Roman Catholics’ loyalty tested once again

Somehow, I doubt that this revelation will be enough to really reform the Roman Catholic Church:

A 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland’s Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police — a disclosure that victims’ groups described as “the smoking gun” needed to show that the church enforced a worldwide culture of covering up crimes by pedophile priests.

The newly revealed letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican’s rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland’s first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits.

The letter undermines persistent Vatican claims, particularly when seeking to defend itself in U.S. lawsuits, that Rome never instructed local bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police. It instead emphasizes the church’s right to handle all child-abuse allegations and determine punishments in house rather than give that power to civil authorities.

Fortunately for the Romans, their flock is known for staying true pretty much regardless of what they do. (See: the Crusades; the Inquisition; the Borgias; Pope Pius XII…)

This camel’s back seems to be immune to straws.

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52 responses to “Roman Catholics’ loyalty tested once again

  1. Just so we are Chrystal clear on this:

    There is no way in hell I would defend the Catholic Church and its attitude to child abuse. To be honest this is something I’ve never thought to hassle my old girl on, and truly, I would feel like a bastard doing it. Everyone’s got personal reasons for stuff tho so don’t ask me justify it.

    No qualms about asking SB tho.

    FWIW The thing that finally turned me off the Catholic Church for good was the story of Joanna Hayes and the Kerry Baby Case. If that isn’t a staggering indictment I don’t know what is.

    However, the vatican is no different to “the state”. How do Americans still justify living in their country or believing in it?

    How do we for that matter?

    Its easy to see other peoples seemingly irrational loyalty to an institution without seeing your/my own in the same light.

  2. “Its easy to see other peoples seemingly irrational loyalty to an institution without seeing your/my own in the same light.”

    I guess some of us don’t have irrational loyalties to institutions, I’m positive I don’t. I might be loyal to my family and friends, that’s about as irrational I reckon I get.

  3. Splatterbottom

    I certainly hope this leads to reform. Catholics feel betrayed enough by rogue priests, but the attitude of church officials taking steps which enable abuse to continue or which provide protection to offenders is, if anything, worse. Administrators who, with knowledge of their past offenses, reassign teachers to other schools are surely the lowest of the low. This conduct ought to be criminalised. I understand misprision of a felony has been abolished in Australia.

    On a personal level this sort of thing sickens me. It is not likely to cause me to change what I believe. It serves as a reminder of the fallibility of the church and those charged with administering it. We need more bishops like the one who released this letter to take a stand.

  4. Whaddya know, I actually agree with pretty much everything SB’s written. Wonders will never cease. 😉

    The question will be what sanctions are imposed (if any) on those who authorised this bastardly policy (Archbishop Storero specifically, and it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility than Benny/Ratzi will be found to have been a part of it).

    A little while back, the Vatican was outraged (you hear me, outraged!) at a raid by Belgian police on Diocese offices in relation to the hierarchy’s protection of paedophiles. If this letter is any indication, they’d better warm up their sense of persecution, as there will be quite a few more search warrants might be signed now.

  5. Yeah? Are you sure about that RobJ? Do you think that, for example, political assassination is a valid tactic?

    What about the fact that in Australia in 2011 it looks more and more like selling everything you own and moving to the top end to smuggle refugees into the country is a valid political decision?

    Do you support a football team, your old school etc etc.

    Look I’m not saying you do. Only you can answer that, I’m just raising the point that sometimes loyalty to something isn’t as mindless as it might seem.

    I was thinking about this in light of watching the Pentagon Papers show on Ellsberg last night.

    He’s always been an interesting character imo, and last night was a very interesting thing, cos it really examined some of the issues around institutions and loyalty.

    And now Andrew Wilkie pops into my mind. He could be said to have an irrational loyalty to the institution of democracy in Australia – but he followed that loyalty thru to its logical conclusion and now he is a rep in parliament hopefully capable of living up to what drove him there.

    I’m not saying loyalty to an institution is always a bad thing cos it was that loyalty that inspired all the good things any democracy has every done.

