The Miracle of the Bathroom Floor

I think we’ll just skip the whole “oh it’s been a while”, shall we? And it’ll probably be a while until the next one too, so get used to it.

Anyway, I simply had to inform you all (all 7 of you, at this rate) of a miraculous happening in my bathroom. After my Halloween party last weekend (and yes, it was awesome) I spotted a stain on the bathroom floor. Some combination of wine and grime, I assumed, and thought no more about it.

But last night, while sitting nearby in a contemplative mood, I looked at the stain and realised that it was more than a stain. It was, in fact, a sign. A miracle, if I may be so bold. See for yourself:

Praise be the bathroom floor tile cruciform! (Hereby know as the BFTC). But what does it mean? Has God blessed my party? Is he telling me to stop drinking wine, at least off the floor? Is he saying I should have more parties, to the glory of his name? Or is he telling me to drop everything, disarm my penis and charge, whimpering and lamenting, for the nearest monastery?

I don’t know what it means, but clearly it means something. I mean, random images cannot just appear at random, can they? What kind of universe would that be?

In the meantime, I’m waiting for the BFTC pilgrims to arrive. And if anybody wants to buy my floor on eBay, I’m ready to deal.

/ paddy


The Last Catholic Rant

This blog post may contain traces of religious ranting. You have been warned.

So, I promised myself a while ago to not do any more rants about religion. Because, let’s face it, listening to somebody rant constantly about religion is about as interesting as watching already dried paint dry some more. And so unless organised religion directly impacts upon my life in some way, or tries to fuck with the rule of law and human rights, I will let it slide by as the troubling and incoherent fairy story that it is.

But now, alas, it has pissed me off again. According to the Irish Times, the Catholic Church has made “changes to the Code of Canon Law” in order to remove all traces of the act of defection. This, you may recall, is the procedure I went through a few months back to divorce myself from the robed loonies who ran my childhood. And now it appears that the same church is trying to kill even this option to staunch the flow of people officially leaving its ranks.

Fig 1: Scary men in dresses

To quote the article: “the Archdiocese of Dublin said following the recent changes to canon law it will no longer be possible for individuals to formally defect from the church. However, it added that the Archdiocese intends to maintain a register to note the expressed desire of those who wish to defect.”

So they put us on a list. Whoop-de-fucking-doo. Slap on the back for you, sir.

This makes me so incensed that I don’t know where to start, or finish, or even middle. So I’ll put it succinctly and let you get back to your tea. The Catholic Church forces parents by guilt and “tradition” to sign their newborn babies up to an organisation without their consent, and then suddenly change the fucking rules so that they can never leave? NEVER? And this is accepted behaviour in the modern world?

I’m glad as fuck I got out before the gates clanged shut, and I hope that somebody, somewhere, takes these self-important sons of bitches to court and fleeces them alive. Because, you know what Mr. Ratzinger, you and your dress-wearing ring-kissing turds suck donkey dick, every last one of you.

So I’ll see you in hell. I hear they have a good library. And hot babes.

/ paddy

Letter to a Catholic Priest

Okay so it took a while, but as last I have penned my reply to the Priest. I think I struck a nice balance between all those things that one is supposed to balance. You know, those things.

Here it is then. I will let you have a stab at it, and then I will send it off to the padre in question in a few days. Read the original if you forget what the padre said. And then I will start preparing for my debaptism party.

Anybody have a Pope’s outfit, size 46..?

Dear Father X

I thank you for your letter and appreciate the time you took to write it. But I am afraid that it will not change my mind.

My decision to leave the Church has nothing to do with the recent scandals. However I think it is now timely to remove my name from the register as otherwise I am giving this organisation my tacit support by not doing so. The Catholic Church has moved so far from the teachings of its founders that it cannot be taken seriously at all, and I do not want to be counted among its members.

I understand that many individual Catholics are as disturbed by the recent events in the Church as the rest of us, but I see it as a duty to disassociate myself from organisations that perform illegal acts. Remaining on the register is pointless as there is no way for a member of the Church to push for change, since the Catholic Church is not a democracy and its leader is, by definition, never wrong.

