Re: Oh, For A Lightning Bolt

1

What will the bolt illuminate?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:14 AM
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Zeus's anger.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:16 AM
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Jesus missing the entire point of the New Testament Christ.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:16 AM
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My immediate thought was: "Look, it's my students!"


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:18 AM
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Well, technically, if you believe that Jesus literally was God, it would make sense to believe he came first. I hope that's what she means.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:20 AM
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I hope that's what she means.

That seems at odds with "There had to be Christians [in the age of Epicurus], because they fed them to the lions."

This is just a roundabout way of calling you a racist.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:22 AM
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5: A generous interpretation undone by the "nothing before Christians" line.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:23 AM
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"Not on paper. Not on paper." Aw, you keep on doing your best, there, Whoopie.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:26 AM
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In my travels on the Internets far and wide, I have only encountered this phenomenon with recent converts to Islam. Or, I should say, "reverts", because you see, everyone was originally Muslim. Even Adam and Eve.

I get that it's part of the religion's beliefs, but for the love of God, if we're talking about the religion externally, insisting that it's the oldest religion just makes you look like a new-re-con-vert-zealot who hasn't actually read anything. It's even dumber in Christianity which doesn't have the bogus theology.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:26 AM
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You're all bad people who just like to feel superior.

in Him,


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:27 AM
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"Look, it's my students!"

Well, like, it's just my opinion, but...I mean, if I want to believe the Greeks fed the Christians to the lions, well I just don't think anyone has the right to tell me I'm wrong. I mean, like, we're all entitled to our own opinions.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:28 AM
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You're oppressing me, cuz my mom thinks I'm special and my dad says the academy is liberal brainwashing.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:29 AM
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13

but, Cala, in the muslim view the claim makes much more sense than your version would suggest.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:29 AM
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She's the same lady who thought that the earth being flat was part of her fundamentalist Christian faith.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:29 AM
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10: Now I feel racist.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:29 AM
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I saw this last night and thought, "Dear me, how has that woman gotten to that age without getting her head stuck in a pickle jar," but then realized I had no evidence that it hadn't happened.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:31 AM
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For what it's worth, the Jehovah's Witnesses actually do believe that Jesus was God's first creation (i.e., before the earth or anything else) but that he wasn't sent to earth right away. Sherri Shepperd was raised a Jehovah's Witness, apparently.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:32 AM
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Rephrase the question. Do we have any proof that she's never gotten her head stuck in a pickle jar? Not even once? Remember that you're under oath.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:34 AM
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6: This is just a roundabout way of calling you a racist.

Dammit. Busted.

I wonder when someone's going to break it to her about the whole "B.C." thing.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:36 AM
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13: Yes, I understand that. There's no excuse for this lady. But I still reserve the right to get pissy with people who interrupt a discussion about, say, the number of believers of various religions to whine piously about how it's wrong to say there's a billion Muslims because everyone really is.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:37 AM
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Wait, JWs think that Jesus was created? Wild.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:38 AM
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You know, Cala, following the path will take your pissiness away. Or at least filter it through a niqab.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:39 AM
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No, no, the Christians feed Greek to the Lions. Often mistranslated because in context "Greek" is metonymic for "moussaka" and "Detroit" is implicit before "Lions."


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:39 AM
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21: Amateur christology is no laughing matter, friend. Remember what happened to the Cathars, folks. Some things are best left to the experts.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:40 AM
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11 is one of my [former]* students.

* since not actually teaching now.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:40 AM
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From the first link in 17:

[Jesus] had been in heaven as a mighty spirit person.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:40 AM
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20: Every ethical person really is.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:40 AM
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22: Upon further reflection, I don't think it's religious people that bother me (well, they do), but recent converts.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:41 AM
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19: B.C.E.
Anti-semite.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:41 AM
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Heh. I got in trouble in an undergrad sociology class for telling a classmate that it wasn't actually possible to believe that all religions were equally true -- if she were, as she claimed to be, Catholic, she could not simultaneously believe that Zeus lived on Mount Olympus and sent the lightning. The professor told me that I had to respect other students' beliefs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:42 AM
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31

Sweet Christ, what is this program? Do people actually watch it, and why?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:43 AM
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The professor told me that I had to respect other students' beliefs.

One of the most false things ever said.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:43 AM
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30: Heh indeed. Hey LB -- OT -- did you just get a big long note from Chuck Schumer about Mukasey?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:44 AM
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29: Nice.

Never really understood that whole "Common Era" thing, though. Surely the only people it's "common" to are Christians, or recently-Christian civilizations, so...


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:45 AM
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The professor told me that I had to respect other students' beliefs.

At the University of Chicago? The rot runs deeper than I thought.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:46 AM
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36

It always seemed a bit of a cheat. Saying 'Christ' would be Christonormative, but calling it 'common' means we keep the same letters and don't think about what calling it 'common' would imply!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:46 AM
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29: Semite, as I'm sure you're aware, applies to a region of north africa eastern mediterranean, includes arabs, jews and christian turks.

You have no evidence that D.S. is biased against Christian Turks, so take that back.

33: I can't answer for LB, but I did.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:46 AM
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Sweet Christ, what is this program? Do people actually watch it, and why?

Stay home and watch daytime talk TV sometime. This is nowhere near the dumbest thing you'll hear on any given day.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:47 AM
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I'd say it's pretty darn common to call this year "2007" and last year "2006", wouldn't you?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:47 AM
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40

That video isn't safe for work if you work from home and you're inclined to throw furniture around when you get upset.


Posted by: Chris | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:47 AM
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41

35: I think LB's undergrad was MIT, right?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:48 AM
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calling it 'common' means we keep the same letters and don't think about what calling it 'common' would imply!

I too think it seems a little bit weaselly/cheating, but we don't keep the same letters, we keep the same numbers and use different letters.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:48 AM
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43

Some different letters, anyhow!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:49 AM
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44

Time for "best of 1428" lists!


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:49 AM
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45

I think LB's undergrad was MIT, right?

It was both!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:49 AM
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46

36: You say cheat, I say not making a big stink about it. "I, a Jew, am not going to write something implying that Jesus can be accurately described as the Lord or the Anointed one overy time I write a date, because that states a religious position I disagree with. But given that the religious issues aren't the important bit about the dates I'm trying to communicate, I'll do it in a way that's pretty transparent, and inconsipicuous if you're not paying attention."

And the Chuckster hasn't written me. He doesn't call, he doesn't write...


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:50 AM
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47

When I teach Durkheim's The Elementary Forms of Religious Life some students are cheered by Durkheim's opening salvo against the English anthropologists to the effect that religion is not merely a set of empirically false propositions about cause and effect in the world but rather expresses a deep and abiding truth, and that "all religions are true, after their own fashion." Then it becomes clear that by this Durkheim means "false in the sense you're thinking about," and goes on to explain how the truth all religions express is the reality of social structure. This is a big let-down for a chunk of the class.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:50 AM
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48

41, 45: Yeah, MIT dropout, finished at the U of C.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:51 AM
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49

A couple of years back I had to write some calendar conversion code for an astrolabe project I was working on. The Islamic and Christian calendars [Gregorian and Julian] are fine for conversion. The lunisolar Jewish calendar, on the other hand, is ... challenging.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:51 AM
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47: I think we actually were reading Durkheim at the time, and managed not to, as a class, arrive at an explicit understanding of the difference between 'true' in the empirical sense, and 'true' in Durkheim's sense. It was not a good class.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:53 AM
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51

This reinforces my sense that I must never allow class discussion to occur on my watch.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:55 AM
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50: This does happen a lot. Students have a hard time seeing that the argument is a bait-and-switch. "Yes, religion is empirically true! And here is the kind of empirically true social fact it is ..."


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:56 AM
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53

I'm always surprised by people who are dumb as rocks but seem very alert. (Whereas their counterpart - the very smart who can't track a speedy conversation - they do not surprise me.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:56 AM
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54

46: I understand the reasons. I just think it's a little weird, and I always thought it would be nice if anthropology developed its own calendar, because CE is just glaringly weird once you move outside Europe. Why do we count backwards and then randomly switch sometime during the beginning of the Roman Empire?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:56 AM
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55

By the way... "lightening?" Dude.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:57 AM
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56

30: it wasn't actually possible to believe that all religions were equally true

Sure it is, as long as you believe that all religions are false.

Of course, that might not go over well either.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:57 AM
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57

"lightening?"

Oops. I think I'll fix that one.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:59 AM
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58

href="http://media.www.dailytexanonline.com/media/storage/paper410/news/2007/11/20/Opinion/Who-Wears.The.Pants-3112061.shtml?xmlsyn=1">
Offensive misogynist shitstorm hits UT.

I'm calling it on-topic because the undergrad grabs loosely at all kinds of patently false facts that he extracted from his asshole.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:59 AM
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59

I hate links.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:59 AM
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60

57: So you missed 1 completely?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:00 AM
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61

Second try.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:00 AM
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62

54 gets it right. It would actually make a lot more sense to count from (roughly) the beginning of the earliest Neolithic. Makes dates more fun; now we're in the year 10,007!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:00 AM
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63

Oh BCE is a nicely pragmatic. We're not going to re-number everything, but "anno domini" is too rich. Or: What LB said.

[Well, Chuck wrote me (and a zillion others, no doubt) a very, very long email explaining why he voted for Mukasey. It is probably because I wrote him a very, very long email using words like "sickened," "obscene," and "anti-American" -- I do high-dudgeon self-righteousness exquisitely whilst loaded. Alas, it isn't ever persuasive. Just scary.]


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:00 AM
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57: So you missed 1 completely?

Yes. Rub it in, babe.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:01 AM
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65

Even more awesome lightning bolt-worthy? A new cover of "We Are The World," by the Westboro Baptist Church, rewritten as "God Hates The World."


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:02 AM
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66

Dresses epitomize womanhood in the Western world

Oh, so they're like burkas. Got it.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:02 AM
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67

The Japanese still use the era-name system alongside the Gregorian. Koreans and Vietnamese used to have similar calendars, which were all derived from the Chinese, but I think they're no longer in use. I think it's also obsolete in China, but the China-having-lived people here may correct me.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:03 AM
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My email to him discussed my hopes for someone to oppose him in the primary if he voted for Muskasey, and also threw in out of nowhere criticisms on carried interest taxation and his proposal for fashion copyrights. It was somewhat rambling and insane.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:05 AM
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69

because CE is just glaringly weird once you move outside Europe.

You know what always struck me as really weirdly imperialist? Weeks. That the whole world marches to an arbitrary seven-day rhythm now, because the Abrahamic religions do, seems bizarre -- I wonder what the transition was like.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:05 AM
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70

the Jehovah's Witnesses actually do believe that Jesus was God's first creation

Isn't this the Arian heresy?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:05 AM
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71

I resent the 24 hour day.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:05 AM
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72

67: It's pretty much got to be obsolete in China, since the eras were named by Emperors... right?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:06 AM
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73

61: Send him a dress that he might learn virtue.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:08 AM
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74

67: I've seen Taiwanese government documents use the "Republic of China Era," but I don't know if anyone else in the country uses it. I'm pretty sure the PRC uses nothing but CE.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:08 AM
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75

I wonder what the transition was like.

"White man with boomstick says 7 day week, motherfuckers."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:08 AM
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76

In advocating the wearing of dresses, I must distinguish between the flowing elegant dresses of tradition and the more degenerate and immodest dresses of our present culture.

Oh, indeed, you must. Good heavens.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:10 AM
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77

re: 69

The 7 day week wasn't just Abrahamic.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:10 AM
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78

61 actually makes me want to punch him. I have a physically violent anger response.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:11 AM
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72: I would think so, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were vestiges of it about, just to remind people that, say, '2007' is a Western imperialist concept.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:11 AM
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I must distinguish between the flowing elegant dresses of tradition...

"...excluding, of course, the immodestly short and veil-less garments worn by those Spartan trollops."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:12 AM
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81

Like all fashions, pants are symbolic of something - in this case masculinity - through their allowance of physical activity...The wearing of pants by women represents the masculinization of the fairer sex, which is not at all attractive.

OKAY, WHERE IS HE? I'VE GOT A PITCHFORK LABELLED WITH HIS ASS.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:13 AM
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God, that kid is going to end up petitioning for a Russian bride because American women are too feminist (as he'll put it), and she's going to use him for a green card, and I'm going to laugh.


"Wear skirts, ladies, but not the tight kind. Be elegant." We had a grad student at my undergrad who explained that date rape happened because college girls weren't dressing like they were going to attend church. Are you dressing like a whore, or like someone's future wife? He did this in an editorial for the student paper and got ripped a new asshole by the entire student body.

I'd still like to suggest that he wear a tunic, in the traditional male style.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:13 AM
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83

78: I started out infuriated, but it is just so over the top that in the end I just had to stand amazed.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:13 AM
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84

As a Scot, "such has been the case since the western man adopted pants to replace the tunic in the sixth century" is particularly amusing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:13 AM
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85
he nature of sexual attractiveness in women is objective, immutable and incontrovertible

I wonder if that will be the most obviously wrong thing that I read today.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:13 AM
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86

But heebie, you posted 61.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:14 AM
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87

Jesus-bones have been found in the same pit with dinosaur bones. This proves that brontosaurus-riding cannibal Neanderthals are burning in hell right now.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:15 AM
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88

I like to abuse myself.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:15 AM
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89

Jesus-bones have been found in the same pit with dinosaur bones.

Hott.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:16 AM
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90

I like to abuse myself.

Too much of that and you'll go blind.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:16 AM
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83: Man, it's over the top in the beginning.

Dresses allow us to differentiate between the silhouettes of men and women on restroom signs.

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:17 AM
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brontosaurus-riding cannibal Neanderthals

That has provoked a brilliant mental image.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:17 AM
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74: Oh, Taiwan uses it. It's a goner for sure.

Didn't Stupid Pants Guy get a bit of a blogospheric bashing a while ago? I remember that article.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:17 AM
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"For what it's worth, the Jehovah's Witnesses actually do believe that Jesus was God's first creation (i.e., before the earth or anything else) but that he wasn't sent to earth right away."

Not just JWs. It's the same in Paradise Lost, I believe. And it was the basis of the Arian heresy.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:17 AM
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95

84. 5 gets you 10 Calgacus wore trews.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:18 AM
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96

93: For certain values of "it."


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:19 AM
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re: 95

Probably. The modern kilt is [as any fule kno] a 19th century Victorian invention [but the whacking big blanket worn as a garment is not].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:19 AM
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98

The comments over there are brilliant. 'I read that John Stuart Mill my freshman year. Take it from me, he's wrong on everything.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:19 AM
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99
Haecker is a history junior hereby demonstrates that he has the intellectual acumen to appear on The View.

Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:19 AM
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Haecker is a history junior hereby demonstrates that he has the intellectual acumen to appear on The View.

Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:19 AM
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101

Sure, but since Sherri was raised a JW, she was probably told as a child that Jesus was the first thing evar and never realized that he only existed metaphysically when the Greeks were doing their thing.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:20 AM
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102

I swear that was not my fault.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:20 AM
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94. Yeah, Milton was certainly an Arian. It was quite fashionable among the Puritan intelligenzia. But do you suppose that wretched woman in the clip realises that she isn't, formally, a Christian at all?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:20 AM
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Isn't this the Arian heresy?

It sounds more like Nestorianism. Jesus the first created and Jesus the son of Mary are two persons. But I'm not an expert on JW's or ancient Christology.

Haecker is a history junior explains 58. He doesn't even sound like he's trying.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:21 AM
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105

It sounds more like Nestorianism

Ah. I stand wiki-corrected.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:24 AM
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106

Let the cyberstalking begin. Mr. Pants Guy has a blog. And he has a MySpace page. And... wait for it... he's a transhumanist. He's got a bunch more inflammatory essays ("The Undesirability of World Peace") but I think we should ignore that and focus on making fun of his spelling and especially his hat.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:25 AM
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77: Huh. Hadn't realized, although a moment's thinking about day-names should have tipped me off. But still, European/West Asian in origin, no?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:26 AM
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70 - Yes, the JW are considered by Nicene Christians to be adherents of the Arian heresy, as I understand it. Mormons also, I think. Christian Science, on the other hand, appears to embrace Gnostic/Cathar conceptions of the illusory nature of the physical world. Weird how nineteenth century evangelical protestant revivalism has led back to passable approximations of long dead ancient heresies.

I do want to note that most Christians make a distinction between God the Son, who was begotten, not created, before the creation of the world, and Jesus the Messiah, the incarnation of God the Son who was born in Bethlehem around 4 BC and died on the cross in Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate. I'm not sure of JW beliefs, specifically, though - they might not make the same distinction.


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:26 AM
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106: He's a transhumanist? "Shortly we're all going to download our consciousnesses into immortal robot bodies, but the girl immortal robot bodies had damn well better wear modest skirts to avoid transwhorification"? Freaky.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:27 AM
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106: And he's a caricature artist! That's too perfect.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:28 AM
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111

Transhumanists need a transasskicking.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:29 AM
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re: 107

That wasn't what I meant. I meant more that several different societies seem to have hit on 7-day weeks -- e.g. China, India, Babylon, etc. Maybe it just seems natural to break a 28 day lunar month into 4.

Wikipedia has an article on (the) 'week'.

re: 109

His no short skirts view seems somewhat at odds with the last article on his 'caricature' blog.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:30 AM
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Literally everything I know about Arianism is from Neal Stephenson books, particularly the descriptions of Isaac Newton therein. I assume this makes me an expert.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:31 AM
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106: I think the blog you link to is not the same Ryan Haecker. (Yes, even though the blog is from San Antonio, Texas) If it is his blog, the essay is satire - look at the caricatures in the last blog post on the site.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:32 AM
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114, no, it's definitely the same guy. The "no short skirts" essay appears on the transhumanist blog which is published by the same Blogger account as the caricature blog. Plus, just look at his MySpace.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:35 AM
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The androgynous masculinization of the modern woman

Androgynous masculinization?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:35 AM
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Why is everybody giving this wanker traffic?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:36 AM
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114: Same guy. He posts about it in the comments on the site.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:37 AM
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I always get confused about which ones are transhumanists and which ones are transsexuals.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:39 AM
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I saw this cartoon once -- a guide walking through a cave with men in dresses emerging from the floor and ceiling: "No, the ones on the floor are tranvestmites."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:41 AM
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by the way, the adeq/uacy.org gang were, as a rule, pretty careful about keeping our identities concealed from one another, but I am pretty sure there was one of us called ry/an, from te/xas. Just saying.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:41 AM
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Why did someone have to mention Nestorianism? Now Emerson is going to want to talk about nothing but.

Isaac Newton was an Arian.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:42 AM
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lol remem ber when the french tried to get rid of the week lol


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:44 AM
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You may now claim rent from CT. Didn't think it was that weird.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:45 AM
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OK, in the interests of provoking heebie-on-Haecker violence I'll quote from this essay on feminism.

...if this supposed injustice is so clearly apparent to us in the 21st century, why did it take fifty five centuries of human civilization for the people of the world to recognize the 'inherent injustice of our patriarchal society' that excluded women from the political process? ... Why do you think the feminist movement, and in particular women's suffrage occurred in the 20th century? is this a culmination of historical egallitarian progress as we've all been taught, or is the feminist movement and gender equality an anomaly of the 20th century?

Thought-provoking!


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:48 AM
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125: I'm uncomfortable with modern medicine on similar grounds.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:51 AM
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I always get confused about which ones are transhumanists and which ones are transsexuals.

From transsexual Transylvania?


Posted by: Dr. Frank N. Furter | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:55 AM
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And seriously, how can anyone like twinkies? If they're so tasty, don't you think someone would have invented them before the 20th century?
I thought the C in BCE/CE was for current, not common.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:57 AM
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106: He even draws what he is. Too perfect.


Posted by: King-Walters | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:59 AM
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Transsubstantiationist transhumanists from transsexual Transylvania, no doubt.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:59 AM
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Damn. I missed 109.


Posted by: King-Walters | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:01 AM
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119: Oh, it's easy. Transsexuals are the ones who dress up in gender-specific clothing so as to appear to be something they're not ... er... dammit.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:02 AM
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The seven-day week was known in pre-modern China, but only (as far as I can tell) as a rather esoteric astrological concept (hence the name 星期 xing qi = "star period"). It probably derived originally from Babylonian astrology. The period people actually used in most cases was ten days. At some point China adopted the Western seven-day week and applied some of the old astrological names to it.


Posted by: y | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:05 AM
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The Romans originally had an eight day week, but they moved to seven long before they caught Christianity. Nobody seems to know why, probably they got tired of waiting for the weekend.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:07 AM
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61 actually makes me want to punch him. I have a physically violent anger response.

so unfeminine and unattractive. Your anger response should lead you to subtle, underhanded social sabotage. Followed by ostracism of your target that inflicts lasting trauma.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:13 AM
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It probably shows my blinkered Western mindset that it had never seriously occurred to me that other cultures would have weeks of different lengths. I mean, God laid out the seven days in Genesis, after all.

I had a similar sensation back in college when I was reading "historical Jesus" literature and was willing to concede that virtually everything was non-historical -- but then I found myself stunned that someone suggested that the story of a perfectly-timed census that would put Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem just in time for Jesus' birth was hugely unrealistic.

I keep coming across these "vestigial beliefs" -- for instance, in class yesterday, the guest lecturer brought in a gospel book like they use at mass, and I didn't touch it when they passed it around (apparently because only priests and deacons can).


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:18 AM
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I actually found the links in 61 and 65 to be brilliantly done and a great contribution to public discourse. There is much to be said for people who are willing to follow the crazy wherever it may lead and present us with the results of that exploration.

Then again, I'm neither a believing Christian nor a woman.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:25 AM
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Nothing wrong with a little Arianism!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:28 AM
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moment's thinking about day-names should have tipped me off

Apparently the day-names were cognate throughout Europe/Near East: Greeks called Thursday Zues-day, Saturday Cronos-day, etc. Same deal with Babylon, Egypt, others. It's very funny the triple-culture mix that are English week names: Well, the first 2 days of the week we use English words, the next 4 are Germanic gods, then we wrap up with a Roman god. Any questions?

PS - I know that Graves' White Goddess is largely considered wack, but is any of it valid? Like his speculation about pre-Jehovic (?), polytheistic Hebrews? My impression is that there's a baby/bathwater situation, where all of his information is dismissed because he oversold his thesis. I can't even find a serious debunking.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:28 AM
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62. There is the Julian Day system. But it doesn't have years. It is just the number of days since the start of 4713 BCE.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:29 AM
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Haecker is a history junior

I swear, he's not one of mine.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:37 AM
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So seriously, since we're being serious, is The Golden Compass really much more anti-religion than Paradise Lost?


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:38 AM
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yes it is. Next!


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:50 AM
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61 is a history major.

Epic fail. I would have a hard time not insisting that he go major in another subject if he were a major in my department. That's not about disagreeing with his convictions. If he wants to believe that all women should wear burqas or dresses or leather harnesses, go ahead and believe it. It's when he tells me that's a historical fact that I want to kick him out of his major.

The View thing is also painful.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:55 AM
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Nothing wrong with a little Arianism!

