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08 July 2008 @ 07:35 pm
It's raining amen  
ABC Newsreader tonight: "In one week's time, Sydney will become a Mecca for Catholics."

Errr ...

Before I get on with the ranting: HAPPY BIRTHDAY oldenuf2nb. You're a lovely, talented person who would do well if you had charge of a major religion.

Feel free to ignore the rest of this post if neither politics nor religion interest you in any way.

It's been a very strange week in religious news. With World Youth Day bearing down on the city, everyone has started to pay attention to the religious news in this corner of the world. There's an awful lot of it, from both the Paddies and the Proddies, largely propelled by Cardinals Pell and Jensen, the heads of the Catholic and Anglican Churches respectively in Sydney, who are both exceptionally conservative men. In my opinion they are power-mad ideologues. In their opinions they are senior leaders of the Church.

I know that most people aren't interested in religion, and I should confess that I am not a spiritual person, being a third-generation atheist and just about able to believe in cat ghosts as a metaphor. But this is THE issue of the early 21st century. Between the radical Christianity that has powered the USA for the last eight years and the radical Islam that has given rise to the Taliban and al Qaeda, it has propelled the major conflicts of this century. At the same time the Catholic church is making a desperate bid to regain lost ground, and the Anglican/Episcopalian/Church of England is schisming merrily in ways that bring Henry VIII to mind.

Here Pell has been hauled over the coals for the last day or so after he told falsehoods regarding a case of child sexual abuse. He says that he misspoke. The lawyers arguing the victim's case accept that perhaps he did in a world where a man can write write the correct version of the details at one time of a day, then misspeak it utterly at another time the same day. However, they point out that even if they take a generous view, the Cardinal's view that the victim should have gone through the Church's reconciliation process rather than taken his right to have the case dealt with under secular law was a view based in bad faith, since that reconciliation process is funded by the Catholic Church's insurers.

Let me spell this out for you: the Catholic church in New South Wales pressures its members to deal with cases of abuse within the church, without legal representation, and with compensation payments that are determined by the church, at the behest of its insurers, the same people who are responsible for the large payouts that tend to stem from proven cases of abuse pursued through the secular courts.

Pell's piéce de résistance? On the case in question, he spoke with the abusing priest, a man who he had been shown was a serial abuser, and then told the victim that since the abusing priest had said that particular act was consensual, he, Pell, could not judge as it was the priest's word against the victim's.

At the same time, the international Anglican synod has voted to allow women bishops, which has led to 1000 clergy saying they'll break away, because Jesus does not want to have his word taught by women, a fact proven by the 12 apostles all being men. I am not sure if they read the same Bible that I waded through twice, but if they did, they might like to recall that the apostles were a group of travellers who moved about the countryside with Christ, having been gathered in working environments. Jewish women of the first century were not famous for working in trades nor for travelling the countryside with bands of unrelated men.

(And before any smartypants says "Ah, but what about the Magdalene?" I would remind you that there is exactly no doctrinal evidence to support the idea that she was a prostitute, it's a much later church tradition that took away her honour.)

The actual Bible is filled with women who take on leadership roles and teach the word of god, from Ruth and Deborah, to Prisca, who even that old woman-hater Paul acknowledged was a great teacher of the scriptures and who helped bring others to his new faith.

In addition, the four gospels show Christ seeking out the company of women and discussing fine points of theology with them, from sundry Marys to Martha.

'Why does this all matter?' you may ask. 'Relax, Brammers,' you may say. 'Deep breaths. It's not as though you set foot inside a church except for weddings, funerals and christenings.'

Well, that's true, but remember that Islam spent most of the Middle Ages being the bastion of enlightenment in the developed world. Islamic nations were the ones where science and free thought flourished, where other religions were allowed to be practiced freely, and where, in the early days of Islam at least before tribal traditions overthrew some of Muhammad's edicts, women had strong positions of leadership in both the church and culture.

Those who do not learn from history ...
Bubbaabsynthedrinker on July 8th, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC)
I am a life long Catholic, but I agree the Church's behavior with regard to these horrible sex abuse cases is absolutely appalling. I know nothing about Cardinal Pell, but it sounds like just more of the same old shit.
I have no problems with Islam, only the fanatics.

