The Church's incomprehensible suicide


I woke up today to the news that the Vatican has declared homosexuality a 'sin' and a 'choice' (Some have claimed that what the Vatican considers a 'choice' is merely a homosexual union, not sexual orientation per se. But let us be frank: if one's sexual orientation isn't a choice, neither is one's aspiration to a homosexual union. I therefore stand by my interpretation: by framing homosexual unions as a choice, the Vatican is effectively framing homosexuality itself as a choice. For sexuality without union is either an empty notion or a call to promiscuity. And I doubt the Vatican is guilty of the latter.). The irony is pungent, as the only choice here is the Church's: that of insisting on playing legislator, prosecutor and jury, instead of nurturing re-ligion—from the Latin re-ligare, to re-connect with transcendence. As a result, while the Church busies itself with using its now-scarce airtime to encourage violations of human rights, we are left without religion. How did it come to this?

I have had the rare privilege of—very, very briefly—meeting His Holiness Pope Francis almost three years ago; an opportunity I treasure sincerely and with all my heart. He strikes me as a man who understands the Church's dilemma, who wants it to focus on liturgy—the preeminent expression of true religion—and has enough human empathy to cognize the suffering the Church has historically inflicted on the LGBT community. But clearly, either I am wrong about him, or he is unable to lead the Institution of which he is the head. Either way, the result is the same: the pursuit of a suicidal path for the Catholic Church and the imposition of even more suffering on a community that has already had a lot more than its fair share. This is a multi-dimensional catastrophe. If this Pope couldn't change course, what hope have we left?

It's not like the issues in question are subtle, or nuanced, or difficult to evaluate, or ambiguous, or unclear, etc. No. They are crystal clear and very plain. Let us review them briefly.

If an institution were to tell you that you cannot love the person you love, that loving them is a sin, that you are sick for loving them, or—insult beyond insult—that you choose your sexual orientation and gender identification, you would immediately and unambiguously declare it a violation of your most basic human rights: the right to love and the right to be who you are.

If an institution were to declare that your sexual orientation is some kind of willy-nilly game of make belief—that you, in reality and by your very nature, are sexually attracted to another gender than you purport to be, presumably just for the heck of it or to irk others—you would revolt at such a preposterous accusation. Who believes that a homosexual transsexual chooses to live a life of constant exclusion, scorn and discrimination, and to engage in sexual acts with people they supposedly aren't attracted to, just for the heck of it? No, really, who in their sane mind believes this? I mean, we don't even need to bring science into this—never mind, for instance, that about 25% of fruit flies are homosexual, presumably because they choose to be so just to irk the scientists who study them—this is a matter of plain, good-old commonsense.

Let me try to make this more alive for you. I happen to have been born a heterosexual male. So I imagine the Church telling me: "Bernardo, you don't really like women, you just choose to pretend to like women, just for the heck of it. What you really like—and should like—is men, and you should go have sex with men and dress like a woman." How about that? This is what is being said to the LGBT community.

While the Church busies itself with this kind of ancillary and dangerous nonsense, we, our culture, our society, continue to starve of meaning, of purpose, of spiritual nurture, of transcendence, of love—in short, of re-ligion. Why? Because the Church is missing in action, busying itself with stuff that, at best, has little, very little, to do with re-ligion. You see, nobody in their sane mind is going to go to Sunday mass just to be judged according to archaic standards. And therefore—guess what?—few, and ever fewer, go to church. What they need—namely, re-ligion—is not to be found in a church anymore. And this is the Church's deliberate choice; the only true choice being made here.

The Church's notion that it does what it does because it is grounded on the solid tradition of the Bible is a monumental intellectual misunderstanding and failure. I, for one, would never call for the Bible to be re-written or re-edited or upgraded; that's not the point. On the contrary: the Bible, as it is, is the spiritual treasure of the West, just as the Holy Quran, the Vedas and other traditional scriptures are spiritual treasures as well. The Bible shouldn't be made out to be something other than what it is, for the value of a treasure resides in what it is.

HOWEVER, it is naive to think that the Bible embodies its own standalone meaning; that's not the nature of the written word. The meaning of words is evoked through an act of interpretation. We cannot evade it: without interpretation, the written word is just squiggles of ink on paper. Whatever you think the scriptures say, is the result of an interpretation. Maybe you espouse a particular interpretation and reject others, and maybe you are even right about it, but your choice is still an interpretation; it cannot be anything else, for only a deliberate act of interpretation can extract meaning from mere syntax and grammar.

As such, when one calls for the Church to evolve, to progress, to stay in tune with the needs of the time, one is not necessarily calling for a break with the traditional written word, or a departure from our tried-and-tested spiritual foundations. Again, I shall grant this unreservedly: the sacred words of scripture must not be upgraded or re-edited; they do not need to—and should not—evolve, for they are the intuitive reflection of eternal absolutes. But—and this is the crucial point—we evolve, we change, we develop the ability to interpret the absolute through new perspectives, under new lenses, with more depth and nuance. And we have the moral obligation to do so, for anything else constitutes an evasion, a denial of life.

Therefore, our very act of interpretation—which determines how the eternal words of scripture reveal themselves to us—evolves, changes, unveils hitherto obfuscated angles, perspectives and layers of meaning. To deny this is to deny the divine gift of becoming; to willfully choose ignorance over wisdom. For if the progression of our own spiritual insights are to be cavalierly dismissed and pooh-poohed, what spiritual perspectives are we left with? How is any moral code ever to be grounded on spiritual insight, if the latter becomes a mere fossil?

The Church's take on conservatism is thus based on a logical fallacy. It misses the whole point and then—to add insult to injury—encourages and provides moral justification for flat-out violations of human rights. This is a disgrace, and all I have for it is contempt.

I have long despaired over the slow death of the Church in the West. But no more. This is the final straw for me, personally. Perhaps the death of this Church is, after all, what is required, so that something with true life in it might emerge from the ashes. For an institution that makes the inane and cowardly choices the Church insists on making—including the recurring choice to focus on everything but re-ligion—has no true life in it anymore. It is a mere phantasm running on inertia.

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102 comments:

  1. Great ! Now write an article about the Koran’s call to war and the violence of it’s prophet and how today’s Muslims must evolve. Then I will be impressed and I will consider you as courageous as you consider yourself be.

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    1. I really like Bernardo however many times I have very hard time following his logic. LGBTXRWNO...... living in affluent western civilizations are practically folk heroes to a huge section of the population. So they are the popular group to get behind while the trauma and the horror many face every day on this planet goes largely unnoticed by these intellectuals.

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    2. For the same reasons that I believe it to be inadequate to interpret passages of the Holy Quran in the manner you describe, I also think interpreting, e.g., the Apocalypse as legitimizing the beating and killing of women and children is inadequate, just as interpreting references to homosexuality as absolute sin are inadequate. Sacred scriptures were written by humans (with divine inspiration as the case may be, but written by humans) living in a particular historical context, equipped with a particular set of metaphors, references and values. It is thus inadequate and naive to interpret them in a timeless, static, frozen manner that isn't amenable to evolving insight. As for courage, I have made no claims even remotely related to it. Not sure what motivated you to add that particular point, other than projection.

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    3. eakj, do you truly think I am guilty of not noticing the suffering and injustice that plagues those of us who are not part of the LGBT community? Does acknowledging the suffering of one community invalidate the acknowledgment of the suffering of another?

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    4. 1. It's quite responsible to answer to an institution concerning the society and culture one lives in. 2. The same answer is valid for any homophobic act. What more courage do you need?

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    5. It has become socially acceptable to openly bash Christianity for perceived backwards beliefs, but for some reason it's not socially acceptable to come out against Islam, even though Islam is far more problematic in the modern world. Why is that?

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    6. Well for at least the past 2 decades the west has pretty much waged a non-stop war against Islam murdering over a million Muslims and maiming and wrecking the lives of many more. Is that not sufficient for your insatiable hatred?

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  2. Don't like it Bernardo change religions. There is a huge range to choose from. I assume you probably wouldn't follow a religion that worships a deity or deities. The church's duties are much broader than nurturing and enabling the latest deviant(look it up before you condemn it's use) group that demands we salute their victim hood. Before too long the whole human population is going to be a victim and how in the world one brings about the huge functional not ideological, but functional changes required under those circumstances is totally beyond me. I know singling out the Catholic church is such an easy target among liberals. I would hope you might go after tougher targets.

