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December 7, 2005 1:03 PM   Subscribe

It's looking like the Pope will abolish the doctrine of Limbo. The real story, of course, is how this change in cosmology will affect D&D players. What’s a Chaotic Neutral to do?
posted by Zed_Lopez (46 comments total)

 
Jeez, now the Rilmani have to put up with the Tanar'ri as neighbors. Bungie cords on the trashcans is my advice.

Actually, hasn't TSR/WOTC/Whatever done away with a lot of the Planescape stuff? I haven't read the new Manual.
posted by selfnoise at 1:07 PM on December 7, 2005


Not at all. Honestly, I'm suprised they even kept the concept of Limbo after they purged most of the religion-oriented concepts from the game in the '80s
posted by empath at 1:07 PM on December 7, 2005


Any other Caribbean dances slated for abolishment?
posted by QuietDesperation at 1:11 PM on December 7, 2005


Sorry to miss the D&D references, but I wonder if this will affect the Catholic church's stance on abortion...

If you accept their position that unborn fetuses are children, then it's a bit different to send a child to heaven instead of limbo...
posted by JMOZ at 1:14 PM on December 7, 2005


Never mind abortion, what about baptism? I mean, they can't exactly do away with original sin can they? But not being a Catholic, I won't lose too much sleep over it.
posted by GuyZero at 1:20 PM on December 7, 2005


Any other Caribbean dances slated for abolishment?

He's just pissed because the rules say he can't take off that bigass hat.
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:24 PM on December 7, 2005


serious theologians (and even the average, well-read parish priest) will tell you that limbo has been a discarded hypothesis since, well, the mid-Fifties
posted by matteo at 1:26 PM on December 7, 2005


How low can they go?
posted by soyjoy at 1:29 PM on December 7, 2005


It’s not like the church is going to sue TSR like others did to get the Chtulu Mythos or the Melnebonean Mythos out of Deities and Demigods.

So what happens to Homer? Socrates? All the noble pagans and pre-Christian philosophers?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:30 PM on December 7, 2005


God sure does change his mind a lot.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:31 PM on December 7, 2005


You've heard of the fickle finger of fate? God totally invented that.
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:33 PM on December 7, 2005


You know, if I were in Heaven right now, I'd really be pissed off at this. There goes the neighborhood...

[1000th comment]
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:33 PM on December 7, 2005


LOL @ soyjoy!

And werd, Optimus.
posted by darkstar at 1:34 PM on December 7, 2005


In a compromise reached at the highest echelons of the Vatican, Limbo will be allowed to continue to exist. However, its name will be changed to "Funkytown."
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 1:36 PM on December 7, 2005


In other news: The italian city of Ravenna today reported several witnesses hearing "a peculiar rumbling" coming from Dante Alighieri's tomb when news of the abolition of limbo was first reported. One janitor even reported hearing words being spoken, though he couldn't say by whom, that said "FUCK! Now I have to start all over again! Do you have ANY idea how long that fucking thing took to write?!"

But seriously, where do the virtuous heathens born before christ go now? It's nice to know that the nature of the afterlife is open to personal interpretation. Next one on the list: Purgatory! Remember, folks: The only thing we know for sure about God and the afterlife is that there's no room for gays in heaven.
posted by shmegegge at 1:37 PM on December 7, 2005


Any other Caribbean dances slated for abolishment?
posted by QuietDesperation at 1:11 PM PST on December 7 [!]


She dashed by me in painted on jeans
And all heads turned 'cause she was the dream
In the blink of an eye I knew her number and her name yeah
She said I was the tiger she wanted to tame
posted by The Jesse Helms at 1:37 PM on December 7, 2005


serious theologians (and even the average, well-read parish priest) will tell you that limbo has been a discarded hypothesis since, well, the mid-Fifties

Yeah, I was taught that limbo is a defunct theory in Catholic middle school nearly 20 years ago...
posted by mr_roboto at 1:39 PM on December 7, 2005


Any other Caribbean dances slated for abolishment?

And where is Jimmy Cliff going to sit now?

The only thing we know for sure about God and the afterlife is that there's no room for gays in heaven.

Until that changes, too. But remember, until then, it's a divine truth and it's never going to change!
posted by Miko at 1:40 PM on December 7, 2005


Divine_Wino, you beat me to the punch.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:41 PM on December 7, 2005


And what about Andrea Mantegna's work?
http://www.thecityreview.com/w03som.html

I don't think this would affect Christ's Harrowing of Hell, but Saint Thomas Aquinas’ work got shitcanned along with Dante’s.
(I most particularly like Aquinas’ final work)

It’s quite a conundrum. Decent people who died before the resurrection of Jesus, now go to Hell or what? And the neutral angels?

Is Pope Benedict XVI saying you’re either with us or against us?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:59 PM on December 7, 2005


If you accept their position that unborn fetuses are children, then it's a bit different to send a child to heaven instead of limbo...

