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Novels I will not write: Jesus wants his kidney back

In recent news the Pope gets to tear up his donor card because his body belongs to the Church and, hey, if he was beatified all his organs would turn into holy relics. (Never mind that he's 87 and not exactly a desirable source of young, healthy donor organs.)

This got me thinking ...

What about the status of donor organs from other beatified/canonized persons? Especially in light of the Catholic Church's recent trend towards creating new saints much faster than the historic norm.

Which led to the first germination of a story I shall not write ...

Setup

Let us postulate a world in which Christian doctrine is actually True — specifically Catholic doctrine.

Our hero is a 40-something newspaper editor and investigative journalist with a history.

About 20 years ago, while investigating a story in Eastern Europe, he was nearly murdered; a corrupt billionaire oligarch took exception to our hero nosing into his family history and arranged for a minion to stir some Death Cap mushrooms into his stroganoff. However, he was saved by a kidney transplant, using an organ donated by a priest working with the local hospital who happened to be a perfect histocompatibility match.

In the aftermath, our hero managed to lay his hands on some highly incriminating documents and promptly found a Swiss bank vault to lodge them in; he has to prove he's alive and free once every six months or the bank will release the papers to wikileaks, causing some minor embarrassment to our shady billionaire oligarch from the Carpathians.

Hook

$PROTAG is at home on a sunny weekend afternoon when his front doorbell rings. Chaos ensues: the two Men In Black on his doorstep aren't Jehovah's Witnesses, they're hit men. Our hero manages to escape and runs like hell, then calls the police on his cellphone. The police arrive, and the hit men are duly caught. $PROTAG is invited back to the station to make a statement, and all seems to be going well when the inspector who is taking him in receives a phone call. The cop's manner changes, and our hero realizes that from being a witness or a victim, he's now being treated as something else.

His second escape — from the police — is rather harder. As he goes on the run he rapidly realizes that he is being tracked by his phone, and is forced to turn it off. (This is harder than you might think, especially as circa 2015 your mobile phone is also likely to be your credit card/cash wallet.)

We now have a classic man-on-the-run setup.

Progression

$PROTAG goes to visit an old friend, now working as a PI. The PI starts digging and discovers that an eye-watering reward has been offered for the return of $PROTAG, or his left kidney.

$PROTAG puts two and two together and hits the net. The priest who donated his kidney died three years later. Two years ago he was beatified. The process of canonization is being pursued with indecent haste for some reason, and he's a couple of weeks from being officially declared to be a saint. A shadowy agency associated with the Vatican is therefore trying to secure the rogue holy relic before it "goes live" inside our hero, granting him whatever eerie superpowers come from carrying a no-shit saint's left kidney.

Recomplication

Through slack internet security discipline, our hero has given the bad guys a clue to his whereabouts. That night, more MIBs turn up, ready to kidnap or kill him. His friend the PI has an unregistered handgun; there's a shoot-out, and our hero is facing certain death when more MIBs turn up and lay into the first bunch.

It turns out that the Carpathian oligarch hasn't forgotten about the blackmail material after all ...

Where next?

Well, this all came out at the pub last night and survived the hang-over. I've got no definite end in mind and no use for such an extremely silly novel, so I thought I'd dump it here on my blog in all it's rawness, just because.

What we've got is a classic man-on-the-run thriller plot. What he's running from is obvious; what he's running to needs further development before there's an actual story arc. However, in the background there's clearly scope for a B-plot revolving around the less obvious implications of Catholic doctrine being true. For example: let us postulate that the transubstantiation of the host during holy communion is real, and that in the communicant's mouth the wafer and wine are turned into the flesh and blood of the son of God. We can remove tissue samples from the stomach of a believer right after communion without too much difficulty; and such tissues will of course contain stem cells, and with the right techniques we can come up with pluripotent Jesus stem cells. What are the applications ...?

Lurking in the back of my head there's also a mischievous conceit: the classic vampire story — setting aside all the dubious rape/disease symbolism — rests on an artificial mythology that presupposes the truth of Christian theology. Vampires are repelled by crosses, don't show up in mirrors, and so on. Creatures of the night, in other words. It's trivially obvious that the thriller plot I've just described will go well with vampires. And wouldn't it be fun to have a vampire yarn revolving around a hapless journalist who is in demand because he pisses holy water?

Alas: I don't have time to go on a six month diversion into vampire country — not to mention that I find the literalist content of most religious doctrines to be deeply silly, to such a degree that I'd have difficulty suspending my disbelief for long enough to finish the yarn. Moreover, believers can get quite irate when you start treating their beliefs as a science fictional shared universe and go looking for loopholes in the laws. I can happily forgo the consumer boycott or hate mail or whatever.

But if you want to see where this kind of thing ultimately leads? Here's Apocamon, a Manga style re-telling of the Revelation of St John the Divine.

265 Comments

1:

Ah, but like all of your tales, this is fun and quite readable.

2:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/02/the_papacy_pastiche.php

Different variation, with zombie accountants and fibreglass triceratops, among many other things...

3:

Somebody should write this novel. You should team up with James Morrow, he'd eat it up with a spoon.

4:

I think the story could work without the fantasy elements. Sure, having $PROTAG gain superpowers when beatification kicks in would allow for some nifty deus ex machinery, but it's a nifty dark thriller all on its own. Opus Dei out to repossess organs -- or you could make it a militant offshoot of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

5:

For example: let us postulate that the transubstantiation of the host during holy communion is real, and that in the communicant's mouth the wafer and wine are turned into the flesh and blood of the son of God.

Let me pick a nit, because if we're going to do a theology pastiche, by Jove we're going to do it right. The host is not transubstantiated in the communicant's mouth. Rather, the host and the cup are transubstantiated at the moment of consecration, when the priest says "This is my body" and "This is my blood" respectively, and remain consecrated thereafter. The logical consequences of this are largely already present in Catholic theology, as leftover hosts are kept in a locked box called a tabernacle or placed in a very fancy holder for people to look at, and are sometimes trotted out for veneration without ever being eaten. Furthermore, because the host gets the substance of Christ's body without the accidents, there won't be any stem cells. Sorry.

6:

There's a Japanese light novel/ anime/ manga franchise called "a certain magical index" that treats Christianity like a fantasy RPG.

Saints are extremely powerful, rare magic users compared to nuclear bombs.

More info here:

http://toarumajutsunoindex.wikia.com/wiki/Roman_Catholic_Church

Course, there's a lot less Christians to piss off in Japan, though that didn't seem to stop The Da Vinci Code.

7:

And wouldn't it be fun to have a vampire yarn revolving around a hapless journalist who is in demand because he pisses holy water?

There you go and cancel out two comments I was going to make with one sentence.

Just leaves me to say that I can't stand Man-on-the-run stories, always seem like retreads trying to come up with a new twist that probably isn't.

8:

...I would read this series, in a heartbeat.

'Course, you could up your ante by throwing in a third faction of people that were using the fetish artifacts of sinners and heretics for their own purposes.

And, hilarious comedy, as the Russian Oligarch's men aren't even involved in the whole mess, and are wondering why they're dealing with all these weird people...or, the illicit trade in dangerous embalmed body parts. Don't ask what Jim Morrion's liver or Hunter S. Thompson's teeth will do... Or Churchill's phallus.

9:

Forgot, I was going to suggest a scene where he is kidnapped, and they take the wrong kidney. A case of "His left, not yours". Leaving him in the requisite ice filled bathtub.

10:

Then I remember that kidney's are removed from the back, so would be hard to mix up lefts. Wasn't intended to be a good idea.

11:

That's ... wow. That's nonsense on stilts!

(I speak as someone whose family tree doesn't include any Christian ancestors, as far as we know. Hence my lack of knowledge of such doctrinal points.)

12:

I think this could be fun, too bad you won't write it. You could go even further though; in what ways would fundamental tech have differed if such doctrine were True? There are a LOT of saints in Catholicism ... imagine all of them intervening on a regular basis?

If you won't do it for the Cross People; maybe some other fringe religion or mythology? Faeries in Space? Wiccans vs the AI?

13:

So if someone else were to write it, would that be a problem for you?

I doubt I can manage it, I'm just asking out of interest.

It sounds like the plot to a Simon R. Green novel to me. It's got the right mix of silly and blasphemy.

14:

How come it's seldom pointed out that Communion is effin' metaphoric Cannibalism? Your version would make it literal. I don't know of any mainstream moral code that would be okay with that. What possible excuse would the Church come up with? Could make for an interesting bit of backstory.

15:

Well, transubstantiation means "what it really is has changed, although the physical form has not".

But, what if we substituted some organic matter containing stem cells for the blood or body. Of course, if you substitute the wine with blood wine, the only effect would be to make anyone who drinks it twelve again, but if we could replace wafers with beef scratching somehow, then we could clone the body of God. Of course, you could replace it with pork scratchings, and clone the wrath of God, Jesus was Jewish.

16:

Erm, CHARLIE!
" I find the literalist content of most religious doctrines to be deeply silly"
Tell that to Cthulu, or Nyarlothep?
Or any of the plot of the "Laundry" novels.

Erm, err, anyone got a handy pentacle?

Kate @ 2
Err, I hate to tell you, but the venerated Frank Hampson did that for an "Eagle Annual" more years ago than I care to remember - D. Dare (& Digby) were supposed to ferry a Triceratops back from Venus to Earth, and something went wrong with its' meds en route ......

Scott @ 6
WRONG
There's a lot more christians in Japan than you might think.
Look up Oda Nobonunga - who almost made it to shogun, instead of Tokugawa Iayesu.
He was in close contact with the Jesuits, and was very keen on importing European (miltary) technology.
There is a very accurate portrait of him in the classic Kurosawa film "Shadow Warrior" ( Kagemusha ).

And, I hate to spoil the party but there is a "great classic" of 20th C English literature that depends on having orthodox catholic theology as a base.
LoTR.
It's a great shame, because it IS a great work (I have a late-printed-impression first edition) and a wonderful tale, but ...
There WAS the thesis that LoTr is our future, or an ALTERNATIVE past, especially when you consider the technology available to the Numenoreans. I once even gave a lecture to the Tolkien Society, based on that presumption.....

17:

In this catholic alternate world would hospitals be filled with doctors killing birds and dipping their heads in the blood as cures?

You could go quite some way with a book set in a world where the bible was accurate, though internal inconsistencies would be a nightmare...

18:

Saint? Why stop there?
Somebody has already gone one better.

The duo writing as John Case did in 'The Genesis Code' in 1997.

In that a character gathered together pieces of the true cross, extracted J's DNA from the bloodstains and used it in in-vitro fertility treatments....

19:

Crutcher, this is the core plot wossname of Turtledove's amusing _The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump_, with the caveat that every religion is true, so there is a 'thecosystem' of interacting deities, with all the fun that leads to (e.g. there are various deities from ancient Greece and so on maintained by government subsidy because they happen to do things useful to agriculture).

20:

Send it to Jim Butcher. It would make a great Dresden File.

21:

I'll write it! It's no crazier than my novel concept in which the Christian church is taken over by Eastern European and Greek vampires during the formative post-Constantine/pre-Nikaea years and they use it to leverage themselves into power. The idea of an Eternal Pope, vampire priests, and the obvious temptation of taking "the body and the blood" of Christ literally compelled me to write this.

22:

I think our host is already doing this, for a very idiosyncratic version of religion.

The word just came to me to describe Bob Howard's belief system -- Antitheism. God exists, and he must be stopped at all costs.

23:

I'm fairly sure that they declare that someone has always been a Saint (i.e. he doesn't become a saint because the church says so, the church has merely discovered that on death the person became a saint).

Therefore the person is (in said fantasy world), likely to have had magic powers since the death of the cardinal. So they'd need to be something that might pass off as natural (faster healing, not getting ill, being lucky, etc.).

24:
there won't be any stem cells.

What a shame; I was just becoming bemused by the idea of an army of Jesus clones marching out from Rome to retake the Protestant countries

☭ "I speak as someone whose family tree doesn't include any Christian ancestors, as far as we know." Me too, but I think our ancestors took part in European history, willy nilly.

25:

Umm, bigger nit to pick is that death caps destroy your liver, not your kidney.

And, if I recall correctly, liver regenerates. Therefore, the priest would have had most of his liver when he died (one only donates a portion, not the entire organ, due to the organ's regenerative nature.

As to whether the liver in the protagonist would have been a holy relic, that gets *interesting.* After all, some of his stem cells would have invaded the organ, so biologically it wouldn't have been a chimera, not pure saint-liver.

And if the protagonist wasn't performing miracles, the church would quite rightly maintain that it was no longer the priest's liver, just a sign of his wonderful, giving nature...And I can just see the Pope issuing a detailed bull on stem cells (in Latin) to explain why this was so.

26:

Charlie, if you ever write it, here's yet *another* twist: you mentioned transubstantiation. Well, the *real* alchemists weren't trying to turn lead into gold, and the real reason they obfuscated so much wasn't about money. Rather, the goal was to transmute the alchemist's soul into gold, or rather, "perfect" it... which, in effect, would mean that they were trying to become The Messiah

So, perhaps the hero actually found something, or learned something from someone, or maybe the person who's trying to get a jump on the Holy Relic found the means to do this, and whoever's got the kidney, and has the method, can be The Second Coming....

mark "the Xians have been waiting for their God's Second
Coming for 2000 years; our Goddess has come
twice tonight, already"

27:

The Genesis Code sounds a lot like Revelation (2001), an entertaining mess featuring Terence Stamp and Celia Imrie (!). It has the virtue of having beat the Da Vinci Code in ripping off "Holy Blood, Holy Grail." It's also filmed largely in Malta, with the Knights of Malta Grandmaster's Castle standing in for the Vatican. And it's got Liam Cunningham in it too. And Udo Kier!

28:

Death Cap wrecks your kidneys, too, not just the liver. But the liver is a wee bit more able to regenerate; someone with mild pre-existing kidney disease could conceivably keep their liver -- just -- while going into acute renal failure.

29:

@Derek C.F. Pegritz: I think someone may have beaten you to that story - The Last Days of Christ the Vampire by J.G. Eccarius (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/98439.The_Last_Days_of_Christ_the_Vampire). Or certainly taking the "the body and the blood" literally.

Ken's review in the community reviews section brought lots of the plot flooding back - Jesus controlled zombies, gun battles in the catacombs beneath the Vatican and dollops of conspiracy theory.

It was a fun when I read it in the back in the early nineties and I've always had a slight hankering for a sequel.

have fun
alc

30:

What you need Charlie is a non deeply silly method of how a universe where Christian doctorine is literally true came to be and still function like our own (did galileo exist in this universe? how did we arrive at industrial revolution if saints really did have demonstrable superpowers?).

One scenario springs to mind is that in the future some radical religious zealots who are rather pissed to learn that there is indeed no afterlife nor miracles, get their hands on some dangerous technology in a post-singularity transhuman universe. Basically they construct a system that reaches back through time and extracts human consciousness at the momment of death and restores it to a virtually entropy-free simulated universe residing in the computronium normally used by post-physical enties. Along the way, having deep access to reality and history, they can enable seemingly miraculous and physically impossible things to occur.

They put the universe back how it should have been. For all practical purposes in human history, it is as if it is real, however it is in fact a future construct of humanity.

We reside in the as yet un-screwed with time line.

You could then introduce other parties who are not terribly happy about all this. Including folk who are a little pissed about the sorting process between "good souls" and flawed product being dumped in to a cosmic low-energy state landfill (hell).

Since the computational system scans spacetime for the quantum signature of particular DNA and larger cellular structure, neurons etc, having Jesus stem cells gives you what ammounts to admin rights to the computronium abstracted away in higher dimensions.

Now that, is deeply silly.

31:

Definitely James Morrow territory. I love it. I'd pay to read it (and if I ever become a billionaire, I'll pay you to write it.)

Wonderful. Just wonderful.

Alex

32:

It isn't just transplanted organs that could cause problems, what about biopsy samples of the Pope's prostate? It is common medical practice to culture such tissues. Suitably stored, someone's pre-cancerous cells could outlive them by a considerable amount, even through the time of their beatification and eventual elevation to sainthood. It might be that future reliquaries will be topped up with liquid nitrogen to preserve the saint's cells and at the same time prevent them from replicating or miraclising all over the place.