Thanks for posting this little blurb to let us know that intolerance,secretiveness, and hypocrisy are still alive and well in the southern hemisphere.

blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 8th, 2008 02:10 pm (UTC)
I comfort myself with the thoughts of men like Frank Brennan, who does his church and faith very good service every day. If only he was in charge ...
(no subject) - absynthedrinker on July 8th, 2008 02:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on July 8th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Kieranfilmatleven on July 8th, 2008 02:50 pm (UTC)
now. try having those views and growing up in the home of a catholic nun.

and people wonder why I bloody well hate religion and politics. =P
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 8th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
See, I LOVE politics, and find religion very interesting, but both are a source of constant disappointment to me. I am developing the view that only boring politicians are of any actual use.

Why were you in the home of a Catholic nun, Mic?
(no subject) - filmatleven on July 8th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on July 8th, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - filmatleven on July 8th, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on July 8th, 2008 04:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
spark_of_chaos: BG from spacespark_of_chaos on July 8th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC)
I was going to say something on the topic, only I reached that second to last paragraph and my Ancestral-Memory!inner voice went all amok with indignation and omg-not-true!!! Pardon the ethnic ...erm... conflict that stole my opinion, if I overcome myself I might come back and comment OT.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 8th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
Yeah, look, you're right that it's a sweeping overstatement, but compare Spain in 1300 to Afghanistan today and it does illustrate the point.

(And while Germany had FANTASTIC legal protections for women for a lot of the Middle Ages, France was mostly shit, as was England at times, so I don't feel too bad about tarring them a bit blacker.)

Anyway -- don't let your historical niceties get in the way of my rhetoric! I have my own conscience already saying 'Well, it was slightly less black and white than that, as is the current situation ...'
aceface: onoez!bloodbelieve on July 8th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
Re: the women issue.

St Paul actually said in one of his letters as well that women had helped him spread the gospel and that they were working alongside him. They weren't disciples, but they were certainly apostles of Jesus. I can't remember the exact quote, but I learnt it last year.

Also, four of my friends are going to World Youth Day, ahah.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 8th, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
Aside from the STUPID new laws, and the fact that it will be annoying on he trains, I don't have any problem with people going to World Youth Day in itself. Just the fact that the church gets hung up on Big Porkies, such as the one you mention (I think Prisca was probably someone Paul would have counted as a friend and ally, not that you'd know that from the way he's taught).

And, you know, they're spending $60 million on faffing about while people are starving ...
(no subject) - bloodbelieve on July 8th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on July 8th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bloodbelieve on July 8th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on July 8th, 2008 05:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bloodbelieve on July 8th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Voldemoo: mice 21 cat pwnedfrantic_mice on July 8th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)
Mammas, Daddys! Hide your boys! The Catholics are coming, the Catholics are coming! WEEEEEEEEEEEEEUEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

I AM a spiritual person. Hmmph, not really. I hate mombo jumbo and I don't like when people go on spiritual head trips because it's all speculation, specially when they make rules on the basis of speculation. How do YOU know what God or Zeus or Bambie, lesbian fertility goddess of the Earth, really cares about? I do believe there is something and I TOTES believe it's all about love, whatever it is, probably because I like to think so and it makes me feel good. If I was into guns, maybe I'd think whatever was out there was all about shooting people and make an altar shaped like a rifle. POINT IS I think in order for Catholics to feel less embarrassed about their Church, the Church has to do something about their horrible track record. It's just been going down since the days of the Inquisition. They're kidding themselves if they think they've become more civilized since then. The difference is that they've substituted the rack for a bed, but they're still victimizing their own people and that's just not cool any way you look at it.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 13th, 2008 07:53 am (UTC)
I could so go a religion based on Bambi ... Sorry I missed your post Miss Mouse! I have been so sleepy with being ill this week that I have missed half of the things I was meant to do/respond to, etc.

You made me laugh so much with the hide your boys -- it's wrong but it's hilarious!
pingridpingrid on July 8th, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
Not entirely sure I can be trusted to comment on issues regarding organised religion without getting all ranty, but I'll give it a go. :)

Why oh why do people insist on using their religions, which they (often correctly) claim first and foremost teach love and understanding between mankind, to make life miserable for others?

Personal faith, I have no problems with although I don't understand it; I want people to be able to believe whatever they want. But I can't think of a single organised faith right now (although hopefully there are some) that doesn't end up using its considerable power to discriminate and condemn, all on the (usually erroneous) basis of "it's not us, it's god". And very rarely is it actually religion that's at the core of those issues; it's almost always about the convenient power that the church has amassed and the keeping thereof. It just makes me so angry when they make it out to be something else.

I just wish more people would think for themselves rather than just take the word of others on the important issues in life. *sigh* And yeah, if they turn out to actually have the same opinions as the priests or conservative politicians, and can defend them without just pointing to them, then we can talk.

