Vatican releases LBGT colored smoke after conclave

Vatican releases LBGT colored smoke after conclave March 13, 2013
vatican releases lgbt colored smoke after conclave cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“Vatican Releases LGBT Colored Smoke” (by nakedpastor David Hayward)

I want to thank one of my readers, Gary, for giving me the idea for this cartoon!

Imagine! Imagine if everyone’s rights were recognized. Imagine if everyone had equal rights, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation…

Imagine! Because imagination is where it begins.


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  • Carol

    Anything would be an improvement over governance by a bunch of celebate old batchelors with a medieval European world view on a power trip!

  • Gary

    Sadly there is a long way to go before this dream becomes a reality. But I can already imagine it. I just had lunch yesterday with my gay co-worker who believes in God but is not welcome to be a family with his partner of 30+ years in any of the churches in his small community.

    Still…I imagine that day.

  • Gary

    And I hold the church largely responsible for the societal discrimination my friend faces. Many of the rights in society we enjoy he is denied. This is due in large part (I believe) to the false teaching so prevalent in the church on this issue.

    Thanks David for continuing to be a voice for my friend, for my nephew, and for all of us who believe in equality.

  • thanks guys!

  • I can imagine a day when anything goes!

    Everything will be permissible! A Pope could hook-up with 2 or 3 guys and gals if he/she wanted! And a goat (if he really loved the goat)


  • I figured you’d come out of your closet theoldadam and compare being gay to fucking a goat.

  • Carol

    Old Adam, if that is an example of your imaginings, perhaps you should consider seeking some counseling.

    “As one of the [Unitarian Universalist] denomination’s many itinerant clergy, he [Hosea Ballou] was riding the circuit in the New Hampshire hills with a Baptist preacher one afternoon. They argued theology as they traveled. At one point, the Baptist looked over and said, ‘Brother Ballou, if I were a Universalist and feared not the fires of hell, I could hit you over the head, steal your horse and saddle, and ride away, and I’d still go to heaven.’ Hosea Ballou looked over at him and said, ‘If you were a Universalist, the idea would never occur to you.’” ~ told by the Rev. Elizabeth Strong

  • Not so, o wise one. I didn’t do that at all.

    I’m taking it to it’s logical end. Why not? Who should tell us anything about how we wish to live our lives and our sex lives? And what would give them authority to rein it in in any way?

  • yes it is so… come into the new adam my friend 😉

  • Carol

    Old Adam,

    How about the SPCA and the animal control cops?

    No one is advocating cruel/predatory behavior. There is a distinct difference between mutual freedom responsibly exercised between people who have a relatively equal share of socioeconomic power and your rather disordered imaginings.

    I am not soliticing a public confession, but if you have a secret porn stash, like many heterosexual homophobes do, then your imaginings are hypocritical, IMO.

  • Gary — great idea! I saw this on my I-Phone and had to come comment.
    Fantastic. And wonderful illustration David.

  • thanks. and thanks to gary.

  • Frank

    The day the church publicly supports sinful behavior is the day the church dies.

  • OMG here we go again on the same old donkey ride around the same old pole.

  • All that I am saying is that who is to say that 2 gals and a guy who all love each other, physically, could not be pastors at a church?

    Why not?

  • Gary

    theoldadam it is because of completely dishonest comparisons like yours that people are rightly leaving the church in droves. Your line of questioning is personally offensive to me simply because I have friends and family born gay. It is reprehensible to equate homosexuality that way you do and simply put…it/you disgust me. You represent predatory behavior and your line of thinking needs squashed, just as surely as do all other classes of bigotry.

    And Frank…seriously man…the universe is not 6000 years old. Enough said.

  • It’s funny how you bring up these ‘cutting edge’ issues, David, and then when someone plays along, you get all bent out of shape.

  • Gary

    And theoldadam…why not indeed? After all 2 or 3 gals and a guy (Moses) was the leader of the Israelites by God’s appointment and GOD HIMSELF defended Moses having two wives.

    Are you going to tell us you know better than God now??

  • come on theoldadam… you’re not playing along. even though i playfully address these issues doesn’t minimize the seriousness of them… Do you realize that many of my readers are a part of the LGBTQ community and you offer your insults to them here?

  • The issue here is why have any limits.

    Why not? I’m saying that there ought be limits to what we allow.

    Why not let people marry more than one person? Why not let people marry their pets?

  • ugh

  • Gary

    “The issue here is why have any limits.” theoldadam

    No that is not the issue at all. If this line of reasoning is the issue then we could use it to argue against bi-racial marriage or the right to vote by women and minorities. After all…if we allow women to vote then who is to say we won’t have to allow our pets to vote next?

    It is a bullshit line of reasoning…period!!

  • No limits for you, then, Gary. Right.

    There must be limits. Not based on skin color or hair color or race…but on behavior.

    For us, there are limits with regard to a person’s sexual behavior, WITHIN the church. One man, one woman, married, is the standard for us.

    You want to have a “church” where anything goes ? Fine. Then have it. But there’s always a price to be for not following the rules that God has set in place.

  • Gary

    What you promote is NOT GOD’S rule. Sexual orientation is NOT a behavior.

    I have never promoted a church “where anything goes”. I have ALWAYS promoted having a church that operated on God’s principles…not man’s. Your views are purely of man’s invention. Jesus declared the law of love supreme. “One man, one woman” has NEVER been “the standard” of scripture nor has God ever required such a limited view. You may declare it right for you…fine. Don’t take a husband then. But don’t try to impose your false and bigoted views on the rest of society.

  • By the way…we never say that gay people are not saved or cannot be saved.

