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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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66 Responses

  1. Athenia
    Athenia April 25, 2012 at 9:09 am |

    When the day has come when the church has said they’re working *too much* on poverty, you know we’ve turned a corner (well, at least in the modern era).

  2. jillian
    jillian April 25, 2012 at 9:19 am |

    heard this on NPR last week. priorities – Catholic Church, go get you some.

  3. Shannon
    Shannon April 25, 2012 at 9:33 am |

    This makes me so mad. Nuns – and Catholic women more generally – are the life blood of the Church. They’re basically the only ones who do work that actually helps people. When is the Church going to realize that condemning abortion and gay marriage isn’t actually helping anyone? As a Catholic, I’m so sick of priests and bishops who pretend to be contributing to society and social justice by preaching misogyny and hate.

  4. EG
    EG April 25, 2012 at 9:34 am |

    You’ve got to admire the way the Catholic Church is so committed to finding any small vestige of a redeeming characteristic it may have and ruthlessly rooting it out. Few institutions are that committed to utter evil.

  5. mary
    mary April 25, 2012 at 9:56 am |

    It would be funny, if it weren’t so rage-inducing, that this is occurring under the same Pope who haz a big sad that Mass attendance is plummeting in Europe and the US. Yeah, but it’s definitely “creeping secularization” and not the Vatican’s own profoundly fucked up priorities.

  6. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl April 25, 2012 at 10:02 am |

    You’ve got to admire the way the Catholic Church is so committed to finding any small vestige of a redeeming characteristic it may have and ruthlessly rooting it out.

    Seriously.

    This is yet another reason for me to be at peace with my decision to leave the Church. I was raised in the Catholic Church during the late ’70s-early ’80s when the emphasis was on ecumenicism and enlarging the circle of faithful members. I also attended a small, Catholic women’s college that was founded by the very sort of awe-inspiring nuns that are getting the hammer right now from the Vatican. The kind who have dedicated their existence to educating all women, as well feeding, clothing and providing medical care to the poor for over two centuries.

    But no, Benedict and his toadies will bury them for all their passionate hard work on issues that really matter. It truly sickens me.

  7. Jess
    Jess April 25, 2012 at 10:02 am |

    I used to work for an order of nuns. They were the only reason I could stay Catholic as long as I did. They were amazing women. Smart, educated, modern, progressive…everything the priesthood was not. One of them pointed out the dearth of young priests, which was causing various churches in our area to close or “share” priests, and told me that she knew of 100 women who had the education and the desire, who could step up and take vows the very day they opened the priesthood to women. She had a doctorate in theology.

    I have since left the church. So have some of the sisters I worked with. It was incredibly traumatic for them; walking out on something that you have made the center of your life, literally. But they could no longer stand by, silent, as the church rejected so many who needed help, and refused to adapt to the world.

    I worry for the ones who are still there. None of them was quiet. None of them was soft spoken. Many of them were sympathetic and supportive of the gay community. Most were against the church’s teachings on birth control, and many quietly supported abortion rights. The powers that be will not tolerate them for long.

  8. ohplease
    ohplease April 25, 2012 at 10:17 am |

    I can’t claim any intimacy with the RCC of today, but, from the outside looking in, I’m mystified how anyone can look to this institution as a source of moral guidance. Leaving aside the nightmarish child rape scandals and unending homophobia – aren’t nuns the backbone of the institution? Don’t they do all the stuff bishops can’t be bothered with, but are barred from positions of power within the institution? You’re going to attack the only people keeping a vaguely positive image of the RCC alive for NOT BEING BIGOTTED ENOUGH?

    I don’t get it.

    But, I’m an outsider, destined for the fires of hell anyway, so wev.

  9. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune April 25, 2012 at 10:19 am |

    Ugh, ugh, ugh.

    Catholic nuns are possibly the only group within the church that I have any respect for at this point. I’m not very religious anymore, but I had that intense drive for involvement/solitude/devotion once, and I think I can understand the immensity of their commitment.

    To see them being chastised in the most humiliatingly public manner, in a humiliatingly public manner in which the Catholic Church has not condemned its serial child rapists, for the sin of being a little too uncomfortably like Jesus for their taste, makes me angry and sad and mostly just bloody well outraged.

    IMO the Church has pretty much lined up all the sharks in the world and is playing hopscotch with them at this point.

