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December 27, 2008

Comments

Hear Hear! Thank you Hilzoy, for that excellent kick in the pants -- er, robes.

Most of the Poop's commentary is pretty impenetrable but this:

"Scholastic theologians have characterised matrimony, the life-long bond between man and woman, as a sacrament of creation, instituted by the Creator himself and which Christ -- without modifying the message of creation -- has incorporated into the history of his covenant with mankind."

his covenant with mankind seems to disallow divorce. So all those serial monogamous folks are a teeny weeny bit what? unnatural?

I've always thought all those laws to limit marriage to one man and one woman need to have the word "forever" inserted. Or a parallel proposition identically worded with the addition of that word should be brought to the ballot at the same time or immediately after.

Actually there was organized opposition against e.g. vaccination from religious people. The theological justification:
1. Vaccination is infecting someone with a disease.
2. Infecting someone with a didease is evil.
3. Doing evil is not allowed under any circumstances, even if the intentions are benign (end does not justify means).
=> Vaccination is not allowed.
Other examples are drugs against STDs (they take away the danger from sin => they lead to more sin => immoral), pain medication while giving birth (God punishes women for Eve's sin; trying to avoid it is sinful)...
Theology can be and has been twisted to justify and/or condemn about anything imaginable (the devil being the king of theologians so to speak).
Btw some see theology in itself as a violation of the second commandment ;-)
---
No surprise here. Ratzinger becoming JP2's successor has been a nighmare of mine since he became Grand Inquisitor. I consider him to be one of those people who will without hesitation sacrifice anything for the sake of the ideology (purity of doctrine). No, that has nothing to do with him growing up in the 3rd Reich in my opinion (unlike some other clergybeings I could name).

Not to forget: 'scholastic theology' is practically synonymous with 'how to get from given premises to given conclusion independent of both'

Some other animals do have a number sense.
See, for example, "Evidence for counting in insects," Animal Cognition, May, 2008, by Marie Dacke and Mandyam V. Srinivasan.

It appears that we need to add a new item to the Gay Agenda, either right after or just before "Destroy Western civilisation"

- Wipe out the human species.

What happened, I think, was that someone showed Pope Rat the movie Demographic Winter, which purports to be a documentary, and is apparently all about how gay marriage stops the right sort of babies from being born which in turn is going to cause a Muslim takeover of Europe.

SRSLY, this is the kind of thing right-wing thugs like Pope Rat and Berlusconi worry about. It is an example of how sexism, racism, and homophobia are all outgrowths of the same root.

Another curiosity: Threatening to wipe out mankind by not procreating has once been a noble Christian goal. If no children were born anywhere God would be forced to start the apocalypse before there was noone left to suffer all the tribulation stuff. Since the means for that end were supposed to be an end to all human sexual activity it would be two squirrels with a single stone. Did not work until now though as far as I can tell ;-)
On the other hand St.Augustine prayed for means to have children without the need to have sex first (today the church condemns that as unnatural).

Hilzoy, you speak simple truth to obfuscating power. Bravo!

Feminist Philosopher: yes, I know. That's why I used number theory (e.g., the branch of higher math) as an example. ;)

When we invent things that are not found in nature, are we doing something unnatural, or using our natural capacity for problem-solving?

The key question. If you affirm the former, then it follows that humans must somehow be crucially apart from nature (but not 'humanist'!). If the latter, then nothing is really unnatural - foolish, maybe, but not unnatural. The only way to 'prove' the former is to create yards and wads and Encyclicals of BS - a very elaborate question-begging fallacy.

What's natural is often contrasted to what's cultural, but human beings are social animals.

Political conservatives (like, to some extent, the Pope) don't agree of course. To them, humans are essentially selfish, individualistic animals - never mind the evidence to the contrary. And never mind the (hardly original to me) observation that religious 'truths' are often confused with what are, in fact, merely cultural traditions; that religion often acts as a trump, a magic fillup, which can transform any cultural tradition into religious Truth. Really incoherent. Again, we need libraries full of BS to rationalize it.

The Pope is confused. His job is to confuse you, too.