I just want to make a few remarks on your letter (and it was a rare pleasure to receive a hand-written letter, may I add). Regarding first confession – as a child I did not do it because I particularly wanted to, I did it because that’s what one did. I also did not take confession seriously, and I know that the majority of my classmates didn’t either. We made up sins that didn’t sound so bad and we rattled them off in that confessional box while a priest pretended to listen to us. In was, for all involved, a waste of time. I know that the Irish children of today, by and large, are of the same opinion as we were back then, and I know this because I have talked to them.

Raising children with the assumption that they are inherently bad and sinful is, I think, the most questionable part of Catholic teachings. And I am very glad that my children will never get to experience the constant fear and guilt brought on by simply being a normal person and having normal thoughts and emotions.

I was told many things while in religion class that were patently not true, and yet I was encouraged to accept them anyway, and ordered not to ask too many questions. This I find particularly disturbing – adults should not be actively deceiving their children with things that cannot be proven and “should not be questioned” just because they happen to believe them themselves. At the same time, we were being taught the basic tools of science and reason and being told to ask questions and find things out for ourselves.

I have no problem with a grown adult who looks at the available options and decides to become a Catholic. But forcing children into any belief system without their approval is simply wrong. Your ceremonies may be “beautiful” in your eyes, but to me and many others it is simply a group of children who don’t know any better, who are being told not to question, being pushed to perform acts they don’t really understand.

You mention my parents passing on the “gift” of baptism. It is hardly a gift if it is done by default and the receiver of that gift is never consulted if they want it or not. You and I both know that baptising babies is an easy way for the Church to guarantee more Catholics, for whatever reason – saving their souls, boosting the members, increasing parish income, whatever. And I must say I am confused by your mentioning my parents’ names in what appears to be an attempt to add guilt to my decision. I am an adult, and my parents have nothing to do with this. In fact I question why you brought them up at all.

I also resent your claim that the Catholic Church is calling us to do good. I see little “good” in actively opposing the rights of women and gay people, forcing the horrible state of celibacy on people for reasons of property and mobility, and in removing children from their studies to work for free in a church. Morals are not dictated by an organisation, or by an external deity – morals come from being human. I have in fact known many good priests, but I have also known many good atheists, and good people are as widespread within the priesthood as outside. People are moral beings, and no amount of belief or lack of belief can change that.

I accept that you are a well-meaning person and I thank you again for taking the time out to contact me. But I can no longer in good conscience be any part of your organisation. I could pretend (as you seem to suggest) to remain a Catholic for the dubious comfort it might give people at death, but wouldn’t that be lying to myself? And isn’t lying wrong, by any measure of morality?

So please remove my name from the register. And I wish you all the best.

/ paddy

Letter From a Catholic Priest

The Catholic church just doesn’t want you to leave. They baptise you before you can make a decision for yourself, and then make it artificially difficult for you to extricate yourself, so difficult that most people just don’t bother. And this leads to the Catholic church being able to boast a “membership” that is nothing at all like the actual numbers, because many of these “members” have not mumbled in a church for years and probably never will again.

Well now there is hope as these people have built a website making the process, if not simple, at least doable.

I have been pursuing this process myself over the last couple of months and now my Declaration of Defection (actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica) has reached the parish priest of the town where I grew up.

And this man has taken it upon himself to send me a hand-written letter explaining why I should reconsider my decision, as well as pointing out how great the Catholic faith is and why I should stick with it, just, you know, in case.

This letter has left me gobsmacked. Well and truly speechless. I don’t even know how to reply. In fact I will refrain from even commenting on it and allow you to read it for yourself.

And, when you’re done, and your gob has ceased smacking, please let me know how you think I should formulate my reply. Because a reply there shall be, oh yes, and the little priest’s eyes will be burned from his self-righteous head by a truly scorching analysis of his bag of sickening clichés, his idiotic and laughable “beliefs” and his despotic, parasitical and thoroughly nasty church.

In fact, this is a golden opportunity, to be able to dissect the best arguments of a Catholic priest, line by flabby line, and let him know precisely what reasoning people think of his stinking cesspit of an organisation. And the best part is – he will read it all, every line, because he has to!

Oh I can hardly wait. But first, for your delectation – the letter itself:

ear XX

I received your letter regarding your desire to leave the Catholic Church. I feel a need to drop you a line before I change the register.

I have been in PARADISE parish since last July and have the privilege of ministering to the people. I use the word privilege because my vocation as a priest allows me to share a little of my faith and be helped and strengthened by the faith of the people.

