Thursday, 14 March 2013

So, a pope walks into a bar - now with 2% more blasphemy and 80% more swears

In this case, its St. Peter's Square, not a bar.  But its safe to say that the long intermission is over.  The church has settled back into their seats, popcorn and drinks at hand.
Thoughts? opinions? honestly, a mildly amusing blog about a girl and her computer and video games woes is not the best forum for intelligent debate, but I sort of wanted to throw my many cents out this time.  I am a lover of history and watching it happen is an amazing thing, whether you like what is happening or not is another matter altogether.

Also - please note that this blog post does not summarise the full extent of my opinions and feelings on anything regarding faith, religion, any pope that ever existed or my romantic feelings for corn chips.  So let's not get our panties is too many twists.  Because this is still partially formed opinion and as all things, subject to evolve and develop over time.

(if it's TL:DR - scroll straigh down to the video at the bottom - its Pratchetty goodnes)

So- guess what, this feels relevant because yes, gasp, shock, horror!
I am a catholic.
Although, I am inclined to believe in glob...(god I hate LSP so much though ugh)
In fact, I am probably what my local bishop calls a cafeteria catholic, and I would probably agree with him. 

I don’t care, it does not change my relationship with the big fella and her super duper smushy love for me.  Jesus is my home-dawg and all and he probably still will be even if he didn't exist or wasn’t the Jedi we were looking for.
Some things go deeper than words that were written down two to three thousand years ago and some shit is so much bigger than us that yes, we're not gonna get it right, but we do get the idea. (Most of the time).  But my opinions on my own faith are not important and are neither here nor there. 

Ironically, I also have a visceral mistrust and a deep, deep scorn for the catholic church as well.  So much so that I cannot help but sniff the cynical wind whenever religious issues get brought up in a conversation.  Its like I sound like an atheist, but what I am is angry and most of the times outright betrayed.
The church is rotten to its very core and needs some damn good flushing.  Sadly, this is not going to happen soon…

But it will happen.
My opinions on the new pope are still unformed, Reuters, New York Times, El Pais, the Guardian, the SMH, ABC, CNN, etc can only give me so much information.  I needed to read up on the guy and the back and forth texts with mum this morning were based on speculation of what religious order he came from.  So let's start there.

Boom – the dude's a Jesuit.
At first we thought he was Franciscan, which would have been ridiculously awesome 'cause those guys are like rock stars in cassocks, but hey Jesuit is good and I'll tell you why.

Jesuits are all about progress through education. 
And they mean proper education, sensible, progressive, empowering, enlightening education.  It's not about keeping people in the dark, it's not about creationism and big bang denials and complaints about being a monkey's uncle. 

Even more so, the guy is Latin American (well, sort of). 
I don’t know about you, but this is HUGE.  A non European pope is so incredible and frankly a wise, wise choice. 

The majority of the world's 1.2 BILLION Catholics are outside of Europe, why should Filos, Mexicans and Nigerians be told how to be all churchy by a musty German know-it-all who at one point justified colonisation under some freaking holy mandate? (and the whole Hitler youth is a weak insult, we don’t harp at Charlize Theron for being South African and living through apartheid [for example], so lets put our self-righteous pitchforks away on this occasion).
Think of it as slow Karmic retribution.

The church has built itself from the blood and gold of nations who they trampled over; stealing their wealth, their culture, their languages, their traditions and identities and saddled them with a cultural and historical slavery so insidious that to this day marrs their pasts and makes bitter bile in the mouths of all those who try and find a justification for centuries of being stepped on.
Sorry – this gets my goat.  It really does.  Our churches are lovely and all that baroque and renaissance and gothic and whatnot art is wonderful, but it was made on the bloodied backs of my ancestors, and I will not let this go. 

So now, the church is headed by someone who comes from one of those places that was treated as a colonial powers' and church's door mat.
Eat it, white boys.  (although, the dude is Italian in parentage so, yeah he's still a sort of white boy too…).

Apparently, this guy is quite the man on the street, with strong social convictions concerning poverty and highly critical of big money and careless capitalism.  He has even gone as far as to criticise hyper-conservative organisations in the church and at one point, called some conservative clergy a bunch of hypocrites.
Combine his humble nature, strong sense of social justice and his clerical duties to his order and you have someone who will promote education as a form of eradicating poverty.  Which may well mean, no more dogmatic silly buggers.
I don’t think I need to tell you that education is the greatest factor in ensuring prosperity.  If given the ability to do so, this guy has the ability to steer the church in a way that its first concern is educating the world's needy in order to give them a fighting chance.
This guy will actually talk openly about social injustice, about poverty and how it must be dealt with now, not tomorrow and not with just fancy speeches.  This can go well and boost charitable donations to some genuinely good groups such as Caritas and World Vision who do some really good stuff in third world countries. 
Less of that incomprehensible dogmatic dialogue where you waffle around using complex latin and out-dated bible and scriptural verse to try and somehow justify the use of condoms in one case and not on the other. 

I think we need a doing-actual-stuff-pope and less of a speaking-really-hoity-toity-stuff-pope.  I mean, Ratzinger really meant well, but shit man, not everyone is as smart as you and will not get your letters and speeches without a doctorate in theology. 
And stop trying to convert people who don’t want to be converted.  You're just pissing them off, not enlightening them.

