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 http://www.thinkatheist.com/forum/topics/mad-at-the-outcome-thought...
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.
Let's travel down the slippery slope for a bit. What happens when some far right politician gets it in his head that instead of building schools, the government should be building churches? If this insane and ludicrous idea where to gather steam, (and you know it can with the power of stupid tea partiers and Koch money) we could be facing the biggest threat this nation has ever seen. The wholesale replacement of actual education with theological brainwashing.
A bill to provide disaster relief funding could just be testing the waters for just such an apocalyptic bill.
And for the record, I lived in Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina. We didn't flee to the church for shelter, we stayed in the home my grandfather built. After it was all said and done, the church was found 600 feet from it's foundation, and my grandfather's house was missing a few shingles off the roof. I would venture to say that my grandfather was a better carpenter than Jesus.
H3 - did you know that a small bit of ice - frozen water - can crack huge granite boulders? It can, over time, as, winter after winter, small cracks in te granite fill with water that then freezes, expanding, and making the crack a little larger for the next winter to come.
"The Wedge" is the name of a plan that works similarly. It was drafted into document form in 1998 by the Discovery Institute, an American organization whose admitted agenda is to get Creationism taught in Public Schools.
So when you see what looks like just the tiniest infringement on the Constitutional separation of Church and State, don't shrug it off as so minor an issue as to be inconsequential - be afraid, be very afraid. If it's sponsored or promoted by an elected official, it quite likely is part of The Wedge. (I wish we could attach sound to words, as I would have the computer loudly play, "Da-Dummmmm!" everytime "The Wedge" was mentioned - ah, there it is again --
Wait a sec, H3xx, I actually have a copy, in PDF format - can anyone tell me how to make it available for downloading, using TA's format?
Never mind --
LOL. Or at least a better carpenter than the contractors in New Orleans.
Governments build churches in lots of free countries. Governments support Catholic and other religious schools in almost all free countries. The U.S. is an outlier with a near-monopoly on education being held by the current political establishment. Some other examples are Saudi Arabia and North Korea.
I guess I tend toward libertarianism in this regard a bit. I think we are best protected from overt educational indoctrination by having a system which supports and protects multiple educational providers from which individuals can choose. In that way there's little incentive for people with "Wedge" documents to try to take over the one monopoly system so as to get to everyone, whether for religious or political purposes. Our university system is a much better model than our K-12 system for protecting intellectual freedom.
This is wandering off-topic, though.
I disagree. If people are not educated uniformly, then gaps in education form. People from business owned schools begin to want to tax the poor to pay for the rich, people from church owned schools begin to want to take away the rights of anyone who doesn't conform to their way of thinking.
Creating a free public school system that EVERYONE can attend, without discrimination, and setting up several layers of security that ensure the curriculum is up to date and not twisted in any form is the only effective way that I see of creating a world in which people are informed, non-hateful, and truly free.
RE: "setting up several layers of security that ensure the curriculum is up to date and not twisted in any form is the only effective way that I see of creating a world in which people are informed, non-hateful, and truly free."
Sounds good on paper, but unlikely to happen, with conservative, whack-job Texas setting the textbook standards for the nation - that's a layer no one counted on. This last go-round, and this is only done every ten years, so this edition will take a child just entering first grade, all the way through 10th, almost entirely eliminates any mention of Thomas Jefferson, and puts conservative spins on a lot of previously entirely secular subjects.
I wish I had a link I could share, but I was out yesterday, and the email piled up and I'm trying to wade through it all - ah, the perils of popularity - just Google Texas textbooks, and I'm sure you'll get a hit.
I'm working on a discussion post for later, dealing with what I would do if I were in charge. I'll be describing it with masochistic fairness, i.e. if it were enacted, it may negatively affect myself for the benefit of others. I'm weird like that.
it's equivalent to not paying taxes
Which is exactly my point.... I'm saying 1 - 1 = 0, you're saying 0 = 0... either way, the catholic church has a but load of cash and can afford the taxes on it's property.
Hospitals have a butt load of cash and can afford the taxes on their property, too. So can United Way, and why should colleges and universities get a "by" on taxes? Hospitals and universities receive fire and police protection, after all.
I think we have to be careful about suggesting that we tax only those not-for-profit services that we personally don't use or don't care for. If we advocate for that, we have to remember that can be done to the charities we do support. Full taxes on health care facilities providing abortions, full taxes on organizations supporting registering voters in poor / ethnic districts, full taxes on lands owned by the Nature Conservancy so as to drive them under and free the lands up for oil drilling, etc.
Private hospitals and colleges do pay property tax. Public ones do not, but that is because taxes are used to run them in the first place.
Ya'll please don't ask Dr. Ricky Bobby too many questions he gets confused easily.
Besides it's all the Pope's money anyway. LOL