Bad Catholic thinks the conclave is pretty keen. I don’t.

Onward and…not necessarily upward…to Bad Catholic.

It is very, very good to be Catholic.

By comparison to what?

We have the remarkable capacity to actually care about the conclave.

Atheists have the capacity to care, we just reserve it for things that truly contribute to human knowledge.  That’s not the conclave.  Ed Brayton sums up why beautifully:

If the Holy Spirit is the one who really decides who will be the next pope, and the men (only men, of course) who vote on it all think they’re being guided by the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t the vote be unanimous? Or are some of the cardinals lying or delusional when they claim that the Holy Spirit talks to them? And how can one tell that the Holy Spirit is influencing the events when they look absolutely indistinguishable from how they would look if there was no Holy Spirit at all?

Marc continues:

The media, bless them, cannot fathom the explosion of love happening here, and are doomed to report with all the banality, divisiveness and cluelessness with which one goes about reporting an American presidential election.

Love for what?  It seems the only love exploding out of the Catholic Church is love for, well, the Catholic Church.  If there was love for anybody else involved, the decision to prosecute child rapists rather than cover up their crimes because the Church’s PR was so damn important would’ve been an easy one, even for Ratzinger and his subordinates (and recall, Marc thought Ratzinger was just peachy).

Marc then posts this bingo card, as an indictment on all the non-Catholics who just don’t get it.

In Marc’s mind, it must be the fault of others that they are concerned with the Catholic Church being rocked by scandal, sex abuse (with children, don’t forget that part), or that their moral policies are medieval.  He has it backwards.  It’s Catholics who should be more concerned about these things, but instead they spend a tremendous amount of time and intellectual energy making excuses for why the Church should get a pass for these things (or for why others shouldn’t care so much).  The inhuman actions of the Pope and his flunkies are why we hate the Catholic Church, but the rationalizations by Catholics are why we hate it even more (and why Catholics make us shake our heads in disgust).

The attitude seems to be that the media and non-Catholics need to just quit caring about all these abuses of power and decency, not that the Catholic Church should stop doing them.

But to the Catholic, the conclave is not just a reportable event. It is that event which ensures the continued existence of the universe, and Eternity’s continued love for us fickle, finite creatures.

How’s that religion of humility working out for you?  If another Pope was never elected, the universe would continue on ticking and, frankly, would be much better for it.  Would we manage without proclamations to impoverished nations that condoms actually increase the spread of AIDs?  Would we get by without gilded thrones and staffs and money spent distributing bibles while children starve?  Could we survive without shielding child predators or people who hide political prisoners from human rights monitors?  If the old white dudes in their robes stopped chanting and muttering to themselves, we’d find a way to endure.  Somehow.

This is what it’s like to actually care about the conclave: To be stunned in the realization that God is among us, and to delight in the pomp, secrecy, and reverence that surrounds this intimate action of love.

The conclave is in no way even a terrible reason to believe god exists.  It is proof that a bunch of white people can get dolled up in robes and march about talking to themselves.  This should stun nobody, and it definitely shouldn’t count as the realization that god is among us.  If god were among us, he’d come down and pick out the next Pope himself.  But god’s not among us, and so mortals vote (and, again, that vote doesn’t look like it’s influenced by god in the slightest).

And delight in the pomp?  That’s why Jesus always demanded a red carpet, right?

And I’ll leave it to Catholics like Marc to delight in the secrecy.  I like transparency from my leaders.  I like making my decisions based on knowledge, rather than deferring to leaders who assert they want to keep me in the dark while simultaneously having me trust them.

And, lastly, reverence should be reserved for the truly wonderful and the breath-takingly beautiful.  Intimate love is a beautiful thing, but not a single Catholic has it with god.  At best, god has sent old white dudes who are forbidden from intimacy to deliver his message.  Imagine if your relationship with your spouse worked that way.  No Catholic has ever seen god or even shaken his hand, which means every Catholic has a more intimate relationship with their sock drawer than with god.  For those who find intimacy beautiful, the Catholic Church has actually attempted at every turn to suppress that intimacy unless it conforms to the preferences of a gang of supposed virgins who, until recently, served under a leader who shielded child predators from accountability.

Praising the Catholic Church for it’s appreciation of the beauty of intimacy is like admiring Rick James for his sobriety.

God bless this wonderful Church! God bless this Church that has clung to Christ for 2000 years and passed on his authority, unbroken, 266 times.

Yeah, passed it right on to Galileo.  What a bunch of empty, self-congratulatory bullshit from Bad Catholic.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Loqi

    If we don’t get it, then please explain it to us. And use precise language rather than “explosion of love,” unless you mean the conclave is getting together to circle jerk. Wait a second…I GET IT NOW!

