The fatuous foolishness of the Manhattan Declaration

I had meant to conclude with a final post on this subject reserved simply for laughing at the Manhattan Declaration and the comical preening of its pompous prose.

 It provides a hilarious, real-world example of the kind of wince-inducing misplaced self-importance and lack of perspective that I've always enjoyed when it's performed by people like Ricky Gervais or Rowan Atkinson or Steve Coogan. The document begins with the authors comparing themselves to those who defended Christendom against the onslaught of "barbarian tribes." Then they declare themselves the heirs of John Wesley and William Wilberforce and compare themselves to all those who suffered injustice during the long struggle for civil rights. And they're still just warming up on their primary subject — their righteous courage and courageous righteousness. By the end of the document, they're presenting themselves, without qualification or perspective, as a combination of Augustine, Aquinas and Martin Luther King Jr. and comparing their document to King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" — blissfully disregarding the ways in which a "Press Release from the National Press Club" isn't quite the same thing.

20090911-EggPan Their own awesomeness is a topic the authors address with relentless relish. Everything else in the document is merely a foil for this central subject. The threat of The Gay is grave, ominous and potentially world-altering, they warn, repeatedly, before reassuring us that their heroic resolve and moral superiority will save the day. Even the passages in which they luxuriate in their own massive humility are saturated with this swaggering self-regard.

This all-consuming self-absorption coupled with an utter lack of self-awareness plays like something from a Christopher Guest movie. I'm only half-convinced at this point that Robert George is even a real person and not a Fred Willard improv run amok. The authors possess that same remarkable knack for straight-faced seriousness while making uproariously ridiculous assertions.

And at one level it's impossible to view these pretentious peacocks, these Malvolios grimacing and strutting in their yellow stockings, without succumbing to the derisive laughter they deserve. Such self-inflation demands deflation. And anyway it can't be helped. I mean, just listen to them:

We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence.

The whole thing is like that — like a bad parody of the St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V. Except of course that Henry was outnumbered. Here instead we have a group of powerful elites, men at the center of political, cultural, academic and ecclesiastical privilege bemoaning their oppression at the hands of the homosexuals and religious minorities they claim run the world. They are overlords posing as underdogs. (It's hard out there for a pope.)

And while that's ridiculous, it's not really funny. The claim of oppression is laughably bogus, but the blood on their hands is all too real. A parody of the St. Crispin's Day speech has comic potential, but a parody of the St. Crispin's Day speech as delivered by the pilot of the Enola Gay is too bitterly callous even for my bleak taste in comedy.

So ultimately, even though we're being treated to grand examples of the Blowhard Fool — a comic type that dates back before Plautus — this isn't funny. And formally, structurally, we're dealing with tragedy. There is no resolution, no reconciliation, no marriage. (Shakespearean shorthand: Tragedy means everyone dies; comedy means everyone gets married.) Indeed, the whole production here is an explicit rejection of the possibility of reconciliation and an adamant denial of marriage. So this isn't comedy. We can't help but laugh at these tragic clowns, but the laughter has a bitter aftertaste.

The important thing here, though, is to recognize why these buffoons have embraced this buffoonery. Their silliness is not a sideshow. The pompousness is the purpose. The fatuousness is the function. This is, as the kids on the Internets like to say, a feature, not a bug.

The anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-religious minority Manhattan Declaration is not primarily about opposing any of those things. That's all just collateral damage. The primary purpose of the Manhattan Declaration, its raison d'etre, is to help the authors and signatories convince themselves that they're better than everyone else. The ridiculous, overweening pride is what it's for.

Chuck Colson, Robert George and Timothy George are blitzed out of their minds on the drug of smug. They're hard-core umbrage junkies, snorting offendedness, mainlining grievance, freebasing uncut self-righteousness.

This is your brain on smug. Just say no.

  • renniejoy
  • Not Really Here (who needs to study up on Coffee Hour, which apparently is a sacrament in the Episcopal Church)

    hapax- not much of a drinker, really. I think crustless sandwiches are a waste (it’s a good thing that the Episcopal Church is so tolerant of heterodoxy) but I am fond of small rich cookies. Actually, cookies of any kind are good, as long as they don’t have tree nuts in them, ’cause I’m allergic to tree nuts.

