2013 Favs: This Just In: Millions Watch as Irrelevant, Dying Sect Inaugurates Poorly Dressed, Out-of-Date Leader

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First Question: How many secular pundits does it take a perpetrate a lie?

Answer: All of them, talking from the same script.

Second Question: How many pundits does it take to claim a world leader with over a billion followers is “irrelevant?”

Answer: See question one.

Pope Francis’ inaugural mass was a ratings hit. So was last week’s election of Cardinal Bergoglio to the papacy.

Ratings do not necessarily mean that everyone watching agrees with the Church. But they do lead one to wonder, just how “irrelevant” is a Church whose every action inspires so much adoration, abuse, worship and hatred? Maybe the people who’ve been reporting this story need to check their dictionaries for a better word. Like, say, a phrase such as “Church that says some of the things I want to do are wrong.”

Our public discourse is in the grip of tantrum-throwing narcissists, who, it appears, only talk to one another. They appear to be the products of an education that is more indoctrinating than edifying. They also seem to be stubborn about reporting the story as they want it to be rather than the way it is.

To borrow from that witty atheist writer Mark Twain, reports of the Catholic Church’s irrelevance are greatly exaggerated. However, unlike Twain and his witty retort to an inaccurate report of his death, the reports of the Catholic Church’s irrelevance will always be exaggerated. There is never going to be a day when the Church’s Gospel message of forgiveness of sins, basic Christian morality and the promise of eternal life will be irrelevant to the people who must walk this Earth.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that these issues are the only things that, in the final analysis, matter at all.

It appears that many of these comments are coming from the group rage of self-entitled people who do not like being told that they are wrong. It seems to set their conflated egos aflame whenever the Church says that sex outside of marriage is wrong, killing people they want to kill is wrong, stealing from, exploiting, dehumanizing people made in the image and likeness of the Living God is, well, the kind of thing that can get you sent to an eternal hell.

That last one really makes them mad. Hell is verboten in popular discourse. We can talk about beastiality or show films of gang rape for entertainment, but the word “hell” as an actual destination for wayward souls rather than a curse is forbidden. Saying the “h” word in front of any of these folks puts you in the same place as the little girl who pointed her flashlight at the Tyrannosaurus Rex in Jurassic Park. Do that, and you know you’re gonna get kicked around.

Why?

If these things are “myths,” why do they care? I would guess that first of all, it’s because the devil makes them do it. Not the comic book devil, but the real one who hates the light and whispers his hatred in the ears of us humans. Second, I think they do it because the Church is, in fact, not irrelevant at all.

I would say that there is no other institution quite as relevant as the one and only Church that stands strong and will not be moved on matters of the Gospel. The Church weighs in on issues of death and eternal life. It shows us, in easily-followed and understandable ways, how to go to heaven. It also posts signs along the roadside of our lives saying, in essence, “don’t turn here, that road will take you over a cliff,”  or, “pass by this rest stop or you’ll be mugged.”

Danger do not enter sign

Church teachings are not prohibitions. They are warnings. Ignore them, and sooner or later, you will reap the whirlwind of your own lost soul.

I have no doubt that the bizarro commentary about the “irrelevant” Catholic Church will continue, even as the commenters are reporting every word that’s uttered at the Vatican.

Meanwhile, I think the rest of us should pray for these folks. They are, after all, our lost brothers and sisters.

  • http://www.lisajuliaphotography.com nashdomsrock

    You nailed it with this one….well done.

    • Mike

      Yes.

  • pagansister

    Though I disagree that the Church is the one true faith, I do agree that is far from irrelevant. I didn’t get up in the wee hours to watch the ceremony, but the bits and pieces I have seen were indeed impressive. For what it is worth, I do respect those that follow her teachings. She has done a lot of good over the centuries—and has more work to do. However, she also, IMO, needs a good house cleaning—dusting, vacuuming, tossing out the trash etc.

