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Papal Conclave Set for Tuesday, March 12

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The Vatican just announced the papal conclave will convene Tuesday afternoon, March 12. The last cardinal arrived very recently, allowing for four to five days of prayer and group discussions between the participants prior to the actual balloting.

The cardinals will discuss the role of priests in the Church and specific candidates for the papacy who exemplify that role. Many religious orders in the Church traditionally have required their initiates to take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

The vows and what they impose are ordered by the religious orders (or institutes), and are approved by the Vatican. A vow of poverty usually requires the initiate to forswear all but the most basic personal possessions and lead a simple life. The vows vary from order to order, and parish priests are usually exempted from a strict vow of poverty, but are encouraged to lead a simple existence, so as not to interfere with delivering Christ’s message and the message of the Old Testament.

Chastity means a direct personal service to God and to the Church and its mission. As described in the Roman Catholic Catechism, the requirement of chastity is for religious “who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate ‘for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.’ Called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to ‘the affairs of the Lord’, they give themselves entirely to God and to men.”

The Code of Canon Law defines obedience as:

“The evangelical counsel of obedience, undertaken in a spirit of faith and love in the following of Christ who was obedient even unto death requires a submission of the will to legitimate superiors, who stand in the place of God when they command according to the proper constitutions.”

People who seek admittance to religious orders must take these vows to become priests, monks or nuns. People who break any of the vows are disciplined and sometimes excommunicated. Vows are made freely, but are required for initiation into the priesthood or a religious order. Generally speaking, these vows are non-negotiable once made.

In recent years, the Church has allowed surrogates to assist during the Mass. These assistants help with various functions during the daily Masses, marriage ceremonies, baptisms, funerals, and also in maintaining the physical buildings of the parish. In addition, they assist with outreach into the community.

The overall mission of the Church is best summed up by Pope Emeritus Benedict when he called for re-proposing the Gospel “to those regions awaiting the first evangelization and to those regions where the roots of Christianity are deep but who have experienced a serious crisis of faith due to secularization.”

Just what are the teachings of Christ? They are found throughout the Gospels. Examples are Christ recognizing the faith of the blind man while returning the gift of sight. Other pronouncements include: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”. Jesus told the rich man to lay down his wealth and follow Him in order to secure a place in the afterlife. The rich man went away.

During the conclave, the cardinals will cast a series of ballots to select a new pope. Members of the conclave could put forward a popular candidate who might prevail early. Otherwise, the cardinals will be searching for a candidate who best exemplifies all of the above. There may be an emphasis on the candidate’s philosophy, pastoral work and writing in the area of the new Evangelization.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.
  • Baronius

    A couple of things. There aren’t more than two or three cardinals who are members of religious orders. “Secular” priests – those who aren’t in orders – take different vows.

    Chastity isn’t the same thing as being celibacy. Celibacy means staying single. Chastity means proper use of the sexual function; that is, sex only within marriage. In that sense, everyone is called to chastity.

    As for the message of the Gospel, it’s not so much the teachings of Christ as the identity of Christ: God incarnate, dying for our sins. The teachings are important, but they would not be enough to attain heaven without Christ’s sacrifice.

    Last thing: while the new Pope’s philosophy and experience are going to be important, you should also mention his personal piety and, in all probability, his organizational skills as factors in the cardinals’ decision. I’m glad that you didn’t mention his skin color / place or origin, because I can’t imagine that’s going to play a factor. That’s the kind of thing that outsiders assume will be important, but that’s based on caricatures. If you’re in a room with 116 others trying to choose which one should be your leader, you’re going to be thinking about personal qualities, not race.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    First, the editors did some insertions from my original text. Second, I researched the definition of chastity for you and it is set forth below.
    Source: New Catholic Dictionary

    Chastity, vow of (definition)

    Forbids all voluntary sexual pleasure. It constitutes a matrimonial impediment. If the vow be a simple one, which may be anyone of four kinds (of virginity, of not marrying, of receiving Sacred Orders, or of entering religion), it is a hindering impediment, rendering a marriage unlawful although valid, unless a dispensation be obtained. If the vow be solemn, which means that it is made publicly and for life in a religious community wherein such vows are administered, it constitutes a diriment impediment. In certain other communities which have received a special permission from the Holy See to that effect, simple vows would cause a diriment impediment. In either case a dispensation may be given by the Church. The reception of Sacred Orders (that is, of the first of the major orders, which, in our Latin Rite, is subdeaconship) imposes a solemn vow of chastity; and while the Church has the power of dispensing from this, this has been very seldom done.

  • Deano

    Yes but more importantly – who do you think is going to win, this most Catholic of horse races?

    FYI, my money is on the Bishop of Milan.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    Probably. Remember, lots of cardinals have been promoted by Pope Emeritus Benedict over the past 8 years. Usually, the previous occupant of the papacy is no longer alive at the time of the voting.

    If the field narrows on the first vote, then a concensus will be needed. Much depends upon what the cardinals want in the next Pope.

    I think that the candidate chosen will be no older than early seventies because the job involves a lot of administration and travel. This will be the first time in over 6 centuries that an Emeritus Pope is on the scene and still participating in some way to the continuing discussions within the Church.

  • Baronius

    I think it’s doubtful that Benedict will have any input, beyond having chosen many of the cardinals. I mean, if you want to be the power behind the scenes, you’re not the kind of person who walks away from the papacy. There’s nothing in Benedict’s personality that indicates he covets power.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Actually, the job doesn’t have to involve a lot of travel. It’s only the last three popes (I’m excluding John Paul I here because he barely stuck around long enough to blink, let alone go anywhere) who’ve made global travel a feature of the papacy. Before Paul VI and Vatican II, popes were traditionally sedentary and seldom left Rome unless forced into exile.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    The new Pope may make visits as part of the push for evangelization which is to bring the message of Christ across the globe. The Church needs to enforce the vows made by the clergy while simultaneously creating more opportunities for people to participate in a surrogate or supporting role.

    The Church has made some important concessions like allowing masses in English or the host language, permitting pop music at mass, doing away with the requirement for “no meat? on Friday and outreach into the community.

  • Baronius

    Joseph, most of those things you call concessions look like bad moves to a lot of people. Changes in the Mass have diminished the sense of the sacred and made it easy for a lot of people to transition to Protestant or evangelical churches. Some types of outreach (I’m thinking of charismatic ecumenism) have done the same.

    As for the Friday abstinence, what was so harmful about that? You’re a food activist. You have no problem with encouraging people to eat differently for their health. We live in a society where vegetarianism, veganism, and organic/local farming are common. Was it so out-of-bounds to ask Catholics to inconvenience themselves a bit on Fridays?

    I’m not alone in this thinking. The past two popes have been increasingly supportive of the Tridentine Mass movement. Vocations are booming in Latin-only orders. England and Wales recently reintroduced the Friday obligation.

  • Clav

    The Church needs to enforce the vows made by the clergy…

    With the major exception of the pederast problem, the Church never stopped enforcing its vows. Ask any nun or monk.

    The problem with priests is serious, and has been for some time, although there does seem to be a new attitude emerging on the part of the Vatican. I suspect whomever the new Pope is, he will direct a great deal of his attention to this blot on the Church’s reputation.

    And Baronius is right: in much of the world, the Church is stronger than ever; the major exception being the Americas, North and South. In North America, secularism is rapidly gaining ground, while in South (and Latin) America, the protestant religions have been making significant inroads for decades now in what used to be almost exclusively Catholic territory.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    Enforcing the vows will mean that only the people interested in service will stay there.
    The Church needs to get back to the message of Christ through Evangelization.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Exactly how does one “enforce” a vow anyway? Aren’t they voluntary?

  • Clav

    Sort of, Doc. If you want into the order demanding vows, you MUST take them.

    How to enforce? Good question, but since most priests do not take vows (as Baronius has pointed out), and priests are, for the most part the perpetrators of the pedophiilia, the Church should have by now figured that out.

