23 February, 2010

Catholic sainthood, Genocidal Piety, and Saving Souls in Petrie Dishes

YOU TOO can enter in Saint Mary's
Wet Habit Competition - even if you're a guy

Saint Mary of Australia?? According to Christianity's multiple interpretations of the word "saint", I now feel justified in declaring my own dear wife a saint. She is henceforth to be addressed as Saint Marie of Thailand. You may send flowers, money, cards, cheques, Buddha relics, or hefty cash offerings for your soul.

You may detect my liberal-humanist antipathy to Christianity. Christians are as blindly inconsistent as any other unthinking religious cult. The fact is, the various Christianities are every bit as tribal as Muslim factions in Afghanistan and the Middle East. All are killing each other to prove who has the best Invisible Friend. Duh. They may have chosen to forget that Judao-Christianity and Islam all share the same god.

 Why should one feel obligated to label oneself as an "Atheist". I hardly
feel the need to defend myself as a "non-astrologer" or a "non-alchemist"

Far be it from me to be casting nasturtiums at Saint Mary of Penola, South Australia. She seems to have been, by many accounts, a genuinely strong and trustworthy person. However, it's a mighty leap of doctrine/faith from there to pin a gold sainthood medal on her. All it took to convince Rome's eager-to-please authorities was that two sick people (both Catholics, of course) both swore they were divinely cured because they somehow succeeded in convincing this long-dead nun to pray to an Invisible Friend on their behalf.

Moreover, it seems like strangely circular reasoning to fall back on Human-generated evidence as proof of a Divine event when the underlying premise of the Bible is a belief in the superiority of God’s own words over mere human ones. In this regard, what will the literal Christian (or Jew, for that matter) intuit when reading God’s alleged words in Deuteronomy 22:13-21 where He/She wrote that if a man discovers on his wedding night that his bride is not a virgin, he must stone her to death on her father’s doorstep? Either the Bible is right …or it isn't. We shouldn't be forced to pick and choose if we elect to subscribe to the doctrine of divine infallibility. Read about more Biblical inconsistencies here in (divinely-inspired) Wikipedia.

So, what about these two miraculous cures by Mary? Rates of self-induced natural remission from sickness are well within this range of statistical likelihood. And self-induced recovery from illness happens to just as many people who aren't Catholic: the auto-curative capability of the highly motivated mind is well-documented, even if it remains stubbornly inexplicable. The brain is still a mysterious black box. Research into the field is still fairly much at an embryonic stage of "poke-it-here-and-see-what-happens".

If the literal-addicted Christian insists that everything in the Bible is accurate, then s/he must accept that the Vatican's wholly-fabricated definition of a “saint” is wrong. Nowhere in any human edition of the Bible does it describe a saint as some sort of 'extra holy' person. Nor does it mention that a saint is able to act as an intermediary with God any more effectively than any other person. In fact, the Bible states clearly that anyone who believes in Jesus is a saint (Ps. 16:3; Rom. 1:7; 8:27; Phil. 1:1; Heb. 6:10). So by canonizing Mary McKillop, the Pope is literally declaring that she is Australia's first (and only) Christian. Listen to this Australian radio news item (all my links open for your convenience in new windows).

Of course, it’s obvious enough that the Marketing and PR Department at the Vatican deliberately uses canonizations as a targeted media strategy to dazzle potential new converts with holy smoke, magic and mirrors. Or, more to the point, to dissuade the flood of defecting rats from the leaky Roman ark. Hey, it's a competitive market for Souls out there in Religionland. And right now is certainly a convenient moment to have a big glitzy canonization party with lots of fresh photos of happy pilgrims en route to Penola - Benedict urgently needs to distract media attention away from paedophile priest cover-up scandals etc. (Convenient, too, that Mary had been named ‘Mary’… “Saint Krystal-Brianna” just wouldn’t have been convincing).

 Yep, media attention is the Big Clue. Instead of going to all the fuss of creating new saints, the Vatican mostly prefers to recycle old ones. In the next photo, relics of St Anthony of Padua (dressed in his Sunday best) get paraded through Colombo airport at the start of a recent 3-week Holiday in Srilanka. The media, you'll notice, had been invited:

Now to pick nits… what exactly does it mean to “believe in Jesus”? I personally believe in Jesus ...to the extent that I'm fairly confident from corroborated historical accounts that the physical man did actually exist… even though his real name was Jeshua bin Joseph, his skin was probably considerably darker than our western white-washed storybook pictures would suggest, and he was hunted down by Roman authorities because he was regarded as a dangerous fundamentalist Jewish terror extremist.  Do I therefore qualify as a Christian… or [eek!] worse still, a saint?
OMG I’m praying not…

The family-size greek-style "St Paul" pizza...
based on a fresco in St Paul's Cathedral.

