Our Local Bishops Are Comedy Material

Recently, our two local Catholic Bishops released a list of not-for-profit organizations that people should not give money to.  Among these were organizations which provide health services for women and food for poor people.  To get on the Bishops’ bad list they only had to have a whiff of  association with abortion or gay rights.

The Bishops struck me as so outrageous that they were almost paradies of themselves.  They seemed like Old Testiment characters that were for stoning children and approving slavery.

In today’s Fargo Forum, letter writer Jeanne F. Dotson said she wondered if the Bishops “…have ever suffered from breast cancer…parented a child who is physically or mentally disabled..been raped or abused…suffered from an ectopic pregnancy or other life-threatening, life-disfiguring or life-taking event?” 

We often think of our governments as being out of step with the problems of the ordinary person.  Church leaders, on the other hand, have had the reputation of understanding life at the street level.  For some reason, the tables have turned.

If clergy like the Bishops want to engage in micro managing peoples decisions about voluntary donations, I think it would be helpful for them to first have some actual experience with life outside the Bishops’ residences.   While experience on the street does not inform a person on every facit of ordinary life, it surely must do more broadening of one’s perspective than being a lauded and isolated Bishop.

The good thing is that when people in “authority” demonize groups, ordinary citizens often step up their support of these same groups.  That’s what I’m doing.

16 Responses

  1. While I am certainly no apologist for Catholicism, it doesn’t seem clear to me how they are comical here. It seems you’ve made that jab at them without really making much of a case for it. If these organizations promote activities that are inconsistent with their values, why should they not condemn the funding of these organizations? What else can they do?

    At a more basic level, I would argue that it is more absurd to advocate a worldview (atheism) in which there is no objective meaning, human beings are only accidental, biochemical machines and in which it is impossible to locate objective moral values and, yet, from such a worldview, advocate for various moral principles such as equal treatment for all. It is intellectually unfair for the atheist to assert such a worldview but then dip into the realm of the metaphysical (for things like love, meaning, morality, etc.) when it suits their purposes. This blog seems frequently guilty of this intellectual “cheating.”

    1. entech

      As “Free Will” is given by God and is irrevocable and the reason for the existence of every ill the world knows.
      Surely then people such as the Bishops in question are guilty of blasphemy when trying to impose their will on us.
      Just a thought.
      As for the people that want to rid the world of unbelievers ? wasn’t that tried with the flood? I hate to imagine what they would be called, they who think that can succeed where God failed.


      1. I don’t think you have the right definition of blasphemy. It’s their free will to condemn these organizations. Their members don’t have to listen if they don’t want to, that’s their free will.
        I wouldn’t say God failed with the flood. He did cleanse the earth. Someone who tries to rid the world of unbelievers through the word of God would be called a disciple. He will cleanse it for a final time when He returns, keep that in mind.

        1. “Their member don’t have to listen if they don’t want to, that’s their free will.”

          Aren’t we forgetting about the whole Heaven/Hell carrot/stick part of the equation?

          Free will isn’t a gift from God. We stole that Fruit from the Tree and got kicked out of the Garden on our asses for it.

          1. How am i forgetting about Heaven/Hell? People still have a choice, the same way Adam and Eve did. If we were programmed to love and obey God it would be meaningless, so i would say free will is a gift.

          2. Wanna B Sure

            Romans 7; entire chapter. With special attention to verse 15. Bondage of the will vs free will.

          1. entech

            Come on Grandma everyone in America and Europe has heard of the flood.
            As you will be aware every culture has a creation story, a tale of how and often why it all started. One of these hypothetical scenarios has taken a big hold on our society, as it was supposed to have happened in the near east I am not sure how it reached California which could be called the far west.
            The story goes that everything was created over a period of time usually said to be 7 days. There is some controversy over whether this was a literal 7 days as we know them or whether celestial days were different, one gentleman from Hippo thought it was more likely that it was all fully formed in the mind of this creator and then created all at once.
            Anyway having created this world and the inhabitants, there are two versions of how he created us, but that doesn’t matter. Over time we were fruitful and had sons and daughters. “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose”. These unions were fruitful and the offspring became “mighty men which were of old, men of renown”. “And God saw that the wickedness of man great in the earth”. Briefly, having seen that his creatures did not live up to his expectations the creator decided to destroy them all. Instead of simply destroying the creation and starting again, or, at least depopulating it and starting again he decided to save a few and drown the rest. So the earth was covered with water and everything drowned and died, after the rain stopped and the water started to recede they started sending birds out to scout for dry land, one day one came back with an olive leaf and they knew it was drying up. After a while another bird was released and did not come back so knew it had found dry land. They all went back to the land and it all started again.
            There are many versions of this story from around the same time and area and there is some discussion about whether this could validate the story or indicated that they all evolved from a common ancestor religion.