    I think if the Church hierarchy had been serious about addressing this very real moral problem, they long ago would have started serious action, including defrocking the priests involved, AND turning them over to civil authorities.

    The lack of appropriate attention to this indefensible problem is easily one of the most serious mistakes the Roman Catholic church has made; it has cost them credibility and standing, and likely has lost them substantial numbers of faithful.

  • Glen Contrarian

    Criticisms?

    Chris’ absence speaks volumes.

  • Glen Contrarian

    But Clav is doing his part and good on him.

  • Glen Contrarian

    No, the Catholic church is not stronger than ever. While it has gained in overall population, that does not translate into “strength”.

    We all know how the RCC has been significantly weakened in America, and it is less well-known here that it is weakening in Europe even while it has made gains in poorer areas of the world.

    I pointed out a long time ago that the higher the standard of living of a nation, generally speaking, the more secular that nation will become. Catholicism – like most other religions – is declining in most nations that have high standards of living, but remains strong where there is much poverty.

    You can form your own opinions as to how this affects the ‘strength’ of the RCC.

  • Clav

    This just in: White smoke rose from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel less than an hour ago.

    A new Pope has been named, but his name will not be revealed until he steps out on the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square to address the gathered multitudes.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    An openly gay black pope would be the best possible outcome for this dismal crew but I wouldn’t put money on it!

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    So they went with the bloke from Argentina – wonder if he can do the Tango?

  • c i n d y

    Make that…an openly gay black female pope…

  • roger nowosielski

    There go the hopes for an openly gay black pope!!!

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Even better, Cindy!

  • roger nowosielski

    An openly gay black lesbian pope, and a cross-dresser too …

  • Clav

    The new Pope is Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, which makes him the first New World Pope and would appear to signal the Church’s concern with its status in the Americas. Notably, he is of Italian descent.

    He will rule as Pope Francis.

  • roger nowosielski

    and he or she could tango …

  • Clav

    My bet is probably can, and well…

  • roger nowosielski

    I have a sneaky suspicion a chastisement from Maresca is shortly forthcoming for breaking our vows and not sticking to the subject.

  • roger nowosielski

    He’s a Jesuit, and as one of the participants on a live-chat informs us, Jesuits are the Marines of the Church.

    Baronius should be thrilled.

  • Clav

    They are also the intellectuals of the Church; the schools and universities they operate are invariably among the world’s finest.

  • Clav

    In fact, it is said to be Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) who first coined the statement: “Give me the child until he is seven, and I will show you the man.”

  • Baronius

    I am thrilled – although I don’t know anything about the man.

    Jesuits are odd. The good ones are great, but the majority of them are weak. I’m hoping that Francis will prove to be one of the great ones.

    You’ll start to hear all the expected commentary. There will be quotes from him in support of the poor, and quotes against abortion, and quotes in support of or against every other thing the Church supports or opposes. And people will try to draw lines between the points. He’s a Catholic.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Does anyone remember that movie The Pope Must Die, in which Robbie Coltrane played a bumbling country priest who gets elected Pope by mistake?

    Something like that would have been fun.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    First, vows mean something when breaches are punished severely when necessary. Once people make vows, significant breaches can expose the Church to lawsuits and public criticism.

    Shortly, I will research Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio and now Pope Francis for a possible article. I understand that he was the runner-up at the last Conclave which produced Pope Benedict.

  • Clav

    He’s also a conservative traditionalist. I predict American Catholics, especially the females, are not gonna like him.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    What other candidate could be elected to the papacy? I don’t know of too many non-conservative traditionalists in the College of Cardinals. In addition, the South and Central Americas are growing constituencies within the Catholic Church.

  • Baronius

    “What other candidate could be elected to the papacy?”

    My point earlier. He’s a Catholic, and that’s going to disappoint a lot of people who wanted an Anglican, a new ager, or a secular agnostic.

  • Baronius

    “I predict American Catholics, especially the females, are not gonna like him.”

    The split between male and female American Catholics isn’t as great as the split between practicing and non-practicing Catholics. I expect you’d find the same pattern emerge if you compared Catholics by nationality versus Catholics by degree of practice.

  • Clav

    Hey Doc,

    Before you go to bed, will you please liberate my comment on this thread from the &#$@!^* spam trap?

    TIA,

    Clav

  • Clav

    The split between male and female American Catholics isn’t as great as the split between practicing and non-practicing Catholics.

    On certain issues it is, Baronius.

    I elaborate a little more on the comment I hope Doc’ll liberate for me: don’t want to say more now or spamboy will block this one too.

  • Clav

    In addition, the South and Central Americas are growing constituencies within the Catholic Church.

    Of course they are.

    But what has that to do with whether American Catholics will accept him?

  • Clav

    Bar:

    Here’s an interesting quote from an article in the July, 2010 edition of Time:

    When Argentina in mid-July legalized gay marriage, the country’s Catholic bishops weren’t content to simply denounce the legislation; they used the occasion to argue for the subhumanity of homosexual men and lesbians, the way many white Southern preachers weren’t ashamed to degrade African Americans during the civil rights movement. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio not only called the new law “a scheme to destroy God’s plan”; he termed it “a real and dire anthropological throwback,” as if homosexuality were evolutionarily inferior to heterosexuality.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    Today’s article covers Pope Francis-Elect. There is more information on his pastoral experience and what he will bring to the Church.

  • troll

    …perhaps the Cardinals are unfamiliar with the concept of protesting too much

  • Baronius

    Clav, that was hardly an article. It was a “Viewpoint”. The author had an axe to grind. But I’m not sure why you cited the opinion piece.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Clav, I don’t see anything of yours in the spam bucket so either Chris already liberated your comment or it got caught in the other spam trap, the one we don’t have access to. Sorry.

  • Clav

    Thanks for trying, Doc. Guess it’s gone.

  • Clav

    But I’m not sure why you cited the opinion piece.

    Just pointing out a little more about Francis’ thinking and where he seems to stand on some issues. The relevant part was a quote from him, not opinion.

  • Baronius

    Clav, does it really tell us anything about him? I don’t know anything about the particular law, and I can’t find the document that those quotes are taken from. As I’ve said, I’m sure he doesn’t believe that a homosexual relationship can be equal in moral character to a married, chaste heterosexual relationship, just as I’m sure he supports acts of charitable giving. I’m sure he’s within the Catholic tradition.

    If there’s a quote from him that says that Jesus is God and Muhammad wasn’t, does that tell us anything about him? Only that he believes what the Catholic Church believes. If he drove around Mecca shouting it out of his window, or he wrote his thesis about the different roles of religious founders, that could tell us something about him.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Well, fragmentary as the quote is, it might tell us something about his ignorance of evolutionary biology and anthropology and how he might allow willful gaps in knowledge to influence his papal policy.

    It might. I’ll try doing some digging to see if I can find the source of Time‘s quote, so as to put it in more context.

  • Baronius

    I just saw this tweet from someone named Nicholas Kristof: “Pope Francis seems liberal on social justice but sadly traditional on sexuality and contraception”. Fool.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    oh, the irony

  • Clav

    Kristof”s a fairly well known political commentator. Writes for The New York Times. and is a two time Pulitzer winner.

  • Baronius

    I’ve heard the name before. He’s never emerged from the background for me, but I know he’s supposed to be a Person of Note. That’s my point – it doesn’t matter what “side” he’s on, or what his credentials are; if he can’t do better than that, why should we listen to him as a commentator? “Pope sides with Church on morals” is supposed to be an observation?

  • Zingzing

    Baronius, the kristof quote shows what’s wrong with the Catholic Church. Social justice, sexuality and contraception are all interrelated, and while the church is supposedly for social justice, they are one of the biggest impediments that stand in the way of social justice. No, it’s no stunning observation–everyone knows it’s two steps forward, six steps back with the Catholic Church–but I don’t know what point you’re trying to prove by dismissing a tweet as if it was supposed to convey much more information than it did. It’s a tweet. What do you want?

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    He didn’t become a Person of Note because of twitter. It’s his opinion about the new Pope reduced to less than 140 characters. You disagree with it. So what? Why should anyone listen to you, Baronius?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    Baronius, congratulations on your new Pope Francis. I would like to believe he has the medieval St. Francis’ compassion for the poor, and disdain for corruption in the Church. If he does, I’d say it bodes well.

    He may change his mind about some things as he travels and sees destitute poverty in places he’s not been before, though.

    Some of the most destitute people in the world don’t have food, and they don’t know how to stop having babies, either. Imagine having to decide which of your kids to let starve because you can’t feed them all!

    RCC-approved methods have been improved so there is a 77 to 88 percent effectiveness rate with typical use and 95 to 98 percent effective with perfect use, and so is appropriate for certain poor populations who can’t afford birth control you have to pay for.

    HOWEVER…this method does not help at all to stop the spread of AIDS.

    Now when you mentioned that women weren’t going to like this Pope because of his stand on BC, my first thought was “well, it takes two to tango…” But then I thought of the African women who get AIDs because their husbands have been out philandering…and they pass it on to their babies. Very sad.

    And I have a link about transgender kids but I will try that in a different comment.

  • Zingzing

    At this point, it’s pretty safe to say that the morals of the Catholic Church, at least as it applies to sexuality, contribute much more to suffering and evil than they do to the goodness of humanity. The battle has been long lost. Their own hypocrisy and the attrition of their believers are evidence of this, as is the fact that they’ve elected a Latino pope, (no slight against the Latino people intended here,) which suggests they know they know their traditional power bases are eroding. It’s been a good run in Europe. Nice that he was born to Italian parents in Argentina though. That’s called “pleasing your market.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    Here’s the video of transgender kids. It’s less than six minutes long. Especially pay attention at 3:50 :(
    Hear the endocrinologist out, too.

    Sometimes we have to listen to little transgender kids (and transgender teens, the ones who haven’t committed suicide yet) to open our hearts to what adult homosexuals have to say. (Homosexuality and transgender are two different things, but belong together in this discussion.)

    Christians are rethinking what sort of behavior is actually being condemned in the “homosexual hammer passages.” It could very well be referring to promiscuous sex practiced in a “bath house” manner, or sodomy used as a way to humiliate losers in battle or to misuse slaves.

    The RCC officially recognizes homosexuals as individuals whose persuasion cannot be changed, and allows them full Communion — but requires that they be celibate. The “homosexual hammer” passages in the Bible, however, say homosexuals won’t enter the kingdom of God, period, no “practicing” qualifications. So the Catholic Church’s official view of homosexuals as people has changed from a strict interpretation of “homosexual hammer” scriptures. The RCC’s view of homosexual unions may change, too. I don’t think this will come anywhere close to condoning promiscuous behavior for Catholics, homosexual or straight.

    (I am not a Catholic, but I’m not a Catholic-hater.)

  • troll

    a Jesuit Francis…I can’t help feeling a bit sorry for the Dominicans

  • Baronius

    Zing, you say that social justice, sexuality, and contraception are all interrelated. I agree. We disagree on how they are. I understand how you see your views as consistent. Do you understand how I see mine as consistent? It never hurts to understand the other guy’s paradigm.

    El Bicho – Why should anyone listen to me? I hope I’m making comments that are insightful enough to answer that question.

  • Baronius

    Irene – (shorter version that might get past the spam filter)

    The idea of sexuality as identity is fairly new. The Greeks didn’t think of themselves as homo, hetero, or bi; they just had sex with who they wanted to. Ditto Romans. The Christian society that emerged thought the same way about sexuality as behavior rather than as identity. A person was to practice moderation, which meant appropriate restraint of their physical urges (for ice cream, beer, men, boys, women, whatever). Not that everyone did practice moderation, but a person wasn’t tagged as a glutton for wanting to eat a lot, only for eating a lot. Ditto sexual stuff.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Baronius: the spam filter is misfiring rather more frequently than normal at the moment, so apologies that your comment got snagged. As you can see, I have managed to release it.

    I left the shorter version in as well because it was rather different to the original.

  • Baronius

    (contd)

    It was really since Freud that we started thinking of orientation as fixed during development and integral to our personality. So where I’m headed with this is that the Catholic Church hasn’t changed its understanding of the prohibition against homosexuals; society has changed what it calls homosexuals.

  • Baronius

    I guess the whole thing is my answer to El Bicho as well: Kristof may not be labelled shoddy, but he practices shoddiness, and I criticize him as a practitioner. It doesn’t matter whether he has an inclination to thoughtful work or stupid work or both.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    Hi Baronius: Yes, in the last few centuries, in Western culture, the use of that term to describe an identity rather than just a behavior is fairly new.

    In ancient Greece, some may indeed have had sex with anything that moved and some things that didn’t — just because they were bored, curious, or in some cases cruel. That’s unnatural sex. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t others who had homosexual sex because having any other kind of sex was unnatural to them, against their nature.

    The debate that’s going on amongst followers of Jesus is whether the change in the meaning of the word “homosexual” comes as a result of a) society’s going to hell in a hand-basket or b) clinical evidence [watch that video at 3:50 in comment 57 :( ] that changing the meaning of the word is the scientifically and morally correct thing to do.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    The 10 Commandments are curiously silent on the matter of homosexual sex. Why?

  • Baronius

    The Torah is a lot more than the Ten Commandments. The Old Testament law expounds on matters of worship, sex, the legal system, a lot of things. The Ten Commandments don’t say anything against incest, for example, but that hardly means that incest is morally acceptable.

    Now, the question for Christians is, to what extent are we obligated to obey the old law? The Catholic Church holds the position that, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the successors of Peter and the apostles articulate the moral code given us through Scripture and Tradition. One rule of thumb is that we’re not bound to the ritual law, but to the moral law. That’s not always an easy distinction to make. But the fact that both OT and NT specifically mention the prohibition against homosexual acts makes this one an easy call.

    It’s also worth noting that the entire Old Testament is an endorsement of procreative sex. The Jewish people did have a law against homosexuality (noting, as above, that that homosexuality was understood as a behavior rather than an identity), but, more than that, the whole orientation of the Jews was toward praising God with a large family. God’s covenant with Abraham was a promise of fertility. Onan was killed for failing to continue his family line. To endorse childbearing activity for a wandering tribe is like reminding a football team to win the game. It’s the reason for their existence.

    Note also the Noahide Law, which the Jews held was applicable to all of the children of Noah. This was the law outside the ritual law, the law that everyone was bound to. God’s first order to Noah after the flood? “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” Again, the basic affirmation of fertility.
    Now, there is an important place for reasonable restraint. Advancements in medicine have greatly reduced infant mortality, and no couple is obligated to produce as many children as humanly possible. But the Bible is a chronicle of people who had a lot of baby-making sex, and viewing it otherwise is missing something that would be obvious to the people of Israel.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    The sixth commandment forbids adultery or sex with another’s spouse. The ninth commandment forbids coveting thy neighbor’s wife. There is nothing which forbids partnerships under the civil law. Incest is sex between people who are so closely related that they would be forbidden to marry under the civil law.

    The Scriptures do mention certain sex acts as an abomination; however, heterosexual sex can have unhealthful consequences like mononucleosis and a host of other diseases.

    I believe that the Scriptures are looking for commitment in a relationship which goes beyond sexual activity. The Scriptures do mention procreation but the original 10 Commandments seem to bypass direct criticism of gay sex or maybe the subject was simply taboo at the time.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    A description of Christian liberty is broader than “we are not bound to ritual law, but to moral law,” for in fact, “we are not bound to the letter of the law, but to the spirit of the law.”

    If the interpretation of the letter of the law is literal to the point of cruelty, then it is contrary to the the spirit of Jesus’ law of love. Jesus was raising the blood pressure of Pharisees left and right by his preaching of a God who did not put impossible burdens on people.

