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February 19, 2016

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If this Pope was a Central American nun assisting the poor in those countries in their resistance to fascist dictators, American conservatives, even the Catholic ones, would funnel money in to have him shot dead and buried in a shallow grave.

God bless snarky liberal elitism.

That is all.

I'm particularly taken by one of the comments that this spat has generated:
“Jesus never intended to give instructions to political leaders on how to run a country.” -- Jerry Falwell

Um, haven't Falwell's fellow evangelical leaders been demanding that various policies they favor are necessary for religious reasons? Or what?

There also seems to be a lot of people willing to take Trump's word that he's a Christian because he says so that were not willing to do the same for Obama. Whatever.

I'm just glad to know Jerry Falwell knows he mind of Jesus in such detail. He's quite the oracle.

I am not Catholic, but I have been refused communion by a priest who knew I wasn't Catholic. Because he knew I wasn't right with God. Obnoxious self righteous prick. For those who might not know, evangelical Christians don't recognize the divinity of the Pope. He's a guy who decided to chime in on something, and discussing the Christianity of any person is inappropriate, even for a Pope. Self righteous and obnoxious. As is Jerry Falwell. FWIW

"the GOP is dominated by tribalism and "us vs. them."

"clanism", too.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/paul-ryan-unite-the-clans-braveheart

I'd be happy to go at it with broadswords with him, first cleaving his volume of Atlas Shrugged in half, and then him, the blue-eyed murderer.

Ugh,

I would go so far as to note that being a professed Christian is not considered to be a proof that such a person is a good one according to classical Christian doctrine.

From the church fathers onwards, the mainline Christianity has acknowledged that the invisible church of the saved is not the visible church on earth. You have many a professed Christian who is not one in their hearts. However, you can't know.

On the other hand, the church fathers lives in a pluralistic, multi-religious society. They never tried to claim that only Christians could be good people. Intead, they recognised the social reality: there were a lot of pagans who were, by all human norms, excellent friends, family people honest judges or capable, administrators. That was plainly clear. Instead, they only claimed that nonetheless, even a good pagan was condemned to eternal perdition, for despite his seeming virtues, he was still a sinner.

So, a professed Christian may be, in secret, still a complete fake and a truly abominable person, while a pagan can be, for all human intents and purposes, be a truly excellent individual.

Thus, if we follow these strains of patristic thought, we need to say that Trump may well be a Christian, and should be treated as one, for we don't know his heart. However, this makes little difference, because neither can we know whether his profession is true. And it doesn't matter anyway. You can be destined for Hell, but make a good US president anyhow. Whether Trump is a Christian is unimportant when judging his merits to be a president.

For those who might not know, evangelical Christians don't recognize the divinity of the Pope.

Well, you're in good company. Catholics don't consider the Pope divine either.

Actually, I'm not aware of anyone who considers him divine. Perhaps I have missed something.

"Obnoxious, self-righteous prick"

Those politically incorrect freedom of religion preferences can send a guy around the bend.

"and discussing the Christianity of any person is inappropriate"

Since when?

Besides limiting my right to the freedom of speech by your preference, more than half the political speechifying by conservatives since the country's founding, and a good 7/8ths of it since 1975, including your entire party's political vetting would have to be edited out of the national discourse.

This is one of the first questions conservative candidates are vetted with when they contemplate a run.

Besides, Trump lies about his Christian outlook and background, so I guess we can't question liars either.

I've never seen a fatter camel's ass try to thread the eye of the needle than Trump.

That he tied in the fat ass category with nearly every other conservative in this country notwithstanding.


Ted Cruz will save the U.S. military from the gluten-free MRE bureaucratic scourge.

He has my vote.

...and discussing the Christianity of any person is inappropriate, even for a Pope.

Is this true? If one can discuss what it means to be Christian, why can't one discuss whether or not someone is acting in a Christian way? How is it that people can strive to be better Christians if such things are never considered?

And the Count as a talking points writer, apparently, "plush-bottomed Pentagon bureaucrat." Well done.

To quote Forest Whitaker's character in Good Morning Vietnam: I have no idea what that means, sir, but it seems very negative to me.

