Thursday, 16 September 2010

nuns on the run

the pope is in the country today. the furore around it has sparked fine conversation between intellectuals, and nonsense from publications such as the daily mail. it put this video in my periphery...

... which spoon-fed a fair amount of chat between me and some of my cohortry.

comments included the quoting of this:
"‎(Religion) With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." - Steven Weinberg

it's a quote that is almost easy to accept in the modern world, if you don't pause for long enough to justify it or think of a counter. lest not ye consider the idea that religion could equally lead evil people to do good things, and has throughout history.

the thing I respect most about the stephen fry video is that he doesn't tar all religion with same brush. he takes pains to distinguish that he doesn't disagree with religion, and that for millions of people it's just a way that helps them understand a complex and mysterious world.

the problem is the imperialism, the self aggrandising, the arrogance of people in power drunk on the power of that power.
this is not limited to religion. bankers didn't fuck up the economy because god (or god's "earthly representative") told them to.
oil companies and governments don't rape and raze countries because of the words of Allah in a book somewhere.
a man doesn't sexually abuse children because Jesus said he should in John Chapter 4 verses 11-19.

some people are evil. some of those people end up in religious organisations. some of them progress high up in those organisations.

for good people to do evil doesn't only take religion. it can also be greed, coercion, desperation, despair, fear, peer pressure, depression, ignorance, mental breakdown. yes, these things appear (far more than they should) in religion, but not exclusively.

religious belief/faith in a god isn't bad. organised religion can be, sometimes, depending on who is running the show. it annoys the fuck out of me when those two get mixed up.

the catholic church isn't evil. a 'church' is a collective of people gathered to worship. the modern catholic church is mostly a vibrant community of good people who gather for coffee mornings and toddler groups. unfortunately their organisation is run by self-righteous self-appointed gods on earth, who would rather cover up unforgivable crimes against humanity than consider the fallibility of human beings. the appointment of a human as god's representative on earth is the problem. it is a joke. especially when he is granted infallibility. that's just screwed up.
and the get-out clause of all sins forgiven and forgotten, whatever they are, after confession is nonsense... but not a far cry from what people get away with under diplomatic immunity.

ramble ramble ramble. hierarchy of humans pisses me off.

... was my offering to the conversation.

a good man called robert suggested this:
"when push comes to shove, the lovely people believe in God, and they believe that the Pope is God's first chosen representative on Earth. If they didn't, they wouldn't be Catholics.
And so, nobody shouts too loudly about their gay friends, or contraception, or child abuse. They just mutter over their cappuccinos, pretend they don't use contraception, keep putting money in the collection box and hope silently that one day it will all change."
i don't know who said it originally, but this reminded me of a hugely important and concise thing i heard once:
the best way for evil to flourish is for good people to stand by and do nothing.

with the papal visit this week, it simply comes down to this:
there are men who raped children, who are now walking around as free men.

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