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April 05, 2005

Globalism vs Catholicism

(I'm never going to finish all my thoughts on this)

I wonder if the Pope isn't the sort of man we globalists might all expect to be someday. Although Hitch has got his panties in a twist over the Pope's [dicey] complicity over the regime of rape in the Boston archdiocese, it's something of the level of evil we expect that slips through bureacracies as large as the Catholic Church. The Catholics were the first globalists, and in the review we are bound to witness over the next few weeks, that will be the angle I'll keep in mind.

My investment in Liberation Theology, sparked by a liberal Jesuit upbringing, the polytheism of Ishmael Reed and the progressive-minded Cornel West is a spot of contention I might have with this Pope. And according to a BBC profile I ingested a bit of last evening, JP2 never did much for Archbishop Romero who had always been something of a hero. And while he is broadly acknowledged for being a fighter of communism, it's not a mark of great distinction as a religious leader. Surely we don't love the Taliban simply because they hated the Soviets.

So it is a bit ironic that our last Pope was both a great world-traveller and yet very protective of the integrity of nations. Catholicism, with its prelates, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, nuns and various other offices is an absolute hierarchy. And yet its authority is not absolute - Catholicism, like any religion, deals with whole person and yet is voluntary. When one deals with questions of identity, authority and belonging surely those of us in the West consider our citizenship to be very static but the soul to be fluid. The Church is a global phile in Neal Stephenson's (Diamond Age) sense of the word. It is a widely distributed organization which occasionally demands you perform some feat to confirm your belonging. Most of the time, however, it is a crucial but passive part of your identity. This is especially true of Catholicism which is, by definition, not evangelical. In America, the question, if it was ever real, has been answered about loyalty. Kennedy did it, but that was before my time. Clearly, national identities take priority.

So should a church which is subordinated to nation rule be more strict in enforcing its code of ethics, or more lax? John Paul II said be stricter. I think upon reflection, he was right. Membership in the church is voluntary, and as such, its precepts should be strict. But I think that it's difficult for most peasants to conceptualize that a religion is such an entity subordinated to nations. For many people, nations gain their authority from the blessing of religion, but even the Pope knows better.

If we are to have a clash of civilizations in the coming millenium, the matter of the separation of church and state will be answered with finality. I find it difficult to believe that national interests will coincide well enough for it to be a true alliance of christian states vs muslim states vs china but these are the three poles as I see them now. What has fallen off the radar is how Islam bankrolls states and vice-versa. Nor do we much talk about what real estate the Vatican controls. I think these are powerful but marginal on the world stage as compared to the larger state / trade and multinational interests.

More later..

Posted by mbowen at April 5, 2005 02:27 PM

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How charming. A Negro with so-called Jesuit roots--I gather he also beleives in "God". I find this problematic. As the Negro is a metaphor for subordination, it is troubling to profess belief in a master up high? Have you not gotten over you previous master down low? Black man, why do you need a master at all. Do you find negotiating existence too difficulat to go it alone? Does the possiblity that the universe is pointless undermine you?

As a Negro, I wish to be free, no Masters...high or low...can you dig that? Alas, this is why I cannot drink the conservative Koolaid--they believe in God.


Posted by: dismalscientist at April 10, 2005 08:29 AM

I'm glad you checked in. I was getting bored and I really need something to talk about.

My relationship with God is like a relationship with the history of learning. I see religion firstly as the primary pedagogy of humanity. We had churches before we had schools, so religion is a fundamental expression of man's reckoning with the unknown. As man's knowledge advances, God recedes. And yet God remains.

My personal preference for the Catholic and Apostolic Church is in some ways determined by the structure and organization of their rituals. Like mixing HCl with H20, you always get salt water (if you get your moles right). And so it is with the Sacraments. The universe of spirituality is not addressed by Catholicism, but Holy Matrimony is always Holy Matrimony. The discipline of Church doctrine is like replication of chemical procedures. I'm not saying that the expansion of the body of knowledge of the Church is like the scientific process, the acquisition methods of these two practices are very different. However, the body of knowledge which generally accepted as fact, is managed similarly. And yet you can say that the whole thing is just theory.

As I mentioned, if I have a gripe, which I don't really seek to express at this time, it would be over the prior pope's non-support of liberation theology. Any amateur scholar would have his James Cone working and understand how African Americans transformed the liturgy of Protestantism into a substrate for liberation struggles. One need only say 'promised land' to recognize how deep in the bones of American religion this black struggle goes.

And yet the Negro, as you aptly point out, is still subject to be subordinated. Indeed the Negro is in a box of his own creation. Good thing my family went black before it was popular, or I might still be dealing with that existential dilemma.

I suspect your question is the philosophical one, "So why does a free man need God?" I believe that the answer is that faith in God gives man a transcendant quality. Scientists, dismal or otherwise are stuck in deterministic struggles, and transcendance is not a part of their reperatoire. And yet a man can be motivated by a consistency in faith that appears stochastic by other observers. Until you understand the faith under which a man operates, you cannot understand the man. And any observer of human nature can surely see what a rich legacy is faith. So why a scientist would seek to dismiss the gravity of faith and its predictable effects on the souls of men is nothing more or less than willful ignorance.

I will continue this up top with a post about Servitude & Mastery.

Posted by: Cobb at April 10, 2005 09:06 AM


You are shrewd, my Negro brother, and I cannot disagree with you, but I can reject the tenor of your arguments. If freedom is the ultimate value, then God must be rejected. The Greeks understood this---Gods merely get in the way of man's endeavor to "transcend" his own feeble humanity. The Greeks concluded therefore that the Gods simply weren't worth the trouble--and killed them off, one by one.

Does the Negro value freedom? Or does he merely wish to be "God's child"? Yes, this is a philosophical question, and existential question, and goes the the very heart of what it means to be a Negro man. Am I free or am I in bondage? Whether or not God really exists--and I see this as a pointless pursuit, the issue is what about Freedom--is it not the greatest good, worth the risk of hellfire? Or is the price of freedom far too great for the Negro, and servitude is a relative bargain?

Rule in Hell or Serve in Heaven? Freedom or Servitude? Is Freedom worth it?

None of this should be taken literally, I have no idea whether God exists--what would such a proof look like? But, if one is to beleive the Hebrew folk tales in that rag called the Bible (I don't), then it seems that this God dude has a tendency to ignore or mistreat Negroes like most white dudes---I want no parts of this---reserve my spot in Hell.


Posted by: dismalscientist at April 10, 2005 10:26 AM