Monday, June 25, 2012

Up From Catholicism

I know, I know, it has been literally forever, five months, since I last posted.  To my tens of readers, what can I say?  I work the equivalent of two (sometimes three) jobs, logging around 60-80 hours a week.  It has put a cramp on my blogging.  I have added my blog to my tablet and hopefully will have more opportunities to post.  If not, please, follow my twitter account.  I post there more often and it is much easier on my editing skills than making sure everything is the correct font size in here.

As it is, I suppose I should get to what I want to write about.  Apparently, there is or was a 'prominent' atheist blogger on the internets who recently decided to give the pope a try.

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Prominent Atheist Blogger Converts to Catholicism
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) She went from atheist to Catholic in just over 1,000 words.
Leah Libresco, who’d been a prominent atheist blogger for the religion website Patheos, announced on her blog this week that after years of debating many “smart Christians,” she has decided to become one herself, and that she has begun the process of converting to Catholicism.
Libresco, who had long blogged under the banner “Unequally Yoked: A geeky atheist picks fights with her Catholic boyfriend,” said that at the heart of her decision were questions of morality and how one finds a moral compass.
“I had one thing that I was most certain of, which is that morality is something we have a duty to,” Libresco told CNN in an interview this week, a small cross dangling from her neck. “And it is external from us. And when push came to shove, that is the belief I wouldn’t let go of. And that is something I can’t prove.”
According to a Patheos post she wrote on Monday, entitled “This is my last post for the Patheos Atheist Portal,” she began to see parts of Christianity and Catholicism that fit her moral system. Though she now identifies as a Catholic, Libresco questions certain aspects of Catholicism, including the church’s positions on homosexuality, contraception and some aspects of religious liberty.
“There was one religion that seemed like the most promising way to reach back to that living Truth,” Libresco wrote about Catholicism in her conversion announcement post, which has been shared over 18,000 times on Facebook. “I asked my friend what he suggests we do now, and we prayed the night office of the Liturgy of the Hours together.”
At the end of the post, Libresco announces that she is in a Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults class and is preparing for baptism. She will continue to blog for Patheos, but under the banner, “A geeky convert picks fights in good faith.”
According to Dan Welch, director of marketing for Patheos, Libresco’s post has received around 150,000 page views so far.
“Leah's blog has gotten steadily more popular since she arrived at Patheos, but a typical post on her blog is probably closer to the range of 5,000 page views,” Welch wrote in an email. “Even now, a few days later, her blog is probably getting 20-30 times its normal traffic.”
Libresco’s announcement has left some atheists scratching their heads.
“I think atheists were surprised that she went with Catholicism, which seems like a very specific choice,” Hemant Mehta, an atheist blogger at Patheos, told CNN. “I have a hard time believing how someone could jump from I don’t believe in God to a very specific church and a very specific God.”
Mehta says that Libresco’s conversion is a “one-off thing” and not something that signals any trend in atheism. “The trends are very clear, the conversions from Catholicism to atheism are much more likely to happen than the other way around,” he said.
But while atheists were puzzled by the conversion, others commended Libresco.
“I know I’ve prayed for her conversion several times, always thinking she would make a great Catholic,” wrote Brandon Vogt, a Catholic blogger. “And with this news, it looks like that will happen. Today heaven is roaring with joy.”
Thomas L. McDonald, a Catholic Patheos blogger, welcomed Libresco to the fold: “Welcome. I know this was hard, and will continue to be so. Don’t worry if the Catholics make it as for difficult for you as the atheists. We only do it to people we love.”
Libresco says one of the most common questions she has received is how she'll deal with atheists now.
“The great thing about a lot of the atheist and skeptic community is that people talk more critically about ideas and want to see proof provided,” Libresco said. “That kind of analytical thinking is completely useful and the Catholic Church doesn’t need to and should not be afraid of because if you’ve got the facts on your side, you hope they win.”
Libresco is just switching the side she thinks the facts are on.

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Seeing how I average about a couple dozen page views a day, and in need to up the traffic for the advertisers at Google, I would like to take this time as an atheist blogger to announce my conversion to.....just kidding.

I do not want to sound too harsh on this lady, and maybe I am just out of the loop, but who in the world is  Leah Libresco?  I have never heard of her.  Granted, I work for a living, but I scour the internet for my news source material on average three hours a day, occasionally more, and while I do not hit the blogs as much I used to I have never heard of Ms. Libresco.  I will leave her increased fame by converting to Catholicism for someone with the resources and time to dissect.

As for the substance of her 'conversion,' it is nothing new or remarkable.  Anne Rice, the writer of vampire fame, converted from secularism to Catholicism back in the '90s (and recently back to atheism).  Religion has survived and thrived for all of these years for a reason.  It fills a void in a person to find something larger than him/herself to believe in, even if you have to suspend common sense and delude yourself into thinking that some person survived in the belly of a whale for three days.  This is also one of the biggest weaknesses of atheism (and I write this as an atheist who spent the first two-plus decades of my life as a Catholic).  In spite of what some religious people say about non-believers having a worldview, atheism is denoted by a marked absence of belief in things outside of the real world.

The problem is the real world sucks a big one.  It is filled with poverty, hatred, murder, rape, starvation, disease, and ignorance on a massive scale.  If you have nothing but reality, it can become a disheartening atmosphere.  I should know, I have been living this life since I left the world of fairy tales and it has instilled in me a hardened cynicism.  You get the feel oftentimes that there is no hope for our species.  It is kind of a corrosive existence, if you do not have some overarching belief or value system, and unfortunately some atheists are like that (for me, of course, the overarching belief and value system is in socialism).  My guess is Ms. Libresco did not have any larger cause and began looking for answers to this world.

Whatever else I think of organized religion, it can give you a lot of answers.  Yes, they are answers provided by a bunch of sexually repressed men thousands of years ago, but the benefit of religion is you can be completely wrong, have no evidence whatsoever for what you say, and still offer up simple answers.  They have a way of attracting people looking for that kind of certitude in their lives.  This is why Christianity has survived two mellinnia, even though it has a track record of repression, bigotry, and mass murder.  It is why Islam is here, more popular than ever, with a track record just as bloody as Christianity's.  It is why Judaism is still here, even though you see the logical conclusion of that religion in the right-wing government of Israel today.  They provide clear, concise answers for people looking for reassurance.

Do I have any solutions to what Ms. Libresco is looking for?  Well, I do for me, but whereas her newfound religion would tell her yes and if she does not convert she will go to hell, I lack invocation.  Leah has to discover these things on her own terms.  I wish her the best.  On the positive side, she will not have to worry about the priests.  They prefer underage boys.