at least let’s recognize that politicians claiming holy moral authority are all lying and that they are the last people you ought to elect to office.

Comments

  1. snarkrates says

    Not to go all “not true Christian” on you, but the fundagelical, prosperity-gospel offshoot of Xtianity that seems to predominate in the US–and which is sadly growing in much of Latin America–would have been considered a heresy to most practitioners of the faith throughout most of its history. Most Hebrew scholars would consider literalism itself heretical if not blasphemous. The early apostles–if we can even believe Acts–would have stoned practitioners of prosperity gospel to death.
    Don’t get me wrong. Christian theology is absurd–an inevitable byproduct of trying to interpret chaos as the product of a benevolent, omnipotent sky daddy. It is an absurdity that can lead to atrocities. However the religion practiced by conservative Christians in the US is worse. It’s why I say that Christians had better pray there is no god.

  2. chrislawson says

    (1) It goes back way before Reagan, way back to the very earliest European colonies. And the only reason it doesn’t go back further is because there weren’t any Christians on American soil before then.

    (2) If they really cared about stopping abortion, the two best strategies are science-based sex education in schools and readily available contraception. The fact that evangelicals and conservative Catholics are vehemently opposed to both proves that they are full of shit.

  3. raven says

    The body count didn’t end there,…

    He doesn’t even mention the 485,000 US dead from Covid-19 virus. With more to come.
    Plus the millions of long haulers by now.

  4. raven says

    I haven’t seen much evidence that the fundie xians really believe their own religion any more. It isn’t obvious in how they actually live their lives.

    AFAICT, fundie xianity is just right wingnut politics with a few crosses stuck on for show.
    The crosses aren’t important any more.
    Which makes sense.
    The xian gods might exist but probably don’t. Power and money do exist, are highly sought after, and quite useful.

  5. PaulBC says

    Well, I “gave up” on religion because most of the things I was expected to believe just didn’t bear up to continued scrutiny. I consider it an amicable split, at least from my side. On the other hand, I agree with most of the social justice objectives of the leftwing Catholic faith I was raised in. So I find it offensive to conflate “Christianity” with the rightwing evangelical cult that follows Trump. Black Christian churches are also usually not in line with Trumpism, though many are more socially conservative than stereotypical “liberal” American views or my own for that matter.

    Christianity is a problem like any other set of beliefs that create cognitive dissonance in people trying to make sense of them. But Trumpism is only the problem of a specific segment of Christianity, albeit a powerful one.

  6. christoph says

    Christianity isn’t the cause, it’s just used as an excuse and rationalization for greed and cruelty.

  7. consciousness razor says

    So I find it offensive to conflate “Christianity” with the rightwing evangelical cult that follows Trump.

    That’s not happening here:

    If Christianity can convince so many to follow a man like Trump almost worshipfully—or couldn’t at least help millions discern the unique threat Trump represented—what good is it really?

    — You don’t get to claim that their preferred flavor of Christianity isn’t actually Chrisitianity, not even if you really loved some other flavor a whole fucking bunch.
    — It demonstrably did not help millions of self-identified Christians to be more moral people themselves or even to recognize what moral behavior would look like in others if they ever encountered it.
    — So what good is Christianity really?

    On the other hand, just to be the devil’s advocate for a moment, popes and bishops do wear funny hats quite regularly. That’s not nothing.

  8. says

    From Numbers 5:

    16 “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse[d] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”

    “‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.”

    But expecting Christians to actually read the Bible is too much.

  9. kathleenzielinski says

    The practical problem is that religion is warm and cuddly, and atheism isn’t. It’s far more comforting to believe that the Creator of the Universe is my best friend and cares about my life than it is to believe we’re on our own, and we sink or swim under our own power. You are never, ever going to convince the majority that their gods don’t exist because religion provides good feelings that reason can’t.

  10. kathleenzielinski says

    By the way, I would like to see a study done on whether religion actually makes people better people. If there are two groups — 100 Christians and 100 atheists — is it likely that there will be a higher concentration of crooks and scoundrels in one group than in the other? My totally unscientific hunch, based on interactions I’ve had with people over the years, is that we would find that religion makes no difference one way or the other.

    It would be a difficult study to do for several reasons, not least of which is the problem of objectively defining “better people” and having an objective way to measure it. But if someone could figure out a way to do it, I sure would be interested in the results.

  11. brightmoon says

    I was always amused that my views line up better with PZs than with the fundies I grew up around . Of course they all think I’m an atheist which I also find amusing . However none of the family fundies voted for Trump which tells me that they still have some notion of sensible behavior. As a Christian I find it incomprehensible that anyone Christian could have voted for Trump. He’s crazy and he’s a sadistic bully! But I also know Jews who voted for him and I don’t understand how any Jew could have voted for that racist Hitler wannabe

  12. raven says

    By the way, I would like to see a study done on whether religion actually makes people better people.

    It’s been done many times.
    The fundie xians are objectively worse people than the general population.

    They lead in any social problem you care to name. Child abuse, child sexual abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic abuse, shorter life spans, teenage pregnancy, poverty rates, abortion, divorce, etc..
    Here is some data.

    From “Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches”, by Carolyn Holderread Heggen, Herald Press, Scotdale, PA, 1993 p. 73:

    “A disturbing fact continues to surface in sex abuse research. The first best predictor of abuse is alcohol or drug addiction in the father. But the second best predictor is conservative religiosity, accompanied by parental belief in traditional male-female roles. This means that if you want to know which children are most likely to be sexually abused by their father, the second most significant clue is *whether or not the parents belong to a conservative religious group with traditional role beliefs and rigid sexual attitudes*. (Brown and Bohn, 1989; Finkelhor, 1986; Fortune, 1983; Goldstein et al, 1973; Van
    Leeuwen, 1990). (emphasis in original)

  13. consciousness razor says

    By the way, I would like to see a study done on whether religion actually makes people better people. If there are two groups — 100 Christians and 100 atheists

    Well, first note that your question was about the effects of religion in general, not Christianity specifically.

    — is it likely that there will be a higher concentration of crooks and scoundrels in one group than in the other?

    A priori? No reason whatsoever to think that.

    But with evidence? I’d want a study that’s not too focused on teens or young adults, like many of them seem to be. That’s not a representative group for tons of reasons, and one of them is that they’re already more likely to be convicted of crimes. (That’s independently of any religious affiliation they may have, if you can even really say most teens have a coherent ideology about anything, much less about an arcane and abstract subject like religion.) But I’d actually like to know about the entire population, not a single highly unrepresentative segment of it….

    Also, as you said, you do also have to ask whether “drug use” or all sorts of other behaviors should actually count, or if we just happen to have some fucked up laws that criminalize said behavior. Should we care at all that somebody smokes a joint, for instance? Is that what real scoundrels do? Or do real scoundrels vote for Republicans, because … I don’t know why they would … because they’re scoundrels?

    And since I brought it up, there are non-crimes. Like voting for Republicans, for example. Or harassing women at a Planned Parenthood. Or telling alcoholics they just need to come to Jesus.

    It’s bad. It’s not a crime. It’s still bad. So shouldn’t it count? But is anybody even trying to actually take it all into account?

    My totally unscientific hunch, based on interactions I’ve had with people over the years, is that we would find that religion makes no difference one way or the other.

    According to this Pew study, lots of religious people themselves say that they don’t look to religious teachings and beliefs the most, for guidance on questions of right or wrong. That was conducted in the US, not worldwide, and I don’t know how how much things may be different in other countries.

  14. kathleenzielinski says

    Raven, I don’t think fundamentalists are representative of religious people as a whole. Obviously some religious beliefs are better — or at least less toxic — than others. I would, for example, expect to find significant differences between, i.e., the Little Sisters of the Poor on the one hand and the 9/11 hijackers on the other, even though both of them are (or were) deeply religious.

    And consciousness, I probably could have been clearer, but I said “100 Christians” because another problem with such a study would be making religion qua religion the variable. So, we don’t want our religion group to include both the Little Sisters of the Poor and also the 9/11 hijackers, because obviously there will be plenty of other variables as between those two. So we want 100 religionists whose religion is uniform within the group. That, in turn, might require multiple studies with different religions as the control.

    All of this underscores the difficulty of doing such a study, and it may ultimately not be possible. However, I do think it’s an interesting question whether anything unique to religion itself inclines people to be better or worse than they would be otherwise.

  15. jrkrideau says

    @ 14 consciousness razor
    Or telling alcoholics they just need to come to Jesus.

    Well, it was reported that he could change water in to wine. It sounds like good bet to me.

  16. raven says

    Teen births map shows conservative states have most teen …www.slate.com › articles › map_of_the_week › 2012/09
    Sep 27, 2012 — … shows the birth rate among girls aged 15 to 19 by state. And it clearly shows that more conservative states have higher rates of teenage births …

    Red states have higher teenage pregnancy rates than Blue states.
    This is an important metric.
    Teenage pregnancy is highly correlated and causal with lifelong poverty.

    I’m using Red states as a proxy for fundie xians, by necessity, since that is where they live and are dominant.
    Fundie xian isn’t a common demographic for research.
    Oogedy Boogedy xian is also not a common demographic.
    Superstitious idiots is right out.

  17. raven says

    Raven, I don’t think fundamentalists are representative of religious people as a whole.

    Then, you are living in the wrong world and asking the wrong question.

    To make any generalization about 7.8 billion people and a huge variety of religions and religious practice is going to be somewhere between difficult and impossible.
    To take one example, there are 42,000 different xian sects alone.
    They differ on everything and don’t agree on anything.
    They aren’t going to be the same on any question you care to ask.
    The US is 70% xian.
    If you lump them all together, they are going to score the same as the general population.
    Because they are the general population!!!

    If you are looking at the religious in aggregate rather than important groups, you aren’t going to be able to draw much in the way of conclusions.
    So why even bother?

  18. microraptor says

    kathleenzielinski @15: it’s been years, but the last time I saw anything regarding the relationship between religious beliefs and morality, there was no correlation at all.

  19. robro says

    There’s nothing new under the sun. Soon after Theodosius I made Nicene Christianity the state religion of Rome in 380CE, there were riots attacking “pagan” temples and Arian, some instigated by Theodosius himself. Christianity has a very long history of violence toward other points of view deeply rooted in its connection to political power.

  20. phlo says

    He shouldn’t have needed Trump to reach this conclusion – history has settled this case a long time ago.