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    1. Since I do not subscribe to any particular religion (even though I am in general pro-religion), there is no need for me to change anything. As for victimhood, I fail to see its relevance. My essay makes what I believe to be very explicit, clear, objective points, which have nothing to do with victimhood. Finally, as for the label 'liberal,' in case it matters to you or anyone else, I do not consider myself a liberal or a conservative. The issues we face today are much too complex and nuanced for one to hide behind a label. But I understand that it is easier to arbitrarily paste a label on me to evade the substance of the points I make.

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    2. I will gladly take on the substance of your point. I'm a fan but you seem to have this very convoluted approach to things. This perception may be caused by the fact that you seem to fight one battle for one war and then decide to fight another battle in another war with the desired outcomes of the two wars being mutually exclusive. Help me out here. How do we humans tackle the survival issues of humanity and keep every individual whole as they perceive whole? I mean we have to keep everybody happy down to what bathroom they choose to use, how they choose to be addressed, the ability for biological males to compete against biological females in sports. This is the problem when you give into groups that think they have the right to force you to play whatever silly game they can create all the while constantly changing the rules. I'll stick my neck out here and say it is going to fail. It's like so much in western civilization, it is unsustainable. So the Catholic church, bless their little hearts (I do not follow any deity although I am also pro religion) has said enough is enough. It is time to start telling lots of "identities" "It may not be your fault that you are gay or female or black or conservative or liberal but by God it is your problem". We have a world to save and anybody living in a Western affluent country is just going to have to suck it up and deal with it.

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    3. I don't think the basic rights to be who you are, and to love who you love, qualify as petty request for special treatment from some self-appointed victims group... And I don't see any contradiction between the fights I choose to fight. The contradiction you may perceive has to do with the difficulty of labeling me as either conservative or liberal; as either left or right; and I am glad you have this difficulty, because I reject all these labels. I prefer to think of myself as thoughtful instead, for the world isn't simplistically divided into two camps. I am not here to either shout or endorse slogans that assume it is.

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    4. Nobody says a gay can't love who they want. Catholicism says you commit a sin you aren't the sin. Catholics everywhere sin like crazy. That doesn't mean the church has an obligation to applaud the sin. At one time I was a Catholic, a really poor one and an alter boy and all of that. I've been drunk way under age on sacramental wine. I played with my girlfriends naughty bits up in the choir loft but I didn't announce to the world or insist everybody salute what I did because by God those behaviors are who I was. The Catholic Church just went through one hell of an upheaval I think primarily because it became the "Intellectual Church of Anything Goes". So no matter where they draw the line it's going to piss off someone.

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    5. If you don't mind reply to this for me. My heart is all a flutter that you actually responded to one of my comments and I'm sure I am quickly wearing out my welcome. Are you a Philosopher or a Scientist or just your average guy that likes to hang around universities and research institutes? Are these not labels? My life has been insanely diverse and at almost 67 doesn't show any signs of stopping. I to eschew labels. In fact I have always insisted I have done many many things but I've never been anything I have done. So at times labels are mandated by conditions and society will always apply them no matter how much you shout to the heavens that you aren't what they say you are.

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    6. I don't think I was asking the Church to applaud homosexual relationships. And I don't think this is what the LGBT community is asking for either, at least as far as I can ascertain. But the Church has chosen, out of their own initiative, to broadcast the message that these people are wrong for being who they are. Sexual orientation, unlike choosing to rob a bank, is not something you decide. By saying their sexual orientation is wrong, the Church is taking the public initiative to tell the world that what they ARE is wrong. I take exception to this, especially after the many hopeful overtures this Pope has made in recent years. It's a massive disappointment to me. The previous status quo was good enough: no need for the Church to come out and praise homosexuals, or even agree to marry them in Church. Just stay quiet about the topic then, focus on religion instead of judgment, continue on as they have been for centuries, don't make a fuss, don't come out on a whim to condemn what people are, don't confuse morals with religion and end up forgetting about the latter, just nurture the spirit. But what do they do instead? They make a major press release to inform the world that these people are born wrong and in sin, out of some peculiar need to 'be clear' about dogma already known for centuries.
      Labels are useful in ordinary life. I am not rejecting all labels applicable to me, even though I don't identify with any of them. But often pasting a label on someone is a rhetorical device meant to blur the person's argument by boxing it into a pre-fabricated drawer, about which many already have pre-formed opinions. By doing this they try to discourage others from listening to what the person has to say, for they 'already know' what a liberal leftist or a far-right conservative think, right? This is bad form, I think, and doesn't contribute to advancing the dialogue.

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    7. I'll make one more comment and then go away but before I do let me say I am so, so enjoying "Decoding Jung's Metaphysics".
      For the sake of clarification let me point out that I never said practicing being gay was a sin, the Catholic church did. I don't really care if someone has a goat as a "significant other". That's between the human and the goat. I've had many gay friends over the years and have experienced the curiosity most of us have felt regardless of what side of the fence we occupy. Having said that I do believe we have to allow institutions to define the values they support or reject within that institution. I don't care if that institution professes to believe Jesus was gay, bi or asexual. Don't care.

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    8. Hi Bernardo,

      I think there’s one point here that can use some clarification. What I see doesn’t suggest this statement was made on a whim. This is from the Seattle Times:

      “In the new document and an accompanying unsigned article, the Vatican said questions had been raised about whether the church should bless same-sex unions in a sacramental way in recent years, and after Francis had insisted on the need to better welcome gays in the church.
      It was an apparent reference to the German church, where some bishops have been pushing the envelope on issues such as priestly celibacy, contraception and the church’s outreach to gay Catholics after coming under pressure by powerful lay Catholic groups demanding change.”

      https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/vatican-excludes-gay-union-blessing-as-god-cant-bless-sin/

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    9. Just wanna offer something by way of reply to this:

      "How do we humans tackle the survival issues of humanity and keep every individual whole as they perceive whole?"

      Between me and any dozen other queer people I know, we can grow food or hunt for it, sew clothes, fix cars, make medicine, treat injuries, build and operate a HAM radio, build a house... I could go on, but you get the idea. We're 4.5% of the population, and when we got tired of being jailed and beaten and murdered and having pinhead jackasses try to electroshock or LSD or chemically castrate the queer out of us, we turned the world upside down over it. The problem is that a whole lot of the other 95.5% of the population in wealthy Western countries has gotten so used to being comfortable that they forgot how to bloom in concrete. Forgot how to be hungry. Forgot how to live without money. Forgot how to be scared without panicking. Forgot the world doesn't revolve around them. Got so soft they're clutching pearls over who's pissing where and they're losing sleep over children's sports.

      You want to know how we're going to tackle the survival problems facing humanity? Tell the fragile straight people to toughen up, find something real to worry about, stop playing the victim every time they see a rainbow, and maybe learn a useful skill or two. Unless their delicate souls remember how to bloom in concrete with us, we're all fucked, because we're only 4.5% of the population and there's a hell of a lot of weight to pull. And just maybe once the masses have grown up a little, the wholeness will take care of itself.

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  3. Changes were made a couple of hours after initial publication to clarify certain points and make the intended meaning more explicit.

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    1. Your position is abundantly clear and speaks for itself. I differ, for I don't think you or I have the right to impose our values on others, who happen to be born differently. In this day and age, with more than 7.5 billion of us on this planet, consuming resources at ferocious speed, to associate our survival with unchecked procreation is objectively a larger threat to our civilization than the opposite. You are thinking with a mentality of 1000 BC. And you, too, Sir, are not God. Your position sounds more than arrogant to me; dangerously totalitarian in fact. Your conspicuous inability to see that all the adjectives you use to describe my position apply, first and foremost, to your own, is rather fantastic.

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    2. Painting acceptance of homosexuality and postmodern nihilism in the same stroke is not even a slippery slope fallacy, it’s just categorizing everything outside strong conservatism as the same thing which shows an alarming lack of nuance and insight.

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    3. Not suddenly,only since it was interpreted this way. Hubris really seems to have been a constant company of those +1500 years, you're right. And, actually, human rights might be a valuable starting point for any religion.

