Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bookseller? Yes. Religious educator? No way.

Although maybe in a funny way, she is

In one of the purest and most pious expressions of why the Catholic church should never, ever be in charge of civil law, Katherine Thomas writes in the Strib that the Catholic church not only should not -- it cannot -- ordain female priests. It is, after all, a received truth, and Thomas wants to know and believe what is true.

Thomas expresses a fealty to "timeless" religious authority that might remind some of you of another Katherine sometimes referred to in passing on this blog.

We might charge this off to a charming loopiness, if it wasn't for the fact that the Catholic church wants to make the rules that apply to a lot of us who aren't Catholic; for example, in the areas of abortion, stem cell research, and gay marriage.

Returning once again to one of my favorite examples, it was undoubtedly a received truth centuries ago that the sun revolved around the earth. It was so received, in fact, that Galileo damned near got himself burned at the stake for saying otherwise in the seventeenth century. That was the fate of one of Galileo's pals:
On February 17, 1600, the Catholic Church made a most emphatic and brutal statement. Giordano Bruno, a Dominican friar, turned philosopher, was burned at the stake in Rome. In keeping with the punishment he suffered the heretic's fork, a cruel Y-shaped object, the branched end of which passed into his jaw while the lower end was positioned behind his breastbone to force his mouth shut. Bruno had been found guilty of heresy and the fork meant that he could not longer "spread the word". His crime? Well, he was a sort of "hippie" and among his rather "way out" views for the time, he believed and maintained the Copernican model of the universe - that is the Earth not the Sun was at the center of the universe - and also that the universe was infinite - with the possibility of multiple inhabited worlds. Both views were heresy in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church. 
It was too late for Galileo, of course, but even received truths change, and even if some people are a little slow on the uptake. It only took the Catholic church about 350 years to say, Well, let's let bygones be bygones; Galileo was right!

It is of -- frankly -- little moment what the Catholic hierarchy wants to browbeat its adherents into believing; it is, after all, a voluntary club. But when it wants to take its misogynistic, homophobic, anti-science show on the road; well, that's another matter entirely.

No comments: