Friday, 16 September 2011

A red rag to my papist bull

What am I like?

I've just got embroiled again in a great conversation online about the Catholic church .
One of my interlocutors ( who I have met, this being a local forum) put a link to this march organised by the Secular Society and suggested readers might like to come along.
This is the photo that they used to promote the march they will be holding tomorrow:

Talk about red rag to my papal bull.

This is what I said:

"Dear Stewart
Many thanks for the invitation but I regret that I will not be attending your nasty anti catholic rally.

I am disappointed that I missed an opportunity at Laurences "is secularism more tolerant?" talk.
With a little more foresight I would have prepared a large banner bearing the caricature of the burning demon Pope leading three children by dog leashes and holding a Nazi swastika style crozier.
It would be the same one as that which was carried by the gleefully bigoted "secularists" in the picture on the site you linked to.
Then I wouldn't have had to bother Terry Sanderson with my  long questions.
I could have saved my breath and simply held the banner aloft, as my silent riposte to his claim that secularism is a tolerant ideology."

He respnded with comments like this:
"Secularism is tolerant, except when it comes down to acts of abuse...

The catholic church has been responsible for more than it's fair share, and for that reason we need increased secularism in Europe...
The pope is a valid target for derision - this is not attacking Catholics.

His biggest beef was the homophobia with which catholic children are apparently being inculcated. Secularists being naturally tolerant and open minded about everyone. Well...not quite. But anyway.
 I pointed out that homophobia is a silly hysterical word which means an irrational fear of homosexuals and asked him to point to some teaching of the church that promotes this.

Here is the digested version of the rollicking convo that ensued:

Stew: "The pope is a valid target for derision - this is not attacking Catholics."

Me: Again, I'm not feeling the love.

Respect and tolerance wearing thin is it?
Is Mohammed a valid target for derision?
There are mad mullahs aplenty for your banners, where are they then?
I know why you don't have caricatures of mullahs on your banners. Because your pusillanimous marchers know that their current "valid target for derision" is a safe bet fatwa-wise. They don't need to be looking over their shoulder on the bus back from their big day out deriding his popiness

Stew: "Perhaps I should ask you if you think atheists should stop worshiping the devil."

Me: Well that would be a silly question Stewart wouldn't it and probably revealing of a very touchy defensiveness about being a "good person" on your part.
I didn't say atheists are bad people, much less devil worshippers.

Stew: "Homophobia is not a hysterical word, it has a meaning - it is a word related to those that can't stand homosexual people, be it hate or fear."

Me: It is a completely hysterical word when used about the catholic church which is in no way homophobic.
In what way are catholics likely to bring their children up with this hate or fear of homosexuals?
Any little example coming to mind, or is it merely such a long accepted notion in your circles that you hardly know where it came from?
Really. You militant secularists love to get all frothily militant about something.
And the favourite fall back is invariably the good old GLBT issue. Where would you be without it to stir you all to indignation

Stew: "Perhaps you've heard of the Alpha course. This is Christian course (sometimes hosted by Catholics) that is critical of homosexuality. "

Me: Yes, I am very familiar with it and this is news to me. In what way is it critical?

Stew: "Now you and I can't say what catholics believe because different catholics believe different things "

Me: Wrong. The catholic church is probably the only church in Christendom* where you CAN say exactly what they believe.
We are not free to wing it, and although many do, those areas in which they are winging it are not catholic. If there is anything you want to know about what catholics believe look it up in the catechism online. Simples.

Stew: "As long as there is homophobia in the Catholic church then it remains a problem and erodes the church as a whole. The more religious a country the less tolerance of homosexuality it appears to be to the extent it is made illegal.

I know of no atheists who are homophobic.

Me: And I know of no catholics who are homophobic.
Goodness me homophobia is a biggie for you isn't it Stewart?
This homophobia hunting has a touch of the old  McCarthyism which saw reds under the bed and around every corner.

Stew: "But many will call the Pope an evil old man who collaborated with kiddie fiddlers and rules over a 'country' that is built upon the blood and gold of countless innocent and poor people who really could not afford to give."

Me; Well many people are ignorant twits aren't they? I do what I can to shine a light into such profound intellectual and moral darkness but it's like shovelling snow while it's still snowing.

Stew: "You don't need gold crosses to have a faith - melt them down and give the proceeds to people who need the help."

Me; And who owns the gold crosses Stewart? Who can make the decision to sell them?
WE own them,
and our future generations own them.
That means that they belong to no one and they belong to us all.
That is what it means to be catholic.
A penniless drunk can sit in a cathedral and be just as much at home there as a duke. All that grandeur belongs to us all. We are rich because we are catholic, and by extension so are you.
If you melted down gold crosses you'd feed some poor people for a fortnight and the priceless antiquities would be gone forever. It would be robbing future generations of their heritage and no one has the right to do that. Not even the pope.