  • Not Really Here (who needs to study up on Coffee Hour, which apparently is a sacrament in the Episcopal Church)

    Lori-
    On condoms being less effective in Africa-
    I heard in the proverbial somewhere that it is common practice for condom manufacturers to ship product that didn’t pass quality inspections, and condoms that were past their “sell by” dates (latex degrades and gets crumbly with time) to the third world for condom distribution programs. Poor quality condoms=more breakage which means less effectiveness in preventing the spread of AIDS.

  • hapax

    This may sound a bit silly but… can you not just have two packs of coffee?
    Sorry, Launcifer, I was being facetious. That is of course what is usually done.
    I was making fun of the well-known stereotype that Episcopalians are, while fairly open and tolerant with theology and discipline, notoriously resistant to change in terms of custom and tradition about things like refreshments, type of candle, etc.
    True fact: One church I attended had to have the Bishop come in to back up the vestry’s decision to switch from milk to non-dairy creamer at the coffee hour. (A poor decision, imho, but I forgive him much since he also installed a lovely set of Stations of the Cross…)

  • Lori

    @NRH: I seem to recall hearing something about that as well, but it was a while ago. Dr. Green didn’t mention it as a problem, so I wonder if the situation was corrected after it was exposed. That’s the kind of shitty practice that doesn’t tend to hold up will under the light.

  • Leum

    I haven’t commented upon the thought experiment, because frankly it’s nonsensical to me. I am not a gender essentialist, or race etc., but after umpty ump decades living as who I am, my race, gender, sexual identity is inextricably bound up with me.
    The question is thus, essentially, “what compensation would you consider adequate for suicide?” and the answer is “none.”

    And hapax wins an internet!

  • Launcifer

    Hapax: Ah, in that case I apologise: the references were a bit beyond my normal purview, so I took them seriously. Then again, there’s something weirdly heart-warming about clinging to refreshments over dogma, unless that also includes everyone eating Marmite sandwiches.

  • Karen

    hapax: How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but then the rest of the congregation will spend weeks talking about how much better the old light bulb was.

  • Ms. Anon E. Mouse, Esq.

    Re: East Coast Liberal
    I always think of Providence first, followed by Martha’s Vineyard and Provincetown. Then, my mind moves to the larger cities like Boston and NYC.
    Re: Thought experiment
    I’m going to go the “reincarnation route” with it, because it’s hard to think of changing myself significantly now without thinking about how it would affect people in my current life. I like myself and my life now, for sure, but I wonder if I’d be less driven and emotionally closed-off if I was not a double minority.
    There was a lot of pressure in my early life as I was taught the only way I could be even marginally successful would be to be the best at everything. Even though I don’t believe that stuff intellectually, anymore, I know that I have some subconscious sense of having to “beat the man” in a lot of my life. Without those subconscious beliefs from being a minority, I think I’d probably be happier. Impossible to know, but I think I’d take a switch next life for free.

  • truth is life

    East Coast Liberal: NYC for me! Though, maybe that’s from living in Texas…?

  • http://rachelmcg.livejournal.com/ Rachel

    Regarding “East Coast Liberals,” I grew up in Massachusetts, within 30 miles of Boston for the most part, and Boston is what I always think of when such a slur* arises, with New York a close second. I live in Oregon now, have for almost ten years, yet most of my friends here still consider me a “freak foreigner,” however fondly.
    *While not necessarily meant as a slur in this instance, when someone uses the term on the news or the like, it’s often meant as one. Not sure why, really.

  • ako

    I heard in the proverbial somewhere that it is common practice for condom manufacturers to ship product that didn’t pass quality inspections, and condoms that were past their “sell by” dates (latex degrades and gets crumbly with time) to the third world for condom distribution programs. Poor quality condoms=more breakage which means less effectiveness in preventing the spread of AIDS.
    I’m curious about that story. It doesn’t seem to be the case anywhere I’ve been (haven’t been to Africa, though), and unless they’re adding fake new “sell by” dates, they’d get caught pretty quickly these days. My inclination is to believe that it’s either a scare story (no offense, NRH – the proverbial somewhere is a notoriously unreliable source), or an actual one-off incident exaggerated out of all proportion (people have a tendency to twist facts like “condoms can possibly fail” and “handing out condoms, by itself, isn’t necessarily going to get great results” so I can see turning “Someone once gave away a batch of expired condoms” into “Condom manufacturers routinely ship expired condoms”). But I don’t know.

