WeiWenDi wrote:But, speaking from the orthodox Christian perspective, the nature of Christ as the God-man is precisely the most important thing about Christianity. The entire moral project, all of Christ's teachings, rest entirely upon it; apart from it, they make no sense. C.S. Lewis said it best: Lord, liar or lunatic; there is no third option. And it's been my experience that the individual perspective is never the most sound basis for any kind of judgement - I prefer to get my science from scientists (and not from my own prejudices), and I prefer to get my theology from priests.
On the whole, this is fine. I don't really have an argument, but also feel I don't really need one; I said I don't identify with Catholics (or any other denomination of Christianity), so my personal beliefs being different than the norm is really no issue for me. I believe what I believe, and I don't really need a particular religion to justify it. I suppose one way to say it is "I'll find God my own way."
I like to get my science and theology from the appropriate people too - but often times these people have agendas as well, and we shouldn't take things at face value. It's important to make our own decisions on the things we choose to believe. That doesn't sound like a direct answer, but it's all I can come up with.
WeiWenDi wrote:I'm not a Roman Catholic, and my view of the Roman Catholic Church from a historical perspective is perhaps a little cynical, so I'll leave the defence of the tradition to the Roman Catholics here. But I think it's highly disputable that the Middle Ages were more 'corrupt' or abusive than any other period of human history, and - at least to start with - the Church in Late Antiquity was the most trusted institution in the Western world. Compared with the way some kings and princes behaved themselves, most people actually preferred to be subject to the laws of the Church, which were comparatively merciful.
I really don't have the knowledge to debate this on any kind of level. It's also tangential to the actual premise, so I'm content to just leave it be.
WeiWenDi wrote:As for witch-burnings, wasn't that a more Protestant phenomenon, historically speaking? Calvin's Geneva and Salem, Massachusetts weren't exactly bastions of Catholicism at the time...
It may well have bee "more" of a Calvinist/Protestant thing, and I'm not really certain how much the Catholics were involved in this, although I would be surprised if it was "not at all". Again, not enough personal knowledge, also tangential; I'm noticing a great deal of my post was tangential, as a matter of fact.
WeiWenDi wrote:Agreed here. I have a large number of Roman Catholic friends and colleagues who admire the pants off Pope Francis, and I can't say I disagree with them there - he's a real breath of fresh air. But, doesn't the whole denouncing capitalism thing actually kind of go hand-in-hand with telling bishops off for their flashy consumeristic lifestyles?
That makes sense. If a private institution wants its members to act a certain way, that's their business, though. I wouldn't be opposed to any private citizen living like that, but from the church, who is supposed to talk about the needlessness of "worldly excesses" and is all about generosity, it comes off as hypocritical. As for capitalism itself, I believe in the free market, and believe in general that it tends to improve the lives of the poorest the more free markets are; I also believe it to be the best economic system so far discovered. So it obviously disappoints me when he opposes, I believe his exact words were "unchecked capitalism".
Whether you think capitalism is better or worse than other systems is irrelevant in the context of my own comments. It certainly has relevance in other discussions, and your preference has relevance to whether you think that particular stance is good or bad. But in the context of my post and the greater thrust of the thread (which I was not good at stating clearly), it's a minor point.
WeiWenDi wrote:Well, large-scale reforms in the Roman Catholic Church aren't exactly new, even since the Reformation. They tend to happen any time a large-scale upheaval happens which they feel impelled to answer. So Pope Francis's focus on capitalism and environment mirrors to a significant extent the public policy debates arising from the 2007-8 financial crisis and the global warming issue.
I even know about the counter-reformation, and completely forgot about it; I know nothing about those other two, though. Thanks for those links!
And that whole statement makes sense. Even just connecting those dots is thinking about it harder than I did - as I said in the OP, this was a lot more about feeling than analysis. Analysis certainly has its place, and when you really want to learn what the effects of things are instead of just what they sound like - true, deep analysis is critical. This whole thread was meant more as a place for me to express my feelings than get into serious debate about the validity of them. Although that debate is (and should be) quite important, it's not something I can really tackle in my life right now. All I've been doing is reading the occasional news report, and it got me feeling good about the Pope in general, and so I wrote about it and wondered what other people's feelings were.
Really, that's about as deep as it went. Whether that's good or bad is for you to decide!
Oh, right, I did want to say one thing. I wasn't sure if my beliefs came off as sounding like they were carved in stone, because they certainly aren't. Ten years ago I was a pronounced atheist who promoted big government. On those two issues, I'm basically completely flipped. My beliefs will probably continue to change as I age.