An article in the State Journal yesterday about the bishop warning his flock not to take advantage of the provision in the diocesan health insurance policy which provides for payment for birth control medications gave me a chuckle. I used to work with a couple of “Cafeteria Catholics”, who loudly professed their faith, but picked and chose which rules and guidelines to follow.
Sorta like one of my favorite Madisonians, Eddie Ben Elson, who ran for D-A decades ago (at one point, in the nude, on the stage at the Dangle Lounge, a long-gone local strip joint) proclaiming that he’d enforce “only the good laws.” The old-timers reading this will remember that Elson actually lived in McFarland, and was given to mowing his lawn in the altogether as well. And that he communed with a “beautiful, black, womanly angel” who told him back in a vision in ‘73 that the Comet Kohoutek would hover over McFarland, an astro-escalator would descend, and good people would ascend with him to escape the big oil spill that was coming.
Eddie was either prescient about the Exxon Valdez or the recent disaster in the Gulf, or lived too close to those huge oil storage tanks on the north end of McFarland.
As usual, I digress.
As I understand it, the Roman Catholic Church says contraception is immoral (for reasons best left unexplored here), and all diocesan employees sign a morals clause saying they’ll follow the church’s rules and teachings. A spokesman for the diocese told the paper diocesan employees would be warned about against using birth control, and failure to obey would constitute defiance and could lead to unemployment.
Since the founder of the Roman Catholic Church is not available to answer questions about rules, morals, and guidelines, the church often calls a meeting where the elders decide how the church feels about things. Like the meeting (First Vatican Council) in 1870, where they voted in the Papal Infallibility rule, a widely misunderstood ruling which many people erroneously think the Pope, when seated on a certain chair in the Vatican, is infallible.
There are still quite a few people of my acquaintance who are annoyed with all the changes Pope John the 23rd got started with the Second Vatican Council back in the early ‘60’s.
I’m OK with people who decide to follow whichever rules they like; I’m fine with people who are spiritual but not necessarily religious; I’m not OK with people who call themselves “good, practicing Catholics” but decide for themselves which rules are good and which aren’t.
Back in my undergrad days, in a group discussion during a mandatory 3-credit Ethics class, the consensus seemed to be “pure anything is F’d” – be it Rational Egoistic Hedonism, Stoicism, Utilitarianism, whatever. We decided as a class that we’d rather pick and choose the best from Kant, Mill, et.al., and that to adopt all the rules and teachings of any philosopher was just not in the cards for any of us.
I guess there’s still a lot of that going around.