Saturday, March 12, 2011

Goin' Deep With Brian Malone (Not An Innuendo, You Sick Assholes)

Hey. Background time.

I grew up in a very Catholic oriented environment and, despite a slight falling out between me and the big C recently, we still have a sort of weird, half assed intimate relationship. I think that before college I missed about 2 Sundays of church ever. I never particularly liked going to Mass, and I stopped going altogether since I've been at college, except when I go home on a weekend. I just don't really see the point. I just feel like I don't need to get up early after a night of frivolity and pack myself into a crowded little space with a lot of loud noises to be able to claim that I love God. When you try and force people to do stuff they don't wanna, they're gonna resent it, and no one wants it to be like that. Maybe some day I'll learn to appreciate it and want to go. Who knows. My mom would call me a “cafeteria Catholic” for that. In fact, she has before. What she means by that is that even though I'm Catholic, I choose to disagree with certain beliefs that the Church holds, some of them rather major. Which is true. Sorry mom, but I don't like to follow dogmatically. SEGWAY! (cross-curricular)

Let's talk about some of these beliefs that I disagree with (cue controversy). I already mentioned the whole issue of churchgoing, but here are some other, bigger ones. First up is the death penalty. Catholic Church: against. Brian Malone: fry 'em. Sorry to be crude here, but when a person is so nasty to the core that they rape and kill and do other shit like that with no remorse, they lose their right to life in my mind. Because honestly, life is a blessing and a privilege, and when you no longer have any respect for the lives of others, you don't deserve your own.

Round two brings us to premarital sex. Catholic Church: against. Brian Malone: all for it, given the right conditions. I'm not saying I feel it's alright to just sleep around with whoever we want, whenever we want. I just feel like if you know someone really well, and you both really like/love each other, and you're both willing to take that step in your relationship, then go for it. And if not, then don't. I just don't think that there's all that much of a difference in the role sex plays in our relationships before and after marriage.

Next up is gay marriage and homosexuality in general. Catholic Church: against. Brian Malone: let gays be gay. I don't mean to be politically incorrect here, but I don't know how else to say it. I'm not into that, but who cares if other people are? And even if you think it's wrong or immoral, just keep it to yourself. There's no need to condemn people. That's not our place. It's God's. And that's not to say that they should be condemned, because I definitely don't think that.

Finally, let's talk birth control. Catholic Church: against. Brian Malone: for. To me, there's a huge difference between contraception and abortion. After conception, its a different ballpark. But preventing some eggs from fertilizing and producing life is not the same as ending life. I think contraception is really important, especially in today's world where more and more people seem to support my view of premarital sex. It's much better than getting pregnant and then having to deal with that moral quandary, something I think that the Church should be the first to realize. Unfortunately, they don't see it that way.

Now I want to address some misconceptions that a lot of non-Catholics, and even some Catholics, seem to have about Catholicism. Let's start with evolution. WE DO NOT TAKE THE GENESIS STORY LITERALLY. To paraphrase something my priest once said, “We as Catholics aren't supposed to literally believe that God created the world in seven days. It is just a metaphor for God's power and his hand in creation. Science has all but proven evolution to be fact, and religion and science are meant to work together in this sense.” So in other words, maybe we evolved from apes, and those apes evolved from something else, etc. all the way back to the first speck of matter that exploded to create the universe (or whatever theory you believe created the universe). But the point is, we believe that that speck, that first thing, whatever it was, was created by God, who then let things unfold. And I do not mean to belittle or discredit atheism here, but I have always wanted to ask, “Where do you guys think that that first thing came from?” I respect your answer, whatever it may be. I'm just wondering. But yeah, referring back to an earlier statement, Catholics don't necessarily interpret every word from the Bible as solid and unquestionable truth. We get that some things are just metaphors and guiding stories written in ways we can relate to and understand. Also, perhaps the biggest and most frustrating misconception people seem to have about Catholicism is that we're all bigots or something that see other religions as lesser entities to be frowned upon and shunned. Not so. So yeah, the point is that we aren't a bunch of elitist pricks like people often seem to think. We all acknowledge the atrocities the Church has committed in the distant past, but let's be honest. Not to belittle mass suffering, but what religion hasn't in some way repressed other religions at some point in time?

I've noticed that a lot of people I know that were raised Catholic and went to SHG no longer support Catholicism. Perhaps there were other factors, but for the sake of my point, let's assume it was SHG's fault. It really pisses me off when certain more prominent figures in Catholicism fuck up and all of us are frowned on for it, like SHG being super elitist, or that microscopic and unrepresentative percentage of priests molesting children. Not to minimalize the terrible nature of those things, but it's like people think that there's never been a reverend or a pastor or whathaveyou that's committed a crime. People are fallible, and it just sucks that those people who are the worst of us are often chosen to represent a much larger body that is, for the most part, good.

Another thing I've noticed is how taboo talking about religion is these days. People always seem to apologize when they bring up the topic, and I understand their desire to be politically correct and not offend anyone or make anything awkward, but in short, it kind of sucks. Now, I'm not advocating that religion should be integral in politics, because I believe the separation of church and state is for the best. But it seems like our freedom of speech is quietly being repressed more and more as we strive harder and harder to make everyone happy and be politically correct. The sentiment is a noble one, but it's just too bad that the world we live in can't simply have many voices of differing opinions coexist without conflict.

