Stop Press: Catholic Church are behind the world's villainy!
In America this is much worse where there appears to be a chunk of U.S society that has learned absolutely nothing from the last eight years and associates Christianity with Bush, and believes, amazingly, that Bush is the grand poobah mastermind behind the Iraq War and that the War in Iraq is some kind of Christian mission for Bush and Cheney.
I know it's amazing, and it's also the seeds of something potentially quite dangerous.
When you first see this it's so astonishing, it's so like a kind of 'backwardation' of thought, so tremendously saddening that's it's difficult to know exactly how to broach the topic, other than that you're dealing with some sometimes quite damaged and vulnerable people who want to believe something that suits them, and you when gently try to explain to them what's wrong, you can be met with a lot of anger, until reality starts to break through. And we're going to be talking more about that in detail soon.
And actually there are some interesting polls on this kind of thing, cited on a dreadful and almost otherwise worthless, but extremely revealing page on Wikipedia:
"David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Institute, and Gabe Lyons of the Fermi Project published a study of attitudes of 16-29 year old Americans towards Christianity. They found that about 38% of all those who did not regularly attend church had negative impressions of Christianity, and especially evangelical Christianity, associating it with conservative political activism, hypocrisy, anti-homosexuality, and judgmentalism. About 17% had "very bad" perceptions of Christianity" (my emphasis -j)
Yeah we are gonna talk about this more directly at some point. Actually the Wikipedia article does a lot of the work for us.
And bringing this up to date there is little question that this height of irony, of letting 'Christianity' take the blame for the Iraq War has been allowed to fester in the minds of some vulnerable folks and go uncorrected in the dwindling months of the Bush presidency, if not outright brewed.
Christian fundamentalists/Christian Zionists in America are one thing, but the Catholic Church is also conspicuously regularly a subject of scorn, mistrust, ridicule, or spurious and inapplicable or juvenile moralising or even theorized as as some shadowy hand shaping events.
Most people have their own reasons about how they view religion that are personal to them, they may have had a religious upbringing, not all of them are exactly 'enamored' with every single experience of it, it's a mixed bag as it would be for everybody whatever the culture.
Others simply don't care for religion and so on. But then that brings up the question if they don't like religion and are not involved in it, where does the particular culture of dislike and scorn come from ?
As I said at the outset this can be a challenging topic for people new to it, but broadly radical hostility towards Christian institutions has a long history and irrespective of whether or not you feel about religion, in the 20th and 21st centuries the media has done a very effective job of setting up attitudes towards the Church, that are often distorted, skewed, provocative or Orwellian (note NYT's use of lanaguage) are just out and out attempts to demonize it.
And it's doing it constantly. Constantly the Catholic Church is framed and attacked (as is this extreme psychotic example) as a stuffy old villain or inanely being told it ought to be struggling with some crisis that is the fault of its own moral retardation.
And it's not lot like this stuff has gone unnoticed or something:
"The archbishop of Westminster declared that he feared contemporary society is increasingly marked by "secular dogmatism or cynicism" toward Christians. He stated: "So when Christians stand by their beliefs, they are intolerant dogmatists. When they sin, they are hypocrites. When they take the side of the poor, they are soft-headed liberals. When they seek to defend the family, they are right-wing reactionaries."
And it's funny that a lot of folks proudly claim they are 'freethinkers', and 'unencumbered' of institutional brainwashing, some even declare how they don't trust the media when it comes to something that Bush said about Iraq, or if it comes to the economy or crime statistics or this or that.
But when it comes to this they trust the media, and they trust the media's motives ?
And I've just linked to two examples, but the easiest way is just to carry on taking a look, and this is not exhaustive, this is a very very clumsy and crude quick glimpse at this:
But we are going to go with something a little different before we get back onto the mainstream, and it's something that was quite influential on me and a brilliant piece of alternative radio. Some people may say well Mr Jultra you're undermining the obvious point that you're making by choosing something like this. Well let's see.
There is a very famous debate in alternative news circles from May 16, 2006 between a fellow called Eric Jon Phelps who believes that the Vatican and the Black Pope and the Jesuits are controlling the world and perhaps one of the most interesting and perhaps one of the best non-mainstream serious political researchers and writers in the America, also a world expert on the JFK Assassination that's Michael Collins Piper.
And I should point out Mike Piper is 'controversial' as it were, and you may even find the topic of the debate they agreed to puerile or vulgar, but whatever you come away with you will not come away thinking the Vatican is behind all the bad stuff in the world and you will come away thinking Phelps probably shouldn't have come to that debate, and should be taking some medication.
