Impolite Conversation

Religion, Sex, Geek Culture & Other Topics Outside Polite Society

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Friday, May 10, 2002


After everyone and their dog has debated the issue to death (is it homosexuals? Is it celibacy?), the real heart of the issue emerges: accountability. The real issue isn't that there are priests who do sexually abuse minors -- as several commentators have pointed out, the number of abusers among clergy isn't necessarily higher than the percent in the general population. The real issue is accountability. The presence of abusers in the priesthood isn't what scares most of us. The fact that the church is abetting their presence to the detriment of the children the church is charged with ministering to is. "Lawyers invoke anti-mobster law against Catholic church abuse cover up."

Whether or not this fits the classical pattern meaning of racketeering, it's clear this is a widespread and destructive conspiracy that's caused harm to numerous children. It's time someone brought it to account. It's sad that Christian ministers have to taught how to behave by civil authorities.

Thursday, May 09, 2002


The wonderful website The Mission of St. Clare, the folks that brought you the interactive online daily office, are now working on an online audio version -- and they need volunteers to finish the psalms. Well - get working on it, people.



Today is the Feast of the Ascension, the celebration of Jesus's Ascension into heaven after his resurrection. While Christians debate whether or not the story is literally true, it points to a profound truth -- that our full nature as humans and as part of the world has been subsumed into God. God has made "base matter" holy by drawing it into himself.

Ascension also begins the nine days of prayer before Pentecost, traditionally regarded as the first novena: The Novena of Seven Gifts.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002


In Killing the Buddha Nick Mamatas pronounces modern culture:

Before industrialization and urbanization, people depended on their feelings and intuition rather than on shrinks and Oprah. The people lived in tune with nature thanks to a largely agricultural existence, until the Enlightenment and its attendants -- calculus, petroleum, and animal vivisection -- turned the universe into clockwork, work into wage slavery, and the family into a demographic market segment. Elves are now what people once were, before we all got office jobs, health insurance, and credit card debt, before life became like running across a flaming rope bridge. Thanks to modern society, we're all Frankenstein's monster. None of us fit.

In Elven Like Me.

Of course, the problem is the assumption that premodern work wasn't wage slavery, that people relying on intuition were happier than people relying on Oprah, that the clockwork model is somehow more problematic than any of the hundreds of premodern models that shaped our notions of reality.

Nevertheless, the man has a point, one that rings home to those of us who've felt a strong disconnect between ourselves as the majority of the modern world. This ties in interestingly to a lot of the reading I've been doing lately, something I want to pick up on in the next few days.