Dear Papa Prada might have wanted to observe the nonhuman primates a bit more closely if he wanted "lessons of creation" on the topic of (human) sexuality. As the pioneering primatologist Wilcomb Washburn once observed, "primate sexuality is not merely promiscuous, it is positively indiscriminate."

Dear Papa Prada might have wanted to observe the nonhuman primates a bit more closely if he wanted "lessons of creation" on the topic of (human) sexuality. As the pioneering primatologist Wilcomb Washburn once observed, "primate sexuality is not merely promiscuous, it is positively indiscriminate."

Not only is the statement about 'marriage being between one man and one woman, contradicted by 'nature' and history -- since as many socities have accepted other arrangements as preferable, most frequently polygyny. It is even contradicted by the Bible, which was, demonstrably written for a polyandrous society. (There is a myth this was a 'special exemption granted to the patriarchs' but Leviticus is written for the whole of society, and it makes distinctions repeatedly between 'your mother' and 'your father's wife,' or says (Leviticus 20:17) "his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother" -- an explanation only needed in a polygamous society.

Nor did this stop in OT times. Josephus, in his autobiographical fragment, again makes a similar distinction, showing that Polygamy still existed at least among the upper classes -- and Josephus boasts of belonging to the highest of classes.

But that this was true for early Christians as well is clear from 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:4 -- both of which give as one qualification for an 'overseer' (usually translated 'bishop' or 'elder') that 'he should be the husband of one wife.'

But if this is a special regulation for bishops, the implication is that it is not a requirement for Christians as a whole.

Of course, that changed pretty quickly. Tertullian -- who some scholars argue added the misogyny to Paul -- who used women as messengers -- which meant they would be 'preaching' -- created the anti-sex and anti-woman hysteria of early and Medieval Christianity.

"Spiders eat their mates, for instance, but that doesn't imply that it is O.K. for us."

How do we know this?

Maybe it IS an implication. Maybe, in fact, it is an object lesson from nature and or God's Creation as plain as the nose on someone's mate's face, which is making me hungry as we speak.

In fact, some mates imply all kinds of things and we don't get it because we're a bit thick. Then, before you know it, the mate has hired an attorney spider to create a web of a different strength.

After all, spiders catch and slowly kill flys for later consumption, showing a marked respect for future lean times, unlike the spiders on Wall Street who have left us, the flys, mummified and our yummy bits fully hollowed out.

We kill flys, too, for no reason whatsoever except that they are pests, although I had a friend in college who once caught a fly in mid-flight and instantly ate it, but that was mere entertainment, not the mere moral matter of survival.

What of webs, I ask you? The human race spins webs of deceit and flicks the web to seductively attract all that we wish to consume, regardless of the cost to those consumed.

We make everything up.

We don't eat our mates, or rather at some point we decided communally to frown on eating our mates because it dawned on us that our mates were thinking the same thing, and who can sleep at night worrying about that?

We finally understood the implication and took action.

So, we said henceforth, let's call a truce on that.

Now, say your mate still eats flys. That's a little gross, true, but at least they aren't eating us and it cuts down on the pest population, so we look the other way, which we didn't dare do before because before you knew it, you were shrouded and cosseted in sticky web.

Spiders understand the implication that WE will kill THEM. Why do you think they live under the baseboard and come out only at night?

I have to go now. My mate just got home so I need to scuttle under the baseboard to keep from getting stepped on accidentally on purpose or whacked with a rolled-up-newspaper.

"... -- created the anti-sex and anti-woman hysteria of early and Medieval Christianity. "

And Jim, how much different is this, really, from contemporary Catholicism?

Does the fact that the purpose of eating seems to be nourishment imply that it is immoral to drink diet soda?

I think that if you followed Rome's teaching on contraception to its logical conclusion, one would indeed be forced to conclude that diet soda is a sin.

Prup, I think that given their social and intellectual milieu, the misogyny that is so common in the Greek (and Latin) Fathers would probably have arisen no matter what.

"A woman for duty; a boy for pleasure; a goat for ecstasy."

