Friday, March 2, 2012

My Take on the News: "Jesus-Eating Cult;" Godly Scientist; Insulting Our Intelligence

Believe it or not, these aren't typical American Christians.

(ArizonaLincoln (talk), via Wikipedia, used w/o permission)

I don't even think they represent the values and beliefs of most American Protestants.

But I think many of America's 'better sort' assume that religious people are like these demonstrators: at least, those religious people who take their own beliefs seriously.

Change Hurts

I remember the '60s, when American culture changed. Back then, quite a few folks who liked the status quo were upset about the changing views toward women and minorities: as well as other issues.

I think America is a few years into another major cultural change. Today, quite a few folks who like the status quo don't like it - which I think explains some of what I see in the news.

"Jesus-Eating Cult"

A major American online publication referring to the Catholic Church as a "Jesus-eating cult" reminds me of rants about long-haired freaks, back in my teens. It's 'not the same thing,' of course: but I think I recognize the same sort of fury that comes when long-unchallenged assumptions get challenged. There's also probably some of the anti-Catholicism that's been a part of American culture for centuries.

Godly Scientist

Quite a few Americans, secular and otherwise, fervently want to believe that faith and reason, religion and science, are utterly incompatible. Zealous proponents of secularism, and dedicated disciples of Ussher, may be sincere: but that doesn't mean they're right. As the case of Dr. Jérôme Lejeune shows.

Insulting Our Intelligence

There's a difference between making someone kill an innocent person, and making someone pay an assassin to do the same thing. But not all that much of a difference. The current administration apparently thinks that Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other believers, are too stupid to realize that.

Here's what I'm talking about:
  1. "The Jesus-Eating Cult..."
  2. The Case of the Godly Scientist
  3. Insulting Our Intelligence

1. "The Jesus-Eating Cult..."

"Conservative leaders demand apology from Huffington over anti-Catholic column" (February 28, 2012)

"A group of socially conservative leaders is demanding Huffington Post publisher Arianna Huffington apologize for allowing a column to be published on her website that compares Catholics to pedophiles and attacks communion as a 'barbaric ritual.'

"In the letter dated Tuesday and obtained first by, the group -- never fans of the online news site -- writes that the website, recently purchased by AOL, is "complicit in bigotry" for publishing columnist Larry Doyle's article about Rick Santorum's Catholic faith.

" 'Larry Doyle's recent anti-Catholic screed in the Huffington Post, "The Jesus-Eating Cult of Rick Santorum," is bigoted and unacceptable, and a perfect example of "flame-throwing, name-calling, and simplistic attack dog rhetoric" ' that Huffington pledged to avoid when she launched the Huffington Post in 2005...."
I don't know if Arianna Huffington will apologize for what she may view as a level-headed, 'intelligent,' discussion of icky people. I don't even know if it's reasonable to ask for such an apology, given the cultural norms of America's establishment.

On the other hand, perhaps requests for an apology will get someone thinking about Catholics and assumptions about religion and America.

Diatribes like the one in the Huffington Post are annoying. But I've seen this sort of intemperate lashing out before, when the old WASP establishment was crumbling.

I think we're in the early years of a major change in American culture. One which is long overdue.

The 'Freedom' of McCarthyism, the 'Tolerance' of Political Correctness

I remember the trailing edge of McCarthyism, when supporters of America's establishment opposed commies and rock bands. I think they sincerely believed they were defending 'freedom.' By which they meant that everybody should be free to agree with them. I didn't think much of that sort of 'freedom.'

At the time, it felt as if the very white, very male, very WASP, establishment of the day would never change. But it did. Or, rather, too many folks in America realized that the establishment version of 'freedom' was a bad idea.

I was doing time in American academia when political correctness was in flower. Supporters of America's (new) establishment opposed racists and homophobes. I think they sincerely believe they are defending 'tolerance.' By which they mean that everybody should tolerate behavior they like. I don't think much of that sort of 'tolerance.'

Which may sound odd, coming from a Catholic.

Love May Seem Intolerant

I think part of the reason the Catholic Church is labeled 'intolerant' is that we are taught that destructive behavior isn't a good idea. And we're expected to live as if that's true. As for the phobias of the new establishments I mentioned, here's what the Church says:
  • Racism
    • Bad idea
    • The following must be curbed and eradicated
      • Denying fundamental personal rights based on
        • Sex
        • Race
        • Color
        • Social conditions
        • Language
        • Religion
      (Catechism, 1935)
  • Homosexual behavior
    • "...Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided...."
      (Catechism, 2358)
The reason for these rules is that we're commanded to love everybody. That's not the same as 'affirming' everybody, or approving of what everybody does. I've been over this before. Does it seem 'loving' to:
  • Let your friend drive drunk?
  • Let your kids eat anything they want?
  • Do nothing while someone you know commits suicide?
    (April 26, 2011)

2. The Case of the Godly Scientist

"Doctor Who Found Cause of Down Syndrome Moves Closer to Canonization"
ZENIT (February 23, 2012)
"Diocesan Phase Closes for Jérôme Lejeune

"This spring, the Archdiocese of Paris will officially conclude the diocesan phase of the cause of canonization for Dr. Jérôme Lejeune....