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  5. TO ALL COMMENTERS: I have a policy about comment moderation, which entails that I publish almost every comment, including those vigorously against my position. But I will not host what I consider dangerously totalitarian and intolerant views on my site. Because I am aware that I basically invited a certain kind of reaction to the post I wrote, I am exercising tolerance. But this should not be construed as a willingness on my part to host the kind of views I described above. I will not.

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  6. Hi Bernardo, in this context I recommend Ken Wilber's work for his insights into the development of religion, especially his book "The Religion of Tomorrow".

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  7. Beautifully stated. If I had any criticism for this post it would be that Kastrup is belaboring the obvious. But apparently it is not that obvious to a significant batch of people. That it written is by someone who is a believer in the mental/spiritual side of life gives it additional weight. I see it as an eloquent plea for new wine-skins and will post it to my friends as such.

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  8. Brilliant text Bernardo! I agree with the sole exception being that I still haven’t quite given up on the church. It seems inevitable that it will have to adapt at some point, hopefully into something that can truly inspire both in the traditional and modern sense. But there is clearly a long way to go before getting there. Some of the comments also show that the sentiment for stasis is still strong as well but I applaud that you remain tolerant. There is a relevant case to be made for caution and humility when adapting religious beliefs but that does not mean that change should not occur at all. That kind of backwardness speaks against itself, no need to hide it.

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  9. What's missing in Bernardo's analysis, as is so often missing these days in commentary by even the most intelligent among us, is that necessary thing called "context." Pope Francis, the most liberal pope since John XXIII, has been under relentless pressure and assault from the right wing deeply entrenched in the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, he has had to carefully take his reformist shots, pick his progressive battles, so as to avoid open rupture in the institution which he has been called to keep intact. On a personal level--indeed, on a spiritual level--I have little doubt that Pope Francis is open to other than traditional heterosexual unions, as he has off-handedly indicated. But on this particular hot-button issue (within his church), at this delicate time and place (within his church), he has apparently decided to yield on this issue, at least for now--a undoubtedly difficult compromise for him which should merit our understanding, if not our approval. To repeat for the sake of emphasis, this pattern of ignoring necessary context runs rampant in our current political and social commentary and is one of the principal reasons for our ever-increasing, ever-more acrimonious, division. If anything, hasn't Covid taught us to cut each other a little more slack in situations like this?

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    1. Although you are right that I didn't frame my argument in this context, I am personally keenly aware of it, more than you can know. But I don't think one can play with the dignity -- and even safety -- of a large group in our society as a bargaining chip in an internal struggle. I have been waiting for several years now to see how things would unfold in the Church since Pope Francis was elected. I am interested in it and have followed it not only from a public perspective. I have given the Church the benefit of the doubt in situations when most others wouldn't. But there comes a point when disappointment just crosses some magical psychological threshold. This Pope was my personal last hope. But he has little to show after all these years. Where is the emphasis on liturgy, for instance? Sunday mass is still dominated by moralistic ravings in most parishes. Where is the focus on religion? Every time the Church makes headlines it's about some moralistic issue they feel entitled to pass judgment on. But morals are not the core of religion; not even remotely. Otherwise the Church would be a tribunal, not a house of worship. The Church is making itself a tribunal and therefore giving up on religion. That's my grievance.

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  10. Bernardo, love your work, especially in the philosophical and metaphysical realms. From a psychological standpoint, how much caution do you believe we should exercise as a civilization in how we differentiate classifications between pathological and non-pathological, or should these not be differentiated? In other words, what is the logical extension of your proposal to accept the innate desires that people have for who (or what) they should rightly be attracted to? Are there any limits to this, and what criteria would such limits be based on? If there should be no limits, how do we effectively deal in a social way with psychological areas that suggest more of a pathology which impacts these sectors? Do we tend to work with them to distance them from their pathologies, or do we work with them while not trying to distance them? Thank you for your input.

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    1. I think we pathologize way too much way too quickly. I use two rules of thumb to guide my own thinking.
      (1) Is the person in question infringing anybody else's freedoms, against their will, by being who they are? If not, then it's hard to find grounds for censuring or stopping the person from being who she or he is. I think the Catholic Church fails this test, by consistently rushing to pass judgment on people who are in fully consensual relationships and not infringing on anybody else's freedoms. They do this because of a particular type of extreme epistemic arrogance that has a long history in all Abrahamic religions. It reflects a deeply-ingrained insecurity (if I am not sure what I really, really believe, I have to make the entire world conform to my seeming beliefs so I feel reassured about them).
      Now (2), is the person consistently suffering beyond the level of life's inevitable anxieties, insecurities and the like? If the answer is no, I see no reason for a diagnosis. We all suffer, rather often, and patholigizing that suffering too quickly is to pathologize life itself.

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  11. If you have read Schopenhauer - properly - you would know why the Catholic Church (and all other religions) do not accept homosexuality. I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with what the Church does, just surprised that you are upset about this.

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    1. apologies if this appears rude...it's just that my impression is that your work is quite influenced by Schopenhauer, so I thought that you would be aware of his views on ethics and aesthetics, which he says go hand in hand with his metaphysics. Taking his thought as a whole and what he says on the Denial of the Will, my belief is that it's clear to see why the Church has these doctrines, though we may not today agree with it. But then again, we do not have to be part of this religion, it is up to us to choose.

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    2. It's not about why they have this particular doctrine, it's about whether the explicit, public repetition of the doctrine is constructive either for our society of today or the Church itself.

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  12. so a religion does not have the freedom to state its own doctrines? the question would be whether they are merely stating their stance on the matter or if they are repeating this stance in such a way as to purposely cause animosity/violence towards homosexual people? my impression is that the Pope was just stating their stance based on doctrine. In past statements he has said that the Church is tolerant of homosexuality and supports civil marriage, and tolerance is all we can expect from all religions and all groups of people (and, as someone mentioned above, there are some religions that still haven't fully got to this stage yet). If you're still not happy with that, I suggest maybe you start a new branch of Catholicism...

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  13. Well, Bernardo, the catholic church has a particular view of the nature of man, of ethics, of her own place in the world etc. Thanks to these views, she understands that she can't just give up on everything but liturgy. The catholic view is that Jesus created the church as THE guide to Him, that these "archaic" moral standards are the objective view on ethics and that Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium are there to teach and preserve unchanging divine revelation, incluiding the Dogmas. This is what the church aways saw as her identity. Asking to give up on all that and just focus on liturgy is to ask catholics to kill their church and them play with her corpse. You need to find another religion.

    It is quite clear that you disagree with catholics in almost everything. I think that you will not give up on the church and that is because you already did it. Your beliefs and what the church believes are not compatible, not at all. You probably find these views silly, dogmatic and maybe dangerous, but that is what the church aways was, is and(at least to me) ever will be. If this means that the church will die, she will die with no regrets.

    Look, i have a huge respect to you, but you and other guys from the non-abraamic spirituality* have to understand that Christianity is is own thing. Since day 1, what you guys disagree about the doctrines are as much of a part of the religion as the parts you guys agree with. Sure that this make a lot of people reject the church, christians and Jesus Himself, but it is better to hate the real thing that to love a illusion.


    *i don't mean to insult you guys, just to be clear, i just don't remember a better name now to traditions outside Abraham, which usually have views way closer to yours that the three big ones that started thanks to to the guy

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    1. The idea that the Church never reforms itself, and that dogma has been fixed from day one, is demonstrably false. How about Pius the 12th and the dogma of Mary's ascension? That would have been unthinkable only a generation earlier. The Church has one job to do, and that is religion. If it fails to do that job, it will have nothing left, for -- unlike in the dark ages -- we now have a perfectly adequate secular justice system. If the Church can't be a religion, then it will be entirely irrelevant. And clearly there is something right about what I am saying, as the statistics on Church attendance and donations (except, of course, for those countries in which donation to the Church is obligatory), as well as trust in the Church, have been showing a steady collapse. Great job.

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    2. I like you, but come on, Mary assumption was not a Pius XII creation. St. John of Damascus lived in the eight century and he clearly treated it as a old tradition. Ephipanius, living in the four century, does mentions that some did believe in it in his time. It is no wonder that the eastern orthodox also believe in it, at the Schism it was already a very reasonable opinion that only lacked the dogmatization. Not than that matters, for this dogma is hardly a great of a change as the Church giving up on the Great Commission would be.

