Among the Ruins

General discussion on the subject of religion, losing religion, and having no religion to lose...
User avatar
Upton_O_Goode
Perpetual Poster
Posts: 4108
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:15 am
Custom Title: Unlimited_Oracular_Guidance
Location: The Land Formerly Known as Pangea

Among the Ruins

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:08 pm

Among the Ruins: The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church, by Paul L. Williams. Prometheus Books, 2017, 366 pages.

I checked this book out of the public library this morning and have now read the first half of it, with increasing awe and skepticism. First of all, the publisher gives me a bit of pause. I have read many other books by this press, which was founded by the late Paul Kurtz, Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Buffalo. It's scholarly standards are not up to those of, say, Oxford University Press.

Still, what is in here appears to be meticulously documented, although some of the assertions strain my credibility to the limit. For the moment, I reserve judgment, and merely report what is stated in the book.

The author begins by telling us that he is a traditional Catholic, and he takes us back to his youth (which was also MY youth) in the 1950s and 1960s. He finds the Great Break to be in the mid-1960s, when he says things began to fall apart for the Catholic Church, due to its abandonment of traditional doctrines. I don't know how long he stuck it out after that. He appears to be a Sedevacantist, that is, a Catholic who maintains that the throne of St. Peter has been vacant since the death of Pius XII, due to the heretical positions asssumed by all the subsequent Popes. (This is a difficult position to maintain, trying to be "more Catholic than the Pope." The Sedevacantists have no alternative to offer to the traditional method of electing popes, and their attempts to do so have made them a laughingstock. The best-known of them is Mel Gibson. 'Nuff said?)

In any case, he and I do agree on the date of the break. Like him, I loved the old doctrines and the Latin mass and the whole congeries of Catholic life that disappeared overnight like the ice on a lake in the springtime. He doesn't mention the innovation that drove me away, which was a 1965 "cursillo," which I was talked into by Ralph Martin, who was a classmate of mine at Princeton and was, at least until a few years ago, an occasional guest on the Eternal Word Television Network (the cable Catholic Channel). Ralph had been growing indifferent during his undergraduate years at Notre Dame, and the cursillo really did revitalize his faith. Apparently, the revitalization was permanent in his case, as I have bought his book "Hungry for God" and (as I said) seen him on EWTN. But in my case, a person who was quite content with the old-time Catholic faith, the effect was sharply different. I felt as if I had stumbled into a service of Holy Rollers. Latin had recently been replaced by English in the mass, and I no longer felt the same sense of solidarity with other Catholics stretching back to Roman times. By 1966, I had quit going to church, and I have not gone back since. (In 1968, I married an Episcopalian and helped her to raise our children as good Episcopalians; one of them, in fact, is a priest.) But I found my own place as a secular humanist, not hostile to Christianity, just not a part of it either. That's where I plan to finish up.

Back to Williams's narrative. The bombshell revelations I've read today have left me thunderstruck. It was no surprise to me that the CIA funded the escape of a lot of Nazis over the "rat line" to South America after World War II. I didn't realize how deeply the Catholic clergy was involved in this, including Giovanni Batista Montini (Pope Paul VI), and I wonder how reliable these allegations are. As Williams puts it, the Communist Party in Italy was in good position to gain political power in 1946 until the OSS/CIA stepped in with millions of dollars to fund the revival of the Christian Democratic Party. (That fact, if it is a fact, should be contemplated by those who feel indignant that Russia meddled in the 2016 US election.)

Even more incredible to me is the claim of deep penetration of the Catholic hierarchy by the Freemasons. To me, the Freemasons are a very dull and uninteresting bunch of middle-aged men who amuse themselves by dressing up and speaking in ritual phrases like "So mote it be," which they don't know the meaning of. But Williams says that Licio Gelli, an atheist, a 32nd degree Mason, and a member of Propaganda Due (P-2, a CIA-sponsored organization) was made a Knight of Malta by Paul VI. He strongly suggests that both John XXIII and Paul VI were themselves Freemasons. That is simply flabbergasting to me. In my childhood, there was no deeper enmity than that between the Masons and the Catholics.

He goes on to talk about CIA/Catholic hierarchy skullduggery all over Latin America, especially in Panama, Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina, during the 1970s and 1980s, all approved by the administrations of Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. Worst of all, it appears that the current Pope Francis, who was then Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as head of the Argentine Bishops' Conference, refused to defrock Fr. Christian von Wenich, even after he had been jailed for life in 2007 for seven murders, 42 abductions, and 34 cases of torture. It's an appalling bombshell about this Pope, for whom I thought I had some modicum of respect.