    Germany in 1933 was a deeply Christian country; it didn’t prevent what followed. If your religion does not stop you from setting up death camps and murdering six million innocent people, then indeed – what is it good for?

  21. consciousness razor says

    And consciousness, I probably could have been clearer, but I said “100 Christians” because another problem with such a study would be making religion qua religion the variable. So, we don’t want our religion group to include both the Little Sisters of the Poor and also the 9/11 hijackers, because obviously there will be plenty of other variables as between those two. So we want 100 religionists whose religion is uniform within the group. That, in turn, might require multiple studies with different religions as the control.

    Maybe I’m just not following, but I disagree. I was thinking we would take a bunch of religionists and a bunch of atheists, maybe 10,000 of each. Then we don’t do anything else that makes use of a bunch of preformed ideas that might skew the answers in various ways, before we even have a chance to take a look at what those answers are. Then we just look at them.

    Why wouldn’t we want the religious group to include both the Little Sisters of the Poor as well as the 9/11 hijackers? I do want that. Both are in the category of religious people.

    Sure, there are many other sociological factors to consider, when you want to understand a person’s behavior. But that is also true of atheists, who are also human beings living on the same planet and dealing with the same sociological factors. But how many different sects or denominations or flavors of atheism are we going to have? I figured there would just be one. Why would we need more for these purposes? The question’s about all of it (all of the various forms it may take) versus all theistic religions (which clearly has variety within it too).

    If what we find is that it’s too nebulous of a category to say anything useful, or if for whatever reason it’s just too hard to come to some kind of definite conclusion, then that by itself is already evidence against the claim that religion is good for people/society and atheism is bad. Even if it doesn’t make atheism look significantly better than religion, that’s still genuine evidence that religions have engaged in false advertising (for pretty much all of recorded history). The overall effect may not be strictly positive or strictly negative. It could simply turn out to be zero (kind of a special/degenerate case, but not impossible). But even that result would be a problem for religionists who claim that it’s strictly positive. I mean, you could find that it isn’t better than nothing, but many of them would not be happy with that answer. And I don’t care if somebody’s not happy with that.

  22. PaulBC says

    cervantes@9 You don’t have to look hard to find things nobody really follows anymore.

    The Alhambra palace in Spain is decorated entirely with geometric art including Girih tiles which are precursors to Penrose tiles in their use of inflation rather than periodic placement. The reason usually given for this type of art is that the artists were following an Islamic prohibition against representational art. Clearly there is no such prohibition in most forms of Christianity today, nor was there thousands of years ago either in the Roman or Byzantine churches.

    But where did Islam come up with this wacky idea? Well, it’s just the 2nd of the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, so I guess if you don’t read far enough you could miss it. Actually, Catholic numbering folds this into the first, but here’s the wording out of KJV.

    Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth

    That seems pretty definitive to me. Though shalt not make any representational art at all. Also, if you do, definitely don’t bow don’t and worship it. Most people get that part. But it’s pretty clear that you aren’t supposed to be making it in the first place.

    Music is OK. Architecture is fine. Highly decorated objects such as a “molten sea” that might look good in a temple are fine. But “any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath” is not allowed. My biblical knowledge has many gaps, but is there a case of a “virtuous” person making representational art after this commandment. The ones I can think of, such as the golden calf, and idols to Baal are given as examples of what not to do.

    I am not sure of the usual rationalization given. It did not come up in my Catholic education, where I think that part of the “1st” commandment is usually mumbled. Perhaps it’s Robert Bork and the inkblot method. Anyway, it seems clear to me that it really means what it says, but it just would have been a massive deal breaker to spread Christianity any wider than parts of the Ancient Near East where this idea held sway, so they just ignored it.

    To be honest, I am kind of sympathetic to the notion of “no representational art” though I like Escher’s take on it, which is that after visiting Alhambra, he saw the opportunity to make tessellations that included figures like his horsemen or lizards, that would not have been available to the artist. Also, the Book of Kells would be very different (and less interesting I think) if it had been limited to pure geometric illumination.

  23. PaulBC says

    me@23 I guess I didn’t read far enough, because that “molten sea” was on top of oxen, or likenesses thereof. Now I’m very confused.

  24. PaulBC says

    KG@25 The same is true if you only count the votes of white people, and it is not hard to reach the conclusion that many Trump supporters think this would be a very good idea and work hard to make it happen in some states. In fact, it works as an all-purpose translation method. A Trumpist says “Most people think blah blah blah.” and it sounds like batshit lunacy and you may be tempted to show them a (completely futile) fact check. But if you insert “white” before people, you find that most of what they say about public opinion is born out by statistics. They’re not actually that stupid. They may be bigots or (generously) inhabit a bubble where nearly everyone is white.

    “Christian” also works as a proxy for Trump support. Neither amount to cause and affect. I am pretty sure (no stats handy so maybe someone knows) that Black Americans are more likely to go to a Christian church on a regular basis than white Americans. Very few of them are Trump supporters.

  25. whheydt says

    Re: raven @ #3…
    Actually, he did reference the COVID-19 death toll, citing 460K, which is about right up until Trump left office, though I’d agree that the ongoing death rate is attributable to his policies as well.

  26. consciousness razor says

    Music is OK.

    Not all of it. A few examples:

    The music in this Bugs Bunny cartoon (or lots of other typical cartoons). At least it seems (to people) like it has an extramusical meaning, which is presumably all that is required. Maybe you want to say it’s a bit vague, not easy to put your finger on anything very precise; but it’s clear enough. Even kids get it.

    How about Berlioz? (This page has a set of program notes for Symphonie fantastique….. Definitely a lot going on there.)

    Or even if nobody else a clue, yet to Scriabin it had something to do with who-knows-what, which may not have been anything more than him experiencing synesthesia, then wasn’t it still representing stuff to somebody? Who are you to say otherwise?

    Anyway, as long as you’re not engaging in idolatry (whatever that means), then some would say this is all okay. But I bet that’s mostly because it’s an arbitrary, idiotic rule that nobody wants to follow, if they even knew how to do so.

  27. PaulBC says

    This Pew article backs up my statement from @26.

    African-Americans attend religious services and pray more frequently than the general population. While 39% of all Americans report attending religious services at least once a week, a majority of African-Americans (53%) report the same. Similarly, while 58% of all Americans report praying at least once a day, a significantly higher number of African-Americans (76%) report praying daily.

    I accept that “Christianity” correlates with conservatism overall in the US and I don’t find this personally troubling in any way. But it is casting such a wide net, that I don’t see how it is more useful to lump all self-proclaimed Christians together than to make distinctions between different denominations.

  28. consciousness razor says

    PaulBC, well, the wolf is just hungry, you know. I get where you’re coming from. I just don’t approve.

    But Peter too? That’s pretty harsh, dude.

    Death to Tybalt!

  29. blf says

    The practical problem is that religion is warm and cuddly, and atheism isn’t.

    Possibly for some people, quite possibly many people. For others, possibly including myself, not so much. Religion: Do as I say or be whipped and burnt alive! Non-belief: “That’s an oversimplification …”. Engagement with reality is, for me and others, preferable to “warm and cuddly” authoritarian obvious nonsense.

    Or as a comic put it eight years ago (a few days after Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head), paraphrasing from memory: “Religion, Today I parachuted a person from the edge of space and landed them safely. You shot a girl in the head for wanting an education. Yours, Science.” (Referring to Felix Baumgartner on 14-Oct-2012; Ms Yousafzi was shot five days earlier, on 9-Oct.)

  30. consciousness razor says

    The Alhambra palace in Spain is decorated entirely with geometric art including Girih tiles which are precursors to Penrose tiles in their use of inflation rather than periodic placement. The reason usually given for this type of art is that the artists were following an Islamic prohibition against representational art.

    A pretty weird explanation, if you ask me.

    Yes, these lions that you see right here are, um…. They, uh, they’re merely a bunch of lion sculptures, which just so happen to be the centerpiece in the main courtyard of the Alhambra itself. That much is obviously true. But it’s just a coincidence that they happen to look like, uhhh…. You see, what’s different about this is the, umm…..”

    I can’t wait to hear how that thought is supposed to end. No matter what, it’s guaranteed to be a good one.

    Of course, it’s not as if you can’t find that sort of thing in tons of other Islamic art anyway.

  31. says

    @23: The Talmud interprets the prohibition of graven images as applying only to idols — though I note there were cherubim above the altar in the Holy of Holies. Jews nowadays obviously have no problem with representational art.

    However, the Catholic church obviously ignores this completely since their places of worship are full of idols — crucifixes with bloody Jesus hanging from them, statues of Mary and various saints — to which people pray and light candles, etc.

  32. PaulBC says

    cervantes@35 I wonder if cherubim should get a pass anyway, given that we can safely assume the artist never saw one on land, sea, or air. The oxen, though, clearly count as likenesses.

    I suspect a lot had already changed with the building of the first temple, but it’d be interesting to know more. Clearly some people have interpreted it as a more general prohibition (and no, obviously not Roman Catholics, or Orthodox Christians for that matter).

  33. blf says

    The early descriptions of a cherubim, “as having two pairs of wings, and four faces: that of a lion (representative of all wild animals), an ox (domestic animals), a human (humanity), and an eagle (birds). Their legs were straight, the soles of their feet like the hooves of a bull, gleaming like polished brass” (from Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge) are a reasonable description of the mildly deranged penguin after being threatened with a pea, albeit the parenthetical explanations (e.g., (representative of all wild animals)), are latter mythological additions. Most of the rest is understandable, if confused. She doesn’t actually, of course, have four concurrent faces or brass hooves, but when she goes all Librarian about peas, such minor details are likely to become confused in the mêlée of claws, fangs, screams, ballistic vomit, and nuking the planet from orbit, all within a few milliseconds. Then she becomes upset…

  34. vucodlak says

    I find this period, particularly since the insurrection, has actually strengthened my faith (such as it is). My congressperson sends out a weekly spate of lies, which I’ve been ignoring it for years. However, his lies about the insurrection have been particularly egregious, so I got involved in the discussion.

    Rep. Jason Smith’s first letter after the insurrection was titled “What I Witnessed,” and he started it off by talking about the destruction of a statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore by people Nancy Pelosi supported (his words, not mine). Then he does something amazing- he talks about the invasion of the Capitol, the destruction, the injured police, etc. without once naming the people responsible. The overall effect of the letter was to imply that BLM had assaulted the Capitol.

