Brought to You by the 21st Century

Every news channel has been obsessively following the selection of the next pope, whose policies will most likely be a carbon copy of the last pope. (“Meet the new pope, same as the old pope.”) Of course, it’s an open question whether even a radical new set of ideas at the top could sway the institutional inertia of the Catholic Church. Another question is whether any change will have an effect on the American Catholic Church, which seems wedded to the right wing and mired in lawsuits.

And finally, why should we care about the institutional rituals of a foreign entity that still considers “Americanism” to be a heresy? Let’s just say I’m in complete sympathy with Rob Sheridan, who added some much needed context to this CNN article:

Via Boing Boing

  • UrsaMinor

    The average person on the street is quite divorced from science and neither understands what it is nor appreciates what it can do. He/she may rely on high technology (the fruit of science), but it’s essentially a magical black box, on a par with the mumbo-jumbo mysteries of the Eucharist.

    Social rituals, on the other hand, are deeply comforting to a lot of people, which may explain the current outbreak of Papomania.

  • John C

    Black smoke signaled they had not yet made a decision while white smoke meant they had, and green smoke meant that Willie Nelson was in the Vatican, ha. Bad joke I heard on the radio station :)

  • Troutbane

    I assumed black smoke meant the monster from Lost was loose in the Vatican.

  • The Other Weirdo

    You’re right, of course. I would only add that the only reason we should care is that the Church, for all of its depravity, still wields a vast amount of power. Not enough to stop progress, but certainly enough to impede it. From what I’ve read, Pope Francis, when he was a Cardinal of Buenos Aires, lost the gay-marriage fight, but I’m sure his efforts delayed it. You’ve got Catholic hospitals refusing to treat pregnant women if that means giving them life-saving abortions. You’ve got the Church proclaiming the evil of condoms and denying them to an entire continent.

    Yes, it’s archaic institution. Yes, we’ve moved on. Yes, they still matter.

  • David Evans

    The mention of immortality via nanotechnology spoils what is otherwise a good article. That idea has already been around for thirty years and seems no closer to being implemented. A nanomachine would have to be very strictly guaranteed against mutation before I would welcome millions of them into my body and brain.

    • Yoav

      While the singularity crowd wave obviously downplayed the difficulty and based their estimates on some questionable projections, immortality via technology, while it may still be a long way off, is still orders of magnitudes more likely then immortality via eating a cookie that was turned into a 2000 years old magic man by a wizard.

      • Yoav

        While the singularity crowd have obviously…

      • David Evans

        True, but at present I would have to regard believing in nanotech-immortality as an act of faith. We just don’t know what the technical problems might be. Everything else in the article is established fact.

        • kessy_athena

          I really don’t get why people would want to be immortal in the first place. Carrying a single lifetime’s worth of burdens isn’t enough for you?

          • Sunny Day

            Being dead sounds boring.
            I try to avoid that.

            • Azel

              True, but so does being immortal: eternity is a long time, especially towards the end. At least, when I’ll be dead, I have a chance not to be here to be bored. I would not have that luxury were I immortal.

            • kessy_athena

              LOL, but don’t you have to be awake to be bored?

            • Sunny Day

              Azel – Life has had a proven record for not being boring. AND Immortality is the cure for boredom. If you wait long enough, something different will happen.

              Kessy – Based on outward appearances, of all the dead bodies I’ve seen, they looked a lot more bored than the sleeping ones.

            • Jabster

              Got to agree with that even if technical you need to be alive to be bored!

              I don’t like the idea of dying at all and all the talk of you’ve been dead for billions of years before you’re alive doesn’t help matters – much the same as I don’t like flying and telling me that I’m more likely to die on the way to the airport than in a plane crash.

            • Azel

              Sunny Day – True, life has a tendency to surprise everyone, but eternity stays unfathomably long…perhaps the position on this question is a matter of do you see the glass as half-full or half-empty?

              Jabster – I have to agree, dying is something I don’t like at all. Not liking the idea of living eternally does not makes me like in the slightest the idea of dying.

            • Sunny Day

              I don’t think its a matter of optimism or pessimism instead it’s one of imagination.

