Pharyngula

Darwin strikes again!

A Catholic bishop (of a weird breakaway sect, admittedly) has endorsed the

Protocols of the Elders of Zion and declared that Jews are conspiring to rule the world.

Obviously, the man must be an evolutionist. Only through Darwin can one become a hateful racist.*

*Necessary disclaimer: obviously, I’m saying this with a sarcastic sneer.

Comments

  1. #1 Eamon Knight
    March 5, 2008

    Oh gods, read that article. This nutjob is also a 9-11 whacko and thinks The Sound of Music is an immoral film.

    OK, those are the highlights, so y’all can save a few brain cells by NOT reading the article, which gives quotes from the Reverend Whackjob. I hope y’all appreciate the sacrifice I made on your behalf.

  2. #2 Muse142
    March 5, 2008

    Evidence…? Evidence…? (Bueller…?)

    Guess it ain’t too important to these religious folk. Who knew?

    This is the same guy who said 911 was done via “absolutely for certain not two aeroplanes that brought down those towers”.

    Fascinating…

  3. #3 Lilly de Lure
    March 5, 2008

    Thanks for that link, I’ve just read through the “greatest hits” list of Williamson’s quotes. I now need a shower. In bleach.

    I guess it’s time for all of us from the UK to go look for our paper bags now.

    Also – isn’t this the same lot that Mel Gibson is entangled with?

  4. #4 John C. Randolph
    March 5, 2008

    The article says he’s been excommunicated, so he’s not a catholic.

    -jcr

  5. #5 Bouncing Bosons
    March 5, 2008

    Oh wow, check out the quotes at the bottom:

    ‘A woman can do a good imitation of handling ideas, but then she will not be thinking properly as a woman. Did this lawyeress check her hairdo before coming into court? If she did, she is a distracted lawyer. If she did not, she is one distorted woman.’

    Really? Really? Yes, sure, making sure you are presentable for a appearance before a court in which you will be representing a client who has paid you good money make you a bad lawyer.

    I’ve got to say this for him, at least he’s consistent about hating just about everybody.

    Also, the Sound of Music is apparently porn now. I must have missed that amongst all the singing and fully-clothed people…

  6. #6 Tulse
    March 5, 2008

    “This is my diagnosis of the Unabomber. You may say what you like about him as a criminal terrorist, and much of it is true… But he still has a remotely Catholic sense of how technology brutalises man. How Catholic are those technophiles who wallow at ease in their computers?”

    and

    Some of his former students have posted video tributes to him on YouTube

    I just don’t know how their heads don’t explode.

  7. #7 Chris
    March 5, 2008

    What always cracks me up is the fact that none of those openly anti-semitic Christians realise that their own faith basically is “just” another judean sect.

    They either do not know, or do not care.

    I wonder which one is worse.

  8. #8 Abby Normal
    March 5, 2008

    *sings*
    The hills are alive…
    And they’re eating children.

  9. #9 MReap
    March 5, 2008

    You do realize that SSPX has a large seminary here in Winona. It used to be their world HQ.

  10. #10 fred
    March 5, 2008

    A simple mistake: had he announced that it was the Muslims who secretly plot to rule the world, his cult would have a lot more traction.

  11. #11 Kseniya
    March 5, 2008

    Better make that, “Mental illness strikes again.”

  12. #12 Lassi Hippelńinen
    March 5, 2008

    @fred: The Bible, which contains The Whole Truth, does not mention Muslims. Ergo, there are no Muslims.

  13. #13 Lassi Hippelńinen
    March 5, 2008

    @fred: The Bible, which contains The Whole Truth, does not mention Muslims. Ergo, there are no Muslims.

  14. #14 Farb
    March 5, 2008

    Well of course the Sound of Music is immoral! Just read these lyrics!

    First of all, there’s the free-spirited nun (and I’m sure that particular possibility caused more than a casual stirring deep within His Grace’s tightly-buttoned cassock!):

    Maria

    BERTHE:
    She climbs a tree
    And scrapes her knee
    Her dress has got a tear.

    SOPHIA:
    She waltzes on her way to mass
    And whistles on the stair.

    BERTHE:
    And underneath her wimpole
    She has curlers in her hair!

    SOPHIA:
    I ever hear her singing in the abbey.

    BERTHE:
    She’s always late for chapel,

    MARGARETTA:
    But her penitence is real.

    BERTHE:
    She’s always late for everything,
    Except for every meal.

    MOTHER ABBESS:
    I hate to have to say it
    But I very firmly feel

    BERTHE AND SOPHIA:
    Maria’s not an asset to the abbey!

    MARGARETTA:
    I’d like to say a word in her behalf.
    Maria makes me laugh!

    SOPHIA:
    How do you solve a problem like Maria?

    MOTHER ABBESS:
    How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

    MARGARETTA:
    How do you find a word that means Maria?

    BERTHE:
    A flibberti gibbet!

    SOPHIA:
    A willo’ the wisp!

    MARGARETTA:
    A clown!

    MOTHER ABBESS:
    Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her,
    Many a thing she ought to understand.

    MARGARETTA:
    But how do you make her stay
    And listen to all you say,

    MOTHER ABBESS:
    How do you keep a wave upon the sand?

    MARGARETTA:
    Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?

    MOTHER ABBESS:
    How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

    MARGARETTA:
    When I’m with her I’m confused,
    Out of focus and bemused,
    And I never know exactly where I am.

    SOPHIA:
    Unpredictable as weather,
    She’s as flighty as a feather,

    MARGARETTA:
    She’s a darling,

    BERTHE:
    She’s a demon,

    MARGARETTA:
    She’s a lamb.

    SOPHIA:
    She’d out-pester any pest,
    Drive a hornet from his nest,

    BERTHE:
    She can throw a whirling dervish
    Out of whirl.

    MARGARETTA:
    She is gentle,
    She is wild,

    SOPHIA:
    She’s a riddle.

    MARGARETTA:
    She’s a child.

    BERTHE:
    She’s a headache!

    MARGARETTA:
    She’s an angel!

    MOTHER ABBESS:
    She’s a girl.

    ALL NUNS:
    How do you solve a problem like Maria?
    How do you catch a clown and pin it down?
    How do you find a word that means Maria?
    A flibberti gibbet!
    A willo’ the wisp!
    A clown!
    Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her,
    Many a thing she ought to understand.
    But how do you make her say,
    And listen to all you say?
    How do you keep a wave upon the sand?
    Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?
    How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

    Then, the Church lets this little firecracker go out in the world, complete with a license to pursue whatever she wants!

    Climb Every Mountain

    MOTHER ABBESS:
    Climb every mountain,
    Search high and low,
    Follow every byway,
    Every path you know!

    Climb every mountain,
    Ford every stream,
    Follow every rainbow,
    Till you find your dream!

    A dream that will need
    All the love you can give,
    Every day of your life
    For as long as you live!

    Climb every mountain,
    Ford every stream,
    Follow every rainbow,
    Till you find your dream!

    A dream that will need
    All the love you can give,
    Every day of your life
    For as long as you live

    Climb every mountain,
    Ford every stream,
    Follow every rainbow,
    Till you find your dream!

    Oh, my, such steamy stuff, the very essence of pornography! But the crowning atrocity, which clinches this as immoral beyond redemption, is:

    Sixteen Going on Seventeen

    [Rolf:]
    You wait, little girl, on an empty stage,
    For fate to turn the light on.
    Your life, little girl, is an empty page,
    That men will want to write on!

    [Liesl:]
    To write on

    [Rolf:]
    You are sixteen going on seventeen,
    Baby, it’s time to think,
    Better beware, be canny and careful,
    Baby, you’re on the brink!

    You are sixteen going on seventeen,
    Fellows will fall in line,
    Eager young lads and rogues and cads,
    Will offer you food and wine!

    Totally unprepared are you
    To face a world of men;
    Timid and shy and scared are you,
    Of things beyond your ken!

    You need someone older an wiser
    Telling you what to do;
    I am seventeen going on eighteen,
    I’ll take care of you!

    [Liesl:]
    I am sixteen going on seventeen,
    I know that I’m naive;
    Fellows I meet may tell me I’m sweet,
    And willingly I believe!

    I am sixteen going on seventeen,
    Innocent as a rose;
    Bachelor dandies, drinkers of brandies,
    What do I know of those?

    Totally unprepared am I
    To face a world of men;
    Timid and shy and scared am I
    Of things beyond my ken!

    I need someone older and wiser
    Telling me what to do;
    You are seventeen going on eighteen,
    I’ll depend on you!

    (And I thought the mainstream ones were loony when they decreed that the “Wedding March” from Lohengrin” was Satanically-inspired!)

  15. #15 Arnaud
    March 5, 2008

    Weird breakaway sect, I am not so sure any more. SSPX was founded after and in reaction to Vatican II and the Catholic Church was happy to let them be for a while and didn’t really act when they took possession of St Nicolas du Chardonnet in 1977. JPII took action, excommunication, in 1988 but I am not sure the current pope, who was negotiating with Lefebvre at the time on behalf of the Vatican, would have reacted.
    There are talk at the moment of rapprochement and maybe a reconciliation with the church.
    Scary, scary people. I apologize to the world at large on behalf of all sane French people…

  16. #16 James
    March 5, 2008

    Just remember PZ: If you don’t add those disclaimers, I sheepishly believe everything you say, just like I sheepishly believe in evolution, the roundness of the earth, and the gods having no rectum.

  17. #17 Mooser
    March 5, 2008

    Fer Gawd’s sake, PZ, give me a chance! I’ve been working on that takeover schtick for 54 years, and just for your information, I’m almost there! All I can say, PZ is I hope you like the hell out of bagels, cause we are gonna stuff you atheists full of ‘em, til you holler “I believe!”
    I’ve always been surprised by those accusations of world-domination against Jews. Like there’s anything else worth doing, after you’ve been Bar Mitzvahed, of course.

  18. #18 Mrs Tilton
    March 5, 2008

    No, Eamon, some things must be squarely faced. Are you all simply too frightened to face the truth about The Sound of Music? Testify, reverend:

    Can you imagine Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music staying with the Captain if the romance went out of their marriage? Would she not divorce him and grab his children to be her toys? All the elements of pornography are there…

    I have seen TSoM, and I have seen pornography. With the greatest imaginable respect and deference to His Bishopliness, it’s just possible that the former is missing one or two minor elements of the latter. But then there is all manner of porn I haven’t seen, and who is to say there isn’t a market for Fake-Austrian Schmaltz Fetish videos?

    jcr @4, I’m sure he’d tell us that he never left the church, the church left him. (That is, he’s an American Democrat Youstabee, translated into Latin.) Of course he’s catholic. He’s just not Roman Catholic. Back in my churchgoing days we referred every Sunday, in the creed, to the “catholic church” and were under the impression we belonged to it (this was in a presbyterian church, you understand). With my churchgoing behind me, I think the antisemitic breakaway bishop if anything even more entitled to the term. If he calls himself “catholic”, then he’s catholic — because the word has exactly as much meaning and validity when he uses it as when Ratzinger does.