  • Peggy m

    good job! I especially love this part:

    “Our public discourse is in the grip of tantrum-throwing narcissists, who, it appears, only talk to one another. They appear to be the products of an education that is more indoctrinating than edifying. They also seem to be stubborn about reporting the story as they want it to be rather than the way it is. “

  • http://cause-of-our-joy.blogspot.com Leticia Velasquez

    That’s mighty tolerant of you, pagansister! Now could you teach your fellow pagans a little respect? At least enough to permit them to acknowledge the good the Church has done for humanity, the charity, education, health care institutions, the culture, the peace brokering. Then encourage them to, like you, watch a bit of the Mass. Or better yet, attend one in person. But beware, many a pagan has lost their lack of faith in that very manner!

    • pagansister

      “That’s mighty tolerant of you, pagansister! ” Leticia, I am a retired school teacher. In the last 10 years of my career, I taught in a Catholic elementary school. Once a month the children attended Mass across the street in the Church from the school. As for your last statement? Could be true for some. :-)

      • pagansister

        Leticia, Sorry for the awkward sentence– trying again! Once a month the children attended Mass in the Church across the street from the school.

  • SteveP

    That title brought a chuckle. Thank you!

  • http://mywordwall.wordpress.com Imelda

    You always nails the issue very well.

    One other thing that I am a little wary of now is the media’s constant harping on how different the new Pope is from Pope Benedict; how the other one is humble and the other one so ‘grand’. I have no qualms about Pope Francis being humble – I am quite thankful for that, However, to imply that the old Papacy was arrogant or something like that because he favored to highlight the ‘physical dignity’ of the Chair of Peter is wrong and misleading.

    I pray for the Holy Father and may he be able to address the problems that need to be addressed. May God help him.

  • Laddie V Mapani

    As for the comparisons we should not care or worry over them. We believe in the communion of saints and it stretched to communion in charism in which we share in the graces we have within the Church. The holy spirit manifests its differently such that, to one person it gives the grace of love, to another that of speaking in tounges, to another prophercy or the power of healing. If one has the gift of healing its for every member of the church. This is communion in Charism and we share in that, can I not walk tall because of my sister’s gift in writing or prophercy, as Catholics we are a communion of saints all that we have benefit all of us. Thank you for the beautiful post, we will never walk alone.

  • Bill S

    “Church that says some of the things I want to do are wrong”

    That is exactly what makes the Church irrelevant to me. Why shouldn’t it.

    • Mike

      Except it doesn’t, because you’re here, commenting, LOL.

    • Theodore Seeber

      Bill, you and a few others are indeed beginning to convince me that the concept of God, and the American Libertine concept of Freedom, are fundamentally and dogmatically incompatible. You can’t be an anarchy loving hedonist and be a theist, by definition, it is true.

      The problem is, when I compare the good that is done in the name of God, and even the evil done in the name of God, to the train wreck of genocide, usury, greed and selfishness that the American Libertine concept of Freedom has brought, it makes me wish for a theocracy that tells people when they do things that are wrong.

      More female human beings were killed for the crime of being conceived last month, than were burnt as witches in Europe between 1000-1800 AD. Do you *really* want to play the “Good without God” card? Because by my definition of Good, there is no Good in libertine freedom.

      • Bill S

        “…the concept of God, and the American Libertine concept of Freedom, are fundamentally and dogmatically incompatible.”

        More specifically, the Catholic concept of God. The whole notion that the Catholic Church conveys the will of God to us, which consists of a lot of rules laid down by the Church, is incompatible with the freedoms that Americans treasure and even fight and die for.

        “More female human beings were killed for the crime of being conceived last month, than were burnt as witches in Europe between 1000-1800 AD.”

        You’re comparing apples and oranges, again (still).

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          Bill, do not post under pseudonyms.

        • Theodore Seeber

          The Know Nothings, who wanted to eliminate all blacks and Catholics from the United States, would agree with you Bill.

          And no I’m not. Giving the death penalty for a woman for being a witch and the death penalty to a child for being conceived are equally irrational behaviors characterized by an extreme lack of intelligence.