      And again: what you see as the Church job and what she sees are pretty diferent. The Church teachings and atitude only make sense if you agree with the catholic vision of it. If catholicism is false, them the Church SHOULD die, for she can't function as what you want her to be. Like islam, catholicism is not made for the modern world.

      And you got a pretty eurocentric atitude there. The Church is growing in Asia and Africa. Her decline on the secular world is mostly because it is giving up on religion in general*. You also sees that this is not good, but you still seems to have a view of religion that is pretty modern, which is weird. In most societies, religion was hardly a sphere separate from the others, not that this says by itself if the modern world is right or not, but it invite us to ask the question.

      Anyway, catholicism aways was what you criticizes here. If you have some intuition that the Church still has a important place on the world, them i suggest that some day you give a chance to the catholic view, for it either is useful as the job it wants to have or it is actually harmful.


      *but there are a lot of horrible stuff in the Church that is putting some away from she, she sure has several problems. It is clearly true that she needs reform, but not a total revolution

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    3. And thanks for your time. What i saw from your work is awesome and you sure helped me get idealism. Even disagreeing, it was cool that we got to interact.

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  14. EXCELLENT article, the negative comments here are saddening in their ignorance and hate.

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  15. I must say I don’t understand the hand wringing over this matter when the Church’s entire worldview is the real issue. What about the physical resurrection of the dead? Is that not a ludicrous obscenity from an idealist - or any spiritual - point of view? This is a Church that presents itself as the only valid path to God - and on that basis once exterminated entire villages because their populations were believed to include too high a percentage of Cathar heretics.
    But, that said, just as homosexuals have the right to be homosexuals, so the Catholic Church has the right to be the Catholic Church, and I don’t imagine they lose too much sleep worrying about the opinions of outsiders with regards to what blessings they provide for their members.

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  16. This got me thinking about marriage. Not from the perspective of Catholicism though, but from that of idealism. Doing this spurred an interesting thought: ultimately, what does idealism have to say about it? Let's take idealism to the end of the line and look back. Standing there, looking back, isn't marriage itself (whether heterosexual or otherwise) rather archaic? Who is it that you are actually marrying? If we truly embrace idealism, would not it be more keeping with oneness to not marry at all? 

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    1. I think one could drive themselves crazy if they "embrace" idealism as you say as a basis to question one's perception of reality. In the final analysis in my opinion you are left with none of this being real as we perceive it. Not even life or death or saving or killing. Bob mentions the extermination of villages. Not new in the human experience and the DNA that allows for that behavior is still firmly in place. Maybe deep down we understand that and at some point we reach a level where we say "Let God sort them out". I read an interesting book that in effect stated that every time human society reaches a point where we believe we have turned the corner on our violent, self serving behavior get ready because the caca is about to hit the fan in a big way.

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    2. First of all, idealism is a worldview that claims reality as inseparable from human perception. It is not a progressive perspective. It was the model of reality of the ancients in India even before the Buddha came on the scene. So, for the modern adherent of the “old” worldview of idealism, “looking back” - as though marriage consecrated in the Hindu temple, the Catholic church, and across all cultural traditions is an archaic practice – is self-delusion.

      Secondly, you are still you regardless of your perspective of yourself either through the lens of idealism or some other way of looking. You are comprised of a human body that can be married to someone else (comprising another human body) by a priest or judge. In conventional society, where most people (comprising human bodies) reside, marriage confers upon you rights to assets and family.

      There is a push in western society to cast away social traditions because they have no rational basis, are outworn, and mindlessly cruel. And the blame for this is put on religion and its doctrines.

      An example of religious doctrine is the teaching of the Ten Commandments in Catholicism. It provides the moral foundation for members of the faith. Catholics worship God through the living of a moral life. They believe that God assists them in living a moral life through the Church. The authority on this teaching is the Pope.

      Worship is not only a show of reverence through the performance of religious rites. Such rituals, as in the celebration of the Mass, are conducted by the clergy to facilitate and promote fellowship and communion among Catholics as the body of Christ. You just can’t walk into this communion. Like the Muslims who must perform ablutions before going into the prayer hall, Catholics “clean” themselves of sin they admit to in the confessional before receiving the communion wafers.

      What if I am a Catholic and believe that my homosexual tendencies are God-given and not sinful temptations of the Devil? How do I deal with this now that the Pope disagrees with me? The answer is obvious. Either the Pope gives me a dispensation or I renounce Catholicism, interpret the Bible as I deem fit just as King Henry VIII did, and practice Christianity the way I want.

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    3. Sree I was hoping you would join the fray.

      There are 3 different wisdoms, the wisdom of youth, the wisdom of middle age and the wisdom of the elder. I turn 67 tomorrow so what little wisdom I have would be of the elder especially considering when these observations defining the 3 types of wisdom were made
      the average life span of a male was probably like 40 years old.

      One of the things I get a kick out of is when the argument is used that biology dictates who you "love" and you can't fault someone for who they "love". You can almost hear the gay marriage supporters say that "love" with a quaver in their voices and a tear in their eye. What that word really means is that biology dictates who trips your trigger, floats your boat, makes you want to do the nasty. When I was young I accepted that definition of love until I went through 2 marriages and realized it was a fleeting definition with little substance if that is all you had. My third wife and I have been married 26 years and at our age sex is not the foundation of our relationship. I have finally experienced the kind of love that the sacrament of marriage within the Catholic church salutes and promotes. It is not saluting the type of love that is primarily about who causes your genitals to become engorged. Also there is a dynamic, a tension to the relationship between a man and a woman that doesn't exist with the same sex. A male sheds at least a billion sperm cells a month a woman one egg. We males are driven to spread as many of those sperm cells a month as we can and it is nothing but fun. A woman carries a potential risk of getting pregnant and either having a responsibility that lasts for a life time or the risk of childbirth killing her. That tension from having such tremendously different perspectives causes you both to grow in a way a homosexual relationship will never cause you to grow. I have never truly understood my wife and she has never truly understood me. Consequently our love for one another has grown from learning to respect and support one another regardless of those differences and maybe even because of those differences. I can't in a million years believe a same sex marriage will have that same result regardless of who tries to sell me on the fact that it is really the same thing.

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    4. “I can't in a million years believe a same sex marriage will have that same result regardless of who tries to sell me on the fact that it is really the same thing.” (eakj)

      You assume the fulfillment of a marital relationship is not the same based on the pairing of a man and a woman compared to the same-sex pairing of two men or two women. What if the pair is a man and a trans woman (who was assigned male at birth)? Thanks to science (i.e. psychology), gender identity is no longer as simple as night and day, the way it used to be.

      Rational thinking is the foundation of progressive ideology that is intent on upending our way of life. Guys like you and me, who are guided by the age-old, gut-instinct of common sense as opposed to opinion based on the deductive analysis of ever-evolving facts, cannot out-talk the intellectual. And because we can’t out-talk the intellectual, we are relegated to the rank of duds too backward to be taken seriously.

      Thank God, there are some things in life that never vary: the sun that always rises in the East, Spring that always comes after Winter, and good bourbon (to toast you with). Here’s to your 67 years and a good marriage. Cheers!

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    5. Ed Konderla, I wonder if your mind is so made up that we can talk at all? I am 74, so I don’t know what kind of wisdom I might claim, but it is probably even littler than that which you lay claim to, but this is a discussion, so on we go:

      What concerns me about your argument that the Church in its wisdom supports heterosexual unions is that you make a special claim for such unions; actually, come to think of it, you make a superior claim: that such unions have special “tensions”, and presumably special lessons that God want us to learn. I would agree that they have unique tensions, but I fail to understand your claim for the superiority of these tensions.


      So, if it’s all about tensions and learning that the love of agape trumps genital arousal, have you considered that other kinds of unions might also have their special tensions, and their unique lessons; maybe lessons that you will never be privy to but which, in God’s eyes, so to speak, these might be quite as important as your experiences are? And can you really not imagine that for same-sex couples sex can also turn to love?

      I could say much more, but all I’m really appealing to is that you see if you can prove that you can extend that deeper love which you have discovered through your marriage to a few more people - even one will do, if they are gay. Give it a go, and see how good you feel :-)

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  17. I have thought extensively about the question of whether homosexuality is a result of nature or nurture. My conclusion is that there are probably both kinds in this world.