As long as you've got a secular state to stop the Athanasians throwing you to the lions.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:58 AM
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139--
is any of graves' white goddess valid?

well, there's a good chance some of it's true, since it's hard to say that many things and get them all false.
but his methods are unsound, or you may finish the quote yourself.
he doesn't cite sources, or anthropological fieldwork, or much of anything as i recall except vatic inspiration of his own. a deeply unscientific work.
on the other hand, yes, there is evidence of early hebrew polytheism. linguistic evidence. in odd places, e.g. the fact that the standard hebrew torah and the septuagint differ in translating a line in genesis in such a way that it looks like both of them are covering up an earlier version that was polytheistic.
other bits as well, that kotsko probably knows chapter and verse.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:02 PM
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yes it is. Next!

Hypothesize that one found it too painfully adolescent to read and/or take seriously. Could you generously say in maybe 50 words or less why?


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:06 PM
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147: The explicit plotline of the trilogy is about the mercy killing of the aged and demented God of the bible, after a battle overthrowing the church that supports him, a church engaged in the systematic mutilation and torture of children for religious reasons. There's more anti-religious stuff if you get into it more deeply, but that's the surface level.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:09 PM
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OK, but inasmuch as God actually exists, it's not so much atheistic, is it?


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:10 PM
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146--
i have in mind deuteronomy 32:8, to forestall the tu quoque about not citing sources.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:10 PM
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I don't think the complaint has been that it's atheistic, but just anti-religion.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:11 PM
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149--
but 'atheistic' and 'anti-religion' are different kettles of fish, or kettles of different fish.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:11 PM
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78: Road trip!


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:12 PM
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In the series, God is also not actually the creator, but an insane angel who claimed to be the creator.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:12 PM
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And I think, although I can't remember it clearly enough to be sure, that the 'God' in the books is not the omnipotent, omnibenevolent and all that creator of the universe, but a usurper/impostor. So, still kind of atheistic. There's a minor plotline about releasing souls from hell by allowing them to find oblivion by dissipating into the universe.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:13 PM
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I was confused by this kind of thing.

Disingenuously, and to gain maximum ticket sales, Pullman has been downplaying his atheist purposes in interviews publicizing the movie.

Maybe I'll have to read it. I didn't particularly like it last time I had a go at it, though.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:13 PM
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The Church is openly characterized as both evil and deluded; God is an insane dictator who did not create the universe and needs to be put down; such afterlife that exists is both dismal and bad for mankind, and should be (and is) eradicated; the Fall was unambiguously a good thing; and the universe can only be saved if two thirteen-year-olds have sex.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:13 PM
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Somebody here (or at CT?) recently described Pullman as not so much atheistic as having a personal grudge against God.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:14 PM
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not so much atheistic as having a personal grudge against God

Isn't that pretty much Herman Melville?


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:14 PM
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I think he is indeed himself an atheist, with a personal grudge against organized religion and C. S. Lewis.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:15 PM
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154, 155--
but is it also fair to say that the positive theological doctrine is pretty obscure and confused? e.g.--so is there an original authentic god whose place the usurper has taken?
or did i just not read it with sufficient care?
(i.e. sufficient to divine the finer points of divinity--probably sufficient for the book's merit.)


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:15 PM
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155: I think they were actually releasing them from heaven, not hell, no? If I recall correctly, it turns out that Christianity is a dupe; you die and go to "heaven" to be tortured by harpies for all eternity. The children have to release the souls so they can disintegrate and be at peace.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:16 PM
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so god = c.s. lewis.
got it.
or at least hateability quotient(god) = hateability quotient(csl)


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:17 PM
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I am pretty sure that the books do not propose that there was an original authentic god who was ousted. Megatron just showed up one day and was all "I am the Creator! Worship meeeee."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:18 PM
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the universe can only be saved if two thirteen-year-olds have sex.

Any two in particular? Because my understanding from Bill O'Reilly is that most 13-yr-olds are required to have sex with each other by their secular humanist public school teachers.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:18 PM
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In the series, God is also not actually the creator, but an insane angel who claimed to be the creator.

The makers of the movies should just change his name from "God" to "Yaldabaoth" then.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:18 PM
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162: Yes. And there are dead priest guys in the "heaven" saying, "No! It is fabulous here! We loves it!"


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:19 PM
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Everyone goes to the same, Hades-style, afterlife. It's a bummer there. One is sometimes harried by harpies but mostly you just drift around feeling all empty and meaningless and cruddy, forever and ever.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:20 PM
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Isn't that pretty much Herman Melville?

Good one. Has anyone seen the film? How violent or nightmare-making for a six-year old who likes Naruto? I remember really liking the books when I was little.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:22 PM
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The gay angels just seemed like a "Who else can I piss off" plotline -- their relationship wasn't particularly necessary to the plot.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:23 PM
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I don't suppose you have to have any personal animosity to C.S. Lewis to regret/resent the place his evangalism had in childrens fantasy. I always thought that both Pulllman's stuff and LeGuin's earthsea were in part reactions to that. They are both much better written than the narnia chronicles, but dont' seem to have unseated them (that where Rowling came in, I guess)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:24 PM
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164--

no no no. that's not megatron. that's giblets.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:24 PM
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146: he doesn't cite sources, or anthropological fieldwork, or much of anything as i recall except vatic inspiration of his own.

Well that's the thing: there's no proper footnotes, but much of it is (he says) based on actual artifacts and texts - some of that in the charming, old-fashioned, near-useless "as Mr. Roberts has written..." manner. But someone could, presumably, track down the actual sources he was talking about and see if there's any there there.

Probably the idea that intrigues me most is his concept of iconotropy - that a lot of the stories we know are derived from someone long ago explaining icons that they didn't really understand (eg, Noah's ark as Tiamat on a crescent moon, or something). It seems plausible when you know about the history of a lot of saints (St. Christopher as Aeneas), but who knows?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:24 PM
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With that much of an agenda, it doesn't sound like it could be a particularly compelling story. (Similarly, C.S. Lewis' preachier Narnia stories aren't that great.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:25 PM
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I remember really liking the books when I was little.

When you were little? The last one only came out in 2000! Is it time for me to turn into a pile of dust?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:25 PM
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173--
google "cambridge ritualists", and cf. jane harrison.
you've described his version of her schtick.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:26 PM
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If I had displayed such ignorance on national TV, albeit daytime, I don't think I could show my face in public again. As a pseudonymous commenter on the intertubes, such ignorance is my forte.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:26 PM
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In the Hebrew Bible, there is a definite strata of the texts that presuppose "henotheism" -- there are other (real) gods, but the Israelites can only worship YHWH. There's often a definite sense of competition, beause sometimes it seems to the Israelites that they're getting better results from Baal and the other gods (with some justification).

Mainly in the prophets and the psalms, you get the more standard monotheism. Often there is a sense that the other gods "exist" in some sense, but are unworthy of the title of God. (In early Christian writings, and possibly in other bodies of literature, the pagan gods are reinterpreted as demons who have led the nations astray.)


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:26 PM
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With that much of an agenda, it doesn't sound like it could be a particularly compelling story.

I found much of it to be very compelling, but the last volume gets rather overwhelmed by a bog of agenda, yes.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:26 PM
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174: If you like children's fantasy, the first of the three is good stuff -- the heavy plot/message stuff is foreshadowed, but the book isn't devoted to thumping on it. The second two kind of sucked.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:27 PM
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174: He's better at it that Lewis is which saves it from being bad in the same ways the bad bits of Narnia are --- I seem to recall that the 3rd book bogs down a bit though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:28 PM
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177: I hear the Sumerians used to feed Tasseled Loafered Leeches to the lions. So technically, you guys came first.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:29 PM
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180: Maybe I'm misremembering then --- I thought the 2nd one was mostly free of it, and the 3rd bogged down a bit on `message' stuff.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:29 PM
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178. Ex recto, but I seem to remember that the Ancients were tolerant of local gods, who mostly were region specific. The interesting thing about the Babylonian captivity was that YHWH went with the Jews, thereby becoming more than local to Palestine. Or something.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:31 PM
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The second one didn't go on and on about the daemon and dust nonsense foreveranever, like the first one did. So it was kind of better, in a way. The third one was such a slog I could barely read it.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:31 PM
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With that much of an agenda, it doesn't sound like it could be a particularly compelling story. (Similarly, C.S. Lewis' preachier Narnia stories aren't that great.)

The agenda is in the third book particularly.

Frankly, that cannot be made into a movie. The director would be assassinated. I am positive of this.

If the entire trilogy gets made into movies, it will have to diverge farther and farther from any recognizable correspondance with the books' plots and villains.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:31 PM
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178--
if yhwh's difference from the other gods is merely that he is proprietary to the israelites, then i wouldn't call it henotheistic, just tribalistic or relativistic. sure, yhwh is special, but only relative to *this* group. relative to *that* group, baal has the same sort of proprietary specialness.
henotheism seems to me more like when one god in a pantheon has an intrinsic, non-relative predominance or primacy, due to e.g. having created the rest of the group--pater andrôn te theôn te kind of stuff.
on the *other* hand, you actually study this stuff, so i should stfu.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:31 PM
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It is much better thanthe agenda would would leave you to believe: at least the first book it. It goes off rather after that, most of all in the third volume, where he is trying to be all Significant, rather than telling a good parallel universe story, which is how it starts. The first volume is anti-clerical in an entirely recognisable English anti-Catholic way (one which Lewis, by upbringing at least, would have shared). Only later do we get into all the pseudo-Gnostic stuff. I suspect that he was to come extent led astray by the extravagantly snobbish praise lavished on him by such papers as the Guardain. There was definitely a period, a few years back, when the way to show that your children were better educated than (the) hoi polloi was to point out that they read Pullman,m not Rowling.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:31 PM
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google "cambridge ritualists", and cf. jane harrison.

I love, love, love Jane Ellen Harrison. A genuinely learned classicist as well as a fun sweeping-theory type. She of course was sort of applying Frazer's mythos from "The Golden Bough" to the ancient Greeks.

I always thought "The Golden Bough" was a really important modernist text.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:33 PM
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183: Yeah, I found the second uncompelling, but you're right that the heavy message stuff was mostly in the third.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:34 PM
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if yhwh's difference from the other gods is merely that he is proprietary to the israelites, then i wouldn't call it henotheistic, just tribalistic or relativistic. sure, yhwh is special, but only relative to *this* group. relative to *that* group, baal has the same sort of proprietary specialness.

So, the Jews are the chosen people of Yhwh, but other peoples are the chosen people of other gods.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:34 PM
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184: I wouldn't call it tolerant, exactly, (badass moments of YHWH punishing disobedient Israelites) but more that YHWH's the god of the Hebrews, not the God of Everyone, and that it's entirely appropriate for YHWH to smite other people because that's what gods do.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:35 PM
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191--
i'm not saying the picture's incoherent, i just wouldn't call it henotheism.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:36 PM
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I liked the second book, too. The third book definitely becomes a trial, though there are some heart-breakingly powerful scenes in it.

Pullman's terribly shrill when he talks about what he was meaning to do with his books, and especially when he fails to recognize that the imaginative power of his stories (something he says fantasy should strive for) tends to fall in inverse proportion to the preachiness of a given message. The curious thing to me is that Pullman recognizes this about Lewis, who was at his worst when he was at his most obvious, but is totally incapable of applying the same insight to himself. This is kind of the same as China Mieville slagging off Tolkien, etc: the more an author comes to believe that his job is to save us from some bad writer with a bad message, the more he tends to become a bad author with a bad message.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:36 PM
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1st one was good, but perhaps not as good in retrospect as it seemed, because it hinted at a bunch of stuff that goes unfulfilled.

2nd one is so-so, and not anti-theist preachy.

3d one is mildly amusing, but disappointing.

1st one seemed to point towards a v. different conclusion. One gets the feeling he changed course at some point + ade it up as he went. I don't mean just thematically, but foreshadowing of different plot points.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:38 PM
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192--
smite other people because that's what gods do

it's just a breed characteristic.
kinda the way that dalmatians pee on couches.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:38 PM
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"I suspect that he was to come extent led astray by the extravagantly snobbish praise lavished on him by such papers as the Guardain. There was definitely a period, a few years back, when the way to show that your children were better educated than (the) hoi polloi was to point out that they read Pullman,m not Rowling."

A-ha.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:40 PM
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The last one only came out in 2000!

Whoops, I'm confused. I'm thinking of the Dark Is Rising books, which even a cursory look at a plot summery would have made clear. Will sides with supernatural forces in both, and there's been a recent release of an apparently bad film adaptation of The Dark is Rising.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:40 PM
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by the way--if smiting people really is what gods do,
then how come the request of this post's title still hasn't been fulfilled?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:40 PM
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Frankly, that cannot be made into a movie. The director would be assassinated. I am positive of this.

It'd be fun to see someone try though....


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:40 PM
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187: You may be right, but for now I'm going to stick with the definition of "henotheism" I learned from someone who has devoted his life to the study of the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East.

184: Within the narrative frame of the Hebrew Bible, God already had sway outside of Palestine, as demonstrated in the Exodus. But historically, you're right -- normally if a nation were defeated, its gods would be discredited, but something different happened with Israel, for reasons that are unclear to me.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:40 PM
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199: Also lazy.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:41 PM
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Am I alone in having read Mieville, and thinking he's pretty unimpressive?


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:42 PM
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201.1
right, that was my 'maybe i should stfu' option.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:42 PM
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So, the Jews are the chosen people of Yhwh, but other peoples are the chosen people of other gods.

Except that - from what's left in the texts anyway - the Hebrews have no other gods of their own, whereas Ba'al-worshippers also worship Tiamat, or Astaroth, or whoever. YHWH morphed from being the God of the Hebrews who wouldn't let them worship any of the other gods, to being the only God. But he was never - in the extant texts - one of several Hebrew gods, which was unique and unprecedented.

Some of Blake's stuff seems to suggest a Yaldabaoth-like identity for YHWH, but it was never clear to me if that was an important part of his mythos, or incidental.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:42 PM
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by the way--if smiting people really is what gods do,
then how come the request of this post's title still hasn't been fulfilled?

I don't think we've made the appropriate sacrifice to the right god. Are there any virgins to volunteer? Teo?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:43 PM
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which was unique and unprecedented.

Is this solidly known? I've heard the claim before, but only from people with pretty shallow understanding...


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:44 PM
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199: Either because ogged is not sufficiently holy, or because he originally asked for a lightening bolt, ensuring that no harm beyond some errant highlight happened to the women of the View.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:45 PM
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normally if a nation were defeated, its gods would be discredited, but something different happened with Israel

Stupid non- assimilating Jews. They never have got with the program.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:47 PM
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186/200: I've met and sort of know one of the honchos of the studio that made this movie. I talked to him about it before they had even cast it (I agreed enthusiastically with his hope that they'd get Kidman). He basically put his hands up to cover his head like I was beating him when I asked him about how they were going to deal with the anti-religious issues. But what he told me is that the contract is such that they can't do anything without Pullman's approval. So maybe movie #1 with crash and burn and they won't have to worry about it. But, if it is a big success, it will be up to Pullman to decide how they change around the plot in order to get the next two pictures made. Because *they will not* make the other two movies with the plot as it.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:47 PM
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207--
i've also heard it attributed to earlier egyptian practice, e.g. akhenaten.
freud liked that view, but as between his method and robt. graves' method....


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:50 PM
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There's akhenaton. zarathrushtra was semi-monetheist in a different way. there's monotheist african tribes, so plusible there were way back too. one goofy theory is that monotheism came before polytheism. (goofy b/c unprovable speculation, graves like)


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:50 PM
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205: The idea of strict monotheism actually originated in Egypt and was imposed by a short-lived pharaoh -- prompting Freud's bizarre book Moses and Monotheism (q.v.).

I have a general feeling that it's dubious to claim that other nations were "chosen" by their gods in the same way. I don't know in detail, but I think that the motif of an entire people being transplanted to Egypt, enslaved, then liberated and brought back to its homeland by the mighty hand of its god was not necessarily common.

And in practice, before the exile, the Israelites mostly did engage in promiscuous worship of whatever god seemed to be offering the best deal that month or whatever -- whereas the Yahwist faction stridently opposed such practices. This leads me to believe that the Yahwist thing might've actually been fairly different from the norm in the ANE.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:52 PM
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156: You have to consider the source on that article, it is from Investor's Business Daily, despite the name just a total whacko wingnut outfit when they stray from pure business.

Via Crooked Timber, here is one of the best interviews (by e-mail) of Pullman that I have seen.

I did see the preview of the movie last weekend. I found it OK, about like the LotR movies, although as Pullman's books are more idea-oriented I think more was lost. (And the two in our party who had not read the books appreciated having the two who had.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:54 PM
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"Dude, why you worshipping YHWH? Tiamat is having a sale! 10% off sacrifices!"


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:54 PM
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Also to 205: Some biblical scholars think that Asherah (of the "Asherah pole") was originally the bride of YHWH. The Jews of Ethiopia are supposed to have preserved this aspect of Israelite religion in some way.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:54 PM
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187: if yhwh's difference from the other gods is merely that he is proprietary to the israelites, then i wouldn't call it henotheistic, just tribalistic or relativistic.

Except that's not the only difference, because YHWH is better and badder than other tribal gods. He's the Chuck Norris of deities. Even the tablets his covenants are written on are badass superweapons.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:55 PM
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156: Newstex!


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:57 PM
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217--
that's as may be. i was responding to kotsko's gloss of 'henotheism' in his 178. (it's what "if"s do).
and chuck norris is a total wimp. he can't even send down bears to eat kids or nothing.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 12:58 PM
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he can't even send down bears to eat kids or nothing.

More hands on, CN. He'd just eat them himself.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 1:01 PM
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Plus no one would heckle Chuck Norris about being bald. Cuz he's not. Really, that's not a rug. I am too serious.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 1:03 PM
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Some biblical scholars think that Asherah (of the "Asherah pole") was originally the bride of YHWH.

So if YHWH and Asherah had sex, their kids could be named Jesus and Lucifer! See, nothing wrong with a little Arianism!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 1:04 PM
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Right. Chuck Norris does not wear a rug. Rugs wear Chuck Norrises.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 1:05 PM
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203: No.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 1:13 PM
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I think he is indeed himself an atheist, with a personal grudge against organized religion and C. S. Lewis.

An awful lot of Brit fantasy authors seem to be self-consciously motivated at least in part by personal grudges: Tolkien, contra WWI and the sludgy crappiness of the modern world; Lewis, contra the God who killed his mother; Moorcock and Mieville, contra Tolkien; Pullman, contra Lewis; Rowling, contra reviewers who told her to put in "more feisty female football captains"; Alan Moore, contra DC Comics and the movies.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 1:22 PM
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Adam's use of "henotheism" is the standard one in Biblical Studies, where it's an established term. Is it used in other fields with a different meaning?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 1:23 PM
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I have a general feeling that it's dubious to claim that other nations were "chosen" by their gods in the same way. I don't know in detail, but I think that the motif of an entire people being transplanted to Egypt, enslaved, then liberated and brought back to its homeland by the mighty hand of its god was not necessarily common.

Right. As far as I know this sort of thing is unprecedented in the ANE.

And in practice, before the exile, the Israelites mostly did engage in promiscuous worship of whatever god seemed to be offering the best deal that month or whatever -- whereas the Yahwist faction stridently opposed such practices. This leads me to believe that the Yahwist thing might've actually been fairly different from the norm in the ANE.

Again, right. Most of the fulmination against other gods in the OT was directed not at the heathens but at the Israelites themselves, who kept sacrificing to other gods no matter how much the priests and prophets yelled at them.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 1:27 PM
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Is this solidly known? I've heard the claim before, but only from people with pretty shallow understanding...

Zing! Sorry, obviously "unique and unprecedented" is WAY too strong - "nothing new under the sun" or something. How about "distant outlier, along with some others who left little trace." Certainly the Hebrews' contemporaries thought they were a bit extreme with the "monotheism."

something different happened with Israel, for reasons that are unclear to me.

Helloooo? YHWH here?

It's like asking "why was Jesus the only one of many resurrected gods whose worship has persisted?" Because he's the real deal, obvs.

Also, the banana proves creationism.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 1:31 PM
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Adam's use of "henotheism" is the standard one in Biblical Studies, where it's an established term. Is it used in other fields with a different meaning?

Well, we worshippers of Heno have a different take on it....


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 1:35 PM
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bride of YHWH

I forget, that was after "Return Of YHWH" and before "YHWH Versus The Mummy", right?


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 1:35 PM
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(Although I prefer the titles the first two films had in re-release, War God Of Israel and The Thing With Three Souls)


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 1:40 PM
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228: Are there a lot of religions based on a god who was publicly executed, using worst and most brutal method available?


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 1:47 PM
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I don't know whether the Adonis cult counts as a religion.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 1:48 PM
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226--
it's used in bitzer studies to mean what i say it means.

look, the question is: when people say that the ancient israelites practiced henotheism, because they both acknowledged the existence of other gods and also gave yhwh some kind of special place in their own practice, do people mean by this claim that yhwh's special place consists *merely* in a relational feature, i.e. his having special tribal affiliations with the israelites?
or, as ds says in 217, do they have in mind that yhwh is distinguished from other gods by an intrinsic superiority of some kind, such that he is an older, more ornery god no matter *what* vantage you view him from?

adam's original take in 178 suggested the first view, that yhwh's special status is merely perspectival and relative to the israelites. i offered him the opportunity to clarify that.

what do you think? does the "standard", "established" sense that the term has in biblical studies confer an intrinsic preeminence, or merely a perspectival one?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 1:49 PM
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It's like asking "why was Jesus the only one of many resurrected gods whose worship has persisted?" Because he's the real deal, obvs.

A very popular Anglo-Catholic argument, right?

Are there a lot of religions based on a god who was publicly executed, using worst and most brutal method available?

I think "publicly," or at least "openly," and "brutally" are not uncommon attributes of mythological death (Saturn, Osiris, Wotan), but the cruc. of J.C. seems to be more humiliating and shaming than others.

I don't know whether the Adonis cult counts as a religion.

A religion is a cult with an army.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:00 PM
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235--
as the branch dravidians illustrate.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:01 PM
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232: Are there a lot of religions based on a god who was publicly executed, using worst and most brutal method available?

Well, Osiris didn't exactly die of old age....

Clearly, the historical-groundedness of Jesus was an innovation, but the overall theme was hardly new. For instance, Aslan.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:02 PM
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232: The Christ figure could be argued to be a (Euhemerized) variation on the Near Eastern death/resurrection deity theme. It's not really that much of a stretch.

Actually I think impalement was probably a worse method of public execution, thought maybe there's not much to choose between it and crucifixion.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:02 PM
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238--
not much to choose?
do you really think millions of parochial school-rooms would have looked the same with a giant spike up the guy's ass?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:04 PM
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239: Well yeah, there's that. That's why I tend to vote "worse."


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:05 PM
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240--
still,
always look on the bright, side of life!


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:08 PM
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does the "standard", "established" sense that the term has in biblical studies confer an intrinsic preeminence, or merely a perspectival one?

I feel that there may be a definitional issue here - the consensus above appears to be that only the Hebrews in the ANE had their particular conception of their tribal god as unique - different in kind from Ba'al. Whereas, even though Ba'al worshippers thought he was the strongest, they didn't think he was a different class from Zeus or Horus.