    We say that the church cannot affirm or advocate sin. Scripture tells us that that behavior is sinful. So we cannot affirm it. Aside from that aspect of it, it is just not the IDEAL for society. You (as a society) always want to foster the ideal (behavior), for the benefit of society.

    I know this is going to break your hearts, but I’ve got to go to work now. You guys can have a fun lambasting me, without my interruption. 😀

  • Kenneth

    If there is lgbt smoke coming out of conclave it is only because they caught and burned some queer or transgender who strayed too close!

  • Jimmy

    It would certainly be great for everyone to have equal rights! On a side note the color of smoke does not represent any sort of rights of certain people (as the picture and author suggests). The color of the smoke only represents a yes our no concerning the decision of a new pope

  • To be fair, the papacy has already openly supported sinful behavior, and it has already had publicly known sexual deviants in office; and I’m not takling about the modern scandals. The ecclesial institute has been absolutely rife with corruption for at least 1500 – 1600 years; and that’s a relatively conservative take. It’s part of what prompted the Protestant Reformation.

    Publicly supporting LGBT would definitely produce close to if not the single greatest schism the church has ever seen, though. Pretty much all the Catholic churches from S America, Africa and Asia + a good solid percentage of the N. American churches would split from Rome. The actual RC church would be reduced to an apathetic cluster in W. Europe + a smattering across the US, and we would probably see another pope elected to preside over the rest, something that hasn’t been seen since the “Babylonian Captivity”of the Avignon Popes. The Catholic church would take a long time in recovering, if it ever did.

  • BTW – I should be clear; I am not intending to refer to homsexuals as sexual deviants, I didn’t mean for my comment to enter into that side of the debate. OldAdam’s argument seems to assume that they are, and I was simply trying to say, in effect “if you think that’s sexual deviance, then don’t you remember when . . .”

    An LGBT pope would have nothing on some of men who have occpied the Vatican.

  • Danny

    Okay let me add that relations with a goat are unlike those with other humans regardless or gender because the goat is not consenting, it may be willing, but not consenting, I’m not even sure they mate for pleasure, same goes for relations with children, willing maybe, but not consenting. Polygamy is observed in the bible so we have no reason to oppose it other than it does not fit our modern society. Message to all anti-gay believers out there, your views on homosexuals are rooted in the belief that it is a behavior or a choice, yet you refuse to be corrected by someone who actually is gay and would know, how Christ like are you being that you should refuse to listen and discriminate according to your own assumptions?

  • Gary

    Know theoldadam…I would like you to just once engage in an actual meaningful discussion. All the nonsense about marrying one’s pets is an absurd diversionary tactic that I can only assume you engage in because you cannot win an honest discussion on the ethics of the issue and/or the scriptural case for your view. Scripture simply DOES NOT “tell us that that behavior is sinful”. (I know you like to declare otherwise but you have been unwilling to discuss your scriptural foundation for you declarations.)

    There are however, many behaviors that scripture DOES tell us is sinful. They all have to do with judging and harming others. THIS is what the church (in general) has excelled at in this matter.

  • Even thought this is a fantastic idea of yours, Gary, I have to wonder about your ethical position.

    You said,
    “I have ALWAYS promoted having a church that operated on God’s principles…”
    And you ask oldadam for ” the scriptural case for your view.”

    This seems to imply that your ethics is base on God’s principles, and you know what they are because you rightly understand scripture.

    Tell me if I am wrong — I am not trying to put words in your mouth, but they seem the logical implication of what your saying.

    And I think OldAdam feels the same, but he views scripture differently.

    So then how do you settle it, if you guys are using ancient hebrew texts as a basis of morality?

    Danny uses “consenting” as his standard — that seems to be a little more reasonable starting point then Iron Age texts and something as manipulatable’s “God principles”.

    Ethics is tough. And no one wants to make the obvious awkward confession that their is an arbitrary human component of contract, agreement and such. Some folks think reason wins the day, some think their favorite exegesis of some ancient holy document should be the basis. All these are problematic.

  • Carol

    Old Adam’s arguements are known as reductio ad absurdum, also referred to by some as the slippery slope arguement. They are usually the result of not being able to argue persuasively about the real issue, so they issue is “logically” carried to an extreme that no one would attempt to defend.

    BTW, the tactic may silence the opposition, not because they cannot think of a counter arguement, but because the absurdity does not deserve to be dignified by a serious response.

    Besides it is not goats that get screwed, it is sheep.

    I remember a cartoon in a magazine from decades past, might have been one of my father’s Playboy issues, where the shepherd is approaching two sheep with a bouquet of flowers in his hand and one of the sheep says to the other, “He can just sod right off, I have a headache.”

  • Gary

    That is a fair questions Sabio. But my response to theoldadam was to refute his charge of wanting an anything goes church. This is not true in the sense that I, like him, want a church based on God’s principles. My point was that though I disagree with his position it does not follow that the only alternative is to embrace an “anything goes” philosophy. That is a clear straw man argument. Actually my belief is quite far from it. The standard of the law of love (Golden Rule if you prefer) is a very high standard of ethical behavior.

    I have no qualms about accepting the fact we see scriptural truth differently. Where I quarrel with him most assuredly is when his beliefs would bring harm and alienation to an entire class of people.

  • Gary

    Carol I think your assessment of theoldadam’s position is quite accurate, and for most issues when an argument becomes absurd it is often best to simply ignore them. This is one issue however that I usually engage more directly due to the victims of horrifying abuse (both physical and emotional) his position creates.

