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Emperor Han Aidi
Keep an eye on the hanging tree. There will be a fresh astronomer hanging there soon. Mark my words.

This story is sometimes told:

During the reign of a particular emperor in China, the role of the historian was becoming more significant. An historian sat in the Emperors throne room and recorded events, as faithfully as possible, and the Emperor paid close attention to this process.

One day, the Emperor sentenced a man to be beheaded, and the man was executed immediately. However, it was not entirely clear that this was an act of justice or an act of anger. The historian recorded the event:

“The Emperor, on becoming angry at so and so, had his head cut off, seemingly unjustly.”

The Emperor, on reviewing the writings of the historian that day, became angry and insisted the historian change the record to reflect the emperor’s belief that the act was just. The historian duly noted in that day’s journal that the Emperor insisted that the record of that day’s execution be altered, and that the historian refused.

The next entry in this historical record read something like this:

“Former historian so and so was executed under the orders of the emperor, who was angered by the historian’s refusal to alter the record of the emperor’s previous unjust order of execution.”

…. And the next recorded event:

“Yet another historian was executed by order of the emperor for refusing to change the record of the emperor’s increasingly unjust behavior towards historians….”

And so on for a few more iterations, until finally this:

“Emperor has finally acquiesced to the power and privilege of the historian and regrets the execution of so many scribes. The record of the Emperor’s injustice will stand.”


Did this really happen? I don’t know. It was told to me in all apparent earnest by a learned Chinese scholar (a Chinese scholar of Chinese historiography) and my impression is that it is a story that has been told among Chinese historians and historiographers over the last few millennia. Kind of like an early version of those funny xerox pages that got passed around among the office cubicles in the days before email. Only if the boss finds it, you may get your head cut off. (Which is, I suppose, what makes it such a great story.)

In a more recently developed and less interesting culture, the Western Catholic Church, we may have a similar situation developing. It is a little different because it is slower moving (in time) and the “Emperor” — the pope — is not as wise.

The story probably begins before this, but one of the early rounds of denial came when Galileo Galilei was threatened with imprisonment or execution, forcing him to recant his assertion that the Earth is not at the center of the universe.

In 2006, the Pope fired the Vatican astronomer because this astronomer failed to accept the Pope’s particular creationist view. That astronomer, Father Coyne, was the director of the Vatican Observatory for 28 years and an outspoken supporter of a theistic version of Darwinism.

Coyne was replaced with a Jesuit Father named Funes, who’s expertise lie in the area of disk-shaped galaxies.

Now, Funes is spouting true heresy. He claims that there could be life on other planets, including intelligent life. Moreover, he claims that life elsewhere in the universe, even if it is human like, may exist without original sin.

This is, of course, a technicality, but an important technicality. Original sin was bestowed on all of the “children of Adam” … who were really the children of Eve, because you can never be absolutely certain about paternity in internally fertilizing mammals … in the Garden of Eden for mom and dad having eaten of the forbidden fruit. Until certain tenets of String Theory are confirmed, it would be difficult to assert that The Garden of Eden is or was a hyper dimensional complex space existing in several different planetary systems. No, a Pope would have to figure that the Garden was on earth.

In other words, Funes’ view is OK if we believe in a single Eden and see humans as descendant of the denizens of that place. But it is not OK, don’t you think, if we consider humans to be a) one of many similar beings; and b) the only ones to be saddled with original sin?

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The ideal pope might actually be an alien

The worst thing you can do as a Catholic is to die without Baptism. This is why, if you are not a Catholic and don’t want your child baptized, don’t leave the child in the care off any Catholics, even for a few minutes, alone. Your baby will be baptized. (I am not making this up. I’ve seen it happen.)

Not that Catholic baptism is so bad … it’s not like Protestant baptism, where there is a real risk of drowning. With Catholics it is just a little sprinkle on the face, like someone gleeked on you. Nobody’s pushing your head under water. But I digress….

My point is that this looks like an example of the academic-types up to their old tricks again. This astronomer, Funes, gets himself “in” at the Vatican, presumably by assuaging the concerns of a science-weary pope. Then he comes up with this crazy idea that humanoids exist elsewhere in the universe that are just like us but without Original Sin. That means they go to heaven, possibly with a brief stop in Purgatory if they were a little bad in life. But this is a different deal than the earthlings get!

