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PopeWatch: Candida Moss

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Professor of Theology Candida Moss at Notre Dame is disappointed with Pope Francis:

News emerged last week that Pope Francis has strongly criticized modern theories of gender, comparing them to the educational policies of Hitler and the destructive possibilities of the nuclear arms race.

In an interview included in a new book by Andrea Tornielli and Giacomo Galeazzi, Pope Francis: This Economy Kills, and released in part in the Italian daily La Stampa, Francis compared gender theory to nuclear arms: “Let’s think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings. … Let’s think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation.”

In using the term “gender theory,” Francis is denouncing the academic perspective that sees gender identities as a spectrum rather than as binaries. Gender theorists argue that the way people identify themselves is the result of social and cultural constructions of gender.

This has important ramifications for how we think about biology and sexuality. While the point may seem academic, its ramifications are not. The recognition that gender exists on a spectrum has provided part of the intellectual foundations for both LGBTQIA advocacy and women’s rights.

In the interview, Francis recalled how a public education minister was given funding for new schools for the poor only on the condition that school textbooks taught gender theory. Francis described this as “ideological colonization” and added that “the same was done by the dictators of the last century. … think of Hitler Youth.”

In his comments on gender and creation, Francis was alluding to the Catholic notion of natural law: that moral and theological principles are encoded in the created world, there to be seen and studied and learned: “The design of the Creator is written in nature.”

But in invoking creation, Francis unavoidably invokes the first chapters of Genesis, where the Bible lays out “the order of creation.” This is where the confluence of tradition, biblical text, and gender runs into some difficulty.

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Moss ends her post with this:

 

But whether he means to or not, when it comes to placating conservative elements in the Church, Pope Francis consistently sells women down the river. For Francis, the go-to issues for establishing his conservative bona fides are his opposition to women priests, contraception, and his scathing judgment of childless families. He may just be rehearsing traditional Catholic perspectives, but when you add to this his tendency to use negative and mildly chauvinistic imagery to describe women a pattern emerges. Even if Francis were a closet liberal, he’s a liberal who ranks women’s interests at the bottom of his list of priorities. And if we take Francis’s position on gender theory and the “natural order” seriously, then we give up certain kinds of gender equality, as well as the possibility of creating a fully welcoming environment for same-sex couples or trans-individuals.

Francis’s interests in poverty and the environment are welcome, exciting, and sorely needed. His comments on women are not. And at the end of the day it’s possible to recycle cardboard without recycling centuries of misogyny. Continue Reading

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Pope Francis Does Not Gather Moss

Candida Moss

Candida Moss, Notre Dame’s self promoting “blonde ambition” Professor of Theology, go here, here, here and here to read about some of her prior antics, has apparently fallen out of love with Pope Francis.  Here is a quote from an article she and her sidekick Joel Baden wrote for the Daily Beast last month:

Much like an ex-partner you keep running into in the street, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s continued presence in the church serves as a constant reminder of the way things used to be. Benedict’s occasional but thoroughly traditional statements offer a painful reminder and glimmer of hope to conservative Catholics. Just last week, in written remarks read aloud at the Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome, Benedict wrote that interreligious dialogue “is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures.” Benedict’s arguments are expressed somewhat philosophically, but they are music to the ears of those tired of Francis’s soft embrace of atheists, aliens, and—worst of all—progressive social policies.

Conservatives can also be encouraged that Benedict is showing support, albeit subtly, for the previously important conservative Cardinals that Francis ousted from power. Cardinal Raymond Burke, a pro-life traditional prelate whose demotion by Francis was recently announced, invited Benedict to a Latin Mass at the Vatican. In declining the invitation, Benedict wrote that he was glad that the Latin Mass was being “celebrated by great cardinals,” a statement that many conservatives see as tacit support for those sent into exile by Francis.

Alas, that was last month.  This month Moss and Baden in an oped in the LA Times bemoan the un-pc use of language by the Pope:

 

 

Ten days ago, Pope Francis organized and addressed an interfaith colloquium on the subject of “The Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage.” The use of the doctrinal term “complementarity” signals the conservative underpinnings of Francis’ views on marriage. The religious teaching of complementarity holds that men and women have very different roles in life and in marriage, with men outranking women in most areas. Although Francis did acknowledge that complementarity could take “many forms,” he nonetheless insisted that it is an “anthropological fact.”