    “I guess some of us don’t have irrational loyalties to institutions, I’m positive I don’t. I might be loyal to my family and friends, that’s about as irrational I reckon I get.”

    Nice one. Honestly I do get where you are coming from, and respect it.

    What I meant was more along the lines of what may seem irrational from the outside might not be. It was that sort of thing that got Vatican 2 happening after all, and whatever you think about the religion or the institution, V2 was a move toward sanity from an insane organisation.

    But hey I’m only saying all this in the context of you and I getting on pretty well here over a while and agreeing on most things.

    There comes a point imo when the people in the church need to make a stand. The Catholic Laity (thats a funny term isn’t it.) needs to make a clear loud protest at the actions of the church and a complete rejection of its actions and attitudes wrt secrecy.

    But…

    There is a conflict here cos there is a confidential relationship between confessor and sinner, and that shouldn’t be broken any more than the trust between a lawyer and their client or a doctor and their patient.

    But … I have seen a pre 10th century document, well, the alleged contents of it, that specifically names child abuse as a special crime.

    Once committed the priest was sposed to be immediately defrocked. Although they may have made a confidential confession, (and no further word made public about it,) they were expelled from the priesthood.

    However on top of that, it may also have been mandatory for their crime to be reported, ie the confidentiality of the confessional was declared null and void in cases of child abuse.

    IF this was a real document AND IF I saw a faithful translation of what was in it then this is an issue that has clear guidelines laid out for possibly over 1000 years that demand the Church act differently to how it has acted.

    There you go Catholics – the ball is in your court.

  6. RobJ wrote:
    I guess some of us don’t have irrational loyalties to institutions, I’m positive I don’t. I might be loyal to my family and friends, that’s about as irrational I reckon I get.

    I bet you don’t believe that another human being is infallible either RJ. You cynic you! 😉

  7. “Do you think that, for example, political assassination is a valid tactic?

    No I don’t, I used to when I was younger but now I believe in the rule of law.

    “What about the fact that in Australia in 2011 it looks more and more like selling everything you own and moving to the top end to smuggle refugees into the country is a valid political decision?”

    I don’t understand that paragraph, could you rephrase it?

    “Do you support a football team”

    I don’t, I love sport especially cricket, I honestly do not care who wins. I’m there for the spectacle, the entertainment. I actually pity the passionate sports fans I know, they get genuinely upset when their team loses, even though it had nothing to do with them and that the team doesn’t even reciprocate emotions to them, unaware of their existence. I feel the same way about patriotism, it’s a bizarre thing, for example, I’m Welsh that’s where I was born, that’s where I grew up, I didn’t ask to be born there why should I be proud? Be an advocate of the better aspects of Welsh culture? Sure; Music, poetry etc, these are good things, then there’s the high assault rates, the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe, car theft, urban decay etc etc.

    “your old school

    🙂 Hardly, it was a shit-hole and plenty of the teachers were criminal scum who delighted in physically assaulting children. Even if I went to Eaton I’d like to think ‘well I was just fortunate’ and have no pride in the matter. Then again we can be products of our upbringing.

    Seriously Jules, I’m not trying to be a smart arse but I can’t think of any institutions that I have an irrational loyalty to, this is why I’m an agnostic.

  8. “Seriously Jules, I’m not trying to be a smart arse but I can’t think of any institutions that I have an irrational loyalty to, this is why I’m an agnostic.”

    No worries man.

    Honestly you didn’t have to answer, more just a self reflection thing, but since you did cheers.

    “I actually pity the passionate sports fans I know, they get genuinely upset when their team loses, even though it had nothing to do with them and that the team doesn’t even reciprocate emotions to them, unaware of their existence.”

    Its a hard life feeding egregores. Its worth it tho, but I agree completely irrational. I think you may be unaware of the magical ability all sports have to influence relaity when their favorite team is playing. 😉

    When you said this:

    “No I don’t, I used to when I was younger but now I believe in the rule of law.”

    Do you think you loyalty to the institution of “the rule of law” is irrational?

