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May Day! May Day!

“Yesterday, the Vatican announced that they would beatify John Paul II on May 1. … John Paul II has also become known as John Paul the Great, which is … great, but means that his predecessor in the Holy See will now be known, probably, as John Paul the Brief.

“The date is one of the more wonderful aspects of all of this. May, of course, is dedicated to the [Blessed Virgin Mary], but May 1 has also been kind of special historically to communists. Benedict, in his in-your-face style, has rededicated the date to the Church in the name of the Pope who did so much to put an end to the Soviet hegemony.

“He’s a bad, bad man.”

Dan Collins, writing on “Santo Subito, Give Me Patience!” on Jan. 15 at the blog Piece of Work in Progress

Long history

Sigmund Freud never had a chance. In a short and now almost entirely forgotten book published in 1952 titled ‘The Psychology of Unbelief,’ the Dutch psychiatrist HC Rumke demonstrated that, given Freud’s upbringing — his poor relationship with his father, his intense dislike of his Roman Catholic nanny and so forth — the great psychoanalyst could not but reject religion as he matured, replacing belief in God the Father with a rational and scientifically robust set of beliefs about the puerility of believing in God the Father.

“We would do well to remember this little vignette when we tackle contemporary attempts to explain (away) religion. Such attempts stand in a long and illustrious line. Freud famously showed how religion was merely the result of deep-rooted neuroses and before him Karl Marx demonstrated how it was the consequence of socio-economic injustice. In the 20th century, BF Skinner contended that it was essentially a kind of cosmic behaviorism, primitive societies justifying and enforcing their ideas of good and bad through concepts of ultimate reward and sanction.

“Today it is popular to argue that religion is an evolutionary phenomenon, the result of (some combination of) our developing minds, recognizing agency, fearing death, and needing social cohesion. This is not an altogether happy history — posterity has been none too kind to Marx’s, Freud’s and Skinner’s theories.”

Nick Spencer, writing on “It seems religion is not a neurotic accretion on human nature,” on Jan. 8 at the Guardian

The Lord’s work

“Dare I say, God bless Ricky Gervais?

“How many times have those of us in Middle America gotten all settled in for an expected evening of relaxing entertainment, be it at the movies, in front of the television, or in bed with a good book, only to get sucker punched by some cheap, out-of-nowhere sucker punch aimed at our identity, faith or country? … And so last night Gervais gave the entertainment industry a little taste of what that sucker punch feels like. …

“The New York Times declared Gervais ‘merciless’ and suggests he will not be asked to return for a third time as host. The Hollywood Reporter is almost positive Gervais won’t be asked back after ‘bruising all those egos.’ No, Hollywood is not happy with Mr. Gervais for ruining their evening with cheap shots, ridicule and insults.

“Well, how does it feel, Hollywood? How does it feel to be ‘blindsided’ and trapped for a few hours not knowing when it might come again? Kind of sucks all the fun out of the evening, doesn’t it? God was working through America’s favorite evangelical atheist. He did the Lord’s work last night. After all, if just one Hollywoodist learns from their 2011 Golden Globe experience, the entertainment industry will only get that much better as a result.”

John Nolte, writing on “Ricky Gervais Gives Hollywood a Taste of Their Own Sucker Punch-Medicine” on Jan. 16 at Big Hollywood

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