        • Theodore Seeber

          It just occurred to me, and this is a question for Pagansister, who probably knows a lot more about polytheism than I do: Are there any gods who *don’t* make moral demands on their followers? What would be the point of a religion that didn’t?

          • pagansister

            FYI, Theodore, I do not worship any god or goddesses. My name isn’t because I’m a practicing pagan. I had another reason for my name choice.

      • abb3w

        Prior to the US Civil War, there were more than a few American Protestants who somewhat agreed about that incompatibility.

        • Theodore Seeber

          And it wasn’t the civil war that stopped them- it was the splitting of the Republican Vote between the Know Nothings and the Bull Moose Party that stopped them.

    • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

      The question is whether “what I want to do” is good for me, or is harmful for me.

      The Church warns that some things that I want to do are bad for me, that is, they will harm me and others around me. I may or may not believe that. But it is a question of fact, whether the warning is accurate or not, whether my desires are accurate or not.

      If someone warns me against something, I’m generally inclined to at least check out the warning. I’m certainly not inclined to run headlong into potential harm and danger.

      • Theodore Seeber

        Thank you for an analogy I’ve been missing all my life, somehow.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Nice blog. Of course I agree.

  • Korou

    Excellent title.

  • Bill S

    To complete that thought. People oftentimes have no choice but to make the Church irrelevant in their lives. For me, it was premarital sex, abortion and contraception. For others it is same sex marriage, in-vitro fertilization, doctor assisted suicide, divorce, etc. These are things where people just have to disenfranchise the Catholic Church from decisions that affect them personally. The Church is the one unwilling to compromise. If you are dealing with a person, or in this case, an institution, that says “it is my way or the highway”, you have no choice but to take the highway. Many people regret being forced to make such a decision. Others just chaulk it up to experience.

    • Bernie

      I feel sorry for you Bill. You need to do some searching. It’s not the Catholic Church that makes up these prohibitions, these are God’s laws. The Catholic Church makes them know to us and tries to guide us for our eternal salvation. The Catholic Church will not and cannot change its teachings just to please the sinfull modern world like most of the other so-called Christian churches.

      • pagansister

        Bernie, HOW does the Catholic Church know God’s laws? How does anyone know God’s laws? I disagree that “most of the other so called Christian churches” change their teachings to please a “sinful modern world”. But then I have my doubts as to the “sinfulness” of this world. Part of the problem is that we hear only bad things that happen, and those good things that are going on get put on the back burner.

        • Theodore Seeber

          By Revelation and Observation. And as Augustine said, observation is the real key.

          We have, in 2000 years the church has been around and a good couple of thousand years before that, that certain behaviors lead to unnecessary suffering. While there certainly IS a need for suffering in this world, and a purpose to it, much of it can be eliminated by avoiding what we call sin.

          It is for this purpose that I say that Roman Catholicism (along with Orthodox Judaism and Zen Buddhism) is a rational religion, one based not on revelation alone, but on observation.

          I can’t say the same for atheism at all. And American Exceptionalism and the free masonic definition of liberty? It seems like a great way to CREATE suffering to me.

          • Scott

            “While there certainly IS a need for suffering in this world, and a purpose to it, much of it can be eliminated by avoiding what we call sin.” That is not the result of observation but is merely an unsupported statement of belief. Firstly, there is no evidence at all that suffering is needed – that first statement of yours is nothing more than a sadist’s charter. Secondly, observation of the real world would show that some sins do not result in any suffering and, indeed, that most suffering (e.g. famine and disease) has no connection at all to sin.

          • pagansister

            Theodore, there is a NEED for suffering in this world? How do you back up that statement? WHY is there a NEED for it?

    • Lee S

      But that’s just it, I’ve never heard the church say my way or the highway. Yes it expects much of us, but it doesn’t kick us out when we fail. Or I would’ve been kicked out long ago

      • Mike

        Exactly. I’ve been going to mass regulary now for 4 years and NOT ONCE have I heard a priest say, “listen, enough is enough, if you and you know who you are, cheat on your wife one more time I am going to excommunicate you! You got it? Ok, now let’s profess our faith, ‘I believe in God…’”

        The haters hate us because they know in their heart of hearts we’re right and the future belongs to us, to babies being born alive, to mums and dads raising their children together for life, to the poor and the working classes and to the meek.

