Laura G Owens ~ Writer

Humanity. Health. Happiness.

Category: Politics-Religion

This Pope is dope

Of the people, for the people

Of the people, for the people

dope  adj. cool, nice, awesome

 

Title too flip for the highest Catholic?

Just wait, some hip-hopper will pen a positive rap about Pope Francis.  He’s street. He’s of the people, all people. At least in tone, because when I stop swooning and take a look, his policies on church law haven’t changed.

The Pope hasn’t reversed a single issue, birth control, abortion, same-sex marriage, women in the priesthood or divorce (minus his recent change to the annulment process to make it more convenient and less costly) but his soft radically loving tone almost convinces me he has — or that the church will one day.

The Pope even has a receptive audience with some who think God is a hoax.  (“15 Surprising Things Atheists Are Saying about Pope Francis”). 

As an atheist (not speaking for all of them), I’m a huge fan of this pope. I think people need to find their own reason to be good to others. For some, it is god (whichever flavor he/she/it may be). Others find that they want to be good for other reasons. I’m just glad that the big C found a leader willing to try his best to not just preach to his crowd, but try to show them how. ~ Anonymous

Religion skeptics read this Pope as an empathetic listener rather than a sanctimonious hand-slapper.  He says come one come all, embrace each other especially the least among us and in a Christian Nation, atheists are by the denomination pie, one of the least among us.

His language is careful and loving. He doesn’t ask how dare you dis the Vatican?  His focus is instead on workable solutions for the poor, the uneducated, the disenfranchised, the ostracized, the misunderstood.

If he scolds it’s to ask, why we ignore so many poor?

Pope Francis

In other words, he sounds like Jesus.

Every Pope has a big following but this one has a gift of gently coaxing people into self-reflection, into relying on one’s conscience to guide our actions.

This is as impressive as walking on water.

The world likes Pope Francis.  And when we like someone to show respect, we consider their point of view, even as we vote against it.

Pope Francis is making unlikely friendships. 

I don’t agree with many of the Catholic laws (I was Methodist now I’m Unitarian Universalist) but I admire Pope Francis for cutting through the pomp and hierarchy and for avoiding divisive language.

He reminds us he’s human, and so he’s not closer to God than you or me or the atheist (should he/she ever want God proximity).

On gay priests Pope Francis said, “Who am I to judge?” Seems a few religion cynics might be saying the same thing about him.

If we get down to it, Pope Francis hasn’t changed his stand on church laws. “The pope has often delivered popular comments on unpopular church policies that sound like realized reforms. But so far no alterations of doctrine have taken place; widespread impressions that the rules have changed haven’t matched reality.” New York Times, Op-Ed. “The Pope, Catholics and Birth Control.”

He is, though, changing how people talk about views in opposition to church doctrine so I listen, and then I hold out hope for future reform.

The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians–when they are sombre and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths – Sheldon Vanauken 

Pope Francis

 

 
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Separation of church and state, including Satan’s coloring books

Satanic coloring book in Orange county schools

Public schools shouldn’t be allowed to distribute Bible’s or Satanic materials

 

Separation of church and state, including Satan’s coloring books

Personally, I don’t care if a religious or pagan or atheist group distributes materials at public schools.  If my daughter’s old enough to decide what does or doesn’t sit well in her soul, she ‘s old enough to take it all in.

But I do care on behalf of others, in separation of church and state.

Orange School Board bans outside Bibles, Satanic materials in schools. 

Ideas thrust into in the minds of thinking people doesn’t destroy beliefs, they might in fact, expand them.

But we have to protect the original intent of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause to ward off potential abuse of religious power over non-Christians and the non-religious, so I come down on the side of separation of church and state. 

As for the Church of Satan giving out coloring books in Orange County Florida schools, for obvious reasons I don’t want little kids taking their box of Crayolas and making pretty rainbows in Satan’s fiery abyss, nor do I want them reciting The Church of Satan’s 9 Satanic statements (#5 Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek! (emphasis not mine))

I happen to believe Hell isn’t a place. I believe Hell is of our own making (and that Mother Nature just does her thing rather than vengefully make our lives hell) but kids don’t deserve gruesome Satanic images pages stuffed inside their little Dora the Explorer back-packs.

The Church of Satan worships some seriously creepy stuff and if for no other reason than I can’t shake my childhood superstitions that monsters lurk under my bed (and neither can kids) I don’t want Satanic materials circulating in our schools.

Equality opportunity disgust for all gruesome religious images

I wasn’t happy when years back my then 4-year-old daughter came home from her Methodist pre-school and tucked among her jelly bellies were crucifix images (on a bookmark or daily reminder page of Scripture, I can’t quite remember) during Easter time.

Gruesome is gruesome even (or especially) because it’s in religious context.

