The war on religion

In this recent article by Barney Zwartz, the religion editor at Melbourne’s The Age daily details the dangers and persecutions experienced by Christians around the world.

Mr Zwartz writes:

Four of every five acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed against Christians, according to the Germany-based International Society for Human Rights. The secular US think tank the Pew Forum says Christians face harassment or oppression in 139 nations, nearly three-quarters of all the countries on earth.

Read more here.

About GC

Poor sinner.
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78 Responses to The war on religion

  1. mkenny114 says:

    Yet this still receives almost zero coverage in the mainstream media (at least in the UK anyway). Funny that.

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  2. toadspittle says:

    If the title, “The War On Religion,” is accurate (and I think it is ) it is clearly a civil war.
    Always the nastiest. In which, (to repeat myself from yesterday) as Montaigne says, “One man roasts another over a difference of opinion.”

    But it is a good article, and provides plenty to consider. As to the dreaded media “missing the big picture” – not true, or we’d know nothing at all about it.
    Does “The Media” cover it sufficiently?
    Not for the victims, probably. It never does.
    But then, no reporting ever pleases everyone on every side.

    “The Age of Intolerance?”
    Less tolerant than, say, England and Spain in the 16th Century?
    Hmm…

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  3. toadspittle says:

    Toad is utterly baffled that GC could post the excellent article above, and then try to suggest on another ‘thread,’ that this wave of horror is all “politics,” rather than religious persecution
    Oh, well.
    No one else will agree.

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  4. GC says:

    What Toad, you have decided that the troubles in Northern Ireland were all about knee-capping people so that they would believe in the Real Presence, have you? Nothing to do with biffing the colonialists then?

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  5. toadspittle says:

    OK, GC.
    Are you seriously trying to suggest that strife between Romans and Christians, Christians and Jews, Christians and Muslims, Catholics and Protestants, Sunnis and Sufis, Muslims and Hindus, let alone the slaughter wrought on the American continent over religions of one sort or another, – have not resulted in millions being killed over the centuries?
    What the heck is a post called “The War on Religion” about then? Cricket?

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  6. toadspittle says:

    “Muslims also suffer greatly – in Buddhist Burma and Thailand, in Hindu India and communist China, and in Muslim countries where their particular form is a minority. Hindus are persecuted in Buddhist countries, such as Sri Lanka. Iranian authorities, brutal against Christians, are even more vicious when it comes to Baha’is. Persecution seems an equal-opportunity affair.
    Nor are Christians immune from perpetrating violence, as the world has seen in Rwanda, the Congo and Yugoslavia in the past 20 years.”
    (Toad’s bold emphasis above.)

    No, it’s all political, says GC. Hmm…

    An impartial observer – from another galaxy say, might well be inclined to view all this and think, “… organised religion on Planet Earth is clearly nothing but a damned vicious and homicidal nuisance.”
    And who could blame him (or it)?

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  7. johnhenrycn says:

    An impartial observer from another galaxy would be as likely to observe all the good done by religion, just as much as the bad, and to then observe that humans are remarkably similar to the creatures living on Planet X where he comes from. Next you’ll be trotting out Frank Sinatra’s maxim (Playboy interview, February 1963) about more blood being spilled in the name of Christ than any other figure in history. Good singer, Sinatra, but a lousy thinker.

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  8. toadspittle says:

    I would agree that religion does just as much good as harm.
    Or just as little.
    Maybe, if Old Blue Eyes was interviewed again today, he’d cite Allah.
    Matter of opinion, of course.
    But you will doubtless have noted Sinatra did not claim Christ was in any way responsible for the blood spilled in his name. And a fair bit has been. As you will agree.

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  9. toadspittle says:

    When it comes to theology, I’m a Dean Martin man.
    Anyone who could say, “I was so drunk yesterday, I went into a supermarket and bought my own hand – thought it was a bunch of bananas,” deserves to be carefully listened to.

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  10. johnhenrycn says:

    “I would agree that religion does just as much good as harm. Or just as little.”

    The same can be said, more or less, about every endeavour you can think of. Which is not to say that law, medicine, science, philosophy, the arts, the media ought to be forbidden because they have caused harm.

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  11. toadspittle says:

    It would be a foolish person indeed who advocated forbidding religion.
    Might as well forbid car driving, or TV watching.

    Much of the undoubted good it (well, all of the above really) does is provoking its adherents to murder one another.
    God’s pruning fork, really, one might say.
    Or maybe not.

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  12. johnhenrycn says:

    Your comment about Dean Martin is a timely one for we who live Ontario where the mayor of our provincial capital, Toronto, confessed yesterday to having smoked crack cocaine, but only when he was in a “drunken stupor”, as if that’s a good excuse.