  • Gary

    In other words, I believe this is a cause worth fighting for. This battle is one I believe we fight for the victims in the same manner we speak out against any other type of bigoted discrimination. My nephew, my friend, and all who are similarly discriminated against, deserve better than what they have received.

  • Why would it make you so happy to have a gay pope? How about being happy if the one chosen is the one God wants? I am thrilled to death that we have a pope from Latin America instead of Europe. A man who lived in an apartment with a single room, who rode the bus, who fights for the poor and for social justice, who has a masters degree in chemistry, and who picks a new name, Francis, meaning that he isn’t trying to imitate any other pope but is trying something new. While I am sorry the LGBT community has suffered, the majority of the population is not gay, they are poor, and I am thrilled that the poor have a champion in the new pope.

  • @ Jareth


    I also like the connatations his chosen name brings from St. Francis, and hope that the link was intentional on his part.

  • The new pope, Pope Francis, says, “(Marriage Equality) is a destructive pretension against the plan of God.” Better days still ahead.

  • Gary

    Sad. He may have a heart for one group…but clearly not for all.

  • Of course the Pope gets his foundation of ethics from God’s Word and Tradition (established, proper exegesis etc). As long as you stick with the Bible as the final word on ethics, or of knowing God’s principles (as the Pope and Gary do), then we are going to have folks who feel they are above dialogue — because why is dialogue needed if you know God’s principle or his Word? All you got to do then is hold on tight and try to make others do the same.

    Why do people care about how nice, once-impoverished, animal-loving or whatever the Pope is? The whole institution and the role of Pope is corrupt from the bottom up.

  • Gary

    Sabio you need to not try to speak for me. You seem to always get it wrong when you do.


  • Yes, yes, Gary. I know your tried-and-true “your speaking for me” escape clause. I pointed out clearly the implications of what you said. If you wish to correct what I feel are the implications of what you said, you may, but until you offer a substantial correction instead of “No, no, you are always wrong. Stop it.”, I will continue to think I am correct. Because I rarely change my mind without some evidence.

    In a similar way I think you argumentation with TheOldAdam was largely emotional and not logical — though it had the pretense of reason. I think I illustrated why this is true and you have not responded. I don’t care if you chose not to respond, but saying, “You are wrong.” is certainly not suffice.

  • Gary

    I did Sabio…Only your arrogance prevents you from accepting my response.

    I am a bit puzzled why once again, though we had a promising start to dialogue, you dove into a line of attack you know full well is completely false in regards to my view.

    No strike that thought. I am not puzzled at all. That is what you do.

  • Carol

    It is unfortunate that the Pope is already making statements that stigmatize the LGBT community.

    However, assuming that the Pope is true to his vows of celibacy, I really don’t see that papal gender orientation is all that important. Does it really make a difference what the Pope or anyone else ISN’T doing?

    I have always been heterosexual, but, being a spiritual and intellectual erotic, I never had any problem with celibacy between spousal relationships.

    Americans usually equate eroticism with sexuality, but eros is the life force and there are many ways to experience and express it. I would say that our common socioeconimic life in the Post-Enlightenment/Industrial West is more tilted toward thanatos than eros. A 19 year old once told me that the only time he felt really alive was when he was having sex with his girlfriend. That is why even those who have a super-abundance of material blessings, but few intimate relationships are so often plagued by dissatisfaction, even depression.

    The Africans that I met while living in Liberia experienced all of life as erotic even though there was widespread poverty and disease. We Westerners usually walk like robots, the Africans walked like graceful jungle cats. There was a beauty in their natural movements that we seem to have lost as we rush through life striving for . . . what? success? respect? unconditional love and acceptance?

    It’s all there, we just don’t seem to be very good at recognizing it when we see it. Perhaps even when it comes to the Gospel, most of us can’t quite get over the cynical belief that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Gary

    It is unfortunate Carol. Of course it was inevitable. So long as the pope is “elected”, it is safe to assume he will hold a major view which is contrary to the majority opinion.

  • Gary

    Excuse the typo…

    It is safe to assume he will NOT hold a major view which is contrary to the majority opinion.

  • Carol

    Sabio is correct. It is the institutional role of the Papacy that needs to be reformed.

    The Pope is the only remaining absolute monarch,with the exception of the King of Monaco, in Western Europe.

    Iniatially, the Magisterial (Teaching) Authority of the Catholic Church was collegial, the Pope in union with the Bishops. As feudalistic federations evolved into monarchies the civil powers exceeded the Church’s power in the individual Nation States and the Bishops became more concerned with staying on the good side of the Kings than with pleasing the Pope and the Magisterial Authority became invested in a monarchial Pope in union with the Curia (Vatican bureaucracy) with the Bishop’s role becoming merely advisory.

    Vatican Council II calls for the restoration of the collegiality, but the Curia has been able to block any decentralizing of authoritative power so far.

    Most of the Catholic bishops serve more as Vatican administrators than as Shepherds to the faithful, many of them show little or no understanding of the Gospel’s call for the Church to be a transformational Presence in secular society. The Church is just one more special interest lobby seeking to advance its interests through each Nation State’s political process. In fact, political issues like abortion for Conservative Catholics and socioeconomic issues for Liberal Catholics have become important enough to overcome the theological/spiritual differences and sectarian triumphalism that has traditionally separated Catholics and Protestants since the 16th century schism. Politics definitely trumps religious considerations once again in American Christianity as it has in Western European Christianity since the “conversion” of Constantine and the institutionalization of Christianity of the official religion of the Roman Empire.