- The Greek hierarchy of carnal relations, as reported by Stephen Fry

Jes: add ableism to the list of oppressions growing out of the same root. I had a most interesting conversation with a true believer over at Larison, where I pointed out that the male/female pattern doesn't actually hold up, because a non-trivial proportion of the population differs in some way or other. I got the reply back that such people had a defect and wouldn't exist but for the fall (just eat one wrong apple and see what happens). I had never realized before that some people believe Christian doctrine allows the argument that certain people embody evil, or more specifically embody it to a greater degree than others. I don't know how they manage to maintain this belief in the face of scriptures such as John 9, but they do. To me, it explains a lot to connect homophobia to anti-woman sentiment, and to oppressive ideas generally.

As much as I appreciate Hilzoy's excellent dissection of the Rat Pope's latest theological regurgitation, the destruction of this and similar tripe can be neatly summed up along the lines of:

Appeal to tradition, appeal to authority, question begging: discard and disregard as noise.

I might add special pleading as an overarching problem here, since Ratzinger (and in fairness, this is not a failing unique only to this Pope) seems to think himself immune to logical fallacies.

I mean, seriously. I cannot fathom on anything more than an abstract "yes, I understand that human beings indulge in magical and delusional thinking" level how people with a brain take this garbage seriously. It's filled, from front to back, with logical inconsistencies, premises that beg the question, conclusions that do not follow from their arguments, and even garden variety lies. It's bad writing that reflects a lazy or deeply demented process of thinking and reasoning.

I realize the answer to my somewhat rhetorical question is embedded in it, but why on earth do thinking people pay attention to anything this no-talent assclown says?

Elderly virgins who protect known pedophiles from prosecution really (to the nth degree) have no business lecturing the rest of us about normal sexuality.

There's a name for this - Naturalistic Fallacy. What is natural is, in fact, not always good, and vice versa. Chimpanzees, our closest relative, often kill and eat members of neighboring family groups. Clearly natural, clearly not good.

It's far from obvious to me that he's making any claims about animal sexuality and how it applies to our lives. One could infer that, but one could just as easily interpret "listening to the language of creation" to mean "observing what is natural, as determined by me".

Lots of things we think are just fine are unknown in animals -- number theory, for instance

Both the Fibonacci Series and the Golden Ratio appear in nature in both plant and animal forms, though AFAIK only humans have proved that the former approaches the latter asymptotically.

Catsy: I realize the answer to my somewhat rhetorical question is embedded in it, but why on earth do thinking people pay attention to anything this no-talent assclown says?

Because he is the Pope. That gives him power. It is wise to listen to what people who have power are saying, since it gives fair warning as to what's coming. I do see this as strong indication that the Pope has fallen in with the "demographic winter" lunatics, which suggests to me that not only are we going to hear a lot more crap from Pope Rat about how homophobia and transphobia are central values of Catholic Christianity, we are also not going to see any step down from the Catholic Church's official position that the use of contraception is a mortal sin, and we're likely to see a good deal of Church-approved Islamophobia.

The last two may hurt the power of the church significantly - indeed, the classing of contraception as a mortal sin already has, in countries where pretty much every Catholic woman does use contraception and therefore avoids going to confession - but inviting people to attack LGBT people is something that went down well when Ratzinger was in Hitler Youth, and will go down well now Ratzinger is Pope.

I'm arriving late to the thread and all the good points have already been taken, so what everybody else said.

To be lectured on sexuality by nominally celibate clergy, and especially given the long track record (Chaucer anyone?) of that same clergy with respect to how well they keep their holy vows of chastity, has long struck me as unintentionally hilarious.

Or it at least it would be if they weren't so successful at messing with other people's heads - collateral damage in the War On Sex. (or perhaps by way of analogy with the War on Some Drugs, I should rephrase it as the War on Some Kinds of Sex).

Mostly OT, but has anyone encountered anything in the course of their reading which provides an explanation for why such a large fraction of our organized religious traditions originated during a fairly narrow span of historical time, roughly the 2000 years spanning from the 13th Cen. BCE to the 7th Cen CE?