Anyway, the pope's canonization of Straya’s own brand new Saint Meery [‘saint’ pronounced as in ‘pint’] is a suitable trigger for another of my anti-Christianity photo-offensives. Yew bloody liddle bewdy, mite!

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Characteristic Christian compassion and caring

"But verily I say unto you, circles are sexier"

Uh-huh, it all makes good saints to me...

The Hebrew language, just like English, uses idioms which can't possibly be taken literally. How easily, for instance, might a non-speaker of English misinterpret our common  idiom "to catch a bus"? Likewise, if a Hebrew person didn't like you, s/he might call you a "son of a viper". If you were a kind person, you might get called a "son of kindness". Examples can be found dotted throughout the Old Testament. But when St Paul the Greek (who had a relatively feeble grasp of the Hebrew language) heard Rabbi Jeshua described as a "son of God", he chose in his pious ignorance to take them absolutely literally. In Hebrew, the idiom simply simply described someone as a good or god-fearing person. How many millions of innocent people have since died as a result of this linguistic error? Why, in the year 2010, do we all still have to submit to this fatally foggy mindset? I'm eternally astonished that Christians are satisfied to believe rather than to know, especially given the Bible's inconsistent evidence and gross mistranslations.

The above scene may have been the Holy Madonna's lot if the Catholic church had been invented back in Jeshua's day. Referring to Mother Theresa, Christopher Hitchens wrote that she: "was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction."

Queen Benedick II.   Gotta love the cute tail !

Benedict catches a glimpse of the Fashion Channel.

Did you realize that it is highly probable that Rabbi Jesus was a member of the ultra-strict Jewish  Essene sect? The Bible frequently discusses the activities of the Pharisees and Sadducees, but is conspicuously silent about the other major Jewish sub-group, the Essenes. One has to suspect a deliberate 2000-year propaganda whitewash by people with vested interests in concealing the fact that Christianity was not totally original but (ironically) based largely on ancient teachings of conservative Judaism. For sure, everything is different since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1945. Indeed, it looks alarmingly likely that Christianity was based on a HUGE mistake, or a number of them. It is generally understood that the Vatican has one or two of the particularly sensitive Dead Sea Scrolls scrolls securely locked away from curious bloggers and other inconvenient weirdos who seek Honesty and Transparency.

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Since the 13th century, souls of babies who died before they could be baptized were deemed to have gone to a holy 'place' which the Catholic Church mysteriously named LIMBO. There they awaited Judgement Day ...and (hopefully) for someone to change their nappies (=diapers). Limbo isn't mentioned in the Bible at all, but the Church simply fabricated it to appease bereaved parents who were illiterate and therefore unable to verify what their trusted priest told them. The problem with lies is that you have to make up more lies to cover your tracks - AND you need a reliable memory. The Church finally decided just a few years ago that it could no longer continue the embarrassing charade and confessed that Limbo never had existed. My question is this: Where will all those tiny souls go now? Here's the heart-warming family-friendly answer, right here on your trustworthy FunkyPix2.
Every sperm is sacred. I quote Sam Harris in Letter to a Christian Nation: "Of course, the church's position on abortion takes no more notice of the details of biology than it does of the reality of human suffering. It has been estimated that 50% of all human conceptions end in spontaneous abortion, usually without a woman even realizing that she was pregnant. In fact, a full 20% of all recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. The obvious truth here that cries out for acknowledgement: if God exists, He is the most prolific abortionist of all."
Hey Jude, Limbo must have been be awfully crowded in its day.

Something vital got lost in the translation.....
exactly as happened when the Gospels were translated first from Jesus's native language (Aramaic) into Hebrew, and then again (by St Paul) into Greek... then later into Latin, and again into English, Swahili, Thai..... Christianity ought to be re-named Paulanity - only a Greek could have so easily accepted the idea of gods coming down to earth to mate with humans, then returning. Greek gods did it routinely. A strictly conservative Jew like Rabbi Jeshua would never have even thought of it. It was Paul who put the words in his mouth - posthumously.

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Language greatly determines Thought. The Hebrew text of Isaiah, for instance, uses the word 'alma' which simply means 'young woman' ...with no implication of virginity. St Paul couldn't have known that due to the vastly different semantic world of his native language Greek...
...so why didn't his Supervising Editor intercede?

Either the Bible is right, or it isn't. The sixth Commandment, Thou Shalt Not Murder, seems to be severely contradicted by this reading from DEUTERONOMY 13:6, beginning at verse 8:
 If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, entices you secretly, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods"... you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him; but you shall kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God...
Nowhere in the New Testament did Rabbi J. ever contradict this barbarism. In fact, at several points he endorsed it:
For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven... For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. - MATTHEW 5:18-20
Interestingly, Rabbi Jesus was claiming that the Pharisees and scribes, the very highest ranks of the Jewish faith, were not qualified enough to get to heaven. That was precisely one of the frequent claims of the Essene sect.

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