Wednesday, September 30, 2015

From ancient Egypt to the Pope

I would have resumed regular blogging duties yesterday, but this household suddenly became very active with various projects. I had to help paint some large murals for the local children's museum. To be specific, I've been painting hieroglyphics. Hundreds of them. If I knew more about Egyptology, I would have written "God, I'm sick of hieroglyphics" in hieroglyphics.

I have told myself that if I ever returned to blogging, I should find a way to piss off everyone. Today's news provides an opportunity to do just that.

Headlines tell us that the Pope met with the famous/infamous Kim Davis -- an act which instantly gave Francis a new status: He is no longer "The Cool Pope." For a while, some questioned whether the meeting actually occurred, but the Vatican finally offered confirmation to the New York Times.
In his public addresses in the United States, the pope spoke in broad strokes about the importance of religious freedom. On the plane trip home, an American television reporter asked him about government officials who refused to perform their duties because of religious objections to same-sex marriage.

The pope said that he could not speak specifically about cases but that “conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right.”

“It is a right,” Francis said. “And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right.”

The pope did not mention Ms. Davis, but added: “Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise, we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying, ‘This right, that has merit; this one does not.’ ”
And now I shall offer the words designed to piss off everyone: I don't see a problem with this sentiment.

One should respect someone who has the courage of his or her convictions, even when one does not share those convictions. It's a bit like the respect one holds for a brave warrior who fights for an opposing army.

That said, I do think there should be a legal mechanism to remove Davis quickly from that job. Whether you're a senator or a stripper, a gig should go to the one who will actually perform. Kim Davis has the right to determine her own actions but does not have the right to set the parameters of her position.

In order to tick off even more readers, I shall repeat something I've said before about the church. From a liberal perspective, many Catholics are good on social issues -- as long as those issues have nothing to do with wee-wees. They're conservative on sex and less conservative on Everything Else.

Unfortunately,  the hypersexualization of everything has transformed many alleged liberals into blinkered ninnies who see wee-wee issues as the only issues. Orgasm is all; nothing else is really real.

Despite appearances and affectations, the Catholic Church is not monolithic. Unlike (say) the Southern Baptists, Catholicism has wings, liberal and conservative, just as our political parties once did. You almost never hear about liberal Baptists, do you? Such creatures do exist, but they are rare and exotic. The Baptist tradition has no place for anyone like Sister Agnes or Oscar Romero or Hans Küng. There is a place for such people within the Catholic church, though the position is not always a comfortable one. Catholicism offers room for diversity because there really is no one Catholic Church, although it pleases both the Vatican and its enemies to pretend otherwise.

That said, it is true that the rank-and-filers within most Catholic congregations tend to be sexually conservative. Even the ones who believe in peace and tolerance and single-payer health insurance suddenly become quite annoyed whenever someone mentions The Dong and its many uses. That's just the way it is. If a pastor suddenly decided to espouse a hipster attitude toward sex, the flock would probably just up and leave. There's a growing sedevacantist movement which exists to service the disaffected.

Orgasm-obsessed liberals ain't never gonna genuflect, and they'd rather eat slugs than say their Hail Marys. So why should the Pope care what they think? Why cater to a market that won't buy your product no matter what you do or say? Asking the Vatican to rewrite all of its doctrines on sex in order to make liberals happy is like asking musicians to make music for the deaf.

This Pope dares to question capitalism. He is the only world leader to do so. In today's world, that's bravery enough.

I now pause for you to sploogie your hate-gasm all over the preceding words. This post has dared to mention the Church that Everyone Everywhere Must Hate Hate Hate, and now I expect you all to respond with a frenzied festival of Hate Bukake. Don't let me down!
"Hate Bukakke" would be a great name for a punk rock band. :P
Well, actually, I'm going to let you down. I am pretty much in total agreement with you. Though I will say this.......I think you are wrong about everyone HATE HATE HATING the Catholic Church. I don't, and I'm pretty Liberal when it comes to sexual issues (or most issues, really). Frankly, I don't really give much thought at all to the Catholic Church as I'm just not really that interested in anything they say or do (the history of the Catholic Church is another matter entirely......very fascinating and interesting). The new Pope does seem pretty "cool", for a Pope, but it was only a matter of time before he pissed of the hardcore liberal atheist crowd. I mean, how could he not? The Kim Davis meeting was an interesting move, almost like he wasn't comfortable with all the liberal love he was getting from people that feel god and religion are fantasies people indulge in to fend off the eternal nothingness of death, so he figured he throw 'em a curve ball. As you point out though, he's got his base to deal with, just like a politician.
I will have to let you down, I guess. You're right about the Catholic Church. I know very cool devout, church-going Catholics. Now, as to Baptists, I think you may have conflated the Southern Baptist Convention with all Baptists. There are also American Baptists, who seem to be much more in the tradition of Baptists in America; Baptists and Quakers were the dissidents back in the day, opposing government entanglement with religion and such things.

