1483 Foundations Of Cake.

I didn’t say it on Wednesday, and I doubt I need to, but I eventually met Catholics who were regular, nice, people. In fact I already knew some, but they never identified as such. As with any selection of people you get a range from cool to douche and I just happened to have a statistically bad start with my experiences with Catholicism.

I do have some reservations about Catholicism. Particularly the obsession with gold. I like the way the current pope is more of a simple monk. Golden palaces built to god seem to be sort of antithetical to the teachings. Never trust a rich prophet. Unless you want to get rich too. Then you should take notes, like L. Ron Hubbard. It bothers me that they tell you that it’s harder for a rich man to get into heaven while keeping their palms extended for tips. Which is not to say that I don’t thinjk a community should support their faith. You should, but at the same time the preacher shouldn’t be the guy with the nicest car in town, you know what I mean? A golden cross just marks the spot where someone chose not to use their wealth help the less fortunate. At the same time I do understand the need for some iconography. Stained glass, paintings, ect, but some churches get nuts with it. Polished brass is visually similar to gold, you know?

Also, why is it the seats in churches always seem like the cheapest thing in there? It seems like if you’re going to pour cash into a house of worship the first thing you aught to fix up is the seating. I mean, the people in the seats paid for the place, they should get to sit on a nice bench. Has god got something against comfort? I’m just saying.

You might think it strange, but I actually like churches. In spite of all my belief in the superiority of logic and reason I feel connected to something magical inside one. I also like the idea of people gathering in a place to figure out how to be cool to each other, but they rarely work like that, do they?

My dad’s brother is all about church, but he doesn’t mess around. He goes to places and does stuff. Stuff where he’s in actual danger. You have to respect that. Being willing to die to try and help other people is living the word. When it comes to helping the less fortunate most people talk a good game, but getting malaria so people can have a drink of water is pretty baller.

I hope you Catholics out there don’t think I’m picking on you. I Know that no religion is perfect, you’re just in the hot seat at the moment, and some of this stuff applies to everybody. I’ve been in all kinds of Christian churches that had a little too much gold stuck to the walls, or had a preacher with an expensive car.


I’ve been at larger parishes that I felt didn’t need the tithes of the collection plates, but I’ve also been in smaller ones that barely scrape by and still do a large amount of charity work. There’s a range, just like with the people who worship at those churches. I prefer the smaller parishes, but in general, it’s like schools. Nicer areas with higher incomes pay for nicer churches and schools. A pity, especially with the schools, as lower income areas usually need the funding more in order for the chance to improve their lot in life.

I guess the problem with comfortable benches is that people would be able to fall asleep during sermons.
I’m somewhat impartial about gold being used in churches because I encountered this mostly in cathedrals, less in smaller churches. But then, most of the decorations in cathedrals are very old and have been purchased in the Middle Ages.
What gets my goat, though, is priests wasting money that could have been used for charity or for the general benefit of the parish. For example the bishop who built himself a luxurious residence with church money.
Luckily, the guy lost his position for it.
On church buildings again: What makes me sad is that they don’t build churches like in the past anymore. A lot of newer churches these days (mostly the ones built by “Free Churches” and other Protestant denominations) are ugly monstrosities of concrete and glass. I get the whole “You don’t need a palace to praise God” thing, but that’s not a reason to build such an eyesore. :/

“You don’t need a palace to praise God”
Not being from a religious background, I don’t see why a church is needed either.

Thing is you do not need a building.

A church is essentially a gathering of people that (in theory) hold the same or close to the same religious beliefs. They get together to learn and grow with each other. No specific building or place is needed for this.

and you pretty much sum up the reason for tent revivals. and for those unaware or uninitiated, tent revivals are week long events where an entire congregation won’t worship at their church but rather in a rather large tent (technically, most of the ones I attended were just circus tents without the side tarps so not sure if you’d call that a tent but whatever). The idea (at least from how it was explained to me when I was a kid) is supposed to be to get back to the religious roots of when you didn’t have church in a building and you didn’t have sermons at temples (often).

Often times I say that using logic, reason, and science to look at your religion critically is an important part of having faith. At least that’s what my old Jesuit teacher said. Also, kinda feel like I have to apologize for your early experiences with douchebags who belong to the same faith as me. I

That teacher was a gem.. Rare enough to find those..

A Great-uncle of mine, a Fransiscan monk, taught me more or less the same thing: *Read* the Unabridged Version, realise that most of the lessons are allegories, and apply critical thought on how those lessons apply in modern times.
And other stuff useful to a lad in his Teens. Coffee, Beer and the need for moderation… Stuff..
“Belief is optional, but you can damn well learn the useful bits.” were his words.

He was a warm shower when I ..navigated life.. with most family stuck between the twin terrors of Calvinist Propriety and Catholic Angst, and I still fondly remember him decades later, and pass his lessons on to the Youfs around me.

Mind… all this made him reaaaly popular with his fellows.. I think he spent more time in Penance than out.. ;)

Related to this was an old joke he used to say “The only difference between a Jesuit and a heretic is who the pope is.”