IOW, you couldn't transfer the term "henotheistic" perfectly to any of the Hebrews' contemporaries, because none of them held the same belief. Alternately, it seems to have that meaning because of who it's mostly used to describe


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:08 PM
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225 just makes them sound more rather than less awesome.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:12 PM
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242: The specific pattern of having a single, unique tribal deity -- one which specifically proclaims itself jealous of foreign deities and demands sole worship -- is not standard for the ANE of the day. Baal worshipers don't seem to have conceived a Baal as being similarly jealous and exclusivist (from what little can now be discerned); Zoroastrianism does sort of parallel the relative exclusivism but was not as tribalist. So having a specific term "henotheism" for the Israelite variant on the themes seems fair.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:14 PM
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242--

so the shift from perspectival henotheism to intrinsic henotheism comes when tribe b says "so you revere yhwh above all others; big deal. that's merely perspectival. tell us something we should care about."
and then tribe a says "it's not just from our perspective; it's a weltgeschichtlich fact. he can whip your boy's butt, too. and he alone created the heaven and the earth, and yours didn't"
now we've gone all the way to intrinsic henotheism.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:14 PM
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243: It is an awesomeness-neutral assessment, I think.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:15 PM
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Incidentally, can anyone tell me who any of the people in the original clip are? Is this a vaguely mainstream television show?


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:15 PM
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Wikipedia might help here. As discussed above, the other nations surrounding Israel do not appear to have had "jealous gods" like YHWH.

Interestily, there are a few stories where a pagan will come to Israel to sacrifice to YHWH for some specific purpose -- the thrust of the story will often be that the pagan will be convinced of the superiority of YHWH (in one case prompting the pagan guy to literally take some dirt from the land of Israel so as to be able to worship YHWH back in his home country).


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:16 PM
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An awful lot of Brit fantasy authorspeople seem to be self-consciously motivated at least in part by personal grudges.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:17 PM
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249--
that's the final straw, biscuit. disparaging people's motives? i'm going to get you for that.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:19 PM
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245: early Jews were pretty up on their German philosophical lingo, I take it?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:21 PM
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249: I'd suggest that consciousness of the holding of grudges is less widespread than the holding of grudges.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:21 PM
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Is this a vaguely mainstream television show?

It's about as mainstream as mainstream gets. It's a daytime show on a major network called The View.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:23 PM
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251--
yup. that and butt-whippin' bubba talk.
very versatile, those early jews.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:23 PM
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253: Wow. Thanks. I think I will go away and just be illuminated for a while now.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:24 PM
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255--
well, you could be illuminated if this were still a lightening post, but somebody pulled the plug on that.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:25 PM
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Nworb: I hadn't heard of it either.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:25 PM
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I did go to Wikipedia, and there learned that the New York Times, a newspaper, had said of this show: It actively defies the bubbleheads-'R'-us approach to women's talk shows....

Passive defiance not good enough for them?


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:28 PM
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Again, right. Most of the fulmination against other gods in the OT was directed not at the heathens but at the Israelites themselves, who kept sacrificing to other gods no matter how much the priests and prophets yelled at them.

Not all of it, though. A lot of it is directed against people who worship YHWH in the wrong way - Jehu, for instance, massacres the Baal worshippers, which is normally a good thing. But he's still a "bad king" because he worships YHWH in the form of a bull (or something like that).

Clearly, the historical-groundedness of Jesus was an innovation, but the overall theme was hardly new. For instance, Aslan.

But the historical groundedness is clearly key. Adonis, and Osiris and the rest were killed in the hazy mythological past, long before any of that worship actually occurred. The worship of Jesus began within a generation of his death. This really has no precedent that I'm aware of, and no real successors. Founders of more recent religions have tended to follow the model of Muhammad much more than that of Jesus.


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:29 PM
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Well, to be fair to Jehu, the northern kingdom was automatically fucked in the view of the Deuteronomistic historian because you can only worship YHWH in Jerusalem -- I felt like the redactor guy wanted to like Jehu, but he had to be "bad" simply because the kings of the northern kingdom were definitionally "bad."


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:33 PM
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their particular conception of their tribal god as unique - different in kind from Ba'al.

Although, to be clear, this is something that developed over time. I would imagine that the progression was Standard Polytheistic (El and his dozen siblings) => Narrowly Polytheistic (YHWH and Asherah) => Henotheistic (YHWH is a Mighty Mighty God) => Monotheistic (exterminate the brutes).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:34 PM
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The worship of Jesus began within a generation of his death. This really has no precedent that I'm aware of, and no real successors.

I wonder if this distinction is brighter for us than for the actual people in their time. The whole notion of history-as-narrow-fact is decidedly post-Classical - while the Romans were almost certainly wrong about the history of Roman kings, no one actually thought so. Point being, if you went to Cato and told him that stories about the Tarquins were just fake stories, while stories about Alexander were true, he'd just blink at you (especially if you told him in English).

This is relevant because a fair amount of worship was of heroes who had supposedly died in the historical past. Among other things, the apotheosis of Julius Caesar was taken seriously. No one claimed he was resurrected, but otherwise it's not so very different from the Jesus cult.

Am I making any sense here?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:43 PM
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262--
yup. you're making sense.
deifications soon after death were common as dirt. also, deifications before death. also, pumpkinifications.
sometimes in greece the status of the recently departed is termed "hero" rather than god, but they definitely share divine attributes, and received prayers, sacrifices, temples, etc.
so the worship of x starting within the generation of his death is not so rare. and sometimes it lasted for a number of generations thereafter.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:54 PM
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259: But the historical groundedness is clearly key. Adonis, and Osiris and the rest were killed in the hazy mythological past, long before any of that worship actually occurred. The worship of Jesus began within a generation of his death.

Actually, one thing that's notable about early Christian writings is that their conception of Christ also seems hazy and mythological -- one argument that's been used in favour of the contention that Christ started out as a mythical entity and was euhemerized by later Christian writers.

OTOH it was not at all uncommon for cults to spring up around people (or objects). By his own account, Paul could have acquired a cult for surviving a snakebite. (The difficulty with this theory is that if Jesus was exceptional enough at the time to merit a cult, why does the sparse sprinkling of "contemporary" references to him all look suspiciously like the work of later interpolators?)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:54 PM
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262: The whole Caesar business boggles the mind. It was a major assassination of a major political figure, but how popular he must have been for his death to resonate as strongly as it has over the years.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:57 PM
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265. Lincoln?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:59 PM
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Both Caesar and Pompei Magnus had a significant number of cults dedicated to them while they were alive, IIRC.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:59 PM
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265: His successor had a certain interest, being his adopted son, in promoting his postmortem status, didn't he?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 2:59 PM
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265--
also enlightening to read medieval texts in which caesar is the good guy, and the conspirators are the worst of the worst.
that's how dante picks the teams in the inferno, right?

not too surprising given the monarchist consensus of the times, but still shocking to our republican sensibilities.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:03 PM
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Very true. The real trick was converting his cognomen into an imperial title (which lasted until 1918). The day the incumbent US President is officially addressed as "Mr Kennedy", you can pretty much say the cult has taken off.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:03 PM
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269: Is there a tradition that sees the conspirators as the good guys? I'm not aware of one.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:05 PM
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271. "Caesar had his Brutus, Charle I his Cromwell, and George III..."


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:07 PM
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271--
sure; sic semper tyrannis.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:08 PM
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268: Yes, but what I find remarkable is not the cult, but things like 269. To have your murderers, more than one thousand years after you died, be the embodiment of the worst sinners ever to people who didn't believe you were a god? Brutus gets to writhe with fuckin' Judas.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:09 PM
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274--
possibly because, through a casual reading of matthew 22:21, it looks as though jesus says that caesar is the *legitimate* embodiment of temporal power.
revolt against caesar is thus the earthly analogue of apostasy.
there's more similarity between brutus and judas than you might think.
(i.e. there is, if you are a medieval italian monarchist).


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:12 PM
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272: But Patrick Henry wasn't speaking along lines of republican sentiment, surely, given the nature of Cromwell. He was issuing a warning/veiled threat about incautious leaders coming to a bad end, wasn't he?

273: The South doesn't count.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:13 PM
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276--
just because southerners *can't* count doesn't mean.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:15 PM
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Perhaps we differ in our estimate of Cromwell. At the time he signed the king's death warrent he did so in the name of parliamentary sovereignty,

BE it declared and enacted by this present Parliament, and by the authority of the same, that the people of England, and of all the dominions and territories thereunto belonging, are and shall be, and are hereby constituted, made, established, and confirmed, to be a Commonwealth and Free State, and shall from henceforth be governed as a Commonwealth and Free State by the supreme authority of this nation, the representatives of the people in Parliament, and by such as they shall appoint and constitute as officers and ministers under them for the good of the people, and that without any King or House of Lords.

Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:20 PM
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The whole Caesar business boggles the mind. It was a major assassination of a major political figure, but how popular he must have been for his death to resonate as strongly as it has over the years.

But Caesar was the hinge of the conversion of the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. And the Roman Empire cast a long, long shadow over European civilization. It's only in the last couple hundred years that Roman ruins became tourist objects instead of useful found objects - 1300 years after the fall of Rome, and their stuff was still as impressive as most of what was achievable. It's like Canticle for Liebowitz - ignorance elevates the experience of the relics.

Anyway, point being, for all of Europe the guy was this unique figure, with all sorts of arrows pointing to him.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:20 PM
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263: Yay! Pumpkinifications! Those are my favorite.

I also like Propertius IV.6 (about the Battle of Actium):

He [Apollo] spoke, and lent the contents of his quiver to the bow: after his bowshot, Caesar's javelin was next. Rome won, through Apollo's loyalty: the woman was punished: broken sceptres floated on the Ionian Sea. But Caesar his 'father' marvelled, out of his comet released by Venus: 'I am a god: and this shows evidence of my blood.'


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:20 PM
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Cromwell started out OK - he just went too far.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:22 PM
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279: I don't disagree. Just that you know you're the Man when people of a markedly different culture think you were the Man.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:22 PM
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265: Plus he basically was made into the model for future Roman emperorship (plus some brutality) by his descendants for the next hundred years, and that set the tone for the rest of the Empire.

And isn't the Caesar=>czar progression partly an artifact of how Romans frequently tacked on extra names to show associations with people or even places, like Germanicus?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:24 PM
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Well, we worshippers of Heno have a different take on it....

You're thinking of Heinotheism.

OTOH it was not at all uncommon for cults to spring up around people (or objects). By his own account, Paul could have acquired a cult for surviving a snakebite. (The difficulty with this theory is that if Jesus was exceptional enough at the time to merit a cult, why does the sparse sprinkling of "contemporary" references to him all look suspiciously like the work of later interpolators?)

According to the work of scholars such as my dad, Jesus was one of many healer-medicine men types around the time who also tried to teach lessons in ethics and how to follow God's will. He also claimed to be the son of God, which several other people also did. It's unclear how the cult around him became so powerful - maybe the government just picked the exact wrong time to make him into a martyr.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:25 PM
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283.1 pwned by the very first sentence of 279.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:26 PM
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It's unclear

and of course, 228 to 284. I was intending to respond to 228 and instead was merely influenced by it.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:28 PM
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Plutarch, Suetonius, and Caesar's own writings help to make him a vivid figure. Eloquent against Caesar are Cato and Cicero, who was an opportunist.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:30 PM
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239 made me laugh. Guess I'm going to hell with the rest of you.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:33 PM
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278: ... and in a few years' time was basically a military dictator. In many ways he bears, one could fairly say, a certain resemblance to Caesar, excepting that the Protectorate turned out to be an aberration.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:36 PM
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I like this MLK paper on the mystery cults:

http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/publications/papers/vol1/500215-The_Influence_of_the_Mystery_Religions_on_Christianity.htm

It shows both the indebtedness of Christianity to the mystery cults as well as hints to the comparative weakness of fundamentalist theology in in the 1950's compared to today.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 3:38 PM
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I was intending to respond to 228 and instead was merely influenced by it.

Which is more or less what Paul said.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:28 PM
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I got in trouble in an undergrad sociology class for telling a classmate that it wasn't actually possible to believe that all religions were equally true -- if she were, as she claimed to be, Catholic, she could not simultaneously believe that Zeus lived on Mount Olympus and sent the lightning.

Bigot. She can believe that Catholicism is just as true as Greek mythology, sure she can. Plenty of Catholics believe that.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:52 PM
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Plenty of Catholics believe that.

Yeah, that's the trouble.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:56 PM
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Nah, it's what makes us so much cooler than the fundies. Well, those of us who haven't decided to actually join the fundies, I mean.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:01 PM
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decided to actually join the fundies

E.g. the Pope, whom I'm given to understand is taken as something of an authority on Catholic doctrine.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:05 PM
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who is, dammit.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:06 PM
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Plenty of Catholics believe that.

Dude, we've had this conversation before. "Lot's of Catholics believe" does not equal "Catholic doctrine".


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:09 PM
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is caesar really that different from any of the president Chavez types

it was just a fight between one group of elites (landed) and another (military)

if anything the military seems more meritocratic at least, and mostly was on the side of the common vir


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:13 PM
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but lots of catholics don't really believe in the heirarchy getting to tell them what to believe. you could look at the church hierarchy as more of a mafia/rentier class who extract money from the community for their own purposes.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:17 PM
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297's point is analogous to the Jews for Jesus fight, which is being re-fought in comments to Yglesias's most recent Mormon post.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:17 PM
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300--
sounds like a comments section to avoid.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:22 PM
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Why the fuck do I have an apostrophe in "Lots".


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:22 PM
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Hmm, further thoughts on early Christianity and Judaism.

First, wrt, Jehu and the Northern Kingdom - yeah, that's true, I just wanted to note that there's two kinds of attacks that the Deuteronomic historian makes - against those who worship foreign gods, specifically, and then against the cult practices of the Yahwists of the Northern Kingdom. This seems to be a post-fall of the northern kingdom thing, though. I don't think the prophets who actually lived in the northern kingdom show any of that stuff.

WRT Christianity, yeah, certainly the deification of monarchs and heroes was common in ancient paganism. The rulers of Egypt were considered to be living gods, Caesar was made a god after his death, etc. But, ignoring Egypt for the moment, the sense in which Caesar, or Augustus, or Claudius, were gods is in the context of a polytheistic system where being a god wasn't actually that big a deal. Nobody thought Caesar was actually an incarnation of a pre-existing Creator of the Universe. The deification of Caesar seems a lot closer to the canonization of saints than it does to the Jesus situation. The combination of pagan deification with Jewish monotheism, and with the Jewish conception of a single all powerful God, perhaps, is what's weird. (Also probably why Arianism was so popular for a while - it's a lot easier to reconcile with traditional pagan ideas about the gods) I also seem to recall that what was considered particularly weird about Christianity by ancient pagans was that they worshipped a criminal who was crucified (a particularly horrible and degrading way to die). The parallels to the Adonis legend are certainly there, but I think it's too simplistic to say it's simply the same thing.

As to the weird ancient conception of history, and the way it was difficult to discern historical fact from legend, sure, to some extent. But if Cicero perhaps couldn't discern a difference between the historical standing of stories about Alexander vs. stories about Tarquin the Proud, I think it's less true to say that he wouldn't have seen a difference between stories about, say, Gaius Gracchus as opposed to stories about Tarquin. Other mystery religions of the time of Christianity generally put their origin stories into the distant past. Christianity put it "under Pontius Pilate." That's weird. Is there any other major religion in world history which has commemorated a mid-level bureaucrat in their creed?


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:26 PM
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297's point is analogous to the Jews for Jesus fight

Which, in turn, is analogous to the equally tiresome "are Mormons Christian?" fight, which is why Yglesias brought it up.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:31 PM
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303--
working pretty hard to make a case for exceptionalism, eh?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:32 PM
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305 - I'm not sure. Maybe.

I'm not sure why I would be. I'm not Christian at all, so I don't think it could possibly be special pleading. I was sort of raised very very liberal Jewish, and am now pretty definitively agnostic, and I certainly don't believe that Jesus was the Son of God who was resurrected on the third day. But I think Christianity is a distinctly weird religion that doesn't really fit with any other models. Obviously, there are exceptional things about all the major religions (maybe not Judaism - I'm not sure one could point out unique features of Judaism that do not apply also to either Christianity or Islam), but Christianity has always struck me as particularly weird.


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:39 PM
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306--
"I'm not sure one could point out unique features of Judaism that do not apply also to either Christianity or Islam"

how about: that it's the original, and they're cheap knock-offs?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:42 PM
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Christianity has always struck me as particularly weird.

Yeah, me too. Not that its peculiarities aren't present in other religions, but they aren't generally given the same centrality and importance.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:47 PM
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Kid Bitzer - yeah, of course. Obviously Judaism was quite exceptional in the context of the other religions that surrounded it at the time of its emergence, or, at least, gradually became so. The features it shares with the other Abrahamic religions are because the other ones are following it.


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:52 PM
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it's the original, and they're cheap knock-offs?

It was the prototype, and they are the production versions.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:54 PM
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it's louis armstrong, and they're millie vanillie.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:00 PM
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Is Islam Rob and Christianity Fab? Or vice versa? Or are Islam and Christianity the uninspired studio musicians who actually created the music of Milli Vanilli?


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:04 PM
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it's louis armstrong, and they're millie vanillie.

Whatever, Christ-killer.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:07 PM
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look, if you could get into a time-machine and prevent millie vanillie merely by killing christ, then you'd have to do it.
if that doesn't convince you, i'll throw in billy joel.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:14 PM
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Sigh.

E.g. the Pope, whom I'm given to understand is taken as something of an authority on Catholic doctrine.

"Lot's of Catholics believe" does not equal "Catholic doctrine".

Why is it the non-Catholics who always want to tell the Catholics what Catholicism is all about? Yeah, the Pope's a fundie crank. And so are a lot of bishops and priests. But there are quite a few priests who aren't, Catholics use birth control and get abortions just as much as everyone else, and I think the only Catholic I've ever personally met who paid a lot of attention to Rome is my mother-in-law (and even she, devout Catholic that she is, will very occasionally let on that she's not buying into some extreme weirdness or other).

Y'all Protestants are so damn *literal*.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:24 PM
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B, you've experienced a weird subset of Catholicism. You're not alone, but certianly in the minority.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:27 PM
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brock, we'd have to go to the opinion polls to settle this, but i would have said b was right here.
i.e. that the majority, not the minority, of u.s. catholics hold positions on birth control that are at odds with those of the vatican.
and not just birth control. more importantly, that the majority, not the minority, of u.s. catholics place very little weight on the authority of the vatican per se. i.e., yes, john paul was a wonderful man, and is surely right about many things, and even entitled to the benefit of the doubt on the mysteries of faith. but his mere say-so does not constitute a reason to believe p, if common sense says otherwise.
(see also divergences on: capital punishment; just war theory; treatment of the poor; social justice. it's not always the case that u.s. catholics are *more* liberal than the official church orthodoxy).

but again: there really is polling data about this.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:41 PM
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There's more liberal than the Pope, and then there's thinking of Catholic doctrine as being no more or less true than Greek myths. The first describes every American Catholic I've ever met, while the second is probably somewhat less common.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:46 PM
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318--
"thinking of Catholic doctrine as being no more or less true than Greek myths"

but this wasn't how b characterized u.s. catholics, right?
(at least not in 315, and i don't feel like scrolling up higher to see if she said something hyperbolic before).


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:48 PM
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She did, but you're almost certainly right that it was hyperbole.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:49 PM
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man, i must be psychic.
the only time b ever used hyperbole, and for some reason, i divined that she had.
yup, now i see it in 292.
but note that "plenty of catholics" in 292 believing that greek myths are as good as vatican doctrine is consistent with the majority of catholics believing something less hyperbolic.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:53 PM
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I both don't think the "majority" of US Catholics woudl describe the pope as a "fundie crank" and wasn't just talking about US catholics.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:01 PM
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its especially odd to not see the roman impirial tradition carried on by the vatican in a thread that mentioned hte roman empire just a few post prior


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:08 PM
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322--
"wasn't just talking about US catholics."

so when you said b's experience reflected a minority, you meant minority of all r.c.s world-wide, including e.g. latin america, the philipines, etc.

well, since we've descended into b-exegesis, we'll just have to wait for her to do her marshall mcluhan imitation, if she so wishes.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:12 PM
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as the branch dravidians illustrate.

They're the one who believe that the events described in the Bible are code for things that actually happened in south India.



Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:23 PM
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Heh.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:24 PM
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316: Having been raised in a lapsed Catholic family, B's experience doesn't strike me as that unusual.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:30 PM
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I think I said "a lot" of Catholics, not "most," or even "most U.S." And come on; world wide, you think Catholics are reading all the news coming out of the Vatican every day? Checking the web site?

Nuh uh. Practicing Catholics go to mass, go through the sacraments, and are pretty much entirely dependent on the parish priest's version of Catholicism. Non-practicing Catholics go to mass on Xmas and maybe Easter, pick and choose their sacraments, and pretty much depend on the version(s) of Catholicism they got from mom and dad, in CCD and/or Catholic school when they were kids.

Seriously, one of the nice things about Catholicism is that we don't get as hung up about What You Must Believe as (imhe) a lot of Protestant churches do. You show up, you stand and sit and kneel, you go up to get your little cracker, you go home. 'Seasy.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:31 PM
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Sorry, "one" should be "One": they believe that their whole community shares a single Averroes-style soul, and I want to be respectful of that.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:31 PM
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And no, most Catholics probably wouldn't describe the Pope as a fundie crank. It's not polite. But I would. And I know plenty of Catholics--seriously, including my very Catholic girlfriend who we all teased about becoming a nun when we were in HS, and who later attended Notre Dame--who would laugh and allow as they kind of agreed with me.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:33 PM
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Seriously, one of the nice things about Catholicism is that we don't get as hung up about What You Must Believe as (imhe) a lot of Protestant churches do.

"We" who don't get hung up on this? You don't, and neither do other liberal Catholics. The Church certainly does, and expects you to. In fact there's a tidy list of What You Must Believe that is recited at every Mass. And you're not supposed to take communion if you don't believe it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:34 PM
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331: Well, sure, he's fundie and he's cranky. So it's funny, I guess. But there's a very big difference in saying that and laughing and still thinking he's hugely important (for personal religious reasons, not any sort of world political reasons), and saying that as a way of dismissing him altogether, which is how you were using it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:37 PM
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In 332, "331" s/b "330".


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:37 PM
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The Church certainly does, and expects you to. In fact there's a tidy list of What You Must Believe that is recited at every Mass. And you're not supposed to take communion if you don't believe it.

Define "The Church." The Pope? Or the various parish priests who have never had a problem with me, when I've spoken to them, and have seemed pretty much completely in line with my own ideas about the purpose of religion? Seriously--when I was confirmed (as an adult, btw), I *asked* if it was okay that I was pro-choice, pro-birth control, and had some serious problems with aspects of church doctrine. The answer--and I didn't pick this priest, he was the guy at the campus Newman center--was that ultimately we all have to figure out how we respond to different aspects of the church, that we're answerable to our own consciences, and that yes, most Catholics have aspects of doctrine that they disagree with.

