I agreed with everything Stephen Fry says here. What I am disapointed with, and floundering to understand, is why the Chosen Chief of OBOD should have this on his blog and facebook pages. For it is hardly the path of peace. And I have some doubts as to whether a similarly critical peice on some of the Muslim religions/sects would have been publicised in this way.
And for the Chosen Chief to say this is the most thought-provoking peice of Oratory he has heard – is difficult to believe given the breadth and depth of speeches available.
I am a member of OBOD – and bought up a catholic and agree with Mr Fry.
This seems to me to be a populist response for a leader of OBOD, which I feel is disapointing considering all the inter faith work that is going on.
Hi Wendy – this blog (and the facebook page that automatically ‘pulls in’ blog entries) is not an ‘official blog of the Chosen Chief’ nor of the Order. It is a ‘scrapbook’ whose intent I explain in the ‘About’ section: ‘I spend much of my days writing ‘serious’ material that must fit into particular structures: books, articles, and workshop schedules. So to balance this, I am using this blog as a play-space: a place to relax and have fun – to share some of the strange, sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious material that comes my way. And it’s also a place to share ideas…’
I appreciate that such a piece seems to contradict the spirit of harmlessness that is mentioned in various posts here and could be seen as undermining interfaith initiatives, but I want to use this blog to post interesting, thought-provoking, or simply enjoyable material to share with others as a fellow traveller on the path, rather than as the leader of a spiritual group. If I was posting in an ‘official’ capacity, most of these posts wouldn’t be here: Rizzle Kicks for example! So I am happy to speak from the podium in my role as Chief in certain contexts, but I don’t want to renounce my freedom to speak or share sans robe and role in others!
Regarding the “path to peace” — there can be no peace without justice. There can be no justice when the stated purpose of an organization is to justify and even promote individual suffering. Consider the Catholic theological stance on divorce. When stripped of its flowery rhetoric, it boils down to this simple argument: “Suffering is good for the soul. Marriage causes suffering: therefore, marriage is to be supported. Divorce is intended to relieve that suffering: therefore, divorce must not be tolerated.” Don’t take my word for it, go do your own research.
There are features of Catholic theology that may have made sense under conditions of the past. Consider the theology of birth control, which probably had its origins in the plagues of the 14th century. Breeding like bunnies in 1400 made a lot of sense. Breeding like bunnies in 2000 does not.
The critical flaw is that these situational adaptations become rationalized, deified, and finally ossified into unchanging theology promoted as the Word of God; then, as the need for the adaptation passes, subsequent rationalizations to hold to the unchanging Word of God become pathological. In today’s world, there are NO sane reasons to prohibit voluntary use of birth control methods. There are only insane rationalizations.
When this insanity promotes widespread injustice, there is no peace. The injustice must be addressed first.
@Wendy: I disagree. There’s nothing unpeaceful about calling murder by its name.
Conditioning aid on not using condoms is murder. The Catholic Church has been
murdering many millions of men, women and children in Africa, and this is to say
nothing of the devastating effects the Catholic Church’s stance on birth control has on the environment and climate. Silence and pandering aren’t peaceful
Hi Amy – I also agree with your comments about catholics and their bloody history. But they don’t have the monpoly on this. And have themselves been violently discriminated against in British history (Elizabeth 1 time) and in Northern Ireland too. And in this day and age Prime Minister Tony Blair only felt able to convert to his families faith when he stepped down from his PM role – due to the history of ill feeling. I know this may appear symbolic – and I dislike the catholic theology too. But the challenge is to go beyond this – and Druidry, paganism etc. offers a constructive future.
Hi Philip. I would support your right to your own personal voice. And must acknowledge here too that what is defined as a leader/leadership in OBOD is very different, and very liberal, in comparison to many of the established religions and other organisations. There is no dogma for you to uphold. And your particular leadership style is one I greatly value. However when someone takes on the mantle – or robe! – of a leadership position in a spiritual tradition the boundary between personal and public is I believe more blurred than perhaps for other roles. And there is an additional responsibility with this, which I imagine must feel restrictive at times. And all the more so here in this world of media and social media which is almost defined by its fluidity of boundaries. If your blog/Facebook pages were not so linked to the chosen chief role then it is unlikely that you would have all these thousands of followers/friends!