    “My bent is to say that, to the degree that a pastor, for the gospel’s sake, becomes political, he probably in the long run, blunts his gospel power to transform culture.”~John Piper

    “The institutions of Churchianity are not Christianity. An institution is a good thing if it is second; immediately an institution recognizes itself it becomes the dominating factor.”
    — Oswald Chambers

    “In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centering on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe , where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America where it became an enterprise.” –Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate

    “In a rare interview in 1967 with Thomas McDonnell, [Thomas] Merton pronounced that the great crisis in the church is a crisis of authority precipitated because the church, as institution and organization, has overshadowed the reality of the church as a community of persons united in love and in Christ. He now charged that obedience and conformity with the impersonal corporation-church are a fact in the life of Christians. The Church is preached as a communion, but is run in fact as a collectivity, and even as a totalitarian collectivity.” ~ George Kilcourse, ACE OF FREEDOMS: Thomas Merton’s Christ, Notre Dame Press, 1993

    Clericalism is difficult to define, but it certainly involves an inequality of responsibility and status in the church. I would describe it as a kind of unspoken contract whereby ordained clergy take leadership responsibility, and lay people defer to that arrangement, too often in a childlike way. ~Sean O’Conaill, Voice of the Faithful [Ireland affiliate] organizer

  • Carol

    Gary, Sabio seems to have missed the point that when your interpretation of the biblical text conflicts with the institutional Church’s official interpretation, you go with your conscience rather than the sheeple of God majority.

    The problem is not with biblical Revelation, the problem is when the Church or individuals within the Church interpret it as either a metaphysical treatise or a moral manual rather than the greatest Love Story ever told.

    “Christianity is NOT a religion; it is the proclamation of the end of religion. Religion is a human activity dedicated to the job of reconciling God to humanity and humanity to itself. The Gospel, however – the Good News of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the astonishing announcement that God has done the whole work of reconciliation without a scrap of human assistance. It is the bizarre proclamation that religion is over – period.” –Robert F. Capon

    “Christians have always tended to transform the Christian Revelation into a Christian religion. Christianity is said to be a religion like any other or, conversely, some Christians try to show that it is a better religion than the others. People attempt to take possession of God. Theology claims to explain everything, including the being of God. People tend to transform Christianity into a religion because the Christian faith obviously places people in an extremely uncomfortable position that of freedom guided only by love and all in the context of God’s radical demand that we be holy.” –Jacques Ellul

    Belief is reassuring. People who live in the world of belief feel safe. On the contrary, faith is forever placing us on the razor’s edge. –Jacques Ellul

    Faith is much better than belief. Belief is when someone else does the thinking. –R. Buckminster Fuller

  • Carol

    Sabio, what makes you think that people should always be “logical”?

    Since human intelligence is not omniscience there is always something that we do not know, often something vitally important to arriving at a correct conclusion.

    Logic, without the assistence of intuition, that “gut feeling” that makes us search for deeper answers, always leads to reductionistic thinking. There is a difference between the simple truth and a simplistic belief.

    The Enlightenment belief that logical thinking and education alone, without any consideration of other factors apart from ignorance such as the survival instinct and clinical cognitive dysfunction in the formation of behavior patterns, can solve all of our individual and social ills is the fundamental heresy of the Enlightenment philosophy. It seems to have become a dogmatic absolute for you, also.

  • Carol

    Old Adam, Frank and Sabio may disagree on many issues, but they all share one “fundamental(ist)” thing in common. All three are dogmatic absolutists with absolute certainty that their beliefs are infallible.

    I believe that you are mistaken in believing that Sabio “knows” that his attacks are false. He believes his “logic” is flawless, which is sadder than if he were as dishonest as you believe him to be. It is much more difficult to reach a consensus, or even a compromise, when the difference is not just about WHAT we think but HOW we think.

  • @ Gary,
    Good morning.
    I never saw your comment “starting “That is a fair questions…” on my I phone — Instead, I only saw , “You need to not try to speak for me.” [For which my reply still holds.]

    But now, back to your 5:34 pm reply:

    Great. So you agree, you both want a church based on God’s Principles.
    Look like I got that right.
    And since you have different views of scripture (which I also got right),
    you will derive separate ethics.
    So my point, was using An Anthology of Hebrew and Greek writings written by authors of different persuasions and treating it like one homogenous book of ethics is a huge mistake. And You and Old-Adam disagreeing over it seems as silly to me as trying to choose a nice Pope.

    Your method is what is biting you in the arse.

    I agree that the cause of fighting for gay rights is definitely one worth fighting for, I just don’t want people grabbing and thumping Bibles to do it — conservative, progressive, liberals or New Agers. You may have changed your theology to being a universalists and a non-literalists, but you still hold on to that Anthology as a way to argue ethics and claim you understand God’s principles.

  • Carol

    Getting back to our original topic of gender and God, Fr. Richard’s meditation seems to speak on that, at least to me:

    God and Gender Meditation 19 of 52

    Most people (not all) first experienced unconditional love not through the image of a man, but through the image of their mother. She therefore became the basis for many people’s real and operative God. I am convinced that many people sour on religion because the God they are presented with is actually less loving than their Mother and/or Father was.

    For much of the human race, the mother has been the one who “parts the veil” for us, and opens us up to any inner life of emotions or soul. She gives us that experience of grounding, intimacy, tenderness, and safety that most of us hope for from God. However, many people also operate from a toxic and negative image of God. For those people, little that is wonderful is going to happen as long as that is true. Early growth in spirituality is often about healing that inner image, whether male based or female based.