  19. #19 DaveX
    March 5, 2008

    “I apologize to the world at large on behalf of all sane French people…”

    And I accept that apology from all 12 of you. Thanks! *jk*

  20. #20 Holbach
    March 5, 2008

    That freaking moronic dreck should have been featured in
    that great video “A New Pope”, babbling incoherently in
    the area with the “Dark Ones’!

  21. #21 Janine
    March 5, 2008

    Can you imagine Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music staying with the Captain if the romance went out of their marriage? Would she not divorce him and grab his children to be her toys? All the elements of pornography are there…

    I guess that explains why Julie Andrews had a topless scene in “SOB”.

    A woman can do a good imitation of handling ideas, but then she will not be thinking properly as a woman. Did this lawyeress check her hairdo before coming into court? If she did, she is a distracted lawyer. If she did not, she is one distorted woman.

    Oooh! Ooh! Oh! I think I can give a good imitation of an answer here. Let me see here, I think I have an idea here. Oh, yeah. Only true humans are capable of rational thought. And by definition, only white male Catholics are truly human. Are the rest are merely twisted fakes.

  22. #22 NJ
    March 5, 2008

    All the elements of pornography are there…

    And I still tear up to hear that lilting Rogers and Hammerstein music:

    Bow-chicka-bow-bow…

  23. #23 Bouncing Bosons
    March 5, 2008

    Mooser (#15): I, for one, welcome our bagel-toting overlords.

    So, lets see, he thinks the Jews are taking over the world and 9/11 was an inside job. Wonder what his views on the moon landing “hoax”, hollow earth “theory”, time cube and the mind control devices the ATF puts in dijon mustard are?

  24. #24 Lilly de Lure
    March 5, 2008

    All the elements of pornography are there…

    Unless there’s a version of TSoM doing the rounds that I completely missed out on (if so can someone please send me a copy?) I think his Inaneness will find that virtually all of the elements commonly found in pornography are missing from it (apart, possibly, from the bad acting).

    Janine said:

    Only true humans are capable of rational thought. And by definition, only white male Catholics are truly human. Are the rest are merely twisted fakes.

    You only just figured that out? just goes to show, us poor women are no good at this rational thinking lark.

    Naturally though, his Holy Inanity is a walking advertisement for the reasoning powers of said white, male catholics and as such it is wrong and distorted of us mere irrational women to think badly of him.

  25. #25 themadlolscientist
    March 5, 2008

    “and the gods having no rectum”

    Holy $#!+ !!!!!

  26. #26 MAJeff, OM
    March 5, 2008

    mind control devices the ATF puts in dijon mustard are?

    Dijon? DIJON?! What are you, some kind of Frenchy?

    Bake him away, toys.

  27. #27 Holbach
    March 5, 2008

    Farb @ #12 You omitted the most poignant stanza of “Sixteen
    Going On Seventeen” :

    When your sixteen going on seventeen
    Waiting for life to start,
    Somebody kind who touches your mind
    Will suddenly touch your heart.

    How could you omit that touching stanza

    FARB @ #12 You omitted the most poignant stanza of
    “Sixteen Going On Seventeen”:

    When your sixteen going on seventeen
    Waiting for life to start,
    Somebody kind who touches your mind
    Will suddenly touch your heart.

    How could you omit that most touching of sentiments?

  28. #28 MH
    March 5, 2008

    I have never, until now, had any desire to see The Sound of Music. I must look out for it now, presumably at the local ‘blue movie’ cinema.

    And you know those special screenings of the film where the audience dress like the actors and participate in the songs? Are they really orgies?

  29. #29 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 5, 2008

    As an Austrian, I fully agree that The Sound of Music is an immoral film! Not for quite the same reasons, though.

    You do realize that SSPX has a large seminary here in Winona.

    Where is “here in Winona”?

  30. #30 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 5, 2008

    As an Austrian, I fully agree that The Sound of Music is an immoral film! Not for quite the same reasons, though.

    You do realize that SSPX has a large seminary here in Winona.

    Where is “here in Winona”?

  31. #31 Rita Bennett
    March 5, 2008

    tomandlorenzo.blogspot.com do Musical Mondays.

    The Sound of Music was done July 16, 2007.
    I use do and done to denote bitchy sarcasm.
    Pulldown list of the musicals done is at the left side of the screen.

    Tom and Lorenzo also do Project Rungay; THEY SEW, WE RIP.

  32. #32 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    The man is not a Catholic bishop and calling him that is an exercise in sensationalistic bigotry. If some former academic had had his Ph.D. revoked and been fired by the university, would you refer to him as a professor with a doctorate? Of course not! But you insist on referring to this excommunicated nut job as a Catholic bishop! That’s called hypocrisy. Considering that the Catholic Church is one of the few, if not the only, branches of Christianity that has said it is basically comfortable with evolution, you’d think there would be better targets of your bigotry.

  33. #33 Lilly de Lure
    March 5, 2008

    Gregory:

    PZ did point out in his post that this guy is from a weird breakaway cult of the Catholic Church rather than the main branch, which I’d say describes this organisation rather well.

    As for him not being a bishop he is described in the below terms:

    A senior bishop of the Lefebvrist Society of St Pius X (SSPX) (emphasis mine)

    by The Catholic Herald, hardly a likely organ of anti-catholic bigotry.

    If he doesn’t like being potrayed as a stupid, poisonous bigot, then he shouldn’t say stupid, poisonous bigoted things.

  34. #34 s1mplex
    March 5, 2008

    Gregory F. Hauser -

    Frankly, I think the appeasement should have begun once they accepted heliocentrism.
    :|

  35. #35 gerald spezio
    March 5, 2008

    Since this is a science blog, and many scientists define science as both the best way of knowing ever discovered and the most effective way of trying to understand the world; let us desist from joyously & self indulgently whacking the deluded fanatical holy Bishop and proceed to “change his mind” – make him more
    tolerant, loving, skeptical of preposterous claims, & scrupulously scientific – more like our skeptical & tolerant selves.

    We have identified the problem because it was ridiculously easy (science surely helped?), but effecting a solution is a real bummer.

    No resorting to obscurantism & geisteswissenshaftens (the human sciences are different) either; it’s science or nothing at this stage of human development.

    If somebody “knows how to go beyond science;” please let us in on it.

    We have some conflicting claims about the world and, we must struggle with them as best we can.

    Stanley Jaki, a superb physicist & historian of science, maintains his Catholic premise right out of his Hungarian catechism; but is still able to elucidate science for all stumbling humans regardless of religion, mental illness, intolerance, or lack of religion.

    Ditto for Pierre Duhem.

    It is good thing that nobody beat Benedictine priest Jaki about the head & shoulders for his bonehead Catholicism because he never would have written some terrific books about science.

    I often wonder how in the name of beelzebub, Jaki can pull it off.

    Something like the mad bishop, but different, very different.

    With Jaki; all I have to do is disabuse him of his dumb head Catholicism.

    The saintly Bishop looks like a tougher case.

  36. #36 MAJeff, OM
    March 5, 2008

    Where is “here in Winona”?

    Minnesota. Cute little town on the Mississippi River. There’s also a state university there.

  37. #37 Don
    March 5, 2008

    ‘…the Catholic Church is one of the few, if not the only, branches of Christianity that has said it is basically comfortable with evolution…’

    You are mistaken.

    http://www.dfms.org/19021_58398_ENG_HTM.htm

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/mar/21/religion.uk

    (you need to scroll down about 70% of the page. The archbish says creationism is a category error which should not be taught)

    I can’t find the citation (yet) but I believe that the Greek Orthodox church considers creationism to be on a par with astrology.

    Creationism is, by and large, the preserve of American evangelicals. Thanks to the cash they generate they have made some inroads elsewhere in the last decade, but very few christian sects have a problem with evolution per se, although naturally they tend towards theistic evolution.

  38. #38 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    My question remains: If the guy had been a former academic with his Ph.D. revoked and fired by a university, would PZ have written about him as Professor or Doctor so-and-so and only later mentioned that he was in fact no longer a professor or a Ph.D.? I don’t think so! And that is hypocrisy.

    As for the heliocentrism, Galileo’s era was one when alchemy was considered serious science. Does that detract from the credibility of the current scientific world? Let’s deal with current facts.

  39. #39 sublunary
    March 5, 2008

    “the moon landing “hoax”, hollow earth “theory”, time cube and the mind control devices the ATF puts in dijon mustard “(21)

    Ok, I was just going to let it go and pretend I was one of the well informed cool kids. But too I’m curious. Could someone point me to the origin of the Time Cube business? I don’t want to feel left out anymore.

  40. #40 Janine
    March 5, 2008
  41. #41 gerald spezio
    March 5, 2008

    Monsieur Arnaud, Merde, some of the French people are crazy or at least had a period of craziness.

    I know this because they not only like Jerry Lewis movies – they say that Jerry Lewis is a genius.

    Hell is where the government is headed by Sarkozy & only Jerry Lewis movies are allowed.

    Who will ever cover up the foul mess left by Foucault, Derrida, Deluze, Latour, & Levi-Strauss?

  42. #42 MAJeff, OM
    March 5, 2008

    Oh noes! Peeyar Franšaise.

  43. #43 Janine
    March 5, 2008

    Gregory, about your question. What are you talking about? It was clearly stated that this person is a bishop of a breakaway sect. Fine, he is not a main stream catholic. Trying to equate this to current scientific knowledge does not apply. The conflict between the sect is a difference of opinion, not a difference of what is known.

  44. #44 gerald spezio
    March 5, 2008

    Hell hath no fury like a gender studies person scorned.

  45. #45 Janine
    March 5, 2008
  46. #46 MAJeff, OM
    March 5, 2008

    gerry, stop trying to hit me and hit me.

  47. #47 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    Don, thanks for the info on the Anglicans/Episcopalians. As for the others, there’s a difference between opposing the teaching of creationism in public schools and being conforatable with evolution, or even endorsing it as the best current explanation of “how” (as opposed to “why”). Except for such an endorsement by the United Church of Christ, my limited surfing couldn’t find much else official by any of the Orthodox or Protestant Churches. Although many disclaim a belief or teaching that Genesis is literally true, they don’t go the next step of saying that evolution is the “how”. Some of this may be because they aren’t as prone as a highly centrally administered church to take such a position, but some of it may be because they aren’t willing to take the full next step and teach that Genesis is just an allegory. As a final point, if you’re a Christian and an evolutionist, you have to be some version of a theistic evoutionist!

  48. #48 thalarctos
    March 5, 2008

    This nutjob is also a 9-11 whacko and thinks The Sound of Music is an immoral film.