    If you look at the range of human attraction, you will find that humans can become attracted to all kinds of things. For example, on the extreme end there is a woman who is in love with a tree, and a man who is sexually attracted to a car.

    I do not believe that the man who is sexually attracted to a car was genetically wired to be attracted to a car. He was not born with a car in the sexuality circuit of his brain! It's something that happened to him over time. He rewired his own brain in some way. Perhaps, it started with sexual encounters in the car. Over time, his brain began to associate the car itself with sexuality.

    That is why, to say that homosexuality is always genetic and something that you were born with does not make sense to me. It's like saying "you can become attracted to nearly anything over time, other than the same sex". Why should that be the case?

    Anyway, I believe there are people who are genetically inclined to be homosexual, but I also believe that there are people who become homosexual as a result of their environment and/or choice. I know that's not a popular opinion.

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  18. So much ignorance and fragility in this comment section. Nothing in Bernardo’s post here should be the least bit controversial or upsetting to any reasonable person. I think it’s likely the influence of grifters like Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson that we have all these fragile weirdos sharing spaces with good, reasonable philosophers like Kastrup.

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    1. Your argument is that the author is right because all reasonable people believe these things, and those who disagree are fragile weirdos influenced by grifters? This is content-free argumentum ad hominem; you have to do more to back up radical ideas than call people names.

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  19. Why are you so bothered about this, Bernardo? I myself went to Catholic primary and secondary schools and know what nonesense is being peddled, hence my lapsing when I was around 15 or so. The Roman Catholic church has imo never been a primarily spiritual organisation (whilst it may be true that some spirital people have long happened to be Catholics).

    IMO, the church hierarchy never bound anything together, and has never been remotely interested in doing so. It's been much more interested in trying to retain power and influence. If there's ever been "re-ligio" in it, it has only been found in the hearts and minds of some, perhaps even a majority, of its adherents, and despite rather than because of the sometimes cynical machinations of the clergy.

    As I've grown older and come to my own particular understanding of esoteric aspects of religion, I hope I've come to know a little better what the ideas lying behind religion are. To me, these have little to do with the constructed dogmas that have perverted them. If the Church lets go of the idea that homosexuality is a choice, then it will loose its essential nature, and so it has to keep on promulgating it. I suspect it will continue doing so until its dying breath, which might not be that far away.

    What will bind us together, I posit, is coming to the realisation that each of us is but one small aspect of a greater whole -- what you call MAL or TWE. Once that is realised, and the counter-productive futility of hatred and violence is grasped (by harming others, one is only harming oneself), we might have a chance to achieve what religion is nominally supposed to. And at that stage, we can dispense with dogma, some of which is, let's face it, crazy.

    As to homsexuality, really, who gives a tinker's toss what people get up to in their sex lives as long as they don't interfere with the lives of others? But here's a point: things have got to the stage where it's precisely what's happening on the LGBT front. Some activists are stirring the pot and creating division just for the sake of it. And some hyper-sensitive types are only too happy to jump on the bandwagon, exagerrating issues far beyond their worth, thereby garnering some of the attendent and self-congratulatory Brownie points.

    Sad to say, It's possible that even some otherwise highly intelligent and inspiring people have allowed themselves to be gulled into virtue signalling without realising it. At least, I hope they haven't realised it. Because, if they have, then they're being hypocritical about their own motivations, which have less to do with caring for others -- and more with basking in the glow of external approval.

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    1. Or intelligent people believing they are a lot deeper than they really are. You need to make sure the Pope sees this so he can correct his ways. I assume you differ with Bernardo's observation that the church has shot itself in the foot by making this move since it is obviously a power play.

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  20. A critique of Pope Francis’ ruling on homosexuality ought to be focused on the Church’s official teaching on the matter. Scapegoating the pontiff and casting him as the cowardly head of a dying institution dismisses his spiritual commitment and ongoing ministry to LGBT Catholics who are part of his flock and members of the Church.

    The pontiff’s stance on human sexuality, based on God’s plan as reflected by natural law, is largely influenced by the philosopher, St. Thomas Aquinas. The act of sex, like eating or breathing, is primarily a biological process of the human body. As custodian of the body, the ego-consciousness has no agenda apart from conducting itself in an ordered manner consistent with the care and need of the body.

    James Martin SJ, a Jesuit priest, wrote: “In terms of sexuality, all sex is “ordered” toward what are called the “affective” (love) and “generative” (having children) ends, within the context of a marriage.” Human society is an extension of its component, the individual human being. Would disordered acts brought about by the ego-consciousness not only harm the body but also lead to disorder in society and disharmony with “consciousness-at-large”?

    Let’s examine what is being put forth, in the above essay, as a progressive spiritual insight into “the eternal words of scripture”. What are the human rights that are violated by the teaching of the Church? Are these the rights as declared by the United Nations in 1948?

    In a recent meeting between the United States and China at Anchorage, Alaska, the Secretary of State, Anthony Blinkin, took the Chinese representatives to task over China’s human rights violation in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang, claiming that those actions "threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability”. His condemnation was pushed aside by the Chinese officials who said that "the US does not represent the world, it only represents the government of the United States." Incidentally, the current US government doesn’t even represent all the politically divided American people. Human rights are simply not whatever one says they are.

    In 1948, “homosexuality was something you did, not something you were” (Mo Rocca), in the same sense as being an Uyghur with rights given by the United Nations. Back then, homosexuality was classified by science as “sociopathic mental disturbance”, a disease. In 1973, this diagnosis was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) by the Association of American Psychiatric Association (APA) when gay psychiatrists within the APA, lobbied by gay activists, managed to change the science on the orientation.

    Now that the condition (homosexuality) has morphed into a person (homosexual) with rights, we are caught in a conflict of evolving worldviews. This clash is similar to the battle the new paradigm of idealism is fighting against the old one of physicalism to gain legitimacy in the human psyche that is formed by rigid beliefs. Alternative explanations that challenge existing perception of reality are always unwelcome. Is this the etiological theory posing as a spiritual insight that is being used to pathologize the conduct of the Pope?

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  21. Excellent commentary. Whished I could write like that. I don't know how long these people think they can throw all social norms in a blender and not have it blow back all over them. Bernardo as well as many other intellectuals claim to have the desire to use idealism to fix the planet but I really don't think they have a clue of how to cause humans to work in unison. If they want to accomplish this goal by attempting to turn humans into something they are not I absolutely am convinced they are doomed to fail. If saving the planet is just a narrative to justify their thought experiment in social engineering then fine. That makes sense and although very Machiavellian at least I understand the process. But this idea that every group that has some knee jerk reaction to their plight in life mandates we turn them into a victim and then build a stand alone reality just for them is absolutely insane in my mind. I'm glad I live in a remote village on top of a mountain in the Andes. It provides a great view of upcoming apocalypse.
    Oh and thanks for the kind thoughts. The reason I have a good marriage is I have a wonderful spouse.

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    1. "Bernardo as well as many other intellectuals claim to have the desire to use idealism to fix the planet but I really don't think they have a clue of how to cause humans to work in unison. If they want to accomplish this goal by attempting to turn humans into something they are not I absolutely am convinced they are doomed to fail." (eakj)

      First of all, Bernardo’s work has value and we are drawn to it because we sense that he is heading in the right direction. Reality IS inseparable from human perception.

      Secondly, he is not spinning out a theory just to survive in the “publish or perish” world of academic philosophy. He is committed and believes that his insight has practical implications for humanity. We have got to keep the faith. And, more importantly, keep his ball from rolling into the gutter.

      Fixing the planet is not a one-man show any more than fixing the USA is. We have to do more than just follow the man or merely “storming the Capitol” on a Wednesday afternoon.

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    2. You are right although I like the idea of storming the capital. I'm kind of the proactive type. However saying that I've been around enough I have garnered a great deal of empirical exposure and experience to what works and what doesn't work. You cannot successfully execute a major project, which I consider saving the planet will take, with half the people wanting to go east and the other half west. You have to pick a direction and go with it and it has to be clear to all of the members of the endeavor that is the direction we are going. It's OK to think that is the wrong and is especially OK to disagree with how we get to the goal. But at some point the group has to be disciplined enough that once their voices are heard and the person with 51% of the vote says "OK team this is what we are doing" you have to suck it up and make that decision a success even if you disagree with it. Instead we are growing a society that is 100% convinced of their individual self importance, their right to go through life with no bumps and bruises, the right to believe "My way or the highway".

