Catholicism: What I Like

I read a post on Saur’s Blog about the Pope. Apparently he believes that if you’re not Catholic, you’re going to hell. This is the general consensus among the Christian religions, and I’m really glad the Pope is now in the same category as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. But that’s not what this post is about.

Despite my general aversion to religion, I did learn a few things from the Catholic Church. One of the things I liked was the emphasis on good works. Though the motivation for being a Good Samaritan is an easier pathway to heaven, the principal is a good one. The notion that one should help those who cannot help themselves (otherwise known as gathering good karma) and atone for the wrongs they have done (rather than simply asking for forgiveness) is something I’ve kept with me.

The idea that one should refrain from committing sin rather than simply asking forgiveness (once you’ve done whatever it is you shouldn’t be doing) is also a decent idea. It definitely leads to a more repressive society, but constantly having to think before you act about whether you’re doing the right thing probably prevents a lot of disasters in a lot of lives. The sheer number of things that are considered sins makes it impossible to ever live without a constant feeling of guilt, (but hey, guilt is what keeps you doing the good works, right?). Though I’m not perfect, I do try to make an effort to think about what I’m doing before I take action.

The high importance placed on education is something ingrained in my soul. Unfortunately, the need students feel for getting that education is based more on fear (of being subjected to a variety of horrible punishments) by the nuns, priests, or your parents, making some students extremely happy to graduate and be rid of the burden. Although my love for education is based mostly on my need to find out the truth about things, the discipline to get that education probably comes from the Catholic Church.

3,608 US Soldiers killed in Iraq
26,558 US Soldiers wounded in Iraq


26 Responses to “Catholicism: What I Like”

  1. 1 Undergroundlogician
    July 12, 2007 at 10:21 pm


    Well, God bless your soul! May I make a few observations? If this is too much, feel free to dump it, but I want to give some input.

    1. It is a distortion to say that the Pope believes that if you are not Catholic, you’re going to hell. He doesn’t say it in the CDF document. Go to Catholic World News and click on the links they have to the document. See for yourself. As a matter of fact, because of God’s mercy, the Catholic Church is not the hellfire/brimstone types like those raging Calvinists. If you want more info on this, go to my Just Another Beggar site and go to the Catholic Encyclopedia, or is it New Advent. I’m not sure. But it’s there.

    2. There is an emphasis on good works, but ALWAYS working in concert with His help, called grace. We are NEVER left by ourselves to please an overdemanding Deity. The idea of Atonement you have with you is GOOD. Remember, your atonement is mingled with Christ’s. He’s the KEY to it all. You are not capable of living this life, because essentially, the Christian life is Christ’s life. He gives this to us to help us. When we fail, and boy do we (speaking from my vast experiences of sinning!), he makes a way for us to start with a clean slate. Certainly, there is a thing called reparation, but it allows us, with God’s grace, to repair what we broke, much like a child having to repair or replace a toy of another child which he broke.

    3. Though you mention the many sins, there are many helps in this area to give us reminders. Basically, they follow the ten commandments.

    4. The discipline of education is a value that I see in the Catholic Church as well. I do see this in you as you talk about the importance of education, and most importantly, PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT. I appreciate your passion here. Parents abdicate their responsibilities to the T.V. or to iPods, Gameboy, or the Internet. Keep pressing on, UWL, we need teachers who are sticklers.

    Brief aside: I read a Marine Magazine Publication while my van was being worked on today. There was an article about these new type of Humvees, maybe Cranky knows about them (Cranky, were you a Marine, or Special Forces–Army?) that are heavily armoured to withstand IED’s better than the re-armored Humvees they were using. I hope we can get more of these in Iraq to reduce the death toll of our men and women in the military.

  2. 2 Laura
    July 13, 2007 at 3:10 am

    I had a discussion about this at work the other day. My boss is Catholic, grew up Catholic went to all Catholic schools (he even made himself throw up when he was a kid because he mistakenly ate a chilidog on Friday)…. My whole question is this: The Pope is supposed to be infallible and divinely inspired. So did God just simply change his mind and tell the Pope, “yeah, my mistake, Latin mass is OK?” Or was it the Vatican II people that got it wrong?

    I simply cannot get behind any belief system that claims something is eternal doctrine and then says “oops, my bad”.

    It’s one thing to think and re-interpret. I can get behind that. But then it can’t be absolute and infallible. You can’t have it both ways.

  3. 3 undergroundlogician
    July 13, 2007 at 5:23 am


    Good question. Let me give you a little information. The doctrine of the Infallibility of the Pope is defined by the Church very narrowly. He is ONLY infallible, meaning, he cannot err when he is binding the universal Church for all time to a teaching of faith and morals only. In areas where he is acting as a pastor, or as an administrator, or in politics, or in science, or in mathematics, or in astrophysics, he can make mistakes. He’s also human, where he can sin. Every Pope has a confessor to whom he confesses his sins. To be free from sin is to be impeccable; this is only a characteristic of Jesus and Mary.