I found that enjoy my time in my local church but that might just be that it really is a super chill and accepting community.

Granted, I don’t participate with the church in anything but Sunday mass.

But I find what you are saying pretty spot on in regards to how I feel about most religion.

Big issue I have when it comes to religion is what happens when the media puts the spotlight on the most extreme examples and displays.

I had an old boss that is firmly atheist but goes about in the most violent and hateful way.
He was an educated man, but he always assumed that meant he was not only smarter than everyone, but that anyone that was religious in any sense of the word was not only gullible but an idiot and would belittle them. Costumers included

Him being an English teacher, I find it humorous that he doesn’t have an understand of Irony.

My own church tends to send people on mission trips to Haiti every few years, and I always feel a little bad about not going ( partially do to my ever present money issues).

I tend to think that God is very logical really, the complexities of the human body, and the existence and detsils within the world around us all lead me to it.

We have to remember that alot of what we read in the Bible are symbolic stories meant to teach us lessons, only some of if is historical truth. Jesus used alot of symbolic stories (called parables) to teach his disciples. Reading through this arc, I wonder if Thomas might do well with a reading of the parable of talents.

If you look at the design of the human body, and other animals, etc., logic is not the characteristic I would ascribe to the designer.

Logical doesn’t necessarily mean optimal, though, just that it’s coherent/adequate. Whether it’s a god doing it on purpose or just evolution forcing us to adapt, our “design” has to be logical or we wouldn’t survive.

Actually, as a biologist, it’s easy to point out the logic of the designs people think of as “inefficient”.

Then again, most people judge any perceived “efficiency” against what *they’d* do in terms of modern engineering, and forget that the solution Life has developed is primarily driven by a lack of room and a generic lack of available energy.

One of the Classics is why the “wiring” in your eye lies on top of the receptors, instead of buried under it. That’s inefficient, no? Wrong….
It allows room for *several* neural networks to coexist in the limited space that preprocess what the receptors detect. It allows a single organ to send *several* “pictures” to your brain, much like you can push a picture through several filters in photoshop to highlight features. The way we detect edges, vertical/horizontal patterns, subtle movement not fitting within the general picture…all this is primarily processed in the eye, not the brain. ( which is why for “spot the difference” pictures part of the trick is to stop thinking about it. you let your eyes do the work…)

Added advantage is that the neural network layer can restore itself relatively easily if damaged , whereas the receptors *can’t*. Once a receptor is damaged, it’s gone. The extra layer of tissue of the neural network layer provides extra protection for the stuff you can’t afford to lose.
The extremely slight decrease in sensitivity is compensated by added protection *and* enhanced detection by acting as a “GPU coprocessor”.

And more features, just in the eye alone… As with any design choice, there are disadvantages, but the ones that came out “on top” form an incredibly complicated and very, very elegant solution to some tough design specs, many of which we’re not even able to meet even with current technology.

It’s not a matter of logic or “efficiency”… It’s a matter of most people not understanding the specifications and ROI of the biological designs we sport nowadays.

“I desire to go to Hell and not to Heaven; in the former, I shall enjoy the company of kings, Popes and princes, whereas in the latter there are only beggars, monks and apostles.”
-Niccolò Machiavelli

The reason churches are opulent, historically speaking, is to help inspire aww and reverence for the greatness of heaven that awaits you. Plus if you’re going to build God a “house,” wouldn’t you go all out and build him a palace? Many medieval churches were grander than anything their “earthly” kings and lords lived in at the time.

That being said, from a skeptic’s pov you could argue that compared to living in some dirt floored hut, allowing peasents and unconverted heathens to enter into a stone palace with elaborately carved 4-story ceilings, beautiful floor to ceiling stainglass windows and golde leafed artwork, you created an atmosphere for a compelling arguement for belief or conversion to believe.

Music: Frank Zappa’s Catholic Girls.

I have little use for Churches as institutions — as all institutions are flawed, and a 2,000 year old religion has had lots of time to screw up. Remember the Spanish Inquisition? The Conquest of America? Yeah, that.

Little-c churches, however, fascinate me. They’re central to their communities, and people tend to rely on them. I love them and photograph them. Folks who know me and know I’m an atheist find this puzzling. They don’t understand that the church will last for decades as a monument to the men who built it.

To those who believe and/or study such things the central tenet of Christianity is the one known as Jesus Christ. Interestingly he did very little teaching in the “church” buildings of that time. Occasionally he was teaching at those places, but most of the time he was out with the people.

He did. An interesting statement in and of itself given its vagueness, but I mean that he was not the type to say “do as I say”, he taught to “do as I do”. A small but important difference. That seems to be something most people in the church forget.

Today’s commentary and the resulting comments remind me of some of things I like about Quaker meeting. Quaker churches are called meetinghouses (or meeting houses, with a space in there), and they tend to be very simple-looking buildings. No opulent decor, no stained-glass windows… heck, I’ve yet to see one that even has an organ. Mine has a piano, which is rarely used, and my old high school’s meetinghouse didn’t even have one of those. In fact, try google searching “Quaker meeting houses”, and you’ll find that most meetinghouses look less like a modern church or cathedral and more like a building you’d see at a recreated colonial village.

Quaker meetings are also pretty big on “people gathering in a place to figure out how to be cool to each other”, as Jackie put it. There’s no sermons at Quaker meetings. Someone might stand up to share something they’ve been thinking about or reflecting upon, but that usually lasts for a minute or so and they sit back down. Most of the meeting is in silence, allowing you to meditate or pray to the Man Upstairs one-on-one. Rather than being told how to be cool to each other, you’re given the opportunity to think about it for yourself.

Sorry if my last few posts have been pretty much “Basic Quakerism 101”. I don’t want to seem boastful or obnoxious about my religion or anything. I’m just happy to have a topic of conversation that means a lot to me personally and where I feel like I have a lot to contribute to the discussion. Plus, a lot of people don’t know that Quakers still exist (I had someone once tell me he thought Quakers were “extinct”. My meetinghouse has given away free bumper stickers that say “Quakers? Where?!?”), so it’s nice to let people know that we’re still around.

From what I understand from my parents and grandparents, the Catholic church had crappy seats because of dogma in the religion itself despising the physical form. Like some of the more extreme versions of the faith (where worshipers inflict physical pain on themselves via cilice or whips), part of the Catholic faith is trying to separate one’s self from the body. If I recall, they believe that the body is the root of most of if not all of the evil that people are tempted to, so they take whatever opportunity they can to inflict pain upon it.

The benches, therefore, are very uncomfortable for that reason. It wasn’t until fairly recently that they put the little stools in front for kneeling, and not until even more recently that they put cushions on those stools for people to kneel on. Comfort is absolutely not what the church is all about. One of the main reasons I just couldn’t be arsed to go when I was still a Catholic myself :P

@Jackpoint, that were true mostly until the early 1900‘s. Nowadays most catholics don’t remember the reason for the benches of the churchs to be like that. Modern churchs are likely to be more comfy.

There was a practical reason behind that, by design. Church Mass was, specially in the latin tradition, very long and ceremonious. That lack of comfort in the benches had a purpose: to help keep up the attention of attendants and to exercise modesty ( rich and poor had to sit in the same way, the same quality of comfort.). The “mortification of the body” (as in some, not all, Catholic doctrine) wasn’t really its only purpose, and that idea has only remained in some congregations of religious people, like Opus Dei (a spanish one).

The apostolic Church doesn’t really put gold into churches’ decoration. Not anymore. But rich and powerful people donates gold sculptures and/or money to do specific changes. If you go through an relatively ancient cathedral (in Europe, it’s almost any cathedral), you’ll find that family X donated to build this specific chapel here that wasn’t initially on the cathedral plan, that Y donated to cover this pilar with gold, and so on…As a cathedral was edificated within centuries, a lot of people wanted to participate. And of course, the cathedral had to be nicer that the one of the neighbor, this way god would recognize his folks – and the peasants the power of their lords. Not only the point was officially that money shall only go to god (because the way to elevation is to give to god, indirectly through the church), that any money spent to god’s benefit would be the most charitable act (charitable comes from caritas which first means expensiveness!), but also donated money could purify you from your sins (Indulgence system, as told by a mainz high priest: « Sobald das Geld im Kasten klingt, Die Seel’aus dem Fegfeuer springt »). It explains why a tower of the Rouen cathedral is called “the butter tower”: money is assumed to come from people who didn’t do the ritual lent (still consumed butter) and paid to nullify this inobservance. Moreover, the clergy in the middle-ages was first a vassality of kings ( as Rome itself) then found independance but still was composed of not-first-born sons of the nobility, who had luxury habits that became part of the “faste”, the necessary luxus that inspired trust in the power of the person. In some aspect, protestantism, that was created to (among other things) stop this vision of the Church, has not really resolved the issue: in many protestant theologies, being rich in this world can only happen with god’s assistance/benevolence. So the more power a person has, the more he can contribute to the community. Some historians argues that that is why capitalism is more morally founded as a system in the US, Germany and Switzerland than in other countries.

I’m of the belief that faith and science are not mutually exclusive. While God can work around science as it exists, he also created science. If he created science, naturally it will not run contradictory to him. There’s enough of a gap in what we know that faith is required, but there are also enough facts filled in that to me all other, man-made theories fall short.

I must say as a Catholic I can relate to what you are saying. And in the end that is actually kinda sad… Then again I live in a very small town, that has a very small church and a very small school as well. Due to that I think the reason these work better is because you get to know each other on a more personal level, and your not just student/parishioner number 367 or some other number. Because of this the people in my home town are quite understanding of each other and we don’t go around trying to harm everyone. And if you did it would harm yourself as everyone would know whodunit.
And the reason we all get along? We never try to hurt or force each others beliefs onto others. We have had plenty of enlightening discussions together as well. It really is an amazingly different environment from a city. And I have never been more thankful for that than anything else in my entire life.

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