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Thread: K-Punk and the Catholics

  1. #16
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    well i stand corrected -- although that was the impression i'd got (neutral tinged with hostility to the UK, and you can sort of see why). but i daresay the impression originates with something written by Julie Burchill, possibly not the soundest source

    also have vague memories of a movie with Donald Sutherland as IRA agent trying to help the Germans assassinate Churchill. is that total poppycock?

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    Neutral tinged with hostility to the UK is fair, very different from supporting the fascists, though de Valera
    the Irish President famously did go to the German embassy with his condolences when Hitler topped
    himself. There were some elements in the IRA who were sympathetic to Germany, but they were also militantly opposed to the Irish Gov and virtually outlawed by it. It was de Valera's refusal to allow
    British ships to use Irish ports ( a violation of neutrality) that has given rise to persistent rumours
    that Ireland allowed U-boats to refuel and other nonsense. All that said, de Valera's government was very Catholic and incredibly authoritarian, so your broader point stands.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diggedy Derek
    Protestantism encouraged studying the bible yourself, which was a step forward at the time.
    Which is not to say, of course, that all sorts of kooky and awful reinterpretations of the Bible have emerged following the 'DIY' approach of Protestantism. But this is more a testament to the ease with which interpretation quickly becomes entrenched conservatism, institutionalism once more...

    the institution is insidious, isn't it?
    To generalise - yes, it is. But to generalise again - aren't they all?

  4. #19
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    OK. I'll come in on this now, even though it is clearly a waste of time, since most of the Catholic apologists don't seem willing to read what I write, or to think beyond the very default categories that it aims to upset.

    First of all: I want everyone to put their cards on the table. If I'm dealing with a cult initiate, I want to know.

    To make absolutely clear my own position. My father and half my family are Catholic, so I have seen the effects of this dangerous and evil cult at very close quarters. It operates by terrorizing children (read the early part of Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man if you doubt that) and by keeping adults as terrified children. That's one of the ways in which it is a child abuse cult.

    1) It's a given, and it was made completely clear in Nina's original post (my, it is difficult to get people to READ things before they wade in, isn't it?) that an attack on the RCC is not an attack on individual Catholics, any more than an attack on Nazism is an attack on anyone who voted for the National Socialists in Germany in the 30s. There were good Nazis in the same way that they are good Catholics. But why defend Catholicism any more than you would defend Nazism? Rather than making silly ad hominem points about 'sixth form' critique, would the defenders of the RCC kindly refute my historical arguments? Millions of people have been raped, mutilated, killed and genocided in the name of the Catholic Church. So when 'good' people say they are Catholic -- what are they signing up to?

    2) Catholicism and ethnicity - Dominic's arguments on 'ancestor' and tradition make this point for me quite eloquently, I think. Dawkins is a bigot, but nevertheless some of his attacks on religion have real bite. For instance, it is overwhelmingly the case that most religious believers share the convictions of their parents. Monofascist religion is a mind virus passed through families (one of the many forms of child abuse for which the RCC is responsible). How is this adoration of ancestors different from Aryan 'blood and soil'? Do these ancestors include the Spanish Inquisitors, the witch burners, the crusaders? Catholicism IS fundamentally an ethnicity rather than a set of doctrinal commitments (and as Nina pointed out in her original post, Oirish Catholicism is one of the most pernicious modes of this idiot ethnicity) because when it comes down to it - and Dominic's 'defence' proves this - it is simply about the stupid claim that people who are 'one of Us' are a priori better than other people. Even if they sodomise children. That's why the RCC will defend and systematically cover up child abuse - because sure, it's wrong, but hey, they are Catholics.