    Cos I don’t think it is. But I know people who do, and make some interesting arguments about it. Treat it as a rhetorical question.

    Last year I discovered what is possibly an irrational loyalty to institutions in myself. To the NSW RFS – a proposal was floating around to bring us under the authority of the Police Commissioner.

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/furore-over-merger-plan-20090801-e53h.html

    This had people up in arms for a variety of reasons.

    One of the main ones among people I know was:

    “We’re not Fucking Cops.”

    Very irrational according to some, but thats the way it is with fireys.

    Thanks for taking the time for a thoughtful response tho.

    Cheers.

  9. Do you think you loyalty to the institution of “the rule of law” is irrational?

    No, should I? I think law is fundamental to society and I think, relatively speaking we have one of the best justice systems. I think it is rank hypocrisy for agencies (say states) to break their own laws for expedience either by sanctioning or committing assassinations.

    “Very irrational according to some, but thats the way it is with fireys.”

    Is it irrational? You’re both emergency services but as far as I can tell that’s where the similarities end. Fireys (IMO), errrr generally speaking are a much higher calibre of citizen than a cop is.

  10. “It serves as a reminder of the fallibility of the church and those charged with administering it.”

    You mean indefectible, infallible Mother Church, outside of whose embrace there is no salvation?

  11. “Fireys (IMO), errrr generally speaking are a much higher calibre of citizen than a cop is.”

    Cheers.

    “No, should I? I think law is fundamental to society and I think, relatively speaking we have one of the best justice systems.”

    I completely agree. Its one of the things that shits me with what passes for libertarianism these days. Ultimately the rule of law is there (imo) to protect the powerless from the powerful and tho it doesn’t always seem to work that way , it actually does OK in Australia (compared to most places). Separation of powers and the other things that go wth the rule of law are great. These things are certainly not irrational nor is supporting them.

    But i have friends who are blackfellas, some who have been in the High Court while the Native Title cases they are presenting get dumped on, others who have family members who died in custody. (I have too many friends like that. Sometimes it seems like you can bes sitting round with some people and every single on of them has a relative who died in custody.)

    They question the rule of law, cos to them its not about law but ruling, and harshly at that. Yet over the last 43 years the trend has been toward trying to use the rule of law for justice for blackfellas. I do understand their POV too, sometimes its hard to argue with it.

    So anyway I see many Catholics in that context – feeling similarly about their church to the way I do about the Australian State.

    About the people smugglers thing … I think I might try and write a story about a bunch of pro refugee advocates that sell everything they own, buy an old Cold War Ekranoplan and start ferrying refugees from all over the Indian Rim into Australia.

  12. It’s all about the Catholic Church protecting its brand. They’re no different from any organisation with a product to sell. The fact that it’s human lives involved is of less importance than is damage control and protecting the image.

  13. Autonomy1, I think you’re right up to a point, and so I’d like to see SB’s take on that, because it’s hard for me to understand how anyone with a sense of moral seriousness could be affiliated with such an organisation.

  14. Splatterbottom

    Autonomy: “The fact that it’s human lives involved is of less importance than is damage control and protecting the image.”

    The sad fact is that there is evidence to support your contention. It may be a little more complicated than that, but some of the behaviour, whatever the motivation is inexcusable.

    Bloods, perhaps I don’t meet your standards of moral seriousness.

  15. Bloods Catholics are baptised.

    Thats a powerful ritual in the context of the catholic church cos it symbolises a contract, well more than a contract a “covenant” between God and the person getting their hair washed.

    So from the moment that happens a catholic’s sense of “moral seriousness” is bound up with that ritual and the church that carried it out. But there is more to it than that, cos their relationship with “god” and “jesus” are separate to the church, but the church is there to facilitate that relationship.

    So there is a real fear that their “relationship” will suffer.

    If you haven’t been through a really powerful ritual that was reinforced constantly, via operant conditioning, from that day on for the rest of your life you might not be able to understand that.

    This is one of the ways Religions have maintained their power for so long.