    Why would he smoke something named after part of his own body?

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  13. Brother Burrito says:

    Toad, my advice is for you to take a laxative.

    Maybe then you will be less full of [transmission interrupted]

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  14. toadspittle says:

    ..You might as well ask why Washington D.C.s football team is named after a potato.

    The Mayor’s explanation seems perfectly valid to me.
    And, I suspect, has the added virtue of truth.

    …And Toad has been known to smoke “pot,” and that was before he even had one.

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  15. toadspittle says:

    Toad, surely having wildly overposted – and got no sensible replies, except from good old JH – is off to bed.

    You surely can do better than that, Burro?
    But what do I know?..

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  16. kathleen says:

    I love a good joke as much as anyone, but to trivialise and make light of the situation of the savage persecution, mass murders and desperate plight of so many of our Christian brethren in the world (as has been done on this thread) is – in my view – callous and outrageous. Have you no heart?

    Four out of five victims of persecution in the world are Christians – that’s 80% – and Toad (typically) makes quite sure we don’t overlook the fact that some Christians have done the same dirty work in a handful of countries two or three decades ago!
    Why are you trying to obscure the glaring facts here Toad? Christians are suffering an ongoing genocide in many countries of the world today and NOTHING is being done to stop it.

    What the main media seems to be doing at present is just that, “miss the main picture”; it is not a question of “no reporting pleasing everyone”. It’s about getting out the truth of what is going on, nothing more, so people will wake up and take action to put an end to this brutality.

    The author gives a good example (the sort of thing we have all seen far too often) with his description of the “young BBC reporter” in Syria naively calling the hairy cutthroats in the background “freedom fighters” when all they and their pals desire is to shed as much Christian blood as they possibly can. Freedom fighters?? My foot! No one is taking the tragedy of the Christians’ terrible suffering seriously. Zwartz insightfully points out some of the reasons why.

    Where are all the other objective, unbiased, intelligent, genuinely honest reporters (like the author of the article, Barney Zwartz, and some of those he mentions) who with real guts are not too scared to let the world know what is really happening?
    Tragically their small voices are lost in the roar of the selfish, heartless, secular world.

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  17. toadspittle says:

    Don’t be absurd Kathleen. I’m not trying to obscure anything, quite the reverse.
    I very much agree with Mr. Zwartz, and said I considered his article “excellent,” if you look again.

    And the quote to which you object was taken from it, not made up by me..

    However, I certainly monopolised CP&S yesterday – for which I apologise, but it is an interesting and significant topic – and so will comment no more today.
    For penance.

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  18. GC says:

    kathleen 22:43 some Christians have done the same dirty work in a handful of countries, says kathleen, paraphrasing Mr Zwartz.

    Yes kathleen, that is what Mr Zwartz said, but then referred to Rwanda and the former Yuguslavia.

    But the horrors of Rwanda had nothing to do with religion and was solely to do with power and politics concerning two ethnic groups. Any thoughts I might have on Yugoslavia can wait.

    I suppose Mr Toad will be trying to abolish ethnicity next.

    By the way, Toad, I personally would be very happy to hear anything else you might have to say. I am not sure that I have the faculties to absolve you from your self-imposed penances and mortifications, but there you are.

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  19. kathleen says:

    My problem is, I get far too over upset over this tragedy of the persecution of our Christian brethren in the world today. I even feel guilty as I sit in my warm safe house whilst they are being massacred in vast numbers, or forced to flee their homelands.

    Thanks GC. Yes, I was also dubious about the mention of Rwanda as an example of a country where Christians were the persecutors. Were they not far more the victims even there?

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  20. GC says:

    Yes, kathleen, it is hard to think about as it is all so horrible in the worse cases.

    But I still think it is a valid point that most religions do not teach their adherents to persecute and harass the adherents of other religions.The exact opposite in most cases, I would think.

    What we should be doing is looking for the real reasons why these things happen and doing something about those things. I have suggested that the reasons are to do with power and politics, not religion. Well, let’s get these politics problems sorted. There’s little or nothing in the religious teachings that need fixing because they don’t call for people to go persecuting or attacking others.

    If Catholicism were a religion that asked me to persecute non-Catholics I hope I would be fast to leave it. But it doesn’t.

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  21. toadspittle says:

    OK, GC – since you are, as always, so kind to poor old Toad, I will absolve myself and say this:
    The reasons religions clash – often fatally – are passion and zeal. Or so I think.
    No idea what the solution is. “Don’t take all that supernatural stuff so seriously,” is clearly not going to fly.

    And Kathleen: I, for one, think your response to this state of affairs is no more than entirely appropriate. Very hard indeed to get “too upset.” I will say no more. For now.