33:

This would be a hell of a movie, especially as a comedy/drama.

To add another twist: the holy kidney of Christ Descended cures vampirism. THEN, you've got a bad guy who's doing bad only so he can become good again. And a good guy denying relief to the bad guy.

34:

Scott @ 6
WRONG
There's a lot more christians in Japan than you might think.

There are about 500,000 Roman Catholics in Japan, less than 0.5% of the population. So I'd say Scott's point is pretty valid.

(Sure, Catholic missionaries made inroads in the 1500s, but Hideyoshi and the Tokugawa shoguns actively suppressed Christianity afterwards.)

35:

You might be interested in the loose trilogy by James Blish, A Case of Conscience, Black Easter, and The Day after Judgment. These were spun from the premise that Catholic theology was literally true; in the first novel, a world is found in which catholic morality/ethics is practiced by a race that derived it from logic, not revelation, and therefore had to be an evil world designed by the Devil (in order, I think, to seduce man into believing he doesn't need religion); and the priest involved decided the entire world was a fake set up by the Devil - because the devil cannot create, only God can. (By the way, that is why the Catholic Church banned the movie Rosemary's Baby, not because Catholics couldn't handle a movie about the Devil, but because it posits that the Devil could have a child, obviously nonsense if you believe the devil cannot create).

The second and third books were about what would happen if God was dead. Poor Satan had to take over.

36:

Hm, if I wasn't clear about Rosemary's Baby, it was banned because it would be a heresy to claim the Devil could have a baby.

37:

Kidneys are removed from the back, but they're implanted in the lower abdomen (in a completely different place than they came from) as it's way easier to get to surgically. So if the organ-nappers went in and extracted a kidney from the 'normal' kidney location they'd be getting one of Our Hero's own, borked, kidneys.

38:

Wow. How do you manage /that/ in Europe, and especially in a historically repressed backwater, as Scotland was?

39:

If I'm reading that right, the donor kidney has lasted 20 years. That's a miracle by itself. In general, kidneys from deceased donors last 10 years and kidneys from live donors last 18 years. (#3)

40:

Exactly my thoughts, this doesn't need to be a fantasy novel at all, it's a stand-alone airport thriller like that there Da Vinci Code. The kidney doesn't have to have any magic powers, no religious beliefs need to be true for it to work. It's enough that the fundamentalist wackos believe the kidney is holy and will do anything to get hold of it.

Of course it probably turns out that the renegade Bishop behind the whole thing actually doesn't believe it either, he's really after the info on the oligarch the protagonist has, because, um, something, Swiss bank account(s), something, Nazi gold, something.

Charlie, this could be your chance to write a real honest-to-goodness bestseller and make squillions, don't throw it away unexamined.

41:

By not being born in Scotland, from parents whose ancestry if not themselves came from Europe before a certain genocide took place.

42:

Mark #26 - that was what the Graeco- Hellenistic alchemists were trying to do, but they were operating from Hermetic philosophy, where the body is a trap for the Mind, and by asceticism and special prayers and actions you ensure your separation from your body and return to the Nous when you die.

Fast forwards to medieval europe, and alchemy was being used as a simile for indeed purifying your soul, but I have not so far read any mention, hint or anything else about anyone thinking of becoming a messiah, because that would be impossible - think father son and holy ghost, so no room or possibility for anyone to become a messiah, hence, not an idea you can run with on that level.
Now suggesting that saints could turn lead, copper or silver into gold or copper into silver, for the raising of funds to go and fight the infidel, now that would be interesting...

43:

I really enjoy your novels, which I have just discovered and I do not pick what I like in fiction according to whether or not the the author's personal views about religion, politics, etc. coincide with my own. I do not censor myself, do not want to censor anyone else, nor do I "boycott" anti-religious writers. But I do think that it is just a bit boring and predictable that a British writer of your age should find Christianity and especially Catholicism not only silly but malicious. Thank God or whoever it doesn't seem to make your fiction boring and predictable.

44:

If praying to saints worked, we wouldn't need kidney transplants.

PRAISE BE TO RTYH

45:

The first thing I thought of while reading this post was The Road to Gandolfo by Robert Ludlum. A hilarious book.

46:

If nothing else, you could probably on-sell the plot to someone like Dan Brown.

47:

The next novel Not To Write would be one in which the Anti-Charlie in an alternate parallel universe is writing all the weird stories Our Charlie won't touch instead of the this-world canon, and has gotten stinking rich as a result. Of course, that world's organized religions will finally be at peace with each other, having united to go after him.

48:

this is frakkin' awesome. someone get Michael Bay's agent on the phone - he needs to ruin this in style

49:

Hm. As I understand it, the top three relics are skulls, scapulae, and phalanges, none of which, as I understand it, are usually transplanted, so I don't really get where the Church was going with this fuss, but anyway - story rocks. Wish you had time to write all your ideas into full form.

Made me think of "Mary and Joe" as well, though - remember that one? In which young activist Jesse really is a virgin birth because *she* is actually Mary's clone? Always thought that would be a fun idea to borrow into a story about the modern Church, though stem cells are more timely now than cloning.

50:

You may be underestimating how secular Britain has become. The vast majority of people I know "find Christianity and especially Catholicism not only silly but malicious" - but only if they bother to spare either any thought at all.

It sounds like a fun tale. Charlie, I'm surprised you never encountered the delightful absurdity by which transubstantiation changes the essence but not the accident. If memory serves I came across it in GCSE Religious Studies (and it was the source of much hilarity). Shortly thereafter I encountered an exhibit at the Tate: a glass of water, on a shelf, labeled as An Oak Tree. You see, the essence of the glass of water had been changed to that of an oak tree, leaving the inconsequential material substance unchanged. A group of people regarded the oak tree in solemn silence. It was marvelously absurd.

51:

The man's right Charlie. You're square in the middle of Dan Brown territory here, you just need a pseudonym...

Charlie Brown wouldn't work very well... how 'bout Dan B. Strauss?

Alex

52:

I assume it's not just me giggling childishly at this plot synopsis being on the antipope.org domain?

53:

Actually, the Catholic church has a perfectly consistent explanation of the (fairly common, actually) Rosemary's Baby situation. I'll leave it to Hugh Trevor-Roper to explain;

Witches "as a pledge of their servitude ... were constantly having sexual intercourse with the Devil, who appeared (since even he abhors unnatural vice) to she-witches as an incubus, to he-witches as a succubus.

What Gibbon called “the chaste severity of the Fathers” was much exercised by this last subject, and no detail escaped their learned scrutiny. As a lover, they established, the Devil was of “freezing coldness” to the touch; his embrace gave no pleasure — on the contrary, only pain; and certain items were lacking in his equipment. But there was no frigidity in the technical sense: his attentions were of formidable, even oppressive solidity. That he could generate on witches was agreed by some doctors (how else, asked the Catholic theologians, could the birth of Luther be explained?); but some denied this, and others insisted that only certain worm-like creatures, known in Germany as Elben, could issue from such unions. Moreover, there was considerable doubt whether the Devil’s generative power was his own, as a Franciscan specialist maintained (“under correction from our Holy Mother Church”), or whether he, being neuter, operated with borrowed matter. A nice point of theology was here involved and much interested erudition was expended on it in cloistered solitudes. Some important theologians conjectured that the Devil equipped himself by squeezing the organs of the dead. This view was adopted (among others) by our King James. Other experts advanced other theories, more profound than decent. But on the whole, Holy Mother Church followed the magisterial ruling of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, who, after St. Augustine, must be regarded as the second founder of demonological science. According to him, the Devil could discharge as incubus only what he had previously absorbed as succubus. He therefore nimbly alternated between these postures . . ."

This explanation does, of course, imply that the worshippers in Rosemary's Baby are being sold somewhat of a pup, in that they're bringing up the offspring of some random wet dream, but I'd have to go back to the movie to see if there would be any cause of action for passing off.

54:

I am surprised that no one has mentioned James D. Macdonald's stories, Stealing God (contains transubstantiation as a major plot point) and The Apocalypse Door (I forget; didn't like it as much), yet.

55:

Actually, Charlie would probably be interested in the sociopolitical analysis of the whole thing -
http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=719&chapter=77036&layout=html&Itemid=27

56:

This idea would have made an excellent Lord Darcy story, although would not have been quite as silly in execution if Randall Garrett were still alive.

57:

The idea of old Bennie getting beatified is fun, I suppose it was only a matter of time before the Vatican produced it's first Nazi saint.

Mind you, I also find it hard to see how any story pending from the christian mythos could fail to be a source of vast amusement if only because of the risiblilty of the source materiel. I do so hope someone picks this idea up and runs with it: I'd love to see the finished version.

58:

Write it as a screen play for Kevin Smith to film: Dogma II - Jay and Silent Bob take the piss.

He could have the battle using urine filled super soakers.

59:

Don't underestimate Randall Garrett's ability to be silly (see "Backstage Lensman", for instance; I doubt you'll be able to figure out what happened to the strawberries).

60:

I really, really hope Richard Kadrey is passing through. The notion of saintly organs having actual Powers would slot very neatly into his Sandman Slim setting. As it is, I'm boosting it for any future In Nomine game I may GM.

61:

This reminds me of the kind of mayhem that occured whenever Fritz Leiber would write a "Fafhrd and Gray Mouser" story involving the gods of Lankhmar and the gods in Lankhmar.

62:

Fr. David M. Allen @ 43
Grrrrrr ....
Before you pontificate again about your imaginary friend, derived from Bronze-Age goatherders myths here, and in response to your protest:
Catholicism is not only deeply silly, it is, and always has been, deeply malicious.
START HERE This is visible proof, taken from normal newspaper and journal publishings of the time.

Not that I am singling out catholicisn, especially, even though I am an Huguenot atheist ...
All religions kill, enslave and torture, and are based on moral (and usually physical) blackmail.

63:

I always thought that vampirism and catholicism could mix in a story another way. Rather than having holy water pissing catholic saints, its much more interesting to assume that vampires took over the catholic church in its early years.

Therefore all the transubstantiation malarkey is just a cover for dosing up the faithful on vampire blood to keep them good, harvestable, stock animals. Priests (vampires) that have been around long enough get rotated to Rome where they are stored for a few hundred years before being allowed out again as 'new' bishops. That accounts for their throwback attitudes.

Needless to say, crosses and holy water don't actually defeat these vampires; its been seeded as an idea and it actually makes them stronger.

Makes sense of blair's conversion to catholicism...

64:

Fred, you might consider the possibility that a middle-aged British SF author might have had slightly more exposure to the works of James Blish than your average American SF reader. (Hint: Blish was very big in the UK, through the 1950s to 1970s.)

What next? Arthur C. Clarke? (For Americans: suggesting that a British SF author read ACC or Blish is a bit like suggesting an American SF author might quite enjoy these fellows called Heinlein and Asimov.)

66:

You just can't do a bad pitch, can you?

Stick it in the files, and should you ever have a slack year (unlikely!), churn it out under a peudonym.

I'll buy it.

67:

As several others, my first thought was that this was a synopsis for a $Nad_Tertiary_Colour story, but (not) authored by someone who can write stories that it's worth reading more than once.

68:

Perhaps "the Catholic Church's recent trend towards creating new saints much faster than the historic norm" is because the relics will be useful in CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN.

69:

I wouldn't touch this myself. You need to know something about the official rules to come up with something that holds up. It's the theological equivalent of the one impossible thing in an SF story.

Something like The Da Vinci Code is broken in a lot of ways, as story-telling, but the actual rip-off of the Holy Blood... idea feels plausible as a McGuffin. We can easily believe that the Church was built on a selection from the total truth, and there are ancestries documented back over a thousand years.

But it can be argued that, if Christ's children ended up in Southern France, that everyone with ancestors from Europe (and Palestine) is a descendant of Christ. Just look at how the number of ancestors multiply through the generations (Yes, there is a big fallacy there, even if somebody used the same argument to claim we are all descended from Charlemagne).

No wonder the Church wants to cover up the tales of children, even as the preachers make the conventional references to "God's children".

No need for magic.

70:

Short story material instead of a novel?

71:

SPAM alert!

72:

while I was reading, the word hapless stood out to such a degree I instantly thought of Tom Holt books. What if the church missed the fact that there had been a transplant, and the protag started performing miracles or what ever and that when the church's MIB's turn up, with some series shades of course.... ooo shades, souls or sunglasses......

Throw in a couple of other faiths trying to get their hands on protag, or perhaps issuing a fatwa or three, perhaps an overly militaristic large country wanting to go all Christian extremist and start the next crusade...

73:

This whole dispute rests on a simple mistake that is often made by zealous atheists. This mistake is equating official Church doctrine with some teaching that is in fact only promoted by Hollywood, believed by fringe sects, folk-belief, or at best a simplified sunday-school version aimed at kids. In this case, the veneration of holy relics and associated miracles. The version our host does (not) want to use is "the relic causes the miracle". The official doctrine, as taught by the catholic church and based on the bible, is "the relic is a reminder of the respective saint, any eventual miracle is granted by God, who can be moved by your believe and the advocacy of other people, including the saint in question". Note that there is free volition involved on both ends, so that the fraction of miracles for any given relic can vary freely. Due to this, "a world in which Christian, specifically Catholic, doctrine is actually True" might look exactly like our world (which really should not be a surprise, since it is fitted to match). What is assumed here is a world where miracles happen without regard for the circumstances of the supplicant and the relic, which is very much not catholic doctrine, but folk-believe at best. And of course, if canonization created reliable objects of healing, the whole structure of society would change. Medicine would be a subdivision of theology, with unreliable treatments considered heretic. The world might well be unified under the one obviously true church already, since relics of protestant, muslim, or buddhist origin presumably would not work. Would blessing a gun work for christian/catholic forces?

74:

Without wanting to step on any toes here, suppose we turn that around a bit, and say "God will grant any 'miraculous' request, provided that those making the request have sufficient belief that it will be granted" and irrespective of their use or otherwise of relics? Would that not mean than any Buddist, Christian (any church), Hindu, Muslin, Pastafarian, Shintoist etc miracle might be granted or not, pretty much as seems to actually happen ATM?

75:

Transplanted human bone marrow cells generate new brain cells by Crain BJ, Tran SD, Mezey E. in J Neurol Sci. 2005 Jun 15;233(1-2):121-3 :

Bone marrow-derived cells from male donors can compose endometrial glands in female transplant recipients by Ikoma et al in Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Dec;201(6):608.e1-8 :

So if you have a bone marrow transplant from a Saint, then parts of your body will be sanctified at the cellular level.

You become a therapeutically-induced Chimera, with your body composed of cells from two distinct cell lines. One could be XX, the other XY for example. While this is technically true for all transplant recipients, this time it's at the cellular level: organs gradually become more chimeric as cells are turned over, and replaced by new stem cells that take on the characteristics imposed on them by their immediate environment. If amongst brain cells, they become brain cells. If amongst ovarian cells, ovarian. Even if they're "genetically male".

In the Laundryverse... who do we know who is likely to have had a bone marrow transplant? Say, to help overcome the effects of massive radiation exposure?

And if there is something special about the body of a saint.. the process might be accelerated, as the sanctified cells may have an advantage in "fitness" over the non-sanctified ones.

Disclaimer: I'm not a medic, nor a biologist, nor a geneticist. Just biologically unusual, so I've had to learn a bit about this stuff. I can honestly say that when it comes to the fine details of biology, Truth is a heck of a lot stranger than Fiction.

76:

nah, youd have to bless the bullet
otherwise you just get a fancy club +1

77:
It isn't just transplanted organs that could cause problems, what about biopsy samples of the Pope's prostate? It is common medical practice to culture such tissues. Suitably stored, someone's pre-cancerous cells could outlive them by a considerable amount, even through the time of their beatification and eventual elevation to sainthood. It might be that future reliquaries will be topped up with liquid nitrogen to preserve the saint's cells and at the same time prevent them from replicating or miraclising all over the place.
Brr, HeLa cells with the added property of giving superpowers to anything they contaminate. Talk about trying to put the genie back in the bottle... queue lots of patrons of certain hospitals meeting with black-op accidents to try and keep a lid on it.
78:

Thank you. Nuked now.