    3) Passsion of the Christ - I would appeal to people to watch the film, not see it through the filters supplied by Amerikkkan Zionists (Zionism is equally as Satanic as Catholicism obv) and other interest groups INCLUDING GIBSON HIMSELF. Gibson himself clearly thought that he was producing Catholic propaganda, but we're sophisticated post-structuralists now aren't we, we don't fall for the intentionalist fallacy, do we? Gibson is under the delusion that if he presents Christ's life as it is told in the Gospels, then he will be presenting an argument against it. But the principal villains of the film - the Pharisees - are representatives of idiot religious authoritarianism, not Judaism per se (there are many positive images of Jews in the film, anyone who watched it without a Zionist filter would easily be able to see that). The counterparts of the preening Pharisees would obviously be Dostoyevsky's Grand Inquisitor - the Catholic cynic who knowingly puts a returned Christ to death because Christ's teachings are 'too difficult' for ordinary people. Catholicsm has been systematically and symbolically killing Christ for 2 millennia. Astonishingly, Gibson's film shows that they haven't succeeded, that there is something in the story - a Gnostic core - that resists all the attempts of Satanic wordly administrators to distort and conceal it.

    4) The authority of the Bible. Obviously it has none whatsoever. That was the point of the Passion of the Christ post, but, again, you have to have read and thought about it rather than simply dashed off a rant in accordance with your existing prejudices. The gospels stand and fall not on their historical truth, but simply on their ethical Example. Dominic accuses me of 'reducing' Christ's teachings to the simple interdiction to love God and love others - as if this isn't what the Biblical Christ himself says (not that this carries special weight, but is Dominic who is accusing me of not knowing the Bible). I certainly plead guilty to reducing Christianity to Christ's teachings - i.e. stripping away all of Paul's nonsense and the mystagogic edifice built upon it. Yes, I'm a bad Protestant - but then, what's wrong with Protestantism is that it is too Catholic. A bad Protestant, but a good Gnostic, and a good Spinozist - that is my hope.

    Finally: the only reason people defend Catholicism is that it is still around. If the Nazis had survived world war II to 'liberalize', people would be up in arms about attacking them. 'My grandfather was a death camp guard... My family isn't evil... there are lots of Nazis who do charity work....' Because if there is Evil in Europe, it must in the past. From the White Euro-Amerikkan POV, evil is the evil of the Other (Saddam Hussein, Islamofascism) or must be confined to History ('yes, we were evil once, but not now, of course...')

  5. #20
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    Mark, I admit fully that I did not read all that you wrote - and I've only just followed the link to Infinite Thought's post on the subject. But, if a post begins with the phrase 'Oirish ethnofascist wing of the child abuse blood cult', then you must expect (even invite?) some knee-jerk reaction. If I've included myself among that number, then so be it. To, once again, declare my interest, I'm a Methodist who recently married an Irish Catholic. If it needs to be declared (as one or two people seem to think it does), of course I do not deny that some priests abuse children. Some do, and they are cruel, men who should be punished accordingly. One or two taught at my brother-in-law's school. And there are two factors that make abuse a particular problem within the RCC: celibacy - which is a ludicrous and potentially dangerous doctrine - and an institutional code of silence (not something unique to the Church) propogated by a number of powerful and extremely stupid individuals. Your point about a different form of child abuse, through the catacysm, is well made Mark, and is obviously a more widespread form of fear. I've read Portrait of the Artist, and even as a sceptical teenager that chapter scared me. That's one concrete, faith-based reason why I would never consider converting; fear is a terrible way to turn people to one's will.

    On the question of signing up, there is a profound difference between Catholics born into it (OK, maybe that does suggest a loose definition of 'ethnicity'), and those who are confirmed in later life. The latter are attracted by the rituals, the symbolism, the exoticism of the whole thing - this is immediately apparent from reading Graham Greene, say. For all other Catholics, the symbolism - transubstantiation for example - is not exotic, weird or mystical. It can't be explained, obviously, but you just shrug and accept it. What they feel more of is a lifetime communion with God - and this often means an everlasting debate to make sense of him/her, and to reconcile one's personal faith with the hideous atrocities committed in its (and by extension your own) name. Having faith is not a bad thing - it is an immensely attractive and beneficial option to billions of people. It offers comfort and hope in times of difficulty. When people are left utterly powerless, those with faith can still pray: they can still feel that they are doing more than those that don't. The value of faith to the personal lives of most people around the world is hard to overstate. That is what Catholics - and almost any member of any religion - are signing up to. Hope, love, faith. Good things. I wish I had more of them myself.