  • Amaryllis

    Jason: Culture shapes things like the sort of traditions that someone grows up in and the sort of values someone has and so I think culture does have a huge amount of influence on someone’s personality. The culture one is the hardest one for me differently for myself and race too since that is linked to it. Another culture, while not a bad thing, isn’t me because I define “me” as who I am in the inside (my thoughts, opinions, wants, desires) and those would ultimately change if my culture changed.
    Yes, I see what you’re saying, And yet, there’s an element of choice in how much, as an adult, you accept the values and traditions of your birth culture. Without sliding into “Cherokee grandmother” fatuousness, some people do find a better fit with another culture, or at least subculture, than that of their birth family or region of origin. Culture isn’t genetic, isn’t predetermined.
    Cultural change isn’t easy, but it seems to me to be more, oh, possible, than change in gender identity or sexual orientation. If that makes sense, at this hour of the night.

    @Micahel Mock: good story, awaiting sequel.

    Izzy: although I’d have to be a transvestite if I was a guy, since modern male clothing tends to be either plain or fugly.
    If I’m staying female in my rebirth/retcon, I want a decent fashion sense the next time around.
    —-
    Izzy: What city *does* spring to mind when people say “East Coast Liberal,” guys?
    Not so much the cites at all, but the exurbs. The counties.

    NRH: But I’ve been giving intellectual assent to moral teachings that deep in my heart of hearts, I don’t really believe (homosexuals are Teh Ebil, the ban on birth control, and that thing Benny Sixteen said about trans people being abominations was pretty damn embarrassing).
    See, I never believed that I had to assent to those kinds of teachings to call myself Catholic (whatever the Pope might say). They just aren’t the heart of the matter. But I seem to be losing touch with whatever the heart was, and the other stuff is getting too hard to live with, without it.
    If that makes sense, either. Gotta go to bed. Soon.
    —-
    Jeff: My natal day is 11 Dec
    *makes a note of it*
    *regrets being on the wrong coast*
    —-
    Bennett Standeven: “We will work… to bring assistance, comfort, and care to…those who have been victimized by abortion…” [I don't think they need it anymore...]
    I’m sure you know that they mean the women who have abortions, of course. The poor weak sisters who were coerced by parents or boyfriends, or misled by soulless feminists, or just morally uneducated, and “submitted to the murder of their children:” they’re victims too! It’s how they get around the question of, if abortion is murder, why shouldn’t a woman who has an abortion be jailed? Which even they realize doesn’t sound good.

    hapax: May I suggest that you begin with a pound or two of Bishops Blend?…To be safe, I’d pour a tot of your favorite liqueur in it
    Last night it was meat pies, tonight it was Smoking Bishop. Dickensian and seasonal.

  • Erl
  • ako

    I’m sure you know that they mean the women who have abortions, of course. The poor weak sisters who were coerced by parents or boyfriends, or misled by soulless feminists, or just morally uneducated, and “submitted to the murder of their children:” they’re victims too! It’s how they get around the question of, if abortion is murder, why shouldn’t a woman who has an abortion be jailed? Which even they realize doesn’t sound good.
    And quite often, this view comes from people who’d go into a frothing rage if you presented the “murderer as victim” in any other context.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    Good luck changing churches, Not Really Here. :-) I hope you find a community you can be happy in.

  • Kristy

    I’m a terrible person for not reading all of the comments before commenting myself. Granted.
    I did like the thought experiment though, and it made me think.
    As far as race goes: honestly, as a kid, I used to wish for my skin to magically turn dark. (For the record, I am Whitey McIrish.) At the time, any race other than small-town white girl was exotic, exciting, and far more interesting than anything I was likely to encounter. These days I’m older and wiser… but you know? While I’ve made peace with my fishbelly-pale skin, I don’t think I’d be heartbroken if it were to change. I know racism exists in the world. But the people I choose to associate with are not racist (except when it’s funny, which is another post altogether), and so yeah… I don’t think I’d lose any of the things which are important to me.
    My sex… hmm. I don’t think I’d like to be male. Mostly because I’m married, and my husband has yet to show any bisexual tendencies. He’d probably still love me, but in a dude way. Like the way you love your brother. Which, you know – not bad, just not the way you want your husband to feel about you.
    Other than that… I firmly believe that in past lives, I was more often male than female. I mean, I like being a girl. It’s fun. I have breasts, and I can flirt without worrying about people feeling ‘threatened.’ But there are times when it feels like an amazing vacation in a country that you have no intention to move to. So, I mean… turning into a guy would be a little bit of a letdown, but not devastating. Except, again, for the whole bit where I’m married, so yeah…
    Sexuality… currently I consider myself bisexual with a tendency towards men. A change to either homosexuality or heterosexuality would rather curtail my dating field. And especially if this little experiment has ended my marriage… I’m again’ it, sir.

