Friday, April 24, 2009

Poland to ban Che Guevara T-shirts?


The icon of many a young, idealistic bedroom revolutionary, Che Guevara - a regular on T-shirts the world over - could become outlawed in Poland, if the government gets its way.

Yes, the often-called “liberal” government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk has proposed to make all images that promote dictatorship, communism or fascism illegal from public display. This would also include banning the sale and display of images of not just Hitler - who never has been a popular culture icon to display on your favourite T-shirt - but also Marx, Lenin and Che Guevara.

Thenews.pl reports that: “Elzbieta Radziszewska [minister of equality] wants to expand Article 256 of the Criminal Code which proposes a two-year prison sentence for producing fascist or totalitarian propaganda or which incites racist sentiments. The Minister now seeks to expand the law to include books, clothing and other items.”

But…um…why?

“Adopting such a law would aid the fight against racism,” adds the minister, helpfully.

Oh, really?

Of course, it is easy to sneer at such nonsense. But what a Western reader should realise is that this is the ruling political elite’s attempt to create a “Polish PC”. where certain images and sentiments are controlled, regulated. Where western liberal PC has speech codes of what is, and what is not, acceptable, here is Poland’s government trying to regulate which signs and symbols are publicly acceptable to display.

This right wing, conservative government - and much of the opposition parties in parliament - see the world very much in the same way as many of their liberal equivalents do in the West: that symbols, words and gestures are dangerous and should be banned.

Both mentalities have the very patronising view that people are so vulnerable that they could be affected by exposure to offensive and obnoxious signs, resulting in an immediate change of behaviour so severe that it could be a threat to society at large.

Broadcaster and writer Kenan Malik shows clearly in this extract from his new book that attitudes, certainly in the UK, have changed radically from 20 years ago about how willing governments and organisations are to ban offensive images, speech and even thought.

So the Polish government’s urge to ban, admittedly genuinely offensive symbols in Poland, plus a few cartoon revolutionaries such as Che Guevara, should be put in the context of a more broader fear of free speech outside of Poland as well.

When ruling elites are so afraid of anti-orthodox opinions and symbols they so show weakness, not strength.

102 comments:

heat_seeker said...

"Political correctness" typically relies on self-censorship enforced by manipulation of peer pressure. This is Censorship, pure and simple. What's next? Social rehabilitation camps for the offenders? Does the Polish government realize that by enforcing this it will create a population of political prisoners? This is scary stuff and a very slippery slope....

Philipek said...

Free speech in Poland bothers me a lot. I am a protest by birth and an atheist by choice. Moreover, I live in Przemyśl, which is as much Greek Catholic as it is Roman Catholic. Often people here feel that Roman catholic dogma is shoved down our throat (which should not be tolerated in a secular state, but that's another debate for another) and any resistance to the hegemony is viewed in a very dim light in the rest of the nation. I've seen people suffer serious consequences when expressing their opinions on this matter, myself included. For example, I am no fan of the late Jan Pawał II but by expressing that thought in public I verge on a public lynching.

The thing is, what one man finds offensive another finds sacred. I really don't think that banning any image, no matter how distasteful one may personally find it is right. Most people agree that Hitler is not a role model, but some perhaps do. That's their choice - who am I to argue? In Lithuania, for example, Józef Piłsudski is viewed in much the same light as Hitler or Stalin. It's all very subjective.

And the end of the day, nobody has the right not to be offended. That's the basis of a democratic society. By banning some things and endorsing others you're stepping on that slippery slope to fascism.

Philipek said...

I meant Protestant by birth, by the way. Ups.

beakerkin said...

Well I am for free expression even if it is in dreadful taste such as the vile Che shirts. The Che shirts are probably made in some sweat shop and sold for a nice profit.

Offensive symbols go with freedom of expression.

keith said...

How do you prove a political philosophy is Totalitarian?

Surely Che symbolises freedom from US Imperialism? And there is nothing more Totalitarian than Torture from uncle sam? Care of Dubya and Rumsfeld et al.

jannowak57 said...

heat_seeker said... “This is scary stuff and a very slippery slope....”
No it’s not, just look at the laws in Germany which are clear and numerous concerning symbols of National Socialism. You would get arrested for wearing a T-shirt with a swastika on it. This is just the usual knee jerk reaction because it’s a symbol of the left. Lets not miss the point that the communists murdered more people than the Nazis did.

Philipek said... “people here feel that Roman catholic dogma is shoved down our throat”

Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution and I think in Poland people are pretty tolerant and respectful of non-catholic. I expect if you stood in Saint Peter's Square and suggested there was something wrong with Sister Teresa you would be on the receiving end of some harsh reactions. No differently than in one the most Catholic countries on earth when you criticize JP2 one of the all time favourite sons of Poland. I to am a non-believer but recognize there are times common sense requires I remain silent.

Beaker_kin said .. “The Che shirts are probably made in some sweat shop and sold for a nice profit.”

