It seemed these things were popping up in multiple discussions as people like @Suzanne chased me about, so rather than continue the multiple hijacks, maybe putting them here will be more entertaining for everybody.  All I ask is that people be kind, and perhaps answer questions in turn.  These questions come from

1. Why did you choose catholicism over all other religions?

Because it made the most sense to me on several levels.  I of course can't rule out cultural bias, since obviously I'm a westerner and Roman Christianity is culturally pervasive.  For me it was a conscious choice at some point, though I am not a convert.   Interestingly, if I were not Catholic I'd be more inclined to Judaism than the Protestant faiths.  Perhaps the shared intellectual depth of Judaism and Catholicism is a contributing factor.

2. Do you follow the decrees made by the Vatican?

The Vatican does not make "decrees".  The Holy See serves as the administrative center of the worldwide Catholic community, and we do have some administrative rules like any community (our technical term for these is "merely ecclesiastical laws").  For the rest, all we do is teach.

3. Do you agree or disagree with contraception being available to those who would choose to use contraception, if they had access?

I'm not sure why I should care.  Now sometimes when people say "being available" they mean that I should pay for it.  I think that's a different sort of question that belongs more in the realm of public policy.

4. How do you choose which parts of the bible to follow, and not follow.

We don't "follow" the Bible, we read it and refer to it, the way anyone does with a favorite book or reference text.  We try to "follow" God, perhaps, or the example of Jesus or other holy men or women, but not the Bible.  In teaching things or exploring religious ideas, we refer to a wide range of writings and experiences, including long oral tradition, writings of various scholars, journal articles, encyclicals, consensus documents, conciliar writings, etc., much like any intellectual community.

5. Is purgatory in or out, these days.

It's a theory that had moderate but not universal acceptance some centuries ago.  It's still referred to, but not anywhere near as widely as in its heyday.  So it never quite rose to the level of Newtonian Mechanics in physics in terms of acceptance as a theory, and it's perhaps fading faster, but like Newtonian Mechanics it's still referred to in some contexts. 

Tags: Bob, Catholic, Dr., Professor, Robert, Vatican, bible, purgatory, questions

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Is it "Professor Robert," or "Just Bob," or "Dr. Bob" - I'm getting confused!


"Unintended consequences can undermine the best of well-intended public policy.  Most churches run hand-to-mouth, paycheck-to-paycheck.  So to tax church property what you're really doing is putting a tax on congregants, who are already paying taxes of various sorts.  Churches that serve the poor would not be able to sustain that tax, and so would lose the property, costing both the decline of tax revenues and church-operated social service support in those areas, as well as the social decay of another abandoned building, leading to declining property values, move-outs and more decline, etc."

Let me 'splain how it works, Bob - if you were a taxed church, and you actually used your collection money to help the poor, you would be able to deduct those expenses, and thus, not actually use any money. If on the other hand, you used the money, as in a vast Ponzi scheme, to garner more recruits, then yes, you would likely not be allowed to deduct that, and subsequently, could lose the property. But on the positive side, maybe it could be turned into a school that teaches evolution and secular humanism - as comedienne Judi Tenuta says, "It could happen --"

All charities have overhead.  Whether you're a church or a hospital or United Way, you have to pay for your buildings and your events to attract donors and get the word out to the people you want to serve.   We could tax all that, but in the end all it does is take money away from the charitable enterprise.

All of our Catholic Schools teach evolution.  For secular humanism, you'll have to start your own!

Expenses are deductible, Bob, YOU know that.

All of our Catholic Schools teach evolution.

Define "teach evolution".

Because very few school systems get it right, and even fewer of the ones that do are religious. Do they teach that one day a monkey gave birth to a human being? Or do they teach that mutations occur in the DNA creating new traits, and if these new traits better enable the survivability of the species, then they are passed on to future generations, and if they don't then the creatures with these traits die out.

Because the Monkey argument is NOT evolution, it's a straw man designed to make evolution look ridiculous.

I can't speak for the Catholic Church, H3 (I tend to stay away from churches, what with the lightning and the spontaneous human combustion and all), but the Catholic Bible, known here as The New American Bible, is extremely honest and forthcoming. In the Preface and other lead-in material, it specifically tells you that all of the stories are not to be taken as factual, and all through the book, in footnotes to each chapter, it will explain biblical fallacies, such as camels being given to Abraham in 2300 BCE, when camels hadn't been domesticated until 1000 BCE. If you have to read the Bible, I suggest it AND the King James in conjunction, and observe the differences.

On the downside, the Catholic version has cleaned up the dialog a bit, in order, it would seem, to make the biblical characters a little less laughable - hence, for maximum laughter, my suggestion to read both books together.

"Within Catholicism, the teachings on contraception are just a small piece of a bigger set of teachings that involve respect for life, and for women, and for commitment and family.  To understand the teaching, one has to view it in its bigger context."

Then show it to us in it's bigger context.

Bob.  (I presume it's Bob.) 

"the teachings on contraception are just a small piece of a bigger set of teachings"  -

they may be a small part of a bigger set of teachings, but they have a Big Effect.  The difference between creating or not creating a life is a big deal. 

Contraception need not adversely affect

"respect for life, and for women, and for commitment and family." 

- in fact, we would say that it can have a hugely positive effect on these things. 

For instance, If your birth had been planned by your family, it's likely that your mother will love you more. If you are born into a family that is financially, emotionally, and educationally ready to have a child, it is likely that you won't grow up hungry or with psychological dysfunctions.

I was an accident. My mother was 19, and had I been in her place, I might have considered the clinic. I'm grateful that she didn't, but I wouldn't blame her if she had. At one point, after my mother and father divorced we lived in her car under an overpass. After a week, I was sent to live with my father, who is very, very baptist. Over the course of my life, I've had to deal with hunger from time to time, and severe depression, including self harm and suicidal thoughts, loads of medications. I've had trouble in school, because I'm easily bored, although even half listening I've always been able to quote the teacher verbatim. I'm struggling through college with the same problem. I bore very easily, and class work passes me by, and with only two tests per semester, my grades can't be saved. My family and I could have been saved quite a bit of misery had I been aborted, and born later when they were ready. That person wouldn't be me, obviously, but that person would be in my slot, and would likely be happy.

This is what makes the Human race special. There are trillions upon trillions of DNA combinations, but only a fraction of them will be combined into living people. Shouldn't we try to ensure that these few who are lucky enough to be granted a brief experience in life be granted the best possible experience? What do we say to the poor children who are born to families who cannot care for them properly, or live a life of terror with pedophiles and abusive people around? Tough luck, but God has a plan for you? I call BS. If we have the power to fix a problem, then we have the responsibility to do so.

Sounds like you have ADHD?  Or are very bright? 

You're here now.  That's a tough story, and you have a responsibility to yourself to make the most of it and try to be happy.  Did you know that a tough story is the best education?  Fuck yeah. 

Sounds like you have ADHD?  Or are very bright?

A little from column A, A little from column B.

Could also be a very mild case of Aspergers as I tend to have an obsessive/ addictive personality as well. However a little force of will and I can break any psychosomatic addiction I form, put it down and never feel the need to pick it up again. Too bad that doesn't work as well on my smoking habit. :3

Hey, you still need to enjoy yourself. 

I know the many ways you enjoy yourself - if he wants to control his future, allow him to do so without your negative discouragement.


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