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Finland's Lutheran Bigotry
by Asa Butcher
2008-07-30 08:59:28
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I would describe myself as a cool-headed guy, as somebody that doesn't overreact to current events, as somebody that takes life as it comes, although sometimes it comes pretty thick, fast and dirty, and as someone that has good sense of humour when it comes to life. No, this isn't a personal ad, but an introduction to what it takes to make me angry enough to abandon my evening's film-watching to write about the outrageous prejudice, intolerance, bigotry or whatever term you want that appeared in the Finnish media this week.

For those of you outside of Finland or unfamiliar with the story I will provide you with the bones of the story: Two weeks ago Liisa Tuovinen, a Lutheran minister in Espoo, a city close to Helsinki, blessed the union of two lesbians at a parish summer camp facility. The bishop of Espoo, Mikko Heikka, stated that the church would not take any steps regarding the matter unless a formal complaint was filed and, low and behold, two official complaints have now been made against Tuovinen.

Am I stunned? Am I shocked? No. I am just angry and sickened, and want to know how I can go about making a complaint against the small-mindedness of those two animals - I won't call them people - that filed the complaints. I am not religious, I don't have any connection to a faith and the words of the Bible mean nothing to me, but they do to those two complainers. Lutherans believe the Bible to be the source of all revealed divine knowledge, so why not take a gander at Matthew 6:14-16:

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

Okay, perhaps that's not fair and they will quickly throw another passage from the Bible back at me in a game of Justification Tennis, but my real question is: Why are they so afraid? Is the prospect of two same-sex people being married so terrifying? Will it rain brimstone upon the Earth if two gay people express their love for one another in a simple ceremony? I'm guessing they have no problem with people who marry for reasons other than love, such as wealth, or are they still penning countless objections to those?

Finland has the third highest divorce rate in Europe with 51.2% of marriages failing and this is in a country where nearly nine out of ten Finns are members of the state-supported Evangelical Lutheran Church. It seems as though the religion could do with some help in the successful marriage percentage stakes because most of its members seem to treat their "religious" vows with lip service. However, perhaps the Treaty of Lisbon could one day offer a loophole in which equality could comfortably stroll through.

In 2006, well before the Treaty of Lisbon and during the original EU Constitution, there was a vote on a nonbinding resolution that eventually condemned European countries that do not recognize same-sex unions as "homophobic". It was a great day for equality and we can only hope this loophole in the Treaty of Lisbon actually becomes EU law. On June 11th 2008 Finland approved the new Treaty without asking its populace's opinion, although it is yet to receive President Tarja Halonen's stamp of approval, but we may soon see the day when same-sex couples can receive far more than a simple blessing at a parish summer camp facility.

When that day of equality comes I can only hope that those two complainers choke on their intolerance and the brave compassionate heroes, such as Liisa Tuovinen, receive the praise and recognition that they deserve. Civil Unions are one thing, but it should be simply known as marriage - it is the 21st century and the time that it should finally be made a basic human right.

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Emanuel Paparella2008-07-30 09:39:39
John Lennon redivivus the other day posted a comment in Ovi magazine: All you need is love. Which is pretty much what St. Augustine also said: love and do what you wish. We might as well post him too. The hippies of the 60s tried exactly that by living in communes, which is a wonderful idea indeed. They wished to exemplify and alternate life-style to the materialistic one of their parents. Unfortunately, most of them failed, and some of them tragically, except those which had some kind of spiritual underpinning. (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-30 09:40:26
There is indeed another side to the issue which is perhaps worth mentioning here. I know not about the Lutheran Church, but within the Catholic Church to marry for ulterior motives, such as wealth as mentioned above, is not to be truly married. Marriage is a commitment with no reservations and no strings attached “for better of for worse,” and no amount of holy water and priest’s blessing will make it a marriage absent that commitment. In effect the couple marry each other and the priest is merely the Church or God’s representative. Ulterior motives in effect invalidate the marriage right from the beginning, that marriage remains invalid even when the couple in question have procreated children and the State considers it legal. That explains the annulments which are given regularly and why many Catholics remarry in church after obtaining that annullment. Those are not exceptions which the Church allows for a fee, as assorted religion bashers go around peddling. Are there abuses? Of course, but the abuse does not take away the use, as Thomas Aquinas teaches. The annulment is simply to declare legally and publicly that there was no marriage to begin with. Food for thought.

As far as the Bible is concerned, one would hope that the fact that it means nothing to many people in Europe and elsewhere, does not mean that it ought to be banned in academia where to date it is still studied as one of the great books of Western Literature which has had a tremendous influence on Western Civilization and its spiritual development, independent of one’s religious affiliations or no affiliation.

Sand2008-07-30 09:40:55
I have tried arguing decency and good sense about religion. I am happy to see someone else so engaged but I am not optimistic.

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-30 15:15:35
In his book The Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis presents a correspondence of 31 letters between a senior demon (Screwtape) and his nephew (Wormwood) a junior demon, both at the service of “The Father Below.” Screwtape instructs his nephew on the best tactics for winning the soul of “the patient” an earthly man who has converted to Christianity. The first lesson to learn writes Screwtape to Wormwood is that you must appear as the very rational voice of reason itself; so begin by tempting the patient to the though that neither The Enemy (God) above, nor The Father Below exist and show him how rational and decent and human and politically correct such a position is. Do not tempt him to the more obvious cardinal sins but tempt him to the smaller moral transgressions until they become habitual and he slowly begins to lose sight of the natural law. At that point you can begin the distortion of rationality itself by degrading to nothing but logic divorced from imagination and the feelings. Then, when natural law has been made to appear irrational you can divorce it from human rights which will stand on their own, and you can work on his penchant for freedom and suggest that as an enlightened modern man he is free to do whatever he wishes and everything is permitted and that human rights are there simply to be observed out of decency but are in no way anchored in any prior natural law and natural rights. (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-30 15:18:13
To make the story short the convert goes to war (the book was written in 1942) and is killed but surprisingly ends up in heaven. Wormwood has failed and lost a soul. The Father Below or evil personified, that some may conceive more modernly as the Flying Spaghetti Monster (after all this is the 20th century) is so upset about this loss that he calls Wormwood to headquarter for a former dressing down and for an interrogation before the Grand Inquisitors in case he is really working for The Enemy. Let the reader find out the final suspenseful conclusion of the fate of Wormwood. I’ll just hint that it has nothing to do with sadistic torture and pain, either physical or mental.

Sand2008-07-30 16:12:11
Point confirmed

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-30 20:11:05
Scholarly enlightening and profound dialogue! Point confirmed. Here is a view that may shed some light for those interested in one, if indeed there are any.

From "Mere Christianity" ch. 16 by C.S. Lewis

"Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused. The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question — how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one.

I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mahommedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not.

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-30 20:20:38
Following up on Lewis argument, 80% of Finns are supposedly Lutherans but of those 80% the vast majority while not practicing and deepening their faith would like to impose its beliefs (that the marriage sacrament is a symbol of the love of God for his people, for example)on others who do not have the same beliefs. Therein lies the hypocrisy and the bigotry and the caricature of religious faith which by its very nature is and remains free. If it is not free, it is a cult. The religion bashers invariably confuse one for the other.

Sand2008-07-30 20:53:12
Women, of course, may remain in a delicious state of total confusion.

Sand2008-07-31 08:01:36
It is interesting that Islam very frequently severely punishes anyone converting out of Islam to another religion or abandoning religious belief altogether. By that are we to conclude that Islam is a cult?

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-31 08:47:40
Point confirmed: asking a question to which one already knows the answer and then pretending that a dialogue is going on! If one refers to an in depth study of the issue (what in academia goes by the name of scholarship) one is then promptly accussed of creating distractions. O tempora, o mores.

Sand2008-07-31 08:53:27
Goodness gracious! Have you no capability of originality of language?

You didn't even attempt to confront my query about your definition of a cult. Typical!

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-31 09:38:41
Point confirmed. Thank you.

Sand2008-07-31 09:50:53
That's no answer.

