Slavery

20 Apr

On a recent trip to Central America it was evident how debilitating the Catholic religion is to the people who practice it.

Depending on the country, between 60-98% of Central America is Catholic. The Catholic religion has had several hundred years to shape the area in its own image and now, as a sort of aquarium it provides a look into the effects of Catholicism on culture and people. A person can look and see what the effects of Catholicism as introduced on an existing population are.

We are inevitably influenced by what we dwell on. Irrespective of those many who would protest otherwise, perhaps the greatest single influence on an individual’s personal identity is how he or she sees his or her Creator. It stands to reason that this is even true if people do not believe in a Creator. You have to come from somewhere, and if you trace it back and that ‘somewhere’ is actually nowhere…

Even the evolutionist can’t get away from it, I think.We all come from somewhere, even if its nowhere, and even atheists identify with their parents, who came from their parents, who somewhat earlier descended from their parents, the monkeys. Sobering.

The Catholic representation of God is one of formalism, exclusivity, distance, tyranny. That image is impressed, to a greater or lesser extent, on the minds of every Catholic child, and as the mind grows and develops it can’t help but be impacted by the identity of the being it bows to…

What does it say about this god that he wants penitents to repeat the same phrase over and over to obtain absolution? That he wants people to count beads and say ‘hail Mary’s’ so that he will forgive them for the wrong things they do? That he wants his services in Latin, even though no one understands it? Or that that was what he wanted for over a thousand years, but recently he’s yielded to popular pressure and he lets the priests say mass in English? If that’s the guy that is responsible for my existence, what does it say about me?

He is exclusive and distant. He won’t talk to just anyone. He only talks to the Pope and certain saints whose knuckle bones are under an alter, he discourages reading the actual Word of God yourself because it can’t be understood by commoners (that’s what priests are for), sins can’t be confessed to him directly – they have to go to a guy you can’t really see in a booth who might be playing Tetris instead of paying attention, he leaves people to burn in hell supposedly for absolutely ever without paying the slightest mind to their cries (presumably because he is busy being formalistic with the people he has allowed into heaven, who of course are all Catholics, according to church doctrine.)

He leaves people in purgatory for years and years until someone on the outside does enough bead counting to get them out. He delights in burning and strangling and otherwise mutilating people who disagreed with his representative, the Pope – at least if you can believe that ultimate bad press book ‘Foxes Book Of Martyrs’ and all the historical accounts of events like the Inquisition. He rarely requires any justice or punishment for priestly abuses of his children. And what does that say about him? The Catholic god does not care much if his children are repeatedly beaten and sodomized by his representatives… he lets the Pope just move them to a different location to do it all over again. What does that do to me, if that’s the guy who I’m supposed to worship?

Beholding such a being, worshiping such a being (and how could a person worship out of love?) is identity shaping. And that is what is evident about Central America. Countries are only its people, together.

It’s not the poverty. Yeah. There’s poverty. Lots of it. But the people are held in the grip of misery.  It is a religion of fear, devoid of love. Where there is no love, there is no hope.

Is it a coincidence that majority Catholic nations are given to governmental indifference, corruption and injustice? Is it a coincidence that many people are apathetic and indifferent to their fates, believing that they are unable to change anything because no one will listen to them, not government, not the priests, not God?

Is it coincidental that most throw their garbage on the street instead of in the garbage bin, or that an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit is strangely lacking? That imagination is stagnant?

Do you think its a coincidence that the most successful, innovative, liberty-loving nations on earth have their roots in Protestantism? Or that as that Protestantism becomes corrupted and either Atheism or Catholicism gain ascendancy those nations are increasingly stagnant in social cohesion, ethics, imagination, justice, independence?

Is it far fetched to think that what I believe about my Creator, His expectations, His hopes, His plans, His very character will fundamentally impact how I see myself? Others? Life itself?

No.

What I saw in Central America were people who were captives to formalism and superstition – it had crippled their minds and captured the potential of their humanity.

Now think of how you see God. Do you see Him as Christ presented Him? That is one reason that Jesus came to earth, to dispel the myths and shadows around the character of God. There are a lot of myths about God. Catholic culture is full of myths about him.

It is in the person of Christ we see the Father, for Christ is the express image of His person. Jesus said, “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” In the Father there is no darkness at all.

So what is He like? He’s like Jesus.

Humanity naturally fears God. We know we are guilty and undeserving. But the Gospel shows us that Jesus paid the blood price for us, and that He promises to make us new. He tells us that His Father loves us, and wants to be with us in the same way that He is with Christ Himself. Jesus teaches us how to pray, and there is no human priest required for the Father to hear.

The truth is as far from the error as east is from west. As far as liberty is from slavery.

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