You got that right they actually have a very well designed website to market this garbage. On the same site is also the following: “BOOTLEGGERS BEWARE! Any reproduction, whole or in part, of the Alberto Korda Che Guevara images will lead to prosecution.”. This means that all that remains of Che Guevara’s legacy is some goof telling us his not using sweat shop labour and using American corporate lawyers to sue some kid with an iron on transfer kit. Apparently capitalism has an appeal to Che’s relatives.

keith said...”How do you prove a political philosophy is Totalitarian?”
Ask them! The communists and nazis were pretty open on this point. The history of both of these political movements illustrates the point clearly.

keith said...”Surely Che symbolises freedom from US Imperialism?”
Che doesn’t adequately symbolise the Hemroids on my asshole! He was a retard who started to believe his own bullshit and got himself killed.

beatroot said...
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beatroot said...

I expect if you stood in Saint Peter's Square and suggested there was something wrong with Sister Teresa you would be on the receiving end of some harsh reactions.Maybe in the Vatican…if you said those things in Rome in general they would probably cheer. There is quite an anti-cleric feeling among much of the Italian population. Taxi drivers love to point out where they burnt Bruno etc. The church is divisive there.

But Jan, freedom to worship and express ones religious faith are indeed the cornerstones of democracy and freedom of expression. So is being able to wear daft Che t-shirts.

That a government minister - the ‘minister of equality’ can pass off a petty piece of authoritarianism in the PC language of “fighting racism” is rather pathetic, don’t you think?

The key argument against this sort of nonsense is by pointing out that banning swastikas or Lenin t-shirts will not make one iota of a difference to pretty much anything and certainly won’t reduce any thoughts of bigotry people may or may not have.

And this is not the same as Germany banning Nazi symbols. That was done very soon after WWII …and not done as a kind of PC after thought years after the event.

ge'ez said...

Sorry to hear about your ass problem, 57. Hemorrhoids are indeed a pain in the ass. And they really fucking hard to spell.

ge'ez said...

I've always been for banning those smiley t-shirts and symbols, though.

And I don't think Nazi or fascist banners should be allowed in soccer, er football, stadiums.

If somebody wants to get beat up for wearing a Che or Lenin t-shirt, though, that is their prerogative.

beatroot said...

why are the nazi symbols beyond the pale for you, Geez, and not the commie ones?

Dr.George said...

Che Guevara wa a murder like Hitler, like Mussolini, like Castro. I am enjoi with this point. Sorry but I Am sudamerican and I dont speak english, but mi opinion about this Genocyd (Che Guevara) is:
Era un anarquista, que odiaba la civilización, y el "status quo".
Se recibió de médico pero nunca mostró compasión por los caídos... y a diferencia de nuestro Héroe Nacional de Uruguay, Jose Artigas, quién en el siglo XIX pedía: "CLEMENCIA PARA LOS VENCIDOS", este nuevo héroe del siglo XX, los ejecutaba, y se jactaba publicamente de ello, porque sabía muy bien, que así sembraba temor y poder. Porque conocía al igual que Maquiavello que
"la maldad hay que hacerla a grandes dosis, porque si se hace a pequeñas dosis se vuelve contra uno".
Y los ejecutaba también porque como el afirmaba, son mis amigos mientras piensen como yo, sino pasan a ser mis enemigos.
Este nuevo héroe del siglo XX, no puede ocupar el mismo cetro que un Ghandi, o un Martin Luther King, o una Madre Teresa de Calcuta...
Este confusionismo reinante en cuánto a historias recientes, solo se puede concebir en nuestra actual civilización donde lo mediático tiene demasiada influencia sobre un gran grupo de personas, y entonces cuando un personaje resulta muy carismático (como lo era Guevara), su influencia borra todo su negro historial de ejecuciones y contradiciones.
Además la historia la escriben los triunfadores, y en ese sentido fue un triunfador, porque formó parte de una cruzada histórica en la Selva Maestra. Pero para quienes dedicamos tantas tantas horas de nuestra vida a investigar los entresijos de la Historia y los rasgos de los más importantes personajes que intervinieron en ella, no nos dejamos seducir ni fascinar, por un símbolo emblemático de una cara con una boina y una estrella, ni por una bandera, ni por un estribillos de una canción por más linda que suene..
Ernesto Guevara es una de las herencias nefastas de las Historia de nuestro cercano siglo XX, que espero que el Siglo XXI logre corregir.
Un revolucionario, con actitudes violentas y autoritarias. Cuando empezó a matar, solo quería más sangre, como lo confesó en sus cartas...
Cuando le tocó recibir de su misma medicina... quienes se la aplicaron sí eran unos asesinos que merecían ser juzgados y condenados mundialmente, pero mientras era El quién asesinaba cobardemente (como se sabe que asesinó)...estaba justificado, porque era un revolucionario, un luchador.... la causa lo justificaba.
Que futuro se presenta para nuestra humanidad, si no conseguimos aclarar bien cuestiones tan graves.. como estas lecturas hemipléjicas de los hechos, y de la historia.
Un personaje que realizó fusilamientos algunos con causal y otros sin causa alguna, fusilamientos de los cuales se jactaba para sembrar terror y miedo en sus allegados.
Fusilamientos que esperan aún un juicio por delitos de "lesa humanidad".. para que por lo menos, se haga justicia con los campesinos y sus familiares asesinados cobardemente por Ernesto Guevara.
Los testigos directos de esos ajusticiamientos siguen vivos aún, y han hablado en algunos documentales.
Cuando joven, se presentaba como Guevara Lynch, en Buenos Aires, cuando frecuentaba el boliche de la calle Santa Fé frente a la iglesia de San Nicolás de Bari, cosa que le sorprendió a mi amigo Pibe Arocena, ya que era Guevara de la Serna... MI amigo Pibe Arocena que es del año 1928 igual que Guevara, lo conoció ahí, en ese boliche..... .y me cuenta que se me presentó como" Guevara "Lynch" cosa que me llama hasta hoy la atención pues era "De la Serna" y ahí nos quedamos charlando de bueyes perdidos. Luego que llegaron otros amigos de ambos, se formó la conversación... el tema generalizado era "la oposición a Perón" en lo que todos estábamos de una manera u otra metidos y enseguida me dí cuenta que el no quería saber nada del tema.
Me cuenta Pibe Arocena, quién lo conoció personalmente... "Después me enteré que el padre de Guevara era anarquista derivado al comunismo, pero fundamentalmente quejoso de su situación económica que no lo mantenía en lo que él creía que le correspondía socialmente...Después de tratarlo unos meses, "quedé convencido que era un delirante total y divagaba en el terreno político"
Todo lo que se ve en YOUTUBE es concordante con el recuerdo que tengo de él, me ha escrito mi amigo Pibe después de ver el video..
Cuando observo la idolatría que se genera en la juventud, en principio de América Latina y ahora también lo veo en parte de la Europea, con las banderas de Guevara en las tribunas de los estadios, cada vez me reafirmo más en una de las frases de Einstein:
"Solo hay dos cosas infinitas, el Universo y la estupidez humana, y de lo primero no estoy muy seguro"

