Posts Tagged “diabolical”

Jack O'LanternHalloween is one of those odd things that most Americans don’t think much about, but a small number obsess over. It’s become a vast economic boon, being one of the most profitable retail holidays. It’s a major driver of social events, with people holding Halloween parties all over the place, and businesses hosting Halloween events, too.

But some Americans don’t see Halloween as fun, they see it as downright profane. Back in my own fundie days, the circle of Christians I was part of, didn’t care for it much, viewing it as a pagan — if not Satanic — celebration that Christians had to stay away from. Influential Christian leaders like Marion “Pat” Robertson have condemned Halloween as “Satan’s night” (WebCite cached article). Some Christians who’ve shunned it even came up with a simultaneous alternative they called “JesusWeen” (cached). Yes, that’s right … JesusWeen. Another Christian anti-Halloween phenomenon are the many “Hell houses” hosted by churches around the country, this time of year (cached). Some Jews have reservations about Halloween, too, and for similar reasons.

Once in a while this tension between Halloween-as-an-all-American-tradition and Halloween-as-profane-diabolical-celebration breaks open into something unexpected. An example of this just occurred in my home state of Connecticut. Milford public schools, as Milford Patch explains, cancelled an annual Halloween parade, and some aren’t happy (cached):

Halloween has been cancelled in the Milford Public Schools this year and that decision isn’t sitting well with numerous city parents.

In a note sent home to Milford parents last week the seemingly unpopular decision was announced.

“This year the Milford School District has decided the following: Halloween parades will not take place in any Milford elementary school. The decision arose out of numerous incidents of children being excluded from activities due to religious, cultural beliefs, etc. School-day activities must be inclusive. Halloween costumes are not permitted for students or staff during the day at school.”

The sanctimonious outrage as a result of this decision has been palpable. Online petitions have demanded Halloween be restored in Milford schools. The rage has been particularly loud amid the Right-wing media, such as on Daily Caller (cached) and National Review (cached). In the eyes of the Right, this is “political correctness” (aka Leftism) run amok. The curious part about this, of course, is that it’s religiously-conservative Christians who’re the ones who usually object to Halloween (as I noted above), and nearly all of those are politically conservative, just like the rest of the Right. So I have no idea how or why there could be any clear Leftist agenda behind a school system not having its Halloween parade.

At any rate, the Milford schools couldn’t withstand the Right-wing campaign against them, and as Milford Patch reports, yesterday evening they surrendered on the matter, and explained what they had done and why (cached):

Just before 5 p.m. Milford school officials released a statement to the media regarding Halloween in schools.

The statement was written by Superintendent of Schools Elizabeth Feser.…

We are writing to you in response to the accusations that have been made against the school system around how we celebrate Halloween in the schools.

The misinformation around the decisions the school made tied to celebrating Halloween is huge, and the spreading of untruths by parents and members of the community very disturbing.…

Ultimately, all eight principals, with my endorsement, chose to focus their energies on a family Halloween celebration, and forego the 20 minute parade in school. The thinking behind this decision was that a family event in the early evening would enable all who wanted to be a part of a Halloween celebration to do so.

Meanwhile, children who for religious or cultural reasons would not take part, could easily, and without stigmatization, not attend the event. In addition, in recognition of many working parents who have difficulty leaving work to come to school, an evening event would allow them to be present with their children.…

Sad to say, while careful and sensitive thought went into the decision to celebrate Halloween at a school/PTA-sponsored major event outside of the school day, there are those who unmercifully attacked the decision, falsely accusing the Milford Public Schools for banning Halloween.

We have been accused of being un-American, of denying children participation in an American tradition, and that we should be ashamed. We struggle to understand why we should be ashamed about the Halloween celebration that each school/PTA is sponsoring, wherein children are encouraged to wear costumes, will be given candy, will spend an hour or more in fun and games.…

There are those who feel a 20 minute parade is more important, however, and its elimination is contributing to the demise of Milford as a city and Milford as a community, as well as the demise of the Milford Public Schools.

Once again, then, we see America’s Right wing flipping out, going berserk, and mercilessly bullying people due to an outrage they’ve worked up among themselves over something they never understood in the first place. Way to go, guys. Way to go! You must be so proud of behaving with just as much immaturity as the young grammar-school kids whose Halloween parade you’ll tell yourselves you saved. Well done!