And you know, plenty of people who don't take communion are still practicing Catholics. 'Fact, if they weren't practicing, they wouldn't care about whether or not they're "supposed" to take communion.

Not to mention that little problem with what, exactly, you mean by "believe." Does belief have to be literal?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:49 PM
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Brock, if I were completely dismissive of the Pope, I wouldn't bother to be annoyed by his fundie crankitude.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:51 PM
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Plus, dude! There are, like, really really active Catholics who get excommunicated! Or are under threat of excommunication! You're going to say that Francis Kissiling's not a Catholic??? John Courtney Murray? Hans Kung?

The current attempts to marginalize liberal Catholics are a blip in the long history of the church. Sometimes it swings right, sometimes it swings left; historically women did lead services, etc. One of the nice things about a long-lived church with a long history of exegesis and theological *debate* is that such debate is very much a part of the church--not some marginal aspect of atypical dissidents.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:58 PM
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OTOH, there's only so many millennia of war and forced pregnancy that Oscar Romero can make up for.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:01 PM
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B, I'm certainly not trying to imply that you're not Catholic. Or "authentically" Catholic or whatever else. In case that's how those comments came across. I just think you're misrepresenting the degree to which what you're describing is outside of the orthodox teachings of the Church. (Which is, no, not "the pope," as I'm sure you know.) That you found priests sho support your thinking (whether you found them deliberately or not) doesn't really change anything--those priests are, officially, in error. As, officially, are you. You may not give a shit, and hey, that's fine with me. You're certainly not alone in that. But that's doesn't mean that's what Catholicism's all about.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:01 PM
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Pretty much *everyone* is Officially in Error. That's kind of the point.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:04 PM
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One of my best friends is a Mormon Catholic. Totally disagrees with that Ratzy guy about the baptism shit. A mighty fine Catholic too. Very active in his stake.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:05 PM
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336: debate is very much a part of the Church. And none of Francis Kissiling, John Courtney Murray, or Hans Kung have been excommunicated. And yes I would say that someone who is excommunicated is no longer Catholic.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:06 PM
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I'm not sure I know where you're going with 339. I want to read it as "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God...", but I don't think that's what you meant.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:08 PM
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Catholicism is not a democracy.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:08 PM
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Not to mention that little problem with what, exactly, you mean by "believe." Does belief have to be literal?

In what sense do you believe them?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:10 PM
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In the sense that I'm not answerable to you for it.

Of course Catholicism isn't "all about" what I say it is--at least, not in the sense that my version is The version. There are a ton of Catholics who think that liberal Catholics like me are complete fakes.

What *is* true about my version is that it's simply wrong to say that "Catholicism is all about" *any* one thing. There are many, many ways of being a Catholic. You can say that's wrong or even deny it, but the facts are that there are Catholics, world-wide, who call themselves Catholics, who are practicing, and who are very actively and vocally in opposition to what comes out of the Vatican.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:13 PM
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343: No. But neither is it a dictatorship. And a big part of what it is is simply a tradition.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:15 PM
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I basically agree with bphd here, but she is sounding an awful lot like the person quoted here.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:22 PM
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It's not easy to get yourself excommunicated. Public disagreement with Church doctrine is not nearly enough. You have to really flout the authority of the hierarchy by doing something like, say, starting your own church.

I think B exaggerates the liberal tendencies of American Catholicism, but I also get her point about Catholics being more relaxed about belief/what to believe.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:22 PM
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I don't think I *was* saying that American Catholics are all super liberal. But we *do* use birth control and have abortions in the same proportions as the general population, which I think is pretty significant, what with the sex stuff being pretty high on the list of sudden hangups in American Catholic churches these days.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:26 PM
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who are very actively and vocally in opposition to what comes out of the Vatican.

I wouldn't go that far, but I don't know why Catholics are held to such higher standards of hypocrisy. The compromises against doctrine are not uncommon in other faiths. The Catholic church is a very much a membership organization, including a formal process to kick you out. If you're baptized a Catholic and put your little envelope in the collection basket at mass, you're Catholic regardless of your compromises.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:30 PM
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If you're baptized a Catholic and put your little envelope in the collection basket at mass, you're Catholic regardless of your compromises.

Exactly right. But "the Catholic Church teaches [x]" is not the meaningless statement that B tries to make it out to be.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:36 PM
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351 was me. And my "exactly right" wasn't: you need to be confirmed, not just bapized, and you don't even really need to drop your envelope in the basket.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:38 PM
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historically women did lead services
They did? Where? When?

But neither is it a dictatorship
It's not? That's not what the psycho nuns in my grade school said.

I'd almost be interested in Catholicism again, only I don't believe in God.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:39 PM
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I wouldn't go that far, but I don't know why Catholics are held to such higher standards of hypocrisy.

Because the Catholic church has a leader and it seems intuitive, though not true, that people who go against his wishes are risking his wrath. Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, any fundamentalist church does not have a leader, though they do have doctrine, and local leaders. Same goes for Judaism and Islam. They can have wildly different congregations in different places without people going "Hey, wait, if these two priests are both supposed to be working for the same pope, how come they have such different priorities?"


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:39 PM
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But we *do* use birth control and have abortions in the same proportions as the general population

And quite a lot of Mormons have had abortions and engage in pre-marital sex. But that's not a license to pretend those things are not in direct conflict with Mormon doctrine.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:44 PM
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347: That person's totally right, and I've been thinking throughout this that b's version of Catholicism sounds a lot like Judaism.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:46 PM
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As a member of the Catholic community, I can state with all due respect that the Pope is an apostate, Yaldabaoth has tricked the lot of you, and Satan is our lord.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:51 PM
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352- Damn. My first 'Exactly Right' at Unfogged is repealed. So cruel.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:56 PM
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"the Catholic Church teaches [x]" is not the meaningless statement that B tries to make it out to be.

I didn't say it was meaningless. What I was trying to say is that it isn't determinative.

I don't know why Catholics are held to such higher standards of hypocrisy.

::cough::residual anti-Catholicism::cough::

They did? Where? When?

Here's a link. Here's another. It seems as though in the early days of the church, you know, back when Catholics had to practice underground, women as well as men led services (I've read this in actual women's history books, not just websites). And of course every once in a while some group will ordain women even today.

I once attended a mass, actually, that was led by a nun. She didn't prepare the eucharist, but she did everything else. It was right after the last Pope issued a statement saying that women would definitively never be ordained, and it was quite clearly a quiet repudiation of that statement. And this wasn't some fly-by-night church, either; it was the Seattle cathedral. I loved that parish.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:58 PM
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So I always come to the same point in these discussions: could one be mistaken in their belief that they are a Catholic/Jew/member of whatever religion? If a person strongly believes that they're a Catholic but worships Baal, and Baal alone, is that person wrong that they're a Catholic?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:01 PM
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::cough::residual anti-Catholicism::cough::

No, I don't think so. It's more like the opposite.

"Oh, you're a Catholic? Cool, those are the people that actually have doctrines they all adhere to and rituals that they all follow. In my church we just do random stuff that could change at the drop of a hat.
"Oh, you just do random stuff too? That's disappointing somehow."


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:01 PM
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Hey, does this whole debate mean I get to finally tell teofilo what Judaism really is? I've been waiting for the opening.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:02 PM
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359: Bitch, when my dad died about 10 mos. ago, it was determined that I should do a reading. This was fine and I didn't get to pick it or anything. The (Catholic) church I grew up going to didn't play with lecters or deacons or anything but priests. BUT the church the funeral was in did that kind of thing. So, at some point during the mass they indicate that I am to go up to give the reading. I do. I march right up behind the altar. At this point I am practically grabbed and yanked over to the lectern. Whoops! After the funeral, at the let's-drink-heavily restaurant part, I went over to my aunt-the-nun and the table of nuns she was sitting at to apologize for my idiocy. Their reply? GOOD FOR YOU! THAT IS A WOMAN'S PLACE!!!!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:04 PM
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364

What I was trying to say is that it isn't determinative.

You were trying to say it isn't determinative of what? Because it sounded like you were saying it isn't deteminative of what the Catholic Church teaches (disputing as you were the very ideas of a "Church"--"the Pope?", you asked--and "official" teachings), which makes it a pretty meaningless statement.

If you're saying it's not necessarily determinative of what each individual Catholic person believes, well no shit.


Posted by: Borck Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:04 PM
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Hey, does this whole debate mean I get to finally tell teofilo what Judaism really is?

Go for it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:04 PM
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361: Disagreed. I think that the kind of outsiders view of Catholicism is all about ritual and order and hierarchy, and that this has historically been a pretty entrenched part of anti-Catholic prejudice: that we worship the pope, that we're not monotheistic, that we believe in empty ritual rather than god, blah blah blah.

355: First of all, I've said more than once that I'm not saying that what a lot of Catholics do or believe isn't in contrast to "official church doctrine." That doesn't mean they're not Catholics. Second of all, though I don't know a lot about Mormonism, I *think* that the Mormon church is actually a *lot* more dedicated to the question of who is and isn't "a Mormon," what with these Sekrit Church Marriages and retroactively baptizing the dead and all that. But my sense of that could itself be residual anti-Mormon prejudice, for all I know.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:06 PM
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Judaism is a warm puppy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:08 PM
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366: So by "residual anti-Catholicism" you mean something that isn't actually anti-Catholic, just the thoughts that used to be associated with anti-Catholicism but aren't anymore?

That makes sense now.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:08 PM
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365: I've got nothin. I was bluffing. Shit.

Ummm... Judaism is all about the yarmulke. That's the key to the entire faith. Somehow. Don't ask me how.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:09 PM
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I went over to my aunt-the-nun and the table of nuns she was sitting at to apologize for my idiocy. Their reply? GOOD FOR YOU! THAT IS A WOMAN'S PLACE!!!!

Awesome.

364: Brock, let's face it. You're conservative about the blasted church, and I'm not. You seem really uptight about how "The Church" is defined, and I'm not, and therefore you're never going to pin me down satisfactorily. This is part of the center of our disagreement.

But I'm still as much a Catholic as you are.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:10 PM
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368: Sort of. I mean, like sexism, stereotypes that rose out of prejudice and have become pretty entrenched, even among people who aren't even aware that anti-Catholic prejudice exists.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:11 PM
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I *think* that the Mormon church is actually a *lot* more dedicated to the question of who is and isn't "a Mormon," what with these Sekrit Church Marriages and retroactively baptizing the dead and all that. But my sense of that could itself be residual anti-Mormon prejudice, for all I know.

I don't think the Temple Marriages (which not all Mormons can get) or baptizing the dead are really about the issue of who is and is not a "real" Mormon. Which is not to say that that issue isn't important to the church.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:12 PM
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"If you're baptized a Catholic and put your little envelope in the collection basket at mass, you're Catholic regardless of your compromises. "

The envelope is not required, nor is the mass attendance. More "if you're baptized, and don't get excommunicated, specifically excommunicate yourself (i.e. by converting to another religion), or call the church where you were baptized and ask that they take you off the list."


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:12 PM
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I think that part of what B is getting at &mdash if I may, ma'am &mdash is that Catholics who don't toe the Vatican line on birth control and abortion are held to a higher standard than Catholics who neglect the social justice/peace/humility/sacrifice teachings. IME, the expression 'cafeteria Catholic' is used almost exclusively to refer to, and dismiss, the former. There's also the sense that the Church has hard-wired our brains very early on with powerful ideas about sin, redemption, grace and all that, so that even those who want to leave can only go so far (once a Catholic...).

Also, I think that confirmation is given too early to be of any use in defining what makes a Catholic.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:12 PM
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369: Crap, they're on to us! Hide the yarmulkes!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:13 PM
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Judaism is a warm puppy.

Judaism is a basketful of puppies that you don't have to look after.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:13 PM
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Judaism is like Jello Pudding Pops. No, Judaism is like Kodak film. No, Judaism is like the New Coke, 'cause it'll be around forever, heh heh heh.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:14 PM
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373 and 374 make very excellent points.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:15 PM
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376: While Catholicism is a basketful of kittens, who are much cuter and clean up after themselves.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:17 PM
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I think b's arguments here actually go a long way toward explaining why many Jews identify more with Catholics than with Protestants, even though at first glance Catholicism and Judaism look very different and historically Jews have generally been treated better in Protestant countries than in Catholic countries (and even better in Muslim countries).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:19 PM
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That is one fucked up basketfull of kittens. Kittens all on crusades and shit, holding inquisitions. Fuck it, I'd rather have a ferret. And I hate ferrets!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:20 PM
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380: I would agree with that. And I'll gently tweak you over having once said that I apparently knew nothing of Judaism.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:20 PM
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The sad religious menage a trois. Protestants aspire to be loved by Jews, Jews aspire to be loved by Catholics, and Catholics aspire to be loved by Protestants. Poor Muslims!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:21 PM
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381: Hey, what can I say. Some of 'em grow up to be hunters, some to be foofy puffballs.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:21 PM
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Catholics aspire to be loved by Protestants

Say what now?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:22 PM
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The sad religious menage a trois.

Frig, frig, proselytize, frig.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:22 PM
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And I'll gently tweak you over having once said that I apparently knew nothing of Judaism.

That was a joke, you know.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:22 PM
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Mormons keep centralized records -- if you've been baptized and confirmed but not excommunicated, you're a Mormon. Whether you're a good Mormon is another question. Also, the Mormon Church excommunicates people quite often, mostly for stuff like adultery, occasionally for heresy and such.

See, Ben, Bave's a Mormon. (Actually not, since I had my name removed from the records. But more or less.)


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:24 PM
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387: I thought you never joked!

the Mormon Church excommunicates people quite often

See? We don't do that kind of shit. We just go to confession, say a few Hail Marys, and move on.

Re. aspiring to be loved by Protestants; I, for one, which that Catholics would remember that we *aren't* Protestants, and quit with the evangelical stuff and the shrillness about abortion, myself.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:26 PM
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Also, B's description of Catholicism is quite recognizable to me, having grown up around a lot of Catholics. Octavio Paz described it in terms of the Church being a mother who knew she would always be her children's mother, whether they were in the back of the church or even outside the church walls. (Lots of ways of relating to the Catholic community!)


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:26 PM
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Jews don't have any equivalent of excommunication. If you're born Jewish or convert to Judaism that's it. Once a Jew, always a Jew.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:27 PM
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380: Yeah, AWB and I were talking the other night about how Judaism and Catholicism are both religions where you do stuff, while in Protestantism you believe stuff.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:28 PM
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392: ...which makes Mormonism hard to categorize.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:29 PM
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I thought you never joked!

Did I say that? In any case, it's wrong. I often joke.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:29 PM
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...which makes Mormonism hard to categorize.

Yet another similarity between Mormonism and Islam.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:30 PM
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Did I say that? In any case, it's wrong. I often joke.

He's kidding. He never jokes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:31 PM
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Fuck it, I'd rather have a ferret

You can AND you can call it a kitten.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:31 PM
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Brock, let's face it. You're conservative about the blasted church, and I'm not. You seem really uptight about how "The Church" is defined, and I'm not, and therefore you're never going to pin me down satisfactorily. This is part of the center of our disagreement.

But I'm still as much a Catholic as you are.

Whatever B. I'm tired, but this is shitty. No one is saying you're less Catholic than me. Or even that "less Catholic" is a meaningful idea--it's clearly not. And I'm not trying to "pin you down" on anything.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:32 PM
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He's kidding. He never jokes.

I joke, but I never kid.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:32 PM
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392: Yeah, that whole works vs. faith thing.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:33 PM
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I joke, but I never kid.

Are you joshing? You're putting me on.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:34 PM
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392: Is there such a thing as a non-practicing Protestant?

398: Make yourself some hot chocolate; I am. I didn't put a winky face after that comment because it's against official unfogged doctrine, but I thought about it.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:35 PM
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391: what about the "you're dead to me" form of sitting shiva for a child who marries outside the religion, is generally apostate, etc? Not that this is common even among the Orthodox, I don't believe.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:37 PM
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Booooooring.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:38 PM
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400: see? Unitarians don't gotta do nothin'!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:39 PM
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Judaism ain't nothing but knishes and Shabbos.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:39 PM
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391: Eh, not always. My best friend, raised Reform, had a heckuva time finding a Chasidic guy who would marry her. The problem? She was adopted -- from Jewish Family Services by a Jewish family. Once she became Chasidic -- and they made her go through a full conversion course of the sort someone who had been raised Methodist would have gone through -- guys who had been otherwise interested would throw her over once they found out she had been adopted, again, from Jewish Family Services by a Jewish family who took her to the mikvah before they brought her home. The super Chasidic guys are operating at a whole 'nother level.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:40 PM
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402(a): yes. Denominations are split on whether they'll burn in hell, but they are recognized by most if not all Protestants.

402(b): I'm still at work. No hot chocolate for me.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:40 PM
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what about the "you're dead to me" form of sitting shiva for a child who marries outside the religion

Wow. Massively harsh toke.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:41 PM
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406: I swear to god I initially read that as "Skiksas and Kabobs"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:42 PM
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I think b's arguments here actually go a long way toward explaining why many Jews identify more with Catholics than with Protestants, even though at first glance Catholicism and Judaism look very different and historically Jews have generally been treated better in Protestant countries than in Catholic countries (and even better in Muslim countries).

Really? I'm not completely sure this is true. I'm a half-Jew who was raised, as much as anything, Jewish, and my dad is a very lapsed Catholic, so I got a lot of the gist of Catholicism growing up, but even so, the mainline protestant weddings I've been to (Presbyterian, UCC, liberal Baptist) have been a whole lot less weird and alien than my one Catholic wedding (which, admittedly, was at what is apparently a very conservative cathedral). The organization of American Reformed and Conservative Judaism was, as I understand it, founded by German Jewish immigrants, and the organization of those movements is based largely on the model of German protestant churches. So I'm not sure it's anything to do with the inherent nature of the religion.

I would think that the issue has a lot more to do with the fact that the Catholic experience in America has been fairly similar to the Jewish experience - both Catholics and Jews mostly came over in the nineteenth century and lived in big cities. Protestants were either old stock British isles types or Germans and Scandinavians who did a lot more spreading out into the countryside. Jews and Catholics were in close proximity, and in similar cultural milieus. I wouldn't be surprised if there's been a lot more intermarriage between Jews and Catholics than between Jews and Protestants in the US.


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:42 PM
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Is there such a thing as a non-practicing Protestant?

I guess it would depend on what non-practicing meant. At least in the protestant church I was brought up in there wasn't any requirement to be a Christian other then you believed that Christ was the son of God sent to save the world etc. So you could be a Christian without attending services or anything.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:42 PM
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410 is also true.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:43 PM
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There was also Spinoza's excommunication.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:44 PM
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Booooooring.

You should liven things up with a swimming post.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:44 PM
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Shiksas, 410. Shiksas. Fuck a typing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:45 PM
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407 - yes, Reform Jewish conversion ceremonies aren't accepted by the Orthodox or Conservative. Conservative ceremonies aren't accepted by the Orthodox. It's all absurd.

Although I find it rather astonishing that anyone would convert to Chasidic Judaism...those people are crazy.


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:47 PM
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I'm a non-practicing atheist.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:47 PM
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The super Chasidic guys are operating at a whole 'nother level.

Yes, we all have our crazies.

what about the "you're dead to me" form of sitting shiva for a child who marries outside the religion, is generally apostate, etc?

I think that's more of a private thing within the family rather than a formal religious doctrine, but I don't know much about it. In any case, as you say, very rare.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:48 PM
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Booooooring.

Okay, go ahead and put up a post about how your dates have been going.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:48 PM
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"Shiksas and Kabobs"

Now that would be a great idea for a small business.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:49 PM
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An Austrian guy I used to know was a card carrying atheist. If you didn't want to pay the portion of your taxes that goes to the church, you had to go to a certain office and declare yourself officially konfessionslos. They gave him a little card to show that he had done this.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:50 PM
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411: Well, Liberal Judaism is definitely a lot more like Protestantism than Catholicism in its external attributes, but I do think the Protestant approach to religion feels a lot more alien to a lot of Jews than the Catholic approach. All that emphasis on faith, etc. This would come across more in informal discussions of religion than in formal services, of course.

And the historical factors you mention are certainly important, but I do think there are some significant similarities just in the natures of the two religions.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:51 PM
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Also, I don't have time to go pull a bunch of links, but B clearly doesn't really believe a word she's said in this thread. How many times in making points in the past in discussing, say, feminism, has she railed on about how "Catholics believe [insert some trope about the near-divinity of Mary and the sanctity of motherhood]', to give just one example? And she's right--those beliefs are deeply ingrained in Catholic teachings. There're not essential, and denying them doens't make one not Catholic, but there certainly there. As are pro-life teachings, and the anti-materialism teachings, and all the rest. That some people deviate from the core beliefs doesn't mean they don't exist.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:52 PM
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Thought experiment:

A church is founded called the "Reformed Episcopal Christian Church of Christ in Dagon." That church teaches the worship of Dagon, and how everyone should go to marvel-shadowed Innsmouth and swim out to that brooding reef in the sea and dive down through black abysses to Cyclopean and many-columned Y'ha-nthlei, and in that lair of the Deep Ones they will dwell amidst wonder and glory for ever.

Are they Christians?


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:52 PM
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417: Yeah. It is insane. Frankly, I always understood it as a rather Catholic sort of atonement for her wild past. But, she didn't convert. She'd always been Jewish. It just couldn't be proven since she was adopted -- albeit from an agency that received its newborns from unwed Jewish mothers. And even then her parents hedged their bets by taking her to the mikvah immediately. The whole things was nuts.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:54 PM
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Are they Christians?

Well, you said 'Episcopal,' so no.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:55 PM
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427: 6 commandments, 4 suggestions.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:56 PM
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423: Well, Liberal Judaism is definitely a lot more like Protestantism than Catholicism in its external attributes, but I do think the Protestant approach to religion feels a lot more alien to a lot of Jews than the Catholic approach. All that emphasis on faith, etc. This would come across more in informal discussions of religion than in formal services, of course.

Yeah, I think that makes sense, the whole faith vs. works stuff. There's also, I think, a much greater intellectual tradition of debate and scholarship in Catholicism than there has been in a lot of protestantism.

But it's also worth saying that it's really hard to generalize about even American protestantism - a member of a liberal congregation of the UCC has a lot more in common with a Reformed Jew or a liberal Catholic than she does with someone in a fundamentalist megachurch.


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:56 PM
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427: CS Lewis says you're wrong, False Prophet McQueen.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:57 PM
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Are they Christians?

What do you mean by this and according to who? If you're asking whether most Christian denominations consider them to be Christians the answer is almost certainly no. If you're asking whether they're going to heaven the answer is certainly no. If you're asking whether they consider themselves Christians in a continuous tradition with other Christian denominations, you'd have to ask one of them.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:57 PM
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428: What's the difference between Catholics, Unitarians, and Episcopalians? Catholics have great faith and no morals, Unitarians have great morals and no faith, and Episcopalians dress real nice.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:59 PM
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Topic! A thought experiment is neither a thought nor an experiment. Discuss.