  10. Katherine
    Katherine April 25, 2012 at 10:37 am |

    I seem to remember someone else who spoke a lot about poverty and social justice but was pretty silent on abortion and gay marriage…someone in the Bible I think…hmm what was his name again?

    Oh yeah: Jesus.

  11. Natalie
    Natalie April 25, 2012 at 11:26 am |

    Exhibit A of why I left the Catholic Church.

  12. Katya
    Katya April 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm |

    This is just horrifying. The nuns are essentially being castigated for being too much like Jesus–who never said one word about abortion or gay marriage, but an awful lot about helping the poor and vulnerable. Yes, the nuns are a visible challenge to the power structure of the church–throwing the church’s obsession with its power and influence and with doctrinal purification, at the expense of hospitality and love, into stark relief.

    I was raised Catholic during the 1980s, when it felt like a very different church than it does now–hardly a word about abortion, but many about loving your neighbor. I have always had some problems with the church, but now I no longer recognize it. It’s like the Pope is determined to drive as many people away as possible.

  13. Caperton
    Caperton April 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm | *

    Exhibit A of why I left the Catholic Church.

    Ditto. When I was agonizing over the decision to leave (and after 25 years in the church, the decision wasn’t an easy one, all the aforementioned problems notwithstanding, but that’s another story), I talked to a lot of people about it. One was a nun from my church. I told her about my objections and concerns–the church’s treatment of women, non-handling of sexual abuse, policies and views on homosexuality, policies and views on reproductive rights, interventions in developing countries, and on and on–and when I was finished, she just kind of smiled and nodded sadly. She said she’d been struggling with that kind of thing for years, and that the only thing keeping her in the church was her vows, and even those she was reconsidering. It made my decision easier, but my heart broke for her, because I knew she really did care so much and wanted to help in legitimately helpful ways, and the church was thwarting all that.

    I have always had some problems with the church, but now I no longer recognize it. It’s like the Pope is determined to drive as many people away as possible.

    I think what the church is doing right now is actually trying to draw back the conservative former faithful who’d been put off by the more progressive leanings of the church post-Vatican II, and to take draw in the conservative Christians who are looking for even more conservative outlets in the face of society’s Evil Godless Liberalism. They’ve re-translated the missal from the previous Latin, making the Mass more formal and stilted and less accessible and emphasizing the gulf between the Big Holy People and the little nothings in the pews. When the church bans female lay ministers and the priest turns back around to face the altar, you can say that Caperton called it first.

    /kind-of derail

  14. samanthab
    samanthab April 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |

    A very sad thing here is that the RCC still has incomparable institutional power to do social good. Other churches don’t have that kind of money and infrastructure.

    Also, ohplease, please don’t tell people what they believe. Not every nun believes that atheists will go to hell, by any means; these women are fighting for social justice, and you’re making their putative beliefs more of an issue rather than the work they do. I wouldn’t be able to stay Catholic in their circumstances either, but I’m not going to make cheap cracks about their fight given the value of the RCC’s reach and resources.

  15. victoria
    victoria April 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |

    sign me as another person who was both inspired by and (to the chagrin of the bishops) politicized by Catholic women religious.

    if there is the tiniest of good news to come from this, it’s that i’ve noticed more priests in the U.S. finally starting to wake up and risk their privilege to speak publicly in support of the sisters and against the bishops and the vatican. James Martin is probably the most well known (the one who appears on the Colbert Report from time to time), but i’ve noticed many priests who normally aren’t willing to rock the boat when things like this happen are finally beginning to break their silence.

  16. Iris
    Iris April 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm |

    I haven’t seen anyone post the nuns’ response to the bishpos, so I thought I would share it.

    “I’ve no idea what they’re talking about,” said Sister Simone Campbell told the BBC. “Our role is to live the gospel with those who live on the margins of our society: the hungry, the poor, the ill. That’s all we do.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/21/sister-simone-campbell-vatican-us-nuns_n_1442301.html

    As a child, I was exposed to the CC’s propaganda way too late for it to make any sense to me. But I did spend most of my k-12 years in Catholic schools. It was apparent back then the nuns did all the work and the priests all the pontificating. I see little has changed.

  17. Iris
    Iris April 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm |

    Aaarg – bishops – not bishpos.