  • http://funwithrage.livejournal.com Izzy

    On Episcopals and refreshments: sounds like my father. “You’re pagan? All right. You’re polywhatnow? I don’t want to know, but whatever. You’re drinking COKE with STEAK? Young lady, you’re out of the will!”
    Also wishing NRH good luck. Saint Stephen’s sounds vaguely familiar: I may have a friend or two associated with it, or at least have been to a wedding there. Though that may be a different Saint Stephen’s.

  • Not Really Here (who needs to study up on Coffee Hour, which apparently is a sacrament in the Episcopal Church)

    @Kit- Good luck changing churches, Not Really Here. :-) I hope you find a community you can be happy in.
    Kit- thanks. I think I’ll be fine. The parish I’ve got my eyes on is just a short way from where I’m going now, I’ve been pretty well assured that I don’t actually have to stop believing several highly improbable things that I think I’m just genetically hard-wired to believe, and the rector is a nice lady (two of the parish’s three priests are women, the third is from Kenya- apparently there is a large Kenyan community to be served).
    Amaryllis- See, I never believed that I had to assent to those kinds of teachings to call myself Catholic (whatever the Pope might say). They just aren’t the heart of the matter. But I seem to be losing touch with whatever the heart was, and the other stuff is getting too hard to live with, without it.
    If that makes sense, either. Gotta go to bed. Soon.

    Yeah, I kind of know what you mean. A lot of Catholics who don’t subscribe to that particular set of moral teachings are staying in the Church. But for me, if you want to belong to an organization, you have to play by it’s rules, and those rules involve believing certain things that I really just don’t, and can’t.
    And FWIW, I think that I’ve been trying to be a good Catholic at the expense of being a good Christian, if that makes any sense.

  • Not Really Here (who needs to study up on Coffee Hour, which apparently is a sacrament in the Episcopal Church)

    Izzy- it would be the St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church in Lynn. I doubt if there would be more than one church of the same denomination in a smallish city like this one. Google isn’t revealing any other St. Stephenses here in Lynn (No Lutheran, Orthodox, or Catholic) so if the wedding or whatever was in Lynn, dat probly be da one.

  • Launcifer

    Izzy: You drink coke* with steak? I mean, srsly? That’s… that’s… Gah, it’s even worse than ordering red wine with fish – and that’ll get you killed, I’ll have you know!

  • Jason

    Unless Leonardo invented a time machine as well as a camera obscura.
    It’s possible, given his association with the Meddling Monk.

    ….and he was friends with the Doctor, who managed to save the entire existance of our planet by requesting that Leonardo please paint several different copies of the Mona Lisa.

  • Rebecca

    Follow-up to Jason: What’s important there is the existence of “canon” vs. “personal canon”… It’s canon that Neville Longbottom marries Hannah Abbott, because JKR said so, but I’m slightly creeped out by everyone marrying people they know from middle school and I think Neville works better single, so in my head that doesn’t happen, while I fully acknowledge that it’s still canon. (Without getting into the whole “interview canon” issue.) Likewise, while JKR never mentions this and it is therefore not canon, it’s in my head (personal canon) that Harry sees his cousin Dudley bringing his kid to Platform 9 3/4.

  • Rebecca

    Sorry, wrong thread.

  • Izzy

    NRH: Not Lynn, alas. I think we’ve got a St. S’s in Providence, too.
    Launcifer: Hee! Well, one of my dark secrets is that I don’t really like the taste of alcohol. (My response to Dad at that point was that, you know, he didn’t let me drink at home until I was twenty-one, when did he think I’d have acquired the taste?) I’ve gotten better about it over the last few years, but I’m still very much a girl-drink girl.
    Comes with the five-root-canal taste for sugar, I guess.

  • Tricksterson, Commander of the Evil Clown Brigade, Keeper of the Death Sheep and Minion of MG

    Consumer Unit: The make it a fair experiment by giving the moderates their own planet too.
    NRH: Then we’re morally obligated to support whatever decision you ultimately make. Have you talked with any of your present clergy about your decision? On seperate topic you do know that all the evidence points to the Shroud having been created somewhere in the 13th or early 14th century, long before Leonardo was born?
    Oh and have I said how much I love the tags (or whatever you want to call them) you put after your name?