In Cambridge, we have Old Cambridge Baptist Church. From their website: "We are a progressive and inclusive Christian community in the American Baptist tradition that seeks to answer God's call to hold fast to love and justice for all the earth and its peoples. OCBC has been a welcoming and affirming church since 1983." I first heard of OCBC in the early '80s as the FBI's favorite place to break into in Cambridge because of all of the leftwing organizations that rented space there.

Anyone who's really been paying attention to the Pope has noticed that the change he represents is in tone and emphasis much more than in doctrine. That's welcome, but insufficient. He is also rightly criticized for being OK with women's second-class status in the church. I like that he gives me even more of an opportunity to fling the label cafeteria Catholic at some of my rightwing friends. He may pave the way for further modernization of the church that actually does bring doctrine closer to the beliefs and practices of actual American Catholics (and, for all I know, large numbers of Catholics elsewhere).
Kimmee has an absolute constitutional right to believe as she believes. She does not have the right to impose that belief on everyone else. Her job is not a religious one; it is secular. If she is uncomfortable doing the secular job, she should quit. In the USofA she is still free to take her conscience with her.
I think this is pretty good.

I wish the Pope would help the Vatican divest of all it's wealth though. That would be the anti-capitalist thing to do. And then they could give all that money to the poor. Problems solved. Chutzpah much?
You're right, Joseph, for some time now anti-Catholicism has been the acceptable form of social hate. And I'm surprised how many Catholic haters have trouble distinguishing between them and born again, bible thumping Protestant evangelists. As a lapsed Catholic who has moved on I can attest that it was always a broad Church phenomenon with a very strong intellectual basis, even if parts of that intellectual tradition are later abandoned by its followers(James Joyce anyone?)

And the penis fixation is a problem for gay culture even if one accepts people's rights to be gay. I remember one family day parade with huge strap-ons paraded before an audience which included many very young children. I wondered if they were ever permitted to have a time of innocence, of sexual non-awareness.

Kim Davis is a sad indictment of much thinking in the US. She is qualified to set the marriage license policy of Rowan County, Kentucky because of her three divorces and four marriages -- that and approval from the Lord.

This conflict underscores the need for some kind of public charter of social rights and obligations. Sure, you are entitled to your own private morality, but society is entitled to its version as enshrined in the law. If you can't do the job then you quit. That's civil protest, not punishing private citizens. They not only are not obliged to live by your private morality but they have no obligation to even hear about it.

My conscience says that if I live in the US then I can drive on the left hand side of the road because God told me so. I wonder how far I would get with that one?
The term Conscientious objection usually applies to conscription in military service. A person has a right not to be forced to serve in the military against his conscience. Mandatory alternative service can be required to meet his social obligation. In the case of Kim, she was not conscripted into her job and she is free to quit at any time if her conscience does not allow her do her job. No one is forcing her to work at her government job. And the Pope is really only talking about conscientious objection for Roman Catholic beliefs and not the right of a conscientious objection to manual labor by some atheist government employee. If Kim worked at a slaughter house and took action to stop the production line because she had a conscientious objection to killing animals would/should she to allowed keep her paid job? By the way Kim is not performing the marriages, she is only granting state permission for the couple to have a state marriage (aka civil union) not a religious marriage and she refused to grant, by herself or others, that permission against a court order.
Your points are well taken, William. But I think the rather romantic comparison goes back to someone like Sir Thomas More, standing up for ancient precepts even when secular authority insists on change. When we watch "A Man For All Seasons," even non-Catholics tend to applaud More's stubborn adherence to his principles.
I have a good friend who is a lapsed Catholic. He complained to me about John Paul II's choice of cardinals. He said they were too conservative. I told him to go to Church and make his complaints known, that if he didn't go, they wouldn't listen to him. In any event, my only concern with the Pope is how he is with regard to the Jews. The truth is that since the sainted John XXIII, they have all been quite good. Which leads to Pope Francis. When Hezbollah blew up the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, at the behest of Iran, then Cardinal Bergoglio was quite supportive of the Jewish community. He has also co-written a book with his good friend Rabbi Skorka, On Heaven and Earth, which details their conversations. When men of different faiths can have a respectful dialogue, and learn from each other, THAT is something we can all learn from.
This is a great stance to take, in the face of the twitter-hysteria over this, Joseph....but I stand with Cambridge-knitter because anyone who's been paying attention knows and has marked this Pope's attitude toward women. Less than stellar.