  18. seisy
    seisy April 25, 2012 at 3:39 pm |

    @Caperton

    I am finding myself in the same place. I can’t hardly recognize the church anymore…and it’s kind of funny how much a relatively small thing like the change in the language stings. I guess it just is symbolic for me of exactly the attitude you described. It’s….a power statement, you know? Get in line or get out. Kind of like what the Republican party’s been doing in recent years.

    And it breaks my heart. And it’s not the nuns or the parish priests…it’s always the men in charge.

  19. William
    William April 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm |

    priorities – Catholic Church, go get you some.

    They have them. Just because the priorities of the Catholic Church do not match yours do not mean that the Church lacks priorities. It’s priorities are, as they have been since at least when they climbed into bed with militant slavers and began slaughtering female philosophers in the streets for disagreeing with them, the maintenance and furtherance of their own power and dominance. That is all. Power is the beginning and the end of the Church’s priorities and they hold the moral high ground because they believe that they are entitled to it and responsible for dominating their fellow men. They believe this is their mandate from God. It is an institution fundamentally incompatible with modern liberal conceptions of liberty or autonomy.

  20. Becky
    Becky April 25, 2012 at 7:02 pm |

    Caperton – I think you’re exactly right about what the Catholic church is doing – see here.

  21. Iris
    Iris April 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm |

    @Jill – lol – I kind of like it myself. Language is an amazing thing. But, I need not tell a lawyer that, hey?

  22. rayuela23
    rayuela23 April 25, 2012 at 7:51 pm |

    “I seem to remember someone else who spoke a lot about poverty and social justice but was pretty silent on abortion and gay marriage…someone in the Bible I think…hmm what was his name again?

    Oh yeah: Jesus.”

    Everyone knows he was kind of a silly hippy and you should listen to the Pope instead.

  23. Donna L
    Donna L April 25, 2012 at 8:25 pm |

    As has been pointed out elsewhere, for the Catholic hierarchy to criticize anyone for being “silent” in the face of what the hierarchy considers evil is, to say the very least, ironic.

    For the Catholic Church (represented here, of all things, by the office that used to be known as the Inquisition) to claim moral authority in *anything* is repugnant, and would be laughable if it weren’t too serious.

    Of course, I go even further than William in believing that the Church is inherently infected by original sin.

    Another irony, speaking of that original sin, is that if the Church were consistent about applying its excuse for being unalterably opposed to the ordination of women — i.e. , the argument that Jesus chose only men for his apostles despite having women available to him — then they should also institute a rule that all priests have to be Jewish.

  24. Falcon
    Falcon April 25, 2012 at 8:32 pm |

    What do you expect? It is the Catholic church. If you want feminism look elsewhere. If you want compassion look elsewhere.

  25. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated April 25, 2012 at 9:24 pm |

    “all priests have to be Jewish”

    Beautiful idea, well said. It might not pass muster with the money-laundering arm of the Mafia, though.

  26. debbie
    debbie April 26, 2012 at 7:46 am |

    Another irony, speaking of that original sin, is that if the Church were consistent about applying its excuse for being unalterably opposed to the ordination of women — i.e. , the argument that Jesus chose only men for his apostles despite having women available to him — then they should also institute a rule that all priests have to be Jewish.

    Best idea ever.

  27. William
    William April 26, 2012 at 7:50 am |

    Of course, I go even further than William in believing that the Church is inherently infected by original sin.

    Thats where we’ll have to party ways, Donna L. I reject the church and all it’s works pretty entirely, so I don’t see their little hard sell of sin (original or otherwise) as being anything more than emotional manipulation employed by a particularly ritualistic group of men with a penchant for raping children. Its kind of why I have trouble feeling much sympathy for these nuns. If you go to bed with Lucifer you can’t be shocked that you don’t greet the day with god.

  28. matlun
    matlun April 26, 2012 at 9:56 am |

    In a stinging report on Wednesday, the Vatican said the Leadership Conference of Women Religious had been “silent on the right to life” and had failed to make the “Biblical view of family life and human sexuality” a central plank in its agenda.

    This is fairly natural, surely?
    They are part of the Catholic Church so the leadership believe that they should follow Catholic teachings and dogma and share the Church’s priorities.

    Or was anyone under the illusion that the Catholic Church was a progressive or feminist organisation?

  29. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl April 26, 2012 at 12:08 pm |

    This is fairly natural, surely?
    They are part of the Catholic Church so the leadership believe that they should follow Catholic teachings and dogma and share the Church’s priorities.

