“Take my silver dollar
Break it into quarters
Shove ‘me in the godly machine”
A couple of years back, my wife and I went on vacation to Puerta Vallarta Mexico; get a little sun, get away from it all. Some of you are familiar with the drill. For those who do not indulge in this practice, I highly recommend it. It's good to relax on occasion.
As it happened, prior to our trip we had been discussing the Theory of Evolution. As part of that discussion I showed her a graphic representing the various developmental phases of a Human fetus. To say the least, she was taken aback by the gill slits and the tail, both of which are clearly visible early on. I could tell the image and explanation had impacted her beliefs a bit, but also knew it would take some time for her to process the new information.
It seems everybody gotta have a Cathedral
It's something we do when we go to a place we have never been before; we take a tour of the local city. There's one thing you can't help but notice when visiting any large Latin-American city; everybody has a Cathedral. Not Just a church, a Cathedral. This is an important distinction. Cathedrals tend to be grand displays of religious architecture, whereas churches tend to be significantly less imposing. We usually pop inside for a look and the Cathedral in Puerta Vallarta was no exception. It was ornate. It was opulently festooned with frescos and statues all paying tribute to Jesus or the Madonna ( no, not the rock star! ) all in all, an artistically satisfying experience.
Once we had passed through the heavy wooden doors, I happened to notice immediately to our left was a display of what I took to be the same graphic regarding foetal development I had shown to my wife only a few days before. I say “what I took to be” because a quick glance showed a few notable discrepancies between the instructional tool I had used, as compared to the version the Catholics had chosen to display. Gone were the gill slits! Gone was the tail! Damn, I think maybe it must have been a miracle!
Is ignorance really bliss?
I could see uncertainty blossoming in my wife's expression. I asked her only one question: if they are willing to lie about this, what else do you think they might be lying about?
Fire bad! Live in cave in dark, eat cold food!
Religions have a vested interest in keeping their populations ignorant. More than one study has shown a direct correlation between education and the propensity to believe in god. The thing about knowledge, the actual real thing, is that once most people acquire some, they have a tendency to develop a taste for it. This is obviously anathema to any religious doctrine or dogma, and so god mongers everywhere tend to land one the side of “Fire bad! Live in cave in dark. Eat cold food!” But I digress.
The title of this piece is Holy Vending Machines, not why Religion Loves Ignorance, although that may be an idea for something down the line.
As far as I know, the lighting of candles for the souls of the dead has been a Catholic tradition for centuries. In and of itself, I see no real harm in the practice (other than the harm religion in general inflicts on people,) and of course this service was available at the Cathedral we visited. But there was a catch. The candles in this church were kept under in a clear plastic box, and we're obviously gas fuelled. The box itself was attached to a gizmo which allowed people to insert pesos in order to cause a candle to become lit for a couple of minutes, after which, the flame would go out and the parishioner would move on. The lineup for this version of Dial-A-Prayer did not diminish in size the entire time we were there.
What struck me most about this blatant bit of godly extortion was not the fact it was happening; I know enough about the operations of the Catholic Church to understand that at the end of the day they are not so much concerned with the eternal soul, as they are in maintaining an eternal inflow of money. No, what struck me the most was the obvious lack of economic prosperity evidenced in those who waited patiently in line for the opportunity to do their bit in lining the coffers of this Draconian institution. These were people who could ill afford to give! They were not clad in fine cloth like the members of the clergy. They sported little in the way of gold jewellery ( with the notable exception of the small crucifixes some of them wore in some fashion.) These people were poor.
It made me angry, and still does to this day; the obvious greed of this supposedly godly bunch of priestly pontificators, in stark contrast to the obvious lack of economic success of their prey. Even my wife ( who is a christian ) was shaking her head at the unmitigated gall of these Collection Agents for Christ.
You often hear tell of the good works done by the emissaries of the church. They will unhesitatingly fill your ears with tales of monies and services provided for the poor and downtrodden of this world. What they inevitably fail to mention, is the despicable ways they go about extorting money from those same poor or downtrodden. It's as though I were to tell someone to give me ten dollars, then upon returning five of those dollars to the community, in which they reside, expect praise for my largess. If you need any proof of the disparity between income and outlay of cash in the Roman Catholic Church, I suggest a visit to Vatican City, or you can simply take the time to visit a Cathedral near you.
What's next pay-pews?