  • Tricksterson, Commander of the Evil Clown Brigade, Keeper of the Death Sheep and Minion of MG

    So how about ice tea with either steak or fish, because that’s what I usually have when I eat out (hot tea or milk when it’s breakfast).

  • Fraser

    I think that what we have here is a piss poor attempt at keeping hold of the aforementioned reins of power when it has become apparent that the authors of this Manhattan Document thingy are in danger of losing. It’s a trick at least as old as Hitler. Convince people that they are being persecuted, that their way of life is being threatened by that thar minority. Get ‘em scared. Keep ‘em scared. Tell ‘em who to vote for.”
    I suspect a lot of the motivation for Colson and the like may be cold-blooded calculation: If evangelicals go haring off to crusades against global poverty and torture, then RTC leaders can’t guarantee a solid Republican voting bloc and their influence in Washington nosedives.

  • http://www.mockwriting.com/ Michael Mock, Sensei of the Slacktidojo and self-appointed member of the Cabal of Antichrists

    Okay, fine, the sequel:
    Opening shot of a bus driving down a two lane highway in the middle of nowhere.
    VOICEOVER: “Two years ago, my father ceased to exist. I don’t mean he died or went away. I mean he was never here.”
    Camera angles in on bus.
    VOICEOVER: “My mother doesn’t remember him. She doesn’t remember being married, or giving birth to me. Hell, I’m not sure she even remembers what it was like to be happy.”
    Cut to inside bus, where a young man is slouching on a seat. He is scruffy, dressed in jeans, workboots, and a faded jacket.
    VOICEOVER: “So when something appeared in my apartment, I ran. I’ve been running ever since. I live off the grid now, keep my head down. It doesn’t help. They’re still looking for me.”
    Young man looks out the window, sees old woman on roadside, then settles back as the bus passes by.
    VOICEOVER: “But that’s okay. I’m looking for them, too. There’s a gun in my bag. A knife, too. I’d carry explosives if I thought it would make any difference. My jacket has holy symbols from a dozen different religions sewn into the lining. And right now, I’m working my way down to South America. Because my Dad’s down there, somewhere in the Andes. And I will have him back, if I have to break the world to do it.”

  • KellyK

    Likewise, while JKR never mentions this and it is therefore not canon, it’s in my head (personal canon) that Harry sees his cousin Dudley bringing his kid to Platform 9 3/4.
    I absolutely love this idea, and can definitely picture it.

  • Fraser

    Lee Ratner: “I’m not sure what can be done about this but allowing them to experiment even if it means at least some oppression/persecution for some groups if not massive human rights abuses.”
    I don’t think it’s injustice to say no, you can’t base your government on your religious laws, whether it’s Muslims or Christians. Overlooking for the moment that for the most part we have a limited ability to set those rules in other nations.

  • Donalbain

    The idea of everyone marrying someone they knew from Secondary School makes sense when you consider it is the only Secondary School in the country.

  • http://www.mockwriting.com/ Michael Mock, Sensei of the Slacktidojo and self-appointed member of the Cabal of Antichrists

    @renniejoy – love the Not Quite Right Nativities!

  • Not Really Here (who needs to study up on Coffee Hour, which apparently is a sacrament in the Episcopal Church)

    Michael Mock, those two little vignettes are just freaking brilliant.
    More!
    I want MORE!!!
    @Tricksterson- NRH: Then we’re morally obligated to support whatever decision you ultimately make. Have you talked with any of your present clergy about your decision? On seperate topic you do know that all the evidence points to the Shroud having been created somewhere in the 13th or early 14th century, long before Leonardo was born?
    Nah, you’re not obligated, but I appreciate the support. I haven’t talked to my present pastor, since I just made the decision yesterday, and wanted to know where I’m going before I leave where I’ve been. I plan to talk to my pastor after the kids make their first confessions, tell him I’m willing to stay with the Church until the school year ends, so as not to leave them shorthanded (provided the Director of Religious Studies doesn’t get up in my face for not being able to live up to her unrealistic fantasies of how a class should work), and see what he says. There’s no class the Sundays after Christmas and New Year, so I figure semester break is the best time to broach the subject.
    On the Shroud- Leonardo could have used some really, really old cloth that had been lying around in the basement for lo, these many years. And he also could have invented a primitive camera obscura. But I still think it’s the real deal.
    Oh, and since the subject of fanfic seems to have leaked over from the other thread, I wrote one in which Snape came back from the dead twenty years after (seems he created a horcrux when he killed Dumbledore), met a nice witch, fell in love, and generally lived happily ever after. Got great reviews, seems there are a lot of people out there who really, really wanted a happy ending for Snape.
    Oh and have I said how much I love the tags (or whatever you want to call them) you put after your name?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/gdwarf GDwarf

