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Europe's crisis of faith - Comments

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 1 by justinesaracen

The opening sentence is crap, and it gets worse after that.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 14:13:01 UTC | #904202

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 2 by justinesaracen

Wow, and I didn't even look to see who wrote it. It is crap not because it comes from a clown and a criminal, but because it is made up of nothing but crap.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 14:14:25 UTC | #904203

Michalsk's Avatar Comment 3 by Michalsk

Africa may have religious and civil wars, famines, huge death rates amongs children, totalitarian govermants and widespread AIDS, but hey, it is importatnt that they still have faith in Christ and that makes them happy!!

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 14:18:52 UTC | #904205

Neall07's Avatar Comment 4 by Neall07

Nonsense, based on bronze age assumptions and speculation that faith is a good thing and solves all things

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 14:22:25 UTC | #904207

ANTIcarrot's Avatar Comment 5 by ANTIcarrot

Pope asks:

Where is the force that draws the will upwards?

Winter Wrap up? (MLP:FIM)

I'd take the teachings of Lauren Faust over Pope Benadict any day.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 14:29:47 UTC | #904208

Byrneo's Avatar Comment 6 by Byrneo

"Even if such values as solidarity, commitment to one's neighbour and responsibility towards the poor and suffering are largely uncontroversial, still the motivation is often lacking for individuals and large sectors of society to practise renunciation and make sacrifices."

For fuck sake. This staggering hypocrisy from a church that is one of the dominant financial powers of the world. How dare this snivelling little dickhead preach to us about lack of motivation among large sectors of society to "practise renunciation and make sacrifices." His church has always been invested in poverty and gladly profited from it. Shame. Shame on him.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 14:52:14 UTC | #904211

Charonomicrobium's Avatar Comment 7 by Charonomicrobium

Well, he got one thing right:

"the will obscures perception"

Indeed it does! When you have already decided that you WILL believe in a mythical figure, your perception of the world is obscured by your preconceptions.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 14:55:44 UTC | #904212

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 8 by Jos Gibbons

This is an opportunity to refute “infallible” claims, and thereby that doctrine.

Europe's crisis of faith

Why is a reduction in the prevalence of faith always a “crisis”? Why don’t increases in the prevalence of faith in a society get called a crisis of reason?

In hard times, Europe could learn much from Africa's joyful passion for faith

Europe is superior to Africa in literally every way $, its problems less serious, as reflected by the continued charity from Europe to Africa even in these “hard times” for Europe. Africa doesn’t even do faith better – more, certainly, but with horrid consequences. In Africa, religion leads people to hunt albinos, execute or lynch homosexuals and experience an explosion in population and STDs their nations simply cannot economically handle. It is a continent in which religious warfare between Christianity and Islam killed millions of people in the 20th century. And it’s no good using the “these bad things religious people did were not attributable to religion” defence if your thesis is that religion serves us best when done the way it is in Africa rather than the way it is done in Europe, because then we’d see it in the outcomes.

$ Some “wish there was less of this” problems are worse in Europe, e.g. obesity; but this is to consider the issue too narrowly. People’s weights are far healthier in Europe than in Africa, not because obesity is optimal (it isn’t) but because it can let you live decades longer than starvation, and in greater comfort.

Europe is undergoing an economic and financial crisis, which is ultimately based on the ethical crisis looming over the old continent.

The crisis was born of a mixture of poor book–keeping, deregulated corruption and poor foresight regarding the consequences of everybody investing in the same, initially highly profitable ways. While there were some vices to be found here, what happened can hardly be blamed on not paying close enough attention to biblical instruction. Where does Jesus tell us something that would help us build a stable economy? The man, as described in those texts, called for us to pay no thought for the morrow. If anything, we have been too allegiant to his ideas for our own economic good.

the motivation is often lacking for individuals and large sectors of society to practise renunciation and make sacrifices

The problem with the “Christianity will motivate people to obey its rules” idea is that the worst of these economic misdemeanours were not in Europe, but the far more devoutly Christian US. The countless Wall Street villains who laid the foundations of these problems show no signs of being less religious than their nation as a whole, and yet they also show no signs of placing the next world before the hunt for greater wealth in this one.

where is the light that is capable of illuminating our perception not merely with general ideas, but with concrete imperatives?

The general ideas at least need to be right for our imperatives to not go awry. Economists have a consensus, like the experts in any science do. Mainstream political parties throughout the US and Europe, and especially right–wingers, have long practised on the basis of ideas that contradiction the findings of that consensus, and they continue to do so. A good example of this is supply side economics and laissez faire capitalism, and examples such as these have played a large role in the economic disaster.

These are questions that must be answered by our proclamation of the Gospel, by the new evangelisation, so that message may become event, so that proclamation may lead to life.

Our actions should be motivated by the best knowledge we have in the relevant fields and by careful, reflective and discursive ethical principles that in practice are liable to work best as part of a complex network. Neither this knowledge nor this thoughtfulness can be found in any ancient or even 19th century texts, and the Gospels are especially poor choices due to their self–contradictory character and aforesaid economic naïveté. Worse still, if it is thought there is an afterlife we can pleasurably access via methods these texts describe, that takes away the impetus to make this life a good one in any areas doing so would conflict with the orders given.

outside observers are noticing with concern that …

What evidence does Ratzinger have that non–believers find a reduction in the prevalence of faith disconcerting? I’ve seen much evidence that not only is this eagerly welcomed news to them, but that Christian authorities (including Catholic ones) have regularly picked up on this.

What, then, are we to do? There are endless debates over what must be done in order to reverse the trend. There is no doubt that a variety of things need to be done.

That a decline in religiosity is a bad thing is actually a claim about which there is great doubt, and what we are to do in an economically difficult time is therefore not uncontroversially a matter of fostering a greater prevalence of faith.

But action alone fails to resolve the matter. The essence of the crisis of the church in Europe is the crisis of faith. If we find no answer to this, if faith does not take on new life, deep conviction and real strength from the encounter with Jesus Christ, then all other reforms will remain ineffective.

Apparently Ratzinger thinks the one and only effective method of increasing the prevalence of Christianity is for people to have religious experiences of Jesus, and yet the history of how Christianity spread through many lands shows this is untrue.

the crucial one is this certainty, based on faith: I am wanted; I have a task in history; I am accepted, I am loved. Only from the You can the I come into itself. Only if it is accepted, can it accept itself. Those who are unloved cannot even love themselves.

There is much linguistic sleight of hand here, e.g. two meanings of the unloved, “loved by no others” and “loved by none” are conflated. Now it may be factually accurate that a feeling of acceptance and being wanted cheers African Christians’ spirits, but whether it is or not is to be settled by data, not by vague platitudes; and in any case, none of Africa’s or Europe’s problems can really be tackled through such feelings, and they are (as far as we can tell) mere wishful thinking not worthy of our encouragement.

we need a sense of being accepted unconditionally. Only if God accepts me, and I become convinced of this, do I know definitively: it is good that I exist. It is good to be a human being. If ever man's sense of being accepted and loved by God is lost, then there is no longer any answer to the question whether to be a human being is good at all. Doubt concerning human existence becomes more and more insurmountable.

How does Ratzinger know we need such a sense? Indeed, many non–religious people such as myself are testament to his being wrong. Why does he think there are no good reasons for a human to exist other than a god decreeing it so (does he know nothing of mainstream moral philosophy)? And, if in fact he’s right, he must either show this god is real or else concede our lives apparently lack the value he wants people to be convinced it has. But people should not harbour inaccurate beliefs. Nor should they think human existence is in doubt; we do exist, that’s for sure.

Where doubt over God becomes prevalent, then doubt over humanity follows inevitably.

Except, apparently, in Japan, Scandinavian nations, France, and so on. Indeed, the legal protection of human rights is strongest in irreligious nations, and the widest legal protections of it, such as the UN Declaration of Human Rights, have no religious premises. By contrast, reasons to tread on people’s rights are regularly found by religious leaders, and Ratzinger’s policies in Africa have been an especially disastrous example of this.

