The BBC just adores the pope

Sep 20th, 2010 12:19 pm | By

The BBC is all but wetting itself in its excitement about the pope’s visit. Everything was so wonderful! It was just so so so beautiful and touching and moving and spirichal and compassionate and terrific and brilliant.

A pope who had previously been regarded as someone rather cold, professorial, aloof and authoritarian; had suddenly been perceived as a rather kindly and gentle grandfather figure.

Ohhhhhhh – that’s so sweet! Of course kindly gentle grandfather would let any woman die before he would let her have an abortion, and he condemns Africans in their thousands and their tens of thousands to a miserable death and their children to orphanhood with his stupid, pointless, arbitrary Law against condoms, and he shielded … Read the rest

UK converts to Catholicism en masse *

Sep 20th, 2010 | Filed by

The pope is thrilled, the BBC is thrilled, Priss Choss and Cmilla are thrilled, the Telegraph and the Guardian are thrilled, the MCB is thrilled.… Read the rest


Sep 20th, 2010 11:34 am | By

The Guardian must have scared itself with its “turbulent priest” editorial on Saturday – it has now taken it back.

The one on Saturday was not wholly admiring of the pope’s performance.

[H]e believes that there is only one one spiritual source – again his – from which all our values derive. He is attacking not only the Reformation, the separation of church and state, but the very basis on which a secular society is built.

But today, well, on further consideration, when confronted with an actual pope, the only thing to do is grovel.

Despite Benedict XVI’s unbending and in some senses cruel conservatism, the Guardian supported his visit, recognising that there was diplomatic business to do and,

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Catholicism is on the ropes in Belgium *

Sep 20th, 2010 | Filed by

It’s not just the child-rape and the concealment, it’s all that from people who claim to uphold the highest moral standards.… Read the rest

Joan Smith says no thanks to papal ethics *

Sep 20th, 2010 | Filed by

She’d be happy to ignore all religions “if their leaders didn’t keep telling me that their ethics are better than mine.”… Read the rest

Guardian rebukes the pope’s “militant opponents” *

Sep 20th, 2010 | Filed by

They “failed to afford sincere faith the respect it is due.”… Read the rest

Dawkins: Ratzinger is an enemy of humanity *

Sep 20th, 2010 | Filed by

“Original sin means that, from the moment we are born, we are wicked, corrupt, damned. Unless we believe in their God.”… Read the rest

This fine radar

Sep 19th, 2010 6:03 pm | By

There’s another thing that frets me (for want of a better term) about Julian’s “why I didn’t sign the anti-pope letter” article. I mention this again because it seems to me symptomatic of a particular school of anti-atheist tut-tuttery.

It is that it seems kind of frivolous, at bottom. I think that’s probably why the arguments seem unconvincing…it’s because they are! Maybe he didn’t actually have any real reasons, maybe the letter just got on his nerves, and he had to reach for reasons, and it was a big stretch, and the reasons aren’t up to much.

And that makes the whole thing a bit self-regarding. He certainly wasn’t required to sign the letter, but for actually arguing that … Read the rest

Sweden narrowly re-elects centre-right alliance *

Sep 19th, 2010 | Filed by

PM Fredrik Reinfeldt says he will not make a deal with the far-right Sweden Democrats.… Read the rest

Full text of the pope’s Westminster Hall speech *

Sep 19th, 2010 | Filed by

He tells the piously listening government boffins that religion is marginalized, thus performing an oxymoron.… Read the rest

What the pope said

Sep 19th, 2010 5:23 pm | By

I watched part of the pope’s speech at Westminster Hall on C-Span yesterday evening. He’s sure as hell not what you’d call charismatic, or even tolerable to listen to – fast, whispery, monotone – not fun. But the substance is what counts. The point is what he said.

Britain has emerged as a pluralist democracy which places great value on freedom of speech, freedom of political affiliation and respect for the rule of law, with a strong sense of the individual’s rights and duties, and of the equality of all citizens before the law.While couched in different language, Catholic social teaching has much in common with this approach, in its overriding concern to safeguard the unique dignity of every human

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Better video of Dawkins’s speech at pope protest *

Sep 19th, 2010 | Filed by

That’s Peter Tatchell behind him, and Maryam Namazie on his right, with Johann Hari next to Maryam.… Read the rest

Maryam Namazie at protest the pope rally *

Sep 19th, 2010 | Filed by

“Isn’t it racism to say that billions of people deserve nothing better than to live under sharia law?” [cheers]… Read the rest

Informational question

Sep 19th, 2010 11:45 am | By

Is anyone else unable to get to Talking Philosophy? I’ve been getting a page that says “Forbidden” for almost a week; is it just me or is it some kind of magnetic disturbance over the US?… Read the rest

Miranda Hale on the permanence of Catholic guilt *

Sep 19th, 2010 | Filed by

“I still catch myself wondering what I need to do in order to rid myself of the guilt, shame, and feeling of dirtiness that, in one form or another, is almost always my companion.”Read the rest

Nick Cohen on the Paul Chambers case *

Sep 19th, 2010 | Filed by

He has a criminal record and has been fired from two jobs because of a jokey remark on Twitter.… Read the rest

Paula Kirby on the pope’s pastoral visit *

Sep 19th, 2010 | Filed by

When people are persuaded that real human suffering counts for less than the religious concepts of sin and purity, then greater human suffering is the inevitable result.… Read the rest

Idea and Violence

Sep 18th, 2010 | By Shaker B. Srinivasan

The insistence, if only implicitly, on a choiceless singularity of human identity not only diminishes us all, it also makes the world much more flammable. The alternative to the divisiveness of one pre-eminent categorization is not any unreal claim that we are all much the same. Rather, the main hope of harmony in our troubled world lies in the plurality of our identities, which cut across each other and work against sharp divisions around one single hardened line of vehement division that allegedly cannot be resisted. Our shared humanity gets savagely challenged when our differences are narrowed into one devised system of uniquely powerful categorization.

— Amartya Sen. What Clash of Civilizations? Why religious identity isn’t destiny. Slate, March

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The lyrics

Sep 18th, 2010 4:50 pm | By

In case you want the lyrics to the pope song, here they are.

This is my favorite stanza, because it’s what I’m always thinking and what I keep saying and what was a big part of the argument of Does God Hate Women?

But if you build a church on claims of fucking moral authority
And with threats of hell impose it on others in society
Then you, you motherfuckers, could expect some fucking wrath
When it turns out you’ve been fucking us in our motherfucking asses.

That’s exactly it. Here’s the pope telling us we can’t be good without his god, but he and his priests aren’t good with his god, so I don’t think he knows a … Read the rest

Dawkins at the anti-pope demonstration *

Sep 18th, 2010 | Filed by

How dare Ratzinger suggest that atheism had anything to do with the Nazis’ wicked deeds.… Read the rest