    NRH, best of luck on deciding what to do. These sorts of decisions are never easy.
    On the shroud: I have to say that I think it’s a fake, for all sorts of reasons, but I do want to note that it wouldn’t take incredible skill to make it, nor a camera obscura, just an ability to paint.

  • renniejoy

    Michael Mock: I forgot to mention that I didn’t do it, just linked. :( but they’re still funny.

  • Not Really Here (who needs to study up on Coffee Hour, which apparently is a sacrament in the Episcopal Church)

    GDwarf- yeah, I’ve already decided. And making the decision really wasn’t all that hard. The hard part was staying Catholic when I didn’t really believe in certain teachings, and having my conscience nag me in the middle of the night. I confess to a certain disdain for what people in the Church commonly refer to as “cafeteria Catholics”, and it would be hypocritical of me to stay under those conditions. I suppose if I had waited longer, been with my parish longer, formed more close ties with people in the parish, the decision would be a lot harder. I haven’t been with my parish long enough to start thinking of them as family yet. But then I would also have had a lot more time to have my conscience bug me about my hypocrisy, which would have been bad for my already fragile mental health. And anyway, it’s not like I can’t stop by and say hello on my way home from the Episcopal parish, it’s right on the way. Heck, I might even go to Saturday Mass once in a while (and not take communion).
    The adult catechist at my old parish back in Vegas once made a prediction that there would be a schism in the Catholic Church in America which would result in the moral conservatives remaining in communion with Rome, and the moral liberals forming an American Catholic Church, with its own hierarchy.
    I actually kinda hope he’s right. I think there are probably enough liberal parishes and even dioceses in the country to pull a move like this off. A mass secession of liberal parishes would eliminate the dilemma for a lot of people who self-identify as Catholics, but find many of the Church’s moral teachings to be unloving and uncharitable, and don’t place a high value on being in communion with the Pope.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    Am I the only one who imagines John Cleese playing the part of the Cosmic Auditor that says you need to be changed to something else? :-)
    And I can also visualize him as the guy making the stableboy from our universe into a stableboy living in a Sword-and-Sorcery universe.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/gdwarf GDwarf

    NRH, still, my empathy. Becoming an atheist was a minor version of the same thing for me, and it wasn’t fun.
    Still, good on you to take a stand for what you believe in. Shame more people don’t do so.

  • hf, Supreme High Lamb-y Dragon-y Person of Christians for the Antichrist

    I’m not sure of the statistics right now but it seems that the partial or complete theocracy faction is the majority opinion in most Muslim-majority countries right now.
    Pakistan has instituted sharia law for one province where the Taliban made trouble. But the nation as a whole (IIRC) consistently decides not to vote for parties that urge the institution of ‘Islamic’ law. So more generally, I don’t know how much support comes from a genuine desire to see the state enforce sharia, how much from opposition to objectively evil governments, and how much from people who think tradition and morality require them to say the words (without actually doing anything about it).

  • Robyrt

    On being Catholic but with substantial disagreement with the Pope: I always thought of this as the downside of having a geographical system for churches, as opposed to the Protestant creed-based system. I think that an American Catholic Church would be VERY popular – although you’d need to actually sort properly between Roman and American groups, or else you get the recent Episcopal problem where the conservatives and liberals still can’t agree.

  • Michael Cule

    Well, obviously you’re going to squeeze every last penny out of the Cosmic Auditor and make out that the particular change he wants is Just Too Outrageous. Inside I’d probably be thinking:
    “So I’m going to be female not male…
    black/Asian/North American Indian not white…
    gay not straight….
    …but I’m still going to be 55, single and overweight? Big freaking deal!”
    I think that internally I’d object to the sex change least because I could find out if Tireseas was right about the comparative quality of male and female orgasms. And whoever said that socio-economic class was more important than any of the above factors has understood the British mindset perfectly…
    On the topic of religious conservatism, this week’s NOW SHOW (which you can download from BBC Radio 4′s website) has a lovely song by the admirable Mitch Benn about the Pope’s poaching of conservative Anglicans over gay bishops and girl bishops and other stuff. It contains the wonderful triple rhyme:
    The Pope wants the finest
    Like Thomas Aquinas
    So come and join us if you’re afraid of vaginas.