Little kids are too impressionable to easily process the image of Jesus’s wrists and feet nailed to a cross with little drops of blood dripping down as he looks in agony towards God. We can sweet it up all we want with adult justification phrases like He died for you little one, but it’s still a half-clothed man — on a cross — nailed — with a 4-year-old who didn’t ask Jesus to die for her.

In fact, I’m pretty sure 4-year-olds don’t want anyone to die for them.

When I saw crucified Jesus in my daughter’s hands I almost forgot my usual laissez-fair attitude about not jumping down a school’s throat for doesn’t-really-matter-in-the-long-run missteps. I’m very selective with my school outrage, in fact I can’t think of one time in 15 years I went off on staff or faculty except when my 2-year-old’s teacher wouldn’t give her lunch because my daughter and her criminal 2-year-old boyfriend threw their piece of pizza on the floor just because, you know, that’s what spunky 2-year-olds do.

But here’s my issue about religious materials in schools, Christian groups don’t get to cherry pick what gets distributed in state schools — Jesus in, Satan out.

It’s all or nothing.

And so, nothing.

Source: Orange School Board bans outside Bibles, Satanic materials in schools. 

Image credit

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Catholics and Mormons Mass Exodus If Women Left Behind

Women still left out of priesthood Great article (linked below) on why the traditional branches of the Catholic and Mormon church can’t sustain themselves unless they reform to include women.

“The contradictions are non-sustainable.”

Some of my friends, from their polite silence, likely find my feminist, new-age, optimistic, this-too-shall-be-overcome attitude regarding social change non-sustainable.  

I’ll cop to being the annoying hippie optimist but I’m not as much Pollyanna in a peace shirt about equality and social change as I am just pragmatic.  Look back to see the future for women’s equality. The vote. The ERA. Reproductive rights. Glass ceilings. Co-ed college. Pay equity gaps closing. Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg. Women stand everywhere a man stands, except as priests.  

Our nation spins on an axis of the train-can’t-stop-now social progress. So, if conservative branches of the Catholic and Mormon church fight women in the priesthood they’ll be left behind in a pool of bitterness barking to a growing minority about the dangers of the heretics. 

The conservative grip on the male hierarchy in the church has become a paranoid rant to old ghosts because, writes Damon Linker in an article for The Week:

The churches are now largely populated by people who have no living memory of it ever having been otherwise. Living, studying, working, and voting in a world marked by ever-increasing recognition of the equal dignity of men and women, they go to church on Sunday and confront our culture’s last significant institutional vestige of inequality — when that very institution worships the God who is the ultimate source of our egalitarianism.……But in both Catholicism and Mormonism, there’s often nowhere else to go. It’s either love it or leave it.  Read more….    

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Changing people’s minds? Start with self-esteem.

There should be a common body of facts that everybody can agree on and yet have a difference of opinion……It’s important to make a distinction between beliefs that people hold and the facts.” ~ Dana Milbank National Political Columnist, Washington Post.

We don’t like to admit we’re wrong, our ego flinches automatically.  Admitting we’re wrong after holding a view for a long time can be excruciating.  

A study out of Michigan finds that people rarely change their minds when presented with facts and will often become even more attached to their beliefs in the face of corrective information. 

Obama isn’t an US citizen.

*Vaccines cause autism.

George W Bush is the Antichrist

Hillary Clinton’s brain blood clot hospitalization was timed  around when she was supposed to testify about Benghazi 

September 11th was a US-created attack.

You’ll have better luck convincing people the earth is oblong than changing their mind about statements they’re convinced are true because they want to believe they’re true.

“The lack of humility makes it hard to take an honest look at one’s own views and opinions, causing people to stick with talking lines they know to be contrary to the facts,” says NPR correspondent Neal Conan in his report, “In Politics, Sometimes The Facts Don’t Matter.

Our tendency to hold tight to our beliefs doesn’t bide well for public health officials or politicians trying to shift opinion. What’s worse is the backfire effect. If you try to change someone’s mind by showing them irrefutable facts, while the person might agree with you on the surface, more than likely after you walk away, she’ll stick to her guns even more.

This phenomenon isn’t just because our ego is bruised; it’s because we don’t like what being wrong does to our identity and self-esteem, finds research out of University of Michigan published by Brendan Nyhan, public health researcher.

“The phenomenon is called backfire,” reports NPR’s Conan. “It plays an especially important role in how we shape and solidify our beliefs on immigration, the president’s place of birth, welfare and other highly partisan issues.”

Faced with our beliefs not jibing with the facts a phenomenon called cognitive dissonance, we dig for more information to validate our view.

“As human beings we want to believe, you know, the things that we already believe. And so when you hear some information that contradicts your pre-existing views, unfortunately, what we tend to do is think of why we believed those things in the first place,” explains Nyhan.

So how can we stop people from being fact-blind and hard-headed?