Atheists certainly deny the Pope's "divinity". By the same token, Trump's "Christianity" is a real (to take him at his word) belief in an imaginary deity. Gosh, it's fun to watch the religious go at each other.

--TP

The idea that a person's Christianity cannot be discussed is a rule that belongs to a society with an established church. In such a society, calling someone "not a Christian" is a scorn and condemnation that stops all rational discussion. After it, you can't make any amends with the person, and should your opinion be embraced by the majority, you have ostracised them.

Thus, to retain civility and to allow for some semblance of freedom of thought, you can't discuss the honesty of anyone's religious convictions.

In a modern secular society, this is not the case. One can be an atheist, and a respected member of the society. Thus, you can actually discuss personal religiosity of a person with much smaller stakes. After all, the issue does not involve the person's livelihood and social standing, just their personal honesty.

The idea that a person's Christianity cannot be discussed is a rule that belongs to a society with an established church. In such a society, calling someone "not a Christian" is a scorn and condemnation that stops all rational discussion. After it, you can't make any amends with the person, and should your opinion be embraced by the majority, you have ostracised them.

But, even then, can't a non-Christian become a Christian?

In the Donald's case, couldn't he abandon The Great Wall of Mexico and adopt a Christian position on the matter?

(I'm not purporting to know what makes anyone a Christian or not, and I don't give much of a crap one way or the other. I'm just trying take these Christian issues on under the same terms Christians seem to approach them under. Where would Christianity be if they didn't covert Jews and Roman pagans? The Jews weren't quite the stretch that the Romans were, but both were still "not Christians.")

The idea that a person's Christianity cannot be discussed is a rule that belongs to a society with an established church. . . .

In a modern secular society, this is not the case.

If I am understanding you correctly, you are (not unnaturally) thinking of European societies. But while it doesn't have a single established church, the United States is not quite a "secular society" in the European sense.

We don't necessarily reject people for belonging to the "wrong" religion. (OK, some of us are trying hard to change the with respect to Muslims. But being Jewish or Catholic or Eastern Orthodox or some or another version of Protestant, or even Hindu or Buddhist, will not automatically get you condemned.)

People might refuse to vote for you on the basis of your religion. But they will likely not flatly refuse to associate with you at all. Probably, they will not only not care much, but not know, what religion you are.

However, you will get condemned if you profess a religion and then procede to ignore its major tenets. Say you are Jewish, and then eat a bacon cheese burger, and you will get condemned. Say you are Hindu, but work in a steak house, and you will get condemned. Say you are a Christian, but hold that Jesus was merely a prophet (or religious philosopher), and you will get condemned.

You can get away with professing a varient of a religion. But claim to belong and then ignore it, and it's a whole different story.

NOTE: there are certainly places in the country where people are not concerned with you religion at all. But I'm talking about the majority of the country.

The need to claim some kind of religious faith or affiliation as part of one's qualifications for national public office has become so knee-jerk that I've sort of just learned to factor it out.

You have to love babies, you have to think or at least acknowledge that American is the best country on earth, and you have to have a deeply cherished faith, even if you've just acquired or discovered it quite recently.

So, as far as Trump's Christianity, whatever. He's obliged to profess some kind of religious affiliation, just like everybody else.

All of that said, if you're putting it out there as one of your credentials, it seems like that would make it sort of fair game for folks to discuss.

In my very own personal perfect world, it wouldn't even come up. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no, somebody said. Along with several other comments about public displays of religiosity, if I recall correctly.

But (probably for the best) my perfect world isn't where we live.

wj,

I was actually describing the same phenomenon as you. The reason why we can actually point to a person acting contrary to their professed tenets is that the stakes are low. The condemnation you talk about is moral indignation. It might cause you not to being invited to some parties, but it will rarely result in anything actually serious.

Instead, if you have a mono-religious society, voicing doubts about the sincerity of someone's beliefs is never done publicly, for the stakes are far higher. Most likely, the allegation would be criminal libel, if unproven, and the results truly serious for the accused, if proven.