    • Nate Frein

      “Explosion of love” onto the faces of little boys, maybe?

      • baal

        I wonder why it was held in secret. Maybe due to its seedier nature?

    • John Horstman

      Both “explosion of love” and “this intimate action of love” are strangely sexual phrase choices.

  • SB

    Slam dunk. Now, move on to Public Catholic where whats her name has her lips planted on the Pope’s ass.

  • Nox

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure the Universe just went two weeks without a pope and didn’t notice.

    • Andrew Kohler

      What exactly happens in the interstices between papacies? Is there no Vicar of Christ on earth? Doesn’t this undermine the continuity of which Marc speakings with such adoration?

      I’m just glad the sparrows and trees aren’t wearing cassocks and surplices in this post (as they were in his last post which JT deconstructed).

    • Loqi

      No, you don’t understand. For those two weeks, the existence of the universe was discontinued!

    • Artor

      Let us not forget the 13.7 billion years it went without a pope before the story of Jesus was made up.

  • Rovin’ Rockhound

    The election of this new pope pissed me off much more than I expected it would. It’s not just that he’s a horrible person (between his views on homosexuality and his potential involvement in the Argentinian Dirty Wars), but also the smugness of Catholics. Facebook has been a nightmare – my former schoolmates (12 years of an all-girls Jesuit Catholic school in a Latin American country) are so fucking happy that he’s both a Jesuit and a Latin American that they can’t even consider for a second that he’s hyper conservative, perfectly comfortable further oppressing women, and doesn’t quite value human rights. I ended up checking off one more item from the before-30 bucket list – come out as an atheist on Facebook – because of this asshole, and the ridiculous comments about how we must trust the wisdom of the Cardinals because they are inspired by god, and how he’s going to pray and bless us and whatnot, are driving me insane. Go ahead and block me, people – I didn’t talk to you then, and I don’t really want to talk to you now either.

    The CNN headline yesterday after his first speech from the balcony was quite illustrative. Something along the lines of ” New Pope elected: “Bless me” “.

    Sorry to vent. I’m just so fucking annoyed right now.

    • baal

      Excellent rant!
      You have to wonder if the folks who blocked you would agree that it’d be ok to block them for reciting their membership in a church publicly.

    • Randomfactor

      I’ve already read doomsday postings that the new Pope will reinstate Vatican II and undo all the good that Pope Ratzi managed to accomplish–you know, the Latin Mass.

  • Glodson

    In Marc’s mind, it must be the fault of others that they are concerned with the Catholic Church being rocked by scandal, sex abuse (with children, don’t forget that part), or that their moral policies are medieval.

    I’ll gladly take the blame for pointing out that any institution that protects pedophiles directly, opposes gay rights, opposes the right of women to determine what goes on in their bodies, that discourages the use of condoms and has coffers full to bursting but still tries to maintain the position that they help the poor is a shitty and evil institution.

    One that has duped too many people by simply being a “moral” authority. Catholics are like many other religious people. They are brought up in the faith, the faith is shoveled down their throats, and they create their own delusions as to why the church must be right.

    • Andrew Kohler

      This reminds me of the Intelligence Squared debate on the topic “Is the Catholic Church a force for good in the world?” in which The Hitch and Stephen Fry went up against Ann Widdecombe and the Nigerian Archbishop Onaiyekan. Ms. Widdecombe, who left the Church of England because (among other reasons) women were ordained, complained that of *course* the other side was going to bring up condoms. Stephen said that was like a criminal in court complaining about his or her previous offenses being brought up. Seriously: when you do bad things and someone calls you out on them, it is your problem and not the person calling you out. (Then again, presumably Ms. Widdecombe does not consider the prohibition on condoms or condemnation of homosexuality to be bad things in the first place.)

      Of interest are the audience votes for the debate in question (one was taken before and one after, in order to see how many minds were changed):

      Before the debate:
      For the motion: 678. Against: 1102. Don’t know: 346.

      After the debate:
      For: 268. Against: 1876. Don’t know: 34.

      • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

        What is this insanity? A debate that changes peoples’ minds? Everybody knows the only reason to go to a debate is to cheer for your own side! When you’re confronted with facts and reason that don’t support you, that’s when you need to double down, clench your pelvic floor, and will the opposition to die!

      • Glodson

        People thing that we beat on the church simply because it is a church.