  16. “If you haven’t been through a really powerful ritual that was reinforced constantly, via operant conditioning, from that day on for the rest of your life you might not be able to understand that.”

    But I have.

  17. well more than a contract a “covenant” between God and the person getting their hair washed.

    Which in my opinion is ridiculous considering most people are babies when they were baptised and are doing it not of their own will but that of their parents. I can’t remember my baptism

  18. Then there’s the confirmation which usually happens to teenagers, I would bet (if I were a betting man) that most of the kids, given the choice would opt out.

  19. “Bloods, perhaps I don’t meet your standards of moral seriousness.”

    No, I think you do, SB, for all your wrong-headedness, and my point was made out of genuine curiosity.

    I really would like to know how a serious-minded person, in full awareness of the moral turpitude of the highest levels of the Church over not just decades, but centuries, makes the decision to join the institution rather than just adopt those of its ideas he finds congenial.

  20. “Which in my opinion is ridiculous considering most people are babies when they were baptised and are doing it not of their own will but that of their parents. I can’t remember my baptism”

    No me either, but I can remember the process of conditioning that went with being a Catholic. And yeah its pretty ridiculous.

    But then babies that aren’t baptised might not get to heaven…

    Powerful control mechanism there, exploiting people’s deepest fears and their deepest fears for their kids. Once you believe your own soul is at risk … what about your kids. I guess deep down inside you might be ashamed of your fear too, and how you let it control your life, and if you had kids theirs.

    And that might make you more likely to defend your irrationality instead of confronting it. Maybe. I dunno, people are weird.

    But Religions and social control … they did it well for a long time, and it took a lot of work and suffering from people to break that control.

    I guess if you were baptised and no longer are practicing/controlled by your (or my ex) religion you (me) should be grateful that you (me) are a bit less persuaded by irrational fear than some other people. or is that hubris?

  21. The real conundrum, Jules, is why some people in full possession of their adult faculties choose to submit themselves to the authority of the Church, having grown up outside it.

  22. “Thats a powerful ritual in the context of the catholic church cos it symbolises a contract, well more than a contract a “covenant” between God and the person getting their hair washed.”

    It’s actually more of a covenant between the parents, Godparents and the Church that they will raise the child in the Catholic faith. It’s taking the child into the church, but recognizes that the child does not have the capacity to make a reasoned choice. The first ceremony that’s a covenant between the child and God would be their First Communion, and that’s conducted at about age seven. I’m not sure how it’s done over here, but Confirmations in Wales occured at about nine. I missed doing mine in my home Parish because we moved here during that year, but the age might even vary from Parish to Parish. I’m not sure if there’s a rule on that.

  23. I think I remember having to renew my baptismal vows (speaking them for myself, not something my olds did for me) before my first communion.

    I think we did confession, then communion soon after then confirmation years later, during the last year of primary school or the first of high school.

    Bloods05 – well the world is a truly strange place sometimes…

  24. Splatterbottom

    Bloods, peoples’ decisions about how they live their lives are complex. I chose to base my life on Catholicism.

    I came to catholicism as a result of a lot of factors. I rejected christianity when I was young and became an atheist. This didn’t work well for me and I ended up a depressed nihilist.

    After a year or so of looking around, Catholicism seemed to me the best explanation of human nature. Its underlying principles are good. It doesn’t require me to hurt or kill anyone, but teaches kindness towards others and discipline towards myself. My life is now different to what it otherwise might have been, and I am happy with the outcome. I’ve had a long marriage and have a large family of whom I’m proud. I haven’t done as well financially as I might have, but I’m still holding it together. I still have to deal with the same personality flaws, I still screw up and still say and do things that hurt other people. That’s were redemption and the virtue of hope come in. you beat up on yourself, but not too much and then you get on with it, trying not to make the same mistake again. Anyway I’m uncomfortable talking about this stuff on a blog so I’ll leave it at that.

