My Compass Points Out

Bishop Jerome Listecki, Bishop of the La Cross Diocese, has issued a statement to parishoners urging them to not see the Golden Compass. “Instead of using fantasy to lead people to truth and to God,” Listecki wrote, the trilogy of books on which “The Golden Compass” is based “tries to lead them away from God.” Now, the U.S. Conference of Bishops has approved viewing the movie, pleased with the effort to remove most of the anti-Catholicism in the book. I have a bigger question: why is it so bad for Catholics to see anti-Catholic ideas?

If Catholicism is the One True Religion©, then nothing should be able to convince you otherwise. Does Listecki think that his parishioners are stupid, nothing more than sheep who believe whatever they are told without questioning it themselves? Does he believe that children are especially impressionable? Is he not aware of the sad, sad irony?

I understand that in a general sense, this is something many groups do, but it is especially prevalent with religious groups. Why is it so necessary to shelter ourselves from differing views? If you encounter an argument opposing yours, and it makes sense, I think you should consider it. When your beliefs don’t hold up to scrutiny, you really should think about why exactly you believe what you do, and if you can’t justify it, you are an idiot to continue to believe it. And, if your beliefs do hold up, then they will be stronger, reinforced.

In writing this, I can’t help but be reminded of Republican Presidential candidate (and frontrunner) Mitt Romney. Romney has refused to answer any questions about his religious beliefs. For the record, Romney is a follower in the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints; you know him as a Mormon. Mormons have many peculiar beliefs. If Romney truly believes these things, then he should be able to justify his beliefs. Perhaps his magic underwear is a bit too tight, and is cutting off the circulation to his testicles. Either he knows his religion is stupid and is in denial, or he thinks everyone else will think his religion is stupid and he won’t be able to convince anyone that it isn’t (These are the same thing).

Romney is not alone. Most people have never taken an analytical view on their religious beliefs, or their philosophical beliefs, or their political beliefs… When encountering opposing views, instead of engaging them, they retreat and hide. Our President clings to ideas and plans that have been shown to be wrong, insisting that he has always been right. If he could only learn to change his beliefs as new evidence arises, then he could actually be always right. People are afraid to consider that they might be wrong. They never consider that if they are wrong, they can change and become right.

I am not saying that your or anyone’s beliefs are wrong. I’m just asking you to consider it. If you are a devout Christian, go watch the Golden Compass. If you are opposed to universal health care, go watch Sicko. If you support a progressive tax, read Atlas Shrugged. Be open to all viewpoints. If your beliefs change from new evidence, then they have probably changed for the better. You have nothing to lose but ignorance.

Faith means not wanting to know what is true. — Friedrich Nietzsche
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. — George Bernard Shaw
Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile. — Kurt Vonnegut


Anonymous Anonymous said...

intersting article. wrong, but interesting. just because something sounds crazy and seems that way, doesn't make it completely wrong. if i remember right, it was once unanimous that the earth was flat and the center of the universe. people that try to change univeral beliefs are usually scrutinized more than praised. in politics, a politician isn't going to gain any votes by trying to convince others that their religous beliefs are wrong. in an ideal world maybe religion should come in to play, but in the real world, Romney and Huckabee really have nothing to gain by expressing their religous beliefs. go back to school

12/12/07 12:53  
Blogger Dorshorst said...

I think you have mistaken my point, (perhaps because you sensed an attack on your beliefs and became defensive, unopen to hearing any other view?).

I'm not saying minority opinions are wrong. All views, minority or majority, should be self-scrutinized and others' beliefs should be at least considered.

I don't think politicians should proselytize. I'd like to see Romney and Huckabee say, 'This is what I believe, this is why I believe it. I do not know the absolute truth, and I can understand why others might not believe the same.'
If said beliefs would not affect public policy, most people would not care and it would not hurt the candidate. If said beliefs involved blacks being punished by God, or War in the Middle East being necessary for the second coming of Christ, then that's something that should be discussed.

13/12/07 15:07  

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