    • Theodore Seeber

      Bill, on that no-choice part: Are you saying that for you, somebody is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to engage in premarital sex, abortion, and contraception? Or that others are being forced into same sex marriage, in-vitro fertilization, doctor assisted suicides, divorce, etc?

      I thought the entire argument *for* being tolerant of these evils was choice, so how can one have no-choice in these matters?

      I hate to say it, but I fully believe that ignoring the church in *each of these cases* is fully a matter of exercising free will to the detriment of your life, like any other sin. There is always the choice to do good instead.

  • Tony

    The media mundi are ignorant and incompetent, and are so narrowly educated, if that participle applies at all, that they cannot imagine that Pope Benedict might give us one manifestation of humility and gentleness, and Pope Francis another and distinct manifestation of it. That is because they judge by feelings, not by thinking about realities, and because their feelings are determined for them by the manipulations of the very media mundi whereof they are part. They cannot form a coherent argument against the Church’s teachings, because in fact they cannot form a coherent argument for or against anything at all. They are unhappy, spoiled children.

  • Peg

    Well done. I love this definition:
    “Church that says some of the things I want to do are wrong.”

    G.K. Chesterton, the brilliant journalist and prolific author, noted that the complaints against Christianity were too many and too varied. For example we were too passive and too violent. Had there been only a few complaints, he wrote that he might have stayed in his agnostic complacency. Instead he investigated and found the fullness of joy and real freedom. He discusses this in his book Orthodoxy, witty philosophical read.

    So I hope folks on this site who might be curious would give Chesterton’s journey a try and investigate for themselves. And definitely check sources. You may find walls but as Chesterton saw, they were walls of a playground not a prison, free from fear.

    Thanks and peace

  • Peg

    FYI on Chesterton’s walls –part of an analogy of a community on a plateau on a cliff. Without walls, once someone got too close to the edge and fell over, the community shrunk back to the middle In fear–too paralyzed to live. So the walls of Christianity, Catholicism in particular, keep people from falling off a cliff and allow them to run, dance, move about freely in joy. Hope that makes sense. It’s a great book!

    • Mike

      It’s probably the book that brought me back to the RCC. Catholics mention it alot but it really does deserve the attention that it gets and there’s nothing nearly like it nowadays.

  • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

    Very good article, Rebecca.

    BTW, I thought you might be interested in reading this beautiful article:
    http://www.myyearoffaith.com/2013/03/04/hearts-of-flesh/

  • Mike

    HILARIOUS! Just made me LOL in my office. The MSM really is amazing in its deceit.

  • Laddie V Mapani

    Bill S just seeks comfort and recognition his arguements are bankrupt. We should watch out or we end up being ensnared and captivated by vanity. The writing is on the wall here, what the church tells us is what God wants.

  • Lorrie Soini

    Nice to see that what means the world to me and has given my life love and purpose is the subject of nasty barbs and remarks. I love my Papa and if you don’t fine, but my faith is relevant and I try to make it the basis of my life. I am so sorry you have nothing better to do with your time.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Lori, a number of people on other blogs have not realized the title to this post is satire. If that’s the case with you, have another look. You may be pleasantly surprised!

  • http://youmeandlilg.blogspot.com Rakhi

    Excellent post!! I’ve often noted that those who are most insistent that church teaching is irrelevant are the ones who keep bringing it up. If it is so irrelevant, then why continue talking about it. Perhaps the old adage, “methinks thou dost protest too much” fits the bill here. I’m very glad I linked from Ironic Catholic and expected satire in the title. It was well worth the read!!

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I’ve thought the same thing.

      “I’ve often noted that those who are most insistent that church teaching is irrelevant are the ones who keep bringing it up. If it is so irrelevant, then why continue talking about it.”

  • Laddie V Mapani

    Pagansister all Churches are built on the bible and the bible has the ten commandments which we ate bound to live by. These ten commandments are the laws given to Moses by God sso that we live by them. Thats how the catholic church know Gods Law.

