David Klinghoffer is looking for reasons to apologize. That’s all I can conclude from his latest post at the Disco. ‘tute blog: On Yom Kippur, Considering the Moral Meaning of Theistic Evolution. He writes about the Yom Kippur liturgy, probably the holiest moment in the Jewish year, when we apologize to those around us for our failings in the last year, and then take a deeper look at the offenses we may have caused to no person in particular, but which still deserve apologies.
Klinghoffer’s point, to the extent we grant that it is a point, is that this moment is also a good time to pursue his ongoing theological disagreement with theistic evolutionists. You might object that this is not in the spirit of atonement and forgiveness that should be at the root of Yom Kippur.
But then you wouldn’t be David Klinghoffer. Unlike you, Klinghoffer has nothing to seek atonement for this year, certainly not for his ongoing campaign to blame Charles Darwin for anything bad done by anyone who has heard of evolution.
Speaking of atonement, how about that Pope?
Benedict XVI used the first papal state visit to Britain to launch a blistering attack on “atheist extremism” and “aggressive secularism”, and to rue the damage that “the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life” had done in the last century.
The leader of the Roman Catholic church concluded a speech, made before the Queen and assembled dignitaries at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, with the argument that the Nazi desire to eradicate God had led to the Holocaust and a plea for 21st-century Britain to respect its Christian foundations.
I’d like to think that if I had been in the Hitler Youth, had worn the Nazi uniform in combat, went on to head a church that ? through the blood libel, pogroms, Crusades, Passion plays, and Inquisitions ? has done more to sustain a culture of anti-Semitism in Europe than anything else, and if I held the same position in that Church as Pius XII, who abetted the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, not to mention the toxic nationalism that they exploited, and if Hitler had been an adherent of my religion, I might just shut the fuck up about who is to blame for Naziism, World War II, and the Holocaust.
If it were me, I wouldn’t launch an effort at trivializing the Holocaust during the Jewish Days of Awe, the holy time between the beginning of the year and the day of atonement. But I’m not a wizened procurer for pedophile priests who gets regularly mistaken for Emperor Palpatine, so what do I know.
And if I were not only the head of a Church which suppresses dissent vigorously, and which is only beginning to grapple with the campaign of murder it waged in Iberia, the Americas, and elsewhere through the Renaissance, and if I were formerly the head of a body dedicated to stamping out Catholic social justice movements in Latin America, condoning the murders of nuns and priests (not to mention laity) if they didn’t toe my conservative political and theological line, and if I were still persecuting the remnants of that movement and dishonoring its martyrs, and if I had a record of lying about the causes of AIDS to those most afflicted by it, and if I had reversed historic steps toward reconciliation between Catholics and Jews, Muslims, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox achieved by my predecessor, I might not claim to be defending “traditional values and cultural expressions that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate.” At the very least, I’d stop covering up the massive conspiracy of child rape by priests, unless I wanted people to think that child rape is one of the “traditional values and cultural expressions” being besieged.
My only consolation is that, as PZ Myers notes in a different context, “practicing Catholics seem to ignore official papal decrees fairly routinely.” They’d do well to ignore just about everything this Pope decrees.
This is all by way of saying that this Pope could afford to do some atoning of his own this Kol Nidre.
And on that note, for those readers who have been hurt in any way by my actions or words in this last year, you have my sincerest apologies, and my pledge to be more respectful in disagreements and ever more appreciative of friendships.