The Pope and Bloy say we are of the Devil

Léon Bloy

Léon Bloy

The new Pope quoted Leon Bloy in his first homily.  But who the heck is Leon Bloy?  As this wiki link tells us, he was a French Catholic poet/author (1846– 1917) who converted to Catholicism at age 22, and who apparently agrees with the Pope about the devilishness of all nonbelievers.  I have included these images to help you feel the real impact the Pope’s chosen quote of this poet.

Mexican comic book biography of Léon Bloy intended for the moral education of youth by the Catholic Church. (source)

Mexican comic book biography of Léon Bloy intended for the moral education of youth by the Catholic Church. (source)

The Pope’s homily came up in conversation as my faith-free family was thankfully sharing a meal together the other night (my wife is an ex-Catholic).  We discussed how the media and people around us are busy praising Pope Francis’ apparent virtues:

  • he took the name of gentle St Francis
  • he’s from the developing world
  • he’s from among common people
  • he’s humble

It seem everyone is hopeful about this new Pope.  Even non-Catholics seem oddly cheering him on. But no one mentions how, in his first homily, the Pope spoke down about those who don’t “profess Jesus Christ” and essentially said:

  • we are pitiful
  • we all pray to the devil
  • everything we do will collapse
  • everything we do is without consistency
  • we profess the worldliness of the devil
Jorge's family got's a priest.Little did they know! (source)

Jorge’s family got its priest.
Little did they know! (source)

My daughter was shocked. “You mean he feels that way about all Buddhists and Hindus and everyone else who doesn’t believe his religion?” she asked startled. “Yep, unfortunately, he does.” I replied.  She figured he felt that way about Atheists — she has learned that at school — but she hadn’t understood that it applied to everyone.

People praise the Pope’s first homily for being “off the cuff“. I am glad too, because that way we get to see his thinking before it was filtered and polished by others. I find the whole Pope affair disgusting. I hope the Vatican’s exclusive, snobby, holier-than-thou castle continues to crumble.


Here is a link to the transcript of his translated homily (he spoke in Italian). And below is the part of that part which I am discussing:

Third, professing: we can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a pitiful NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When one does not walk, one stalls. When one does not built on solid rocks, what happens? What happens is what happens to children on the beach when they make sandcastles: everything collapses, it is without consistency. When one does not profess Jesus Christ—I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy—“Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.” When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.

On a final note, I just read in the NYT that the saintliness of the Bishop Jorge Bergoglio (the Pope’s name just a few days ago) has been challenged by some who question his involvement in Argentina’s “Dirty War”.  These accusations have been around since at least 2005.  The Dirty War was a systematic killing of >30,000 Argentinian citizens the dictator General Videla (another ‘Jorge’). Videla, carried out this ‘cleansing’ with US compliance.  I learned about this “Dirty War” after watching several films on “The Disappeared” (see my reviews).

Well, the Vatican denies the accusations, of course.  And besides, people and countries change – don’t they?  Yet it would be hard to not be involved, for to become Pope means fitting in perfectly with the church hierarchy: See this fantastic YouTube video on how to become a Pope by CGPGrey (HT to my son).

I doubt we will ever know about the Pope’s involvement in the Dirty War and what he felt/feels about what the fate of Marxists should be. But meanwhile, the other day, we learned for sure how he thinks about nonbelievers.



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

71 responses to “The Pope and Bloy say we are of the Devil

  1. I actually hear more fear than hate in the Pope’s words. The world isn’t the same place it was a generation or two ago.

    Europe and North America in particular are changing rapidly. More and more people are publicly identifying as atheists/agnostics/non-theists and even those who remain Christians seem to be shifting into less fundamentalistic versions of their faiths.

    It’s slowly becoming less and less acceptable to discriminate against women, gay people and other marginalized groups because of what (general) your holy book says about them.

    I think the Pope is quite worried that his church will either be forced to change along with the culture or die out.

    This doesn’t make him any less wrong about us, of course, but my theories about why he’s so uncharitable do give me some sympathy for his situation.

  2. The Real Cie

    I was raised Catholic. I left the church when I was in my late teens because I couldn’t abide the dogma, but I was in my forties before I was really able to let go of the fear of “fire and brimstone.”
    To me, religion has very little to do with spirituality. I’m not anti-spiritual, in fact I feel that there is probably a continuation of the soul or personality. But I have become irreligious.

  3. @Lydia:

    Well, yes, the church fears change imposed from without. (And if you put it like that, who can blame them?)

    But change in general? They don’t really mind that, provided it’s in their favor. It isn’t so long since the Pope mused on the idea of replacing the holy ghost in the trinity with Maria. From a political perspective, this makes perfect sense: Catholic doctrine already makes Maria out to be more than human, and it would lock in the vast portions of the world where Catholics spend more time looking at images of Maria than Jesus and pray more for intercession from her than mercy from him.

    The problem, from their perspective, is two-headed: first and foremost, they have a longstanding claim that the church speaks for god and that god is perfect and unchanging, and we now live in a world where a very large chunk of the population can read and write, and we even have the ability to make photographic/film/video records. At one time, the church was the gatekeeper to essentially all historical knowledge, because they were the only ones keeping records and the only people who could read them back. Now they aren’t exclusive and they can’t cherry-pick. Suddenly, they can’t just arbitrarily walk back their claims without getting caught.