    In the spirit of lifting heavy burdens off folk, the RCC allows relations for a) infertile married couples b) those using NFP to avoid pregnancy. A logical progression in this burden-lifting endeavor would be to allow both hetero and homosexual couples to marry, if celibacy is a burden too heavy to be borne.

  • roger nowosielski

    You might also mention, in the same spirit,

    “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    All that said, it’s silly to say the Pope is harming the poor more than he’s helping unless he passes out condoms with the Plumpynuts (the life-saving biscuits Lambers writes about here so often.) All who are helping the poor, or claim to be, from secular non-profits and the Church to government-run foreign aid programs and all the way D O W N to Monsanto have a way to go before they are doing it perfectly.

    OK I guess I’m out. I can’t think of anything else to say, but I thank you Baronius for disagreeing with me without being disagreeable.

  • Clav

    Baronius does that well. It’s one of his many admirable qualities

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    Baronius has a point; however, I believe that Irene is closer to the reality of sexuality issues posed, as well as solutions. Remember that civil unions are now the law in a number of municipalities throughout the United States. Christ allowed for the separation of Church and State when He stated:

    “Give to Caesar what is Caesar and to God what is God’s.

  • Baronius

    Irene – re “we are not bound to ritual law, but to moral law”

    I did offer that only as a rule of thumb, one starting point. And it is hard to know exactly what OT law we are bound by, as anyone who is serious about the Bible will acknowledge. Fortunately, we have the NT, scholarship, historical teachings, and the lives of the saints to help guide us.

    And Roger’s right. The law isn’t there for us to judge others. The purpose of the law is to steer us closer to God. It’s like the guy who thinks of fidelity to his bride as a burden doesn’t understand marriage. The rule is rooted in love. So I avoid the “busty babes” pop-up window as an act of love to God. And if I’m on a message board talking about religion, I defend the truth as an act of love, not to prove anything or score points.

  • Baronius

    Joseph, there’s still a big difference between the legality of a thing an its morality. You’d be handing out Skittles and Mountain Dew at playgrounds if it were just a matter of complying with the law.

  • Zingzing

    Baronius, #59, frankly, I don’t see how your views are consistent, although you may think they are. How do you reconcile these things?

  • Baronius

    Zing, I’m trying to figure out where to start. It’s easier to argue with someone with whom you have one disagreement. When people like you and me talk about morality, we probably look at things so completely differently that it’s tough to see the first fork in the road.

    So let me put out three propositions. One, that a loving God is the author of the moral code. Two, that humans are both physical and spiritual beings. (Additionally, that the spiritual is more important than the physical. Also, we aren’t like good angels with evil bodies or anything like that; we’re capable of both good and evil in our bodies and souls.) Three, that an immoral act – whether due to its immoral means or its immoral ends – is immoral.

    If God really is good, and he really tells us what to do for our own good, then there’s not going to be any contradiction within the moral code. If God really is good, then the law is designed for us. (Note: I’m leaving Jesus out of this equation, and that’s going to create a big snag down the road, but I think I can explain the law without getting into the Incarnation.) There may be a conflict between our immediate pleasure and our long-run good, but we’re designed for more than just pleasure.

    I don’t want to ramble on here, for coherence’s sake and also because long comments tend to disappear. So let this be a starting point.

  • Baronius

    Part of the law is the proper use of our sexual function, not just for pleasure, but also for procreation. So where’s the conflict between social justice and proper sexuality? They’re both expressions of love, and after all, the whole point of God and his rules is love.

  • Baronius

    Actually, I’m not going to continue. There’s a lot of protein in those two comments, and we should probably deal with them before moving on.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I’ve been letting you get away with a free range in this conversation but this is too much.

    God was once a reasonable attempt at explaining the world but now is used as a cynical and largely oppressive means of social control and tax evasion.

    As it doesn’t exist, it isn’t loving, nor the author of anything, particularly a bad, value loaded and utterly elastic concept like morality.

    On a more positive note, I would completely agree that “humans are both physical and spiritual beings”, but that doesn’t in any way require some laughable notion of a creator, nor would I agree that “the spiritual is more important than the physical”; as with most things, it is a question of balance.

    I don’t even begin to understand why you would assert we are capable of both good and evil as a point of debate when it is self evident. As a moral code has no basis in the world, it follows that there can’t really be any immorality.

    As god is a lie, it can’t be good and it doesn’t tell us anything – apart from the fact that a massive lie is more believable than a small one.

    You are putting a lot of effort into a fool’s errand based on a corrupt and corrupting argument; do everyone a favour and stop now…

  • Baronius

    As I said to Zing, if you can’t understand the other guy’s paradigm, you should want to make the effort.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Your paradigm? As fas as I understand the word, you don’t have a paradigm, you have a superstition, which is about as far removed from a paradigm as you can get.

    Just to define the term, this from Wikipedia: “In science and epistemology, paradigm describes distinct concepts or thought patterns”.

    I guess you’re going more on the epistemology side of things but I would have immense difficulty accepting unfounded and entirely unproven mythology as that.

    Wikipedia continues: “The Oxford English Dictionary defines the basic meaning of the term paradigm as “a pattern or model, an exemplar”.

    The historian of science Thomas Kuhn gave it its contemporary meaning when he adopted the word to refer to the set of practices that define a scientific discipline at any particular period of time.

    In his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Kuhn defines a scientific paradigm as: “universally recognized scientific achievements that, for a time, provide model problems and solutions for a community of researchers”.

  • Zingzing

    Baronius, thanks for your thoughtful response. I do think it’s prepositioned on some rather dubious beliefs, but there you go. Also, there’s sex for pleasure sexuality and then there’s sexual identity sexuality. The first has to do with birth control. I doubt the bible has much to say on birth control, as in the pill, the science, etc. it does say that sex should be for procreation, when it’s not getting busy in other ways. But with the poor places in the world struggling to feed itself and having the highest birth rate, this is a counterproductive stance. By discouraging birth control, the church is encouraging starvation, whether they want to admit it or not. And which is the greater evil? Which would the church rather eradicate? There’s a fundamental disconnect between doctrine and reality here. Beyond that, I have no idea why a god would make sex so pleasurable then tell us not to do it for pleasure. What is he, a tease? Does he hate us? Or is it just that humanity thinks denial is close to godliness?

    As far as sexual identity goes, the church’s position is abominable. It leads to nothing but hate, sanctioned by an institution. The oft-quoted “abomination” passage is one of the worst series of words ever printed, and I think that if that emanates from a “loving god,” I’d rather tell him to go shove it. They may not mean to be hateful words, but that’s how humanity has interpreted them, and they’ve been used to humiliate and destroy countless lives. If god were omniscient, he certainly wouldn’t let his words be used that way. Unless, again, he hates us and enjoys watching us tear each other apart. But god didn’t write those words, and I’m pretty sure that if he does exist, he’s going to be pretty pissed about getting misquoted. If god made all things, he made the homos too. And they are very creative people, which is more god-like than homophobic destruction based on hate.

  • Baronius

    One general response: Even a year ago, I don’t think I would have bothered to include the proposition that God is loving. I mean, I believe that, but to me, it was enough that he was right. I think I’m only really beginning to understand the importance of faith – that is, not just faith that God exists, but that he’s out for our own good. I don’t think I ever really factored in the importance of trust in God. As an aside, I’ve noticed that the “new atheism” seems to argue that God is not good as often as it argues that God is not real. I think I was always more interested in being right than in being good, and it’s a blind spot for me.

    Now to the specifics.

  • Baronius

    “there’s sex for pleasure sexuality and then there’s sexual identity sexuality”

    I don’t know what you mean by that. It seems to be important to your position, but I really don’t understand what you’re saying.

  • Baronius

    “And which is the greater evil?”

    An evil act is evil. One does not do good by choosing lesser evils. I remember on a recent thread, Dread argued just that: that a good leader becomes soiled by the inevitable act of choosing among evil options. I don’t buy it. A person has to choose the right thing, both in end and means. You won’t always choose correctly, because we don’t have complete knowledge, but it’s better to choose a good means than a bad means.