    That pissed me off, and I’ve been responding to every post he’s made since then, reminding people that he, Jason Smith, aided and abetted an attempt to overthrow our democracy (he was one of the congresspeople who tried to overturn the election results) and lied about the insurrection. I’ve been the target of many rants from “good Christian” assholes since then, especially on Smith’s recent anti-choice post, and I’ve delighted in educating them in areas they seem to be particularly concerned about: judgement, faith, and “THE CREATOR.”

    For that last, I explained that Atum is both the creator and the uncreator and, much as he birthed Shu and Tefnut into being, he will one day unmake all that he has made. Given that, it’s arguable that abortion is every bit as much his will as is conception. Which assumes he cares at all- Atum’s children’s children are more the hands-on types.

    I also explained about judgement. When we die, Anubis weighs our heart against the feather of Maat. Maat is justice personified, and a goddess in her own right; her holy symbol is an ostrich feather. In other words, Anubis weighs our heart to determine if we held justice in it. If we are found wanting, we are given over to Ammut, Eater of Hearts and Great of Death. You can probably guess what she does.

    Oh, I could talk theology for days but, strangely, my fellow residents of District 8 don’t seem that pleased. They started it. I haven’t even gotten to the penis-eating crocodiles or drunken cat goddesses of divine vengeance yet!

  35. John Morales says

    PaulBC @5:

    I agree with most of the social justice objectives of the leftwing Catholic faith I was raised in.

    Wow.

    There is only one Catholic faith, and left-wing, it most certainly ain’t.

  36. felixmagister says

    There is only one Catholic faith, but there is a wide diversity of beliefs and tendencies within it, and some of them have aims and philosophies that could be described as left-wing (google “Liberation Theology” for a remarkable intersection of Catholicism and quasi-Marxism that has at times had considerable influence in South America).

  37. consciousness razor says

    “Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
    Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
    Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
    One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
    In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
    One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
    One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
    In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.”

  38. John Morales says

    felixmagister, I’m specifically talking about Roman Catholicism, you know, what the Pope represents. It’s all covered in the Catechism.

    Anything else is heretical — and, back when the Church had (overt) temporal power, it would have been dealt with accordingly.

    In short, a true Catholic believes what the Church tells them to believe. Period.
    Pullquote:

    889 In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a “supernatural sense of faith” the People of God, under the guidance of the Church’s living Magisterium, “unfailingly adheres to this faith.”417

    890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:

    891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine “for belief as being divinely revealed,”419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.”420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421

    892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful “are to adhere to it with religious assent” 422 which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

  39. nomdeplume says

    @41 @43 “Liberation theology” has never been popular with the church hierarchy. It has also not been popular with right wing/military rulers of south American countries. Not a coincidence.

  40. PaulBC says

    John Morales@40 See Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement. My parents were active in it back in the day and knew many people in it (probably Day herself but I’m a little murky because much of this was before I was born or very young).

    There is also liberation theology in Latin America. See Oscar Romero for example.

    Whether you count some of this as sufficiently “leftist” could depend on the issues you care about. Generally, these movements are pretty orthodox about sexual mores at least in the ideal case, but also tolerant. In terms of poverty, wealth distribution, and the understanding of private property, they are entirely leftwing.

  41. PaulBC says

    John Morales@40 How about “The leftwing faith of the people, self-identified as Catholics, who raised me”? You and for that matter the Pope may not have considered them orthodox (though for all practical purposes they were indeed treated as Catholic by the parish priest, so you might have some trouble making that case unless you really needed to lodge some kind of objection).

    And Dorothy Day is sure as hell less heretical than the wacky cult Amy Coney Barrett belongs to.

  42. fergl says

    All religions will have some teachings that are admirable. Overall though they have more that is abhorrent than good. All based on lies anyway and lying is generally not good.

  43. John Morales says

    Well, Paul, perhaps Christendom will return and we’ll see just how leftist Catholicism is, when again they gain temporal power.

    (Nearly 2,000 years of history, and you still don’t get what it is?)

    “The leftwing faith of the people, self-identified as Catholics, who raised me”

    Me, I grew up in Francoist Spain, where Catholicism was the State religion, and all the institutions were Catholic. No need to pretend, there.

  44. damien75 says

    There is a picture going with the post. Is the man on the picture famous, and if so, who is he ? Also, what is he wearing on his head ?

    Thank you for answering.

  45. PaulBC says

    nomdeplume@44 No arguments there, but kind of besides the point if I assume my comment and John Morales’s reply precipitated this discussion. There are leftwing Americans who consider themselves Catholic and are treated as Catholics in good standing as well as believing that their principles of social justice are closely aligned with the church. And I grew up in a family of such people. That was the claim I was making, certainly not that leftwing views were either common or favored by church hierarchy (we didn’t think so either; it was pretty clear that the Archdiocese had a very different picture of things).

    The “Catholic” part is a red herring anyway. My point is that there are self-identified Christian leftists. And it’s not like an Amish motorcycle gang or something. They exist in fairly large numbers, and some also identify as Catholic (whether Cardinal Morales approves or not).

  46. bargearse says

    damien75 @49

    That’s Kirk Cameron, former child star and current right wing creationist preacher. He played Mike Seaver on Growing Pains back in the 80s, these days he hangs around with Ray Comfort and talks nonsense about bananas. Not sure what the thing on his head is.

  47. PaulBC says

    bargearse@51 Oh, huh. I didn’t think the identity really mattered for the meme, but I guess that adds to it. It reminds me of an internal meme-engine (I won’t say where) in which the David Tennant Doctor Who gif was named “rain guy” to the chagrin of some. It didn’t matter much to me, since I stopped watching around the end of Peter Davison’s tenure. It was just some guy in the rain to me, and made about as much sense for that.

  48. Tethys says

    Nuns have been some of the most leftist people I’ve ever met. One was a ‘chain yourself to the fence’ level of dedicated anti war activist, and another a fierce fighter for abortion rights (and not coincidently a nurse in a poor hospital before reliable birth control was available)

    Roman Catholic priests have been the worst, complete with pedophiles being shipped to my hometown to brutalize multiple generations of altar boys.

    The Christian Brothers are another flavor of Catholic entirely, and I can honestly say that I entirely enjoyed having to go through couples religious counseling before I would be allowed to get married in their church. * Neither myself or catholic spouse were believers, and neither was Brother Chuck. We went through the rituals, signed their silly paper agreeing we would raise our spawn as catholic, and never stepped foot in church again after the ceremony except to get some water dabbed on said spawns heads.

    I grew up in an Anabaptist melange of sects. Infant baptism is not a thing, and worship varied wildly between the branches. They all taught that the Catholics ‘worship idols and graven images’ and are clearly damned to hell.

    The latest polls say 65% of Americans identified as Christians in 2019, with the oldest people making up a large percentage of that subset.

  49. PaulBC says

    The Christian Brothers are another flavor of Catholic entirely,

    Apparently there is more than one group with this name. I went to a LaSalle prep school, and they call themselves Christian Brothers but they’re not the only ones. There was a leftish religion teacher there that I recall, a lay teacher and a woman. I think I’d classify it as bourgeoise Catholic, if that’s a thing. Not particularly left or right, just catering to snotty kids who will go on to nice suburban jobs.

    They are also another flavor of budget sherry, but I read the actual Brothers sold off the name many years ago.

  50. damien75 says

    bargearse@51

    Well, thank you, I wouldn’t have been able to find that out by myself, but I know of Ray Comfort, the banana man.

  51. John Morales says

    PaulBC @54:

    There was a leftish religion teacher there that I recall, a lay teacher and a woman. I think I’d classify it as bourgeoise Catholic, if that’s a thing. Not particularly left or right, just catering to snotty kids who will go on to nice suburban jobs.

    Ah, yes, them. Busy, busy with the kiddies.
    From your own link:

    4 Sexual abuse of children
    4.1 Australia
    4.2 Ireland and the UK
    4.2.1 England
    4.2.2 Ireland
    4.2.3 Scotland
    4.3 Canada
    4.4 United States

  52. Tethys says

    @Paul
    Brother Chuck was indeed a member of the DeLaSalle branch, and husbeast was the namesake of his ordained Uncle. It was strange to me that some were priests who wore collars, and some were Franciscan Friars who wore brown sacks tied with ropes.

    Ya’ll even have alternate versions of the Lord’s Prayer, while my sects sometimes lack clergy, or anything you would recognize as church except for the singing parts. Even the hymns are different.

  53. Tethys says

    Paul

    I think I’d classify it as bourgeoise Catholic, if that’s a thing. Not particularly left or right, just catering to snotty kids who will go on to nice suburban jobs.

    I would say this is totally a thing. The local private fancy catholic colleges are open to all these days, but their names are still St. Katherine’s and St. Thomas.

  54. PaulBC says

    John Morales@57

    Paul, “Cardinal Morales”?

    A remarkable attempt at derision, given the context.

    It seemed appropriate to me, since you’re on the verge of excommunicating me from a church I left willingly some years back. Consider this a “You can’t fire me. I quit.”

    I also just had a bike ride to ponder whether Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s taken on Catholicism is more valid than Dorothy Day’s, and I’m gonna go with “No.”

  55. John Morales says

    Paul:

    It seemed appropriate to me, since you’re on the verge of excommunicating me from a church I left willingly some years back.

    Heh. You still don’t see the irony.

    (It’s not I who waffles about how some of them aren’t bad, or how it’s a big tent)

    I also just had a bike ride to ponder whether Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s taken on Catholicism is more valid than Dorothy Day’s, and I’m gonna go with “No.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concordat_of_1953

    “In contrast to the anticlericalism of the Popular Front, the Francoist regime established policies that were highly favorable to the Catholic Church, which was restored to its previous status as the official religion of Spain. In addition to receiving government subsidies, the church regained its dominant position in the education system, and laws conformed to Catholic dogma.

    During the Francoist regime, Roman Catholicism was the only religion to have legal status; other worship services could not be advertised, and the Roman Catholic Church was the only religious institution that was permitted to own property or publish books. The government not only continued to pay priests’ salaries and to subsidize the church but it also assisted in the reconstruction of church buildings damaged by the war. Laws were passed abolishing divorce and banning the sale of contraceptives. Catholic religious instruction was mandatory, even in state schools.

    In return for granting the Catholic Church these privileges, Franco obtained the right to name Roman Catholic bishops in Spain, as well as veto power over appointments of clergy down to the parish priest level.”