    That’s really why the Catholic church has flip-flopped from being occasionally semi-progressive (at usually at least semi-logical) in the 19th century to being completely reactionary here in the 21st. They’re hoping civilization will die back — which, to an extent, it is, at least in countries where Christianity thrives — and they can be the brain trust again. (Not going to happen — I don’t think the Catholics will ever take North America, for example — but the crummy odds are better for them than their chances if civilization continued to thrive, which would put them out of business entirely.)

  4. @The Vicar

    “But change in general? They don’t really mind that, provided it’s in their favor. ”

    Interesting! Most of my experiences with (traditional) Catholics have not shown that. If anything they seem to want things to revert to the way they were 100 years ago – no contraception for anyone, divorce only in rare circumstances, abortion is dangerous and illegal, all gay people are pushed back into the closet, premarital sex is socially punished quite heavily, etc.

    But my sample could easily be skewed. I tend to attract people who have quite strong opinions. 🙂

  5. atheistbelievers

    I am thankful that the new pope so quickly reminded us of how bigoted he and the catholic church are. I looked up bigot to make sure I was using it correctly, and it says “denoting a superstitious religious hypocrite.”
    Catholic dogma doesn’t just state the Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists will burn in hell for eternity, but all non-catholic christians as well. Here are a few quotes I found when Googling ‘do catholics believe protestants are saved’:
    —begin paste
    “The Catholic Church alone is keeping the true worship. This is the font of truth, this is the house of faith, this is the temple of God; if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation” – Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos

    “Outside of the Church, nobody can hope for life or salvation unless he is excused through ignorance beyond his control.” – Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quidem

    “The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the “eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41), unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” – 11th Session of the Council of Florence, under Pope Eugene IV
    —end paste
    While many people who go to catholic services disagree with dogmas about gays, divorce, hell, etc., most of them qualify as brainwashed cult members. Guilt, fear, and superstitions instilled when they were children keep them bound to this bigoted institution despite what their rational mind may tell them.
    My personal attitude about tolerating religions and their members is that any group/person who tells me I will be punished in hell for eternity while they have the secrets to spending a joyous afterlife in heaven deserve open condemnation and public ridicule. The pope is at the top of this list, even if he chooses the name of someone who was nice to animals. (I’ll end for now before getting into the details of what catholics believe about animal souls…)
    I have great compassion for anyone leaving a religion such as catholicism. Don’t worry about being a ‘good’ person, even as an atheist, you can have clearer ethics and greater love when you’re not mentally crippled by bigoted dogma.

  6. Mike aka MonolithTMA

    I was hopeful to see a more forward thinking Pope this time around. I wasn’t really expecting it, but it could have happened.

    It’s disappointing to see him re-enforce the exclusivity of his sect. I’m surprised he didn’t take a jab at Protestants too.

  7. @Lydia:

    Gallup does polls about belief in America. On nearly any issue you care to name, a majority of American “Catholics” — that is, people who claim to be Catholic — disagree with the church, up to and including whether or not the Pope has a special link to god. So clearly “Catholics” are changing, even when the church itself isn’t.

    But the church has always made changes when it seemed convenient, too — it’s only within the last century or so that the church suddenly decided it was going to stop moving. As I said, I think it’s because they can no longer simply claim “we’ve always been at war with eastasia” and get away with it. As late is the 1930s, G. K. Chesterton could, with a straight face, claim that the Catholic Church stood for justice and equality and was a viable alternative to right-wing dogma. (Of course, he died shortly before the Pope announced what amounted to an alliance with the Nazis, or before the later Popes — including Ratzinger as a cardinal — actively squashed the “liberation theology” movement as hard as they could; Ratzinger’s two big tasks before he became Pope were to shut down all priests in Latin America who took up social justice and to cover up the clergy child rape scandal. And he was assigned those tasks by his predecessor, so it’s not like those were new things with him.)

  8. People were actually expecting something more from an elderly, reactionary Catholic Cardinal?

    Honestly, that’s what is surprising me more about this whole thing; not that Pope Francis I holds the opinions he does, but that people actually thought he might be better than the last.

  9. CRL

    I’m not sure if people are happy, specifically, about Francis, or just happy that Benedict XIV is gone. I think much of the jubilation about this new pope is the latter—Benedict was not well liked. In the same way, I think liberals would have been happy to see Bush out of office, even if John McCain had won the ’08 election.

    I guess everyone has high hopes during conclave, for female priests, gay marriage and the like. That or John Paul II rising from the dead. Having a pope who did not believe the pope was infallible was nice, because, generally, few catholics other than the pope believe the pope infallible. But the most we can really hope for is that this pope will appoint slightly more liberal cardinals, who will elect a slightly more liberal pope, who will elect slightly more liberal cardinals, and so on. Or that we will elect a “conservative” pope who turns progressive in office. At a certain point, Church leadership must realize that few of their members agree with them. Hopefully, they will chose to change instead of die. A reformed Catholic Church can be a powerful force for a better world.

  10. I. M. Foreman

    I like this Pope and look forward to a return to traditional Catholic teaching that he embodies. He will inspire an entire new generation of young people to becomes priests and nuns because of his personal humility and holiness. There will be nothing that reactionaries like yourselves will be able to do about it because your attacks are the very thing that makes this man stronger, more inspiring and leave a deeper mark on society than the attacks on Catholicism that are made here on a regular basis. Viva Cristo Rey!

  11. atheistbelievers

    Humility… I don’t think this means what you think it does, Foreman…

    humility |(h)yo͞oˈmilitē|
    a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.

