My Republic

Thoughts on Everything Including Better Government

Steve Cross

Steve Cross
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
December 20
I was born in Ottumwa, Iowa on December 20, 1942, and then grew up there. I have extensive formal education -- through grade 22, as a matter of fact. That education seems to have entirely gone to waste. At least it doesn't seem sufficient for me to find employment. Actually, I was killed on December 1, 1992, but didn't have the good sense to lay down then and be still. I've done lots of writing, both fiction and non-fiction since then. Little of it has been published. To check out other things I've written, go to: More is added there all the time.


JUNE 2, 2011 2:53PM

A Personal Theological Statement

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I was not born with religion.  But, I was very shortly baptized Catholic.  I attended Catholic schools through the 22nd grade.  That meant that I was subject to none-to-subtle brainwashing on why I’d better not leave the Catholic Church.  (With the exception of years at a Jesuit college.  For obscure reasons, the Jesuits value knowledgeable membership over membership out of fear.)  It apparently didn’t take because I have a litany (“litany” is probably and appropriate use here) of Catholic dogma that I dispute and have re-fashioned in a way that seems more reasonable.  For whatever it’s worth, this is a summary of my personal religious theories.

One Catholic factoid that I was surprised to learn, on the QT, is that there isn’t a shred of evidence that St. Peter ever went to Rome and died there.  It’s just a “tradition” of the Church.  The Church has tried to definitively prove papal succession going all the way back to St. Peter by digging around in the basement of St. Peter’s in Rome looking for St. Peter’s bones.  So far, they’ve found nothing.  I’m not surprised.  There is not even a claim that Peter went to Rome and died there until sometime after 300 AD.  It would seem clear that had he actually gone to Rome, that Peter might have noted that fact in his own Epistles – he did state other travels.  And, in any case, it would seem that such an important fact might have been remembered by someone else somewhat closer to Peter’s actual life.

While the papal succession all the way to St. Peter is in question, there is no question that Rome has been the HQ for the Church for a long, long, long time.  But, I view the move to Rome as particularly unfortunate.  The Church would have probably done better had it remained centered in Jerusalem with a weak structure and depending on itinerant preachers trying to understand and pass on the message of Jesus.  And by “done better,” I mean that its message might be closer to that of Jesus’ original message.

Instead, the Church went to Rome.  And, from Rome it primarily learned a lot of bad practices on how to run things.  Rome was run by an emperor.  So it naturally seemed like the best way to run the Church was to have someone be “emperor” of the Church as well.  (Had Jesus just come a little earlier and some of the Church’s high muckety-mucks gotten to Rome a little earlier, maybe they would have thought that the Republic was what should be emulated for government.  But, they didn’t.  So we’re now stuck with living with a Church that owes more to imperial Rome than it does to anything that Jesus taught.)  So, while the civil society of Rome disappeared, the religious imperial society has continued to this day.

The primary effect of learning to rule as an imperial emperor was that the emperor’s personal word is law no matter how ill-conceived that word may be.  Eventually, the view that the emperor’s “word is law” was codified as the pope being infallible.  And, while infallibility was technically restricted just to matters of “faith and morals,” it presently appeared that if one disagrees with anything that came out of Rome, the “magisterium,” then that one was kicked out of the Church.  Among Church insiders, it’s jokingly known as “creeping infallibility.”

I’d argue that the whole business of infallibility and the un-arguable magisterium has more to due with the Church government being headed by an imperial emperor under the “divine right of kings” than by anything that Jesus had to say.  And, while it is evident that civil society has long ago chucked the theory of the divine right of kings, the Church in Rome still clings to it.  Also from the ancient Roman emperors, the Church in Rome learned that its job was more about continuing its rule than it was about passing on Jesus’ message.

And, from being in Rome, the Church also learned that building on a monumental scale was how you behaved when in control of any really powerful organization.  Thus, it still constructs church edifices that put ancient Rome to shame.  And, just as it did to ancient Rome, the practice comes close to bankrupting the organization.  Somehow, I always think that Jesus wouldn’t feel very at home in St. Peter’s and most of the huge and ornate buildings.  After all, he never had a building of his own to preach in.

