The Unbearable Banishment: Popepourri

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Pope John Paul II is actively being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church. His main postulator is a Monsignor from Poland. In a new book just published to burnish the case for sainthood, the good Monsignor claims that in order to bring himself closer to Christian perfection, John Paul use to beat himself with a belt “even while on vacation” and slept on the floor as acts of penitence.

My, oh, my. I fail to see why this is considered to be admirable behavior. If there is a God in heaven (and after Haiti, I’m having my doubts) do you suppose it pleases Him when we beat ourselves with belts? Spend a moment and consider the psychology of that. And why is it important for us to know that John Paul beat himself constantly; not even giving it a rest while on vacation? Apparently, the man never allowed himself a moment of joy. ("Must remember to pack my strop.")

I continue to struggle to understand the attraction to organized religion. And not just the Christians. All of them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

self-abuse. my way is much more fun - and i'm not seeking sainthood. i don't get it either...

January 30, 2010 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger Pueblo girl said...

First I've heard of saints having vacations. Vacations from what? Being a saint? Or self-flagellation? Or maybe the two are the same? So the pope is extra saintly for continuing to be a saint even when on holiday from saintliness? Or something like that?

January 30, 2010 at 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The attraction? That's easy. It's much simpler to let others think for you. You don't have to do any hard work. You simply follow.

It is much more difficult to think for yourself. To decide, based on merit, what is right and what is wrong. It is more difficult to guide your own actions, based on what you decide.

No, it's much easier to just roll over and let someone else do that for you. That way there's no burden on your conscience.

My take on the revelation about the last pope? Meh. Whatever.

January 30, 2010 at 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The self-mortification stuff is not supposed to be generally known because the point is to humble oneself and be like Christ in his suffering (though technically speaking, Jesus only did the suffering thing for the span of a long wknd).

He slept on the floor too.

I object to the whole sainting of JPII b/c it reeks of politics and manipulation of the people but Pope Ratzy is Nazi trained, so go figure.

January 30, 2010 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: Welcome to Confusionville. Population? Millions, I suspect.

PG: I suppose any other "saint" would have taken a break from beating himself while on vacation but John Paul went the extra mile. I suppose. I don't know.

Rob: The irony is that the concepts of "right" or "wrong" are incredibly transparent and obvious. No disrespect to the Ten Commandments, but who WOULDN'T know that those are sins!?

Annie: I thought it took centuries for a Pope to be nominated to sainthood. JP is on a fast track.

January 30, 2010 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

You rabble-rouser you!

I think it's impossible to describe what the attraction is to organized religion, if you don't feel it, didn't grow up with it, if it isn't a part of who you are historically, spiritually, and emotionally. And as Jews as a rule never proselytize, I won't start now! I don't believe in proselytizing anyway. It is a silly practice.

Regarding some of the above comments, the Hebrew Bible is actually pretty interesting on the subject of right and wrong. The Ten Commandments aside, there's quite a bit of fascinating moral ambiguity in there. And God is portrayed as all too human.

I don't know about any other religions from the inside, but in Judaism it's certainly not about getting a manual to follow blindly. In fact, questioning, learning and discussion are what Judaism is all about.

All that said..

...the pope has some pretty dark stuff going on with all that fun masochism...

January 30, 2010 at 7:45 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Leah: I'm a real scalawag, alright. I was raised Catholic and attended a parochial school. It never got under my skin. One of the most admirable things about the Jews is that they don't proselytize. The Buddhists are the same way. If you want to learn Buddhist teachings, you have to seek them out. They won't come to you. The fanatical Christians and Muslims? Convert or be damned for all eternity.

January 30, 2010 at 11:34 PM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

oh annie darling you're going straight to hell for the crack about the long weekend... hahahahaha

January 31, 2010 at 2:40 AM  
Blogger Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

I think the Pope's a crackfiend.

January 31, 2010 at 5:21 AM  
Blogger JZ said...

a little late on the draw, but a friend sent me this link yesterday...i trust you'll find the 4 other parts as this is 1 of 5.....

January 31, 2010 at 6:22 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...


And, definitely a crack fiend. Him. Not you.

And "Him" only capitalised above because it's a new sentence. Not because he is He or anything.

February 2, 2010 at 6:34 AM  

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