    Double so as humble means one of low sociopolitical rank, definitely not a characteristic of the pope:

    humble |ˈhəmbəl|
    adjective ( humbler , humblest )
    1 having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance: he was humble about his stature as one of rock history’s most influential guitarists.
    • (of an action or thought) offered with or affected by such an estimate of one’s own importance: my humble apologies.
    2 of low social, administrative, or political rank: she came from a humble, unprivileged background.
    • (of a thing) of modest pretensions or dimensions: he built the business empire from humble beginnings.

    While I was consulting the Dictionary, I also checked out Reactionary. Third strike, you’re out, I.M. Dogmaman!

    reactionary |rēˈakSHəˌnerē|
    (of a person or a set of views) opposing political or social liberalization or reform.

    Viva Separation of Church and State!

  12. OOOOPS! That ain’t me POPE GUY video, it’s me Hay Zeus one, but it’ll do, too.
    HERE’s .

    [Caution from Sabio — just dropping links won’t be tolerated – read comment policy.]

  13. @ Cie: There are lots of folks like you.

    @ The Vicar & Lydia:
    I am very fortunate in that I can’t think of one Catholic I know who is fervently traditional. Most are cafeteria Catholics and not in your face about religion at all — the easily associate with non-catholics as close friends. But perhaps my experience is extremely biased. Maybe, like Mohammed in Mecca, you are more accommodating when you are a minority (which they are in my town). But last night, I met with buddies to play some music and our drummer (Jewish) told about his fanatic Catholic mother-in-law, and I was amazed.

    Interesting quotes from previous Popes. I wonder if dogma has changed since their days. I thought I read somewhere that they felt non-Christians could eventually get into Heaven. I know most of my friends don’t even worry about the issue — their Catholicism is largely cultural. But I wager that where Catholicism is growing (Africa and S.A.), it is much more exclusive.

    I am not fond of generalizations calling anyone “brainwashed cult members” –well, except Scientologists! But seriously, I try to keep my blog away from that tone when possible. I will condemn a belief, but not over generalize about a person in their entirity. I think we need to be careful about this.

    @ Mike : Yep, disappointing.

    @ Ockham’s Razorboy agreed

    @ Vicar:
    The political works of the Church bother me hugely too — always have.

    @ CRL: Agreed

    @ IM Foreman:
    You go for it boy!

    @ Tor Hershman:
    Warning: my Comment policy ask folks to interact with the post. Just dropping links to your blog don’t fit the bill.

  14. Ian

    I am a bit more hopeful about this Pope too, for the reasons you say. I am not so confounded by your reasons to be disappointed, because I have a very low standard. I’m hopeful this Pope will be better, I’m under no illusions he’ll be a positive force in the world, but a bit less of a negative force is progress, I think!

    As for the anti-secular, I think you’ll see that more and more. It was the defining fear of his predecessor, and is likely to continue to be so. I suspect Papa wasn’t thinking about Hindu’s and Buddhists when we said those words, he was thinking about secularism, which is eroding his flock faster than any other force.

    And I think the homily was a way of also saying “We’re not going to change to be more like a reasonable 21st century institution.”

    So depressing certainly, but could have been worse.

  15. @ Ian,
    Yes, perhaps he wasn’t thinking. Nothing like an infallible nonthinker. 🙂 Just kidding. Meanwhile, the best way to threaten the Church is to encourage prosperity through secular means so people aren’t tempted to run to magic for hope.

  16. PS — Everyone,
    I am sad that no one commented on the homework I did about Bloy.

  17. Mike aka MonolithTMA

    Sabio, you are so thorough, I’m afraid we may be taking you for granted. 😉

  18. Bleh.

    I’ll rally the tribe around me!

    Hopefully he’ll plan on subverting it, but it doesn’t sound like it. Makes me sad. But then again, I’m of the debbil too.

  19. atheistbelievers

    Sorry, I can see that “brainwashed cult members” is a trigger phrase, especially for such a long-standing and successful religious organization like Catholicism. Hey, it’s the first Jesuit Pope. “Give me a child for the first seven years…” I’m interested in why Catholic guilt is so hard for people to let go of, and why so many people remain attached to Catholic culture even though they disagree with the sexism, anti-gay policies, and anti-contraception policies…

  20. atheistbelievers

    BTW, Sabio, I appreciate your homework, post, and particularly the graphic of the comic book cover.

  21. There are worse things than Catholicism. For example, some people in the bible belt (and not only) believe that the world was created 6013 years ago (plus minus a few months). At least the pope has no such problems. (He has others.)

  22. @ Takis :
    I agree. But exclusivism sometimes seems far worse than science ignorance. But when they go hand-in-hand, it is terrible.

    @ AB : Thanx. And dude, I’d suggest you use a new name. First, it is too long, second, I don’t like typing out connotations I don’t like. For example: I have a commentor that goes by “Bible Warrioress” — a concept I hate, so I call here BW for both of the above reasons. Just a thought.

    @ Luke : Fight the good fight.

    @ Mike : Funny, thanx.

  23. @Sabio et al
    Vatican II, in the 60’s, introduced some major changes to the Catholic church. Now, these were not the types of changes that you guys seem to be looking for; but they represented a major shift in Catholicism’s stace toward its own authority and the outside world. For instance, this was the first time that I am aware of that it began to use language indicating that truth and goodness could be found outside the boundaries of Catholicism. Other official Papal documents then went on to deine Protestants as “seperated brethren,” making it possible that we could be considered Christians and saved, but maybe not linked into full communion with the “real” church.

