Friday, July 10, 2009

Sir, How Dare You Presume?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" We're not about resurrecting people. We're about resurrecting deities! Whose culture is the "best" culture? Who's got the best gods? Even worse: Who has the only god?

We at "The Gods Are Bored" will today address remarks made by Pope Benedict in a recent encyclical. We lifted this quote from Jason, at The Wild Hunt. He lifted it from the encyclical.

"There are certain religious cultures in the world today that do not oblige men and women to live in communion but rather cut them off from one other in a search for individual well-being, limited to the gratification of psychological desires. Furthermore, a certain proliferation of different religious “paths”, attracting small groups or even single individuals, together with religious syncretism, can give rise to separation and disengagement. One possible negative effect of the process of globalization is the tendency to favour this kind of syncretism by encouraging forms of “religion” that, instead of bringing people together, alienate them from one another and distance them from reality. At the same time, some religious and cultural traditions persist which ossify society in rigid social groupings, in magical beliefs that fail to respect the dignity of the person, and in attitudes of subjugation to occult powers. In these contexts, love and truth have difficulty asserting themselves, and authentic development is impeded. For this reason, while it may be true that development needs the religions and cultures of different peoples, it is equally true that adequate discernment is needed. Religious freedom does not mean religious indifferentism, nor does it imply that all religions are equal.”

This is my site, and I am allowed to have an opinion.

My opinion is that all religions are equal.

Anyone who seeks the Divine and all goodness, by any path, through any pantheon of deities, through the Goddess, through a flock of buzzards, through any path, is holy.

Religion can separate and disengage one culture from another. This can be a good thing. It's certainly an ancient tradition, well-documented in such literature as, oh, I dunno ... the Bible?

For my money, Roman Catholicism does all of the following, as enumerated above:
1. Creates sanctioned small groups (monasteries/convents) and individual worship (hermits).
2. Alienates its followers from reality (sensible family planning/ right to die).
3. Ossifies its followers in rigid social groupings ( celibate male priests, monks, nuns/everyone else).
4. Magical beliefs that fail to respect the dignity of the person (ever heard of Catholic guilt?).
5. Attitudes of subjugation to occult powers. (Ahem, define "occult powers," please, because from where I stand, crowds cheering in St. Peter's square to a guy wearing a robe and a crown sure looks like cult behavior to me.)

In short, people who live in papal palaces shouldn't throw stones. Just because Catholicism has been around awhile, and has subjugated (often ruthlessly) many other praise and worship systems, doesn't make it the one and only religion that everyone on earth ought to follow.

I could go on and on. Papal encyclicals are always rich fodder for debate. I'll just conclude with Mr. Johnson's opinion -- he's a lapsed Catholic. He thinks the R.C. church is losing quality tithers to Pagan pathways, and the pope wants them back because he wants their largesse.

That's perhaps a tad too cynical. After all, the Catholic church does much good work in this world. You would think, then, that it might be able to tolerate, or at least ignore, people of other ... EQUAL ... faiths.


Celestite said...

As I was reading this I thought....sounds like he is talking about his own church.
Then I got to your comments...well said.

Morninglori77 said...

Can a sister get an amen!!??

I think there are a few points to keep in mind when addressing the issue of the Roman Catholic Church.

First, a large majority of people have no idea what all those big words mean, so I don't think there's much threat of swaying many here.

Second, I think a religious organization loses its right to criticize other religious organizations once it has 'reconsidered' and changed its own belief system at least three times.

Finally, this from a man who will tell you that God wants you to lay down your life for 'him', while he speaks from behind several layers of bulletproof glass.

Morninglori77 said...

Oops - when I said, "...I don't think there's much threat of swaying many here", I didn't mean 'in this forum'.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

The Pope, and the Catholic Orthodoxy he represents, are so charmingly insensible to irony. And to hypocrisy too, of course.

Pom said...

I'd be happy with the "ignoring" option...

The thing that makes me wonder - why is there such a sudden interest and compulsion to comment about these "paths" that attract "small groups" or "single individuals" (redundant much?)? If there is no truth to our path and theirs is the ultimate truth and there are just small numbers coming to these paths - why bother commenting on them? Or maybe the realities are much different than they first thought and the numbers aren't as small as they'd once thought - especially in recent times.

Paul said...

Reading this quote from the encyclical is a very strange experience. All the individual words can be found in an English Dictionary but the whole doesn't seem to be English at all. Could anyone produce anything so badly written and impenetrable? Or is it a very poor translation from Latin by someone with little grasp of English.

Anne your writing is much better by far and you talk sense too.

Maebius said...

I'm going ot go out on a limb and play Devils Advocate for a moment (though I agree with Anne in spirit for this post).
I may be semantics, but I've always seen a huge distinction between Religion and spiritual Paths. Personal beliefs do not a religion make, even if you get a bunch of people following them. It's the trappings and rituals required to commune with the Divine which forms the religion, and I will agree that they are not equal at all.
It's too much to get into here, I think, but on the surface I am having to agree with the basics of the Pope's words, even as I can not make myself ascribe to Catholic teachings in general.

Following your own ecclectic path in a solitary way to commune with your chosen Gods may be perfectly valid Spirituality. Yet, in that act, you are probably eschewing contact with others of different paths and counting them as false.
(Hypocrite Catholics are guilty here, as are we probably in a sense). This does give rise to separation and disengagement.

I think the major failing of that quoted text is right at the end.
Religious freedom does not mean religious indifferentism, nor does it imply that all religions are equal. There needs to be one additional sentence, which Papal duties would never make. Namely: "Yet may be valid to their adherents in some way.".

/off soapbox. :)

Maebius said...

hmm, cut off the last bit I posted..

In the end, this entire snippet seems far too much rhetoric and fluff. It doesn't really REALLY sound like he's denouncing the pagans and other faiths, which actually surprised me more than the pagan blog-o-sphere's focus on it right now.
He's just making fluffy sounding blurbs about finding the Truth. Granted, the Church wants it's own truth to be self-evident to everyone (which will never happen) but he avoids directly calling out or making examples of particular groups.

The entire document (located in link below) is much more chock-full of the traditional "Follow god or Perish" deal that the Catholics enjoy. This particular snippet though, while used in a few pagan sites to wail and gnash teeth, seems relatively harmless to me.

To each their own though! That's the beauty of this open-minded world we inhabit!


I was hoping Obama would use his meeting with the nazi pope to press our concerns(who gives a shit about a man in a dress, covering the asses of pedophiles) about abortion, contraceptions and stem cell research...or if nothing else tell him to fuck off...sigh* getting so radical in my old age.

Caicher said...

Caesar Please !!!

THE Michael said...

Bob tells me he/she/it's sending in the Flying Spheghetti Monster to kick some Catholic ass.

Or, he/she/it could be pulling my leg. Bob loves doing that.