    Most of us know that God is beyond gender. When we look at the Book of Genesis, we see that the first thing God is looking for is quite simply “images” by which to communicate who-God-is (Genesis 1:26-27). God is not looking for servants, for slaves, or for people who are going to pass loyalty tests. God is just looking for images—“images and likenesses” of the Inner Mystery. Whoever God “is,” is profoundly and essentially what it means to be both male and female in perfect balance. We have to find and to trust images that present both a healthy feminine face for God and a healthy masculine face for God. Both are true and both are necessary for a vital and loving relationship with God. Up to now, we have largely relied upon the presented masculine images of God (which closed many people down) while, in fact, our inner life is much more drawn to a loving feminine energy. That is much of our religious problem today, and I do not believe that is an exaggeration.

    Adapted from On Transformation: Collected Talks, Volume 1:
    The Maternal Face of God

  • Gary

    @Sabio – You said

    “Your method is what is biting you in the arse. I agree that the cause of fighting for gay rights is definitely one worth fighting for, I just don’t want people grabbing and thumping Bibles to do it — conservative, progressive, liberals or New Agers. You may have changed your theology to being a universalists and a non-literalists, but you still hold on to that Anthology as a way to argue ethics and claim you understand God’s principles.”

    You miss the whole point of the bible based discussion in the first place. If you had followed my previous posts in other threads on this you would know that it was my struggle with the lack of morality in the bible (God’s…not man’s) that helped me to open my eyes to the problems of declaring it to be the end all of truth and ethics. It was the glaring immorality in the traditional church position concerning homosexuality that drove me to rethinking my views on that subject as well. These views have been voiced by me.

    So when you come along and make a silly broad stroke statement like –

    “As long as you stick with the Bible as the final word on ethics, or of knowing God’s principles (as the Pope and Gary do)”

    – It tells me you are either paying very little attention to what has been said or you simply don’t care about being truthful in your statements. This is where “Your method is biting you in the arse”.

    The point of the bible based discussion is because the bible thumpers have been able to successfully shape public policy based on their biblical interpretation. Yes it would be wonderful to see everyone glean from the bible the higher principles of love and charity and be able to sift out the garbage that promotes hate and bigotry. But we are a nation which is still heavily influenced by “bible believing Christians”. We are not likely to win this battle for basic human rights using the argument that the bible has no value. And we don’t have to in this case anyway. The scriptural case that homosexuality is a sinful abomination to God is based on bad translation and faulty exegesis. I don’t need to rip the bible out of a fundamentalist’s hands to get them to stop making it say what it does not. We won the battle over racial bigotry and today those who use the bible to promote racial prejudice are very much in the minority with little power to influence public policy. The same is true concerning women and gender equality. The right to vote in this country for women and minorities would seem to be as obvious as the nose on your face, yet less than 100 years ago neither group enjoyed this right. We (collectively) did not win that fight by ripping the bible out of everyone’s hands, but by a reasoned approach showing that when the bible is used to exclude and marginalize classes of people it is being employed wrongly. Much of this present struggle will be won the same way.

  • @ Carol

    I wouldn’t say that God is beyond gender; I would say that He comprehends gender, which is to say that both masculinity and feminity find their source in God, that they are both equally valid revelations of God’s character, and that they may both be twisted into something that is not God’s character at all (through chauvinism and extreme feminism).

    Of course God’s character is more than the sum of masculinity and feminity, so a better way of saying it might be that God transcends gender, but that seems to connotate that God is above gender and leaves gender behind; rather, I think I can settle on saying that feminity and masculinity are both two true expressions, though not the only two true expressions, of who God is.

    you don’t think that we should base ethics on Scripture. Ok, that’s fair, what would you propose that we base our ethics on instead?

  • @ Gary,
    You are right, I am not keeping track of your theology woven through other threads. I’ve suggested you get your own blog to document your new beliefs — that would make communication easier perhaps — then you could just link to your posts.

    Yes, I am “paying very little attention” to you spread over David’s blog. Seriously? Get your own blog if you want folks to know your thoughts clearly. We aren’t all cutting and pasting your comment through David’s blog and building a “Gary’s Thoughts” file on our hard drives. I only can deal with what you say on a thread.

    But let’s see if I get your point. Are you saying you still don’t really believe in the Bible as a source of ethics but you are going to pretend you do because that is the best way to fight conservative Bible thumpers who affect our nation?

    But we obviously agree on the gay and women’s issues. Now it is a question of method.

  • Carol

    Sabio claims that his beliefs are based on reason and objectivity and yet he totally ignores the objective historical evidence from the failure of atheistic Communism to usher in an earthly Utopia that the cause of man(kind)’s individual and social ills is theistic beliefs.

    Jonathan’s inquiry as to what, in Sabio’s opinion, our ethical basis should be is quite to the point.

    In her book, The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand proposed, on the basis of objective rationalistic logic, that individual self-interest or “what’s good for me is good” as the measure of “good” behavior. I doubt that Sabio would agree with Rand, but I’m afraid that is where his reductionistic committment to *objective* [an epistemological impossibility per Polanyi] rationalism will always lead us.

    Whether theistic or atheistic, dogmatic absolutism represents the essence of Original Sin, the desire to be like God, apart from God’s immanent Guiding Presence, in discerning “good” from “evil.”

    The Law or general biblical principles can never decide individual cases justly because there are always mitigating circumstances calling for compassionate mercy on the practical level. God always applies his law from a relational rather than a strictly juridical perspective.
    The Book of Hosea in the OT reveals this same Divine perspective that Jesus’ testimony about his Father reveals, a God of Unconditional Love & Mercy who always keeps his covenant with us even when we fail fulfill our obligations to God.