For the record — and to clear away any of the misconceptions associated with Halloween in the US — here’s the real scoop on it: Halloween as it’s celebrated in the United States, is more or less a modern holiday created by a culture which happens to be majority-Christian. Sure, it has elements of the old Celtic Samhain, as well as a few other pagan influences. But it also has more modern influences, e.g. Guy Fawkes Day. It is firmly pegged on the Christian calendar as the evening prior to All Saints’ Day (aka All Hallows’ Day, hence, Hallow E’en). Halloween is, in short, an amalgam of pre-Christian as well as Christian-era practices, contorted by American commercialism into something which has completely lost any tangible connection to anything the Druids were doing in ancient Europe on Samhain, or even to the Gunpowder Plot cooked up by Guy Fawkes.

Put another way … Halloween is not a religious holiday. It is also not entirely an areligious holiday. It has little to do with Christianity, except that it happens to be the evening before All Saints Day, which is a Christian holiday (although it’s one few Christians really “celebrate” any more).

So just go to your favorite Halloween celebration, and if you have kids, let them go out trick-or-treating, and enjoy the day. But without any of the religious or ideological baggage it seems to have kicked up.

Photo credit: Patrick, via Flickr.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Saint Peter's Square, RomeIn a development that makes clear what an amoral abyss the Vatican is, the preacher to the Pope himself has equated reporting on the Catholic clerical abuse scandal with anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Reuters filed this report on Fr Raniero Cantalamessa’s remarks (WebCite cached article):

Attacks on the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict over a sexual abuse scandal are comparable to “collective violence” against Jews, the pontiff’s personal preacher told a Vatican Good Friday service.

The sermon by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, a Franciscan whose title is “Preacher of the Pontifical Household”, drew sharp criticism from both Jews and victims of sexual abuse by priests.

It further racheted up tensions over the abuse scandal, forcing even the Vatican spokesman to distance himself from Cantalamessa, the only person authorized to preach to the pope.

Fr Cantalamessa used Holy Week services, as well as the coincidence of Passover and Easter this year, to get additional attention for his crass comments:

Cantalamessa, speaking with the pope sitting nearby, drew the parallel at an afternoon Good Friday service in St Peter’s Basilica on the day Christians commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion.

Noting that this year the Jewish Passover and Christian Easter fell during the same week, he said Jews throughout history had been the victims of “collective violence” and drew comparisons between Jewish suffering and attacks on the Church.

Nice. How marvelous. The worldwide mass media reporting on a long-simmering, insidious child-abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic Church, somehow is the same as centuries of anti-Semitism, many generations of harassment of and attacks on Jews throughout Europe, leading up to and including the Third Reich’s attempt to wipe them out, culminating in the mechanistic murder of millions of Jews in central and eastern Europe.

Oh yeah, obviously they’re the same thing! Exactly the same!


It goes without saying that Fr Cantalamessa’s comments have been condemned by Jews, as the AP reports via Google News (cached article):

“What a sad irony this would be on Good Friday, where so much of the anti-Semitism was brought about by the church against Jews,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “Anti-Semitism was pogroms, inquisitions, expulsions that led to death … What a grotesque comparison.” …

Hours later, the Vatican sought to distance itself from the incident. A Vatican spokesman said that remarks are not the church’s official position and that such parallelism can lead to misunderstandings.

Gee, ya think?

As I’ve posted before, this sort of reasoning seems egregious, extreme, and weird to those of us capable of thinking rationally about it. But as I’ve blogged already, most of the Roman Catholic Church — especially those high up in the Vatican — does not view this scandal rationally. To them, this scandal is not something they’ve created on their own. It is, instead, an external attack upon the God’s appointed Church, by the forces of the Devil himself. To them, the reports of abuse either are absurd and false, fabricated by diabolical forces or “secularists”; or they’re real, but the product of diabolical infestation of the abused children, who “tempted” the poor priests into behaving inappropriately. Either way, by this reasoning, the Church is not in the wrong here; the children harmed by clerical crimes are not “victims,” but rather, the abusive clergy are “victims.” The R.C. Church has not done anything to deserve being “attacked,” other than to have been God’s appointed Church. Such thinking inevitably leads to a comparison with Jews, then, who were persecuted because they viewed themselves as “God’s chosen people.”

Under the “scandal-as-a-spiritual-war” model, then, Fr Cantalamessa’s comparison is perfectly valid and reasonable.

So long as this model of thinking about the scandal holds sway in the cavernous, amoral halls of Vatican City, nothing will be done, because the Church will never concede that anything is wrong. It can’t, because to do so would grant the Devil a “victory,” and they cannot permit that.

Photo credit: Humpalumpa.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 1 Comment »

Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnetsov (1887)To date I’ve blogged many times on the many Roman Catholic clerical-abuse scandals that have popped up around the world over the last decade or so, and especially the past few months. In January I blogged about an abuse victim’s personal observation that the priest who had viewed his actions as the result of a kind of spiritual contest between himself and the Devil, whom the priest had viewed as somehow being present in his child-victims, “tempting” him, and thus “forcing” the priest to abuse him. While this is a subjective account, it does neatly explain the Church’s reticence to deal with the matter of abusive priests, historically; according to this model, it’s the abusive priest — not the child he abuses — who’s the true “victim” in these crimes.

It’s rare that I see any suggestion of this “scandal-as-a-spiritual-contest” model mentioned in mass media reports, but it does come up here and there. It appeared, for example, in this (UK) Guardian article on the scandal and the Vatican’s reaction to it (WebCite cached article):

Italy’s foreign minister, Franco Frattini, said on his Facebook site that the pope was being subjected to “scandalous and disgraceful” attacks. One churchman, Antonio Riboldi, the emeritus bishop of Acerra, declared that it marked the start of a war “between the church and the world; between Satan and God”.

Note: Apparently the government of Italy is actively defending the Roman Catholic Church, even though there are new allegations of wrongdoing by priests at schools for the deaf in that country (cached article). I guess Italy doesn’t plan to investigate those, unlike other countries’ governments, which either have investigated abuse allegations (e.g. Ireland) or are working toward doing so (e.g. Germany).

The Vatican views itself as being “under attack” by the brutal and ruthless forces of “wicked secularism” and the Devil, which have long been bent on destroying the Catholic Church. This is reflected in this same article, in the words of Italian government officials:

Maurizio Ronconi, a leading Italian Christian Democrat, said: “For years, a masonic-secularist offensive against Catholics has been under way.”

A centre-left opposition MP, Pierluigi Castagnetti, said: “It is now quite clear that the campaign against the pope and the secretary of state of the holy see by certain great foreign newspapers is not fortuitous, nor does it stem from any journalistic right or duty, but is rather a precise design intended to strike the Catholic church at the top.”

Why, obviously! All these allegations are fabricated by “masonic secularists” and by “certain great foreign newspapers.” We all know the abuse never occurred. The masonic secularists and the newspapers paid folks all around the world to make up stories about how they were mistreated. They found hundreds, or thousands, of people to weave fantastic tales of abuse at the hands of Roman Catholic clergy.

Yeah yeah that’s it! By the way, I have several thousand acres of Arizona swampland that’s going cheap; you’d better buy it quick before it’s all gone!

It’s become increasingly apparent that the Church and its defenders view this scandal, overall, in the same way that the abusive priests themselves may view their own behavior … as a diabolical attack within a larger cosmic spiritual war. This is why they are so quick to defend themselves and deny everything; to admit any wrongdoing or fault within their organization would be to grant the Devil, and the “masonic secularists,” a “win” in this larger spiritual conflict. And they don’t want that.

If I am correct — and this is the mindset the Catholic Church and its defenders adhere to — then there is no way this will ever be resolved. Any evidence of clerical wrongdoing or hierarchical cover-ups will be viewed as being diabolical in origin, and will be rejected and fought off. Investigations by secular governments, and any internal or external pressure to “change,” will also be viewed as diabolical assaults on the eternal and “godly” Church, and likewise be actively resisted.

Lastly … does anyone know what a “masonic secularist” is? As far as I know, this phrase is a contradiction in terms, because in order to become a Freemason, a man must also believe in some deity. Thus, a mason literally cannot be a “secularist” in the strictest sense.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 12 Comments »