Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hate People? Not an Option

I ran into a familiar sentiment on Twitter:
"Sometimes I wish I was religious so I could have an excuse for hating people."
Instead of seething with anger, I did a quick Google search.

The phrase, with exactly those words, showed up about 60 times. The earliest example I found was posted by a bot on, December 28, 2011.

Without the quotes, I got roughly 35,200,000 matches.

That's a lot of folks talking about religion and hate. Some agreed with the "excuse for hating people" quote, some didn't, and some were talking about something completely different.

The "excuse for hating" quote hadn't been directed at me, and came from an account that Tweets a lot of platitudes and quotations. Instead of firing back a response, I started writing this post. That was on Monday of this week.

I sympathize, a little, with folks who assume that religion and hate are inseparable — or that faith is for the addlepated.

As a teen, I tried listening to 'Christian' radio. Rants against commies and rock music, and the steady drip feed of guilt, drove me to an all-rock station.

I haven't run into quite the same weird mix of divination, numerology, and Bible trivia, since the 1960s: but 'End Times Bible Prophecies' are still part of American culture. (April 19, 2015; January 25, 2015)

I eventually become a Catholic, and that's another topic.

I suspect that the strident 'kill a commie for Christ' crowd helped make John Lennon's "Imagine" the best-selling single of his career:
"...Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace....
John Lennon, "Imagine" (1971)
(posted (March 12, 2011)
Some Catholics sound and act like their 'agree with me or be damned' Protestant counterparts.

I can't do that, because I know what the Church has been teaching for two millennia.


I'm "religious," in the sense that I take my faith seriously.

But when I noticed myself hating radio preachers, British musicians, or anyone else: my job is rooting out that hate, not expressing it.

I can't even let myself hate folks like the 'God Hates You' bunch out in Kansas. They're not typical Christians, by the way. They're not even typical American Protestants, and I've been over that before. (October 28, 2011)

God doesn't hate me, or you.

God loves us, and wants to adopt us. All of us. (John 1:12-14, 3:17; Romans 8:14-17; Peter 1:3-4; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 27-30, 52, 1825, 1996)

Since I take God's love seriously, I try to love God, love my neighbor, see everybody as my neighbor, and treat others as I'd like to be treated.1 Our Lord said it is important:
"6 'Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets."
(Matthew 7:12)

" 'Teacher, 21 which commandment in the law is the greatest?'

"He said to him, 22 'You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

"This is the greatest and the first commandment.

"The second is like it: 23 You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

"24 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.' " (Matthew 22:36-40)
Seeing everybody as my neighbor means everybody. No exceptions.
"10 There was a scholar of the law 11 who stood up to test him and said, 'Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'

"Jesus said to him, 'What is written in the law? How do you read it?'

"He said in reply, 'You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.'

"He replied to him, 'You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.'

"But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' "
(Luke 10:25-29)
Our Lord's story about a Samaritan probably lost some shock value over the last two millennia. I've talked about that before, too. (October 26, 2014)

Faith, Works, and Bad Ideas

I'm not trying to 'work my way into Heaven:' but I'm not trying to believe my way in, either.

Taking Romans 4:5-6 plus a few more carefully-selected Bible verses, I could decide that I'm so 'saved' that nothing I do will keep me out of Heaven.

Or I could do the same with James 2:14-26, and fear that God won't let me in unless I complete some set of tasks.

I'm a Catholic, though, so it's not faith or works: It's faith and works.

My salvation depends on God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — and God lets us help each other. (Catechism, 1987-2016)

'Works' happen because of faith.

If I take God seriously, I'll act as if loving God and my neighbors matters; which will result in my treating other folks the way I'd like to be treated. (Footnote 6, James 2 (NAB))

I've talked about presumption, despair, and Holy Willie, before. (March 22, 2015; March 15, 2015; November 9, 2014)

Our Lord came into this world: not to condemn the world, but to save it. (John 3:17)

God loves sinners: and wants us to stop sinning. The 'punishments' we experience as the result of our actions are a consequence of our ignoring ethical realities — and opportunities for us to learn charity and detachment. (Romans 5:8; Catechism, 226, 1424, 1472-1473, 2544)

Sin and Forgiveness

Mainstream news services are pretty good at reporting some things: like sports events.

I've yet to read a discussion of the quality of this year's home runs compared to number of women employed by the NFL, or speculation about why jockeys in the Super Bowl weren't wearing feed bags. (July 12, 2013)

I'm not surprised, though, that folks who rely on Time, Newsweek, or The New York Times, are sometimes shocked by Pope Francis.