    “Why is it that our popular established religions are so shaken in the face of the visible problems of our civilization: drugs, war, crime, social injustice, the breakdown of the family, the sexual revolution? Is it not because somewhere along the line belief took the place of faith for the majority of Jews and Christians? Faith cannot be shaken; it is the result of being shaken. And we can see in the writings of the early Fathers that the primary function of the monastic discipline was to shake man’s belief in his own powers and understanding. This was not done simply by visiting upon men situations they could not handle or which caused them pain. Such experiences by themselves are useless, and even dementing, unless they are met by an intention to profit from them in the coin of self-knowledge. Mere belief that one has already found the way and the truth is the exact opposite of such an intention and was recognized by the early Fathers as a weapon of the devil.”~Jacob Needleman, The New Religions

    “Like all sacred art, legends are for the feeling; and it is more important to feel what one knows—even if it is only one thing—than to know with the head alone a mass of theories and facts. When modern people assume that we have made so much progress over ancient or nonindustrialized cultures, they forget this point. It is far, far better to understand a central truth with the whole of oneself than it is to know many things only with the mind. When one knows only with the mind, and the feelings are not integrated into the knowing, then the knowledge one has becomes harmful. Technology without ethics is the result of having knowledge without developing the instrument of ethical perception, the feelings. As it was said long ago, ‘The mind is for seeing what is true; the feelings are for understanding what is good.’ ”–Jacob Needleman, Money and the Meaning of Life

  • Gary

    “You are right, I am not keeping track of your theology woven through other threads. I’ve suggested you get your own blog to document your new beliefs — that would make communication easier perhaps — then you could just link to your posts.”

    Nope sorry Sabio…not buying it. You continue to attempt to pigeon hole me into a belief that makes your argument stronger even when you and I have directly discussed otherwise. This is why I have many times in the past ceased discussing anything with you. Even now your tone is overly condescending. But that is what you often do when challenged. And here you totally sidestep my point. I am not pretending anything. I still hold the bible in much higher regard than you do obviously. I believe there is much to be learned from man’s struggle to understand God through the ages. But proper exegesis is not faith. I do not have to pretend to have the same view of scripture to be able to confront those who would use it to harm.

  • Sabio

    @ Gary:
    [as always, ignoring personal attacks and speculation about my psychological state]
    I think my point was made well. I actually think you get my point. Keep fighting the good fight, lad.

    @ Carol:
    You are incorrect about my apparent claims of belief and ethics. You can read my blog if you wish to see your misunderstandings. [but beware: I don’t allow thread flooding with quotes.]

    But for now, I will repeat what I said above to give you a hint of your misunderstand:

    “Ethics is tough. And no one wants to make the obvious awkward confession that there is an arbitrary human component of contract, agreement and such [that creates ‘ethics’]. Some folks think reason wins the day, some think their favorite exegesis of some ancient holy document should be the basis. All these are problematic.”

    @ jonathan pelton,
    Read my quote to Carol above. Maybe someday in the future I will do a post which expresses a little better this ugly fact. It isn’t brilliant insight, and actually pretty common sense, I think.

    In the meanwhile, one more aphorismic taste of my opinion:

    Before tackling how we ought to base our ethics, it is often more important to understand how we actually already do ethics/morality.

  • Gary

    Condescendingly dismissive. True to form Sabio…true to form.

  • Sabio

    Yes, always dismissive of psychological, personal rhetoric. As far as substance goes, I think we understand each other.

  • Carol

    Gary: “Ethics is tough. And no one wants to make the obvious awkward confession that there is an arbitrary human component of contract, agreement and such [that creates ‘ethics’]. Some folks think reason wins the day, some think their favorite exegesis of some ancient holy document should be the basis. All these are problematic.”

    I certainly agree with the above. All human contracts are based on reciprocal performance. What is “different” about the contract God made with humanity, and through us with *his* creation is that it is kept in force by *his* Unconditional Love and faithfulness, not on human performance or fidelity. It is an eternally binding contract because Love is Eternal. Marriage vows, even secular ones, used to invoke the promise to remain united “for richer or poorer, in sicknes and health” until parted by death. Unfortunately, living in a consumerist society even our most intimate relationships have become commodified. Not getting one’s needs met is grounds for terminating a relationship, we have become a pathological co-dependent rather than a healthy interdependent society.

    Actually, Gary, I believe that we are “doing ethics/morality” less and less. It is not so much a matter of becoming more evil, evil requires malicious intent; but becoming more amoral.

    Our species has many traits in common with other sentient animals. What sets us apart is that we do have the POTENTIAL to make conscious behavioral moral choices and are not totally at the mercy of our subconscious instinctive impulses.

    I don’t think that we can realize that potential apart from Grace/faith, but I also believe that everyone has been given Grace which can be intutively apprehended without having a formal theological belief system. Anyone who believes in the essential goodness of the gift of life, in spite of all of the painfully tragic challenges to that belief that we experience and see daily thanks to our advanced media technology , has faith. God is the Author of life. When we lose faith in the essential goodness of life and our own humanity, seeing that which we judge “evil” to be more prevalent than that which we judge to be “good”, then we have lost faith in either the goodness or the power of God to sustain that goodness and our God has become too small or just another Baal, a false god of our own vain imaginings, a projection of our own finite limitations and disordered desires.

    Fundamentalists who think that the purpose of faith is to open our eyes to evil have gotten it all wrong. It does not take religious faith to recognize evil, it takes faith to see beyond the evil and embrace the essential goodness of the gift of life. “As a man thinketh, so is he.” If we focus on evil, we become evil, if we focus on goodness we become good. That is why contemplative theology is transformative and dogmatic theology is not. In fact, dogmatic theology can make us more resistent to Grace, “knowledge, when it is not transformed by love, “puffs up”, feeds instead of challenging the narcissistic ego.