79:

"How come it's seldom pointed out that Communion is effin' metaphoric Cannibalism?"

In the RCC -- it's not metaphorical. It's literal -- but it's literal cannibalism within a neo-Platonic universe, where the accidents in the visible universe are attached with real "essences" in the real universe.

It's the nonsense of Plato's Cave -- where in the real universe, a chunk of blood and flesh casts a shadow of wine and wheat. So, the shadow of our souls -- our earthly existence -- eats wine and crackers, but our real selves are literally engaging in cannibalism.

It's more accurate to say that communion is effin' metaphoric consumption of wine and bread, from an RCC standpoint.

Why is that never pointed out -- well, if you don't know it, you're better off not knowing it, while if you do know it, you don't need it told to you.

80:

It's a shame you're not going to write it, because I'd pay money to read it!

81:

Paws said:
"Would that not mean than any Buddist, Christian (any church), Hindu, Muslin, Pastafarian, Shintoist etc miracle might be granted or not, pretty much as seems to actually happen ATM?"

Oddly, it would seem that there are classes of miracles that _never_ happen, which allows us to ask the important questions, like Why does God hate amputees?

82:

No, no, no. You've moved from the level 1 pop belief, to the level 2 pop belief -- but you still haven't reached official theology level, just turned pop belief into something more sophisticated intellectually.

The relics are to be "venerated" -- they aren't mere remembrances of the saints, but are the current accidents reflecting a saintly essence. They don't cause miracles themselves -- but they are points of contacts with holy essence, which of course in Platonic/Abrahmic traditions are themselves an emanation of the original source.

It's a hell of a lot more mystical and Roman world viewish than your basically Protestant/Enlightenment description. Think Kabalah, Gnosticism, Nestorianism and the Donatist controversy. The matrix of the RCC -- which hasn't changed but just been fine-tuned -- is ultimately a Graeco-Roman mysticism, and not Protestant rationalism. It's closer to Socrates' madness than Newton.

83:

Andy, when I said that, I was thinking of genuine and medically documented cases of cancers going into full remission without surgery, radiotherapy etc (they're rare, but do exist). That seems to modify your question to "Why can't God re-grow bones?" I think.

84:

Yeah, as people have pointed out above this is a really silly idea, poorly executed.

It's at about the level of an evangelical writing a book where all the atheists get together and abort babies for fun, and abuse children because... atheists have no reason for having morals!!!!

Yes, to the evangelicals this looks like an awesome and to the point skewering of what 'atheists' believe, and obviously to Charlie here it looks like he's come up with a story that skewers what 'Catholics' actually believe.

Only problem: Both the evangelicals and Charlie S are ignorant and bigotted. Their 'hilarious' ideas are an abortion of what atheists/Catholics believe, and are about as on point as saying "Hitler was a bad man because he thought Jews had terrible hair". No he didn't, Catholics don't believe what Charlie ignorantly believes they do, and atheists don't believe what the hypothetical evangelicals think they do.
Neither of them have bothered to investigate whether their parodies have any basis in the real world (i.e. what the people they are 'skewering' actually believe) they simply feel that they understand how these things work and lay into the enemy with what is revealed to be arrogant hubris.

Fail.

85:

Far more likely that something the Vatican is doing as it enters into the information age is a possible kickoff for Case Nightmare Green. After all, in the Laundryverse one would assume that to the extent that Catholic (or any religion, for that matter) ritual has any efficacy at all, it's because it's close to the correct summoning ritual for Something, but not exactly the Someone that the accompanying dogma would lead one to expect.

86:

I suggest you ask some catholics. To quote from the article Charlie linked to above.

"Vatican officials say that after a pope dies, his body belongs to the entire Church and must be buried intact. Furthermore, if papal organs were donated, they would become relics in other bodies if he were eventually made a saint."

Besides you seem to be taking things a bit seriously for something Charlies came up with in the pub and then dismissed.

87:

I believe the Malleus Maleficarum (witch hunter's manual) states that demons not only use the seed they steal from humans, but that they alter it as well in order to produce evil offspring:

http://www.malleusmaleficarum.org/?p=16

Here's an extended quote. I don't have time to search it and see if my memory is perfect, but the passage discusses the issue at some length for those who are interested.

88:
The official doctrine, as taught by the catholic church and based on the bible, is "the relic is a reminder of the respective saint, any eventual miracle is granted by God, who can be moved by your believe and the advocacy of other people, including the saint in question". Note that there is free volition involved on both ends, so that the fraction of miracles for any given relic can vary freely. Due to this, "a world in which Christian, specifically Catholic, doctrine is actually True" might look exactly like our world (which really should not be a surprise, since it is fitted to match).

Such a fortuitously convenient doctrine! God performs miracles at his personal whim -- and please ignore the strange resemblance of God's whim to the body's ability to heal on its own combined with the contingent factors of the injury or illness itself.

Alleluia, Amen.

And of course, if canonization created reliable objects of healing, the whole structure of society would change. Medicine would be a subdivision of theology, with unreliable treatments considered heretic. The world might well be unified under the one obviously true church already, since relics of protestant, muslim, or buddhist origin presumably would not work.

Of course. And God wouldn't want that to happen, now would he? Too many people cluttering up heaven that way. No doubt heaven requires n damned souls for every saved soul, where n is at least 100, and probably more.

============

[copying and pasting a bit I wrote elsewhere, slightly modified]

If miracles of healing from relics really worked -- even from parts of relics -- we wouldn't need hospitals, would we? All you would need is to grind every relic into a fine powder, and incorporate it into a small sphere to be passed around to sick people. It would be infinitely reusable, and would be the only part of a complete first-aid kit. How selfish of the Church to deprive the faithful of miracle cures!

  "Mummy, I don't feel good . . ."

  "Oh, dear. You have a fever. Let me get the Panacea . . . Now, hold it to your forehead, and chant ten Hail Marys."

  "Yes, Mummy! Hail Mary, full of grace . . ."

[not much later]

  "Mummy, I'm all better now! And I saw a vision of the Blessed Virgin!!"

  "That's nice, dear. Now give me the Panacea, and get ready for school."

. . . "Panacea! Good for what ails ye! Now with genuine Pope parts! Cheap at twice the price! Only a quid, and that's mortifyin' me own flesh! So fresh the pope h'an't noticed they're gone!"
  -- Mortify-Me-Own-Flesh Dibbler.

(Because there's always a Dibbler.)

  "So... these aren't quite parts so much as residue, right, Dibbler? Hair, fingernails, ... other ... emissions, no doubt?"

  "Well ... I do 'ave a cousin 'oo knows someone 'oo maybe cleans up a bit in the Papal palace ..."

  "And the current Pope isn't canonized yet. Not even beatified. Because he isn't dead yet."

  "Oi! 'E's going to be! Canonized, I mean! Everyone's sure of it! I'm a forward-looking investor in Panacea futures, that's all!"

--- And so on and so forth

89:

And the whole thing is a serious misapprehension of Aristotle (even if we granted that Aristotle was right about things in general), since the whole idea of substance as opposed to accidents was just meant to explain why we could say that, for example, an oak is always essentially an oak even as it grows from an acorn into a very much larger and different looking actual tree. But the only way we can infer the existence of the 'substance' or 'essential nature' of an oak or any other species is through observing the properties of it over time and different conditions and seeing which qualities don't change and show continuity.

It was never meant to imply that the substance was completely divorced and unrelated to all the observable properties, because that would make it impossible for us not only to reason out the substance of any species and thereby distinguish 'oak' from 'ash' or even from 'dog' or 'human', but even to define the idea of different substances at all. If the stuff in the cup has all the appearances of wine and none of the appearances of blood apart from also belonging to genus of liquids, Aristotle's theory is not going to get you to the conclusion that its substance is really that of blood, or even that it's a notion worth considering. That is, when something's nature changes, that's going to be reflected by a change in some real, observable, substantial property of that thing, along with whatever accidental properties do or do not change; otherwise, even in Classical Greek thought, there's no logical reason to think the substance has changed.

And for live flesh, one would think that one of the substantial properties is its ability to engender more flesh, whether through healing, reproduction, or being cultured in a Petri dish.

90:

umm, okay.
So, to quote a current US commercial; "It makes sense if you don't think about it."

paws4thot @74, Can people with Celiac disease be Pastafarian?

Reading these comments, I keep getting images of the flayed skin of St. Mark coming to life and stalking Venice looking to fill itself.

91:

Still, I do have to wonder...

Given that, in the Laundryverse, various people -- mostly concentrated in the Laundry or other government agencies, or agencies of other governments, from what we see, but obviously also others outside -- do know How Things Really Work.

Would everyone in the Vatican be so ignorant as to not know? Religions do seem to be working with things/effects that would appear to be practical applications of "magic", as broadly defined in that universe.

Hm.

Maybe priests/rabbis/imams/etc do know more about the Elder Gods than Bob Howard has so far implied, once you get to the higher echelons. Maybe... Maybe belief in a big sky-daddy is considered necessary by those religions not because those higher up think that it's true, but to keep people's minds (since the unwashed masses would be incapable of the mental discipline of the more carefully trained) as much as possible away from the gibbering things outside of our reality.

Holy frack, maybe that's the real reason Giordano Bruno was set on fire (in that universe) -- not just for heresy and/or apostasy; not just for heliocentrism; not just for positing other worlds -- but for wanting to expose the Truth about the Horrors that exist; for wanting to tell everyone about the Thing in the Black Pyramid on the Plain, and so on and so forth.

The Church couldn't be having with that, now could they?

I can see why Charlie probably would not want to go there -- what, the cruelties of the Church had some genuine ultimate justification? -- but it might offer some interesting story possibilities.

92:

In the light of the Vatican's recent cooperation in making a movie about heroic exorcists, this plot could be coming to the Giant Silver Screen just about next summer, when yet another distraction is needed from the endless stream of revelations about the Roman Catholic Church's complicity in hiding and enabling child rapists.

93:

I was hoping that it would actually be Christ's kidney.

Perhaps the mummified corpse of Christ from Another Roadside Attraction is a lot better preserved then Tom Robbins thought and the priest uses the kidney from Our Lord And Savior tm because he's just nice like that and cares more about saving lives then saving relics, no matter how holy.

In any case, I think you are missing a vital point. This may well be a very silly novel, but it could also be a very fun novel.

I'm just saying :)

94:

D'oh. That was perfectly obvious, wasn't it?

95:

Davy: what makes you think that a passing conceit for a work of fiction (one which you'll note I dismiss as "very silly") has to be an accurate reflection of Catholic doctrine?

I think you could benefit from removing that lump of timber from your visual field ...

96:

I did in fact once meet a Christian who claimed to have witnessed, with his own eyes, a missing leg miraculously restored by a faith healer. When I tried to point out that there are such things as stage magicians, he went all "no no, I'm a good observer, I couldn't possibly have been fooled". Yeah, right.

97:

Someone may have mentioned this up thread (haven't read all 100 comments yet) but perhaps this could work as a screenplay? North By Northwest meets Dogma.

99:

...I do think that it is just a bit boring and predictable that a British writer of your age should find Christianity and especially Catholicism not only silly but malicious...

I don't think anyone has suggested that Catholicism is actively malicious; while an atheist, I know several Army chaplains socially, and have the greatest respect for them as individuals - they are good men, and good ministers.

However, even a priest has to admit that the competing branches of Christianity often act in ways that open the various organisations to criticism, if not outright ridicule.

Forgive me if I don't find this thread "boring and predictable" - the concept of holy relics is deeply silly to my mind, but then I was raised in the Church of Scotland; holy relics went out with papal indulgences and transubstantiation...

...I mean, sending bits of dead Saints on tours to inspire world peace? Please, do point us to the part of the Gospel that covers that one...

100:

That reminds me of a video I saw years ago of an American faith healer in Japan. He did the old trick of causing a woman's 'short' leg grow by easing the heel of her shoe down with his finger tips. Totally obvious, but a few bought into it. The majority of the audience seemed to be there for the entertainment value rather than religion.

101:

Too many comments already to see if I've been preceded, but -- what about the set piece where $PROTAG escapes from the vampires by pissing on them? Maybe even a little homage to Swift hinted for the discerning.

102:

Quick thoughts:

Literal truth: Technically you don't need to have Catholic theology be literally true. It could as easily be a real world setting and people are after him because they believe it to be true, which is a lot more slippery and ambiguous. This also means you have one big question running through the story building up to the beatification: "what actually will happen?" As this situation has not happened before and is unlikely to happen again as the implications spread, no one knows but equally the outcome could be worth the effort.

Transubstantiation: Technically you don't need this to be real, Jesus left part of himself behind, he was Jewish after all:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Prepuce

It was stolen a few years back and if you could get viable cells from it could you clone Jesus (foreskins have a role in stem cell research, thank to the Catholics for that resource) and implant his organs into you? Passport to Heaven? Rich men might not be able to pass through the eye of a needle, but they can buy themselves black market organs. What if his transplanted soon-to-be-saintly organ catapults him into this strange dark world (as the Divine Prepuce is unlikely to work and a saintly kidney might be a better route)?

It might also riff on the way the Catholic Church have used the incorrupt bodies of saints in the war against the atheists - they have made at least one incorrupt body to be deployed against the ungodly Communists.

Basically it could be the Da Vinci Code done right. ;)

Title: Re-possession?

103:

That is an awful awful awful pun.

It needs to be written for that reason alone.

104:

Davy @ 84
(& Charlie's subsequent comment)
Sigh.

"Oh if only Dawkins had consulted a comptent Thomist, he'd have known how wrong he was" (Yes, I've seen that on the web)
"Oh, if only you ignorant atheists knew what our doctrines really are"....
Well, of course WE DO KNOW.
So please stop trying to bullshit us. Just because you get away with bullshitting all your gullible believers, doesn't mean it is going to work here.
So, to borrow your own phrase: "arrogant hubris".

The whole thing is based on the unproven assumption of a big sky fairy (or mystical invisible pink unicor, as the case may be), and that that certain acts, normally impossible in a universe in which there is causation, actually occurred, and still do occur.
The latter part is important, because it shows not only how deeply irrational the whole edifice is, but that it is built on quite deliberate lies.
(Virgin birth, the permanent virginity of "mary", the actualite of "miracles" and transubstantiation, just for starters)


Martin @ 99
I suggested - actually (I think) stated straight out that catholicism IS actively malicious. It's a religion, after all, and I provided a quite sickening link as suggestive of proof ...

105:

" Seeing is Believing. " Eh?

There has been a lot of work on the reliability of witness evidence and there are more than sufficient examples of the practice of practical magic and sleight of hand to cast doubt on the evidence given of True Believers who Witness miraculous events and this without those of us who, say, discover a single potato in an Entire BAG of supermarket potatoes which potato bears an un-canny resemblance to the Head of Charlie Stross!

You just have to look at the Sacred Relic in the Right Light, and with the insight granted to the True Believer, and you too will be Blessed. A pint or three of the Sacramental Waters taken before your visit to the Shrine Of The Blessed Charlie will be of benefit in your Enlightenment.

There will be a Modest Charge to defray Expenses.


Here After a link to an interesting piece on the process of " Seeing is Believing "

http://www.flatrock.org.nz/topics/science/seeing_is_believing.htm

'But Wait ! Theres More. ' A quick look in Amazon.co tells me that " The Table Rappers " by Ronald Pearsall is still available ..

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Table-rappers-Ronald-Pearsall/dp/0718106458


" The best parts of the book, I felt, were the parts dealing with the early days of seances, spirit photography, and the later sections on ghosts and materialisations. Towards the end of the book, it becomes something of a litany of unmaskings, great names brought spectacularly low (and I found I so wanted to believe!) Everyone was drawn in; the spiritualists almost had Faraday on their side. One of the most famous mediums, Mrs Mellon, was spectacularly exposed, along with many others. A spirit presence which emerged from her magical cabinet on October 1894, declared to be the spirit of a black child, was exposed as Mrs Mellon herself, on her knees, barefoot, draped with muslin, wearing a black mask. Her cabinet was opened and her false beards confiscated. Another trickster unmasked as the century drew to a close. Henry Slade died in a sanitorium in 1905 after being unmasked when he was found to be creating "spirit writing" on slate under the table with chalk between his toes. A roll call of the cranky and the messianic, but whilst reading this book, I so wanted to come across something that resisted the scientific experiments. Only hauntings perhaps withstand this... "

I have a copy of this somewhere or other and if only I could find where I've left my Divining Rods I'd seek it out and re-read it .. I still remember the passsage on Mrs Mellon - a Wonderful name ! - and her false beards but its been years since I read the book and so perhaps my testimony is not entirly to to be trusted?

