Tag Archives: religion

Vatican To Reboot Entire Catholic Faith

We’ve been hearing rumors for months now, but it’s finally been confirmed. Last Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI announced that the Roman Catholic Church would be undergoing “a complete and total overhaul” to make it more easily accessible to new converts. From the official press release

“While the Catholic Church is very proud of its accomplishments over the past two millennia, it is becoming increasingly clear in this fast-paced age of technology and social media that the current One True Faith leaves a lot to be desired, and can leave many newcomers cold. It is understandable, of course, that those who are newer to the Church may be confused upon initial entry. After all, our current canon consists not only of the Holy Bible, broken into the Old and New Testaments, but Sacred Tradition and countless Creeds. . . In the new Faith, all of this will be streamlined and made available in a much more organized and digestible fashion.”

On the one hand, this news is very exciting. It’s well known that the Church could use an overhaul. Coming into the Faith new, a convert has a lot to take in. There’s the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and the trinity; not to mention the nearly two-thousand year history. Who can really be expected to learn about the Crusades and the Great Schism just for a chance to get into Heaven?

Of course, with the new reorganization, Heaven may not even exist, at least not exactly as modern Catholics see it. When questioned about the afterlife, the Pope said “We have big plans for. . . Heaven and Hell. For the new direction, we are going to be trying very hard to distance ourselves from Dante and the like.” This comes as quite the shock. We don’t yet know what direction they’re planning on taking this, but there’s a very good chance they’re going towards something more akin to Hindu’s philosophy of constant reincarnation. That would definitely shake things up a bit!

While the Pope has made it clear that the fundamental tenets will still be pretty much the same, there seem to be no sacred cows when it comes to the reboot. Trinity? The Virgin Mary? Excommunication? All seem to be in a state of limbo at the moment.

The biggest change that has been definitively revealed so far is in the nature of the Church’s flagship property, God. Traditionally, God, and therefore the Church, is seen as infallible. This will not necessarily be the case in the future. According to the Pope, “Infallibility was a huge draw back when the disciples were writing. It was a much different time, when people felt they needed something very reliable to hold onto.”

“Not so much anymore,” continues the Pope, “The attitude these days seems to be to question everything. Question your teachers, question your parents, question your government, even question God. Rather than fighting this and driving away potential converts, we are adopting a policy of semifallibility. This way people, young people especially, can question all they want and still remain in good standing with the Church.” When questioned as to exactly how fallible God would become, the Pope answered with a wink and a nudge. “I think we’ll end up being right most of the time.”

To many, these changes may seem like a lot. To some, though, they are not enough. Detractors say that the Church has been tracing over its steps, retconning important developments since the First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. Others point out that the foundation of the church itself was in a way a reorganization of the earlier Jewish religion, which shares much of the same continuity. One anonymous blogger wrote

“This is just yet another desperate attempt at siphoning converts off from the competition. The Holy See sees all these potential Catholics going off to Protestantism or Islam or countless until recently obscure Eastern faiths and thinks ‘We have to make ourselves more accessible.’ What they don’t realize is that those religions have just as much bloat as Roman Catholicism. The draw isn’t accessibility, those religions are simply better. Adding a shiny new paint job to a rotten core and calling it a reboot is not going to save their dying followerbase.”

Whether the reboot will be the breath of fresh air this religion needs, or just another flash in the pan is yet to be seen. You can go to their website to see a complete list of new Scriptures. Personally, I can’t wait to see the streamlined Pentateuch. Jesus Christ isn’t really my thing, but they’re keeping the Big Four gospels (though I don’t think there’s a single Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John on the writing team), so they seem to still think he’s pretty important. The Neil Gaiman-penned Revelation also looks extremely promising.

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Saint Vader

I haven’t posted here for a while, but I found this fascinating.  I have a feeling that three thousand years from now archaeologists will find this and come to the conclusion that we have been visited by aliens.

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In Defense of Reason

I wasn’t sure whether to post this here or not.  I really wasn’t sure what stand to take on politics or religion on this blog, as talking about either, supporting any side of the debate instantly alienates a portion of the audience.  However, since my audience currently stands at a record 11 views in one day, I feel like that isn’t much of a concern for me.  In general, I plan to stay away from those topics, but here, I feel like I should lay out my views, what makes me tick, etc., so you know what kind of person you’re dealing with.  If religious weirdness seriously offends you, I recommend not reading the below, unless you’d like to leave hateful comments.