Recently, for example, headlines have stirred up angst over the Pope's 'changing stand on abortion.'

The Pope says sin can be forgiven. Specifically, a woman who has had an abortion may be forgiven:2
"...The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father...."
(Letter of the Holy Father Francis to the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization (September 1, 2015))

The example I'll use involves a woman and another way folks can hurt themselves, so I'd better explain that men have responsibilities too:
"19 'You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery."

"But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
(Matthew 5:27-28)
John 8:3-11 ends with Jesus saying to the woman who would have been killed: "Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more." (John 8:11)

This may seem confusing to folks who feel that "sin" is doing something they either don't like, or can't do: and that "sinners" are disreputable folks who are thrown into Hell by a hypersensitive God. (March 15, 2015; February 1, 2015)

As a Catholic, I see sin as an offense against reason and truth: and God. (Catechism, 1849-1850)

It's deciding that I'll do something I know is bad for myself, or others: or deciding to not do something I should. (Catechism, 1849-1864)

Some things, like playing Bingo or drinking alcohol, are okay: in moderation. Getting drunk, or making Bingo more important than my family: that would be sinful. (Catechism, 1852, 2413)

Sin isn't a 'one strike and you're out' thing. As long as I'm alive, I can find forgiveness. (Catechism, 976-983, 1442-1470, 1021, 1988)

Forgiveness goes both ways, of course. It's in the Lord's prayer: " we forgive those who trespass against us...." (Catechism, 2840-2845)

Forgiving, and being forgiven, are important. So is cleaning up the mess sin leaves. Let's say I hold up the local bank, then realize it was wrong, and say I'm sorry. Should I be forgiven?

As far as the Church is concerned, yes. I'd also be expected to give the money back, and cooperate with secular authorities in the trial and sentencing that follows. We call that sort of thing "reparation." (Catechism, 1459-1460)

Someone who has killed an innocent person can't unkill the victim, of course. But forgiveness for murder and other serious sins has always been possible: what's changed over the last two millennia has been details in the procedure. (Catechism, 1447)

Human Life

In a perfect society, what is legal would be right. But we don't have a perfect society: and haven't, since humanity began.

I've talked about positive law, rules we make up; and natural law,3 ethical principles woven into reality; before.

Natural law hasn't changed, and won't.

Theft was wrong when Ur-Nammu and Hammurabi wrote their laws, and it will be when Ur-Nammu's Sumer, the Roman Republic, and ASEAN, seem roughly contemporary.

Positive law changes, and must change, as we adapt it to changing circumstances.

Circumstances have been changing a lot over the last few centuries. (June 12, 2015)
"Application of the natural law varies greatly; it can demand reflection that takes account of various conditions of life according to places, times, and circumstances. Nevertheless, in the diversity of cultures, the natural law remains as a rule that binds men among themselves and imposes on them, beyond the inevitable differences, common principles."
(Catechism, 1957)
When positive law wanders away from natural law, there's trouble: like the 'outmoded morality' some of my contemporaries didn't like. We can't go back to the 'good old days,' which is fine by me. (August 23, 2015; August 31, 2014; August 29, 2014)

If the United States Supreme Court had declared the law of gravity "unconstitutional," I'd be explaining why we need guardrails. (July 12, 2015)

Instead, I'll say why I think human beings are people: all human beings.

Genesis 1:27 says4 we're made "in the divine image." We are rational and therefore like God, made in the image and likeness of God; created with free will, masters over our actions. (Catechism, 1730-1825)

All humans are people, with equal dignity: no matter where we are, who we are, or how we act. (Catechism, 360, 1700-1706, 1932-1933, 1935)

Murder, deliberately killing an innocent person, is wrong because human life is sacred. No matter how young, or how sick, someone is; that person's life is precious. (Catechism, 2258, 2268-2283)

Like I said last week, killing innocent people is legal in my country: provided the victim is young and/or sick enough. That's a bad idea, and we should stop doing it. (August 30, 2015)

But what about killing not-innocent people?

Death and Decisions

The rules are simple: love God, love my neighbor, see everybody as my neighbor.

Everybody: the chap who took 'my' parking space, whoever stole the parish Gospel book, everybody. No exceptions.

"Love" isn't "approval," and I've said that before. (March 15, 2015)

For example, I don't approve — at all — of what Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did. Killing Krystle Marie Campbell, Lu Lingzi (吕令子), Martin William Richard, and Sean A. Collier; and maiming many other folks; was wrong.

I am reasonably sure that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should have been found guilty. I think I understand why an American court decided to poison him. But I do not think killing him is right. (May 17, 2015)

Quite a few folks who believe killing babies and sick people is wrong are eager to have murderers killed.

