Vatican Announces Forgiveness Sale

Medieval indulgence

Say, do you have an imaginary friend? Do you feel guilty because a guy in a funny hat told you that you broke some rules laid down by your imaginary friend, like not hating gays enough, or not showing enough deference to men in funny hats? If so, you’re in luck, because the Vatican has announced that

Benedict XVI will grant faithful Plenary Indulgence for the occasion of the Year of Faith. The indulgence will be valid from the opening of the Year on 11 October 2012 until its end on 24 November 2013.

“The day of the fiftieth anniversary of the solemn opening of Vatican Council II”, the text reads, “the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI has decreed the beginning of a Year especially dedicated to the profession of the true faith and its correct interpretation, through the reading of – or better still the pious meditation upon – the Acts of the Council and the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church”.

“Since the primary objective is to develop sanctity of life to the highest degree possible on this earth, and thus to attain the most sublime level of pureness of soul, immense benefit may be derived from the great gift of Indulgences which, by virtue of the power conferred upon her by Christ, the Church offers to everyone who, following the due norms, undertakes the special prescripts to obtain them”.

First of all, I like how the release doesn’t mention the Bible in its list of resources on how to properly interpret “true faith”. This is in accordance with longstanding Catholic tradition, that if you let the hoi polloi read the Word of God, they might come away with a false understanding of what God wants. So best if the parishioners don’t worry their pretty little heads about it.

So what, pray tell (see what I did there?), must one do to erase real and imaginary transgressions from one’s soul, or that of one’s deceased relatives? Glad you asked:

  1. Attend three sermons or three catechism lessons.
  2. Visit a basilica, a Christian catacomb, a cathedral, or other specially-designated holy site.
  3. Take communion or celebrate Liturgy, on any specially-designated day.
  4. Visit the place where you were baptized and renew your baptismal promises. [I’m confused by this one. I thought Catholics baptized newborns, who aren’t capable of making any promises. Maybe this only applies to those who were baptized as adults?]

I can only imagine that they give out cards, like coffee shops and burrito restaurants, except with lots more Latin and curlicues, and once it’s been punched or stamped ten times, you get your indulgence.

Oh, and at the end, there’s a sort of nod to the Vatican equivalent of the Americans With Disabilities act:

The document concludes by recalling how faithful who, due to illness or other legitimate cause, are unable to leave their place of adobe

So what’s the deal with adobe? Does this apply only to Catholics in New Mexico and Arizona?

Sect Fight!

From the AP:

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — The annual cleaning of one of Christianity’s holiest churches deteriorated into a brawl between rival clergy Wednesday, as dozens of monks feuding over sacred space at the Church of the Nativity battled each other with brooms until police intervened.

The ancient church, built over the traditional site of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, is shared by three Christian denominations – Roman Catholics, Armenians and Greek Orthodox. Wednesday’s fight erupted between Greek and Armenian clergy, with both sides accusing each other of encroaching on parts of the church to which they lay claim.

But Christianity is a Religion of Peace™, isn’t it?

Reuters also reports:

“It was a trivial problem that … occurs every year,” said police Lieutenant-Colonel Khaled al-Tamimi. “Everything is all right and things have returned to normal,” he said. “No one was arrested because all those involved were men of God.

(emphasis added.)

I guess they were following Matthew 5:39, the What God Really Meant Version: “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Unless he attempteth to take thy broom, in which case punch the bastard.”

Boycott

If you’ve been around for a while, you may remember Bill Donohue as a guy who has called for boycotts of Calvin Klein, HBO, Disney, Target, the TV show Nothing Sacred, 20th Century Fox, the Brooklyn Museum of Art , the city of San Francisco, Showtime, the New York Jewish Museum, the Arlington diocese lenten appeal, Wal-Mart, Madonna concert sponsors, the Roger Smith Hotel, the movie The Golden Compass, Miller beer, and probably others that I’ve forgotten.

Now he warns us of a new threat:

The Charity Give Back Group (CGBG), formerly known as the Christian Values Network, is an online service that partners with more than 170,000 charities, religious and secular, enabling users to support their favorite charities when they shop on the web. Because some of the charities embrace the traditional Christian understanding of marriage, some activist organizations have sought to pressure retailers not to associate with CGBG.
[…]

If these extremists get their way, they will silence the Christian voice. Which is why the bullies must be defeated.

Right now, Catholics need to let three major companies know of their need not to follow the dictates of these anti-Christian forces: Netflix, Walgreens and Petco. We are not asking them to jump into the culture war on our side; we simply ask that they remain neutral.

(emphasis added)

I suggest starting a new charity, to be affiliated with the Christian Values Network CGBG: the Buy BillDo A Mirror And A Fucking Clue Foundation. BillDo and thousands of religious leaders like him live lives bereft of any smidgen of self-awareness or sense of irony, condemning in others that which they routinely advocate themselves. Please, won’t you think of the bigots?

(HT Ed Brayton.)

Servants

From Luke 12 (NIV):

47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.

I’m so glad that it explicitly says “servant” there. Because otherwise, you just know that some ungodly scoffer would say that Jesus endorses not just slavery, but the beating of slaves.

But as usual, God’s word (properly translated) is crystal-clear on the subject, and of course Jesus doesn’t condone slavery, and hasn’t done so since 1865.

Inexplicably-Elected Official Recommends Magic Spell

From the office of the governor of Texas, Rick Perry:

WHEREAS, the state of Texas is in the midst of an exceptional drought, with some parts of the state receiving no significant rainfall for almost three months, matching rainfall deficit records dating back to the 1930s; …

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICK PERRY, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas. I urge Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on that day for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of our normal and robust way of life.

Yup, magic. An elected official of a populous state in an allegedly advanced country is using his office to tell his constituents to use rain magic.

Notice that Perry’s proclamation, like a well-crafted ad for a magnetic bracelet or an herbal boner pill, tries to give the impression that the product works, without actually making any actionable claims:

WHEREAS, throughout our history, both as a state and as individuals, Texans have been strengthened, assured and lifted up through prayer; it seems right and fitting that the people of Texas should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this devastating drought and these dangerous wildfires;

Shorter Perry: “We have a drought, with the ensuing wildfires and crop failure. Here, have a pacifier!”

(Via ThinkProgress.)

It’s Not a Timeline, It’s a “Time Horizon”

George Bush has long been opposed to timetables for withdrawal from Iraq. So when prime minister Nouri al-Maliki started pointedly looking at the clock and asking whether American troops didn’t have a plane to catch, obviously Bush couldn’t just set a timetable for withdrawal. However,

President Bush and Iraq’s prime minister have agreed to set a “general time horizon” for bringing more U.S. troops home from the war, a dramatic shift from the administration’s once-ironclad unwillingness to talk about any kind of deadline or timetable.

Of course, the thing about a horizon is that no matter how long you walk toward it, it never gets any closer.