Posts Tagged ‘responsibility’

Spiritual Methadone

March 9, 2008

About a week ago, there was a story on the local news that followed up on a story from months earlier about a drug addicted beggar who knocked down an old man he had asked for money.  The old man was giving him $5, a generous enough sum, but when the guy saw the old man’s wallet he grabbed it and knocked him over, injuring him.  The incident, captured on security cameras, happened in a church.  Let’s ignore the presence of security cameras in an institution built on faith, for the moment.

Today, the mugger is in a religious retreat.  He can’t explain his actions of that day but now he is a changed man, he says.  He has found god.  Hallelujah.

Neither he nor the pastor at the home he is in made any mention of real world counselling, therapy, or treatment.  He doesn’t appear to be addressing any real issues.  What he is doing is reading the bible.

No doubt the pastor thinks he has done good work.  He has converted a man who was ‘lost’ and brought him into the fold.  A good get.  Another soul saved.  And, because his soul has been saved, he is cured.  In fact, the man is just hiding behind god.

I’ve written before about AA and other twelve step programs requiring addicts to trade in their old addictions for addiction to god.  This is no real solution, but it does increase the numbers of the Lord’s army.

It seems a rather perverse outcome for a man who would attack an old man in a church to find shelter in a Christian retreat.  He didn’t seem to think there was anything special about the church before.  Why should he think it can save him, now?  It can’t, and it won’t make him any better.  Only he can take responsibility for his actions and decide what to do or not.  Pretending that it was all part of god’s plan isn’t taking responsibility or control.  And substituting one addiction for another doesn’t address the real underlying problems.

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Self-Serving Faith

January 26, 2008

I was having a coffee at a sidewalk cafe on Granville Street one day, when I noticed a couple of girls a couple of tables over.  I noticed one in particular, actually.  A pretty, dark haired girl in one of those knitted jacket things.  The attraction didn’t last long, though.

She may have noticed me noticing her.  Maybe not.  Anyway, she then said to her friend, loud enough for me to hear, “You know what I pray for?  I pray that the creator gets my dad to buy me a condo.”  Sigh…  Suddenly, I didn’t feel like giving her a demonstration of just how charming I can be.

Disappointment aside, this merely demonstrated – again – that faith is often accompanied by ulterior motives.  Praying for material gain and comfort.  Nothing new there.  Mundane.  Common.

Her lack of sincerity also made me think that many of the people who had suddenly declared themselves believers after George Bush was elected weren’t genuine.  They were just going with the flow.  Taking the path of least resistance.  Following the crowd, like sheep.  You can see how they could blend in with the full-time believers so easily.  Come join our flock…

Some people are followers and others identify with and emulate authority figures.  They crave power and authority so they take on its look and stance.  When Jimmy Carter was president of the U.S., my father wore cardigans.  During Lee Iaccoca’s high profile reign at Chrysler, he wore similar glasses.  If the current emperor talks of faith and god, many people will agree, to be like him.

I question the numbers of the truly faithful.  I think a lot of people hold onto half-hearted belief because thinking for themselves and taking personal responsibility is too much effort.  Either they already have enough on their plates with work and survival or they’re just too lazy.  They’ll make do with a boxed solution, even if it’s imperfect.  It’s convenience over quality.  A replacement system will probably have to be neatly packaged and easily consumable for them to go along with it.

Then there is another kind of person who holds onto what they don’t truly believe – the bet hedger.  I used to see a long-legged girl who confessed, “It doesn’t make sense to me, either, but I believe just in case I’m wrong.”  I guess the fires of hell are a powerful enough image to intimidate even sound logic and common sense.  Faith, it seems, is an investment.

Then again, maybe I’m just being stupid.  Maybe I should have shown the pretty girl at the cafe just how charming I can be, and let her father buy us a condo.  Sigh…  I’m too good for my own good.

There Goes the Neighbourhood

January 16, 2008

I found out a while ago that the building being constructed a couple hundred metres down the road is a Catholic church.  I groaned.  Just what the world needs – more churches when the existing ones are empty, in every sense.

Then I wondered how they pay for it.   If the churches are largely empty, the collection plates must be too.  Besides, shouldn’t that money be used for good causes?  I mean real good causes – like charity, feeding the starving, housing the homeless – as opposed to building unnecessary churches.  They’re not cheap – especially these days in Vancouver, where the superhot construction sector often hits cost overruns.

Some time later, a thought crossed my mind.  I’d heard that most of the money given to charities like the Red Cross to provide aid after the Asian tsunami a couple years ago hadn’t been distributed yet because they basically didn’t know where to begin.  The Red Cross has Christian affiliations, doesn’t it?  I gave them money to help those people.  They better not be using it to further the aims of the church, by building churches, for instance, or sending out missionaries to spread the word and convert people.

There was a story in the news the other day about abuse of aboriginal children by clergymen at government run schools they’d been sent to for conversion.  Apparently, the Catholic church has refused to pay $10 million compensation, their share of a settlement.  They claim they didn’t take the kids away from their parents and put them in those schools, the government did.  I suppose the government made them penetrate the children, too.  The church will not take responsibility.  They seem to think they’re above blame.

Incredibly, a new deal was struck in which the government would pay for the church.  Where does the government get the money?  Taxes.  Your taxes.  Money taken away from you is being used to pay a penalty the Catholic church refuses to.  How can the church get away with that?  Why would the government do that?

Although the church denies responsibility, they aren’t necessarily unaware of what their priests get up to.  A while back, on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart talked about a similar abuse case in the U.S. where the settlement was a whopping $600 million.  But, in that case, believe it or not, the church had SEXUAL ABUSE INSURANCE that covered the bill.  If you buy insurance, it’s because you know there is a reasonable risk of something happening.  To even consider something like sexual abuse insurance, you’d have to think it was likely.

The Catholic church seems to be very good at getting others to pay their bills.  They’re also a large organization that seems to think it has limited liability.  Sounds kind of like a corporation…  Maybe it’s time they started paying taxes…