I'm not.

The Church says that killing people who have done something very bad is allowed — if that is the only way to protect other folks. (Catechism, 2267)

I can imagine people on some remote island being forced to kill a serial murderer, because they do not have the resources to restrain and guard a killer. They would starve if everyone isn't out catching fish. I do not think the United States is that poverty-stricken and desperate.

Does Dzhokhar Tsarnaev deserve to die? Maybe. Can the United States restrain him? Yes. Some judge might reverse the verdict, and we do have the occasional escapee: but restraint is possible.

Will killing Tsarnaev restore his victims to life? No. Not even the United States Supreme Court can unkill someone.

Sometimes a murderer will, given time, decide that killing an innocent person was wrong.

St. Maria Goretti's killer, Alessandro Serenelli, deserved the death penalty. If he'd been killed, some folks might have congratulated themselves on their civic virtue: and Alessandro would not have had an opportunity to think about what he'd done.

Alessandro Serenelli eventually realized that he had done something very wrong. Later, after he was released from prison, he met Maria Goretti's mother: who forgave him. Her daughter had also done so before dying of her injuries. Allesandro later entered a monastery. (July 6, 2009)

State and Federal authorities want to kill Dylan Roof, the young man who killed nine folks at a Bible study in June.

His execution will, I think, be done legally: after a trial, and probably after appeals.

I think Dylan deserves the death penalty, but I also think that the state of North Carolina and the United States could protect citizens without killing this prisoner.

I hope that he gets time to think, as Alessandro Serenelli did.

What Dylan Roof did was very bad. Hanging on to anger, letting it build into a desire to harm or kill someone else, is a sin. So is murder. (Catechism, 1762-1775, 2302-2303, 2261)

I'm angry about what Dylan Roof did.

But if I cherish that anger, letting it build into hate and a desire to see him killed — that would be very wrong. Maintaining justice is a responsibility. So is loving our enemies. (Matthew 5:21-22, 44; Catechism, 2302-2306)


I'm a Catholic, so I must believe that humanity is made in the image of the God. (Genesis 1:27)

I must love God, and my neighbor: and see everyone as my neighbor. (Luke 10:25-27, 29-37; Catechism, 1789)

Each of us is someone, not something; a person — able to reason, and decide how we act — and in these ways like God. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 357, 1700-1706)

Our track record for using our reason and freedom is far from perfect. (Catechism, 1707-1709)

And that's yet another topic.

Living in a world of neighbors:

1 Love God, love my neighbor, see everybody as my neighbor: it's simple, but not easy. (Matthew 5:43-44, 7:12, 22:36-40; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31 10:25-27, 29-37; Catechism, 1789)

The principle of reciprocity we call the Golden Rule isn't, quite, unique to Christianity. I've written about that before:
2 Letter from Pope Francis to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization (September 1, 2015):
3 About natural law:
"...This ordination of reason is called law. In man's free will, therefore, or in the moral necessity of our voluntary acts being in accordance with reason, lies the very root of the necessity of law. Nothing more foolish can be uttered or conceived than the notion that, because man is free by nature, he is therefore exempt from law. Were this the case, it would follow that to become free we must be deprived of reason; whereas the truth is that we are bound to submit to law precisely because we are free by our very nature. For, law is the guide of man's actions; it turns him toward good by its rewards, and deters him from evil by its punishments.

"Foremost in this office comes the natural law, which is written and engraved in the mind of every man; and this is nothing but our reason, commanding us to do right and forbidding sin. Nevertheless, all prescriptions of human reason can have force of law only inasmuch as they are the voice and the interpreters of some higher power on which our reason and liberty necessarily depend...."
("Libertas," Pope Leo XIII (June 20, 1888))
And see:
4 I have to take the Bible, Sacred Scripture, seriously. (Catechism, 101-133)

That's nowhere near the same as picking a few verses I like and warping them around my personal preferences, and that's — another topic. (October 12, 2014; July 13, 2014)


Brigid said...

What is that gif of Earth at the start of the "Human Life" section for?

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian H. Gill said...

It made a lot more sense (to me) when I was writing this post. It's an animation illustrating global Internet usage over a 24 hour period, and illustrated a point I'd made about positive law last year (New Rules, Unchanging Principles, and Twitter (September 2014))

It still makes sense (to me) - - - but probably not so much to someone who doesn't have my detailed memory of this blog's content: which is just about everybody. ;)

Good question, and I think I'll change that. Thanks, Brigid.

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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.