Monday, March 29, 2010

Do You Believe in Miracles? Um, No.

It’s not been a very good couple of weeks for the Catholics, has it?

Seems that every day another layer is peeled off this foul liturgical onion.  I know bad news always gets the big press, but are there any honorable priests left? 

All of these testaments to the side effects of forced celibacy are getting moved around by the churches highest officials, like the world’s most elaborate shell game.
My dad used to be an altar boy so I asked him if anything untoward ever happed to him.

Dad said there was one certain very old priest with whom all the altar boys had a problem.  Seems that when they would help him up out of his genuflect, he was known to pass some gas on them.  When you saw those robes billow, you knew you were in trouble.  Anyway, the altar boys policed this themselves by assigning the altar boy with the least seniority to this honor.

But wait… there’s good news on the horizon…

The wheels are turning to designate Pope John Paul II as a saint.  All they have to do is document one lousy miracle, and say hello to St. JP. 

Funny thing, those miracles.  They’re really twisting things around to come up with one, in this modern, skeptical age.  Right now, the front running miracle is that of a young French nun who prayed to the Pope to cure her of Parkinson’s Disease, then she recovered.

Not exactly parting the Red Sea, is it? 

Back in the day, the seas part, water turns to wine, the dead rise… I’m sure there was consensus that miracles were afoot.  I mean, there were witnesses all over the place.

So now, a mysterious curing?

Hasn't anyone ever heard of people getting better on their own?  History is rife with stories of cancers receding, blood becoming whole again and tumors shrinking, all on their own.  Were they all miracles too?

This story reeks of the classic logical fallacy: “If A is followed by B, that proves that A caused B.”  Sequence does not equal causality.  I know Fox News uses this ploy all the time with their news “analysis”, but this “logic” were true, you could argue that most anything could be a “miracle.” 

Like this:

John Paul was named Pope in 1978.  In the next Olympics, the US Hockey Team upset the vaunted Russian team.  See?  Miracle!  They even call it the Miracle on Ice.  David and Goliath for the 20th century.

Yeah, I know… it’s all about faith.  I’ll tell you what… I have zero faith in anything this corrupt organization has to say.

If you ask me, a real miracle would have been if they actually put the needs of their youngest, most vulnerable parishioners ahead of their need to maintain their grasp on money, status and power.


  1. I'm sure I've read this concept before, but I really like that you address this:

    "Sequence is not causality."

    So many people don't get that and try to make it fit to their argument's advantage. That bugs the crap out of me.

    In general, stupid claims aggravate me. The illogical base of some arguments seem so obvious that I feel insulted that I (or other people) have to argue against them.

    For example (warning: political stuff following), why did the president have to explain on national tv and in front of Congress that his health plan wasn't going to kill old people? Geesh. Sorry, an aside, but along the same lines of stupidity in my opinion.

  2. The stupid claims work because there is a lack of critical thinking in this country, which is of great benefit to Fox News. Note how frequently they make kind of snide put-downs of the educated.

    The Right is afraid of educated people because educated people aren't as easily manipulated and can often see through the skewed logic in which they specialize. So they demonize "Ivy Leaguers" or "Eastern Elites".

    The Right wants people scared, stupid and pliable so it is easier to get them to vote against their own self interest.

    By the way, did you know that Black Presidents cause blizzards? Because the first year we had one, the east coast (where the Black President is) set records for snowfall. Must be, right?

    Oh, never worry about being political here. No apologies necessary. Unless you disagree with me... lol...

  3. Well, I have faith but as of now it is in no particular religion. Man will always let you down, so keep your eyes on God. What is happening in the Catholic church has been rumored for years. But it is a highly political realm, and I don't know about you, but my belief is that politics and faith do not mix. Cover-ups in politics and cover-ups in dogmas. It is all very disheartening, and yes, a great shell game.

  4. Cher:
    Faith is an honorable thing. And what this organization has done with people's faith, especially the faith of the young, is nothing less than a crime against the God they pretend to serve and mankind that they pretend to guide.

    Politics and faith absolutely do not mix. And when it does, you get things like the revisionist history going on in Texas with their schoolbooks.

    Too many people have pointed out that the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson in particular, wrote strongly about keeping religion out of government. So what does the Texas school board do? They write Thomas Jefferson out of the history books. But Phyllis Schlafley's in there.

    Out: one Founding Father
    In: one batty great aunt.

    It's enough to make me want to take the Lord's name in vain, I tell you.

  5. I don't know. Sometimes I believe in miracles. Sometimes I believe that being alive and surrounded by beautiful things in our world is a miracle. But I do know this--one place that never reaffirms my faith in any God or anything else is a church. Churches of all kinds tend to fuel my cynicism and skepticism instead. I can't imagine how people raised in the Catholic church must be feeling now, except I do know it's not the only denomination where kids were violated and the preachers who did it found shelter. I wonder how many Christians these horrible priests un-made. Probably at least as many as they made, if not more.

  6. Your comment to askcherlock is right on the money, Bluz. Couldn't agree more.

  7. And somewhere I just assumed that if there is a true miracle, God was supposed to get the credit. Silly me.

    This all reminds me of Father Guido Sarducci's complaint about the first American saint:

    "To be made a saint in-a the catholic church, you have to have-a four miracles. That's-a the rules, you know. It's-a always been that-a. Four miracles, and-a to prove it. Well, this-a Mother Seton, now they could only prove-a three miracles. But the Pope, he just-a waved the fourth one. He just waved it! And do you know why? It's-a because she was American. It's all-a politics. We got-a some Italian-a people, they got-a forty, fifty, sixty miracles to their name. They can't-a get in just cause they say there's already too many Italian saints, and this woman comes along with-a three lousy miracles. I understand that-a two of them was-a card tricks."

