The Holy Dinner - My evening with a priest

(note: this event actually took
place last year but I thought it would be interesting to copy it from my
other blog)

So the big evening finally arrived. I was going to be dining with a local priest.

Father Pat was all that he was said to
be and then some. He was well-read, well-spoken, affable and at times
blasphemous. I know that many of you read my post yesterday and
probably thought that there was going to be some kind of showdown at my
house.

This may surprise you but I did not disagree with a single thing that he said.

Here are some of his beliefs:

- Organized religion is completely outdated. It should be focusing on communites and helping people that
need it.
- We should spend less time reading and analyzing scripture and more time reading poetry.
- God's word was meant to teach us how to be people and not holier-than-thou.
- Any religion that looks down on another religion or atheist should be ashamed of themselves.
- People should be able to marry anyone they want and gays should definitely have a place in the church.
- People tend to pick out the passages in the Bible that fit their likes or dislikes.

It actually ended up being a fairly uneventful evening. Father Pat seemed to like to be the center of
attention and he did 90% of the talking. I was a little disappointed
with that as we all had different opinions on the various topics and at
no time did he ask anyone what they thought. This was more than a
little ironic because he said that his last sermon was on listening to
others.



I think what might have been more interesting is that the good Father did not say. At no point in the
entire evening did he even mention the word "Jesus". I was very curious
to find out just what he believed when it came to the stories in the
bible so I asked him how important it was for him to believe the
accuracy of both the old and new testament. I could tell throughout the
evening when a question kind of got to him as a stern look would come
over his face. Not that he was upset with the question - I don't think
he was - but on some level it made him uncomfortable. He said that the
historical truth did not mean that much to him as he focuses on the
meanings behind the word of God. I didn't push the topic any further.



This is the part of the equation that I find fascinating. I do read quite a bit on this topic and I greatly
enjoy the debates on this subject. The one thing that I have noticed is
that the more knowledgeable someone is on the history of religion and
the bible, the less likely they are to defend what is in the book.
Father Pat was extremely knowledgeable on the history of his religion
and I'm sure that he knows that many of the main parts of the story
aren't true and were blatant mutations from other religions. There is
no such thing as a new religion in this world.

I think that is what separates me from people like my father-in-law and Father Pat. My father-in-law (a former
minister) readily admits that almost all of it is mythical. Moreso, he
is always saying (as Father Pat did several times) that it is foolish
to pretend to know the word of God. Hence the contradiction: I just
don't see how you can strip away all of the stuff like burning bushes,
talking snakes, virgin births and parting seas yet still give some kind
of credibility to other parts of it. After all, it is all kind of
linked together. I don't see how one could dismiss so much of it yet
say that some of it is probably true. If you have the greatest story
ever told, would you need to dress it up with fabrications and legends?
I know that my father-in-law reads the scriptures for wisdom but at the
same time he admits that the book is not God's word. If your interest
is in wisdom, wouldn't you just read the philosphy of the ancient
greeks? You get all of the good stuff without having to wade through
the hate and bigotry that pervades the "good" book.



So that is my recap. I wish that we had more of a discussion than a dissertation but maybe that will come
next time. We did spend much of the night talking about what is good
for mankind (we all share that goal even if we disagree on the details).

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Tags: a, atheism, dinner, priest, with

Comment by Mike Vaughan on July 22, 2010 at 9:13pm
I guess, when you put it like that, I also agree with all but one of the pastors beliefs.

"God's word was meant to teach us how to be people and not holier-than-thou."

I can't really eblieve anything about "Gods Word", since I don't believe in a god. Unless by "Gods Word" you are referring to The Bible.
Comment by Pesci on July 23, 2010 at 7:32am
Thanks for pointing that out Mike - I would definitely agree with you on that.

It just seemed odd that a man of the cloth would believe so little of it. In one sense I gave him some credit but in another it really baffled me because he seemed not to believe so much of it.
Comment by Apple on July 23, 2010 at 9:16am
"God's word was meant to teach us how to be people and not holier-than-thou."

Even if you take out "God's word" and just write "the bible" it's still not true. I'm sure the priest means well, but clearly the bible has a lot more intentions that just teaching people how to "be people." It intentionally divides people into camps of "us" and "them."

At the same time, we cannot deny that many people are drawn to religion. They want to believe and don't want to seek evidence. The want the religion to be true. So when they are said to "take it on faith," that's exactly what they want to hear. Some people really don't want to be rational. I think that religion will slowly fade, but for now I think this priest is doing his part. He's watering down the faith for those who will never separate themselves from it. With such teachings at least his followers will be more civil.

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