I also find much of what is considered to be doctrine as pretty extraneous to anything that is meaningful.  So, for example, there are all sorts of “Marian Doctrines” that attempt to define the exact status of Jesus’ mother.  All of them seem to be based on a pretense of reading God’s mind.  So, while there can be no doubt that Jesus respected his mother; the near deification of Mary is beyond my logic.

But, I’m wandering.  I want to get to some particular doctrines and spin out my take on them.

The Church eschews the “literal interpretation” of the Bible that is favored by much of fundamentalist Christians.  However, it seems to me that there isn’t all that much difference between what the fundamentalist Christians do and what the Catholic Church does.  It’s just that the Church has selective literal interpretation of the Bible while disclaiming universal literal interpretation.  For example, the Church will concede that, when it comes to creation, God may not have done it all in 7 solar days as stated literally in the Bible.  God may have done it in a “Big Bang” or progressively over eons.  The Bible story, the Church allows, is more metaphorical of God being the creator.

However, when it comes to the “fall” in the Garden of Eden, then things are suddenly literal.  There was a real Garden with a real tree in the center and a snake that suggests to Eve that the apples are really good for her, despite what the Lord had specifically told her.  On the story of the fall, the Church is being selectively literal.

The whole story of the “fall” of Adam and Eve is kept literal by the Church because it eventually has a connection to explaining later literal events.  That is, because of that “fall” Jesus had to become man and by dying an agonizing death somehow redeem all men from the effects of man’s “fall.”

To my mind, the “fall” in the Garden and the ultimate redemption by Jesus’ death is an all too literal reading of the Bible.  And, with all due respect to St. Thomas, it seems to be too large a gap to bridge that there is a connection between Adam’s offense against God that is made up to God by God becoming man and dying an agonizing death.  If “man” offended, then it stands to reason that “man” must make amends to God.

(And while I’m at it, I’ll say that believing that things said in the Bible were written by God and that God only wrote what was literally true is to also conclude that God is a very bad writer.  Despite the universe of evidence that God is creative, when it comes to writing people apparently figure that God never shows a sign of creativity.  To the contrary, it’s my belief that if God wrote something, then it is probably the most creative writing around.  So, if it’s written by God, and I believe it was, then we’d better expect a high order of creativity.  And that would be so much so that I’d question the present cannon of the Bible of anything that shows only pedestrian creativity as not being written by God.)

To me, the key on the “fall” is found in the part of the story of the Garden where the apple tree is described as the “tree of knowledge” and that, upon eating it, Adam and Eve would know the difference between “good and evil.”  (I am paraphrasing here without going to look at the particular Bible passages.  I’ve been beaten to death to many times by Bible quotations.  So I don’t want to beat my reader to death with Bible quotations either.  So, you’ll have to assume that I remember accurately the general quality of the story.  It is, after all, the general quality of the story as a metaphor for something else that I’m talking about anyway.)

To me, what the story of the Garden is accounting for is that sometime in the course of evolution; the creature “man” stopped being just another animal and became human.  And that key is that he (and she) began to be able to make conscious consider alternative actions and to choose between them.  It is that quality of thinking, of being able to consciously choose, that made the creature “man” into a human being.  And, because “man” could choose, that man could choose to not do the right thing.  That is, to “sin.”  So, the story is a metaphor that explains the origin of man as a creature capable of doing wrong.  Man was not in a state of perfection prior to the fall.  (Unless you assume that all animals were and still are perfect because they have no capacity to consciously choose anything.)  Man was not being punished by a fallen state for the “original sin” committed in the Garden.  At man’s origin, he (and she) was capable of doing wrong – that’s what made them human.  There was not an original sin that needed to be expiated through some kind of a specific act that, somehow, made up for the prior sin.

(And, by extension, un-baptized babies who die aren’t going to Hell for a sin that their distant ancestor committed.  There is no “sin” as such.  If anything, “original sin” is only a very faulty metaphor to recognize that we all have the capacity to make poor conscious choices.  And, as long as I’m at it, the concept of “Limbo” is just a pathetically stupid idea.  It’s obviously intended to get around the concept of un-baptized babies meriting Hell because of the act of an ancestor and not their own.  However, the rationale to get around that difficulty is almost as stupid as saying that un-baptized babies are Hell bound.  And, in the end, the concept of “Limbo” actually sounds worse than that of Hell itself.)

That does, however, leave an apparent hole in my theology over what, then, was the point of God’s becoming human and suffering a miserable death.  But, I think that my personal theology has an explanation for Jesus taking a human form and dying a miserable death.  My explanation comes, in part, from the movie, “Dogma.” 

(Resort to the movies to prove theological concepts will undoubtedly drive my critics wild.  And using “Dogma” to do it probably sounds to them as adding insult to injury.  On that, I demur of both intended insult and injury.  As I mentioned before, God is nothing if not creative.  When the Bible says that “man was made in the image of God,” I think I know what that means.  It isn’t that God has a head, two arms, two legs, etc.  I mean that because “man” can think, “man” has the capacity to be creative.  And, the ability be creative is the factor that makes “man” in God’s image.  So, it’s also my opinion that we are likely to make better conclusions about God and God’s creation when we are exercising creativity than when we merely try to parse the meaning of Bible phrases.  So, in the creative thinking in “Dogma,” it strikes me that there is (or at least “may be”) something meaningful that has been found.)

In “Dogma” part of the dénouement is that God taking human form is not a rare event.  It seems that God does so on a regular basis (including sometimes being in a female form).  And, more important, when God takes human form, God accepts all the limitations that his human creations have.  So, in “Dogma,” when God has taken a human form and the particular human form is in a coma, God cannot escape by using powers that only God has.  (And, on another occasion when in a conscious human form, God also takes delight in creation by the simple act of smelling some flowers.)

We are prone to wondering about “the meaning of life.”  It’s no wonder since most of life seems so inexplicable – especially all the bad things that seem to happen on an all too regular basis.  (And, more than bad things happening to good people, my principle quarrel is about the good things that seem to happen, with great regularity, to bad people.)  And God, it seems, has chosen not to explain it to us.  (And some of the Catholic Church’s explanations, such as we are intended to “obey God in this life in order to be happy in the next life” seem to set God up at being especially perverse.)  But, the belief that God (at least on one occasion) became human and accepted human life on the same terms that life is had for all humans, seems to me to say that there is a purpose even though we may not be aware of it.  It’s kinda like the stories of some generals who live under the same conditions as their troops.  They don’t ask the troops to put up with anything that they won’t put up with themselves.  Whatever the purpose, it seems that God at least dignified the status of humans by accepting human life with the same doubts that we all have.

I like that interpretation because is saves me from concluding that our God really is perverse in his creation.  If God shares our lives with us, then there is a point to it all even if we can’t see it.

That’s part of the answer.  There is still the matter about Jesus’ agonizing death.  The meaning there comes from the fact that I noticed before that God accepted all of human existence on the same basis that all humans have it.  To that, I add the observation that bad things happen seemingly to everyone – sooner or later.  So God, in a human form, had about the worst possible “bad thing” happening to him.  That is, suffering a death by torture when innocent of doing anything wrong.  In other words, if you think that bad things have happened in your own life, it doesn’t even come close to what happened to God when that God took human form.

It doesn’t explain why those bad things happen.  Hopefully, someday, at the end of the 100 billion years of so, it will all make sense.  But, whatever the reason is, God accepted having to live with those same bad things happening to him.  So, when bad things happen to you, don’t get upset.  It’s not personal.  God had to endure the same thing when in human form – and it was, possibly but not necessarily, worse than whatever your problems are.

Well, not that I’ve stated my theology of the fall and redemption; I’ll get on to some simpler issues that I can dispose of quickly.