    Or was anyone under the illusion that the Catholic Church was a progressive or feminist organisation?

    Well, I think this whole controversy really boils down to the widening differences in perspectives between the Vatican and Church members/communities. In other words, it’s quite common for practicing Catholics, nuns and priests, and even entire parishes to be quite moderate from a sociopolitical standpoint and for them to place a great deal of importance on good works and ministering to others. In the meanwhile, in the great echo chamber that Benedict has created around himself, the Vatican hierarchy has become all the more staunchly conservative and out of touch.

    I’m assuming you’re a non-Catholic, matlun, because as I and others have already discussed, we grew up in Catholic churches that actually were progressive and feminist in their leanings. The Catholic college I attended was actually quite feminist in its leanings, and it wasn’t an outlier in the bigger picture of Catholic colleges. I’ve know many nuns and priests alike who have dedicated their lives to educating and caring for others, sometimes in extremely dangerous conditions, because they believed it was part of their calling of faith.

    All the more reason to hate what this Pope has done to the RCC, because now so many outsiders only know about its negative aspects and nothing of the good done by nuns especially.

  30. matlun
    matlun April 26, 2012 at 1:09 pm |

    @Lolagirl: I am not convinced this Pope has been remarkably bad. The general moral level of Popes through history has been quite deplorable.

    I’ve know many nuns and priests alike who have dedicated their lives to educating and caring for others, sometimes in extremely dangerous conditions, because they believed it was part of their calling of faith.

    I do recognize that this is true as well.

    I guess a large part of the reaction to the article comes down to your instinctive attitude towards the Church and Christianity in general. If you feel that at their roots they are morally good, then these news might be shocking and depressing.

  31. Revolver
    Revolver April 26, 2012 at 1:12 pm |

    Unfortunately, it’s no good pointing out inconsistencies in the bible, or in christians’ behaviors. Never gets us anywhere.

    Also, ohplease, please don’t tell people what they believe. Not every nun believes that atheists will go to hell, by any means; these women are fighting for social justice, and you’re making their putative beliefs more of an issue rather than the work they do.

    While it’s a derail, this is a controversial issue. Their work is done in the name of god, so how can you separate their work from their ideology? It’s not a perfect comparison, but Planned Parenthood denied $500,000 from Tucker Max because of his ideology. It’s hard as an atheist to compartmentalize the deed from the underlying belief; even if the nuns are solely doing it because they believe it’s the right thing to do, and they’re not doing it to spread the word of god, their religious affiliation still makes me feel a bit icky.

    Regardless, it’s pretty kickass that these women choose to remain in a male-dominated, female-crushing institution because they believe so strongly in something bigger than the politics.

  32. ohplease
    ohplease April 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm |

    Also, ohplease, please don’t tell people what they believe.

    i did no such thing. I’m referring to what the holy book says, not to whatever cherry-picked, santized version any particular individual believes in.

  33. Rob in CT
    Rob in CT April 27, 2012 at 10:41 am |

    On the one hand, I look at this and think, hopefully, that if the Church hierarchy continues to beclown themselves in a such a manner they will hasten their irrelevency.

    On the other, they’ve been beclowning themselves for a long time.

  34. mary
    mary April 27, 2012 at 10:42 am |

    I’m referring to what the holy book says, not to whatever cherry-picked, santized version any particular individual believes in.

    Which is not entirely useful in the case of Catholicism. “Fundamentalist” reading of the Bible is not a traditional Catholic approach – for centuries the Church has held the doctrine that the bible was divinely inspired but still written by fallible humans, and it’s appropriate to read with that in mind. When I was growing up in Catholic schools, our religion classes particularly emphasized the backgrounds and agendas of each individual Gospel writer. It was OK to discuss different translations and the languages the books were written in. And there are certain religious orders (particularly the Jesuits) that do actually have a strong tradition of intellectualism and critical thought. I’m no longer Catholic and I really hate the institution, but defaulting to Biblical literalism is really not a useful way to approach Catholic doctrine.

    On a tangent, so-called “fundamentalists” and “literalists” tend to cherry-pick as much as anybody else. If you eat bacon or shrimp, you’re cherry-picking. If you don’t stone adulterers to death, you’re cherry-picking. If you mix fabrics, you’re cherry-picking.