jannowak57 said...

Beatroot said... “But Jan, freedom to worship and express ones religious faith are indeed the cornerstones of democracy and freedom of expression. So is being able to wear daft Che t-shirts. “

I generally agree with this and I don’t believe the authors of this law will get the desired effect. This is more a symbolic act rather than a practical measure.

I agree with your point on Italy outside the walls of the Vatican, reverence for the church seems to drop like a rock. But my point is that we need to show a respectful attitude to the religious believes of others in order to have a more harmonious society. Religion is an act of faith and not really open to the same kind of discourse possible with political ideas. Therefore restraint needs to be applied.

Beatroot said... “why are the nazi symbols beyond the pale for you, Geez, and not the commie ones?

This hits the nail on the head, why the double standard? History is clear so why the denial?

ge'ez said... “Sorry to hear about your”

Thank you for your concern, but currently all is well in that location, its my spellchecker that needs attention as my spelling skills are really poooor.

Dr George but it very well in his last paragraph, here hopefully is an adequate translation from the Spanish:

“When I look at the idolatry that is generated in youth, beginning in Latin America and now I see part of the European Union, with the flags of Guevara in the stands of the stadiums, each time I reaffirm in one of the phrases Einstein:
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and the first thing I'm not quite sure"”

ge'ez said...

Fascist stuff in soccer stadiums is meant to be a deliberate provocation and is.

Che t-shirts are just silly. No matter how hard the wearer might be trying to be provocative, the result is still just comical.

keith said...

I will argue that if you ban public symbols you must ban poems and books too. Symbols are open to interpretation as to what they mean as is poetry and History as well. Censorship involves the state trying to control opinion by imposing its own interpretation by decree of the Law, as to the meaning of symbols, poems, and History. J.S. Mill would contend that is an excess and abuse of state power. see On Liberty.

ge'ez said...

I would argue that it is not necessary to ban poems and books if you ban certain public symbols.

Not everything is open to interpretation. Not everything is relative to a subjective opinion.

And if the state is a democracy, it should be acting in behalf of the will of the people.

beatroot said...

I think Nazi symbols are banned in grounds, anyway, …but you would not need national legislation to do that.

But the problem is - when you start banning some signals then where do you stop? Just as many crimes were done under the symbol of the hammer and sickle as were done under the swastika. So, Gees, would you ban the hammer and sickle from football grounds and everywhere else?

If you ban the swastika then you have to ban communist symbols too - especially in country like Poland wheere many find communists deeply offensive.

So - where do you stop, Geez?

ge'ez said...

