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 Who's in charge of religion?

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PostSubject: Who's in charge of religion?   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:00 am

The recent thread on homophobic Christians and their ilk raised a few comments along the lines of 'they're not real Christians'. It reminded me of a comment made by the bishop of Meath, where he declared that only the bishops had the right to comment on church views. This would have been in relation to the Lisbon treaty and the christian nature of some of the No arguments. The Irish Catholic came out strongly in favour of the treaty incidentally.

I thought the bishop was being a little high-handed. First, are not the people the ultimate embodiment of the church and should this not count when it comes to deciding church policy? I doubt the bishops consulted them when deciding where to stand on this or any issue.

Secondly, many would argue that the future of the church lies with lay activists such as these Christian groups. Do they not get a corresponding say in Church matters? It sounds a little presbetyrian I know, but fair's fair. I am reminded of the situation with the Irish language revival movement. Irish revival once rested solely with the government but activists have sustained the momentum and are an important factor in the language's current good fortunes. But they disagree more and more with government policy, such as on immersion education. Politics.ie threw up some interesting individuals who claimed that their loyalty to the government came second to the language.
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PostSubject: Re: Who's in charge of religion?   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:54 am

Interesting thread 905.

Before I say anything I should lay all of my cards on the table. I'm an atheist, I'm what Dawkins would describe as a strong-atheist. That said, I've had a lifelong interest in theology and particularly so, christian theology.

I don't like the power structure of the Catholic Church. On the other hand, if it didn't exist, exactly the way it does, not only would catholicism have disappeared centuries ago, but the doctrine and dogma would have evolved into thousands of different practices and beliefs.

Should lay people have a say in how things are run. The concept of fairness would tend to suggest yes imo, but once again, if this were the case there would be an element of losing control and indeed there would be one extra reason not to join the priesthood. Of course, it's obvious, I think, that lay folks do have a significant influence on what happens within the church. The trick is of course, to watch trends and to adopt successful ones and claim them as one's own. This particular operation, I believe is the strongest reason that women do not desert wholesale. Good ideas and practices, it seems, are quite gender-balanced.

Course we're well into the digital age at this stage and are becoming aware of the different stages of development of the Church in different locations and likewise the varying practices of the Church in these separate regions. I think the Church is in for quite a tough time of it, in the near future, and am unsure as to whether it can weather it. As Confucious said (I think): "the stick that does not bend, breaks easilly."
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PostSubject: Re: Who's in charge of religion?   Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:07 am

God of course!

Tho if he has any sense - he will hopefully have disowned the lot of ye and written off Earth as an interesting, yet doomed learning exercise and is currently on the other side of the Universe working on a much less ambitious project!
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PostSubject: Re: Who's in charge of religion?   Mon Jun 09, 2008 2:34 am

Quote :
Course we're well into the digital age at this stage and are becoming
aware of the different stages of development of the Church in different
locations and likewise the varying practices of the Church in these
separate regions. I think the Church is in for quite a tough time of
it, in the near future, and am unsure as to whether it can weather it.
As Confucious said (I think): "the stick that does not bend, breaks
easilly."

Hmm. How many other institutions can I think of that have survived for nearly two millennia, recognisably the same yet somehow managing to be part of utterly different social setups? Example - the first Bishop of Verona was a Roman citizen during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian sometime around 260 AD. The current bishop was born after the Second World War. The diocese has been in existence for one thousand seven hundred and fifty years - nearly sixty generations.

Flexible? I think so - and I speak as an atheist. I think every generation has thought they were witnessing the end of the Catholic Church - ours is no exception, yet there have never been more Catholics.
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PostSubject: Re: Who's in charge of religion?   Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:49 pm

905 wrote:
The recent thread on homophobic Christians and their ilk raised a few comments along the lines of 'they're not real Christians'. It reminded me of a comment made by the bishop of Meath, where he declared that only the bishops had the right to comment on church views. This would have been in relation to the Lisbon treaty and the christian nature of some of the No arguments. The Irish Catholic came out strongly in favour of the treaty incidentally.

I thought the bishop was being a little high-handed. First, are not the people the ultimate embodiment of the church and should this not count when it comes to deciding church policy? I doubt the bishops consulted them when deciding where to stand on this or any issue.

Secondly, many would argue that the future of the church lies with lay activists such as these Christian groups. Do they not get a corresponding say in Church matters? It sounds a little presbetyrian I know, but fair's fair. I am reminded of the situation with the Irish language revival movement. Irish revival once rested solely with the government but activists have sustained the momentum and are an important factor in the language's current good fortunes. But they disagree more and more with government policy, such as on immersion education. Politics.ie threw up some interesting individuals who claimed that their loyalty to the government came second to the language.

Yet another atheist here. Are we the only ones interested in religion these days? My personal take is that technically speaking you are veering a little on the protestant side (small p) here as the whole point of protestantism was that the person thinks for him/herself and has a direct line, so to speak, to God.

With regard to the duration of religions, my head is still full of Jared Diamond's "Collapse". A feature of his portrayal of various fallen societies is that when social collapse (mainly based on environmental degradation or climate change) took place the religious orders that had been stable for hundreds of years also collapsed, and were replaced with new militaristic religions.

The perception that one's religious institution has failed to deliver on their side of the bargain, as perhaps has happened with the response of the Catholic Church to child abuse, seems to have a catastrophic effect on participation.
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PostSubject: Re: Who's in charge of religion?   Mon Jun 09, 2008 11:42 pm

905 wrote:
The recent thread on homophobic Christians and their ilk raised a few comments along the lines of 'they're not real Christians'. It reminded me of a comment made by the bishop of Meath, where he declared that only the bishops had the right to comment on church views. This would have been in relation to the Lisbon treaty and the christian nature of some of the No arguments. The Irish Catholic came out strongly in favour of the treaty incidentally.

I think some of this is related to myself. I would say that WBC are not Christian simply because they are homophobic, but that they are homophobic to the exclusion of the rest of the Christian message. The message of love, forgiveness, charity, humility, honour and honesty is not being spread by the WBC nor do they seem to practise it in their own hearts and homes.

To break the firmament, I am a practising Roman Catholic. I go to Mass at least 90% of Sundays and I go during the important times of Easter, Christmas, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and so on. This is but part of my commitment to the Christian way of life. I try to be friendly, open, non-judgemental and charitable in what I do. I take the Gospel and readings and try to make them part of my life inasmuch as a flawed human being can.

In this sense of personal commitment to faith, I would say the person is in charge of religion. It is the person who decides to go to Mass, it is the person who decides to listen, it is a person who opens themselves to the awesome power of God's love and it is the person who makes that live in what they do.

While there are canonical, dogmatic and institutionalised world-views in the Catholic Church, these common goods are not to the exclusion of the personal conscience. We have, in the parlance of the Lisbon campaign, an opt-out from the Common Conscience Policy of the Catholic Church. We can use our conscience to come to decisions, even if they may be against the expressed views of the Catholic hierarchy. Because of this, I say that the person is in control of religion.
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PostSubject: Re: Who's in charge of religion?   Tue Jun 10, 2008 3:54 pm

Gosh, I hope ye're not all assuming I'm an atheist! But leaving aside questions of divinity (and I suppose the bishops could claim divine right to run things but it would be an arrogant and risky throw) as a mere mortal organisation it is open to these kinds of dangers. The government was unassailable on language matters until recently and now they play second fiddle in many areas.

The Catholic church has become more ehh, lay in the past while which is why this statement surprised me; it sounded very old fashioned. Some of ye may remember me talking of new social movements: voluntary activist organistaions promoting whatever aim. These various groups fall under this heading.
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