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  22. German Catholic clergy rebel against Vatican over same-sex unions
    https://edition.cnn.com/2021/03/24/europe/german-clergy-same-sex-marriage-scli-intl/index.html

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    1. The German Catholic clergy has always been a pain in the butt of the Pope since Martin Luther. Their attempts to reform the Church has been going on for the past 500 years without success. The Bishop of Limburg is asking for a sacking. B├Ątzing and his cohorts are CINOs (Catholics in name only). They have broken the vow of obedience.

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  23. At the risk of being off topic here I think some of the same charges could be laid at the door of church over voluntary assisted dying. Church would rather people have prolonged death in agony than have any kind of control over their deaths. And in doing this they are flying in the face of what most of the public in most countries actually want - choice. Stinks to high heaven and the church just banging another nail in its own coffin.

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    1. In my opinion you are speaking to the bigger topic which gay marriage is only one small part. I think having the ability to take ones own life is pretty hard to control. If you want to off yourself bad enough you'll find a way. If one believes the church is wrong about gay marriage, euthanasia etc., etc. and the consequence after death one should just press on and find a religion compatible with your beliefs. I started off Catholic but now follow the Toltec Warrior tradition What I find intriguing is the belief that somebody, the church or whoever, has an obligation to make you feel good about behavior they see as morally wrong. In other words their obligation is to function as some kind of emotional band aid to the living. I personally believe humanity is living on borrowed time and large groups of people not dying fast enough will no longer be a problem so sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

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    2. This topic takes issue with the Catholic Church over its lack of “human empathy to cognize the suffering” of LGBTs in particular and, by extension, the problems of living for people in general.

      The gap between the Gospel and culture is the gulf between right and wrong. The job of the Church is to tell Catholics which is which.

      If you are a Catholic, not just in name only but in the true sense of that word, then the Pope is your guide.

      If you are a fake Catholic and see the Pope as just another lost soul that is no better than you at fumbling in the iffy world of human morality, then you are doing the work of the Devil to destroy the Church.

      If you and I are not Catholics, then we can have an honest, intelligent conversation about what to do in dealing with either homosexuality or euthanasia and leave the Pope and the Church out of the discussion.

      Voluntary assisted dying is not universally decriminalized. A person who needs to die would have to do it himself in an ultimate expression of freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Just don’t leave a mess for others to clean up.

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    3. Bingo Sree on all counts in my opinion. I can't imagine surrendering my right to deal with my last days in the way I saw fit. One thing that we are lucky here in Ecuador is that with few exceptions prescriptions are not required. I keep enough Tramal, Tramadol in the US, on hand to rejoin with mind at large with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. I'm already speculating about the next trip.

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    4. I am a newcomer to Bernardo’s idealism. Tangling with Bob and you and others here who are drawn to Bernardo’s work has compelled me to read up on his books to argue with you guys. Frankly, for mental health, I would rather listen to the rumble of a V-twin than to a boring TED talk by an intellectual on youtube.

      Academic philosophy is a real pain, and to understand Kastrup’s work, I had to study the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. I still don’t fully understand what “ontology” means. Writing responses the way I do to folks in this forum is not me. It’s me in drag wearing a wig, lipstick and high heels shoes. Looks like I will be putting on warrior war paint as well. Toltec wisdom. I am browsing The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

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    5. I fell in love with this stuff in 1988 while working for the Saudi government in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Stumbled across it in our expat library. It's real simple and takes personal responsibility to a new level. If you are unhappy it's your fault, if you get run over by a drunk driver while listening to that lovely V-twin it's your fault. Everything that happens to you in life is owned 100% by you. I'm not near as impeccable yet as I want to be but I work on it everyday.

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    6. I share your conviction. I am responsible for all outcomes in my life. This is consistent with a consciousness-only reality. Even though it sounds like solipsism, there is no ‘outside’ because I, the ego-consciousness, am the perceived world. If you and I are not sympathetic to Bernardo’s commitment to the welfare of people with homosexual tendencies, where did we go wrong in our study of his idealism?

      The Catholic sees a relationship with Mind-at-large, namely God, and feels compelled to live an ordered life the way an ant does. In Chapter 11 of his book, “Rational Spirituality”, Bernardo called such a life one of “instinctual intentionality”.

      The Church teaches us that “instinctual intentionality” was lost in the fragmentation of consciousness that happened when Adam ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge. It led to the awakening of self-awareness, the illusion of free-will, and the right to choose between good and evil.

      Now, “free-will” is the crux of the problem of morality being discussed in this topic. The ant doesn’t have this problem. Neither do our politicians in Congress even though their intentions are not instinctual when they pass legislation to permit same-sex marriage, repeal anti-sodomy laws, facilitate gay parents’ adoption rights, allow LGBTs access to all business organizations and public institutions including the military.

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    7. Idealism and Bernardo provided the closure of an Intellectual search I had been on my whole life. The Warriors Path provided a guide to live by. A guide that provided 100% freedom of your mind if you could learn to incorporate it. Like you I am having a hard time at times trying to incorporate all of the terms into my thinking. Solipsism sounds like a deviant sex act to me. Standing back from the definitions for one second and talking about the Warriors Path what does that mean to me? For one to the Toltec ancients this reality is a dream with no more true substance than any dream. I accept that more and more each day. Where does the freedom come from by believing in ultimate personal responsibility? Because to be impeccable in the path that means everyone else has ultimate responsibility also. If one chooses to feel responsible for the plight of someone else that is of course your right but totally inconsistent with impeccability. It is an indication that one overestimates ones self importance. In the case of homosexuality and the Catholic Church if I chose to argue how much was wrong with that looking through the lens of the Warrior's Path it would be easy but neither group says they are on that path. They must be impeccable in pursuing what they as individuals believe. But for the rest of world to get all hung up about the fact that the Catholic Church's position gives homosexuals a bobo on their emotional needs is really way out of bounds in my world. It's like being in an overcrowded life boat with half of the people being burn victims but pointing to one guy and saying, "Poor guy he's missing a button on his shirt. But what about the burn victims? Oh sure they are in a tough position to but just look at that poor guys shirt. Oh the humanity."

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    8. Hi Guys,
      I’ll just throw in my two cents on idealism and personal responsibility.
      Yes, on an ultimate spiritual level we’re all responsible for our entire situation, but on the level of ego consciousness much of it (like our sexual orientation) is just something we fell into. I think this gives us some flexibility in how we deal with people. With regards to ourselves, it makes sense to be somewhat tough on our ego consciousness and strive for more responsibility than it is inclined to take, whereas with other people it might make sense to go somewhat easier on their egos and show a degree of sympathy (or indulgence if you will), within sensible limits, if only to put a check on one’s own ego and build healthy connections with other alters. But I don’t believe either approach is necessarily inconsistent with idealism. Bernardo takes the view that it’s all about gaining insight and helping others do the same for the sake of universal consciousness, but this doesn’t provide us with simple answers.
      I believe we have some flexibility here. Thus, if ones sees a hungry-looking beggar in the street one could either pass him by (since his plight is his responsibility) or buy him a meal (since he’s asking for help and clearly doesn’t feel ready for that responsibility). I think either option is perfectly fine under idealism. It may be just a matter of personal taste, or of tuning in to one’s intuition on the matter.

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    9. I think you are spot on. Since my chosen "religion" comes with it's own set of rules I separated the two, idealism and Toltec. So far my experience with idealism doesn't give me enough to guide my life but under the Toltec scenario lets examine the hungry beggar. Toltec teachings say never give charity of any kind to person that wants charity, even if they deserve it. Sounds harsh but we aren't done yet. If you decide to give charity realize you are being self indulgent and don't ever lie to yourself. That would be the biggest "sin" is to lie to yourself that you are actually helping that person in the big picture. The problem is the Warrior is constantly fighting himself and in that particular case you are losing in that battle. It is not a judgement on the person for wanting the charity. That is his battle. So the critical outcome here is not to emotionally reward yourself the way western Christian culture teaches you to reward yourself. Here in Ecuador you are constantly confronted with the destitute, the hungry, the deformed, the crippled on the street unlike most of Europe and the US. I fail on a regular bases with the toughest cases but I never lie to myself as to why I fail and I try to find people that need charity that don't want it to help. In that case you aren't damaging them and you are walking the path impeccably. It's a lot more work because those people aren't on the street begging.