You see, all humans who are not baptized … well, the best they can hope for is purgatory for eternity. Hell, if they were really bad. But Heaven is simply not an option. Once the word gets out that the Vatican thinks there is a group of humanoids who are in a sense, more ‘chosen’ than any earthling, all hell will break loose. If I can say that. (I think I can say that.)

His ass, in my opinion, is totally grass.


See also:

Is there intelligent life elsewhere in the universe?
Pope Evicts Astronomers
Pope: Science Ruins It
Abducted by Aliens … and dropped off at the Grand Canyon
The Night I Was Almost Abducted by Aliens in Boston


Comments

  1. #1 Alan Kellogg
    May 14, 2008

    Who did Eve have besides Adam?

  2. #2 JanieBelle
    May 14, 2008
  3. #3 Elizabeth
    May 14, 2008

    I don’t know, who? (this is the opening of a joke, right?)

  4. #4 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    May 14, 2008

    It seems to me that Catholics would be just fine and happy if they didn’t get into that whole “thinking” thing. Isn’t it enough to have all of these intercessory saints watching out for us? And, Greg, I really need to ask this:

    Who would be the patron saint of such aliens? There must be at least some provision for someone they can pray to if they run afoul of nature, or lose something and want St. Francis or St. Jude or whoever to put in a good word with the Big Guy for them. If we have only been broadcasting the good Catholic Faith for some 100 years, how could any aliens outside of 100 light years possibly know about the power of intercessory prayer?

    No, if they are out there, they are damned. Sure as shootin.’

  5. #5 Stephanie Z
    May 14, 2008

    Elizabeth, in case this wasn’t clear, I like your style.

  6. #6 tonyl
    May 14, 2008

    In 2006, the Pope fired the Vatican astronomer because this astronomer failed to accept the Pope’s particular creationist view.

    Um, that’s a complete and total lie. That’s not the reason the church gave for his retirement and that’s not why Coyne claims he retired. Why do you think he was fired over creationism? Because the Discovery Institute said so? Yeah, they’re a trustworthy bunch!

  7. #7 Matt Platte
    May 15, 2008

    I thought “gleek” was a word my kids made up when they were in middle school.

  8. #8 Inoculated Mind
    May 15, 2008

    Most Original Use of the Word “Gleek” Award!

    Hugh Ross and Fuz Rana (old-earth creationists) also believe similarly, on the basis of the quote about there being one Jesus who died on a cross for all sinners. Unless there’s a Quantum Entangled Jesus on every planet with intelligent life, this means that the must be without sin, or not exist at all. Ross and Rana take it as “evidence” that there is no intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

  9. #9 BlogCluelessnessSpotter
    May 15, 2008

    I converted Catholicism in my 40s, and am married to a Pastoral Minister.

    Despite these handicaps, I find myself actually enjoying thinking at times. It hurts my lil’ head, admittedly, but I persist nonetheless.

    I must also confess (it’s a Catholic thing) that I find myself strangely disinclined to baptize children who might be briefly placed in my care. I know I SHOULD kidnap them from their parents and quickly dunk them into a vat of holy water that their parents might find indistinguishable from ordinary water, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

    Oh well, I’d chat with you all some more, but I’m off to sacrifice a goat or something. Whatever it is you think we do. Cheers!

  10. #10 JJ Berg
    May 15, 2008

    Sacrifice a goat? I thought that’s what we did…

    Have I been doing this whole atheist thing wrong all these years?

  11. #11 John Paradox
    May 15, 2008

    Actually, I think Purgatory has been purged (sorry about that) from the Official Dogma….

    Oh, GOOgle!

    J/P=?

  12. #12 Me1
    May 15, 2008

    Making up stories about a group of people and then hating them for the reasons that you just made up is pretty stupid, don’t you think?

  13. #13 Thorfinn
    May 15, 2008

    Hopefully you are better informed in matters of science than you are in matters of the church.

  14. #14 Hugo
    May 15, 2008

    Isn’t the Patron Saint of Aliens Xenu? Wasn’t he a Jedi or something before he was corrupted by the ring and was forced to destroy Zardoz?