Tonight we had a wonderful ceremony of First Confession for the children. It was powerful to see the huge commitment of parents and teachers in handing on the faith.

On the occasions of funerals I see great acceptance of loss in people who are practicing the faith. However those who are not practicing find the loss very difficult as the powerful sense of hope is lost.

Next week we celebrate the great Easter Ceremonies. On Easter Sunday morning at 6 am we have an open air mass to welcome the new life and hope of Easter as the dawn comes upon us. You may remember these ceremonies. God knows we need hope in our church at this time.

When you were baptised in June 19XX your parents XY and XX desired that you would be welcomed into the church. Like all the other gifts they gave you as a child they wanted you to have the great gift of faith. That gift was bestowed on them on the day they were baptised. It was a privilege for them to share the gift with their child

The gift of faith is a spiritual gift bestowed on us for a lifetime. You will have it for your lifetime even though it may not be appreciated for now. Changing the register does not take away that gift.

Faith is calling you and I each day to do good and to pray. Through the church the Lord is helping and supporting us.

Apologies for my handwriting. My computer skills are not great.

You may like to reflect on my words or you may like to disregard them, but I feel a need to say them. I wish you well in your work and good health and happiness in the years ahead. If you are home in PARADISE anytime drop in for a cup of tea. You might let me know if you have reconsidered.

All the best,

Fr John Doe

Okay people, the game is on. We got the priest in our sights. Now take a deep breath, squeeze that rhetorical trigger and let’s go get him!

/ paddy

Arguing With Theists

After having read a rather good blog entry on agnosticism and atheism last week, I was all fired up about religious matters.

So I found myself in a comment thread about religion in an article of The Local (where, I have, incidentally, just published another article).

Anyway, the person I was arguing with began, as these people do, to discuss oppressive communist states and point out that they were and are all “atheist” states. Meaning, I can only assume, that atheists are all mass-murderers (pretty rich coming from the people behind the crusades, I thought).

Let’s look at this more closely. Now, if you planned to install a totalitarian communist regime in a country, what kind of population would you want?

Would you prefer an educated, sceptical population who base their decisions on evidence and reason and can not be convinced of things that are not demonstrably true?

Or would you prefer a population who are used to subjugating themselves to a higher power, who do not ask for evidence and quite happily believe anything you tell them as long as some unelected authority figure told them to believe it?

I won’t insult your intelligence by answering that question directly.

Basically, religion primes people to accept any and all shadowy omnipotent leaders. Atheism, by and large, doesn’t, since atheists are (by definition) better at reasoning.

So if you want to install a totalitarian regime you had better hope that the population is as religious and uneducated as possible. Like, oh let’s see, half the countries in Africa?

And for the record, communist states don’t stamp out religion because they don’t like it. They stamp it out so that their own power can be more absolute. And what is communism, if not a religion? Isn’t it also a set of ideas and doctrines, complete with holy books, which must be followed without thinking? What are Chairman Mao and Kim Jong-il, if not little arrogant gods?

Communists are sure as hell not sceptics, and can only be called “atheists” in the most superficial of ways.

So you want “freedom”? Then you can start by freeing people from all forms of oppression, both governmental and religious, and empower them to make their own decisions. And then we can all live happily ever after.

Until we die, and turn to godless compost and bright little flowers grow from our mulch.

Anyway, have a nice weekend. Free of both communists and sky fairies.

/ paddy

Broadband to Heaven

Because the Swedish Lutheran church isn’t as intrusive and pompous as other churches, and tends to keep its nose out of most affairs of state, one stops noticing it very much or even taking it seriously.

But now it has brought the full attention of the country back to the fact that it is a Christian church and actually does believe in an immortal entity and his zombie demigod son and all the rest of that inane twaddle, and it wants nothing more that to have the rest of us believe it too.

And it has done this in style with a new ad campaign, visible now in Stockholm’s subways and newspapers.

WIRELESS. Prayer is free; a permanent connection; pray when, where and how you want. Free support in all parishes.

When I see this I have to sit back, take a deep breath and wonder if this can have been designed by adults – actual conscious thinking people – or by a daycare class on a bored Tuesday afternoon. Because this is just bizarre and troubling on so many levels.

The biggest mistake that Svenska Kyrkan have made here is to actual point out the inconsistencies of “prayer” by relating it to actual technology in this way. And so it starts us thinking and drawing parallels. Such as:

Is the flow of prayer constrained in some way? What medium does it use? What if too many people pray, what happens then? Does god stop listening? Is there a celestial server outage?