We see today how widely this doubt is spreading. We see it in the joylessness, in the inner sadness, that can be read on so many human faces today.

There is no evidence joylessness is either on the rise in increasing irreligious nations or on the rise due to said religious decline.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 14:59:28 UTC | #904213

colluvial's Avatar Comment 9 by colluvial

...regular churchgoers are growing older all the time and that their number is constantly diminishing ... The essence of the crisis of the church in Europe is the crisis of faith ... On this point, the encounter with Africa's joyful passion for faith brought great encouragement. None of the faith fatigue that is so prevalent here, none of the oft-encountered sense of having had enough of Christianity, was detectable there. Amid all the problems, sufferings and trials that Africa clearly experiences, one could still sense the people's joy in being Christian, buoyed up by inner happiness at knowing Christ and belonging to his church.

Is the pope preparing us for an announcement that the Vatican will be moving south?

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 15:00:41 UTC | #904214

Carlinlives's Avatar Comment 10 by Carlinlives

"On this point, the encounter with Africa's joyful passion for faith brought great encouragement. None of the faith fatigue that is so prevalent here, none of the oft-encountered sense of having had enough of Christianity, was detectable there. Amid all the problems, sufferings and trials that Africa clearly experiences, one could still sense the people's joy in being Christian, buoyed up by inner happiness at knowing Christ and belonging to his church."

If faith fatigue means not passing legislation making homosexuality punishable by death, count me tired.

If faith fatigue means not forgoing use of condoms because if I use one I will surely burn in hell, count me tired.

If faith fatigue means not INJECTING BATTERY ACID INTO MY SON'S STOMACH BECAUSE I THINK HE IS A WITCH, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/15/world/africa/15witches.html?pagewanted=all then, damn you Ratzinger, count me tired! Sick and bloody tired!

I am sure this pope is quite jealous of the absolutism that his mullah counterparts get in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc. But I am also sure he would never trade places with them because there is much more money, gold and swishy costumes in Catholicism .

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 15:02:00 UTC | #904215

chawinwords's Avatar Comment 11 by chawinwords

Bullshit!

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 15:06:41 UTC | #904216

Carlinlives's Avatar Comment 12 by Carlinlives

@Jos Gibbons "Why is a reduction in the prevalence of faith always a “crisis”? Why don’t increases in the prevalence of faith in a society get called a crisis of reason?"

Well said, to say the least. Is that yours or is it a quote? That is simply a remarkable pair of sentences. I am going to have to steal them, I'm afraid.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 15:08:24 UTC | #904217

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 13 by Cartomancer

Because all that happy superstitious idiocy in Africa has made the place a veritable bastion of financial prudence, social stability, burgeoning fellowship, intellectual flowering and economic success. Never mind all the wars, the famines, the crippling poverty, the endemic corruption, the unrestrained damage caused by unchecked capitalist acquisitiveness, the lack of education and the widespread miseries of tribal animosity, inter-faith conflict and rampant misogyny and homophobia. Never mind the millions dying from AIDS thanks to catholic misinformation about condoms or the billions in poverty thanks to its dangerous misogynistic message about family sizes and contraception. Never mind the millions of pounds of aid money wasted on missionary work and the building of churches rather than on charitable work and the building of hospitals and schools. Clearly the place is a model for all of us in Europe to follow.

As opposed to, say, Scandinavia, Canada and Japan, which have not been nearly so badly affected by the economic crisis as the rest of Europe and the US and still have the highest standards of living in the world.

And then there was some poorly thought out cobblers about perception and will that suggests to me that somebody bought Ratty a new copy of Augustine for christmas. And the rest was hypocritical dreck of the kind we have come to expect from the head of the world's largest and best funded paedophile ring and hate group.