"...Jérôme Lejeune (1926-1994) was a doctor and researcher. The father of modern genetics, he was awarded the Kennedy Prize in 1962 for the discovery of the chromosomal cause of Trisomy 21. Known for having treated and supported numerous patients affected by intellectual disabilities and for his commitment to human life, he was a member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences and recognized with numerous international titles....
I'm happy to hear about Doctor LeJeune's cause for canonization: but not all that surprised. Some background:
"Life Is A Blessing - A Biography Of Jerome Lejeune" product page

"'When Dr. Jerome Lejeune, the most renowned geneticist in the world, took his stand for the unborn child, he became a pariah, shunned by his elite 'friends', defamed in the press and deprived of funding for his research. How did he persevere to earn John Paul II's description of him as "a great Christian of the twentieth century?" This engaging book shows the Jerome Lejeune, as husband and father, drew his strength from faith and family.'
"-Charles E. Rice, University of Notre Dame

" 'Jerome Lejeune was one of the greatest Catholic men of the 20th century. To Pope John Paul II he was a valued personal friend. To pro-life activists he was a valued international hero. To medical researches (honest ones, at least), he was an esteemed colleague, who should have a won a Nobel Prize. But to his own children he remained first and foremost a loving and beloved father. Seeing him here in the role, we learn more about the great public man.
"-Philip Lawler, Editor, Catholic World Report..."
Yes: has a book to sell. I don't have a problem with 'religious people' having jobs or running businesses. 'So heavenly minded, you're no earthly good' doesn't seem like a sensible lifestyle choice for most folks. My opinion. (July 7, 2011, September 14, 2010)

It's when authors and booksellers get into the 'why God agrees with me' mindset that I start wincing. And that's another topic.

"No Contradiction Between Faith and Science"

"...'Numerous testimonies of prayer for the beatification of Jérôme Lejeune come to us from all over the world, sent by families who knew him, as well as by a new generation of young people involved in the Service of Life and of wise men happy to manifest that there is no contradiction between faith and science,' explained Mayté Varaut, president of the Association of Friends of Professor Jérôme Lejeune."
(ZENIT) [emphasis mine]
I couldn't have put it better myself.

3. Insulting Our Intelligence

"Church could be forced to 'give up' public work, Cardinal George warns"
Benjamin Mann, CNA/EWTN News (February 28, 2012)

"The Obama administration is effectively telling Catholics to abandon their work in the public square, according to Chicago's Cardinal Francis E. George.

" 'This year, the Catholic Church in the United States is being told she must "give up" her health care institutions, her universities and many of her social service organizations. This is not a voluntary sacrifice,' warned the cardinal and former president of the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference.

"In his Feb. 26 Catholic New World column, the cardinal said these public ministries may come to an end because of the 'much-discussed Department of Health and Human Services regulations now filed and promulgated for implementation beginning Aug. 1 of this year.'..."

"Cardinal Dolan joins letter against mandate 'accommodation'"
Kevin J. Jones, CNA/EWTN News (February 27, 2012)

"Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan joined more than 500 university presidents, academics and religious leaders in a letter denouncing President Obama's contraception mandate 'accommodation.'

"The letter, released Feb. 14 with the title 'Unacceptable,' characterizes the administration's proposed accommodation as a 'cheap accounting trick' that insults the intelligence of Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims and other believers...."
[emphasis mine]

I wish I could be more surprised at the Obama administration's apparent belief that Catholics, Jews, and other religious people, are too stupid to understand a "cheap accounting trick."

As it is, I'm all too familiar with the assumption that folks who take their religious beliefs seriously are 'poor, uneducated, and easily led.' (March 6, 2010)

I suspect that some of the fury I see, like that Huffington Post op-ed, stems from the shock of seeing Catholic bishops - and cardinals - not being decorously submissive to the establishment's commands.

Why Catholic Hospitals Won't Kill

The reason that Catholic bishops in America have refused to go along with the Department of Health and Human Services Mandate is fairly simple. We're not allowed to kill babies. Even if the government says we should. We're not even allowed to pay some assassin to do the job.

This position isn't as arbitrary as it may seem. As I've said before, the Catholic position on abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, genocide, and other cherished cultural traditions, is based on a few simple ideas:
Killing an innocent baby, no matter how young, simply isn't an act of love. It's also inconsistent with the idea that human life is sacred.

Not Hopeless, Not Helpless

Prayer is at the top of a short to-do list I took home from Mass on Sunday. I think that's a good idea.

I also think that voting in the November election is a good idea. Provided that folks learn something about the candidates: besides how good their hair looks. And that's another topic.

Related posts:
More, about Dr. Lejeune:
My take on America's establishment, then and now

Posts about forcing Catholics to violate our conscience:
The Department of Health and Human Services vs. Conscience

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

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.