First, there is the matter of there being “three persons in one God.”  What does that possibly mean?  To me it just means that the nature of God’s existence is so complicated that none of us will ever understand it.  So, let’s just leave it at admitting that it’s beyond our powers and not worry about it.

Then, there’s the matter of the “virgin birth.”  Unlike some disbelievers who consider the whole thing preposterous, it seems to me to be something that God could arrange for without even raising a sweat.  So, the story could be literally true.  However, I think that the likelihood is that God is again using metaphor to make a point to one of God’s creations with a very dull mind.

It seems clear to me that God taking a human form would not be as the result of the standard processes.  Somehow, God (a pre-existing being) would take the form of a newly created human.  The soul seems to be an appropriate metaphor for something permanent in the human that always remains.  And, somehow, the “soul” of God was instilled in a new human person.

How, exactly, did that happen?

I don’ know and I don’t care.  And, what is more, I don’t think that it is important to anyone to tie down the exact metaphysics of what happened.  (But, if it gives you enjoyment to contemplate it, then be my guest.  No time is wasted when contemplating God.)  The important part is just that the being, Jesus, was God having taken human form.  And the issue of whether Mary and Joseph had intercourse to create the physical being seems to me beside the point.  And the point of the metaphor of the virgin birth is just to make the point that God did become “man” by an extraordinary process.

But, I also think that the literal belief in the virgin birth had a side consequence that was most unfortunate.  That consequence is that belief in a literal virgin birth is also the source of the belief that all virginity is a better married love.  And, because of that belief, the Catholic Church has screwed up untold generations of kids by feeding them that there is something wrong with all intercourse because virginity is always better.  It would have been better had the Church not insisted on celibate priests and nuns but have, instead, insisted on married love as the key to sexual relations.  (It would be argued that the official Church position is that there is nothing wrong with married love.  And the problem is that the “official” position is kind of like a footnote when discussing virginity.  The strong message is that virginity is hot stuff – and don’t bother reading the footnote because it will just confuse you.)

And the Catholic Church compounds its error on the virgin birth by maintaining that Mary, his mother, remained a virgin for her entire life.  That seems to me to be taking a metaphor intended to explain how God took human form and taking it to a ridiculous extreme.  It is, again, saying that all virginity is always better than married love.  And, considering that that emphasis is pronounced by a celibate clergy, it would seem natural for them to believe that celibacy was hot stuff.

(There is also the difficulty of dealing with the fact that the Bible also mentions the fact that Jesus had “brothers.”  And, when you hear or read the passage it seems clear that it isn’t just saying that Jesus had some “good buddies.”  But, in an example of post-hoc thinking, the Church maintains that the passage does mean “good buddies” because Mary was, obviously (it is claimed) a perpetual virgin.  (At this point, the Church is not only not being literal but being counter-literal.  They are denying what is literally said.))

And, I find it most peculiar when it’s asserted that God favors the total non-use of one of the capabilities that God gave us.  It seems to me the equivalent of our saying, “God, you can take this gift and shove it!”

Well, that’s enough of that.  For my next question, I’ll tackle the whole question of Jesus resurrection and the “resurrection of the body” as far as each of us human beings are concerned.

You’re probably waiting from me to explain why that is yet another metaphor.

Surprise!  This one I think is literally true.

I think that the one time in his life that Jesus used his powers as God was to come back to life.  And, I think, Jesus did that to make a point that there is more to this life than just what we are able to comprehend.  And, ultimately, the fact that he came back to life is the final promise the well will do so too.  So, ultimately, we can’t fathom why we’re here and why we’re so miserable, but Jesus resurrection is the promise that it’s in store for us as well.

As long as I’m dealing with big questions, I’ll tackle the biggest one of all.  That is, “Why are we here?”

In answering that, I shall rip-off some of the theorizing, as I remember it, of Pier Teilhard De Chardin.  Chardin had this “Omega Thesis” that we are slowly (very slowly) getting better all the time.  And at some time when we reach some kind of perfection, the Omega Point, that will be the end of things.  So, God made us imperfect but with a desired to seek perfection.  And, we will eventually succeed at doing that.