106:

Ref #90, why shouldn't Coeliacs be Pastafarians? There is no requirement in Pastafarianism for pasta to be made from #100 durum wheat, Asian noodles are every bit as valid to the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster, and it's possible to make gluten-free pasta...

In any event (and I'm pleased everyone seems to have taken it this way), the "shopping list" of religions in #74 was constructed to make it clear that I was suggesting that "sufficient belief in $God" rather than "existance and use of an artifact of a dead member of $religion" could be the base criterion for "miraculous healing" (for values of miraculous which exclude $heroic_medical_intervention).

107:

Why do so many "people of $faith" presume that atheists "don't know what we believe"? I number Buddists, members of several Christian churches, Muslims and a Shintoist amongst my friends, and we're all happy to discuss our actual belief systems and theology with each other because we don't get into this arrogant "we're the only ones who're right, and if everyone else understood us they'd convert" attitude.

Can you honestly say the same of your circle?

108:

It's at about the level of an evangelical writing a book where all the atheists get together and abort babies for fun, and abuse children because... atheists have no reason for having morals!!!!

Well, that's a bit strong, Davy. I'm sure Charlie would never write a book accusing officials of the Catholic Church of conspiring to abuse children and then cover it up. That would be a horrible accusation to make. Especially since it's so obviously ridiculous and untrue.

... oh, wait.

109:

Charlie says: "Davy: what makes you think that a passing conceit for a work of fiction (one which you'll note I dismiss as "very silly") has to be an accurate reflection of Catholic doctrine?"

Well this bit for starters:

Charlie's OP "Let us postulate a world in which Christian doctrine is actually True — specifically Catholic doctrine."

Now you could postulate a world in which Christian doctrine is actually True, specifically Catholic doctrine, but it would be really stupid to attempt to do so by postulating an innacurate reflection of Catholic doctrine.

You see how you've failed here?

110:

What inaccuracy are you trying to highlight? The catholic church released that statement about organ donating that Charlie was referring to and it is regarded that Relics are a way of bringing people closer to god (hence pilgrimages to them and rituals involving them).

If all you are complaining about is that a Relic-Kidney wouldn't give magic powers then so what? Theres enough magical ideas floating around the catholic church (transubstantiation, thaumaturgy, visions etc), it's hardly unreasonable to assume that in a world where all this magic exists that there could be a story like Charlie described.

111:

@106: "it's possible to make gluten-free pasta"

Or wallpaper paste, as most people call it. Disgusting stuff.

112:

innaccurate I mean.

@Somebody Smith - one step ahead of you. And all I'm looking for in Charlie's idea is a bit of internal consistency. The least I would demand from an Evangelical idea too.

@Greg Tingey - no need to bullshit, Charlie Stross was wrong about Catholic theology in a post where he framed the idea as "What if Catholic theology was true?". You've clearly got some issues you need to work out vis a vis religion, but try not to splurge them all over the rest of us.

@Pawsforthot - I'm not part of some undifferentiated mass of 'people of faith' assuming that 'atheists' don't know what we believe. I am a specific person highlighting that another specific person - Charlie Stross - does not know what Catholics believe, as highlighted by his OP where he hypothesises a world 'where Catholic theology is true' then gets it wrong.

@ajay - Your point here is? Yes, tu quoque, the Catholic church has done bad things. Does this mean that the laws of logic are suspended and it is now accurate to say that Catholic Theology teaches X when it actually teaches Y? Does A = Not A because some kids were assaulted? No? No of course not.

113:

@102: "It could as easily be a real world setting and people are after him because they believe it to be true, which is a lot more slippery and ambiguous."

Without the essential silliness of Charlie's idea, that's Umberto Eco's book Foucault's Pendulum.

114:

You still have not highlighted what Charlie got wrong and why it really matters considering this is an idea he had in the pub that isn't going to get written anyway...

115:

What innaccuracies are in the OP, Ryan? -

It starts with:

"granting him whatever eerie superpowers come from carrying a no-shit saint's left kidney."

i.e. none

So this wouldn't have happened:

"A shadowy agency associated with the Vatican is therefore trying to secure the rogue holy relic before it "goes live" inside our hero"

Because it doesn't "go live"

So there will be no "Men In Black on his doorstep", no mysterious phone call, no chase, no story.

I'd point out other errors in the theology, but that's the only theology in the story! - and it's wrong!

Egregiously wrong. It's so wrong it's like a fundamentalist writing about how "Evolutionists believe we evolved from monkeys!"
No - we and monkeys evolved from a common ancestor. Your claim about what we believe is wrong, and all the bitching in the world about other irrelevant stuff isn't going to make your original claim any less ignorant. And the smug arrogance with which you use this incorrect bit of trivia to write a hypothetical story that shows how 'silly' the idea of evolution is, is just icing on the "You're an ignorant douche" cake.

116:

"You still have not highlighted what Charlie got wrong and why it really matters considering this is an idea he had in the pub that isn't going to get written anyway..."

We cross posted. See above.

Why does it matter? It doesn't of course. No more than it matters that I've pointed out that his idea is as ignorant as the equivalent but opposite innaccurate idea written by an evangelical.
Why does it matter to you that I pointed out this fact?
He clearly didn't realise he was wrong. Now he knows. And how much of the battle is that?

117:

"Go live"

Whether or not the vatican have MIBs, well its a story. An in a world where catholic beliefs were entirely true then that would place the vatican has the head of the world with the pope as the ruler. In this situation it's not crazy to imagine that the vatican have secret services, police, tax inspectors etc because they are now the government. But none of that really matters because its a story.

If you dont think donated organs would become relics inside a person take it up with the vatican, as for super-powers like i stated before the catholic church is full of beliefs about magic and super powers

118:

I'm still not seeing why this is equivalent to an evangelical misquoting evolution. Do you object to the idea of miracles? That is all our host is discussing, saints perform miracles and the vatican has stated that donated tissue would become saint-tissue.

119:

Now you could postulate a world in which Christian doctrine is actually True, specifically Catholic doctrine, but it would be really stupid to attempt to do so by postulating an innacurate reflection of Catholic doctrine.

You see how you've failed here?

No. Because, ahem, we are already living in a world that inaccurately reflects Catholic doctrine. (Insofar as it's a fundamentally flawed belief structure, like all theisms.)

Heaping a serving of escapist cartoon thriller nonsense on top of it (whether or not it involves misrepresenting doctrine) makes not a whit of practical difference.

I'm just treating the invisible-sky-daddy memeplex as a fantasy fiction setting: this appears to upset you for some reason.

120:

@Dave: The MIBs were not an issue. The statement was "if Catholic theology was True" and the idea was not an element of Catholic Theology.

Your defence is exactly as foolish as someone saying "Imagine if modern science was totally True you could have a guy with a Kidney that fills up with ayurvedic energy then..." and defending it with "Oh but Scientist believe in all sorts of energy..."

Yes. Yes they do. Not that kind of energy though, and your jumping off point was "If science was true.." not "If I was an underinformed ignoramus I could pretend that scientists believe...."

121:

"I'm still not seeing why this is equivalent to an evangelical misquoting evolution. Do you object to the idea of miracles? That is all our host is discussing, saints perform miracles and the vatican has stated that donated tissue would become saint-tissue."

That's because you are ignorant, and do not know that this is a misquoting of Catholicism, allow me to draw the parallels for you:

Charlie Stross ---> Misquoting Catholicism
An Evangelical ---> Misquoting Evolution.

It's really simple. They're both wrong.

122:

Its interesting that you keep running off on tangents. I am actually a scientist so your statement of

"True you could have a guy with a Kidney that fills up with ayurvedic energy then..." and defending it with "Oh but Scientist believe in all sorts of energy..."

Is a very odd one. I see how you are trying to draw a parallel but its really not that simple and you don't need to. To bring my question back again, what is it you are objecting to? You've said many times that catholic dogma has been misquoated and that we are ignorant etc but what part of what Charlie said is actually wrong?
please enlighten me

123:

@Davy are you objecting to Relics causing miracles?

124:

@Charlie Stross

Just admit that you made a mistake, it's very simple. You made up a story "Imagine if Catholic theology was true..." you then suggested a story which would be better described as "Imagine if Charlie Stross's lack of knowledge about Catholicism was True...

Just correct your OP to "Imagine if Catholic theology was a bit different, you could make an interesting story from that..."

It really doesn't matter that you think that the real world doesn't match Catholic theology because you didn't hypothesis any thing about the real world, did you?

Your story doesn't upset me, like I said in my first post, it's just silly. It is a bit upsetting that you made a simple factual error and are loath to admit it, even though the contradictory words are up there in black and white in the OP

Look, ignorance of Catholic doctrine is expected. It doesn't make you stupid or a bad person. Most non-Catholics are in the same boat, hell, most Catholics are too. But denying that you made a mistake and denying that writing "Imagine if Catholic theology is true..." followed by "Things that Catholic doctrine doesn't teach" is contradictory, is just facile.

There is nothing wrong with hypothetical stories about alternate religious worlds. I just wrote one about a religious person (Catholic? Maybe, it doesn't matter) who realises he is one of the 'Chosen' and rebels as he feels this is inherently unfair. Know what makes this different from your fail? I didn't preface it with "Imagine if Islamic Theology is True...."

This is not a complex and abstruse religious argument, it is a simple factual assertion. You are ignorant of Catholic teaching about saints, you wrote a hypothetical story containing this error. This is undeniable.

125:

"@Davy are you objecting to Relics causing miracles?"

Yes. That is not what the Catholics teach. Look it up.

126:

Dude, you are grand-standing now. (I already admitted I got it wrong; clearly you didn't spot it.)

Stop, now. Consider this your yellow card. Feel free to post again once you've calmed down -- otherwise your comments will be deleted and you will be banned from this topic.

(Let me refer you to the moderation policy: there's a link to it right above the comment form.)

Hint: I went away from the keyboard for five hours and another fifty comments showed up, of which approximately half were yours. You are distracting me from having a life. Not Cool.

127:

@Ryan

"Its interesting that you keep running off on tangents. I am actually a scientist

No dude, I made the original point and I am still on point. It's a simple factual assertion. See above.

And join the club, we're both scientists.


"[My Example] Is a very odd one. I see how you are trying to draw a parallel but its really not that simple and you don't need to."

It really is that simple. Factually Wrong Assertion = Factually Wrong Assertion.

I need to keep drawing parallels because you still don't seem to get the very simple comparison. Being Wrong = Being Wrong, whether you're wrong about Astrophysics or Islamic Theology.

To bring my question back again, what is it you are objecting to? You've said many times that catholic dogma has been misquoated and that we are ignorant etc but what part of what Charlie said is actually wrong?
please enlighten me

FFS dude. I've said over and over. In a direct reply to you as well. I can't do your reading for you.

The bit he has wrong, is the only bit of theology he has in his story which is his understanding of Saints and Relics. So he is 100% wrong about Catholic theology. Does that help?

128:

2 kings 13
"Once some people were burying a man, when suddenly they spied such a raiding band. So they cast the dead man into the grave of Elisha, and everyone went off. But when the man came in contact with the bones of Elisha, he came back to life and rose to his feet."

Acts 5 15-16

"Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them.A large number of people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered, bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits, and they were all cured."

Acts 19 11-12

"So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul that when face cloths or aprons that touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them."

Im going to stop posting now but there are just a few example of miracle causing relics. At the end of the day fiction is fiction and when you point out a factual incorrectness about your magic sky-dadies and bronze age myths it seems a bit rich

129:

Sorry Charlie, cross-posted

"Dude, you are grand-standing now. (I already admitted I got it wrong; clearly you didn't spot it.)"

Yes I did. Where should I look?
And I'm not grandstanding, I'm just saying the same thing over and over because people keep coming up with different [incorrect] objections to that one point.

"Stop, now. Consider this your yellow card. Feel free to post again once you've calmed down -- otherwise your comments will be deleted and you will be banned from this topic."

Ok. I can't promise that I won't reply to comments directed at me, but I have made my point.

130:

Proper 100% buckwheat soba is both gluten free, and the nicest pasta out there.

131:

But as theology is made up shit anyway, it really doesn't matter if someone makes up different shit using it as a framework. At least the person making up the different shit admits it to be fiction, unlike the other liars.

132:

@Ryan:

Ok, thanks now can you tell me the Catholic teaching about what was happening in those scenes?

Here's a hint: "The Relics did not cause those miracles"

Look, you clearly don't know anything about at least this one area of Catholic teaching, possible all Catholic teaching.
Don't try and tangle with someone who at least knows a little bit.
Go away, look it up. Or don't, it doesn't matter, just realise to yourself "I do not know about Catholic teaching"

133:

Well I am so dearly sorry that I am not as well versed in your favorite fiction as you are, but to reiterate what Feòrag said to you, its all made up anyway.

134:

If the genetic material of Jesus Christ has some special significance, it's a good thing that he didn't have any children, isn't it.

As I recall, The Da Vinci Code isn't about magical powers. It doesn't even depend on their being living descendants. It's about the Church's foundations being built on a lie, and what a few people will do to conceal that lie.

A story about a reaction to a potential Saint's transplant donation doesn't need magic. It may need a certain sort of belief in some quarters to drive the plot. At one level, we've got behaviour which is consistent with Beatification, that's not a problem. And a younger person can still be a candidate for becoming a Saint.

What if the two are brothers? Twins, even. And the future Saint ends up a Bishop in some troubled country, before dying untimely.

If the government in that country shares some of the routine cultural superstitions of the populace, who have started praying to the Bishop, they can be rather interested in his brother.

And the Vatican will be looking very hard at the future Saint's personal life. Which means they will have investigators wanting to track down the brother and talk with him.

You could have a fantasy novel, or you could have a political thriller of some sort, depending on whether the superstitious beliefs about Saints are true or not.

And when you're talking about a plot with a writer such as Charles Stross, I would say the fantastical element is going to appear. It's how he makes his money.

135:

@Feorag:

So what? Harry Potter's made up shit too. That doesn't make the sentence "Imagine if Harry Potter was True, Hermione would be Harry's mother" any less factually incorrect.

Your understanding of the word 'liar' is clearly as flawed as your understanding of logic. A hint: "To lie, the liar must be aware that what they say is a falsehood". Or rather, why assume they're lying when they're probably just wrong.

For example, I'm not assuming that you are deliberately setting out to mislead when you accuse these religious people of 'lying' I'm just assuming that you're aggressive and not that bright. I mean 'using the word liar wrong'.

136:

"Well I am so dearly sorry that I am not as well versed in your favorite fiction as you are, but to reiterate what Feòrag said to you, its all made up anyway."

I will take that graceless apology as an admission that you were ignorant of Catholic theology even as you attempted to participate in a conversation about Catholic theology.

Cool. Why bother getting involved if you didn't know anything though?

It was obvious, of course. Rather like someone talking about quantum wave function collapse in terms of conscious observers. To the underinformed they may look like they have a point, anyone who knows anything will realise they are talking nonsense.

137:

Its not exactly like that though is it? Because as we've just seen I've posted some bible quotes where relics perform magic and you said "thats not what catholics teach", yes catholics think that relics are conduits for god but that isnt in the bible is it?

To use your analogy "If harry potter was true then wands don't do magic, they are conduits for magic"
Thats never stated in the books but you are making a similar inference.

138:

in response to chris@50:

"I encountered an exhibit at the Tate: a glass of water, on a shelf, labeled as An Oak Tree. You see, the essence of the glass of water had been changed to that of an oak tree, leaving the inconsequential material substance unchanged."

Ooh, ooh - now combine this notion with homeopathy.

If you're going to be doing miracles ANYWAY, then...

139:

Yes... and was the question "What is a simplistic literal interpretation of events described in the Bible?" or was it "What is the Catholic Theology about relics..."

Look, just give up. You've admitted you don't know. You haven't looked it up. Charlie Stross has admitted his OP was wrong. There's nothing more to talk about.