They may be banned in stadiums, but then the faux swastikas show up.

Yea, I have no problem with banning public displays of the hammer and sickle along with the swastika.

That's pretty much where I'd stop.

You can try to come up with some other symbols that have such negative impact in modern society -- I can't think of any.

ge'ez said...

I should elaborate that the decision would be made by democratic referendum.

And public display would entail advocacy.

beatroot said...

You can try to come up with some other symbols that have such negative impact in modern societyGeez, this is the point. How do these symbols have a megative influence on anything? Someone who is going to be attracted to fringe political thought as that represented by the hammer and sickle, or the swastika, is not going to do so by being turned on to a symbol!

If symbols of the devil started turning up in downtown New York do you think there would suddenly be an outbreak of occultism?

It is ludicrous to ban symbols. They don't bite, you know.

Better ban these cattle! Quick, before the farmers turn Nazi!


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8019029.stm

beatroot said...
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beatroot said...
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beatroot said...
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beatroot said...

sorry...this link works better

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/5194147/Farmer-brings-Nazi-cows-back-to-Britain-after-2000-years.html

Mark said...

Dear Philipek:

I've read your post with interest, and it seems to me that there may be clash of cultures going on. On the one hand you're living in the very epicenter of Roman Catholicism in Poland (Malopolska), and on the other you proclaim yourself an atheist from Britain. Consider that with the history of the place, any "resistance to the hegemony" of the Roman Catholic "dogma", as you put it, in the minds of your interlocutors may place you among the communists of the past. And that the distinction between the fascism and communism is often viewed like a difference between different levels of hell.

If you forgive my impertinence, may I suggest that you try to see atheism thru the experience of the people you live among. Their strong attachment to religion, and suspicion of all thought systems that attack it, are the wisdom of direct experience and analysis. You seem to be uniquely positioned to acquire a new set of eyes.

ge'ez said...

Cattle, no matter their origins, are not quite symbolic of Nazism.

But I changed my mind. There shouldn't be any such bans.

A flash of insanity. It happens.

heat_seeker said...

Mark, Polish brand of RC and its clergy are very different from what the rest of the world knows as RC. This is a militant,power hungry organization which is more concerned about money, prestige and political clout than about following the basic tenets of its faith. Over the years the Polish church managed to blend the concept of patriotism and the definition of a "true Pole" with the loyalty to Polish RC church. The truth is that the majority of church-going folks in Poland doesn't give a crap about living their lives in accordance with the teachings of the church. They are atheists pretending to be Catholics or Catholics pretending to be atheists depending on which direction the wind of history blows at the moment. What's getting lost in the noise of that pseudo-patriotic RC religious fervor are the voices of oppressed religious and ethnic minorities. Despite your feigned apology, it is not the impertinence that is most offensive - it's the patronizing tone.

ge'ez said...

Who has the most patronizing tone?

heat_seeker said...

Jan, few posts back you countered my argument by giving an example of German statutes prohibiting display of nazi symbols. You are right - they have those. Do they work? hmmm.... not really. Germany is experiencing a real revival of neo-fascist groups. See, the problem with the German ideas for solving social problems (perceived or real..) is that they don't have a very good track record... Pardon cheap pun, but German solutions, although typically not quite final, tend to have a long lasting aftertaste.
BTW: "Ministry of Equality" has a very distinct Orwellian ring to it - doesn't it?

keith said...

The swastika has a different meaning to followers of eastern religions where it has been used for thousands of years as a holy sign like the cross to christians.

what is this certainty that things are not open to interpretation? Has not the commentator proved my contention?

ge'ez said...

All interpretations are notequally valid given a specific context.

If all interpretations are equally valid in that context, meaning becomes devoid of all substance.

Mark said...

Dear Heat Seeker:

Thank you for your reply. I must admit that reading it I had a few flashbacks to the days of the PRL, or at least to that periodical "Nie" (if it still exists).

Judging from your rather strong opinions about Roman Catholics in Poland, I assume that you're not handicapped by the language barrier. If you care, please provide some links that may bolster your opinions.

In the meantime, I leave you with a link showing some truly comitted Catho-Atheists going on a pilgrimage to Czestochowa:

http://picasaweb.google.com/szuszkin/TarnowskaPieszaPielgrzymkaTPPXXVIGrupaWRafaZMielca#5239633454154662066

beatroot said...

All interpretations are not equally valid given a specific context.

If all interpretations are equally valid in that context, meaning becomes devoid of all substance.
This I agree. There would be no point in a blog like this, or any other place where people argue the toos. Someone is right, and sonmeone is wrong - not all opinions are equally valid.

As far as Poles and their catholicism goes...I was standing outside a church in Otwock on the outskirts of Warsaw Sunday morning watching people comming out of church...and there were quite a lot of people in there...but the average age was about 55.

The church's days are numbered in Poland, just like they are everywhere else in Europe.

ge'ez said...