    • pagansister

      Laddie, I do know about the 10 Commandments given to Moses etc. I was raised a Christian. I still ask how anyone KNOWS what God wants? I do not think it is entirely possible. I understand that the Church and other Christian religions uses that for their basic beliefs. IMO, a person having a personal relationship with their God might get different messages.

  • Korou

    “Ratings do not necessarily mean that everyone watching agrees with the Church.”
    Quite right. So why are you bringing them up if they don’t mean anything?

    “But they do lead one to wonder, just how “irrelevant” is a Church whose every action inspires so much adoration, abuse, worship and hatred?”
    The fact that an institution whose ideas are largely irrelevant is trying to influence society and its laws makes the institutions itself relevant.
    Suppose, for example, that a crazy person wandered around the streets shouting that women shouldn’t have the vote. Would you consider him and his ideas irrelevant? What if he then became the leader of a billion-strong organisation? His ideas are just as irrelevant to today’s society as they always were, but is he?

    “Maybe the people who’ve been reporting this story need to check their dictionaries for a better word. Like, say, a phrase such as “Church that says some of the things I want to do are wrong.”
    Or how about:
    “Church still in denial about child abuse problem?”
    Or
    “Church still trying to drag us back into the Middle Ages?”
    Or
    “Church elects another leader out of touch with the modern world.”
    Or
    “Catholics don’t get it that standing by centuries-old values is a bad thing if those aren’t good values.”

    The Catholic Church could be such a force for good in the world. It’s a tragedy that it isn’t.

    • CathyLouise

      “Church still in denial about child abuse problem” – Actually, society as a whole is still very much in denial about the child abuse problem. It’s endemic in our society, but it’s easier to ignore there and point fingers at the big bad church.

      “Church still trying to drag us back into the Middle Ages.” Church still teaching sin is sin, goodness is goodness. Christ died and is risen again. I’ve never heard a homily about the need to return to the feudal system of government and that I should be a serf.

      “Church elects another leader out of touch with the modern world.” Read a little bit more about Pope Francis and his life and teachings. He’s more in touch with the modern world than most American politicians (Rebecca excluded of course.)

      “Catholics don’t get it that standing by centuries-old values is a bad thing if those aren’t good values.” Age-old values like uh…honesty, integrity, fidelity. Granted people in the church don’t live up to these things, but that is surely different from the teaching of values.

      “The Catholic Church could be such a force for good in the world. It’s a tragedy that it isn’t.” You’re listening to the headlines and not looking at the work being done by Catholics, especially religious orders and relief societies throughout the world. The amount of good being done by “the Catholic Church” is staggering.

  • Bernie

    Pagansister, your remarks only show how little you know. You need to do some historical reading. Of course make sure you read the printed truth, not all of the printed lies.

  • pagansister

    Bernie, Having been raised a Christian, I am not ignorant of the Bible. As I mentioned above to Laddie, I still ask how anyone KNOWS what God wants? I do not think it is possible.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Pagansister, the basis for “knowing” that you seem to be suggesting would obviate every single thing that anyone “knows.” Absolute “knowing” is a practical impossibility. It gets into the old existential challenge “prove that you are not a butterfly, dreaming that you are a human being” conundrum. Nothing at all is knowable by that standard.

      We “know” the things you are talking about here because, as you are well aware, we follow the Scriptures as interpreted through the Holy Spirit by the Church. This is not to say that every word that comes out of some Church official’s mouth comes from God. I am referring to the constant teachings of the Church for the past 2,000 years. If this isn’t enough for you, so be it. But it is all the “knowing” that I need and all many of the people who read this blog need.

      • Theodore Seeber

        I personally need a little bit more- and I think Bill S and Pagansister do as well- so I tried to elucidate on that “a little bit more” above.