        • Yoav

          It may be an issue of semantics but I would put it into the category of science fiction as appose to fantasy. Before we can even start we need to get a much better understanding of the brain, of how the aging process works and probably a shitload of other stuff we haven’t even figured out yet and we’re going to need some massive tech advances, all of which can take centuries to mature. The point is that we can envision a future in which technology extends the human lifespan significantly, even indefinitely (whether or not it’s a good thing is a different question) in ways that don’t require any violation of the laws of physics.

  • Michael

    “Extra omnes” is similar to “exeunt” in meaning. It is literally “outside all,” not “those who are extra, leave.”

  • Brian K

    I’m not sure I get the point of the original (edited) article. We engage in a lot of social rituals, behaviors, etc. that are not directly based in “science”. This looks like a serious non sequitur searching for snark.

    One could do a commentary with the same irrelevant tone on a lot of scientific studies as well.

    Before an excited crowd of physicists, Professor X released a new study based on his work at CERN which confirmed that the strange quark had a mass value .00007654 EV different than originally calculated. Meanwhile, in a grands ensembles slum across the border in France, local authorities cut the hours of the local employment development center due to

    • kessy_athena

      So, if Queen Elizabeth had died, would a British royal coronation have received the same level of snark?

      We have spaceships? Well, technically, yes, but somehow the pressurized metal ball sat on top of a giant firecracker that is Soyuz isn’t quite what comes to my mind when I think of spaceships.

      And IMHO the singularity crowd clearly have no idea at all what the word “singularity” actually means…

      • The Other Weirdo

        If you’re saying that we haven’t reached the level of spaceships in Star Trek, I would agree. This is the real world, however, and we must deal with a real reality, not a fictional one. And I would point out, however, that even in Star Trek, spaceships(as in all scifi) are basically pressurized metal containers sitting on top of world-ending kaboom generators, antimatter in the case of Star Trek, the same stuff they stick into their warheads. It’s pretty much the same in most scifi.

        • kessy_athena

          Personally, I’d be happy with something that goes beyond low Earth orbit and doesn’t rely entirely on chemical rockets. While Soyuz was originally designed for the Soviet Lunar program and is still technically capable of making the trip, really it’s primarily a taxi to LEO. Now don’t get me wrong, Soyuz is a fantastic vehicle with an impressive service record, but it seems to me to be kind of emblematic of the complete lack of vision in the manned space program since then end of Apollo. We already have technology that could take us so much farther, but we’re just not willing to make the investment. America, the land of “we don’t wanna pay taxes,” and home of the whiners. Sad, isn’t it?

    • Steven

      It would, I think, be more a case of juxtapositioning the highly ritualistic, myth based acts of an organisation that claims the obedience of millions (Billions?) of humans against examples of our true potential when not shackled in myth.

      Though I do agree somewhat with the sentiment you expressed.

  • John M

    In my little corner of the world we have been saturated with papal bull also about the appointment of the CEO of Kiddie Fiddlers Incorporated!. I have observed, on local prime time, for years the doings and saying of the whoever the big Vatican Juju man is at the time. I have also noticed, in populist shows an undercurrent of Roman Catholic correctness i.e. – in a recent “CSI NY” episode Gary Sinise made a big thing of kissing a crucifix before a gun fight; “Nurse Jackie” is full of catholic crap!: “Everybody Loves Raymond” is another swamp of Papistry. (just a few samples of RC white anting popular culture)

  • Matt R

    This annotated CNN article is just filled with juvenile snark and pointless non-sequiters. What do cell phones, particle colliers, and the moon have to do with the pope? That’s right, nothing. Calling the Catholic Church out on quaint antique practices and symbolism is a waste of time where there are aspects of the Church that need much more criticism and attention.

    My advice to Rob Sheridan: grow up and put your effort into something that doesn’t make you look a child smirking thinking they got the last laugh.

  • JK

    Why does the pope have to be elected? The flying spaghetti monster could just touch one of them (or any one on earth for that matter) with his noodly appendage (live on TV of course) and everybody would know who the new pope is. Or did there have to be a pope at all, if that “god” was visible and could communicate with us in that case? :-)

    • Sunny Day

      Apparently the will of god is decided by majority vote.