Monday, March 7, 2011

Snarky Theology 1: Catholic Cannibals.

Right now, I am not certain if I have have yet made this point explicit; but, just in case, I need to be clear about something.....

A Pius Man, this blog, and myself, are not here to convert anyone.

One more time.

I'm not here to convert anybody.

To start with, I'm not a Jehovah's Witness. For another thing, the bulk of my friends are Jewish. It wouldn't go over well.

Not to mention that I wouldn't drag anyone into the mishegas that is the Roman Catholic Church, unless they were really patient.

Let's look at my religion for a moment.

I believe that a strange visitor from another realm came to Earth, with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. As He grew up, His powers developed, until He could walk through crowds as though He were invisible, could calm tempests, turn water into wine, walk on water and multiply food to feed a few thousand people. He's also such a pathetic Deity that He would later get nailed to a set of 2x4s.  Even more pathetic, when He does something interesting and comes back from the dead, it's done in such a low-key fashion that it could easily be reported as "someone misplaced the body. Oops."

Welcome to the church that follows Yeshua bin Joseph. AKA Yeshua bin YHWH. AKA Joshua Carpenter, AKA Joshua, son of Joseph. Better known by his Greek alias, Jesus the Christ.

Welcome to the rabbit hole I live in.

Now, the above is just how I phrase this sort of stuff.  I'm sure most Christians wouldn't phrase it quite like that.  However, if one is looking at it objectively, it's probably quite insane. According to sociologist Rodney Stark, the major reason Christianity received ANY converts was that the early Christians themselves were big on charity. They had a tendency to stay in areas that smart people left -- areas like plague-infested towns, when even the doctors fled.  When things were so bad that the intelligent people left the others to their fate, Christians were the only ones dumb enough to stick around. It's a good thing they were too, otherwise Christianity would be a small sect in some unknown corner of the world no one ever heard of.

But wait, there's more.

My particular subsection of Christianity, known as Catholicism (from catholic, meaning "universal"; IE: Catholics, everywhere you don't WANT us to be, and "We'll take anybody.... no, really, anybody"), has a special tenet.

One tale of fellow Jesus had Him grabbing the bread at the Passover dinner, and He said "Take all of you and eat it. This, my body" (apparently, the Aramaic version is far more direct about it). 

He also did the same thing with "the cup" (probably the one left for Elijah) and called it His blood.

We Catholics took this tale, and we took it literally. In fact, we play Swallow the Leader every Sunday.  It's technical term is transubstantiation. .... aka Swallow the Leader.

Yes, you got it, Catholics are cannibals.  We eat our Savior as a sacrifice, drink his blood.  Insert evil laughter here ....

No, not really much on the evil laughter, but still ...

One of the better uses of this transubstantiation concept comes from the pen of F. Paul Wilson, horror writer and Fordham University product ... um, graduate. At one point, Wilson had some fun with a vampire story -- since the Catholic mass serves the body and blood of Christ, the vampire took his daily feeding from the chalice.  Now, technically, Wilson is not a Catholic, since Fordham is, after all, a Jesuit school, and any relationship between the Jesuits and Catholicism is tenuous, at best (Sorry, inside joke.  See "Attack of the Vatican Ninjas" for details).

Amusingly, there are some people within the Catholic church who have problems swallowing this last bit of theology (pun intended). "Jesus is supposed to be ACTUALLY IN the bread and wine? No way!"

Yes, because turning water into wine, telling a tempest to shut up, walking on water and COMING BACK FROM THE DEAD are simply sooooo much easier to believe. But Jesus being actually in the bread and wine, using it as a guise for body and blood?  No way dude!

This is of course, right up there with Joseph Campbell complaining that if Jesus physically ascended into Heaven, we should still be able to pick Him up on radar ... If you're already part of the whole Christianity thing, and you're presuming that Jesus is, oh, the Divine Being, Creator of the Universe, etc, et al, then one would have to figure "Hmm, if God created the laws of physics, I wonder if He could bend and/ or break them."

Or, as my father put it, from God's point of view, "It's My game, My ballpark, My rules."

I have occasionally had people justify their lack of believe in this (or any) part of the faith under the heading of "cafeteria Catholicism," where they pick and choose whatever random parts they want to believe in. Which is odd, because by now, I think there's a Protestant group of every sort that has some variation on the faith.

Shop around a bit, you can become a member of whatever theological system you like.  Including a Christian group without Christ (they're called Unitarians). I also enjoy people who enjoy saying they are Catholic, yet believe NOTHING of the Vatican's teachings.  Which is odd, I didn't think Catholics were so cool that people hung around, despite not believing a word, or The Word.

Right now, there are so many varieties of Christianity, I think being a "shopper" within a faith is sort of like saying "No, I joined this militia because I couldn't find a gun club. I like the shooting, but this whole 'overthrow the government' part is just not my thing.  Honest. Why are you arresting me?"

Now, as I said before, I can objectively look at all of the above elements of faith.  From the outside, it looks positively insane.  There's a reason there are three references to Alice in Wonderland in the above text. And I can give you all sorts of reasons why I, a moderately intelligent fellow, believe in all of the above insanity.

Gutters #22
But that's about twenty pages (small print, small spacing, really small margins), of Really Boring Garbage. And, as I said, I'm not here to convert anybody. If I can explain to people what Catholics believe, and the reasoning behind it, I'll be happy. The phrase is "apologetics"; not saying "I'm sorry," but explaining why. In Greek, apologia meant a legal defense.

That's one reason I have occasionally referred to A Pius Man as apologetics in-between the bullets.

Though no matter how much I explain it, it'll all still look insane. There's a reason I used a description from Superman in reference to Jesus ...

Although in the first Superman film, his spaceship did look like the Star of Bethlehem. I guess we can blame that on Godfather author and Catholic, Mario Puzo. He must have made Hollywood an offer they couldn't refuse.

1 comment:

  1. You forgot the bit where Superman was actually written by messianic Jews, and indeed used Superman as a metaphor for the Messiah. So the fact that he looks -- in the outline -- startlingly like Jesu ben Joseph is not a big shock. *If* I remember correctly, the recent Superman movie was made by heirs to the tradition of the original creators. So making references like that.. well, it seems natural. Also, props to the plot that had elements of pro-life ideation (in a completely non threatening form) as well as a references to A Brave New World. Bonus points for the fact that it was portrayed in a fashion no one feels compelled to emulate. unlike ABNW itself, as it happens.


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