  35. Chiara
    Chiara April 27, 2012 at 10:46 am |

    I dunno I still think the bible has some good stuff in it. Like it says let whoever has done no wrong can throw the stone — i.e. everyone’s done some bad shit so let’s not be too judgmental. Also making the infinite fish and bread, and the wine from water and stuff…

  36. matlun
    matlun April 27, 2012 at 12:01 pm |

    Which is not entirely useful in the case of Catholicism. “Fundamentalist” reading of the Bible is not a traditional Catholic approach

    This is very true, but atheists ending up in hell is still church dogma. (Exactly what this means since hell is not necessarily even considered a place, I leave to the theologians)

    How many of the world’s Catholics who actually share this belief is much more unclear, but it seems a bit unfair to attack ohplease for that comment.

    @Chiara: That parable as well as “turn the other cheek” is not necessarily good general advice. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” etc.

    (The Church of Rome abandoned pacifism very early in its history (if this was even part of the teachings of the very early Christians), so this too is not very relevant to a discussion about Catholicism. The Catholic Catechism’s handling of “legitimate defense” is actually quite mainstream)

    For me the Gospels paint a picture of an ascetic mystic who preached that you should abandoned your family and all worldly possessions to focus on the life after death. Still, this is far better than the moral teachings of the Old Testament which happily are mostly ignored by most Christians.

  37. Mxe354
    Mxe354 April 27, 2012 at 12:08 pm |

    Much of the Bible appears to be like the Koran, which I personally despise for many reasons. I guess the Bible is more open to interpretation, though. I mean, many scholars aren’t even sure if the Bible speaks of a literal hell comprised of fire and brimstone.

  38. j.
    j. April 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm |

    i did no such thing. I’m referring to what the holy book says, not to whatever cherry-picked, santized version any particular individual believes in.

    Ah, yes, the self-contradictory, man-made Wholly Babble.

  39. Donna L
    Donna L April 27, 2012 at 4:19 pm |

    this is far better than the moral teachings of the Old Testament which happily are mostly ignored by most Christians.

    The very fact that you call it the “Old Testament” (given that the term is not chronological in meaning!) demonstrates by itself that everything you think you know about the moral teachings of the Hebrew Bible is filtered through a 2,000-year old Christian-centric perspective designed to demonstrate the alleged superiority of Christianity to the grotesquely distorted picture of Judaism that Christianity has traditionally propagated, and to demonstrate the alleged “fact” that the Hebrew Bible, as appropriated by Christianity, has little or no independent meaning except insofar as it supposedly predicts the events of the New Testament.

    I’m not an Orthodox Jew by any means, and realize full well that there is plenty to criticize in the way a lot of people practice it and in the beliefs they hold. But to suggest that Christian ideas of the “Old Testament” and what it allegedly teaches bear any resemblance to reality just demonstrates your privileged ignorance.

  40. matlun
    matlun April 28, 2012 at 3:53 am |

    The very fact that you call it the “Old Testament” (given that the term is not chronological in meaning!) demonstrates by itself that everything you think you know about the moral teachings of the Hebrew Bible is filtered through a 2,000-year old Christian-centric perspective

    The discussion was about the Christian Bible which would make it the correct terminology IMO.

    I do believe that the moral teachings of the actual text are indeed horrific with for example death penalty for many trivial “crimes” like picking fire wood on the Sabbath. I am also generally against genocide and slavery.

    It is a text based in the myths and traditions of a very primitive society with a very primitive morality.

    But to suggest that Christian ideas of the “Old Testament” and what it allegedly teaches bear any resemblance to reality just demonstrates your privileged ignorance.

    I am not sure what you thought I was saying that this is a response to.

    This discussion about the text is not necessarily saying all that much about Judaism. Beyond the text, there is very long tradition of reinterpretation and theological discussions.

  41. j.
    j. April 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm |

    It is a text based in the myths and traditions of a very primitive society with a very primitive morality.

    This. The Hebrew babble sucks as much as the xtian one does.

  42. Chiara
    Chiara April 28, 2012 at 6:13 pm |

    Still I think it’s probably foolish to dismiss the bible. Why would people have held it in such high regard for millions of years otherwise? I mean I think that some of it is wrong and a lot of it is very nasty but still, you have to admit that there must be some kind of truth about it. I mean I can’t believe that everything just exists out of nothing for no reason.

    Why would there exist such things as beauty and love and pain and things… If everything was just biological functioning then we would just be autonomous robots, no? There must be some kind of spiritual dimension.