But that is all pie in the sky.
What I am more concerned about is how he is going to get to do what he does with these mother fuckers around. (Yes, I am using a strong insult here, and using it intentionally, I have little to no respect for these people).

worst boyband ever
That's right, the Curia bothers me more than the pope ever will.  These guys are part of the disease that's rotting the church and I wonder what they were thinking when they elected a guy who will certainly ruffle the feathers of some of the most powerful and conservative groups that goon around inside the Vatican.
Hopefully, some of them are willing to forego nice things in order to get rid of the cancer that is killing the church.

These are the folks who brush child sex scandals under the carpet and then hide behind the pope's skirts hoping he can bumble a decent enough excuse for their actions.
Yeah, I feel for the previous pope.  Say what you like about Ratzinger, he was the first pope to come out there and actually mandate papal legislation to actually do something about this, and also allowed the media to expose the church for the dirty organisation it really was.  That and Vatileaks of course, which was just outrageous but also a telling symptom of an organisation that needs to take a good, long, hard look at itself.

Maybe Ratzinger did, and didn't like what he saw, and felt he was no longer strong enough or capable enough to tackle such a beast.  He is set to release a few books and I really wonder what kind of dirty laundry he might air, if at all… or, if he is even allowed.
Remember, the church is still a powerful political organisation, even if it is not meant to meddle in state affairs, in countries like the one this new Pope Francis comes from, church figureheads still get listened to.  The separation of church and state in many of these heavily catholic countries is unpleasantly thin.

I know, I had to read articles from the Philippines of bishops who threatened to excommunicate politicians who supported family planning laws.  If you think that the abortion debates in the US are bad, holy hell, you should hear some of the unintelligible and unjustifiable crap that comes out of the ones I've heard in the Phils.
So now we get to the not so nice parts of this possible new pope.

He is pro-poor, but he is certainly not pro-gay and hell not pro-choice/contraception.
Dude is slightly even medieval with his belief that gay marriage will 'attack God's plan' – what plan?! Jesus, you'd think that god was somehow planning a magical party and all this gay marriage will mess up the invitation list. 

But the point is that while he has some outright conservative opinions on it, he is following orthodox doctrine, but is genuinely concerned for the plight of the third world.  He probably wont touch much of these issues in great depth during his papacy.  Its not one of his fish to fry.
Okay, but who was expecting that he would be progressive on these fronts? not me.

See, the Church is more than a thousand years old.  And like I said before, it is built on a shit ton of unpleasant stuff and ancient dogma.  You don’t change that with a new pope, or even a few years and a fancy twitter account.  You cant even change that in a century. 
The church draws that line in the sand, and I totally get it.  I may not like it, but I get it.  That's what tolerance and understanding is about.  Things will get better, but not with every one but they will get better.  So I feel no despair on this front.  Just the usual sighing and shrugging of shoulders.

Also, he is being criticised for not doing enough protesting during the dictatorship in the 70s.  I cannot say much on it because there isn't enough information.
But remember this, especially you Dan Bull (even so, I loved your song about the pope!!) and r/Atheism (even though I also love you guys oh so much).

We can and must criticise the corruption of the church and their dirty kiddy-fiddling ways, and rightly so;
I can go on a huge rant about Cardinal George Pell's preposterous letter to Australian catholic parishes regarding the child sex abuse investigations going on here.  I can tell you that the letter fell short of everything I hoped them to say and felt like the old bait and switch of trying to pass the responsibility and the accountability not just for the crimes of these people but for handling these crimes in such an appalling manner;

but we mustn't just harp on about the catholic community as if they're all (and I am included so its more we're all) ignorant prayer dopey zombies.
Because there is something powerful and very meaningful about this.

And you cannot, and SHOULD NOT, dismiss it as intellectual deficiency, stupidity, simplicity, or even brain washing.
The faith and prayers of these people is nothing short of awe inspiring and astounding.  It goes beyond organisations and popes and institutions and really bad kickstarting campaigns.

The fact 1.2 BILLION people still believe in what is properly good about the church is ridiculous and mind blowing and I have no idea about you but even though I dislike it, there is something that makes your throat choke up when you hear the Lord's Prayer spoken out loud in hundreds of different languages among thousands of people simultaneously as it happened in World Youth Day in Sydney.  (I didn't attend but I did hear it in videos).
And you cannot dismiss the fact that it is strong in the third world.  It isn't just colonialism and it isn't just cultural brainwashing, even though it was born from such terrible origins.

It is heartfelt and genuine and beautiful and I don’t think anyone has the right to belittle it when it provides a source of unwavering comfort for people who are sometimes living on the brink of disaster and who walk on the very edge of the void.
We have no right to take that kind of hope away from them simply because we believe ourselves to be more enlightened than them.  

Even if it was a historical error.  These people made it their own and as much as it does hamper them as a society sometimes, it also makes them a good and hopeful people, one that finds great comfort in their faith.  It gives them a perspective that we sometimes do not understand but still makes them better people, even better than you or me.
If anything, it is unkind.  And regardless of religious ideology I think very poorly of anyone who wishes to be unkind to anyone.  And intellectual comeuppance is no different.

So those are my very many cents. 
They're not entirely coherent, although I did try to structure this as smoothly as possible.  It is nearly home time and I have managed to type part of this during lunch and the few free moments I have at work.

My computer is still dead and frankly, the pope cannot fix this, but I wont hold him against it. 
I wish this intermission would have gone on forever, we don’t need a pope, or a church, but this is what others need and so, we make do.  And this one is not as bad as we keep thinking he could or would be, give it time.

I hope this video explains my feelings on this whole thing a bit, because it is this wonderful pearl of wisdom that has been the foundation of my core beliefs as a human being:

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