The Thursday Blog: Crazy is as Crazy Does Edition

Carlo Climati, works for the Vatican’s Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, a university run by the Vatican in Rome. Carlo specializes in the dangers of Satanism, especially among teenagers. He feels that because of the internet, teens are particularly vulnerable to satan’s influences these days, and that the Catholic Church needs to be made aware. Recently Carlo spearheaded the effort to bring together a six-day conference in Rome to educate priests the world over on how to recognize a person possessed by satan or one of his minions, and what to do in that unfortunate event.

The convention, much like the one five months ago in Baltimore, is not to teach priests how to perform exorcisms, but to give them greater ability to tell who is actually possessed by the devil, as opposed to merely delusional, as the differences may not be apparent to the layman. Priests who find a devil-stuffed congregant are instructed to call for a Church expert to perform the rites of exorcism, which consist of reading a prayer and flinging holy water on the possessed.

Reaction to these conferences and Pope Benedict’s urging to return to the ancient traditions of the Church have been… mixed.

The Catholic Church is currently watching one of every three white members walking out the door. There is a constant drumbeat of scandal and impropriety, and schools and churches are closing world-wide. Some feel that now is not the time to be returning to medieval magical rituals. Others though, and I believe the Pope included, feel that by emphasizing the mystical, magical nature of the Church they will be able to recreate the niche in peoples’ lives they think has been lost in religion. The idea is to offer once more something that no one else can, not even in this age of iPads and internets… someone who can and will intercede on your behalf with not only the angels, but the demons too.

In general, most non-Catholics seem to think that the papists are bug-nuts crazy, and most actual Catholics don’t really believe that this is actually happening and that it’s all some kind of put-on. It’s not, but to these latter people in particular I have to ask… why? Once you have accepted the fact of the “invisible sky-god”, a magic ritual that turns crackers into the flesh of a dude that’s been dead for 2,000 years, talking snakes, fruit that makes you smarter, and the spiritual infallibility of Nazi artillery gunners, what the hell is any more “out there” about demons that just want a second childhood… in someone else’s child? Why is that any weirder than anything else you believe?

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled, was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And then Jersey Shore.

61 Responses to The Thursday Blog: Crazy is as Crazy Does Edition

  1. Calling the current pope an ex-Nazi is a bit too much. I haven’t checked his background in detail but I’m sure he didn’t commit any war-crimes, and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t call every wehrmacht soldier/teen conscript who served in WWII a Nazi.

    The Church has a tough competition for the…spiritually inclined. You’ve got all those “old”(or fake old) religions popping up again, the “new-age” stuff that I think has something to do with crystals and probably drugs(a strong selling point, and what can the Church offer instead, communion wine?), other, more “exotic” religions from the far east and other things too, I guess. Or if you’re looking for the really crazy stuff you can go Muslim. 😉

    • The current pope was a member of the Hitler youth and operated an anti-aircraft battery during the war. It’s not a secret, though in fairness kids his age didn’t have a choice. That does make him a Nazi, though no, I am certainly not aware of any war crimes. I got the impression he never laid direct eyes on any enemy soldiers until after the shooting was over.

      To me, all religions seem equally crazy. 😆

      • I was under the impression that “Nazi” denoted only those who were actual members of the party(many of whom probably just signed up because it was prudent to do so to get along better under that regime), so I’m not sure if Hitler Youth members were. I’d imagine joining a political party would have been restricted to adults. But even if they were all made members of the party I think it’s still unfair to call him an ex-Nazi, with all the bad connotations it comes with.
        It’s…It’s low and it’s taking things out of their context, which is a sort of a lie. I just don’t like lies.

        “To me, all religions seem equally crazy.”
        I think “silly” would better describe them. “Crazy” sounds like something more insane and dangerous than funny hats and chanting and , something more like jihad and oppression.

        • Well, for me the bigger fact is that he was head of the-organization-formerly-known-as-inquisition than being member of the nazi-youth-organization-that-was-really-hard-to-avoid-being-member-of.

          • He was a Nazi. Saying he wasn’t is like saying Young Republicans weren’t Republicans. Regular Nazis were not the same as the SS which performed 90% of the war crimes.
            The renewed push on exorcisms, believe it or not folks, is caused by increased DEMAND, and not especially from Catholics, but from people in general. Even though you have other options available, the Who You Gonna Call factor causes people to go to priests for poltergeists and demonic possessions. Honestly your best bet is to get jerks with cameras in there… the monsters run like hell when they see that 😀

            • I bet it’s also cheaper than seeing a doctor.
              And nice call on comparing those Republicans to Nazis, these guys are all the same. 🙄

  2. Was it the previous or the current pope who abolished Limbo? 😐
    (The celestial plane, not the dance! And no, I’m not talking about Planescape, either. It’s the special plane where the souls of dead unbaptized babies went… all those souls who were innocent and thus had no place in Hell, but had not been baptized either thus could not be allowed into Heaven. Which is why some centuries ago, the Catholic Church invented a whole “waiting room” plane where these souls had to hang out and spend the time until the Final Coming. So, one infallible pope made it dogma, then another infallible pope abolished it. )

    Catholics… crazier than the Planar Handbook. Only without the faux Cockney dialect.