        Part of the problem is that is a religion based on worshiping an authority figure. Which is problematic when compassion, reason and logic conflict with the dogma of this mythical figure as related by a bunch of old men. I mean, a liberal church might expose beliefs that I agree with. But it is based on the authority of god, which can always be reinterpreted if a value changes. That I don’t like.

        It gets worse when the church has a toxic belief. Like the anti-choice and anti-contraception nonsense of the Catholic Church.

        But don’t call them out on it. That’s just not understanding the religion!

  • Rain

    How ironic. Catholics are the ones that have Bingo night, not the secular media.

  • Art Vandelay

    I still can’t for the life of me understand how this guy fashions himself as some sort of rebel. He’s about as sheepish as you can possibly get.

    • Artor

      In more ways than one. I’d be embarrassed to show my face in public if I wrote inane drivel like this crap.

    • RobMcCune

      He’s rebelling against your world of individuality and independent thought by being completely obedient to authority figures.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    God bless this Church that has clung to Christ for 2000 years and passed on his authority, unbroken, 266 times.

    Including the Borgias, and the anti-popes. Did you know at one time three men claimed to be pope, and had some backing for their claims?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Pope Joan and The Porphyry Chair

    A little known papal chair is the sella stercoraria, also known as the chaise percée or Porphyry Chair, which features a keyhole-shaped opening in the middle. The legend persists that its purpose was to verify of the gender of the pope. In other words, to see if the pope had testicles. The chair was part of the papal coronation for many years. The newly elected pope would sit on the chair while a cardinal would get down and look to see if the pope was indeed a male.

    • Andrew Kohler

      I have heard of this before, but I was told that additionally the Pope can’t be a eunuch, hence the testicular focus of the exercise. Also: “Poryphyry” makes me think of porphyria.

  • guest

    why is one of the fields “Roman” catholic church? What’s wrong with that? That’s the normal term for this church..especially since there are so many flavours. (I tried to google it but came to ridiculous forum post about how protestants consider themselve catholic..WTF? no. they. don’t.)

    • John Horstman

      Yeah, is it a cultural imperialism kind of thing? The official name of the Eastern Orthodox church is the “Orthodox Catholic Church”, and there are a few others that use the name “Catholic Church” in some form. Specifying that this is the Roman Catholic Church is necessary; Wiki even has a disambiguation page for “Catholic Church” because that phrase alone is in no way specific to a single organization. In Marc’s mind it may be unnecessary because his is the only real Catholic Church, obvs.

      Some of the others, like “white smoke”/”black smoke” or “gay marriage” or “sex abuse” are also confusing, as they show up all the time in Catholic publications. Maybe he missed how the whole bingo card trend is intensely sardonic and meant to mock the subject in question. Maybe he lives in a magical fantasy world with little to no connection to reality.

  • Rain

    But to the Catholic, the conclave is not just a reportable event. It is that event which ensures the continued existence of the universe, and Eternity’s continued love for us fickle, finite creatures.

    My what a lovely example of superstition. The universe continues to exist, therefore the Pope must have been elected. It doesn’t get any more classic than that. Hilarious.

    • Drakk

      The universe according to Catholicism has a Load Bearing Boss?

      • Drakk

        Er, I don’t know why that link doesn’t work. I copied an example html tag so the formatting should be right. Something on your end, JT?

        In any case (caution: TVTropes):

        • Glodson

          Nah, it can’t be.

          Load bearing bosses are usually pretty cool and have a use in our larger culture.

          The dead god of Catholicism is useless.

          • Drakk

            I did specify “according to Catholicism”, that is to say “not necessarily being comparable to actual reality”.

  • iknklast

    The universe exists because Joe Pesci wants it to. At least, I think so. Because Joe Pesci exists. And the universe exists. And if the universe didn’t exist, Joe Pesci wouldn’t exist, so almost certainly he wants the universe to exist. Therefore, I think I can state with some level of hyperimprobability that the universe exists because Joe Pesci wants it to. And…42.

    • Andrew Kohler

      A logical extension of Carlinian theology ;-)

  • Joseph Svarty

    You guys remind me of Ricardo Montalban as Khan in Star Trek II. Specifically that glorious scenery-chewing death scene, in which the battered, bloodied and dying Khan vents what remains of the hatred in his spleen towards Kirk, misattributing Shakespeare, spitting invectives into space as he drags his broken body across the floor to blow himself up.

    You spend all this time throwing rocks at the walls of the Church, your lives animated by seething rage. You don’t understand that which you hate so much, nor do you really care to correct that misunderstanding. You attack and spit upon all which does not conform to the perspective of your warped lens of hate. Not only will you destroy your own lives in the name of your hate, but you’re willing to destroy the lives of others.