I am not simply describing how things were here in Finland a hundred years ago. G. A. Wallin makes similar notes in his memoirs from Egypt of the 1830's. The people handled the doubts of someone's irreligion in a completely similar manner. They were whispered behind someone's back but never openly expressed, for no one dared to confront another with such an accusation.

My own personal worthiness I leave up to the Man Upstairs to judge. That of others, likewise.

With people like Hitler, Pol Pot and Mao I occasionally take a little more license than is usual.

Religions tell people how to live. Religions leaders truce feedback and guidance on this as they see fit. It's pretty much the job description.

On the other hand, the church fathers lives in a pluralistic, multi-religious society. They never tried to claim that only Christians could be good people. Intead, they recognised the social reality: there were a lot of pagans who were, by all human norms, excellent friends, family people honest judges or capable, administrators. That was plainly clear. Instead, they only claimed that nonetheless, even a good pagan was condemned to eternal perdition, for despite his seeming virtues, he was still a sinner.

I would deny that assumption. I have read quite a few of those fathers of the church and some have stated unambiguously that pagan virtue is by definition not true, i.e. either it is pure pretense or it has fundamental flaws that completely devalue it. Imo some of those guys were as big donkey cavities as the specimens of solid digestive product on the religious fringe are today. Discrediting their opponents by any means was SOP (admittedly their opponents often did the same, a practice common from the Roman courts of law).

Hartmut,

I agree. Ambrose and Augustine were both Roman lawyers (Augustine was a teacher of rhetorics, which was essentially a law-prof equivalent, and Ambrose was a Roman administrator.)

You can find long stretches of texts where both condemn pagans in strongest possible worss. However, you will also find that both were open to the lived experience of their audience that many pagans were, in fact, nice people. They simply devalued this so that it did not carry any religious value (in essence, if you can't find anything else, then there is secret pride). Yet, they did not claim that all pagans were bad in conventional, social sense.

One can find the argument* that pagan virtue (consistent of 'virtus' and 'pietas')is by definition pure selfishness motivated by the desire to get something from the pagan deities and avoiding their wrath while Christian piety and virtue are free of that (an argument for which they should have been laughed out of the room).
Ironically, the same charge was levelled against Christians in the North during the medieval Christianization. The vikings** knew that the good guys would lose the final battle against the forces of chaos, so being virtuous meant chosing the losing side without hope for a longterm reward while the Christians just chose Christ lured by the bait of heaven and out of fear of the threat of hell.

*Sorry, I do not have the printed sources at hand at the moment to give chapter and verse. Ambrose and Augustine were not even the worst offenders, although they could get extremly underhanded and nasty.
**I know that this term is anything but precise and is just a stand-in for period and region.

I think one has to acknowledge the fact that American Christianity is clearly exceptional.
And Trump's more exceptional than most.

Dissing the Pope and his teachings has a long tradition. When was the last time anyone at National Review or Catholic News attacked the Supreme Court's Catholic members for violating the church's clear, longstanding, regularly reaffirmed teaching on the wrongness of the death penalty? When have right-wing Catholics called on their fellow Americans to conscientiously object to American wars that fail the criteria for just wars?

The fact that he can excommunicate people from the Roman church does imply that it's okay for the pope to discuss someone's Christianity.to:

No Adam, it implies that he, and the Catholic church think its ok to discuss someone's Catholicism. There is no process to excommunicate someone from being Christian.

"More broadly, it's amazing to me how the Pope has become a kind of persona non-grata among political U.S. evangelicals and even Catholics. I mean, all of a sudden the Pope isn't catholic? Or his views on this or that with respect to religion are due no more deference or consideration than some dude on the street? Or that if he's weighing in on, say, poverty and other issues that are core to the Catholic church that's all of a sudden him "getting involved in politics" but citing him commenting, and the Catholic church's position, on abortion is not?"

My position is that the right's rhetoric and thought is close to 100% Freudian projection. Whenever they accuse others of doing something, it's almost always something that they've done 100x as much or which they hope to do. Classical examples are sexual sins and crimes, corruption and most of all abuse of government powers.