    What—apart from a lethal dosage of treacle—can he possibly object to in that film? He didn’t like the symbolism of the part where the Gyno-Austrians took out the male Nazis’ carburetor, or something?

  49. #49 Stanton
    March 5, 2008

    gerry, stop trying to hit me and hit me.

    What, and let him get his incoherentness-cooties on you?

  50. #50 Don
    March 5, 2008

    Gregory,

    ‘…and only later mentioned that he was in fact no longer…’

    Later in the sense of the fourth word onwards?

  51. #51 Tulse
    March 5, 2008

    I think Gregory has somewhat of a point — the Roman Catholic Church would say that, whatever this guy is, he isn’t Catholic, at least in the sense that we commonly use that term. My formerly Mormon spouse gets similarly aggrieved when people talk about the tiny wacko polygamist groups as “Mormons”, despite the fact that the mainstream Mormon Church repudiated polygamy over a century ago.

  52. #52 Brownian, OM
    March 5, 2008

    Leave the poor bishop alone. His mind is addled due to hunger. For goodness’ sake, somebody toss him an altarboy.

    Besides, how coherent would you be if you could only move diagonally?

  53. #53 blf
    March 5, 2008

    [S]some of the French people are crazy or at least had a period of craziness.
    I know this because they not only like Jerry Lewis movies – they say that Jerry Lewis is a genius.
    Hell is where the government is headed by Sarkozy & only Jerry Lewis movies are allowed.
    Who will ever cover up the foul mess left by Foucault, Derrida, Deluze, Latour, & Levi-Strauss?

    Does anyone, including the author, have the faintest idea what the above is about? If so, please explain in English, using only short words and simple sentences. My brain has overheated from trying to make sense of that, and is currently melting its way through the floor en-route to China. I doubt it will return to normal operating temperature before reaching the Andromeda Galaxy (which will be in a very very long time since it’s in the northern hemisphere whilst by melting brain is headed south!).

  54. #54 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    Janine, you are missing my points entirely.

    First, the issue of current science had to do with the remark above about heliocentrism (which was an allusion to Galileo), not with the point about referring to him as a Catholic bishop.

    Second, if the subject of PZ’s comment had been a defrocked Ph.D., fired by his university, do you think PZ would have given him initial credit for the titles he lost and written something like: “Dr. Joe Schmo, Professor of Biology (but maybe not any more)”. I don’t think so! PZ would not have referred to him as either Dr. or a Professor because he isn’t and the integrity of academic titles matters to PZ, I’m sure. In that case, the integrity of other institution’s titles merits the same respect. Whether someone is a Catholic (with a capital “C”) bishop or not is for the Catholic Church to say, and it has said this schmuck isn’t. That is fact, not opinion. If the United States revokes the citizenship of some former concentration camp guard, is it “opinion” whether he is an American? I don’t think so! Well, the Catholic Church has revoked this guy’s membership by excommunicating him. That is fact. So he is not a Catholic bishop. The Protestant Churches are all “breakaway sects”, too. Would you refer to their bishops as Catholic bishops? I don’t think so!

  55. #55 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    Don — see my point to Janine about the integrity of titles.

  56. #56 MAJeff, OM
    March 5, 2008

    Does anyone, including the author, have the faintest idea what the above is about?

    it’s spezi-ese. A tongue only understood and deployed by gerry. Usually, we point and laugh.

    Sometimes, when we’re having particularly good days, it approaches the level of #14.

  57. #57 Janine
    March 5, 2008

    Tulse, the fact remains the Gregory is trying to equate a difference in doctrine to changes in what is scientifically known. Those are very different beasts.

  58. #58 Brownian, OM
    March 5, 2008

    My formerly Mormon spouse gets similarly aggrieved when people talk about the tiny wacko polygamist groups as “Mormons”, despite the fact that the mainstream Mormon Church repudiated polygamy over a century ago.

    Yeah, exactly how does that work, anyway? Does God put out a What’s Hot; What’s Not issue every year or so? (Mormon edition: Hot: Negroes; Not: Mr. & Mrs. & Mrs. Smith)

    How come nobody’s seen Jesus for the last two years, yet everybody seems convinced that they (and they only) are the ones recieving his latest memos?

  59. #59 Janine
    March 5, 2008

    Gregory, I see you point. And I am sorry, I have little desire to go by how the catholic church desires to define things.

  60. #60 Tulse
    March 5, 2008

    Janine, I don’t read Gregory’s point in the way you do, but regardless, I was only speaking to the issue of whether the bishop is “Catholic” — I think it’s very clear that he’s not, and that PZ’s opening description, however qualified, is inaccurate.

  61. #61 Janine
    March 5, 2008

    Gregory and Tulse, please read what the catholic paper had to say about this bishop.

    A senior bishop of the Lefebvrist Society of St Pius X (SSPX) has endorsed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious anti-Semitic forgery that enjoys widespread currency in neo-Nazi circles.

    Richard Williamson, one of four bishops ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, told The Catholic Herald that the document – which supposedly reveals a Jewish plot to dominate the world – was authentic.

    The publication calls him a bishop. So how is PZ misnaming this person?

  62. #62 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    Janine:

    Would you call someone “Professor” who claims to be a professor but is not? Would you call someone “Officer” who claims to be a policeman but is not? Would you call someone “Member of Parliament” who claims to be a member of the British House of Commons but is not? Would you call someone “Ambassador” who claims to be the ambassador of France but is not? Would you call someone “Herr General” who claims to be a general in the German army but is not? Would you call someone “Madame Chief Justice” who claims to be the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel but is not? Well, if you’re willing to go by how all those other institutions “desire to define things”, then you owe the Catholic Church the same respect or you’re veering into either hypocrisy or bigotry, to be frank.

  63. #63 Brownian, OM
    March 5, 2008

    I seem to remember a bunch of religious Christian-types, including Catholics, being pretty loosey-goosey about who they designated as ‘witches’.

    How come titles are so important now?

  64. #64 Brownian, OM
    March 5, 2008

    Well, if you’re willing to go by how all those other institutions “desire to define things”, then you owe the Catholic Church the same respect or you’re veering into either hypocrisy or bigotry, to be frank.

    I dunno. I’m kinda okay with being bigoted, especially toward bigots. For instance, when we talk about Nazis, is it really so important whether they were full-fledged members of the SS or just the average Catholic?

  65. #65 Janine
    March 5, 2008

    Gregery, this is the last time I will comment on this subject. Read the beginning of the article PZ linked to. What is this person referred to as? And keep in mind, it is a catholic publication. I think you should also direct your charges of hypocrisy to the author and publisher of the article.

  66. #66 Rey Fox
    March 5, 2008

    “How come nobody’s seen Jesus for the last two years”

    Did you see Jesus in 2006? What was he like? Was he still wearing one of those mesh trucker caps?

  67. #67 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    Janine, PZ erred in referring to him as a “Catholic bishop”. The paper didn’t refer to the guy as a Catholic bishop but only as a bishop. There are lots of bishops. Anglicans, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists and Mormons have them. In addition, anybody can call him- or herself a bishop. There are a number of self-proclaimed bishops who head up individual Protestant congregations. The issue is whether he is a Catholic bishop. If PZ had referred to him simply as a bishop of a schismatic group or a sect that broke away from the Catholic Church, I would have had no problem. It is a fine point, but it is a factual point. And this blog is all about facts. The point is about being accurate with the facts whether you like the institution or not as a matter of integrity.

  68. #68 Arnaud
    March 5, 2008

    DaveX
    I blame Toxoplasma!

  69. #69 Tulse
    March 5, 2008

    The publication calls him a bishop. So how is PZ misnaming this person?

    My disagreement isn’t with the term “bishop”, as that’s a fairly generic term used by a variety of religious organizations (e.g., the Greek Orthodox, Lutherans, Methodists, even the Mormons). My problem is with describing this guy as “Catholic”, when the group that determines whether he is or not says he isn’t.

    In other words, he is indeed a bishop within the Lefebvrist Society of St Pius X, but he is most definitely not a “Catholic bishop”.

  70. #70 Brownian, OM
    March 5, 2008

    Did you see Jesus in 2006?

    No, why? Is there a reward or something?

  71. #71 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    Brownian, at leat you’re being frank about being a prejudiced bigot! Your point about the witches seems to be that, if an institution’s authority took a position a couple of hundred years ago, we can use that position fairly to characterize that institution and its members today, in which case the United States and we Americans should all be regarded as favoring slavery!

  72. #72 PZ Myers
    March 5, 2008

    Somebody is awfully touchy about titles, and thinks I should possibly care about the niceties of the Catholic hierarchy. I don’t. I think they’re all gibbering lunatics, from the pope on down to the nit-picking picayune defenders of the faith, like Gregory Hauser.

    Lefebvre calls himself a Catholic, a True Catholic no less. Williamson considers himself a True Catholic. The Pope considers himself a True Catholic. You, no doubt, consider yourself a True Catholic. You’re all demented fuckwits together as far as I’m concerned. Now please, go whine to your priest, who might give a good goddamn about your offended proprieties, because I don’t. Got it?

  73. #73 MAJeff, OM
    March 5, 2008

    Did you see Jesus in 2006?
    No, why? Is there a reward or something?

    If there was, that’s too bad. He was transformed into a Girl Scout thin mint in the spring of 2007 and I eated him.

  74. #74 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    So, PZ, you won’t take any offense when someone refers to you as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Wisconsin! Of course, not, since the vast majority of the people in the world doesn’t give a good goddamn about academic titles either!
    ;-)

  75. #75 Ichthyic
    March 5, 2008

    In Hauser’s attempt at sarcasm, which turns out to be little more than a poorly constructed strawman:

    if an institution’s authority took a position a couple of hundred years ago, we can use that position fairly to characterize that institution and its members today

    I wonder if he even knows that in fact, the “Holy Office” of the Inquisition still exists within the Vatican (known today as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), awaiting the day in which it can stamp out “heresy”.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1251677.stm

    so, we don’t actually have to presume what the CC’s stance is on the inquisition by looking hundreds of years ago, as they still HAVE a dept. to handle just such things, just changed the name.

    I think perhaps when you use the label “prejudice”, you might want to examine your own house first.

  76. #76 Adrienne
    March 5, 2008

    The scary part is that there’s a whole internet forum, which gets a decent amount of traffic, full of people who think just like this guy: http://angelqueen.org/forum/ . I used to post there to try to talk some sense and humanity into the regulars there, but eventually I got so disgusted I had to stop reading.

    Oh yeah, a lot of the posters there are fans of Robert Sungenis, too….you know, the dude who “proved” that the universe is geocentric, and the entire universe revolves around the stationary Earth. Sungenis will pay you $1000 if you can prove to him that the Earth really revolves around the sun, btw. Good luck collecting that money. Even Mel Gibson’s father tried to do it…and failed.