I realize the answer to my somewhat rhetorical question is embedded in it, but why on earth do thinking people pay attention to anything

The sense I get is that a lot of folks just don't pay much attention to Pope Benedict because he is very old and conservative and probably won't leave behind much of a lasting legacy in the long run, especially if he is succeeded by a younger and more dynamic pope, leaving him bookended by his successor and JPII.

It doesn't hurt that he also suffers from a very advanced case of logorrhea. In the Regensburg address he required thousands of words to say in effect: "Atheists, agnostics and muslims: You Are Going To Hell". Now we have a lengthy disquisition in very ornate and academic language to tell us that "The Pope thinks gay people are icky". Next up I expect to be treated to a 10,000 word epistle informing us that "girls have cooties".

If in Marshall McLuhan's phrase "the media is the message", then the message Pope Benedict is getting across is: zzzzzzzzzzz.

Mostly OT, but has anyone encountered anything in the course of their reading which provides an explanation for why such a large fraction of our organized religious traditions originated during a fairly narrow span of historical time, roughly the 2000 years spanning from the 13th Cen. BCE to the 7th Cen CE?

My off-the-cuff answer is, a) that's actually a bloody long span of time relative to the length of human civilization, and b) I'm not particularly buying that those centuries are the critical ones; there's far too much down-time e.g. 1000 BC - 800 BC and 200 AD - 600 AD when, so far as I know, no long-lived religions were created. There's a much stronger case to be made about the 7th-5th centuries BC -- cf Vidal Gore's "Creation".

...of course, I have no explanation for that either, so I encourage you to take this with exactly the amount of effort it took me to compose this response :)

I'm arriving late to the thread and all the good points have already been taken, so what everybody else said.

TLT, you managed to make some good ones of your own anyhow. I especially like your summaries of the pope's fancy-worded long-windedness.

And I especially appreciate Catsy @ 1:05 with this: It's filled, from front to back, with logical inconsistencies, premises that beg the question, conclusions that do not follow from their arguments, and even garden variety lies.

I've been close enough to various governmental and academic power centers to know that the people who run the world are just about as fallible, self-centered, and idiotic (on average) as everyone else, but as one of those people whose mind was seriously messed with as a child raised Catholic, I am still capable of amazement that the pope is a person (almost by definition, it seems to me now) who can be both as self-regarding and as stupidly cocooned from any kind of challenge as Ratzinger seems to be.

It is an example of how sexism, racism, and homophobia are all outgrowths of the same root.

Posted by: Jesurgislac | December 27, 2008 at 06:02 AM

I'm beginning to believe this, more and more.

It takes some kind of hubris to insist that Christianity has from the beginning had any kind of coherent teaching on sex, let alone on marriage. After all what is the story of adam and eve but a creation myth that argues that witting sex and social marriage was *not in g-d's original plan* but results from sin and is sin. If we were truly to learn anything at all from the animal kingdom (and as others point out the animal and vegetable kingdom is pretty far from a monolithic handbook of sexual dimorphism, "regular" sexuality, or anything else.) it would be that adam and eve's first mistake was becoming aware enough to choose their sexual partners and their feelings about sex. Everything else which follows after was definitionally not in g-d's original plan. And as for christ and his teachings on marriage the last person I or anyone else wants to hear from is the fake celibates of the child abusing pederastic priesthood. Normalcy, respect for the body that g-d gave you, and no cross dressing? these guys don't have much of a record on any of these topics, do they?

aimai

It's okay. You can change your sexual equipment and sexual appearance if you want. I don't mind.

And who cares what the pope says anyway. He's just another human being.

Just for fun --

http://www.drtatiana.com/book.shtml> Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation

I didn't know it had been made into a TV show, so maybe everyone has met Dr. Tatiana by now. Everyone except Benedict, I suppose. ;)

'Primate sexuality' was very popular in San Francisco until about 25 years ago.

'Primate sexuality', in as much as we are primates, has always been extremely popular everywhere I have ever been in the past 50+ years. I here rumors it was earlier as well.

'Primate sexuality' was very popular in San Francisco until about 25 years ago.

Under suitable definitions, it continues to be popular, well, everywhere.

...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Vulcan>in my pants.

That promiscuous and indiscriminate version can prove dangerous as well as popular.