In this context, remember that the favorite insult of right-wing Catholics was 'cafeteria Catholic'.

That's not what I said.

In the course of excommunication, im pretty sure that popes have discussed whether people are Christian or not. For example, they might have determined that they're a heretical Christian, or a pagan.

I wonder if Francis has been mis-quoted here? I had the impression he was a little more circumspect than this.

Not that it bothers me, I am an athiest. It is just that the media likes to spin him a certain way. Not a christian verse not following the teachings of the church.

Of course I like this pope, if only for his attempts to tone things down. The previous two popes sure made things difficult for non conservative believers, IMO.

"Popery vs. Trumpery" has a nice ring to it, just sayin'.

Imagine a presidential election between Papa Fransesco and He, Trump.
Which of them would win the Christian vote?

--TP

Define "Christian."

I suppose I have as much right to define "Christian" as the Pope does -- which may be no right at all to hear some tell it -- so here goes:

I think, however, that there are two different items which are quite essential to anybody calling himself a Christian. The first is one of a dogmatic nature -- namely, that you must believe in God and immortality. If you do not believe in those two things, I do not think that you can properly call yourself a Christian. Then, further than that, as the name implies, you must have some kind of belief about Christ. The Mohammedans, for instance, also believe in God and in immortality, and yet they would not call themselves Christians. I think you must have at the very lowest the belief that Christ was, if not divine, at least the best and wisest of men. If you are not going to believe that much about Christ, I do not think you have any right to call yourself a Christian.
That's Bertrand Russell, almost 100 years ago, than whom I cannot do better. Interestingly, he prefaced the above with this:
I do not mean by a Christian any person who tries to live decently according to his lights. I think that you must have a certain amount of definite belief before you have a right to call yourself a Christian. The word does not have quite such a full-blooded meaning now as it had in the times of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. In those days, if a man said that he was a Christian it was known what he meant. You accepted a whole collection of creeds which were set out with great precision, and every single syllable of those creeds you believed with the whole strength of your convictions.
Were Russell alive today, he might observe that in the times of the Reverend Pat Robertson and Saint Ronald Reagan, a certain brand of Christianity insists on its own collection of creeds: supply side economics, American exceptionalism, the sanctity of life from fertilization until birth, the absolute necessity of name-checking God in the Pledge, and the equal authority of the Old and New Testaments.

I am definitely not qualified to pass judgement on whether that brand of "Christian" is more or less authentic than the kind Russell defined, but I'm fairly sure how they'd vote.

--TP

Someone who you'd like to have a beer with, but with whom you'd never play cards.

Bingo!

This Pope (his Prickliness) has enemies on all sides: ISIS, the Donald, the Marty, and now the Girl Scouts:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/st-louis-archbishop-seeks-cut-ties-girl-scouts-37062504

If I were Trump, and I may well be, I'd have a battalion of topless Girl Scouts and Brownies on stage during my next rally singing, "Franky, ISIS is Cruzing To Take Away That Merit Badge", to the tune of "Bad Boy" (Beatles version) while tossing birth control paraphernalia from woven baskets into the crowd.

"Junior, (Don't) Behave Yourself!"

I'll bet we'll hear plenty of "discussion" then about who is and who isn't.


Though I find some Catholic doctrines intriguing, let's not forget that the Catholic Church has been sheltering criminals and obstructing justice on an industrial scale, enabling the most heinous crimes against the most vulnerable victims.

I completely agree with novakant, but would add:

"Though I find some Republican doctrines intriguing, let's not forget that the Republican establishment has been sheltering criminals and obstructing justice on an industrial scale, enabling the most heinous crimes against the most vulnerable victims."

Need to update the title of this post to Trump vs. Clinton as it seems we are headed that way....

I dunno, Ugh. I want Trump vs. Sanders; I predict Rubio vs. Clinton.

He, Trump may look invincible at the moment but, having just lost the easiest target of his Big Swinging Dick schtick, he may start losing his pizzaz. Plus, I don't think he really wants the job of POTUS.

--TP

I think your prediction. Is probably right, though Trump also has a pretty good chance at this point.