    Fascism and Catholicism go hand-in-glove.

    (cf. Lateran Treaty, Reichskonkordat)

  56. consciousness razor says

    But John (#61), Paul feels it in his gut, you know? Also, he likes how soothing his gut feeling is, which has to count for something.

  57. PaulBC says

    John Morales@61 At the same time, Thomas Merton was progressing towards greater unity with Buddhists, and Dorothy Day was inviting people to work on communal farms and Peter Maurin was developing an explicitly anti-capitalism framework for these farms. The Berrigans would later be getting arrested for anti-war activism. These are leftwing people (maybe not Merton, though he inspired some on the left). Whether you call them Catholics, they definitely would have called themselves such and also claimed that their leftwing beliefs were not in contradiction with Catholic orthodoxy.

    Were Franco’s actions seen more favorably in the Vatican than any of the above? Yeah, probably (though my father was a great admirer of John XXIII. I never got a chance to find out why precisely).

    The reason I called you “Cardinal” is you seem very fixated on a rule-based definition of what it means to be Catholic. And yes, the power structures descended from medieval times would back you up on this, but they’d also back up various Hapsburg scions as the legitimate rulers of Europe. If enough people call themselves Catholic, then it may mean something different from what the Vatican means by it, but it is still a descriptive term in use, and any modern lexicographer would accept it as such.

  58. John Morales says

    Paul:

    The reason I called you “Cardinal” is you seem very fixated on a rule-based definition of what it means to be Catholic.

    (sigh)

    You really, really don’t get it. I was schooled thoroughly, I spent time in Jesuit boarding schools, I was an altar-boy (even spent two weekends at a seminary!).

    These are just the facts. It’s not a matter of opinion, it’s (as I cited @43) the actual Catechism. And when a Catholic says the Credo, and when they go through the Rite of Confirmation, they assert they believe that stuff and will follow those rules.

    I didn’t make any of this up; this are not my opinions, they are actual Catholic dogma. You know, what Catholics supposedly believe and practice in order to actually be Catholic as more than just a label. All there in writing.

    Let me quote a bit more from the Vatican:

    Can. 750 §1. A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them.

    §2. Each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith, is also to be firmly embraced and retained; therefore, one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

    […]

    Can. 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

    […]

    Can. 754 All the Christian faithful are obliged to observe the constitutions and decrees which the legitimate authority of the Church issues in order to propose doctrine and to proscribe erroneous opinions, particularly those which the Roman Pontiff or the college of bishops puts forth.

    Now, sure — one can call oneself Catholic and yet repudiate this dogma.
    Because the overwhelming majority of Catholics are nothing if not hypocrites.

  59. nomdeplume says

    “Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” You could substitute the names of any other religion and any other branch of any religion…

  60. PaulBC says

    John Morales@66

    You really, really don’t get it. I was schooled thoroughly, I spent time in Jesuit boarding schools, I was an altar-boy (even spent two weekends at a seminary!).

    Yes, I get it, and I never impugned your understanding of Catholic doctrine. It most certainly is better than my own. Jesuits beat Christian Brothers and my prep school was a day school after all, not a fancy boarding school. I was an altar boy, which is no great accomplishment. There’s a cassock, a surplice, and you bring the wine and communion hosts on cue if I recall correctly. Oh, and there are bells to ring during the consecration. You could get tips at weddings. Funerals? Not sure, it was a long time ago. If so, that would be creepy. I was a paper boy too, briefly, though I didn’t pick up a lot of journalism either.

    But look, if I refer to “the leftwing Catholic faith I was raised in” very large numbers of readers, at least in my cultural context, know what I am saying. Since you’re a stickler for language, I think you will agree that my statement, whatever it may mean in no way implies the proposition “The Catholic church is leftwing.” Because it’s not. I agree with that, and actually, the conservatives appear in ascendance right now, particularly in the US.

    I will concede that my statement may be formally nonsensical without clarification. I have offered this clarification. My parents were leftwing and pacifists, as well as admirers of Dorothy Day, and active in her movement, and had good things to say about Thomas Merton and the Berrigans. A quip I made up (but found I’m not alone) is “We’re more Dorothy Day than Opus Dei.”

    It’s really not of great interest to me whether you consider this to be consistent with Catholic orthodoxy, not least because I do not believe in Catholic doctrine or feel any great affinity with the church as an institution. E.g., the fact that Franco helped out the church does nothing to improve my overall negative view of him. The fact that Dorothy Day carried out her charitable work without a self-identified Catholic framework does nothing to lessen my admiration for her as a humanitarian. (But let’s not talk about Mother Theresa, because that’s a very different story, and I do suspect her motives though at the same time, I believe she took a sincere interest in the human beings around her).

    You are the one arguing like a theologian here. I am merely talking about how people identify themselves. It is just not even remotely relevant to me what the catechism says.

  61. Tethys says

    I suspect Catholicism within Spain under Franco bears very little resemblance to American Catholicism.

    You can find sects that think mass only counts if it’s in Latin, and others that think the pope should mind his own business, use birth control, and (except for Mary and the weird liturgy) generally are indistinguishable from Lutherans.

  62. PaulBC says

    nomdeplume@68 So maybe I am merely schismatic and not apostate as I had assumed. Something to to chew on. I’m pretty sure that my complete lack of belief is a deal breaker, but I have to admit that even if I did believe, I am just not a fan of the hierarchical bit, and have never been.

  63. PaulBC says

    Tethys@71 I was at a Lutheran wedding (this was over 30 years ago) and it did seem very familiar. I don’t even recall it being any shorter than a Catholic wedding, but I suppose it was, since a Catholic wedding includes a full mass.

    (I was at a California Buddhist wedding, and that was very noticeably different.)

  64. PaulBC says

    Tethys@71

    I suspect Catholicism within Spain under Franco bears very little resemblance to American Catholicism.

    I think John Morales’s point in his own words is “There is only one Catholic faith” and again to quote “It’s all covered in the Catechism.” I will happily concede that point. In fact, it is such a strong element of Catholic culture that you would get the same answer from many self-identified Catholics, even those behaving at variance to what this Catechism says, many of whom (unlike Morales) are even less versed in its contents than I am (I think we had kind of a short course for confirmation and did not read the whole Catechism.)

    But I agree with you that self-identifying Catholics behave very differently in different places. It is more significant to me that they self-identify, even to the extent of seeking a Catholic church while traveling, then whether their actual behavior or even beliefs align with doctrine. Doctrine is significant, but it pretty much ends the conversation at the point where you realize there are almost no fully compliant Catholics out there.

  65. John Morales says

    Paul:

    But look, if I refer to “the leftwing Catholic faith I was raised in” very large numbers of readers, at least in my cultural context, know what I am saying. Since you’re a stickler for language, I think you will agree that my statement, whatever it may mean in no way implies the proposition “The Catholic church is leftwing.” Because it’s not.

    Simple syllogism there, no?

    If
    1. “the leftwing Catholic faith I was raised in”; and
    2. ¬ “The Catholic church is leftwing.”
    then, due to the contradiction:
    3. The faith in which you were raised was not the same faith as the Catholic Church faith.

    Nothing linguistic about that, is there?

    You are the one arguing like a theologian here.

    What? I’m pointing out the contradiction between the professed faith and the actual faith, no more than that. Like, if one goes about breaking the law and not keeping promises, one can call themselves law-abiding and promise-keeper, but the reality is otherwise.

    You keep writing as if the criteria for being a Catholic were matters of opinion, instead of matters of dogma. And, whether or not you accept it, anyone who professes to be Catholic is fucking supporting that institution and complicit in its pernicious influence on thought and life.

    And those who defend that, well… it’s an informative stance of which I take note.

  66. Tethys says

    There was no mass at my Catholic wedding. That seems to have died out in all but the most traditional Latin mass congregations.

  67. chigau (違う) says

    Tethys #76
    When was that? The last two Catholic weddings I attended were embedded in a Mass. But that was more than 10 years ago.

  68. Prax says

    KG @25,

    If only the votes of self-identified Christians had been counted last November, Trump would indeed have won the landslide he claimed (scroll down to “Exit Polling” and look under “Religion”). So in the USA at least, there’s a strong correlation between Christianity and support for fascism.

    Only because of the white evangelical bloc. By those same exit poll numbers, Catholics favored Biden, as did all other Christians who weren’t white evangelicals. Even white mainline Protestants leaned slightly to Biden.

    Of course exit polls were pretty useless this year because of all the early voting, but you see similar patterns in the AP Votecast data. The strongest demographic predictors of Trump support are clearly whiteness and evangelical affiliation; after that, male gender and maybe lack of higher education. Other than the evangelical thing, adherence to Christianity mattered not at all. In fact, among the Latinx population, Christians (and Catholics in particular) were even less likely to support Trump than nonbelievers were.

    No doubt it would have looked different if we’d had a more traditional Republican candidate. But when it comes to Trump-style fascism, the issue is clearly white supremacism and a few particular strains of religion that it has co-opted: Evangelical Protestantism, Traditionalist Catholicism, Mormonism, Haredi Judaism, Odinism. Virtually every other faith community is on the opposing side. (And let’s not forget that a third of white nonbelievers voted for Trump as well.)

    John Morales @43 & 48,

    Anything else is heretical — and, back when the Church had (overt) temporal power, it would have been dealt with accordingly.

    It’s always funny when ex-Christians still try to claim heresy. You don’t have to pick sides anymore, you know?

    Catholicism has been enthusiastically syncretizing with local faiths since its foundation. Popes and antipopes have vied for legitimacy. Majorities of Catholics in Western Europe, Latin America, the Philippines and the US support same-sex marriage and acceptance of homosexuality, while majorities in Eastern Europe and Africa oppose the same. Yes, of course the Vatican has always pushed a narrative of ideological unity, but it’s just as fictional as their theology.

    Currently Pope Francis is playing nice with liberation theologians and other faiths. Dorothy Day is under consideration for canonization. Traditionalist Catholics don’t like this stuff any more than they liked Vatican II, and they’re not about to change their minds anytime soon. Does that make them fake Catholics, until a more conservative Pope comes along?

    Me, I grew up in Francoist Spain, where Catholicism was the State religion, and all the institutions were Catholic. No need to pretend, there.

    Pretty sure you could find more “pretend” Catholics in Francoist Spain than almost anywhere else in the 20th century. Hard to get an accurate idea of people’s religious beliefs when their safety depends on how they answer….