    So, regarding the Latin Mass, this is NOT a faith or morals issue requiring a definition; this is a pastoral issue that is being addressed. Pastoral decisions cannot fall under infallibility because times change, people change, and the factors that precipitate a pastoral decision in one age may no longer apply in another. For instance, the Joint Declaration of the Justification of Faith allowed for dialogue to occur between the Catholic Church and several Lutheran groups. they actually came to an agreement about one aspect of the doctrine of justificaiton. As a result, some of the pastoral restrictions made by the Catholic Church which came out of the Council of Trent in 1547 are no longer applicable and were dropped.

    So in the case with the Latin Mass, the Pope is allowing priests everywhere to preside in a Latin Mass, whereas before, there was a situation where a schism could have occurred in the church with the misunderstandings that were present then. The doctrinal safeguards are now in place so now there a risk of confusion and schism is minimal.

    An example of an infallible declaration by a Pope occurred at least twice; 1854 with the declaration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and in 1950, with the declaration of Mary’s Assumption into heaven. In these cases, these doctrines were already being taught; the Pope made them a dogma so that they would never be challenged. In this case, these two dogmas will never be changed.

    I hope this helps. The Catholic faith can be very complex and easily misunderstood, even by Catholics! I’m sorry this is so long.

    I’m getting sleepy. I need to hit the hay. Peace, Laura.

  4. 4 Cranky Yankee
    July 13, 2007 at 11:50 am

    UL – I was Air Force – Special Operations. We didn’t have armored hmmv’s back in my day. I got out in ’97. In fact we didn’t use hmmv’s at all. They were too big for our mission. Our vehicles were mission specific, no armor, heavily armed.

  5. 5 United We Lay
    July 13, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    I could totally see how the Pope’s wording would make it seem to others that he believes that if you’re not Catholic, you are going to hell. And it’s always a possibility that the Pope has his own interpretation of doctrine here. The world is changing. Everyone’s getting desperate. I’ve seen a lot of your links. I don’t read the Catholic World News often, but I should. I like to be as balanced in my reading as possible.

    I didn’t mean to imply that Catholics are left by themselves, just that the good work isn’t done for it’s own sake, but to continue in god’s grace or to earn points for purgatory. I try to do nice things for people just because I believe that it is my duty as a person to help people when possible. Unfortunately, at times this can be seen as ungenuine, but I do it anyway because it’s the right thing to do. And I do it with no belief in god. I’m sure it can be argued that I learned it through my connection with the church, but those who know me say I was this way as very small child, before I ever could have understood the principals of the church. I see the same tendancies in my 10 month old son.

    The 10 commandmants do not contain many things that should be sins and do contain many that shouldn’t be. Don’t kill and don’t lie are the best two. I would do with “Do no harm” myself, which pretty much covers it all. Knowing that I can’t go back and changewhat I’ve done, but I can make up for it and move on is enough for me. I don’t need to be forgiven by god.

    We need teachers who are stikles, but we don’t want them. I am by no means a strict person, but I am sometimes asked to loosen my rules, like losing points for not doing homework. I would love to be able to require parental involvement. I’m going for an interview at a school I really want to teach in on the 16th.

    Exmi might know more about the humvees you’re asking about. He was an interrigator, but he might be following military technology.

  6. 6 United We Lay
    July 13, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    I’ve always has that problem with any question whose answer is “because I (or god) said so). If you’re going to tell me what to do, you better have a good reason for why I should do it, especially if you;re going to threaten me with something as serious as purgatory (which Dante invented) or hell. Fear may be an effective coersion device, but people will see through it, even if it takes 2000 years.

  7. 7 Daniel Hoffmann-Gill
    July 13, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Catholics repressed people man, lot of sin there but say you’re sorry and you’re all good.

  8. 8 United We Lay
    July 13, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Catholics have to do a lot more than say they’re sorry for their sins to be forgiven.

  9. 9 Godwhacker
    July 13, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    I try to be respectful of religion (in spite of the name “Godwhacker”), but I have no stomach to tolerate any religion which claims to be “the only way”. There are many paths towards righteousness, and not all of them involve the church. Dogma and intolerance are sin with few parallels.

  10. 10 ul
    July 13, 2007 at 6:05 pm


    Others interpret his words very negatively; that’s not the Pope’s fault. Why should he be blamed for others’ negative spin?

    I know you didn’t imply we are left alone as Catholics to do good works. What I’m trying to say is that God is so merciful, so helpful that when he makes a requirement for us, he gives us the grace to assist us. He’s not a tyrant who expects the impossible from people. On the same token, he’s a gentleman; he will not force anyone to accept his decrees, even the decree that we need forgiveness. However, he allows us to receive the consequences of our choices; if not in this life, in the one to come.