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  22. GC says:

    The passions are what many religions admonish and teach us to master, Toad (so did Socrates and Plato, I seem to recall – the “tripartite soul” and all that). Buddhism especially springs to mind here, but so does Christianity with its traditional fast and penances (such as the one you are now imposing on yourself) and its emphasis on humility.

    Zeal in the service of God has lead to the most wonderful works of charity and educational endeavour by Christians, notably the Catholics.

    History simply does not support the hypothesis that religion is the major cause of conflict.,

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  23. kathleen says:

    Thank you for showing such understanding Toad & GC, for my unrestrained passionate outburst last night, and over-sensitivity, but I do honestly feel that if everyone found this horrific reality of the persecution of Christians even half as distressing as some of us do, and took the problem to heart, the first steps would be made to do something about it. I feel so helpless when all I can do is pray! (OK, I know prayer is very powerful, but action also needs to be taken here.)
    Right now Christians in many countries are suffering so greatly and their total lack of defense, with the world at large looking the other way, the situation is only getting worse.

    But I still think it is a valid point that most religions do not teach their adherents to persecute and harass the adherents of other religions.The exact opposite in most cases, I would think.”

    I’m sure you are right GC, but where then is the outcry of anger and rage from some of these other “religions” when this persecution of their members towards others takes place? We barely hear a peep.

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  24. toadspittle says:

    Toad certainly has never suggested that religion is the number one cause of conflict on Planet Earth.
    But it is undoubtedly one of the causes of homicidal conflict.
    And it is quite often intertwined with other causes, as GC rightly says, politics, economics, imperialism, racialism, and so on.
    But we make a big song and dance about the religious aspect on here because the blog is called “Catholicism, Pure & Simple,” not, “Politics and Economics, Pure & Simple.”
    …There.

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  25. johnhenrycn says:

    Please forgive this off-topic remark, but please also say a prayer for Rob Ford, the mayor of the great city of Toronto, as his life comes apart and he self-destructs. I would post this on Prayer Intentions, but it is so embarrassing, I wouldn’t like to think people will see this video for much longer than the next day or so, keeping in mind we all revisit Prayer Intentions on a regular basis.
    This man, only 44 years old, is desperately in need of prayers, especially as he has a large influence on many lives, and I fear he may self-harm, to put it mildly.

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  26. kathleen says:

    GC, to be honest I didn’t care that much for the article by Rabbi Alan Lurie that you linked to. It leaves a lot unsaid, and I think he greatly downplays the wars – perhaps better called ‘massacres’, and in many cases real ‘genocides’ – by one religious group against another, especially in recent centuries. The ‘another’ is, in most cases Christians of course, but also the Jews have often been the victims of these pogroms, and other small religious minorities. In some cases these massacres have taken on monumental proportions.

    Why mention the Crusades for example, that were mostly defensive battles against the onslaught of Islam, and not say so? And why not give a mention to the Ottoman genocide of the Christian Armenians less than 100 years ago, where the innocent victims are calculated at being between the staggering figure of one to one and a half million?!!
    Or the almost 7.000 members of the Catholic clergy who were murdered in Spain in 1936, most of them before the Spanish Civil War had even started, solely on account of their Catholic Faith?

    Sure, politics and power struggles are the major factors for wars among men, and Communism (which is not a religion at all, but an atheistic ideology) has caused more victims than any religion, even Islam, that was spread by the sword. However I think Toad is right in pointing out that some of these wars and conflicts are triggered off by undercurrents of fanatical religious intolerance.

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  27. johnhenrycn says:

    Well, I can understand YouTube deleting a video where a public figure promises to murder someone. And everyone thinks Canada is boring.

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  28. toadspittle says:

    “Boring” is a vastly underrated quality, JH. Many’s the time in my somewhat chequered past, when I’ve yearned for an uninterrupted few days of it.
    Now, I can have as much as I like. Good.

    Although, when Kathleen thinks I’m right about anything – it’s surely time to consider honourable retirement from CP&S: bloody, bruised, but still more or less upright.
    But then…
    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs-rally/kentucky-cross-country-runner-pulls-regional-championships-rather-111318529.html/highschool-prep
    ..the wonders of religion keep pulling me back in.

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  29. toadspittle says:

    …Ahem. That didn’t work, So…

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/08/typhoon-haiyan-batters-philippines

    …back to the old drawing board, and boring questions.
    Can anyone explain why a loving God subjects humans to stuff like this? Is it necessary? Original sin?

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  30. kathleen says:

    So sorry to hear about this crisis in Toronto JH, and be assured we shall be praying for your mayor even without you putting the request on Prayer Intentions. Certainly looks like he’s going to need those prayers!