  • Baronius

    As for sexual identity, I don’t think your comments address what the Church teaches, what I talked about above. Inclination toward particular acts is perfectly human; acting on those inclinations can be wrong.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I can’t really respond to these points very well; they contain very little of substance or meaning.

    If god existed, then it is either unknowable and unverifiable, which requires blind faith and you have no way of knowing that it is loving or not, because you aren’t capable of knowing its intent OR it is knowable and proveable, in which case you have failed to prove it.

    That doesn’t really leave anything to engage with…

    It is definitely flat out wrong to simply assert that “an evil act is evil”; that can be true, but many times things don’t reveal their character until much later and let’s not forget, the road to hell is paved with good intentions!

    “Good” means can often result in very bad outcomes so your argument seems childlike and naively one dimensional to me.

  • roger nowosielski

    @83

    excellent points, Baaronius:

    (a) denying existence coupled with denying goodness (never gave it much thought before, but it all comes together);

    (b) of course, the idea that “goodness” (as well love, one hastens to add, and morality, too) are not of “this world” is not new. G.E. Moore called it “not natural/non-natural” quality in Principia Ethica(and to think otherwise is to commit a “naturalistic fallacy”) but rather something we bring to the world;

  • roger nowosielski

    cont’d

    (c) of course, whether “we” do it or whether it’s already there as “part of the world” depends on one’s cosmological view;

    (d) which is why there is certain grammar to saying that qualities such as love or faith come but for the grace of God (and cannot really be commanded);

    I’m happy of course that you’re beginning to realize the importance of faith (over and above, or perhaps apart from) the cognitive content of the belief itself.

    You might want to look at Iris Murdoch’s delightful collection of essays (only three), The Sovereignty of Good. Though written by an atheist, Murdoch is an atheist you can love.

  • Baronius

    Chris – I’m not trying to lay out a proof. Consider it a thought experiment if you want to. Zing wonders how I can think what I do, so I’m answering him. I’m starting with the premise of a loving God, and I know that you consider that faulty.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Baronius, I didn’t say you were. I simply pointed out that you either don’t know what your notional deity might be thinking or it is a proveable concept.

    I’d imagine you’d have to go with the former as the latter seems unachievable, so your premise is baseless and your argument mere idle speculation…

  • Zingzing

    “I don’t know what you mean by that.”

    “Sexuality” has two different meanings: sex for pleasure and sexual persuasion, identity, etc.

    “An evil act is evil. One does not do good by choosing lesser evils.”

    And yet the church chooses to punish sexuality and causes starvation as a byproduct. That’s two evils in my book, and at least one in yours.

    You’ll have to explain 86 a bit more. You can’t deny that the church’s views on homosexuality aren’t pronounced, and they certainly are repressive, and they certainly are used by Christians in hateful ways.

  • roger nowosielski

    A premise is a premise is a premise, Christopher. That’s what a premise or premises are about. Any premise is a beginning of thought, beginning of a of a logical process. To term a premise, any premise, as “baseless” is to end the conversation, not to continue it. The best you can say, “you don’t agree with it,” but that’s not quite the same thing.

    Also, you bring up the notion of “provable concept.” May I suggest a slight corrective in that “concepts” need not necessarily be “provable,” only useful. And that to the extent they’re useful, they do their bit.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    That’s only true if you take a premise to be any random stuff that anybody simply makes up, without any grounding.

    If this theoretical deity is unknowable, then nobody, including Baronius, can know anything at all about it; if it is knowable, then making up premises is noting but an empty philosophical exercise. Is that why you like the idea?

    I’m not sure about your argument about useful concepts that are not provable. Unless they can be validated in some way, how useful can they be?

  • roger nowosielski

    But that’s what it is, Chris. The very idea of it — it’s not grounded.

    That’s what makes it a premise.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    #82

    The Bible also criticizes adultery and prostitution in various places. These acts can bring abominable health complications for heterosexuals like mononucleosis, various strains of Hepatitis and other sexually related diseases including the spread of AIDS from dirty needles when combining sex with drugs.

    I think that the Bible criticizes certain acts which are outside of a formal relationship whether that be a marriage or a civil partnership. Christ Himself opened the door for a civil partnership when He stated: “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

    Since civil partnerships are a creation of civil law,this is an area which Christ would not disturb because this is Caesar’s area
    or domain in governing people.

  • troll

    …while we can sensibly approach Baronius’ propositions doxastically what work has been done on a modal logic of faith?

    in that sense eg Ignatius’ Exercises for the attainment of faith could be seen as properly paradigmatic

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Joseph, I’m puzzled that you mention the Bible’s criticism of adultery and prostitution and various health complications that people were completely unaware of 2,000 years ago. It seems to imply some linkage, which would, of course, be impossible.

    troll, say what?

  • troll

    Chris – one has to dig deep to enable dialogue sometimes

  • Baronius

    I wouldn’t say that sexuality has two different meanings the way you do. There’s an apples-and-oranges thing happening there, I think.

    Let’s say that sexuality is an overlying concept which includes inclination and sexual activity and probably a bunch of other things I can’t think of right now. Sexual activity has two elements to it, the unitive (pleasure/commitment) and procreative.

  • Baronius

    When I say an evil act is an evil act, I mean that an evil act doesn’t become good if it has foreseeable good consequences, nor does a good act become evil if it has foreseeable evil consequences. Nixon did a lot of good in office, but that doesn’t justify the things he did to attain office.

  • Baronius

    With regard to orientation, see what Irene and I wrote in 57 – 60 – 62 – 64. I think that’s a good starting point.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Baronius, unless I’m reading something between the lines that isn’t there, in your #101 you appear to be agreeing with my proposition from another thread, which you alluded to earlier, that power inevitably corrupts even good men. Yet you said you didn’t buy it. Are you evolving on this?

  • The Reaper

    Religion has done an admirable job of bounding in the shifting sands of morality for a few thousand years. I think forces supporting sexual equality and homosexuality are breaking out now though which likely spells doom for the sandbox in the west. It felt like a nice, safe play area for many while it lasted. I think governments are winning the race (with corporations a close second) at filling the power vaccuum. They are now your gods and masters… enjoy!

  • Baronius

    Evolving? Never! I’m far too inflexible to do anything like that.

    I guess I’m trying to say an act should be both a good means and a means to a good end. I should tell the truth because telling the truth is a good act. But I should also tell the truth because telling the truth leads to greater knowledge, which is a good end, and it puts my soul in line with God’s will, which is also a good end.

    Means and ends arguments can get really complicated. I think your original question was whether a president should retaliate against terrorists with the knowledge that it would cause resentment and destabilize an area. In my analysis, I’d say that the action of retaliation is morally acceptable in itself, as an act of justice undertaken by an elected leader; and that since the act is taken toward a good end (international law), the existence of unintended consequences doesn’t negate its morality. Also, I’d say that the act of choosing sanctions or protests or something other than force is morally acceptable if it’s done properly and for the right reasons, and not made immoral by its unintended consequences. If I recall correctly, you took the position that each choice was somewhat immoral, and such acts wore down the integrity of the ruler over time.

  • Baronius

    You can play a game with intended / unintended consequences. Hitler did this, trying to talk doctors into administering lethal doses of painkillers to disabled people, under the claim that the end was the alleviation of pain and the unintended consequence was death. It’s like Lisa and Bart’s argument that they were going to close their eyes and punch into the air, and if it just so happened that the other one got in the way, it was an unintended consequence. That’s self-deception at best.

    I should also say a word about prudence. It’s a person’s obligation to reason out the likely consequences of his actions as part of the decision-making process. Consequences aren’t everything. (That’s probably the key sentence here.) You can’t shoot prisoners even if it would be a good thing in an individual case. But you should look to the likely outcome of the morally-acceptable acts in order to choose the correct one. Most of what we talk about on the Politics pages are matters of prudence.

    A hundred tough calls don’t equal a deliberately chosen immoral act. A hundred bad calls don’t equal a deliberately chosen immoral act either, but prudence would dictate that sometime before the hundredth mistake a person admits that things aren’t going well.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    #98 Response

    Here’s just one example Chris.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syphillis

  • Dr Dreadful

    I think the original debate arose out of someone questioning the old adage that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Somewhere along the line between my initial support of the adage and you not buying it, the “absolute” bit got forgotten about.

    I argued that a basically honorable political leader must necessarily, over the course of his term of office, make decisions for the overall good but that have negative consequences: decisions that, in an ideal world, he would never make. Those consequences must wear him down, so that he becomes more innured to them and it becomes easier to make similar decisions as time goes on. It’s an easy step from there to start making decisions that aren’t for the overall good, because it becomes more difficult to balance justification and consequence. This doesn’t mean that a good person has become evil; he will probably continue to do good most of the time. It simply means that he is more prone to do evil things. I think this is probably what happened to Nixon.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Joseph, As it was only first documented in the 15th Century I don’t understand how Syphilis supports your linkage of passages from the Bible and sexual diseases that were unknown then.

  • roger nowosielski

    @108

    I just re-read the entire comments thread, Dreadful, and unless I’m blind and deaf to boot, I don’t see how this here discussion evolved in the way you say it did (although I do recollect you making a comment or so to that effect on another thread). So could you please redirect me?

  • Zingzing

    “I wouldn’t say that sexuality has two different meanings the way you do. There’s an apples-and-oranges thing happening there, I think.”

    But there are two different meanings… The church’s stance on homosexuality is one thing. The stance on sex for anything but procreation is another. Although I guess you could say both stances come from the same place… But for the purposes of this conversation, that’s the distinction I’m making. You’re off into the esoteric, but I want to keep this based in reality.

  • Baronius

    Zing – OK, I see what you’re saying now. But I think you have to go to basic principles to get this stuff right.

  • Baronius

    Dread, you’re right that we dropped the “absolute”. The original quote was “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. And it was originally said about the exact subject we were talking about, the power of the papacy. But I don’t get why that wouldn’t be true for anyone. I mean, we all make choices every day and have to avoid developing bad habits. Maybe it can be a little more obvious for a leader, but it’s true for an employer, a husband, the guy in the next car, everyone.

  • Zingzing

    Baronius, basic principles are one thing, but seeing them in action in the real world is the ultimate test of their worth. Intolerance and starvation are not the goals of the church’s stance, but those things are one of the consequences of unbending adherence to such rigid and anarchronistic principles. If you want to destroy something, creating that thing isn’t the best way to go about it… Unless you just want a reason to continue justifying your existence…

    I refer you to sage homer j. Simpson, who spake: “alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”

  • Zingzing

    …not that I think the church has ever been against intolerance.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Roger: it was a different thread. Can’t remember which one off the top of my head, but it would have been at least a month or two ago.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    #109

    The first time a disease is documented doesn’t necessarily mean that the disease didn’t exist before. Unless these diseases are biological warfare-they probably existed before. The only way to prove this is through archeological and anthropological studies.

  • Zingzing

    Baronius, I hope you see fit to tell me why you think my stance on sexuality, bc and social justice is flawed since I’m telling you why I think the church’s is. And I’ll note that I saw that a Methodist church in nc is refusing to perform wedding ceremonies until everyone is free to marry the person of their choice in that state, and that an evangelical preacher came out in support of equal civil rights for homosexuals in the past week. The church (as in Christian) is fracturing on this point, and I don’t see that reversing itself. There will be minor backlashes, but unless we are entering the dark ages again, it’s forward, forward.

  • Zingzing

    Doc, remember when you could look at the top commenters on the home page, click on their name, and it would send you to a list of their comments? Yeah, that was cool. Now you click on the name and it links you back to the home page. The disconnect between the community and those that run the UI around here is terrible. Would you even know who to talk to about that?

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Joseph, whilst it might possibly be true, in theory at least, that a disease could exist and yet there is no mention of it at all anywhere, it is unlikely.

    However, your linkage of comparatively recently emergent STDs with a quote from the Bible written when those diseases seems dubious at best.

    Zingzing: I wasn’t aware the top commenters box was broken. I’ll refer it to the tech dept and see if they can fix it. Not sure if it will be possible as they are at a fairly advanced stage of planning a migration of the entire site into WordPress…

  • Zingzing

    Chris, it’s been broken for years. There was a time when you could properly comment stalk someone, but it hasn’t been like that for a while.

    WordPress? Do tell. I’m in the dark about the whole interface change. What’s happening?

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    “Do tell. I’m in the dark about the whole interface change.”

    So is most of the editors

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Apart from possibly the two senior editors, Barbara and Jon, we don’t really know that much, because Technorati don’t really engage with us that much.

    Years after the event I’ve no idea why they bought BC or what their plans for it are, which is very frustrating because I have lots of pent up ideas about how both the commenters community and the writer relationships could be so much better than they are, in both creative and commercial ways.

    We’ve only recently found out that they are moving the entire site from the custom platform it is on now to WordPress but that is literally the extent of my knowledge.

    I have quite a lot of WP experience so my thought is that things are going to be very different in many ways but all the detail of that remains to be seen.

    Hopefully we will know more in the next week or two.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Like every other human society, the ancient Israelites were no doubt plagued by sexually transmitted diseases. Of course they didn’t know about the bacteria and viruses that caused them, and because of the rapidity with which disease-causing pathogens evolve, for the most part they wouldn’t have been the same STDs we’re familiar with today. But they almost certainly would have connected the dots enough to identify the medium of transmission, hence the stringent biblical hygiene rules and sanctions against promiscuity. This, I think, is the point Joseph is trying to make, albeit in his habitual clumsy way.

    As for syphilis, its exact history is unknown but it’s thought to have originated in the Americas and been introduced to Europe by the returning expeditions of Columbus.

  • Baronius

    Intolerance isn’t the product of the Church’s teaching. As humans, we’re always going to be prone to intolerance. The Church has always been against intolerance. Then again, it depends what you mean by “intolerance”. Do you mean accepting every action as equal? Then no, the Catholic Church doesn’t teach that. Do you mean tolerating the existence of others’ mistakes? Sure. We are to preach against errors and sins, but we don’t hold anything against those in error or in sin. (Again, we’re talking about humans here, so we’re not supposed to hold such prejudices.

    Starvation isn’t the product of Church teaching, either. I’m following Church teaching right now, and I’m not creating any excess kids. (Lemme check where my penis is – ok, no, I’m not currently creating any kids.) Proper sexual activity can lead to large families, which can lead to overpopulation, which can lead to starvation, but none of those things have to happen. A couple can lead a healthy sexual life and only produce a few kids. A society can absorb some additional population without difficulty. A just government with good communications and agriculture can avoid famine.

  • Baronius

    Zing, where do I think you’re wrong? I thought that you already had reached my answer when you said “Although I guess you could say both stances come from the same place….You’re off into the esoteric, but I want to keep this based in reality.” I think you’re trying to maximize pleasure for the most people, seeing pleasure as the key to happiness; I’m trying to maximize obedience to God’s will for the most people, seeing that as the key to happiness.

    We could go less mystical, and I could argue that contraception has led to divorce and alienation. That it leads us to using others rather than loving others. That it accentuates the rift between the sexes by separating the sex from commitment, masculinizing the female and preventing the male from civilizing himself.

    But my argument is mystical, rooted in the idea of the dignity of all humans. We are worthy of love and pleasure that befits our nature. We are worthy of food and shelter and conscience. Social justice and sexuality are rooted in the same place, the value of mankind as created by and recognized by God.