Look, here's a freebie. You and Feorag can have the next few posts to vent your irritation at being caught out being wrong, and I won't even respond. Have some swipes at Catholicism why don't you? Here's some to get you started:

Catholicism is totally made up n' that, like. Hey dude, you know what's silly? Religion! Gawsh, you know what's a middle ages fairy tale?! Catholicism!!!

You'll notice that I'm the only one here with a Yellow Card, even though many recent posts have attacked my religious beliefs purely because I had temerity to point out a factual error, and I have not responded with any kind of aggression, merely pointed out factual points people are ignorant of, and little more.
It's hardly sporting that I would be banned if I started attacking atheist beliefs in return* (which I have no desire to do) but my religion is fair game. Neither of them is relevant to the topic being discussed. Yet one would be allowed, and one would not.

*Hell, I might just get banned for responding to you at all!

140:

Yes. That is not what the Catholics teach. Look it up.

So all those historical accounts of pilgrimages to visit relics in the hope of them granting miracles are what... Note that in the UK our knowledge of catholic doctrine is based entirely on pre-reformation doctrines that existed back during historical periods we learned about in school, and yes, the issue of holy relics comes up A LOT in british history, from the crusades, through Edward the Great's capturing of scottish relics in his invasion of scotland, to the elaborate relic forgery business practiced by southern-English churches and monasteries of the medieval period.

Nevermind that this is Catholicism we're talking about, the largest religion in the world, which syncretises with EVERYTHING; it's like the doctrinal equivalent of RICE and more varied than the holy see's dogma of the week.

(calling it "catholic doctrine" is however very wrong, as the Holy See just changes things every so often for teh lolz, and they went through a major period of cracking down on "superstitions" back in the 17th century. Mostly, it must be admitted, in a vain attempt to stop the CONSTANT popacide that had the average reign of a pope down to 2 months – I forget the name, but one lasted only a few days after being poped before he was terminally depoped.)

So you can easily call whatever the religious equivalent of Rule 64 on this: If you can think of a metaphysical concept, there is already a sect of catholicism or islam that accepts it as fact, therefore there is a sect that believes in magical miracle endowing saint-organs, QED.

Stage 1 of research would of course require finding the particular sect you're looking for and mining their other doctrinal elements for story ideas.

141:

I really can't be bothered to post to you anymore so heres some last points for you;

Yes you know more about your beliefs than I do...win
Yes I do think you're religious beliefs are stupid
Yes you did come here being aggressive
Yes your religion is fair game because you are taking it into the public arena
No atheism isnt a belief, its a lack of belief

At the end of the day you are right, if catholics don't believe relics cause magic then the OP is wrong. At the core of it you are still getting irate over your favorite fairy tale not being well known by everyone

142:

"So all those historical accounts of pilgrimages to visit relics in the hope of them granting miracles are what..."

Not visiting relics in the hope of them granting miracles, for starters.

Since you apparently can't be bothered to look it up, but are happy to spout an uninformed opinion, here's your answer:

They were visiting relics in the hope God would grant them a miracle, inspired by their devotion.

@The rest of your post. We're talking about Catholic theology, not the theology of other sects. Your Rule64 idea is trivially disprovable - for example name a Catholic sect that believes in Magic Saint Organs.
Can't do it? That's because your idea is foolish, based in ignorance of what Catholics believe. "Hey they believe all sorts of crazy shit, I bet that's the same as them believing any old crazy shit"

No, no it's not. [Specific crazy shit] =/= [Any old crazy shit], and the only thing revealed by your claim that they are the same is your own ignorance of Catholicism.

143:

"I really can't be bothered to post to you anymore so heres some last points for you;

I don't know why you bothered in the first place, you knew you were ignorant of Catholic theology, but got involved in a conversation about... Catholic theology. Did you want to look ignorant?

Yes you know more about your beliefs than I do...win

W00T. *Does the secret Catholic dance*

Yes I do think you're religious beliefs are stupid

Cool. It's "your" by the way. But don't let that interrupt your crowing about the intelligence of "you're" beliefs :D
Thing is, this is fine, but it's not relevant. The only reason you mentioned it is because you're annoyed with me and you wanted to take a swipe. Well done, does that make you feel any better about being ignorant?

Yes you did come here being aggressive

Well, I called the idea "silly". That doesn't seem so aggressive to me.
I certainly did not call anyone's religious or atheist beliefs "stupid" or "made up" or any other equivalent irrelevant attack that was aimed at me.

"Yes your religion is fair game because you are taking it into the public arena"

No. I did not mention my religion until my last couple of comments. Other people brought it up as an aggressive but irrelevant response to my factual criticisms.

I could be a fucking fruit-loop with self-contradictory beliefs and I'd still be right in the one point I've made throughout this thread.

It doesn't bother me though, as long as it's recognised that I am not participating in the pointless slanging match you and Feorag have tried to instigate, and as long as I am not banned for responding.

No atheism isnt a belief, its a lack of belief"

Aha! A 'Dictionary Atheist'. PZ Myers wants a word with you.

You're right though. If irrelevant again.

144:

One problem with your "higher echelons" thinking is that many religions do not have them. In Judaism you have more and less influential Rabbis, but unless they willingly follow the lead of another Rabbi, which they are under no obligation to do, they are all theoretically equal. You get a few Rabbis per generation that are widely respected in their life, but that doesn't mean they have any kind of universal authority: books by Maimonidas were burned in a lot of Jewish communities during his life, for example. And he was one of the most influential Halacha arbiters in the last 1K years(as a religious lecturer of mine once remarked:"you can oppose Maimonidas, you can agree with him , either wholly or to a certain degree, but you simply can not ignore him").

145:

Charlie said: "Dude, you are grand-standing now. (I already admitted I got it wrong; clearly you didn't spot it."

At the risk of sounding like I'm grandstanding* I've been through the thread and haven't seen you make any reference to your mistake, except when you lambast me for having a "lump of timber in my eye", and then attack religion as "memeplex Godbot bladiblah" rather than acknowledging your own error.

Is it normally your practice to "Admit error" by "Attacking the messenger and the thing you were wrong about" then threaten the messenger with being banned?
Because that's all I see you doing.
Apologies if I've somehow overlooked your admitting your mistake, but you still haven't corrected your OP.

But who knows, I'm only a "believer in a fundamentally flawed belief structure (like all theisms)" and a believer in the "invisible-sky-daddy memeplex (such a fantasy fiction setting)." Perhaps scum like me deserve to be banned if they have the temerity to question you.
Personally I don't like to judge against people because of my prejudice against their beliefs, nor do I avoid admitting my mistakes by attacking other people's beliefs; instead of owning what I said. But maybe you prefer to do things differently.

Apparently I'm a sarcastic passive aggressive bitch though.

*(I'm not, I don't really care about saint theology any more than the next person, I quite like your writing and have no beef with you personally, I may be a pedant though)

146:

Even within the Christian church, not all demominations have a formal hierachy where, say, any bishop is senior to all priests. It's one of the characteristics of several presbyterian churches that the "leader" is elected from the clergy of all charges for a term, typically one or 2 years, and then goes back to just being a clergy(wo)man (look, the language hasn't caught up properly with this one), and may not be elected to the leader's post again.

147:

Time out - Are you aware that Charlie pays for this site (servers, systems s/w, hire of part of a data centre, anything else I've omitted or forgotten Charlie) out of his own pockets, no sponsors and no tipjar? If you are, then why are you questioning his right to warn, and even ban (from a thread or from posting), any individual who's attitude he doesn't like?

148:

No one's questioning his legal right to warn someone, ban someone or do anything he likes on his own blog. He has the right to ban me for being black if he wants to.
I'm just questioning whether it's reasonable.
I'm not going to call the police. I don't think it's a major injustice. Doesn't make it right though.

149:

>No one's questioning his legal right to warn someone, >ban someone or do anything he likes on his own blog. >He has the right to ban me for being black if he wants to.

Actually he doesn't, but for you to imply that he would is typical of the offensive dickheadedness you have displayed thoughout.

If Charlie was taking a voted on banning you, he'd have mine right away.

150:

With the subtitle: "Oh my sainted kidney"

151:

"Actually he doesn't, but for you to imply that he would is typical of the offensive dickheadedness you have displayed thoughout."

Actually, he does. I do not have a legal right to post at his blog regardless of the reason that he doesn't want me here. The same as I do not have the legal right to go into his house regardless of the reason that he doesn't want me there.

The implication that he would do that is entirely in your own head. I chose that deliberately as an example of something unreasonable that would be entirely legal.

If you prefer: "He has the legal right to ban me because I cannot spell. He has the legal right to ban me because I'm a Jew. He has the legal right to ban me because I'm a Catholic. He has the legal right to ban me for being fat. He has the legal right to ban me for being pro-anorexia."

There. Now pick one you consider unreasonable, but don't think that he would do and substitute it into the above post in your own head. (And abandon your attempt to put implications in my mouth)

152:

"So what? Harry Potter's made up shit too."

Indeed it is, and the author is clear that it is fiction, unlike certain people who seem to think the magic in it is really real. Most people think those people are at least a little bit nuts.

Similarly, the Bible is made up shit, but the authors and editors of that insisted that it wasn't. There are certain people who seem to think that the magic in it is really real. I do not see how these people are any different from the Harry Potter believing types other than they might have been duped.

Your subsequent example is a non sequitor. A better one would involve insisting that some piece of fanfic was actually in the books.

But don't bother trying. Your final response was to call me stupid. You lose. No appeal available. Piss off.

153:

[Comment deleted by moderator. Argumentum ad hominem]

154:

He does not have the legal right to ban you simply due to your being Jewish or Catholic. Such actions are illegal in Scotland. The other grounds are fair game, as is banning you for being a complete twat and a pain in the arse.

You see, now you are wrong, and it isn't over a subtle twist of words which make no real difference, either.

155:

Wow, Davy -- you do know that your church still practices exorcisms? It's not your fantasy of post-enlightenment philosophy -- a kind of kindergarten version of modernist Christianity -- but a very real neo-Platonic philosophy, with all sorts of complications, but which still assumes that reality is a shadow of the real world.

For any of Charlie's inaccuracies -- they are still much closer (even if hyperbolically so) to 2000 years of RCC philosophy and theology, than your wan and limp "remembrances", your C. S. Lewis version of the RCC.

Your description of the RCC is to the real RCC as the stripped friezes of the parthenon in the British Museum are to the vivid living friezes in the days of Athens.

156:

@ 111
"Wallpaper Paste
Oh yes:
Sodium Carboxy-methyl cellulose.
Also used as a thickener in junk foods YUK.

Davy @ 112 et seq:
I call TROLL.
I do know most forms of Bronze-age goatherders myths (sometimes called christianity), quite well, thank you.
Now make a valid point.
I note that Charlie @ 119 has already pointed out that catholic doctrine is, erm, bollocks......
@132
Who cares about catholic teaching, apart from the demonstrable FACT that it is a collection of lies?
@ 142
Like all the gullible dying pain-wracked failures at Lourdes, do you mean?
Being financially ripped-off by the vile church, because of the extremity of their pain and suffering?

Finally:
Why are you so depsperately defending what is probably the most evil and blood-soaled organisation on the planet? Even the communist religion isn't quite that bad - though they certainly try.

157:

"Such actions are illegal in Scotland"

Yeah. Cite please.

[content-free insults removed by moderator]

158:

Davy, as a practicing Catholic and Knight of Columbus, please have a heaping helping of shut the fuck up.

Its folks like you that make things difficult for the rest of us.

159:

[Comment deleted by moderator]

160:

He doesn't have the right to ban you for being black. Discrimination on the grounds of race is illegal in Scotland (and in England where I think the blog is hosted).

Don't try to paint yourself as some soft of martyr. If you get banned it will be for being a dick, not for being some sort of noble heretic.

161:

[Comment deleted by moderator]

162:

[Comment deleted by moderator]

163:

[Comment deleted by moderator]

164:

Davy -- your usage of the word "remembrance" to describe the function of relics as opposed to "veneration", the actual word used in RCC theology to describe the relationship of worshipper to relic.

That single word describes a completely different church -- one that doesn't DO EXORCISMS. If relics are merely "remembrances", then exorcisms would be theologically forbidden -- but they're not.

So Charlies is relatively right -- while you are absolutely wrong and don't have the slightest clue about the pattern of Catholic theology and practice over the millenia. You are FACTUALLY INCORRECT -- Charlie was merely hyperbolic, since clearly he was writing a satire (which by definition must be hyperbolic to function as satire).

So, not only are you FACTUALLY INCORRECT about your apparent church, which does not regard relics as mere "remembrances" (words have meaning, doofus), either at the folk level or at the level of high theology, but you are FACTUALLY INCORRECT about Charlie being FACTUALLY INCORRECT, insofar as your entire "analysis" is based on the faulty premise that a satire can be judged to be factually correct or incorrect.

You're so far off base, you're not even wrong.

You want to know argue that transubstantiation means that the eucharist is just a "remembrance of" Jesus's last supper? That's what follows from this confusion of modernist "remembrances" and pre-modern ideas of neo-Platonic essences. If that's what you want to believe -- they're are plenty of Protestant churches who believe it's all "symbolism".

The courtier's reply is so far off-base the issue, it shows the speaker to be a fool about his own theology.

165:

Cite please.

The current law is the Equality Act 2010, which applies throughout the United Kingdom, and bans discrimination, victimisation and harassment on the basis of religious belief or lack thereof. This can be found in part 2, chapter 1 s.10 of the act.

More precisely, part 2, chapter 2, ss.13-19 define the different sorts of discrimination, and part 3 s.29(1) is the bit about provision of goods and services.

The purpose of this act was to consolidate the existing equality legislation in one place, so most of this stuff was already illegal. Discrimination against Jews has been illegal since the Race Relations Act in 1976, for example, and discrimination on grounds of religion and belief, including in the provision of services, was already covered by the Equality Act 2006.

166:

You complain about the response to
>"There is a factual error here, that's silly"

when in fact what you said was "There is a factual error here and Charlie is an ignorant bigot".

So you actually started off as a dick, and no one had to make any effort to paint you as one.

167:

IIRC it does "ban" discrimination on grounds of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation and possibly age. It signally does not ban discrimination on grounds of being a rectal oriface ;-) though.

168:

Worse than that. Davys apparent inability to change the script makes him boring.

169:

[Whining, self-martyring comment deleted by moderator]

170:

Off topic, but here's another modern Mythos type RPG.

Originally spotted on James Nicoll's livejournal.

171:

@Anura: Thanks for the substantive reply. I would respond but unfortunately I am not going to risk spending any time on it when it may well just be deleted. Suffice it to say you are wrong. I haven't even used the word "remembrance" so far.

@Feorag: Thanks for the cite. I'm still not sure whether that applies to the privilege of "posting on someone's blog", though it certainly could. Would it apply to "being in someone's house". Could they throw me out, but not throw out a white guy?
I would continue this conversation, but of course, it's impossible when the moderator takes against you.

@Dave B "Worse than that. Davys apparent inability to change the script makes him boring."

I'd change the script if people didn't keep on posting incorrect nonsense. You're as bad as a homeopath saying "and the scientists just won't change the script! They keep mentioning Avagadro's Number"

173:

@Jim Smith, - No you're entirely right. I'd forgotten that. Scratch that entire complaint then. I was wrong.

Doesn't justify how this has all gone down, with repeated off-topic attacks, and people acting as if all of your behaviour has been sparkling perfect, and now deleting my responses but it certainly puts paid to my "And I was being only nice" spiel.

174:

[Spelling flame deleted by moderator]

175:

That misspelling could be deliberate though...

Communicating just with words is so hard.

176:

[Comment deleted by moderator. I'm bored now. Think I'll start disemvowelling instead.]

177:

Quote from our host's original posting, explaining why he does not intent to write this story: Moreover, believers can get quite irate when you start treating their beliefs as a science fictional shared universe and go looking for loopholes in the laws. I can happily forgo the consumer boycott or hate mail or whatever. I see this tread as a perfect example of why this happens. There is no objection to the story itself, which after all is only a "what if" scenario. Even the introduction of the Vatican's shadow assassins does not cause offense. All the kerfuffle (I like this word) is about the one sentence linking it to real-world theology. Which is absolutely not necessary for the story to work. Basically, what we see here is the ideological equivalent to the engineer paradox (http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1371#comic) - if it is only partially wrong people in the know will complain.