          2. Sorry, Entech, but there’s no “reply” thingie after your post. I don’t know why that happens…

            There are many creation myths, and some of them do contain discussions of floods, especially those from the Middle East. Weren’t the Babylonians the first to write about this?

            However, talk of floods is not surprising since humans must live near water and often deal with floods, some larger than others, of course, but the biggies get entrenched in memory.

    2. J. Shane 2:44 I think most atheists would argue that choosing the Bible, or, the tenants of Christianity, is not an “objective” source of morality. It is instead a random act influenced by chance events. Of the 2,500 or so gods and religions this is but one. More “objective”, it would seem, is the emergence through time of social and economic systems that survive and do not self destruct. These systems and values, whether given a religious brand or not, are successful and thus survive through time in particular locations of the world. Thanks for your thoughts which are always interesting to everyone here.

  2. Jon, I’m not arguing for the Bible as the source of objective morality (though I believe that’s true). I’m arguing that only on a theistic worldview (broadly speaking) is objective morality possible. On a naturalistic worldview, it is difficult to imagine why a category such as “morality” would exist at all, as they are non-material, metaphysical notions. I don’t, of course, mean one couldn’t choose a set of morals, but they would not be anything that would be obligatory as the universe would be impersonal.

    You write: “These systems and values, whether given a religious brand or not, are successful and thus survive through time in particular locations of the world.” But you can’t assume that survival is a moral good. If humans are only biochemical machines and there is no moral law beyond us to which things are obliged to adhere, then the survival of those beings would be neither morally good nor morally bad. It woudl simply be a fact. And, of course,, on such a worldview, the atheist could not call for proper treatment of these being or the moral superiority of their survival.

    If however, you do find yourself with these moral motions (not emotions) within yourself, I would suggest you have within you evidence of the existence of God.

    (A note, I am not saying that there are not atheists who live relatively moral lives or theists who live relatively immoral lives. I’m strictly talking about ideas here.)

    Theism, of course, doesn’t have this problem. That’s not to say that there aren’t difficult questions for the theist. Though a follower of Christ, I wrestle a great deal with questions; I deeply wish to be a person of intellectual integrity. But the theist does not have face the black hole of ultimate questions that the nontheist must own up to.

    1. Shane 2:08 That seems correct that survival itself is not a moral thing. It just seems so powerful to me that our behavior, which includes what we can call morals and values, comes from survival. The survival, itself, then is attributed to the religious sphere of the society in that time and place. You are correct that the atheist does not regard the human experience as something other than the product of a varied set of past events. One of the things that is fun for me about blogging is the experience of corresponding with people who see a sort of necessity to viewing the human existence as a part of devine mission, or, do not see it necessary. I don’t understand why we see it so differently, but it is an interesting aspect of our collective intellectual experience.

      1. Wanna B Sure

        Jon; your “I don’t understand why we see it so differently”… The difference between our world views my friend, the difference between our world views. I think Shane was quite clear. We talked about this before on an earlier topic.

    2. What Jon doesn’t realize is that he stands on Biblical principles while rejecting the word at the same time. He rejects the invisible things of creation, perverting his perceptions, which is why he is called a fool.

    3. Shane 2:08 wrote, “But the theist does not have face the black hole of ultimate questions that the nontheist must own up to.”

      In a sense I agree with this. But I think there is a subtlety here.

      Take, one one hand, a group of folks who hold supernatural beliefs that provide answers to the “meaning of life” question, the objective morality question, the “where did we come from?” question, and the “where are we going?” question. Call these the A group.

      Take, on the other hand, the B group. This is a group of folk who make no supernatural claims.

      Now, tell the A folk to imagine the source of their knowledge is not there or does not exist. This, it seems to them, is what it’s like to be a member of the B group.

      But the A group with their supernatural source missing is quite different from the B group. The modified A group feels giant voids where something has been taken away. The expectation that these are giant questions for which they must have answers is a consequence of previously having answers.

      Things feel different from the B side of the room. Is there meaning to life? I don’t even know what that means. Where did we come from? Shrug…don’t know. On issues of morality, I have a pretty strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. Generally behaviors that increase suffering are bad. Those that decrease suffering and increase general well being are good. Is there a cultural component to this? No doubt. Are they universal? I don’t know. There are moral philosophers that disagree with your contention that without a theistic source there can’t be an objective basis for morality. Frankly it makes my head hurt to think about it. I’m not craving an answer. I have no hole to fill.

      1. I think there may be a couple of different groups on the B side of the room. Those who don’t feel that they have a hole to fill but also a group of people to are comfortable with an unfilled, partially filled, or conditionally filled hole.

        To be an athiest, I don’t think necessitates, abandoning questions of the meaning of life or the origin or life. It may mean reconciling oneself to the idea that these questions have no single, undisputed, universal answer. But aren’t those questions, the ones that make your head hurt, the most interesting ones?

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