Saturday, 3 January 2009

Priggish priest nonsensically rants

It's hard to know quite what to say about this because it is just so depressingly typical of the religious mindset. Look how personally Father Joe takes Church's actions: you've let us down Charlotte. We're not cross.....we're disappointed. It's worse than just patronising, though. Church isn't everyone's cup of tea, but she is intelligent, outspoken and not afraid to speak her mind. This is what Joe is really objecting to, of course. She should know her place. She should show proper subservience to the church. It's even worse, thinks Joe, because she is a former catholic (I don't know whether she is or not, but Joe seems to think so). She ought to know better because she was brought up right. She made her own path to hell.

So rather than applauding a young woman for throwing off the shackles imposed upon her from birth; for having the strength of character to think for herself and choose her own path; for saying what she believes rather than what she was instructed to believe; we should shake our heads and tut. We should boycott her products because her personal beliefs differ from ours rather than due to any qualities of their own. Personally, I am quite capable of enjoying sublime works of genius regardless of their composers' - or their patrons' - religious views. Joe and the oddly capitalised IGNATIUS PRESS apparently are not.

Just in case blasphemy doesn't seem bad enough, Joe attempts to impugn her moral character with horror stories of....erm....well it seems that she has had sex outside marriage and got her tits out occasionally. For example, she went on holiday and was photographed topless with a long lens. Putting aside the fact that this is absolutely none of Joe's or anyone else's business, it has no bearing at all on her moral character. This is all just typical religious sleight of hand and an eye-rolling appeal to the unfairly and bewilderingly privileged place that religion commands in our society.

How dare you live your life according to your own reasoned principles, Charlotte? Don't you know that threatens my special club? We can't actually string you up these days, so we'll have to pretend to love you like a disappointing step-child while we seethe with hate.

Edit: It turns out that should Joe read this, he'll be unhappy with my calling him plain old 'Joe'. He responds to someone in the comments to his blog post:
Oh, and unless you are my mother, it is FATHER Joe.
Once again, a demand for unearned respect. This reminds me of a point PZ Myers brought up recently, which is something I've been thinking about for a while. What is the point of religious leaders wearing a uniform? We need the police and firefighters to wear uniforms so we know who to go to for help. Ditto nurses, paramedics and the like. We need soldiers to wear uniforms for various reasons (at the very least so we know which side they're on). But vicars, priests, rabbis and so on? In an emergency, who has ever said "quick, get me a priest"? Who has ever needed to quickly determine who among a crowd is 'qualified' to hand out bread and wine on Sunday mornings? It's about unearned respect. We're supposed to look at someone in a religious uniform and think that person must be more virtuous than the surrounding people. This erroneous impression has received such enthusiastic reenforcement in our society that it's a tough one to break. This is exactly the currency that religions trade in and why the uniforms - and titles - are so important to their followers. I've never once witnessed an academic insisting on being called Dr. or Professor. In fact, I've worked in a university for years and the only time I've ever heard anyone introduce themself as 'Professor' is at the airport, as for some reason it seems to be a good way to get a flight upgrade. But my point is that they don't insist on it because they understand that respect needs to be earned. People who do insist on a title want respect regardless of whether it is due. What could be more characteristic of religion?

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