178:

Here's the RCC Catechism, Edition 2, on sacraments and relics -- it's the same chapter, since one is the formal variety, while the latter is the spontaneous popular variety of the "mystery of Christ".

Even for the catechism -- which is a handbook, and not a full theological treatise -- we can clearly see that the objects of popular piety aren't mere "remembrances", merely symbolic.

As quoted: "The Catholic wisdom of the people is capable of fashioning a vital synthesis. . . . It creatively combines the divine and the human, Christ and Mary, spirit and body, communion and institution, person and community, faith and homeland, intelligence and emotion." A precise reference to this neo-Platonic concept (in rationalistic and modern language), that popular piety isn't merely a play, an aesthetic expression of High Theology, but a direct expression of Catholic magic.

And of course, exorcism falls under the chapter of "mysteries". So it all goes together -- sacraments, relics and exorcism. They're NOT SYMBOLIC.

179:

Cmmnt 162 dtd fr pprvl:

"Davy, as a practicing Catholic and Knight of Columbus, please have a heaping helping of shut the fuck up.

Its folks like you that make things difficult for the rest of us"

Hy. Try, s n Cthlc t nthr, [y r sprr clss f ctzn nd my nt rspnd n knd t yr nslt]

Hw xctly hv md thngs dffclt fr y?
pntd t fctl rrr.
Chrl rcgnsd hs mstk nd plgsd (pprntly).
thr ppl ddn't lk my tttd nd trd t b dcks by rgng thlgcl pnts/tkng swps t rlgn.
sht thm ll dwn bcs thy wr thlgclly lltrt/swps t rlgn r bt s rlvnt t th dscssn s swps t Trnsfrmrs

f y'v gt n ctl cntrbtn thn fl fr t jn n. thrws tk bg hpng hlpng f yr wn dvc.*

*s ths k? ddn't rpt wht h sd, bt dd trn t rnd n hm. t wht pnt d crss th ln?

180:

@guthrie :D yeah, I did think it was almost appropriate. But it didn't look like he did it deliberately.

@Anura - are you still talking to me? Because I can't have a conversation if I must reply as a second class citizen. On topic: I never said they were symbolic. God does any miracles, relics don't even have a brain, let alone any magic powers with which they could cause miracles. It's a simple piece of theology which invalidates the original idea.

181:

@Anura: Yr ntr pst t 164 s ntrly rrlvnt. Y ttrbt thngs t m tht nvr sd, ncldng th wrd "rmmbrncs", th rst f t s qlly wrng.

Nt nly m "FCTLLY CRRCT" s y lk t pt t, bt yr rptd ssrtns r nt ncldng:

"[Th Chrch] ds nt rgrd rlcs s mr "rmmbrncs" (wrds hv mnng, dfs"

Hy [wrd rdctd snc y cn cll m dfs, bt t lks lk m scnd clss ctzn hr], ddn't vr s th wrd rmmbrncs. S ys, wrds hv mnng. Try rdng my wrds fr chng nd prhps try t rspnd t thm.

182:

Theres clearly some belief that relics are something special and are intrinsically different to other objects (a bone from a saint is intrinsically different to the bone from a non-saint), that difference is the belief that they are conduits through which God can work is it not?

183:

Pst 159 dtd fr pprvl:

@Anura @155:

Yh nr. Dd y knw tht [xrcsms] r rrlvnt t th qstn "D thy blv n mgc rgns?"

"Fr ny f Chrl's nccrcs -- thy r stll mch clsr (vn f hyprblclly s) t 2000 yrs f RCC phlsphy nd thlgy, thn yr wn nd lmp "rmmbrncs", yr C. S. Lws vrsn f th RCC."

H! S y'r nnyd bt my psts... y dn't hv ny ctl crtcsms, snc 'm rght s vn Chrl Strss hs grd, s y'r rdcd t ttckng wht y thnk blv.

H ws wrng, s n fctlly ncrrct. Ths s ndnbl nd h ds nt dny t.
Thrfr nlss y knw smthng dn't knw bt m bng wrng bt Cthlc thlgy m dfntly clsr t bng crrct. Y'knw, bng crrct nd ll.

"Yr dscrptn f th RCC s t th rl RCC..."

Wht dscrptn f th RCC? Yh. Tht's rght, hvn't dscrbd t t ny pnt, xcpt ths n pnt f thlgy, bt whch m rght.

Rlly, ths [] ttmpts t shft th sbjct t ttckng m nd wht y ssm blv r [nt t my lkng].
thr dsgr wth sm clm 'v md n ths thrd, r stp [].


dtd t b dvd f nslts/hrsh crtcsms.

184:

The "protected characteristics" are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. The Act further notes that HIV status and some other conditions including cancer, are covered by the disability provisions.

185:

"Theres clearly some belief that relics are something special and are intrinsically different to other objects (a bone from a saint is intrinsically different to the bone from a non-saint), that difference is the belief that they are conduits through which God can work is it not?"

They are different in that they are the bones of Saints, and bones that are not, are not. Apart from that they are identical.

They are not 'special' or 'magic' in any inherent way. There is nothing about either their accident or occident (no time to check my vocabulary) i.e. their physical or spiritual nature (or be totally accurate) that is different from any other bit of bone.

God does not need a conduit to work through, but venerating a relic may well cause the Saint to intercede on your behalf with God and make a miracle more likely. That is all. The bone has no powers, is not a conduit, and is not different from any other bit of bone.

186:

"The "protected characteristics" are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. The Act further notes that HIV status and some other conditions including cancer, are covered by the disability provisions."

Protected in what way though? Can I refuse entry to my house to these people? Can I throw them out when I want them to leave?
Do the answers to the above questions apply to blogs?

187:

Would it apply to "being in someone's house".

Not unless you were running your house as some sort of business or public service, such as a guesthouse.

188:

Ah, I mistaked Dr. T @ 76's comment (The version our host does (not) want to use is "the relic causes the miracle". The official doctrine, as taught by the catholic church and based on the bible, is "the relic is a reminder of the respective saint, any eventual miracle is granted by God, who can be moved by your believe and the advocacy of other people, including the saint in question".) with Davys. Dr. T is incorrect about what the RCC teaches -- maybe Davys has some even more sophisticated work around? Some particularly scholastic nonsense, where we argue games about "are", like Bill Clinton in court?

Davy hasn't even had the basic courage to explicitly make a claim, but is content simply to make negative statements, as in: " I would respond but unfortunately I am not going to risk spending any time on it when it may well just be deleted. Suffice it to say you are wrong."

Suffice it to say... example N of empty troll behavior ("Nanana boo boo"). It's just so obvious that actually substantive statements will be deleted by Charlie -- as usual, the troll either can't distinguish between substance and noise or believes that no one else can.

My dear child, suffice it to say that you've shown no evidence of actually knowing Catholic theology beyond the barest of modernist folk theology. No better than the primitives who actually do believe that the shadow is the object, that licking the foreskin of a saint directly causes a miracle, rather than merely being a physical recapitulation of the spiritual experience of spiritually licking the spiritual foreskin of the saint, itself merely an attempt to put in words the ineffable mystery of the mystical experience of contact with the fountainhead.

189:

Sorry, here I'm going to partially agree with the complainer. If the premise of the story is "What if this theology/this pack of lies were literally true?", then it would indeed behoove the author to know the details of that theology and/or pack of lies.

On the other hand, while it's true that modern Catholic theology doesn't ascribe the power of relics to the relics themselves, but rather to the faith of those around them and the choice of God whether or not to grant miracles through them, it's also true that Catholic lore is replete with examples of relics seeming to act rather automatically, kind of like magic items, just as in the original proposal.

So, the story as conceived doesn't actually have to contradict the theology, it would just need to be acknowledged that the kerfuffle is down to the Vatican not being able to second guess God as to whether miracles will be granted through the relic kidney or not(the successor of St. Peter supposedly being infallible, not omniscient) and not wanting to take the chance.

The other objection was that canonization is not supposed to be what 'activates' one's sainthood, but rather a recognition of an existing fact. This is true, given that there are lots of instances of people being made saints only after a number of miracles were claimed after their deaths. So what? Adjust the storyline so that the Vatican MIB feel even more urgency to reclaim the relic, because they can't know for sure that it hasn't already started shedding miracles. Plus, that gives the author an instant and literal deus ex machina for getting the protagonist out of a tight spot in the middle of things...

190:

Hm.

What does the Catholic Encyclopaedia say on the topic?

Relics:

The justification of Catholic practice, which is indirectly suggested here by the reference to the bodies of the saints as formerly temples of the Holy Ghost and as destined hereafter to be eternally glorified, is further developed in the authoritative "Roman Catechism" drawn up at the instance of the same council. Recalling the marvels witnessed at the tombs of the martyrs, where "the blind and cripples are restored to health, the dead recalled to life, and *devils?* expelled from the bodies of men" the Catechism points out that these are facts which "St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, most unexceptionable witnesses, declare in their writings that they have not merely heard and read about, as many did but have seen with their own eyes", (Ambrose, Epist. xxii, nn. 2 and 17, Augustine, Serm. cclxxxvi, c.v.; City of God XXII, "Confess.", ix). And from thence, turning to Scriptural analogies, the compilers further argue: "If the clothes, the kerchiefs (Acts 19:12), if the shadow of the saints (Acts 5:15), before they departed from this life, banished diseases and restored strength, who will have the hardihood to deny that God wonderfully works the same by the sacred ashes, the bones, and other relics of the saints ? This is the lesson we have to learn from that dead body which, having been accidentally let down into the sepulchre of Eliseus, "when it had touched the bones of the Prophet, instantly came to life" (2 Kings 13:21, and cf. Sirach 48:14). We may add that this miracle as well as the veneration shown to the bones of Moses (See Exodus 13:19 and Joshua 24:32) only gain additional force from their apparent contradiction to the ceremonial laws against defilement, of which we read in Numbers 19:11-22. The influence of this Jewish shrinking from contact with the dead so far lingered on that it was found necessary in the "Apostolical Constitutions" (vi, 30) to issue a strong warning against it and to argue in favour of the Christian cult of relics.


[St. Thomas Aquinas] urges that those who have an affection to any person hold in honour all that was intimately connected with him. Hence, while we love and venerate the saints who were so dear to God, we also venerate all that belonged to them, and particularly their bodies, which were once the temples of the Holy Spirit, and which are some day to be conformed to the glorious body of Jesus Christ. "whence also", adds St. Thomas, "God fittingly does honour to such relics by performing miracles in their presence [in earum praesentia]." It will be seen that this closely accords with the terms used by the Council of Trent and that the difference consists only in this, that the Council says per quae--"through which many benefits are bestowed on mankind"--while St. Thomas speaks of miracles worked "in their presence". But it is quite unnecessary to attach to the words per quae the idea of physical causality. We have no reason to suppose that the council meant more than that the relics of the saints were the occasion of God's working miracles. When we read in the Acts of the Apostles, xix, 11, 12, "And God wrought by the hand of Paul more than common miracles. So that even there were brought from his body to the sick, handkerchiefs and aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the wicked spirits went out from them" there can be no inexactitude in saying that these also were the things by which (per quae) God wrought the cure.



There is nothing, therefore, in Catholic teaching to justify the statement that the Church encourages belief in a magical virtue, or physical curative efficacy residing in the relic itself . It may be admitted that St. Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D. 347), and a few other patristic and medieval writers, apparently speak of some power inherent in the relic. For example, St. Cyril, after referring to the miracle wrought by the body of Eliseus, declares that the restoration to life of the corpse with which it was in contact took place: "to show that even though the soul is not present a virtue resides in the body of the saints, because of the righteous soul which has for so many years tenanted it and used it as its minister". And he adds, "Let us not be foolishly incredulous as though the thing had not happened, for if handkerchiefs and aprons which are from without, touching the body of the diseased, have raised up the sick, how much more should the body itself of the Prophet raise the dead?" (Cat., xviii, 16.) But this seems rather to belong to the personal view or manner of speech of St. Cyril. He regards the chrism after its consecration "as no longer simple ointment but the gift of Christ and by the presence of His Godhead it causes in us the Holy Ghost" (Cat., xxi, 3); and, what is more striking, he also declares that the meats consecrated to idols, "though in their own nature plain and simple become profane by the invocation of the evil spirit" (Cat., xix, 7)--all of which must leave us very doubtful as to his real belief in any physical virtue inherent in relics. Be this as it may, it is certain that the Church, with regard to the veneration of relics has defined nothing, more than what was stated above. Neither has the Church ever pronounced that any particular relic, not even that commonly venerated as the wood of the Cross, as authentic; but she approves of honour being paid to those relics which with reasonable probability are believed to be genuine and which are invested with due ecclesiastical sanctions.

But!

On the other hand it must not be supposed that nothing was done by ecclesiastical authority to secure the faithful against deception. Such tests were applied as the historical and antiquarian science of that day was capable of devising. Very often however, this test took the form of an appeal to some miraculous sanction, as in the well known story repeated by St. Ambrose, according to which, when doubt arose which of the three crosses discovered by St. Helena was that of Christ, the healing of a sick man by one of them dispelled all further hesitation. Similarly Egbert, Bishop of Trier, in 979, doubting as to the authenticity of what purported to be the body of St. Celsus, "lest any suspicion of the sanctity of the holy relics should arise, during Mass after the offertory had been sung, threw a joint of the finger of St. Celsus wrapped in a cloth into a thurible full of burning coals, which remained unhurt and untouched by the fire the whole time of the Canon" (Mabillon "Acta SS. Ord. Ben.", III, 658).

(And so on and so forth)

Hm.

I suspect that the real fix to the problem with Charlie's idea is simply to replace doctrine with mythology, or folklore.

Church doctrine is relatively cautious, even cagey, in what it actually claims about anything. Doubletalk is constant.

Catholic mythology goes all over the place, and the Church apparently doesn't care enough to emphasise to believers that their mythology is not doctrine.

191:

@130:

"Proper 100% buckwheat soba is both gluten free, and the nicest pasta out there."

True, but as my partner has found out the hard way (she's the coeliac), most things which shouldn't have gluten in (things which are supposed to be pure buckwheat or maize) are often made with some wheat flour to cut the price. It makes eating out except in the more expensive restaurants a tad difficult, which is one reason we both cook at home so much. When shopping for anything other than the simplest foods I'm usually seen peering closely at ingredients lists. (Also I'm lactose intolerant, and you'd be surprised how much food has that added to sweeten or whiten it.)

192:

"Catholic mythology goes all over the place, and the Church apparently doesn't care enough to emphasise to believers that their mythology is not doctrine."

Except the line isn't so bright -- doctrine isn't the full theology, but merely the "minimal required dosage". That's the game that they're playing -- trying to pretend that the doctrine covers theology. There's plenty of theology which hasn't ever been made into "doctrine" -- it's not necessarily wrong, it's just that the church won't throw you out for disagreeing on those matters.

Look at the extended discussion of "in the presence of" and "through", even though they claim that TA believed they should be venerated because they will be magically resurrected -- it's all a complicated way to put the ideas of a medieval man who in fact did believe in a world of limited physical causality into modern words by finely parsing "in the prescense of" versus "through" in numerous languages over a millenia of time!

In short, it's bullshit that goes beyond "let the peons believe" -- it's an attempt to put a rationalist veneer on a system that is premised on a pre-modern concept of "mystery" that has more to do with ancient Greek cults than enlightenment philosophy.

As I posted, the RCC does in fact consider the mythology, to some unspecified extent, an eruption of actual theology. When they tut-tut hoi polloi, they're full of shit.

193:

*Hell, I might just get banned for responding to you at all!

You're banned for monopolizing the conversation in a particularly graceless and bad-mannered way. (I don't mind folks disagreeing with me or pointing out I'm wrong: I do mind persistent rudeness.)

Feel free to hang out on other discussions here, but leave this one alone. Your subsequent postings on this thread will be deleted from now on. (If not by me, then by a co-moderator.)

194:

"Brawndo has the electrolytes plants need!"