Sand2008-07-31 10:03:29
By clearly indicating that standard Islamic practices makes them fit your stated definition of a cult it looks likely some Islamic people might become offended. I can understand your reluctance to re-affirm your definition.

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-31 10:23:31
You, or perhaps the voices that you dialogue with, have given the answer to your question which you knew all along. In other words, there was an ax to grind and some bashing to do. But by asking the question to which you already have the answer you can put it in others' mouth. That is called sophistry and deviousness, not knowledge and scholarship, never mind wisdom.

Sand2008-07-31 10:29:18
The very clear point is that you refuse to face my simple question: Does your definition of a cult fit the practices of Islam?
Ad hominem slurs on me does not disguise your refusal and unwillingness to answer.

Sand2008-07-31 11:13:19
The Catholic Church which openly condemns sinners to eternal torture and punishment for infraction of its regulations cannot, of course, be considered a cult because no-one with an ounce of workable brains can take that threat seriously and it is obvious that many declared Catholics do not.

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-31 14:43:57
Is that what the visiting voices have told you. Don't believe them, they are liars. Tell them next time they visit that the Constitution of the Catholic Church promulgated at the Vatican II council declares freedom of religion and proclaims faith as essentially free or it is not free. Hell is an expression of that freedom where people condemn themselves and it is not the flames and the pitchfork and the devil as some ignoramues surmise. Moreover, the question which you and the voices have already given to yourself appears logical but in reality it is not. What logically follows from the declaration of freedom of religion is that when it is not free than it is an abuse and as abused religion it becomes a cult, no matter how many millions of people follow it. So, cults exist in every religion, it is the abuse and the travesty of religion, just as sophistry is the travesty and the abuse of reason.

Sand2008-07-31 16:29:57
It took a great amount of grotesque verbosity to validate your opinion that a religion, such as Islam, that severely punishes those who would renounce it, is a cult, but it is gratifying to have the matter cleared up.

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-31 17:50:55
And now that you have arrived where you wanted to arrive with the question to which you had an answer all along, all that is needed is for your to travel to Iran with your credentials of Grand Inquisitor in charge of political correctness in Ovi magazine, consult with the Grand Iatholas and issue a fatua against Dr. Paparella who misguidedly believes with the Catholic Church that religion and faith are by their own intrinsic nature free.

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-31 17:55:02
In any case I am glad that you have clarified in your mind the difference between religion and cult. You can now instruct the voices when they come to visit to peddle falsehood and slander against the Catholic Church. Who knows, if you confront them with the truth, they may go away for good.

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-31 17:57:44
Tell them this: in as much as Islam is a religion worthy of that name it considers its faith free. If it does not, then it is a cult. I am curious about their reply.

Sand2008-07-31 17:58:45
It is not my mind but your opinion which has been clarified. I offered no opinions as to what defined a cult.

Sand2008-07-31 18:43:11
According to the site on Kung Fu Dragons, Latholas is a night elf. I wonder how that got into this discussion.

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-31 19:44:42
Aiatholas was mispelled but on the other hand the voices told you that it was mispelled
as "Latholas" when in fact it was mispelled as "Iatholas." Don't believe them, they are liars and counsel desperate measures: when one is incapable of confronting the content of an issue one attacks the form and concentrates on grammar. But those who live in glass houses ought not throw stones. You have made your share of typos too despite your delusions of literary perfection.

Sand2008-07-31 19:58:09
For goodness sake, Paparella, are you such a miserable creep you can't even take responsibility for your own typos? It seems so.

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-31 21:19:50
Although I have this sense that I sit up there alone something less than two meters above my shoes where I peer out at the world through those two holes on either side of my nose, I must admit that I do have silent conversations with somebody else or perhaps with several somebody elses[sic].

Now the show is ending and the dolls need mending.
The Punch and Judy show is never-ending.
Inside each on of us is a Punch and Judy,
In you, sir, you, ma'am - and in me, yours truly.
That's ... the Punch and Judy show goes on forever.

Sand2008-08-03 09:36:57
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein

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