    Interestingly enough, they hate “evolutionism” too. One of them even thought evolution was an evil plot fomented by the Jews and with its origins in the Kabbalah (seriously).

    I think they hate the Jews on that forum more than they hate evolution. But not by much.

  77. #77 PZ Myers
    March 5, 2008

    No, I won’t — and I don’t consider that the compelling element of any argument I might make resides in my academic title.

    You’re really barking up the wrong tree. I’ve also said in the past that a Ph.D. just means that you’ve completed a graduate program, and have argued against revoking the degrees awarded to creationists. There is no magical power in the title. That’s a hard point to get across to some Catholic kooks, but there you go.

    Williamson was a Catholic bishop who offended other Catholics with his interpretations…which I find no less crazy than the interpretations of more conventional Catholics. So don’t bother trying to play the True Catholic game with me.

  78. #78 Brownian, OM
    March 5, 2008

    Your point about the witches seems to be that, if an institution’s authority took a position a couple of hundred years ago, we can use that position fairly to characterize that institution and its members today, in which case the United States and we Americans should all be regarded as favoring slavery!

    That’s certainly the case in institutions that get their orders from God, unless they want to explain to the families of those they torched why God changed his mind and how they know that.

    If religious institutions want to claim that they operate under special conditions (namely THE DIVINE UNCHALLENGIBLE WORD OF GOD, SPECIALLY DELIVERED TO THE EARS OF THE POPE VIA FEDEX), they’d better be willing to accept the responsibilities that come with that. Namely, if you act like a fuckball because God told you to, then you’d better a) accept the accusations that God was and still is a fuckball who doesn’t want to get his hands dirty; b) you’d better produce some evidence God changed his mind and has repented his fuckballness; or c) admit you’re at the very least, a lying piece of shit.

    Doesn’t work the same for secular institutions. They don’t claim divinity. The benefits of not claiming a divinely correct deity is whispering in your ear: you get to say, “Sorry. I was wrong about that. I know better now.”

    The religious made the rules. I’m just holdin’ them to ‘em.

  79. #79 Carlie
    March 5, 2008

    Rita, I am now about to lose hours of my life to Tom and Lorenzo’s musical takedowns. Thanks a lot. Good thing it’s almost spring break.

  80. #80 Brownian, OM
    March 5, 2008

    Oops. Forgot to close the blockquote. Probably because God didn’t tell me to and I made a mistake.

    See how that works, Greg?

    No, you probably don’t. You can ask God about it next time he calls you to remind you that you’re keepin’ right on target.

  81. #81 MAJeff, OM
    March 5, 2008

    Oops. Forgot to close the blockquote. Probably because God didn’t tell me to and I made a mistake.

    Have you been drinking already?

  82. #82 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    Ichthyic, the existence of the “Holy Office”, and its dealings with theologians within the church, has nothing to do with whether Christian dealings with the witch issue centuries ago are relevant to judging Christianity today. The ugly reference to slavery in Article I of the U.S. Constitution is still there, and the U.S. and state court systems that enforced the legal rights of slave owners still exist, too, and still enforce property rights, but that doesn’t mean that it’s fair to characterize this country and us citizens as sympathetic to slavery today.

  83. #83 Tulse
    March 5, 2008

    PZ, I’m a solid New Atheist, and in spite of my formerly Catholic roots, I don’t have any emotional attachment at all to that religion. That said, I think that the terminology does matter, because it is an issue of intellectual honest. Calling Williamson a Catholic implicitly associates the Roman Catholic Church with his views, when it officially does not.

    At other times you’ve certainly excoriated ID folks for ginning up their resumes and making claims of affiliations that just weren’t true — I see this as exactly parallel. This guy is a nutbar, no doubt, but he’s not a Catholic nutbar (they have their own officially sanctioned nutbars, starting at the top).

  84. #84 Janine
    March 5, 2008

    Hey, the church still performs exorcisms. And the last pontiff performed them while in the chair. There are so many ways most of us can ridicule the church, we do not have to search hard for reasons. Are Brownian is absolutely correct about holding “eternal” institutions to their words. Intelligent secularists avoid this for it is a trap.

  85. #85 Ichthyic
    March 5, 2008

    Ichthyic, the existence of the “Holy Office”, and its dealings with theologians within the church, has nothing to do with whether Christian dealings with the witch issue centuries ago are relevant to judging Christianity today

    no, it has to do with you claiming we can’t view institutions today based on things they did hundreds of years ago.

    IOW, we often judge catholicism based on the history of the inquisition. It’s entirely relevant when there still IS a dept. of Inquisition within the Catholic church.

    btw, since you brought it up, look up the usage of the term witch as associated with the word heretic historically.

    then tell me it has no more relevance.

    just like the name of the dept. has changed, the application of the term “witch” to heretics has changed, but the principle remains the same.

    It’s just that the CC no longer has quite enough power to burn people it dislikes, or have them publicly executed in other manners.

    The ugly reference to slavery in Article I of the U.S. Constitution is still there, and the U.S. and state court systems that enforced the legal rights of slave owners still exist, too, and still enforce property rights, but that doesn’t mean that it’s fair to characterize this country and us citizens as sympathetic to slavery today.

    except that there are no actual human beings associated with the article you mention, thus, why it is a strawman.

    the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is still a functioning, manned, body within the CC.

    surely even you can see the difference?

  86. #86 Adrienne
    March 5, 2008

    By the way, Benedict XVI has met with the head of the SSPX, supposedly with the target of reconciling them back into the fold of the main Roman Catholic Church. Many of the traditionalists and their fellow travelers (like the folks on Angelqueen) believed that the meetings Benedict has had with Bp. Fellay as well as the reinstitution of the Latin mass are gestures of conciliation on the part of the Pontiff towards the SSPX. So don’t try to pretend that the uppermost Roman Catholic hierarchy wants nothing to do with the SSPX. Heck, they are actively courting the SSPX’s blessing and support.

  87. #87 Adrienne
    March 5, 2008

    Oh sorry, last comment was directed towards this comment thread’s resident Catholic apologist.

  88. #88 gerald spezio
    March 5, 2008

    Since language determines behavior as well as the entire universe (mais oui) and the former Bishop was summarily removed from his Bishopric, we are forced through the miracle of the transubstantiation of words (wordsmithing) to conclude that the former bishop is a pric or possibly a poseur – as in very queer theory etc.

  89. #89 Janine
    March 5, 2008
  90. #90 MAJeff, OM
    March 5, 2008

    blf, I forgot to mention, the more you poke it, the more closely it resembles a random gibberish generator.

  91. #91 Stanton
    March 5, 2008

    Does anyone else notice how Mr Gerald Spezio manages to demonstrate that he is a maliciously petty and mean-spirited person, and yet, simultaneously demonstrate that he is wholly incapable of communicating in a coherent manner?

  92. #92 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    LOL Brownian, the short answer to your point is that, while certainly religious authorities by nature have an awful, awkward time admitting that things need to change, at least most of the Christian churches, including the Catholic Church, admit that the churches are run by people who make mistakes in trying to figure things out. Your characterization of how they regard themselves is a oversimplified caricature of reality (talk about a straw man!), albeit one that’s been partly earned by a combination of bad communication and worse behavior, some of which has been actually evil.

    Your point about secular institutions is off as well. The U.S. has consistently since its founding claimed that a combination of the circumstances of its founding, its nature as a democracy, and the particular form of its government and constitution provide it with a certain level of moral authority. (And many people with authority to speak for the U.S., ranging from founding fathers to at least two Presidents in my memory, both either elected or re-elected by an impressive majority of those voting so arguably speaking for that majority, have made claims about the supposedly uniquely blessed relationship of this country with the Judeo-Chrisitan God.) Although many (or at least some) of us consider it unjustified and it may be something between embarassing and wildly objectionable to many (or at least some) of us, it is fact. When you talk to people from other countries, the strong similarities between their dislike for the U.S. and many people’s dislike for religious authorities is striking, and can’t be surprising. Indeed, many of them have written things about the U.S. that sound much like what you just wrote about religious institutions. And all of this brings me full circle to my point about slavery.

    See how that works?

  93. #93 Tulse
    March 5, 2008

    don’t try to pretend that the uppermost Roman Catholic hierarchy wants nothing to do with the SSPX

    I don’t think anyone has said that (certainly I haven’t). My particular point is purely about accuracy — Williamson is excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church, and therefore is simply not a Catholic (as that term usually gets used, to refer to an adherent of Roman Catholicism). That doesn’t mean that SSPX doesn’t have historical ties to the Catholic Church, or that the Catholics weren’t seeking a rapprochement with SSPX. The only point I was making is the very specific terminological point that Williamson isn’t Catholic, as PZ indicated.

    When a lawyer is disbarred, they are no longer a lawyer. When a faculty member at a university is fired, they no longer can claim current affiliation with that university. The situation here is identical.

    And my argument is by no means intended to be an apology for the Catholic Church — they’ve done plenty of fucked up shit on their own.

  94. #94 Adrienne
    March 5, 2008

    If anyone is particularly curious to read Bp. Williamson’s full “review” of “The Sound of Music”, here it is: http://www.sspx.ca/Documents/Bishop-Williamson/November7-1997.htm

    His main objection (among many) seems to be the undermining of the Captain’s authority by Julie Andrews’ character.

    Gotta love this sentence, too: “Dear friends, any supposed Catholicism in The Sound of Music is a Hollywood fraud corresponding to the real-life fraud of that ‘Catholicism’ of the 1950′s and 1960′s, all appearance and no substance, which was just waiting to break out into Vatican II and the Newchurch. Right here is the mentality of sweet compassion for homosexuals and of bitter grief for Princess Di, of sympathy for priests quitting the SSPX for the Novus Ordo. Everything is man-centered and meant to feel good, the apostasy of our times.”

  95. #95 Adrienne
    March 5, 2008

    “Williamson is excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church, and therefore is simply not a Catholic (as that term usually gets used, to refer to an adherent of Roman Catholicism)…”

    Actually, the guy who runs Angelqueen.com has put together a pretty good argument against the full excommunication of the SSPX or LeFebre, based on technicalities (of course).

  96. #96 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    Adrienne, the Popes have met with Orthodox Patriarchs and Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury “supposedly with the target of reconciling them back into the fold of the main Roman Catholic Church”, too, but that doesn’t necessarily result in any endorsement of anything anybody from any of those churches do.

  97. #97 Adrienne
    March 5, 2008

    Actually, I should have said he has put together a good, well-researched argument to the effect that the SSPX has never been out of full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. That’s the proper terminology for these things, IIRC.

    At any rate, Benedict XVI/Ratzinger is definitely much more warmly disposed towards the SSPX than his predecessor, and has made at least two big welcoming overtures in their direction. He’s not distancing himself or the Church from their ideology.