    Or have I got pop culture in your peanut butter? :P

  15. #15 Evolutionist
    May 15, 2008

    Father Coynes was sacked because the Pope is an Intelligent Design wingnut and Coynes is a scientist. A quick google brings up loads of sources to support that.

    See here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=401950&in_page_id=1811

  16. #16 Paladin
    May 15, 2008

    Catholics, and most religious people for that matter, believe that if you’re not baptized/ born again/ accept their religion, you go to hell or purgatory. If you didn’t even heard of their religion is not an excuse.

    So my question is: why don’t all of them push for a much better-funded space program? Shouldn’t we try to find the aliens and show them the error of their ways?

    At least they should try a reverse SETI-like program, broadcasting the bible or whatever, so the possible aliens all over the galaxy might go to heaven.

    Ohh, that’s right, maybe the aliens are born without the original sin, so we don’t need to do anything. Bummer!

  17. #17 Richard Eis
    May 15, 2008

    This is what happens when you take nonsense as fact and then apply logic to it to reach further conclusions. No doubt by the end of the month we will have another christian splinter group believing that Mary and Jesus must have been aliens.

    Although on second thoughts, that has probably already happened before.

  18. #18 LexCarter
    May 15, 2008

    i wonder how Eves 2 sons Kain and Abel got kids of their own….internal fertilization??

  19. #19 Dunc
    May 15, 2008

    I can totally see a sudden revival of interest in the fascinating mediaeval theological question of whether one should preach to dog-heads.

  20. #20 thadd
    May 15, 2008

    While I am not a theist, I was raised protestant, and your generality about protestant baptism is completely wrong. It might hold true for some, but the more waspish old school protestants (think Presbyterians) go by the splash of water on the baby’s head method. There is far less risk of drowning from that than walking to the car in the raid after the church service.

  21. #21 thadd
    May 15, 2008

    While I am not a theist, I was raised protestant, and your generality about protestant baptism is completely wrong. It might hold true for some, but the more waspish old school protestants (think Presbyterians) go by the splash of water on the baby’s head method. There is far less risk of drowning from that than walking to the car in the raid after the church service.

  22. #22 thadd
    May 15, 2008

    I just had one other thought, isn’t the Pope getting rid of the whole limbo for babies thing?

  23. #23 Blaidd Drwg
    May 15, 2008

    “Father Coynes was sacked because the Pope is an Intelligent Design wingnut and Coynes is a scientist.”

    You mean he was EXPELLED?!?!?! Say it isn’t so!

  24. #24 PPlante
    May 15, 2008

    The reason behind the adam & eve story is to explain God’s absence from the world. Humans were originally created to be in God’s presence but, because of the “original sin”, we were banished from Eden, aka God’s presence. Presumably, the physical universe was created to keep humanity in the state of house arrest banished from God’s presence. We must each redeem ourselves to work our way back into God’s presence (heaven). It seems reasonable that if other intelligent aliens exist in the universe, they too have been banished from God’s presence and placed here in this prison of a universe under the same state of house arrest. Therefore, they too have original sin.

    Hey, making this stuff up is fun. Maybe I should change careers and become a theologian (or vatican astronomer).

  25. #25 Sigmund
    May 15, 2008

    God made Adam and Eve, not Ai%hS&# and *W”#!

  26. #26 Fhiona
    May 15, 2008

    Please, please tell me you don’t all believe what you read in the Daily Mail! Btw, alongside the article we’re directed to, there’s another, equally interesting one. Apparently, “No Child Is Safe From The Sinister Cult Of Emo”. Tells you everything you need to know about the Daily Mail.

  27. #27 tonyl
    May 15, 2008

    Father Coynes was sacked because the Pope is an Intelligent Design wingnut and Coynes is a scientist. A quick google brings up loads of sources to support that.

    See here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=401950&in_page_id=1811

    Yes, Ben Stein, and a quick google search will show that those sources are wrong. But don’t take my word for it, lets ask Coyne:

    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0605165.htm

    “For some years I have, upon realizing that a scientific research institute such as ours requires a continuous input of new initiatives, suggested to Jesuit superiors that they search for a new director of this work,” Father Coyne wrote. “In May of this year upon my repeated request, they finally agreed to begin a search for a new director, resulting, rather rapidly to my delight, in the appointment of Jose Funes.”

    Stop being a half-assed skeptic and do a little research before spouting off your stupidity.

  28. #28 stogoe
    May 15, 2008

    I can’t believe that no-one has yet mentioned The Space Pope. Surely the Space Pope will come and set things right.

  29. #29 Fr. Spike
    May 15, 2008

    For the record, the rule of thumb is, “Never, *ever* trust a Brit newspaper for their religion coverage.” These are the same people who spread the story that the pope declared seven new sins, as some of you might remember. It’s like getting your science correspondence from The Baptist Press. Or Richard Dawkins for your Christian theology. Sad, but there ya go.

    Personally, a lot of this speculation about the “Teh Pope sez alienz r 4realz!!!!1!1!” story is setting off my bullshit detector. (It’s currently clocking over 670 milliroves.) PLENTY of Christians, Catholic and Protestant, have wondered about this stuff, and there are plenty of takes of it. Funes is essentially declining to take any of them. Remember how Phil Plaitt said something yesterday about how some fundies say “Earth is special creation, so life of other planets doesn’t exist! QED!” or something of that general import? That’s what this is about.

    The Vatican is taking a moment to publicly *not* say that. And apparently Funes is also using this opportunity to inform us that he really enjoyed The Space Trilogy. Sorry, some things richly deserve monkey trial coverage, and some things don’t. This just plain doesn’t.

  30. #30 Phoca
    May 15, 2008

    “i wonder how Eves 2 sons Kain and Abel got kids of their own….internal fertilization??”

    Who/what might they have done with external fertilization?

  31. #31 a lurker
    May 15, 2008

    Coyne was not fired. He retired. He had been asking to be replaced for several years and had cancer not to mention the fact he is old. He has been emphatic that he was not forced out. All of this is fairly trivial to confirm.

    I guess I am now the historian. Lets how the emperor responds. :-)

  32. #32 a lurker
    May 15, 2008

    Lets see how the emperor responds. :-)

    How did that word disappear? If memory serves scribes who made those kinds of mistakes did not last too long in ancient China. Good thing this ain’t China.

  33. #33 LexCarter
    May 15, 2008

    “Who/what might they have done with external fertilization?”

    with Whom might they have done external/internal fertilization hmm

  34. #34 the real cmf
    May 15, 2008

    “all of the “children of Adam” …

    Mama’s baby papa’s maybe.

    And never let your left hand know what yout right hand is doing, or who.

    Gleek: sqirting non-mucousic saliva between the gap in the front teeth; extra points for laterals and triple for bicuspids

  35. #35 Tech
    May 15, 2008

    Instead of simply spouting about off whatever nonsense suits your particular ideology, you could try and do a little research, or at least some basic reading. But hey, what do facts matter when you can score points for your “side”? As others have pointed out, Fr. Coyne retired of his own will (he had been diagnosed with cancer too BTW), and was replaced by someone with more or less identical views on the role of science.

    As far a the “aliens” comment goes, this would come as no surprise to anyone actually familiar with the Church’s stance on science. The supposed pronouncement of Funes was in fact part of an interview that covered rather more ground than just the subject of extraterrestrials. And yet the mouth-breathers in the press chose to focus on only this, and cover it like it was some kind of revelation.

  36. #36 Becky
    May 15, 2008

    If you’re going to be concerned about a members of a religion baptizing you or anyone you know without permission, take a look at the Mormons. They baptize non-believers after death. I’m from Utah, and I remember kids I went to grade school with going “baptizing for the dead” on the weekends. There was a big fuss over it a few years ago when members of the Jewish community found out they were baptizing Holocaust victims.

    As for the current Pope’s shenanagins, well, what do you expect from Emperor Palpatine?

  37. #37 the real Pious One
    May 15, 2008

    Tech: yeah…right, what do facts matter….except when you’re dealing with BIG HUGE LIARS like the Catholic church, and all of its non-fact based bullshit…cowbones and horse hair make up the bones of a saint; “virgins” seeing ghosts at Matanarnia…what next?

    So why not aliens? “You don’t want no steenking facts! Yew can’t handle de truth!”

  38. #38 amphiox
    May 15, 2008

    re: Cain and Abel

    I believe Cain murdered Abel before he had any children. Things are a little tougher to explain for Cain though. See, after he was banished for murdering his brother, he managed to find himself a wife! No mention where she came from.

