On the devil inside

13 06 2011

Above: A Ukrainian Eastern-rite sedevacantist excommunicates the past two Popes. Damn, I love Youtube.

“You’ve got the devil in you!”

Such a phrase has resonated in my life for almost twelve years now. Such resonance, however, has not always been front in center, or even audible, in my own mind. When I first heard it, I concluded the opposite. That woman must have had the devil in her: the devil in our pluralistic society who shouts down all differences, who affirms people “just as they are”, and who makes them feel comfortable about themselves, no matter how they are living. In other words, there was no way a twenty year old, full of piss and vinegar, was going to listen to some nosy woman riding on that bus in east Oakland in 1999.

The context was my somewhat public polemic with a former co-worker I had bumped into while riding on the bus coming home from the Latin Mass. He was a middle-aged man from either Mexico or another Central American country, and I knew that he was an evangelical Christian. For some reason, he had taken out his wallet, and I saw a holy card of the Virgin of Guadalupe in one of the sleeves. That sparked me to start trying to bring him back to the “True Faith”, which must have become quite heated, as other passengers on the bus got involved. Hence, the comment above. I was a little flabbergasted that someone would say something like that to me. After all, I was just defending “the Truth” (capital “T”). What if this guy went to Hell because I said nothing? Who was the real devil in that conversation?

In the next eight years or so, that scene would be repeated several times, both here and in South America. I would argue with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, various evangelical Christians, you name it. It is true that my enthusiasm tapered off over time. Towards the end of my failed experiment of religious life and wandering in the confessional wilderness for about a year, any attempts at proselytism completely died off. In fact, when a Catholic friend wanted to become a Muslim, I offered to drive him to the mosque. Even if people are doing the wrong thing, they have to learn from their own mistakes.

This came up again because an Internet personality I follow from time to time recently became a sedevacantist. For those without the benefit of some formation in kooky right-wing Catholic grouplets, a sedevacantist is someone who believes that there have been no real Popes since the 1960’s. They are a small and scattered group of “true believers”, constantly excommunicating and dividing from each other. The main reason a small group of people do this is very simple: they follow ideas to their logical conclusion. I can’t say that I blame them much, really. If I had a certain understanding of Church teaching, one that most Catholics reading this would probably share, I would also be tempted to run off and join the various outhouse Vaticans that are in existence, even though they think that the number of true Catholics can fit in a medium-sized closet. Truth be told, even if you tried to make them see the error of their ways, all they will say is what that woman on the bus said to me: “You’ve got the devil in you!”

Here it is tempting for me to fall into the typical ‘live and let live” attitude towards religion. I don’t mean to put ideas into that woman’s head, but she probably thought that as long as you believe in Jesus in some way, shape, or form, what church you went to was no one else’s business. I am ready to go that far. In fact, I have come to conclude that if the god in the sky is who the Christians say he is, he could not care less about what church you end up in, or if you worship a flying spaghetti monster, or whatever. Otherwise, what sort of cruel joke would it be to have a god who only saves a fraction of humanity? What sort of existential sadist would you have to be to condemn lots of people to eternal perdition because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Perhaps I did have the devil in me on that day, the Adversary who opposes the now non-negotiable virtue to just live and let live. As I have said, this secular ideology is the True Faith of our time, and those who sin against the Spirit of this Age will not be forgiven either in this life, or in the next.



31 responses

19 01 2015
Miguel de Althaus

I totally agree with the last sentence!

20 06 2011

I’m curious why so many believe that, if God is not the tyrant, in the sky, he must be a limp-wristed weakling. I realized that both sides are creating straw men, but what of the concept of suffering love– the God who conquers not through armies, but through the cross? What if God’s anger is predominately with injustice, greed, and human cruelty? What of a God who’s power is transformative, redemptive, and who seeks to finally “put the world to rights”?

20 06 2011

Stepan Bandera wanted all Polish people dead not Russians.
The video is not in Ukrainian but in Czech. Funny thing but the Czech Republic is only 30% Catholic and 65% Atheist/agnostic. I wonder what the majority of Czechs say when they see this.

18 06 2011
Leah Cim-Sirrom

Why do all byzantine and orthodox spend all their time condemning each other.
Does anybody care anymore?????
I have never heard of this dude. By what authority does he even have the temerity to make a YouTube condemnation.