The debate is fascinating listening and I think as far as we are talking about it's pretty well summarized when Mike says:
"The Civiltà Cattolica* which is a Vatican approved newspaper even went so far as to suggest that a lot of the newspaper over-emphasis on some of these sex scandals in the Vatican and in the Catholic Church which are rightly being reported I might add, they said that the over-emphasis on that was because of the mass media being disturbed about the fact the Vatican did not support the war against Iraq" (4:00+)
(* And I think I've got the name of this right, someone correct me if I haven't)
Let's look at something else, something more up to date, and bear in mind the above as we do so.
In Sunday's Guardian/Observer the Pope is reported as bringing back some bishops, one of which who held some controversial views on the Holocaust. Doesn't have to be the Guardian, Fox News has the same slant, which is far more extreme, perhaps the most extreme is the New York Times, which is almost beside itself with glee.
Of course he's not being welcomed back because of that, the fact of which may as well be a side issue or non-existent wherever this story appears, however it contains a very sensitive topic so lets have a look at some of the rhetoric from The Guardian:
"Shimon Samuels, of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Paris, said he understood the German-born pope's desire for Christian unity but said Benedict could have excluded Williamson, whose return to the church will "cost" the Vatican politically."
and note this that's found it's way into the same article:
"Israeli officials recently protested when a senior cardinal said Israel's offensive in Gaza had turned it into a "big concentration camp"
A big concentration camp ? I think a lot of people would find that's a very polite and rather diplomatic understatement and it gives us a clue about what is being obscured here, after all it's not like the world doesn't understand the situation in Gaza, or that we need to look far for corroboration and we can just take out pick from anywhere. For example in 2006, special UN envoy John Dugard described the situation in Gaza as one where:
"Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into a prison for Palestinians
and have thrown away the key," adding that "in other countries this process might be described as ethnic cleansing" (ynet news)
More recently scholar and expert Norman Finkelstein, who last time I checked is not a Catholic described the situation in Gaza as a 'holocaust' and Israel a 'Satanic state' and goes on pithily:
" This state invaded in 1978, again in 1982, again in 1993, again in 1996, again in 2006, and 2008, and it always destroys, destroys and destroys. And then these satanic narcissistic people throw their hands up in the air and ask, “Why doesn’t anybody love us? Why don’t our neighbors want us to be here?” Why would they? "
So it's rather difficult to take that line of protestation by Israeli officials seriously when it comes to trying to aim it specifically at the Church.
Or try this for framing an issue also from the Guardian:
"The pope sparks controversy by defending heterosexuality!" Gosh what a monstrous thing to do. How evil and outrageous and wicked the Pope is I can't believe it. How dare heterosexuality be defended, it can't be right.
A few years ago such a headline would have been a spoof, and we'd all be laughing at it. Maybe we are supposed to be today ?
Or read some of the tone in this CNN obituary about Pope John Paul II, loaded with phrases like 'controversial', and 'moral opinions alienated many' (who? why ? Pope John Paul II was one of the popular Popes in modern times)
And this is not peculiarly about your view of religion. And it's not about trying to cover up where institutions have had people in them who have done immense wrong either. And if you want more conservative critique then here is an interview by Alex Jones with Hutton Gibson.
But there is no question media perpetuates an insidious culture of this which seems to be intended to become a cultural norm among the public, and certainly there is a chunk of the public that seems to go along with it, and yet declares they are enlightened in doing so, and it's little surprise because that's how it's sold to them.
And we could go on with examples all day long about this in the media. All of which seem to be designed to obscure and play down and attack the Church, its mission, its people, its works, its cultural influence and which politically has pitted it against the monstrous horrors of communism (CNN article again - don't be too happy with anti-communism), the atrocious crime of the Iraq War (take any pick), made Latin American Catholics the subjects of assassinations and attacks for delivering the liberation message of Christianity under a reign of state terror, received upon itself horrendous massacres and tortures of Catholics in Spain at the hands of communists, to something like today of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor fighting for all our basic freedoms (note the first comment on the article - is it a real person ?) and on and on and on.
No the Catholic Church are not a force for bad in the world. The Catholic Church are not 'bad' because they don't support abortion or homosexuality, because the media 'says' that's bad.
To put it simply the Catholic Church are rightly a hugely influential force for infinite good and reason and human dignity in the world and irrespective of individual faith, that's why they are demonized, marginalized and subject to ridiculous ongoing puerile critique in the media.
Labels: anti-christianity, Bishop, Catholic Church, Christianity, CNN, communism, Eric Jon Phelps, Gaza, Guardian, Holocaust, Iraq War, Jesuits, media, Michael Collins Piper, New York Times, Palestine, Pope, Vatican