195:

For story purposes it doesn't matter whether Catholic doctrine is "real" It only matters that people in the story believe that Catholic doctrine is real. You get pretty much the same story either way, unless the Church sends its ninjas after the protagonist because The Pope is worried the journalist won't piss holy water, thus proving the Church wrong, which might be a fun plot twist, not to mention a commentary on how much worse you can make things by trying to stuff the worms back into the can.

196:

Wow, I go away for a day and miss all the fireworks. Reading the last hundred or so comments all at once I was hoping that Charlie would try experimenting with disconsonanting; the disemvoweled comments were too much like real English.

One way to deal with the difference between dogma and belief while keeping the story a fantasy rather than an airport thriller is to use the old trick that the believers create the god with the power of their belief. So we don't have to pay attention to the maunderings of theologians; god has the characteristics and powers that the majority of worshippers believe in. Much to the chagrin of the priests, I suspect.

197:

Regardless of the niceties of Roman Catholic theology, surely the point is that, if Charlie actually wanted to write this book he would go away and research the subject.

If he then found the theology didn't fit, and if that meant the story didn't work, and he still wanted to write it, he would, presumably, rejig the story - it could be done, as has been pointed out above. I imagine this must happen all the time.

But he doesn't want to do that. He doesn't want to write this story. It's only an idea, not even an outline, still less a draft. So it doesn't have to be "right" in any sense at all.

For my part, as a Christian, churchwarden, married to a priest - I would love to read this, if Charlie wanted to write it. Wading through this thread, I can though see a few reasons though why he might not.

198:

"God does any miracles, relics don't even have a brain, let alone any magic powers with which they could cause miracles. It's a simple piece of theology which invalidates the original idea."

Why would anyone believe that anyone else's magic is any different? The ancient Greeks didn't believe that their rituals could force Teh Godz to act. A voodoo priest would give the same high-falutin' sophisticated explanation that ultimately The Creator wills all -- it just "looks like" a spell.

But of course, we have to treat the sophisticates differently from the primitives. We have to play all kind of sophisticated word games to distinguish a functionally identical world view.

I haven't heard of a single shaman, priest, rabbi, imam, theologian, or witch-doctor who doesn't have a "sophisticated internal theology" which can be harmonized with any rationalization you want, while still being harmonious with folk rituals. That's the damn point of a theology -- to create a logical construct that is self-confirming, and therefore is empty of any meaning at all.

Nothing is worse than these damn games of "sophistication" which are really quite UN-sophisticated.

199:

"Furthermore, because the host gets the substance of Christ's body without the accidents, there won't be any stem cells. Sorry."

Which I've seen used nicely in one of James MacDonald's Templar novels - somebody takes a large, important object (holy relic?), and changes the accidents so that it is a pebble, for all mundane appearances. That allows them to smuggle it through security.

200:

This reply (having not read the original comment) made me laugh as I thought it was meant to be an example of blog spam.

201:

A lot of Army chaplains from catholic and protestant religions are trying to decide if they'll stay when Don't Ask, Don't Tell is completely dead. How can they bring themselves to help gays? After all, it's against their religion.

202:

the Jesus Bread-Golem Project hits another snag

Well I just found this story by way of Balloon Juice (one of the finest kindsa juice) an it has us dismayed over at Fafblog.

"I am dismayed because that little girl cannot eat the wafer," says me. "Without the wafer she will never get her recommended daily allowance of Jesus."
"Giblets is not concerned with the heartless exclusionary legalism of the Catholic hierarchy!" says Giblets. "Giblets is concerned because it clearly states that only unleavened wheat can turn into parts of Jesus! We have been workin with leavened flour!"
"But we have to Giblets," I says pointin at the nicely molded Jesus dough. "Otherwise our Jesus Bread-Golem will not rise when we bake him."
"But what is the point of bakin a Jesus if the priest we get cannot turn him into a real Jesus?" says Giblets. "We will just have a huge, useless, tasty, fresh, bready Jesus sittin in our oven!"
"But surely God will want to transubstantiate our bread Jesus," says me. "It is our best plan yet for bringin Jesus back."
"God can't make regular bread into Jesus! It is against the Jesus code!" says Giblets. "I told you we should have brought Jesus back as Cyborg Jesus. We have the technology. We can rebuild him!"
"We cannot afford the technology," says me. "It is like the time we tried to build Mecha-Jesus an could only buy one mechanical Jesus toe."
"We would have already had a functioning Jesus Clone if it wasn't for you gettin the wrong Shroud of Turin," says Giblets.
"The Pope tole me it was genuine Jesus blood!" says me.
"An now we are stuck with Crazy Templar Guy in our basement," says Giblets.
There is an eerie Latin moanin comin up from underneath.
"I think he is hungry," says me. "He wants more soup an Byzantine gold."
"Man," says Giblets, "I hate Crazy Templar Guy."

http://fafblog.blogspot.com/2004/08/jesus-bread-golem-project-hits-another.html

203:

Brilliant thread, Charlie. So many great story ideas. Good to see you back.

204:

Power can't corrupt people, people can corrupt power.
William Gaddis

Frank Herbert : " All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptable. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted. "

205:

heteromeles @25: "And, if I recall correctly, liver regenerates."
If I recollect my basic human physiolgy correctly I agree. Isn't that why Prometheus' liver gets eaten every day instead of his kidneys, his pancreas or his heart? BTW isn't Prometheus Lucifer? Eternal life and no respite?

Fred Matzner @35: "... These were spun from the premise that Catholic theology was literally true ..."
Please care to investigate the origins of Christian religion which does not seem to only descend entirely from the Thora, but also from some seemingly very incompatible ideas like "Siddhartha" and Greek mythology. As far as Creation goes, the idea was there before that, but (I think) the Arians reinvigourated it, that the world is bad. It cannot have been created by (good) God but by the Demiurge. The Demiurge is a very powerful being, but deeply flawed. Everything it creates is created in its image and is by inheritance (in an IT-object sense) also deeply flawed. Think "the world" or "human" here.

Marilee J. Layman @39: "In general, kidneys from deceased donors last 10 years"
I personally knew a person that lived with a deceased donor's kidney for 20 years. He was one of the first batch to receive a transplant at all, which means his health status was not very certain at the time (who's going to accept a transplant if you can live longer without one, being guinea pigs and all). IIRC he told me he survived all his peers by drinking less (max 1.2l of water/day), which was supposed to lessen the strain on your new piece of hardware. That guy was generally not the type that would have died easily anyway.

ChrisB @53: "..."
Man, where did you get that? The Catholic church is probably one of the few suspects you can strike off your list. Witchhunting was never, ever, approved of by the Catholic church. Acknowledging something so far off their radar would have rendered their own doctrine useless. Witchhunting was strictly a Protestant pursuit. The only work ever published under apparently "Catholic" domain (AFAIK), "Hexenhammer" was never approved of by the Vatican.

Greg. Tingey @62: "All religions kill, enslave and torture, and are based on moral (and usually physical) blackmail."
Maybe true, but so do all other ideologies. Even if you just call them beliefs. I'm not going to try to make a point here by citing any major anti-religious movement here. I think I lied, so here goes: NSDAP.

Dr.T @73; "Would blessing a gun work for christian/catholic forces?"
Yeah, I'm taking this out of context, but I believe that for believers it would.

ARCHAEOPTERYX @105 "..which potato bears an un-canny resemblance to the Head of Charlie Stross..."
YEAH, and wouldn't that be something noteworthy in you book?

ajay @108: "... accusing officials of the Catholic Church of conspiring to abuse children and then cover it up ..."
I really hope I'm not violating the rules here, but that sound dumb. Do you really think that ANY agency that professes to protecting children's rights actually cannot be accused of the same wrongs? I mean it. The question.

Charlie @119: "... we are already living in a world that inaccurately reflects Catholic doctrine ..."
No, we don't.
We mostly live in a world where all acts (and therefore all sins) are predetemined which no (sensible) (g?)God would fail to forgive. Except if (S)He were Calvinist (I'm not even sure about that: Would God forgive a Calvinist if he failed to get rich but really tried?).

Antongarou @144: "... you have more and less influential Rabbis, but unless they willingly follow the lead of another Rabbi, which they are under no obligation to do, they are all theoretically equal ..."
Exactly. Let's assume the goys enjoy the equal opportunity priviledge as well

Feorag @152: "... but the authors and editors of that insisted that it wasn't ..."
Where did you get that? I don't recall any passage that says the Thora is authentic, just that it's true. Can't think of any passage in the Bible that says it's
the Lord's own and unabridged history of creation and history either.

Trey @158: "Davy, as a practicing Catholic and Knight of Columbus, please have a heaping helping of shut the fuck up."
Do you realise what you are asking here? "Shut up, I think you are an idiot because you adhere to a different set of opinions than I do." OOPS.

Charlie @193: "... Your subsequent postings on this thread will be deleted from now on ..."
It's your forum, and I realize that even if you strongly disagree you can be held accountable for what is not deleted on this forum. I don't know in which way Davy has misbehaved, but I think everything, no matter how disgusting, is better said and disproved than left undisputed.

206:

Great idea, with the potential for great fun!

And now, orthogonal to the idea:

...in light of the Catholic Church's trend towards creating new saints much faster than the historic norm.

As the number of NewSaints/Year increases, I wonder when that curve will cross the curve of falling number of NewPriests/Year.

207:

Generally:
"I you pray hard enough, you can make watr run uphill"
"how hard?"
"Hrad enough to make water run uphill, of course!"
R. A. Heinlein (as "Lazarus Long", I think)

Owlmirror @ 190
"Church doctrine is relatively cautious, even cagey, in what it actually claims about anything. Doubletalk is constant."
Yes, well, what did you expect?

erald @ 205
Witches.
Bollocks.
Sprenger u Kramer, authors of Malleus Maleficarum were catholics, Kramer was an inquisitor.

"NSDAP" (Godwin apart) erm, Adolf was a good catholic. I've already posted the seriously vile link, twice this week ... oops

So, you are a far off-beam as Davy, though much more polite about it.

208:

Go back and re-read my reason for banning Davy: it's not disagreement so much as disagreeableness. (I like to maintain a minimally civil tone in here, and he was coming on like a usenet troll of yore, damaging the conversation.)

209:

#176 - Given one of the most common letter transliterations in LOLspeak, perhaps you should ask the cats to do the disemvoweling? ;-)

#184 Thanks Feorag.

210:

A lot of Army chaplains from catholic and protestant religions are trying to decide if they'll stay when Don't Ask, Don't Tell is completely dead. How can they bring themselves to help gays? After all, it's against their religion.

Which Army would that be? (smiles)

Army chaplains regularly handle non-denominational matters - our Presbyterian chaplain conducted services for the whole battalion, we didn't have "fall out the Atheists, Jews, Muslims and Catholics" ;) The whole unit is their flock, regardless of belief, and they perform a key welfare/counselling role. They coped with our two Muslim officers, why not the homosexuals?

The British Army avoided the whole DADT step, and jumped directly from "no gays" (ironic, for anyone who remembers the WRAC ) to "it's official, we don't care" just over a decade ago. Apart from the initial doom-mongering, it seems to have "just worked" - and this when the British Army is fighting in a war. (On another forum, I read about the acceptance at a Regimental dinner of the male partner of a male officer; said officer is held in high regard by his troops, not least because he's a rather successful competitive Mixed-Martial-Artist... the description was a momentary hesitation, like somebody bumped the record player, and then everyone carried on as before. And that his partner was good company.)

211:

The answer to that one is unpalatable to a lot of people who claim to be Christian: WWJD? Unfortunately for them, the answer would be to help them regardless.

212:

The British Army avoided the whole DADT step, and jumped directly from "no gays" (ironic, for anyone who remembers the WRAC ) to "it's official, we don't care" just over a decade ago.

To the point where there are now Armed Forces floats and recruitment stands at the Pride marches...

213:

Plenty of sites have a policy of no more than x postings by any one person, as well as don't say the same thing x00 times, don't call the owner's spouse names, don't demand an abject apology for a minor mis-step, don't act as if you were the moderator, etc. The question is not why retire Davy now, but why not 20 years ago?

In my opinion, the story would need some serious adjustment to be worthwhile thematically. It could be the platform for a thriller/erotic escapade, but what couldn't? And even then there are probably more interesting playgrounds that have the added bonus of not manifesting numerous self righteous weirdos.

I think owlmirror hit it on the head: the Catholic Church is not interested in promulgating doctrine to the lay community; as long as they believe in the Church, for whatever reason, and don't step egregiously over the line in behavior, it is OK for them to have a wide range of myths. The Church has always been adept at digesting diverse local religions and "sanctifying" them. See for example the Holy Greyhound or the identification of local deities/folk figures with existing or new saints.

214:

A fun thread to scan.... the Davy posts were like reading the notes for 'Pale Fire'--- or at least 'Pale Fire' as written by a zombie Catholic reincarnation of a trolling Nabakov. Or something.

215:

I can also recall at least one Robert Rankin novel with the same plot.

216:

Greg @207: "... Adolf was a good catholic."

Does this sound like a good Catholic to you:

"You see, it's been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn't we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?" (A.H. from Albert Speer, 1971, Inside the Third Reich)

217:

Greg @207: "Sprenger u Kramer, authors of Malleus Maleficarum were catholics"

Yeah. That's because it was 1450. Before the Reformation.

218:

BTW, I don't think the Catholics are the good guys.

It's just that when I see a lot of accusations being leveled against any group I feel I need to investigate if those accusations are supported by facts.

There is a lot to be said against the Catholic church, but it can't be child abuse, because that is evenly distributed among all operations that care for children, it can't be witchhunts because they occurred less frequently in catholic areas, and it can't be inquisition because that was the first set of procedural rules at all in western Europe.

Why not criticise the stance on birth control, the internal powerplays, the faithlessness among the higher echelons ... .

219:

The most important criticism for me is global political interference whilst claiming infallibility through some magic man. When the pope says "no condoms" to areas of africa where HIV is endemic he causes the deaths of millions. Thats a holocaust and his defense is "my book says spilling sperm on the floor will make the universes sysadmin mad"

220:

I think I came up with an ending scenario for you that's better than vampires - Protag is rescued/recruited by a group of French superheroes called the Plantards, who are fighting the church's power.

221:

I'm afraid {citation needed} is required after every statement in your post. Not that I think there isn't something behind them, but for example re. the inquisition, having rules and procedures makes no difference if your aim is to burn someone anyway.

222:

If it wasn't clear I was using Judaism(which I'm familiar with) as an example. I have peripheral knowledge of some other decentralized religions, notably Islam and some Buddhist sects.

223:

*winces* you are aware that your point about the inquisition sounds like "But Mussolini made the trains run on time!" to anyone of Jewish descent who remembers something about them, right? I'm sure the Catholic church did enough good things that you don't have to resort to the inquisition as an example.

224:

PrivateIron: The question is not why retire Davy now, but why not 20 years ago?

Because I posted this blog entry right before I buggered off on a three-day road trip, visiting family, with limited ability to hole up and moderate. And in particular, Davy kicked off while I was spending time with elderly relatives and no computer. I am now back home.

225:


Off topic I know ..but, as a -welcome ?- diversion from Christian Theology I have just noticed that, " Rule 34 (Halting State) [Hardcover]" now listed on Amazon.com with a publication date "This title will be released on July 5, 2011. Pre-order now!" Also listed under Amazon.co as " Currently unavailable.We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock."

Not to worry its also listed at The Book Depository ..

" Rule 34 (Hardback)
By (author) Charles Stross

£12.47 - Save £4.16 25% off -
RRP £16.63 ...... Published: 05 July 2011 "


http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9780441020348/Rule-34

An easy pre-order.

226:

For the record, it is the liver -- not kidney -- that often must be replaced by organ transplantion to survive poisoning by Amanita phalloides (death cap mushrooms. The toxin's primary, irreversible effect is killing hepatocytes. Kidney "failure" is secondary to that and reversible, though patients may require temporary dialysis. See for example, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00047808.htm

227:

Hereafter the result of quick google ...

" A 12-year-old girl has survived after accidentally eating two mushrooms which were poisonous enough to kill an adult twice over.

Lucy Adcock fought for her life in hospital after she ate two death caps while on a bike ride, having mistaken them for ordinary field mushrooms.

