Ever Thought About Becoming a Religion?

Naaahh, I hadn’t either until…

I read about something Pope Francis said from his papal airplane on the way to the Philippines. (By way, I hope he does not have a cheap plane like he has a cheap car because the consequences of a cheap plane far outweigh the public relations benefits.) So, His Eminence is settling in for the long flight, fastening his seatbelt and putting the seat back and tray table in the full upright and locked position (doing all those things would make him seem more like regular people) and he says “there are limits to freedom of expression, especially when it insults or ridicules someone’s faith.”

It is fair to say that his words fall well short of the “shocker” category because, after all, the Pope is in the faith business. True, he is competing with others but he would hardly be expected to issue a category killer statement like “have at it with the insults and ridicule because it makes us improve our product.”


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(Here is the link to this week’s Kal cartoon in The Economist. Kal is a giant.)

Duke University toyed with the idea of allowing Muslim students to sound the traditional Islamic call to prayer from the school’s Gothic chapel tower. The plan was popular among multiculturalists but less so among the alumni/ae of the traditionally Methodist university that leans hard WASP in its fund raising efforts. A compromise was reached in which the call was issued from ground level. Many column inches gave their lives and the obligatory hash tag #boycottduke sprang to life. Advocates of religious diversity and inclusion referred to opponents as anti-Muslim bigots. The conservative Young Americans for Freedom said, “As campuses continue to foster political correctness, they use it as a way to favor religions seemingly at war with Judeo-Christian beliefs.” Evangelists (Duke remains in North Carolina) described themselves as marginalized.

The chapel tower at Duke is 210 feet high – just 2.25 times the length of the basketball court for which Duke is arguably most famous. That’s pretty good dudgeon over a call to prayer at ground level rather than a few basketball courts higher.

But wait, there’s more…

Mormon leaders are planning to excommunicate John Dehlin the host of the “Mormon Stories” website and podcast series. He has been charged with apostasy for publicly supporting same-sex marriage and the ordination of women as well as challenging church teaching. More likely he is in trouble because his website attracts other skeptical Mormons. His disciplinary hearing is set for January 25. Dehlin’s choices in order of his preference are: (1) to be left alone; (2) to be excommunicated; and a distant (3) to deny his conscience. Kate Kelly has already been excommunicated for advocating the ordination of women, and Dehlin has been investigated three times in the last 10 years.

If the church teaching being challenged by Dehlin needs that much help from Mormon leaders, how good can it really be?

Not done yet…

The Church of Scientology took out a full-page ad in The New York Times about Alex Gibney’s upcoming HBO documentary. The ad put the word documentary in quotes. The issue appears to be the reliability of sources, and references were duly made to the University of Virginia / Rolling Stone rape story fiasco. According to the ad, “the Church of Scientology is committed to free speech. However, free speech is not a free pass to broadcast or publish false information. We have all seen what happens when facts are not checked or those being reported on our not given a chance to respond. The church is taking a resolute stand against such actions — both on its own behalf and for others who either cannot or will not do so.”

Lest the ad seem too self-serving, the publicists and lawyers play the victim card by “taking a resolute stand… for others who…cannot…do so.”

And finally…

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To quote (out of context) Humphrey Bogart’s farewell to Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca, “we’ll always have Paris” and its recent Charlie Hebdo and kosher market murders. The killers justified their murders by citing the Koran.

So, what are the takeaways?

  1. According to the Pope, faith cannot be criticized.
  2. The call to prayer at Duke confers all-important victim status to the loser of any argument.
  3. Excommunicating a blogger/podcaster is a useful tool if one needs to be insulated from critical thinking.
  4. The Scientologist PR team warns us to include their narrative or else.
  5. In Paris, we learned that, according to some, it is okay to kill people.

Back to the question: Have You Ever Thought About Becoming a Religion? After all, these are some pretty good weapons in the battle of the narratives.

Not much value for me personally. I am married so nothing will insulate me from criticism. Victimhood sends chills up my spine. We need more critical thinking not less. Narratives create as many chills as victimhood. Ignoring seems a good substitute for killing.

But you know who would benefit? Yup, political parties should simply recast themselves as religions so they too can get away with all this shenanigans. They are trying anyway (well, maybe not the killing at least I hope not) so why not be clear about it?

And become tax deductible while they are at it.

All the while, pretending to be

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4 Responses to “Ever Thought About Becoming a Religion?”

ctm, January 19, 2015 at 6:06 pm said:

Is that really you posing as the Dhali Llama.
Yeh freedom of expression.


Haven Pell, January 19, 2015 at 8:43 pm said:

No, I limit myself to the Caddy Shack version


Spike, January 19, 2015 at 7:22 pm said:

What would Matthew Madison Warren say? Actually, he’d probably agree with you.


Haven Pell, January 19, 2015 at 8:45 pm said:

It would be an interesting conversation if he did not. For others reading this comment, the gentleman in question was a Rector of St. Paul’s School and a man of stern demeanor.


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