Stew: "Interesting you should mention intelligence and faith - there is a overall tendency for the smarter you are the more likely you are to be an atheist. You are also far less likely to end up in jail. So universities tend to have more atheists and prisons more religious people - and that's worldwide. It's a not very popular or PC fact but a fact none the less."

Me: Well i DID NOT mention intelligence and faith, i was just talking about getting a good education.
But you were keen to squeeze that info nugget in sideways weren't you?
But thanks for the LOLs, because you secularists know how to big yourselves up on the brains front ( "The Brights" indeed!)
I'm not buying it.

Atheists tend to be infatuated with the idea of intelligence, specifically their own.
I just don't believe that intelligence is an easily quantifiable thing ( sorry to all you IQ mensa egg heads out there)
And while I'm more than happy to have the lame brains in my gang, I also get to have the super clever too:
Max Planck.
Gregor Mendel
Issac newton
Thomas Aquinas
GK Chesterton
Hilaire Belloc
to name just a few off the top of my head.

What a  humourless, smug, middle of the road bunch The Brights appear by comparison.
And they take themselves so awfully seriously.
All that objecting to things makes one a little dull don't you think?

As Hilare Belloc puts it:
"Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!"

Stew: " You left off your list Fred Hoyle - he gave the start of the universe the name 'Big Bang' in an act of derision as he thought it was utter rubbish. This does not diminish the other great work he did in the sphere of astro physics."

Me: Why would I have included Fred Hoyle in a list of Christian geniuses?
Fred Hoyle initially derided but later accepeted the work of the first proponet of the Big Bang theory, a CATHOLIC PRIEST Georges Lemaitre. He was one of many that I left of the list I ran off, as I said, from the top of my head.

As I said, i'm happy, DELIGHTED, to have the lame brains in my gang.
I don't mind your being un PC but it has more than a whiff of the ubermnsch about it.
Which is understandable. When 'the mind' is all you have it had better be a good one.
Small wonder you don't have a cross section of humanity in your gang, feeble minded people are not welcome with you as they are in the church.
we believe people are worth infinitely more than their intellectual capacity.

I am proud that my church puts flesh on the idea that "the least of these" are of infinite value. It's not like having a march with some like minded mates.

Stew: Now if you follow the church closely you'll know that under the Catholic church that  "Every human being is called to receive a gift of divine sonship" and that to do this you must reject sin. And homosexual behaviour is seen a s a sin. Therefore being a proper Catholic means seeing homosexuals as second class citizens who ain't getting into heaven.

"Now if you follow the church closely you'll know that under the Catholic church that  "Every human being is called to receive a gift of divine sonship""


"and that to do this you must reject sin."


" And homosexual behaviour is seen as a sin."

Sex you mean? ok, with you so far...

"Therefore being a proper Catholic means seeing homosexuals as second class citizens who ain't getting into heaven."

Wake up!
You are confabulating.

You did alright with 1,2 and 3 but went off the deep end at 4.

Well done for getting the bit about divine filiation ( was that meant to be controversial?), now that you've managed that, it shouldn't be too difficult for you to have a further gander for some actual catholic teaching that supports your guess about gays and hell.

It's quite important isn't it, given your repeated allegation that the RCC promotes homophobia.

I'll give you a bit of a leg up with the research (matron!)

Catholics do not believe that unless you are without stain of sin you are destined for eternal perdition in the fiery sulphrous pit.
We tend to be quicker to accuse ourselves in the "sin department" than to be looking for the speck in our brothers eye.
I did already mention that any sexual act which is not within the sacred bond of marriage is sinful. We are not obsessed with orientation as you are. And anyway, catholics are big hearted and magnanimous. We like to shove up and make room for a dirty rotten sinner, without whom no party is complete. 

Stew: Now you may be wondering if I might be homosexual, after all I keep on going on about it. It really doesn't matter one way or the other because, according to the Catholic church, i'm not getting to heaven anyway! But as I don't believe even secretely in a kind of closeted way that there is a heaven, or hell or big sky master ape that kind of stuff doesn't affect me. What does affect me are scum bags who abuse children, cheat on their wives and hide their real sexuality only to be discovered as big fat hypocrites later.

Sooo  if you bring your Children up as Real(tm) Catholics then they are more likely to be homophobic as gay guys and girls are sinners!

"Now you may be wondering if I might be homosexual, after all I keep on going on about it. "

You read my mind.
I just keep wondering and wondering.
All day it's been going round and round in my mind.
"Is Stewart 'one of those'?"
It's hard to be sure.
There IS *something* of the nancy there, but I can't quite put my finger on it.
...Do you like Kylie?