    • It was actually Vatican II Council that removed Limbo from the Dogma. It was not abolished so much as disavowed. There was never official policy on Limbo. It was an unfortunate answer to a doctrinal question that got ignored by the higher ups until it became a problem. Vatican II clarified that Limbo in the Afterlife was like caffeine in Sprite – never had it; never will.

    • The document you are referring to Christina was written by John Paul, and later published by George Ringo. Benedict. I meant Benedict.

      However, it didn’t really abolish limbo either, it simply muddied the water a little more, effectively saying, “Eh, we don’t know. Maybe there’s a limbo, maybe not. It’s a nice theory.”

    • I don’t know, and have not bothered to google those statements, but I suspect neither was ex cathedra; thus neither Pope was “infallible”.

  3. Well, if the pope (ex-german, ex-sort-of-inquisitor, not ex-nazi) would take a copy of 4e players handbook, take the list of rituals and cleric prayers there and put some research in them. Especially “turn undead” and “raise dead”…

    • The Hitler Youth, to which Ratzinger (who would become Benedict) belonged, was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi party. If you were Hitler Youth, you were Nazi. I suppose you could make some sort of argument he was never “a true Nazi in his heart”, but objectively, he was a member of the Nazi party, and he helped shoot down allied planes in WWII. He later deserted and slipped across enemy lines where he surrendered himself to the Americans. (Which at the time was an extremely popular thing to do. You were much more likely to A: get fed, and B: not get killed.)

      • Well, technically you had to be of age to become member of the party.
        And we germans are still crazy about following such rules…
        Besides, _not_ being member of the hitler youth required at least one major wonder.

  4. I see this as a good thing. People will be made more skeptic by these events, which in turn will decrease the church’s power. I hope.

      • Both will happen, and the gaps between the seriously religious and the reality-based will increase with ever fewer people straddling the divide.

        • Forgot to add that there would be more people caught in between reason and religion too, as the complete lack of a reasonable and intelligible debate between the two leads to disinterest in both and increased nihilism/tribalism/hedonism/new-age-superstition.
          The real question is how the demographics of the craziest religious people breeding the most kicks all of that in the face.

          • You’re all going to be Muslim in a few years. Why, I believe a certain very high ranking politician is a Muslim*.

            *Or about as Muslim as the pope is entitled to be called an ex-Nazi. Sorry, Kevin, I don’t like cheap propaganda even if it’s against a person I don’t exactly love. His being the pope is bad enough and you don’t need to add half-truths to tarnish him.

          • @ac: It is surpassingly difficult to have an intelligent debate when the two sides are speaking completely different languages.

            @orald: I just finished writing out this long and considered response to you when it hit me that you, the biggest Hitler-flinger on this comment board, were playing a joke on me. Niiice… 😈

            • I’m not playing a joke on you. I don’t mind calling people Nazis or antisemites when there’s justification, but to insist on implying that man had anything to do with the Nazi regime other than being drafted and manning an AA battery in defense of his country(nor should it be forgotten that refusing to do so would have probably garnered him a one way trip to the grave).
              I heard of a group of Hitler Youth who did commit war-crimes, but at worst he was a simple young soldier, so unless you want to call of Nazi supporters and sympathizers I see no need to add such an “honorific” to his list of titles. Being the pope is quite bad in itself.

  5. I’ve always found the notion of Satan to be utterly inexplicable. According to popular Christian mythology, Lucifer is supposedly a fallen angel, a direct creation of a supposedly infallible, omniscient and omnipotent being. This means that said being created this angel that he knew would revolt, along with a significant fraction of the other angels; knew would try to spread evil and cause all sorts of misery. This would make said being directly responsible for unleashing evil into the world.

    The whole notion of Armageddon is equally silly. The aforementioned deity now wants to release Lucifer for a big showdown in a crappy little valley in the Middle East? And destroy the world in the meantime?

    Given that Lucifer is supposed to be smart and sneaky, he could kibosh the whole prophecy by arriving at Meggido, smiling, thumbing his nose and walking off the battlefield. No big fight, no final resolution, and no big Michael Bay ending. And his brother, Yahweh, ends up a chump.

    • I think the notion is that this set-up of god’s was to achieve a different purpose. In fact, to create a duality so as to give humans the choice between redemption and damnation. In this, it makes sense, given an omniscient god who wanted to populate heaven with a bunch of nice people who deserved to be there would know the conditions to create to achieve that end.

      Where it all falls down is that an omnipotent god should simply be able to wave his hand and create all those worthy souls without going through all this rigamarole. On the inside looking out, it seems like a big, stupid waste.

      • “Omniscient” would include the ability to filter out the souls without testing.

        Of course, omniscience, omnipotence and free will are mutually exclusive.

      • Even more insane is the whole Christian concept of predestination, which was very popular i.e. in Shakespeare’s time (according to one Shakespeare biography I read). According to predestination doctrine, Man does not have free will. Your soul (and everyone else’s) is already predestined to be either among the damned or the saved even before you are born. You have no say in the matter. God decided long ago if you would lead a wicked life and go to Hell or lead a righteous life and be allowed into Heaven. By that logic, the wicked are wicked because God willed it so, and a person with a wicked soul cannot change his/her ways even if he/she wants to! Thus, if someone has shown himself to be a criminal (say by stealing a loaf of bread), or a child is unruly and lazy, they have revealed themselves as wicked souls .

