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Catholic non-fundies?
October 13, 2005 6:05 PM   Subscribe

Catholic church warns of the danger of fundamentalism. "The Bible is true in passages relating to human salvation, they say, but continue: 'We should not expect total accuracy from the Bible in other, secular matters.'" (via flambingo)
posted by lbergstr (50 comments total)

 
Geez, where have they been since, oh, I dunno, at least 1979 or so on this? I don't remember the bishops having much to say on this issue before.
posted by alumshubby at 6:09 PM on October 13, 2005


I say this without sarcasm, if I were any less an atheist I would be Roman Catholic.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 6:16 PM on October 13, 2005


Interesting.

They still claim the Virgin Birth is God's Honest Truth, but now they are finally admitting that the Adam, Eve, Apple and Serpent story was, er, fictional.

So they were lying all along! Shock! Horror!

It doesn't add much to the Church's credibility in any way, and I'm sure Pope Ratzinger will not be happy about this since it makes him look even more backward and stupid than he already did - which is quite an achievement.
posted by cleardawn at 6:17 PM on October 13, 2005


It sounds like the document isn't from the Catholic church as a whole, but only the heirarchy within Britain.

I'm wondering if Benedict is gonna bust out a can of the "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith" whup-ass and put these crazy radicals back in their place.
posted by PlusDistance at 6:26 PM on October 13, 2005


This isn't anything new. The Catholic Church has been outspoken against fundamentalism for quite a long time (at least since that Reformation thing a while back). This doesn't mean that the CC doesn't still hold certain things to be absolutely true. Personally, I've always been a little surprised at Catholics who support the current administration so wholeheartedly, given that GB's religion is at root rather inimical to Catholicism.
posted by Orkboi at 6:30 PM on October 13, 2005


Also -- in today's news -- "[a]waiting a full-scale invasion of godless (but friendly) space aliens, the Vatican has published a book covering the possibilities of converting space aliens to Catholicism." -- read more.
posted by ericb at 6:30 PM on October 13, 2005


Yeah, this isn't really anything new. I was taught along these lines in Catholic high school 15 years ago.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:41 PM on October 13, 2005


I'm not too sure I'd equate the Reformation with contemporary fundamentalism, but it does make for a nice punchline.
posted by alumshubby at 6:47 PM on October 13, 2005


I say this without sarcasm, if I were any less an atheist I would be Roman Catholic.

Why? I'm an atheist as well, but while I can understand why people would want to belive in god, I cannot understand why someone would not only want to put their faith in god, but the whole Catholic Church hierarchy and Joseph Ratzinger.

I mean, what about the Anglican church? Do you have something against Gays, legalized abortion, and Condom use in Africa? (three thing the catholic church, supported by YOUR cash hypothetical-non-atheist contributions)
posted by delmoi at 6:51 PM on October 13, 2005


...converting space aliens to Catholicism ...What if aliens come here trying to convert us to their religion?
posted by QuietDesperation at 6:58 PM on October 13, 2005


“Such an approach is dangerous, for example, when people of one nation or group see in the Bible a mandate for their own superiority, and even consider themselves permitted by the Bible to use violence against others.”

Gee...who do you suppose that was directed at?
posted by j.p. Hung at 6:59 PM on October 13, 2005


Yeah, this isn't really anything new. I was taught along these lines in Catholic high school 15 years ago.

Yes, so isn't it interesting that they're going to the trouble of reaffirming it right now?

The Jesse Helms: I wouldn't go quite that far, but I have a lot of respect for the modern Catholic Church. As far as religions go, they're pretty peachy. I disagree with a lot of their teachings (reproductive rights, homosexuality, etc.), but hey. We all got opinions, right?