The schoolgirl, who suffered liver failure, yesterday told how she felt ‘lucky’ to be alive. Doctors were astonished that she not only pulled through but may have escaped without any lasting problems.

One death cap mushroom is normally enough to kill an adult. "

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1312227/Lucy-Adcock-wolfs-2-death-cap-mushrooms-survives-tell-tale.html

228:

Eeewwww! A Daily Heil link!

229:

That link is a really interesting read. Thanks

I must admit that I can't figure out how the discussion threw up the topic of Witch-hunting crazes but I'm definitely not going to comb through all the comments like a crazy obsessive person

230:

I did of course mean the link from ChrisB (http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=719&chapter=77036&layout=html&Itemid=27) not the link from the Daily Mail.

How embarrassing

231:

guthrie @221: "I'm afraid {citation needed} is required after every statement in your post."
Fair enough. In my defence: I thought all claims were fairly obviously true.

Child abuse:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_abuse
http://www.lfcc.on.ca/institutional.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Indian_residential_school_system

Witch hunts:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witch-hunt (look at the regional distribution of occurances)

Inquisition:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecclesiastical_court
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquisitorial_system
In fact in large parts of Europe canonical courts were preferred by the population for civil litigation before codified procedure was established in secular courts. The reason for this was that secular courts were mostly presided over by local nobility (with no legal training whatsoever), didn't require to establish objective truth as a basis for their decisions (a novelty that the inquisitorial system introduced) and relied almost exclusively on witnesses (excluding material evidence). As far as legal systems went in these times that were substantial improvements.

232:

Myself @231: "were substantial improvements."
I meant: legal training for judges, trying to find truth as a basis for decisions and abandoning the witness-only system of proof.

233:

Ryan @219:
I agree, that is probably the most astounding flaw.

Did you know that papal infallacy itself was only introduced in 1870 at the First Vatican Council? If it were older, I'd just think it was a leftover from strange times, but establishing something so incredibly in-the-face-of-facts this late is positively vile.

234:

erald, your reference on the Canadian residential schools indicates that, while they were set up by the government, they were run by the churches. About 60% were run by the Roman Catholic Church. So, while people outside the churches certainly turned a blind eye to abuses therein, and the overall governmental goals and methodology were repugnant, it doesn't work very well as an example of child abuse outside the church. It wasn't just the Catholic Church in this case, though.

For a non-church Canadian example, try minor hockey. In some ways that's still a religion.

235:
and this when the British Army is fighting in a war.

That's not so surprising; I'd expect that during a war unit cohesion and trust in your comrades would be quite high, and not particularly affected by inconsequential differences like sexual orientation. In peacetime, when you're more concerned about your sergeant's mood than about enemy fire, I could see it becoming more of a problem.

236:

erald @ 217/217
I TOLD you - Kramer was an INQUISITOR......
And you have already been provided with the links to Adolf and christianity, nasty as they are - try "nobeliefs.com" huh?
218
Procedural Rules?
Like Magna Carta, and the preceding English Common Law?
Bollocks.

@ 235
"Bonding" in severe fighting.
Try reading the late John Masters' accounts of fighting the Japanese all the way from Kohima to their surrender.

237:

It's worth noting that while DADT has been in effect the US military has been involved in at least three major conflicts and innumerable smaller ones: Iraq (1) and Iraq (2) and Afghanistan as major ones, actions in places like Somalia as minor. You'd think unit cohesion would be high, wouldn't you?

238:

Why not criticise the faithlessness among the higher echelons ... .
Not trolling; based on actual physical conversations with actual divinity students. No cite available; if anyone really cares, try a websearch for yourself.

In churches which require university level qualification in divinity to become a full clergyman, there is a disconnect between the "reading divinity" thing and the "believing in God" thing, so the RC aren't unique there.

239:

@233: Papal infallibility was pretty much introduced as the "science v. religion" debate kicked off. Geologists were discovering deep time from the fossil record and suggesting the world was millions of years old, contradicting Ussher's chronology. Industrialisation was overturning a lot of the old certainties as well, so the Vatican decided the future was a bad thing and papal infallibility was the first shot against modernity - "we're right, no matter what the evidence".

240:

Personally, instead of getting mired in various views of catholicism, the things that went through my mind are some plot variants/twists.

a) The main reason for the vatican to go after his organ is to cover up that they themselves are having organs implanted to receive miraculous powers. The protagonist acually got the kidney through some clerical error(pun not intended) and now they need it back to keep the secret. This would also be the reason for the "indecent haste" of the canonization as the cardinals want to prolong their lives through their saintly organs.

b) When the organ goes "active", the other organs in the protagonists body will receive the same properties, and the other organisation that's keeping him alive are actually doing so only until that happens, at which point they intend to harvest all his organs for their own use. This would replace the blackmail bit and act as an additional "oh crap" as the protagonist finds out.

Lots of fun things to do with that story, really. I'd pay to read it.

241:

Actually I think nothing proves so clearly how low had the Catholic Church fallen by 1870 as the fact that Pius IX could do something so ridiculously laughable without causing a schism and/or a war, only a general shrug... Papal Infallibility and Immaculate Conception were poisonous gifts indeed!

242:

I have to say that was actually a very fun read, considering you say its a story you won't write. Its actually quite a good plot for a fun little novel or short story.

243:

I know I probably look rather picky here, or maybe its the old communication issues again, but when you write:

"There is a lot to be said against the Catholic church, but it can't be child abuse, because that is evenly distributed among all operations that care for children, it can't be witchhunts because they occurred less frequently in catholic areas, and it can't be inquisition because that was the first set of procedural rules at all in western Europe."

and your reference for witchhunting is wikipedia on the distribution of witch trials, you've rather lost the point. The Catholic church was the institution which created the whole witch craze thing in the first place, before the protestant crazies took it over. So I see plenty to say against the Catholics of the time. Secondly, your point about rules isn't related to the church courts etc, since there have been all sorts of courts and legal systems across Europe, developing from the 7/8th centuries. Your point seems to be something along the lines of, it's ok to execute people as long as they had a trial first, which isn't exactly the best argument.
As for child abuse, the issue there is that it was covered up and allowed to continue for so long, whereas other organisations such as the Scouts took a lot of things far more seriously more quickly.
So, total fail on your part, but its ok, this is only a blog.

244:

Patricia @234:
I wasn't going for examples from Canada. It's simply that the Canadian government has done more about child abuse awareness than any other that I know about.

245:

I don't know how much my own experience in Vietnam in a largely conscript service matches what's happening now in an all volunteer force, but I can tell you that despite homosexuality being an explicit way to get out of being drafted there were a lot of gays in the US Army then, and most of us didn't give a rat's ass about it. In the unit I was in incountry there were a number of gays who were well known, and I don't think even one of them was ever disciplined for it. In part it may have been because the head clerk of the battalion, whom the C.O. depended on for the smooth running of the outfit, was gay, and the unit would have suffered greatly if he'd been removed.

246:

Responding to various folks, not just Arthur:

Some parts of papal infallibility go back to 449AD. The 1870s date is the recognition of this by the First Vatican Council (my emphases added):

We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals ...
I add the emphases to reflect a few common misunderstandings.

The infallibility is strictly limited to matters of faith and morals. If a topic doesn't fall into that category (eg, the law of gravity), the doctrine doesn't appy. (An aside: yes, I realize that some nutbar Pope deciding that gravity is a doctrinal issue; I leave it to the student to the various reconciliations that can occur from that point forward. Why yes, I'm not Catholic.)

The unfortunately ill-defined term ex cathedra is generally taken to mean that when the Pope wishes to express a doctrine as infallible, it must be done so fairly formally. There are a number of Papal doctrines that are generally accepted as having being infallible, but since the Vatican Council there have been very very few. In a nutshell, the Pope has to state formally that something is a doctrine and it is infallible.

To my knowledge, the only one that meets that strict definition is the Marian Assumption. On the other hand, one can find sources which claim that all canonizations since the Vatican I are examples of the Pope speaking ex cathedra. My own opinion is that the more conservative view is the correct one: that the Pope has to make the statement, indicate that it is a statement of doctrine, and that it is an infallible one. In the course of his other duties (ie, recognizing a canonization) he may act in a matter that is historically recognized as infallible. IMHO, those statements are weaker than what I regard as ex cathedra

As an example, note that canonizations (ostensibly infallible) have been reversed. A proper theological rules lawyer might swallow this contradiction by saying that St. Christopher was infallibly a saint until the canonization was infallibly reversed. During the period of time he was formally canonized, the faithful would have to believe that. After revocation, they no longer have to believe that he is a saint. So long as they held the proper belief at the proper time, they're in good shape.

You, of course, are welcome to disagree with me. :-)

However, there is no dispute that regular, day-to-day stuff the Pope says is just regular, day-to-day stuff. Infallible speaking is only when the Pope says it is or when tradition says those types of pronouncements are infallible. Most of what the Pope says, even on matters of doctrine, does not meet either of those bars.

247:

"So long as they held the proper belief at the proper time, they're in good shape."

Uncomfortably close to "Nineteen Eight-Four".

Eurasia has always been at war with Eastasia.

249:

Yep, and in the bit I just posted with HTML, some chaplains will. But a lot don't want to, and don't see it as part of their job.

250:

The Catholic church was the institution which created the whole witch craze thing in the first place, before the protestant crazies took it over.

Sorry, but that is as tendentious as anything that erard has said on the issue. The witch craze was indeed started by a couple of Catholic friars, but the Catholic church authorities were apparently rather dubious about it from the start - friars of their level weren't supposed to think for themselves and the theory, while not obviously heretical, was slightly heterodox by the standards of the time. But as (unlike a somewhat similar friar of Wittenberg thirty years later) they weren't directly attacking church authority, they weren't directly disciplined.

It then should indeed be noted that for the next century the Catholic church did little other than mutter disapprovingly about witch hunts (and turn a blind eye when their disapproval was disregarded by otherwise orthodox Catholics).

However, the fact that the Spanish Inquisition did choose, in the early 17th century, to carry out a thorough investigation of witchcraft claims in Navarre which, even by today's secular standards, was genuinely thorough and empirical, came to a firmly reasoned conclusion that the claims were entirely baseless and was the effective basis of official Catholic attitudes thereafter (well before any similar official policy in Protestant states) is undoubtedly true. Though the fact that the expertise that the inquisitors applied had been almost entirely gained in distinguishing Jews and heretics from "innocent" bystanders with malicious enemies is equally true. This is one of the less pleasant ironies of human history.


251:

Which witch craze are you talking about? The persecution of witches was carried out by Catholic agencies in the late medieval period, and later on in places such as Bavaria when it was brought back into the fold. You seem to be picking upon a specific time and place to try and ignore the bigger picture. I suppose we're running into a variety of the no true scotsman thing here - anything local catholic hierarchies do isn't necessarily actual Papal policy, and vice versa.

252:

Seriously read the link http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=719&chapter=77036&layout=html&Itemid=27 before arguing about witchhunts in the 16th and 17th century. It should take you an hour to read it thoroughly. Then report back.

It's yet another example of flip-flopping religious authorities but tied up inside a bigger cultural context.

And the bigger cultural picture is something that all the people arguing against organised religion here seem to be missing. There are horrible things being done by people all the time. And there are other people covering it up whether they are organised as a church or not. And sometimes they are just as hypocritical as the churches about the matter.

Any big organisation like a church is schizophrenic in its operation and ignorance about what it is doing and whether it should cover it up.

Can anybody name one large organisation that they have seen make a serious mistake and then not try to cover up?

253:

I wasn't going to investigate a fellow human's beliefs. Once it is obvious that somebody has some really firm beliefs (like g*thr**) who would I be to dispute them? Honestly: None of my business. Hypocrisy I call thee name.

Catholics: You're not out in the clear. OMG WTH did you do? I'll give you that: Being everyone's favorite scapegoat, you're only obliged to coherently explain one thing to me: "Infallacy"

That's it. And don't give me your usual BS. Something new would be appreciated.

254:

@Steve Simmons

I knew that. Trouble is, Popes have contradicted what other Popes said in theological matters so many times, that claiming the Pope is infallible when he speaks 'ex cathedra' is only slightly less ridiculous... always in my humble opinion, of course.

255:
"So long as they held the proper belief at the proper time, they're in good shape."

Uncomfortably close to "Nineteen Eight-Four".

Well, sure. You didn't think Orwell or the politicians he was poking at invented that, did you? I'm moderately sure it predates Christianity as well.
256:

It's just common theology -- it also applies in the field of US Supreme Court findings.

Take the example of Plessy v. Ferguson -- which institutionalized segregation as being compatible with the equality before the law required by the post-civil war amendments to the US Constitution -- and Brown v. Board, which ended it. The first case invented the doctrine that "separate but equal" satisfied the requirements of the Constitution -- an obviously absurd finding, a game of theological word-play whereby equal was turned into not-equal.

Brown v Board didn't state that the earlier case was wrong, in that "separate but equal" is a nonsensical phrase, but found that the doctrine was correct "in principle", but that it was impractical to practice, and therefore unusable.

Aka, a game of SCOTUSal infallibility -- that one changes doctrine by never admitting that doctrine is being changed, just merely "understood better".

There is no difference between theology and law.

257:
There is no difference between theology and law.
Sure there is. In a non-theocratically-governed society we can ignore theology if we choose and not be harmed. Try ignoring tax law (unless you have a hell of a lot of money for tax lawyers) and see how that works for you. As a citizen of the US I can call bullshit on the Pope and nobody will come to take me away; calling bullshit on the president should have the same effect, but, depending on the president and my local police, it may not (the Patriot Act, among other things, gives the president legal powers he really shouldn't have).
258:

The US Catholic bishops have blessed a new app for iPhone and iPad: Confession.

259:

Speaking of the hangover, the January 2011 Consumer Reports magazine says that Bayer AM does actually relieve hangover symptoms. I don't know if you guys have it over there -- it's aspirin and caffeine.

260:
I think nothing proves so clearly how low had the Catholic Church fallen by 1870 as the fact that Pius IX could do something so ridiculously laughable without causing a schism

Nit: I recently learned that it did, in fact, cause a (small) schism:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Catholic_Church

261:

Back in the Bush era, when it seemed like only religion and war got funding at the expense of science, public health and pretty much everything else, I wrote this little webcomic called Operation Clone Jesus.

262:

Makes one think...

There are a couple of, err, alchemical substances that can at the very least make you believe you are fathersonholyghost united, the Messiah and a couple of other things, though in general it takes some long-term high dosage use to get a nice amphetamine psychosis.

So, to get the reliable crossover idea, what about Hermes Trimegistos 'breaking bad'? Even Paracelsus has to pay the bills, you know?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxAYHOWxGi8

263:

I agree on the question of withchhunts, they are also related to pre-Christian beliefs, see seidr etc. But that doesn't change a bit about the nice fact that the Spanish Inquisition was genocidal concerning Jews and Muslims according to the legal definition of genocide, though of course that wasn't that objectable to the protestants at the time, err.

With infalliability, there is such a thing as 'supreme court' in some systems, though one might argue if the RCC solution is that good in relation to other approaches.

Concerning the antagonists in Charlie's story, one could explain that there are different factions in the church; also note that in his setting, the mighty organ might be something like a live nuclear warhead, even if he isn't doing the miraculous stuff like wine to acetaldehyd and like, blaspheming saintly relics is known to have ghastly effects, so what if he's using some male contraceptives, err, testosteron replacement therapy?

One of the problems I see is that, as mentioned before, to make fun of a thing, it helps to have a thorough knowledge of the thing. The story with the Satanic planet where logic leads to Christian mores is an example, with many of the theologicians arguing that you can get a long way with reason, uttered in trying to save this favourite child molester of all, Platon. Problem is, a) even catholics don't know everything about catholicism and b) take two catholic priests and you get four opinions, first of, there's a), and second of, there are some inherent ambiguities in Christian mythology in general and RCC doctrine in special. Which migth add to the fun, for strange values of fun.

264:

**SPAM ALERT**

"body lift guide" at 264 (repeats post 244)

265:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/us_pope_organs
Furthermore, if papal organs were donated, they would become
relics in other bodies if he were eventually made a saint.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on February 6, 2011 12:51 PM.

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