His comments on believing in God and his stance on economics are welcome additions to the global conversation...but as always, certain issues take a hit or a back seat, and it only came as a surprise to those who habitually don't pay attention.
Driving on the left is a suitable beach to die on. Do you know how many thousands of people die because of the unnatural insistence on driving on the right? The human brain is made to look to the right for oncoming traffic, just look at the difference in traffic deaths between the UK and USA. Feel free to martyr yourself in this noble cause.

Nor do I think the Vatican should divest itself. Most of its wealth is ancient books and works of art, which I'm not in favour of privatising.

The Bible is quite clear about women teaching: no. It hardly seems reasonable to want the pope to contravene that. Personally, I think he should take a stand against women teaching in secular schools, too.

And Davis is not a conshy. She is more like a deserter, or whatever one would call a person who joins the army and then only agrees to shoot Arabs, and not everyone order to.

" When Hezbollah blew up the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, at the behest of Iran...."

Minor challenge there joseph at 12:08. I don't think that's true.
"DON'T do as Jesus did, for You SEE what happened to HIM."
This is the self-fullfilling alpha and the omega of the church.
I'm with Stephen Morgan on this one, which may be a first. Remember, through deception, they will wage war.

Blowing up your own community center and blaming it on your enemy is a more effective tool than actually being attacked by your enemy, because you get to control the entire process. That's also probably why they murdered the prosecutor, to perpetuate the lie.
Yes, James, which is why the Iranians keep murdering their own nuclear scientists.

I think we both know who's murdering the Iranian scientists, joseph.
If you haven't already, slip over to Esquire and read Pierce's piece on Kimmee ratfckng the Pope.
And we know who blew up the Jewish Community Center. You can't take the silly position that one is a false flag and the other isn't.
small-j, I have not studied the Argentinian outrage in any detail, so what I have to say here is purely theoretical. But it is certainly possible to argue that the explosion in Argentina was a false flag op and the murder of the Iranian scientists was not.

By way of comparison, one can argue that the destruction of the Maine was a false flag. (A number of people believe just that. I'm not saying that I do; I'm saying that the argument has been made.) If you say that the Maine affair was a false flag, you are not necessarily arguing that ALL mysteries involving ships are false flags.

Regarding the specific comparison you have made (which, by the way, has nothing to do with my actual post), one need only ask "Cui bono?" to understand the difference between the two matters.

The killing of the Iranian scientists benefits those who do not want Iran to develop certain weapons. There is a specific purpose to these killings; they were not cases of murder-for-the-sake-of-murder. They were not mindless acts of terror. Those scientists had information and capabilities that made them difficult to replace.

But the explosion within the community center -- who, exactly, did it benefit? I can't see how the incident could benefit any state actor -- EXCEPT if one is willing to contemplate a "false flag" scenario. No other scenario makes practical sense.

(Well, I suppose, someone could argue that the explosion was actually a targeted assassination of a particular individual, whose death would be hidden within the context of a much larger act of apparently senseless carnage. That would be an intriguing possibility. But I don't that anyone has made such a suggestion.)

In sum: The all-important "cui bono" question tells us that the death of the Iranian scientists benefits only those states opposed to Iran. By contrast, a terrorist outrage against a community center benefits no state on earth -- with the possible exception of Israel. One can argue that there are Israelis -- Bibi not least among them -- who want to hammer home the theme that Jews are safe only in Israel.

I'm not saying that this is the real reason why the explosion occurred. Frankly, my bet is that it was simply the act of a lunatic, perhaps aided by a few other lunatics. But if you insist on looking for state sponsorship for the act, then only one state had motive.

Cui bono. As always, this is our first and best question.
It is clear that it was the Iranians, not the Libyans, who were behind the Lockerbie bombing. Why? In retaliation for the inadvertent bombing of the Iranian airliner. So who benefited from the Lockerbie bombing? Nobody, but it made the Iranians feel better. They like to flex their muscle and congratulate themselves. Nobody has to know and there doesn't have to be a particular benefit to them. The idea that Israel bombed the center is not only made in the absence of even a shred of evidence, but is facially stupid. It is clear that one of Iran's proxies carried out the bombing. The question is whether Iran is directly involved. I think the evidence is clear that they were and that the present president was directly involved. In fact, Interpol had arrest warrants for a number of Iranian officials.
Your comments are usually intelligent and interesting, except for anything to do with Israel. Then, you sound closed minded, biased and right down stupid and stubborn.
Knowing that about you, I tend to believe the opposite of your stance about matters involving Israel.
This discussion reminds me of the Vineyard of the Saker's attitude towards Russian Orthodoxy, with its cultural conservatism being a contrast to the hyper-sexualized West and the ambiguities of (per one of his examples) Conchita Wurst..

Because despite the discomfort with changing sexual mores, the deeper Christian message has always really been revolutionary - and if only a fraction of those who identify as Christian really tried to give a shit about the poor and the weary then maybe it would be a different world..

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