    Sometimes there a big differences between Catholics and what Catholics are supposed to be. Officially, Catholics are to model their lives after Christ; too often Catholics fall far short of that and, in some cases, repress people as you say.


    Well, if what you are saying true, then any other explanation other than the one you gave is intolerable. Do you realize that you are making your way (many paths to God) as the only way?

    Intolerance goes both ways, don’t you see?

  11. 11 Godwhacker
    July 13, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    guilty as charged. I am intolerant of intolerance. But really, that is a simpleton’s argument. Tolerance is a value, and being against it’s absence from an ideology is a non-sequitur with preaching the superiority of a specific race or religion. Human history is marred by a trail of blood and that trail leeds directly back to one commonality and that is intolerance. That is not to say that there should not be objective standards. There should be, and although I am no theologian, I believe “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a basic tenant of Christian philosophy.

    I practice what I preach and I don’t believe that being Catholic condemns anyone to hell, but neither will I quietly accept that assertion being made against me.

    But do yourself a favor. Next time you enter a battle of wits with me, arm yourself first.

  12. 12 ul
    July 13, 2007 at 11:29 pm


    You’ve declared yourself the winner? Why should I arm myself? Are you going to attack?

    Look, if you want to make the declarative statements, make sure yours don’t refute themselves. That simple. It is not a simpleton’s argument, it is a simple argument. Big difference.

    Now, as to your assessment of Catholicism as dogmatically declaring itself the only way, I don’t think you understand it well enough to make that assertion and be correct. You certainly CAN make any assertion about it as you like, but you will not dealing with Catholicism per se. From what I see, you may be reading into it the typical Calvinist fundamentalist who condemns all except Calvinists. Am I right? I don’t know. I know from my experience with them, they consider me a part of the “Whore of Babyon,” set to deceive the world and bring in the Anti-Christ. Weird, really weird.

    Second, if you want to get to the nitty gritty, Jesus declaring himself to be the only way, the only truth, the only life speaks of exclusivity, not intolerance. So, your beef against Christianity in general, and in this instance, Catholicism, comes from Christ himself. You’ll have to deal with His words; the Church just holds them in trust and teaches accordingly.

    Also, what you may not know, is that the Catholic Church understands that those who are not formally a part of the Church are not necessarily condemned to hell. Did you know that? If someone who has been completely ignorant of the Christian message lives yet their lives with virtue, they are considered a part of the Church; they are responding to God’s grace.

    I think you have some misconceptions of the Catholic faith. I wouldn’t be surprised if you gained these mis-conceptions from Catholics themselves. I appreciate your candor and the fact that you respect other religions. So do I. I consider myself just another beggar who knows where to find bread.

    Peace, GW.

  13. 13 Godwhacker
    July 14, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    I never attack, but I am one hell of a defender. That is the difference between you and me. I’m tolerant of your beliefs so long as you do me no harm. Declare myself winner? Your only argument stems from a twisted view of your own ideology, so what points can I possibly make? The only possible outcome is stalemate. If you were willing to listen to reason, you wouldn’t be arguing your points anyway.

    My problem is with dogma in general, not with any specific religion. But here is a little bit of logic for you ~ god is more forgiving than any man. I am a man. I would not send anyone to eternal damnation for making an honest error in judgment by not believing in a specific religion. But god is more forgiving than me, so god would not send anyone to eternal damnation for a simple mistake. This argument refutes the idea of hell for nonbelievers, but only if you follow that part of the bible. I’m sure there are other parts of the bible that would refute this, but that speaks to my conclusion that the bible is not the word of god.

    Am I supposed to believe that god is a fear mongering sociopath incapable of writing coherent text, or sexist, omniscient busybody with a penchant for cruelty incapable of writing a coherent ideology? No. Rather I think the bible is the word of men and that men (or women) how follow it blindly are foolish and that there is little point in arguing over it with then. But if I am wrong and there is a god, I stand ready to meet her, and to give her points on constructing a proper sentence.

    Peace to you as well, but peace is most possible when people respect one and other. Respect involves tolerance. I have that and you don’t. So, peace seems far more likely in my life than it will ever be in yours. But still I wish you well.

  14. 14 Rue
    July 14, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    Good God people why’s it got to be so bloody complicated?
    After years of unbaptized non denominational religious exploration I finally chose to join the Anglican church. I was baptized in a simple ceremony at the ripe old age of 42 last year.
    My Grandad was Anglican and I loved him.
    The particular congregation I joined is small and like a second family to me (link on my blog). Our rector, Canon Paul Taylor was the man who helped me complete my final direction by one simple sentence in the first sermon I heard from him…he said:
    “As Christians we must remember we do not have the monopoly on God”

    Your Faith is supposed to open your heart, not close your mind.