Last week, in chastising the European Parliament on the subject of immigration policy, Francis provided another alarming insight into his attitudes toward women, this time in his choice of metaphor. He described Europe as a “grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant,” but instead “elderly and haggard.” At 77 years old, presumably Francis still thinks himself relatively vibrant and useful to society. Women of his age, however, have apparently outlived their utility. Continue Reading

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Candida Moss and Indiana Jones

Candida Moss, Professor of Theology at Notre Dame, fresh off her laurels claiming that the Christian persecution by the Roman Emperors was much ado about nothing, read here and here for our examination of that deathless gift to scholarship, now comments about the latest claimant for the Holy Grail, basing her analysis on the same theory propounded by Indiana Jones in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:  that a cup made out of precious material would not have been used by a carpenter.  This latest attempt to gain publicity for herself has brought her to the attention of Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith;

 

 

Some Spanish researchers recently claimed to have discovered the Holy Grail, the cup that Jesus employed at the Last Supper.  I’m not convinced but since I’ve never been a relics kind of guy, that doesn’t much matter.  Candida Moss, professor of the New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, is also skeptical:

Even if you strip off the precious metals the cup is still too fancy. Agate was widely used to carve high-value objects like signets and cylinder seals in the ancient Near East. The historian Pliny the Elder describes owning agate cups as a sign of wealth and luxury. The imperial biographer Suetonius tells us that, of all of the riches of Alexandria, the emperor Augustus kept only a single agate cup. The emperor Nero—known for his debauchery apparently collected the things. In 66 C.E., when one of Nero’s contemporaries, Petronius, realized that he was about to be executed by the emperor and planned to commit suicide, his final act was to smash an agate ladle worth 300,000 sesterces rather than allow Nero to get his hands on it. To put that in perspective: male laborers living in Republican Rome made about 3 sesterces a day. While agate could likely be acquired much more cheaply, aristocratic Romans were serious about their agate.

Yeah, uh, Candy?  Cupcake?  If I remember the Scriptures correctly, the Lord informed His disciples that the place where He was to eat His final Passover with his disciples had been prepared in advance so there would have been no need for Our Lord to have owned any particular item involved with it. 

Inasmuch as, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head,” why would the Son of the Most High God have ever owned His own chalice?  This is the intellectual and theological reason why, claims Candy, professor of the New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame as well as an intellectual and theological badass.

Arguably the bigger issue is the cup’s appearance. As any fan of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade knows, Jesus would have used a simple carpenter’s cup. Like all dramatic reenactments, Indiana Jones has some minor historical flaws, but it certainly got that right. Archeological excavations have yielded many examples of ancient Israelite cups and they are made of cheap durable fabrics.

‘Kay.  Except that the “carpenter’s cup” in IJ&TLC was lined with gold.  Just sayin’, Candy.  Roman Catholics?  I know that most of you have gotten a huge kick out of how often you’ve rolled the Anglicans and quite justifiably so; if you’ve got a mark who doesn’t know he’s a mark then work that mark for as long as you can.

But Candy and ND are all yours.  So you will hopefully forgive a few Anglican chuckles. Continue Reading

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Clash of Buffoons

Oh my, a fight between Candida Moss and Bill O’Reilly to determine which one is more ignorant about Jesus Christ.  The entire video is cringe inducing to anyone who has read the Gospels.  My reaction while watching it was the same one of Henry Kissinger during the Iran-Iraq War:  It is a pity that they both can’t lose.  The difference of course is that O’Reilly is a TV talking head, one or two steps up from a barker at a freak show.  One expects him to be bone ignorant.  Ms. Moss, whose lack of academic prowess we have examined here and here as to her The Myth of Persecution, which twists the history of Roman persecutions of Christians for contemporary political ends, is a Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity in the theology department of Notre Dame.  That sad fact tells you all you need to know about the standards of scholarship, and sanity, now on display at that university.

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The Myth of Candida Moss

Candida Moss, a Professor in the Theology Department of Notre Dame, no surprise there, has a political tract disguised as a work of history entitled The Myth of Persecution in which she contends that the early Christians greatly exaggerated their persecution at the hands of the Romans.  The book really isn’t about history, which Ms. Moss mangles, but is rather aimed at current political battles which can clearly be seen in the promo video at the beginning of this post.

The blog Seeing the Sword has a first rate response to this waste of wood pulp:

What’s most problematic is that she is engaging in special pleading to make her case appear solid. However, she’s finagling her definition of “persecution” in order to suit a preconceived verdict. Miller continues by saying,

This is not to deny that some Christians were executed in horrible ways under conditions we’d consider grotesquely unjust. But it’s important, Moss explains, to distinguish between “persecution” and “prosecution.” The Romans had no desire to support a prison population, so capital punishment was common for many seemingly minor offenses; you could be sentenced to be beaten to death for writing a slanderous song. Moss distinguishes between those cases in which Christians were prosecuted simply for being Christians and those in which they were condemned for engaging in what the Romans considered subversive or treasonous activity. Given the ‘everyday ideals and social structures’ the Romans regarded as essential to the empire, such transgressions might include publicly denying the divine status of the emperor, rejecting military service or refusing to accept the authority of a court. In one of her most fascinating chapters, Moss tries to explain how baffling and annoying the Romans (for whom ‘pacifism didn’t exist as a concept’) found the Christians — when the Romans thought about them at all.

