Do Catholic Clergy Have a Pipeline to God When Telling the Flock How to Vote?

Clergy in the Catholic branch of Christianity are considered to be representatives of God.  At least, that’s my understanding of it.

While this responsibility to interpret what the god wants applies to religious matters, does it apply to politics?  Catholic clergy are everywhere, these days, telling the flock how to vote. One has to believe clergy believe they are the god’s representatives in instructing Catholic voters.

Clergy can get away with telling the flock they are the pipelines to the god in clearly religious matters because there is no objective test required.  Thus, clergy can say the god has determined life begins at conception because it is merely a matter of opinion.  The same is true that gay marriage, another matter of opinion.

But, if Catholic clergy say the god has told them to instruct the flock on how to vote in political matters, we can count the votes.  If the majority of believers disagree, it means the all powerful and all mighty god, with control over all things, has purposely placed the majority at odds with the Clergy.

I know there is this debate trick believers use saying the god gave people free will.  But, how, then, could he be all powerful?

It appears Catholic voters are going to support the pro choice and gay marriage adocate, President Obama.  The majority of Catholics don’t believe the clergy represent the god, or, they do believe it and they have chosen to defy the god.

In either case, direct access to the god is not very important.

Hell Sells.

To me, one of the fascinating topics in the Christian faith is hell.  It’s relationship to the preoccupation of most Christians, sin, is so tight they are virtually one and the same.

There is a new movie which explores the faith’s attitude toward hell, Hellbound.  In the attached trailer, the two competing views of hell are discussed.   One view is hell is the necessary punishment for sin.  The other the faith needs to focus more on the rewards that come from forgiveness.

The article, and perhaps the film, discuss reasons hell is a more popular topic to Christians than forgiveness.  The one that I think puts hell in the driver’s seat is its simplicity and  absoluteness

The gospel, the story of someone dying for sins of people he doesn’t even know is far fetched and rather incomprehensible.  On top of that, the rules don’t make sense.

The rule, as I interpret it, you just have to believe and your sins are forgiven.  That rule has nothing in common with rules in the western world.  If you commit first degree murder you can’t just say, “I believe”, or, “I’m sorry”, and go free.

That being the case, it’s a lot easier for the public to just believe there is hell for the bad sinner and heaven for the sinner lite.  As far as which is which, the rules allow everyone to judge for themselves.  People like that judgement system.

In practice, Christianity is about sin and hell, not about the Christ character.

Class Warfare is Coming.

Last night I saw a play entitled, Good People.  Then this morning I heard the second part of an interview with J K Rowlings about her new adult novel, The Causal Vacancy.

While listening to Rowlings, it occurred to me she was almost talking about the drama I saw last night.  The theme is the same, class.

Conservative people in the U. S. have been very successful at diverting attention from class for two or three decades.  They divert it by criticizing anyone who brings up the topic.  “You’re bringing up class warfare and that’s not what our country is all about.”

But, that is what it’s about.  Not only the U. S., but every society on every continent since the beginning of time.  The Jesus character in the Bible appeared long after the beginning of time, but he had plenty of bad things to say about the rich.

There is nothing especially bad about “class warfare”, or, especially good.  It is just a part of the human experience. To think the general public would sit back and allow forever the rich to get richer and the poor poorer is unrealistic.

There is a myth anyone who works hard will not be poor.  The real truth is that most, not all, people who make it out of poverty had a break others did not have.  Bad breaks held most, not all, others back.

That this truth is being told in the arts means politics can’t be far behind.

Christians Have the Cross, Jews Have the Star, What Do Atheists Have?

There is so much interest in things like logos and symbols.  Here is N. D. we’ve argued for years about use of the Fighting Sioux.

The Christian Cross and Jewish Star of David communicate something about the faiths.  But, what symbol would communicate no faith?

The most popular atheist symbol seems to be an artful letter “A”.  It’s ironic the letter “A” was also the Scarlet Letter for a young woman’s “sin”.  Using “A” for the atheist symbol does not, it seems to me, communicate anything about atheism.  But then, what does?