"Mostly OT, but has anyone encountered anything in the course of their reading which provides an explanation for why such a large fraction of our organized religious traditions originated during a fairly narrow span of historical time, roughly the 2000 years spanning from the 13th Cen. BCE to the 7th Cen CE?"

There's the related though more limited concept of the Axial age, from 800BCE - 200BCE - but as to why - well, nobody seems particularly certain. I kinda assume it's a kind of long-range neolithic revolution stuff - building out of, but also departing* from what had been going on; where people living in various Eurasian urbanized civilizations, in dense zones of conflict and cross-fertilization where things had been developing in roughly similar directions, faced social and cultural changes - unfamiliar dislocations, opportunities, questions - that required new approaches. But of course, I'm not actually saying anything here; it's just a big babbling pseudo-intellectual placeholder.

But this does remind me - as I've mentioned elsewhere, I assume the pope will surely speak out about the deeply, deeply unnatural and damaging practice of living in vast sedentary agglomerations with staggering high population densities, wildly complex social hierarchies, enormous social inequality, and massive accumulations of goods and knowledge, all based on the intentional planting, harvesting, storing and eventual consumption of enormous quantities of seeds. When will he bear witness to the truth that it is not the contradiction but the very condition of our liberty, the basis of an ecology of man, for (of necessity) drastically fewer of us to live nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyles in small kin-based bands roughly as large as a medium college course section or office (albeit tied to others for mate and resource exchanges)? Back to the pre-agricultural Garden!

(Granted, under these conditions, you don't get anything like Catholicism, or Christianity, or monotheism, but surely the pope wouldn't dream of living contrary to the truth, of devaluing and ignoring the language of creation!)

* if you look through, for example, this paper [pdf], note the contrast between what's considered 'axial age' spirituality seen against the background of various 'classical paganism[s] that the author sees as developing out of Neolithic religious practices. I'd be tempted, if it wasn't both so anachronistic and incredibly misleading, to say that the explanation has to do with the emergence of 'middle class' religion, but . . .

Not fully on topic here, but not totally off either. Did anyone see/hear about the woman in SF who was beaten and raped by four men because she had "Gay Pride" on her car? (I believe I heard this story on NPR's "Morning Edition".) This is the outcome of that sort of popish prattle and the rants by some of the evangelicals. Can anyone possibly consider that Christian behavior, or behavior that would be sanctioned by their Jesus? And maybe that sort of behavior is not what they intend when they preach such nonsense, but don't you think they could make the connection between what comes out of their mouths and what actually happens in the world?

Thanks Dan S.

Interesting stuff.

It seems to me the core issue in the question I posed isn't so much why so many major religious movements originated during the Axial age, but rather why so few have originated more recently.

Somehow the big ones today were able to establish lock-in and crowd out future competition. I can imagine some of the mechanisms whereby this happened, but I don't understand why they suddenly became so much more effective after circa 7th Cen. CE than they were before. In other words, why are the major religious movements today so old (and not showing signs of being continuously replaced by new ones), when it was not always thus?

Something has happened in the last 1000 years or so which has made the existing religions more effective at stamping out or co-opting and absorbing competition. What is it? I don't think is a lack of social change - if anything the structure of society and conditions under which people live have changed more drastically in the last 300 years than during most of the Bronze Age. If overturn in belief systems is related to the pace of social change then we should be living right now in a 2nd Axial Age even more dynamic than the 1st one.

Is this a definitional problem - the growth of secularism, and also some of the secular/political belief systems which have come and gone during the 20th Cen. are this overturn, but we don't see them as shaking the older pattern of religious belief because we don't categorize them as religions?

Is Fundamentalism a new form of religion which is cannabalizing the older faiths from within, so we don't see it as new when it really is?

jwo
Are you suggesting that the 4 men raped her as an expression of their christian faith in Jesus?

d'd'd'dave: Are you suggesting that the 4 men raped her as an expression of their christian faith in Jesus?

Not JWO, but in a twisted kind of way, yeah.