  43. librarygoose
    librarygoose April 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm |

    If everything was just biological functioning then we would just be autonomous robots, no?

    If there was a god, there would be unicorns, no?

    I never got this. How does biology in any way preclude emotion? Loving your children makes a lot of sense biologically.

  44. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca April 28, 2012 at 9:25 pm |

    Still I think it’s probably foolish to dismiss the bible. Why would people have held it in such high regard for millions of years otherwise?

    Well, at least you’re not a Young Earth creationist.

  45. shfree
    shfree April 28, 2012 at 9:58 pm |

    I know, right LotusBecca? And when people point at the Bible, I want to point at the Analects. It is like they forget China had a civilization that was hardcore then, too.

  46. Jadey
    Jadey April 28, 2012 at 10:23 pm |

    Still I think it’s probably foolish to dismiss the bible. Why would people have held it in such high regard for millions of years otherwise? I mean I think that some of it is wrong and a lot of it is very nasty but still, you have to admit that there must be some kind of truth about it. I mean I can’t believe that everything just exists out of nothing for no reason.

    Why would there exist such things as beauty and love and pain and things… If everything was just biological functioning then we would just be autonomous robots, no? There must be some kind of spiritual dimension.

    Inorganic prosthestics aside, everything about us is already all biological all the damn time. Surprisingly, I still get joy out of ice cream and cat videos and Bach because I’m a carbon-based life form, not despite it.

    And no, the persistence of something is no more a testament to its inherent goodness than its inherent badness or anything like that. If anything, it’s a testament to our preference for the familiar and relative fear of novelty and change.

    Also, Christian Bible /= be all and end all of spirituality. Hell, my spirituality is positively biological.

    And oh my god, here’s some videos on critical thinking that are very easy to follow, please watch them all. (There are six in the series.)

  47. cherrybomb
    cherrybomb April 28, 2012 at 11:22 pm |

    Still I think it’s probably foolish to dismiss the bible. Why would people have held it in such high regard for millions of years otherwise?

    * Headdesk * * facepalm *

  48. William
    William April 28, 2012 at 11:39 pm |

    There must be some kind of spiritual dimension.

    I tend to agree with you on that. Mind you, a belief in a spiritual dimension neither requires nor demands adherence to a political document used to prop up an aging con written by vile primitives better than a dozen centuries dead and then held as the standard for murderers, thieves, rapists, and the forces of cultural extermination. Hell, the early church’s obsequious and venal entanglement with the likes of Rome ought to be enough to discredit anything Christianity has to offer. I’m all for bare tolerance, but Christianity is to spirituality what Larry Flint is to speech: continuing to countenance it’s existence is vitally necessary because if we protect repellent monsters then we can protect ourselves, but you’ll not invite them to dinner.

    So…you know…we kinda part ways at that point.

  49. librarygoose
    librarygoose April 29, 2012 at 12:58 am |

    Okay, serious question:

    Am I the only person who finds more comfort in the idea that there is nothing once we die than in any idea about spiritual planes or heaven?

    Genuine curiosity, as I was once told I was “depressing” but this was Catholic professor…so I call bias.

  50. Jadey
    Jadey April 29, 2012 at 1:07 am |

    Am I the only person who finds more comfort in the idea that there is nothing once we die than in any idea about spiritual planes or heaven?

    Not at all. Being seriously creeped out by the idea of heaven is one of the major reasons I started questioning my Christian “faith” (I never actually had faith, it turned out – I just went to church a lot) as a teenager.

    I really, really, really, really, really find the idea of having no consciousness after death and knowing that my body will decompose (or burn – I like cremation if they won’t give me a straight dump-in-the-ground, no preservation, no box, no goddamned lawn over me) very appropriate and comforting. I mean, how can heaven possibly trump the awesomeness of physics? I just don’t get it.

    I love being alive. It’s great. I’m having fun. But eternal consciousness? NO THANKS.

    Obviously YMMV. :D

  51. librarygoose
    librarygoose April 29, 2012 at 1:23 am |

    I mean, how can heaven possibly trump the awesomeness of physics?

    This. Science is badass.

  52. matlun
    matlun April 29, 2012 at 2:18 am |

    * Headdesk * * facepalm *

    That seems to be hard to do at the same time. Did you hurt your hand?

  53. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca April 29, 2012 at 2:20 am |

    Am I the only person who finds more comfort in the idea that there is nothing once we die than in any idea about spiritual planes or heaven?