    Of course, no one can expect the church to just suddenly flip-flop on any of these centuries old issues, some of them would cause bigger rifts in the churcc than the protestant reformation. An institution such as the Catholic Church must move carefully and slowly when it wants to approach controversial change.

    And I would be willing to bet (small amounts of) money that Francis will reverse the church’s stance on liberation theology and will make relief from poverty and other socio-economic forms of oppression a major focus of the church.

  24. atheistbelievers

    @Sabio, the name should be Abel, for Atheist Believers in Ethics & Love. I made the WordPress account as atheistbelievers, I may tinker with it to see if it van be updated…

  25. @jonathan
    Yeah, it is a complex mix. From what I read, Francis was rather anti-socialism and thus may not be at all friendly to liberation theology — although the two need not be tied, they usually were, I think. Besides, I want god-talk OUT OF POLITICS period.

    When you enter a comment, you can choose any name you want. Your browser automatically populates he fields, but you can change them. Consider the change.
    “ABEL” sounds fine — watch out for Cain.

  26. Now it’s only a matter of time before you end up with a Cain, Sabio. 😛

  27. I came up with A.B.E.L. while plotting a work of fiction, but realized that an atheist charitable and support organization to help victims of religious abuse is needed and has real potential to help, so I started Atheist Believers in Ethics and Love. Abel was one of the first victims of religion-inspired abuse/violence (right after Eve and Adam…). I’m still ‘finding my legs’ as Abel, so thanks for your tolerance and feedback.

  28. chaz

    Did you read the pope’s entire homily? The “we” he was speaking of in your third paragraph refers specifically to Catholics and the relationship between faith and “walking” as he puts it. He makes a good point- religious people who don’t take their “faith” seriously often find their institutions crumbling from within- take a look at the mainline protestant denom’s lately? Anyhow, I see you’ve found a good pretense to feign some moral outrage…how dare they!!!

  29. @ chaz,
    So good to have you back.
    Yes, I realized he was talking to Catholics — and the implications I mention still stand. But I don’t know what flavor of Christian you are, chaz, but tell us, what do you think about non-Christians:
    (1) are they pitiful [deserving pity]
    (2) will everything they do will collapse [if like some Catholics, “we do not confess Jesus Christ]
    (3) we profess the worldliness of the devil
    Tell us how your spiritual world effects how you think on non-believers.

  30. Sabio, I don’t think you understand epistemology very well.

  31. @jonathan, I am sure you are right. Brilliantly helpful comment! [yes, sarcasm]

  32. No, you’re right in your sarcasm; that wasn’t very helpful; I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that in that way; I’ll write a post on epistemology this week to explain my thoughts in more detail (It’s too much to go into here), and I’d be interested in your thoughts on it.

    Again, I apologize for that comment.

  33. Apology accepted, Jonathan. After you write your post, drop by here and tell us how you post relates to this post (or my comment) and then give the link.

  34. chaz

    Thank you Sabio, it is wonderful to be back. I’ll put my cards on the table- I’m an ex-evangelical and quasi agnostic at this point in life. If I could believe again I would most likely head towards the East. However, I have a tendency to defend my religious friends against what I perceive to be unfair criticisms and I question the ability of an materialistic framework to provide a meaningful, coherent view of life (not that you are incoherent, I just think that materialists/atheists are inconsistent with their beliefs- please don’t take offense, not trying to spread any “rhetoric” or be a jerk)

    As far as the spiritual beliefs of Catholics affecting non believers, I think it plays out pretty positively in most cases. “Do good to those that persecute you”, “Love your enemy”, “be subject to rulers and authorities”, etc.

    Also, just a note on your #2 point- wouldn’t you say that all you do is going to collapse anyway? Supposedly the earth is going to burn up in 20 billion years, that point should fit quite nicely with a materialist philosophy.

  35. @ chaz,
    “Cards on the table” is so much easier. Thank you.

    (1) Do you feel I am a materialist? People use that word differently — although usually pejoratively. Calling me a naturalist is often accurate enough (in that I don’t see any evidence or advantage for believing in spooks or spirits or elf or other such things). And I am certainly a methodological naturalist. Your package of a “materialist” may be a bit to convenient and overgeneralized or something — not sure.

    (2) I think EVERYONE is inconsistent in their beliefs. Mainly because we don’t believe the way we think we do, we have multiple selves, and heck, life just don’t work that way.

    (3) When religion support ethical positions I agree with, I love them.

    (4) Yes, all we do will collapse but our beliefs in spooks neither speeds up or forestalls that common fate.

    (5) Why not build yourself a website so we can inspect your coherence, fairness, consistency and meaningfulness! Go ahead, take a chance.

  36. Based upon that snipppet of what you’ve shared that the pope said, I have to say that he is biblical in what he’s saying. I know the words sound a little harsh, but then perhaps the bible can sound harsh too. When one is essentially cut out of the group/club, one can feel called out, hated, and vilified. I don’t think this pope means it the way you’re taking it, Sabio.

