Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This is really old...

...but Jesus Christ (via parentdish).

A video game about a Christian militia slaughtering Jewish and atheist New Yorkers who won't be converted in the name of a particular brand of Christianity will be on the shelves of more than 10,000 American retailers in time for the Christmas season, including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, Circuit City, GameStop, EB Games, CompUSA, Amazon.com, Costco and numerous others. The video game is a spinoff of the wildly successful collaborative novels about "the rapture" by conservative fundamentalist minister Tim Lahaye and the guy who used to write the dialogue for the Gil Thorpe comic strip, Jerry Jenkins.

In Left Behind: Eternal Forces, kids will assume the role of a member of a "Christian" gang wandering the streets of a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, killing or converting as many Jews, Atheists, and other unsavory types in the employ of the Anti-Christ as possible to get to the next level. If the heathen won't convert, the character can kill them. The company is offering a free demonstration model to churches. "We see it as a beacon of light that could shine in the dark world of video games," said Jerome Mikulich, "director of outreach ministries" for the company. "The most important thing is that it helps kids realize there is power in the spirit world, and that by praying they can endure and get through their real-life situations." Praying, and putting a shotgun in the mouth of Jews. Just like all those chapters in the gospel where Jesus preaches that the way to salvation is busting a cap into the ass of those who won't convert.

Well, sometimes it be like damn. I've got a great Bible verse for these guys. Exodus 20:13 says:
You shall not murder.
That's right, guys. Learn it; live it; love it. Jeeze. WTFWJD?

Blog of the Day: Reading and Critically Reviewing the Bible in 365 Days

This blog is more interesting than its title makes it sound. It's written by an atheist who is attempting to do just what the title implies, while also providing social commentary, etc. etc. I quite like it, and I also have a lot of respect for anyone who reads the whole Bible front to back without pulling their hair out. It's not exactly Harry Potter.

Anyway, make sure you check out the blog. It really is a pretty good read.

Sometimes having a blog is really great...

...because it means I can do things I would otherwise consider to be too lame. Let me explain.

Yesterday I got an email from someone named Sarah, who wanted to know why some Christians waste their time blaming other people (Jews, mostly) for the death of Christ when they should instead be busy being good people like Jesus said. My response was long, and I thought it was a pretty fun question to answer, and then the whole thing got me thinking about that stupid formspring.me website that everyone I know who is lame is on. Now, the 15-year-old within me is drawn to a website where people can ask each other questions anonymously (in case you don't know lame people and therefore haven't heard of formspring), but the rest of me, who is old and has some shreds of dignity, has prevented me from registering. That is, until I realized that formspring could be a fun thing for WTFWJD?.

So, here's WTFWJD?'s brand new formspring page. Feel free to ask any questions you'd like to ask (so long as they're remotely related to this blog). If you guys actually use it, I'll probably keep it going for the forseeable future. We'll see what happens. The Internet is weird.

Monday, March 8, 2010

OMG check out that huge plank in the Vatican's eye!

From the New York Times:

A singer in an elite Vatican choir and a jailed Italian public works executive who served as a papal usher were let go by the Vatican this week amid allegations that they were involved in what prosecutors believe was an organized network of gay prostitution, Italian news media reported.

Ghinedu Ehiem, a Nigerian who sang in a choir that performs at St. Peter’s Basilica, was dismissed after the center-left daily newspaper La Repubblica reported Wednesday that he had procured men, including seminarians, for Angelo Balducci, a former member of the board of Italy’s public works department who was arrested and jailed last month on corruption charges.

After his arrest, Mr. Balducci was removed from his Vatican post in The Gentlemen of His Holiness, an elite group of ushers who serve at the Apostolic Palace when visiting dignitaries meet the pope, the ANSA news agency reported Thursday, citing Vatican sources.
Raise your hand if any of this surprises you. Yeah, that's what I thought. I suppose what's most shocking about this recent revelation of sub-holy behavior on the part of the Catholic Church is that the prostitutes in question were actually adults.* But seriously, here's what Ratzinger had to say about the gay back in 1986 (back when he was just Cardinal Nazipants):
The Church, obedient to the Lord who founded her and gave to her the sacramental life, celebrates the divine plan of the loving and live-giving union of men and women in the sacrament of marriage. It is only in the marital relationship that the use of the sexual faculty can be morally good. A person engaging in homosexual behaviour therefore acts immorally.