What time was the Mass?

What was the median age of folks in that particular neighborhood?

Last time I was in "the old country," I noticed that younger folks trypically only attend later in the day Masses.

And if you go to a church in an area where there aren't many younger folks, you won't see many at Mass. Go figure.

Nonetheless, according to a recent study:

"In mid-February the Polish Press Agency reported that Catholic Church Statistics Institute figures showed 43 percent of Catholics attended Sunday Mass regularly in 2004, compared with 47.5 percent in 2000. Under Communist rule in the 1980’s, church attendance was 60 percent; in 1991 it was 50 percent."

And sure enough: "In some of Catholic Europe's largest dioceses in Germany, France, Italy, and Ireland, the percentage of Catholics who attend Mass regularly has slipped to as low as 20 percent, and in a few cities, like Paris, has reached as low as the single digits, according to figures compiled by the church."

"In Italy, where 97 percent of the population considers itself Catholic, church attendance has fallen to 30 percent, according to figures compiled by Famiglia Cristiana, a popular Catholic weekly magazine. In large cities such as Milan, the figure is no more than 15 percent, church officials say.

In France, where 76 percent of the population considers itself Catholic, only 12 percent say they go to church on Sunday, according to Georgetown University's Center for the Study of Global Christianity, and Vatican officials say the percentages attending Mass drop as low as 5 percent in cities, such as Paris.

In Ireland, where 90 percent of the population is nominally Catholic, less than 50 percent attend Mass even once a month, according to church officials' estimates. That figure is more dramatic given that 91 percent of the country attended Mass regularly just 30 years ago, according to a recent church study.

The decrease in the number of men entering the priesthood across Europe, with the notable exception of Poland, is equally dismaying for Catholics. In Ireland, for example, the Archdiocese of Dublin ordained only one priest last year."

That stuff was from: http://www.boston.com/news/world/europe/articles/2005/05/02/catholic_church_withers_in_europe/

I was kinda surprised that Mass attendance in Ireland is higher now than in Poland.

Well, my guess is that about 80% of people are going to die in(?)to a state of hell, anyway.

ge'ez said...

BTW, Mark, what's your take on the decline? Reasons for it? It doesn't matter?

beatroot said...

Geez, stand outside any warsaw church and you will see middle age and elderly over representing the congregation. That's the same all over Europe. get used to it. The church is only growing in Africa and some parts of Southern america.

but around these parts, this is an organization past its sell by date.

heat_seeker said...

Mark, you are right I'm not handicapped by the language barrier nor am I blinded by the church's propaganda. I witnessed a blatant, and quite overt display of sexual abuse by a clergy. I have family members who after paying substantial amounts obtained a church-sanctioned divorce due to the marriage "not having been consumated", despite 3 children conceived in the marriage. I witnessed a priest in Warsaw calling a woman a "whore" ("kurwa") from the pulpit during a Sunday mass. My grandmother's next door neighbor was a woman who had 2 kids with a priest from the same parish. I know first-hand accounts of joint business ventures between prominent figures in PZPR and the church officials... Bottom line, I would not read too much into the statistics showing that 80% of the population is religious and 99% of that is RC. Poles are pragmatic, secular and... not very honest (even with themselves..) when it comes to the topic of religion. Sort of like the americans :)
PS: Hope you enjoyed your pilgrimage to Czestochowa - I understand it's quite a party (no pun intended)

jannowak57 said...

heat_seeker said... “Germany is experiencing a real revival of neo-fascist groups”

This law is really more for the cosmetic effect and a public relations effort directed at people outside of Germany. I should point out that Poland is Germanys largest supplier of Nazis paraphernalia.

keith said... “The swastika has a different meaning to followers of eastern religions”

Hindus and Buddhists use this symbol but that’s irrelevant to the historical reality of Europe.

beatroot said... “The church's days are numbered in Poland”

Poles have a realistic and special approach to the church, which sets them apart from other Catholics. The church and Polishness are not separate concepts in times of adversity. During the days of the PRL it was “them” and “us”. Us meant real Poles united in the Catholic faith, a Polish tradition versus our foreign controlled overseers and their atheism. Whether you believed in the Catholic doctrine or not, you had but one place to express your Polishness and have a feeling of community. It was the church, which aligned itself with the aspiration of the Polish people.

Poles run the Catholic Church in Poland, not the Vatican and this Church is different because of this. The Polish clergy have a militant and missionary streak in them that’s quite unique to Poland. Thus they see nothing wrong in influencing society and government in ways much of the western world would find unacceptable.

The level of influence the church exercises in Poland will diminish providing a number of trends and conditions prevail. If Poland can continue without the external threats, with continued democracy and development of civil society but most importantly economic advances then expect the Church to look as it does in other European countries.

heat seeker said...” Poles are pragmatic, secular and... not very honest (even with themselves..) when it comes to the topic of religion. “

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this advice: “go to church once in while but just don’t get carried away with religion”. I can’t agree with the comment that people aren’t honest with themselves. The Church represents tradition and a sense of community which people can feel comfortable with, but at the same time most elect to be moderate and secular in terms of their personal lives, community and government.