And do the prayers go into a cache? Is there a prayer browser? Can we save prayers on a flash-drive and retransmit them later? And what file format would they be in? .pry? Or maybe .god?

Prayer, if it needs to be repeated, does not, and never has, actually worked, beyond the personal comfort it might give to some people. It has no effect on the actual material world, as all serious studies to date have shown. You’d be better off taking a walk, or making a cup of tea, or buying a dog.

All we can conclude from this is that Christians are severely deluded individuals, people who would be considered slightly insane, or at least very unstable, if their ramblings were not classed as “religion” and were therefore exempt from any and all rules of logic and behaviour.

The upshot of all this is that because the Swedish church now has to advertise, it means that it is in trouble and can’t get new members. And this cheers me up immensely.

As I have repeated on many an occasion, I don’t have much argument with personal religion or spirituality (other than thinking that you are a bit weird). You can do whatever you want in the privacy of your own head (a courtesy that many religions do not give to us non-believers, may I add). But when you start imposing your power structures and your whiny morals on me, and start interfering with the running of the world because some magic book and/or voice in your head told you to, well, that’s where I draw the line.

So, to summarise: You have an invisible broadband connection to your god? Yes, yes, of course you do. Now just take your pills and everything will be fine.

/ paddy

Catholic vs. Protestant vs. Reality

During a heated discussion in the comments of my blog recently, I was accused of being anti-Catholic. This was because I was being negative to the Catholic church, their power structure, their influence over democratic institutions and their suppression of free thought.

That conversation I cut short when the other person freely admitted that he hated Protestants, which made the whole “you’re an anti-Catholic bigot” argument sort of redundant.

He thought I was being specifically anti-Catholic, when if fact I was being anti-religion. I am negative to the Catholic Church in particular because I know them the best, having being forced to suffer them during my childhood.

So Catholics believers shouldn’t feel special – I dislike all religious ideas equally. And to make the point once more – I have nothing whatsoever against Catholic PEOPLE, just against the ideas that they think I should respect even though these ideas are clearly insane.

Once again – I don’t dislike religious people because of what they believe. It’s mainly other religious people who do that. I try and treat everybody by how they are and how they treat me, and not based on what sky fairy they may or may not mutter to.

So I respect people. I respect the right of people to believe whatever the hell they want in the confines of their own heads. But I do NOT and never will respect ideas just because they exist.

Ideas should be able to stand up for themselves and bear scrutiny. If an idea makes no sense, and cannot be backed up by solid evidence, then I will not accept it and I will not respect it. Believe it if you want, that is your right, but don’t get all huffy when I point out that it is rubbish.

Give me a good argument, and don’t just toddle about like a five-year old whining about the “respect” you think your idea is due. Convince me, and I will respect it.

But that, handily enough, is the thing about religion – it just can’t be proved using reason. You just have to “believe” it. And why should you “believe”? Well if you do, you will live forever and ever. If you don’t you will be tortured for all of eternity.

Doesn’t this sound a bit over the top to anybody else? A bit like it was originally designed to convince a bunch of simpletons? Not the promise of a better car, or a pay rise, or a good view, or a nice brunch, but utter joy and contentment until the end of the universe but only if you do what we say?

Please people, spare me your doctrines and spare me your moral values. Religion, if were anything else other than religion, would be treated as mental illness, and more than likely bringing up children to believe what the Catholic and other churches tells us would be seen as child abuse.

But it’s religion, so it’s exempt from reason and normal standards of proof. Religion is special. Why? Because it just is.

Okay then, rant done. And to balance things a bit, here’s what I LIKE about Catholicism:

  • Their old churches and stained glass windows are wonderful
  • Their outfits are stylish and very dashing at parties
  • They stick to their ideas (as strange as they are) and don’t give in to trends
  • They practise ritual cannibalism which I think you will agree is very neat
  • And the Catholic schoolgirl outfits…well…

And just so the other groups of mumblers out there don’t get left out, let me add that I think you are all just as mad, but I totally repect your right to be mad, just don’t hoist your morals on me and demand “respect” for your own internal mumblings. Okay?

And if I’m wrong and you’re right, then you’ll live forever and I’ll burn in hell. So just relax, put the magic book down and enjoy your victory.

/ paddy