    To end with a contemporary analogy: appalling crimes are being committed in the name of democracy and freedom in Iraq at this very minute, but does anyone outside the neocon cadre actually believe that this is really what democracy and freedom mean? No, of course not. Just because there is a foolish, all-too-human individual at the helm overseeing these crimes at this moment does not mean that democracy or freedom are vessels of evil, tainting all those that believe in them. In this case it is very easy to dissociate the ideals from the fallible individuals working in its name - and this should be equally true of Catholicism.

    This debate can - and will - run eternally, and it's not one that any of us can divert into a particular direction, so I'm reluctant to get drawn further into it: these are my cards on the table, play with them how you will.

  6. #21
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    the thing i'm finding problematic with all this is that now, more than ever in most of our lifetimes, we should all realise how dangerous such swingeing condemnations of any faith are.
    sure, the RCC, a church i was brought up in and gladly left behind many years ago, has been responsible for some grotesque crimes against humanity and continues to be irrefutably wrong about many things that directly and detrimentally affect the lives of its followers (abortion, birth control, homosexuality, female priests etc).
    but i *have* read all the posts leading to this thread and, i'm sorry, i just don't buy the idea that this "criticism", with all its emotive, tabloid language and imagery (child abuse, the "oirish" etc - jesus christ, if any of you want a job at the sun that badly all you have to do is ask. i can help you out, y'know), can be viewed solely as a salvo aimed at the vatican; distanced from the individual adherents.
    whenever any faith is scapegoated its extreme tendencies become perceived as the majority view, when this in fact is not the case: cf the way "moslem" is now between-the-lines shorthand for "terrorist" and the prevalence of a pernicious new breed of anti-semitism among the guardian-reading classes for just two current examples of this ("they're all like that ariel sharon, innit").
    the idea that being anti-catholic is akin to anti-nazism is plain lunacy because the fundamental principles behind this argument (mainly the idea of standing up against a corrupt, secretive cabal dedicated to ruining the lives of non-believers) can be applied to *any* organised religion and are, paradoxically, exactly those used by the nazis against the jews.
    i'd say a far better and more effective approach would be to single out what you don't like about the RCC and its policies (there's enough to be getting on with) and attack them, not use them as a reason to attck the faith itself, because that kind or demonization rarely leads to anything positive.
    funnily enough, hitler wasn't overwhelmngly fond of "my people", either.
    Last edited by stelfox; 25-10-2004 at 01:01 PM.

  7. #22
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    Having just joined dissensus (it's a great site, isn't it?) and realising what one of the threads was about, I thought I might as well contribute to the discussion (or rather dissent...? dissentry....? I dunno).

    Anyway, someone recently admonished me on my blog for having written something vitriolic (if not exactly amusing or erudite) about Blair, namely the following:
    'And, really, I don't need this child. Please take him. Perhaps he could come in useful for those Catholic rituals you are so fond of, you motherfucking pederast prick.'

    At the time I wrote that I was watching Blair's party conference admission that (I quote) 'there were no weapons [in Iraq]. I am so sorry', and was severely aggrieved by the pious hypocrisy of it all, the weeping Labour party supporters shedding a tear over Tony's 'brave admission'. So why did I bring Blair's much-debated Catholicism into it? Because, for one thing, it struck me that this was a 'confession' in a strictly theological sense. Rather than operating outside the logic of personal guilt and absolution, as politics ought to do, Blair (he is not alone of course) opts for a sentimentalising of politics, and an emotivising of issues that should be dealt with in a sober manner (i.e. deciding whether to invade another country). But of course there was no 'sober' argument for going to war with Iraq. All Blair had to go on was his 'personal faith' that this was the 'right thing to do' and the belief that his 'good works' would eventually convince everyone that he was a nice guy. And we are supposed to just trust him. That's hierarchy for you.