  • Sabio

    @ Carol:
    Hey Carol, that was my quote, not Gary’s.
    So you may not want to agree too much.

  • Carol

    Sabio, we have many areas of agreement as well as disagreement. I also have agreed and disagreed with Brigitte and Gary on many issues.

    Where we disagree is whether or not our “knowing” can ever be infallible. We can “know” with a lesser or greater degree of probability, but, without the attribute of omniscience, the human intellect will always have its limitations.

    Even consensual validation– statistical evidence widely gathered over an extended period of time, can only provide “proof” of a higher degree of probability. We will never escape the possibility of the Black Swan* no matter how much data we amass in support of our most cherished convictions.

    When it comes to dogmatic absolutism you, Frank, Old Adam and even Brigitte to a lesser degree have a similar epistemology and, for all of our disagreements, neither Gary nor I are dogmatic absolutists and so share a similar epistemological perspective.

    The belief that human understanding can only know with varying degrees of probability rather than certainty does not automatically provide a consensus, but it does open us up to a respectful dialogue that can lead to a consensus or at least a more balanced perspective, while dogmatic absolutism can only result in polemics which tends to more extreme and hardened positions. In my experience polemics always sheds more heat than light on the issues that divide us. It leads to dysfunctional churches and dysfunctional civil governments. Surely, there is enough empirical evidence these days to support that theory, no?


  • Sabio

    @ Carol:
    It is clear from your summary that you don’t understand how I view knowledge. You seem to have conveniently pinned me into a clean category box than is inaccurate. Perhaps it is because you assume atheists must have a certain epistemology or they wouldn’t be atheists. But I won’t try to tackle this issue on this thread. If you want, you can (as I mentioned before) see what I think on my blog.

    Here are a few posts to get you going. See if they agree with your image of me.

    (1) Traffic Light Epistemology

    (2) My Cognitive Narrative: Where the traffic light post and others are listed.

    PS – I am already familiar with Taleb’s work.

  • @ Sabio
    I read through the links you mentioned as well as several others:

    I like the idea of “Levels of Truth” and find that to be a useful tool in argumentation. I see the possibility of several ways of talking about truth: perceived truth/believed truth (I believe x) vs accepted truth (we all accept that x is true)vs literal truth (x is actually true) vs hypothtical truth/relative truth (for the purpose of y, x is true; or, assuming y, x is true) vs semantic truth (it is true that the word “x” refers to the idea “y”). One might also talk of grammatical truth (the sentence x accurately refers to the idea y) etc.

    I like your Traffic Light analogy and find that to be a useful means of describing where one stands on an issue, for example: on the issue of homosexuality being a sin, it has a grey light, with shades of yellow. However, this isn’t really refering to epistemology proper. Epistemology refers to knowledge, what is knowledge, what does it mean “to know something,” how do we come to know things, etc. But your post really dealt more with how one categorizes beliefs, rather than any of the aforementioned questions.

    I didn’t find any posts that really delved into a foundation for ethics; you might suggest some? Otherwise, with only your quote from above to go on, it seems that you would agree that if a given society, such as Uganda, or a tribe within Uganda, has agreed that homosexuality is ethically inadmissable, then the individuals within that society would be wrong to dissent from what has been generally accepted by social contract and common consent?

  • edit for my prior comment:
    where one stands on an issue, for example: *for me* on the issue of homosexuality being

  • Wow, jonathan, thank you for taking the time to read. You sound like you understood much of what I was trying to write.

    Yes, I don’t have a post on Ethics. I actually use to teach medical ethics to graduate students. And in that class, my primary goal was to get student to first see how they themselves make ethical decisions (and the result is surprising) and then to understand how others do the same. And finally, with that in mind, know how to discuss difficult issues with patients and their families.

    So I guess I should try to do a post on the issue. But as you know, it is not a simple topic so it will be a while. For now: Morality is always negotiated, consensus, cooperation and competition form it; while it is tested against the time and the environment for function. However, most of moral behavior is far from conscious — our rationales are largely post-hoc.

    Oooops, I should not even have gone that far. More later on my blog sometime if you are interested.

  • Yeah, I can agree with that statement, as far as it goes; ethics are not at all simple, and much of the reasoning behind our decision making is subtle and sub-conscious. I’ll try to keep an eye on your blog, but let me know if you do that post on ethics.

  • Carol

    After reading you blog posts, I can see that you are not as “dogmatic” as you project in your posts to this blog. Perhaps that is because your posts here tend to be more “analytic” than “playful” and “creative.”

    I have never been able to understand why many atheists have as much antipathy towards people whom profess religious faith as most religious “believers” have toward atheists.

    If I doubted the existence of God, I would not waste my time arguing with those who are convinced God exists because there is no way to empirically “prove” or “disprove” either conviction. Friggin’ waste of time, IMO.

    I think perhaps there has been a very common confusion of “faith” with theological “beliefs.”
    St. Anselm defined theology as “faith seeking understanding.” That would seem to imply that theology for a person of faith is more speculative than dogmatic, certainly not the dogmatic absolutism that closes minds and often hearts that we see in so many who profess faith.

    Faith is trust without reservation, not belief without proof, in a God whose “thoughts are not our thoughts” and whose ways we often do not understand. Faith is not without proof but the “proof” is experiential and the “knowing” is intuitive, not logical unless we have taken the initial “leap” of faith that the existence of God is at least a possibility.