To choose someone of the same sex for one's sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator's sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.
Now, there are those who might argue that the Church is not being entirely hypocritical in this situation, as it promptly removed both the man-loving usher and his choir-boy pimp from their positions. But those people would be wrong. The fact is that the Church is full of gay people. There are communities of gay Catholics who, unable to come out to their parishes (and often families), find each other. These communities are not often talked about, nor are they known to the greater public, but they don't exist without notice. In my life, I've known gay nuns, gay cantors, and a whole host of lay gays who actively participated in both Church and gay life. These are people of faith who, had they revealed their sexuality to the community at large, would have been removed from their positions within their own churches faster than you can say "not my Pope."

Which makes sense, of course, because the Catholic Church condemns homosexual behavior. And really, if that were the whole story, it would be fine. The Catholic Church has a right to hold its particular definition of sin and enforce it. As discussed in the previous post, however, the Vatican chooses to enforce its definition of sin selectively. You'd be hard-pressed to find a person, even within the Church, who would argue that consensual gay sex between two adults is a worse sin than an adult using his power within a church community to sexually abuse children. Why then would the Church, a supposed pillar of morality, choose to immediately fire two lay participants guilty of the former while willfully protecting scores of priests guilty of the latter? WTF is even up with that?

It becomes more and more clear to me every day that the singular purpose of the Catholic Church is to maintain its own hierarchy. The Vatican clearly does not care about lay people. After all, they tell us from birth that we are filled with sin and need to atone; they condemn practices associated with good sexual health (the kind that exists in reality); and they sit in what is perhaps the grandest palace on Earth knowing full well that if they sold off their vast collection of priceless art and artifacts, they could do a lot more in their so-called quest for social justice than they've ever been able to do in the past.

No, the Vatican cares about itself. It cares about the priests who are willing to support the hierarchy, even if they can't fight the urge to rape babies now and again, and works to suppress the members of the clergy who don't (like how it's investigating America's nuns for being too awesome).** So while they, the members of the Vatican, sit pretty in Rome engaging in and indulging all kinds of unsavory behavior, the rest of us are condemned and ostracized for simply being who we are. This is not the Church in which I thought I grew up.

Matthew 7:1-5 says:
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
You know the Bible, Pope Nazipants, and so do your cronies. Perhaps, then, it's time that you heeded some of its more relevant passages. WTFWJD?


**Kind of like the Mafia

Monday, March 1, 2010

How Do You Say 'Gay' in Dutch?

From the BBC:

Hundreds of Dutch activists have walked out of a Mass in protest at a Roman Catholic policy of denying communion to practicing homosexuals.


This dispute began during Dutch carnival celebrations earlier in February, when the man chosen to be carnival prince in nearby Reusel was refused communion because of his open homosexuality.

The refusal offended many in the local community.

The Sint-Jan church in the city of 's-Hertogenbosch, also known as Den Bosch, was prepared for the protest and so decided not to give out Holy Communion during Sunday Mass.

Several hundred demonstrators, dressed in pink wigs and clothes, left the church in protest.

Well, I have to admit that this is pretty funny - particularly when you see the photograph:

But I also have to admit that I take issue with the protesters. The Catholic Church is not a democracy. It's certainly not the political body it once was. Really, it holds very little power except in its massive membership, so why bother protesting a basic aspect of their faith (to which they are entitled) instead of finding a more accepting church? At least, that was my argument until I got to the last sentence of the article:

The man at the centre of the row has said he just wants equal treatment - if he is regarded as a sinner, he wants the priest to refuse communion to all other sinners too.

Man at the center of the row, that is a very good point. I forgot, in my rush to defend a church's right to define sin (even if I don't agree with their definition), that sin also comes with a hierarchy. There are mortal sins and there are normal sins. Guess which one being gay is: yeah, not mortal. So why, then, are gay people being denied communion when we're not looking into the medical and criminal history of the rest of the congregation? After all, getting an abortion should not only mean that you don't get communion, but it warrants automatic excommunication from the Church, right? So how many closeted abortionists are taking communion? And what about murderers and other criminals? How can we make sure none of them get communion? What about fornicators and drug addicts? This is Holland for Christ's sake! The country is full of them! Do they get communion?

The answer, of course, is that these other kinds of sinners are less easily identifiable, which leads us to the real problem here: homosexuals are a visible minority. And, as gay sex is something that makes a lot of people uncomfortable and/or grossed out, it's been demonized within many branches of Christianity and other religions. And, because it's been demonized by religion, it's more socially acceptable to behave in an actively discriminatory way toward the gays than it is to behave that way with other minorities. It's not a question of morality or sin; it's a question of homophobia and hatred. Whatever your definition of sin is, everybody does it.

Matthew 9:10-13 says:
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

I think the Catholic Church needs to ask itself whether the greater sin is being just as sexually active as the rest of the damn planet, but with members of the same sex, or being a bigoted douche. After all, if Jesus shared his meal with sinners, why can't the Church? WTFWJD?

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