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Ken Muldrew

"for twenty or thirty or even more years it was running a giant child molestation ring"

Hmmm...I wonder if you have misplaced a zero or two in your estimate?

"The long and the short of it is that there are a lot of people who have good reason to be furious with the Catholic Church, to hate it and its minions with all their hearts, and that's why it baffles me that, ... , the number of people identifying themselves as practicing Catholics hasn't dropped even more than it has."

This too surely stretches back to antiquity, and the reasons that people stick with the church now are probably related to the reasons that they put up that nonsense for millenia. Once you enter the cage of civilization, all social power derives from a form of protection racket. So the mystery is, what do people think they are being protected from? Since most people feel pain in the moment a little more sharply than an imagined pain way off in the future, I guess the church must have the means to make many people's lives more, or less, comfortable, according to their whim. The Confessional is a small example whereby the Catholic church allows people to act against their personal morality without having to make amends in real life (i.e. the unrepentant can game the system and still come out with their conscience assuaged).

Obviously a 2000 year old institution also has many more direct and worldly methods of influencing peoples' lives than this. A lack of belief in the mythology of bronze-age Israelites is probably not sufficient to break with an entity that has been threatening you since early childhood, but fury and anger that justly arises from watching the church abuse its power is. The threshold of anger gives a clue to the level of power that the church really has, and that is what is so surprising, because a secular society with the separation of church and state was supposed to diminish that power.

SweetSue

The really delicious part of the Brazilian dramedy is that the only person that the Archbishop didn't excommunicate-besides the nine year old girl-is the man who repeatedly raped his helpless, little stepdaughters.
No wonder they call his office a bishopric.

Andrew

Lance:

I am so very sorry about your struggle to provide care for your child. My son has autism, and we have been very fortunate with our local public school.

Also, I am still a practicing Christian, and although I am about 40, I plan to go on as a divinity student this year. I would be happy to discuss with you why I still have faith in God, and I certainly would not try to convert or convince, just share. Let me know, if you like.

Lance

Andrew,

I'm glad your local public school's helping out. Our son is 15 now and he's been doing well since we moved here. He has his ups and downs but he's had good teachers and sympathetic ears all along the way. That's great you're going to divinity school. I'd be glad if you shared your thoughts about faith, here or by email.

Bill Altreuter

I'm not so sure that people leaving "organized religion" means the same thing as "people abandoning religious beliefs". It seems to me that some of this is a function of American Catholics' cafeteria tradition coming home to roost. Many people still want to believe in the supernatural, but they also want to pick and choose which rules they will observe. Around Buffalo, one of the most Catholic areas in the country, there are now a number of the sort of mega-churches that feature charismatic pastors, flat screen televisions and in-house Starbucks. Does attendance at something like this constitute participation in organized religion? Not the way that expression was used when I was an alter boy. The people who attend these institutions do not necessarily identify with whatever brand name credentialed the presiding shaman-- they believe that going to church is something that good people do, and that it makes them good people if they do it. To the extent that most of them identify with the institution at all, they identify with the place where they attend, rather than with a particular theology or hierarchy. For people who want even less structure in their beliefs, with a somewhat greater sense of community there's Unitarianism. Although it doesn't seem like a very organized religion (or a religion at all) to me, locally there seem to be a number of former Catholics who now attend Unitarian services.

I also question the extent to which the pedophile scandal has had an effect on active Catholics. I'm sure there has been some, but my sense is that the major effect was on already marginalized practitioners and the already disaffected, and it seems likely to me that among these people the whole thing was as much rationalization as not.

Lance

Bill Altreuter: Does attendance at something like this constitute participation in organized religion? Not the way that expression was used when I was an alter boy. The people who attend these institutions do not necessarily identify with whatever brand name credentialed the presiding shaman...

Bill good point, great line, "presiding shaman."

Saffi

I am also disgusted beyong fury with the hush-hush conspiracy, the creepy obsession with women's sexuality, the irrational extremism focused on one issue (abortion) to the exclusion and betrayal of others (opposition to war, to torture, to the death penalty, take your pick).

I haven't been to Church in years. But I'm STILL a Catholic.

