Friday, September 19, 2008

Dead Baby Jokes

Arturo on the death of (baptized) infants:
However, it is the ancient Church herself who tells us that baptized children who die before the age of reason have a sure pass into Heaven to stand at the right hand of the Throne of God. It is the Church herself who commands that the Mass of the Angels be sung at the death of such a child.

If you subscribe to this twisted sense of morality, then let me tell you how you can be a hero. Go out, baptize as many infants as you possibly can, and murder them forthwith. Sure, you will spend an eternity in hellfire, but for this sacrifice, you will have delivered "a sure pass into heaven" to hundreds of otherwise corruptible souls! Perhaps you will find it sad that these children did not grow up to live life, but what's a finite life full of suffering and temptation next to an eternity of bliss?

Besides, you should be rejoicing over death because it's not a tragedy but rather a sign of God's goodness. You're thinking too much. You should be more like good, "simple" people.

"It is worth contemplating how the modern mentality can only see tragedy in the death of an innocent child, and how other, more 'simple' people can see the same phenomenon as an illustration of God’s grace and power."

UPDATE: Never google image "dead baby." I lasted 3 seconds. God damn disgusting.


matt said...

It's a "twisted sense of morality" because a person who kills infants will be punished, and those infants he kills will not be punished?

BTW nice to see you're still reading my blog frequently. You should post a comment some time.

Jay said...

No, it's a twisted sense of morality because when it is taken to its logical end, it devalues life and becomes a cult of death.

I may take you up on your offer, but I'm so damn confrontational online that it might be best if I just keep lurking. :\

matt said...

How does it devalue life?

What does the phrase "cult of death" mean?

Jay said...

Well correct me if I'm wrong (and I often am), but you haven't addressed my central point, which is that when this belief system is taken to its logical extreme, murdering baptized infants might actually be a selfless sacrifice for the greater good. If so, it follows that this belief devalues life in the here and now. This veil of tears is kind of pointless. All we need is a new Jesus savior to make a Matrix machine that spits out babies, baptizes them, and kills them. (but maybe the out here is that God would not recognize those baptisms?)

I would say a cult of death is an organized group of people who have reverence for symbols and acts of death and gore. Extremist Muslims are often described as death cultists for their belief in reward for the righteous slaughter of infidels. They exalt the "sacrifices" and the deaths of their own practitioners. The nationalistic and religious zealotry of "Divine Wind" kamikaze pilots in WW2 might also be considered something of a death cult.

Regardless, I would submit that a religion that ignores its traditional imagery for the sword of Constantine's cross, that adorns it with a bloodied corpse, that eats the flesh and blood of their savior, that exalts a death sacrifice in exchange for sins, that can look at a mummified infant corpse or the death throes of a dog and say "yippee!," that parades around the rotting bodies of saints with death masks, is a cult of death, whether they wish to acknowledge it or not.

When I do a gut check and simplify things, and think about what I really believe on a visceral level, I look at the death of an infant and think that is fundamentally TRAGIC. To my mind, I could never say, "Gee look at the grace, the power, the love of that great Daddy in the sky."

Then again, I was never taught to think that way at a young age. Maybe all I have is my instinctual value of the struggle for existence to guide me and I've missed the developmental period where such notions of faithful submission and the exaltation of death can be planted in my head and somehow seem reasonable.

matt said...

when this belief system is taken to its logical extreme, murdering baptized infants might actually be a selfless sacrifice for the greater good

If all souls can be assigned an equal and most importantly quantitative value, sure. I think Luke 15 controverts that idea entirely, though.

The whole "death cult" argument strikes me as a bit of underhanded re-branding designed to contravene real analysis; because if the whole story is true, then Christ's sacrifice does deserve reverence. But instead of thinking about that, one can feel safe disregarding it because it has already become associated with a phrase that is distasteful; it's rather like the "flip-flopper" label on John Kerry: find a distasteful label, say it often, and then people who don't really spend any time listening to Kerry can easily disregard any facts and reasoning of his that they happen upon because they feel they "know" that "he's a flip-flopper" a priori.

Also, I should add that reverence for the "symbols of death", i.e. the Crucifix, is actually far from ubiquitous within Christianity. You ought not to treat something with such wide internal variation as a monolith.

SuiginChou said...

You would not have written "far from ubiquitous within Christianity" had you been able to write "not descriptive of Catholicity." That you did not makes clear to me that you are aware, subconsciously if not consciously, of the many legitimate complaints Jay has levied against specifically the Catholic Church regarding the glorification of death and vilification of life on Earth.

I would have ended my reply there had I not feared that I would have received a "have my cake and eat it too" response so I'll cut to the chase: yes, there are many passages in the Bible and many papers published by theologians of the Church which glorify life and marvel at the miracle of life which God has blessed us with; HOWEVER, one of the ultimate claims voiced by the Catholic Church is that when good people die their souls are welcomed into Heaven where they become nearer to God. For all the arguments the Church puts forth that God is omnipresent, they return to this claim that life on Earth pales in comparison with an existence in Heaven and that this is because spiritual "nearness" to God is maximized by existence literally nearer to him (i.e. at his side in Heaven) and that it is impossible to achieve maximal nearness to God on Earth or in Hell. We have seen this in Dark Ages Dante and in 20th Century Joyce. We have heard this from our Catholic friends and family members. We know -- I know -- that this is a key Catholic belief and if you should attempt to argue this point, then I do not believe we will be capable of further discussion. The discussion cannot continue without admittance of this (as I perceive it) fact about the Catholic Church.

And so by that core tenet, if one cannot be maximally close to God in life, and if he can be maximally close to God only in death, then death bests life; and so the faith which advocates this point of view can be said to be a faith which "glorifies death." And this can be said with all the maturity and politeness that is expected of gentlemen engaging in civil debate or discussion.

Reaching this conclusion is, of course, accelerated by the citations of the various Catholic idols, Catholic traditions, and Christian stories Jay has already cited. Which is why I believe he listed them in the first place. So as to be more concise than spelling out the argument has required.

SuiginChou said...

That stated, "death cult" is of course inflammatory language meant to elicit an emotional response from readers on both sides of the fence; and while "all's fair in love and war" and this sort of language is perfectly suited for the pulpit or the political podium, I do not think it is appropriate language for friends or colleagues to use.

I do not think it is necessarily fair, either, to argue that terms like "cult" be permitted due to their generous and broad dictionary definitions when the public-at-large has its own de facto definition for the word and the definition is not nearly so nice.

But it is worth pointing out that the many things I might associate with a cult -- candles, chants, initiation rites and other rites of passage, strange rituals, idols, and requisite personal sacrifices -- are all present and accounted for in the Catholic Church.

For the record, I do not consider the Catholic Church to be a cult. I would cite Heaven's Gate and the Japanese sarin cult group as examples of "cults" in my mind. I am simply remarking that there are many similarities between respected religious orders and popularly-ridiculed cults.

matt said...

if one cannot be maximally close to God in life, and if he can be maximally close to God only in death, then death bests life; and so the faith which advocates this point of view can be said to be a faith which "glorifies death."

I'd partially agree, but not entirely. If death were glorified qua death, the death of any person or thing would be in itself a cause for celebration (as it was for, say, the Cathars or almost any other gnostic sect). But it isn't, so the statement is not strictly accurate.

A brief read-through of 1 Corinthians 15 gives you all you need to know about Christian views on death. Examine especially v54-57. Death is conquered and has lost its sting, so it is not to be feared. See also John 12: it is not death that is celebrated as such, but the fact that in it man fulfills his proper end, his telos, which (as you correctly pointed out) is not in this world.

arturovasquez said...

I don't think anyone is getting the point here. There is no "death cult" anywhere because all I was talking about is coping with the inevitable. The fact that people were more equipped to deal with the FACT of death is perhaps what is most interesting. I don't really want to get into Catholic theology here, because that would just be a dialogue with the deaf.
Indeed, in a comment on my blog, I explicitly cited that philosophy even for the ancients was a preparation for death. Read Marcus Aurelius, Plato, or Lucretius; they didn't even believe in a Christian god, but they knew that to put your head in the sand against the inevitable is utter foolishness. That is what our Prozac-driven society does: it expects everyone to live a long, happy life, and anyone who talks about that inevitable fact of life is seen as an intellectually backward troglydyte. Even Pierre Hadot, an apostate ex-Catholic, sees this as stupidity. For us, it is better to forget than contemplate reality.