    I sort of take comfort in what I perceive as the finality of death. So much in life is uncertain. But I know I will die. And I don’t expect anything to happen afterward. Of course, I don’t know what dying will subjectively feel like. It’s so hard to imagine. So it’s hard to really take comfort in something when I don’t know what it will be like. But I like to think it will be relaxing. . .a slow dissolving into nothing. Maybe like an infinite feeling of slipping away, getting more and more dissolved but never (subjectively) disappearing 100%, sorta like approaching the event horizon of a black hole. But who the fuck knows, right? Either way, I plan to accept whatever it’s like since it’s the one thing in life that will inevitably happen to us all.

    But no one in hell I would ever want to spend an eternity in the Christian heaven. That sounds like an absolute nightmare. Especially if I have to hang out with a bunch of Christians for the rest of time, forever, with no end. *shudders*

  54. Chiara
    Chiara April 29, 2012 at 7:39 am |

    Yeah I didn’t say that I thought the christian bible was good, I said that it probably has some truth to it, in that we are more than just biological bodies and there must be some kind of higher thing. Obviously people identify with that.

    How would everything in the world be so meaningful if it all just happened by accident? What would be the point in emotions and such like, surely the evolution thing would just make the most efficient and emotionless breeding/eating machines? Anyhow just because most religions today are just made up, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t necessarily a higher power.

  55. EG
    EG April 29, 2012 at 10:36 am |

    you have to admit that there must be some kind of truth about it. I mean I can’t believe that everything just exists out of nothing for no reason.

    I don’t have to admit any such thing–why shouldn’t every exist out of nothing for no reason?

    Why would there exist such things as beauty and love and pain and things… If everything was just biological functioning then we would just be autonomous robots, no?

    Why wouldn’t there exist such things as beauty and love and pain if everything was “just” biological functioning? Your questions don’t make any sense. And there’s no “just” about biological functioning. It’s complex and interwoven and fascinating and it is indeed what I am.

  56. EG
    EG April 29, 2012 at 10:39 am |

    I take some comfort in the non-existence of an afterlife for myself. I most understand the urge to believe when I think about the people I love who are dead, and the deep loss and ache I feel when I think about them just not being anywhere, not being any longer. And then, yes, I understand the appeal of an afterlife where I could imagine them, still existing, still being themselves, with maybe the chance of seeing them again. That does not make it real, of course, but it’s when I understand the desire for an afterlife.

  57. Mxe354
    Mxe354 April 29, 2012 at 11:59 am |

    I dislike any religion that bases its morality on reaching heaven and avoiding hell. That’s totally egoistic and silly when you think about it. Just my thoughts.

    I sort of take comfort in what I perceive as the finality of death.

    Same here.

  58. shfree
    shfree April 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm |

    While I personally don’t care for the idea of some eternal afterlife, the idea that I only get one go-around, or that I just don’t know what goes on in the world anymore really unnerves me. I think it is just because part of me just…wants to know what happens later, even if I’m not ME me. Like when you come to the end of really good book and you really wish it didn’t end, because you know something must happen next. Or, for RPG geeks, when you tire of one particular character, and you want to give another one a whirl. (And I still give the side eye at a higher power having some sort of say over it all, because doubtless my own beliefs are to provide myself comfort, just as anyone else’s faith exists to provide them comfort in the face of the unknowable, which is often death. And I don’t derive comfort from the concept of a higher power, so, voila, I just don’t believe in one.)

    But the idea of my soul just hanging out for ever and ever, unchanging and being me with all of these other unchanging souls in some blissful existence, blech. I like stories, and stories have conflicts.

  59. DonnaL
    DonnaL April 29, 2012 at 7:11 pm |

    The idea of eternal consciousness is monstrous, and entirely incomprehensible to any human being. Just read the part of the famous sermon by the hellfire and brimstone preacher Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist” that talks about the meaning of eternity in hell. Personally, I think eternity would be every bit as horrifying if one were sitting on a cloud strumming a harp:

