Poachin’ Pope

Not Vicki this time. No, its the one about those naughty left-footers poaching the bums on our seats. Speaking of bums, apparently the apostates say: “The Church of England is, in the view of many of us, ceasing to be the church of Jesus Christ and becoming the church of political correctness, not only the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate – to which we object – but also in many attitudes to human sexuality from divorce and remarriage, to homosexuality.”

As an observer of all this, I find it confusing. Suppose I was to believe in Christianity – Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Bible is true, etc etc – how could I possibly know which church to join, if at all? As Paul is wont to say, please give me back my passport and let me out of here… not, that’s not right, he says God is Silent. Choice of C of E or Catholicism seems to be very largely a social construct. There are indeed real differences in relgiious practice – Catholics cannot stick bits of rubber on their willies – but those religious practices themselves are pure social constructs, since the bible says nothing about rubber (don’t take my word for it; I’ve checked). The bible, whilst vague on whether you should be Cath or Prot, is quite explicit on some other issues, for example Sell your possessions and give to the poor, not a sentiment that has ever been popular with any rich church. So why should I care if C of E folk join the Caths, or vice versa, any more than I care if Arsenal fans go off and join Spurs?

I’d like to say “it isn’t very clear why you need a church at all, now that we can all read the bible for ourselves” but this is all to clearly not true. Anyone, who knew nothing of our conventional faith, who settled down with a copy of the bible and tried to work out for themselves what it meant would be very confused indeed. Clearly you do need someone to pick and choose for you which bits to take seriously and which to ignore and which bits to add in. But why that is “religion” I don’t know.

8 thoughts on “Poachin’ Pope”

  1. You seem to appreciate fine buildings, be an athiest and be scientifically focused. However, you don’t seem to take the view that religion has existed for long periods of time because it works in a darwinian fit for purpose sense.

    Of course, more science and more travel and emigration could make it less fit for purpose …..

    Is this post trying to make the point that religion basically is a social construct? If so, why isn’t it more explicitly stated than ending with a ‘I don’t know’? It seems like you are grasping to say so and not quite making it. Or am I completely missing what you are saying?

    [All this post is about is my amusement at the nominally “holy” folk fighting for their bums on seats. I don’t think they can have any real religious justification for doing this -W]


  2. The idea that you can read the Bible and work stuff out yourself is a Protestant one: “All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them,” as the Westminster Confession has it. The Catholics think that the Church retains the authority it had in writing and collating the New Testament in the first place. So on their view, you need the church to tell you what the Bible means.

    Both sides agree that what you need the church for is the support of other believers. Paul says the church is like a body: some people have different gifts (literally, in this case, since he’s talking about God given “spiritual gifts” like speaking in tongues) but each part needs the other parts, and everyone should have Christian brotherly love, the “most excellent way”: 1 Cor 13 is part of this discourse on division and different roles, it’s not really about romantic love.


  3. There are indeed real differences in relgiious practice – Catholics cannot stick bits of rubber on their willies – but those religious practices themselves are pure social constructs, since the bible says nothing about rubber (don’t take my word for it; I’ve checked).

    And it says nothing about polyurethane. But use of sheepskin condoms is clearly bestiality and thus an abomination unto the Lord.


  4. There was not supposed to be a “church.” Jesus said “let him who has ears to hear . . . (Heraclitus also said this)”, “don’t cast pearls . . .”, and the whole 1 in a thousand thing (e.g. fish, sheep, etc). This is all very non-church, non being told.
    St. Paul took the non-church and made it grand-church.

    Would you believe I question AGW as well?

    [You don’t belong to the AGW church? Shame on you. The IPCC bible will tell you what to think 🙂 -W]


  5. Actually I meant that a person’s proper posture when questioning AGW is to be a flat-earth creationist, right? If I am going to be a progressive thinker (which I guess I would call myself), then the club has rules!

    BTW (and probably more fitting to the superfreakonomics. . .thread), the associated press here in the USA has released the final consensus on “no global cooling.” I have no objection to this, but the final comment in some articles comes from “Prophet” G. Schmidt following Hansen’s lead from a few years ago. He says that El Nino will strengthen and 2010 wil be a record shatterer, putting to rest this “global cooling nonsense.”

    So is it a church with prophets? or a betting platform? I prefer the latter.


  6. While pondering an unwritten novel, I came to the conclusion that the “which one for me” question appears to be a design flaw in Abrahamism. You have a monotheistic religion where the moral framework consists entirely in obedience to the deity, who chooses to speak only through randomly chosen prophets and not to everyone. So lay people face the impossible (and fatal) question of deciding which prophets are real and which are charlatans.

    Such a religion is more or less bound to be a honey-pot for every charismatic rabble-rouser going (something which appears to have been experimentally verified over the past few decades), so regular splits and schisms seem to be an unavoidable fact of life. I don’t think you could have a religion which included the core tenets of Abrahamism and NOT have the schisms. Taken to its logical conclusion, the splitting process can wipe out an entire community – for example, what happened to the Islamists in Algeria. (Or, less lethally, “Life of Brian”).

    Tolstoy’s “Confession” provides a nice 19th century perspective on this, too.


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