Of course, the next question is, “How long is that going to take?”

And the answer, I’m afraid, is a very long time.  Unlike those Christians who believe that we’re in the “End Times” and God will be back for final judgment by next Tuesday at 2:00 PM for sure, I think that we’re going to be working on getting better for a geologic span of time and probably longer.  So, we may be working on things for hundreds of billions of years.  One way that I’m sure of it is by looking at the stars.  I think we’re destined to be a space-faring species and will eventually explore and admire all of God’s creation.  And, at a pace that will undoubtedly lag behind our technological capabilities, we will be perfecting our understanding of ourselves, each other, and God as well.

So, it’s little wonder that any one of us don’t understand the point of our existence.  We sample so little of it that we don’t even notice that the trees have grown until we are very old.  When the purpose of existence is the end that we get to and that is hundreds of billions of year away, it’s no wonder that we don’t get it.

I also think that it’s possible that we, the human species, may all be in this thing together of making it to Heaven.  That is, when we as a species finally make it to De Chardin’s Omega Point, it’s probably some sort of union with God.  And, at that point, all of us that exist and have existed make it there too.  In other words, we’re all in this together and we will either all succeed together or all fail together.

Then there’s that matter of Satan, and whether he exists, and what he’s up to.  And, I tend to think that he (and the “good angels” too) exist.  Somehow, I don’t think that our creation exhausted God’s creativity.  Not do I think that two species (“man” and angels) exhausted God’s creativity either.  There may be a lot more and as we become a space faring species, we’re eventually going to bump into at least some of those other species.

But, I don’t think that God’s necessarily sent Satan to Hell for all time.  God obviously created the angels with some kind of ability to choose too.  And some of them obviously chose to rebel.  And God may allow Satan to work mischief among us humans trying to prove that we humans aren’t ever going to make it to the Omega Point.  But, I think that God is so sure of us humans that Satan is allowed to work whatever mischief he wants because God knows we’re still going to make it.

And, when we make it, it may have something to do with the redemption of Satan and any cohorts.  It may almost be like a bet that God made with Satan that God’s creation, humans, would make it to Omega.  And, when we do, Satan loses the bet and has to pay off by admitting that God is more powerful than even he is.  In this regard, God’s “bet” with Satan is not unlike the Bible story of XXXXXX who God allowed Satan to deprive of everything good because God was so sure that XXXXXX would still love God.  God has, more-or-less, placed the same bet on all of humanity.

As long as I’m talking about Satan, there’s the matter of what happens to all those humans who have made really, really, really bad choices with their lives.  To me, the last judgment and Hell seem like an invention of man in response to a really deeply felt need that there be ultimate consequences for really, really, really bad choice.  I think that God may be more creative that one of God’s creations, us, gives God credit for.  I’m not completely sure what it is.  However, there may be something to the beliefs of Eastern religions in reincarnation.  That is, I could see God saying, “Well, you really blew it that time.  Now, I’ll have you try again to see if you can contribute something useful to man’s journey toward Omega.”  (I do find it odd, though, that we don’t have any memory of our prior existences.  If we don’t remember, how can we learn this time?  But, maybe our souls do remember somehow and communicate knowledge of former good and bad choices even though we aren’t conscious of it.  But, in that part of my theory, I’m not sure how the clearly psychotic fit in.)

As long as I’m giving vent to heresy, I suppose I might as well consider the “one true church” bit.  There is the problem of Jesus being recorded as telling Peter, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I shall build my church.”  Of course, there is always the possibility of bad translations over the ages.  I don’t put it past the Catholic hierarchy to maneuver the accepted translation of the Bible to suit its own needs.  And in this particular case, when it depends on whether the word “church” was used or something not quite “church” (such as “belief in my message”) it gets a little dicey.

However, I don’t think that whatever the precise word that Jesus used, he wasn’t referring to the institution that was going to be eventually headquartered in Rome and try to run everybody all over the world.  I suspect that what Jesus meant probably was something closer to “belief in my message” than in a particular institution – particularly one that is a self-aggrandizing dictatorship with an edifice complex.