    Canada boring? I’ve never heard anyone say that. No “wars on religion” there, huh? If only all places were as peaceful. 😉
    My godmother lives in Toronto, and a first cousin of mine, married to a Canadian, lives in Kaslo, BC. They both sing the praises of Canada.

    P.S. Please note that this time I shall ignore our Most Exasperating Resident Toad !!

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  31. Adrian Meades says:

    Toad, I’ve been told that the only way God could have made the world was in a form that included these sorts of devastating natural phenomena. Apparently he also can’t help the victims of these storms, but I’m not too clear on the theory behind this conundrum.

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  32. GC says:

    Testing

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  33. toadspittle says:

    I would have thought God could make the world any way he wanted, Adrian.
    As He is om-nip-o-tent.
    …Or so they say.
    And could have made toads nice looking. If He wanted.
    But He works in mysterious, etc, etc.

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  34. johnhenrycn says:

    Small world, Kathleen. Kaslo BC is only a couple of hours from where my daughter and her family live in Cranbrook BC, also in the Rockies. Beautiful part of the country, but mind the grizzlies! 😉

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  35. kathleen says:

    If the argument is that “religion has a dangerous tendency to promote violence“, or that it “causes violence” (as the ‘Book Description’ of the above book quotes), then I would certainly agree that this is a complete myth.
    It does not.
    Religion – at least, all the Abrahamic ones – teach adoration, reverence and love towards the One Holy God, and a love of neighbour as oneself.

    The trouble is, fanaticism seems to be something that men get drawn into when their passions get the better or them, sometimes under pressure, or when they get worked up into a frenzy (i.e., mass hysteria), and forgetting reason and the good principles their religion teaches, they set out to persecute “the enemy” (or, IOW, all those who are not of their group.)
    It works this way in all areas: politics, nationalism, race, etc. Unfortunately ‘religion’ (meaning those who hold religious beliefs) is not immune to this intolerance.

    Having said that, it is true that religion cannot be blamed for the great majority of wars and conflicts in the world, as the statistics make manifestly clear, and those who say it does are wrong.

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  36. toadspittle says:

    It is not religion per se that causes strife and bloodshed.
    I imagine that most, if not all, religions advocate loving your neighbour and being kind to one another, setting a good example, and so on.
    It is differences of opinion over the interpretation of religion that get heads broken.

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  37. toadspittle says:

    (On re-examination, I see I’m pretty much paraphrasing Kathleen’s comment here. So it must be true.)

    However, were there 195 mph typhoons in the Garden of Eden?
    Or not? If not, why not?
    Surely, this can’t be too hard a question?

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  38. johnhenrycn says:

    Jesus, Mary and Joseph. When will you leave off with these sophormoric questions about why the natural world is so… well, so natural? As if that’s any evidence concerning God what-so-ever. And when will you leave off with your absolutely frosh observations about man’s cruelty to man? Darwin’s second best most famous book The Descent of Man (short title) is aptly named, even though he didn’t appreciate the irony of it.

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  39. GC says:

    they set out to persecute “the enemy” (or, IOW, all those who are not of their group), says kathleen at 22:31.

    I think this is what I have been trying to suggest, kathleen. Among different “groups” or even communities living together or in close proximity the potential for communitarian conflict or strife could exist on the “political level”. These groups can be differentiated by any of a number of things: ethnicity, political ideology, social class, clans and tribes . . . and of course religious allegiance. Conflict arises at the political level when different groups assert their “rights” or “identity”, and vie for power or dominance. They become then in opposition to each other, often fiercely. Maybe even only because somebody stole a cow. Certain figures within the groups may even exploit or inflame the situation in order to gain personal power or pre-eminence within the various groupings. But if the conflict is between religious groups, as it sometimes is, does that mean religion causes it? Or is it due to weaknesses or shortcomings in the political order? Or in the political behaviour of communitarian leaders? And if a religion does not teach violence or even actively discourages it, is the conflict the fault of the religion?

    You mentioned earlier how powerless you feel when Christians and no doubt non-Christians suffer persecution abroad. One way to improve things could be for all of us to work for peace just as the popes of recent years have. Or joining groups supporting the popes’ endeavours. Blessed are the peace-makers. Now where have I heard that before? Was it Toad said it? It was someone illustrious, I’m sure. Perhaps Toad believes the whole world should become Toads that all look and think alike. There would then be no pesky “groups”, but only a blessed universal Toadianity where peace would reign. That would solve it no doubt.

    I see that Toad says he agrees with you now. Well I also agree with you, which means that we all agree with each other. So what is Toad on about? Beats me.

    I tried putting a youtube on here earlier but it wouldn’t go on. It was of a lecture that Dr Cavanaugh gave at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand on this very subject. WARNING: New Zealand vowels alert!

