* LA Church ‘in record abuse deal’ *
The Catholic Church in Los Angeles reportedly agrees to pay $660m to hundreds of alleged sex abuse victims.
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We are now apparently to be presented with periodic reports of the child abuse inflicted by priests over the past half century in the U.S.  Needless to say the great bulk of Catholics and their clergy are decent people.  But their church is dying now a slow death while less decent and honorable ones in the U.S. flourish.  As one who has been around the world of theology for a half century, I would have to observe that our religions generally have been dumbed down and diverted following a brief period of scholarly excellence and social responsibility that did much to bring us expanded civil rights for those who had been suppressed by our history of racism and ethnocentrism.

When I was a college student in the mid 1950s I literally had to editorialize in my Ivy League college against anti-Semitic exclusion of both Jewish students and faculty.  In a class of 1,000 my brilliant African roommate was one of 3 students of color in my class and in the college.  Martin Luther King, Jr. and all our other religious groups pulled together to open the doors.

However, the decline began to set in about the time I entered divinity school in the U.S. and Britain.  The scholars and activists for social justice were already being replaced by feel good religionists.  Religion, as Freud, had intimated was being pushed as a sort of medicine regime that would make scared people feel safe.  The big daddy in the sky would make things all right — just hang in there and follow the pack.

Needless to say this was also a time frame in which those who were trained in theology were losing what used to be called faith.  Those with social concerns were shifting careers to law, medicine, teaching, etc.  So the field was left open for the pedophiles and scam artists to move in to exploit the naive and defenseless.

I wish I saw a change for better things down the line.  But it is a well known fact that the Catholic church can no longer enlist new young clergy to man its churches and the same is pretty much the case with other religions as well.  The mega churches with their posturing TV types have very little to do with our fine religious traditions that once upon a time gave people a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives.  Now we have the war enthusiasts who want to kill their enemies — Muslims against Jews against Christians and the reverse.  It is nightmarish to see these three Western religions reverting to the barbaric worlds of the ancients which saw their gods as the Deciders in Chiefs who would lead their peoples to war against other Deciders in Chiefs and their tribes.

May the gods spare us an apocalypse in which our WMD become the ultimate destructive tools of people competing to survive on an over crowded and deteriorating planet.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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