  8. Actually, bluz, I found this article illuminating. The Church did fail spectacularly, but not necessarily for the reasons everyone thinks. Give it a read.

    As to good ole JP becoming a saint, I've nothing to add. But you know me, I'm not throwing the baby out with the bathwater on this Catholic thing.

  9. Lilo:
    I suppose you could call the nature of our existence and our world a miracle, but it sure as hell isn’t attributable to some old guy in a robe.

    I think the difference between the peccadilloes of the different religions is that the priests are violating little boys, the other ministers and such are banging the deacon’s wives.

    Either way, it’s all about the abuse of power and trust, and hiding the evidence.

  10. B. Girl:
    Cher brings it out of me, what can I say?

    But how sucky is it the the entire country is held hostage by what a couple of Texas bible thumpers on the school board want to do? They probably think it’s a big East Coast conspiracy that they have to cover New England’s role in the American Revolution at all. Next thing you know, Texas history books will start with the Alamo.

  11. Bagger:
    Oh, I remember that bit! I used to love Fr. Guido.

    “Card tricks…” LOL…

  12. RPM:
    I read the article… it’s still disturbing. They basically ignored their own rules, gave the offending officials “therapy”, pronounced them cured, and sent them back in the game. How convenient… and utterly reprehensible.

    I saw another article in the New York Times this morning (I can’t find it again now or I’d give the link, but lots of other sites are quoting it) by Sinead O’Connor, describing the horrors of what has been routinely done by the Church in Irish schools and orphanages. (She was basically saying, “I told you so, 18 years ago on Saturday Night Live.)

    I hope you continue to have a church, in the years to come, in which to engage in your Catholic Thing. But you know me… I always distrust the middleman.

    Peace, my friend.

  13. You sound like a professor bluz! Pretty impressive stuff.

    You pretty much say it perfectly. I don't have much to add. But I enjoyed the heck out of this post, even if it's sad and depressing.

  14. GUY:
    I may have to add that moniker to my repertoire… “Professor Bluz.”

    Eh, I don’t know… I’m just another schmo with a keyboard and an opinion.

    There’s always the possibility that I’m completely full of shit.

    What if one day, in the (far, I hope) distant future, I’m called before St. Peter up on Cloud 9, and he’s like, “Sorry, bluz, the Catholics had it right. Altar boys are provided as a perk of priestly office, kind of like a big buffet. Also, women really are second class citizens. That’s why we make the nuns dress like penguins and we keep them out of any kind of decision-making role. The Pope really is infallible… take if from me, I was the pioneer there. Plus, birth control really is a sin and condoms don’t prevent AIDS.”

    In which case, I’m like, “I don’t think I’m in the right department of Heaven… where’s the beer and where are the endless fields of bacon? Where is the endless loop of Pittsburgh sports highlights? Where’s Art Rooney Sr.? Don’t you have special accommodations for bloggers?”

    Then St. Pete’s like, “You call that endless stream of old stories, piss-ant rants and poop jokes ‘a blog’? If Joan Jett hadn’t put in a good word for you with The Big Guy, you’d be in that other place right now. In fact, I think I should have you report to St. Beck for orientation.”

    And then I say, “With all due respect, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” (cold chill runs down back)

    Then Pete says, “Well, what did you think I meant by ‘that other place’?”

  15. That reply to Guy is hilarious. As an aside, I'm not sure Beck (Hansen or Jeff) can be sainted. The former is a Christian Scientist; the latter a rock and roll guitar god.

    Anyhow, not to go all religious fruitcake on you, but part of my reason for still being a practicing Catholic is that I have been on the receiving end of actual, honest-to-goodness miracles. No hyperbole, but my faith in God and Jesus (and not necessarily the Church per se, but that is my chosen vehicle) saved my life. A couple of times.

    So there's that.

    Peace to you too.

  16. Just more reasons to avoid organized religion. To my thinking, an individual's relationship with God is a private thing. People do not need to belng to a church to pray and worship.

    Now that being said, I spent the first 20-some years of my life learning about God and Jesus by attending church regularly. But I also learned the hypocracy of organized religion.

  17. Red Pen Mama:
    Thanks, about my reply. That’s one of those things that just jumps out as I’m writing. I had no idea that was in there (tapping head). And when I was done, I was like, “Damn… I should have saved that for a post!”

    I was going to use “St. Limbaugh” rather than St. Beck, but that would border on heresy (even for me) and it made me queasy just to ponder.

    I know you’re not a fruitcake, RPM.

    It’s never been my intent to denigrate God himself, but all the goofy shit man has made up to process the idea of a greater power. My primary principle (besides “More Bacon!”) is “To each, his own.” I’m in favor of whatever works for a person, as long as they don’t expect everyone else to fall into their line.

    I’m glad you’ve had good experiences with Catholicism. It’s just that I haven’t… it’s been a pretty miserable experience for me and members of my family. So I’ll be the first to admit I’ve got an ax to grind there. And with all the inexcusable crap that’s going on at the top of their organization, I just can’t give it a pass.

  18. Dog:
    That’s basically my thing. To me, the organization serves no purpose (other to bore me senseless for an hour every week.) One can be as close to God as one chooses, all by one’s self.

    As soon as people come together, next thing you know, someone has to be in charge and then that someone is has his hand out. Then there are rules, then people are being excluded. Land is bought, buildings are built, staff is hired. Need more money to keep it going…

    A different group has a better building, so add-ons are needed. Another group is pressuring politicians to make laws favorable to their own beliefs, and now so do you. Better hire some lobbyists… that’ll cost ya too.

    And so it goes…

    Why not just go out into the woods and contemplate your role in the world? Hey, it’s on the house.


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