I am not an atheist.  Within the circles I inhabit (i.e. geekish, computery, internet circles), this feels like a minority position.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t actively affiliate myself with a religion, and I believe in evolution and any other not-yet-disproven scientific principles just about as much as one can agree with them.  If I were to align my views with any specific faith it would probably be very close to Taoism, with Quakerism coming in as my nearest Western religion.  Some might say I’m almost a humanist, although I’m not going to delve into my spiritual beliefs at this point.  Rather, I feel inclined to list out some pet peeves I have about atheism.*

  • There are multiple faiths outside of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. So many times atheists will argue against the existence of God with something like “if God is a kind of loving God, why would he kill his only son?” or “if God talked to all those people in ancient times, why doesn’t he talk to us like that anymore?”  This could be considered a valid argument for a faith that holds that God is indeed kind and loving and killed his son (Jesus, I hope I don’t have to point out).  This is not, however, an argument against the existence of any sort of God.  In most Buddhist traditions, God is not personified.  In Taoism as well, there is no person God, but there is a force, the Tao, that not only surrounds people but includes people.  In other belief systems God does not have control over our lives, but he exists either outside our universe or as a creator of it.  So many times I’ve seen arguments that do a fine job of bringing down Christianity (there is an awful lot of killing in the Bible), a religion based on a book written by so many different authors, based on so many different “original copies” and subject to so much political meddling as to be somewhat questionable as a reliable source.  However, this does nothing to disprove the existence of any sort of God, just as disproving Bigfoot does not disprove the existence of primates.
  • Religion is a tool, not an opiate. Another argument I often see is “Christians killed millions of people in the Crusades, and now Muslims are killing people for their religion, there is no God.”  When I see this argument I instantly remember something Ralph Singh (a great man whom I sadly have little time to explain right now) said once: “There is no such thing as a Sikh terrorist, just as there is no such thing as a Christian terrorist or a Muslim terrorist”.  Calling oneself religious is not equatable to being true to a religion.  Historically, the Catholic church has indeed been held responsible for amazing tragedies.  People point to religion as a cause of the conflict without acknowledging the ultimate goals of these conflicts (the same as the ultimate goal for any conflict: power).  Religion, when manipulated by kings and warlords, can indeed be the “opiate of the masses,” as Karl Marx so lovingly labeled it.  Christians never attacked Jerusalem to kill godless heathens (although the illiterate masses were certainly duped into believing so), they attacked Jerusalem to plunder its wealth, and claim dominance over a holy landmark that could then be used to rally further support for the Catholic church, an institution which, at the time, was equally power-hungry as any feudal king or lord.  It is important to remember that there was not battle between Catholicism and Islam, there was a battle between people who called themselves Catholic and people who called themselves Muslim.  The driving force of the conflict is always people, greed, and powerlust.  God has never decreed anybody fit for death (unless you believe the Old Testament, but even mainstream Christians tend to shy away from all that Judges-like stuff).
  • Great things have been accomplished through religion. People focus on the negatives of religion, and it’s true that there have been a lot of deaths in the name of one God or another.  Never in those arguments is any statement made for any of the great people, truly modern heroes, who based a lot of their work on religion.  Mahatma Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Oscar Romero, the Dalai Lama, all believed very deeply in a God.  Every single one condemned any kind of violence, even when most people, even very rational, moral people, would have deemed it necessary.  And every one of them has found some sort of success in their mission.  It’s a shame that the work of tyrants is remembered when the work of saints (I use that term both secularly and spiritually) is forgotten or pushed aside.
  • Belief in God does demand responsibility. One of the most convincing arguments I have heard for atheism comes from Penn Jillette for the NPR segment “This I Believe” (you can read it here, I would suggest it).  He argues that the existence of God makes people less responsible.  Belief makes it so people can be cruel or unmoral and simply ask for forgiveness later.  This is a hard one to justify, but by going into personal beliefs (which I know I said I wouldn’t do), I can justify it to myself.  In my worldview, God is and there is nothing but God.  This means that every life, every object and every law of the universe, is a part of the same whole.  In essence, we are God.  In this theology, there is no forgiveness to be found above.  Everything I do, I do knowing full well that if I have to justify it, it won’t be to a peronsified God, it will be to myself, and to whoever is affected.  I believe that this is the one leap of faith I have made explicit so far, and if one digs deeper into this line of reasoning, many things become clear.  Many things remain obscure as well, but that is only the nature of life.

I hope I haven’t bored anyone, and I apologise if anyone is offended (I know I was kind of hard on the Bible, but I really do not object to Christianity, and all the Christians I know are truly spiritual, moral people, and I wish more of them could be seen in the media as opposed to, oh, Jack Chick).  I didn’t really have anything else to write about, and I only meant this to go for maybe one or two paragraphs, but I see it’s kind of gotten away from me.  In the future, I’ll get back to more geekery and fun fun fun, so don’t worry about it.  Probably not too close in the future though, since I’m going out of town for practically 24 days, and I have no idea what the internet situation will be.  So fare thee well.

Also, Michael Jackson died, and the Mets are only a half a game behind the Phillies.  Maybe the Mets’ll actually make the playoffs this year, then we’ll definitely know there’s a God.

*NOTE: I am not anti-atheism.  I respect anybody’s personal belief.  This list is about the arguments for atheism that I hear so often in almost every single forum there is, arguments which always receive fanfare and ironic “amens.”  This is really the evangelcal atheism I have a problem with, the same way I have a problem with people of any ridiculous extreme not-necessarily-well-thought-out opinion.

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