  37. I’m pretty sure the marketing message of the Catholic church is still that there is a heaven and a hell, and that they have special powers to get people into heaven. They claim to be able to cast spells on wafers and wine which give them magical powers. They clearly state that only those who go along with their rituals, dogmas, and associated political beliefs will get to enjoy heaven, and the alternative is to suffer for eternity in hell. The Latin saying for this is “Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus” or “Outside the Church there is No Salvation.”
    Borrowing from that Wikipedia entry, the Athanasian Creed is pretty clear as well: “The Athanasian Creed, one of the oldest creeds of the Church confirmed by both the Council of Florence and Pope Gregory XVI,[11] taught unequivocally that only those who held the Catholic Faith whole and inviolate could be saved from eternal damnation. The Athanasian Creed states “whosoever will be saved, above all it is necessary to hold the Catholic faith. Unless each one holds this faith whole and inviolate, without a doubt he will perish in eternity.””
    While Catholic dogma states that good people completely ignorant of the Church and Christ may still be saved, certainly they still clearly state that people like me, raised Christian and now atheist, will burn in hell for eternity, moreso for being an outspoken blogger.

  38. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
    The above verses state that nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. If you loved God, through Jesus Christ, if you once believed, it is possible that this might keep you from hell. I don’t know though; there are people who have other interpretations and there are other passages that state that “once saved, always saved” is not probable nor is it accurate.

    Dr. Charles Stanley, whom I very much respect, believes in once saved always saved. I’m still vacillating on this notion myself.

  39. @ Adrienne [how I dislike the warrioress stance],
    I could care less if the Pope’s word is consistent with one of the writers in your scriptures — it is wrong and destructive. But, if he were questioned further, he may confess that he is not that narrow. But people are complex — we hold multiple beliefs simultaneously — they pop up unexspectedly. It may be one of his thoughts — for it is certainly one of the thoughts of Wrathful Yahweh theology.

    @ Abel,
    good contribution, thanx.

    @ Adrienne, again,
    Yes, Abel and I (both former believers) may still be saved while my kids, unfortunately may burn forever in Hell. That makes no f***in’ sense! Seriously, you need to meet my kids and then say that. Geeze!

    Of course they will be adults soon and easier for you to consign to hell in your Bible-world and feel comfortable about it, I guess.

  40. @ Warrioress– Cherry picking is inevitable when looking for Biblical support of certain positions. This is because the Bible is full of contradictory statements (including regarding “historical” events such as creation and crucifixion). Your Romans quote is easily counterbalanced by Mark 3:29, “but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
    I don’t believe in ghosts, including the Holy Ghost. This comes full circle for this blog post with the concept of blaspemy: “Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for a religious deity or the irreverence towards religious or holy persons or things.” If you feel I haven’t committed blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, Pope, Bible, etc., please explain and let me know what would qualify.

  41. Abel,
    I think that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is essentially the rejection of Christ and God when the Holy Spirit has attempted to draw you toward God and you reject Him. Saying that you don’t believe in the Holy Spirit isn’t blasphemy — rejecting God/Holy Spirit/Jesus Christ is, however. And yes, it’s the unforgivable sin. To inwardly be aware of the offering of salvation through Jesus Christ, through the urgings of the Holy Spirit, and to reject that is supposed to be pretty bad — unforgivable.

  42. @ the warrioress,
    Having been outside the eye-squinting prayerful club for years, you can’t imagine how bizarre such talk about sinning against the Holy Spirit and God sounds to me. The equivalent would be if you heard how bizarre it would sound to you to hear Amida Buddhists talking about the use of mantras or shrines or faith as so critical in their religion. When you are immersed in a club, things can seem so very normal.

  43. Namu Amida Butsu! There, I’m saved and will be reborn in the Pure Land. Jesus Saves! There, I’ll go to Heaven.
    “Sobhanaka Allahumma wa bihamdiikaa
    watabarrakaa Ismoka wata’lajjaddoka wala wala
    ilaha ghayrrokkaa.” Well, I didn’t do that in the right direction, but if I did, perhaps I’d be on the path to hang out with 72 virgins in the Islamic afterlife.
    How many wagers can Pascal make? If there were an omniscient god who cared about such trivial details, certainly she would know when someone was hedging bets or just proclaiming belief out of fear or desire for social acceptance.
    I tried on Deism before I found Atheist clothes to fit better. Deism (apparently the most popular belief system of the Founders of the USA) still believes in a super-smart creator, but professes that such a god is now hands-off totally, meaning there’s not a god who writes books, listens to prayers, manipulates human events, sends prophets, or (thankfully) tells people to kill their children to prove their faith. Deism therefore blasphemes Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and any other religion with a “special” book or spells/incantations/prayers which are said to influence supernatural events (such as admission to a special Afterlife Club).
    For centuries, including today, many religions have sought political power to censor and persecute even discussion of these issues. Without discussion and dissent, it becomes easy to seem “right” and “good.” Children are easily indoctrinated in bizarre belief systems before they can even spell, read, and do math. Many never recover, and spend their lives mentally and emotionally crippled by supernatural guilt and fear. Even worse, they are often compelled to coercively spread these beliefs with the idea that they will get more certain afterlife rewards (and present social rewards) for doing so.

  44. Shirley J. Schultz

    Shame on you guys. Don’t you realize your comments are going to follow you into eternity to the Throne of the God you don’t believe in, Who sent His only-begotten Son to found the Catholic Church to lead all of mankind back to Him? It doesn’t matter whether you believe in any of this or not. It’s Truth. I will pray that you come to the knowledge of the Truth before He calls you Home. God bless you all.

  45. @ Shirley,
    We are so blessed to have you praying for us. You keep fightin’ for the one true Church.
    I have Muslim friends, Buddhist friends and Protestants friends praying for me to join their club too. I am so lucky to have another Catholic out there squinting and talking in their head for me.