      • pagansister

        “This is not to say that every word that comes out of some Church official’s mouth comes from God.” Rebecca, I’m glad to read that from you. There are times when I think some folks believe that every word they are taught IS from God. Thanks for that statement. :-)

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          de nada :-)

        • Theodore Seeber

          Even the Doctrine of Papal Infallibility is more about when he is Fallible than when he is Infallible. :-)

          The Pope is not infallible in what he had for lunch. My priest is not infallible when he teaches outside of the Catechism, Canon Law, and the Bible.

          Having said that- their warnings are worth listening to, because they contain research I’d be hard pressed to duplicate myself.

          • pagansister

            Ted, IMO, all religions have some wise advise and some wise warnings.

    • SteveP

      pagansister: How does anyone know anything of you? You reveal yourself in words and deeds. Likewise with God – God reveals God’s self because God desires that revelation. As Ted S. pointed out above, part of God’s revelation is read in creation itself; the world and all it contains is the first testament – a book expanding inward and outward with technological aid. Through our rational capability we are able to discern what is as well as what is not or what ought not be.

      As an anecdote, a six-year-old recently relayed to my hearing: “God always answers but sometimes He speaks in a soft voice.” Further Rebecca pointed out earlier regarding this past Sunday’s Gospel reading (John 8:1-11), Jesus spoke briefly and, likely, in a soft voice. Did those to whom He spoke not know?

      • Scott

        “How does anyone know anything of you? You reveal yourself in words and deeds. Likewise with God – God reveals God’s self because God desires that revelation.” Very true. And that is precisely why I and so many other are atheists – because no god has revealed himself/herself. If a god were to actually speak or do something then, of course, we would change our minds.

        • SteveP

          I do understand; the strict atheist revelation/communication standards shows that who I thought was my mother’s mother’s mother’s father’s mother never did really existed. Of course if she had preserved same-year writings or buried a time-capsule or something to meet the obviously intelligent criteria of her descendant, I’d believe. Sigh . . . I suppose I’ll become accustom to being an orphan four-times removed.

  • fats

    Christ revealed God ( Himself) to us. Either you believe He existed and said what He said, and did what He did, or you don’t. I believe He is who the Gospels present, because by historical standards, the proof of the witnesses is there. Christ wants us to love Him freely, because that is what Love is about. If He demanded that we love Him, that is slavery. Our Free Will is ours to use, but that doesnt mean we always use it wisely. I believe the Church exists as Christ set it up in order to guide us in that regard. He knew there would be twisting of Truth and various lies spread by Satan, hence the Church and His Prime Minister , the Chair of Peter. One thing i know from 30 years as an agnostic, is there is no joy in relative morality.

  • Jack

    It’s that simple. Just say you have no evidence for God, you never heard God, throw in a dose of empiricism and you never believe in a false god.

    “Descriptively speaking, the premise that, ‘Law is the maintenance or establishment of the social order…by exercise of coercive authority’ may well be true. The anthropologist A. R. Radcliffe-Brown used that premise to underscore law’s role as a source of social stability. Nontheless, the premise raises a series of important questions about the relationship of law to society. The premise posits law as a means for the social order to maintain itself, as if it were an organism, with law providing the means of maintaining homeostasis. That organic model characterizes the “functionalist” approach to social science, which Radcliffe-Brown helped found. In philosophical terms, however, to claim that the social order’s continued existence is it’s own end simply begs the larger question of means and ends. In effect, that argument posits society as a self-justifying closed universe. At this point, a number of contradictions begin to emerge. In its perfect self-reference, the monistic model of society ironically corresponds to Aristotelian theology, which conceives of the deity in similar terms: thought thinking of thinking, thought whose only object is itself. Although Radcliffe-Brown’s language may present itself in terms of social science, as derived from empirical investigation, it paradoxically amounts to a theology of the state: the model has deified the social order into and end in itself.
    Radcliffe-brown’s premise raises questions from another perspective as well. To descibe the authority of law as ‘coercive’ implies that submission to law entails the surrender of autonomy. On that basis, the social order is constituted only in and through the heteronomy of its citizens. George Orwell’s 1984 would thus represent the ideal rule of law: social order accomplished by means of the totalization of heteronomy.


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