  25. Fair enough SB, it’s just the joining bit that puzzles me.Catholicism as a set of principles and an explanation of human nature is one thing; that deeply corrupted institution is quite another. Good to hear you got over nihilism, but your tendency to associate it with all things leftist is obviously still haunting you. Sticks out a mile. Thanks for your frankness.

  26. Stop it SB! You’re stepping out of character and it’s annoying. 🙂

    Comparative philosophy and mysticism are a complex matters. No question! But if Ill Papa was motivated by more than doctrinal and brand matters he’d be more concerned about the loss of life through Aids in Africa and less concerned with the churches antediluvian stance on contraception.

  27. Mysticism is actually a very simple matter, the simplest of all.

  28. blood05 wrote:
    Mysticism is actually a very simple matter, the simplest of all.
    Hmm! Lots of humanities lecturers wouldn’t agree. Does Christianity fall within your definition of mysticism?

  29. “Lots of humanities lecturers wouldn’t agree. Does Christianity fall within your definition of mysticism?”

    Lots of humanities lecturers have no experience of it, which is the only test of one’s knowledge in this area. The best definition I could find was “the experience of mystical union or direct communion with ultimate reality”, or to put it another way, the simplest form of awareness.

    Christianity as such obviously does not fall within this definition, and neither does any other formal religion, but there are genuine Christian mystics (many if not most of whom were persecuted by Church authorities for their accounts of their experiences because they did not accord with doctrine).

    It most often occurs within the confines of a particular religious tradition, but mysticism, properly so called, can never be bound by that tradition.

  30. bloods it often seems to me that christianity is an attempt to contain and control the mysteries and keep them from people… but anyway.

    I dunno if you ever read the Randolph Bourne thing The Mystic Turned Radical.

    You can read it free online in his book Youth and Life

    its starts on page 258 (type 258 next to page box and press go).

    http://www.onread.com/reader/352086

    “Mysticism is actually a very simple matter, the simplest of all.”

    “Lots of humanities lecturers wouldn’t agree.”

    No they probably wouldn’t. Funny that.

  31. Hmm! I think you’ll find that luminaries such as philosopher Prof Max Charlesworth and ethicist Prof Julian Savulescu would disagree with you. Not only on their knowledge and insight but on whether Christianity, as a philosophy, could be considered as mysticism. At least the key elements of it.

    Dictionary definitions are fine to obtain a broad brush feel for a philosophy but no more than that.

    “The Varieties of Religious Experience” by William James has been on the bookshelves for yonks. It’s hard work but worth a read if you’re interested in comparative religion.

  32. My mum was a Catholic, my dad came from a family of Hindu priests and I’m related via “marriage” to a Phillipine Shaman. And you want me to read a book on comparative religion?

    Hey, I’m just joshing with you. Mysticism is one of those thinks its probably best not to talk about. I think William James hinted at why actually.

  33. Autonomy1, I’ve read James, many years ago. Excellent book, and as its title suggests, it’s about religious experience rather than religion as such. Mysticism is one such variety of experience, and could not properly be described as a philosophy, although some mystics (and others) have philosophised about it. Jules is right about mysticism not being a good thing to talk about, in the sense that no words can do justice to it.

    Jules is also right to say that, historically, Christianity has sought to contain and confine mysticism. Unlike Buddhism and Hinduism, the Abrahamic religions have never placed the experience of mystical union at the centre of their teaching. Christianity in particular has marginalised it; Islam has persecuted, and continues to persecute, the Sufis; and Judaism regards it as a fairly minor offshoot.

    Charlesworth doesn’t strike me as someone likely to have engaged in mystical practice, and I don’t know the other guy. Ethicists and philosophers in general are not noted for the depth of their religious experience, albeit that they might know a great deal about that of others. It is the direct experience itself that defines mysticism, not what is thought or said or written about it.

  34. Even tho the other guy has a great first name he doesn’t really seem to have a clue.

  35. Yeah, its one of those things, before you experience something that would inspire you to mysticism you can’t possibly understand what it is, once you do you don’t have the words to convey the meaning. See even that stuffed it up…

    The trouble with religion is that it claims to have the answers to this hard to explain thing, and then sets itself up as broker of this thing to people. Over time it gets good at manipulating them hoping to have more power than it should.