  69. PaulBC says

    John Morales@75

    The faith in which you were raised was not the same faith as the Catholic Church faith.

    Duly noted, but for purposes of this discussion, I only needed to state that I was raised by leftwing Christians. I could have left it at that.

    I offered more information by way of description. I’ve explained the particulars enough by now. I am not seeking your imprimatur, though you put yourself forward as one who can withhold it–which is why I still think “Cardinal Morales” fits very well. In a different age, maybe you’d be wearing a red biretta. It sounds like something you’d enjoy more than I would.

    Note that the practical likelihood of my parents’ ever being excommunicated was essentially nil. They were upstanding members of our parish, though their politics were surely known, and included leftwing stances, particularly on poverty and on the Vietnam war. My father also knew all the doctrine, was a Fordham graduate, and could hold his own in discussions with his college friend who was a Jesuit priest. They were model 20th century American suburban Catholics, left of center, but not much more than other FDR/JFK Democrats.

    So if I take your view to its logical conclusion, you seem to be saying the church cannot even police its own membership properly. That may be true, but I think most self-identified Catholics do not feel the need to be more Catholic than the church itself requires. By all practical measures, I was raised in the Catholic faith.

  70. John Morales says

    Prax:

    By those same exit poll numbers, Catholics favored Biden, as did all other Christians who weren’t white evangelicals.

    Of course exit polls were pretty useless this year because of all the early voting, but you see similar patterns in the AP Votecast data.

    Well, your own adduced link shows more Catholics voted for Trump than for Biden, contradicting your claim.

    It’s always funny when ex-Christians still try to claim heresy. You don’t have to pick sides anymore, you know?

    You are confused (and ignorant about me — I had a little child’s concept of Christianity, but was atheistic by the time I hit puberty).
    You apparently don’t get that, if someone claims to be a Roman Catholic, that claim perforce must be judged on the basis of Catholic dogma.

    In short, it is not I who claims they are heretical, it’s the very Church they purport to follow.

    Yes, of course the Vatican has always pushed a narrative of ideological unity, but it’s just as fictional as their theology.

    Fictional maybe, but (again) back when the Holy Inquisition had teeth, the effects were quite real.

    Does that make them fake Catholics, until a more conservative Pope comes along?

    In Dorothy’s case, apparently yes.

    From Wikipedia (my emphasis):
    “Catholic orthodoxy

    Day wrote in one of her memoirs: “I had a conversation with John Spivak, the Communist writer, a few years ago, and he said to me, “How can you believe? How can you believe in the Immaculate Conception, in the Virgin birth, in the Resurrection?” I could only say that I believe in the Roman Catholic Church and all she teaches. I have accepted Her authority with my whole heart. At the same time I want to point out to you that we are taught to pray for final perseverance. We are taught that faith is a gift, and sometimes I wonder why some have it and some do not. I feel my own unworthiness and can never be grateful enough to God for His gift of faith.”[121]

    Day’s commitment to Church discipline is illustrated by an encounter she had with Fr. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., while on a Catholic Worker farm in New York. Berrigan was about to celebrate Mass for the community vested only in a stole. Day insisted that he put on the proper vestments before he began. When Berrigan complained about the law regarding liturgical vesture, Day responded, “On this farm, we obey the laws of the Church.” He relented and celebrated the Mass fully vested.”

    That’s pretty fucking saintly and obedient.

    Pretty sure you could find more “pretend” Catholics in Francoist Spain than almost anywhere else in the 20th century. Hard to get an accurate idea of people’s religious beliefs when their safety depends on how they answer….

    Well, outside the Vatican and seminaries, probably yes to the first, and certainly so to the second. But that’s the point, right? As soon as the Church gets temporal power and its rules actually begin to be applied, woe is you if you don’t adhere. A late flowering (if etiolated) of old-style Christendom.

  71. John Morales says

    Rob @80, don’t be silly. I just lied through my teeth (for one, promised we’d try to have children!) to get the church wedding and thus appease both our parents. I wasn’t subtle about it, either… but the proprieties were observed, and everyone but us got what they wanted. So it goes.

    (She still goes to church and donates and helps out and whatnot, and tomorrow (Woden’s day) she’s going to Ash Wednesday mass)

  72. Tethys says

    @chigau
    Mine was in 1984. The only reason it was in a Catholic Church was due to respect for his very devout mother. Her brother the priest performed the ceremony. We did not want a mass, just a wedding and reception.

  73. PaulBC says

    Prax@78

    Catholicism has been enthusiastically syncretizing with local faiths since its foundation. Popes and antipopes have vied for legitimacy. Majorities of Catholics in Western Europe, Latin America, the Philippines and the US support same-sex marriage and acceptance of homosexuality, while majorities in Eastern Europe and Africa oppose the same. Yes, of course the Vatican has always pushed a narrative of ideological unity, but it’s just as fictional as their theology.

    I agree. Actually, I had a half-formed thought about syncretism but not enough to post. Of course, the Church usually denies that Catholicism is a syncretic religion, and works hard to root out those influences. But in practice syncretism has probably been one of the biggest drivers of its success. Even if it is not precisely doctrinal syncretism, the ability to tie in local culture (e.g. Our Lady of Guadalupe) is what creates the foothold, and definitely not the “eat your veggies” recitation of the Catechism. In fact, it’s not clear how you could get a religion to spread if it was all altar boys and confirmation prep. That probably only works in places where the religion is established as tradition.

    Matteo Ricci was one of the few Catholic missionaries who is well-regarded in China, due to his respect for the culture he was visiting and actual contributions, e.g. making maps and translations and tutoring Chinese students for imperial exams. He did promote a syncretic explanation of Catholicism, though I get the impression that he believed his own claim that Confucianism and Christianity were born of the same divine inspiration. Anyway, needless to say, this was eventually seen as too syncretic. He was denounced, and it probably set back the advancement of the church in China by centuries.

  74. PaulBC says

    John Morales@82

    Rob @80, don’t be silly. I just lied through my teeth (for one, promised we’d try to have children!) to get the church wedding and thus appease both our parents.

    I told my mother I was getting married on the beach to a Chinese communist (not in so many words, but this is an accurate description and the facts she came away with). She was unhappy about that, but what do you do? I would rather tell the truth to my own mother than lie to a priest.

  75. John Morales says

    Further to my #82, over my lifetime I’ve found it’s a shitload easier to not be religious but pretend to be than it is to be religious and pretend not to be.

    Pretty sure many LARPers abound.

    (Go figure)

  76. PaulBC says

    To be clear, not at all unhappy that my wife is from mainland China, but in her ideal world, we’d have gone through all the hoops and done a Catholic wedding. Not a chance. Sorry, I can barely set foot in a church anymore, though I do sometimes. I really don’t feel I belong and I am certainly not going to lie about it.

  77. PaulBC says

    John Morales@86

    That’s pretty fucking saintly and obedient.

    But Day’s worldview is almost universally considered to be leftwing. Do you consider that reconcilable or not?

  78. John Morales says

    PaulBC, there’s no point elaborating; I quoted her with emphasis:
    “On this farm, we obey the laws of the Church.”

    (So many questions!
    Is Canon Law left-wing? Is Day’s commitment to Church discipline left-wing?
    (Why do people persist in trying to collapse the political spectrum into a mere two axes? Is authoritarianism left-wing or right-wing?))

  79. John Morales says

    [Also, I’m ceasing for now. PZ doesn’t like people monopolising comments and sucking all the oxygen from the rest of the convo]

  80. Tethys says

    John Morales

    and tomorrow (Woden’s day) she’s going to Ash Wednesday mass)

    :)

    Yggdrasil is an Ash tree.

    Veit ek at ek hekk
    vinga meidi á
    nætr allar niu,
    geiri undadr
    ok gefinn Ódni.

    Knew I that I hung
    On a windswept tree
    Nine long nights
    Wounded by spear
    And given to Odin.
    Self to myself
    On that tree
    No one knows
    Where its roots run.

    Hávamál 138
    I only transcribed half of the old Norse, due to the lack of a proper eth on this electronic device. It sounds a lot like the other hung God who dies and lives.

  81. PaulBC says

    John Morales@89 We can collapse it into a simple yes/no question most pertinent to Mr. Bailey’s dilemma. Would they vote for Trump? (Or be much more likely than not.) How about people influenced by the Catholic Worker movement? No. I can tell you that based on direct acquaintance. How about members of historically Black Christian churches? No. At least that’s what I get from polling. White people I know in the SF Bay Area, some of whom may at least be nominally Christian? No.

    It’s certainly the case that a large number of Americans are pro-Trump. They correlate strongly with being racially white. They correlate strongly with being self-identified Christians though are not necessary regular church-goers. They also correlate geographically to places I have never lived. I mean, yes “Christian” is one indicator that tells you something, but it casts a wide net. I think in particular, it’s unfair to Black churches, though I do not know how religious belief correlates to voting in that demographic. In any case, they are Christians by any reasonable definition and do not vote anything like white Evangelicals.

    And, whether or not you accept it, anyone who professes to be Catholic is fucking supporting that institution and complicit in its pernicious influence on thought and life.

    Having experienced, I think, a more benign and less dogmatic approach to Catholicism in the Philadelphia suburbs in the 70s than you experienced under Franco, I may not feel the influence is as pernicious as you do. There are many religions out there, and people practice them, most often because their parents did. I think Catholicism is probably on the wane anyway, which is one reason I am not that interested in picking a fight. You are clearly entitled to do so.

    It remains true that the term “Catholic” is often applied to a large group of non-adherent people who are not consciously hypocritical, but merely ignorant. This has been as much a constant of the faith as any written doctrine. But these are merely people getting on with their lives, and I find their non-adherence unremarkable. Presumably this holds for Hindus, Muslims, and other major religions as well.

  82. whheydt says

    Re: Tethys @ #91…
    That goes well with the snark… “My god carries hammer. Your god got nailed to a tree. Any questions?”

    As for the ongoing discussions of Catholic weddings and such… My wife is a Catholic (by adult conversion, before I met her). As she puts it about me, you can’t get much less religious than a fallen-away Unitarian.

    After we got thrown out of the pre-marriage group “counselling” sessions. (I don’t do group-think well, and neither us had much tolerance “sweetness and light and isn’t everything going to be lovely” from the rest of the couples. And I should mention that this was in Berkeley in 1971….with a lot of left over ’60s vibe.) We did manage to convince the priest that we had a pretty good idea what we were getting into (which is more than I’d be willing to say for the rest of that group…).