*rereads* Not too ranty, I think? Restrained to the point of boredom, perhaps. Plague or cholera. :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 13th, 2008 07:55 am (UTC)
I fell asleep instead of replying to this, and then forgot, but since you have seen the state of my brain this week, I know you will understand! I think that your second paragraph neatly encapsulates the problem. In many ways I have more respect for people who do things for money, since they at least admit it's pure selfishness. The minute others ramble on about honour or god, you know it's just self=righteous selfishness.
(no subject) - pingrid on July 13th, 2008 01:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on July 13th, 2008 01:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
kayleigh_jane: Defied god lousy applekayleigh_jane on July 9th, 2008 07:57 am (UTC)
I just wish more people would think for themselves rather than just take the word of others on the important issues in life. (pingrid)

This. This is why I dislike religion in any shape or form. It also connects to my dislike of people following someone obediently, like dogs on a leash. And it is the source of my love for academia, as one of the things I learned there is that everything should be doubted until convincingly proved otherwise, and then an open mind is still needed.
But then, I can live with doubt and the consequenses of my own actions, which some people are incapable of. And I do think that is the main reason people turn to religion, teachings of love and such notwithstanding.

One good point on the wealth of the big religions, from an art historians pov: the art created in its name is amazing, as is the architecture. There are some problems with that too, but that is a whole other kettle of fish.

That got a bit ranty, but that seems to be the fashion here...;)
Brammers, I adore you for discussing this and letting us vent our opinions. ♥
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 9th, 2008 08:13 am (UTC)
I am all for ranting!

My theory on religion is that it works well for some people, allowing them to see a greater beauty in the world than they would find without it. For other people it serves to close off their connection with the universe as it is.

If the people in the second category are lucky, they become atheists and learn other ways of finding the beauty in the world. If they are unlucky they become great leaders of the church and make everyone miserable.

Though you're right, they commission brilliant art.
brinian: heelingbrinian on July 9th, 2008 10:35 pm (UTC)
The early church history we all learned in school and sunday school got rewritten during the medieval period by men. They sucked out all the relevant references to women. OK that's a very cynical and simplistic view of things, but the fact is that women did help the early spread of Christianity in a very meaningful way despite what the mainstream churches and religious texts would have us believe.

I grew up in the Anglican tradition (Episcopalian in the US roughly equals Anglican or at least they all report into the same worldwide organization :-). I was about 9 when the Dioceses of Virginia kicked up a huge fuss about the investiture of a female deacon. They still staunchly oppose investing gay bishops. I had to kick and scream to be allowed to be the first female acolyte at my church. As a result, I claim that the Episcopal Church and I went our separate ways when I was in college. In Virginia they are quite proud of how conservative and backward (my word for it!) they are. Out here in Oregon, the Episcopal church is quite progressive and I feel like if I wanted to, I'd be welcomed back into the fold even though I'm bi and female. But frankly, I think the worldwide organization needs to get their collective shit together and haul it into the 21st century before I'd even consider it. And at the heart of the issue, I'm probably far too animistic to be "christian" again anyway!

OK, probably TMI...too bad - you got me thinking...or at least writing some of my thoughts down. Sorry. I've been contemplating Buddhism lately. I'm feeling the urge to be enlightened lately.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 10th, 2008 03:25 am (UTC)
The funny thing is that the bible is still FULL of references to women serving in leadership roles in the pre-Christian and early Christian churches, but then people Pretend They Are Not There. Gah!

There is no TMI here, and ranting and thinking are allowed and encouraged. My mum's fave girlfriend was a Buddhist all the time I knew her, and I have rarely seen someone more at peace with the world. I hope that your search for enlightenment brings you as much joy as hers did for her.
(no subject) - brinian on July 10th, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on July 13th, 2008 07:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
drgaellon on July 16th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
While Judaism did not allow women into serious leadership positions until the modern era (something about "not required in the law" hardening into "not permitted in the law") — and the most traditional elements of the faith still don't — nevertheless, Jewish women have always had a powerful position in their families and in their communities. Did you know that, while under Jewish law, only the man can issue a divorce decree, legal mechanisms exist, codified in the marriage contract itself, that allow the woman to FORCE him to issue the decree? And if he refuses, the religious judiciary can excommunicate him until he does?

I'm not especially religious, but I've often said if I *had* to choose a faith to be born into, I'm glad it was Judaism.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 17th, 2008 02:38 am (UTC)
Yesm that's one of the things I like about Judaism, it is serious about being a religion of the book. Catholicism is in many ways a religion of the historical trend, which I suppose is still better than some protestant groups that appear to be religions of the poorly written pamphlet ...