  15. 15 ul
    July 14, 2007 at 7:47 pm


    As to your diatribe on forgiveness, God is more than a man. So there are issues at stake regarding God’s nature that are not reflected in your analogy: holiness. I don’t know how logic will help you determine the nature of God. What set of beliefs are you working from?

    As to my apparent intolerance of your beliefs, can you cite a belief that I know of yours of which I am intolerant? I don’t recall having any conversation with you which involve my intolerant beliefs. Could you refresh my memory when that occurred?

  16. 16 United We Lay
    July 14, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    Execellent sentiment, and very well said.

  17. 17 Godwhacker
    July 14, 2007 at 9:06 pm


    I have read enough of your convoluted defense of bigotry and repression to know that we disagree on a great many things. But quite frankly, I find arguing with mystics over mysticism distasteful.

  18. July 15, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    I agree with the comments on religious training having some benefits. I’m still hum “Jesus Loves Me” every once in a while even though I’ve been an atheist for more than thirty years.

  19. July 15, 2007 at 7:06 pm


    Convoluted defense of bigotry? I am asking you questions to try to establish any kind of dialogue on this site. If you don’t want to dialogue, just say so. Don’t start in on me about bigotry. All you are doing is shadow boxing; I’m out of it.

    When you’re tired of landing blows to the air, let me know; we can talk then.

  20. 20 unitedwelay1
    July 16, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    I have some things to do today, buit I’m reallu interested in what’s going on here and I’d like to continue the discussion. I’ll comment at length this afternoon.

  21. 21 unitedwelay1
    July 17, 2007 at 11:13 am

    The Pope should have been more clear. Are you really telling me that Catholics don’t believe that if you’re not Catholic you’re going to hell? Remember – I was raised in the Catholic church.

    Some things should not be toleraed. It should not be tolerated when someone says my way of life is wrong simply because it’s not their way of life. If they believe that, then they are bigots and should not be tolerated. It should not be tolerated when someone trys to change my way of life (if I’m happy with it) because it’s not their way of life. It should not be tolerated when someone tries to use fear to make anyone believe anything, because if they do change their minds, they have not done so for the right reasons. Exclusivity is the root of intolerance.

  22. July 17, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    I would agree. Anyone, Christian or not, who tries to force someone into a discussion, challenge their beliefs, etc. without allow mutual acceptance of the discussion is violating the principles of charity.

    As to the Pope being more clear, he cannot declare from his vantage point who’s going to heaven and who is not. That’s left to the Final Judge. He can say what teaching is apostolic, and must be adhered to, he can say those who willing violate teachings are in mortal danger, but he CANNOT say who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. This sounds again like staunch Calvinism.

    If you were told that only Catholics going to heaven, where did you get this; who told you, and are you aware that the Catholic Church rejects this as a heresy called Feeneyism?

    If you have questions about this subject, you may be expecting too much from a very small document. You may have to do some digging. I can give you references if you need them. Just jump on my site and email me.


  23. 23 Jinks Writes and rewrites
    July 27, 2007 at 3:34 pm


    Accepting Jesus Christ into my heart, and asking him to forgive me of my sins, is the way I have chosen to work out my escape from hell in this life and the next. Now, telling you that you can do the same is what Jesus asked those who believe in him to do. Its passing on good karma.
    Shoot as many messengers as necessary, just understand the message.

  24. 24 unitedwelay1
    July 28, 2007 at 8:10 am

    For some reason I didn’t notice this comment until now. the nuns at my Catholic school taught me that only those following Catholic doctrine go to heaven.

    As long as you recognizer that it is your choice, and you do not feel the need to push anyone else into making that choice against their will. Telling me that is NOT good karma, and I advise you against using religious terms you do not understand fully. I understand the message. I reject the whole god part of it, but the doing unto others part is the most important idea and I try to follow that one. Also, I don’t believe that most Christians understand the message.

  25. 25 Scott McLeod
    August 20, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Having grown up Catholic, I learned about a lot of these conflicts first hand in CCD, or when i attended Catholic School in Little Rock. A lot of the lessons I learned did not attempt to say if other religions led to heaven, but instead focused on what we could do as Catholics to better ourselves and our community. Many of the very pesky rules that are often broken with little social consequence were glazed over, and i was even taught evolution along creation in catholic school. I now live in Pittsburgh, which is a strongly Catholic city, but also a considerably liberal city.

    I say this to suggest that many things are becoming more and more progressive, and it’s generally hard to cadegoarize Catholics as being very “doctrine based” or whatnot.

  26. 26 unitedwelay1
    August 21, 2008 at 8:40 am

    I think that’s a good point. The church has not split into orthodox and progressive Roman Catholics, and it’s important to note that though many churches are doctrine based, many are also trying to modernize their message.

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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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