Look: there are straight guys who will take a lesbian's open identification of herself as a lesbian as a sexual come-on. Or at least as a sexual challenge. For some guys this is also how their homophobia works itself out - not just in beating up gay men, but in making virulent sexual comments to lesbians, the sort purposefully intended to make a woman feel uncomfortable and scared.

There are Christians who regard open manifestation of homophobia/transphobia as necessary to the practice of their religion. They argue this any time discrimination laws are extended to cover LGBT people; that being prevented from homophobic/transphobic discrimination is an infringement of their religious freedom.

The KKK was a Christian movement inspired by the belief that Christianity required black people to know their place - subservient and inferior to white people. (The Mormon Church only began to stand out in its candid avowal of God's preference for white people after the civil rights movement got going.)

The judge who first decided that Mildred and Richard Loving shouldn't be married, justified his decision in terms of Christianity.

Religion has power with a lot of people. When homophobes hear that their homophobia is justified and approved by their religion, violence is an immediate and easy step. It doesn't matter that their religion supposedly has strictures against personal violence or rape - one of the obvious, known, predictable consequences of arguing that people who are LGBT are intrinsically inferior and merit only hatred and contempt, as the Pope and other religious leaders have argued, is that we are then not included in any stricture against personal violence. What's done to us doesn't count.

Correct me if I am wrong but I can't remember the bible actually banning cannibalism (at least if humans are not classified as shrimps or pigs*). So eating your mate after sex is not necessarily against Teh L*rd's Word ;-)


*insert "long pig" joke here

Why are there no new religions?

Well there's Scientology.

The Mormons, who consider themselves Christian, but are not always considered Christian by others, are a very fast growing denomination.

The Axial age religions were spread by word of mouth mostly. Well, almost exclusively given that most people back then and for centuries afterwards couldn't read. People just went out door to door spreading the word, as do Mormons today.

Nowadays ideas don't have to be spread door to door by indiviuals. There are a zillions routes for spreading the message: books, TV, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, email to email...whether this has the effect of entrenching the established religions or opening access routes for new ones, I don't know.

I think, however, that in order for a new religion to spread and replace on old one there has to be some kind of major cultural change that makes the old one seem obsolete and the new one more appropriate. I also think that economic changes are more profound and effect people's self=image and image of reality more than political changes. The key is whether the old relgion offers comfort in the face of adversity or the new religions offers the hope of successfyully coping with profound change. That's the trade off that tilts a person's desire to have a faith one way or the other.So maybe the upsets and upheavals of global warming will create enough economic chaos to open people's minds to the possiblity of a sea change in their religious perspectives. Maybe the opportunity is on the horizon for Wicca or some other form of earth worship to take off!

Back to paganism!

Maybe someone should advise Ratzi watch La Vie en Rose, which I happened to see last night. So beautiful and instructive. Maybe someone should get him a subscription to Netflix.

"Somehow the big ones today were able to establish lock-in and crowd out future competition. I can imagine some of the mechanisms whereby this happened, but I don't understand why they suddenly became so much more effective after circa 7th Cen. CE than they were before."

Mormonism and Scientology seem pretty darn successful.

Correct me if I am wrong but I can't remember the bible actually banning cannibalism

Deuteronomy 14 and Leviticus 11 specify which animals are okay to eat. Since we do not have split hooves, nor chew our cud, humans are out.

If I compared a single member of the jewish or muslim faith to excrement or vermin, I would be assailed as a neanderthal and likely banned from posting on this site.

Yet, commenters make similar comparisons to the leader of my church, the person through whom my god speaks. These same commenters also argue that Christianity is inextricably intertwined with the KKK, despite the role of christians in ending the slave trade and in the civil rights movement of the 1960's.

This passes for insight.

Grow up people.

Yet, commenters make similar comparisons to the leader of my church, the person through whom I believe my god speaks.

Fixed.

I'm also pretty sure that nobody here has ever had anything good to say about the gay- and woman-hating elements of Islam, Judaism or any other religion, either, but nice try with your counterfactual. By all means, though, give it a try!

So, what are your thoughts on what the Pope, the the person through whom you believe your god speaks, had to say about gender, UC?

