Thursday, February 12, 2009

If You Thought Conservative Thought Was At All Modern...

In the last couple of U.S. elections, there's been a suggestion that the Republican party--firmly in the grip of its conservative wing--wants to build a bridge to the last century (if not the one before it).

Proving that American conservatives are pikers, the Catholic Church has returned to indulgences. Oh, they assure people, they're not for sale--that practice has been outlawed by the Church since 1567. But today you can get them for charitable contributions.

cough cough (nudge nudge)

While this actually started several years ago, the practice of not-selling indulgences has been pushed into increasing prominence by Pope Benedict. Building bridges back to the Reformation, I guess. Then there's the re-communication of a Holocaust-denying, far-right-wing bishop. At this point, I won't be shocked if Benedict puts some country under interdict in an attempt to muscle its leadership.

What's in the water in Rome?

(hat tip to Rev. Sewell; I missed this bit of lunacy...)


Bill Baar said...

Catholic bashing is not our best face... Irish Catholic mother-in-law, bed bound with one-foot-in-the grave, refused communion because she hadn't done confession.

I don't understand her reasons but I respect her faith and practice. She holds it dearer in the fact of death than I suspect I would hold mine.

ogre said...

Bill, if this were Catholic bashing...

But it's not. It's a very specific criticism of a specific practice--indulgences for (not) sale. Cloaking that by insisting that they're only being given for charitable contributions is... lawyering language over the definition of "is."

Much of my family of origin is Catholic--the living as well as the dead. My wife's family, with the exception of one sibling, is entirely Catholic.

I sat and thought about what I was saying, and why. I spent a little while asking myself what the conversation with my Polish-Itlian grandmother, a very devout and mystically inclined Catholic, would have been over this. She'd have ripped Benedict a new one.

While sharply critical of that practice, the post is really about the habit conservatives seem to display of going back to incredibly failed policies and spotting makeup on the corpses and dragging them back out for another go-round.

The GOP has been howling for trying out Hooverism again, claiming bizarre things to smokescreen reality, like FDR created the Depression--which was 3.5 years old, counted from the rather late start marker of the crash of Wall Street, when he took office). This after 8 years of zombie Reaganism--tax cuts that don't stimulate, deficits that don't magically go away, and war spending galore (this time with a real major war, too!).

Finding Benedict's fervor in the restoration of indulgences, on top of his re-communication of a Holocaust denier, simply crystallized the observation.

The bash, such as it is, is of conservatism--and Benedict. Insisting that's Catholic-bashing is as absurd as insisting that criticizing Bibi Netanyahu makes one an anti-Semite. It's a distraction from the real issues.

Bill Baar said...

Benedict and the Shoah is one thing...

...but when UU's get on a high horse on Indulgences it's Catholic Bashing...

Something my FDR loving, Obama voting, solidly Democratic Irish Catholic Mother-in-law would get in an instance from the original post.

Like I said it's UUism less then nice side...

ogre said...

Got it, Bill. UUs (or is it everyone who's on the Protestant side of the Reformation?) can't criticize indulgences.

< raised eyebrow >

And non-Boston Brahmans can't criticize the Unitarian involvement in the Triangle Trade?

I reject the notion that criticizing a practice or behavior is inherently--defintionally--"bashing."

kimc said...

We UUs respect people. But we should be able to criticize ideas, and there is such a thing as a bad idea.
However, if the Catholic Church has a return to a bad idea, wouldn't it be helping them to let them know? Why should you help them when they probably don't want help? :-)

[word verification word is Patho :-)]

Sean Honea said...

I read in an article somewhere (NY Times?) that the idea of bringing back the indulgences was more geared to getting people back into confession.

Something along the lines of connecting the confession with an act. Which might not be that bad of an idea if the act became a motivation for public service (one option) as the article seemed to imply. The other option, a donation for indulgences confused me a little. Seems just as quid pro quo, but maybe the idea is that a donation is easier to track within the church vs. a direct $$ exchange to ensure against instances of 'misappropriation,' but I know nothing of Catholic Money Management.

Well since the Catholic Church is going retro, I vote they bring back Meatless Fridays, actually everyone might as well too, what with the state of the economy.

ogre said...

If one wants to do something that is like--but not the same as--something that one once did which was, well... a bad idea, at least as implemented (bad enough to result in legislation against resulting practices), it might be wise to make a real and clear distinction.

In the case of your suggestion, Sean, it might be best to steer clear of Friday, and announce, say... "Tofu Tuesday" as a way of helping people see their way to a vegetarian meal, money-saving and some net impact on climate change.

Were the point to get people to to public service as a form of penance, the formula would be simple (I would think); you get the reward when you claim that you've completed it, with a caveat that lying is itself a sin and lying about having performed a penance... -- well, the Church may lack people to check up on and tally all this activity, but there's no shortage of angelic accountants and auditors, right?