There is much more here, and I don't stand behind anything that Williams says. But I would like to see a review of this book by Garry Wills, whom I do trust. Wills wants the Church to continue to modernize, whereas Williams wants it to go back to being that ideal church he remembers from his youth, before Spotlight showed its corruption to the world. I gather he'd prefer to live in a fool's paradise, but that's just my cynicism talking.
Last edited by Upton_O_Goode on Sun Oct 22, 2017 12:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Still, doubts gnawed at everyone. And under no circumstances could I acknowledge my own similar doubts. In order to coax the participants into psychic stability, I had to appear to be rock-solidly convinced of the necessity of carrying out this horrifyingly cruel command."

Rudolf Höß, hanged facing Auschwitz, the camp he commanded, in April 1947. He admitted to 1.1 to 1.5 million murders carried out under his command. Eichmann told him the number was 2.5 million.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 14676
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am
Custom Title: bobbo da existential pragmatist

Re: Among the Ruins

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:38 pm

Why are you interested in the Church/Christian Religion========rather than God?
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Poodle
Has More Than 9K Posts
Posts: 9583
Joined: Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:12 pm
Custom Title: Regular sleeper
Location: NE corner of my living room

Re: Among the Ruins

Postby Poodle » Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:45 pm

As a secular humanist, UOG, you appear remarkably upset by the shenanigans of the RC church. But let's face it, that church has been up the spout since the inception of papal infallibility - however, as papal infallibility is now de rigeur, then it's what it says on the tin i.e. the pope cannot be wrong. The choice, it appears to me, is accept it or leave (which you did, so well done).
I understand what you say in regard to old forms - your love of the use of Latin in RC liturgy, for instance. But I suspect that it was that, more than anything else, which regular (possibly unthinking) Catholics liked. Once the mystery went, so did the club. You have, at the least, found an alternative which satisfies you.
As a bit of a secular humanist myself, I look forward to the day when all humanity comes to its senses and completely rejects its religious chains. Thinking things through in a rational manner cures all, given time, and you do appear to be adept at rational thinking. You're doing fine.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 14676
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am
Custom Title: bobbo da existential pragmatist

Re: Among the Ruins

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sat Oct 21, 2017 11:05 pm

My engine is running.....................its not actually a belief in God that anyone cares about...........its what you DO with it: ie: form a religion and bother other people. Nothing to do with god.............by one way of looking at it.

My preferred orientation: God is the relationship an individual has with that higher authority. Anything and everything other that that PRIVATE process is................................ POLITICS.

That perspective can be played with for certain insights. Everyman is an island. It plate tectonics that confuses the issue.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Upton_O_Goode
Perpetual Poster
Posts: 4108
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:15 am
Custom Title: Unlimited_Oracular_Guidance
Location: The Land Formerly Known as Pangea

Re: Among the Ruins

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Sun Oct 22, 2017 12:02 am

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:Why are you interested in the Church/Christian Religion========rather than God?


The book I'm discussing is about the Church, not about God.
"Still, doubts gnawed at everyone. And under no circumstances could I acknowledge my own similar doubts. In order to coax the participants into psychic stability, I had to appear to be rock-solidly convinced of the necessity of carrying out this horrifyingly cruel command."

Rudolf Höß, hanged facing Auschwitz, the camp he commanded, in April 1947. He admitted to 1.1 to 1.5 million murders carried out under his command. Eichmann told him the number was 2.5 million.

User avatar
Upton_O_Goode
Perpetual Poster
Posts: 4108
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:15 am
Custom Title: Unlimited_Oracular_Guidance
Location: The Land Formerly Known as Pangea

Re: Among the Ruins

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Sun Oct 22, 2017 12:15 am

Poodle wrote:As a secular humanist, UOG, you appear remarkably upset by the shenanigans of the RC church. But let's face it, that church has been up the spout since the inception of papal infallibility - however, as papal infallibility is now de rigeur, then it's what it says on the tin i.e. the pope cannot be wrong. The choice, it appears to me, is accept it or leave (which you did, so well done).
I understand what you say in regard to old forms - your love of the use of Latin in RC liturgy, for instance. But I suspect that it was that, more than anything else, which regular (possibly unthinking) Catholics liked. Once the mystery went, so did the club. You have, at the least, found an alternative which satisfies you.
As a bit of a secular humanist myself, I look forward to the day when all humanity comes to its senses and completely rejects its religious chains. Thinking things through in a rational manner cures all, given time, and you do appear to be adept at rational thinking. You're doing fine.


Well, thanks. I'm quite content with the way things have turned out for me. My wife, a lifelong Episcopalian, is happy as she is, and we get along fine, with two religious daughters and an atheist son.

But, as you probably know as well as I do, early experiences have much more influence on what we find interesting or regard as important than does what we learn later. Like so many lapsed Catholics, I keep "returning to the scene of the crime." You certainly nailed it when you said that "once the mystery went, so did the club." That seems to be what Williams liked the most. When a friend asked me to serve at his wedding in 1967, when Latin had been "out" for a year, and the service was in English, I had to fake it. The only responses I knew were in Latin, and I couldn't translate that fast.

I mentioned Spotlight in my first post here. If you haven't seen that movie, I highly recommend it. A bunch of lapsed-Catholic reporters at the Boston Globe dug into the priestly sex-abuse scandal that was covered up by Archbishop Law-Unto-Himself (as was done by every other bishop, the world over!). At one point two of the reporters are talking on their off-time, and one of them says, "I always thought eventually I would go back." But that wasn't to be.

I have to say, I knew nothing about all those scandals. My departure came when I realized that I never really engaged and personally believed what I had been proclaiming with my mouth. It wasn't really traumatic for me, and I haven't had any desire to go back. But for some people, that nurturing certainty left a huge void when it was gone. For me, at the age of 23, it was a liberation. (If you can remember being a 23-year-old man, try to imagine what it would be like to keep yourself from having any pleasant sexual daydreams. Regarded as sins, they were just as mortal as outright fornication. To be at peace with the Church, as it was then, you had to be either utterly cynical, like the Kennedy family (other than Mamma Rose), or a very inhibited homosexual, or very old. I was none of those things.)

Williams, however, seems to look at this world through rose-colored glasses. He wants it back, and he actually blames the sex-abuse scandal on the Church's abandonment of its claim to have a monopoly on truth. More obtuse than that it would be difficult to be. That's one reason I'm very suspicious of some of his inferences. As I said, let's wait and hear from Garry Wills.

ETA: The current Pope, like his predecessors, continues to protect the Archcriminal Law in the Vatican. He may be a liberal on social issues, but when it comes to protecting the hierarchy, or the ordination of women, or altering the vicious policies on contraception, he might as well be Pius IX.
"Still, doubts gnawed at everyone. And under no circumstances could I acknowledge my own similar doubts. In order to coax the participants into psychic stability, I had to appear to be rock-solidly convinced of the necessity of carrying out this horrifyingly cruel command."

Rudolf Höß, hanged facing Auschwitz, the camp he commanded, in April 1947. He admitted to 1.1 to 1.5 million murders carried out under his command. Eichmann told him the number was 2.5 million.

User avatar
Upton_O_Goode
Perpetual Poster
Posts: 4108
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:15 am
Custom Title: Unlimited_Oracular_Guidance
Location: The Land Formerly Known as Pangea

Re: Among the Ruins

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Sun Oct 22, 2017 1:02 am

Hmm, my opinion seems to be shared by at least one critic. As he says, even if only one-tenth of this is correct....
"Still, doubts gnawed at everyone. And under no circumstances could I acknowledge my own similar doubts. In order to coax the participants into psychic stability, I had to appear to be rock-solidly convinced of the necessity of carrying out this horrifyingly cruel command."

Rudolf Höß, hanged facing Auschwitz, the camp he commanded, in April 1947. He admitted to 1.1 to 1.5 million murders carried out under his command. Eichmann told him the number was 2.5 million.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 14676
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am
Custom Title: bobbo da existential pragmatist

Re: Among the Ruins

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Oct 22, 2017 3:08 pm

Upton_O_Goode wrote:
bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:Why are you interested in the Church/Christian Religion========rather than God?


The book I'm discussing is about the Church, not about God.

and my question was why?

Not a throw away.

OBVIOUSLY.............the Catholic Church is corrupt in so many ways, as are most religions, and all religions to one degree or another?

But anti-theist as I am, I see the notion of "God" as something more subtle if you will.