    If I do not succeed again in putting the youtube on here, we can find it at youtube if we put Cavanaugh myth religious in the youtube search box.

    I won’t try to put the youtube on in this comment, but in another one somewhere below. (My whole comment here might vanish into a cyber black hole again if I try to do it again here.)

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  40. johnhenrycn says:

    You work too hard, Golden. Try developing a more platitudinous side. Ask Toad how it’s done.

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  41. toadspittle says:

    Golly, you are grumpy today, JH.
    All I need to stop me asking silly questions is a few sensible answers. Yea, right.

    If anyone thinks “religious violence” is a myth, they ought to examine the lives of Catholic martyrs through the centuries for a start (Yes, including the Spanish Civil War) and Protestant ones, come to that – and read about the French civil wars of Montaigne’s time.

    The video is an hour long, but I’ll get round to it.
    But I’m getting very tired of this topic.
    Let’s get back to good old paedophile priests. We know where we are with them.

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  42. toadspittle says:

    OK..one last shot.
    I understand that nobody on here can, or will, answer the platitudinous questions above, about Paradise lost and Original Sin.
    But doesn’t anyone on CP&S know a theologian who is willing and able to do so? Then we can all get some sleep.

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  43. GC says:

    Well, dear Toad, it’s another topic really, innit, better discussed under a separate post?

    I think the simple answer is we don’t know, possibly because we earth critters are not God and cannot even hope to understand the whole mind of an infinite God. Toads are perhaps one of the few terrestrial species who still do have this ambition. But our personal experiences of God somehow have the effect in us of just knowing He is all-good and loving and can be trusted. There’s empiricism (of a sort) for you. Try it some time.

    This may give you some names to follow up, Toad.

    http://www.aquinasonline.com/Topics/probevil.html

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  44. johnhenrycn says:

    Don’t worry so much about people being frustrated with your platitudinous questions, Toad. At least we know they are genuinely platitudinous. As for me, on another blog I’m sparring with a single mother (who thinks Sean Connery starred in a movie about Al Capone) who questions whether I really am Canadian, just because I used the word “presenter” instead of “host” in reference to television interviewers. Good night and God Bless.

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  45. Brother Burrito says:

    I have just put your video up on the front page.

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  46. GC says:

    Dear Brother B, thank you. There’s a few more videos on youtube of Dr Cavanaugh in New Zealand. I think he gave a series of lectures there under the title “Migrations of the Holy”, which is also the title of another of his books.

    Brother B, while I have your attention, I also submitted another post related to today being the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, Although it would be pertinent to publish it today, naturally we prostrate ourselves before the scheduling wisdom of the CP&S team.

    How goes it at your hospital, Burrito? We hope you have cause to be less anxious now. We did pray for you all the hospital and will do so again at Mass in an hour and a half at out Parish church of St Thomas More (aka St Tom’s in the Smog, owing to our Muslim-lead state government only allowing new churches to be built in zoned industrial estates).

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  47. Brother Burrito says:

    Dear GC,
    The hospital business went well, and knowing that those in the CP&S engine room were praying for me was a great comfort. A long way to go yet, of course.

    Your Lateran post is still locked by you. Could you close your editing window? The Youtube links need to be in plain text, not HTML, for them to display as a movie window. I shall publish it later today.

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  48. GC says:

    Closed, Brother B.

    Then we shall continue praying for you all at the hospital. So many things to pray for.

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  49. kathleen says:

    We’ve now got some real meaty quality comments on this thread; thanks mostly to our GC.
    (Rabit, who left here in a huff not long ago owing to what he called “poor commenting”, would be thoroughly cheered up if he were to pop in again!)

    I think the subject of this article above is one of the most important we have posted on, relating as it does to our very existence in many parts of the world today, where there are those who are viciously attempting to eradicate Christianity.

    Yes, working towards world peace in all areas is vitally necessary. One of the main causes of this tyranny is ignorance. Christians (and indeed other religious minorities) are being persecuted because their assailants see them as a threat (e.g. Hindus against Christians in Orissa), or as a symbol of their ‘enemies’, (e.g. Muslims against Christians in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, etc.) A lot of headway would be made to put a stop to religious persecution if education, and therefore knowledge, were improved.

    BTW, I really like those two pics you adeptly used to illustrate this post Golden; may I ask where they were taken?

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  50. toadspittle says:

    Well, GC, thanks for a very good link. It’s mildly comforting to have it affirmed that Aquinas was as interested in platitudinous, assinine questions as Toad is.
    But then, he was not a Canadian lawyer, was he?
    Nor, I fear, does he come near to solving the riddle, although he makes a somewhat better fist of it than the Reichenbach fellow.
    The most plausible theory (or one of several, at least) is that God wound up the world like a cuckoo clock, set it ticking, then let it proceed to blunder along in its own inimitable, horrible way, unheeded by Him. (Deism.)
    …Meanwhile He turned his hand to more important and less offensive tasks for the rest of eternity.