Maybe the Pope uses "creation" to refer to the Creation story in Genesis? In which case this post entirely misses its point.(Of course, one could argue that we shouldn't base our position on homosexuality on Genesis...)

d'd'd'dave, Jes said it much more thoroughly then I would have, nor had I thought it through to that point. I was more focused on the aspect of the hate that is being preached giving rise to such behavior. These men seemed to feel totally justified in treating this woman in the manner that they did. What I neglected to tell was that they also left her naked on the sidewalk when they were through with her. She was treated as somehow less than human because she had a different kind of sexuality than they approved of. Preaching so strongly against the gay community within the Catholic Church and many Evangelical communities risks this sort of interpretion. My point was that preaching such thinking can have unanticipated consequences, ie, the incident that I described.

Phil: first of all, your correction to my post was superfluous, as I referred to "my god." Note the lower case "g" and use of the word "my." thanks for playing though.

Phil/Mattbastard: my views on the pope are irrelevant. my point is that people can have a reasonable, civil debate on the so-called "gay-and woman-hating elements" of the catholic church without spurious assertions of a link between the church and the KKK. Show me another context where it's acceptable to make these sorts of charges or to refer to a person of any faith as excrement or vermin, and I'll buy you a tofu steak.

i also find it amusing that many commenters ask for "tolerance" from the church while remaining decidedly intolerant to the leaders and members of the church.

...my views on the pope are irrelevant.

I see. So we can safely conclude you are merely attempting deflect attention away from the Pope's endorsement and affirmation of anti-trans bigotry, and have no interest in contributing anything relevant to the actual topic?

Phil: first of all, your correction to my post was superfluous, as I referred to "my god."

Well, no, it wasn't superfluous, as your formulation didn't allow for the possibility "your god" might not really exist and that the Pope is just, you know, making this stuff up.

Show me another context where it's acceptable to make these sorts of charges or to refer to a person of any faith as excrement or vermin, and I'll buy you a tofu steak.

Sure! Would you like to hear my opinions on Christian Scientists who deny their sick children medical care? Because I happen to think they're largely scumbags who should be rotting in prison.

Just curious, though: Are only "people of faith" off-limits for those descriptions in Unfrozen Cavemanland? I suppose nasty rotten atheists are fair game, huh?

i also find it amusing that many commenters ask for "tolerance" from the church while remaining decidedly intolerant to the leaders and members of the church.

Ah, this one never gets old. "Oh, you bad old GLBT community! Why won't you be more tolerant of us -- "us" being one of the most powerful institutions in the world, and the only religion that's also a state and has its own ambassador to the UN -- urinating in your faces? Why can't you be more tolerant of us repeatedly demeaning you?"

And to clarify, formulating your objection to denigration of the Pope, in whole or in part, on the basis that "your god" speaks through him is an attempt to give him more authority than he might otherwise earn on his own.

I mean, if he's just an elderly, allegedly celibate former Nazi youth who has helped shield child molesters from justice in the past, well, then, who really cares what he thinks about transgendered people?

But if he's speaking for GOD, well, then, we'd all better listen up!

So, yeah, that formulation needs a whole lot of disclaimers.

my point is that people can have a reasonable, civil debate on the so-called "gay-and woman-hating elements" of the catholic church without spurious assertions of a link between the church and the KKK.

Actually, I think the KKK hated Catholics, too, or am I mixing them up with the British National Party?

In any case I made no connection between the Catholic Church and the KKK, so you can rest content there.

Yes, Christians - and atheists, and Jews - were part of the civil rights movement.

But it is just a plain historical fact that the white people who opposed the civil rights movement were also Christians. That the KKK was a Christian organisation. That white supremacy was justified in terms of God's plan for creation. That Christians bought and sold slaves, justified the slave trade by claiming they were bringing slaves the benefits of Christianity, and justified by Biblical texts the ownership of slaves and subjugation of black people. You may not like the association of Christianity with white supremacy and even slavery - but those are the historical facts.

And in fifty years, I hope, the use of Biblical texts to justify Christian homophobia will look as horrific to Christians then as it does now that in 1957 a judge told Mr and Mrs Loving that:

"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

i also find it amusing that many commenters ask for "tolerance" from the church while remaining decidedly intolerant to the leaders and members of the church.