Some of our family members attended an American Atheist conference a while back.  I was in the gift area with our daughter-in-law and told her I would buy her something.  She picked out a very nice pendant of the American Atheist logo, three crossing ovals.

She said later she wore it to work where several people noticed and gave compliments.  One lady asked her what it represented.  Learning it represented atheism, the woman was taken aback and, according to our daughter-in-law, cooled the relationship they had had.

On atheist sites, there is no shortage of snarky tee shirt messages and ridicules of the faith like the back-of-the-car Christian fish with “Darwin” written in the middle.  But, there seems no one presentation that encapsulates lack of belief like the cross does belief.

I’ve seen the question mark used and that may be as good as it every gets.  Those who do not believe question myths of both the past and future.

Romney Could Win with this Speech:

“Friends, I’m here  to tell you what will make this country greater than ever.  It’s to follow the principles of capitalism.

“A capitalistic country must compete.  Our country is not competing like it can.

“One reason is our health system is too expensive and ineffective.  We need to apply capitalistic principles.

“Capitalism, private firms, have insurance.  Each firm tries to minimize its risk by pooling risk with others.  Individual people are tiny businesses who generate wealth and spend it.  They need to spread their health cost risk.

“The risk can be spread over all citizens.  We don’t follow this capitalistic principle now.  That’s what I did in Massachusetts, that’s what our country needs to do to compete.

“A successful business needs to make profitable use of all its resources.  We are not doing this.  We are singling out some of our resources, people, and  not using them profitably.

“These are the American-born children of immigrants.  Gay people and women need to be including in every right others have.

“Our capitalist businesses stress accountability from every corner of their operation.  A capitalistic country needs to do the same.  It needs to regulate financial institutions so they make loans on sound assets.

“The market price of anything is based ultimately on matching cost to benefit received.  Rich people get most of the benefit from the military and government subsidies of industries.  They should pay for what they receive like we do at the mall.

“Vote for capitalism.  Vote for me.”



God Does Not Care If You Are Happy or Not

This title is about a post today at  I’m not sure I paraphrased it exactly right, but that’s how I read it.

The post reflects what in sports metaphor is “sharp elbows”, a basketball term.  This is not about basketball, it’s about religion.

Joel Osteen, the very popular preacher,  says the God/Jesus wants everyone to think well of themselves.  The God wants you to be prosperous and enjoy it.

The attached article, aimed at Osteen, says something else.  The correct Christian message is not about feeling good.  It is about sin and the forgiveness of sin and not much else.

Thus, this view says, people who say accepting the faith took them from being miserable to being happy are misinterpreting things.  They have merely been forgiven for their sins, period.  Jesus wanting them to be Osteen happy about their lives is not part of the deal.

Part of this, too, is whether or not their is a hell that punishes sinners.  Osteen’s view of the faith omits this downer message.

Both sides can quote scripture to defend what they preach.  The sharp elbows come into the picture when on side starts making inroad into the others market.  That seems to be happening.

The Osteen and Osteen clones have huge and, apparently, growing fans.  Their message is uplifting and popular. The Christian Bible leaves open the question of who is right.

Even when sharp elbows are used, there is no ref to blow a whistle.

“Failed Policies” Include the Republican Party’s Religious Rhetoric.

The most common criticism leveled at President Obama in this campaign is that he has promoted “failed policies”.  My judgement is he has spent his time working on important problems.

This is something one cannot say about his most vocal critics, Republican members the House and Senate.  Their time has been spent on pointless issues.   I’d like to ask Republicans why their focus for the last decade has been on the issues of gay marriage and abortion?

When  I use the word, “focus”, I mean the number of legislative bills and hours of political rhetoric devoted to these two topics.  Yes, there were a few other issues Republicans brought up, lower taxes on the wealthy, deregulation and invading two countries.  Former President Bush told the Prime Minister of France invading Afghanistan and Iraq, like abortion and gay marriage, had religious meaning.