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  51. GC says:

    Hello Kathleen.

    I think they were taken at the Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady of Shéshān, in the countryside just outside Shanghai. She is honoured there as Our Lady, Help of Christians and the Holy Mother of China. If you google Sheshan you will find a lot to read about the Shrine and see the image of the Holy Mother of Sheshan. Maybe the shrine would make a good subject for a future CP&S article? Pope Benedict paid a lot of attention to the shrine while making overtures to the Chinese government during his pontificate.

    Pilgrimages to the shrine in recent years have been very much curtailed by the government. Even the new and quite young bishop of Shanghai, Bishop Thaddaeus Mǎ Dáqīn, has been “disappeared” by the government (since last year), let’s pray not permanently. Bishop Mǎ was consecrated as the new Shanghai bishop instead of Bishop Joseph Xíng Wénzhī, after the designated successor of the earlier bishop of the Shanghai diocese (Bishop Xíng, that is, was meant to be the successor) also disappeared at the end of 2011. Let’s pray for the two bishops and the Catholics of Shanghai and the rest of China.

    I actually went to Sheshan in 1989 without really intending to. I was in Shanghai for a few days and on the Sunday I got into a taxi and asked the driver to take me to Shanghai Cathedral for Mass (St Ignatius’ Cathedral). When I noticed that we seemed eventually to be in the countryside, surrounded by bare winter-time fields, I asked the driver if we were really going to the Cathedral. A few minutes later we arrived at Sheshan basilica, not the Cathedral, which is in the busy downtown of Shanghai. The driver had misunderstood instructions.

    An elderly Chinese Jesuit priest there greeted me and showed me around the place, which is on the top of a rather nice hill, something very rare in the very flat Shanghai region.

    The dear old priest was a bit excited and wanted to know if I could speak French (I don’t look Chinese, but rather more mixed-racish.) He very badly wanted to speak French to anybody at all as French was spoken mostly while he was studying for the priesthood. He hadn’t had a good chat in French for 30 years, he said. I was sorry to disappoint him and told him I could do English and Italian (less well), but no, he knew only French and Latin. So we got by in Chinese.

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  52. toadspittle says:

    Luckily, religious violence is a myth, or we might be concerned as to what has become of the two bishops.
    Unless they had been meddling in politics, of course.

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  53. GC says:

    Dear Toad, I hope you don’t get another scolding for that remark, I really do.

    Yes the article is well written isn’t it, with links to other relevant things. Are you going to check them out?

    Toad, if you find yourself in need of a hug right now from a religious person, may I suggest this?

    http://amma.org/

    I like your clockwork god. Is he popular in Switzerland, would you know?

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  54. toadspittle says:

    No Toad, is not a deist, GC.
    Voltaire was, though.
    …And with all my furries, I am in no need of more hugs. Have to gently fight them off.
    But a very kindly thought, so thank you.

    (My favourite theory of why the world is so awful – is Hume’s: That the Big Boss God gave Planet Earth to one of His apprentice Gods to practice on until the lad was skilful and experienced enough to be given a proper planet to “create.”
    Well, you never know.
    It’s funny, at least. And that’s important.
    And it would also explain a fair bit.

    Like

  55. kathleen says:

    Wow GC, that is a great story! Thank you very much for telling it in so much detail. Lovely!

    May God Bless those dear brave Chinese Catholics who faithfully practice their Faith under so many difficulties and dangers. What a witness!
    _________

    Toad is going to be more than scolded – no joke – for that utterly horrible and uncaring remark above about the fate of the bishops who have vanished.
    You should be ashamed of yourself, Toad, even hinting that these poor faithful priests were to blame, by “meddling in politics”.
    ________

    Is the international community trying to find out what has happened to the bishops, GC? What is the Chinese government saying about it?

    Like

  56. GC says:

    kathleen, I have not heard whetehr those two bishops have been released, but I doubt it. They are not the only bishops in confinement. Several have been put out of the way for decades now or have died.

    asianews.it brings these suffering shepherds to our attention, kathleen. If you put “China” in their search box, you can read of their tribulations. Such as the following, their recent report on Bishop Peter Liu Guandong of Yixian in Hebei province (near Beijing).

    http://tinyurl.com/mfea8wv

    Their stories would make good blog articles on CP&S. They really need our prayers.

