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Tony Grist

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Marginalisation [Sep. 18th, 2010|03:21 pm]
Tony Grist
Religion is in danger of being marginalised, said the Pope- and so it is. But it's not something that's being done to it by a mean cruel world. He and his fellow theocrats are nobody's victims.  There's an audience out there for good news, bad news, any kind of news you happen to have and if the churches aren't getting their story across it's either because it's not a very good story in the first place or because they're not telling it right. 

The Pope delivered  his complaint in Westminster Hall in front of an audience including four prime ministers. Such marginalisation couldn't have happened in a godlier age. Back then- say a hundred and fifty years ago, when people really cared about religious matters-  he'd have been sitting not in person in Westminster Hall-  but in effigy on a bonfire outside.
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Comments:
From: jorrocks_j
2010-09-18 02:55 pm (UTC)

I think that sums it up very succinctly.

Nicely done!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-18 03:09 pm (UTC)

Re: I think that sums it up very succinctly.

Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2010-09-18 03:36 pm (UTC)
The Pope is just playing to his current audience, albeit poorly. A highly secularized state with a long history of dissent and conflict with Catholicism? Not going to find too much sympathy for the Church there even in the best of times, let alone these days. But he'll make appeals for a return to religion nevertheless, for the sake of buttressing a sagging edifice (nothing specifically Catholic, mind you - again, he knows his audience).

By contrast, here in the States a potential politician will not get very far without professing at least a nominal belief in God. In the state of Delaware, voters recently chose an individual in the Republican primary who believes that morality can legislated, and in the past has equated masturbation with adultery. Her chances of winning in the general election are considered slim, but she did take the primary, in spite of (or perhaps in part because of) her spiritual beliefs. Her sort of thinking might get critiqued as religious nuttery in Europe, where caution/suspicion of religion after centuries of destruction linked to faith is your heritage, but here? America's religious past is such that there will always be a significant percentage of the population that clamors for some degree of theocracy, provided it's the sort they'd prefer.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-18 04:37 pm (UTC)
I've been reading about her. I understand she and others from the teabagging fringe may split the Republican vote and give the Democrats more of a chance at the next round of elections than they would otherwise have had.

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[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2010-09-18 04:43 pm (UTC)
It's a definite possibility, and there's already some evidence of fractioning among the conservatives. Americans have learned, however, never to underestimate the Democratic Party's ability to take a golden opportunity and render it utterly FUBAR.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-18 04:47 pm (UTC)
I've been reading articles that suggest the USA is getting to be ungovernable. I used to think you were onto a good thing with all the checks and balances that are built into your political system; now I'm not so sure.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2010-09-19 12:03 pm (UTC)
In point of fact, our system of checks and balances has not functioned for some time, arguably since the days of President Andrew Jackson.

Also bear in mind that "the country is ungovernable" is a teabagger -- ie, Republican -- meme. They are pushing this narrative as 'proof' that Obama and the Democrats are bad for the country, since the country was still governable under Bush.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-19 01:13 pm (UTC)
Interesting.

I'm hearing mixed messages about Obama. One says he's achieved an enormous amount given the difficulties and the other says he's incompetent. I'm not close enough to the action to know which to believe.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2010-09-20 10:57 am (UTC)
Obama is a centrist -- leaning somewhat more to the right than left, really -- and a committed pragmatist. The left in this country chose to overlook his centrism during the election and then developed hysteric fainting spells as soon as the man began to do in office exactly what he said he would do while still on the campaign trail. So, as a consequence, Obama is being attacked continuously from both the left and the right, no matter what he does or does not do.

I feel Obama has indeed accomplished a lot:

-- The economic stimulous package -- too little, but it was something.
-- Health insurance reform -- again, less than we had hoped, but still allowing 30 million people access to afforadable healthcare that did not have it before.
-- The withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq -- impressive, really, given the opposition and deeply entrenched militarism.

And there is doubtless more than I'm neglecting -- aside from the obvious, that the nation has not completely collapsed in the aftermath of the Cheney-Bush madness. I am not happy, but I am not nearly as unhappy as I was under the previous management and am not quite so ashamed of my country, these days.