  • Not Really Here (who needs to study up on Coffee Hour, which apparently is a sacrament in the Episcopal Church)

    GDwarf- I have to confess that the Episcopal Church (at least the more liberal branch of it) has made life easy in regards to “taking a stand”.
    My theological beliefs have not changed, only my moral ones, and I reinforced my moral beliefs by immersing myself in Catholic apologetics (there’s a radio show called “Catholic Answers” which is available for online listening), and like I said, they based a lot of their arguments on things that are just plain false. Oh, and Joseph Nicolosi is a frequent guest. You know, the guy who says that there is no genetic basis for homosexuality, and advocates abusive “therapy” techniques to parents who fear that little Ignatz or Grineldehyde may have some leanings toward gayness.

  • Jason

    @NRH-
    One of my best friends is going through the same thing you are. Unfortunately his parents are Italian immigrants and his dad seems to subscribe to “The Catholic Church is the only church and is always right” mindset. My friend started going to my Episcopal church with me and just the fact that he’s attending a Prostestant church is causing friction in his family.

  • Not Really Here (who needs finish writing posts before she posts them)

    Anyway, the Episcopal Church won’t ask me to believe anything I don’t believe already, and won’t ask me to not believe anything I do believe. I know there’s a lot of joking about the Episcopalians not having any actual doctrine, but that isn’t true. Their “catechism” is several pages long, and fits comfortably at the back of the Book of Common Prayer (compared to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is close to seven hundred pages, and that’s not counting the index and glossary. It’s an almost superhuman feat just to keep track of what you’re supposed to believe, and what’s a sin and what isn’t).
    So, I’m not really changing my religion, I’m just changing the organization I practice it with.

  • Not Really Here (who needs finish writing posts before she posts them)

    Jason- my sympathies to your friend. I have the good fortune of coming from a non-religious family, and my mother falls into the “spiritual but not religious” category (she was into Eckankar for a while). So whatever religion I want to be is fine, as long as I don’t try to push it on anyone.

  • Daughter

    As far as being creeped out at everyone marrying the people they knew from junior high, I remember Emma Watson (who plays Hermione in the movies) talking about how weird it was to have to kiss Rupert Grint (who plays Ron), since, you know, they’ve known each other since they were like eleven.

  • Daughter

    OT here (not that it matters on slacktivist!), I love the name Rupert Grint. It actually sounds like a name Rowling, or maybe Dickens, would have come up with.

  • Original Lee

    NRH: I’ve been where you are now very very recently. After 15 years in my old church, I finally decided I needed out. After much thought and prayer, I chose to become Methodist. It was still difficult to leave the old church, even after all of the things that drove me away, because some of the people there had become very close friends (or so I thought). What hurt the most was how many unfriended me on Facebook afterwards. So I think you’re right to take this step now, and I wish you all the best in your new parish and new denomination.

  • Jason

    @NRH-
    I know there’s a lot of joking about the Episcopalians not having any actual doctrine, but that isn’t true. Their “catechism” is several pages long, and fits comfortably at the back of the Book of Common Prayer (compared to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is close to seven hundred pages, and that’s not counting the index and glossary. It’s an almost superhuman feat just to keep track of what you’re supposed to believe, and what’s a sin and what isn’t).
    I learned how specific the Episcopal doctrine is by playing and singing in the contemporary music band at my church. Various ones of us have wanted to do several songs that sometimes would have only one small phrase in them that somehow contradicted Episcopal doctrine which kept us from performing it.
    I’m pretty upset that we can’t do “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” (and I don’t even remember what was wrong with it). One of my bandmates wanted to do “Why Me Lord?” by Kris Krisopherson which was also nixed, among others.
    @Daughter-
    OT here (not that it matters on slacktivist!), I love the name Rupert Grint. It actually sounds like a name Rowling, or maybe Dickens, would have come up with.
    “I Am the Walrus” has the line “Selmalina Pilchard climbing up the Eiffel Tower” which makes about as much sense as anything else in that song, but “Selmalina Pilchard” always sounded like a JK Rowling name to me.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X