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. 

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I always roll with it and enjoy myself no matter how shit things get.  & I just work towards better times. 

Also, learn from everything, remember that the ego sometimes serves to make you unhappy in its blind reflex towards immediate comfort, and always practice compassion towards yourself and others. 

Grasshopper has spoken. 

RE: "Grasshopper has spoken."

Here come da Raid, here come da Raid!

I was completely fucked until about 7 years ago.  Now, people say they've never come across anyone so happy. 

RE: "Now, people say they've never come across anyone so happy." - if I were to ask your downstairs neighbor, are you SURE that's what he'd say?

"are you SURE that's what he'd say?" - he'd probably say the same as you. 

H3 - my car broke down a couple of weeks ago - I live on an acre in the country, miles from the nearest town. I decided that if I were EVER going to quit smoking, that was the time - this is late Thursday, I smoked my last cigarette last Friday afternoon. Yes, I have gone through agony - I have left the computer, to tell myself, "I'll go have a smoke, then come back and finish this - wait, I have no cigarettes!" I can't tell you how many times that scenario played itself out. But I will conquer this, and you can too, though you may have to isolate yourself to do it.

One phrase might keep you going, no matter how trite it may seem now: "This too, will pass!"

Also, if you stop smoking, and consider another cigarette, Suzanne Olsen-Hyde will personally come from Australia, to wherever you are, and kick your butt - this is the only thing that keeps me on the straight and narrow!

I'm puffing on a ecig at the moment. No tar, so it's better for the lungs, but still has a comparable nicotine content. However it is possible to ween down the the nic level to zero. I have to admit though, my favorite part is puffing out a cloud of little white dragons and watching them dance. My imagination gets pretty creative. lol.

I, too, have an e-cig, paid a freakin' hundred dollars for it, yet it has flavor, but no smoke. One thing a smoker misses, is drawing that smoke deep down into the lungs. You non-smokers can play video solitaire, as you have no idea what we're talking about.

But listen, if a crack addict were here, saying, "I wanna quit!" what, as a Humanist, would you say? Trust me (and H3xx) addiction to nicotine is as real as any other addiction!

Awesome! I'm glad you decided to quit. I worked with a lady who had smoked for thirty odd years. She had been feeling terrible for about a week decided to quit and the next day went to the doctor. It turned out she had lung cancer. It was pretty terrible.

One thing I've noticed, and it shows a little here: "I have gone through agony - I have left the computer, to tell myself, 'I'll go have a smoke, then come back and finish this - wait, I have no cigarettes!' I can't tell you how many times that scenario played itself out."

This sounds like simple habit formation. A Soldier of mine would get into his car, turn it on, buckle his seat belt, then light a cigarette every time he got in his car. Figure out where some of these habits are and you can work towards breaking them. It'll work for the habit-induced smoking at least. The nicotine addiction is a different matter.

RE: "This sounds like simple habit formation" - oh, absolutely! One of the first things I did, before ever even beginning to make an effort to quit, was to analyze my smoking habits - my dad, for example, did just as your Soldier did, lit up just before turning the car key, and I discovered that I did the same thing.

Other associations were coffee and a smoke, any beverage containing soda or alcohol, and a smoke, after sex, after eating, when I finished a particularly difficult task, or finished anything really, and felt it was time to relax. So I began breaking those associations up, even before I ever actually stopped, as I knew how strong their attraction was, and I knew I needed all of the help I could get.

I had previously tried nicotine gum (tastes horrible), the patch (really hard to light), but I discovered that even though I was getting a delivery of nicotine, I missed that feeling of drawing smoke down into my lungs and watching it bellow out (a study some years ago proved that a smoker in a dark room, who can't see his smoke, derives far less pleasure than one in a room that allows for visibility).

If you plan out your campaign beforehand, there are many ways you can trick and retrain your subconscious mind.

Since it is an addiction, as well as a habit (it raises your blood-sugar level, giving you a tiny "high," which over time, becomes the norm, and real "normal" by comparison, seems like a "low," requiring another smoke to alleviate), one can lessen its effect by reducing one's nicotine intake, for example, by going the first hour each morning without a smoke, then continuing as usual, then two hours the next week, etc.

It also helps to keep your cigarettes in a relatively inaccessible place, like in your car, where you have to expend an effort to go get one. You'd be surprised how one can use the normal human tendency toward laziness, to talk oneself out of going all the way to the car and back for a smoke, and every cigarette you can postpone smoking, may well become one that doesn't get smoked that day. Baby steps.

H3 - that you are here, now, saying what you're saying, has earned you my greatest respect, for what that's worth --


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