Wednesday, June 22, 2011

God, Genesis, the Catholic Church, and Getting a Grip

About two years ago, some 'serious thinker' said that a new document from the Vatican was "purposely vague." I've written about that before. (July 18, 2009)

Instant Profundity - It's Easy!

The notion that the Catholic Church was 'vague,' or 'indecisive,' wasn't a particularly new one. It's one of the things folks who want to be taken seriously can say when they want to seem 'intelligent.'

There are quite a few off-the-shelf assumptions for folks who want to be 'serious' in a culturally-normative way. These include saying that:
  • The Catholic Church is
    • Harsh and rigid and uncaring
    • Kills people
      • 'Not letting' them do whatever screwball thing is in fashion at the moment
  • Christianity destroys the environment
    • This one's a perennial favorite
Me? I stopped trying to seem 'intelligent' and 'serious' by fashionable standards a long time ago. I've been entirely too interested in how things really work, and what folks actually said.

'Thou Shalt Plunder Creation For Thy Own Profit?'

The 'Christianity destroys the environment' notion is almost rooted in fact. Someone wearing the 'right' cultural blinders, and taking a quick run through a selection of verses - mostly Genesis 1:26 and Genesis 1:28 - might conclude that God gave animals, plants, and the rest of creation to Man to exploit.

Who Cares About the Next Generation?

This notion seems quite firmly-entrenched: that Christianity teaches vile, selfish values. Values which encourage Christians to rip through the world: until the last tree is cut down, the last mountain strip-mined into oblivion, and the coal fires it takes to run this filthy civilization choke the last vulture out of the sky.

Then, in this alternative reality, the plutocratic oppressors who ripped bread from the starving lips of the poor will die of old age and cirrhosis of the liver.

And shivering victims of oppression will be left with a dead planet.

Well, dying anyway.

Or pretty sick.

And not at all the way it was back in the 'Good Old Days:' which ended around, say 1850. Or 1492. Or whenever.1

I think being selfish is wrong.

I think it's wrong to live with no concern about what happens to folks who will come after I'm dead. I'm a practicing Catholic, so I must keep the needs of future generations in mind.

Looking Beyond Victorian England

Back to the notion that 'Christianity destroys the environment.'

Like I said, Genesis 1 has a verse or two which could suggest that the Judeo-Christian world view is horribly sick, twisted, and delusional. And encourages people to ravage the land and poison the seas.

In order to take that notion seriously, you have the 'right' attitude to begin with, read the selected verses really fast, and not think about it too much.

It helps if you take England and America of the late 19th century as your reference point for what is 'real.' I think that's fairly easy to do, particularly for folks who grew up in America during the last 50 years or so. Maybe elsewhere, too: but American culture(s) is/are the one(s) I know best.2

Which brings up the question of whether this country is more of a melting pot - or crazy quilt. And that's another topic. (April 1, 2011)

Humanity, Creation: and Rules

The Catholic Church tells us how we're suppose to treat animals, and all of creation. It's 'vague' in the sense that Catholic teachings can't be summed up as "ravage the planet, because you should be utterly selfish," or "human beings kill Earth and should drop dead."

I don't think we're even 'moderate.' But never mind me: I've got the authority of "some guy with a blog."

Let's see what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about animals, people, and God:
  • Animals are for our use, not the other way around
  • We can't 'do anything we want' with animals
  • Animals
  • Human beings are
    • Animals
    • People
    • Made in the image and likeness of God
'People are animals?!' What: the Pope is one of those godless heathen scientist fellers? That's yet another topic.3

Related posts:

1 Assuming that science and technology would end poverty and hunger disease and make everything just about perfect actually made a little sense in the late 19th century. I think we tend to forget what happened before antibiotics, mass production, and steam power got many of us out from behind a horse-drawn plow.

Oh, by the way, the best and brightest (just ask them) keep insisting that:


And have been, at least since I started paying attention to the latest 'End Times Bible Prophecy' wannabe-bestselling authors, and their secular equivalents.

Aside from the 'dust to dust' aspect of the human experience, there's a little bit of fact behind the secular analog of 'End Times Prophecies.'

Genesis 1:28 is where you'll find " 'Be fertile and multiply...'." Sometime this year, I'm told, there's going to be an estimated 7,000,000,000 people living on Earth.

Taking fashionable assumptions seriously, that means that you'll start getting really hungry a few hours from when you first read this post. Then, about six to eight weeks from now, we'll all starve to death. ("Starvation Deaths, from "Dr. Dinesh Rao's Forensic Pathology" (© 2011))

Except maybe for a few cannibals.

If we run low on water first, it may take about 10 to 12 days for EVERYBODY YOU KNOW TO DIE!!!! HORRIBLY!!!!!! AND YOUR LITTLE DOG, TOO!!!!!!!!

*Ahem* Seriously, we're radically over Earth's 'carrying capacity' right now. And have been for centuries. Millennia. If we weren't people, we'd be in trouble. And that's another topic:2 Quite a lot of the sort of 'social Darwinism,' and assumptions that the 8,000-or-so-mile-wide ball of rock we live on has "infinite" resources, slopped over into the 20th century. I can remember the trailing edge of that particular 'Good Old Days.' The '60s happened for a reason, and I'll leave it at that for now.

3 See

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.