July 05, 2005
July 5, 2005 02:49 AM
Like everyone else these days, I'm ragging on Tom Cruise's pontifications regarding the proper way to deal with psychological ailments. One blogger wonders,
How can/should we talk about scientology? If it's ok to dismiss ANY belief system as a wacky cult, it seems like it should be those guys. But is it?
As many have pointed out, the virgin birth and the wise men and all is a lot to swallow, too, but finding out that a friend takes the bible somewhat literally does not reduce my opinion of the friend's judgement. I think that finding out they were a scientologist likely would. Is this intolerance or just common sense?
I would consider a somewhat closer case, in light of Cruise's wading into medical matters, to be having a friend who is a Christian Scientist
. If I delivered a baby and then suffered post-partum depression, a Catholic friend's belief in the virgin birth wouldn't require her to feel negatively toward my using an epidural during labor nor Paxil against the depression. But a Christian Scientist would consider medication to fight physical pain the wrong way to deal with it, and a Scientologist would feel the same way about drugs for psychological pain. And trying to avoid pregnancy or STD transmission
with someone who follows the Pope's teachings on birth control could be quite exasperating.
In short, we don't really mind religious beliefs so long as they don't interfere with our practical everyday realities. Or at least I don't; Tom Cruise and Jerry Falwell are welcome to believe whatever they like, but once they start condemning others publicly for treating their own maladies incorrectly, or for causing the 9/11 attacks to happen, they open themselves to counter-criticism and condemnation without any special exception merely because their speech is religiously based. Although that raises another question: Is Scientology legally classified as a religion? From what I can tell, it doesn't involve a deity of any kind, not even a second-class pantheon. Is any all-encompassing framework in which people have a strong, not necessarily rational faith to be counted as a religion? If so, Marxism would fit into the category; "come the Revolution" sounds even less plausible to me than "come the Resurrection."
Free exercise justifies not only freedom of religion but also freedom from religion. Speech rights guarantee (usually) freedom of speech but do not impose an obligation to listen or pay attention to such speech. Or are the originalists out there ready to challenge these thoughts? If so, I'll have to get ready with my muzzle loading musket to protect these and my Second Amendment rights, with my Fifth by my side for companionship.
Scientology is not a religion. Religions traditionally offer salvation at no monetary cost. I cannot think of a Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, or other sect which requires the ponying up of money to gain the benefits of the belief system. You are expected to give to support the work of the church but it is entirely voluntary and after the fact. Scientology requires one to pre-pay in order to gain access to the teachings. Anyone interested in the theology of Scientology should check out Operation Clambake on the web.
I disagree with your comment that "trying to avoid pregnancy or STD transmission with someone who follows the Pope's teachings on birth control could be quite exasperating."
Let me preface my comments by stressing that I'm not trying to argue whether Catholic teaching is right or wrong, or whether it's impractical to expect people to follow it, but only to quarrel with the notion that IF you follow Catholic teaching, it would be "exasperating" or otherwise impractical.
First, as to pregnancy, Natural Family Planning (NFP) is incredibly effective when properly followed. Granted, people who see no problem with other contraceptive methods wonder "why bother," but if you do use NFP, it does work. In fact, many non-Catholics, esp. those in favor of "natural remedies" over pharmaceuticals, use NFP for its effectiveness, unrelated to Catholic moral teaching.
Second, as to STDs, if you look at Catholic teaching on sex generally, and not just at the "birth control" aspect, then following Catholic teaching is far stronger protection than any condom out there. In fact, Catholic teaching -- again, if actually followed -- is the ONLY method that is 100% foolproof against STDs. The rules are simple. Don't have sex till marriage, then have sex only with your spouse. Voila - no STDs.
Now, again, let me stress that I'm not saying that it's practical or worldly to have no premarital sex; I'm just saying that it seems that your criticism is more properly phrased as a disagreement with Church teaching, period, not as a criticism that Church teaching is exasperating even when followed. What's exasperating is trying to break one Church teaching -- no non-marital sex -- while still following other teachings, like no condoms. But if you follow the whole package, it's pretty simple.