    Like

  57. kathleen says:

    Yes, that’s a good idea GC – a blog article on what these faithful Catholic “shepherds” are undergoing in China would bring this horror to the attention of our readers. You are the one who knows the problem better than anyone, and it would be up to you to write the article! 🙂

    Aid to the Church in Need has long been denouncing the harsh inhuman measures the Communist Government in China has been inflicting on the Catholics – the underground real Catholic Church I mean – with the abduction and disappearance of so many bishops.

    Their situation is so terrible, so outrageous, that the more people are aware of this, the better, and the more likely there will be a public outcry to put a stop to it.

    Meanwhile, yes, lots of prayers and sacrifices for our suffering Christian brethren.

    Like

  58. GC says:

    Kathleen, you might like to see this report in the Telegraph about the fate of Bishop Ma. Shanghai Catholics tell of how powerless they feel.

    http://tinyurl.com/q2plmw4

    Like

  59. kathleen says:

    Thank you for drawing our attention to this report GC. (Good old Telegraph! The only newspaper in UK with enough concern to make this news public.)

    It is so important that people are made aware of what is happening; although I fear it will take more than just this to put enough pressure on the UN and western governments for any steps to be taken to intervene and put a stop to this cruel and outrageous behaviour. Sanctions should be threatened…. that would make the Chinese government think again!

    In the meantime the “war on religion” continues – meaning the war of those wicked people who viciously persecute and massacre others on account of the religion of the victims. Yes, it is a war, and the most atrocious and evil of all, because the victims are totally innocent and totally defenceless.

    For anyone who has not already seen this heart-wrenching report from ACN on the latest from Syria:
    http://www.acnuk.org/remembering-the-victims-of-the-sadad-atrocity?utm_campaign=Attack+on+Christian+town+in+Syria+-+45+killed&utm_source=acn&utm_medium=email

    Like

  60. Toadspitttle says:

    You misunderstand me about the bishops, Kathleen.
    I have nothing but sympathy for them in their horrible plight. I suspect GC understood what I was getting at, and was not offended. Hope so, anyway.
    …But my writing is patently maladroit at times.
    And clearly was here. So, sorry.

    Like

  61. GC says:

    kathleen, Andrew Chesnut has challenged John Allen’s War on Religion idea, that Barney Zwartz based much of his article on.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/r-andrew-chesnut/war-on-christians_b_4133612.html

    Chesnut seems to be saying they are only “regional conflicts”, but Allen is saying those “regions” are nearly everywhere, which seems correct.

    Like

  62. kathleen says:

    “… but Allen is saying those “regions” are nearly everywhere, which seems correct.

    I agree with you GC. Many thanks for another fascinating article on this dreadful topic that should affect us all profoundly… Christians in the rest of the world, I mean. Too many want to water down or overlook the gravity of the situation.
    We are all united, wherever we may live, in One Body, One Baptism, One Faith, in Jesus Christ Our Lord.

    Like

  63. GC says:

    kathleen, you never fail to respond, thank you.

    You might like this prayer and, with others, include it among your other prayers, for the Catholics of China.

    Prayer to Our Lady, Help of Christians, of Shéshān

    Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,
    venerated in the Shrine of Shéshān under the title “Help of Christians”,
    the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
    We come before you today to implore your protection.
    Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them
    along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be
    a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.
    When you obediently said “yes” in the house of Nazareth,
    you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb
    and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.
    You willingly and generously cooperated in that work,
    allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,
    until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,
    standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.
    From that moment, you became, in a new way,
    the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
    and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross.
    Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed
    with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
    Grant that your children may discern at all times,
    even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence.
    Our Lady of Shéshān, sustain all those in China,
    who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love.
    May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,
    and of the world to Jesus.
    In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,
    offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
    Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,
    ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
    Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!

    More prayers for the Church in China here:

    http://vultus.stblogs.org/index.php/2008/05/our-lady-help-of-christians-an/

    Like

  64. Toadspitttle says:

    No reason why a regional conflict” shouldn’t have a religious basis, is there?

    Pointless, and hopeless, to bring up Northern Ireland again, so I will.
    The original basis being that the rabid Protestants that were imported there, from Scotland, with Government backing, in order to oppress the Papists and create a ruling class. Which they duly did.
    GC does not agree. It’s based on politics, she says. Oh, well. Matter of opinion.

    “We are all united, wherever we may live, in One Body, One Baptism, One Faith, in Jesus Christ Our Lord.”
    But Christians patently aren’t, are they? Anglicans are not “united” in the same faith as Baptists, for example.
    No doubt we can think of other cases
    However, I don’t think I’m getting through.Or ever will.

    Like

  65. GC says:

    . . . the rabid Protestants that were imported there, from Scotland, with Government backing, in order to oppress the Papists and create a ruling class. Which they duly did.
    GC does not agree. It’s based on politics, she says. Oh, well. Matter of opinion.