17 06 2011

I thought it was clear from the context that I meant secular humanism.

As to quotes, they’re like seasoning for food–a judicious pinch here and there makes a delicious meal; indiscriminate dumping all over renders food inedible.

17 06 2011

of a Book Junkie

A post from the webpage of one of my favorite cyberbuddies. Sandra may be even worse than I; but I doubt it.


When I get a little money I buy books. If there is any left over, I buy food and clothes.


Posted: 16 Jun 2011 07:57 PM PDT

(the following is a series of posts on my Facebook Wall today. Oh, the truth in humor! And how the truth hurts.)

The Heretic: Today’s finds at the used bookstore.

The Heretic: What am I thinking, buying more books? I haven’t yet read all of the last several book hauls, or listened to the podcasts and iTunesU courses. So many ideas, so little time.

The Heretic: Especially with these black holes in my brain that eat my thoughts, memories, connections, and executive function. And apparently my impulse control.

My cogent and comedic friend: Hello, my name is John and I’m a bookaholic.

1. We admitted we were powerless over books—that our lives, bookshelves, and end tables had become unmanageable.
2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. We made a decision to turn our Kindles, iPods, and Nooks over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. We made a searching and fearless inventory of our homes looking for that one book we hid away for a rainy day.
5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to our blog readers the exact nature of the books we had already read.
6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these titles and sell them on eBay.
7. We humbly asked Him to remove our books, both hardcover and paperback.
8. We made a list of all persons we had ignored while reading, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would require putting a book down in the middle of a chapter.
10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we bought new books promptly read them.
11. We sought through bargain hunting and coupon clipping to improve our relationship with Barnes and Noble and Amazon as we understood them, asking only for knowledge of new releases and the time to read them all.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to bookaholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

17 06 2011

Well, there are humanists and then there are humanists. I am assuming that you are repudiating SECULAR humanism, not the Christian humanism of, say, Erasmus.

After all, Jesus is “true man” as well as “true God.” One of the reasons I am a Christian and not a Zen Buddhist, or an adherent of some other major religion, is because Christianity offers the most explicit affirmation of our humanity found in any religious Tradition. Since Jesus of Nazareth was sinless as well as fully human, I reject the exaggerated Augustinian pessimism that claims that “sin” is intrinsic to our humanity. I believe it to be a universal, but not intrinsic, corruption. Rather sin/sins represent, not so much an “offense against God” (I don’t believe God is so petty as to be “offended” by the tragedy of human sin, grieved, yes, *offended*, no), but rather a betrayal of our true humanity.

I also believe that the *sinner* is as wounded by his/her own sin as the victim. One thing the Shoah should have taught us is that we cannot dehumanize another without dehumanizing ourselves.

OK, here comes the quote:

Humanism was not wrong in thinking that truth, beauty, liberty, and equality are of infinite value, but in thinking that man can get them for himself without grace.
–Simone Weil

I am an INTJ and INTJs are as addicted to quotes as many people are to bumper stickers. Hey, there are lots of worse things I could be addicted to than quotes and compulsive researching–drugs, sex, gambling, compulsive shopping. We all have our daemons, I’m keeping mine.

16 06 2011

Remember, sedevacantists think they’re more Catholic than the Pope, literally–so for them it’s not a contradiction. Moreover, sedevacantist/scismatic Byzantine Catholics liked being Latinized, too, and didn’t like the de-latinization after JP II issued the new norms for Eastern Churches.

16 06 2011

But he’s keeping his Divine Mercy icon?

15 06 2011

What’s wrong with show tunes?

“If you see a guy / Reach for stars in the sky / You can BET that he’s doing it for some DOLL!”

15 06 2011

Religion’s always about the Stockholm. The pits of torture change wallpaper, but the mind games stay the same.

At the wonder bread bourgeois parish I grew up in, people would count down the minutes during the sermon. Six minutes was about right; ten and the folk would accost the priest after Mass. Health and wealth? So, the parishioners didn’t preach bling like some prosperity gospel pimps. Still, great props for the couple that pulled away from the lot in a Bimmer rather than a Ford.

When it comes to NRM’s like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons, I simply sit back and let them tell me an entertaining story. So Jesus was magically teleported to Mesoamerica? Heck, the Mormons spin a better story than vain suburbanites who put up with Mass simply to front the look of devout burghers. For a moment I’m willing to suspend my skepticism about the abuses of Mormon culture simply because of a few minutes’ disbelief.

