Tag Archives: Atheists

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

Amulets for Buddhists

McMahan, in his  book “The Making of Buddhist Modernism“, takes effort to show how Modern Buddhists may wish to envision themselves as non-superstitious,  but that the majority of Buddhists, both now and historically, have had no qualms with superstition.  One of Buddhists’ many superstitions include amulets.  On pgs 38-39 McMahan quotes a researcher:

“…the cult of amulets is a response to the rapid destabilization of Thai society by modern economic and political forces, which has produced great uncertainty in many lives and fostered an increased tendency to rely on the supernatural.”
–Stanley Tambiah (Buddhism and the Spirit Cults in North-East Thailand, 1987)

This quote reminded me of studies reviewed on Epiphenom ( here and here ) which reveal how religions prosper in times of  insecurity–financial, social or health insecurities.  When people feel threatened, they look to magical and superstitious powers promised by their religion for relief from this insecurity.   Amulets are one of the many false promises offered by religions for hope in times of insecurity.

All religions feed on this superstitious delusion in humans.  But blaming superstition on religion is naive.  Heck, the Fortune 500 companies are smart enough to use our cognitive weaknesses too.   The power of amulets and their cousins, talismans, all come from the cognitive illusion of essentialism — that an object can hold power or the essence of something and that such power is transferable.   This cognitive illusion is universal and not a monopoly of only religions — many atheists are manipulated by this illusion on a secular level.   Bruce Hood discusses this phenomena in his book SuperSense showing how it can be found in sports players, business men and many more.

Finally, here is a fun 7 minute documentary on the amulet business in Thailand.  Ironically, when researching this post, I found this video on this page that sells Buddhist paraphernalia.  It also has an excellent short article on how Thai Buddhists fighting in Iraq buy Buddhist amulets for protection.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion