Saturday, May 14, 2016

Representing the people

It is a common misconception that senior clerics should be invited to conferences, symposiums, etc. because they "represent" the views of the people who attend their churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.

Nothing could be further than the truth.

These people are never elected by the ordinary faithful.  They are appointed because they are seen by other senior clerics as being worthwhile to the interests of the particular organised religion.  The Pope was not elected by the Catholic Churches 1.25 billion followers in some sort of democratic process - he was chosen by a bunch of other senior clerics within the church, from one of their number.

The only sense in which any senior cleric can be said to represent the views of his church members is that he probably instructs those followers what their views must be.  So if the Pope says 1.25 billion Catholics oppose contraception, what he is actually saying is that he opposes it, and then tells the 1.25 billion Catholics that they must oppose it too.

Religious leaders should not be invited to forums to represent their followers.  If they are invited at all it must be clearly on the understanding that the views they represent are those of the other senior clerics of their religion.  For a truly elected-by-the-people representative you'd be better inviting the latest pop idol.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

How strong is your faith?

I've been musing about how strongly people actually take their faith.

Facebook is often bombarded by images, supposedly of Jesus (though looking nothing like what scientists believe would have been his appearance) with the caption "Do you love me?" or "Will you praise me?", etc.

The idea seems to be that you show your faith by sharing the image.  I'm not clear what the purpose of this is - do they believe their God monitors Facebook to see how many people share these images?  Do you get priority in Heaven for more than 10,000 shares?

They do it anyway, but isn't it all too easy?  Anyone can Like or Share a Facebook posting, but  that's not really a good test of anyone's faith.  I have a better idea.

The Romans used to throw Christians to The Lions.

Anyone who recanted was freed - the rest had to face being torn to pieces.  Now that's a real test of faith.  How many of our Facebook God-squad would stick to their faith if the choice was between recanting or dying horribly?  Very few, I'm sure.

Catherine tells me that actually throwing Christians to The Lions would "raise certain Human Rights issues" so maybe we can't do it for real, but I challenge everyone who wants to Like or Share a Facebook Jesus meme to ask themselves this simple question - if Liking or Sharing this would get you eaten, would you still do it?