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Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Or, "Ignorance found to exist on the periodic table."

I have to say, I haven't been this entertained by distilled idiocy in a long time--"God as bi-sexual"!! Such pure comedy gold warrants plugging in the Fisk-o-Matic.

Robert McElvaine, professor of history at Millsaps College, cavort away! Dance, I say! Dance!

On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI asked the crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray that his first visit to the United States as pontiff this week would "be a time of spiritual renewal for all Americans." Surely spiritual renewal would be beneficial to all of us -- not least the pope and his Church.

That's the last time we hear a hint that McElvaine and the enlightened solons like him might not be immaculately conceived. From here on in, Mac jabs his arugula-stained fingers solely at the superannuated German and his even more antique Church.

Benedict's visit is an appropriate time for American Catholics to call upon him to recognize that spiritual renewal, like charity, begins at home.

Mac has the makings of an argument here, based on the so-not-over child rape scandals, but like many in academia, he quickly shows that he's over that and remains fixated on matters priapic.

The pope must take action to revive a Church in desperate need of revolutionary renewal by pushing significant reform in the area of its largest failings: policies concerning women and sex. Faced in recent years with what may be its greatest crisis since the abuses of the Renaissance papacy five hundred years ago stimulated the Protestant Reformation, the Church has to seize the opportunity to reverse two thousand years of misguided views on women.

Errrrrrrrr....what? Is he suggesting that the scandals were the result of the fact that Catholicism isn't laid back enough about sex and "reproductive rights"? It's hard to say, but since he quickly wings his way to More Feminist Than Thou country and himself never comes back to the issue, I suspect the Professor knows this is a nonsensical non-starter.

This pope's history offers little hope that he will do so.

Try "no hope" and he's nailed it.

Pardon the brief diversion to
a musical interlude.

He was, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the principal author of the Vatican's 2004 letter to bishops, "On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World." In that document the Church once more chose to blame the victim rather than to examine its own major role in the problem.

At this point, I'd like to express my sympathy for the Professor, who suffers from the condition known as Encyclicitis. Encyclicitis is a fairly common psychosomatic condition seen most often in secular progressives. It manifests itself in itching and the irrational fear that one is about to be infected with celibacy or break out in festering corneal boils if one actually reads a Vatican document, as opposed to cherry-picking from it.

Modern feminism is the trouble, the old men who cling to power in Rome contend. "Faced with the abuse of power," the Vatican letter complained of feminism, "the answer for women is to seek power." Well, yes. And if the men of the Church--and men more generally--had not been abusing power for thousands of years, there would be no need for women to seek ways to redress the balance.

An advanced case. He probably had an intern read it for him. That's why he missed sections like this:

Without prejudice to the advancement of women's rights in society and the family, these observations seek to correct the perspective which views men as enemies to be overcome. The proper condition of the male-female relationship cannot be a kind of mistrustful and defensive opposition. Their relationship needs to be lived in peace and in the happiness of shared love.

On a more concrete level, if social policies – in the areas of education, work, family, access to services and civic participation – must combat all unjust sexual discrimination, they must also listen to the aspirations and identify the needs of all. The defence and promotion of equal dignity and common personal values must be harmonized with attentive recognition of the difference and reciprocity between the sexes where this is relevant to the realization of one's humanity, whether male or female.

Yep--we're all about keeping them in the kitchen against their will.

Where the hell's my sandwich?

Perhaps even more disturbing is the homily Cardinal Ratzinger gave on the day before the convening of the conclave that selected him as pope. He denounced a "dictatorship of relativism" that, he contended, threatens to undermine the fundamental teachings of Christianity.

In the age of Google-Fu, McElvaine apparently doesn't trust you to read this one for yourself.

Money grafs:

Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires.

We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An "adult" faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceipt from truth.

Sometimes, the patient doesn't like the diagnosis, and it appears that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger has the good professor tacked to the wall. Try to discern in McElvaine's piece if there is any interest in Jesus apart from use as a good luck charm against "anti-progressives." Rotsa ruck, as the dog would say.

What Benedict XVI and other anti-progressive Catholics fail to realize is that the current teachings of the Church on a host of interrelated issues -- women priests, clerical celibacy, birth control, abortion, homosexuality, and, most basic of all, the sex of God -- are themselves the result of the Church at various times in the past having been, in Ratzinger's words the day before he became pope, "tossed and swept along by every wind of teaching" to conform to the practices and prejudices of societies now long gone.

This is a prime example of what I call "Nine Dollar Idiocy." What is that, you may be asking your good selves? Simple--a paperback Catechism has a list price of $9.

If you make a dumbass statement about Catholicism that doesn't even try to take into account the Catechism, you are engaging in NDI. Here, the foolery centers around such concepts as "Scripture," "Tradition," "Magisterium" and "Development of Doctrine." If you aren't going to try to learn the steps, don't bother coming to the dance.

"So's yer old man"/"I'm rubber, you're glue" may win you high-fives from co-religionists in the faculty lounge. But as David Niven so memorably said of the streaker at the Academy Awards, you are showing your shortcomings.

What Pope Benedict XVI should, but almost certainly will not, do is call a council of the Church to address these intertwined issues and to recognize that the Church's positions on them are not based on the teachings of Jesus.

Dear Lord, not another Vatican III tubthumper. Note also our first deployment of the Jesus Shield, and the continuing of the Nine Dollar Idiocy. Again, there is no interest in Jesus as such, just the flagging of the thought substitute of "Jesus never taught X, so I can Y my Z in/through/over/around ABC and/or exercising my rights as Z." I'll give the Professor this much--he's determined to spare us any contact with originality.

The Church established from the time of St. Paul onward was set up as a No-Woman's Land.

[Cue tinny laugh track.]

The general views on the inferiority of women come from Paul's interpretation of the literally incredible story of the creation of Eve from Adam,

Methinks as a good progressive, ProfMac has little truck with creation, miracles and the Resurrection, all of which strain credulity equally well. I'm not a 7-dayer or a young-earther, but I'd rather hang with them than with cultured despisers who see everything as an eternal power struggle against any form of received wisdom which is not approved by them.

Note also that he carefully avoids mentioning how the Church interprets Genesis, which would tend to derail his The Church Is Always And Everywhere Wrong Meme. Can't afford to concede any credibility to the old girl, right?

a story that men had made up to overcome their feelings of inferiority because of women's capacity to give birth.

My first belly laugh of the essay. And he knows I guess he borrowed Jim Carroll's time machine and went back to ask. Either that, or Progressives: Gifted With The Ability To Read The Minds of Safely Dead Patriarchal-Types. And Drunk Chicks. Yeah, they're just better than us in so many, many mystical ways.

The ban on women priests also emanates from Paul's reliance on Genesis

Wha--? Um, no. There have been no documented cases of eye boils--honest.

The reasoning is WDJD, actually.

The Declaration recalls and explains the fundamental reasons for this teaching, reasons expounded by Paul VI, and concludes that the Church "does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination." To these fundamental reasons the document adds other theological reasons which illustrate the appropriateness of the divine provision, and it also shows clearly that Christ's way of acting did not proceed from sociological or cultural motives peculiar to his time. As Paul VI later explained: "The real reason is that, in giving the Church her fundamental constitution, her theological anthropology-thereafter always followed by the Church's Tradition- Christ established things in this way."

In the Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem, I myself wrote in this regard: "In calling only men as his Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner. In doing so, he exercised the same freedom with which, in all his behavior, he emphasized the dignity and the vocation of women, without conforming to the prevailing customs and to the traditions sanctioned by the legislation of the time."