At least the traditional Christian world view shares the abiltiy of staring at the last things brutally in the face. We have our own opinions, but exalting life without any acknowledgement of the pay master who will get us all is not wisdom. Who was it who said that he who does not contemplate the possibility of death is either a god or a monster?

SuiginChou said...

It is because he reveres, despises, and stands in awe of Death, it is because Death is ever on his mind, that the atheist is amongst, if not above, all those who cherish Life above all else.

To the Christian, there is comfort in death: for the soul has returned from whence it came and is in a much better place. "One day, we'll meet again," he says to his deceased father. And he truly hopes that will be so.

To the atheist, death is the end; or rather, it is the beginning of the end, the beginning of the end of existence. And so the atheist never deigns to take a life. He regrets that some day his own will come to an end. And he treasures each and every precious day he has remaining on this planet.

To suggest, as you have, that secularists and atheists are too scared or else powerless to stare Death in the face is ironic -- for it is that very same argument which they levy against the devout Catholic! Namely, that because he cannot come to terms with his own mortality, a man may delude himself into believing that there is a God, that there is an afterlife, that his soul is immortal, and that he can in some manner or form manage to cheat death.

If that is not why you are a Catholic, then consider that this is neither why many men are atheists. People may sometimes, but do not always, construct or deconstruct God out of an improper consideration of life and death.

matt said...

the atheist never deigns to take a life

No atheist has ever killed anyone. Got it. ;-)

To suggest, as you have, that secularists and atheists are too scared or else powerless to stare Death in the face...

What he's talking about is not a criticism of atheism, but rather of American society in general which behaves as if Death will never come and does not exist. There are plenty of Christians who behave this way.

SuiginChou said...

Arturo is allowed to make blanket statements about secular America so why can't I? Wink on that. I was making a statement and if you honestly can't appreciate that then forget it.

matt said...

If you value each and every minute of your life so much, why are you debating on the internet? ;-)

arturovasquez said...

"the atheist never deigns to take a life."

I'm sorry, but that made me snort so hard milk came out of my nose. Hitler, Mao, Stalin, weren't they all atheists with perfectly atheistic systems? (Perhaps Hitler was a neo-pagan, which still qualifies.) They killed way more babies than the Catholic Church ever had, oftentimes in the name of a progressive society without religion. How the hell did baby killing come into this conversation anyway? The only baby killing done in the world now is in the womb of the mother through abortion.

The sense of the immortality of the soul is something that is argued in Plato's Phaedrus. It is based on philosophical argument. The sense that this is not all there is is something felt by many religious traditions, as you well know. If it were merely a figment of our imagination, something to delude ourselves into thinking that everything is going to be okay after we die, why do we also believe in a Hell as well? Doesn't seem very comforting.

arturovasquez said...

By the way, I used to be an atheistic Marxist, and even now, there are times when the idea of total annihilation is a much more comforting idea than the idea of Jesus Christ coming to judge the world by fire. But I know that the former would be the delusion, while the latter is not.

arturovasquez said...

"the atheist never deigns to take a life..."

Okay, I changed my mind. This is true. An atheist never deigns to take a life. He deigns to take millions of lives, in gulags, gas chambers, concentration camps, abortion mills, and all of the other technological death machines built in the name of progress. Makes you wonder what the real culture of death is...

fulleju said...

ugh. you are so platonic about things jay...

Jay said...

lol neo-paganism qualifies as atheism? What a load! Besides, Hitler was a Roman Catholic who opposed state atheism. Here are his own words in a speech from 1927, "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. .. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison."

What does this tell us? Well, he was a twisted little fuck who fed off the historical antisemitism inherent in the Church and used eugenics and Malthusian social Darwinism to justify his genocidal fantasies.

But you're right to point out that atheists are just as prone to commit inhuman acts as the religious. However, I wonder how incidental atheism is to Mao and Stalin rather than the motivation or justification for their crimes. We're all familiar with "Death in the name of God!" or "Death in the name of security!" or "Death in the name of the State!" but how often do we hear "Death in the name of no-god!"?

Jay said...

By the way, what's the difference between a cult and a religion? Give up? About 100 years.

Oh, and stop calling me platonic! :)

matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
arturovasquez said...

"Il n'est pas de sauveurs suprêmes
Ni Dieu, ni César, ni tribun
Producteurs, sauvons-nous nous-mêmes
Décrétons le salut commun"

People were probably forced to sing that in the gulag...

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