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    10. It's like being in an overcrowded life boat with half of the people being burn victims but pointing to one guy and saying, "Poor guy he's missing a button on his shirt. (eakj)

      Yeah, the burn victims. The whole planet is going to the dogs and we are concerned about the poor guy with the missing button.

      I have been concerned about the piles of nuclear weapons all over the world waiting for a nutjob to start a chain reaction to set them off. But no, the crazies are more concerned about climate change and whose lives matter.

      As you said, whatever the outcome, you are 100% personally responsible even though you have nothing to do with it.

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    11. If you decide to give charity realize you are being self indulgent and don't ever lie to yourself. (eakj)

      Wow, I think I am a Toltec warrior.

      A few years ago, I was in Southeast Asia. I came upon a guy sitting forlornly on the grassy roadside as I was making my way to town. I looked at him and our eyes met. I stopped and he extended his hand to beg. I felt a strong impulse to give him a dollar or so and move on. Something made me resist that compulsion to give to the poor. So, I just stood there and looked at him. He was perplexed but kept extending his hand towards me for money. I stood still looking at him. He kept imploring. It went on for several agonizing minutes but I did not relent. Finally, he lowered his tired hand after giving up trying to figure out what I was up to. He got up and ambled away leaving me to curse silently to myself for being a heartless prick. Just then, I noticed something on the ground where he sat. It was a bottle of cheap alcohol that was hidden from my sight. If I had given charity as Bob would, the wino would have bought himself another drink.

      Life is a dance of duality between good and evil, the rich and the poor. The Toltec warrior must not submit to the force that imprisons his ego-consciousness to play that game.

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    12. Guys, this particular conversation is on a dangerous slippery slope right now. I am approving the comments, but if the trend continues, the next thing will be to ask who cares that six million jews were killed, given that climate change is about to kill one billion. It is just absurd to claim that we should disregard what is being done to certain groups (who suffer real consequences for being discriminated, like being fired, being beaten up, being killed, etc.) just because other people ostensibly suffer more. It's a line of argument too absurd to host. Please refocus this conversation on something else.

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    13. Bernardo it is certainly your game and your ball but to me the absurdity lies on your side of the fence. You live in a very absurd reality that ignores the real problems of the world and focuses on minutia. There is no way in hades that this intellectual self aggrandizement will ever impact climate change. Get out of your lecture hall and classroom and take a real visit to the real world and it's real problems.

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    14. I would just like to make one clarification...
      “...given charity as Bob would...”. Sree
      I don’t believe I gave any indication of what I would do. I was simply trying to point out that idealism doesn’t provide us with any simplistic moral rules.

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    15. Bernardo it is certainly your game and your ball but to me the absurdity lies on your side of the fence. (eakj)

      Whoa, my friend. Being impeccable with your word is one thing, but observing the decorum of the classroom is another.

      We are here because Bernardo is our teacher. Not every professor allows a free-for-all in the pursuit of the truth. In this instance, our free speech may be restricted but not by Bernardo, who must abide by the terms and conditions of Google, the media platform hosting his website.

      Is there some other discussion forum you go to where I can study your Toltec view in-depth?

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    16. I can only go by what I perceive. When you write a list of things advising us on how to impact climate change like "I eat less red meat" it almost causes me to be embarrassed for you. And the problem with it for me is not what you do or don't do. I haven't ever lived my life based on the perceived expert. What bothers me is that those kind of comments trivializes the efforts of the real fighters. It gives validation to the people that want to pursue the minutia. I am having this discussion knowing full well I will lose the argument because your world is about winning arguments. One quick quote and I'll go away.
      “To draw an analogy: a man's suffering is similar to the behavior of a gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the "size" of human suffering is absolutely relative.”
      ― Viktor Emil Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

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    17. I don't feel embarrassed at all. But it's all good. Keep up the real fight then, from "a remote village on top of a mountain in the Andes". You're probably braver and tougher than I am.

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    18. Forgive me for taking the liberty with your ego-consciousness, Bob. Idealism needs to be taken out of the realm of academic philosophy and put in the realm of real practical life. Otherwise, we would just be a bunch of martial artists going hak, hak, hak, for show in a dojo instead of having skin in the game when the tire meets the road in the street.
      Like science, there is a whole lot of philosophy funded by special interests to push the focus of public awareness in a direction of the “missing button” rather than on “burn victims”. Intellectuals are people who have to eat. Scientists go where the jobs are even if it is at Alamo to built a nuclear bomb to kill millions of people. Changing the paradigm of reality is the job of philosophers who need research grants to stay physically alive and professionally relevant even if it means getting the whole world concerned about the wrong thing.
      Without integrity, there is no hope for humanity. Our brand of idealism must be impeccable.

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    19. Sree you will have to excuse my intensity. My debating skills are the result of working big projects with lots of fellow engineers and supervisors with competing agenda. In a morning meeting 50 important decisions had to made in an hour and then acted on. Everyone had to walk out with a clear mandate to pass on to their subordinates to delegate to over 5000 workers. It was not an environment for the sensitive and the faint of heart. You learned to get over yourself real fast or were fired or quit.
      I would love to discuss the warriors path with you. I've been a professional teacher many times in my life (meaning I was being paid to do it) in 3 different countries, community college and public high school and I always learned more than I taught. My email is ekonderla@yahoo.com .

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  24. All: in order to avoid spam and abuse, which, unfortunately, can still happen when people hide behind practically anonymous google accounts, and reduce my work load approving comments, I am from now on requiring that you register with this blog before commenting. It's free, fast and easy.

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  25. Hi Bernardo,

    My comment is actually not aimed at your post on the catholic church, but just to thank you for your work and words.

    A few weeks ago someone dear to me sent a link to the NRC Futures interview you did and I decided to listen to it. And for the first time ever, someone, or well you, described the outlines of a conviction, or - since I am replying to a post about the church – a god, I could identify with. Since then I listened to many of the podcasts you did and I started reading The Idea of the World.

    The shifts in thinking I am experiencing are almost transformative, your ideas add value and meaning to everyday life for me. So just thanks. And keep up your work!

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  26. <>

    He does what he can, meaning what he's allowed to. The Vatican is not so peaceful a place as many may think. On the contrary, huge tensions are occurrying between its most powerful agents, namely American Christian Fundamentalists, Opus Dei and the Jesuits.

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  27. I agree with Bernardo on this. It was the Church which chose to reaffirm this terrible notion that ones sexual orientation is chosen, and that one 'choice' is sinful. Therefore his attack was directed at them.

    Like him, I am heterosexual, so I could listen to the Church and indulge a comfortable feeling that at some point in my teenage years, I made the honourable choice, but that would not be true.

    I left Christianity many years ago for a variety of reasons, but certainly its unhealthy obsession with sex was a major consideration.

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  28. The Church does not say that any sexual orientation is sinful, it says that certain sexual acts are sinful, such as those outside of marriage or performed after taking a vow of celibacy. The attempt to draw an equivalence between the two is bullshit. Clearly there are people who have a sexual orientation who don’t perform sexual acts.

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    1. Oh, so someone born with a homosexual orientation only sins if they engage in homosexual sex... I see. So, unlike the rest of us, they have to be celibate for life -- not by choice, like monks, but because of the way they were born -- just because of their natural sexual orientation. Now, that my friend, is capital Bullshit. If we cut the Bullshit, then we see the apologetic nonsense you are defending. By saying that homosexual acts are sinful, the Church is effectively saying that homosexual orientation is sinful. If you don't see it, then you are too immersed in the Bullshit to see the simple and unambiguous reality of the situation.

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  29. OK, I accept that the Church’s position treats homosexuals unfairly. But the logical answer to that is for the Church to allow gay marriage, which would give homosexuals a sanctioned outlet for sex. This would not be a simple matter in the context of Church doctrine, but I don’t see how providing blessings to unions outside of marriage makes any sense, it only sweeps the real issue under the rug and would appear hypocritical.
    At any rate, I believe David’s statement “It was the Church which chose to reaffirm this terrible notion that ones sexual orientation is chosen” is incorrect. That’s not what the Church says.
    For the record, I was raised Catholic and did 12 years in Catholic school, but left that behind a long time ago.