    After reading the posts on your blog, I believe that you would agree that there is a natural tendency for us to see what we apriori expect to find.

    Human experience is the crucible in which our beliefs are tested; but if we have a primitive, superstitious theological belief system the God we find will be more of a projection of our own disordered desires than the Loving Creator/Provider/Sustainer of the beginning texts in Genesis.

    A systematic theology that begins with Original Sin rather than Original Blessing cannot be reconciled with the witness of Jesus to God as recorded in the Gospels.

    Theistic beliefs merely the necessary presupposition for becoming a person of explicit theological faith. Satan is a theist, not an atheist. Scripture names him the “Accuser.” The names for the Holy Spirit are Advocate, Comforter and Counselor. When professing Christians embrace the role of “accuser” it is not the Lord’s work that they are doing. We can’t do the Lord’s work with the devil’s weapons.

    The power of the Gospel is the suasive power of Unconditional Love. When professing Christians resort to intimidation or manipulation in their relationships with others they are betraying the Gospel ethic.

    I have some serious problems with some fundamental theological beliefs taught by Martin Luther, but I also appreciate his many brilliant spiritual insights, not the least of which is “Where God builds a church the devil builds a chapel.”

    Whatever else Luther may have been, he was no ecclesiolater or bibliolater, either since he acknowledged that “God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”

    One thing I have learned as I have gone to the original theological sources to discover what they taught is that there is a big difference between Augustine and Augustinianism, St. Thomas Aquinas and the Catholic scholastics, Luther and Lutheranism. Even Calvin had some valid insights, but if I thought that Calvin’s Cosmic Bully was the true God, I would probably be a militant atheist, also.

    Sabio, I do not share your atheistic beliefs, but I definitely share many of your criticisms of the formal theological beliefs taught by the institutional Church authorities. “Believers” may buy that theological bullshit and pious drivel, but people of faith will always call them out often at great personal cost.

    I suppose that is why “the Institutional Church (ecclesia) has killed only two kinds of people: “Those who do not believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and those who do.” I will never forget the horror when I realized as an adult convert during the schism in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church that, if it weren’t for the protection of the civil government, there were people in that Church who would probably kill me for what I believed.

    Such is life. There are worse things than dying. Betraying one’s own humanity by compromising one’s integrity is one of them, IMO.

  • Really? I guess your lucky. God discrimination and corruptive god-politics are in my face far more than you may imagine.

    After living in Asia for 12 years, where no one cared that I was not Christian, then coming back to the US and having people get in my face about Christianity and my kids belittled in school has got my furor up.

    Religion is righteousness for many. After all, they are talking to God, you aren’t. Bullshit, that.

  • Carol

    I live in NC which is not exactly Bible Belt, but there is a lot of Red State Christianity here.

    Not as bad as SC, though. I believe it was Citizens United for the Separtion of Church and State that sought a court injunction against issuing explicitly Christian license plates there, but they managed to finagle a way around it.

    Personally, I’m all for the license plates or anything else that makes the fundies more visible. That way I can spot them in time to avoid them.

    I still say that it is very common to meet religious “believers” who are not people of faith and people of faith who do not have Christian beliefs. The “faith” of the “believers-only” is in their own theological beliefs about God, not in God. I prefer the mystical apophatic theology [knowing by unknowing] to the cataphatic theology of the more popular orthodoxy.

    Of course, there are agnostics and atheists who have too much “faith” in their own beliefs, too. Politics and religion seem to bring the worst as well as the best out in people and when they are mixed they tend to become really toxic!

    It is true that non-Christians do not believe that Jesus is Divine; but he is almost universally admired as a great teacher, even as a prophet by some. So, I guess the problem must be more with the messengers and their garbled message than with the original message. Some people have a real knack for turning any good news into bad news. I think that it is really more of a psychological than a religious thing, even though claiming Divine Authority for it does tend to muddy the waters.

  • “Of course, there are agnostics and atheists who have too much “faith” in their own beliefs, too. Politics and religion seem to bring the worst as well as the best out in people and when they are mixed they tend to become really toxic!”

    I think that Institutional Christians vs People of Faith is the wrong distinction to make, for this exact reason. I think you can find close-minded dogmatic extremists in every religion and in every philosophical/political shape and color. To me, it is a trait of humanity, rather than of one specific philosophy or theology.

    This is largely how I interpret medieval history. Medieval europe was the site and source of many atrocities, but I don’t see them as a result of the Christianization of Europe; rather, I see them as a product of the Europeanization of Christianity. The tribes and peoples of Europe were raping, pillaging, murdering, and raiding each other long before Christianity arrived; the new religion simply gave them a new banner under which they could legitimize the behavior. And it seems to me that the secularization of Europe has not brought an end to the European impulse to conquer. We still engage in colonialism and corporate conquest even from a secular foundation. It’s no single religion, philosophy or politic; the problem lay with humanity itself.

  • Carol

    Jonathan, you got that right.

    Religion is neither cause, not cure. The same is true of political ideologies and all of the other -sisms and -ologies that people have put, and will probably continue to put, their “faith” in until the end of time.

    The best we can hope for, I suppose, is that as the evolutionary process continues to unfold, fewer and fewer people will expect to make a difference by recreating others in their own image and start recognizing and working on their own faults and failings.

  • I think the best we can hope for is grace; for God to sanctify our race. Without that, I’m not sure evolution is enough.

  • Gary

    “I think the best we can hope for is grace; for God to sanctify our race. Without that, I’m not sure evolution is enough.”

    I like this Johnathan. My belief is that He already has.