Posted by: Linda Richman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:59 PM
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But it's also worth saying that it's really hard to generalize about even American protestantism - a member of a liberal congregation of the UCC has a lot more in common with a Reformed Jew or a liberal Catholic than she does with someone in a fundamentalist megachurch.

Yes, but this is true of Judaism and Catholicism as well. Nonetheless, there are some commonalities among the various types of each.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:59 PM
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If they pray to Christ as an intercessor with the Deep Ones, I'd say, sure, what the hey.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:00 PM
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You know what's funny? I am pretty much down on all religion, but my grandfather the Episcopal minister passed away t'other day, so I'm all touchy. Go figure. Rag away, sweet faithful of the internet. Rag away.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:02 PM
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Fuck, I'm sorry, Tweety.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:03 PM
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A Jesuit and a Franciscan are walking down the street and a yuppie guy comes up to the pair of them and asks, "Fathers? What novena should I say in order to get a BMW?" The Franciscan pauses for a minute and asks, "What's a BMW?" The Jesuit thinks for a second as asks, "What's a novena?"


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:04 PM
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431 - I mean, how awesome would that flame war be on Wikipedia talk pages?

434 - On Judaism, it's certainly true. Catholicism, I think, much less so. There's obviously a lot of differences of opinion in Catholicism, but there's also a great deal more uniformity, what with all Catholics being part of a single gigantic organization, however loosely organized.


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:05 PM
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I think teo's right about the relative similarity to Catholicism: there's the increased emphasis on works. The importance of other people's authoritative interpretations of the key religious texts--much more centralized in Catholicism, but what's the Protestant equivalent of Canon Law or halacha? There's the idea that once you're Catholic/Jewish, you remain that way your whole life: people who identify themselves as "lapsed Catholics"; atheists who identify themseves as Jewish. etc.

Reform's greater emphasis on your individual choice re: observance of the "ritual commandments" is more similar to Protestantism, though.

The Protestant wedding ceremony is more similar, I think, but that's because the Catholic ceremony is a full mass--I'm not sure Catholic rituals are less similar overall. For a long time, of course, religious services in another language was another similarity.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:07 PM
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473: no! Don't be. I meant it genuinely. Rag away. Religion is for stupids.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:09 PM
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Sorry to hear that, ST.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:11 PM
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...so the leprechaun, furious, shouts "three times a week? three times a week?" And the man says, "well, for a priest from a small parish, it's not bad."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:11 PM
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About your grandfather, I mean. I will continue to rag on religion in his memory.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:11 PM
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Why is it the non-Catholics who always want to tell the Catholics what Catholicism is all about?

I had a wonderful discussion with a colleague who is some variety of Protestant* where we discussed the difference between creedal and conscience-based faiths. Catholicism's a creed-based faith; it's right there in the middle of the ceremony, and if you don't believe that, you're not a right-thinking Catholic**. Most varieties of Protestant are conscience-based; you are to study the Bible and if you disagree with your pastor***, you may leave and form your own New X Church. If you get a lot of people worked up, you have a schism, and if you stop believing and practicing, you're just not Christian any more.

Where it gets a little weird, and what made the discussion fun, was trying to explain how someone could be Catholic yet disagree with 99% of church teachings given that it *is* a creedal faith. Shouldn't, he asked, disavowing the creed be enough to make you not Catholic? Should we be going across the street and forming our own church? And the answer is no; Catholicism, for whatever reason, hangs onto that Confirmation bit. Short of excommunication, you're still Catholic. You just might be a bad Catholic. It's a bit like being in a big family. You might not bother with coming to dinner, but they're always holding out hope you'll come back.

*Yes, I know I make them sound like grapes.
**This includes me.
***Or minister or reverend or council or elders or whatever.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:12 PM
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Catholicism, I think, much less so. There's obviously a lot of differences of opinion in Catholicism, but there's also a great deal more uniformity, what with all Catholics being part of a single gigantic organization, however loosely organized.

Well, this is pretty much exactly the argument B and Brock were having earlier. More uniform than Judaism and Protestantism, to be sure, but opinions differ on how much more uniform.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:13 PM
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If you're asking whether they're going to heaven the answer is certainly no.

from what do you derive this certainty, out of curiousity?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:14 PM
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Sorry to hear it, Tweety.

I'm sure, according the Episcopalian tradition, he's busy conquering Valhalla as we speak. (Or is that Judaism...)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:15 PM
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447, 442: aw you guys. Thanks. He was 97, convinced he was about to see his long-since-dead wife of decades, had the opportunity to help hundreds of people, had lovely goodbyes with most all of his closest, and will have a large funeral attended by many he has touched. Thanks for your concern, but really it's an occasion to be welcomed, if I may express his perspective. We living are all fine about it.

But yo the man was Episcopal and faithful (and moral) as all get-out. So there's that counterexample, anyhow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:16 PM
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I'm sure, according the Episcopalian tradition, he's busy conquering Valhalla as we speak. (Or is that Judaism...)

Lutheranism, I think.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:17 PM
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ST: If you've got to go, that sounds about the way to do it.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:18 PM
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450: Right, it's one of Lex Luther's 96 Theses.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:18 PM
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453

451 wuz me


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:19 PM
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convinced he was about to see his long-since-dead wife of decades

I once went to the funeral of a relative in his nineties whose wife had died shortly before and who had been deaf for several years. At the graveside service the minister said that the great thing about Christianity was that they were together now and he could hear her perfectly well, and when he said that I thought, yes, you know, he's right; that is the great thing about Christianity.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:21 PM
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Right, it's one of Lex Luther's 96 Theses.

Poor guy just kept trying and trying to get that Masters.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:21 PM
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B clearly doesn't really believe a word she's said in this thread.

'Scuse me?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:21 PM
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446 - I don't want to get into how much more uniform in terms of beliefs. I'm a quasi-lurker, and I certainly don't want B on my ass. But certainly somewhat more uniform on that basis. And in terms of ritual, I think, a lot more uniform. A Reform Jewish service and an ultra-Orthodox one would, I imagine, follow the same basic structure. But the details are going to be way way different (for one thing, there's a lot of English in the Reform - my understanding is that there's virtually none in an Orthodox service). Even more so that between an Episcopalian service and some kind of charismatic pentecostal one with speaking in tongues. Of the three groups, Protestantism seems to me to be by far the most diverse. (Reminds one of the Bossuet bit on how there is one truth, but falsehood multiplies. There are an absurd number of distinct protestant groups, and while some are virtually indistinguishable from one another, there are some genuinely enormous differences)

445 - There's certainly a lot of truth there, although as I understand it, most of the older, more established protestant churches at least traditionally still held to a moderately creedal doctrine. They all maintain the Nicene Creed, et al, as the basic statement of belief, and at least initially, they mostly continued to hold to the idea of a "Universal" church, and to the idea that every baptized person was a Christian.

But that doesn't seem to have held through to modern protestantism very well, and certainly the idea of a "lapsed Protestant" or an "Atheist protestant" is mostly just weird in a way that a "Lapsed Catholic" or "Atheist Jew" is not.


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:23 PM
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447: Soup, I hate to break this to you, but if you don't know from where I derive my certainty in these matters, then you're headed for hell too, I'm afraid. But there's still time for you to repent and save yourself.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:24 PM
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457: That is true. The older Protestant varietals are more creedal. And it's also true that Catholicism does believe in freedom of conscience. But that doesn't change what the doctrine is, even if priests are smart enough in their pastoral practice to deviate from it when needed.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:30 PM
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John's right, and the similarity of the services is one of the nice things about Catholicism. That and the fact that we don't get ridiculous with silly grape juice nonsense.

Though I've been to a couple of freaky-ass hand-holding stand-up-and-testify type Catholic services in my time. Ick.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:32 PM
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IMX, Spiky New England Episcopalians find an excess of faith to be suspect. It is far more important to wear the correct hat to church and to have good manners. And, of course, to do charitable works, usually of a political nature, and done more out of a sense of noblesse oblige than because God/Jesus wants them to. [Anyone ever notice that "Episcopal" is an anagram of "Pepsi Cola"?]

On guilt:
Catholics feel guilty about things they've done;
Jews feel guilty about things they're thinking of doing;
Episcopalians don't feel guilt because some things are unthinkable!


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:51 PM
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458: Actually, I was asking if it were a dogmatic reason or an inference. Without reading the whole thread.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:55 PM
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And to get back to the original topic: In the thread about bad gifts, people were ragging on In Defense of Elitism. People like Sherri were precisely what the author was ranting talking about. [As well as students who demanded to be taught only things they agreed with, lest their particular world views be challenged and they be forced to think.] Such things as giving someone like her a seat on The View and thereby giving her an opportunity to spread her ignorance - and giving it a certain cachet - are what the book rails against.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 11:02 PM
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Though I've been to a couple of freaky-ass hand-holding stand-up-and-testify type Catholic services in my time. Ick.

The Charismatics? I hate that shit.

I once attended a mass where a woman performed an interpretive scriptural dance. Eek!


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 6:44 AM
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is there *any* context, in which *anyone's* performing an interpretive *anything* dance doesn't merit an 'eek!'

i mean, i don't want to diss terpsichore or anything, but what do you have to know to make those experiences that you can appreciate?
(how to put your own eyeballs out?)


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 6:50 AM
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my grandfather the Episcopal minister

This is the one you were just visiting over the holidays? 97 is a ripe old age to attain.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 7:24 AM
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I think John's done a good job insisting on the varieties of protestant belief and practice. I have to say I never recognize the faith I was raised to in descriptions like Cala's.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 7:36 AM
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In honor of Sifu's late grandfather...

A A Muslim, a Jew, a Catholic and an Episcopalian are standing outside the gates of heaven, commiserating. They have all just been denied admission. "So what did you do?" says one.

The Muslim says, "I ate pork during Ramadan."
The Jew says, "I ate pork during Yom Kippur."
The Catholic says, "I ate pork during Lent."
And the Episcopalian says, "I ate pork with a fish fork."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 7:47 AM
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Speaking of the freaky evangelicalization of some varieties of American Catholicism, my dad (totally lapsed Catholic) never ceases to be freaked out that his sister has now begun to say grace while eating out at restaurants. Not being Catholic myself, I have no idea how common or uncommon this is, but my dad seems to find it entirely bizarre. (I guess they used to say grace at home when he was a kid, but never at restaurants, and this is definitely a new thing as far as my aunt is concerned)


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:02 AM
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It's very common, but I hate the phrase "say grace". Where did it originate? Why don't people just say "pray"?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:06 AM
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i'd have said it was *uncommon* for american catholics to say grace at a restaurant, but bl and i have already shown we run in different circles.

you also sometimes hear the locution 'say *a* grace'. i wonder if one is earlier than the other.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:09 AM
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20. (Till the 16th c. almost exclusively pl. in sing. sense; now only sing.) A short prayer either asking a blessing before, or rendering thanks after, a meal. Frequent in phrase to say grace(s.

a1225 Ancr. R. 44 Ower graces..biuore mete & efter..& mid te miserere go{edh} biuoren ower weouede & ende{edh} {edh}er {th}e graces. c1330 R. BRUNNE Chron. Wace (Rolls) 16086 {Th}e borde was leyd, {Th}e clo{th}[es] spred, {th}e graces seyd. [c1340 Cursor M. 13496 (Trin.) Ihesus blessed {th}is breed wi{th} grace.] 1377 LANGL. P. Pl. B. XIV. 62 As holywrit witnesseth whan men segge her graces, Aperis tu manum tuam [etc.]. c1440 Ipomydon 313 Whan they had ete and grace sayd. c1500 Melusine xxxvi. 241 After they had dyned, graces were said. 1526 TINDALE Matt. xxvi. 30 When they had sayd grace they went out. 1588 J. UDALL Diotrephes (Arb.) 6 He would needs saye grace (forsooth) before and after supper. a1639 SUCKLING Poems (1646) 19 Long graces do But keep good stomachs off that would fall too. 1680 DRYDEN Prol. to Cæsar Borgia 42 But mark their feasts..The Pope says grace, but 'tis the Devil gives thanks. 1705 HICKERINGILL Priest-cr. II. vi. 62 Until Mr. Say-Grace has blest the Cup, and said a short Grace. 1760-72 H. BROOKE Fool of Quality (1808) I. 68 The latter grace was said, and the cloth taken away. 1791 Heroic Ep. to Priestley in Poet. Reg. (1808) 395 With simile and face, Each longer than a Presbyterian grace. 1856 EMERSON Eng. Traits, Univ. Wks. (Bohn) II. 89 A youth came forward..and pronounced the ancient form of grace before meals. 1881 BESANT & RICE Chapl. of Fleet I. viii, The dinner was at times scanty,..a grace before the meat, and a grace after.

no; the form with the indefinite article is certainly not earlier.
but the idiom itself goes way back.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:13 AM
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471: oh, sorry, that was terribly unclear. I think it's very uncommon for Catholics to pray before meals in restaurants. What's very common is the phrase "say grace".

(In other words 470 wasn't answering John's question at all.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:14 AM
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My family says grace in restaurants. It's a little weird.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:18 AM
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it's funny, I was going to say that I'm a lapsed episcopalian, but I think I'm just still an episcopalian since we're all like this (i.e., atheists who like a good advent service with 'o come o come emmanuel' in there. ooo, wreaths with candles!). certainly true that in my family's circles too much actual believing in jesus or going on about it would be tasteless. nonetheless my grandad is a christian in some interior sense.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:18 AM
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473--

q. "how common is it for men to have babies?"

b.l. "oh, it's very common, but i've never liked the phrase "have babies". why can't people just say "give birth"?"


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:20 AM
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476: to be fair, there was no question in 469.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:22 AM
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477--
okay, to be fair, you're right.
(ben can tell us whether "I have no idea how common or uncommon this is" counts as an indirect question, because i myself have no idea whether it does or doesn't).
fairness in this case will have to make up for the lack of smiley-faces in my 476, which i nevertheless intended.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:24 AM
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Saying grace in our household was largely about thanking God for the food, which really meant you were thanking Mom for making it. You basically said a bunch of random stuff, then, "And thank you for this food," several times if necessary, lest you forget and Mom burst into tears and Dad give you the stinkeye.

Now my parents take pre-dinner prayer very seriously as their two times a year to "witness" to me about the saving power of Christ. Food grows cold under their blessings.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:26 AM
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atheists who like a good advent service with 'o come o come emmanuel' in there. ooo, wreaths with candles!

Oooh, flash of self-recognition there (though I am closer to believer than atheist on the spectrum of agnosticism).

One complaint, though. The arrangement of "O Come O Come Emnanuel" in the Episcopalian hymnal replaces the half-plus-quarter note on the last syllable of "Em-a-an-u-el" with a quarter note, which totally ruins the song for me. It's creates a scene where the choir is rushing on to the next phrase whilst half the congregation is still singing the "-el" note.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:29 AM
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480--

yes!! totally true!! and i never heard this version until singing in an episcopal choir. but i believe it may be more reflective of the original plainchant, in which each syllable got the same beat.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:32 AM
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Food grows cold under their blessings.

Baptists, right?

One valuable inheritance from the Presbyterian side of my family is a staple of wonderfully succinct pre-meal blessings, e.g. "For these and all your blessings we thank thee, our father, amen."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:33 AM
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All this episcopalian atheism used to make perfect sense when it was just the Church of England, an important arm of the state which it was useful to have a piece of, but I don't understand how it's got that way in America.

You can, if it floats your boat, be a devout and theologically sophisticated episcopalian, adhere to the 39 Articles, etc., but now that going to church doesn't automatically privilege you to vote, serve on the local council, etc. I don't see the point in being any other kind.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:34 AM
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Good food, good meat, good Lord, let's eat!


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:34 AM
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The arrangement of "O Come O Come Emnanuel" in the Episcopalian hymnal replaces the half-plus-quarter note on the last syllable of "Em-a-an-u-el" with a quarter note

This reflects the plainchant original, I believe.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:35 AM
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482--
that may be true now, but see the 1789 quotation from the oed above:
"With simile and face, Each longer than a Presbyterian grace. "


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:35 AM
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485 see 481


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:37 AM
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Such things as giving someone like her a seat on The View and thereby giving her an opportunity to spread her ignorance - and giving it a certain cachet - are what the book rails against.

Amen. I really don't think it's elitist to say that willful ignorance should be generally shunned.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:39 AM
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478: well, I conceded that 470 was very poorly phrased. It originally started with a flat declaration, "I hate the phrase "say grace", but I thought that sounded too much like I was criticizing John directly, when of course I'm not. I'm criticizing the English language (and all those other languages that contain equivalent phrases).

I love 479. My mother's prayers--which occur in restaurants, since that's the only place we ever eat together--are made with the same purpose. Except she always first insists, over my objection, that *I* be the one to pray over the meal, a duty which after enough fighting I'll usually grudgingly accept, as my stomach begins to growl. But of course my prayer never contains enough ministry on my own behalf, so immediately after my "Amen"--before eyes can open or palms unfold--she'll jump right in with "Yes "Amen and we pray as well..." followed by all her important spiritual messages.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:41 AM
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not clear her case is willful.
is it elitist to say that invincible ignorance should be shunned?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:42 AM
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488: I'm not sure how you define "willful ignorance", but I doubt this qualifies.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:45 AM
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damn you bitzer.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:45 AM
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484: Even shorter: "Lord as we bow, thanks for the chow."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:45 AM
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In our family, the pre-dinner toast serves as a sort of grace.

My lapsed-Catholic sister and her Reform (?) Jewish wife would concur with the compatibility premise between the two groups. I think that the American Experience aspect is a good insight, but I also think that the actual religions make a meaningful connection. I would note that, while Reform-Conservative-Orthodox is a wider spread than what you see in the RCC, the gap between Tridentine Mass and folk singers in the church basement on Saturday evening is pretty goddamn broad.

Similarly, getting back to the Brock-Bitch disagreement, I think that an organization that has been run by Pius XII, John XXIII, and Ratzi in 50 years can probably be described as pretty broad and flexible in both tone and doctrine.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:46 AM
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The thought of saying grace in a restaurant makes my skin get all creepy-crawly.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:46 AM
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492--
there are advantages to being a commenting collective.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:47 AM
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495. Agreed. I think if people I hang out with took to doing this I would quickly develop a diplomatically weak bladder.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:48 AM
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494--
no gap between folk singers in the church basement and anything else can be wide enough.
christ--guitar masses are one of the things even interpretive scriptural dances cannot ruin.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:49 AM
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which occur in restaurants, since that's the only place we ever eat together

To broaden this a bit, how common is it for family meals to be very unlikely? My daughter brought a bunch of her high school friends to Shabbos her freshman year, and it turned out the strange element—this is a competitive admission, selective high school, for what's it's worth in stability and class factors—wasn't Judaism, but a family that ate home-cooked meals together around a table, just like on TV!


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:00 AM
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495: I don't think I ever saw people say grace until sometime in my early teens. All those people, just sitting close-eyed over their food and expecting me to do the same. It still freaks me out whenever it happens.

I'm definitely down with Church of England's "hobbyist approach to religion", as Eddie Izzard put it.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:02 AM
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The thought of saying grace in a restaurant makes my skin get all creepy-crawly.

Anyone else ever encounter the practice of discreetly making a sign of the cross over the plate with the knife at a meal where no blessing is said?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:04 AM
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485 see 481

Curse you and your pre-coffee pwnage, bitzer.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:05 AM
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500--
"cake or death!"


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:05 AM
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The thought of saying grace in a restaurant makes my skin get all creepy-crawly.

Yes yes yes.

Anyone else ever encounter the practice of discreetly making a sign of the cross over the plate with the knife at a meal where no blessing is said?

Lord no no no.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:05 AM
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502 see 496


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:06 AM
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490, 491: It's willful in the sense that the woman clearly has the social capital and access to learn something about science and history, and chooses not to.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:09 AM
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this is a competitive admission, selective high school, for what's it's worth in stability and class factors

But what it adds in (possible) stability, it detracts 10X in the importance of afterschool activities, late-working parents, parents with evening events, etc.

When I was in Jr. High, we lived in Miami, and half my sister's friends came from divorced and/or fucked-up families, and they all hung out at our house for the middle class stability, complete with home cooking and family meals 6 nights a week. Then we moved to NJ, and none of my HS friends had divorced or especially fucked-up families, and our family's cohesion hardly stood out. I've never entirely understood the dynamic - the wealth wasn't really that different.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:11 AM
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All those people, just sitting close-eyed over their food and expecting me to do the same. It still freaks me out whenever it happens.

A good Christian blessing is nothing new to me, but I am still freaked out by how my unitarian friends say grace. It's all "let's hold hands and recite an inspirational poem that makes no explicit mention of divinity". Weird.

My uncle, may he rest in peace, was always called upon to say grace at family gatherings. I recall one time I brought a Jewish friend home with me, and my uncle subtley but unmistakably omitted the customary "in Christ's name we pray" at the end to make it all ecumenical like. He was decent in a lot of ways, but that was still an unexpectedly decent gesture.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:11 AM
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I actually have no problem with people blessing what they eat, and I often see people making a little discreet pause over their food in the college cafeteria. It's a reasonable thing for a religious person to do, blessing that which will become a part of your body.

But protestants don't believe that any "thing" can be made holy or sacred or clean or whatever through prayer. There is no power in blessing; it's just an opportunity for thanksgiving, which turns into an opportunity to display one's prayer style, and, in restaurants, to be a public witness. That's what irritates me; the ostentation of food-blessing by people who don't believe in blessing things.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:12 AM
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just sitting close-eyed over their food and expecting me to do the same

See, I disagree; I don't think there's anything wrong with folks saying grace, and I refuse to believe that they expect me to do anything more than sit respectfully while they do it.

Hand-holding, though, is a way of forcing people to participate, which is why the "more inclusive" types of worship often annoy me a lot more than the more traditional ones.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:15 AM
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protestants don't believe that any "thing" can be made holy or sacred or clean or whatever through prayer

Right, doctrinally. But an awful lot of Protestants seem to believe this nonetheless.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:17 AM
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511--
sure, there are certain popish idolatries that always threaten to corrupt the reformed church. hocus-pocus, indulgences, icon-worship, mereology, that sort of stuff.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:19 AM
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Hey, I'm not the one who wants to pray for the president.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:20 AM
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There is no power in blessing; it's just an opportunity for thanksgiving, which turns into an opportunity to display one's prayer style, and, in restaurants, to be a public witness.

There is a subtle linguistic twist in the protestant style of "blessing": it typically seeks a "blessing on us" or "bless this food and the hands that made it" or some such. The blessing sanctifies not the food, but the diners. Similarly, you hear supplications like "may it [the food] strengthen us in thy service" or some such. More than mere thanksgiving, it recapitulates the covenant between God and his children: you feed us, we serve you.

All the same, I acknowledge that a lot of people do it ostentatiously as a form of public witness.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:21 AM
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514--
"you feed us, we serve you"
do ut des, baby.
but god doesn't like being haggled with, i'm telling you.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:25 AM
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467: I have to say I never recognize the faith I was raised to in descriptions like Cala's.

Odd, because that really is the experience of a whole lot of Catholics. You've seriously never encountered people who regard themselves as Catholic but don't adhere to much that the Church teaches? If that's not it, then what is it about descriptions like Cala's?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:28 AM
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515: Are you kidding? God loves being haggled with. He makes bets all the time!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:34 AM
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517--
but he told me himself, he said, 'look, i don't like to haggle...."
oh my god. you mean he said that just to stiff me?
i feel like such a putz.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:35 AM
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B: 514 is pretty much right for more traditional protestants, but a lot of evangelicals will pray over anything. My mother is convinced it rained in Atlanta because the mayor prayed for rain. I remember several times when I was a child and we saw a car broken down on the side of the road, we'd pull over and get out of our car and ask the stranded driver if they needed help, and, if so, whether we could pray over their car. Not offer them a jump or a ride to a phone or any money, just prayer. Then on the hood our hands would go, in the Name of Jesus. I don't remember anyone's car ever starting up as a result of our efforts, but that was the goal.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:35 AM
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god doesn't like being haggled with, i'm telling you

Great old joke: Moses addresses the Children of Israel and says, "I've got good news and bad news. The good news is I've negotiated him down to ten. The bad news is, adultery is still in."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:37 AM
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516I was raised as a Protestant, perhaps her turn as a Catholic telling Protestants what Protestantism's all about?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:38 AM
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520--
sure it's still in; adultery will never go out of style.
but why's that bad news?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:39 AM
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Not offer them a jump or a ride to a phone or any money, just prayer. Then on the hood our hands would go, in the Name of Jesus. I don't remember anyone's car ever starting up as a result of our efforts, but that was the goal.

Heh. That actually must have been kind of entertaining for the stranded motorists, in a "And next it's going to start raining" kind of way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:43 AM
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521: Ahhh, I see.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:44 AM
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519: Oh man, that's humiliating and shitty.

What's funny is that my parents talk all the time about how they need my prayers and stuff, but I don't think either of them has any actual faith in prayer. Mom will keep me on the phone until I vow to pray for her for issue X (which makes me feel really bad, and I don't know how to respond without lying), but she also knows that she's going to have to work really hard to fix whatever the problem is, like getting a job or whatever.

The big issue I have with her is her health. She hasn't been to a doctor in ten or twelve years, and is terrified of them. She calls with some horrible pain she wants me to pray for, and I tell her she obviously needs to see a doctor. But in this case only, she won't do shit about her health other than pray. I just sit on the phone yelling at her that we're not Christian Scientists, for fuck's sake; go to the goddamn doctor. Several times, I've accused her of using some vague definition of "faith" as a cloak for her fear, and then I quote II Timothy 1:7 and hope it will do the trick. But it never does.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:45 AM
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523: it's only as an adult looking back that I've realized how mortified I should have been. Some may have been entertained, but I think most people would have preferred a lift to the gas station.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:46 AM
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527

525: that's tough, and also sort of common. And as you noted, it's almost certainly not "faith" that's driving the decision, but fear of doctors (or of medical problems, or whatever). Probably best to tackle that directly. (As I'm sure you've tried.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:49 AM
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528

I think it's that she has friends who've gone to the doctor for a small problem and found out they have cancer. I say it's a good thing that they found the cancer. Mom says she'd rather enjoy her life not knowing she's got cancer until it's too late, because the treatments for it are too awful; she'd rather die. Mom's not a fighter.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:53 AM
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I'm not sure how you define "willful ignorance", but I doubt this qualifies.

I'm having difficulty imagining what else one could reasonably call it --- isn't this the same women who waffled over the flatness of the earth?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:04 AM
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I'm having difficulty imagining what else one could reasonably call it

Ignorance? Of the plain vanilla sort.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:05 AM
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I refuse to believe that they expect me to do anything more than sit respectfully while they do it

They don't. But my food! It's getting cold and it's right under my nose, so tasty, yummy, smelling like stomach-filling delight...

Basically, I just find the idea of praying really really weird. And if you gotta pray over your food, why not bless it in the production so you can eat right away once it's done? Judaism got it right the first time, Christians rebelled so their food could get cold. Just seems crazy to me.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:05 AM
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530: Oh, I see. But it's not like this information isn't easily available to her, or that she can possibly have avoided ever running into statements and ideas that don't mesh. I'd really have to call it willful.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:18 AM
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531: For that matter, why not `give thanks' after you've eaten?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:19 AM
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531--
"And if you gotta pray over your food, why not bless it in the production"

* The Romish Rituals direct the baptizing of the
child, in cases of danger, before it is born ; -- but
upon this proviso, That some part or other of the
child's body be seen by the baptizer : ---- But the
Doctors of the Sorbonne, by a deliberation held
amongst them, April 10, 1733, -- have enlarged the
powers of the midwives, by determining, That
tho' no part of the child's body should appear, ----
that baptism shall, nevertheless, be administered to
it by injection, -- par le moyen d'une petite Canulle. --
Anglicé, a squirt. --

Mr. Tristram Shandy's compliments to
Messrs. Le Moyne, De Romigny, and De
Marcilly, hopes they all rested well the
night after so tiresome a consultation. --
He begs to know, whether, after the ce-
remony of marriage, and before that of
consummation, the baptizing all the HO-
MUNCULI at once, slap-dash, by injection,
would not be a shorter and safer cut still ;
on condition, as above, That if the HO-
MUNCULI do well and come safe into the
world after this, That each and every of
them shall be baptized again (sous con-
dition.) ---- And provided, in the second
place, That the thing can be done,
which Mr. Shandy apprehends it may,
par le moyen d'une petite canulle, and,
sans faire aucun tort a le pere.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:27 AM
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534: Swoon. Thanks, KB.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:28 AM
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535--
ah, i should have remembered that you're a shandian, down to your handle.

well: that's a good days work. one nubile female swooning, and i never needed to cry, emote, or even photoshop.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:31 AM
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536: You grabbed me right by the handle!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:35 AM
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Semi-OT, from Romney's Don't-Fear-Teh-Mormon speech: "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom." Wake me when it's the Renaissance.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:37 AM
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519: I'm surprised no one ever beat your parents up.

532 seconded. Ignorance plain and simple is forgivable. Hanging on to one's ignorance when one has plenty of opportunity to learn, not so much.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:38 AM
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That's what irritates me; the ostentation of food-blessing by people who don't believe in blessing things.

Yeah, this is what gets me, too -- the passive aggressive piety thing. The quiet, unobtrusive personal pause to express thanks doesn't bother me a bit and seems like a good habit even the non-religious could adopt as a way of not losing sight of our good fortune. It also doesn't bother me when I'm dining with religious families (say, at the holidays) and the prayer over the meal is offered as part of them family's custom -- it's their custom, and part of their family bond, and rather than feeling like it's been aggressively thrust upon me, I am inclined to feel it as a gracious inclusion of me in their ritual. But the restaurant thing, people who either don't know if you personally are inclined to pray or don't care, and insist that you must share a vocal blessing with them -- that makes me squirm.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:38 AM
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Mom will keep me on the phone until I vow to pray for her for issue X

Tell her that you're praying nightly that she'll go see a doctor?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:42 AM
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540: Yeah, that kind of thing reminds me of people like my cousin, for whom an insistent "Merry CHRISTmas!" at shopkeepers isn't good enough. He says, "Have a BLESSED Christmas," and then goes on to explain to the person he's talking to that he chooses to say "Have a BLESSED Christmas" so they won't forget that Christmas isn't just about having a good time; it's about the blessing of the life and death of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

If I were a shopkeeper, that would be about the time I pull the shotgun out from behind the counter.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:43 AM
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Judaism got it right the first time, Christians rebelled so their food could get cold. Just seems crazy to me.

I like to pause a moment before we start eating, because usually otherwise I feel like I've been rushing around getting dinner on the table and then I start eating right away, still in sort of a rush, and only notice what I'm putting into my mouth seven or eight bites into the meal, which seems stupid.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:47 AM
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"Have a BLESSED Christmas," and then goes on to explain to the person he's talking to that he chooses to say "Have a BLESSED Christmas" so they won't forget that Christmas isn't just about having a good time; it's about the blessing of the life and death of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

This reminds me of my somewhat (but not entirely) unfair acute allergy to people who reply "Blessed" when you ask them how they're doing.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:49 AM
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545

There are people who say that? Holy shit.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:50 AM
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546

The canonical reply to 544 is `Huh. That's not what I hear.'


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:51 AM
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547

This reminds me of my somewhat (but not entirely) unfair acute allergy to people who reply "Blessed" when you ask them how they're doing.

I've heard this used a lot. Not quite as much as "fucked," but pretty close.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:52 AM
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545: Yeah, they're usually of neither my own race nor my own socio-economic position, which I'm sure is part of why I feel a little bad about wanting to recoil in horror.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:53 AM
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The canonical reply to 544 is `Huh. That's not what I hear.'

Or "By who?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:53 AM
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550

Or say "God blesses them that bless themselves."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:54 AM
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A simple "I'm so glad we can all be here together to share this meal" throwing in "and, [Chef], thanks for cooking, it looks fabulous," if the meal is home-cooked seems to cover the spiritual goal of not taking your blessings for granted, the social goal of not making your companions uncomfortable, and the gastronomic goal of making sure you don't just shovel it all down too hastily.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:54 AM
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I tend to respond to "how are you doing" with expressive gestures of bearing up under despair, myself.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:55 AM
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545: This probably correlates highly with people with bumper stickers reading `Danger, in case of Rapture car will be unmanned'


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:55 AM
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554

I'm old enough to remember a generation for whom "blessed" was a euphemism: "Oh blow! Christmas again and I haven't bought a blessed thing yet!" Wishing somebody a blessed Christmas sounds really mean.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:57 AM
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555

This reminds me of my somewhat (but not entirely) unfair acute allergy to people who reply "Blessed" when you ask them how they're doing.

Eh, recoiling in horror does seem a little unfair. When you ask someone how they are doing, you give them license to give an honest answer and if they honestly feel blessed, why shouldn't they be able to say so? Now, if they go on to explain how you, too, can be blessed if only.... Recoil away.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:59 AM
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545/548: Hm. Maybe I'm being condescending, but I read poor blacks (and occasionally the white rural poor as well) saying this as less an assertion of arrogant superiority (usually) than a performance of optimism; as such, it not only doesn't bother me, it makes me smile.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:02 AM
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557

God, I am so glad that since I became an atheist I never have to pray over a goddamn meal again. When I was a kid, I always gave the most heartfelt, articulate prayers (and long!) so it became the de facto rule that I had to do the prayer every night before dinner. My (coptic catholic) dad was so enamored with my (mormon) praying that even when we would go to eat with relatives, he would ask me to bless the food, which I felt weird about, but would do anyway. He thought it was better than their standard "mumble stuff and do the sign of the cross" prayer. So when I was a teenager I was still asked to do all the praying, even though I was no longer as enthusiastic.

I'm still amazed when I go to eat at my boyfriend's parents' house and they don't ask me to say grace. It's like I think my secret prayer-fu will be known to all. I really am quite good at it, though I hate it.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:02 AM
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558

Eh, recoiling in horror does seem a little unfair. When you ask someone how they are doing, you give them license to give an honest answer and if they honestly feel blessed, why shouldn't they be able to say so? Now, if they go on to explain how you, too, can be blessed if only.... Recoil away.

Absolutely. If you do not want to hear about someone's bowl movements or religious faith, do not ask them how they are doing!

Any person who still asks other people "How are you doing?", obviously does not spend any time around old people or chronic complainers.

A simple "good afternoon" is sufficient.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:03 AM
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521: Sorry if it's bothered you.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:03 AM
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560

Optimism is depressing, duh.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:04 AM
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556: In that case, I'd probably have the same reaction.

The only people I can remember saying this to me were middle class, white, annoying evangelicals. Hence 553. Mileage may obviously vary.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:04 AM
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On the other hand, bumperstickers about one's blessedness really are just obnoxious.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:06 AM
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I think 'willful ignorance' is a more fair description of the bit where Shepherd defends her right not to know whether the world is flat or not.

"I don't know. I never thought about it Whoopi. Is the world flat? I never thought about... I... I... No... But I'll tell you what I have thought about. How I'm going to feed my child, take care of my family. 'Is the world flat' has not been an important thing to me."

On the other hand, I think it's certainly possible to live an adult life without ever being hit in the face with the chronology of historical civilization. Not the kind of life that I'd want to live


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:07 AM
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Bumperstickers are obnoxious, except on hippie vehicles where they cover most of the car, because then they're interesting.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:07 AM
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565

I am not a overtly religious person, but I try to have my son or someone else at the table talk about what we are thankful for.

Typically, we are thankful about the company we have with us or someone who has done something good for us recently or the fact that Bush will not be in office much longer or that we have people willing to go into harm's way in a short-sighted, poorly chosen, effort to protect us.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:07 AM
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middle class, white, annoying evangelicals.

Oh dear god. Then yes, they deserve to be smacked.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:08 AM
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Bumperstickers are obnoxious, except on hippie vehicles where they cover most of the car, because then they're interesting.

I generally agree. As a result, I have ordered about 60 of the following bumper stickers to place on the cars outside the flophouse at DC Unfogged: "If you are riding my ass, you better be pulling my hair."


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:09 AM
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Not the kind of life that I'd want to live

...but also not the kind of life I'd necessarily want to condemn people for.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:09 AM
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563: Exactly. In fact, not only willful ignorance, but *self-righteously* willful ignorance. Grrr.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:10 AM
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I am not a overtly religious person, but I try to have my son or someone else at the table talk about what we are thankful for.

Okay, as a parent you can subject your son to this, because parents are supposed to make their children feel awkward and annoyed. But "someone else at the table"?

At Thanksgiving, my mom decided that my cousin's au pair should give the big speech about what she was thankful for this year. And just to make it more fun, she decided the au pair should give the speech in her native tongue with me translating for the room. The au pair was a good sport about being put on the spot, but I think she probably would have preferred to just eat some turkey.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:14 AM
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Why is it the non-Catholics who always want to tell the Catholics what Catholicism is all about?

B, I think there are both two sides to this, and that it is in no way restricted to Catholics.

It's perfectly reasonable to bridle at someone telling you how your personal belief system works, and even at generalizing about people who claim to have similar beliefs ( with a caveat about selection bias -- they might have a better idea of it than you do). On the other hand, any organized religion or whatever has a track record of how it acts externally, regardless of the internal discussion, and absolutely can be judged on that.

More to your original point, I find a lot of north american Catholics of my acquaintance trying to distance themselves from the Vatican etc. in ways that fundamentally don't hold up --- meaning that you can't completely do it. Vatican positions about birth control may not make a big difference in the lives of many individual Catholics in the US & Canada, as you note, but they sure as shit do in South America. Some of the responsibility for this lies with every single person who calls themselves Catholic, period. Which isn't to say that this is the primary feature of Catholisism in the US, or anything of the sort.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:17 AM
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Okay, as a parent you can subject your son to this, because parents are supposed to make their children feel awkward and annoyed. But "someone else at the table"?

We make it appropriate for the audience. When you come for your post-divorce celebratory dinner, we will say "And thank you for Di's sweet booty" or "thank goodness that Di was able to escape the evil clutches of UNG!"


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:17 AM
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"both two sides"

sigh. i need to proof these.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:19 AM
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DK, I hope you apologized to the au pair in her own language, under your breath....

571: Maybe so. OTOH, Catholics who oppose the kind of oppressive bullshit about birth control that goes on in a lot of South America have a lot more sway than non-Catholics who like to sit around and talk about how restrictive birth control policies in other countries are all our fault.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:25 AM
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571.2

True if you are comparing an activist Catholic to an armchair complainer (hardly the only scenario). That's not the only likely scenario, but I agree that `it's the Catholics fault, blah blah blah' isn't going to do anyone any good.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:27 AM
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Vatican positions about birth control may not make a big difference in the lives of many individual Catholics in the US & Canada, as you note, but they sure as shit do in South America.

Cite?


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:29 AM
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Bumperstickers are obnoxious

One of my many "million dollar ideas" was to have printed up a bunch of international "no" sign (red circle with a diagonal line through it, seen here as no smoking http://keysan.com/big/piczavt6165.html) to affix over offending bumper stickers. To be sold wherever offensive bumperstickers are sold.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:29 AM
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I was responding more to

ways that fundamentally don't hold up --- meaning that you can't completely do it,

and

Some of the responsibility for this lies with every single person who calls themselves Catholic, period,

which sounded pretty self-righteous to me. Arguably it's true that one can't be Catholic and still claim to have nothing to do with the Vatican's bullshit, but ime most Catholic critics of the Vatican actually say that this is a (not the only) major reason not to, say, convert to Episcopalianism. But the "some responsibility lies with everyone who calls themselves Catholic" thing seems to me to be patent nonsense Catholic-bashing. (Unintentionally, I'm sure.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:31 AM
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Perhaps I worded it badly B, but I believe strongly that you cannot associate yourself with an organization of any type without associating yourself with the actions of that organization, period. In this sense, every member does bear some responsibility for these actions. Your comment about a this perhaps being a major reason for an internal critic *not* to leave is a good one. This is an acceptance of the very responsibilty I am talking about, along with the idea that you can affect more change from the inside than by leaving (probably true). Of course if you choose not to do anything about it, that's as seperate issue. I'm not saying this is the defining characteristic, or that the calculations aren't complicated. And certainly the responsibility is not equally distributed. It's much the same argument as say, how responsibility for the fiasco in Iraq lies in some sense on all US citizens, but in no way is the equally distributed. I reiterate, this has nothing to do *particularly* with Catholics. It's just one of many large organizations.

On this particular case:
I'm not trying to (or going to) make any sort of generalized claims about what Catholics do or don't do, that would be silly. I have personally known a few north american Catholics, though, who honesly believe they can take the parts of it they like, and deny any connection to the parts they don't like. They are uninterested in what the church does or doesn't do globally, because they actually believe it has no more to do with them than it does with me, for example. This is wrong.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:42 AM
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577: There is an easily removable bumpersticker sold in packages of 10 or 50 or so... it reads `I park like an asshole'


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:43 AM
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579: And certainly the responsibility is not equally distributed.

In fact, sometimes it's distributed so unequally that it becomes almost meaningless to talk about collective responsibility. The average Catholic has little practical control over what the Vatican does, but may otherwise prefer not to be excommunicated or otherwise severed from the Church. It's therefore dubious to talk about their "share" of responsibility in the Pope's views on birth control.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:47 AM
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It's not as if the Vatican's response to 20 million liberalish American Catholics decamping would be to change their doctrine on birth control. As has been noted in the past, the RCC is not a democracy.

One of the insane, anti-catholic positions of Ratzi is his "we need a smaller, better church" line. Um, what part of "catholic" don't you understand?

This also gets back to B's much earlier point: the whole premise of the RCC is its universality; you can't even suggest such a thing if you're not willing to contain multitudes. It's a mindset that inflects the whole enterprise, even when certain aspects are limiting or exclusionary.

I think it's worth noting that Evangelicals claim that all you need to do is recite the Jesus Prayer ("I accept the Lord Jesus as my Savior...."), in explicit contrast to all the ritual and magic of the RCC. But the reality is that Evangelicals spend far more time on their Xtianity than Catholics. The RCC says you should do all these things to be a Good Catholic, but most priests are happy if some connection is maintained; Evangelicals say you just need to do one thing - and that something you could do silently, in the car - but pastor and congregant alike give the stinkeye to anyone who doesn't go to services and Bible Study and Retreat. Reality vs. rhetoric.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:48 AM
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579: Hm. I know what you mean and sometimes I agree, but otoh it's sort of like saying "America: love it or leave it." It's not as though most of us *really* have a choice about many of these basic identity/affiliations. I mean, people can move to Canada and revoke their citizenship b/c of the Iraq war, but they'll *still* be, on some level, Americans.

Plus I just don't think that the whole "it's your responsibility" thing is worth much. It seems too much like the argument that one isn't voting because the Dems are just like the Republicans, and one wants to register one's own personal opposition to The System. Meh. Refusing to identify as Catholic isn't going to help a damn thing, either, in terms of the church's teachings.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:49 AM
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559: I'm fine with you, always, especially as the opinions in 445 may be representing a conversation, and have originated with your interlocutor. Just thought it was funny in context as having started with B's "defining Catholics to Catholics" quote.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:50 AM
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579: along with the idea that you can affect more change from the inside than by leaving (probably true).

"Effect", right? But more importantly, I think this is misguided. B, I hate to break it to you but the Vatican is not listening to you. They do however pay attention to declining membership, declining mass attendence, declining donations. Sometimes their response is wrong (retrenchment), but in that case they're at least paying attention.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:51 AM
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483: You can, if it floats your boat, be a devout and theologically sophisticated episcopalian, adhere to the 39 Articles, etc.,

OFE, most Episcopalians, even those who really believe in God, aren't theologically sophisticated. In the American Book of Common Prayer (© 1979) the 39 articles are printed in the back of the book as historical documents, but they are not considered to have anything like binding authority. The same goes for the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886, 1888 which attempted to outline the basics of the Beliefs of the Protestant Episcopal church to further ecumenical dialogue. (It's somewhat high-handed even though it explicitly says, "we're all catholics, because we want to be one church, but we don't have any plans to try to absorb other communions.")


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:52 AM
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The average Catholic has little practical control over what the Vatican does

Doesn't the average Catholic have absolutely no control or input into what the Vatican does? It's supposed to be a strict one-way hierarchy, right?

America: love it or leave it

For your own good.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:54 AM
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585: And I think you're wrong. No, the Vatican may not be listening to me, but (for instance) the Mexican government *is* listening to vocal Catholics who want abortion to be at least minimally legal. And Mexican liberal Catholics *do* get a lot of support from liberal Catholics north of the border.

Which gets back to the point that it *isn't all about the Vatican.*


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:55 AM
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Also, if you think that their retrenchment isn't at least as much a response to liberal Catholics as it is to declining enrollments, I think you're nuts.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:56 AM
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OFE, most Episcopalians, even those who really believe in God, aren't theologically sophisticated.

BG, why are you busting on our tribe??!?!?!

We can be sophisticated and still believe that they are not binding.

That is part of what makes us sophisticated and smarter than everyone else!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:56 AM
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582: All of 582.1/2/3 is true, but doesn't let you off the particular hook I'm describing. I pretty much reject 581. `I can't change they popes mind' is true in the same sense that `my vote won't change anything'. Also, you can't change dogma, but you can affect policy and interactions with states, etc. You can agitate for, or actually implement, programs and policies that mitigate the issues attendent with some of these church positions. There are any number of things that could be done that don't involve this false dichotomy (changing the popes mind or excommunication)

All I'm saying is that you simply cannot wash your hands of it entirely. Not that this defines Catholisism as it's practiced, or that this sort of thing is somehow the Catholics fault/problem and nobody elses. As noted before, this I believe to be true of any organization you associate with --- the larger and more complicated, the more complicated your relationship to it. But you do have a relationship to it, and it cuts both ways.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:57 AM
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586, Oh I know. I was raised Anglican myself. I was just registering surprise that the phenomenon of the church-going atheist (who made up half the congregation when I was a boy) appears to be alive and well in a country where membership of that particular church doesn't seem to carry much special cachet.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:57 AM
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The average Catholic has little practical control over what the Vatican does, but may otherwise prefer not to be excommunicated or otherwise severed from the Church.