    Last and crowning torture of all the tortures of that awful place is the eternity of hell. Eternity! O, dread and dire word. Eternity! What mind of man can understand it? And remember, it is an eternity of pain. Even though the pains of hell were not so terrible as they are, yet they would become infinite, as they are destined to last for ever. But while they are everlasting they are at the same time, as you know, intolerably intense, unbearably extensive. To bear even the sting of an insect for all eternity would be a dreadful torment. What must it be, then, to bear the manifold tortures of hell for ever? For ever! For all eternity! Not for a year or for an age but for ever. Try to imagine the awful meaning of this. You have often seen the sand on the seashore. How fine are its tiny grains! And how many of those tiny little grains go to make up the small handful which a child grasps in its play. Now imagine a mountain of that sand, a million miles high, reaching from the earth to the farthest heavens, and a million miles broad, extending to remotest space, and a million miles in thickness; and imagine such an enormous mass of countless particles of sand multiplied as often as there are leaves in the forest, drops of water in the mighty ocean, feathers on birds, scales on fish, hairs on animals, atoms in the vast expanse of the air: and imagine that at the end of every million years a little bird came to that mountain and carried away in its beak a tiny grain of that sand. How many millions upon millions of centuries would pass before that bird had carried away even a square foot of that mountain, how many eons upon eons of ages before it had carried away all? Yet at the end of that immense stretch of time not even one instant of eternity could be said to have ended. At the end of all those billions and trillions of years eternity would have scarcely begun. And if that mountain rose again after it had been all carried away, and if the bird came again and carried it all away again grain by grain, and if it so rose and sank as many times as there are stars in the sky, atoms in the air, drops of water in the sea, leaves on the trees, feathers upon birds, scales upon fish, hairs upon animals, at the end of all those innumerable risings and sinkings of that immeasurably vast mountain not one single instant of eternity could be said to have ended; even then, at the end of such a period, after that eon of time the mere thought of which makes our very brain reel dizzily, eternity would scarcely have begun.

    Does eternity still sound appealing after reading that?

  60. William
    William April 29, 2012 at 8:47 pm |

    Does eternity still sound appealing after reading that?

    Is there burbon and music? If so, then yes. If not, then the spirits need to get working on spirits.

  61. Jadey
    Jadey April 29, 2012 at 9:06 pm |

    I’m also of the opinion that eternity cheapens life as it is. I value my existence (and the existence of other people) precisely because it is so brief, irreproducible, and relatively inconsequential. I like the idea that we are part of the universe and subject to its laws and whims, not some special entity which exists above and beyond it.

  62. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca April 29, 2012 at 10:01 pm |

    I’m also of the opinion that eternity cheapens life as it is. I value my existence (and the existence of other people) precisely because it is so brief, irreproducible, and relatively inconsequential. I like the idea that we are part of the universe and subject to its laws and whims, not some special entity which exists above and beyond it.

    QFT. This also reminds me of why I value the present moment more than the future. I value stuff based off its immediacy and relevance to me, not based off its objective scope or magnitude. So even if there were an eternal afterlife it would be completely irrelevant to me right now, just as the possible existence of aliens in the Andromeda galaxy is completely irrelevant to me right now, and just as what my life might be like in 20 years is completely irrelevant to me right now. I want to experience the beauty and pain of what’s actually happening, not be distracted by feverish imaginings of distant things that probably don’t even exist.

  63. EG
    EG April 29, 2012 at 10:09 pm |

    I want to experience the beauty and pain of what’s actually happening, not be distracted by feverish imaginings of distant things that probably don’t even exist.

    Well…I like very much the feverish imaginings of distant things that don’t even exist…that’s why I read fantasy and science fiction, after all.

  64. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca April 29, 2012 at 10:37 pm |

    Well…I like very much the feverish imaginings of distant things that don’t even exist…that’s why I read fantasy and science fiction, after all.

    Haha. Well I certainly like reading those things too! When I’m trying to explain anarchism to people, the first book I suggest they read isn’t anything by Emma Goldman or Peter Kropotkin, it’s The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin. Which is amazing BTW if you haven’t read it by chance.

    One of my challenges in life is that I have a very active imagination and yet often don’t accept what’s happening right in front of my face. And this tendency often causes me to suffer. So I’ve been trying to correct this imbalance by valuing what’s actually happening rather than just what might conceivably happen.

  65. librarygoose
    librarygoose April 30, 2012 at 1:19 am |

    Hearing that other people feel the same, though not in every detail, is always heartening. All I said was that having nothing after death seemed quiet and relaxing and I like it quiet. But after multiple people saying that view was “depressing” I was kinda hoping for positive feedback. Being told you’re depressing is terribly depressing.

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