I’ll also give credit to several branches of Jesus’ “church” (meaning those that believe in Jesus’ message) that don’t happen to follow the company line out of Rome.  The Eastern Orthodox churches split basically over there not being one institutional church under an emperor in Rome.  With that, all the eastern churches went on their own.  And later, all the northern European churches went on their own when Luther tried to point out, among other things, that the church in Rome seemed pretty corrupt.  In both cases, I principally blame Rome for the splits and its failure to recognize that maybe the emperor didn’t have any clothes on.

And what about all the other religions, faiths, and churches that are totally unrelated to both Christianity, in general, and to the Roman Catholic Church, in particular?

Frankly, I’m not too worried about them.  Their message seems to be more important to me than their specific acceptance of Jesus and Christianity.

It’s my observation that the religions in various parts of the world seem to fit the overall culture of the society.  So, for instance, I think that India would not be India any more if its principal faith, somehow, changed from Hindu to Methodist.  So, the faiths in the different cultures each have something to say about God.  And, I think that there is probably something that we can learn from each of those cultures’ understandings of the nature of God.  (And God, being a really, really complicated entity, it’s quite possible that the faiths in all of those cultures may be right – at least partially.)

Earlier, I bad-mouthed the move of Christianity from Jerusalem to Rome.  Despite my objection, I think its spread in the “western” world was due primarily to the orientation that the church got upon taking up residence in Rome.  In essence, there is something in Christianity that appeals to western culture.  And, as India wouldn’t be India if everyone became Methodist, I don’t think the Western World, as we know it, would exist if being Hindu was the common religion.

Unfortunately, I think that the element in Christianity that appeals to Western “man” has very little to do with Jesus’ message.  I think that it mostly has to do with the trappings of empire assumed by the Roman Catholic Church.  (And, to a lesser extent, being an “empire” is still practiced, albeit in a minor form, by all religions that split off from the original root of Christianity.)  Thus, I think that Christianity spread not so much because of Jesus’ message of love and peace but because it presented a “king” to rule over everything just as secular kings ruled over everyone.  And having a king rule over everything was the mode until modern times.  And, it is worth remembering that the pope did and still does (albeit in modern times over a very limited area of the Vatican) represent secular as well as religious rule.  And the pope’s rule over the Papal States in the Middle Ages is not noted for any insights on how to be a good secular ruler.  And, it is still official Church policy that, where possible, the Catholic Church is to be the state religion.

Ultimately, I think that all churches that profess Christianity would do much better it they concentrated on Jesus’ message than worrying about who’s in charge.

And, despite the plain actual intent of the pope to literally control the hands of everyone in every parish in the world, he has been a miserable failure at achieving it.  For practical purposes there is, and has been for a long time, two Catholic Churches.  On is the church of the clergy and the other is the church of the laity.  Somewhat oddly, they do worship together on Sundays.  And there are some clergy who actually are members of the church of the laity.  There are also members of the laity who are members of the church of the clergy.  Despite the best efforts of this pope to make all the laity go to the church of the clergy, the die has already been cast for the two churches.  And, nobody is going back to the bad old days of the universal church of the clergy.

Let’s see, is there anything else that I disagree with?

Ah, yes.  There is the matter of “transubstantiation.”  For the uninitiated, that’s the doctrine that at the Mass, when the priest pronounces the words of consecration, the bread and wine become the “substance,” the flesh and blood, of Jesus.  I remember studding transubstantiation in philosophy classes in college.  I recall that I wasn’t impressed by the overwhelming logic attached to the doctrine at the time – even when it’s explained by St. Thomas Aquinas.

Basically, it works like this:

Everything that exists is composed of two elements: substance and accidents.  The “accidents” are everything that we can perceive about the element – even with a microscope or gas chromatography.  All “accidents” are temporal and perishable things that change in form over time.  However, the “substance” of anything is permanent and endures forever.  (However, that “permanent” element is not a “soul.”  Material things like rocks, water, air (and bread and wine) don’t have “souls.”)  So, that indefinable permanent substance of the bread and water is what changes to that of Jesus’ substance even though there is nothing detectable that has changed in the bread and water.