If you really wanted to help solve the financial crisis, Ratty, you'd sell off all that art and gold and treasure, all those palaces and cathedrals and rare books, stop trying to cream off 10% of your dupes' earnings and give it all to worthy causes. That would help. Mumbling on about how happy the faith addicts of Africa are amid their miserable and short lives is no kind of solution at all.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 15:09:20 UTC | #904218

Wendy Farts On Her Bible's Avatar Comment 14 by Wendy Farts On Her Bible

'Not only faithful believers but also outside observers are noticing with concern that regular churchgoers are growing older all the time and that their number is constantly diminishing; that recruitment of priests is stagnating; that scepticism and unbelief are growing. What, then, are we to do?'

Why are you concerned about these things, Ratzo?

After all, God is on top of it all.

Isn't He?

Your lack of faith in God's efficacy is far from reassuring.

Some might even say revealing.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 15:29:43 UTC | #904221

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 15 by Jos Gibbons

Carlinlives, the words are original to me, but I don't object to their going viral, or anything in between.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 15:30:12 UTC | #904222

BenS's Avatar Comment 16 by BenS

What, then, are we to do?

Nothing. Let it go. Your time is long past.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 15:37:27 UTC | #904224

JHJEFFERY's Avatar Comment 17 by JHJEFFERY

the motivation is often lacking for individuals and large sectors of society to practise renunciation and make sacrifices

Oh. We're back to sacrifices again. Would he please tell us whether it should be pigeons, lambs or calves? Are we supposed to guess? Maybe he'll order Jesus down for another go at it.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 15:38:51 UTC | #904225

memeweaver's Avatar Comment 18 by memeweaver

"Amid all the problems, sufferings and trials that Africa clearly experiences, one could still sense the people's joy in being Christian, buoyed up by inner happiness at knowing Christ and belonging to his church."

That must have gone down well in Rwanda as Catholic nuns and priests slaughtered so many.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 15:42:18 UTC | #904226

Joe Bruemmer's Avatar Comment 19 by Joe Bruemmer

I assume this joyousness is expressed by burning alive those accused of witchcraft?

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 15:46:46 UTC | #904227

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 20 by QuestioningKat

Ultimately we need a sense of being accepted unconditionally. Only if God accepts me, and I become convinced of this, do I know definitively: it is good that I exist. It is good to be a human being. If ever man's sense of being accepted and loved by God is lost, then there is no longer any answer to the question whether to be a human being is good at all. Doubt concerning human existence becomes more and more insurmountable.

Where doubt over God becomes prevalent, then doubt over humanity follows inevitably. We see today how widely this doubt is spreading. We see it in the joylessness, in the inner sadness, that can be read on so many human faces today. Only faith gives me the conviction: it is good that I exist. It is good to be a human being, even in hard times.

What is not understood by the religious is that this mindset is wrong. If a person loses faith and keeps this mindset, then yes, a major depression will probably follow. The core problem is that religion has not prepared people to answer existential questions and has not prepared people to find their own meaning in life. Living without God requires a new set of eyes and understanding.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 15:49:07 UTC | #904228

jel's Avatar Comment 21 by jel

Why are these people taken seriously? Why are they given the space to spout their inanities? Every year, at this time of year, these people (rat boy, the archbish of cant, and all the rest of this woeful lot) come out with some specious nonsense and far too many people treat their words as if they were saying something deep and meaningful. They aren't, they are speaking total rubbish and they need to be called out on it. far better people on this site (practically everyone that's already posted) have already torn this to shreds so I won't waste any more time on it, it doesn't deserve that time.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 15:55:02 UTC | #904230

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 22 by Red Dog

Comment 3 by Michalsk :

Africa may have religious and civil wars, famines, huge death rates amongs children, totalitarian govermants and widespread AIDS, but hey, it is importatnt that they still have faith in Christ and that makes them happy!!

My thought as well. I would add that some of these joyful African Christians are passing laws making homosexuality a capital crime and are still persecuting people for being witches and possessed by demons.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 16:24:50 UTC | #904233

Mungo9000's Avatar Comment 23 by Mungo9000

...regular churchgoers are growing older all the time and that their number is constantly diminishing; that recruitment of priests is stagnating; that scepticism and unbelief are growing.

