Monday, May 14, 2012

You Listening, E.J.?

E. J. Dionne, whose father had the same name, had a column in today’s (5.14.12) paper about why he’s not quitting the Catholic Church. E. J. doesn’t give us an email address to respond to his comments, so I’ve had to resort to the bully pulpit here at Ape Shit. I’m sorry you made me do this, E. J., I wish we could have kept it quite, but no, you’re in lock-down mode and I’ve had to resort to this messy public forum.

You listening, E. J.?

You were complaining about being badgered by folks from an outfit called the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). They—if I have this right—accused you of being an enabler of the evils the Church is and has been involved with over the years. You, on the other hand, held up the Mother Terresa defense: “But look at all the wonderful things people have done within the Church.”
I think, E. J., that is precisely what they are saying. It does take a leap of cognition to understand how buying into the “good” argument enables the bad, but it does. Mostly it demonstrates a fuzzy understanding of the traditional role of religion in society. A role, I might add, that has been on the wane since the Enlightenment; and thank God for that.

Since time immemorial, society has been under the control of two elements of state apparatus: the government and the church. Any church, any government. Those two machines work together to control the populace. The government, essentially, controls the direction of society (at this point in time) while the religion supplies the motivation. Furthermore, traditionally, government has controlled the engines of coercion and restraint, whereas religion has been left with education, charity, and social causes. Together they define the parameters; religion has the sales job and government the enforcing job.
What that means is that the church (or Church) does good because that’s it’s job. Hospitals save lives because it’s their job. Likewise, people who want to do good will gravitate towards those jobs which will allow them to do good. The Church did not create Mother Terresa; Mother Terresa used the Church to attain her goals. If the Church had not existed, she would have found another way to accomplish her goals. The credit goes, not to the Church, but to Mother Terry.

The Church, the Catholic Church, exists not to do good—people will do good regardless—but rather as an instrument of control: they would like the good to be done in their name.
The great glory of the Enlightenment was the realization that we didn’t need that instrument of control. If fact, it realized that, in the long run, having that kind of control over people was not a good idea; and ever since then, religion has slowly been losing ground to the rationalists. There’s nothing religion can do about it, it’s strictly evolutionary. There’s no turning back the tide. Slowly religion turns into folklore.

Yes, by buying into the Mother Terresa defense you’re slowing down the process of evolution. Yes, you’re an enabler. But not to worry, it makes no difference. You can prop up a dying belief all you want, but once it’s dead, it’s dead. Tell it to Zeus. I’m in the FFRF camp in that I wish you guys would brighten up a bit more quickly, but I’ve always had that problem with society. I’ve learned to accept that progress is inevitable but slow.
The Pope's shoes
The real question is, what are we going to do with all those old churches? How many performance halls do we need? Posh restaurants? Museums? Not to mention all those great priests’ robes. Don’t you think they’ll look good in the gay and lesbian parades? I do. Think they’ll look good.

Stick to your guns, E. J.

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