  • roger nowosielski

    “But my argument is mystical, rooted in the idea of the dignity of all humans.” #126

    Why should this aspect of it be “mystical”? Isn’t the idea of the dignity of all humans the essence of (modern?) morality? (Kant)

  • Baronius

    I’m no authority on Kant, but to my knowledge he never successfully grounded it in anything. Of course, it’s possible to take the dignity of man as a given, or as a practical matter, but both seem tenuous. There’s always a Nietzsche or a Stalin around the corner.

  • roger nowosielski

    Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals.

    And btw, I don’t see anything necessarily wrong with regarding it as apriori. And why should that make it “mystical”? That’s just an aspect of our form of life.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Proper sexual activity can lead to large families, which can lead to overpopulation, which can lead to starvation, but none of those things have to happen. A couple can lead a healthy sexual life and only produce a few kids. A society can absorb some additional population without difficulty. A just government with good communications and agriculture can avoid famine.

    But bad governments that fail to plan and to promote the welfare of their people don’t just spontaneously become good, Baronius. I don’t think the RCC can wash its hands of responsibility for overpopulation that easily.

  • Baronius

    Countries with Population greater than 10M and population density greater than 200/sq km

    Bangladesh…..152,518,015….. 1,034
    Belgium …..11,145,453….. 365
    Germany ….. 81,993,000….. 230
    Haiti ….. 10,413,211 …..385
    India ….. 1,210,193,422….. 382
    Japan ….. 127,400,000….. 337
    Netherlands….. 16,778,806….. 497
    Pakistan….. 182,585,000….. 229
    Philippines….. 92,337,852….. 308
    Rwanda …..10,537,222….. 416
    South Korea….. 50,004,441….. 503
    Sri Lanka….. 20,277,597….. 309
    Taiwan …..23,324,092….. 644
    United Kingdom ….. 63,181,775….. 260
    Vietnam ….. 88,780,000….. 268

  • roger nowosielski

    These spam attacks are getting worse and worse, rendering the site almost unusable.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Tell me about it!

  • Zingzing

    Baronius: “I think you’re trying to maximize pleasure for the most people, seeing pleasure as the key to happiness.”

    That’s a vast simplification. It’s not pleasure I’m after, it’s stopping unwanted pregnancies that lead to more kids than the breadwinners can handle, it’s stopping stds, it’s letting people lead a life they want to lead rather than the one biological functions or some church forces them to. Yes, people should have a good time, and they shouldn’t be punished for having sex with whomever they want to. But that’s certainly not all there is to it.

    “I could argue that contraception has led to divorce and alienation. That it leads us to using others rather than loving others. That it accentuates the rift between the sexes by separating the sex from commitment, masculinizing the female and preventing the male from civilizing himself.”

    So you liked things better before the pill came around? When things were so much better between men and women? Were they better? I think you’ve got a misty-eyed view of the past… Do you really think that we’ve gotten further apart because of effective contraceptives? Women used to have much fewer rights than they do now, and were pretty much legal property. I have no idea what you are talking about.

  • Zingzing

    “But my argument is mystical, rooted in the idea of the dignity of all humans.”

    Not really, you might think it is, but in reality, that’s not what it produces.

    “We are worthy of love and pleasure that befits our nature. We are worthy of food and shelter and conscience. Social justice and sexuality are rooted in the same place, the value of mankind…”

    Wonderful! Now back it up.

    “…as created by and recognized by God.”

    Oh, for fuck’s sake. God isn’t down here doing anything. The church certainly is, and what they do has real-world consequences, and they suck.

  • troll

    while Zingzing’s denial of belief is not an argument as Quine pointed out in his Word and Object there is a problem with thought experiments – the traditional hallmark of which being the use of (at least implied) subjunctive conditional structures

    What traits of the real world to suppose preserved in the feigned world of the…antecedent can be guessed only from a sympathetic sense of the fabulist’s likely purpose in spinning his tale. [quoted in the online version of Fintel’s piece on subjunctive conditionals (pdf)]

  • troll

    …not going to waste any more time trying to post here at blogcritters

    wake me when the site is repaired

    xxoo

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I wouldn’t agree that a denial of belief is not an argument, regardless of what Quine had to say. Many philosophers are really good at missing the point.

    Sorry about your continued posting problems, troll. I can free up your comments when I’m around and the dumb tool does learn over time.

    Do you use Skype? You could hit me up on there if you run into any more problems?

  • troll

    I wouldn’t agree that a denial of belief is not an argument, regardless of what Quine had to say. Many philosophers are really good at missing the point.

    ah the tyranny of commas rears its ugly head once more…I don’t think Quine was aware of Zingzing’s denial of Baronius’ belief – that was my part – and I’d be happy to amend it to read that such denials are unlikely to convince Baronius

    (as to the site – too bad Phillip Winn’s work of art has come to this…wordpress? foo bletch barf…but anything would be an improvement at this point)

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    If we are talking about the same Quine, he’s been dead for 13 years, so he certainly wouldn’t be aware of anything at all on Blogcritics!

    As to Winn, his work has always been deeply flawed, incomplete and neither properly maintained or developed, so it has always been well short of a work of art.

    Not sure why you would be so negative about WordPress? Anything substantive or just prejudice?

  • troll

    working backwards:

    mostly prejudice coupled with some negative experiences with instability and canned appearances while developing sites

    there are flaws in many works of art aren’t there?…consider the problems with perspective found in older works – Phillip’s work could be viewed analogously

    correct – so I’m not sure why you thought I might be saying that he was talking about such :>

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    troll, the BC architecture can’t seriously be considered a work of art; not really sure you are serious about this argument!

    The entire internet is laden with negative experiences, indeed, so is life itself, so we can’t really take that as a reason not to do things.

    WP has improved massively over recent years and continues to do so, enabling even code numpties like me to build sites they could only have dreamed of before.

    What did you mean by this “I don’t think Quine was aware of Zingzing’s denial of Baronius’ belief”? Maybe I misunderstood…

  • troll

    Chris again backwards

    what I meant was that the absent commas in the original pseudosentance led you down the wrong path…if you want to argue over whether or not a denial is an argument that’s ok but we can leave Quine out of it – I about referenced what he had to say about conditionals

    as I said – anything would be better than what the site has become..new improved WP included

    I don’t see why you say the website architecture (or its result anyway) can’t be considered art…but I have no investment in this dispute – I think the site has been beautiful

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    You are reminding me of a song by Eno called “Driving Me Backwards”!

    Nobody seems to know why the site, or at least the comments section thereof, has gone so crappy lately.

    As to the design, I’ve thought it looked dated for a long time now. Even my own site Eurocritics, looks better than this, if I say so myself!

  • Baronius

    I don’t think I’ve ever hung around a site based on its looks. I’m looking for functionality and content. And I’m spending a lot more time on other sites than this one lately.

    Reply to Zing coming when I get a chance.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    One way to stop those spam attacks — delay the posting from any source until authentication. I’d rather have a thoughtful response coming rather than a spontaneous one which only contaminates the site.

    That’s one way of fixing the problem.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Another would be to require registration and not allow unregistered commenters to post links, which would eliminate almost all spam immediately.

    You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve recommended that!

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Problem with that Chris is that (I for one) very reluctantly register anywhere because I’m immediately flooded with spam.

    I am NOT implying that BC would do that, but that’s the general impression people have of registering at any site

    What about one of those “are you human?” match things?

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Personally, I use Google News as my main source of current events when I’m on line, and I’ve yet to see a single BC article mentioned there in the science, entertainment or even politics section…ditto Yahoo news

    4-5 years back I used to see 1-2 a week. IMHO BC has been drastically and dramatically less promoted since it was sold to TR.

    Also a current article takes so long to get published, that it’s old news by the time it is, because of over-worked editors.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @147

    I was going to say that next, keep on pressing!

    @148 it’s easier to mark your personal email marked as spam if need be; at the rate we’re going, the entire site is contaminated, Further, lots of those who post here and spam are humans.

  • G l e n n C o n t r a r i a n

    Jet –

    4-5 years back I used to see 1-2 a week. IMHO BC has been drastically and dramatically less promoted since it was sold to TR.