Sunday, 11 September 2011

In haste, but I want to draw attention to an excellent response by Alison Davis of No Less Human,  to this Hardtalk interview of Tony and Jane Nicklinson who are campaigning for the legalisation of assisted suicide.

The interview itself is very painful and sad to watch, and adds to what seems to be a recent ramping up of the very emotive stories arguing for legalising euthanasia.
My impression is that public opinion seems to support the campaign, and many pro lifers feel ill equipped to defend their pro life stance in the face of some harrowing examples of lives which are truly difficult and filled with suffering. .
We need to understand how the arguments for assisted killing run, and how to respond to them.

Here is part of Alisons response:

Both Mr Nicklinson and his wife want "strict safeguards", again along the lines of DiD's "model" law. Note that lethal injections should be available "in only the most special of cases." As has been apparent from places where some form of killing sick or disabled adults has been legalised (e.g. The Netherlands, Belgium, the American states of Oregon and Washington), it has proved impossible to 'hold the line' in this way. Once it becomes legal to directly kill an adult (by whatever means, and whatever the disability), the situation quickly deteriorates, and those 'not quite' fulfilling the 'strict criteria' are found to be 'worthy' to qualify for this type of supposed 'death with dignity'. Then the proverbial slippery slope is greased enough to allow the killing of those unable to 'choose' death - e.g. disabled newborns and people with dementia, both of whom qualify for being deliberately and directly killed in The Netherlands.

Read the rest on John Smeaton's blog here.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols' Message to Secondary School Children September 2011

Archbishop Vincent Nichols' Message to Secondary School Children September 2011 from Catholic Westminster on Vimeo.

The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster’s message to Secondary School Children in Diocese of Westminster
5 September 2011
Today I want to speak to you, to each student in our secondary schools, as you begin this new school year.
I hope you have had a good summer. Some of you may have been on a family holiday. Some of you will have got your exam results. Some of you may have had a difficult time. It’s not always easy being a teenager, knowing what to do or who to follow. All of you will have known about the riots in our capital city.
Now you come back to the patterns of school and college life with the demands they make and the opportunities they carry.
Here you learn again about being part of a community that is far wider than your family. Central to what you learn is the need to show respect for each other and have some responsibility for each other if you are going to make the best of the opportunities given to you here.
These lessons of mutual respect and responsibility went out of the window for those few days of rioting and looting. I know that many of you were upset at what you saw.
Since then much has been said about young people today. But I am confident that you do understand the issues involved: that we owe respect to others in every circumstance; that theft is wrong; that we are easily tempted in the spur of a moment; that the actions we take always have their consequences.
But it is a deeper truth that I want to stress, one that underlines all these other points. It is this: the respect we have for each other is rooted in the respect we have for ourselves. Your respect for yourself is so important. Self-respect is what helps to set the standards by which you live.
That might sound simple. But profound and true self-respect is difficult to achieve. So many influences can sway you this way and that making you feel confused about who you really are and what you really want.
Self-respect is something you grow into gradually, as you come to accept and appreciate the abilities and character you have been given. You learn of it through those who love you. You can lose sight of it when you feel dejected or misunderstood.
When you truly respect yourself then you set yourself high standards of behaviour especially in the company of your own age group. You are not afraid to be different. When you truly respect yourself you also have high achievement targets. You want to do your best and be your best.
As you get older, you come to understand for yourself the differences between right and wrong. You learn how to be generous with what is right and how to say ‘no’ to what is wrong. Gradually you seek and find true and lasting values, not just those promoted by fashion or celebrity. Gradually you acquire the habits and routines of good behaviour, so that you know how to behave even when no-one is watching.
But what is the deepest foundation of this self-respect?
When you look at yourself in a mirror who do you really see? A child of your parents, certainly. A person liked by their friends. And a face anxious about its appearance. But you see someone more.
What you see is someone expressed in this truth, on which you can rely: ‘Before you were born God called you. From your mother’s womb God pronounced your name.’ (Jer.49.1)
There it is. You are a child of God. That is who you see each morning in the mirror. It is God’s life that is within you, the supreme gift that you have received. When you understand this, everything changes. This is why you have such respect for yourself, in every aspect of your being, and in your future. This is also why you have respect for your family and for every other human being for they too have the same dignity as you, as sons and daughters of one heavenly Father. We share one life together.
This truth lies at the heart of the life of your school community. I trust that in this coming year you will continue to learn more about the greatness of human living and achievement, about your faith in God made visible in Jesus Christ who is your friend and companion, about your own abilities and true potential. I hope that as you grow and learn you will see the importance of giving good leadership to others around you and the importance of contributing to your local community to build a just and compassionate society. What you give, the service you offer, helps others around you, but it really helps you to grow in self-respect as well.
Thank you for listening to me. I ask that you take a copy of this message home to your parents and talk about it with them, too.
One last thought. All your actions are carried out in the presence of God. You can be sure that God never lets you out of sight because God loves you so much that He can never take His eyes off you. God wants to watch as you prosper and truly flourish. You are loved so much. Please remember this in the term ahead.
God bless you all.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols
2 September 2011