As for the man being incompetent, do you mean in absolute terms or merely relative to former President Bush? Obviously, such a comparison immediately reveals this claim to be the utter nonsense that it is. The trial and successful conviction of Obama in the court of public opinion depends upon supressing the plain facts of US history from 2001 until the national election of 2008.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-20 03:25 pm (UTC)
I don't know what I mean by incompetent, because it's not me who is saying it. I'm just reporting what I read in the press. My knowledge of what's going on in US politics is too superficial for me to form an opinion. I've seen Obama do things I liked and things I didn't like. And I've never been clear how much of a free hand he has to do anything.

With Bush, of course, I was never in any doubt that he was a disaster.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2010-09-21 10:08 am (UTC)
Forgive me, I did not intend to take quite such an accusatory tone and realize that you were reporting what you read and hear and not advancing a personal opinion.

Obama puts me in an uncomfortable position. When my parents, for instance, start railing about him being a "communist" -- and they do, in just those words -- I can only laugh, since I think the man is far too staid and conservative for my political taste. When someone on the left is trashing Obama, saying he is worse than Bush -- and they do say that -- I am equally at a loss. I am as disappointed by the current state of things as the next man, without question, yet I think Obama has done better than I should have expected.

Perhaps the real problem here is trying to play the adult, intellectually and politically speaking, in a profoundly infantile age.
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[User Picture]From: litchick
2010-09-18 03:39 pm (UTC)
You're entries concerning the pope this week have been spot on. I've enjoyed reading them.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-18 04:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2010-09-18 04:54 pm (UTC)
I've been amused here in Ireland how anti the Pope's visit they have been.

For myself I'm glad I could avoid it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-18 05:24 pm (UTC)
I guess the Pope isn't exactly Mr Popularity in Ireland right now.
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[User Picture]From: wyrmwwd
2010-09-18 08:13 pm (UTC)
His goal for saying that is to make the people in there listening to him feel like victims. And, once they feel like victims... like the whole world is against the poor, poor Catholic, they will be more likely to join with their comrades in defense of Mother Church.

Religion is certainly not marginalized in the US. Catholicism isn't doing too well, though.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-19 09:22 am (UTC)
Religion is hugely privileged in this society. For one thing we have bishops sitting- by right- in the House of Lords- something that (I believe) isn't replicated in any other European country. Christians are so used to being cosseted and deferred to that they react to any little setback (such as the suggestion that they keep their homophobia within the limits of the law) as if they'd been attacked with hammers.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2010-09-18 08:42 pm (UTC)
You are right, you know, they are in their death throes and flailing wildly.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-19 09:27 am (UTC)
It's taking them a long time to go under. It's over a hundred years since Nietzsche announced the "death of God" and there are still far too many people who believe the old gent is in rude good health.
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[User Picture]From: wolfshift
2010-09-18 10:13 pm (UTC)
Even in the US, "Christianity is under attack", solar_diablo's observations of Christianity's massive, almost mediaeval privilege somehow notwithstanding. I expect it all goes back to sayings attributed to Jesus that are roughly, "Blessed are you who are persecuted for being Christians". (Also, some people just like to claim the high ground of being persecuted.) Therefore, if they're not being persecuted, or not a last, desperate hold-out of Faith in a godless pagan world, they're not doing their job. The True Believers are always the ones huddled in their tiny bunker.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-19 09:29 am (UTC)
It would be nice, though, if they just embraced their martyrdom and didn't whine about it. Did the early Christians go into the arena snivelling that it wasn't fair? I dont think so.
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[User Picture]From: wolfshift
2010-09-19 11:11 am (UTC)
I suppose this is what one gets when one combines martyrdom with the culture of entitlement.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-19 01:08 pm (UTC)
Christianity has been spoiled by success.
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2010-09-19 09:47 am (UTC)
Diatribes are a sign of weakness. As with elderly people who complain to the ether about the modern world and no-one listens, the Pope's whining is a sign the Catholic church is weak (ie it doesn't inspire terror anymore) and it knows it. It's actually a welcome sign.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-19 10:21 am (UTC)
Very true.

The RC Church never had that much traction in Britain- and it'll take more than a sermon about the evils of secularism to undo the damage caused by the child abuse scandal.
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