Mark said...

Heat_Seeker:

Sin and pathologies are present, to some degree, in all endeavors that include the human element - but that doesn't necessarily invalidate the teachings of that group. Consider that the first Pope, out of fear, denied he knew his Master three times in one night. That one of the Bishops betrayed Him for money, and then hanged himself. In more recent times, it seems that about 15% of the clergy in Poland, willingly or unwillingly, cooperated with the communists.

On the other hand, the Catholic Church in Poland offered an effective resistance to the communist poison, fostered the Solidarity movement, and provided the shield, the "opoka", to the spiritual values of Polish culture. Could communism have been defeated without a strong Church?

Beatroot:

You're not the first to write an obituary for the Catholic Church in Poland. A proper way to analyze the situation is with statistics, rather than anecdotal evidence.

However, I partially agree with you - some young people, sometimes, will drift away from religion. Many things may account for this - youthful disillusionment, inability to think critically, excess of money and free time, dubious habits, an illusion of immortality, exaggerated sense of one's intellect, boredom, sloth, who knows what else. But my experience also shows that as they get older and wiser, and especially when they realize that death is not optional, they reconsider. Somehow they shrink from death as atheists. I wonder how many of the middle aged and elderly you see in Church have been on this path?

Ge'ez: The statistics do show a slight decline in seminary enrollment and Church attendance. But such ups and downs are inevitable in my view. I pray and try not to worry.

All right gentlemen, I hope I didn't preach you to death.

ge'ez said...

There seems to be a steady and ominous decline, Mark, not ups and downs. Keep praying, though. And widen the tent instead of circling the wagons. Sorry, but I think Bennie's Catholicism's worst enemy right now. I forgot to mention that Boston Globe article, based on the Church's own estimates, put Germany's regular Mass attendance at about 14% with something like a third of the population being identified as being at least nominal Catholics. That's Bennie's turf. The article noted that percentage attendance in his home parish in Bavaria was even lower.

Beat, I've been to Masses in K-kow not all that long ago and noticed that there were a majority of students and young married couples at Masses after 11 am in most all parishes scattered all over the place. Poles outside of Warsaw know that city isn't all that much different than hell anyways.

And like I said, my guess is that about 80% of people. wherever they hang out, are going to die in(?)to a state of hell, anyway.

beatroot said...

IU am not writing nekrologs to the Catholic church. But secularlisation is occuring in Poland, as in virtually all developed nations.

That picture is complicated by many second or third generation immigrants in places like the UK turning away from politics and towards religion to express their angst, but the underlining trend remains...and Poland doesn't have a Muslim population.

beatroot said...

that should read..."not a significant muslim population...", of course.

ge'ez said...

I think Azja Tuhaj-Bejowicz was and still remains stiffly significant.

And maybe religiousity is just being redefined and restructured. Just coz people don't go to Mass regularly doesn't necessarily mean that they are becoming more and more secularized.

heat_seeker said...

Mark you said: "Sin and pathologies are present, to some degree, in all endeavors that include the human element - but that doesn't necessarily invalidate the teachings of that group." I would be willing to agree with you if this was not a systemic problem. Rogue behavior is not that rouge if the hierarchy protects the offenders and insulates them from liability for their actions, as it has been the case here.
I'm also little puzzled by your somewhat rhetorically posed question "could communism have been defeated without a strong Church?" Soviet-brand of communism-inspired state governance was indeed rejected by the people in some countries (the church's role in that process is somewhat arguable). But to assume that communism has been 'defeated' (whatever that means...) is just plain ridiculous - the biggest country in the world - China - is still embracing communist philosophy! So, you should not rush in with an obit of your own - it's a wee bit premature.

heat_seeker said...

Ge'ez: What DOES it mean then???

geez said...

It means that more and people who have a religious sensibility of some sort are less and less attracted to religious institutional trappings and dogma.

Sort of like what's happened with the church of communism.

Mark said...

Heat_Seeker:

You're correct - the context of my remarks was Poland, perhaps I didn't make that clear. China, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam continue to be ruled by these criminal types. Even today, some in the Western World, who know only the theoretical side of communism, show serious signs of being infected by this disease.

I'm afraid that "rogue behavior" is a potential "plug in" in every venture that includes human beings. I expect the majority of the men of the cloth to live up to a higher standard, but realistically speaking, Christ instituted the sacrament of confession as a sad recognition of our weakness.

I think it would be tragically naive of me to loose my faith just because some clergy are the embodiment of scandal. My faith is not in them. At the same time, let's not loose perspective, and let's admit that the Roman Catholic Church is not a scandalous institution, as some of Her enemies like to maintain. Also, for the time being, the West continues to live off of its Christian patrimony.