Ultimately, the whole explanation is logic eating its own tail.

So, do I disbelieve that at a Mass that the bread and wine is not, somehow transformed into the flesh and blood of Jesus?

And my answer is that I do believe that, somehow, it is Jesus’ flesh and blood.  It’s the explanation that I disbelieve.  So, on that one, I guess that I’m with the Church on saying that “it’s a mystery.”  And, I’m not particularly bothered by my inability to explain it.

(Hey, another digression, even this close to the end.  I am always amazed by Christian’s seeming need to place Ten Commandments memorials on the front lawns of government buildings.  It is, I fear, their staking out that the government is on the side of their particular church.  While I personally oppose all monuments of that type associated with anything governmental, I think it would make more sense if the supposed Christians would place the Sermon on the Mount on the front lawn of government buildings.  At least it might be a better reminder to all who worked in the building of what they were supposed to be about.)

You may ask, “If you disbelieve so much, then why do you still consider yourself a Catholic?  Why not join some other church – or start your own?”

The answer is that, despite the problems that I have with the Catholic Church, I, like Hans Kung, still consider the Catholic Church to be by spiritual home.  And, by “home” I mean the community of believers whom I worship with regularly.  I could no more abandon the Church than I could abandon them.  And, much like the family that has a crazy uncle in town that perpetually does things to embarrass the family but is still accepted at family gatherings, the official Catholic Church may be the crazy uncle in our family but is still accepted by me and us.

There is no doubt, of course, that there are those scrupulous Catholics who would quickly pronounce that, “You’re not a Catholic.”

Fortunately, my religious identity doesn’t depend upon the permission of those scrupulous Catholics.  I am and will continue to call myself “Catholic” and will confess some enjoyment at knowing that by doing so I drive those scrupulous Catholics nuts.

I would ultimately, and humbly, suggest to the Catholic Church that it review all of its declared dogma with a view to contracting its scope.  (And also to do away with the “creeping infallibility” of obliging assent to everything that’s in the “magisterium” as well.)  My central logic is that almost nothing that is dogma is provable scientifically or even by resorting to Bible passages.  Given that it has only logic to depend on, the Church needs to be very hesitant to set up anything as dogma.  And, St. Thomas Aquinas notwithstanding, almost all dogma is “logic” that frequently invokes earlier thinkers such as Aristotle.  And, while I’m no expert on Aristotle and am confident that Aristotle was pretty sure of his conclusions, I doubt that even he claimed that his logic was free of all possible error.  When it is so dependant on human thought processes alone, one needs to be reluctant to shouting “Eureka! every time a conclusion is reached.  And, being humble about anyone’s thoughts or our collective thoughts would seem to be appropriate as well.  And, the net effect might be to force a return to considering Jesus’ thoughts on what he said about living and treating others.

The Church might do so by holding another ecumenical conference.  And, instead of holding it in the Vatican, where the dead hand of the curia might prevail again, it might he held somewhere in the “New World.”  And, in addition to all the bishops, it might include a lot of learned lay people as well.

But, I could be all wrong.  But, I’ll bet that I’m not more wrong than the Catholic Church is about some of its dogmas that it has built up over time.

At the same time, you are well reminded of something a nun told me back when I was just five years old and in 1st Grade.  She said, “I declare.  You’re about as dumb as the man in the moon.”  All of the disputation here may possibly be explained by that nun’s early observation.  Perhaps she was prophetic.

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I was always torn about the mean son of a *itch Old Testament God demanding blood and then the New Testament with Jesus preaching love, forgiveness, redemption. I am convinced that you are so correct about the Roman papacy being so imperial and far from Godly-but rather all about earthly trappings. I am also convinced our current Pope pulled some clever political maneuvers to get his office, as he was the person in charge of the sex abuse scandal under Pope John PaulII. So my faith in the Church has certainly been diminished, but not my faith in God! Great points! R