    It strikes me that we have never had a more public view of a Prime Minister's struggle with his faith - see for example, this recent Times article and this from the Guardian. We are a long way, sadly, from Elizabeth I's profoundly Protestant 'I do not wish to make windows into men's souls'.

    Blair's private audience with the Pope to discuss his own spiritual standing during a State visit struck me as grotesque at the time, especially when the Pope was also trying to convince him not to go to war with Iraq (if only Blair had been actually Catholic at that point and actually listened to 'God's representative'... if you have a messiah complex you probably don't like religious people saying you are wrong). I'm hoping they refuse to accept him if he converts at the end of his term.

    So why blame the RCC, and not Protestantism, or Britishness, or politics itself, for Blair's repulsive rhetoric and confessional attitude? Because he turns the specific language of Catholic belief into debased political currency. Confessing and paying penance ('so sorry for Bernie Ecclestone's contribution'), adhering to a form of vitalism that really couldn't be any more hypocritical (the Labour Party slogan at the last conference: 'a better life for all'). I also wonder if Blair stays, how long it will be before the law on abortion gets rethought. If we were more formally Protestant in our relation to the Government and its policies, Blair would be in massive amounts of trouble....'excuse me Tony, I don't believe you have the divine right to invade another country against the wishes of the majority'....'stop trying to make me afraid of terrorism! you're just keeping us down. If you have any information, you should share it with all of us'. Luther didn't translate the Bible because he wanted people to continue believing what their masters told them.

    But, you know, I also hate Protestantism because of its obsession with work, Judaism because of its autistic commitment to the Law, agnostics because of their incuriosity, atheists because of their smug positivism, about which they often know little (get an atheist to explain why Darwin might be a problem for religion and they often start stalling). So it's not just Catholicism, but really its peculiar compatibility with a culture of fear, the propagation of ignorance and its undying veneration of those closer to the pontiff.....

  8. #23
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    which is why, when I think about it, Private Eye's depiction of Blair as an over-eager Anglican vicar is slightly misplaced....it's much more sinister than that, sadly.

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    This just in:

    'I was born a Nazi, but of course I utterly reject Nazism. Utterly. Honestly. I reject it in the sense that I don't agree with any of the doctrines, naturally, but come on, I think it's fine to belong to the cultural group, you can't expect me to reject the ethnicity, these are my people aren't they, so they can't all be bad.

    Although I reject Nazism - honestly, really, I am in no way a Nazi - I think - and my judgement of Catholicism is purely objective, honest - that anyone who attacks Nazism is an unthinking bigot. No, it's not true that I am doing and saying exactly what I would have done and said if I were a Nazi. I am not a Nazi. The fact I belong to that ethnic group has NOTHING AT ALL to do with the fact that I am defending it; that's just human tolerance, isn't it? Everyone's entitled to belong to a genocidal death cult if they want to, that's only fair and decent.

    I've read this thread, and I've honestly, carefully and objectively taken on board all of the arguments that have been made against mein volk. Tabloid sensationalism about pogroms and concentration camps isn't exactly raising the level of debate is it? Sure, Nazism made some mistakes and did some pretty bad things - like attempted popolucide - but, you know, most Nazis I know are good people who don't approve of this sort of thing. And not everything Nazism did was bad. The trains run on time and the uniforms are really rather sexy, y'know.