There is, so far as I can tell, broad consensus the U. S. economic problem was caused by and/or is being lengthened by the housing problem.  This, in turn, was made possible by some of the deregulation that took place.

While this deregulation was taking place, however, political debate was focused on the religious issues of gay marriage and abortion.  While some Democrats can be blamed for parts of this, Republicans were the ones talking up religious values.  We need only review the Republican Party National Convention to see the preoccupation with religion.

My hope is the public recognizes how much time Congress wastes arguing about religious issues.  This is the biggest “failed policy” of all.

It’s Likely Jesus Had a Wife.

The new piece of parchment which refers to Jesus’ wife is not new to many who study this.  In fact, these people think it unlikely he was celibate.

The Jewish faith at the time of Jesus followed the dictate of go forth and multiply.  A Jew, especially a prominent one, would have been roundly criticized for not having several children.

The Gnostic Gospels discovered in the 1940’s describe Jesus’ love for Mary Magdalene including kisses.  She was his constant companion. Peter, Jesus’ main man, was married.

There was an author in the Bible that could have cleared up many mysteries of the life of the Biblical character, Jesus.  That was Paul.

Paul was the author closest to the time of Jesus.  If anyone could have included a testimony about personal characteristics later attributed to Jesus, it would have been Paul.

But Paul didn’t say a word about Jesus’ life as a person. Then, many years later, writers start to add details about Jesus.  The later the writer, the more detail was filled in.  As I understand it, this is the opposite of what one would expect in “oral history”.

To a large segment of Christianity, it will not matter that much if it is eventually established Jesus had a wife.  It is said it will undermine the celibacy of the Catholic priesthood.

I think the Catholic hierarchy likes celibate priests because they are cheaper, not because Jesus was celibate.  They will change only when they have to.

Going for the God Vote.

According to the most recent New Yorker, Fox News was delighted by the Democrat Party’s omission of God in its original Platform.  In the Fox convention coverage, it mentioned the omission 22 times in the first few hours.

We know a God paragraph was penciled in.  But, the Fox people continued to talk about the no-God version. They referred to it a total of 84 times during the convention.

It makes one wonder how they would have covered George Washington’s farewell  and Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided” speeches.  They didn’t mention God either.

At the Republican Convention, God was there in many speeches, prayers and pledges.  Then, it nominated a member of the God All Star Team for V. P.,  Paul Ryan.  Four years ago God All Star, Sarah Palin, was brought in to win the election.

Adding Palin did not win that election, adding Ryan has not bumped up the poll numbers and prayers at the convention have been forgotten.  Perhaps there is a political lesson here.

That being said, the God card has been successful in putting many House and Senate people in office.  But, this has put another dynamic in place.

Because there are loud religious and anti abortion and anti gay House and Senate members, some rank and file Republicans think such people can be elected President.  They try to elect them in the primaries.

Our Presidential elections have become referendums on religion in politics.  And, the public likes a little religion.

But, not too much.

Obama Ramps Up His Faith Initiative.

I read yesterday about this.  Apparently, he has a staff of people sending material and calling people of faith to tell them Obama relies on his faith. Perhaps Romney has something similar.

I wish it were not necessary to make going to church a photo op or spending campaign money to tell people about your churchiness.  We all know its part of the deal.

I wonder if it will always be so in the U. S.?  Religion seems to have slipped off the map  in some other Western democracies.  And, those countries seem to be doing just fine without it.

I watch parts of TV debates of candidates for office in southern States.  In those debates, is seems like candidates spend more time talking of their individual godliness than policy questions.  That being the case, we should resign ourselves to religion in U. S. politics for a long to come.

For people who fear the religion of Islam, I’d suggest they try to show how Christianity is different from the onerous branches of it.  They could do this by supporting separation of church and state.

One of the people I’m supporting for Congress always ends her political talks with the standard, “God bless you and God bless the United States of America.” It’s a coded way of saying the U. S. has some special thing going with God that no other country has.

I think it would be fun to organize a response where the crowd would reply in unison, “And pox on everyone else and every other country.”