The infallible Pope is right of course - climate science is in the 'du pain' air - and more infallible Pope here, but the pond has other fish, and reefs, to fry ...
Today, as always, there is a blather of reptiles, a convocation of creatures paired in twos. Look at the seemly parade of scaly thinkers ...
So much choice, such a cornucopia. Who needs a chocolate cake, or even the icing on the cake? (The pond always loved hundreds and thousands in true vulgar Tamworth style).
On and on the parade went:
Oh that one's tempting. The dog botherer alienated!? What a bonus. And is there a prattling Polonius in our midst and a bromancer infatuated with his new school chum? Why it seems so:
Oh decisions, decisions. So hard to pick one, and so unfair.
But given the perversity of taking an interest in any of them, naturally the pond likes to push perversity to the limits.
Perhaps it came from reading about the latest examinations of the Salem witch trials. Sadly the NYRB outing, John Demos's Satan in Salem, is sadly behind the paywall, though the role of Satan is summarised in this par about Benjamin C. Ray's book:
Not surprisingly for a professor of religious studies, Ray gives full credit - or blame - to the force of Puritan belief. Fear of Satan and fear of God too, lay at the heart of New England culture. Ray sees Reverend Parris as "a dedicated agent for the prosecution whose "foreboding sermons had created the perfect climate" for witch-hunting. "We are either Saints, or Devils," Parris affirmed - a binary distinction that could only sharpen antagonisms. Further in the background, but still of much importance, loomed religious controversy. Parris strongly opposed the so-called Halfway Covenant, a liberalizing tendency that had already overtaken many Puritan churches and was approved by some of his own congregation.
Bear in mind "foreboding sermon", as it will come in handy down the track, but first allow the pond to pause to note that one of Demos's subjects, Stacy Schiff, is outside the paywall at The New Yorker - for the moment at least - with The Witches of Salem, Diabolical doings in a Puritan village, which concludes this way with talk of Cotton Mather and his strange ways and cases:
Mather devoted thirty-eight pages to the initial case but left them unpublished. Given the tenor of the times, he wrote, “No man in his wits would fully expose his thoughts unto them, till the charms which enrage the people are a little better dissipated.” He did not care in 1693 to cultivate what, centuries later, would be termed the paranoid strain in American politics, with its “sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy.” Political stability remained paramount. Mather did, however, retail the teen-ager’s report that Frenchmen and Indians—“horrid sorcerers and hellish conjurers”—had colluded in Salem witchcraft. He insisted on it for years.
“There is no public calamity,” Mather noted, in “Wonders,” “but some ill people will serve themselves of the sad providence, and make use of it for their own ends, as thieves when a house or town is on fire, will steal what they can.” Twenty-eight years later, a smallpox epidemic raged through Boston. Cotton Mather faced down the entire medical establishment to advocate something that seemed every bit as dubious as spectral evidence: inoculation. He had studied medicine at Harvard. Over the decades, he had come better to understand infectious disease. Moving from imps and witches to germs and viruses, he at last located the devils we inhale with every breath. The battle turned so vitriolic that it dragged Salem out of hiding; Mather was bludgeoned for lunacy on two counts. Yet again, Massachusetts seemed to be in the grip of distemper. The people talked, he huffed in his diary, “not only like idiots but also like fanaticks.” He remained as steadfast on the subject of inoculation as he had been equivocal on witchcraft. In November, 1721, a homemade bomb came sailing in his window at 3 A.M. His reputation never recovered.
Bear in mind the talk of fanaticks, indulging in foreboding sermons. It will come in handy.
It might also be handy to read friendly guides to Catholic thinking, such as this one here:
Lot attempts to quell the mob by offering them his two virgin daughters, suspecting that because these men were homosexuals they would refuse. The entire account revolves around a single sin: homosexuality. While it's true that later Old Testament prophets pointed out other sins the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of (Is. 1:9-20, 3:9, Ezek. 16:46-51, Jer. 23:14), it's clear that the primary sin, the sin which provoked God's wrath, was homosexuality.
If you examine the Old Testament passages in which God outlines the sins which would merit the death penalty under the Mosaic Law (Lev. 20:27, 24:10-23; Deut. 13:5-10, 21:18-21, 22:21-24), you'll see that homosexuality was condemned alongside such crimes as murder, idolatry, and blasphemy (Lev. 20:13).
The death penalty! Now you might think that was an ancient note, but the blithe assurance that hanging's too good for 'em came in 1992 ...
And at last, so informed about a form of religious thinking as weird as Puritanism, as anti-semitic as a good Nazi, and as offensive as Islamic fundamentalism, we are fully armed and able to confront the blatherer Kelly, determined to represent the Catholic church as the last bastion and foundation stone of free thinking democracy.
The pond apologises. We should have noted that Kelly is at all times a terminal bore, who stoppeth one of three readers and grinds them into dust, then smotes them with the tears of their pain.
There is something strange about this, the image of some biblical bigot ranting, railing, in best Charlton Heston style against the wickedness of aggressive secularism.
Once upon a time, such ranting would have been directed against the use of words like "denialism" for the way that evoked the Holocaust, but in these troubled times, nuance and subtlety are like the yellowing snow, coloured by the words of old codgers shouting - or is it pissing? - at the clouds:
Now all this paranoia and carry-on will feel very familiar to those who have perused the latest effort at bigotry by the Church, still available on line in pdf format here:
That use of the image of a child - the Helen Lovejoy gambit - is particularly offensive, given what the church has done to the children who suffered to come unto them - but the rest of it in that text, explicit and implied, is profoundly offensive.
All the more so that it's been prepared by men who have forsaken marriage and fertility for a life of solitary uselessness, turning themselves into eunuchs in the hive so that they can drone on about the sex life of others.
Speaking of ennui, let us return to the tedious Kelly.
What's the bet he will label a complainant as "transgender", while failing to label the protesting priests as solitary unmarried men who only get a chance to legitimately spill their seed in unplanned nocturnal emissions (unless a child is handy)?
Well yes, and there's a lot more fear and hysteria-mongering in this little effort:
The Church simply can't let go of the notion that teh gays are wicked and evil, possibly even the spawn of Satan. These days talk of the death penalty for their crimes is muted, now it's all about the suffering of the bigoted church, with the possibility that they might not be allowed to sound so routinely bigoted in the future.
Kelly is of the same stripe. In reality gay marriage, where it has been introduced, hasn't resulted in apocalyptic changes to the world. Ireland and Britain, for example, haven't shattered and fallen apart, though the willingness to be generous and liberal and embracing has compounded the church's difficulties in finding an audience.
Where gay marriage has found difficulty being accepted, it is more likely to be in Rome, with angry Sydney Anglicans and their ilk, and the servants of Daesh, and certain Wahhabist fundamentalist cults.
Yet Kelly is determined to shape the debate as undermining democracy, threatening the very foundations of society:
... which brings us neatly back to Salem and the notion of witchcraft that bedevilled the church for centuries, along with a fierce anti-semitism and a hatred of gays ...
Let us hope that the church can one day put away its old ways, and for the sake of the gay priest in the pond's extended family - still practising as a priest - the church can put away its old bigoted ways of hate and fear and loathing, and instead join Burt Lancaster, Elmer Gantry if you will and say:
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a bigoted, superstitious child: but when I became a man, or even a woman, since these days we may speak of women in the same sentence, I put away bigoted, superstitious childish things.
Meanwhile, talking of signals of issues with many precedents for our democracy being put on the table ...
Such a cornucopia of reptile blather this day ...