  46. The Vicar

    Well Shirley ol’ girl, your own holy book has Jesus telling his disciples, on the occasion of Thomas’ famous doubts, that it’s okay to disbelieve because of a lack of proof, even if he would prefer people to do otherwise. If I were you, I’d be much, MUCH more concerned with the way your own religion has been involved in greed and lust and hatred. I have a hard time imagining Jesus saying “well, okay, maybe you knew your priest was raping kids and did nothing about it because you were afraid you might hurt the church’s financial situation, but that’s okay. Come in and sit next to the moneylenders, they live in the temple.”

    For that matter, according to you, your god is all-powerful and loves us all, but either can’t or won’t give us any sort of real indication which religion is true — not only does he not demonstrate any preference for Catholic pedophiles — whoops I meant priests — over the Protestant version, he doesn’t even send any reliable means of demonstrating that he even prefers Christianity over Judaism or Islam, let alone a preference for Abrahamic faiths. That makes him either a liar (because he’s not all-powerful after all if he can’t do that) or a jerk (if he claims to love us but refuses to give us a real indication of how to save ourselves). Either way, it’s not worth suspending my disbelief for that.

  47. He did leave us a real indication of how to save ourselves, Vicar: He founded the Catholic Church so we would not lose our way Home. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Adam and Eve, our ancestors sinned, Vicar, and because of that Original Sin, we all sin. Jesus came to die for our sins, for yours and mine so that, if we are repentant, we might spend eternity with Him. Yes, there is ugliness out there. People hurt each other and hate each other. Catholic Priests, as well as ministers of other religions, molest and abuse our innocent young children. So do dads and moms. So do uncles and older brothers and cousins. Vicar, I hate the sins, but I try very hard to love the sinner. Vicar, if you still doubt, look at the beauty of the cosmos. That was created for us because of God’s great love for us. He didn’t create just one flower, but innumerable varieties for our enjoyment; not just one type of fruit or vegetable, but numerous ones; not one kind of animal but many species. Look in the face of an innocent new born baby and tell me you don’t see the purity of God. Listen to the music of Mozart or Chopin. Tell me you don’t hear the beauty of God. Look at the masterpieces created by Michelangelo and Da Vinci and tell me you don’t see the splendor of God. The majesty of mountains and the vastness of the oceans all show the glory of our wonderful Father God. Please open your eyes and ears to the beauty all around you. God loves you very much, Vicar. He has carved your name in the palm of His Hand.

  48. The Vicar


    Sorry, but just because you (and a handful of old pedophiles in dresses) claim god founded the Catholic church, I don’t believe it. I’d want something a bit more serious than a bunch of guys who have a financial interest in recruiting people claiming they have the One True Way (which is, incidentally, pretty much what every single religion on earth has). The claim is dodgy, your holy book doesn’t mention it in anything like convincing detail, and lots of the things the Catholics do are just plain old nonsense if you seriously think there’s divine inspiration involved. (For one thing, there should be no internal debate over the selection of a new Pope whatsoever — if it were truly divinely inspired, it would happen instantly and without any dissent.)

    Your holy book has no justification for its own holiness except a bunch of people who already believe in it claiming it’s holy, whereas it gets a lot of stuff wrong. (4-legged beetles? Unicorns? Different numbers of people killed with Jesus in each version, and different people at the tomb when the disciples get there? And don’t try to weasel out by claiming a translation error — a truly divine work would be unambiguous, rather than having huge errors and internal contradictions. For that matter, Matthew claims you believers can move mountains and swallow poison. Care to down a bottle of Drano before replying, just to test the claim?) If god truly wants people to believe in some particular religion, there are any number of things he/she/it/they could do to provide actual evidence. Just for one, making everyone in the world dream the same dream over a 24-hour period wouldn’t even involve any serious physical changes to the world — but it doesn’t happen. The more you try to pretend there is something obviously “right” about Catholicism, the more it makes you look silly and pathetic to anyone with a brain.

  49. Vicar, you also keep calling God “your God”. There is only one God. Different cultures call Him by different names. He is your God, too, Vicar.

  50. Dear Vicar, of course I am not going to down a bottle of Drano to prove our God will spare me. He gave me the intelligence to make wise decisions. And Vicar, Jesus rose from the dead. That is the greatest miracle of all and many people didn’t believe it and still don’t. Some of the Jewish priests taunted Him while He was on the Cross, telling Him that if He was really God to come down and they would believe. Of course Jesus could have come down from the cross, but they still would not have believed because they had hardened their hearts. Please don’t harden your heart to our loving and merciful God.

  51. @ Shirley,
    Sorry, I am not going to jump in any more. Your script is well memorized and your mission unshakably clear to you. Any exchange will be wasted time. Be well.

  52. The Vicar


    Boy, you really just love you some ignorance, don’t you?

    There are cultures with a female god. There are cultures with multiple gods, like Hinduism. Buddhism doesn’t even have a god per se in the sense you mean. (Supernatural entities in Buddhism aren’t necessarily anything special, and the Buddha sure as heck didn’t create the universe in Buddhist cosmology.) Christianity does not overlap other religions no matter how much you might like to pretend it does so that you seem like less of a condescending bigoted twit; this isn’t a case of “we just call it different things”, it’s a case of genuinely different concepts.

    As for Jesus rising from the dead: the sole source for that claim is the bible, a book which is self-contradicting, is frequently outright wrong, and which is basically a work of fiction. You saying “Jesus rose from the dead because the bible says so” is approximately equivalent to some dazed Star Trek fan saying “there’s life on other planets because I saw Captain Kirk talk to them on TV”. Or, more accurately, like a Twilight fan claiming that vampires exist and are sparkly because they saw one in a movie; the similarities between the Catholic conception of god and the characteristics of vampires in Twilight would make an interesting topic for an article. Just for a start, both are originally recorded in poorly-written, interminable books written by cynical hucksters to exploit other people’s ignorance.