    The one thing I was asked to promise was that I “would allow any children to be raised Catholic”. I parsed that carefully and agreed without any concerns. At around 7 our son got thrown out of Sunday School for asking a question the biddy teaching it couldn’t handle (I don’t recall the question, but I am assured it does have a standard theological answer….just one the teacher didn’t know) and his–younger–sister insisted that if he didn’t have to go, she wasn’t going either. And that was that.

    I expected the result. I just didn’t anticipate it quite so soon.

  83. PaulBC says

    CR@34 I missed your comment about Alhambra. I have only read about the geometric design, not the lions, but I found this explanation:

    Alhambra reflects the fashions of Islamic religious art—in particular, its avoidance of any representation of a human or animal form. Instead, artistic decoration is based on plant motifs or purely geometrical designs; sometimes, as here, the patterns seem to combine some vegetal motifs (such as flower buds or, possibly, stylized representations of a pomegranate) with more abstract tracery. In this respect, Islamic religious art differs markedly from both Christian and Jewish art, which could be representational and often depicted scenes from their scriptures (see Images 6, 10). As a secular monument, parts of the Alhambra did contain animal figures (notably in its famous fountain of the lions), and Islamic art not intended for the mosque, such as miniature paintings, commonly depicted people and animals. But Islamic art intended for religious spaces, particularly the mosque, is non-representational and abstract.

    In any case, whether it’s a “pretty weird explanation” or not, it is commonly offered as the reason for this style. Most recently I saw it repeated in Siobhan Roberts’s biography of mathematician H.S.M. Coxeter, who was interested in the symmetries there, and influenced Escher, though apparently never visited Alhambra himself.

  84. PaulBC says

    I would add that the more I look into this, the less connection I can find between the Islamic prohibition against representational art in some contexts and Exodus 20:4. The Quran alludes to the Ten Commandments but does not restate them, and never contains as strict a prohibition Exodus 20:4.

  85. Prax says

    John Morales @66,

    Simple syllogism there, no?

    If
    1. “the leftwing Catholic faith I was raised in”; and
    2. ¬ “The Catholic church is leftwing.”
    then, due to the contradiction:
    3. The faith in which you were raised was not the same faith as the Catholic Church faith.

    Nope, not valid. The negation of “The Catholic church is leftwing” is not “The Catholic church does not tolerate leftwing beliefs or behavior among its membership.”

    What? I’m pointing out the contradiction between the professed faith and the actual faith, no more than that.

    Nope, you’re also asserting that the professed faith–and specifically, the faith professed by Vatican leadership–is the true faith. That’s a value judgment, and it’s not one that non-Catholics need to buy into. I don’t care what the Pope says, except insofar as it helps me understand the behavior of the Church and its members. If the Vatican says one thing but Catholics do another, so much for the Vatican.

    You keep writing as if the criteria for being a Catholic were matters of opinion, instead of matters of dogma.

    Amusingly, you’re actually contradicting Church dogma on this . It’s well established–see for instance Clement XI’s Unigenitus–that there are many shades of objectionable opinion that do not equate to heresy: “erroneous”, “rash,” “subspected of heresy” and “smacking of heresy,” “proximate to heresy,” and so forth. Moreover, those who hold heretical beliefs but honestly believe them to be consistent with church doctrine are guilty only of “material” heresy, and have committed no sin. This is why most excommunications are aimed at the priesthood, not the laity.

    You can believe and do all kinds of things the Vatican doesn’t like and remain a Catholic. They may ignore you; they may censure you or condemn you; they may report you to secular authorities; they may send highly trained and sexy assassin-nuns to eliminate you; but none of that is equivalent to excommunication. And communion is, in fact, what officially defines a Catholic. If one cares about such things.

    (Of course, there are plenty of Catholic churches that aren’t in full communion with Rome, and according to their dogma that’s because Roman Catholics aren’t properly Catholic. I find that position exactly as valid as the Vatican’s.)

    And, whether or not you accept it, anyone who professes to be Catholic is fucking supporting that institution and complicit in its pernicious influence on thought and life.

    Was every professed Spaniard complicit in the crimes of Franco’s regime? Seems excessive to me.

  86. KG says

    PaulBC@26,30,

    You’re right of course – which is one reason I said @25 that there is a correlation between Christianity and support for fascism in the USA. But the fact that black Americans are more religious (or at least, more churchgoing) than white Americans and few of them support Trump only emphasises the degree of correlation among white Americans. Notice that more than 2/3 of the “Nones” – most of whom would be white – voted for Biden (proportions were even greater for the non-Christian-but-religious, but their numbers are considerably smaller). You can even narrow it down further: Catholics narrowly supported Biden, while white evangelical/”born-again” Protestants supported Trump by 3:1. But none of this changes the overall point: pick a random American, and find out whether they identify as Christian: the result gives you considerable information about the probability they support fascism.

  87. Tethys says

    It’s not a surprise that the demographic that supports cheetolini is overwhelmingly white and claims to be Christians. They aren’t into going to church however, it seems their beliefs are more due to tradition than piety.
    It’s a traditional patriarchal system combined with white privilege.

    They also believe that they live in a Xtian country, and they are under threat of becoming extinct due to non- racist immigration policies.

    I dont know if it’s motivated by fascism per se. I see it as a wealthy bigot getting a following for his openness to white supremacy and blatant misogyny. Watching it engulf the GOP is a case study in the dynamics of abusive relationships.

  88. KG says

    Tethys@99,
    Anyone who voted for Trump in 2020 was objectively acting in support of fascism, whatever was going on in their heads.

    Prax@78,
    As John Morales has pointed out, your own link doesn’t support your claim for Catholics (although mine does); nor does it do so for the non-religious, showing a 3/4 vote for Biden rather than the 2/3 mine showed. I don’t know where you derive your claim that non-evangelical white Protestants slightly favoured Biden.

  89. KG says

    fredfile@100,

    There are plenty of hypocritical atheists. For example, Richard Dawkins, who attacked Rebecca Watson for her mild complaint about unwanted sexual advances at atheist conferences on the grounds that Muslim women have it worse, then made a heel-drumming-on-the-floor foaming-at-the-mouth fuss when his jar of honey was confiscated before a flight on security grounds. Or those who laugh and point fingers at creationist conspiracism, then support the same kind of conspiracism in the context of Jesus mythicism.

  90. Prax says

    John Morales @81,

    Well, your own adduced link shows more Catholics voted for Trump than for Biden, contradicting your claim.

    Two separate claims. According to the Edison Research exit polls KG cited, Catholics broke 52/47 for Biden. According to AP VoteCast, Catholics broke 50/49 for Trump. Very similar estimates, and obviously neither would constitute a Trump landslide.

    You apparently don’t get that, if someone claims to be a Roman Catholic, that claim perforce must be judged on the basis of Catholic dogma.

    If you’re an ordained inquisitor, sure. Are you?

    Otherwise, no. Laypeople, social and political scientists, journalists, judges, philosophers, and bureaucrats have to decide whether people are Roman Catholic all the time. They rely on self-identification; family affiliations; registration in databases such as parish records; participation in sacraments; and indications of good standing with the person’s diocese.

    What they don’t do is list out all the person’s beliefs and do an exhaustive check for inconsistencies with the Catechism. What would be the point of that? It predicts neither the person’s behavior nor their treatment by the Church.

    In short, it is not I who claims they are heretical, it’s the very Church they purport to follow.

    But that Church literally does not claim that leftwing Catholics–or pro-choice Catholics, even, or Catholics who support female ordination–are all heretics. You may think it ought to, and many conservative Catholics would agree, but the Vatican does not. And this is the RCC we’re talking about; when they excommunicate you, they let you know.

    Fictional maybe, but (again) back when the Holy Inquisition had teeth, the effects were quite real.

    Sure, but it was never the unified force for orthodoxy that conservative Catholics like to imagine. The Medieval Inquisition was often dominated by local interests, most famously in the trial of Joan of Arc. And the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, which had the most impact on Catholicism worldwide, answered to their national monarchs rather than to the Vatican.

    Morever, the Inquisitions were always highly selective about which deviations from official doctrine they investigated and punished. It wouldn’t do to attack someone with friends high up in ecclesiastical or secular government, nor to attack beliefs and practices so popular that the laity might revolt or schism rather than abandon them. The Mexican Inquisition, for instance, was super-fixated on crypto-Judaism but paid virtually no attention to witchcraft and pagan rituals among the native population.

    That’s pretty fucking saintly and obedient.

    And yet she was a notorious left-wing activist, with strong anarchist and socialist sympathies. Almost as if that was an acceptable combination of things to be!

  91. consciousness razor says

    PaulBC, #95:

    In any case, whether it’s a “pretty weird explanation” or not, it is commonly offered as the reason for this style.

    I didn’t refer to the passage you quoted there, which was posted well after my comment #34. It was about the exaggerated claim that representational art (of all kinds) is prohibited (in all cases) throughout Islamic societies, which is supposed to be the reason why the Alhambra is allegedly “decorated entirely with geometric art.” The explanandum and the explanans are both false, so let’s just say it’s a bit lacking as an explanation.

  92. consciousness razor says

    KG, #102:

    Or those who laugh and point fingers at creationist conspiracism, then support the same kind of conspiracism in the context of Jesus mythicism.

    I debated whether it was worth spending any time on this…. I honestly don’t care if you think mythicism is wrong/stupid/etc. But I don’t think it compares to creationism.

    You’d need to think that the vast array of physical/astronomical/geological/etc. evidence we have is extremely weak, that the evidence for a historical Jesus is extremely strong, or that they’re both moderately well-supported and on a par with one another. This wouldn’t be wildly off the mark, if any of those were true. I won’t say that it’s just as silly as creationism is, because I think that’s rather difficult, but it is more than enough silliness for one sentence.

    Also, I’m not sure what the “conspiracism” labeling is about, because neither one requires an actual conspiracy that’s deliberately plotted by some nefarious group or other. That sort of belief could be added on top of the base beliefs, of course, but it could just as well be added to anything else. So is this doing any real work in the sentence, or is it perhaps just another nasty word that you tossed in, which may just make some people have a stronger reaction while reading it?