In fact, the vast majority of thoughtful Christians I've known have been Catholic. Nuns, for example, are much more likely than non-nuns to break into the School of the Americas
posted by brundlefly at 7:10 PM on October 13, 2005


As an atheist Catholic (it's like being a Jew really, you never really drop it), I have to say that with all my study of Catholicism they're pretty sound. A lot of American's influenced by fundamentalism take a more radical approach than what is officially taught, but as a whole they're based on a lot of academic, intellectual principles. You can't even compare their openess to that of fundamentalist religions. During Vatican II they even invited their archenemies, the Eastern Orthodox, to stand up and argue for birth control and divorce. They almost, oh so close, became modern but a few old stand bys could only take so much modernization at once in the church. My fear is the current generation will look at the old stand bys as their rock, when I believe many of the current priests and bishops during Vatican II were just hoping for the old guard to die so they could fully modernize the church. That's what happens when only the ultra-conservatives who actually go to church even consider entering the heirarchy.

I still have a lot of Catholic friends, they're all pure as gold liberals and hate Ratzinger.
posted by geoff. at 7:18 PM on October 13, 2005


Catholicism, WOW!
posted by sdrawkcab at 7:19 PM on October 13, 2005


This only takes away from the CC's credibility, it only perpetuates the "changing with the times" idea. They're just going to do it again 200 years from now.
posted by bam at 7:21 PM on October 13, 2005


All the Catholics I know disapprove of Ratzinger, too.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:21 PM on October 13, 2005


The Catholic church is trying to stay sane and relevent. American Christian fundemantalists don't care how crazy they sound. You can join a church with five or ten families that hold that they are the only pure conduit to paradise. Close friends & family members who don't conform are doomed to endless burning agony in a "lake of fire". This is such a sick idea that I have to conclude that those who profess this idea are terrified delusional individuals.
posted by longsleeves at 7:27 PM on October 13, 2005


Personally, I've always been a little surprised at Catholics who support the current administration so wholeheartedly, given that GB's religion is at root rather inimical to Catholicism.

hear hear! it amazes me that the two are so conjoined in peoples' minds. Evangelicals are like the teenagers of christianity: they think they know everything, obey which rules they like and conveniently ignore those they don't...

I disagree with people who say that this impugns the CC's credibility. For one: the catholic church has been mutable in one form or another for its entire history. It's the recent decades of stagnation that impugned their credibility and caused a decrease in their numbers.
posted by shmegegge at 7:42 PM on October 13, 2005


I was amused by the anecdote of the British kid who wanted to know why Mary & Joseph named their kid after a swear word. On the other hand, I know a six-year-old, recently transplanted from the coastal US to rural England, who wants to know who the fellow named "Lord" who keeps showing up in the songs they sing at his Church of England (governmentally funded and governed) school.
posted by Zurishaddai at 7:47 PM on October 13, 2005


Ah, I see.

This list of ridiculous, impossible things is meant to be taken literally, while all the other ridiculous, impossible things in the Bible are meant to be taken as allegorical lessons.

Now I get it.
posted by Crosius at 8:23 PM on October 13, 2005


Crosius: You know that's not actually in the Bible, right?
posted by S.C. at 8:35 PM on October 13, 2005


Here is a meme I have heard going around Fundy circles in my area. Simply and literally put by them.."Catholics are not Christians".

I was very suprised to hear that statement and wondered what on earth made them think that. The story goes as follows:

Missionaries working in a third world country were approached by some local citizens and asked were they Christians...the fundies were said to of course quickly respond "why yes we are!" However the response from the Catholic missionaries was simply..."We are Catholic!".

This is story alone is supposedly all the Fundies needed to hear for them to conclude that even Catholics do not consider themselves Christian. Therefore, they have every right to also consider Catholics doomed to hell for eternity just like all the other non-Southern Baptists! Apparently, only "good Southern Baptists" will be ascending to heaven now.