And it should be reiterated that, from the RCC POV, leaving isn't really an option, unless you cease to believe. There is One Church - going elsewhere is nonsensical. I've never understood Catholics who leave the Church due to some specific problem with a priest or parish - if you believe what you say you do, then Episcopalian or Methodist is no more an alternative than Jewish or Shinto. Find another parish or stop going to church, but it's not a buffet. (it's a weak analogy, but just because your hometown team makes some boneheaded move, you don't switch allegiance to another team - that's not what fandom means)


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:59 AM
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That is, I'm far from dismissing the genuineness of believing Episcopalians, notwithstanding the reputation the church sometimes gets. But I would have imagined that American congregations would be made up of believers only, and I'm surprised to be told different.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:00 PM
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595

the Mexican government *is* listening to vocal Catholics who want abortion to be at least minimally legal. And Mexican liberal Catholics *do* get a lot of support from liberal Catholics north of the border

Do you think either of these things is true in a way that would not be true for an equal number of Mexican women, who were not Catholic? I don't.

To 589, yes, I think their retrenchment is probably much more a response to liberal catholicism than to declining enrollment. But retrenchment is not the right outcome. And I think the right outcome--opening things up a bit--is (when and to the extent it has occurred) more a response to enrollments than to liberal catholicism.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:02 PM
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As noted before, this I believe to be true of any organization you associate with --- the larger and more complicated, the more complicated your relationship to it. But you do have a relationship to it, and it cuts both ways.

A new benefit to Emerson's anti-relationship policy!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:02 PM
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582 - Doesn't that distinction have a lot to do with old Calvinist models, where people who are saved will demonstrate their saved status by acting holy all the time and so forth? My understanding of the basic Calvinist principle (which infests a lot of Evangelical religion, even if they're explicitly Arminian) is that while not everyone who acts holy, and so forth, is really saved, everyone who doesn't is definitely damned. Because if you're saved and truly have faith, you'll do all that shit.

But I don't know. I find Evangelical protestantism really weird, in general

Also, I'm proud of my comment on prayers before dinner inspiring nearly 100 comments. Go me.


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:03 PM
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Semi-OT, from Romney's Don't-Fear-Teh-Mormon speech: "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom."

Also, war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:04 PM
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but otoh it's sort of like saying "America: love it or leave it." ... but they'll *still* be, on some level, Americans.

Ok, I think we're getting close to the heart of it. I agree people who grow up `Catholic' or `American' are not easily dissociated from that (it's a bit different if you immigrate/convert), and I don't think they should be. And there are aspects of both these things (and many others) that are likely to be in conflict with some particular members of the association. These things do not define you alone, as an individual. However, part of what does define you as an individual is how you respond to things that you are associated with by this -- even if you wouldn't choose to be.

At the simplest level `The Pope said that, but I don't believe it', and `I didn't vote for the President' are the same sort of dodge, and it does not and cannot dissolve the association. You can forcibly break it (hard), you can stake a claim of your own (sometimes easy, sometimes hard), but you can't wave it away.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:05 PM
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595 -

How many non-Catholic Mexicans are there? Wikipedia says that 95% of Mexicans call themselves Catholic.


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:06 PM
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584: It was a fairly narrow discussion, resulting from a conversation with another colleague of some other varietal who professed profound disbelief at what it could mean to be culturally Catholic. Being philosophers we decided to analyze the concepts. I completely missed your joke, though, so a sincere thanks for clarifying.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:07 PM
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Frankly, retrenchment is a result of the (increasingly) conservative cardinals appointed by a freakishly long-lived Pope. At this point, virtually the entire Vatican is PJP II appointees (whatever the term is), and they range from conservative to reactionary. I'm not sure you can call what is going on in Rome a considered policy response to events of the past 10-15 years so much as the inevitable result of PJP's appointments. It's a closed feedback loop, not an open one.

Note that Americans are generally mistrusted in Rome - there are virtually no American cardinals who are influential in Rome. Instead you've got ultra-conservative Africans and Eastern Europeans.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:08 PM
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But I would have imagined that American congregations would be made up of believers only, and I'm surprised to be told different.

We are the fun church that finds it difficult or distasteful to judge others.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:08 PM
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600: sure, of course. But my point is that even if the country weren't catholic at all, the government could still be responding to pressure from domestic women to allow some abortion rights (in fact, probably would have far sooner). And that liberal women in the US, be they catholic or not, would support them in that effort.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:09 PM
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Will, I wasn't particularly putting down Episcopalians, or "my tribe," as you put it; I just don't think that most religious people in most parts of the world are terribly theologically sophisticated. I know a lot of Episcopaliasn who don't even know about the 39 articles of the faith.

OFE, there's a certain branch of liberals in the Episcopal church who might be more comfortable as Unitarians. I'm not quite sure why they decide to stay.

There's not a ton of cachet, but there's a little bit. In DC a lot of politicians who act like fire-breathing evangelicals (that horrid Republican whip Roy Blunt comes to mind) attend Episcopal churches. Christ Church, Georgetown is full of them, though there are a lot of Democrats there too.

My church in Boston has a lot of powerful movers and shakers who attend, but they're definitely not atheists.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:12 PM
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How many non-Catholic Mexicans are there? Wikipedia says that 95% of Mexicans call themselves Catholic.

Well exactly. And if the 5% of non-Catholic Mexican women were leading the charge against birth control laws in Mexico, I guaran-fucking-tee they'd get ignored all the live-long day. "Real Mexicans understand the importance of birth control restrictions to our culture."

IOW, I think 595 is 100% incorrect, and I'd be curious to hear a coherent story how it isn't.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:12 PM
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604 - yeah, that makes sense, certainly. Predominantly Catholic countries seem to be pretty universally later than predominantly Protestant countries in legalizing abortion.


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:13 PM
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Ah, I see now that I also think that 604 is 100% wrong. By what possible logic would a democratic gov't be extra-responsive to a group of vocal minority-types? Is this why African-Americans have it so good?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:14 PM
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We are the fun church that finds it difficult or distasteful to judge others.

Quite so. But I find it perfectly possible to be non-judgemental in a pub, which is even more fun. So why go to church unless you're a convinced Christian?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:14 PM
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606 - the 5% of Mexicans who are not Catholic are apparently mostly Pentecostal, so they're even less likely to be protesting for abortion than the Catholics.


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:14 PM
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OFE, there's a certain branch of liberals in the Episcopal church who might be more comfortable as Unitarians. I'm not quite sure why they decide to stay.

There's not a ton of cachet, but there's a little bit. In DC a lot of politicians who act like fire-breathing evangelicals (that horrid Republican whip Roy Blunt comes to mind) attend Episcopal churches. Christ Church, Georgetown is full of them, though there are a lot of Democrats there too.

BG gets it correct.

There are a lot of people going to Episcopal churches who would be very comfortable beings UUs. But, the social cachet is much higher as an Episcopal.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:15 PM
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Quite so. But I find it perfectly possible to be non-judgemental in a pub, which is even more fun. So why go to church unless you're a convinced Christian?

Smells and bells?


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:15 PM
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607 is beside the point - we're talking about what affects policy in Catholic Latin America - who gives a fig what Protestant countries elsewhere do?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:16 PM
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608: what? I have no idea what this means. I said equal number. I'm not talking about minority rights.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:18 PM
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Perhaps 608 missed the coutnerfactual in 604: even if the country weren't catholic at all


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:19 PM
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There are a lot of people going to Episcopal churches who would be very comfortable beings UUs. But, the social cachet is much higher as an Episcopal.

It's tribal, obvs. Not just for the individuals, but also for how they see themselves through generations - they don't want to be the ones who take their descendants out of the church to which their family has always belonged. Like the absurd tendency of people to return to church once they have kids. I suppose God must be happy for the fresh blood, but I bet he's tempted to smite those bastards right before pregnancy. "Oh, I'm sorry, were you coming back to the fold in 10 months? What a shame. Hello to Judas for me!"


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:20 PM
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There's not a ton of cachet, but there's a little bit

for a take on some of this, I recommend Joan Didion's essay James Pike, American.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:21 PM
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Smells and bells?

I suspect that's part of it. My father, who was the vaguest sort of deist, went to church to sing in the choir. But that's a small minority - they can never get enough choristers, as he never tired of telling me.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:21 PM
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There's also more social pressure in the US to be kind of religious than I get the feeling there is in the UK. Not all that much (like, where I live, none), but openly saying that you don't believe in God at all is a moderately unusual position. For a go-along-to-get-along type, there are social attractions to being identified with some form of church, even if you don't go to it, and the Episcopalians are very atheist-friendly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:24 PM
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Brock, I understood your claim in 595 to be that non-Catholic Mexican women would have equal or better success than Catholic Mexican women at effecting political change. I find that claim absurd, but perhaps you never meant to make it.

Do you think either of these things is true in a way that would not be true for an equal number of Mexican women, who were not Catholic? I don't.

The counterfactual in 604 just seems odd, since we're talking about how Catholic women in America might support their Catholic sisters in Mexico. Positing a non-Catholic Mexico seems to take us away from the current discussion entirely.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:25 PM
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So why go to church unless you're a convinced Christian?

Free coffee? Coffee hour is practically a sacrament in the Episcopal church.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:25 PM
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I like the idea of raising kids who identify as Unitarians, like I did, but having to truck over there on Sundays and attend sounds like such a pain in the ass.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:25 PM
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Yeah, we might do that if there were a convenient UU church. The social activism/donuts sounds attractive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:26 PM
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We've already seen the world's worst thought experiment with comment #425, let's not start another discussion with "Assume a Unitarian Mexico".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:26 PM
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My father was a UU in all but name by grad school, but he only went once - he saw no point in church without smells and bells. He went to Mass every Sunday of my youth, singing along and staying in the pew as the rest of us got our wafers. He stopped going once my mom stopped making him.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:27 PM
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"Assume a Unitarian Mexico".

The Young Woman Autonomously In Control Of Her Own Sexuality of Guadalupe!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:28 PM
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Coffee hour is practically a sacrament in the Episcopal church.

I'm sorry, but the idea of the Episcopalian Christ at the last supper politely waiting for the coffee and liqueurs to raise the difficult subjects is just too much.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:28 PM
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I laughed out loud at 626.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:29 PM
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The Young Woman Autonomously In Control Of Her Own Sexuality of Guadalupe!

Glad I previewed before posting my much weaker version of this.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:29 PM
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I understood your claim in 595 to be that non-Catholic Mexican women would have equal or better success than Catholic Mexican women at effecting political change

...in a non-Catholic country. Yes. To step back, B claimed that "the Vatican may not be listening to me, but (for instance) the Mexican government *is* listening to vocal Catholics who want abortion to be at least minimally legal", as if this were somehow related to Catholicism as a religion. And I was pointing out that what the Mexican government is listening are the strongly expressed opinions of a very large demographic of the population. It has nothing to do with religion or Catholicism. In fact, the only thing that has anything to do with religion about it is that it's taken so long to get this far--absent the widespread Catholicism, abortion in Mexico would very likely have been less restricted quite some time ago.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:31 PM
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609 is right.

There's something just wrong about being a regular church attender if i) you have the choice and ii) don't believe.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:31 PM
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Another thing is that a lot of people want to get married in church, but a church doesn't have to marry you, if you're not a member. I know that in teh C of E, sicne it's a branch of the state, your kid gets baptized, if you want it to: you don't need to go to classes about the meaning of baptism. There are plenty of Chreesters (Christmas and Easter only people) who like the ceremony and find the festival decorations attractive.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:32 PM
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There's something just wrong about being a regular church attender if i) you have the choice and ii) don't believe.

Depends on what you mean by "if you have the choice".

If it's standard practice to go along what everyone else does by going to church, then you go to church, as in the US. If it's standard practice to go along with what everyone else does by not going to church, then you don't go to church, as in the UK.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:33 PM
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Re: 609 and 631, OFE and ttaM, there are a lot of people who would call themselves Episcopalians who don't attend church regularly. See my comment about Chreesters above.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:35 PM
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631: It's a social thing. Most people aren't strongly committed to their religious beliefs one way or the other. In the UK, that turns into indifferent atheism, in the US, into "I suppose there's a vaguely Christian God."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:35 PM
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631--
i don't see the wrong. just another voluntary association, plus coffee hour of course.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:36 PM
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If it's standard practice to go along what everyone else does

I want a better standard practice.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:36 PM
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I like the idea of raising kids who identify as Unitarians, like I did, but having to truck over there on Sundays and attend sounds like such a pain in the ass.

heebie, you dont have to.

I currently belong to both a UU church and an Episcopal church. Of course, I do not attend either one and I still get letters from the Baptist church I attended when I was married.

Plus, to use JRoth's phrase, belief is a buffet in many churches.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:37 PM
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At Thanksgiving, my mom decided that my cousin's au pair should give the big speech about what she was thankful for this year. And just to make it more fun, she decided the au pair should give the speech in her native tongue with me translating for the room.

At Thanksgiving this year at my mom's, one notably pompous invited guest decided we should (a) hold hands while (b) he said grace and then (c) asked this poor exchange student to say grace in his native language, then translated. We went along, but geez, not your house, buddy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:37 PM
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i don't see the wrong. just another voluntary association, plus coffee hour of course.

Don't forget sundresses!


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:37 PM
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Aiieeee! Romney's speech squicked me to the point of production. I know it was illuminating. But the lies! the lies!


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:38 PM
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418, 447, 637: Yes, yes, yes.


Posted by: Hustle Misterioso | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:39 PM
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I'm not religious, but I do enjoy buffets.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:39 PM
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We went along, but geez, not your house, buddy.

I have real trouble going along with stuff like this. If it's done with humility, maybe. Pompously? Not going to happen. I'm not saying this is a good thing, it's caused some friction that could have been avoided.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:40 PM
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From Romney's speech:

Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president. Like him, I am an American running for president.

Interesting that he doesn't parallel the second clause with "not a Mormon running for president." Apparently he only used the term Mormon once in the entire speech.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:41 PM
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re: 634

Lots of people who genuinely believe don't attend church regularly. That seems fine.

re: 635

People who sort of vaguely believe but who attend at least partly for social reasons. Also seems fine. It's not like everyone is a theologian with a completely worked out theology.

However, people who don't believe but attend anyway -- that's just wrong. I remember previously a discussion on here where someone who didn't believe in God was discussing which Church they wanted to join. There's something quite cynical about it that seems morally suspect. Not least it seems like it's offensive to people who do believe.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:41 PM
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643--
"but I do enjoy buffets"
i keep reading this to rhyme with muffet and tuffet.
in which case--see the 'fun fun' thread.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:41 PM
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644: yeah you might not get along with this guy. The key is to never take him seriously, but he got the timing just right this time and everybody was caught by surprise.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:42 PM
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645: Apparently the same number of times he used the term "Anabaptist"!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:42 PM
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647: Little Miss Muffet sat on a Buffet / and gave Warren quite a niice lay.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:44 PM
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Holy shit, Romney's an Anabaptist!?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:46 PM
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So why go to church unless you're a convinced Christian?

In our case, we had been attending the Episcopal church my wife liked. Then came the kids, duly baptised in same church. When it came time for school, suddenly she remembers I'm Catholic, so we start attending the church with the best parochial school. Of course by we I mean me and the kids. She stays home, but she is quite insistant that we go. The kids do like the donuts.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:46 PM
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Yeah. Read as a foreigner, the thing that struck me was the conflation of "religious liberty" with "liberty" with American nationalism.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:47 PM
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651. Yay the Munster Bretheren! That's almost get my vote.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:51 PM
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OK, Brock, 630 makes more sense - I was taking 595 to be responsive to a slightly different part of B's argument. But I still think that her claim - that (some) US Catholics play a special role supporting Mexican Catholics in liberalizing Mexican policies (which was in response to biscuit's suggestion that US Catholics are collaborationists) - is fairly valid.

One interesting thing about US-Latin American church relations is that a lot of US congregations send missions down, which are 90% about material aid. But when Catholics do it, it's side-by-side religiously, whereas Protestants are necessarily either evangelizing ("Don't listen to the Pope") or vague ("We all believe in Jesus."). Point being that cross-border, intra-RCC relationships exist, and can be supportive of social change in Mexico in a way that is different from, say, NOW opening an office in Mexico City.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:52 PM
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and can be supportive of social change in Mexico in a way that is different

I certainly believe this can be true, and wasn't meaning to suggest anywhere that this sort of thing doesn't happen at all.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:56 PM
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Most people aren't strongly committed to their religious beliefs one way or the other. In the UK, that turns into indifferent atheism, in the US, into "I suppose there's a vaguely Christian God."

And in Latin America into "I'm a Catholic."


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 1:05 PM
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Point being that cross-border, intra-RCC relationships exist, and can be supportive of social change in Mexico in a way that is different from, say, NOW opening an office in Mexico City.

Of course, and absolutely true, and if B was making the "one big family" argument then I guess this is right. That wasn't how I read her, but it makes sense. She thinks she should stay in the Church (oh, that's not fair--let's depersonalize--she thinks it's fine for one who doesn't really believe in any traditional sense and is in pracitcal opposition to the church) rather than leave in protest because as a practical matter it allows more good to be done for Catholics in Mexico, due to solidarity and shared cultural experience. I guess so, maybe.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 1:08 PM
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;-)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 1:12 PM
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I guess so, maybe.

If you are actually working practically in or for Latin American interests, I can see this. That's about it, though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 1:13 PM
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Again, though, soup, your position is very judgmental, and I'm not sure where it gets you. There are 4 options that I can see for those who disagree with Vatican policy:

1. Stay in the church and do nothing
2. Leave the church and do nothing
3. Stay in the church and do something
4. Leave the church and do something

I simply don't believe that 2 is superior to 1 except in a Naderite self-righteous sense - Ratzi doesn't get an urgent cable every time a liberal Catholic leaves the church. 2 also has the disadvantage of putting one's soul in peril.

I also don't believe that 4 will have more practical effect than 3 - all that leaving the Church does is limit an avenue for effecting change.

So we're left with you saying that one must do something, and 3 is the only valuable thing. Does this mean that every American who isn't working - actively - to subvert the Bush Admin is in the wrong? Every AAA member who doesn't fight AAA's pro-sprawl policies? Every college football fan who doesn't protest the raw deal that the athletes get? As I said above, you might be better off without any affiliations at all.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 1:27 PM
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JRoth, my position, if it to be called judgemental, is not judgemental of Catholics in particular but rather of people who disavow any connection to the policies and statements of an organization they associate themselves with.

I'm not saying anyone has to do anything. I'm not saying that if you choose to do something, it wouldn't be more effective to your particular goals to work within an organization than to leave it in protest or whatever. Obviously these things are situational. That's what I meant by 660, by the way, if you are talking about a particular situation, it can be demonstrably benificial, great. If you are talking about potentialities though, you can't really say.

All I am saying is one very narrow thing, as it relates to my own experience. What I am saying, is that you cannot claim that it (the actions of the organization) has nothing to do with you.

That claim is bullshit. I've had people make it to me in multiple contexts. It might make some people sleep better or whatever, but it is fundamentally wrong.

And yes, in some sense every American who isn't working - actively - to subvert/replace/otherwise fix the Bush administration is wrong, if they believe the administration is wrong. Wrong in the way that we all are in so many ways in our lives. We all know there are things we `should' be doing, but don't, or don't prioritize for, or whatever. In cases like the given example, though, inaction is actually part of the problem so one can't claim that by not doing anything you aren't contributing to a larger problem.

This is fine. It's part of life. You accept there are only so many hours in the day, that you aren't going to become an ascetic/deep ecologist/whatever, that your own priorities & life sometimes conflict with your ideals. Recognizing that you are contributing to some of the things that you see are wrong in the world is the only mature standpoint, really. Recognizing that you won't do everything that you can to change this is natural, and good.

Pretending it doesn't exist isn't ok.

The only reason this came up in this particular context for me was the fact that I have known a couple of Catholics who claim to simultaneously believe that a) as Catholics, they have insight into the actions of the church that are unavailable to others, who should all just butt out and b) that the bits of the church activity in other bits of the world they don't agree with are irrelevant, and shouldn't be discusses as if they had any relvance to them. Neither of these positions are defensible, though weakend forms of both probably are. The weakened forms weren't on the table.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 1:55 PM
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I'm not saying that if you choose to do something, it wouldn't be more effective to your particular goals to work within an organization than to leave it in protest or whatever. Obviously these things are situational.

Albert O. Hirschmann had a great little book that works out the exact parameters of this question in theoretical terms.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 2:37 PM
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663: Interesting, thanks.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 2:38 PM
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591: I pretty much reject 581. `I can't change they popes mind' is true in the same sense that `my vote won't change anything'.

Except that you don't fucking vote for the Pope, so the analogy fails.

More importantly, as I see other people have already pointed out, top-down instruction from the Vatican does not in fact dictate the whole of Catholic life or of Catholics' interactions with their communities. So, people of your acquaintance are quite frankly right to be unimpressed at the claim that they're "responsible" in some meaningful sense for what the Church has done in [X], except if you're talking about a "responsibility" so abstract that it's completely meaningless. About the only real force the complaint could have is along the lines of "You shouldn't call yourself a Catholic and give me the opportunity to attack you with silly guilt-by-association arguments."


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:00 PM
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Except that you don't fucking vote for the Pope, so the analogy fails.

That's right, but it's not as if the hierarchy of the Church is completely unresponsive to the views of its members. It's not solely responsive to their views, obviously. The Church has any number of fairly fixed doctrinal positions, but things like Vatican II didn't come out of nowhere.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:07 PM
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Every AAA member who doesn't fight AAA's pro-sprawl policies?
This seems like a particularly bad example, because there are other auto clubs with better policies and pretty much the same benefits. I don't think one is born into/raised/indoctrinated into being an AAA member in the same way as one often is into a religious community. And AAA doesn't even have weekly meetings with coffee and donuts.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:12 PM
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This seems like a particularly bad example, because there are other auto clubs with better policies and pretty much the same benefits.

There are? Where? What are they? How do you know?

I don't think one is born into/raised/indoctrinated into being an AAA member in the same way as one often is into a religious community.

I was.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:15 PM
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know the sort of maddening shrug that soup is talking about, but if we're talking actual responsibility, there's practically speaking, none. Of the examples he gave, it's most like being an American except that there isn't even the option to vote. More apropos would be whether moderate Muslims should be expected to leave their faith over Islamist terrorism. Like the shrugging Catholic case, I'd be annoyed by someone who didn't even think it was something to be concerned about, but I wouldn't think that made them a terrorist-by-proxy.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:20 PM
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Better World Club is the one that comes to mind as being particularly opposite AAA in these matters. There are certainly lots of other clubs. I don't know where exactly they fall on the spectrum of advocacy between AAA and Better World; I expect some of them are pretty neutral.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:23 PM
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Albert O. Hirschmann had a great little book

I'm glad you mentioned that, KR: I thought of it right away but I've mentioned it at least three times, so I'm at my limit. I also appreciate your occasional Galbraithiana, since I'm maxed-out on that too.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:32 PM
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If I were going to vote for Pope, I don't think I'd cast my vote for the guy who terminated Hans Kung's authority to teach.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:33 PM
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And AAA doesn't even have weekly meetings with coffee and donuts.