  93. KG says

    consciousness razor@105,

    I debated whether it was worth spending any time on this…. I’m honestly completley unsurprised that you can’t read for comprehension. My point was specifically and explicitly about the conspiracism which is common to creationism and Jesus mythicism: the false claim that the expert consensus is the product of ideological blinkers and unmerited exclusion of those who reject it from expert discussion and debate.

  94. PaulBC says

    consciousness razor@104 I’ll concede your point. There is certainly less basis for this explanation than I originally thought. Though I didn’t realize it when I posted, I was paraphrasing Coxeter’s claim about Alhambra from Siobhan Roberts’s biography of him including (probably erroneously) the view that it is based on Exodus 20:4, because there is no evidence of any such connection. Obviously Coxeter was neither an expert on Islamic art nor the Old Testament, and I shouldn’t have accepted his claim uncritically.

  95. blf says

    On the Christian Brothers: I’ve mostly associated them with the so-called “Industrial Schools” in Ireland, which were essentially the equivalent of the infamous “Magdalene Laundries”, except for boys. In addition to that almost-chattel slavery, in Ireland they were associated with a probably-corrupt campaign of “donations” to “Africa”, a fraud skewered by the Alias Ron Kavana song, Pennies For Black Babies (c.1990).

  96. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @105: Jesus mythicism falls in the same category of “theories” as climate change denial, covid and anti-vaxxer conspiracies, and, yes, creationism. Propagated by (mostly) non-experts and charlatans spouting plausible gobbledygook, and fuelled by the internet and social media, it’s managed to convince a lot of people.

    That Richard Carrier is a major proponent should, at the very least, be a cause for concern.

  97. PaulBC says

    Prax@103 Thanks for making a more coherent case for the operational definition of “Catholic” than I have managed to do. I agree in particular that it is absurd for any non-Catholic to defer to the Vatican’s definition of “Who may call themselves Catholic”. No other group maintains centrally-controlled definition that outsiders need to accept. (If someone tells me they’re a Frenchman, I will take it at face value unless I have some good reason to doubt.) People going to Catholic mass regularly and accepting communion, who were baptized, confirmed, married, and had their funeral at a Roman Catholic church would certainly look Catholic to any neutral observer, and few are going assign much weight to Morales’s pocket excommunications. As you also point out, the Vatican would not even agree with him on this.

    Someone who claims to be Catholic should be concerned with whether they’re actually adherent to the Catechism, and might want to take a second look at their self-identification if they deviate greatly (a real issue with many liberal American Catholics). I stopped calling myself Catholic in early adulthood, even before I stopped going to church, preferring to say “Someone raised Catholic.” (still a useful descriptive term). According to Grand Inquisitor Morales, I guess even this is a bridge too far, because my parents’ leftwing political views (concerning pacifism and poverty mostly, with some anti-capitalist doubt about private property) would have ruled them out (they were compliant on abortion and contraception of course).

  98. PaulBC says

    blf@108 I believe those are different Christian Brothers from the ones who ran my high school.

    This congregation is sometimes referred to as simply “the Christian Brothers”,[2] leading to confusion with the De La Salle Brothers – also known as the Christian Brothers (sometimes by Lasallian organisations themselves[3]), Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and Lasallians – founded in France by Jean-Baptiste de la Salle (later canonised). Rice’s congregation is sometimes called the Irish Christian Brothers[2] or the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers to differentiate the two teaching orders.

    (I don’t say this by way of exculpation, but just to make a distinction between two different religious orders.)

    I should also try the sherry some time, though I do little shopping outside of Costco now, so I’d have to hit a Safeway or similar. When I have bought sherry it’s been from Trader Joe’s, and I could do a comparison. For some reason I feel better about buying cheap fortified wine at Trader Joe’s than a better known brand. Maybe I should go for broke and try some good sherry one day.

  99. blf says

    PaulBC@112, You could easily be correct, the abhorrent christian brothers in Ireland might be a different catholic cult. It’s just that whenever anyone mentions that name, those Irish shites are who I think of.

    I know / recall nothing about the Sherry with that name. After a quick survey of my drinks cabinet, I don’t seem to (currently) have any(!) Sherry, and so won’t make any suggestions.

  100. consciousness razor says

    KG:

    I’m honestly completley unsurprised that you can’t read for comprehension.

    The meaning was ambiguous, and as you must know by now, my ending question explicitly allowed for the interpretation you’re giving me here. Because I can read. If it had been clarified originally, there would’ve been no reason to ask. But if you want to do the whole irritable and petulant thing, that’s fine I guess.

    My point was specifically and explicitly about the conspiracism which is common to creationism and Jesus mythicism: the false claim that the expert consensus is the product of ideological blinkers and unmerited exclusion of those who reject it from expert discussion and debate.

    Okay. Then the term “conspiracism” was doing some real work, substantively making a difference to which claim you were making, so that your comparison was supposed to pertain to the conspiracism. It’s not about mythicism/creationism per se, without the conspiracism that you’ve associated with it. (I assume this may be because you agree with me that the strength of the evidence is quite different and not really comparable.) It’s not only a scare word that you threw in just for rhetorical effect, which does happen on occasion.

    Anyway, I do think it’s overreaching, if all you need to brand it as a conspiracy theory or “conspiracism” is a person talking about ideological biases (or “blinkers”) among a group of academics. That kind of shit happens all the time in academia, so I don’t generally go for “conspiracy theorist!!1!!!” unless I honestly have a bit more than that. Maybe you think you do. Okay.

    But look, when the real evidence isn’t so strong in the first place — not like it is for the big bang, evolution, climate change, vaccines, and so forth — then it’s not far-fetched to think the relevant experts should be that much more careful about their potential biases and more welcoming to criticism. In a case like that, they just have less to lean on, other than their supposed “expertise” itself (or the number of them in some “consensus”), which by itself shouldn’t count for very much. I’m not saying we should consider it worthless, far from it. It just shouldn’t carry the same weight as tons of very solid empirical evidence that is going absolutely nowhere, which has been very diligently scrutinized in every conceivable way (sometimes over multiple centuries).

  101. PaulBC says

    blf@113 You may not be able to find Christian Brothers California Cream Sherry where you live (not in the US, right?). I am confident that you aren’t missing out, but I can’t say that from direct experience. (It’s also possible they are better known for brandy, and you are still probably not missing out.)

    In fact, it was originally owned by the Lasallian brothers who ran my high school on the East Coast, and the site of their winery is shockingly close to where I now live. I would have only about a 90 minute drive from here. Perhaps it is a sign, pulling me back into the fold!

  102. PaulBC says

    CR@114

    But if you want to do the whole irritable and petulant thing, that’s fine I guess.

    Indeed, you don’t have a monopoly.

  103. blf says

    PaulBC@115, Yes, I’m in S.France on the Mediterranean coast. Sherry is Spanish, and apparently is a protected designation; according to Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge, “[t]he name ‘sherry’ is used as a semi-generic in the United States where it must be labeled with a region of origin such as American sherry or California sherry. However such wines cannot be exported to the EU” — so apparently I won’t be able to get the Irish shite brother’s fraudulent version here, which is fine by me.

  104. PaulBC says

    blf@117 Trader Joe’s is from Spain. It used to be Pastora, but is now Dona Luisa, though I suspect it’s the same product with a new label. Authentic or not, it is very cheap and probably not of high quality.

    And not that it matters, but I don’t think Christian Brothers wines were ever connected to the Irish order. It was started by Lasallians, an order founded by Jean Baptiste de La Salle, who was French as you might guess.

    I don’t know the nearest LaSalle school to me. The fancy Jesuit prep school is Bellarmine. Right, who doesn’t want to be associated with Galileo’s tormentor? I live in walking distance to St. Francis High School, and I am not sure who runs that. It is best known for sports. My kinds go to the public HS. I am paying already in property tax.

  105. blf says

    PaulBC, Let’s not get stuck on the christian brothers sect or so-named (alleged-)sherry. I strongly associate that name with the Irish shites, but do not claim they are same(-ish) arseholes elsewhere. I know nothing of “Trader Joe’s” (albeit I was once in a so-named shop in the San Francisco area (and can recall nothing about it now)). I do need to some research on sherrys available in this area (all-but-certainly the “real” thing from Spain), and then see what is actually available here in the village. Thanks for pointing out the gap in my drinks cabinet !

  106. KG says

    conscioiusness razor@114,
    I said this@102:

    Or those who laugh and point fingers at creationist conspiracism, then support the same kind of conspiracism in the context of Jesus mythicism.

    There is absolutely no ambiguity there. But I am completely unsurprised you lack the honesty simply to acknowledge your error. And of course, Jesus mythicists don’t restrict themselves to accusations of ideological bias. Richard Carrier, for example, one of the most prominent, routinely accuses his critics of lying. Claims are made that no-one who questions the consensus can find an academic post, although the “Jesus agnostic”, Thomas L. Thompson, is Professor emeritus of theology at the University of Copenhagen (and was awarded his chair when his scepticism was well-known – he does appear to have suffered difficulty in finding a suitable post earlier, but as a result of his anti-Zionism). Outright mythicists such as Carrier can’t get academic posts because their ideas are plain bonkers.

  107. PaulBC says

    I’d be curious if anyone has put the same effort into casting doubt on the historicity of Confucius, Gautama Buddha, both centuries earlier than Jesus, or for that matter Hillel the Elder (closer but earlier). Of course, it’s hard to establish anything in antiquity with positive evidence (authorships are often disputed). Honestly, it would be very interesting if there were no historical figure at all corresponding to Jesus, but that would be interesting enough to historians that the study would not be limit to religious polemicists.

    I’m sure that Jesus did not do or say some things attributed to him (especially when the records themselves are contradictory, and the acts defy common sense about what is possible). However, it strikes me that attacking the existence of any such person is just an an application of the Karl Rove method: “attack the strength.” Sure, maybe he didn’t exist, but it sounds to me like an extraordinary claim demanding extraordinary proof, and entirely irrelevant to whether you accept his divinity, or the teachings of the gospel. It’s a weird thing to argue about on religious grounds (though again, if there was any reasonable grounds for doubt, it would make a very significant historical finding if you could present evidence).

  108. PaulBC says

    blf@119 They used to sell Pastora Amontillado medium-dry, which I bought for the Poe allusion as much as anything. It was eventually changed to Amontillado-blend, I’m guessing because some regulations changed, not the product itself. Still, it kind of took away the magic for me. Perhaps you can find a very nice, authentic Amontillado worthy of walling up your arch-enemy.