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  30. Dear Dr. Kastrup,
    While your rejection and refutation of the Church's commendable, nay - pathetic, pretense for dogmatic authority and/or spiritual guidance in the case of that specific decree, is obviously correct, it seems to me that for some non-explicated reason you refrain from taking the argument to its logical end and even allow some unnecessary apologetics into your argumentation, further leading to some incoherence.
    First, you expose the total groundlessness of a specific act/decision of the church (its 'choice' to view homosexual relationship in a certain way - to "reject" it in some metaphysical way), but avoid the more fundamental question of whether the church as an "Agent" (as a body of knowledge/ideology/beliefs/convictions, as revealed in its history) is at all qualified/authorized/entitled to make that specific kind of act/decision. With all due respect, the very idea of the church as an authority on what a profound, complex, multifaceted and indeterminate AMOROUS relationship between two human beings is or can/should be, is ridiculous and even obscene. While Thomas Aquinas (or Martin Luther) could, in their respective periods, reflect over the sinfulness of sexual desire (of the Romantic sentiment as we understand that concept they had no idea) and guide or even compel their congregations (or all Christendom) to act according to their insights and conclusions, no voice or representative of institutionalized Christianity today can claim to do so in any valid or coherent way, for the plain reason that the game is now played at a field altogether alien thereto. It is as though today's concept or variants of amorous relationships are at the quantum level whereas the church purports to address them via Aristotelian physics. To my humble opinion, that is a fact and I fail to understand why it is overlooked (I understand if one chooses to ignore it on political/utilitarian grounds, but not on principal/philosophical grounds).
    Second, I got totally confused as regards your interpretation of the concept of the 'Absolute' or 'Universal' and its application to the holly scriptures as such. You write: "the sacred words of scripture must not be upgraded or re-edited..., for they are the intuitive reflection of eternal absolutes." and immediately add that "we evolve, we change, we develop the ability to interpret the absolute through new perspectives.. lenses.. nuance". And here I ask: If the human intellect (capacity for interpretation, namely including intuition) determines how a universal/absolute reveals itself... - what is universal/absolute about the latter? Isn't there a contradiction in terms here? And what about a possibly of different interpretations? And I emphasize: I have nothing against the idea of ever evolving interpretational capacities by the human intellect. It only seems to me that this concept/capacity/reality does not leave room for the 'universal/absolute' character of the holly scriptures. I agree that these writings are a cultural treasure/heritage, but only in the authentic sense of culture, namely the result of the spiritual endeavors, curiosity and creative power of the human mind/intellect/phenomenon and not as something transcendental or of transcendental origin.
    I will stop here and thank you very much for your reflections.

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  31. "Some have claimed that what the Vatican considers a 'choice' is merely a homosexual union, not sexual orientation per se. But let us be frank: if one's sexual orientation isn't a choice, neither is one's aspiration to a homosexual union. ..." That doesn't follow. If one has an unchosen homosexual orientation, then homosexual *inclinations* and *desires* and are not (entirely) a matter of choice. However, the aspiration (i.e., conscious plan) to engage in homosexual acts or a homosexual union is still a choice. The aspiration to celibacy is also a choice (though admittedly not a very enticing one).

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    1. How about the Church deciding that you have to live a celibate life, and never have sex, lest you land in hell? The bullshit here is so evident it amazes me people insist on this farce of an argument...

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  32. See my last comment. I appreciate your work, but this post constructs and attacks a straw man of the Church's official view of homosexuality.

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    1. I do not understand your phrase "a straw man of the church's official view of homosexuality". How can the church's VIEW/declaration be a 'straw man'. The church (or any other branch of institutionalized religion) is eo ipso an Authority, isn't it? The state enacts laws; various state and/or public institutions issue guidelines or recommendations of various levels of validity/applicability; people have views and convictions. But the church? - it's decree's / official positions are by definition applicable in some absolute sense that other "positions" are not. Can the church, for example, make 'symbolic' gestures? I think not. Symbolic gestures are a prerogative of human beings as "fallen" creatures, and they are grounded in the very recognition of the complexity and indeterminacy (fallibility) of the human existence. The church (or any other branch of institutionalized religion) cannot "react" to reality in that "tone", so to speak. Its Punctum Archimedes - divinity - excludes that. Let me give an example: in the year 2000, a Roman Cardinal declared regarding Bruno Giordano's 'auto da fe' burning alive 400 years earlier that 'the heretic's execution to be a "sad episode" and further that it was "atrocious death", but did not condemn (or worse) the Inquisitors who provided the verdict (one of whom was later proclaimed a Saint), although we now know that they were wrong and he was right. How can Giordano's executor be a Saint? And what does that tell us on the "force" of Church's proclamations? You wouldn't call that abstaining from condemning those inquisitors and their act a 'strawman', right? So why the double standard in the present case? Moreover, in 2013 Queen Elizabeth II pardoned Alan Turing. Putting aside the merit of the matter (the gesture repels me personally; she should have begged pardon from him), we do not require from her what we require from the Cardinal (from the standpoint of intellectual integrity), even though she's also a Monarch :), and the reasons are obvious. She has no divine status.

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  33. Just a thought- perhaps a simple answer for some homosexuals who are unhappy in the Catholic Church would be to join the Episcopal Church. I hear their liturgy is virtually identical to the Catholic one, and they are much more inclusive of the LGBTQ community,, including gay marriage. https://www.hrc.org/resources/stances-of-faiths-on-lgbt-issues-episcopal-church

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  34. Isn't it interesting--and frustrating and disappointing, if not disheartening--how we can get so worked up about a blunt and narrow pronouncement of the Catholic Church concerning the wide and complex spectrum of human sexuality? Many years ago, when this unorthodox Protestant clergyman took the official gospels apart and reassembled them with fresh context and chronology, creating a new version of the Jesus story using the tools of form and redaction criticism (free sample available on the Kindle as "Life of Truth: a synoptic gospel"), one thing quickly became obvious. When it came to Jesus' hierarchy of sins, the lusts of the flesh paled into insignificance in light of the lusts for money and power. At their best, the teachings of the Catholic Church have reflected that hierarchy; at their worst, they have ignored it, focusing more on the mote than the log, on the gnat than the camel.

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  35. Bernardo - not related to this article, but a question. I love your work, btw, and am slowly getting each book under my belt.

    Here's my question for you (and anyone else who wants to chip in).

    I've observed that wilful thoughts "I must have a bath" "I should turn left here" "I must work harder in the garden"...actually have no prior. They come from nowhere. I.e I have no control over what comes into my mind, EVEN wilful thoughts. Am I wrong? There's no controller, no chooser of thought, right? So therefore there's only the appearance with no prior of free will. I've never seen this addressed. Alan Watts sometimes mentions it and a few other eastern dudes.

    But our whole nature, even the wilful side, comes automatically, out of nothing???

    Thoughts? Would damn love to hear them. Keep doing what you're doing. It's so vital! Can't wait to go to bed each night as it's the only chance I get to read your stuff!

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  36. Bernardo,

    As a queer person who's seen a heap of trouble over it because of ass-backwards religious convictions and know-it-all jackasses like the ones running off their mouths in here like they have a fucking clue... Thanks for sticking up for people like me. You do good metaphysics, and it's good to know you're a decent person, too.

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    1. Hi DandelionSoul. I like your comments and want to keep on approving them, because of the raw, felt honesty and reality they embody. I just ask that you go easy on certain words, like the F word. Not that I don't use these words myself in my personal life (I do), but I am sensitive to other people's sensitivities, and I want to keep on maintain an environment here where those are respected too.

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    2. Of course! I recognize that the substance of what I have to say might offend certain sensibilities, and I'd much rather people be offended by that than the particular words I choose to express it.

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  37. All of us have powerful, inherent desires. Some are good and some are bad.

    We have to judge between our desires, and saying "This is who I am" cannot help us decide the question. All of us are both good and evil. This is our "identity".

    To say "This is an overwhelmingly powerful desire" doesn't help us decide the question either.

    Once we decide which of our desires are good and which are bad, it's our life's work to encourage and make real the good, and struggle to kill the bad.

    It's never easy to kill a part of one's own self, to gouge out the eye that causes sin. No one wants to die, even a little bit.

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