    The fact that you consider drinking Drano to be unwise demonstrates that, deep down, you don’t actually believe your ridiculous holy book any more than I do. If you did, you would be eager to demonstrate the truth of Matthew as a way of testifying to the truth of your faith and incidentally converting a few people and saving them from damnation, which your god specifically charged you to do. Instead, deep down you know that the promises your god makes in that book are pretty much all lies, and strong poison will kill you. Until and unless you are willing to either admit that you don’t really believe what you claim to believe, or you actually go and have a nice hydrocyanic acid cocktail with a Drano chaser, you can forget about convincing us of the things you don’t even believe yourself.

    And, by the way, the god you claim is all-powerful and also so all-loving and nice, according to you, created a place of ultimate suffering and also created a lot of people who will go there forever, despite (A) necessarily having the ability to simply not create anyone who would be damned (that’s what “all-powerful” means, after all) and (B) having the ability to simply forgive everyone without all the theatrics and idiocy you claim he got up to a couple of millennia ago, thus making damnation entirely unnecessary. If your god is all-powerful and all-loving, why has he not taken the steps which even I, who am not all-loving, would certainly take to improve the lot of everyone in the world? (Well, okay, I know the answer to that: because according to your holy book he’s more like an all-powerful evil demon with a psychosis than someone worth worshipping, and because Christian theology basically boils down to “might makes right and our god is mightier than anyone else even though he never actually does anything any more”.)

  53. Shirley,
    You wrote

    Vicar, you also keep calling God “your God”. There is only one God. Different cultures call Him by different names. He is your God, too, Vicar.

    I agree with you. God loves us all. She cares about you and me all the same. And if people use different names, this is because She gave them the freedom to do so. The beauty of cosmos reveals Her omnipresence. And Her son was crucified for us, exactly as you say, by choice. Why, I wonder, people cannot see the truth and keep listening to arbitrary nonsense, like scientific theories, when She has beautifully told us all that there is only one truth? Why do people prefer theories rather than facts? Again, the answer lies in the concept of free will. God gave us free will and told us to think. After that, she left us alone. Some will be saved and go to heaven with Her, and some will not. Take care.

  54. @ Takis: Ouch, sarcasm.

    It is interesting interesting watching my own response (and those of you and Vicar) to people like Shirley. My reaction depends on my mood —
    -virulent rebuttal
    -calm, sympathetic offering of counter evidence
    -total ignoring
    -acknowledging probably fruitless discussion

    I do all of these — I am never sure which mood I will be in any morning, but it is always fun to see I am not alone.


  55. Sabio,

    Oops, now you now revealed my intention. I was hoping that Shirley would respond to me in earnest. Well, too late, the spoiler is out 🙂

    Since this is the case, one thing that *really* baffles me is why religious people can’t see the irrationality of attaching a male pronoun (and, therefore, a gender) to god. Let us consider the following two statements:

    (1) It is a fact that god has (male) gender because the scriptures tell us so and we may not refute the scriptures.
    (2) God has male gender because the concept was created by people in patriarchal societies.

    Then statement (2) is much more likely than (1). If we were, therefore, to choose between (1) and (2) we ought to choose (2). Of course, both might be wrong, in which case a third option is needed. Since Shirley seems to be firmly convinced that god has a (male) gender, she should either tell us whether she accepts (1) or (2) or a third alternative which she should provide us with.

    N.B. I made the implicit assumption that (1) and (2) are mutually exclusive, a reasonable assumption I dare say. But even if they are not mutually exclusive, Shirley should tell us whether she prefers (1) but not (2) OR (2) but not (1) OR (1) and (2) OR neither.

  56. Shirley J. Schultz

    Thank you, Vicar, and God bless you.

  57. Shirley J. Schultz

    Dear Sabio,, Jesus, the Son of God, called Him Father and taught us one of the most beautiful prayers of all time: The Our Father. And dear Vicar, God does not send anyone to Purgatory or Hell. When He created us, he gave us free will so that we would choose to love Him. So our life choices send us to Purgatory or Hell, not God.

  58. @ Shirley,
    Your nauseating pablum comments violate my comment policy in several ways: See D1 and C4. If you care to come back, read the comment policies please.

    In the meanwhile, may BigFoot, Zeus, Elvis and the Spaghetti Monster bless you too.

  59. @ Takis,
    See, Shirley’s trite, reflexive, cultish mind drove me to yet another form of expression.

    Sorry, I inadvertently may have blocked her from ‘interacting’ with you.

    Concerning the “male” gender. I wonder if in Chinese, when theists there think about whatever god they imagine, if they think in a little less gender terms — since “ta” in Chinese is not male or female. Heck, but forget male vs. female, to think of a god as a person already tips the hand showing the fable nature. It would be so pleasant if modern religions told us their god was a squirrel or a heavenly oak tree or amoeba.