  109. blf says

    PaulBC@122, “Perhaps you can find a very nice, authentic Amontillado worthy of walling up your arch-enemy.”

    Laughs! I like that idea… I will need to do some research, however — Thanks !

  110. John Morales says

    Since it’s calmed down, short shrift for Prax, due to their numerousness, sheer verbosity, and the feebleness of the retorts.

    Nope, not valid. The negation of “The Catholic church is leftwing” is not “The Catholic church does not tolerate leftwing beliefs or behavior among its membership.”

    Heh. I’m literally taking two claims Paul specifically made (I quoted them first) and showing that their conjunction yields a contradiction, which entails both cannot be true. There is absolutely nothing there about what the CC condones or tolerates.

    Nope, you’re also asserting that the professed faith–and specifically, the faith professed by Vatican leadership–is the true faith. That’s a value judgment, and it’s not one that non-Catholics need to buy into.

    Duh. That’s why Catholics say the Credo. That’s why undergo the Rite of Confirmation. That’s to what they swear allegiance.

    And it’s hardly a “value judgment”, it’s a statement of fact.

    Amusingly, you’re actually contradicting Church dogma on this . It’s well established–see for instance Clement XI’s Unigenitus–that there are many shades of objectionable opinion that do not equate to heresy:

    What’s amusing is that I merely linked to the actual dogma — how doing that supposedly contradicts it is left so one’s imagination.

    (Me: “here is what the dogma is”
    You: “Aha! you’re contradicting the dogma. Haw haw”)

    Sure, but it was never the unified force for orthodoxy that conservative Catholics like to imagine.

    By “sure”, you acknowledge I’m quite correct.

    Was every professed Spaniard complicit in the crimes of Franco’s regime? Seems excessive to me.

    What the fuck is that supposed to do with what I wrote to Paul?
    I was talking to Paul about the ramifications of his own claims about present-day Catholics and their apologists, not about historical Spaniards.

    Two separate claims.

    Again: “your own adduced link shows more Catholics voted for Trump than for Biden”.

    You cannot dispute that, so you waffle about something else.

    If you’re an ordained inquisitor, sure. Are you?

    Again, the Credo. The Confirmation. That’s to what they commit, to become Catholic.

    (Also, by now it’s evident your grasp of logic is less than impressive.
    Were I not trying to communicate at your level, I’d typically and gnomically retort “and even were you not”)

    But that Church literally does not claim that leftwing Catholics–or pro-choice Catholics, even, or Catholics who support female ordination–are all heretics.

    Heh. I’m feeling playful; pick one:
    1. Again, the Church and I are in accord: heresy is what I wrote it was, and what the church writes it is. Same thing, unlike Paul’s contradictory claim.
    2. So? I never claimed they did; or
    3. That’s not heretical, that’s sinful.

    Sure, but it was never the unified force for orthodoxy that conservative Catholics like to imagine.

    Again with the “sure”.

    And yet she was a notorious left-wing activist

    And yet, as I quoted:
    “I could only say that I believe in the Roman Catholic Church and all she teaches. I have accepted Her authority with my whole heart.”

    (As I parenthetically noted to Paul (he’s cluier than you, but he missed its significance too:
    (Why do people persist in trying to collapse the political spectrum into a mere two axes? Is authoritarianism left-wing or right-wing?)
    :) )

    Re: “Grand Inquisitor Morales”
    I do love how applying Catholic religious titles to me is supposed to be derisive, when I’m the one noting the many flaws and the authoritarian nature of said religion.

    (Hey, already a Cardinal and a Grand Inquisitor… not much further to go, now)

  111. consciousness razor says

    Hey, already a Cardinal and a Grand Inquisitor… not much further to go, now

    I was thinking this could end very badly. But then, the funny thing is, you can’t be such a bad choice, relatively speaking. No torturing? Not even any child molesting? That’s something. They may just want to skip canonization and go straight for apotheosis.

  112. Prax says

    Tethys @99,

    It’s not a surprise that the demographic that supports cheetolini is overwhelmingly white and claims to be Christians. They aren’t into going to church however, it seems their beliefs are more due to tradition than piety.

    Depends on the faith tradition, actually. Church attendance is uncorrelated with Trump support among white mainline Protestants, but there’s a significant positive correlation among white evangelicals, and a smaller positive one among white Catholics. It’s pretty obvious that some churches are more of a radicalizing influence than others.

    I dont know if it’s motivated by fascism per se. I see it as a wealthy bigot getting a following for his openness to white supremacy and blatant misogyny.

    I don’t think that’s particularly unusual for fascist movements, though. They’re always justified by special circumstances: nobody likes totalitarianism in general, but our enemies right now are exceptionally cunning and vicious and our old instutions are exceptionally weak and corrupt and Dear Leader is exceptionally strong and principled and reliabled, so we just have to turn our brains off for now and follow him to a utopia that’s just around the corner.

    KG @101,

    As John Morales has pointed out, your own link doesn’t support your claim for Catholics (although mine does); nor does it do so for the non-religious, showing a 3/4 vote for Biden rather than the 2/3 mine showed.

    Yes, they’re from two different survey sets. The results you linked (and to which most of my claims referred) are from Edison Research’s National Election Pool (NEP), which most of the news networks still use, and which relies mostly on in-person exit polls. My link was to the Associated Press’ VoteCast, which relies on phone/mail/online interviews, mostly conducted just before the election.

    The two organizations are super-competitive about their methodology, but I don’t think we’ll know who was more accurate until they release detailed data this summer. (There’s also the American Election Eve Poll, which focused on voters of color but didn’t ask about religion.)

    I don’t know where you derive your claim that non-evangelical white Protestants slightly favoured Biden.

    From the NEP data, as shown for instance here. There were ~4600 white Protestant exit poll respondents and they went 72/27 for Trump; there were ~4000 white born again/evangelical Christians and they went 76/24 for Trump. Assuming the latter group were pre-filtered as Protestant–which many pollsters do, although admittedly I can’t find the details of the NEP question methodology–that means the remaining white Protestants were about 51-55% for Biden, depending on rounding error.

    That said, I see a source saying that the AP Votecast has white mainline Protestants breaking at 58% for Trump and white evangelical Protestants breaking at 81%. I’m not sure whether they include liberal Protestants in “mainline,” though.

    PaulBC @84, 110, & 121,

    Of course, the Church usually denies that Catholicism is a syncretic religion, and works hard to root out those influences. But in practice syncretism has probably been one of the biggest drivers of its success.

    Oh, absolutely. I mean, if Christians weren’t up for syncretism, they’d still be Jews.

    My given name is Exu, after a Yoruba god who was imported into Afrobrazilian religions in various guises. Probably around half of Brazilian Catholics have attended a temple where Exu or the Exus are venerated, among many other spirits and deities. The Vatican hates this, of course, and in the past they’ve issued condemnations and encouraged the government to persecute practitioners. But none of it has worked, and what’s the Vatican gonna do–abandon the world’s biggest Catholic country? To the Pentecostals? Screw that!

    So in 2013, Francis met publicly and cordially with a candomble priest for the first time ever, and wore a fancy Pataxo headdress that looked significantly less silly than the Pope’s usual outfits. Not because he suddenly loved diversity, but because realpolitik demanded it.

    The current big test for the church is how to cope Santa Muerte and the other death-themed folk saints of Latin America: heavily inspired by indigenous beliefs, and often worshipped by people on the margins of society, from narcos to sex workers to LGBT people. A skeletal goddess venerated by drug cartels was a step too far even for Francis, and the Vatican’s current position is that this is blasphemous devil-worship. But it’s also the fastest-growing new religious movement in the Americas, and a lot of people who are involved still identify as Catholic and attend mass, and freaking Pixar is putting out Day of the Dead-themed movies, so it’s not hard to see where this is going. In sixty years we’ll probably have a sanitized, mainstreamed Santa Muerte, and Pope Hector I will be explaining how she was always just an artistic interpretation of Mary when understood correctly, honest.

    I’d be curious if anyone has put the same effort into casting doubt on the historicity of Confucius, Gautama Buddha, both centuries earlier than Jesus, or for that matter Hillel the Elder (closer but earlier).

    To my knowledge, yes, serious works have been written arguing that Confucius and Gautama were legendary. Neither of them is mentioned in surviving works until at least 150+ years after their deaths, and in Gautama’s case in particular, the accounts of his life are highly fantastical and disagree dramatically on key dates. Not sure about Hillel. Like you, I don’t know what to think about the historicity of these guys but it also doesn’t seem that important; it was their followers who actually changed the world.

  113. PaulBC says

    John Morales@124 I think you’d find many people self-identifying as Catholics around the world who agree that “Grand Inquisitor” is a term of derision, connected to the church at its historical worst, and many who find the pomp of Cardinals (hats and the papal smoke signals) to be suspect if not absolutely farcical. I don’t think even the Catechism says I can’t, but if it does, it is irrelevant to my current status, which is not a practicing Catholic.

    My take is that somehow you believe yourself capable of posthumously excommunicating my father by the authority of Francisco Franco, two weekends at a seminary, and clever application of Aristotelian logic. I doubt there are many who share this view. He was a practicing, devout Catholic, with shelves of books on Thomas Aquinas and the like that he had studied. He was also very left at least on the spectrum of American politics then, and would be off the charts now. His personal faith and leftwing politics were inseparable. I was raised by two such parents. That was my point initially.

    Anyway, no big deal. I find your views interesting, somewhat comical, but not personally offensive. I do not think they are common among the billion odd self-identifying Catholics globally, who would tolerate a much lower level of adherence.

  114. John Morales says

    Paul, apologists for Catholicism like you are a dime-a-dozen.

    Your accommodationist tendency is duly noted.

  115. PaulBC says

    John Morales@128 Detractors aren’t exactly a scarce commodity, even ones who can quote the Catechism.

    I like human beings and am not going to brush them off a billion at a time whether they are Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, or anything else. I was raised in a particular faith, whatever you want to call it. I feel an attachment to my family and that cultural context. I don’t have to drop that attachment for any reason if it is part of my identity. (My Muslim and Hindu friends rarely evince such a need.) Thus I understand the motives of others in this situation and claim the same discretion. But no, I am not a religious believer, nor observant, nor pretending to be. I am comfortable being labeled an accommodationist.

  116. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @128:

    apologists for Catholicism like you are a dime-a-dozen.

    Ideologues like you are even cheaper.

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