  98. #98 Adrienne
    March 5, 2008

    Yes, Mr. Hauser, but the Pope didn’t alter the Mass to conform with either Anglican or Orthodox preferences, did he? On the other hand, what did Benedict just do this last September?

    Of course, the traditionalists would say that John XXIII “protestantized”, “Judaized”, and thus basically destroyed and desanctified the Mass by introducing the Novus Ordo in the first place, but I’m guessing you’re not the type of Catholic that believes this.

  99. #99 gerald spezio
    March 5, 2008

    Some quick-witted researchers at UCSB are correlating toxoplasmosis with the personality and spirit of Catholicism – the strong form only.

    It is very similar to Max Weber’s SPIRITS THAT CAUSE EVERYTHING.

    Catholic personality means the ensemble or aggregate, not the particular – similar to S=klognW, but not exactly.

    It follows then as the night the day from Toxotheory that Fred Singer and Sally Baliunas are both full up with Toxic Catholicism as well as other pollutants derived from forked tongue framing behavior.

    Moreover their shuck & jive about global heating being a hoax is clearly a sick framing device designed to offset the amazing success of the Palestinian plot to “reform & improve the minds” of the sleeping & decadent West through the Bayesian Protocols advanced in E. T. Jaynes, PROBABILITY THEORY – THE LOGIC OF SCIENCE.

    Yeah, I learned product placement in framing school, so what?

  100. #100 gerald spezio
    March 5, 2008

    Some quick-witted researchers at UCSB are correlating toxoplasmosis with the personality and spirit of Catholicism – the strong form only.

    It is very similar to Max Weber’s classic, SPIRITS THAT CAUSE EVERYTHING.

    Catholic personality means the ensemble or aggregate, not the particular – similar to S=klognW, but not exactly.

    It follows then as the night the day from Toxotheory that Fred Singer and Sally Baliunas are both full up with Toxic Catholicism as well as other pollutants derived from forked tongue framing behavior.

    Moreover their shuck & jive about global heating being a hoax is clearly a sick framing device designed to offset the amazing success of the Palestinian plot to “reform & improve the minds” of the sleeping & decadent West through the Bayesian Protocols advanced in E. T. Jaynes, PROBABILITY THEORY – THE LOGIC OF SCIENCE.

    Yeah, I learned product placement in framing school, so what?

  101. #101 gerald spezio
    March 5, 2008

    Some quick-witted researchers at UCSB are correlating toxoplasmosis with the personality and spirit of Catholicism – the strong form only.

    It is very similar to Max Weber’s classic, SPIRITS THAT CAUSE EVERYTHING.

    Catholic personality means the ensemble or aggregate, not the particular – similar to S=klognW, but not exactly.

    It follows then as the night the day from Toxotheory that Fred Singer and Sally Baliunas are both full up with Toxic Catholicism as well as other pollutants derived from forked tongue framing behavior.

    Moreover their shuck & jive about global heating being a hoax is clearly a sick framing device designed to offset the amazing success of the Palestinian plot to “reform & improve the minds” of the sleeping & decadent West through the Bayesian Protocols advanced in E. T. Jaynes, PROBABILITY THEORY – THE LOGIC OF SCIENCE.

    Yup, I learned product placement in framing school, so what?

  102. #102 Ichthyic
    March 5, 2008

    LOL Brownian

    frankly, I don’t want to step on Brownian’s virtual toes, but I’ll take a stab, again, at your mischaracterizations

    while certainly religious authorities by nature have an awful, awkward time admitting that things need to change, at least most of the Christian churches, including the Catholic Church, admit that the churches are run by people who make mistakes in trying to figure things out.

    oh yeah, that’s why they STILL have a dept. of inquisition, because they admit mistakes.

    uh, exactly HOW LONG does it take your institutions to figure out they made a mistake?

    The U.S. has consistently since its founding claimed that a combination of the circumstances of its founding, its nature as a democracy, and the particular form of its government and constitution provide it with a certain level of moral authority.

    guess what? You’re perception of the origins of “moral authority”, which is likely influenced by the fact you are religious, has little basis for determining the basis of morality in reality.

    Concepts of morality can stem from secular sources just as easily as religious ones, though the religious tend to do poorly justifying theirs outside of a fictional deity’s will.

    many people with authority to speak for the U.S., ranging from founding fathers to at least two Presidents in my memory, both either elected or re-elected by an impressive majority of those voting so arguably speaking for that majority, have made claims about the supposedly uniquely blessed relationship of this country with the Judeo-Chrisitan God

    and that majority are of course, incorrect, both about the motivations of the “founding fathers” and about their fictional deity.

    so?

    rational folks never make the argument that the tyranny of the majority is a GOOD thing.

    And all of this brings me full circle to my point about slavery.
    See how that works?

    uh, no, because it doesn’t.

  103. #103 MAJeff, OM
    March 5, 2008

    See….we might reach #14 yet!

  104. #104 Mrs Tilton
    March 5, 2008

    Gregory and Tulse:

    your counterarguments are correct as a factual matter, but irrelevant. Yes, anybody can call himself a bishop. Yes, there are methodist and Anglican and Lutheran and Mormon bishops. The RC church, however, would not agree that those guys are bishops. (That is, obviously it recognises that these men use the title “bishop”; but it would not agree that they are “bishops” in the sense that the RC church understands the term.)

    The situation with the Secret Society of St Pongo or whatever it’s called is utterly different. To the RC church, the guy PZ writes about is a 100% legit, straight-up, paid-in bishop with all the bells and whistles, even though he hates The Sound of Music. Don’t believe me? Fine; go have a word with your local RC holy man, he’ll tell you the same thing. In fact, it’s precisely because the RC church thinks these guys are authentic bishops that it hates them so much. (Methodist bishops? It couldn’t care less.)

    What makes you a “real” bishop, you see, is that some other bishop puts his hands on your head and says “simsalabim, you’re bishopised, baby!” (the precise wording may vary according to local tradition). This ritual passes along to you that special bishop magic. The bishop who made you a bishop got the magic (which the RC church calls “apostolic succession”) from the bishop who made him a bishop, and so on back to the first bishops, who were (according to the RC church) the 12 apostles.

    And now that the magic spark has been passed on to you, you can do all the things a bishop can. In addition to flying, passing through walls and shooting laser death-rays out your eyes, this includes making more bishops. The RC church takes bishops very seriously, and that is why they can’t stand the SS/PX: the magical power has escaped the reservation. Think about it: when did the RC church excommunicate Lefebvre? Not when he insisted on using the old Latin ritual. Not when he founded the SSPX. Not when he rejected the Vatican II reforms of the RC church as heresy. Those things just made him a minor annoyance. What got him the boot was when he made new bishops. (This was nearly 20 years after he started the SSPX.)

    So much for the “bishop” part; what about “catholic”? Let’s leave aside for the moment that fact that what the SSPX teaches overlaps 99% with what the RC church teaches (and until not very long ago was, quite literally, exactly what the RC church teaches). More importantly, excommunication doesn’t make you a non-catholic. (In fact, and though I’m not entirely sure of this, I don’t think it’s possible to be excommunicated unless one is catholic.)

    The point of excommunication is not to cast miscreants into the utter void but rather to pressure the excommunicated into getting right with Rome; it’s like being shown the yellow card, not the red one. Again, that’s not my view — as far as I am concerned this is all so much nonsense, even if fascinating — it’s the official view of the RC church, which you may easily find set forth in numerous sources, many of them on the internets. I would be willing to bet that the official RC line on this guy and the rest of the SSPX is not that they are “not catholic” but rather that they are “not in full communion with the church” or some such formulation.

    All the more so, because the Vatican has long treated these people, excommunication notwithstanding, with kid gloves. They want them back, and have been willing to make all sorts of accommodations to win them over (including making it much easier to use the old Latin ritual these guys love). The contrast to the Vatican’s treatment of the so-called “Liberation theologians” of Latin America (priests who had the crazy notion that when Jesus talked in favour of the poor, he meant it) is illuminating. Up till now, it’s been the SSPX telling the Vatican to fuck off, not the reverse. It’s ironic that this recent incident might well force the Vatican to reach for its bargepole. It really can’t afford to be seen in bed with the dissident bishop’s views. I mean, hating the Jews — a bit embarrassingly old-fashioned, perhaps, but one could grin and bear it for the sake of ecclesiastical togetherness. But hating on the The Sound of Music? There are some things the faithful just won’t wear.

    Long story short: PZ’s characterisation of this guy (catholic bishop, though part of a breakaway sect) might well be pretty close to the way the RC church itself would regard the man, and in any event is certainly not “bigotry”.

  105. #105 MAJeff, OM
    March 5, 2008

    See….we might reach #14 yet!

  106. #106 Mrs Tilton
    March 5, 2008

    Gack! A double post! A long double post! Mea maxima culpa, and I hope the bishop won’t excommunicate me along with Julie Andrews.

  107. #107 Ichthyic
    March 5, 2008

    wtf?

    what just happened?

  108. #108 gerald spezio
    March 5, 2008

    Some quick-witted researchers at UCSB are correlating toxoplasmosis with the personality and spirit of Catholicism – the strong form only.

    It is very similar to Max Weber’s classic, SPIRITS THAT CAUSE EVERYTHING.

    Catholic personality means the ensemble or aggregate, not the particular – similar to S=klognW, but not exactly.

    It follows then as the night the day from Toxotheory that Fred Singer and Sally Baliunas are both full up with Toxic Catholicism as well as other pollutants derived from forked tongue framing behavior.

    Moreover their shuck & jive about global heating being a hoax is clearly a sick framing device designed to offset the amazing success of the Palestinian plot to “reform & improve the minds” of the sleeping & decadent West through the Bayesian Protocols advanced in E. T. Jaynes, PROBABILITY THEORY – THE LOGIC OF SCIENCE.

    Yup, I learned product placement in framing school, so what?

  109. #109 gerald spezio
    March 5, 2008

    Sorry PZ, it’s chaos gone chaotic and more worser.
    I hate computer!

  110. #110 Mrs Tilton
    March 5, 2008

    ichthyic @106,

    what just happened?

    Signs and wonders. Happens all the time.

  111. #111 Ichthyic
    March 5, 2008

    Signs and wonders. Happens all the time.

    Hallelujah!

  112. #112 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    Adrienne, the Pope did not alter the Mass. There hasn’t been a single change to the basic Western rite — said in the vernacular — in many years, since before Benedict was elected. He simply made it easier for the miniscule minority of people who prefer the old Tridentine rite (the Latin mass) to have it, which is no big deal, except the media tried to make it a big deal. It was always around and in use. He only changed the decision maker from the local bishop to the local parish. I would bet any increase in its use is since statistically insignificant. Usually people criticize the church for being so centralized, but when he takes a decentralization step, somehow that’s bad? Several of the Orthodox churches have reconciled with Rome over the years, and they each have their own, different set of rites, and all of these are Roman Catholic. There is no rule or restriction against any of us Catholics going to any of these. Letting people have their choice of approved rite is no big deal. As for my views on it, you have judged me very wrong. I was in grade school when the new vernacular rite was introduced, to my great joy, and, although I studied Latin in my — public — high school, I have been to exactly one Latin mass in the last 40+ years since that time. I prefer a mass in the vernacular with folk music. My favorite mass music is the Missa Criolla, a contemporary composition in Spanish (which I don’t speak unfortunately) based on several different native South American folk music traditions. I admit to a certain fondness for Gregorian chant, named for my own namesake, but I prefer it used during a mass that is otherwise in English.

