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Christer Alexander Jenson
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May 2009
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Christer Alexander Jenson [userpic]
So, I wonder…

Originally published at Obiter Dicta. You can comment here or there.

There are people who claim that religion is nothing but bad, and seem to have as a core tenet that all religious people in general, and Catholics in specific, should be permanent apologists for past sins, as well that those of a moderate bent should be permanent apologists for the extremists who claim to belong to the same faith.

Therefore, I see fit to demand of everyone who’s ever known anyone who’s used anything created in a factory — that would be most of humanity — that they apologise profusely and immediately for creating the climate issues that they themselves (for the most part) now claim are going to be the end of us.

Personal responsibility. It’s just that. Personal. Now, one counter-argument to this can be the so-called ’sins of the father’ doctrine (ex. in Exodus 20:5; “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,”), which I’ve seen used as an argument in favour of the apologist view. Said doctrine, however, says nothing about Earthen relationships, as, going back to the Law of Moses, it is stated in that big book that sons shall not suffer for their fathers’ sins (Deuteronomy 24:16). Said doctrine is on the relationship between man and God, and basically means this: If a man turns away from God, and raises his children accordingly, the children will suffer for it, for they don’t know of God. But on Earth, each answers for himself alone.

This post produced by an annoying tendency to dislike people who believe they’re entitled to an apology from me personally for something my forefathers have done. I will answer for my crimes against mankind, but I refuse to answer for yours!


That's as good as you can throw it. Personal responsibility is an excellent place to start. Recognition of (not apologia for) is needed for past "sins" (history, condemned to repeat it, etc. etc. etc.) However, continued membership in a group that is currently doing evil can not be sloughed off with, "well, I'm not personally doing x." Identification with and support of the group through membership results in a shared burden for egregious behavior of the group.

Hold you (generic, Roman Catholic/evangelical/$religion/$group) accountable for the Spanish Inquisition or the witch persecutions? Nope. Hold you accountable for (or at least expect a distancing from) the Church's imposition into public law of religious doctrine? Damn straight.

Alright, please apologise for being an American. ;-)

I will, of course, expect you to be consequent there -- on the issue of public law, the Church is just another lobby group. As such, should be treated the same as any other (batshit insane at times) lobby group.

Hmm, since I didn't choose to be American... but for various reasons I don't choose to not be American...

Okay. I hereby publicly apologize for the shit that is foisted off onto the world and masquerades as culture (movies, music, fast food, etc. etc.) and for our hypocritical 'might is right, but we're doing it for you' world politics and for using 90% of the world's energy and wasting a good portion of that and for W. (didn't vote for him, but still...) and for so-called American lager and Disney World, definitely for Disney World. Anything else? ;)

The Church as lobby group analogy doesn't particularly work. Lobby groups are by definition self-interested. They want what they want for themselves (it might screw others, but that's secondary). The Church wants everyone else to want (or at least to have to conform to) what it wants. Different kettle of fish.

But they both work the same way: Both the Church and lobby groups attempt to change the way society works through laws, laws that will apply to both people who agree and people who disagree. I don't see how an environmental (GreenPeace: Putting the mental in environmental! ;)) lobby group is any different from a religious lobby group there -- the net effect is that of changing society to suit them.

Oh, and American lager is an oxymoron. ;-)

The process they use is the same (heh. and in the two examples includes many underhanded tricks), but the originating motivation is not. The Church wishes to impose a morality; Greenpeace a perception of science. I can argue with Greenpeace using fact and logic; the Church has no such claim.

American lager is an oxymoron. ;-)
Won't get any argument from me... even if the Belgians and Canadians now own most of it. ;D

Have you ever argued with a Greenpease activist? 'fact' and 'logic' are incomprehensible to them.

Also, arguing about fact and logic in the field of morality requires that all parties ascribe to an objective view of morality. You can say a lot about the Church, but at least its view is objective on that point. "Our rules should go for everyone!"

Whether or not it's American-owned doesn't change whether or not it's American-made. ;P

I haven't felt it necessary to apologize for being an American, but I have (repeatedly, especially when travelling out of the country) to apologize ON BEHALF of Americans, and to mention that "I didn't vote for him!"