15 06 2011

Carol, you make a good point, but one could argue that there’s a good sight more suffering in the cosmos than would seem to be necessary to build character. I do compliment you on putting only one quote in your post this time.

BaudToDeath, I am in fact not an atheist, village or otherwise, and having read the Bible more than once I don’t need the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible to be aware of these passages. I’m also not a humanist, crypto or otherwise, as I think humanism is a rather effete philosophy that attempts to have a Judeo-Christian morality without actually having a religion. If one is going to be atheist, I have much more respect for Nietzsche or the Existentialists, who are much more honest about what a godless, meaningless universe really entails, rather than humanists, who are rather fluffy-bunny about it all.

I guess I could turn it around and say that such quotations are a litmus test for those who blithely dismiss such passages on the grounds that the True God doesn’t have to conform to our petty little notions of reason and ethics, despite the fact that He gave us–uh, reason and ethics. À chacun à son goût, I guess, but I know where my sympathies are. Voegelin doesn’t impress me much, either–everything he didn’t like was crypto-humanist or Gnostic. It’s not like the man was very discerning!

15 06 2011

Please, is there anyone here who hasn’t heard this same litany of controversial Scripture quotations from either the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible or any number of the hundreds of self-important village atheist weblogs out there? If nothing else, these citations are litmus tests of sorts which help separate the crypto-humanists who, to borrow a phrase from Voegelin, possess an ‘intramundane morality with a Christian hangover’, from true followers of the God of Isaac, Abraham, and Jacob — who don’t demand that God’s decrees and actions coincide with ethical rationalism.

15 06 2011

For some reason it gives people more comfort to interpret the inevitable negative consequences of living in this imperfect, temporal world to “punishment” from God.

I’ve never understood that–unless perhaps they think that by “sucking up” to the Cosmic Bully they can escape the consequences.

Without suffering through the challenging times would we be able experience gratitude and joy for the many blessing we receive with the gift of life? Would we be able to acquire the strength of character needed to follow a Savior who is described as the Suffering Servant in the OT Scriptures?

To suffer is to have anything—great or small—otherwise than as you wish or will or want it to be. If your self-will is powerful and untamed, you will “suffer” horribly when you miss a train or run out of cigarettes: if your self-will is wholly conformed to the will of God, as manifested in the circumstances of the moment, you can undergo extremes of physical pain without “suffering” at all. Hence the joy of the martyrs: hence the serenity of an agonizing but saintly death-bed.
–Christopher Derrick, That Strange Divine Sea

15 06 2011

How about believing in a God who loves us unconditionally, just as we are; but also loves us too much to leave us there?

To be redeemed is not merely to be absolved of guilt before God,
it is also to live in Christ, to be born again of water and the Holy Spirit,
to be in Him a new creature, to live in the Spirit.
~Thomas Merton

Given the sorry state of our “unsanctified” human “faults and failings,” we must accept the discipline of either the Law or the Cross. The Law is burdensome; but the Cross becomes light because of the companionship of Who helps us bear it.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4–8a (New King James Version)

What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you feel you can’t believe, you must at least do this: keep an open mind. Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God. ”
— Flannery O’Connor (The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor)

“The extreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering, but a supernatural use for it.” – Simone Weil

Love and do as you please. ~St. Augustine

“The root of Christian love is not the will to love, but the faith that
one is loved”. –Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

There is only one true flight from the world; it is not an escape from conflict, anguish and suffering, but the flight from disunity and separation, to unity and peace in the love of other men.
~Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation. (New York: New Directions Books 1961) p 78.

~What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 153

“It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends. But to
befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the
quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.”
–Mahatma Gandhi

15 06 2011

Yeah, better that conservative God who kills His own people by the droves for no fault of their own but because the king took a census (2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21), who sends bears to maul children who called a prophet “baldy” (2 Kings 2:23-24), who got mad at Saul because though he killed all the men, women, and children of Amalek he spared the king and the cattle and sheep (!) (1 Samuel 15), who commands the killing of “everyone that pisseth against the wall” (all over the place–Google it), who according to traditional Christian teaching is going to damn the vast, vast majority of all who have ever lived to burn in Hell for eternity, and who straightforwardly admits to creating good and evil (Isaiah 45:7). None of these lame, limp-wristed, sissy, liberal Gods for us!