        Now, you’d think this means the wicked are technically innocent, because it’s in their nature to be wicked. Right? So technically you cannot even punish them, because what for? It was not their choice to be evil. They’re part of God’s grand design, right? (Which did not stop the “righteous” people from killing the “wicked” to rid the world of them.)

        But wait! Here is where it gets even insaner. Assume you were a 17th century parent with a disobedient child, and you believed in predestination. Yet you love your child, which is why you are deeply saddened and disturbed by the idea that your child might be predestined to end up in Hell. You would give it a good beating to set it back on the path of righteousness if only you could be sure this would help. (Some people even beat their children on principle even if they’d not done anything specific, by the logic that all Men are sinners and that sparing the rod spoils the child.) Now here is where you make your saving throw versus religious philosophy: You argue that while everyone’s fate is predestined, only God knows for certain who is among the fallen and who will be saved, while fallible humans can never be 100% sure that they know the will of God. Pretending to be as smart of God would be blasphemy. Thus, maybe it is your mission to save your child’s soul, by beating the fear of God into it. You never know.

    • I was told once that in Judaism, Satan is less “God’s enemy” and more “God’s jailer,” that is, part of his plan and an actual ally to him. Not actually knowing anything about Judaism, take that with a grain of salt.

      • Well in the Old Testiment, Satan is often seen acting in a less-than-adversarial role – In the book of Job, for example, he’s making bets with God that Job is only faithful cause he has a great life, and that he will curse God if everything is taken away…sort of a wager. He loses of course…

        Omniscience must really suck sometimes…you can’t enjoy a mystery novel, since you knew how it ended even before it was written…

        • Originally, way back at the time of the Old Testament, the tribal God of the Israelites was thought of as a monad, incorporating both good and evil. The concept of a duality of two morally opposite entities, fighting each other, entered Judaism and Christianity via the philosophical beliefs of the Zoroastrians and Manicheans. The devil was invented to explain why there was evil in the world. Problem was, the more powerful the Church and popular imagination made the devil out to be, the more impotent God appeared to be. (The Gnostics even went one step further, and claimed that the god of the Bible was an apathetic, evil demiurge, not the Creator of the world, while the devil was the eternal rebel who had given Mankind the gift of knowledge of Good and Evil and thus free will.)

          For the interested reader:
          “The Devil: A biography” by Peter Stanford.
          “The History of the Devil” by Gerald Messadie.

        • “Omniscience must really suck sometimes…you can’t enjoy a mystery novel, since you knew how it ended even before it was written…”
          Yeah, poor God Leto. 😥

  6. Well seeing as how the average life expectancy has increased in the recent years the threat of death is just not what it was. A lot of the mental illnesses thought to be daemons are now scientifically explained and drugged. The true crazies now play active roles in movies such as “The Crazies” and “The Hills Have Eyes”. It is to be expected that the Christian church is looking a little lack luster.

    Muslims have the whole terrorist radical thing going on. Budhists are chillin with the earth friendly movement to use Green. The Jews still have Israel. Lets face it Christianity is looking a little boring at the moment. “Angel and Daemons” kinda put some fun back into Christianity but the book was still better and lets face it, not that many people really read anymore.


      • ……you have some inside information you could share with us, Orald?

        *grumble* ….and we still can’t get rid of Mullah Krekar…*grumble*

          • Now why would he feel that way? It’s not like his country is completely surrounded by countries run by unstable lunatics who sanction people shooting rockets into towns as a way to pass an afternoon, or make long-winded speeches about slaughtering every Jew in existance and wiping Isreal off the map…

            Oh…wait…it really IS kinda like that…guess you’re not really paranoid if everyone really IS out to get you, are you?

          • So said the fat cat living comfortably in the secure heart of the greatest superpower. When’s the last time somebody shot rockets at your house or blew up a bus full of people near your neighborhood?
            What have you seen of such things that wasn’t on your 50+ inch, wide-screen, high-definition TV?

            • Don’t have a TV, thanks for rubbing salt in that particular wound. Most of my information on “such things” comes from listening to the radio.

              • I was replying to Kevin, you know.

                And I also don’t have a TV(don’t need one anyway, even when my parents wanted me to take one when I left home), so I’m not really sure what makes for an “advanced” TV these days(GRRM recently mentioned something about getting a 55′ set installed, so I took that figure).

                • Ah, sorry…hard to tell the way this thread engine indents posts…I simply cancelled my TV service about 3 years ago when I realised I was watching TV for about 30 minutes to 2 hours a day…for $50 a month. With the economy the way it is, I have to save money where I can…

  7. Couldn’t we get the MacKensie brothers to just get the possessed guy drunk and shout “Take off, eh!” at the demon?

  8. I am still holding out for my time in Purgatory. I think it is like a greyhound bus station with only WE channel playing on the tv.