Welcome to God’s mosh pit – the full post

Sceptics call (Catholic) World Youth Day just one big party; others insist it strengthens the faith, writes Linda Morris. I call it a big waste of taxpayers money!

The thrust of the article is: do the World Youth Days actually encourage youth to attend mass and become part of the church? Apparently the youth have been drifting away from the church. Go figure.

The article starts with an interview of Mellisa Dwyer who attended the WYD in Rome eight years ago. Following which she became a nun. She had this to say about her time in Rome:

“In Rome there was such an overwhelming sense of community. … In Australia our faith is so hidden but in Rome it was so contagious.

Sounds to me like typical crowd hysteria. That’s what a lot of people don’t get, go to any large gathering of people supporting something and you can be overwhelmed. The emotions can be quite contagious, you only have to go to any football ground to see that in action.

World Youth Days are big business. By all accounts, Sydney’s will cost more than $200 million, sucking up $15 million of the church’s own money in Sydney and more than $160 million in taxpayer money and subsidies. (emphasis mine)

It gets more expensive by the day, last time I checked it was only going to cost us about $100 million. I (and many others) think that it is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars, but not everyone does:

But as the Vatican commentator John Allen once noted, to the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, it is a small price to pay to challenge, if only for a week, the powerful social currents that press youth towards secular conceptions of identity and satisfaction.

WTF? What is wrong with youth taking on secular conceptions anyway? So the youth are getting educated and going “hey, all this science stuff makes so much sense, and Catholicism and god doesn’t. Maybe I’ll stop being indoctrinated with false ideologies, and ditch the church” Like that’s a bad thing? Well I guess it might be if you make your billions from deluding people. Another thing, it might be a “small price to pay” for the Catholics, they’re only chucking in $15 Million after all. It’s us poor taxpayers, who had no say in the matter, who are putting up the vast bulk of the money.

The article goes on to point out that there are about 5.1 million “Catholics” in Australia, but that most of them never attend Mass. According to their own figures fewer than 14%. So does that mean there are really only 700,000 Catholics in Australia? So why are we pandering to this relative minority? I thought it funny how Pell uses the term “census Catholics”, we all know how skewed the census data is. (see my articles on the Census or Christianity a declining population)

Pell  … sees many areas of Australian life as hostile or indifferent to Christ’s claims.

That’s probably because most of us are smart enough to know:
a) christ doesn’t exist,
b) god doesn’t exist,
c) Catholics are deluded.

… will get the church back to the halcyon days of 1950s when the seminaries and religious congregations were full …

Reminds me of what a recent PM had dreams of, we dumped him too. The bishops haven’t realised the world has moved on, that people have started to realise that institutionalised religion has so many failings.

Paul Collins, author of: Believers: Does Australian Catholicism Have A Future? seems to be of the opinion that C-WYD won’t make much difference.

“Perhaps for a tiny minority it will be a life-changing event but most will revert to their previous patterns of existence …

being, calling themselves Catholics but not actually being practicing Catholics.

Collins says most lay Catholics he speaks to describe it as an expensive folly.

So it’s not just us atheists who think C-WYD is a waste of money.

On the other hand Richard Rymarz, a Catholic academic, says

we should not underestimate World Youth Day’s value just because it is big and flashy and populist.

Rymarz has undertaken studies of people who went to previous C-WYD, and is studying participants at the Australian one. He found that there was some increased involvement in their parish after attending a C-WYD, with

… participants more willing to talk of their faith to friends and family

Oh Great. As if we haven’t heard enough of this before the event we’ll have to listen to ‘born again’ Catholics banging on about it afterwards. Anyway, it’s like any sort of rally, there will always be some who get caught up in the emotion and apply it to their lives for a while. You see the same thing with those motivational speakers, or marketing and management gurus, after going to their seminars some people get all enthused and change their life around (I’ve often wondered for how long though). The majority forget all about it almost straight away.

Rymarz goes on to question the impact of C-WYD and whether it

facilitates supportive communities that met the needs of younger Catholics. For example, at many universities there is no longer a Catholic student group.

Hardly surprising that universities don’t have Catholic student groups. One would hope our university students have enquiring and open minds and the intelligence to question religious dogmas.

The rest of the article talks about Sarah Collins who

was a cradle Catholic, raised in the church, compelled by devout parents to attend Sunday Mass

In other words brainwashed and indoctrinated from birth. Collins ‘left the church’ in her teens but ended up going to the C-WYD in Cologne and was re-energised in her faith. She was amazed that

There was great camaraderie, everyone waking with the same purpose in solidarity.

What did she expect a million people all with the same reason to be there would be like? It’s hardly a reason to devout your life to god. The argument from numbers is a logical fallacy and no reason to believe something is inherently true.

I’ll finish off with the closing comments from Pell

“World Youth Day is not magic and we have never claimed it will be a cure-all.

C-WYD might not be magic but everything else you believe in is.
magic noun: any art that invokes supernatural powers

Even many of the sceptics will be pleasantly surprised and moved by the sight of many tens of thousands of happy, hopeful and faith-filled young adults among us,” he says.

Surprised: Yes, surprised at the number of deluded people.
Moved: Yes, moved to writing about what a waste of time and money the whole C-WYD is.

pleasantly surprised and moved …: NO.

Though I think he was talking about the sceptics in the Catholic church, who as mentioned earlier think C-WYD is a waste of money and won’t change anything. Though how you can be skeptical and a Catholic is way beyond my comprehension.

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16 Comments

Filed under atheism, atheist, Catholic, Catholic WYD, religion, world youth day

16 responses to “Welcome to God’s mosh pit – the full post

  1. I say we hold a National Spaghetti Monster Day and demand equal funding from the Government for it. Pirate sermons, pasta eating … it doesn’t come free!

  2. halt_rabbit

    160 million dollars given to catholics to promote sacrilege at Ranwick racecourse, the most holy, of holy site of the Invisible pink unicorn. I’m also going to need some major cash to make sure here pinkness doesn’t become offended.

    On a serious note $160 million could do some much good in the world. How did Australia get to the point where it would be spend on religious indoctrination? I thought that only happened in America. Looks like I’ve got a lot to learn. *Sighs*

  3. Why is this Catholic event state sponsored…does Australia have a state religion-Catholicism?

    I find this completely offensive. I wouldn’t want my tax dollars paying for it either!

    You’re right about the crowd hysteria too. I have attended several rallies (that were in no way state sponsored!) for the Methodist church…as a youth and an adult sponsor. It is very easy to get caught up in the group.

  4. half rabbit

    160 million dollars given to catholics to promote sacrilege at Ranwick racecourse, the most holy, of holy site of the Invisible pink unicorn. I’m also going to need some major cash to make sure here pinkness doesn’t become offended.

    On a serious note $160 million could do some much good in the world. How did Australia get to the point where it would be spend on religious indoctrination? I thought that only happened in America. Looks like I’ve got a lot to learn. *Sighs*

    (Sorry for double posting. I forgot to login and my comment before is taking a while to go though)

  5. I publish a magazine so I have had the opportunity to interview some of the spiritual leaders, scientists, and neuroscientists of our time and they, including myself, see religious beliefs that have their origins in the Iron Age as being dangerous as they have found their way into a society with high technology. The social consequences of this are glaringly obvious to anyone who “thinks” for themselves. During my own research I also found there are neurological consequences to maintaining rigid belief systems. This is how we can get people to come up with 27 million dollars to build a museum supporting creationism.

    I think, from all the evidence, that we are on the cusp of a global transformation of consciousness in which we will find ourselves face to face with the truth that’s obvious to many of us…we live and breathe and find ourselves deeply embedded in a grand mystery in which we know very little about how this came to be and finally feel comfortable with that and no longer have the need to make up stories (beliefs) to help us stay asleep and dreaming the dream of life.

    One last thought: “If they can make you believe in absurdities they can make you commit atrocities.” Voltaire

  6. A waste of money when we are supposed to be curtailling government spending hey?

  7. AV

    I think, from all the evidence, that we are on the cusp of a global transformation of consciousness in which we will find ourselves face to face with the truth that’s obvious to many of us…we live and breathe and find ourselves deeply embedded in a grand mystery in which we know very little about how this came to be and finally feel comfortable with that and no longer have the need to make up stories (beliefs) to help us stay asleep and dreaming the dream of life.

    So either we simply recognise and accept that we’re embedded in this “grand mystery” or we make up stories to explain it away? That’s a false dichotomy.

    Where there are things to be explained–and what is a mystery but a thing to be explained?–it is reasonable to seek explanations for them. The problem with the just-so stories of religion is that they purport to explain mysteries with even greater mysteries; and so, they explain nothing.

    On the other hand, there is at least one alternative to simply throwing our hands in the air and declaring “It’s all too difficult!” Modern science, for example, has thrived on the operating principle that where we encounter mysteries we should seek (seek, not invent or cut out of whole cloth) explanations for them–whether you’re talking about illnesses or the mysteries of the cosmos. Even if such explanations are only tentatively true, even if they can be falsified upon the discovery of new evidence. The benefits to humanity of refusing to wave the white flag in the face of mysteries (and what else could mysteries be but things to be explained?) are manifold, and if, as you claim, “from all the evidence we are on the cusp of a global transformation of consciousness” that will see us only too eager to raise the white flag, then so much the worse for humanity. It’s the easy option, it’s the path of least resistance that leads straight to the easy chair in front of the big-screen plasma TV, and it’s the worst kind of intellectual cowardice.

  8. Sr Melissa Dwyer

    Interesting way you referred to my quote in the above mentioned article as being someone who was…how did you put it…swept away with contagious emotions? If you knew anything at all about commitment to a way of life you’d realise that emotions will get you to about day 2 of religious life, then you’d better have something else a little more sustaining…I’m at 7 years and counting…it doesnt take too much intelligence to figure out there must be a bit more than emotion behind the World Youth Day decision to give my life as a nun…

  9. Sister,

    What happened to turning the other cheek? Growwwl?

  10. Sister,

    I am interested, why did you become a Nun. Considering the great harm the church has and continues to perpetrate against women and children specifically. If not motivated by emotion then what? A desire to do good?

  11. So it appears Sister was just a drive by Christian, slowing down just enough to be indignant and give OZ a telling off.

    Really Christ like.

  12. It would seem so Sean.

  13. Nuns give me the horn, same as dead popes!

  14. Protium – you are a very naughty boy!

  15. AV

    So it appears Sister was just a drive by Christian

    A Nun on the Run!

  16. Pingback: How to get 1000+ Comments on your blog « Oz Atheist’s Weblog

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