If you only think of intolerance in terms of rhetoric, this is true. But if you look at it in terms of legal rights, there is no question who's being oppressed and who's doing the oppressing.

Call me wacky for finding anti-Catholicism hatred nasty, creepy, and ugly, too. Not everyone signs up for every belief of their religious leader, and not every religion consists of the views of a cerain number of their historic leaders.

It's really easy to engage in hatred of one religious belief or another. There are righteous things to find to hate that way.

It still winds up being disgusting, evil, and full of hatred. Be it Catholics you hate, Protestants, Moslems, Jews, whomever. Jeepers, people, try giving it a rest.

Technically there are no Roman Catholics in disagreement with the Pope because (formally) one immediately ceases to be one when disagreeing with any dogma*. If we followed that view (as stated by RCC theologians repeatedly) there would likely be not many Roman Catholics left though ;-)
Clarification: A significant percentage of Roman Catholics does not accept that doctrine and ignores church teachings that do not seem fitting to them.

*There were (never retracted) official statements from the Vatican that obeying the Pope tops anything else, even if the pope ordered to commit sins.

Hartmut, but actual dogma consists of very few things. IIRC, the views of the Church on homosexuality and abortion are not dogma, but teachings. Technically, one can ignore or disagree with teachings and remain a member of the Church.

Of course in reality the Church does not act that leniently (in some ways) and in others, it ignores all of us who disagree with the teachings, except at election time.

But there are enough nonsensical* dogmas left for most Roman Catholics to "disqualify" (e.g. papal infallibility** and the Mariological ones) ;-)
I use to say that no Roman Catholic living long enough can be both consistent and believing in all the official doctrines***.
The problem is mainly the denial of that fact and the fear of the consequences of saying "OK, we were probably wrong on that."

*to nonbelievers at least
**under certain limited circumstances only used once since its declaration iirc.
***e.g. the belief in witches was heresy before Innocent VIII and mandatory afterwards (although the dogmatic status is disputed)

There are male animals who act like females, and vice versa.

Yes--so it would seem increasingly these days.

Well, anyhooo--

The Pope no doubt meant Creation' message as inspired by the Creator regarding the message for what HUMANS should be doing, and not considerations for our avian and simian non-human pals in the wild kingdom, for whom such moves are about domination and ritualistic moves. Nature was mentioned in a general sense, yes, but most of his message was about human sexuality and the interpretations of the church fathers and others.

In addition to penquins getting some flipper action on the ice or humpy same-sex apes, why not mention that male dogs sometimes doing a move that looks like mating to other male dogs but is actually a domination move to humiliate and force into submission younger or weaker males. This is especially true of their close cousins, the worlves.

However, on that front, it is noteworthy that these oddball examples noted, most of the animal kingdom gets along dandy with heterosexual interactions. There is in the final analysis and Alpha Male and Alpha Female of the pack. Not an Alpha Male and an Alpha Male leading things.

Dig?

Also, in canonical Christianity it is believed that since the Fall, a degredation has taken place in both nature and humanity, with the Apostle Paul mentioning the the whole of Creation trembles with dispair and troubles.

Homosexuality in humans is more of a cultural attribute that has less to do about genes and tendencies than habits and models of behavior. Homosexual acts may or may not serve some putative higher genetic purpose in nature. I do not know for certain. But humans are not locked into genetic tendencies and are not automatons to the kinds of environmental reasons that might cause animals to use such as strategy for one reason or another. Most animals also have no "culture" as the term in commonly understood, though they can be said to have "societies."

Having said all that, I'm sure the Pope understands and has mentioned elsewhere that violence for such reasons is wrong. Period. As someone like the Pope and most before him have been very anti-war except under the severe constraints of the Just War Theorem the Church has established as the only legit guideline for national self-defense, it is far from likely the Pope advocates inciting violence against homesexuals, who are no more sinful than people who lie and cheat on their taxes and cheat on their heterosexual spouses, or for that matter have sex before marriage (also against the Church's teaching, though I wonder how many people have held fast to that rule!).

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