    Sounds like politics to me, Toad. The government backing bit kind of gives it away. Though I think it was more than just backing. Toad.

    Like

  66. Toadspitttle says:

    I suppose it all depends on how you look at it, GC.

    If you don’t think crushing the Northern Ireland (in fact, ALL Ireland, at that time) Catholics had a religious motive, there’s no point in me arguing.
    If preventing a Catholic majority from running its own affairs in its own country, simply because it was Catholic – no other reason – was not religious persecution, then you’d better explain what it was. I suppose you’d say that denying blacks civil rights in the Southern U.S. until recently, was political, not racial.
    On second thoughts, let’s forget it.
    Life is too short and death is too near.

    Like

  67. GC says:

    So Toad, you think a government’s attempt to crush irish Catholics and absorb them into the realm didn’t have a political motive? You astonish one.

    Like

  68. Toadspitttle says:

    ..Of course it did.
    But do you think it didn’t have a religious one?
    Do you think religion was beside the point, in this case? Do you realise how virulently anti-Catholic England was back then (and amongst Protestant Northern Irelanders still is)?
    I suppose not.
    You might equally astonish me, but you don’t.
    I wonder what Kathleen thinks.

    Like

  69. Toadspitttle says:

    They don’t write, “God bless the Pope,” on walls in Protestant Belfast.
    Kathleen can tell you what they do write, I imagine.

    Like

  70. kathleen says:

    Thank you GC for that beautiful “Prayer to Our Lady, Help of Christians, of Shéshān”. I shall make a copy and keep it in my prayer book.
    ________

    The Northern Ireland troubles were definitely originally started through a mixture of politics and religion. Religion was used as the excuse for the nasty politics, and the Catholics were the ones who came off worse.
    And still do, though things have improved there.

    Like

  71. kathleen says:

    Have you ever heard of Capt. Robert Nairac, who was murdered by the IRA?
    My own family’s connections with this brave young man are not direct, but through mutual friends. His story is an example of the tragedy of Northern Ireland.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Nairac

    Capt Nairac, was a Catholic, from a sound Catholic family, but hated by the IRA because of his British Army uniform. At the time of his abduction, torture and murder, he was working as an undercover agent in Northern Ireland. The newspapers made much of this case at the time because it shows the true irony of the situation of this conflict.

    Mind you, I doubt very much whether the members of the IRA (or the Protestant militants either for that matter) were men of any true faith. They were either Catholic or Protestants only in name.

    Like

  72. Toadspitttle says:

    “Religion was used as the excuse for the nasty politics, ”

    I would suggest politics was used as the excuse for the nasty religion, Kathleen.
    But, either way, it probably doesn’t make a lot of difference in the long run.
    Where, and when, we are all dead.

    Like

  73. GC says:

    kathleen, yes it’s a fine prayer with so much in it. I suspect it’s a product of the Vatican given during Pope Benedict’s many efforts to reconcile the Church and the government of China. I even detect his hand in its composition.

    Hope you won’t mind if I try to help with the pronunciation of “Sheshan”, which is merely the name of the hill on which the Shrine and the seminary of the Shanghai diocese stand. This might help. Click the “loud speaker” symbol in the bottom right hand corner of the box on the left of the page. Hope it works.

    https://translate.google.com/?hl=en&tab=wT#zh-CN/en/%E4%BD%98%E5%B1%B1

    Like

  74. GC says:

    If any have plenty of time they might like to listen to this recent lecture by Professor Yang Fenggang at Georgetown University.

    Why Christianity is Thriving in China Today

    Apparently it has nothing to do with politics, as some assure us here. It just sounds like it.

    Like

  75. Toadspitttle says:

    If you believe, (as I happen to) that, “Everything is politics,” because it undoubtedly is – there is a danger that “politics” will get above itself – regarding itself as superior to everything else – including more serious matters such as religion, art, music, philosophy, etc.
    That is no good.
    In other words, just because “everything is politics,” it doesn’t follow that politics is everything.. Politics is nothing but the means by which we achieve other things.
    Good things, if we are lucky, bad things if we are not
    I imagine we all agree on that, at least.

    Like

  76. Toadspitttle says:

    What you don’t seem to understand, GC, – is that, in a way – nothing is done for “political” motives.
    Because there are no “political” motives. Because, since everything is political – effectively nothing is. If we are all mad, there is no such thing as sanity.
    If you ask a politician, “Why did you pass that law?” He or she will say, “To make life fairer for the disabled,” or whatever. They will not say, “I did it for political reasons.”

    The headline on the link you sent is quite right: Anti-Popery is not based to “politics, ” or “geopolitics” (whatever we want that to mean) – it is based on simple fear.

    Like

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