In fact the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles attest that this call was made in accordance with God's eternal plan; Christ chose those whom he willed (cf. Mk 3:13-14; Jn 6:70), and he did so in union with the Father, "through the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:2), after having spent the night in prayer (cf. Lk 6:12). Therefore, in granting admission to the ministerial priesthood, the Church has always acknowledged as a perennial norm her Lord's way of acting in choosing the twelve men whom he made the foundation of his Church (cf. Rv 21:14). These men did not in fact receive only a function which could thereafter be exercised by any member of the Church; rather they were specifically and intimately associated in the mission of the Incarnate Word himself (cf. Mt 10:1, 7-8; 28:16-20; Mk 3:13-16; 16:14-15). The Apostles did the same when they chose fellow workers who would succeed them in their ministry. Also included in this choice were those who, throughout the time of the Church, would carry on the Apostles' mission of representing Christ the Lord and Redeemer.

There's nary a citation to either Paul or Genesis in the whole thing. Deep down, some people just have to enjoy being wrong.

and from the Early Church Fathers' rejection of the role of women around Jesus and particularly the centrality of Mary Magdalene as one equal to St. Peter.

Lord, this is tiring. Again, NO. Mary was revered as the Apostle to the Apostles by the Fathers. The fact that Gregory the Great screwed it up doesn't mean that she was being trashed in toto.

"Equal to St. Peter"? Danger, Will Robinson--Dan Brown Brainkiller Radiation detected.

Priestly celibacy was not established as a requirement until the Middle Ages and was based on the belief that women are unclean because they menstruate

Yeah. I'm certain that's exactly what it was based on. Let's unpack this particularly pungent brain-fart (snorkels ready? Good!). He's saying priestly celibacy--the idea that men who are ordained as priests may not have sex--was based upon the fact that women menstruate.


The best thing I can say for this reasoning is that he must have been distracted by a shiny object while typing. It happens.

Not usually for an entire hour, but it happens.

Even though I know his thesis is nonsense, I can't believe anyone (without associate professor/professor-groupie status) could buy this lobotomy-with-a-URL. It would be like coming across a self-identified Muslim who claimed that Muhammad advocated the consumption of slivered ham and that mead is the lost Islamic sacrament.


(another indication of the envy of female capacities that is the root of all the restrictions men place on women).

You know, I'm sure this line worked on the co-eds back when he was an undergrad, but now all I can hear is Butt-head chuckling and saying "Hey, baby. I en-vy you. Come to Butt-head."

When Thomas Aquinas declared in the thirteenth century that "woman is defective and misbegotten," he was echoing Paul, Genesis, and Aristotle -- not Jesus.

Here's Aquinas on women, which is not (surprise) as bad as Professor Prooftext makes him out to be. Note also that the Church does not cling (to use the popular word) to Aquinas as the unquestioned authority in all things. See, e.g., Conception, The Dogma of the Immaculate.

Oh, and Jesus never said anything about me whizzing in history department coffee pots, either. Not that that means anything, necessarily.

Bottoms up.

The Church's opposition to birth control and to abortion even early in pregnancy is largely an outgrowth of its all-male composition and those males' attempts to degrade women's physical powers by asserting that women and the intercourse into which they putatively tempt men are necessary evils ("It is well for a man not to touch a woman," Paul instructed the Christians of Corinth), the only purpose of which is procreation.

Professor McElvaine is to theology what Fred Phelps is to gay rights. Here are the relevant verses of 1 Corinthians 7 (you do know there were two letters "to the Christians of Corinth," right?):

1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman." 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

6 Now as a concession,
not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

Yep--unadulterated, one-size-fits-all, sex-fearing, patriarchal domination.

The condemnation of homosexuals is based entirely on Old Testament rules established by men who feared anything that placed in question their insistence on the polarity of the sexes.

Entirely. If you take whiteout to Rom 1:24-27, 1 Cor 6:9 (remember he was citing the letter just a few sentences back) and 1 Tim. 1:10, it's all gone. And polarity of the sexes is a...telling formulation. Telegraphing the crowning silliness of the article.