My primary question would then be if you feel I should apologise for being Christian, or on behalf of other Christians?

I've taken issue with both above, after all.

(Neither did I, and I voted for the government which would break the Norway-US military link)

If you felt the need to. I wouldn't demand it of you or anyone else. I try very hard not to paint with a broad brush, and I understand that the label "Christian" applies to a broad range of people, some of whom don't deserve the label, yet they use it anyway (just like many other identifying labels).

Quite frankly, I did the apologizing because I was embarrassed and ashamed with my country's leaders and the decisions they were making. (I suppose it was more of an "it's not my fault - I didn't vote for him" rather than "I'm sorry that I live in a place where the leaders are acting like asshats")

That's the trouble with democracy... Creates a pretty big illusion that everyone is responsible for the current government. :-/

Well put, the crowd :-).

What "club" you join is a personal choice, yes, but it does sort of communicate that you stand behind it, you know? With all its history and current behaviour.

And with churches, that's even more the case than with a political party. Because usually, there's no subscribing to just part of the package.

You're responsible for your own deeds, but also for your choice of membership in organizations.

Ah, the ancient 'tell me who your friends are'...

Remind me to answer this one in the morning, it's 2AM and I need to be at work at 6:30... Just caught the time! :(

Well, I see your point, of course, but taken literally, the "friend" thing won't work here.

You might be a friend to somebody for a whole load of reasons, and after all, you two will influence each other over the years, change and grow...

A church on the other hand will want your full subordination. Catholics seem to like this "flock of sheep" picture, which kind of says it all.

I really think religion is a very personal issue (or at least spirituality is, since the term religion is so tainted already) and that a big mighty organization does little to help you there. It might offer you this feeling of being one of a kind and a "good little sheep", though, if you're so inclined :-D.

One of my major issues with Catholicism in general is the labelling, actually -- that Catholic seems to imply 'sheep'. My wife's been a part of the Catholic environment in Norway for a few years now, and although she studies theology she's quite the intellectual (even qualified for MENSA). From her statements, she's never encountered another organisation with such an intellectually challenging priesthood, for instance. I believe there's a difference between the inside and the outside view there. I was married Catholic as well, and the priest made very well sure that I understood what the ceremony implied -- that I would be held to my vows.

The Catholic Church is a (very large) group of people on a common journey to self-improvement. That's the core of it. Do you disagree with this? :)

Well, I sort of like to "improve" on my own values and terms, to be honest ;-).

You will be held to your vows, sure. And probably go to hell and stuff, or else end up playing a cute harp on a cloud somewhere :-D.

I'm sorry. I just don't get organized religion... Or, to be precise: Whatever I learn about it just repels me more...

I must say I have met some fabulous people who were quite at ease with it, so feel free to just consider me excessively individualistic, anarchist, weird or what have you. All true, mind :-p.

I'm sure it's intellectually challenging in there, by the way... Then again, I seem to imagine intellectual endeavours to be more satisfying well away from the trodden tracks... Hope you two keep an open mind, is all.

This is true. I personally am more comfortable learning through debate and discourse than through introspection and talking to myself. ;-)

I believe organized religion works better on a small scale, personally. The Catholic Church is a pretty big monolith...

And I won't go to Hell for any of my actions... Sola Fide, remember? ;>


I had to google the concept... And - wow, is that religion ever WEIRD :-D!

No, sorry. I'm afraid that's about all I can say about this topic. I guess you sort of have to grow into it for it to make even the remotest bit of sense ;-p.

Pratchett does that a lot more, to me. In the sense that the gods are a creation from the faith of humans, and only have the power "given" to them by belief, or trust.
Just another chapter of "headology", basically. As is all magic.

Well if the Law of Moses says that, how come Haman and all his children were executed? (the story of Esther).

I also thought the Pope already apologized for the Inquisition, didn't he?

Because humans are idiots, prone to fits of rage, and really are not the shiniest, happiest, best creatures of God's green Earth.

The Pope and the Church has "apologised" for the Inquisition, yes, in some manner -- they've apologised for certain incidents (like the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre), but from what I can find, it's usually been worded very, very carefully and there are quite a few weasel words in it.