    That’s what attracted me to BC to begin with. and it’s like you said, I’ve seen it promoted almost none at all since then.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    G l e n n, I myself came via a BC article featured on Google/Entertainment about Brokeback Mountain and thought that I could write a better review… and did as my first article.

  • roger nowosielski

    Talking ’bout quality of writing? Just take a pick at what passes for writing by the parent company which now owns us. Most of it, even by the editors of the various sections, could easily be termed as illiterate. And I’m not even touching upon the quality of most comments.

  • Dr Dreadful

    I don’t recall how I originally stumbled upon Blogcritics, but I do know that the reasons I made it one of my regular online hangouts were its unique community of writers and commenters, who are often the same people; its editorial tolerance of just about any viewpoint; and its freewheeling yet somehow usually respectful debates.

    It’s that first feature of the site that has made the other two possible, and sadly, it’s this community whom the new owners seem determined to drive away. Whether this determination arises from apathy or conscious strategy I don’t know, but BC will be a far poorer website if they succeed.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    I know what you mean – we see what passes for tolerance by BC editors when they drove away Ruvy. Warren being banned from posting articles I can understand, since he had this thing about plagarism, but Ruvy? As far as I’ve seen, the level of disrespect he had for others was less than what the BC editor Chris has shown to me. Then there was Irv, and so forth.

    It’s sad, because this site is not what it once was.

  • roger nowosielski

    I don’t think, Dreadful, anyone’s really determined to drive anybody away. It’s just that the “the new owners” is a corporation and exhibit corporate mentality. They don’t give a hood ’bout quality, only the bottom line. Brings to mind Chris’s recently cited article on another thread about “creating value.”

    You’re right, however, about what made BC attractive in the first place. Other sites, like truthdig, for instance, feature good quality of writing by both the writers and commenters as well, but the writers are “too established” and therefore above the fray to engage with the hoi polloi in the comments space.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Glenn,

    Messrs Kossover, Kurtz and Cohen were extreme and unusual cases but even so, both Chris and myself advocated for their continued participation for as long as we could until it became clear that we would not be able to impress on them that the standards of conduct expected of them on the site were the site owners’, not theirs, to determine.

    One can understand Irv and Alan being banned, even if one didn’t agree with the decisions, but Ruvy’s ousting – it was his contributions more than most others’ that helped make the comments space what it is – still seems unfair to me.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    It all comes back to our articles and this site not being promoted by TR to Google, Bing, Yahoo etc.

    As for Ruvy vs Chris…

    I myself used to e-mail Ruvy back-and-forth regularly, and I can tell you that Ruvy became so self-righteously belligerent, arrogant and anti-American to the point where even I couldn’t stand his rhetoric. His religious and nationalist fervor had reached such a fundamentalist pitch, that it was a matter of time before he imploded.

    Considering the conditions in Israel over the past few years, I really-REALLY don’t think it’s fair to blame our Mr. Rose for his “exit stage far right” or his lack of articles.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    It goes against everything I believe in to ban anybody from this site but sometimes there really is no alternative and you have to accept that your beliefs can’t prevent you from doing the right thing.

    Amongst the many different ideas I have repeatedly suggested over the years to improve this site for commenters, writers and even editors (I have what I think is a great vision for the community but no traction) is that it should be possible to suspend people for varying but finite amounts of time. This would give people who get caught up in the “excitement of combat”, so to speak, time to cool down and reflect.

    As we don’t have that option, when people effectively push the site into a corner, it is left with no alternative but to take the nuclear option and ban them.

    Shame, but that is the reality.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn, with regard to your #155, I have explained to you on more than one occasion that what any of us say or do in the comments space is simply our personal expression, nothing more, nothing less.

    All my comments are my personal views and have nothing to do with the site at all.

    My minor role, in terms of the hierarchy of Blognorati, here as Comments Editor is completely independent of my participation in the site, which has nothing at all to do with the site in any way, so your remark seems misguided at best.

    Furthermore, people don’t get excluded from the site for “disrespect” to others. If you believe that anybody has been banned from this site for mere disrespect, you are utterly mistaken.

    Finally, any disrespect I may have shown towards you is based on your remarks here, not your ultimate worth as a human being. I defend anybody’s right to believe whatever they care to passionately, although not necessarily their actual views, which they have to justify if they want to be taken seriously, just as we all do.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    “we see what passes for tolerance by BC editors when they drove away Ruvy.”

    Ruvy was responsible for driving himself away from BC. Anyone who says different has no idea what they are talking about

  • Baronius

    I can’t tell if this thread has become the oldtimers grousing, or the oldtimers saying one final goodbye. Considering I can’t get the site to stay up for more than a minute today, it feels like the latter.

    I’ve enjoyed this site when it was at its best. It’s had good number of contributors who were (a) intelligent, (b) surprising, and (c) willing to interact with those who disagreed with them. Considering most sites have between zero and no people like that, BC was pretty fun.

    As for Ruvy, one thing I’ve noticed on other sites is that sometimes a person just gives up censoring himself and lets the site owners do it. It becomes a weird codependent relationship, where the site enables the commenter’s excess. Ruvy and BC went down that road and I can understand why BC had to break it off.

    It’s been fun here, but all things on the internet come to an end. Here’s hoping that the site’s architecture and quality of articles improves.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Baronius, There is a lot of frustration with the spam problems the site has been having recently, but I don’t understand what you mean when you write that you “can’t get the site to stay up for more than a minute”. What exactly is the problem?

    I completely agree that it is great when the writers and commenters interact. That is still quite rare on other sites and something we should be working harder to encourage. If only there was someone with lots of ideas about that. Oh, wait..!

    Hopefully once the transition to WordPress has happened Technorati will show some interest in how we can develop things around here to everyone’s benefit.

  • roger nowosielski

    We’ve done well enough without Technorati showing any interest. Let them just keep the site running smoothly and bug-free, and we’ll do just fine.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    @ #163: Well, I don’t know about Baronius, but I couldn’t get anything more than the top banner to load on any page of the site earlier on. Seems fine now though.

  • Baronius

    I think my anti-virus software was having a problem with one of the ads. We’ll see if it’s more stable today. I do want to reply to Zing.

  • Baronius

    Zing – When I said that your priority was pleasure, I didn’t mean that you were thinking in a selfish or superficial way. You want everyone to have the most enjoyable life they can. If our lifespans are all that we have, then that’s a decent goal. It’s probably the most admirable goal. But if our earthly lives are just the starting point for our eternities, it’s an insufficient goal.

    I’ve been wanting to reply to your comments for a while now, but I’ve been busy and the site’s been problematic. But really, my whole reply comes down to that first paragraph. If you judge things on the basis of the temporal, you can make a good argument for your recommendations. I still think that there’s a benefit to society in having a shared traditional moral code, but that’s not why I hold to the Catholic Church’s position. Some people do. Some people think that we need a code even if it’s based on falsehoods. I’m inclined to disagree with them, but to be fair, I believe that morality is grounded in God’s law, so to me it’s just a hypothetical.

    My position is probably just a hypothetical to you. I’ve been persuaded by philosophy, study, and my experience of human nature that the claims of Jesus are true. If I’m right, then the code of morality is focused on making us more inclined toward God’s will. That’s consistent. Love of God, neighbor, and self. That gets me the exact same belief as you do in the care of our physical bodies through charitable acts. But it gets me a very different code for sexual behavior.

    At one point, I said that social justice and sexuality are rooted in the same place. You replied, wonderful, now back it up. You can’t be talking about a lack of social justice on the part of the Church, history’s greatest charitable organization. So are you criticizing the Church for failing to live up to its own sexual code, or failing to live up to yours? With regard to the former, I’ll admit that we’re human, and humans do some terrible things. With regard to the latter, there’s no reason for us to conform to your code. So I’m not sure what your “wonderful, now back it up” was getting at.

    Anyway, this is a long comment, and we’ll see if it makes it past the filters.