On Monday, The Onion reported, Resigning Pope No Longer Has Strength To Lead Church Backward. The article says, “According to the 85-year-old pontiff, after considerable prayer and reflection on his physical stamina and mental acuity, he concluded that his declining faculties left him unable to helm the Church’s ambitious regressive agenda and guide the faith’s one billion global followers on their steady march away from modernity and cultural advancement.”
I know, I know: after posting Fuck the Mother Fucker, you think I have it out for the Catholic Church. But that isn’t it at all. I really like the Catholic Church. In a play I wrote, I even put a sex scene in the baptismal font. So you can forget all thought of that. I like the rituals and churches and robes and all that stuff.
But The Onion is onto an important theological issue. Should our theology be constrained by dogma? I don’t mean just in moral terms, but that is the biggest problem from a cultural standpoint; I mean in a theological sense. There really are theological innovations. For example, monotheism was an advancement over thinking there were endless gods controlling each part of the world as we found it. And today, we really should be past thinking that there is some God in the sky who really cares that we only stick penises in vaginas.
It is unfortunately the case that most religions are actively involved in keeping our spiritual thinking as primitive as it was hundreds or thousands of years ago when the religion was created. For all the ridiculousness of something like Scientology, at least it is a new idea. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for most Christian offshoots. Mormonism, for example, just takes the Christian mythology and moves it horizontally.
My biggest question about most modern religions is how they can possibly answer people’s spiritual questions. Clearly, Jainism is malleable enough to allow one to really search. But Christianity? It just seems to be a system designed to stop people for thinking. I remember as a little kid being extremely frustrated that my church explained the existence of God as being “begotten not made.” For whom do such answers help in the least?
Note: I’m come to think of the universe as being begotten not made. But there is a big difference: my mind is wrapped around the absurdity of that statement. It is part of my deep appreciation for the unknowable nature of existence. I would never tell someone who was struggling with the concept that the universe was begotten not made. That kind of thing just stops thinking. And so do most religions.
I am, however, hopeful that the new pope will be at least a tiny bit more liberal than the last. Regardless, I know this: eventually the Catholic Church will accept homosexuality just as it now accepts shellfish eating. The twenty-first century awaits the arrival of all of the Abrahamic religions!