15 06 2011

Yeah, the liberal God is the most lame of all.

14 06 2011
Arturo Vasquez

More Stockholm syndrome religion. Yawn.

God as personal trainer, an alpha male dick, and all that.

14 06 2011

This guy is hilarious. Thanks for the laugh, E.

14 06 2011

I don’t buy into health & wealthism myself, but at least it provides believers with a God who is actively engaged with the world and intervenes on behalf of their cause, even if that cause is something as mundane as their pocketbook. To me, a god that has this kind of imminent presence is not a pushover, even if he does it at the prompting of magical words uttered by Latin American peasants. What the fuck does the vague liberal god do besides provide inspiration for reassuring magnets, ‘serenity’-emblazoned garden rocks and other sentimental kitsch, or get drunks to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings?

14 06 2011
owen white

Far and away the fastest growing Christian groups in the world today are charismatic and Pentecostal groups that are “health & wealth” in their theology and preaching. This would seem to indicate that a hell of a lot of people want to worship a pushover for a God. All I have to do is claim it in faith and God does it. All I have to do is really believe in it and healing comes, etc. Soteriology involves no more than saying one prayer, believing in my heart, and waiting around for all the blessing that is then coming my way.

At least Arturo’s folk Catholic heroes had to learn some complicated rituals to get their blessings. I’ve been to Pentecostal churches in Latin America. Their god does not appear to be demanding much in the way of ritual complexity – though I never met any of these sort I have learned about here who combined folk rituals with their Pentecostal practices. I wish that I had met some of those, they would have been much more interesting.

14 06 2011

“I don’t mean to put ideas into that woman’s head, but she probably thought that as long as you believe in Jesus in some way, shape, or form, what church you went to was no one else’s business. I am ready to go that far. In fact, I have come to conclude that if the god in the sky is who the Christians say he is, he could not care less about what church you end up in, or if you worship a flying spaghetti monster, or whatever. Otherwise, what sort of cruel joke would it be to have a god who only saves a fraction of humanity? What sort of existential sadist would you have to be to condemn lots of people to eternal perdition because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time?”

“God in the sky”? “Flying spaghetti monster”? God is a meanie for not saving everyone on earth? How banal. Have you been reading juvenile ‘skeptic’ sites lately?

I’m also prepared to say that your hypothetical don’t-give-a-shit, laissez-faire God is barely better than no God at all. I mean, say what you want about Muslims, but at least they take their beliefs seriously in this ironic, laid-back post-modernity. I can’t take any religion seriously that doesn’t draw distinctions between believers and nonbelievers, and people who belong to them are just fooling themselves. Nobody wants to worship a pushover or a God that doesn’t give them that exciting feeling of belonging to something exclusive and special. That’s why Unitarianism today isn’t so much a church as a Good Feelings club for earnest boomers. God literally forbid Christianity fall into a similar state (or any moreso than it has already).

13 06 2011
13 06 2011

Manuel gets Post of the Day Award, LOL.

13 06 2011

That’s why I don’t ride the bus

13 06 2011

Here is more conspiracy theory for you guys. The Beatification of John Paul came on Beltane, along with the Royal Wedding, and the bombing of Libya. This all fell on Beltane which ends on May 1. We all know that the elites love to play with magic, could the Church be playing with it too. They got severely burned during the molestation scandals. It was a blood ritual which the Church participated in in order to look good in front of the Elite which has been giving it a hard time in the press the last few years. This patriarch if you look his church on Wiki, main thrust is to battle occultism.

13 06 2011
brian m

May I ask who went sede?

13 06 2011

Arturo, forgive my asking this…but do you think you may be overreacting now…swinging too far in the opposite direction?

I ask only because that seems to be a very common pattern. People go to one extreme, get burned, and then go to the other extreme. It’s entirely understandable. But, at some point, I think one kind of settles into a more or less happy medium somewhere along the spectrum.

I do agree that people need to make their own mistakes.

I’ve never been a trad of any sort, although I’ve certainly been extremely obnoxious in my defense of Catholicism. Now I hope I’ve mellowed, but I’m not sure I’d drive someone to the mosque. 🙂

13 06 2011

Quotes on religious fundamentalism:

The mentality of fundamentalism is by no means an exclusive property of orthodoxy. Its attitudes are found in every branch of Christendom: the quest for negative status, the elevation of minor issues to a place of major importance, the use of social mores as a norm of virtue, the toleration of one’s own prejudice but not the prejudice of others, the confusion of the church with a denomination, and the avoidance of prophetic scrutiny by using the Word of God as an instrument of self-security but not self-criticism. The mentality of fundamentalism comes into being whenever a believer is unwilling to trace the effects of original sin in his own life. And where is the believer who is wholly delivered from this habit? –E.J. Carnell

Fundamentalism is the antithesis of any religion’s orthodoxy

thus not even a property of Christianity. There is a fundamentalist

version of every religion.

Christian fundamentalism is gnostic and narcissistic, and thus not

orthodox. It’s heretical. A heresy is by definition not a property

of orthodoxy.–Rev. Ken Collins

Fundamentalism, I believe, appeals to people who need rigid structures

and uncomplicated explanations of faith. … Essentially, then the attraction

of fundamentalism is psychological, not theological.–Fr. Joseph Breighner

“Fundamentalism isn’t about religion, it’s about power.”

–Salman Rushdie

“People have bought into Fundamentalism, with the accent not on the fun, so their universe can be explained and outlined to them. You know, here’s your manual for being alive – follow these rules exactly. It’s a way of pathological safety. Humor is disruptive to structure, disruptive to the structure of language, to the structure of meaning. It constantly puts ideas together that don’t belong together. The nature of humor is to bump us out of dualities and bump us out of structure.”–Steve Bhaerman, The Translucent Revolution

Christian fundamentalism: the doctrine that there is an absolutely powerful, infinitely knowledgeable, universe spanning entity that is deeply and personally concerned about my sex life.

~Andrew Lias

The problem with fundamentalists insisting on a literal interpretation of the Bible is that the meaning of words change. A prime example is ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child.’ A rod was a stick used by shepherds to guide their sheep to go in the desired direction. Shepherds did not use it to beat their sheep. The proper translation of the saying is ‘Give your child guidance, or they will go astray.’ It does not mean ‘Beat the shit out of your child or he will become rotten’ as many fundamentalist parents seem to believe. ~Author Unknown

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

–Blaise Pascal

I think we must fully face the fact that when Christianity does not make a man very much better, it makes him very much worse… Conversion may make of one who was, if no better, no worse than an animal, something like a devil– C. S. Lewis in a letter to Bede Griffiths, dated Dec. 20, 1961

13 06 2011

Arturo writes:

“You’ve got the devil in you!”

“Such a phrase has resonated in my life for almost twelve years now. Such resonance, however, has not always been front in center, or even audible, in my own mind. When I first heard it, I concluded the opposite. That woman must have had the devil in her: the devil in our pluralistic society who shouts down all differences, who affirms people “just as they are”, and who makes them feel comfortable about themselves, no matter how they are living. In other words, there was no way a twenty year old, full of piss and vinegar, was going to listen to some nosy woman riding on that bus in east Oakland in 1999.”

The world will change when instead of projecting our own “dark” instinctive impulses onto others and cooperate with Grace to transform the only person we have the power to change–ourselves.

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere
insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to
separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line
dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.
And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
–Alexander Solzhenitsyn

If First World Christians had been as concerned with what was going on in America’s boardrooms as they are with what goes on in America’s bedrooms, we wouldn’t be facing the spectre of a global depression right now!

I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. The materialism of affluent Christian countries appears to contradict the claims of Jesus Christ that says it’s not possible to worship both Mammon and God at the same time.
–Mahatma Gandhi

There should be zero tolerance for predatory behavior. Unconventional, but non-predatory behavior should be discretionary–between the individual and his/her God, IMO.

“A free man must be able to endure it when his fellow men act and live otherwise than he considers proper. He must free himself from the habit, just as soon as something does not please him, of calling for the police.”
—Ludwig von Mises

13 06 2011

I would ex-commicate John Paul for collaborating with the CIA in bringing the destructive capitalist force on the former-Soviet Union. One million dead and Hell on Earth. I wonder if this guy is former KGB. He could also be some type of fascist who wants all Russians dead and glorifies Nazis Collaborators like Stepan Bandera. I was thoroughly entertained. So says the Atheist Godless Commie.

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