The idea that God is solely male is the work of the Church Fathers who chose which gospel accounts to include in the official New Testament and excluded all the Gnostic Gospels that contain references to an androgynous God, and of the bishops who met at Constantinople in 381 and modified the Creed to say that the Holy Spirit is male.

Thank you, Pope Dan. The stupidity is so concentrated at this point that it bends light.

Well, for starters, there's this thing he made reference to earlier called the "Old Testament." It uses "he" and "father" in reference to the Almighty. In fact, if he had the remotest suspicion of a clue about which he was prattling, he would know that there are similes in the OT he could have deployed in his cause. In fact, reference is made to them in the Catechism--section 239, to be exact.

To the rest of the goofball jumbalaya, I can only reply with questions: which Church fathers? When? Why is the much-touted Gnostic drivel authoritative? Who wrote it and why? Cite your Gnostic supporting texts (and I'll ante with the Gospel of Thomas 114). Demonstrate that the change at I Constantinople was to call the Holy Spirit "male." That this blustering buffoon managed to get a book contract is proof positive that I'm driving down the wrong streets--the ones where the advances are tossed through every open window. And a few closed ones, like the Professor's.

The idea that a Creator could be of only one sex is absurd on its face.

Actually, Catholicism teaches that saying the Creator is of any "sex" is absurd, but that won't stop a gold-plated ignoramus with an agenda to push:

239 By calling God "Father", the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father.

Yet this nonsensical belief, which actually diminishes God, has been one of the main bases for the subordination of women and values associated with them -- precisely the values taught by Jesus -- throughout the history of the Church.

You mean the same Jesus who taught us the OUR FATHER?

But, on the other hand, worshipping the Great Big Hermaphrodite in the Sky is the essence of common sense?

Keep digging. That heat you're feeling is called "the mantle."

The bottom line is that none of the Church's positions on women and sex come from the teachings of Jesus.

And if there's one thing we've learned from this little excursion, it's that he is the very soul of infallibility, and not to be questioned.

Oh, and

**Coughcough DIVORCE coughcough**

Of course, it's up to him to prove that it has to come from Jesus, or IT DOESN'T COUNT. But I felt compelled to point out that he's wrong yet again.

All of them are the products of the very relativism that the current pope decries.

He's Trojan, you're glue--

Oops. Wrong rubber.

The relativism of an earlier day has become the dogma of today.

Robert McElvaine is, in fact, a maroon armadillo. Both of our confidently-stated-yet-unsupported declarations are equally valid.

A popular hymn asserts that the Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ. The truth, however, is that since the early centuries of the religion that took up the name of Christianity, the Church's one foundation has been male insecurity and its consequent subordination of women. Peter may have been the rock upon which Jesus sought to build his Church, but the rock upon which those who built Christianity in the early centuries after Jesus was the misogyny of their societies. Benedict XVI needs to lead the Church in a true revolution: a circling back to the actual teachings of Jesus and away from the perversions of those teachings by the early Church Fathers and their successors.

The Church's one foundation/
Is misogyny...

Nope--loses the meter.

The reign of error continues. Let's see--the very Church Fathers who were closest in time were the most likely to pervert it, but those two millenia after the fact in cultures even more removed from 1st Century Galilee can understand the "real" message with perfect clarity.

Anachronism, anyone?

During the second week of his papacy in 1978, John Paul I sensibly declared that God "is a Mother as well as a Father." Eighteen days later John Paul I was dead, only 33 days after his election. Despite that unfortunate example

John Paul I was whacked for saying what the Catechism essentially says. Sheesh-- behold the 9/28 Hermaphroditophile Truther.

and his own stance against desperately needed reform, Benedict XVI owes it to Catholics to take the bold steps needed to break the hold on the Church of earlier flings with relativism and to bring the institution he heads into line both with the needs of the modern world and with the teachings of Jesus.

Here endeth the lesson.

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