I think he will certainly try to bully Rubio from now on - I'm expecting a lot of comments about his size as well as the Gang of 8 stuff and ethnic dog-whistles... or rather, since it's Trump, just whistles. But I have the feeing Rubio will be quite comfortable in a street-fight.

What gives Trump the idea that ISIS gives a shit about the Vatican? I doubt if they've ever heard of the place. Any Christians they encounter would be either Orthodox or non-Chalcedonians of some variety.

Two reasons:
a) blowing up the Vatican would piss off a lot of people
b) high concentration of art, in particluar religious art

Plus the natural reason that Rome is the symbol for the crusades ISIS to a degree paints itself as the avanger of/for(?). Bin Laden also preached against the crusaders, although he saw their spiritual heirs more in Washington than in the Vatican.

I guess we will find out a week from Tuesday. Bush's voters aren't all going to Rubio. Trump has been leading in the "national" polls for some time and it seems he may take all the Super Tuesday states other than Texas.

Plus I won the same number of South Carolina delegates as Cruz and Rubio combined and I didn't even run!

Ugh: very cost effective, which automatically disqualifies you from the GOP.

What gives Trump the idea that ISIS gives a shit about the Vatican?

From what I understand, a lot of ISIS propaganda refers to their enemies as 'Rome'. Which, again from what I understand, is rhetorical shorthand for 'the Christian world'. And, once again from what I understand, it's a borrowing from, or reference to, the apocalyptic prophetic tradition they are obsessed with.

Some folks, including friends of mine who are sort of 'First Things' style Catholics, read this literally. I don't think that's what is meant.

Seems more like Trump versus civilisation to me.
http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/02/20/donald_trump_hails_mass_execution_with_bullets_dipped_in_pigs_blood.html

I'm going to guess I'm not the only one who feels like he's living in the early stages of the backstory for a dystopian, post-apocalyptic sci-fi/fantasy novel.

i was thinking of a particular Sinclair Lewis novel from the 30s...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Can't_Happen_Here

uncanny similarities

I just hope we don't end up with "If This Goes On---" Especially with the mythical "Stone Pillow."

At the moment, that kind of theocratic government seems rather more likely than Lewis' vision of a secular authoritiarian government.

A norm of never questioning someone's status as a Christian or member of whatever faith is about as anti religious as you can get an ENORMOUS portion of religious doctrine from a huge number of faiths involves detailing what does or does not make you a "Christian" or whatever. The implications of such a norm is incredibly extensive and amounts to a norm against publicly expressing a high percentage of closely held religious sentiments.

If Trump or Cruz claimed they were Buddhists, should the Dalia Lama keep his trap shut?

If the Pope is sh*tting in the forest and Donald Trump is nearby saying the Rosary, would either make a sound?

I wish this guy would sh*t in the forest, so we couldn't hear him.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/rafael-cruz-god-sign-presidential-campaign

This is another reason to forestall the confiscation of military weaponry and handguns from citizens in this country, because we're going to need them to defend ourselves against these God-ridden conservative murderers.

Americans want simple answers and by God our bankrupt right-wing media will be the straight men and women:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/morning-joe-hot-mic-trump-conversation

Trump!

I think Trump deserves at least three exclamation marks.
Like this:
****ing Barbarian!!!

Thy Hand, Great Anarch, let's the curtain fall;
And universal Darkness covers All.
https://www.yahoo.com/politics/donald-trump-lights-out-video-162842597.html

... and effing autocorrect inserts an apostrophe.

That will teach me to quote the Dunciad.

Somewhere, there must be a way to turn off auto-correct.

Or make it apply in the real world. That way, it could automatically delete Trump's candidacy. ;-)

Nah, autocorrect is capable of even worse decisions than we are.

hairshirthedonist: "I'm just glad to know Jerry Falwell knows he mind of Jesus in such detail. He's quite the oracle."

He's made a nasty comment against Pope Francis, ragging on him for mixing politics and religion.

Which is rich, since the only reason that Jerry the Deuce is famous is that his father quite successfully mixed them.

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