The word “persecute” is derived from the Latin persecut- meaning ‘followed with hostility’. Persecution, or the subjection of someone to harassment or ill treatment, does not, by definition, require the use of physical violence or imprisonment. But according to Dr. Moss’s arbitrary standard, anything less than being burned at the stake or imprisoned does not count as real persecution in her book. This would include having one’s property confiscated or being the object of mockery and derision. To deny as much would be tantamount to suggesting to blacks that racial slurs don’t really count. According to Moss’s standard, in the days of the Jim Crow laws, only lynchings, rapes, and violent beatings would qualify, but being subjected to thinly veiled threats, hateful looks, and demeaning slurs should be treated as if they are inconsequential or irrelevant.

Likewise, just because Christians didn’t spend three hundred uninterrupted years in catacombs doesn’t mean that they didn’t often feel threatened or worried that the calm would dissipate and, once again, give way to another round of merciless bloodshed. It’s true that Christians were able to flourish at times, but that isn’t proof that Christian persecution was predominantly a fanciful fabrication of the early church. Again, it would be like pointing to Booker Washington, who had an illustrious career that even included advising Presidents Roosevelt and Taft, or George Washington Carver and his celebrated scientific accomplishments that, likewise, won the affection of President Teddy Roosevelt, and then deducing that blacks must making much ado about nothing

Miller continues a bit further:

Christians wound up in Roman courts for any number of reasons, but when they got there, they were prone to announcing, as a believer named Liberian once did, ‘that he cannot be respectful to the emperor, that he can be respectful only to Christ.’ Moss compares this to ‘modern defendants who say that they will not recognize the authority of the court or of the government, but recognize only the authority of God. For modern Americans, as for ancient Romans, this sounds either sinister or vaguely insane.’

I particularly liked that last bit. It’s always been the case, says Dr. Moss, that Christians who refuse to heed the sinful demands of government are “either sinister or vaguely insane.” She would have made a good Roman. This further displays her contempt toward the immutable holy nature of God (Mal. 3:6) which is exactly what the law of God reflects. Was Paul wicked or psychologically disturbed to uphold the holiness, righteousness, and goodness of God’s commandments (Rom.7:12, Rom. 3:31)? Even more importantly, given that Christ actively obeyed the entire law of God, that idolatry is a sin He never committed (Ex. 20:4, 1 Cor. 10:14), and that Christians are to be conformed to His likeness, then how is refusing to worship Roman idols a sign of wickedness or insanity?

Lack of Evidence?

However, it’s not just her arbitrary definitions that I find vexing; her insistence of there being scant evidence also seems to smack of special pleading.

The greatest evidence is that all of the apostles save Judas and John were martyred. However, even John was banished to Patmos during the rule of Domitian as punishment for his Christian convictions. Therefore, eleven of the twelve apostles were persecuted.

Then there are the numerous accounts from the Church Fathers.

For example, there’s Clement of Rome‘s first letter to the Corinthians from the late 1st or early 2nd century, where he speaks of Peter and Paul having died honorably at the hand of Nero and encourages other Christians to look to their example:

Unto these men of holy lives was gathered a vast multitude of the elect, who through many indignities and tortures, being the victims of jealousy, set a brave example among ourselves.

And there’s Marcus Minucius Felix’s remembrance from the 2nd or 3rd century of his fellow Christian, Octavius, debating the Roman pagan Caecilius. Caecilius, speaking in terms that were likely commonplace among pagan Romans, said of this nascent Christian faith,

And now, as wickeder things advance more fruitfully, and abandoned manners creep on day by day, those abominable shrines of an impious assembly are maturing themselves throughout the whole world. Assuredly this confederacy ought to be rooted out and execrated. They know one another by secret marks and insignia, and they love one another almost before they know one another. Everywhere also there is mingled among them a certain religion of lust, and they call one another promiscuously brothers and sisters, that even a not unusual debauchery may by the intervention of that sacred name become incestuous: it is thus that their vain and senseless superstition glories in crimes.

Tertullian presciently wrote in 203/204 AD in Scorpiace, as if in anticipation of the likes of Dr. Moss, ”And if a heretic wishes his confidence to rest upon a public record, the archives of the empire will speak, as would the stones of Jerusalem. We read the lives of the Cæsars: At Rome Nero was the first who stained with blood the rising faith.”

 

 

 

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