  113. #113 Adrienne
    March 5, 2008

    Mr. Hauser, you are correct about it not technically being a change to the Mass, but you are wrong about it not being a big deal. It is a big deal. To traditionalists like the folks on angelqueen, it is a HUGE deal….and a clear sign that Benedict XVI wants their support.

  114. #114 Daniel Martin
    March 5, 2008

    Let’s see, the Society of St Pius X, now where have I heard of them recently? Oh yeah, they were the same religious organization whose Kansas school refused to let a woman referee a boys’ basketball game: http://www.kansascity.com/105/story/487355.html

    A month ago I’d never heard of this group, and now twice in less than a month? Maybe they started an organizational effort to bring on the extra crazy for added publicity.

  115. #115 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    Icthyic, first off, as anyone who’s studied U.S history knows, if an American government uses religion, it is invariably some Protestant version, so any intelligent Catholic who’s got any knowledge of U.S. history is steadfastly opposed to any use of religion by an American government. That’s among the many reasons I’m a liberal Democrat.

    Second, whether you or I consider what American authorities have said or done is wrong or unjustified doesn’t change the facts of what they’ve said and done or address the issue of whether it’s fair to judge the country by what they’ve said and done. You may not like what they’ve said or done, and I may not like what they’ve said or done, but facts are facts, and neither you nor I can make it unofficial because we dislike or disagree with it. I may not like everything every Catholic cleric has said or done over the last two millennia, but you insist on the legitimacy of judging the current church and all of us in it by whatever incident during those two millennia you decide to pick out even if there’s been zero chance of anything like that happening for centuries. Well then, anybody in the world is justified in judging us Americans based on whatever they like least about the last two plus centuries of American history even if it hasn’t been how things have worked here for decades or a century or more. And, yes, membership in a church is voluntary, but it’s pretty easy for you to become a Canadian any time you want. If you choose to stay, then you are accepting all of what it means to be an American. And our government is elected, so it’s arguably awfully fair to judge us by what it has said and done.

    As for the “inquisition”, the only authority the “Holy Office” claims to have is to tell someone who claims to be teaching Catholic doctrine that they can’t call it Catholic doctrine when it isn’t. To put it in American civil rights terms, any association has the right to define its membership rules and to expel or discipline those who don’t follow the rules. If the ACLU expelled a member who decided he or she didn’t really like free speech as an absolute value, you wouldn’t object I’m sure. The modern day activities of the “inquisition” as you call it are basically the same thing. Something tells me if the “Holy Office” went after someone teaching polygeny is moral, or someone teaching that the Bible authorizes slavery (which it arguably does), you wouldn’t have the slightest objection.

  116. #116 Ichthyic
    March 5, 2008

    I may not like everything every Catholic cleric has said or done over the last two millennia, but you insist on the legitimacy of judging the current church and all of us in it by whatever incident during those two millennia you decide to pick out even if there’s been zero chance of anything like that happening for centuries.

    but that’s exactly the point, the concept of the inquisition is still going on. it isn’t some ancient historical event.

    why aren’t you grasping this?

    do you not understand the function of modern dept. of inquisition within the CC?

    you can attempt to rationalize it away all you wish, but that doesn’t change the fact that the CC is STILL organized and utilizes standards that are at best medieval.

    whether or not you can find another nasty thing to compare it to, hardly makes it any less nasty.

    Something tells me if the “Holy Office” went after someone teaching polygeny is moral, or someone teaching that the Bible authorizes slavery (which it arguably does), you wouldn’t have the slightest objection.

    again, if you had the slightest knowledge of what the modern day iquisitorial dept. actually does (a hint is provided by the BBC article I linked to), perhaps you might reassess whether or not YOU would object?

    or are you so stuck on authoritarianism and dogma, that like most Catholics, you refuse to challenge how fubar your church of choice really is?

  117. #117 Ichthyic
    March 5, 2008

    If the ACLU expelled a member who decided he or she didn’t really like free speech as an absolute value, you wouldn’t object I’m sure.

    frankly, you’re so wrapped up in your own projections, you couldn’t have the slightest clue what anybody else would actually object to or not.

    don’t even try.

  118. #118 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    Adrienne, it is a huge deal but only to a very few fanatics. That does not make it a big deal in any larger scheme of things. There are roughly a billion Catholics. That decision has affected a few thousand of them worldwide. It’s sort of like if we had a situation in which everyone voted electronically (assume we had tamper proof machines) with rules limiting the use of paper ballots and the U.S. government changed the rules to allow greater use of paper ballots to accommodate a few hundred Luddite people who wanted to use them simply because they hate machines.

  119. #119 Adrienne
    March 5, 2008

    Mr. Hauser, you have to ask yourself this: if it was only something important to “a few thousand fanatics”, why the Pope all of a sudden decided to reverse 30 years of precedent and throw a MAJOR sop to those same “fanatics”.

  120. #120 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 5, 2008

    Ichthyic, I am well aware of what the office does. I’ve read plenty about it. I am completely comfortable with any church having an office that defines its dogma. Whether you like the dogma is a whole different story from the appropriateness of defining it and saying that, if you don’t buy it, then leave. We’ve got all kinds of freedoms as Americans, but there are lines defined by the laws against treason, and that’s fine by me. I don’t always like the details of Catholic dogma, and there might come a day when I get to the point of leaving the church as a matter of conscience. I also don’t always like the procedures. However, I’m a litigation attorney, and I can tell you that modern concepts of “due process” (which the media treats with the reverence of a religious dogma) range from ideal to stupid and self-defeating. Be all that as it may, from what I’ve seen, the theologians who have gotten into trouble with the office have been only those who have pushed the envelope beyond good judgment. One of them was an acquaintance of my family, and I wasn’t at all surprised when he was told to toe closer to the line or stop calling himself a Catholic theologian. Teach what you want, believe what you want, there’s plenty of room for you in this world, but nobody has any right to, or can rationally expect, freedom of religion within a church. If you don’t like what the Catholic Church teaches, fine, but don’t take on yourself the unilateral authority to change the teachings. Start your own new Protestant church. It’s been done many times before. I am a Catholic because I believe certain things, and I would want someone who, for example, questions the divinity of Christ, to be thrown out. Maybe there is no God, and maybe Christ wasn’t God, but if you don’t believe in either one, you don’t belong in the Church. The devil, admittedly, is in the details of the finer points of dogma.

  121. #121 Kseniya
    March 5, 2008

    I would want someone who, for example, questions the divinity of Christ, to be thrown out.

    Questions? That seems a bit harsh. Or do you mean that in the sense of “unequivocally denies”?

  122. #122 Peter Barber
    March 5, 2008

    Farb (#13):

    (And I thought the mainstream ones were loony when they decreed that the “Wedding March” from Lohengrin was Satanically-inspired!)

    Oh I don’t know… having played it for as many church weddings as I have, I think they have a point. Otherwise why would so many apparently rational people consistently ignore the huge repertoire of joyful and inspiring pieces written for the instrument not just in, but built into, their bloody church, and instead plump for a filler track from an opera about a marriage that lasted about an hour, and the very type species for tacky film wedding soundtracks?

    PS. Being picky, its proper name is the Bridal Chorus :-p

    PS. Nearly all those weddings were in Catholic churches. Whoops! :-D

  123. #123 MAJeff, OM
    March 5, 2008

    Reading Peter makes me remember one rule that several of my professional singer friends had:

    Absolutely, under no circumstances, will I sing “The Wedding Song!”

    I got out of performing before ever being asked to sing that, and I am so happy about that. (Schubert was kinda fun, though).

  124. #124 Ichthyic
    March 5, 2008

    I am completely comfortable with any church having an office that defines its dogma.

    um, then you took a whiff on that one, because that’s not their job.

    their job is to ENFORCE dogma, not define it.

    wait, you ARE a Catholic, yes? not just making it up?

    aside from that, you have no problems with authority figures dictating dogma to you?

    well, good for you, little soldier.

    LOL

  125. #125 Brownian, OM
    March 5, 2008

    As a Catholic (well, I’ve not yet be excommunicated), all I have to say is this:

    Either God is telling Popey (and his Popey before him, and his Popey before him, ad nauseating) what to do (and all the attendant repercussions) or He isn’t (and all the attendant repercussions). The rest is hand-waving.

    If it helps you sleep better at night, so be it. Just don’t expect us to give your mental meaderings the respect we reserve for, uh, like actually true shit.

  126. #126 Ichthyic
    March 5, 2008

    well, I’ve not yet be excommunicated

    is that something you can request?

    do you get a certificate of excommunication?

    I’d be tempted to sell it on ebay… or at least frame it for hanging on my office wall.

  127. #127 milkbone
    March 5, 2008

    Dr Shimon Samuels, the centre’s director of international relations, described Williamson as “the Borat of the schismatic Catholic far-Right”

    Harsh, dude!

  128. #128 Rita Bennett
    March 5, 2008

    Carlie #77

    Benny Hill was my diversion from finals. This was pre psycobloggytubes.

    Good luck to you.

  129. #129 -R
    March 5, 2008

    At first I wanted to say, “P.Z., you don’t need a disclaimer you big dork from dorkland riding into dorktown wearing a hat you bought from ye olde dork store”, but then it occurred to me that because your blog is so popular, some big fat jerk (fatly a jerk, not jerkishly a fat) would quote mine you, being completely incapable (or unwilling) to pick up on the obvious sarcasm. I feel like I see that a lot with very conservative types; rhetorical phrases become bland statements where implied meaning ceases to exist, and any sentence uttered by the opposition in a debate can only be construed as the stark definitions of its constituent parts. Even if you explain yourself, you’ve still lost because the perception of you is out there.

    I feel like the clowns that spout their “say what you mean” policy are sacrificing literary elegance to squelch their academic adversaries, while draining written discourse of it’s color and flare. LAME.

    P.Z., you should have an opposite day on your blog, where you only have to say it’s opposite day once, then you can right all your opinions bass ackwards, and everyone can respond with unadulterated sarcasm. That would be fun, me thinks.