  36. We’ll just have to agree to disagree , b05. My view is that on almost any credible criteria it is reasonable to include Christianity within the parameters of mysticism

    I’m intrigued with your last para where you effectively disqualify all that haven’t had a direct experience from having any worthwhile knowledge of mysticism. Very subjective that.

    I wonder whether you’d extend that contention to matters outside the realm of mysticism. Would you say, for example, that someone who has direct knowledge of the Moon knows more than the physicists and others who have spent decades studying it? Or is your direct knowledge imperative just for mysticism?

    I’m off the watch Jon Stewart now.:)

  37. Its just for mysticism.

  38. No actually, its also for other things – only trapped miners know what its like to be trapped in a mine. Only people who have been to war know what its like to go to war. Only victims of sexual assault know what that horrific experience is actually like. Only grand finals winners know how good that actually feels.

    You can talk about mysticism till the sky turns orange and has puppies but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to say anything meaningful about it if you haven’t had something experiential to give a context to your words. And unfortunately that means you can’t really talk about mysticism to people who haven’t got that world view in any meaningful way. Even if someone does its still fraught with potential for misunderstanding.

  39. Autonomy1, this is not a matter for a debate. Perhaps it is just that we are having difficulty understanding each other, because as Jules points out, words can never adequately express the inexpressible. I spent many years reading about mysticism, thinking about mysticism, talking about mysticism with others, studying mysticism (as, no doubt, people like Charlesworth and Savulescu have done for longer and in far greater depth than I), but the experience is what all this is about, not the interpretation, and no amount of knowledge can prepare you for the actuality. Everything else to do with mysticism, regardless of its level of sophistication, is just speculation.

  40. Splatterbottom

    Bloods: “words can never adequately express the inexpressible”

    This reminds me of that old sophist Gorgias who said: “How can anyone communicate the idea of colour by means of words since the ear does not hear colors but only sounds?” This would apply especially to mystical experiences. Gorgias took it a bit far with his three propositions:

    i. Nothing exists
    ii. Even if existence exists, it cannot be known
    iii. Even if it could be known, it cannot be communicated.

    Even with colour, if the person is not blind you can point to a similarly coloured object and make the comparison. This is much harder, if not impossible, to do with mystical experiences as there are no external reference point on which to base any comparison.

    Also, there are different aspects to knowing things. A neurologist may understand the chemical and neural aspects of brain activity accompanying a mystical experience, but may never have had such an experience and thus have little idea what that experience feels like. Further, there is no guarantee that similar neurological activity in different people will be experienced in the same way. In some ways we are absolutely alone in our most powerful experiences because of the limitations we have in communicating them.

  41. Well said. The key word here is “absolutely” because an experience of the Absolute cannot be related to anything else, as there is nothing else. I am That, thou art That, all this is That. Whereas orthodox Muslims say “there is no God but God”, the Sufis say “there is nothing but God”. Which is why they must be blown up. But at the same time as being absolutely alone, we are absolutely connected. It is a beautiful paradox.

  42. For people who argue that its impossible to talk meaningfully about the mystical experience, you two aren’t doing your argument much good. 🙂

    SB, bloods, well said.

    I’m guessing that some of the feelings and loyalties you have about Catholicism are tied up in the mystical experiences you have said SB. Tho I know I could be wrong.

    If so, I can understand why you might have a strong loyalty to such an institution despite its flaws. And why really thats none of my business.

    Even if I personally wonder at the logic of it.

    “In some ways we are absolutely alone in our most powerful experiences because of the limitations we have in communicating them.”

    Beautifully put, and so true.

  43. “Mystical experiences you have HAD, not said, SB”

    It’d probably be easier to talk about these experiences if I could use words for normal stuff first…

    But here goes.

    If I tried to describe a mystical experience by saying that I met Cuthulu and chopped it into calamari then ate it, obviously it wouldn’t convey much to anyone who hadn’t “been there” themselves.