AA does.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:35 PM
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Soup, Catholicism isn't (just) *an organization*. That's the basic problem with your argument.

it's fine for one who doesn't really believe in any traditional sense and is in pracitcal opposition to the church

That's mighty white of you, Brock, but what I've been ttrying to get you to understand is that *what people believe* isn't up to you. Or the Pope. (Plus you're begging the question of what "traditional" means--I think you mean "the conventionally understood, literal sense.") People make their own decisions about what they believe, what being Catholic (or not) means to them, and what their relationship to the Church is, and neither you nor the Pope nor all the Cardinals in the world have the power to decide that they're "wrong."

Okay, the Pope and the Cardinals do, but they don't exercise theat power very often. You certainly don't. Yes, there is a difference of opinion between conservative Catholics who believe that "a real Catholic believes x, y, and z" and liberal Catholics who say "not necessarily." That difference of opinion may make it impossible to have this discussion in any effective way. But it doesn't mean that the conservatives get to dismiss the liberals by saying that they only claim to be Catholic as "a practical mater," as if their Catholicism were simply a question of joining a club, or not, as Soup wants to have it.

Btw, you're also question-begging by saying that working for women's rights in Catholic countries has nothing to do with Catholicism. For *many* Catholics, Catholicism is very much a part of their pro-choice thinking. And yeah, you may not get that, and the Pope may disagree, but it is nonetheless a fact.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:42 PM
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And AAA doesn't even have weekly meetings with coffee and donuts.
AA does.

I left AA over their anti-alcohol policy positions. I tried to change the system from within, but then I gave up.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:45 PM
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672: A-fucking-men.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:58 PM
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Since I can see that some here need a little something extra to get them back on the path of righteousness, I'm going to recommend a gift idea that just came to me via unsolicited e-mail (how did they know) - a "Thomas Kinkade [Painter of Light - JPS] Faith Mountain Religious Christian Home Décor and Inspirational Gift"

It lights up! Warm light glows from every window, from a guiding star, from Jesus' cross, and ultimately from the topmost figure of Jesus resurrected for the perfect finishing touch in this religious Christian home decor.

It's only $135.00 - so get your order in today.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 4:10 PM
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677. Holy lightning bolts, Batman! That is going to be my white elephant gift this year! It is so stupendouly awful! Does it go to eleven?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 4:29 PM
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659 was especially for you, B.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 4:30 PM
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677: I can feel the holiness hemorrhaging from my eyeballs just looking at it. Amazing!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 4:31 PM
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This discussion was pretty much exactly like Death Comes for the Archbishop, except much less irritating.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 4:34 PM
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Bosch wants his royalties on that.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 4:54 PM
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681--
wow, i'm delighted that you found it much less irritating!


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 4:57 PM
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679: I figured, and also that you'd take mine as a given.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 5:13 PM
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No, I won't. You have to type it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 5:17 PM
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Then you'll just have to deal with being offended, I guess.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 5:20 PM
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Bitch.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 5:22 PM
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Brock is the archbishop, of course, and his tapeworm is Death.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 5:23 PM
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674: Ok, it's late at this .. but the church isn't primarily an organization in the same sense that a country isn't, or whatever. There is nothing really special about churches in this sense; it's just more entangled than many thins.

And ffs, I wasnt' equating the pope with a democratic leader. I know you didn't say I was (it was DS), but I though it was obvious that I'm talking about the relationship people see themselves as having with their president/prime minister or with the head of their curch.


DS: It's not meaningless. I want people to take a little responsibility for all that they are part of, and when that [abstract grouping] has some negative outcome, accept they bear at least a little bit of the responsibility for it --- and either address that or don't but don't pretend it doesn't have anythign to do with you.

I don't care if it the catholic church pressuring a small government into bad policies (or policies with bad unintended consequences) or a realization that damn, being part of a consumptive society means I am creating a shitload of waste. These are just facts, how you deal with them is up to you. I'm not telling you how to do anything. But anyone in any of these situations telling me that it is nothing to do with them is full of shit, and I'll call them on it.

And I'm really not picking on Catholics at all. I get irate at protestents trying to absent themselves from residential school enquiries, americans & brits trying to absent themselves from iraq, etc. You can distance yourself from these things with words or (more so) with actions. You simply cannot absent yourself. It's part and parcel.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 6:59 PM
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And I'm really not picking on Catholics at all.

And yet, you do appear to be singling out Catholics for special criticism. If you're talking about Christianity in general, or, even more broadly, speaking of religion in general, why not say so? But your concern with Catholics in relation to the Vatican does suggest a predominantly RC focus to your complaint.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 7:46 PM
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Come to think of it, it took my father, the Biblical archaeologist/former Episcopalian priest/college professor many many years to renounce his orders. He finally decided that a belief in God was probably a requirement for a member of the clergy. The Bish agreed.

Fortunately, my son has not had to spend much dining time with Grandma & Grandpa, as he wouldn't have the slightest idea what to do if asked to say grace. I did, however, break him of the habit of trying to convert the believing. 'You don't really believe in that shit???' is just rude.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:19 PM
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690: Possibly because he started out by responding to a particular claim about the relationship between Catholics and the Church?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:25 PM
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And then continued beating the drum to call individual Catholics to account for a hundred more comments or so.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:34 PM
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And yet, you do appear to be singling out Catholics for special criticism.

Well, actually no. Maybe you missed half of it. It was the context of the thread that caused me to take up that example of catholics. I thought I made it pretty clear that a) it happens in lots of settings an b) I've watched it happen w.r.t catholics


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:47 PM
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Maybe you missed half of it. It was the context of the thread that caused me to take up that example of catholics.

Oh well, maybe I did. Absent the context of which you speak, it sort of looks like you're doing an updated version of, "The Papists, they do but pimp for the whore of Babylon."

But I may have missed the half of it, after all.

But from what I have read, I suspect you're overlooking the complexly socio-cultural dimensions of religious affiliation ... treating membership in a church/temple/mosque as a matter of just another voluntary association, that you either sign up for or not, according to your own values and priorities and time commitments...as though you were either joining a bowling league or not, or else, perhaps, bowling alone...Judaism is not like that at all, of course (sure, you can be a secular Jew, but in which case, you're still Jewish), but Universal Unitarianism probably is, and Catholicism is perhaps somewhere in between, but probably closer to Jewish than to UU.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:32 PM
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689: It's not meaningless.

But you see, if you can't identify what "taking a little responsibility" would mean concretely, it's functionally meaningless. If you're just looking for some rhetorical admission of vague guilt-by-proxy, why would anyone care? What would be the point?

A while back I remember having a conversation with someone about the difference between being implicated and being complicit. I can't remember what thread it was, now, but this reminds me of it.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:42 PM
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I think part of the problem here is that soup is talking about conversations he's had with other people who have said things that no one here has said, and he's responding to them rather than anyone here.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:43 PM
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soup started out with the example that every single person who calls themselves Catholic is in some (as yet unspecified) sense responsible for whatever effect the Vatican's position on birth control has in Third World countries. Unless it's possible to specify what the responsibility we're talking about is, I just don't find this position very illuminating, is all.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:52 PM
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695: Well it's not so different as some maybe try and make out. I don't think I'm overlooking anything. I was allowing for arbitrarily complex socio-cultural dimensions, while pointing out this doesn't ever give you a free pass. I certainly wasn't saying it was easy to walk away, but that doesn't let you off the hook either.

I was trying to (and apparently failing) make a pretty narrow point. Someone complained about non-catholics commenting on what `catholic' meant, a point which I largely agree with --- but I was trying to point out sometimes it's a problem in the opposite direction, and it's a problem I've run into many times, from catholics and from non-catholics. You don't get to define away the bad things about your religion, whatever it is. And by association, you have some level of responsibility for those acts. That's just the way it is, it's part and parcel of what it means to be `a [whatever]'. And then I pointed out it's not just about religion, and this happens in other contexts too.

This probably isn't going anywhere useful. B. suggests above I was being boring --- I'm sorry about that. All I got back was well, you're mostly right but it's not really like that for religion because [vague appeal to complexity] when actually I think yes, it really is like that, period. I just don't think it's a huge deal. Also for what it's worth, I think that B's example of birth-control is a good one. As I understand it she's publicly stated she things the vatican is wrong about this, and I have no reason to think she would waffle about it elsewhere. It's not like I'm claiming she has to `do' something else about it ... I was complaining about a very different scenario, where people would say to me `oh, well maybe their wrong but let's not talk about that because it's unpleasant an irrelevant to us, we're not that sort of catholic'. Which is bullshit.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:54 PM
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Of course you don't find it illuminating, Slack. It hasn't yet been okayed by the Vatican.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:54 PM
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700: Dammit, you're right. Ratzi had better get off his holy ass.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:55 PM
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If by "responsibility" you mean, basically, that yeah, if something's shitty you should be willing to say so, then I'm totally on board with that.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:56 PM
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You know, I don't really want to think about Ratzi's ass hole.

Does that make me a bad Catholic?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:57 PM
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698: No, it was specified. They are responsible in *exactly* the sense that they don't get to pretend it doesn't have anything to do with them. These things are in some sense being promoted in their name.

There is a ton of stuff you & I contribute to just by the fact of how we live our lives, and a lot of this is at least affected by our choices. You can own it, you can bury it, you can fight it ... but you can't wish it was not there.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:57 PM
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702: That's pretty close to it, yeah. Rather than pretend it doesn't exist.

I have the feeling I'm being really inarticulate today.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:59 PM
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Does that make me a bad Catholic?

It means you can't be a priest.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:59 PM
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These things are in some sense being promoted in their name.

Meh, I'm not buying that. Especially if when someone says "Catholics believe," folks say "well, I don't," it seems to me that they're *explicitly* saying X isn't being promoted in their name.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:00 PM
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Soup is good food, man. I feel you.

People always get so up in arms when I try to point out that we do, in fact, all carry some responsibility for the Iraq War, even if we opposed it from day one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:00 PM
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Especially if when someone says "Catholics believe," folks say "well, I don't,"

Well that's your dog in this mess, not mine. Mine was a complaint about people who wanted to avoid the question by some claim it had nothing to do with them.


708: yes.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:04 PM
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704: No, it was specified. They are responsible in *exactly* the sense that they don't get to pretend it doesn't have anything to do with them.

See, no, that's just really not specifying anything. At least not anything very useful.

It'd be great to see more people active as informed citizens of the world, obviously, with Catholics as with anyone. But even if they're not fulfilling that role, telling them that the Vatican is doing Terrible Things in Their Name doesn't get more meaningful interesting. The Vatican acts in its own name, and Catholics in various countries really are -- for most purposes -- more concretely implicated in the politics of those countries than they are in the overarching superstructure of the Church. Asking that they not act or speak as such seems bizarre.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:22 PM
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710: see 709, 699, etc. The bizarre thing is pretending that these acts (of the church in this case) bear no relation to you.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:30 PM
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Lather, rinse, repeat. Better idea: bed.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:31 PM
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agreed.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:33 PM
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Whoah, simultaneous dual-comity on unfogged. Eerie!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:35 PM
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Soup is good food, man. I feel you.

For some reason, this made me laugh. I can almost smell the alcohol behind this comment.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:37 PM
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This whole debate is a lot clearer if you think of 'Catholic' as both a religious belief system and an ethnicity. One can completely reject the former while nevertheless being the latter.*

However, with respect to the former, you can only say 'I don't believe that' [where 'that' is some position expressed by the church hierarchy] up to a certain point. Beyond that point -- when it comes to certain key doctrinal claims -- if you don't believe, you're just not a Catholic. You might want to be able to say you are, but you aren't.

If I walk about saying I'm a Buddhist but I don't believe in the Four Noble Truths or the Eightfold Path, I'm talking out my arse. I'm just not a Buddhist, I'm someone posturing as one. Ditto, 'I'm a Communist' but I believe in hereditary monarchy and the inviolability of private property rights, etc.

* Scottish sectarian jokes about whether one is a Catholic Buddhist or a Protestant Buddhist aren't really jokes. It's a distinction that makes perfect sense.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 1:17 AM
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716 is quite correct.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 7:51 AM
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716 is interesting, and obviously partly true as a model, although in the US you have large groups whose ethnic identity is partly due to sect but mostly to national origin. Other Catholics, for instance may have a very different history.

The ethnicity as national-origin-plus-religious-background's most obvious example is Jews, where the person's membership, to outsiders and insiders alike, is unaffected by religious belief or outright apostasy, provided the person doesn't profess another belief.

As Americans have become familiar with this example, they've come to realise it also partly describes themselves, whomever they are. A hundred years ago, many Jews immitated Protestant styles and conceptions, trying to place themselves on that map, so-to-speak. Today the situation has to some extent reversed, with liberal Judaism now a high-prestige faith in this country, and Jews are almost universally seen to have pioneered a very successful combination of group and religious identity with full participation in society as a whole.

I've watched with interest what I take to be the pattern of conservative Protestants in the city trying to add an "ethnic" component to their group, in the belief that it was a powerful aid to identification and cohesion. When Chicago had an independent UHF Christian station, with lots of local programming, since bought by PAX and now ION, this was particularly evident. The chosen identity, a natural really, was to emphasize "country" styles and accents. Also pioneer heritage, men in straw hats, women in bonnets. Tooled boots.

The sincerest form of flattery.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 8:23 AM
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716: It's also a lot clearer if you maintain a distinction between doctrine and practice. "Catholics believe" can mean either "what the majority of Catholics practice in their daily life" or "what has been authorized as official doctrine." And then there's the relationship between doctrine and practice: most American Catholics may believe that birth control is just dandy, but they also will acknowledge that they're disagreeing with what doctrine is, and they might not have an argument for why that doctrine is wrong on any internally coherent principled grounds. And it's a distinction we recognize in lots of religions; does Buddhism have gods? are Muslims permitted to marry outside the faith? You get different answers to the questions if you consider the writings of the religion and what people who claim to be part of the religion actually do.

Complicating it further is that Catholicism's a religion that believes in sin and forgiveness and that most of the important work was done by being confirmed, as far as being Catholic goes. Short of actually converting or getting excommunicated, you're still Catholic. It's also one that can be a pretty big tent, philosophically. But the doctrine is doing some work there; ttaM is right. It's not just as simple as 'whatever I want to believe counts as a Catholic belief.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 8:38 AM
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Cala -- say one wasn't confirmed but also was never excommunicated. Is one then a Catholic? (Doctrinally, that is.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 8:44 AM
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719--
"It's also one that can be a pretty big tent, philosophically. But the doctrine is doing some work there; ttaM is right."

i thought if ttam is right, then it is simultaneously a rather small tent in which the doctrine does a lot, and an infinitely large tent in which the doctrine does not do anything at all.

that is, i had thought that ttam's suggestion--and i think it is a very good one--is that we just treat 'catholic' as systematically ambiguous. there are two senses, with implicit subscripts linked to 'catholic sub doctrine' and 'cathoic sub ethnicity'.

because of this, it is perfectly possible to say that some random mick or itey, patrick or giovanni, has been excommunicated, and so is no longer a catholic at all, and that patrick and giovanni are fully catholic, and indeed just as catholic if not more so than ratz-ass.

you simply specify that 'catholic' was used in one sense in the first half of the sentence, and in the other sense in the second half.

but if that's right, then it is *not* true to say that "the doctrine is doing some work" in determining whether someone is *ethnically* catholic. it does no work at all. whereas it does all the work, or at least a huge amount, in determining whether someone is doctrinally catholic ( performance of the sacraments would do the rest).


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 8:54 AM
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but if that's right, then it is *not* true to say that "the doctrine is doing some work" in determining whether someone is *ethnically* catholic. it does no work at all. whereas it does all the work, or at least a huge amount, in determining whether someone is doctrinally catholic ( performance of the sacraments would do the rest).

Yeah, something like this is what I had in mind. I'm wondering now if 'ethnicity' is the wrong word, perhaps. But only because ethnicity can also be doing some other work [multiple/overlapping identities, etc].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 8:58 AM
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I believe doctrinally, no. Confirmation is supposed to complete or perfect baptism, so if you've done one but not the other, you're not a full adult in the faith. But it's not necessary for salvation.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 9:02 AM
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That seems like an oversimplification. 'Ethnic' Catholics I've known who don't buy Catholic doctrine wholesale as a set of empirical truths, nonetheless do seem to get something from the doctrine on a poetic or rhetorical kind of level (like, pro-choice Catholics often seem to buy into the 'reverence for life' talk, just not with its specific application.) So the doctrine is doing something important even if it's not actually believed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 9:04 AM
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The "that" was to kid's 721.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 9:04 AM
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725--
no, the "that" was to ttam's 716, which i was merely explicating.
(oh alright, i endorsed it a bit, too.)
another complication: the possibility of ethnic but not doctrinal catholics really seems to me to be a one-generation or two-generation phenomenon at best.
the children of doctrinal catholics can certainly eschew all of the doctrine while retaining the 'ethnic' characteristics. e.g. the guilt, the bickering, the preference for grudges over forgiveness, even the tendency to rebel against authority.
but after some smallish number of generations of 'ethnic but not doctrinal', i think those vestigial folk-ways would disappear altogether.
that's why ttam is right in 722 that 'ethnic' doesn' quite capture it either. if we said 'cultural' that might provide roughly the right contrast with 'doctrinal', and also do more to explain the half-life problem.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 9:12 AM
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The generational thing is true. My mother left the Church, but she's a Catholic atheist. I'm more familiar with Catholicism than anything else, but I'm not what anyone would call a cultural Catholic (although, more up on doctrine and trivia than Buck the literal altar boy.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 9:15 AM
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721: Look, the sacraments that make you entitled at all to being ethnically Catholic are part of doctrine. And this is false because of this, it is perfectly possible to say that some random mick or itey, patrick or giovanni, has been excommunicated, and so is no longer a catholic at all, and that patrick and giovanni are fully catholic, and indeed just as catholic if not more so than ratz-ass. If you're excommunicated, you're not Catholic any more.

But aside from that, if we're just talking the use of the terms, it's like Matt's example of the Buddhist who doesn't believe in the Noble Truths or the Noble Eightfold Path, or in ahimsa. At some point you can ask whether the person's misusing the term. Likewise, I think there's a point somewhere where saying 'Catholic' is probably misleading in a way that 'raised Catholic' or 'culturally Catholic' wouldn't be, even if you have been confirmed. (Where is that point? Honestly, I don't much care as long as we're recognizing a distinction between doctrine and practice.) It's not like an ethnicity in that respect.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 9:16 AM
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As a Presbyterian, I find it very hard to see myself as being ethnically part of that religion. I envy Jews, Catholics, and even people like AWB who have stories about their fundamentalist upbringing. My parents brought me to church every week but there was no indication of how it was the church our people had been going to since time immemorial.

And now I go to a Presbyterian church every now and then, but without the kind of signifiers described in 718, the only reason for me to go is to be surrounded by good feelings. Which is a good reason, but I can think in a vaguely religious way just as easily if I'm not at church at all.

If I was exactly the same person I am now, but had Catholic parents, I would associate myself with a particular religion a lot more than I do. In a way similar to an ethnicity.

Also, it doesn't help that Presbyterianism is supposed to be the most strict, Calvinist faith, but because of the ethnic and class nature of the 21st-century people descended from those who were Presbyterians 150 years ago, it is now the most liberal, ecumenical faith.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 9:22 AM
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"faith" s/b "denomination". where "denomination" means "subset of Christianity".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 9:23 AM
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728 me.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 9:25 AM
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As a Presbyterian, I find it very hard to see myself as being ethnically part of that religion. I envy Jews, Catholics, and even people like AWB who have stories about their fundamentalist upbringing. My parents brought me to church every week but there was no indication of how it was the church our people had been going to since time immemorial.

That would be different if you were brought up as a Presbyterian where I am from.

another complication: the possibility of ethnic but not doctrinal catholics really seems to me to be a one-generation or two-generation phenomenon at best.

Yeah, I think that's mostly right. My grandparents -- devout Catholics, my Dad -- brought up Catholic but a non-believer, me -- not Catholic at all. However, sectarianism complicates that a bit. I could still get a kicking if I was in the wrong place at the wrong time for being 'a catholic'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 9:28 AM
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729: In 1965, the year of my Catechism in the Presbyterian Church, I belonged to a congregation, mostly working class and in an older part of town, where the minister took teaching the articles of faith seriously. So we studied and were supposed to write essays on the Westminister Catechism, a pamphlet I still own. But the answers he got were so poor that he gave up during the course of the year. Aside from lack of interest or relevance, nobody could write worth a damn, since we never did in school. I was less than a year here from Canada, where I had written in class every day, so I was a lot better at it. I was the star pupil, apparently much more engaged than anyone else; the minister apparently told my dad he thought I was destined for the ministry.

We moved a year later to an upper-middle-class area and joined a different congregation, where all of this was literally unknown, just like it would be today. Sunday school all about situational ethics—interesting, but not Presbyterian in any distinguishing way.

A lot of my neighbors belong to a small Presbyterian church in the next block. I've often visited, and my friendships have meant I've bulked out their choir numerous times, although I take my mother to 4th when she visits. The kids and their parents would be hard-pressed to say what a Presbyterian is, or anything remotely distinctive about their faith. It's just gone.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 9:41 AM
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734

That would be different if you were brought up as a Presbyterian where I am from.

Our pastor was Polish.

Do you use the word "pastor" in the Official Church of Scotland?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 9:47 AM
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728--
from your 719 i thought you were inclined to agree with ttam, at least in broad outline. your 728 shows that you disagree fundamentally.
i would say that if my cousin grows up in rome surrounded by catholics, in a catholic family, knows all the jokes and the curses, but for some reason is never baptised or confirmed and never believes any of the crap, then he is ethnically catholic but not doctrinally catholic.
you disagree in 728. that's fine. ttam and i hereby exclude you from communion with us. anathema esto!


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 10:02 AM
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I've referred to myself as "culturally Catholic" in the past. I haven't attended Mass (excepting weddings & funerals) in 12+ years, but I still understand Catholicism and Catholics in a way that I don't other Christians (I might add that, even though I'm sometimes surprised at my ignorance of some aspect of Judaism, I feel more akin to Jews than to, say, Methodists).

Anyway, my point is that I don't think that bitzer's Catholic-milieu cousin would really be in my category; his relationship to Catholicism would be more like mine to Judaism. If you're not spending an hour a week at Mass for your entire youth, it's just not the same. Part of the reason I say this is that my family was not ethnically Catholic - my father's side was German-Irish, my mother's English-Irish, but we hadn't the least Irishness in us (Mom was an anglophile, fer cryin out loud). So my ties to Catholicism are almost entirely from actual churching. Obvs, others have more of an ethnic grounding, but it's reinforced by actual churching - the experience of confession alone is unique and enduring (not to say scarring).

Which is to say, I suppose, that I agree that cultural Catholicism doesn't survive unbelief except when tied to ethnicity.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 10:38 AM
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re: 734

Minister.

Our school Minister when I was at primary school was an Ulster fire-breathing type, but the Minister we had at high school was a woman [with a couple of kids at the school].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-07 10:50 AM
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