April 29, 2009

Choices

Category: Life — Cranky @

There are a great number of situations wherein men, and mankind in abstraction, must choose his preference. The choices we make define who we are in a very real way.

Will it be democracy, or will it be dictatorship? Do we believe in the equality of man, or are some more substantial than others? Are rights really inalienable, or can they be withdrawn?

Do we choose socialism or capitalism? Do we participate in altruism, or are we slaves to self-interest? Which dominates our thinking, logic or spirit? Do we love or do we hate?

Do we find beauty in science or in philosophy? Poetry or mathematics? Abstract art or realism? Do we prefer fine wine, good scotch, or just a cold can of pop? Classical music or heavy metal?

Seldom are our choices a simple selection of one over the other. It always seems to be shades of gray. We have a little hate in our love, and some scientists are religious. We choose capitalism but overrun it with socialist programs.

It’s all so complicated. Except…

There’s one iconic choice offered to the males of my generation that has no such gray area. We grew up with it, and every one of us knows the answer.

Ginger or Mary Anne?

It’s ALWAYS Mary Anne.

Cranky

April 23, 2009

So What Happens After You Dance the "Mortal Coil Shuffle"?

Category: Religion — Cranky @

At some point in my travels I picked up my understanding of what awaited in the afterlife. Being born Roman Catholic, the triad of the afterlife was heaven, hell, and purgatory.

“Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they “see him as he is, face to face.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1023

Heaven is the goal by default. It’s eternal life, a joining with God. The bar isn’t very high, really. All you have to do is not break the rules, go to church, keep the faith, and just stay out of trouble, and you die in God’s grace. Life is long, though, and few people can make it all the way through without trouble. Thankfully Catholicism offers an out – the sacrament of Penance, or Confession. When you transgress, own up to it, be contrite, and you will be forgiven. On your deathbed the last of your sins can be washed away with the Anointing of the Sick, or Last Rites.

“All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1030

Purgatory is the temporary home of souls who didn’t make the cut, but who are not guilty of mortal Sins. For those whose misbehaviour caps out at the venial level, a period spent in painful torment cleanses the soul. St. Augustine called the cleansing more painful than anything life has to offer. Pay the price for your deeds, suffer, and eventually you will join God in heaven. It’s an out for the merely mischievous.

“The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1035

This is it, folks. Last stop, end of the line. Hell is eternal damnation, and there is no salvation, ever. It’s the worst thing that could possibly be, under any circumstances, and it will never, ever end. You will long for release, and for the embrace of God, but you cannot attain it. Really, what’s left? Once you threaten somebody with eternal suffering, where do you go from there?

I think the threat of hell is too far reaching and nebulous. It certainly doesn’t change the behaviour of Catholics very much. Besides, I think a good life practiced under threat of torture is invalid. Being good for its own sake is vastly better than being good because you’re terrified of the consequences should you not be good.

I don’t buy it anyway, even if God exists. It doesn’t make any sense.

Homosexuality, bestiality, masturbation, adultery, murder, sodomy, sex outside marriage, idolatry, blasphemy, and sacrilege are some of the mortal sins. Die with any of these on your conscience and you burn forever. Taking advantage of the poor, practicing sorcery, or defrauding workers of their wages is also grounds for damnation.

But sandwiched between these, the elite of sins, you’ll find other criteria that are equally damning in the eyes of the church, such as missing Sunday mass, drinking, or feeling hatred, malice, or even anger. Most people would need to confess every day in order to avoid eternity in hell because they walked in front of a bus by accident.

Athiests are damned from the start. Not believing in God is a mortal sin, and an athiest is unlikely to seek redemption through confession. Perhaps a deathbed conversion can save a nonbeliever, but should that really count?

The rules are too tight. If Heaven is that exclusionary then the vast majority can never attain it. There is no way that the Roman Catholic Church understands the will of God, and yet they claim to speak for Him.

Personally I think that Catholics everywhere need to throw the clergy out on their collective asses, and reconnect with their God on a more personal and direct level.

Cranky

April 9, 2009

Not Enough Sleep Last Night.

Category: Life — Cranky @

I knew I was going to be grouchy as soon as my alarm clock went off. I’m tired today. Still, though, it seems like there’s a coordinated effort under way to get under my skin.

I prefer to walk, but I slept a bit too late, so today I drove to work. On the way in I was cut off by some senior citizen talking on a cell phone while driving. Be old, or be an idiot. Please don’t be both. With age should come wisdom.

While waiting to pay for parking, I was delayed by some guy who thought four times was a reasonable number of retries for a declined credit card. Okay, once I understand. But after two, accept it. You’re declined, dingus.

I entered the elevator alone, and pressed the “close door” button. At the last moment, somebody rushed over and stuck their arm in. Three people entered. As the door closed again, the same thing happened, and two more entered.

Finally, three more entered – smokers from the front of the building. They stunk the disgusting stink of cigarette smoke clinging to clothing and hair. It’s bad enough normally, but today it was repugnant. It permeated the elevator.

I’m on floor 15, there are 8 other people, and they were going to six different floors below me, plus one additional “ghost stop” because apparently just pressing the button for the floor you’re heading to is more difficult than I had thought. Hitting the one below it is unavoidable for some people.

Floor 3, the door opened, and somebody said, “Third floor!”

My heart sank. I knew what was coming.

Sure enough, some annoying woman with a screechy voice cackled, “Ladies lingerie!”, prompting her and her friends to have a giggle-fest. Next floor is five. “Women’s wear!” More laughter.

I thought to myself, “Please, let me have an aneurysm.” Then I thought, “No, retract that. Let THEM all have aneurysms.”

I’m now ensconced in my office, and I’m feeling much better. After a coffee I think I’ll be good to go. Navigating the sea of humanity at Tim Horton’s might take the sheen off of my improved outlook, but the caffeine will help restore it.

Cranky