    If I were to describe another experience to you Autonomy 1, how would you interpret this if you were a humanities lecturer?

    I got stuck in a moment “siezed by divinities hot breath” as Lou Reed once put it and afterward while I was still experiencing the afterglow wandered outside. There was a skink sunning itself on the stone wall near the back door. A baby one smaller than my little finger.

    It looked at me funny, and instead of running off raised its head and chin a little. I scratched it under the chin for a second, said something silly, like “wow you’ve got some nerve,” and smiled at it. When I finished it stayed there and I wandered off.

    A moment later it struck me that I’d just experienced something very similar from the skinks POV. Just before I walked outside.

    Now. What do you say about that?

    Its just a dumb story but it has a lot of meaning for me.

  44. As someone who did 2 years theology before I ran out of puff (or saw the light) I can’t let some of the stuff being passed off as clearly right go uncommented upon.

    For those into dictionary definitions of mystical, here’s what the Shorter Oxford dictionarie says >

    “Having a certain spiritual character or import by virtue of a connection or union with God transcending human comprehension; said esp. ref. to the church as the body of Christ”

    Sounds very much like Christianity to me. How anyone could say there is not a correlation between Christianity and mysticism is mind boggling.

    Just as mind boggling as the unequivocal comments are that you can’t get a clear fix on the mystical unless you experience it. There are countless texts written about the numinous by people who have never experienced it. Peer reviewed and included in philosophical and theological courses .

    Large portions of the Bible are not written from first hand experience.

    To say it is all clear cut and not open to question is the sort of comment one would expect from religious fundamentalists who take the Bible text as literal and won’t entertain any opposing view.

    Autonomy1 has a much clearer understanding of mysticism and its relationship to Christianity. It’s not clearcut where only one view is correct as a few have said. A few steeped in their religious mythology.

  45. “To say it is all clear cut and not open to question is the sort of comment one would expect from religious fundamentalists who take the Bible text as literal and won’t entertain any opposing view.”

    I would agree, if that was what I said. What I am trying to say, perhaps inadequately, is the very antithesis of that. I abhor literalism and fundamentalism in all their guises – religious, psychological, philosophical, political. It remains true, however, as all the great mystics have said since time immemorial, that it is the experience that matters. All else is commentary.

    And the only way to understand this point is to have the experience yourself, then it will all become clearer to you. Get back to me when that happens. In the meantime, read all the peer-reviewed theology you can get your hands on, but don’t expect it to get you any closer to God.

  46. I think I’ve already summed up the relationship between Christianity and Mysticism:

    “The trouble with religion is that it claims to have the answers to this hard to explain thing, and then sets itself up as broker of this thing to people. Over time it gets good at manipulating them hoping to have more power than it should.”

    Sounds like Christianity to me.

    Thats why that dictionary def is so sus.

    “union with God”

    Thats a loaded term. A pretty Christian definition of mysticism.

    wtf is God sposed to be?

    Who is to say there is a God anyway?

    What about the Goddess? Union with her is pretty damn mystical. (Well the opposite of “damn” but anyway.)

    Who is to say She even exists?

    etc etc.

    Sheesh way to miss the point.

  47. Splatterbottom

    Jules, maybe an aspect of such experiences is a feeling of connection with, or deeper understanding of, something outside of us – of nature or of the cosmos. Something that doesn’t involve another human, but nonetheless something that makes us feel less alone and more connected just the same. Maybe it is all a construct of our mind, but then if that is the way our mind functions, it seems logical to seek out and explore such experiences. It is that kind of experience that led me to argue on another thread that it was quite proper for the government to ban the climbing of Uluru if enough people felt that way about it.

    Anyway I can’t believe I’m talking all this hippie nonsense.

    Valadded: “Just as mind boggling as the unequivocal comments are that you can’t get a clear fix on the mystical unless you experience it. “

    This is more mind-blogging than mind boggling! Anyway, how can anyone be certain that they have a clear fix on this?

    “There are countless texts written about the numinous by people who have never experienced it. Peer reviewed and included in philosophical and theological courses .