    Besides, Nazism isn't the worst thing that has ever happened on earth. There is also the Catholic Church, whose ENTIRE two millennia long history (Crusades, the Conquests, withburnings, the inquisition, imperialism, the destruction of Mayan culture) is thick with the blood of its many victims. And it is STILL involved in systematic cover-ups of child abuse the world over, STILL encourages mass death in Africa through its opposition to condoms, STILL keeps people alive in misery because of its superstitious veneration of organic Life, STILL oppresses women (whom it considers second-class citizens, good enough to be worshipped as Mothers and fucked as Whores, but not good enough to dole out the communion wine and spool out the mystagogic doctrine), STILL forces women in its jurisdiction into health-threatening backstreet abortions. Come on, Nazism is pretty small potatoes compared to that, isn't it?

    What I would ask is: why are 'Nazism' and 'fascism' considered the very synonyms for evil, when Catholicism is still respectable? Why are my people worse than the Catholics? Everyone's entitled to a little genocide in their cultural history, surely. Doesn't mean you should be ashamed of it. And anyone who says you should be is nothing more than a foaming-at-the-mouth tabloid bigot. Learn some tolerance for other groups, honestly.

    Yours disgustedly,

    Zak Boorman'

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    Quote Originally Posted by infinite thought
    atheists because of their smug positivism, about which they often know little
    what do they not know much about? and why are they positivists, smug ones at that?

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by stelfox
    i'd say a far better and more effective approach would be to single out what you don't like about the RCC and its policies (there's enough to be getting on with) and attack them, not use them as a reason to attck the faith itself, because that kind or demonization rarely leads to anything positive.
    What I don't understand is that given the institutionalized hierarchy headed up by an infallible pontiff which constitutes the backbone of the RCC, how can you possibly divorce that from the Roman Catholic faith? Papal infallibility and all that it entails is itself an act of faith. Yes there are Roman Catholics who question and/or defy their church's stand on, for example, contraception, but in the eyes of that church they are bad Catholics. For this reason I am perfectly happy to make sweeping statements about Catholicism, although I would be less likely to do so about Christianity as a whole. I actually have a lot more respect for hardline Catholics who follow the policies of their church because at least they have a consistent position which one can take issue with. As far as I can see, if you sign up for something this rigid, you have to sign up for the whole deal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by k-punk
    the destruction of Mayan culture
    Zak, the decline of Mayan culture is not clearly linked with the European conquests
    of Latin American. The Spanish never really managed to colonise Yucatan apart from
    costal regions, because their weapons and technology wasn't much use in the jungle.
    Conversely, the Mayas were too weak to get rid of the Spanish on the coast. The decline
    of Mayan civilisation had begun before the Europeans made contact. The causes for
    this decline are not really established.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by johneffay
    I actually have a lot more respect for hardline Catholics who follow the policies of their church because at least they have a consistent position which one can take issue with.
    Translation: you prefer the world to be simple so it does not interfer with your dearly held beliefs.

    Quote Originally Posted by johneffay
    As far as I can see, if you sign up for something this rigid, you have to sign up for the whole deal.
    But what if those who do sign up don't think it's rigid? Damn! Your whole argument falls apart!

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    Quote Originally Posted by echo-friendly
    But what if those who do sign up don't think it's rigid? Damn! Your whole argument falls apart!
    Nope, it shows they haven't been paying attention to the primary tenets they signed up for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johneffay
    Nope, it shows they haven't been paying attention to the primary tenets they signed up for.
    You see, that is a complete misunderstanding of religion. There are no "primary tenets". You make them up as they suit you. A typical rhetorical strategy is to distinguish between the "true core" of a religion and it's corruption (for example -- and very popular --by the clergy). One could then consider oneself as a true believer whose faith is demonstrated precisely through opposition to the corruption of the religious bureacracy, e.g. the pope and his lot. It's hardly uncommon.

    Religon is like good pop music: it's so vague that you can project all your ideosyncratic feelings into it and feel good (if you are a fan of that brand). Of course you can also do the reverse and project all evil (if, like K-Punk you have a need to pick on somebody else). Unless you understand that the core of being a member of a given religion X consists of nothing more than a willingness to say "I am a member of X" you really don't understand religion.

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