  60. You see, Sabio, a trivial remark like the one I made above, pointing out a simple flaw on the way Shirley speaks about god, should have been sufficient to stir a rational mind up. I wish Shirley replied to me. But I can anticipate her reply. Here is a hypothetical dialog:
    Shirley: God does not have gender. He is above human nature.
    Takis: But you keep using “he”.
    Shirley: Well, this is just a convention.
    Takis: OK, I understand. So it’s fine if I say “God’s works reveal her glory”.
    Shirley: No, you can’t say that.
    Takis: Why not?
    Shirley: It’s a blasphemy.
    Takis: But you told me god does not have gender.
    Shirley: Yes, but the bible says “he”.
    Takis: Was the bible written by god?
    Shirley: Yes, of course!
    Takis: Then god tells us god prefers to be addressed by the male pronoun.
    Shirley: This is not important. He does not have gender.
    Takis: OK, may I then refer to god as “it”? Like: “God’s works reveal its glory”.
    Shirley: You may not (emphatically) call god “it”. God is not a thing!
    Takis: I didn’t say so, I was just trying to avoid assigning a gender to god. So, if “it” is not allowed, I will use “she”.
    Shirley: No, you can’t do that.
    Takis: Why not?
    Shirley: It’s a blasphemy.
    Takis: But you told me god does not have gender.

    There is absolutely no way to get the argument resolved, because Shirley has no way to defend her position. She is falling into a contradiction. On one hand god has no gender, but on the other we are being told god likes to be called a “he”. So, even if god has no gender, god prefers the male pronoun.

    A second version of the dialog (I won’t bother writing it down) could start by Shirley supporting the idea that man is created in the image of god, so god has a gender. Now, why god has male gender is baffling, and Shirley won’t be able to defend the simple observation that this implies that god gives preference to men.

    In either case, Shirley has no rational argument and/or will reach a contradiction. But such is the religious mind. It is not disturbed by the irrational even when the irrational is obvious. The religious mind would rather hurt itself or hurt other but would never admit violation of (elementary) logic.

  61. “You see,”Takis, perhaps I am picking on a point you agree, but the world is not made up of “rational minds” and “irrational minds”. I will use a metaphor, full of holes (as all metaphors are) to illustrate how I view us: Our minds are petitioned into various compartments (like my diagram here). Those compartments are domains of our lives. Some are more open to skeptical, rational thought than others. No compartment is void fully rational. And we have very different investments in each compartment — different intuitional certainty of the importance of protecting that compartment at all costs.

    We can imagine a reply from Shirley like this:

    “Jehovah, the one true God, has always been spoken of a as a masculine entity. God is certainly above our understanding, and this use of a masculine pronoun should not narrow our thinking, but it is the closest pronoun to describing God than any other. To assume God is anything like your common notions of the word “he” just illustrates how dimly you see into the nature of God. He is there for you, Takis, be open to his spirit and language will stop becoming an obstacle between you and God.”

    OK, that is the best I can do off the top of my head, but perhaps you get my point. Shirley could have mustered together a fairly intelligent response, or she could have fumbled and given a totally contradictory rambling. But if you think you are going to trap her and it will change her, you may be wrong if she is more highly vested in her commitment than to a temporary argument. Even if you frustrate her argument, she will come back with some trite platitude and tell you how you must come to worship the one true God.

    Anyway, I prefer to think about the “religious compartment of the mind” — Shirley may be a brilliant physician or economist who is more logically rigorous in those realms than she is in her religious compartment. I’d caution generalizing about minds. Did that make sense? For fun, you might enjoy this visual model I made also.

  62. PS, Takis – I don’t expect Shirley back: She came through to just proselytize, preach and chastise like a holy prophet. She searches the web to defend Catholicism — you can find her on other sites doing the same. She is not here to read the post or to actually dialogue or to understand.
    You are right, she does not come here with her rational mind fully engaged — the Holy Spirit is wiser than our greatest reason.
    Her religious compartment is water reason tight.

  63. Thanks Sabio. You motivated me to post on my blog too, mostly on what we talked about. And this will be a good starting point for me for a future post….

    I wish that Shirley could see my blog and reply (even though you and I have provided hypothetical responses).

  64. Steve Dennehy

    Go to a website that shows a video of the Pope giving this homily (sermon). You can read the translation of the sermon which is in Italian.. Clearly .he is addressing Catholics at a Mass. He is referring to those who claim to be Christians who are not faithful to Lord Jesus. He is making no comment about sincere members of other religions or seekers of truth..

    There is no such thing as having no religion. Atheism is a religion. “There is no God” is a dogma, a statement of faith made by people who claim not to believe in faith. Everyone has an ultimate interpertation of reality. That is your religion, your faith. Everyone has someone they hold highest, that they focus on.That person is your God. It may be yourself in which case you are your own God..

    No one should ever form or express opinions on anyone, anything he or she knows little to nothing about; it’s childish and irresponsible.

  65. Abel

    “No one should ever form or express opinions on anyone, anything he or she knows little to nothing about; it’s childish and irresponsible.”


  66. Mike aka MonolithTMA

    “No one should ever form or express opinions on anyone, anything he or she knows little to nothing about; it’s childish and irresponsible.” Hello, irony!

  67. @ Abel & Mike,
    LOL — so cool to see you guys are still following!
    Ah the internet, so many types of folks drifting around.

  68. Mike aka MonolithTMA


  69. I read these words very differently to you. When the Pope says that if we don’t pray to God we pray to the devil, I take it to mean that there is no intermediate state between good and evil, truth and lies. So whatever we do which is not oriented towards good will fail. The corollary of this is that we can act for the good, pray for the good without realizing it. An atheist who volunteers to help poor people or who is expresses genuine beliefs is praying to God in my book.

  70. Jakob

    To be fair, he wasn’t speaking to the whole world, but to bishops about the role of the church in the modern world.

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