    How do you peer review something like that? I can understand looking for common themes among the various descriptions provided by mystics, but there are always those gaps between the experience, and then the description. Then the person who reads the description tries to understand it, never having experienced it. How on earth can their be any certainty at all in this process?

    I think you are oversimplifying. There was a question about whether Christianity fell within the definition of mysticism. Maybe a better question was whether there are mystical aspects of Christianity. It is clear that many Christians have mystical experiences, (and that was noted) but there are also Christians that have a drier, perhaps more prosaic, approach to their religion that doesn’t involve much mystical experience at all. There are many others who identify as Christians, but have little else to distinguish thems from people who are not Christians. So while there may be some inherently mystical aspects to the various forms of Christianity, most Christians would not claim to be mystics.

  48. Ah mysticism what a fine word that is? I wonder if that’s the appropriate word for the mass sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests? Maybe the word orgasmic would be better after all I’m sure the priests are like us mere mortals and enjoy the pleasure that ejaculating into little boys must bring. But I wouldn’t know, I didn’t have a sexual experience apart from playing with myself until I was about seventeen. But hey that was with a girl there must be something wrong with me being a Catholic an all.

    Of course there is the mystic battering of children by Nuns. Yes they batter in the Catholic Catechism until your ear drums burst. Usually by being assaulted by blackboard dusters and the like. And the real mystic violence was inflicted lest you be caught having as a boy, a quiet little crank some where. Stop it you’ll go blind their catch cry.

    But best of all, the squeals by the Nuns of mystic delight when the Priests invited them in for a little drink of sacramental wine. Oh yes the heady days of Catholic mysticism I remember them well.

    My God! Its still going on? Your joking right?

  49. “I wonder if that’s the appropriate word for the mass sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests?”

    The appropriate term for that is criminal activity.

    “Maybe the word orgasmic would be better after all I’m sure the priests are like us mere mortals and enjoy the pleasure that ejaculating into little boys must bring.”

    Speak for yourself on that.

    “Of course there is the mystic battering of children by Nuns.”

    Yeah I’ve had nuns go to town on me, and I’ve had skinheads do the same at much worse odds. When I was 15 a few coppers did the same cos i’m a smartarse. What is the difference?

  50. “Speak for yourself on that.”

    I did, and you obviously didn’t read my comments.

    “Yeah I’ve had nuns go to town on me, and I’ve had skinheads do the same at much worse odds. When I was 15 a few coppers did the same cos i’m a smartarse. What is the difference?”

    I won’t even dignify that last paragraph with a reply.

    There are thousands of children all over the Catholic world that have been scarred for life, Yes thousands of Iraq’s children, Palestine’s children who are not Catholic, but have suffered the same none the less, because of religion, the list is endless. There are thousands of Catholic women especially in Ireland, who are worn out from child birth by the time they are 25 years old, because of the absolute stupidity of the Catholic religion.

    There is not enough space to list the crimes of the Catholic church. It is called intention, what a shame you can’t tell the difference.

  51. SB – “It is that kind of experience that led me to argue on another thread that it was quite proper for the government to ban the climbing of Uluru if enough people felt that way about it.”

    I must have missed that. Nice one. I appreciate your opinion on freedom of speech, its nice to see you taking the opinion of people into account, cos in some ways climbing Uluru could be considered freedom of speech. I don’t use the term “joho” anymore, cept when I lose it and them I’m a little annoyed, and its cos of this site, and probably something you said years ago. And I like my, well “our” JWs, despite their sus dogma.

    Honestly I trust Christians who allow their “mystical experiences” to guide their Christianity. I doubt they are the sort of people who would send others to death camps. Thats just me tho. I wouldn’t put anything past anyone who put their dogma above … well anything really, but especially a mystical experience. But that doesn’t just apply to Christians, thats anyone, lefties like me included.

    Anyway you’ve got a reputation to keep up so yeah lets stop the lovey dovey stuff now and get back to the proper business of the internet. Cheers.

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