Atheists 3 - Christians 0

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 16:41:57 UTC | #904238

gordon's Avatar Comment 24 by gordon

In the feckin bag!!!!

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 16:49:30 UTC | #904240

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 25 by Agrajag

Comment 17 by JHJEFFERY

...the motivation is often lacking for individuals and large sectors of society to practise renunciation and make sacrifices...

Oh. We're back to sacrifices again...

Don't forget renunciation! There's plenty of that in evidence here, a fair amount the general population... and not the sort the Ho-lee father had in mind.
:-)
Steve

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 17:27:05 UTC | #904250

kaiserkriss's Avatar Comment 26 by kaiserkriss

Great comments, especially Jos and Carto. Ratzinger is a dick, has always been one and will always remain one.. 'nuff said jcw

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 17:33:19 UTC | #904256

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 27 by Premiseless

I read the cited section of the article prior to realising who wrote this, almost dismissing it as written by some delusional young indoctrinated theist reporter whose grasp on further education amounted to speculations about emotional attachments to mythology (with a degree in theology perhaps) and how part of the world is losing its grasp on this dubious quality due lacking more rigor in its interest in pseudo science as compared to the real thing.

Then I spotted it is allegedly written by the Pope. Does this man actually believe he has some special access to the supernatural? Really? How deluded must a person be to think that could possibly be the case? I have to remind myself that he is immersed in the sorts of rituals that confirm such bias, before I also remind myself he has similar access to learning that can remind him of how many millions have been born, lived and died absent any knowledge or experience of this special 'god' he so confidently supposes treats all people equal and somehow is powerful enough to have ensured that be the case, when clearly to any sane person it is NOT. Ergo, the 'god' he imagines is only fulfilling his minds wild speculations (he then forms into wild assertions) and NOT those of the human race per se - ON WHICH BASIS SCIENCE & REASON CONFIRMS MUST BE PURELY IMAGINARY - as in fact he is entitled to consider in respect of himself, but most certainly not to arrogantly proclaim this a TRUTH in respects of MANKIND PER SE.

I find it conspicuous that such an individual either has not developed some capacity for scientific logic, or else deliberately flouts it in preference to what power grants his subjective existence, in spite of its lies cast as truths to then pedal to the naive as if respectable.

I fail to see how he misses the inherent good that is in each person and insists it be based, instead, upon faith in a pack of lies claimed as scientific truth. Surely this breach of trust is too great to survive our contempt for deception? Surely religion, repeatedly drowning the vulnerable in its mythological relics of emotional enslavement, is long overdue a proclamation of emancipation and NOT one asking for more of the same?

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 18:06:42 UTC | #904271

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 28 by ZenDruid

Joe Ratzo, used god salesman.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 18:10:12 UTC | #904273

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 29 by Alan4discussion

.. .. .. . regular churchgoers are growing older all the time and that their number is constantly diminishing; that recruitment of priests is stagnating; that scepticism and unbelief are growing. What, then, are we to do? There are endless debates over what must be done in order to reverse the trend. There is no doubt that a variety of things need to be done. But action alone fails to resolve the matter.

On this point, the encounter with Africa's joyful passion for faith brought great encouragement. None of the faith fatigue that is so prevalent here, none of the oft-encountered sense of having had enough of Christianity, was detectable there. Amid all the problems, sufferings and trials that Africa clearly experiences, one could still sense the people's joy in being Christian,

No doubt if Europe substituted happy-clappy evangelism for a technology based economy and a social support system of public services, we could all participate in the sort or destructive tribalism, social divisions, neglect, civil wars, poverty and disease which characterises theist dominated areas of Africa.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 18:14:23 UTC | #904274

pipsy's Avatar Comment 30 by pipsy

Every country that has ever suffered from mass poverty, starvation, disease, lack of education and overpopulation has been defiled with a god delusion and a missionary position.

China crisis to follow.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 18:14:24 UTC | #904275