Friday, May 27, 2005

Time for a reality check

One of the likely consequences of wielding the weapons of nihilism, even so-called "Christian" nihilism, is that the person will end up negating plain facts to the point of being laughable. That's what produces the "Jack Chick mentality" and the related pathology of conspiracy theories, and when they crop up, they can be laugh-out-loud hilarious (although pitiable for all that). But I'm not sure that even Chick himself could have rivaled the hilarity of some recent posts by Darth Aomin.

Plenty of commentators noticed the increasingly paranoid rants since the death of Pope John Paul II, particularly in Darth Aomin's Roman travelogue. For example, many noted his description of the trip as being in the midst of the enemy camp (Clue: if the papal curia has never even heard of you and wouldn't take you seriously even if they did, calling yourself an "enemy" is ridiculous). Maybe next month, Darth Aomin will reveal that the Jesuits are out to get him for revealing the truth, just like they are out to get Jack Chick. What cracked me up most, though, seemed to pass by without much attention. Our dear Sith Lord offered the following "profound" observation:

After we left St. Peter's our host took us back around a corner away from the crowds and pointed out this building, quietly situated behind the main area. Why point out this building? Because it houses the records of the Inquisition. Inside that building are the records documenting Rome's murder of countless simple believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I could not help but comment that if Rome is Christ's Church, why not throw open all her secret archives and libraries and let everything see the light of day? Because we all know what would happen. Instead, just to the right of this picture stood one of the Swiss guards. Rome is not ready to be honest with her own history.

Apprently, Darth Aomin is not ready to be honest with reality, because this kind of delusion can only be motivated by willful ignorance or insanity. Note some of the sinister reasons that the prefect of the Archives gives for the difficulties in opening the Archives:

To organize, verify, inventory, and number the papers. The Vatican archive, in fact, receives documents from the various dicasteries of the Roman curia, in the order and material organization they had originally. But in the archive, in view of the documents' release, a comparison must be made between the documentation – contained in envelopes, folders, bundles, volumes, and other bindings – and the related card catalogues or contextually compiled indices. Thus the material must be prepared, sometimes cleaned, and divided into manageable bundles; in this phase, verification is obtained that procedures are being followed and that the titles correspond with the records. The next phase is the collation, or organization into envelopes, of the papers, and this entails numbering them. All these operations, carried out for thousands and thousands of items, explains why the work goes on for years. To this it must be added that some archives of pontifical representatives, because of historical vicissitudes, arrive in complete disorder. This is the case, for example, of the representatives in countries occupied during wartime (Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) or of those areas of central and eastern Europe which certainly did not have an easy life during the cold war: the pope's representatives were harried by the communist governments from one day to the next and forced to flee, carrying the papers from their archives heaped together as well as possible in their luggage (as in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, and other countries). All this material must be patiently reviewed, ordered, and inventoried. No scholar, in fact, could carry out studies on these documents without this preliminary work.

The Vatican Secret Archives is nothing more than an exceptionally huge library of ancient documents, with all the requisite complications. Scholars have had access to the collection for more than a century, and the only reason they haven't had more access is that it takes years to get the documents into condition to even permit them to be studied. Heck, to the extent that the documents have been indexed, the list is publicly available on CD-ROM! Ooooh ... scary! I'm sure that all of the libraries in the world that restrict access to ancient documents do so because they're not willing to be honest with their history. Hardly surprising that the "scholars" who demand access to the Vatican Secret Archives for some sensationalist purpose come away looking like Geraldo Rivera at Al Capone's "secret" vault.

But this sort of thing is endemic in a certain brand of Protestant thinking. There's no reality check on something as ridiculous as making a library into a Vast Roman Conspiracy, something that even a particle of common sense would dispel. Darth Aomin's recent obsession with past debates seems to fall right in line with this detachment with reality. Not that there's anything wrong with thinking he's won every one of his debates; any good debater does. But when you construct an elaborate delusion about past opponents cowering in fear of your "unrefuted" arguments, reality ought to intrude at some point. The facts are that no Catholic apologist has seen a new argument of note from Darth Aomin in several years (rendering any further debate pointless; been there, done that) and that the only reason most of them reply at all is irritation, annoyance, or good old-fashioned dislike, not substance (which is by no means a compliment to them). If White believes, for example, that his posted rebuttal touches the Catholic position on Purgatory, that simply shows that he doesn't understand what the Catholic position is. For all we Catholics are supposedly living in a dreamworld, it would seem the fruits of self-deception weight far more heavily on the branches of Protestant apologetics.