Was Pope Benedict XVI’s Visit to Israel Worth It

Check out my latest article in the Nashville Free Press: The Pope’s Visit to Israel – Was It Worth It?

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read more Religion in the News posts.

The Art of Taking Ourselves Less Seriously For the Public Good

Read my latest Nashville Free Press article.

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Enjoy some Fun with the Bible posts.

Italian Author, Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose Is One of the Most Compelling Books I’ve Ever Read

This book was spectacular, as my post title indicates. I read it a month ago (maybe longer now) and have been wanting to write this review for a while. Of course, the distance between me and the book grossly jeopardizes the thoroughness, accuracy and quality of my assessment but I suppose that’s a risk you just have to take

….and if you’re still reading have decided to take.

The brilliance with which this book reflected its time period (the first half of the 14th century) is simply marvelous, but I suppose that Umberto Eco is a scholar of the Middle Ages. I once wrote a post about my love of historical fiction and how important I find the accuracy of historical fiction to be, and I think that this book just takes the cake in the quality with which the period was understood and researched. In fact, though the story itself revolves around a series of disturbing deaths in a monastery in Italy, it also focuses heavily on a few key religious issues that were important at the time. Had the characters themselves not been distracted by these issues and literally had their own fascinating story thrust into the middle of them, then the book would never have been as accurate as it was.

One of these issues was the papal seat being moved to Avignon and the decadent lifestyle being lived there. This, of course, contrasts with the centrally important theological issue of Jesus’ poverty (or not) and whether that meant that all devout men (i.e. monks or those associated with the church) should be poor. Obviously the Pope and the wealthy bishops and cardinals insisted that Jesus was not destitute and to whatever degree he lacked property didn’t think that others should, and many different sects of monks insisted the opposite. Some monks took to condemning the pope as an impostor and the anti-Christ and were branded as heretical and persecuted by the Inquisition which had just started to get warmed up at the time. These central issues (pope at Avignon, Jesus’ poverty, heresy of disagreeing monks) were crucial to the time period.

Outside of these fascinating topics were intense and highly relevant philosophical conversations about the value of reason and revelation, learning and knowledge, life and death, the place of religion and so much more. But none was mentioned in some high-minded independent fashion. Rather, it was imbedded in the fascinating story that revolved around these murder mysteries.

Truly, The Name of the Rose is a work of genius. A wonderful book. Get your copy of The Name of the Rose today.

Enjoy more book and movie reviews.

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

In “Red Hot Catholic Love,” Father Maxi Saves the Vatican and Catholicism

This is absolutely one of my favorite episodes.

The parents are afraid that the priest is molesting their children and so they became atheists, abandoning God, the Bible and religion. Meanwhile, the boys learned that shoving food up your butt makes you crap out of your mouth. Thus, everyone starts crapping out of their mouths and being atheist. Father Maxi goes to the Vatican to put a stop to the molestation that has been allowed to run wild and in doing so actually destroys the Vatican entirely.

At the end of the episode, standing amidst the Vatican’s rubble, Father Maxi declares:

“You’ve forgotten what being a Catholic is all about: this book. You see, these are just stories – stories that are meant to help people in the right direction. Love your neighbor. Be a good person. That’s it! And when you start turning the stories into literal translations of hierarchies and power, well, you end up with this. People are losing faith because they don’t see how what you’ve turned the religion into applies to them! They’ve lost touch with any idea of any kind of religion, and when they have no mythology to try and live their lives by, well, they just start spewing a bunch of crap out of their mouths!”

A fantastic episode – do not miss it!

What did you think? What was your favorite part? Want more South Park quotes about the Bible? Click HERE.

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read about other South Park episodes.

The Vatican’s Newspaper Forgives John Lennon for Thinking the Beatles are Bigger Than Jesus

The paper was the semi-official L’Osservatore Romano, which recognized that Lennon’s remark was just the youthful ebullience of a young working class man who was shocked at his own unexpected success. Who will die out first, Christianity or Rock and Roll?

The article came along with the 40th anniversary of the critically acclaimed White Album.

Well, I must say, who the hell cares if the Vatican, or some subsidiary paper, forgives you. What does that mean anyway? Does it mean Lennon isn’t burning in Hell anymore? Does it mean that we can all rest easy that Catholicism isn’t holding a grudge?

I don’t think the paper was trying to do anything official or spark any controversy but I think it’s pretty presumptuous to think that your forgiveness matters to anyone – but I guess we are talking about the Vatican here, which is the institution par excellence for forgiveness and thinking itself extremely important in that department.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for forgiveness, but John Lennon wasn’t a Catholic and I’m fairly sure that he doesn’t give a shit what the Vatican thinks about him wherever he is. It’s a bit presumptuous is all.

What do you think about this?

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read more Religion in the News posts.

South Park’s “Follow That Egg” Legalizes Gay Marriage

When Mrs. Garrison decides that she is ready to forgive Mr. Slave and take him back only to discover that he plans to marry Big Gay Al, she vows to prevent the legalization of gay marriage in Colorado and keep them separated forever.

To do this, she creates an experiment whereby the children in her class have to take care of an egg, and by pairing up two boys, she plans to prove that men are incapable of caring for a child. Then she’ll show the results of her “scientific” study to the governor who will have a reason to prevent the passage of the gay marriage bill without being directly responsible. Brilliant….really brilliant.

At the end of the episode, when Big Gay Al and Mr. Slave are getting married, funny enough, it is Father Maxi – a Catholic priest! – who presides over their marriage. Curious, considering that Catholicism doesn’t tolerate homosexuality, much less its sanctioning by the bonds of holy matrimony.

Personally, I think gay people should be allowed to marry, if not in church, at least legally. In fact, I don’t think that the government should have anything to do with the term marriage. I think that only religious or other institutions should concern themselves with that term. My issue is what the government does because only the government affects all people in the U.S. and has the obligation to treat us all equally.

That said, the government should ONLY have the right to grant people the status of “civil union.” Any two consenting adults should be able to join in such a union and then reap the benefits, tax or otherwise, of this union. In this way, marriage and the government have nothing to do with one another and no one has to worry or be treated unequally. You want to be married? Let your priest do it and call it whatever you want.

Do you like this episode? What’d you think? What are your thoughts on gay marriage?

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read about other South Park episodes.

Stained Glass Church Window Inadvertantly Suggestive…of Child Molestation!

Maybe it's time to get a new design?

Maybe it's time to get a new design?

It is my firm belief that this design is not recent. Either that or it was commissioned by a huge idiot and done by someone with a wonderful sense of humor.

In any case, considering the nature of this blog and the numerous times we’ve discussed the issue of Catholic clergy molesting boys, I figured that I would go ahead and share this image with you.

If you’d like to read about the Pope’s Mixed Signal speech in Australia, click HERE, and if you’d like to read about episode 608, “Red Hot Catholic Love,” click HERE (this one includes a picture of me at the Vatican…with my pants on).

To show how these things can sometimes be funny accidents I’ve included this very real sign that a business probably didn’t get until the sign was printed and hung:

Whoops!

Whoops!

Do you have anything funny like this to share?