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Dr Dawkins regrets he's unable

It seems that Dr Lane Craig, that Hammer of the Humanists, is coming over on a speaking tour of the UK. Our very own British "Bright" Brights are disinclined to engage however.
Clinton R Dawkins won't play.
Likewise A C Grayling.
Polly Toynbee has taken her ball and gone home.
It's all getting rather funny to see the Bright ones affecting languid disinterest as they run for the bunker.

On the 25th October an event has been scheduled at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford. Apparently the plan is to leave an empty chair for old Mad Dog Dawkins, in case, like the bad fairy, he turns up  at  the eleventh hour.
If, as seems likely, he doesn't show, Dr Lane Craig will deliver a critique of The God Delusion instead. Either way it will be an interesting event.

Anyway, all the hilarity has led to some creative video's on Youtube;  two of which, out of my largesse, I share with you here, gentle reader.

Before I go, I also want to share a  remark by "Albert" that I read in the comments here:

So why don't more people believe in God? Answer (apart from ignorance): fear of religion. Here's atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel on fear of religion:

I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about human life, including everything about the human mind… This is a somewhat ridiculous situation… [I]t is just as irrational to be influenced in one’s beliefs by the hope that God does not exist as by the hope that God does exist.
The same commenter also linked to this blog post which caught my attention.It is about the cosmological argument, and I have saved it to read propely when I'm less tired ( and I will send it to my Dominic who is doing theology at A level, this stuff is up his alley)
Here is what the blogger, Edward Fesser, says about himself:
I am a writer and philosopher living in Los Angeles. I teach philosophy at Pasadena City College. My primary academic research interests are in the philosophy of mind, moral and political philosophy, and philosophy of religion. I also write on politics, from a conservative point of view; and on religion, from a traditional Roman Catholic perspective.

It might be worth a look if you like that kind of thing.

Monday, 5 September 2011

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning.

A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.


  Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.

Thursday night saw Fr Alan return for the last time to the little church of St Charles Borromeo in Ogle Street.
For the last time he boldly announced the Gospel and gave us a message of hope. 
As he lay in his coffin over the sunken baptismal font he "broke the bread of The Word", and delivered his final, most eloquent Kerygma.  
Those waters of death into which he had plunged countless new Christians, and brought them out into new life, were the same waters over which his body now reposed in death.
He had died, as he had wished, affirming the faith of our Holy Mother the Church.
When the Creed was prayed in the packed church on Thursday night, the confidence with which the words were announced made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, and brought tears to my eyes. This is our faith, the faith of the Church.
Thanks be to God.

"He is not here, for he is risen as he said he would"
The book of the Gospels, resting on his coffin, was open to the Easter Sunday reading from Matthew. 
After the liturgy, many stayed behind to "keep him company" in prayer.
Pale faced and sombre, they came forward to kneel before his coffin,  to kiss it and pray. 

Love is stronger than death. 

It was very peaceful and consoling to sit quietly in the church with the others.
I thought about Fr Alan and all the lives that he had touched, the souls he had brought close to Christ .
I thought about how he had poured his life out for the people of God. How tirelessly he had worked.

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.   
 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

    Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.

And now his pilgrimage on earth is over. He is home at last, in his Father's House.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
     As they pass through the Valley of weeping, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
    They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.

With a full heart, I looked at the place over the font where his coffin rested and remembered Marie-Aibhlinn's baptism last year.
I little imagined that he would not see another Christmas at Ogle Street.

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
     For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favour and honour; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.  
 O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you

"Ephphata" Be opened.
"The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May He soon touch your ears to receive His Word, and your mouth to proclaim His faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father."

Here are the two video's ( one oddly sideways) of Marie-Aibhlinns baptism last year. 
It is especially poignant to watch them now.

I am thanking God for Fr Alan's ministry, and for the privilege of having known him.
And I'm praying for the grace of perserverance, so that, like him, I will run to the end, the race marked out for me. 



 Fr Alan's funeral was on Friday, at Westminster Cathedral, it was a beautiful service and the cathedral was filled to standing room only.
He was buried at St Mary's cemetery in Kensal Green.