What’s interesting is when researchers in the Michigan study boosted subject’s self-esteem  before they were presented with corrective facts, subjects were more likely to accept the new information and change their beliefs. 

So besides vetting issues with numerous credible fact-checking sources which most of us don’t have the time or wherewithal to do, we need to be humble by default.  We need to accept that we might be wrong and that if we are, this doesn’t mean something’s wrong with us.

“This isn’t a question of education, necessarily, or sophistication. It’s really about preserving that belief that we initially held,” explains Nyhan.

“It’s important to make a distinction between beliefs that people hold and the facts,” says Dana Milbank National Political Columnist, Washington Post.  “So a lot of your emailers and callers have spoken about, you know, evolution or nuclear energy or guns and the death penalty, obviously, people can have very different opinions, and there should be a debate on all of these things. But there should be a common body of facts that everybody can agree on and yet have a difference of opinion.”

“‘So I’ve changed my point of view just really through I think, self-education and actually really great programs like this that are offered to us through NPR.” – NPR caller named Chrissie who changed her views on gun ownership (now pro) and the death penalty (now pro).

*P.s. Vaccines. I used to worry about too many vaccines too soon although when my daughter was young she got all of them on the standard schedule.  For now I’ve opted out of the HPV vaccine until I see more research, her 2nd chicken pox and Hepatitis A.  I discussed this with my nearly 16-year-old so she can decide how she feels about it.

Years ago I researched the autism epidemic and wrote an article.  Autism is a spectrum disorder caused by a number of complex genetic and environmental triggers. To pinpoint one overriding cause is to hold fast to a chosen view rather than to consider evolving ones.

Vaccines per se don’t cause autism, but the mercury preservative thimerosal can have a devastating effect in the first month of life, and on some children in later months.  (See Vaccine Do’s and Don’ts).  “This analysis suggests that high exposure to ethyl mercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines in the first month of life increases the risk of subsequent development of neurologic development impairment, but not of neurologic degenerative  or renal impairment. Further confirmatory studies are needed.”  (“Increased risk of developmental neurologic impairment after high exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccine in first.”) 

 

In my view the qualifier “some” children is reason enough to pay attention to what role thimerosal might play in autism incidence which now stands at 1 in 88 children.

We have more to lose with partisan deadlock that leads to public mistrust, missed opportunities and health crises when we stick to our views despite evidence to the contrary.

It’s the most humble people who are open to facts, despite facts erasing all they thought they knew of the issue and therefore themselves, who break through to the other side.

Footnote:

NPR: “When Corrections Fail: The Persistence of Political Misperceptions.”  

Politifact

Snopes

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Church only on Christmas and Easter? What would Jesus say? I bet I can guess.

Jesus's embrace even if church is only on Christmas and Easter.

Image source: By zole4, published on 17 September 2011

My teen daughter, once a frequent flyer at church with children and youth programs, now has to be dragged to church once a month. Sleep wins.

I’m now fine with this. I’ve largely left mainstream religion and am leaning towards joining our Unitarian Universalist. My love of law of attraction and religious sciences paved the way (not to be confused with the entirely different Scientology).

“The Secret” was copyrighted by Jesus before the movie was made. “As you think, so shall you be.”

Interestingly my child still insists on going to our old Methodist church’s Xmas Eve services. I get it. I do, and I’m glad. Tradition. Carols. Fellowship. The continuity warms me as well, especially because we’re a tiny family of three who won’t be seeing family until after Christmas. We have to get our Christmas group hug from somewhere.

What if someone only goes to church one or two times a year?

Personally it doesn’t matter a lick to how I  feel about them or their worthiness. What a person believes or doesn’t won’t take away from my belief in what makes a good person — good. Following religion doesn’t rank either way on my criteria, attempting to master the Golden Rule does.

Atheist or Baptist, Wiccan or Jew, my sense of a decent divine force inside us or over you is open to other views, but impenetrable to conversion.  I want to learn from what you know, but I may not replace it with what I feel.

I might be called a heretic but I’m more than okay with that.

An excerpt from my essay “Church only on Christmas and Easter? What would Jesus say? I bet I can guess:”

…..One complimentary no-strings-attached hour of joy and fellowship might be exactly what someone who is feeling awful or spiritually indifferent needs even if the story of Jesus’s birth and resurrection sounds like the garbled murmurings of Charlie Brown’s teacher. I’ve got to think that somewhere in that not feeling awful moment Jesus walked in, sat down and patted the person gently on the back…. 

…If God keeps a sharp eye on our time card (and I don’t think he-she gives a rip) and someone happens to share this notion of faith by frequency it’s a safe bet the church will be one less stop by next year and so one less check to help pay for the youth program or choir robes or new organ. More, they might have doused a spark in someone who was moved by the warmth of the congregation and ready to give it a second, third or even fourth try.

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