    It’s sad. Genuinely, tragically sad.

    • Nate Frein

      First, he was quoting Herman Melville, and rather accurately. (the Enterprise/Kirk was Khan’s White Whale)

      Second, if anything that’s been stated here is factually wrong…feel free to enlighten us. If we really don’t understand it…explain it. Otherwise, all your comment is is “throwing rocks at the walls”.

      Remember, we’re the growing demographic here, not you.

    • Glodson

      No, we get it.

      You all worship a Zombie that said some shit, possibly, and then went away. Then you get to eat his zombified flesh and drink his zombie blood. Then you stick your noses into the uteri of women, tell gay people they don’t deserve equal protection under the law and will go to hell, make excuses for pedophiles, and want to keep people from using contraception.

      We understand your theology much better than you understand allusions to literature.

    • M

      Tell you what. I’ll stop throwing stones at your Church when your Church agrees to see me as a fully human being with equal rights to every other human being. Being of the non-penis-bearing variety of human, I do get rather tired of being blamed for all evil, denied full autonomy and control over my body, being sexualized against my will, told my intelligence and talents are inferior, told to sit down shut up and make babies, and generally being treated as a second-class person.

      Also, I don’t hate the Church. I hate what it’s doing and how it’s warping people. You, as a Christian, should be familiar with “hate the sin, love the sinner”? I certainly don’t love the sinner in this case because I think it’s illogical, false, and deluded, but I don’t hate it either. I just think it’s stupid. I do, however, hate with every fiber of my being the harm it has done and is doing in the name of Godly Love ™.

    • Rain

      You guys remind me of Ricardo Montalban as Khan in Star Trek II.

      He was actually one of my least favorite original Star Trek villains. I can’t believe they brought Khan back and made a whole movie out of him. Maybe none of the other villains were available? Khan would be my last choice.

      • Stogoe

        Khan is in the best Star Trek movie, which is the best one because of him, so therefore he’s the best.

        Actually, II, III, IV, and VI are all pretty enjoyable.

        • Nate Frein

          Back when the SyFy channel was the Sci-Fi channel (I’d say about fifteen-ish years ago, to be more specific), they advertised a showing of II, IV, and VI. The commercial narrator said a bunch of Star Trek “truisms”, and while I don’t remember any of them, the punch-line always stuck with me: “Even numbered Star Trek movies don’t suck.”

    • ACN

      Ooooo a squaky-squaky toy thinks that I’m sad.


      More squeaky?

    • Little Magpie


      (Sorry, noone else had said it yet, so I figured that I should)

  • Kodie

    My favorite thing was the white smoke came and interrupted my regular television programming after my soap was over. I know there are a lot of Catholics in the world but 6 billion people could not possibly care less. I think I remember being a little kid and even though I wasn’t brought up Catholic, thinking there was some authority that the pope had that mattered to more people than just Catholics, but I guess that’s not true. There is some old joke about cleaning under the refrigerator in case the pope came to visit. I still can’t figure out why the news shows were making such a big deal about it and treating people who just had to be in Rome to witness “history” in the making. There was so much hype about this! I am still trying to figure out why my city sent correspondents if the pre-emption was taken over by people from the Today show. And they bantered about this bullshit like Bono had odds, and I guess the Boston Cardinal (? I already forgot which one was him) was considered, with the Jewish meteorologist, and he had to act like he was excited too.

    So basically all this religion is is like a reality show. These people are famous for no reason. The conclave and the pomp are exactly why people like to be Catholics. They like the special effects that give an air of mystery and history to their beliefs. Not every religion has so much fine detail put into it. Catholics are awfully impressed by this glow of substantiality that they do not really notice there is nothing under it. It’s just a board meeting of the senior officers and they wear robes and their meeting is in a fancy building made of artisanal gold. It’s like those people who will pay $12 for a grilled cheese sandwich. I had a friend once who was put off to moderately offended if a bank was too modern and colorful like a cartoon world; he wanted the tellers to wear suits, call him sir, and be surrounded by super-serious wood paneling and classical architecture. Catholicism impresses people who don’t know what’s really important.

    • Steve

      It was Vatican Idol

  • pjmaertz

    @Joe Svarty

    Everyone else seems to have deconstructed your inane comment well enough that I only have one thing to add: please, go fuck yourself.

  • Pingback: Let’s talk about what’s “genuinely sad”.()

  • Steve P.

    ” I like making my decisions based on knowledge,..”
    [The new pope] “hid political prisoners from human rights monitors…”

    • Glodson