  39. #39 Mitch Miller
    May 15, 2008

    Dude, God got pissed off at us for eating an apple!! You really think these aliens managed to stay on his good side for more than 10 minutes?

  40. #40 David Marjanovi?
    May 15, 2008

    Wasn’t one of the reasons Giordano Bruno was burnt that he had asked if Jesus had died for the people “on other stars”?

    I just had one other thought, isn’t the Pope getting rid of the whole limbo for babies thing?

    He only says there are reasons for prayerful hope that limbo doesn’t exist. Outright saying it doesn’t exist would put him into trouble, for none comes to the Father but through Jesus, he believes. Extra ecclesia nulla salus. In other words, it would put him on a slippery slope.

    How did that word disappear? If memory serves scribes who made those kinds of mistakes did not last too long in ancient China.

    To the contrary. Classical Chinese leaves everything out you could imagine, and then some. “A do you can call ‘do’ is not the true do” has just six syllables/words/characters in the original.

  41. #41 Pris
    May 15, 2008

    I went to Catholic school. The nuns taught me evolution. I never had a conflict with religion vs. science as a result.

    Use science to discover how life was created. Use religion for how to live your life.

  42. #42 the real cmf
    May 15, 2008

    David zhidao…shenme wo DOU buzhidao…

  43. #43 Gal O'Leo
    May 15, 2008

    Couple of points – Catholicism doesn’t promote Creationism, either in its usual guise or as intelligent design. And it’s absolutely true that many Catholics reach for water when confronted by an unbaptised child.

    For the record, I was brought up a Catholic, including the usual Catholic school thing with nuns and brothers and priests, but despite the brainwashing learned to think for myself around the age of 15. And my own mother baptised my son surreptitiously (that was some night, when my wife found out!).

  44. #44 Joshua Zelinsky
    May 15, 2008

    The notion that there might be aliens without original sin isn’t new. It is for example discussed in the popular science fiction book by Orson Scott Card “Speaker for the Dead” in which the local Bishop speculates that a certain alien species has not yet fallen. Even before that C.S. Lewis engaged in similar speculation.

    Moreover if I’m not mistaken the issue was also discussed in the 19th century by serious Christian theologians. I think the history of the Catholic attitude on this question is discussed in Crowe’s “The Extraterrestrial Life Debate: 1750-1900″ but I don’t have my copy of the book handy right now.

  45. #45 the real cmf
    May 15, 2008

    “Catholicism doesn’t promote Creationism” ?!? You haven’t met my dads side of the family: Opus Dei;-(

    Catholicism DOES promote creationism, as well as its own brand of strange fanatical dogmas related to conception.

    I think we are jaded here because (unlike homeschoolers and other fanatics who shut the doors to their brains) we have contrasting viewpoints that tease at our logic centers.

    It is easy to presume that they don’t teach creationism but not when looked at in context to the crap they serve the lesser developed nations–Mexicans on their knees climbing mountains to prove that the Virgin ( in Mexico??!) was there …all of those babies, no birth control…and “our father said so and so…” as the men of the house toil away across the border for $5 an hour…self flagellation in the name of Gawd, and heavin’…

  46. #46 (((Billy)))
    May 15, 2008

    Actually, I think Purgatory has been purged (sorry about that) from the Official Dogma….

    It did get purged. As a kid, I skiid Purgatory Ski Area (along the River of Lost Souls) near Durango many times. Thanks to the unwavering hostility of the superstitious radical evangelical Christian right, it is now Ski Durango. They did keep some of the cool ski run names, though. The lip from Upper Hades to Lower Hades is a fantastic jump.

  47. #47 Chris
    May 15, 2008

    I went to Catholic school. The nuns taught me evolution. I never had a conflict with religion vs. science as a result.

    I went to Catholic school as well and was taught evolution. I was also taught the virgin birth, Jesus rising bodily to heaven, and a bunch of other nonsense.
    Maybe you never had a conflict with science but it isn’t because of paying attention in catechism.

  48. #48 Astronowanabe
    May 15, 2008

    >Who did Eve have besides Adam?

