Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Snotty Secular Religiosity

Given the title, this line speaks for itself:
OK, so, are Catholics good Christians, as good a Christian as, say, you are?

What are you babbling about? There are a few standard accepted definitions of the label. If you mean Christian, as in those who proclaim allegiance to some church or hereditary cultural link, "good" has not much to do with it. Furthermore, under those circumstances, what I term "cultural Christianity", the topic is highly variable. If you mean Christian, as in one who professes Jesus as the Messiah personally, that is a different situation. Although, again "good" doesn't have much to do with it. Strange as it may seem, I have met many Catholics who have very little personal interest in the pursuit of Christ. I personally would not call them Christians under the second definition. Also, there is a common usage of the term for hereditary groups in many areas. By my take, you can not join a church or be born to a member of a church and be a Christian under the second label. You need to personally chose that regardless of blood or affiliation.

Now, when you use the term 'good', where do you get your gage? What do you constitute good or bad? Are we to decide who is good? And by what measure? I make no comparison amongst individuals in determining who is 'good' or 'bad'. If a individual through action harms another, you could call that bad. Since there is not a single individual living who has not done so (unless there is some child raised by gorillas that never contacted society...), everyone has done something bad, even 'good' Christians. Doesn't make any sense what your asking.

If you want to argue the comparative benefits of particular religions or sects, that is a different question. First, we need a measure. Is the measure the perceived benefit or harm to society? And as determined by whom? Or is the measure the intentions of God as related in accepted Scripture? Then we have another problem, because few take the time to actually read and investigate that goal. But, there are some very simple examples that do not require vast understanding. For instance, idolatry is obviously not what God indicates as a proper pursuit. So why do Catholics worship images of saints? Or another simple example. Take the Mormons. Later day saints. If Christ represented the culmination of the first dispensation, did God make a mistake and need to do it again? Absolute (moronic) lunacy. If one places any stock in the various principals represented in the texts, then the critical discretion inherent in those ideas and philosophies would prevent one from supporting a organization whose goal was in diametric opposition. Furthermore, if one rejects these text out of hand, which is fine, yet adheres to one of the religious institutions through what we can both agree is 'blind faith', I will still claim idiocy as the origins of most western religion stems from specific interpretations of the same text. In other words, as a individual, the proper course (as I perceive it) requires critical thinking when confronted with evidence that clearly shows error in the established institution. Otherwise you are a dupe.

Now, the vast majority of members in these institutions do not seem to be interested in such pursuits, and do exist in a 'cultural' framework. A community of support. Are we to denigrate the institution in such cases? I fully support Catholic charities. Many of our finest hospitals have their origins in the various churches. What is your scale to determine benefit or harm? Are you not playing as the divine ruler when you judge? In your case that divine ruler is man himself, and even greater travesty from some perspectives. Do you then believe in the 'goodness' of man? Or is your secular humanism really just a religion of self? Self satisfaction, self determination, and ultimately self preservation. Yet each of these goals ends in failure most ultimate for the atheist. That can't be considered as good now can it? And for the benefit of mankind, is the pursuit of self interest good?

The advancement of man is a very tricky thing. Is the perfect goal something quantifiable? First and foremost would be life. So does that mean as many people as possible should being able to live? Yet life is a serious struggle for some populations, how could they be happy? Is this good? Ah, but are we to decide who gets to live, who doesn't? Do we determine who is happy and satisfied? Do we represent all of man? What is the benefit of preventing or promoting life in such a way? It is of course impossible to do, yet many secular elitist make the attempt. The pursuit of the futile. There are many more specific examples, but the principal is quite clear. At some point, every individuals philosophy is based on a belief in the unprovable.

Here we reach a crossroad, where the benefit of mankind and the philosophies that rate that benefit meet. This meeting has existed in perpetual conflict throughout history. The philosophies changed names, yet the principal underlying the establishment of each philosophy is the same. At some point each much choose a measure, decide upon a course, without a real view of the outcome. This is where no argument can be convincing, for as the outcomes diverge, each path is the mist of the future. However, for the individual, the future is partially revealed.

Each man is given a life to live, and then death comes. Can death be conquered? Is there preservation available for the soul of man? Every person of intellect contemplates his mortality at some point. Each hears that question in the heart "Is there something missing?" For the Christian, pursuing that is the beginning of a fascinating journey. Part of that path is the concept of judging. One of the finest examples is Gods exhortation to enjoy the fruit of life, and to not be consumed with judging for oneself. To know what is ultimately 'good' and 'bad', and decide such shuts the door to experiencing life beyond the physical.

Now we return to what constitutes a 'good' Christian. That would be one who does not judge in such a way. So no 'good' Christian would call himself a good Christian. Likewise, what is the value in pointing out who is supposedly a 'bad' Christian? The worth of a individual can be seen in the appreciation of others, but this is not the measure of judgment. To go beyond this and determine who is good or bad based on what organizations they belong to is even more questionable. In this, criticism of said organizations is still perfectly viable. Equally appropriate is the ongoing cognizant critique of the philosophies adhered to by many groups.

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