They couldn't possibly have taken the Catholic response as an "of course we are....we are Catholics".
posted by SweetIceT at 8:37 PM on October 13, 2005


I was raised Catholic, but never really studied Catholicism, so I know nothing about the various Councils and Reforms and the like. Still, as someone raised Catholic, I have to say that this doesn't sound at all like anything new. 20 years ago, I was being told that parts of the bible were true, and parts were not, and not to take every word in the Bible at it's face value. That's what the crazy Baptists did. So for the folks saying "Finally!", am I missing something?
posted by Bugbread at 8:54 PM on October 13, 2005


SweetIceT - In a recent notorious case, a southern adoption agency associated with the American Christian right, and which was receiving state funding, refused to serve Catholic clients.

No court fight ensued. It was business as usual.

In the eyes of many on the Christian supremacist ( Protestant ) right, Catholics are indeed no longer considered Christians.

Bizzare, huh.

Good morning !

( here's some reboiled coffee, black. )
posted by troutfishing at 8:54 PM on October 13, 2005


I think it's great that so many religious people are outgrowing their ridiculous scriptures and dogmas; I hope eventually they'll outgrow their religions and deities too.
posted by davy at 9:07 PM on October 13, 2005


Crosius what, exactly is impossible about the Apostles' Creed?
The concepts of God, miraculous birth and resurrection, and of an afterlife contain no contradictions in themselves. There is, logically, no reason to deny any of those claims unless you have assumed the truth of some kind of reductive materialism.
posted by oddman at 9:07 PM on October 13, 2005


The Catholic (and Orthdox, for that matter) view on fundamentalism is a bit more subtle than you may think.

The real danger isn't in a literal reading of the Bible -- Catholics and Orthodox were perfectly comfortable with literal readings for a long, long time -- but in the conceit that the Bible alone contains all religious wisdom ("sola scriptura").

Catholics and Orthodox set great store in theology, sacred tradition, and magisterial teaching authority, with the Bible as only the first and most important sources of religious instruction.
posted by MattD at 9:07 PM on October 13, 2005


Hooray for reductive materialism!

And MattD, Catholics and Orthodox Christians are like Orthodox Jews and Sunni Muslims: they cherish scriptures (Torah, Bible, Quran) that they admit are so defective that they must be supplemented and explained (away) by accretions (Talmud, traditional dogmas and hadiths, respectively). Why their God(s) can't simply send down a Revelation that needs no such additions is beyond me, assuming that the answer cannot be found in "reductive materialism".
posted by davy at 9:15 PM on October 13, 2005


Ratzinger seems determined to eradicate everything generous or human that I cherish from my many years of Catholic schooling. Along with the massive guilt and the baffling doctrine, you also learn that your effort is not meaningless. If you're trying, even when you don't know the rules, can't even see the board, that's enough. And if that's too touchy-feely, go to the Jesuits for some ruthless intellectualizing.

SweetIceT: In the 1920s, the Klan's major target was the Roman Catholic Church (aka The Whore of Babylon) and all its adherents. Google "al smith 1928 campaign" to get a sense of the vitriol at its most extreme. But it didn't end there.

I grew up in a small town in central Texas where the Anglos were either German Lutherans or Bohemian (i.e., Czech) Catholics. Well into the 1960s, intermarriage between Catholics and Protestants was scandalous. Interracial romance? A pearly daughter defiled by a dusky buck? Not even on the radar screen. Mexican Americans entered your home only to clean it. African Americans [aka nigras] set foot on your property only to mow the lawn or prune the hedges.

Lutherans and Catholics might still be obsessing over their differences, if it weren't for the civil rights movement which gave them a common enemy to unite against.


Time marches on. In 1983, Margie Guajardo was the head cheerleader and Dennis Richter, the quarterback, was her boyfriend. Of course. Cheerleader + quarterback = normal. To a certain degree, race dropped out of the equation.

Over the last few years, I've been hearing about "Tiffany Kubicek's baby, you remember Tammy, that's her daughter, she married Timmy Johnson, he's got a really good job at EverFrame and the baby is just precious" -- whereas back in the day, this bi-racial child would've been invisible.