    … well there was Cain and Able and they did beget sons …
    so, one way or another, there was some incest involved.

    subtitled “how to get thrown out of Catachism class”

  49. #49 JM Inc.
    May 15, 2008

    The official Catholic position, expounded by Pope John Paul II, on the modern synthesis is known as theistic evolution – life evolves, God intended it, but He does not show up periodically to stick things like flagella or eyeballs in, as IDists claim.

    The closest thing the Church has to that in official doctrine is that they hold that, while humans evolved, God specially created the human soul in Imago Dei, and provided it to the primitive humans at some point. They justify this with reference to Genesis 2:7 – “And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul.

    No, you don’t go to hell if you haven’t heard of Catholicism. No, I’m not defending Catholic doctrine, it’s just that I was raised a Catholic and it annoys the shit out of me when people can’t be bothered to criticise the right thing. If you don’t think it’s true, as I don’t, then just say so – if you want to pick on any specific denomination as being particularly wrong, then take a look at those official dogmas and decide what you think makes it particularly wrong. If you don’t want to take a look at the official dogmas, then don’t talk about them to begin with. It’s a mere matter of good debate skills, that’s all.

    Of course, the fact that official dogma varies so much is a strike against it all anyways. Even the two nitpickiest denominations of Christianity, the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, can’t agree, and they’re really splitting hairs with some of their differences. Never mind what the Orthodox Jews must think of it all. If God can’t get His story straight, then no one should listen to Him.

  50. #50 Sili
    May 15, 2008

    I see David Marjanovi? beat me to the Bruno question.

    Perhaps the Vat could do a Gallileo on poor ol’ Bruno and then put him up as the patron saint of aliens.

    And yes, lutherans only do the splash of water thing too. The forced babtism dealy sounds like good oldfashioned English anti-Papistry.

  51. #51 Tech
    May 15, 2008

    As it happens, it would be a mistake to claim that Bruno was executed for believing in life on other worlds. While that was one of the notions that he held, his chief problem as far as the Church was concerned was that he had embraced the gnosticism of the Heremetic tradtition (with a few of his own twists).

  52. #52 David
    May 16, 2008

    Poor old Bruno,
    I wonder if he becomes a Saint he’ll get his nose back again – or do noses re-grow once you get to Heaven/Hell/The-other-side?

  53. #53 Dunc
    May 16, 2008

    Things are a little tougher to explain for Cain though. See, after he was banished for murdering his brother, he managed to find himself a wife! No mention where she came from.

    That’s because someone rewrote an older story, but decided to completely excise one of the key characters – Lilith. She was Adam’s first wife, but they fell out because she wasn’t submissive enough for him. (Eve was his third wife. The second wife doesn’t even get named, but he didn’t like her because he saw how she was created and didn’t like knowing that she was made of meat and bone.) Lilith then heads off out of the Garden to found a completely separate lineage (the Lilim) by consorting with demons.

  54. #54 Elizabeth
    May 16, 2008

    he had embraced the gnosticism of the Heremetic tradtition

    In that case it makes total sense that they killed him.

  55. #55 themadlolscientist
    May 16, 2008

    “Quantum Entangled Jesus” FTW x 777!

    The best take I’ve ever heard on how different religions baptize came from the late humorist Rev. Grady Nutt.

    Nutt was a Southern Baptist minister who was also a regular on the cornball TV show “Hee Haw” (don’t look at me, it’s my ex’s fault that I know this – “Hee Haw” was one of his guilty pleasures) and had some hilarious things to say about churches’ shenanigans. When asked on the show to explain baptism, he went down the list of all the denominations that sprinkle or pour water on people, and then he got to the Baptists:

    “We hold ‘em under until they bubble.”

  56. #56 themadlolscientist
    May 16, 2008

    Is the Emperor a distant ancestor of Steve Martin?

  57. #57 the real cmf
    May 16, 2008

    Lilith “found[ed] a completely separate lineage (the Lilim) by consorting with demons.”

    Oh! That explains all of those single mother raised kids who swell the US military ranks, and the prisons!

  58. #58 george.w
    December 25, 2008

    Making up stories about a group of people and then hating them for the reasons that you just made up is pretty stupid, don’t you think?

    It’s been 150 years since The Kidnapping Of Edgardo Mortara, but it’s hard to imagine some Catholics don’t baptize other people’s children when they get the chance. Not most, probably, but some. Just no kidnapping to follow.

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