Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Catholic Church: Morally Bankrupt Fighting Fiscal Bankruptcy

The Catholic Conference for the State of New York  headed by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, has hired the powerful lobbying firm, Greenberg Taurig, to help them fight the passage of proposed legislation that would eliminate the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse.

The Catholic Church is paying Greenberg Tuareg's agent, Michael Murphy, $6,000 per month to help them defeat passage of the bill in the New York State Legislature. The church fears that litigating child sexual abuse victims of their priests, who are now adults, will bankrupt the church. Oh dear!

The spokesperson for the Conference, Dennis Poust, has refused to comment on the organization’s lobbying efforts or the reasoning behind them. He has, however, said that the church’s advocacy activities are in compliance with the law.

(This is the same church that placed me in an orphanage for infants wherein babies orphaned by war were deemed “innocent” orphans and were treated better than children “born of sin” (bastards) like me.)

This morning, I Googled “tenets of Christianity.” I wanted to see what the core values of the Christian churches are. I also was interested in the order in which they might be listed. I expected to see words such as “acceptance,” “inclusion,” and “forgiveness,” but no; what I saw were tenets exclusively concerned with the Jesus myth.

For Christians, their number first and foremost tenet is that the route to all the benefits of their faith is through an acceptance of and belief in Jesus. I can’t possibly do that. I think of all the cult founders — Jesus, Allah, Mohammed, etc. — as messengers. Their message is to understand and worship God. If you can’t shoot the messenger, why would you worship one? A messenger is just a messenger.

I’ve always been interested in and confounded by religion. Anthropologists have yet to find a single society without gods, yet none of my close friends ever speak of god, religion or going to church. The best outcome of all my reading and thinking was discovering Sri Aurobindo (1872 – 1950).  

I greatly admire the man and his philosophy. My simplistic understanding of his teaching is this: By doing good you achieve (or become) the divine. So what is “good?” And what is it to be divine?

Being good, to me, means adhering to fairly basic universal moral tenets. Being divine, again in my estimation, means living in every action and interaction by those moral tenets. Were one to do that, I think you would justifiably feel unfathomable pride in yourself and that is how you would experience divinity. 

And if such a person were actually able to exist, to be exclusively good in every word and deed, everyone around that “divine” person would notice his or her good behaviour thereby extending the state of divinity from the individual to the community.

Sri Aurobindo founded an ashram for his adherents and in doing so created the closest thing I have ever seen to a divine community. But his spirit has been even more spectacularly implanted in Auroville where his philosophy has been very successfully secularized. 

Central to Auroville is the church Sri Aurobindo built. The walls are white marble and there are no lights. It is lit with sunlight that comes in through a giant crystal lens in the roof. There is no altar, nor are there any statues or paintings. 

When you enter, you take a prayer rug as is done in a mosque. It defines the space you can use in the temple to pray and as a citizen of Auroville, you are expected to go to temple every single day. You pray silently in the method of your choice, to the God of your choice; there is no preacher, prayer book, choir nor service.  All you do therein is entirely private and personal.

Sri Aurobindo was a messenger who emphatically said, “Do not worship me! To do so is to misunderstand my purpose. I am a messenger, here to guide you to a relationship with God."

If you go to Pondicherry today, you can easily visit both his ashram and Auroville. I have been to both, twice. Auroville is still a healthy functioning small town. But Sri Aurobindo would die were he to return to the ashram today. His followers create portraits of him in petals every day in worship. He would cringe seeing them celebrating the messenger.

Religions don’t work. They replace a focus on the moral values that gods represent with a focus on the messenger. And when they do that, over time they become so corrupt that they fight legislation that reflects the core moral values they should be defending.

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