I believe in the Trinity, in the divinity of Jesus, the eternal life of the human soul and in the concept of Original Sin (although I tend to think of it as the responsibilities of intelligence rather than guilt-by-association). I believe in the authority of not only sacred books from many sources as collected and defined by theologians in the fourth century AD (aka the Bible), but also in the authority of the scholarship and meditations of sincere theologians, philosophers and mystics ever since. I believe in the necessity of both faith and good works, and I like to think that I at least try to base my actions on the Beatitudes.

All of which, in my book, makes me a Catholic. And no politically-tainted pedophile-hiding bureacrat in red or white robes is going to tell me otherwise.

_________

And Lance, if you're convinced that the universe is too big for a God to care about our tiny little planet, try to stop thinking in finite terms. In an infinite space, every point is the center, so for an infinite Being, all things (no matter how small) are the focus of attention.

Uncle Merlin

"And Lance, if you're convinced that the universe is too big for a God to care about our tiny little planet, try to stop thinking in finite terms. In an infinite space, every point is the center, so for an infinite Being, all things (no matter how small) are the focus of attention."
Good point Saffi.

I think because we live in time and space it is hard to concieve the mind of the Infinite. We're adapted to morning abloutions (which seem to get longer every morning!) spending and getting, being without things, needing things, losing things. Its a whole other country as they say in Texas.

My Dear Mother was a staunch Anglican, Church of England, you Americans can read Episcopal there and the Vactican reads "Catholic Light". She also sucessfully dabbled in Christian Science, talk about a faith that has come under hard knocks!
She wanted me to grow up religion free to find my own way without any interference from the local Shamin. I did. I got a degree in Astronomy & Physics, you can't get anymore scientific than Physics believe me. My Dad is a staunch scientist, no belief needed in God at any point in his life. He is now married to a staunch chemist , who now would like to think there is something else out there since all this went by so fast.
It hasn't all been easy, I lived in Kenya and lost a small boy I do consider the closest thing to a son for me to violent murder. My mother was decimated by the big C.

With this heady mix, I have come to such a strong belief in God that it makes me think everyday about himher. What are hisher truths, what are Our truths since we occupy different floors of the MultiVerse. I see that I have become more 'religious" than the far right could ever be and yet it has made me far more open than closed, far more flexible than inflexible and far more fearless about the unknown than most explorers I have read about.

As far as organized religion goes take it from someone who has always looked in from the outside. A religion that has staying power must have one thing going for it, and only one thing, if it doesn't have this then it dies. It must have Truth. If there is no truth then there is no future BUT and this is a big BUT>>> I find, No ONE Religion has ALL the truth but each must have some of it to survive.

I guess thats the part about keeping an open mind, kind of like God.


PhoenixRising

I'm not sure anything could have brought me back, but it doesn't help that the Church's only response to the scandal has still been to pay victims to shut up and go away and demonize homosexuals. Oh, and blame some of the kids for being seductive.

Don't tell the blonde, but I think I'd like to gay marry you for these sentences.

It's been a painful and disturbing spectacle this week to watch a few American Catholics try to justify the deeply held principle underlying the hateful bigotry of their Church as something more than 'because we despise women and born children'.

Most sane American Catholics, whose tithes support a nationwide jihad here at home, a wailing and bleating of malicious lies that would shame off-off-Broadway in the legislature of any state that dares to examine the prospect of treating same-sex couples and their kids as anything more than strangers to one another under civil law, are terribly het up about this type of nonsense abroad.

Anybody recall that thing about the beam in your own eye preceding the extraction of the mote in your neighbor's?

Alan

You seem intelligent, but a bit arrogant. I'm sorry your child has problems. But I don't understand why you blame God. Haven't you heard of Original Sin? Also, where in the Christian religion is homosexuality and Man/Boy love taught? Who are you to judge the Creator of every cell in your body? Life is unfair, always has been, always will be. Life and death are great and terrible mysteries. Guided by God's love and our own reason we must seek our salvation in this life.

Lance

Alan,

Thanks for reading. You're right, I can be arrogant, and I don't like that about myself. But if you go back and re-read the post you'll see I don't blame God for anything. I don't believe in God. I'm mad at the priests who refused to help my son. I'm mad at the Church because of the abuse and the cover-ups. And maybe I'm mad about how it all revealed to me my lack of faith, but self-righteous scoldings aren't going to help me get it back.

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