  130. #130 Eric Paulsen
    March 6, 2008

    Okay, I’m not a scientist like many who frequent this site, hell – I never even got very far in mathematics. However I actually read a little about this “time cube” stuff (I felt compelled) and the (obviously insane) man who was spouting this (rambling and incoherent) “theory” kept referring to the “four corners” and the “four points” of the “time cube” and could somebody please help me out here…

    I believe he is either describing a two-dimesional four sided polygon or a three-dimensional triangular four faced pyramid (ie: a four sided polyhedral die like in D&D) but NOT a CUBE right? A cube would have eight corners and six points if you consider a point originating on each face or eight points if you consider the corners of the cube as the points origins.

    So if he can’t even describe the topography a cube satisfactorily how can he have followers who appear savagely protective of this “theory”?

  131. #131 Azkyroth
    March 6, 2008

    The ugly reference to slavery in Article I of the U.S. Constitution is still there, and the U.S. and state court systems that enforced the legal rights of slave owners still exist, too, and still enforce property rights, but that doesn’t mean that it’s fair to characterize this country and us citizens as sympathetic to slavery today.

    Err, what ugly reference would that be? I’ve read through the text and it makes no direct reference to slavery.

    In any case, the 13th Amendment officially bans slavery:

    1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    Could it possibly be stated any more plainly? Furthermore, even by the most alarmist estimates it will probably take at least 20 more years of Republican administrations before that amendment is repealed.

    Please explain how this is analogous to the church retaining the office of the Inquisition (under another name) but suspending active persecution of “heretics.”

  132. #132 Azkyroth
    March 6, 2008

    (And many people with authority to speak for the U.S., ranging from founding fathers to at least two Presidents in my memory, both either elected or re-elected by an impressive majority of those voting so arguably speaking for that majority, have made claims about the supposedly uniquely blessed relationship of this country with the Judeo-Chrisitan God.)

    Would those be the same founding fathers who made no mention of the Judeo-Christian God in the constitution, whose only reference to Jesus was in the phrase “In the Year of our Lord,” who explicitly forbid religious tests for public office in Article VI, and many of whom, I do believe were party of the congress that unanimously passed the Treaty of Tripoli, and one of whom signed it without comment?

    Got a source for that claim? (The one about more recent presidents is, sadly, accurate).

  133. #133 Ichthyic
    March 6, 2008

    suspending active persecution of “heretics.”

    uh, there’s considerable evidence they haven’t done that, either.

    did you check out the link to the BBC article I posted?

    that’s just one of dozens of examples that have been published over the last few years alone.

    like I said, just because they don’t (can’t) burn them at the stake any more, doesn’t mean that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith doesn’t actively pursue self-identified heretics.

    again:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1251677.stm

  134. #134 Ichthyic
    March 6, 2008

    Got a source for that claim? (The one about more recent presidents is, sadly, accurate).

    his source is what he believes the majority of americans apparently believe about “the founding fathers”.

    whether that statistic is in and of itself accurate, it was why I brought up the fact that it is irrelevant to whether it is correct or not. Whereupon he attempted to cycle back to the same strawman argument about slavery.

    I seriously doubt you will make it past his projections.

  135. #135 Azkyroth
    March 6, 2008

    uh, there’s considerable evidence they haven’t done that, either.

    did you check out the link to the BBC article I posted?

    Good point. I was being generous.

    “…suspending active persecution of “heretics,” granting for the sake of argument your apparent claim that they actually have.”

  136. #136 blf
    March 6, 2008

    Err, what ugly reference [ to slavery in the USA constitution ] would that be? I’ve read through the text and it makes no direct reference to slavery.

    Indeed there is no direct reference anywhere in Article I. However, there are several implicit references to slavery in the USA’s constitution. Here’s a list:

    http://www.usconstitution.net/constfaq_a3.html#Q59

    The existence of those references now are moot because the constitution also voids them with amendment 13.

  137. #137 Ichthyic
    March 6, 2008

    see, the real problem here is that Gregory wants to compare the misunderstandings of a large number of Americans, with the actual dogma of the CC.

    sorry Gregory, but in your own words, you gladly accept the dogma passed down by the church. If the church is wrong, you can only blame the church itself, not the misunderstandings of a majority (or minority) of Catholics.

    your comparison is inherently flawed.

    maybe you see that, finally, and that’s why you gave up responding, I don’t know; but if not, you really do need to re-examine where the core of your argument is flawed.

    of course, I personally would hope you would also re-examine your faith in dogma to begin with, but that’s a separate issue.

  138. #138 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 6, 2008

    There are two more or less separate issues here. First, as for the “inquisition”: If a U.S. government employee, or an independent contractor for that matter, decided she wanted to spend job time advocating that upstate New York should be returned to the Indians and that the U.S. should pay reparations for slavery to blacks, she’d be told to shut up or lose her job, and if she didn’t shut up, she’d be fired, and the courts would uphold any challenge to the firing. If you work for the government, you aren’t allowed to say things that violate government policy while you’re on the job. That’s all that’s happening. The Vatican is telling theologians who have some sort of official Catholic status that they have to stick to official church teaching or lose that status. So what? It’s not too much different than if a university decided not to renew a teacher’s contract because she was teaching that the world is flat and was created in six days six thousand years ago. I don’t see a problem with any of that. If you think the Vatican is running some sort of Guantanamo Bay for theologians, you’re deranged. If a theologian does not claim or have any sort of official Catholic status, he or she is outside of Vatican reach.

  139. #139 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 6, 2008

    Maybe I need to point out that the one obvious exception to my point about the U.S. government would be elected officials and their immediate staff.

  140. #140 John C. Randolph
    March 6, 2008

    their own faith basically is “just” another judean sect

    Nope.

    Any Rabbi can explain to you, that Judaism is a montheistic religion. No “son of god”, no “holy ghost”, etc.

    -jcr

  141. #141 Tulse
    March 6, 2008

    Mrs. T, as I said above, I’m not arguing about whether Williamson is a bishop, but whether he is a Catholic. On that point:

    excommunication doesn’t make you a non-catholic. (In fact, and though I’m not entirely sure of this, I don’t think it’s possible to be excommunicated unless one is catholic.)

    Right, because it is essentially revoking/suspending membership in the club. You can’t be fired from Harvard if you’ve never been employed there, and you can’t be excommunicated if you’ve never, well, “communed”.

    The point of excommunication is not to cast miscreants into the utter void but rather to pressure the excommunicated into getting right with Rome; it’s like being shown the yellow card, not the red one.

    Not really, because as far as the Catholic Church is concered (at least as I understand it), you’re kicked out of the game until you say you’re sorry — you don’t get to continue to play (that is, participate in the various magic rituals), and if you don’t fix it, you’ll go to hell.

    As far as I’m concerned, this isn’t a huge issue — it’s just a matter of being accurate. If PZ has described him as “an excommunicated Catholic bishop” I would have had no problem.

  142. #142 Stephen Wells
    March 6, 2008

    Is it possible that gerald is actually responsible for #14? I’m seeing similarities.

  143. #143 Mrs Tilton
    March 6, 2008

    Tulse,

    I see your point. But whilst “excommunicated Catholic bishop” would obviously be correct, I’m not sure PZ’s formulation (Catholic bish in breakaway sect) is incorrect even by the RC church’s own standards.

    If accuracy is the concern, I’m pretty sure the RC church regards the SSPX as qualitatively different to (say) the Methodist Church. Methodists are heretics (to be fair, I think the church no longers labels protestants as heretics, so let us say rather: the teachings of the Meth. C., insofar as they vary from RC teachings, are heretical). The SSPX, by contrast, are merely in schism (the technical term for “breakaway sect”).

    In other words, for the Vatican the problem with the SSPX is not that they are not catholic, but that they are not subject to Vatican authority. Pretty much everything else about the SSPX — use of the old Latin ritual, disdain for the Vatican II reforms, misogyny, antisemitism and possibly even antisoundofmusicism — can be found in people who are firmly in the pope’s bosom. In its ideal world, the RC church wants Methodists (to continue with that example) to convert; all it wants the SSPX to do is submit.

    I agree with you that this isn’t a huge issue. It is the sort of issue that sucks me right in, though; a tendency to pedantic hairsplitting is, I’m afraid, an occupational hazard for me.

  144. #144 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 6, 2008

    Mrs. Tilton:

    Much of what you’ve written about bishops applies as well to the bishops of the non-uniate Orthodox and Anglican churches. That does not make their bishops “Catholic bishops”. And the difference in approach with those groups and the SSPX group has at least something to do with the recency of the split and the minimal differences in teachings as anything else. Fifty or 100 years after Henry VIII’s lechery and nationalism created the Anglican church, whose teachings then had changed hardly at all since before the split, I’m sure all that Rome wanted was an agreement to return and, as you put it, submit, while, after hundreds of years of separation and the evolution of bigger differences, a description of any re-unification process would have to look a lot more like conversion rather than submission, although I’m sure if it happened neither of those words would be used!

  145. #145 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 6, 2008

    “Questions? That seems a bit harsh. Or do you mean that in the sense of ‘unequivocally denies’?”

    Knesiya, I should have written “seriously questions”. Long before you get to “unequivocally denies” you should be in some place other than the Catholic Church. The belief that Christ was the Messiah and divine is a sine qua non, part of the basic definition. If you seriously question the value of the Bill of Rights, you don’t belong in the ACLU. If you seriously question the value of a certain level of patriotism, you don’t belong in the John Birch Society (if it still exists). If you seriously question certain ideas about constitutional interpretation, you don’t belong in the Federalist Society (which is why I don’t belong). It’s all the same principle.

  146. #146 MAJeff, OM
    March 6, 2008

    If you seriously question the value of a certain level of patriotism, you don’t belong in the John Birch Society (if it still exists).

    it does. and what gets you kicked out is not believing in massive conspiracy theories (My MA thesis started looking at JBS, but ended up looking at the theocratic right in Minnesota)

  147. #147 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 6, 2008

    Now, for the founding fathers and related points.

    The big names among them were not devout Christians, not even close. They were, however, mostly or all believers in God. Jefferson, who explicitly rejected big chunks of Christianity and was at best a Deist, nonetheless wrote into the Declaration of Independence his belief that the right for the colonists to create the U.S. came from God. Washington, who was something between a Deist and a lukewarm Anglican/Episcopalian, nonetheless expressed his belief that God favored the colonies’ cause of liberty in the Revolutionary War. I don’t think I have to repeat all the stuff that some other presidents have said along the same lines, Reagan and George W. Bush just being the most recent.

    Anyway, all this gets back to the extent to which it is fair to judge the Catholic Church by events in its distant history, such as the Galileo incident in the 1500s or the pursuit of witches (much more a preoccupation of English Protestants), which ended in about the mid-1700s (about the same time the Catholic Church dropped its opposition to Galileo’s work). Part of the argument as I understand it is that because the Church claims to have always been working off of God’s inspiration, it should be held today to whatever it has ever said or done even if it has since acknowledged error and repudiated that position (sort of like amending the Constitution to abolish slavery?). (The doctrine of infallibility is basically irrelevant here since it only dates from the late 1800s and only applies by its own terms to a small handful of teachings of the Church, none of which include anything to do with witches or Galileo, or the Inquisition for that matter.)