Progress takes small steps. Right?
posted by vetiver at 10:29 PM on October 13, 2005


SweetIceT: I used to collect those Jack Chick religious comic book tracts, and a number of those are about how Catholicism is not Christianity. In fact, Here's one of the little buggers! (I like the little check boxes at the end for "Do you accept Jesus as your savior? Yes/No"
See also:
Last Rites

The Death Cookie!

Murph

Why is Mary Crying?
posted by papakwanz at 10:33 PM on October 13, 2005


Oddman: well, there's that whole Jesus-was-simultaneously-and-fully-human-and-divine thang. And while the Catholic Church wouldn't touch him with a 10-foot pope-soap-on-a-rope, even Kierkegaard conceded (quite proudly, in fact) that the basics tenets of Christianity involve patently contradictory beliefs. It's how he made room for faith, after all. And justified Abraham's attempted infanticide, but that's another story.

And if that's too touchy-feely, go to the Jesuits for some ruthless intellectualizing.

Amen, brother.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:35 PM on October 13, 2005


This only takes away from the CC's credibility, it only perpetuates the "changing with the times" idea. They're just going to do it again 200 years from now.

The Catholic Church has been pretty consistent in its condemnation of literal readings of the Bible by the unwashed masses or "heretics" as they liked to call them back when they still burned people at the stake for claiming they could communicate directly with God Himself. The teachings of the Catholic Church are and always have been that much of the Bible is pretty allegorical and that you need a trained priest around to help you interpret it properly in order to avoid cultish happenings or charismatic individuals otherwise stirring up the populace.

There are enormous differences between the Catholic Church and most US religions and it always kind of surprised me that so many Catholics apparently support Bush based on religious reasons in the polls.
posted by fshgrl at 11:30 PM on October 13, 2005


Also -- in today's news -- "[a]waiting a full-scale invasion of godless (but friendly) space aliens, the Vatican has published a book covering the possibilities of converting space aliens to Catholicism." -- read more.
posted by ericb at 6:30 PM PST on October 13

That reminds me a lot of The Sparrow.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:39 AM on October 14, 2005


alumshubby: “I'm not too sure I'd equate the Reformation with contemporary fundamentalism, but it does make for a nice punchline.”

It could be said that christian fundamentalism has its roots in the reformation. The baptists certainly do as does the very strict presbytarianism in the north west of Scotland.
posted by bouncebounce at 3:00 AM on October 14, 2005


It truly is a sign of God's grace that His spokespeople on Earth have been given the wisdom to be able to determine which parts of His Holy Word are literally true and which are, you know, a bit colourfully symbolic. And how utterly stunning that the bits which turn out to be literally true fit so well with the Catholic Church's agenda what is rational and credible! Praise the Lord and transubstantiate my tuna sarnie!
posted by Decani at 6:14 AM on October 14, 2005


davy: Why their God(s) can't simply send down a Revelation that needs no such additions is beyond me, assuming that the answer cannot be found in "reductive materialism".

Well, the idea is that God did send down his perfect wisdom, but humans are too dumb to interpret it perfectly. That is why the RCC leaves room for doubt in judging the exact veracity of stuff in the Bible.
posted by sciurus at 6:34 AM on October 14, 2005


American Christian fundemantalists don't care how crazy they sound. You can join a church with five or ten families that hold that they are the only pure conduit to paradise. Close friends & family members who don't conform are doomed to endless burning agony in a "lake of fire". This is such a sick idea that I have to conclude that those who profess this idea are terrified delusional individuals.

They're delusional because they've been deluded. In the Bible, Jesus warned about false prophets, and basically that Satan will wear the face of godly piety to decieve. Fundamentalism is exactly that. The master they serve is no god.
posted by yesster at 6:35 AM on October 14, 2005


But the point, sciurus, is that the perfect Revelation would need no extraneous interpretation, but would be easily comprehensible to any of God's creatures who could read it. Furthermore it would be valid for all time without changing, unlike say "those verses that command death for 'those who lie with men as with women' really mean 'soak beans overnight in cold water and then rinse.'" But hey, if you accept that The LORD Almighty is an idjit then there ain't no problem a-tall.

Me, I think the "it doesn't mean what it literally says" stuff is just a way for intellectuals to be Scriptural Authorities to avoid having to drive a truck or plow a field for a living.
posted by davy at 7:46 AM on October 14, 2005


Davy, if you want to say Revelation is perfect then why not say everything God does/has done is perfect? The problem isn't with the message so much as how it is interpreted.

People make mistakes, which is why eyewitness testimony can be flawed. There has be spin somewhere.
posted by Numenorian at 8:37 AM on October 14, 2005


Fundamentalism is on the rise world-wide. New Scientist Magazine just did a special issue on it (subscription only), how the Enlightenment ideals are under attack, the idea that science can save mankind from the mirad of problems is loosing credibility and people are turning to fundamentalism as their "saviour". There is also an article on "science fundamentalism", people who treat science like a religion.
posted by stbalbach at 8:52 AM on October 14, 2005


Well, the idea is that God did send down his perfect wisdom, but humans are too dumb

So that begs the question why didn't God (who created man in his image) give men the brains to divine his perfect wisdom?

"What you can't figure this stuff out? Then go to hell! Whaddaya mean I made it too complicated, you moron? Why I oughta...."

God suddenly seems very much like Moe.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:55 AM on October 14, 2005


...converting space aliens to Catholicism ...What if aliens come here trying to convert us to their religion?

QuietDesperation - I think this is already going on. One word...Scientology.
posted by waltb555 at 10:39 AM on October 14, 2005


Christian Supremacist

Goddamn, that is an excellent phrase.

From now on, I'm going to try to remember to call evangelists by their real name: Christian Supremacists.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:43 AM on October 14, 2005


FFF - I've been hanging out with the rather small crowd of people who have studied the theocratic movement for decades. "Christian Supremacist" is one of the labels of choice - it doesn't tag any one group which has adherents on the left too ( there are actually fundamentalists and evangelicals of the left, more than some might think ) and it emphasizes the key distinction :

Political supremacists don't give a damn about fair play or bipartisanship. Once in office, some like to ram their agenda down their opponents throats until driven from power. Most, though, pursue a very calculated imcrementalist approach : the "boiled frog strategy"

It really works.

Unfortunately.
posted by troutfishing at 11:00 AM on October 14, 2005


incrementalist, that is.
posted by troutfishing at 11:01 AM on October 14, 2005


It could be said that christian fundamentalism has its roots in the reformation. The baptists certainly do as does the very strict presbytarianism in the north west of Scotland.

Then again, Unitarian Universalists do as well.
posted by brundlefly at 3:11 PM on October 14, 2005


I'm no fan of any organized religion but isn't there a chance that the CC is saying this to put themselves in a better position to be the authoritative source for saying how people should live without necessarily sticking with the information contained in the bible? If they want something that is in conflict with something in the bible they can just say that that particular part isn't true?
posted by Carbolic at 3:17 PM on October 14, 2005


Reminds me of a little joke I use to have when people ask me if I read the bible:

"Hell no, I'm Catholic. That's what the priest is for."
posted by Mick at 3:42 PM on October 14, 2005


Talk about opening the door to a place they were reluctant to enter.

Tired of being undermined with the same book you use to promote your opinion? Just claim that "some" of it is allegorical, that it shouldn't be taken literally, so you can now cherry-pick what you'd like to use as your platform.

Feh.
posted by FormlessOne at 3:44 PM on October 14, 2005


Numenorian, are you reading my comments in a backwards mirror? I'm saying essentially that religion is a crock, the Scriptures are ludicrous, the Religious Authorities are bullshitters and God is a ninny (if he exists).
posted by davy at 4:36 PM on October 14, 2005


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