Beatroot:

I tend to see secularism (and atheism) as quasi religious belief systems, with their own "sacraments", but without God. There is a religious fervor in the proselytization of these sacraments - such as deep ecology, global warming, abortion, contraception, carbon credits, diversity, scientism, etc. Anathemas and excommunications are thrown at those who dare question the validity, or the morality, of these sacraments. Secularism also tends to be either triumphalist or apocaliptic in its pronouncements. I don't think it is spiritually sustainable - green or red socialism remains indigestible. I think it's an in-between phase of post-Christian societies. Sooner or later secularized peoples will either return to the Church, or embrace some other, non Judeo-Christian religion.

ge'ez said...

It must kill ya that the Vatican's going with the solar panels. Lemme guess... nukes?

You don't think transferring around pederast priests was scandalous?

What about the scandal of Father Maciel and the Legionaires of Christ, Regnum Christi and all the affiliated "armies"?

And then, especially, rewarding Cardinal Law with a powerful position in the Vatican?

And some of us, most of us I'd say, think the Church's position on rubbers is scandalous, too.

All that is a major reason in the decline of the Church's adherents, not the lack of some supposed "orthodoxy."

Notice, too, the similarities between orthodox Marxists and Catholics.

beatroot said...

Mark - the problem with atheism is that, by defninition, it means that people don;t really believe in anything. I prefer humanism as a label. That is not quasi-religious as it does not believe in a deity or some supernatural power...just humans as the most exceptional beings in the known universe...no less!

But there is nothing wrong with having beliefs. That's good. I just think that religion served a purpose that is does not any longer.

heat_seeker said...

Mark, are you clergy? I'm just curious.

roman said...

heat-seeker,

You said.."The truth is that the majority of church-going folks in Poland doesn't give a crap about living their lives in accordance with the teachings of the church."

Could you please site the research study which you base this broad and sweeping statement on? That's a good lad!
I could almost accept it if you said it was the NON-church-going crowd but this statement has a strong odor of anti-religious bias. Am I wrong?

heat_seeker said...

Roman, I guess it's my opinion against yours... ain't freedom of speech grand? ;) Of course, I apologize for that last statement - it shows my anti-religious bias...
As to an unresearched non-scientific answer to your clever question (btw: you sure pinned me down with that one bud.. mate?... ol' chap?... oh whatever..), you must have heard this old Polish adage: "Dac Panu Bogu swieczke i diablu ogarek" - from my PERSONAL experience, that holds true for majority of Poles. BTW: You made a broad and sweeping statement yourself assuming that speaking against some religion-related aspects of a culture is the same as being biased against religion. It's like saying that calling for accountability of priests who committed criminal acts is anti-catholic... oh, wait actually you and those of your ilk do believe that... never mind.

heat_seeker said...

BTW Roman, out of curiosity I visited your blog: what a treasure-trove.. or should I just say "trough" :) Let me give you folks a little taste of that rather smelly neocon fare: "The Gitmo prisoners never had it so good [.. blah, blah, blah..].
Daily periods of exercise in the balmy air of a tropical Caribean paradise. The only thing missing is the virgins.". Here is a good one: "This fiction of Gitmo being a "stain on the virtue of America" is a disgraceful exaggeration intended for gullible intellectual posers and left wing bloggers who actually believed the fake media narrative and repeated hysterics. One can easily predict that once Gitmo is closed they will just find another excuse to hate the USA. The Bush Hate Syndrome is just another emanation of the same hystrionics."
"The vitriolic stance by the press against the victims of terrorism and our efforts to insure against future attacks are both inexplicable and puzzling on many levels." "Constant excuses for the perpetrators are proferred in order to stay in lock-step with the PC narrative indoctrination so prevalent in Journalism 101 throughout academia." "I know that some insecure individuals have needed to hate somebody and Bush is an easy scapegoat. Bush bashing at this juncture is like kicking a dead horse, it’s futile, vindictive and unbecoming even of far left liberal progressives."
The next one kind looks like English.. but doesn't read like it.. "Not that the poison of relativism is secular in nature but as a social foundation, religion has served as an excellent antidote".
And finally a really thoughtful question to (about?) Obama: "Admit it, could a white junior senator from Chicago with no experience get this far?" Can you say it a little louder Roman, your pointy hat.. sorry I meant hood muffled your words...
So Roman, do not lecture me about making broad sweeping generalizations - you make Sean Hannity sound like an intelectual and academician - two types of people you seem to (judging by your blog) really despise.

heat_seeker said...

BR - you said "the problem with atheism is that, by defninition, it means that people don;t really believe in anything." Really?? - I thought the term means "not believing in god", from Greek word "atheos" = godless. How did you get from that to not believing in ANYTHING? I do like the term 'humanism' but (a) it does not mean the same thing - it refers to rejection of religion as the force behind human advancement, and (b) I'm not willing to hide behind it just to please religious fanatics.

ge'ez said...