A discussion of any book, of any religion, of any Church does stand on it own. but it also leads to very close is not inseparable issues. If you aren't interested in the immediate follow up issue......thats ok.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

Tom Palven
Has More Than 5K Posts
Posts: 5372
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:29 am

Re: Among the Ruins

Postby Tom Palven » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:12 am

Apparently the US is trending toward the belief that people can be ethical without God:
http://religionnews.com/2017/10/17/good ... -399926365
If one can be taught to believe absurdities, one can commit atrocities. --Voltaire

User avatar
Upton_O_Goode
Perpetual Poster
Posts: 4108
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:15 am
Custom Title: Unlimited_Oracular_Guidance
Location: The Land Formerly Known as Pangea

Re: Among the Ruins

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:08 pm

Checking into one of the many allegations made by Williams.

A convenient death (Convenient for the hierarchy, that is. He should have faced trial in the Dominican Republic, but once again the Black Hole of Rome sucked him in where there was no extradition, Couldn't have him blabbing all over the place, could they? In the case of Cardinal Law, that allowed him 15 years of easy living and good meals, as opposed to slop off a tin tray, which is what he should have been eating all this time. And of course, we can be sure the Vatican conducted an honest autopsy and we can absolutely trust their statement that he was in poor health to begin with.)

More details
"Still, doubts gnawed at everyone. And under no circumstances could I acknowledge my own similar doubts. In order to coax the participants into psychic stability, I had to appear to be rock-solidly convinced of the necessity of carrying out this horrifyingly cruel command."

Rudolf Höß, hanged facing Auschwitz, the camp he commanded, in April 1947. He admitted to 1.1 to 1.5 million murders carried out under his command. Eichmann told him the number was 2.5 million.

User avatar
Upton_O_Goode
Perpetual Poster
Posts: 4108
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:15 am
Custom Title: Unlimited_Oracular_Guidance
Location: The Land Formerly Known as Pangea

Re: Among the Ruins

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:10 pm

Tom Palven wrote:Apparently the US is trending toward the belief that people can be ethical without God:
http://religionnews.com/2017/10/17/good ... -399926365


Thanks. I needed some good news on this dismal morning. (Probably Seasonal Affective Disorder. I live with it.)
"Still, doubts gnawed at everyone. And under no circumstances could I acknowledge my own similar doubts. In order to coax the participants into psychic stability, I had to appear to be rock-solidly convinced of the necessity of carrying out this horrifyingly cruel command."

Rudolf Höß, hanged facing Auschwitz, the camp he commanded, in April 1947. He admitted to 1.1 to 1.5 million murders carried out under his command. Eichmann told him the number was 2.5 million.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 14676
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am
Custom Title: bobbo da existential pragmatist

Re: Among the Ruins

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Oct 24, 2017 3:07 pm

............but you are discussing the book............remember????

Just a vote for consistency..................which IS a general complaint against the Church, God, and all other authorities.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Phoenix76
Poster
Posts: 426
Joined: Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:16 am
Custom Title: Phoenix76
Location: Qld, Australia

Re: Among the Ruins

Postby Phoenix76 » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:43 am

Well I'm not reading a book. I don't feel I need to read a book to justify my beliefs as they are today.

I was baptised C of E because that was the nearest church to where we lived. My Mother sent me to a catholic school from Kindy onwards. My whole education, for what it's worth, was done through the catholic education system. She figured that I would get a better start in life with them.

When young kids are mentored daily by nuns and brothers, they generally end up believing what they are told. Well I did, for a while. But I guess that when I reached my later teens, my forensic nature kicked in. I started to question what I had been taught, perhaps that should read, what I had had drummed into me. But I even gave my teenage girlfriend a copy of a book on catholicism. Obviously she was not catholic, just a protestant????

Did 7 years in the Army, including a tour of Vietnam, and you start to question what you had been told over all those years. I mean, would a kind, all loving, all compassionate, all knowing god, allow the horrors of war?? Well after that part of my life I just got on with living my life, if that's what you call it.

Wasn't til after my breakdown, I call it PMS you know what I mean, that I really started to question my life. I say my life, because I have no desire to question yours or anyone else's. What my studies showed was that there was no proof of any god, no proof of any life thereafter, none of it made the slightest bit of sense. Why would this god allow the depravities that have beset children over the time? Why would this god allow the sufferings that have occurred? No answer!!! And the bible!!!!!! The greatest fairy tale ever written. In fact, the greatest con ever written.

Sure, churchy type people will give you all sorts of BS to explain these things, and tell you that you will be rewarded in the afterlife. Give me a break. What afterlife? There is no proven afterlife. Just some more religious crap to try and convince you to support some religious mob who only seem to take, no giving. I don't care what a religion calls itself, catholic, methodist, c of e, scientology, all a load of crap designed to extract money from you. Like, they are not exactly poor are they. But what about their followers? Sleeping hard, no food, et al. From the definitions I know, that is not christianity.