This could certainly open the door for a more reasonable view on abortion.

OTOH, consider:
1. Only some adults go to heaven
2. ALL children go to heaven
Therefore, in the interest of getting as many people into heaven as possilbe, one might be morally obligated to kill as many children as possible before they reach adulthood.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:03 PM on December 7, 2005


D&D? Hell, this negates one of the funniest parts of my website.

What a rude thing to do.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:08 PM on December 7, 2005


wins
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:34 PM on December 7, 2005


Wait? But, how will Dante and Virgil ever meet? No! Poor Dante! Lost forever!
posted by redbeard at 2:35 PM on December 7, 2005


From the article "Vatican sources said yesterday that the commission would recommend that Limbo be replaced by the more “compassionate” doctrine that all children who die do so “in the hope of eternal salvation.”

Presumably, since the so-called good persons share Limbo with the unbaptized young, we should conclude that the good persons are also in the presence of God.

Further, the idea that we should be killing the young to make sure they get into heaven is just stupid. The taking of a life is rarely justified. The taking of an innocent life is never justified.
(Yes I know those comments were just snarky jokes but I can't stand lame, simple-minded attempts to point out a so-called problem.)
posted by oddman at 2:43 PM on December 7, 2005


It's looking like the Pope will abolish the doctrine of Limbo.

Guy in crowd from Monty Python's The Life of Brian:
"Oh, he's making it up as he goes along!"
posted by chuq at 2:44 PM on December 7, 2005


Does this mean that the doctrine was false, or has limbo disappeared suddenly?
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 3:06 PM on December 7, 2005


I was raised a rather Liberal Lutheran/Presbyterian (we moved), but once I got my critical faculties fully on-line I had a vague distaste for all Church doctrine & dogmas. All these questions & made-up answers were just facile IMV, but I had no frame to put this observation in.

It was Dawkins' meme idea that drove the observation home.

All religions evolve dogma to present a better "story" to the world, where better is some combination of a) more emotionally satisfying (the immediate payload) b) "sticky" (hard to leave once exposed) and c) "virulent" (how well the meme transits from one host to another).

This is like so bleeding obvious to me, now.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:12 PM on December 7, 2005


Quoth Miko:

And where is Jimmy Cliff going to sit now?

Funkytown, of course.
posted by rdone at 3:13 PM on December 7, 2005


Limbo's out, now all noble heathens go to Muncie.
posted by klangklangston at 3:21 PM on December 7, 2005


And yeah, what does this mean for Original Sin? If babies ain't got it, then it's not Original. If babies do got it, they go to hell. Whups...
posted by klangklangston at 3:25 PM on December 7, 2005


I always thought of myself as Chaotic Good. When I die, I get shipped to Gary.
posted by bardic at 4:27 PM on December 7, 2005


"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"
posted by darkstar at 4:29 PM on December 7, 2005


folks folks, you're missing the important phrase, here:

that all children who die do so �in the hope of eternal salvation.

see, they don't go straight to heaven. we all just hope they do, and who knows for sure? there's only one thing we know: if one of them unbaptised dead babies happens to touch himself down there before the end, he's a goin' ta hell.
posted by shmegegge at 5:05 PM on December 7, 2005


JMOZ: If you accept their position that unborn fetuses are children, then it's a bit different to send a child to heaven instead of limbo...

Consider that this logic could already have been applied to freshly baptised infants. So, I can't really see this having much effect on the abortion thing.

Heywood Mogroot: All religions evolve dogma to present a better "story" to the world, where better is some combination of a) more emotionally satisfying (the immediate payload) b) "sticky" (hard to leave once exposed) and c) "virulent" (how well the meme transits from one host to another).

But surely the point of the meme meme is that this describes the spread of all ideas, no? If being a meme means that something has no basis in reason, then rational discussion is impossible: it's just a mechanical process for producing more successful memes. On the other hand, if memes can be considered rationally, then religious memes have as much standing for rational consideration as any others do.

This isn't to say that you may not have good reasons to dismiss religion, just that you can't dismiss it solely for being a meme. Every idea you have ever heard, from the dreamiest fantasy to the soundest science, got to you because it was satisfying, sticky, and virulent.
posted by moss at 5:38 PM on December 7, 2005


Sort of related-ly, I just learned something new about Catholicism. I learned that within Church teachings, there are three levels: dogma, doctrine, and discipline. Dogma is considered to be truth revealed by God. Doctine is considered to be truth arrived at through prayer and reason under Divine guidance, but originating in humans (such as the Pope or a bishop). Discipline refers to behavior directives or recommendations meant to guide the faithful, perhaps delivered by priests, parents, or teachers. The Catholic Encyclopedia (which I have found to be an excellent, if compendious, reference) seems to bear these general statements out.

I am right this minute listening to a radio show about Vatican II, much of which countermanded former Church doctrine. That's where I just learned about the thee levels. It seems that doctrine and discipline can be "mistaken" (not wrong, never wrong) because they are human in origin, while doctrine is considered more unchanging.

IANACatholic, but it does shed some light on why limbo can be considered malleable. My Mom was raised Catholic. It's a nastoundingly complicated religion.
posted by Miko at 5:52 PM on December 7, 2005


God sure does change his mind a lot.

Please. Not more "flip-flop" talk.
posted by namespan at 6:33 PM on December 7, 2005


Hmm...God was for limbo before he was against it...?
posted by darkstar at 7:07 PM on December 7, 2005


This isn't to say that you may not have good reasons to dismiss religion, just that you can't dismiss it solely for being a meme. Every idea you have ever heard, from the dreamiest fantasy to the soundest science, got to you because it was satisfying, sticky, and virulent.

Sure. This was just an a-ha moment for me wrt the world's religions, how they operate in the real world over the millenia, eg. how Judaism split-morphed into a messianic cult which evolved into the State Church of Rome, picking up various "teachings" as the centuries ticked by, undergoing its own major speciation event with the Reformation, experiencing growth out in the world via Catholic and Protestant Missionaries, and now for the last 100+ years exploring more emotional/evangelical "revivals" .

Science-as-a-verb is also a meme, of course, but there's no "a-ha" there for me.

I should say that conflating religious studies with epidemiology is somewhat unfair to the former, but there is some truth to it IMV.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:43 PM on December 7, 2005


shmegegge,

"in the hope of eternal salvation" is pretty standard terminology for everybody, not just infants. For example, Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots's tomb says "sisters in the hope of resurrection" (sorores in spe resurrectionis). Both uses refer to the hope that we'll all live again in this world at the end of time.
posted by dd42 at 8:55 PM on December 7, 2005


FOREMAN ANGEL: "Hold it Clarence, stop pouring that celestial concrete. Word is from the up-above down below that the whole place is being scrapped."
WORKER ANGEL: "But, it's my job! How will I keep my wife angel and kid angels fed?"
FOREMAN: "You'll have to find some other public works project to get attached to. I hear purgatory's hiring."
WORKER: "Man, Virgil's gonna be pissed."
posted by JHarris at 2:45 AM on December 8, 2005


Sadly, limbo is not quite out of limbo just yet. This new doctrine clearly applies to children born from this point onwards, but doesn't allow retrospective consideration.

In essence, those people are still in limbo.
posted by jonthegeologist at 7:11 AM on December 8, 2005


so there's a grandfather clause for dead babies? how does that even work?
posted by wakko at 10:21 AM on December 8, 2005


Lemme get this straight: limbo still exists, but membership is only available to those who died before Benedict XVI stepped into the cathedra?

This is becoming more and more bizarre.
posted by darkstar at 1:10 PM on December 8, 2005


And what about the whole "infallible pope" bit?
posted by deborah at 5:47 PM on December 8, 2005


I believe, technically, infallibility only applies to "ex cathedra" utterances. But this doesn't seem to excuse a rather major shift of theology from centuries of doctrine, simply based on common sense.

Then again, though, the same could be said for the Church's finally accepting the Copernican model of the universe after centuries of doctrinal objection. Indeed, it is quite a similar cosmological shift in doctrine. The way the Catholic church handles THAT particular error is probably instructive here.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Galileo:
Such in brief is the history of this famous conflict between ecclesiastical authority and science, to which special theological importance has been attached in connection with the question of papal infallibility. Can it be said that either Paul V or Urban VIII so committed himself to the doctrine of geocentricism as to impose it upon the Church as an article of faith, and so to teach as pope what is now acknowledged to be untrue? That both these pontiffs were convinced anti-Copernicans cannot be doubted, nor that they believed the Copernican system to be unscriptural and desired its suppression. The question is, however, whether either of them condemned the doctrine ex cathedra. This, it is clear, they never did. As to the decree of 1616, we have seen that it was issued by the Congregation of the Index, which can raise no difficulty in regard of infallibility, this tribunal being absolutely incompetent to make a dogmatic decree. Nor is the case altered by the fact that the pope approved the Congregation's decision in forma communi, that is to say, to the extent needful for the purpose intended, namely to prohibit the circulation of writings which were judged harmful. The pope and his assessors may have been wrong in such a judgment, but this does not alter the character of the pronouncement, or convert it into a decree ex cathedra.
Basically, the Catholic Church argues that, although Popes and other leaders in the church may champion a particular doctrine of cosmology for centuries, and this doctrine may later be proven wrong and rejected by the church, as long as it was never made a special kind of utterance (ex cathedra), then it in no way reflects on the fallibility or divinely inspired wisdom of the Church leadership.
posted by darkstar at 6:58 PM on December 8, 2005


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