    I have offered two answers. First, the Catholic Church also says that since we have only very limited guidance in God’s own words, some to Moses and a few of the Jewish prophets, little of which beyond the Ten Commandments is clear (and even they aren’t completely clear), and whatever Jesus said while on Earth, about which the Gospels are inconsistent and even what the historians agree is probably accurate is often vague in its meaning, the bulk of the Church’s teachings can only come from what humans can figure out, and they make mistakes, including big mistakes. So it is utterly inaccurate to claim that the Church claims to be inerrant as a justification for using whatever of its history you like least to judge it, much less justified in using anything it has since repudiated. You are welcome to make fun of the moral certitude with which it makes its mistakes, certainly!

    Second, I suggest that, because there have been so many claims by founding fathers and Presidents about the divine origins and endorsement of, and inspiration for, the nature and character of the U.S. and the moral superiority with which that supposedly endows the U.S. (the religious aspect of what’s called American exceptionalism), it’s not unfair then for others to judge the U.S. today by the ugliest parts of its history even if a lot of us don’t accept exceptionalism. As for the references in the original Constitution to slavery — like the one that equates slaves to a value of 3/5 of other people — and whether the 13th Amendment makes them “moot”, I suggest you read what Thurgood Marshall had to say on that subject. He would disagree with you firmly — he considered them to remain ugly scars on the contitution — and I dare say he had more right to make that judgment than most of us. We amended the constitution to overrule them but we didn’t strike them.

  148. #148 Tulse
    March 6, 2008

    whilst “excommunicated Catholic bishop” would obviously be correct, I’m not sure PZ’s formulation (Catholic bish in breakaway sect) is incorrect even by the RC church’s own standards.

    Good point, and I guess the issue turns on whether those who are excommunicated are definitively not Catholic. I think it is pretty clear that they aren’t currently members in good standing of the Church, although I agree that the attitude of the church towards excommunicants is different than to those who “naturally” belong to another religion.

    The issue for me was the implication that Williamson’s views were representative of officials in the Catholic Church. I’m sure that there are plenty of anti-semitic Catholic bishops around, and that if one looked closely enough one could find plenty of evidence for that. I just don’t think Williamson counts as that kind of evidence, and that it is misleading to imply (perhaps even unintentionally) that he does.

    All that said, I agree that this is hairsplitting. There are many many reasons to despise the official Catholic Church for its official beliefs, regardless of what beliefs are expressed by an excommunicated bishop (or “Catholic bishop in a breakaway sect”).

  149. #149 Kseniya
    March 6, 2008

    Gregory,

    I understand. Thanks for clarifying that. Believe me, I get the concept, and I wasn’t trying to split any hairs, I was merely curious about your precise meaning. There is a big difference between harboring private doubts about something and openly challenging it, and I wondered where along that continuum your meaning lay.

    I believe that, at some point in their lives, most rational people do question important aspects of their creeds – particularly those extraordinary claims which, were they not made under the purview of religion, would require extraordinary evidence to justify acceptance of their veracity. I had a conversation with my pastor (Episcopalian) about this a year or two ago. She assured me that if I had doubts, if I questioned the divinity of Christ, then I was in very good company and that many people, herself included, had gone through similar periods of doubt and soul-searching before making up their minds one way or the other.

    (I’d like to take this opportunity to assume Mrs. Tilton and any other interested readers that antisoundofmusicism is antithetical to the doctrines of the First Church of the Holy Catbarfstain.)

  150. #150 Kseniya
    March 6, 2008

    (Crumb! Make that: “I’d like to take this opportunity to assure Mrs. Tilton…”)

  151. #151 Kseniya
    March 6, 2008

    Gregory, I think it’s not entirely accurate to imply that Jefferson’s mentions of a deity in the Declaration were intended to refer specifically to the God of the Bible. If I’m not mistaken, the only references to any deity are in the famous “endowed by their Creator” line, and in the phrase “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” Knowing Jefferson’s dedication to the ideal of religious liberty for “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination,” I have no doubt that the nonspecificity of those references was quite intentional, and profoundly vital to his purposes.

    The effort to Christianize the United States and its founders, their beliefs, and the documents they wrote is a dishonest enterprise of long standing. Beware of the lies told in support of it.

  152. #152 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 6, 2008

    Kseniya:

    I understand and pretty much agree with your point. I once wrote a piece for the National Law Journal pointing out that the foundations of the common law legal system lie not with Christianity but with the legal system of the pagan German tribes. I wish, in fact, when I wrote that piece that I had found Jefferson’s quote on the subject: “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.” (He was in fact not entirely accurate in that statement — common law judges have over the centuries woven Judeo-Christian principles into some aspects of the common law — but Jefferson also wasn’t a lawyer and, even if he had been, common law legal scholarship wasn’t very well developed at his time.)

    Be all that as it may, since we do know that Jefferson did in fact use parts of the Bible in his particular practice of religion, since Jews, Christians and Moslems all worship the same God of Abraham, and Hindus have mutiple Creators (at least in some versions of their creation story), it’s a fair guess that Jefferson had the God of the Bible in mind, but, like Washington’s frequent use of the word “Providence”, Jefferson’s use of the word “Creator” will leave us guessing into eternity, or at least as long as the U.S. lasts.

  153. #153 Kseniya
    March 6, 2008

    Well, yes, of course Jefferson had the God of the Bible in mind, as one of the countless possible deities that could be referred to by the generic “God” – which, to the individual, can only mean “The God of My Understanding” (as they say in A.A.) I don’t mean to say that the Creator invoked in the Declaration in any way excludes the God of the Bible. Jefferson’s Deism was surely rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, even though he could not be considered a Christian by any but the most liberal definitions. Jefferson’s “Creator” is inclusive of all concepts of God.

  154. #154 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 6, 2008

    Yes, there are methodist and Anglican and Lutheran and Mormon bishops. The RC church, however, would not agree that those guys are bishops.

    In the case of the Anglicans, it does, because “apostolic succession” is maintained: the first Anglican bishops were consecrated by fully validly consecrated Catholic bishops.

    Theology is always more convoluted than anyone thinks.

    Several of the Orthodox churches have reconciled with Rome over the years, and they each have their own, different set of rites, and all of these are Roman Catholic.

    All of these are Catholic. None of them is Roman Catholic — but this is the distinction in rite.

    There is no rule or restriction against any of us Catholics going to any of these.

    Correct. This goes so far that Greek Catholic married priests are allowed to say Roman Catholic masses.

    So if he can’t even describe the topography a cube satisfactorily how can he have followers who appear savagely protective of this “theory”?

    Are you sure he has any followers?

    Furthermore, even by the most alarmist estimates it will probably take at least 20 more years of Republican administrations before that amendment is repealed.

    :-D

  155. #155 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 6, 2008

    Yes, there are methodist and Anglican and Lutheran and Mormon bishops. The RC church, however, would not agree that those guys are bishops.

    In the case of the Anglicans, it does, because “apostolic succession” is maintained: the first Anglican bishops were consecrated by fully validly consecrated Catholic bishops.

    Theology is always more convoluted than anyone thinks.

    Several of the Orthodox churches have reconciled with Rome over the years, and they each have their own, different set of rites, and all of these are Roman Catholic.

    All of these are Catholic. None of them is Roman Catholic — but this is the distinction in rite.

    There is no rule or restriction against any of us Catholics going to any of these.

    Correct. This goes so far that Greek Catholic married priests are allowed to say Roman Catholic masses.

    So if he can’t even describe the topography a cube satisfactorily how can he have followers who appear savagely protective of this “theory”?

    Are you sure he has any followers?

    Furthermore, even by the most alarmist estimates it will probably take at least 20 more years of Republican administrations before that amendment is repealed.

    :-D

  156. #156 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 6, 2008

    We amended the constitution to overrule them but we didn’t strike them.

    That’s normal in the weird way the US Constitution is treated. When other countries meddle with their constitutions, they issue new versions of their constitutions; in the USA, this is never done, and instead amendments are separate documents that constitute some kind of appendix, so that if you want to know if any article of the Constitution is still in force, you have to read the entire appendix to find out if some amendment has modified it or made it invalid.

  157. #157 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 6, 2008

    We amended the constitution to overrule them but we didn’t strike them.

    That’s normal in the weird way the US Constitution is treated. When other countries meddle with their constitutions, they issue new versions of their constitutions; in the USA, this is never done, and instead amendments are separate documents that constitute some kind of appendix, so that if you want to know if any article of the Constitution is still in force, you have to read the entire appendix to find out if some amendment has modified it or made it invalid.

  158. #158 Mrs Tilton
    March 6, 2008

    David @153,

    In the case of the Anglicans, it does, because “apostolic succession” is maintained

    Forests have gone to the blade arguing that one out, you know. SFAIK the mainstream RC consensus (and that’s all it is, no pope to my knowledge having yet issued an ex cathedra ruling on the matter) is that the apostolic succession of the Anglican episcopacy was broken in the time of Edward because the rituals used in episcopal consecration (much more forthrightly protestant than in Henry’s day) said “simsalabim” the wrong way.

    Complicating matters is the fact that (at least once, I believe in the late 19th c., and possibly other times as well) certain Anglican clergymen have obtained episcopal consecration from Orthodox and other bishops, whom Rome would regard as schismatic but nonethless completely legit in the bishopliness department. So all that the RC church can say about Anglican bishops at this point is that all of them might be real bishops, but they probably aren’t; but some assuredly are real bishiops, but one doesn’t know which ones those are.

    This is obviously an extremely important question and I hope that, for all our sakes, it is cleared up soon.

  159. #159 Gregory F. Hauser
    March 6, 2008

    David, you’ve got your terminology a bit off. The distinction is between Eastern and Western or Eastern and Latin, not between Eastern and Roman. The uniate churches are indeed Roman Catholic, because they are in “full communion” with Rome and accept the authority of the Roman Pontiff, but they are not part of the Western a/k/a Latin rite or church. They have their own Eastern rites.

    As for the Constitution, there is nothing in the Constitution’s amendment procedures stopping us from amending the Constitution to delete language if we wanted to. We just have chosen not to do it, which is exactly my point.

  160. #160 Mart
    March 6, 2008

    His YouTube video is a good laugh.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seZrX5qu4gM

  161. #161 SpinyNorman
    March 7, 2008

    “I once had a Jewish rabbi come and speak to seminarians. Does that sound to you like anti-Semitism?”

    Hahahaha! Some of my best friends are Jewish!

  162. #162 ron up north
    March 8, 2008

    Ye Philistines.
    No wit and little Latin.
    Observe and be enlightened:
    “THE GODS HAVE NO RECTA!”

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