Monday, 9 February 2009


There are cages. Cages!!!

More Church Ranting

In the last few days, I have learned more about the laws and procedures of the Roman Catholic Church than I ever wanted to know. As it turns out, the bishops whose excommunication Pope Benedict revoked are still under suspension. I'm not entirely sure what that looks like - maybe they are back in the arms of the Church, but held at arms' length.
On the other hand, excommunications are traditionally only revoked once certain pre-set conditions are met. It's the same basic system as confession - your sins will be forgiven, IF...
The Society of Saint Pius X, for the first time ever, was not given conditions. There were none. Not even three Hail Marys. Officially, this step was taken to start a dialogue towards reconciliation.
This, in turn, begs the question whether reconciliation is an option, considering that we're talking about a group that called Pope John Paul II an apostate. They reject Vatican II as a whole, from the part about priests facing the congregation during mass, all the way to the part about Jews being our "elder brothers in faith" rather than "the unenlightened murderers of Christ".
The latter is why the current issue is about more than one Holocaust-denying nutjob who clings to debunked "theories" in the face of a reality he doesn't care for. Williamson is extreme, if not actually in his opinions (I wouldn't know...although I have my hopes, and my suspicions), then at least in his willingness to publicize them. The SSPX advocate a return to that deep-rooted antisemitism that has taken centuries to cultivate.

The message this sends is worrying.
It's clumsy, because the current Pope is a German man above a certain age and will therefore always have to be wary of being perceived as antisemitic, even if he were morally flawless and actually knew what all those Communications Staff in the Vatican were there for.
It's embarrassing, because the Vatican's refrain of "This was not anti-semitic because the Pope is not an anti-semite" is a fallacy anyone calling themselves a scholar ought to be ashamed of.
It's disingenuous, because the other common theme from apologists, about the importance of reaching out to those who can be brought back into the fold, seems to hold true only for those to the far right of the spectrum. Theology of Liberation is discouraged, to say the least, Feminist Theology is, at best, laughed at, and even ecumenical dialogue has been scaled back.
But all of this could, probably, be explained in some way or another, if it weren't the last in an ever lengthening string of worrying messages.
It follows the re-instatement of the old-fashioned lithurgy for Good Friday Mass, complete with the prayer for Jews to see the light and accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Historically, progroms along the lines of "Baptism or death!" were likely to start after Easter. That's just one of those odd coincidences, I guess.
There have been other messages, too, harkening back to the good old days before God became "dear": Stating that the indigenous population of Latin America was "yearning" to be conquered and christianized was a feat of revisionist history that puts Holocaust-denial to shame. There were voices lower down the church hierarchy that called the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina divine punishment for "moral pollution". (The priest who used those actual words in a sermon has just been appointed by Rome to become a Bishop in Austria. Just to let you know that such callousness Has Consequences.)
Apparently, it isn't enough to go back to the 15th century. It's time to go right back to the Old Testament. Whee!

But I'm afraid it will rain manna from heaven before this Pope apologizes, let alone changes his course.

[My internet connection is trying my patience today, so you'll have to forgive me for not citing/linking my sources. Der Spiegel has good coverage online, and Google, as always, is omniscent.]

Sunday, 1 February 2009

How evolutionary psychology is letting me down

I'm a heterosexual woman. I like children. I'd even like to have some of my own (in the not too immediate future).
According to evolutionary psychologists, I should be an instant expert in all things child-related.
My instincts should just take over, switching me to super-maternal auto-pilot. In some situations, that would be awesome. Because I'm really, really, *really* helpless with babies. Put me in a room with children above the age of 2, and I will love it. But babies...I don't really know what to do with them. I don't know what they want from me. Hell, I'm absolutely mortified that I might break them.
That's why, when I was sitting in a café with one of my best friends yesterday, and she wanted to go to the toilet, she handed me her little girl with the words: "Okay, I need you to be very brave now." She wasn't talking to the baby, and she wasn't kidding either, because she knows me very well.

Amazingly, I didn't break the baby. I didn't even make her cry (Go me!!!). But that mixture of nervousness, and helplessness, and vague dread didn't go away until my friend came back.