No my friends, today I have seen the light, so to speak :D. I am such a confirmed atheist it's not funny. There is no afterlife, just dust to dust and ashes to ashes. How did all this start? Well as best I can accept, it was the big bang. Scientifically, that seems to be the best explanation, supported by scientific study, that I can see.

Interesting question is, where did all the components of the big bang come from? Well, there had to be something flammable that when mixed with something else that was flammable - BANG! How the hell (doesn't exist) do I know? When, if, we ever learn these mysterious truths, I will reconsider my stand, provided the new belief is supported by excellent scientific data.

So you see, I just do not believe any of these myths. But I take nothing away from good clergymen. The Salvation Army have proven themselves time and time again. After the second world war, they would accept anyone into their fold, feed them, succour them, and ask nothing in return. The catholic mob turned away their own believers. The Army Padre, now there was a person who could call himself christian. They were kind and helpful, no matter what your beliefs. Middle of the night, when you were on sentry duty, he would bring you a cup of cocoa. He never asked what religion you were, he just tried to lift your spirits. Sorry, but I struggle to recall the same sort of christian demonstration as those two.

So, for what it's worth, those are my thoughts.

User avatar
Poodle
Has More Than 9K Posts
Posts: 9583
Joined: Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:12 pm
Custom Title: Regular sleeper
Location: NE corner of my living room

Re: Among the Ruins

Postby Poodle » Thu Oct 26, 2017 11:15 am

I don't necessarily agree with you about the books, Phoenix76, although I totally agree with everything else you say. The books, I feel, are rather important historical documents - the OT being a (redacted, of course) collection of ancient writings and the NT demonstrating the smartness of the Roman Empire maintaining ongoing control over an empire whilst withdrawing the legions. In Britain's case, Celtic Christianity was here first but was eventually totally subsumed by Roman Catholicism. The very definition of political nous, if you ask me.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 14676
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am
Custom Title: bobbo da existential pragmatist

Re: Among the Ruins

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:37 pm

Just cause you said it: "Interesting question is, where did all the components of the big bang come from? Well, there had to be something flammable that when mixed with something else that was flammable - BANG!" //// Reminds me of the common caution that Most Starwars shows are wrong because explosions make no noise in space.

But I post that only to support your first wrong statement: "Well I'm not reading a book. I don't feel I need to read a book to justify my beliefs as they are today." //// Silly Rabbit. You don't read books to justify beliefs ((ha, ha.....a very religious take on the world by the way.........THAT being an interesting subject: once you have been totally immersed in a culture, what are its permanent consequences once you are nominally removed from or reject that culture? Fascinating stuff........but you might have to read a few books on that to find any worth....))............you read books to INFORM YOURSELF.

The most basic intro to the Big Bang will inform you nothing burned. There was no explosion. In Space.... there is no Bang. Once again "interesting" how labels will direct/control/corruput/color our understanding of any issue. Good books to read on that subject too..............
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Phoenix76
Poster
Posts: 426
Joined: Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:16 am
Custom Title: Phoenix76
Location: Qld, Australia

Re: Among the Ruins

Postby Phoenix76 » Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:13 am

My statement, "Well I'm not reading a book. I don't feel I need to read a book to justify my beliefs as they are today", simply referred to Upton stating that he was reading a book, and gaining some knowledge on the subject of religion.

And I would have thought that the members of this forum were intelligent enough to understand that my reference to "The Big Bang" was simply demonstrating the limit of our knowledge about just how our Universe came about. And simply the well used statement "The Big Bang" does conjure up an image of some type of explosion. The fact that it could not be heard in a vacuum is irrelevant in relation to my above writing. So if any of our members don't like the phrase "The Big Bang", then go complain to the scientists who came up with the saying.

And if I call myself a researcher, or a forensic type researcher, then obviously I have read many books, publications, theses and the like. Just a shame that somebody has to buy into an otherwise interesting discussion for no more apparent reason than to try and twist what somebody else has posted, although it is clear to most educated people what has been said and what was meant by it.

So perhaps, for the sake of some members, I should write in a language of kindergarten level so that they can understand what I am saying. I am NOT reading the same book as Upton, but yes, I have read many books as mentioned. In this case, for this discussion, I have already reached conclusions, and it is those conclusions that I have referred to.

Why do I bother? Why don't I just shut up? Why don't I just ignore the puerile crap written by some members? I must be getting old and senile!


Return to “The Letting Go of God Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest