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Bleeding Hearts for Fun and Profit

One of the many revelations from the Podesta materials offered up by Wikileaks concerns John Podesta sharing words with a left-wing activist named Sandy Newman, president of the progressive nonprofit Voices for Progress, over an implied revolution within the Roman-Catholic community.

Diverse media outlets picked up on the story, from traditional conservative press to liberal media upset by their party’s direction, with the emphasis that Podesta’s conversation is somehow proof that Hillary Clinton (and/or Barack Obama) have spear-headed a dastardly plot to liberalize the Catholic church in America and abroad. And apparently without exception each and every news agency reporting on this story with such airs is confirming their own blatant ignorance of history.

The perceived liberalization of the Catholic church is by no interpretation a recent occurrence. It goes back to the misinterpretations that followed the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council which ran from October of 1962 to December of 1965, over 50 years ago. The Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II, was a synod of Roman-Catholic leaders set on the task of reconsidering aspects of church law for this modern age. In retrospect, the alterations primarily served the purpose of popularizing the church, easing back on points of potential abrasiveness that might confuse or offend outsiders. Latin masses were greatly diminished from then on, in exchange for vernacular languages, and ornate clerical regalia was subtly downplayed and disused.

This inadvertently created a division in the church, with starch traditionalists still insisting upon the centuries-old routines, and with newer voices presuming that doors had been left open for additional reinterpretations. Many middle of the road Catholics took to abiding by the decisions made under Vatican II, yet the polarity of the dual extremes were increasingly noticeable, both fighting to lure the flock into very different ideologies.

Over 20 years ago Mother Mary Angelica, unarguably one of the more devout Roman-Catholics in America of the past century and arguably the first woman to build a sizable broadcasting network, famously spoke out against the reinterpretations which newer voices had been pushing within the church in the decades following Vatican II. Among other points, she expressed how the presumption that all roles are interchangeable was itself a denial of faith and of the sacrifices inherent to religious vocations. Religion without sacrifice misses the point of religion altogether.

Today, some twenty years after Angelica’s words which in turn were thirty years after the Vatican II council, nuns of many orders opt to wear fancy clothes instead of the uncool habits of old, driving expensive cars to beauty parlor appointments and maintaining personal domiciles away from convent property, though still on the church’s dime. Where even post-Vatican II canon requires that no interpersonal relationships be entertained, lesbian relationships have actually become widespread, both Platonic and the fun kind. None of which is illegal, but all of which contradicts the dogma of their chosen belief structure. Religion is about people conforming to fill roles, not conforming roles to fit the whims of the people. Politics on the other hand are about conforming roles to fit the whims of the people, and not conforming people to fill roles. And therein lies the root of the issue.

The separation of Church and State is fundamentally a two-way street. When religion of any variety enters politics then non-believers lose civil rights. And when politics enter the realms of religion, the concerns of the faithful fall victim to outside influence. If people are uncomfortable with an orthodoxy, then it is not for them. But when they selfishly elect to compel that orthodoxy to suit their personal preferences, then all the other believers are called into doubt for putting their own theology before the needs of the individual, their belief in god before the wishes of strangers. Liberalizing Catholicism, politicizing dogma, distorts it away from its intelligent design. Religions, particularly the big orthodox religions, exist to change people, not to be changed by people. Faith usurps politics, while politics are a distraction from faith. They are wholly non-compatible.

Religious orthodoxy exists not for everybody but for those people who require structure, literally a system of beliefs. If orthodoxy should wield to the whims of every follower, then religion and spirituality are mistaken for one another, and religion then becomes formlessness, exchanging the sureness of its foundation for mutability. Yet if people could formulate their own belief structure then they have no earthly need for religion. Why compel a steakhouse restaurant to only serve veggie patties, prompting anybody in need of a nice steak to be made to suffer, when you could just grill up your own black bean burgers at home?

By far the largest easing of constraints to Catholicism socially has not been from making the rules more liberal or conservative, but in providing allowances for explaining away the obvious and ever-growing influence from a separate deity altogether, Capitalism. The papacy of Pope Francis today presents a polarizing figure precisely because his teachings support that such a consideration is distinctly at odds not only with Catholicism, but with the entirety of Christianity.

What we are seeing is not a recently-hatched plot, but the inevitable effect of something years and years in the making. Podesta and Newman, if serious in their dialogue, were merely commenting upon how they might warp the clusterfuck to their own advantage, as the changes began well before either one held any seat of authority, likely before they themselves were even born. The church being politicized arguably goes all the way back to the supposed 30 pieces of silver. And anybody seriously believing that the behemoth of the Roman-Catholic church might change overnight is quite dramatically underestimating the power and influence it holds. It takes a rivulet millennia to wear down a mountain.

Interestingly, a growing cast of witches and pagans have been waging a series of hexes targeted against the sitting President Donald Trump, who is not a liberal, with the result of enough people talking as to warrant non-liberal Christian leaders to denounce the magical cursing as a demonic war, presumably against making America great again. People on both sides of this are ridiculous.

Those who define themselves as pagans or witches are really just following trends, and are not engaging any actual theology in the slightest. Traditionally, “pagan” is a Christian term used to denote any religious ideologue that is not Christian, so that technically even Zen Buddhists are pagans. The word holds no inherent meaning beyond that. Witchcraft on the other hand, may hold some sort of Eco-friendly appeal, but spiritual performances without religion conveniently removes any hint of obligation and is thus a decidedly self-centered thing, disconnecting the adherent from ever facing any higher truths by keeping them locked inside their own reactionary perceptions. We do not define the universe though. Witchery itself is just another lazy fad, cycling its way in and out of popular culture because people take pride in lining up for activities that seem meaningful but which ultimately provide yet another flavor of unproductive lunacy to bury one’s head in.

Right or wrong, the lone constant among self-ascribed pagans and witches is generally in how they view themselves standing in opposition to the Christian church, often the patriarchy of said church especially. The near-infinite denominations of Christianity tend to be notorious for picking and choosing which bits of their bible to adhere by, that book which seems to be okay with incest but which frowns upon the eating of shrimp. Yet pagans and witches are fundamentally no different in how they pick and choose details for their own belief systems. What the hell could possibly be learned from something which can be shaped completely to your own will, form-fitted to comply with your own selfish quirks and nuances and bias? Again, religion without sacrifice misses the point of religion altogether.

While religion and spirituality are not synonymous, but rather aspects of each other like broken halves to a malformed circle, one cannot have either without sacrifice, whether a personal sacrifice along the lines of overcoming whatever tribulation, or just going without something valued. Or the more commonly exciting blood offering, what with blood magic being older than language. The pagans and witches categorically sacrifice nothing, if the entirety of assorted rituals and incantations all coming from thousands of different secondhand experts each with a completely different idea of what is and is not kosher, hangs on an equivalency of what is basically as persistent as mere hobby. Starting your own religion or claiming your own spirituality has about as much effect upon the universe as does forming a fantasy football league. But even if it exists only inside your head, if it gets you through the night then good on you.

However, when idiots such as these witches and pagans and the celebrities signing up to chant alongside them believe they can project their beliefs with any demonstrable effect on the physical world outside of their own heads, then they accomplish nothing but publicly admitting the feebleness of their own grip on reality. Should the President, should all Presidents, be openly questioned? Absolutely. But wishing for the power rangers to swoop in to lay waste to DC is not how to go about it. It makes the mages look just as imbalanced as those bastards in DC themselves. A furious Twitter post has no effect on someone smart enough to not have an account there, and this is no different.

The entropy machine meets the strabismus test.