No, heatseeker, it's not just a matter of your opinion against somebody else. If you can't in any way substantiate your claims aside from saying it's your opinion and you have a right to it, that just means you are a blowhard.

ge'ez said...

And a person who limits his opinion to his personal lived experience is rather myopic, too.

But, true enuff, Roman is a right wing nut.

Mark said...

Beatroot:

The question seems to be if Christianity is dispensable today, and is its proposed replacement, secularism, spiritually sustainable?

We could go back and forth on this for a long time, but it seems to me that we'll know the answer in a generation or two. I think one of the laboratories which will decide this issue is Britain, since it has the right cultural mix. A largely secularized, post-Christian population, an irrelevant Christian remnant, and a large, growing, and aggressive Islamic population. Will the secularism of the British people stand, or will Islam decide to make a bid for the soul and body of the culture? Or will Christianity, with Divine assistance, make a come back? We're in uncharted waters here.

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...

Mark, Heat, Geez
The question seems to be if Christianity is dispensable today, and is its proposed replacement, secularism, spiritually sustainable?I think that is the key question at the beginning of the 21st century! Salman Rushdie once wrote that there is a “religious shaped hole in westerners‘ heads”…...meaning that religious dogma and faith are not the force they were in the West, but there isn’t anything to replace it yet.

And then came along environmentalism! I think this has become the new religion…with all its irrationality, apocalypse- ism, new deadly sins etc etc etc.

So, I agree that we need a replacement for religion. But religion is not it - or any other quasi-religion like Gaia etc.

heat_seeker said...

Not sure I want to replace one set of dogmatic believes with another - how 'bout using our brains and exercising kindness...
Speaking of kindness, check this out: SURVEY - CHURCHGOERS MORE LIKELY TO BACK TORTURE -
http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/04/30/religion.torture/

ge'ez said...

Beta Vulgaris worship maybe?

And I wouldn't worry about Islam taking over the souls of the people of GB.

And I wouldn't want certain kinds of Christianity making a comeback.

And there's a lot I like about Catholic orthodoxy, expecially in GK Chesterton (but there's also a lot of his stuff I don't care for, either).

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...

Not sure I want to replace one set of dogmatic believes with another..No...what you are really saying is: "whybelieve in anything"...

Being commited to a point of view is not ..."dogma". I think you are demostrating the fashionable, and disasterous reletavism that stalks our post-ideological world.

Iideology etc is not a bad thing in itself. It helps make communities of like minded people..if it is a progressive ideology then that helps move societies forward.

That's good.

Mark said...

Beatroot:

I'm not advocating for a replacement for Christianity, I'm hoping for its rebirth.

I'm convinced that secularism rarefies Christianity, and that into this vacuum some kind of spirituality will sooner or later be aspirated. The question is, what kind of spirituality will find its way in? Not everything that's truly spiritual is by default good. The devil is, after all, a very spiritual person too. But he specializes in spiritual filth and misery, among other things.

roman said...

heat_seeker,

Thank you for citing some of my blog entries. Immitation is the greatest form of flattery. I wanted to return the favor but found NOTHING at your blog. Hmmm.. we may have discovered a new twist on blogging here..indicating to the world that one has an active blog but there's really nothing there.. kind of like a "BLOG POSER".
It must be very comforting for you to troll other sites, criticizing those that have differing views, knowing it is from the safety of total anonymity.
Is that so no one is able to see the true nature of heat_seeker's view of the world and thus be open to return criticism?
A classic example of the modern day's "drive-by" hero of the new liberal secular progressive movement.
You see, I have no choice but to "infer" your world view because you are so deft at keeping it a secret.

ge'ez,

That's MISTER "right wing nut" to you. Does the description of heat_seeker above sound familiar?

beatroot,

On topic. While at university, it was "cool" to wear the Che t-shirt. But like so many things from childhood, with wisdom one leaves those childhood things behind.

ge'ez said...

Dear Mr. Right Wing Nut,

I know your name is Roman but beyond that I don't know too much about you aside from your posts and the personal tidbits that you're a Polish-American guy from Massachusetts and you like the Red Sox and the Bruins (or maybe I';m mixing you up with somebody else). And the stuff Heatseeker posted from your blog which I guess I'll pass on.

I don't have any interest in developing my own blog and I certainly don't even mind being designated a troll. In any event, I think my viewpoints are pretty well delineated here through my posts even if I am a bit giddy at times... lots of brain farts in my middle ages and lots of dead brain cells from a combination of too much drink and other diabolical elixirs and too many years in school.

Cheers though and... Go Blue Jays and Blackhawks!

roman said...

ge'ez,

Bobby "Golden Jet" Hull still with the Blackhawks? I admit, I've always liked their team uniforms.

Cheers right back at ya!

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