Aligning oneself with a very popular celebrity is a strong PR tactic for a spiritual or politic leader and as such is a potentially powerful influencing factor upon others – whether intentional or not.
I am very pleased that you brought this speech of Stephen Fry’s to my attention – as I derived a lot from it. It spoke to me personally. And have shared it with others. And I hope you continue to do this – thanks.
What I think prompted me to respond critically to you about this was your comment that it was the ‘most… thought provoking oratory…I have ever heard’ , Of course if this is your view then that is your truth and I don’t wish you to deny this. But in the blurred fluid world of media where your comments are influential and not seen as separate from OBOD by many, such a strong recommendation for something so clearly anti-catholic worried me.
As an animist druid that believes in the Great Spirit, and as a cultural and religious scholar, I also agreed with (nearly) everything that was said in the clip (I disliked Fry’s elitist attitude toward the poor and uneducated). I cannot say anything against the actual content of the video. Yes, millions have been murdered and countless other atrocities have been performed in the name of Catholicism. Still, I can only say that I am disappointed that something that so blatantly attacks a single faith appeared on a blog I have considered until now to be a place promoting of inter-faith peace and tolerance.
I take your points Wendy and Nick – I’m aware that one of my failings is enthusiasm and hyperbole…but I do think Nick we shouldn’t shy away from vigorous debate. It’s also important to note that he was not criticizing a religion, as he pointed out several times, but an institution.
Am sorely tempted to offer you my pardon at the cost of three Our fathers and two Hail Mary’s before you go to bed tonight! But I’d better not mock my parents chosen path any more than I have done for 50 years!
I saw that on Youtube a while back. All I can say is WOW, he speaks home truths, tells widdacome to shut up with her annoying interruptions (to put is very nicely). but he points out the corruption within this faith. but should we just be looking at this one faith? it can happen to all. perhaps its time as human beings to start looking at ourselves since thats the true root point of this corruption. it brings so many things to light when you think about it in more depth.
I agree with you Annabelle. I have African relatives via marriage who live in Zaire (now Congo). Without the catholic church in their country many many people would have had no education, no schools or universities, no health care. Many people don’t realise how different the catholic church is outside of the west, and it is often the only, frequently radical, reforming voice, within despotic and/or military dictatorships – not just Africa either. And many of these governments have been backed by western democracies. It still doesn’t make its discriminatory theologies correct, but its another perspective.
And I’m not so sure that one can so easily separate out the individual members from the faith organisation they belong to and say you are criticising one but not the other.
There is lots wrong with Catholicism – otherwise I would still be one – but bigotry and male orientation is hardly unique in state religions and not really what is central to the faith. When I was learning my catechism and other bits and bobs for my confirmation (when a young catholic learns what is at the heart of the religion) none of this was mentioned at all. In fact it was made clear to me that my place as a ‘servant of god’ was entirely to do with theological matters – and being good to others – no references to money or sex at all!!
The charges of murder some are rightly making are as true of them all – all the big world man-led religions. I am somewhat surprised that Druids would clap Fry’s mockery of transubstantiation however. The idea that something becomes changed through the process of ceremony should not take us aback – surely. And – what he says about the distant history of the catholic church is also true of Anglicanism – as that was the real inheritor of Britain’s medieval church wealth and politics. It is – of all male religions – the one that comes closest to honouring a Goddess.
If some of you are surprised that people like me speak for the church it is because the “rivers of blood” (as my parents called it) between Catholics and protestants in the UK still ensure that people like me will feel the need to defend our community and our churches long after we have left them behind. I know that not all priests are child abusing shades and all nuns are not Ann Widdecombe without the ballroom dresses.
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