So clearly I'm not the best example of the ideal Catholic. I disagree with a bunch of stuff and I sin all the time. I'll be the first to admit that. I swear like a demon. I even did it a bunch in this post. Occasionally I break some laws. I'm pretty prone to sloth and gluttony. I love watching movies where the bad guys die horrible and awesome deaths, and I laugh my ass off when they do. The Boondock Saints is one of my favorite movies for this very reason. They just go around and kill scumbag criminals, and I love it. Sometimes when I'm eating dinner, I'll just sit and people-watch. In other words, I mentally judge people left and right, and though I do my best to keep that judgment in my head, I still know it's wrong. But I'll keep doing it anyway, because it entertains me and I can't help it. I do my best to learn from my mistakes, but the honest truth of it is, sometimes I just don't. Sometimes I just don't care. I know a lot of the time I'm rather cocky and arrogant and a bit of a douche bag, and I try my best not to be like that, but sometimes I just can't help it. I'm not afraid to admit my flaws, and I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that don't like me for them. I wish it weren't so, but at the same time, it doesn't bother me. There's not a person out there that is liked by everyone that knows them, and I'm not trying to be the first. I want people to like me, but if they don't, they don't. That's that.

But despite all this stuff, I feel like my basic morals are what they should be, and I'm happy with that. I'm proud to be me (pride is totally one of the seven cardinal sins, but fuck that shit). In the words of Al Pacino at the end of The Devil's Advocate, “Vanity is my favorite sin”.



  1. Haha you read Sean's...

  2. Brian,
    Lots of good thoughts here.
    I'm particularly with you on the comments on evolution. When I went through confirmation and questioned the whole time-line thing, the answer my pastor gave me was "how long was a day in the beginning? How do we know one of the initial days wasn't a billion years?" That's pretty much how I've always looked at.

    You make some great points about the Catholic church too....they certainly repressed science for many years, but I think they've done a lot to make up for it. One of the coolest observatories we went to in Arizona a few years back was the one sponsored by the Vatican. The church has done its part to promote a whole lot of science in more recent years.

    Finally, I'm also with you on that first speck of matter bit. I am a scientist, but there have been way too many places that I have been that were just too beautiful, just too perfect for me to believe that they just happened all on their own.

    Some may say this is too long...but it's not any longer than a lot of other things that have been posted here, and it's probably more thoughtful than some of those. Good thoughts and good work!
    -Linda Malone

  3. Heeheee ^ totally calling you out Eliot.
    I wish religion weren't so taboo either, but unfortunately the lack of respect for others opinions kinda kills it. Sadly, I don't think it's really going to change.

  4. Being raised Catholic and going to Blessed Sacrament School with Brian, this post really speaks to me. I agree with pretty much everything stated here with the exception of the death penalty.

    Very good read. This was stuff I thought about a lot going through Catholic school and living in a Catholic family.


    This is such an assholey response, but you can’t respond to life’s big questions with a sentence. Anyway, about the death penalty paragraph:

    In a pre-civilized world, there‘s one attributable value to an individual: the ability to survive. A working society suspends the concept of true Darwinism by protecting its weaker members. There’s still social Darwinism, yeah, but that’s nothing more than a safe representation of the principles of actual survival. The weak in a society fall to poverty and the lower class. Sure, they’re likely to die a little sooner then, but the difference is heavily handicapped. The society works toward a common goal: survival of the society, not the individual. The members work for each other, not for themselves. The weak hunter survives alongside the strong one, then, and eventually the two become relatively ambiguous alongside each other.


    As the society advances, it begins to add more luxuries to its wealth, and dominance starts to be measured by more than simply who is the best hunter. As the society increases in population, skill sets become more individualized. The different measurements of individual value, then, are also more individualized. There’s the best writer, and the most moral person, and the wisest person, etc. The problem is that there’s no way to discern which measurements are better for society than others; they’re all necessary. A smart man isn’t better than a strong man, or vice versa, when there’s a house that needs to be built.


    Eventually, as the society advances further and requires more skills to function, there grows a multitude of different value markers. Right to life is no longer judged by ability to survive. If a prisoner is executed, it saves resources, but its negatives can outweigh the positives for the society. It can terrorize a population into fearing for their own lives (depending on the nature of the prisoner’s crime), or more likely, it can degenerate the society backwards toward pre-civilization. The religions built in societies teach moralities. These moralities benefit the society by fostering productive, social frames of mind. One of these moralities is to keep people from killing each other, so to keep that morality intact, the religious have to condemn the killing of a prisoner, even if the execution is an attempt to keep productive members of society safe. The prisoner’s highest value to society, then, is to remain alive and incarcerated.

    One day, when the meteor hits, things will be a lot less complicated again. We can go back to playing a species-wide game of king of the hill. With spears.

  8. And about the SHG paragraph:

    Yes. It was mostly SHG's fault.


  10. Response to Robert's ridiculously long comment:

    "If a prisoner is executed, it saves resources..."

    This is not true at all. It costs an absurd amount more to put someone to death than to imprison them for life. The prisoner has to have additional expensive trials to be put to death, among other costs.

  11. Oh. Interesting. Well there you go.

  12. In states without the death penalty (since DNA profiling became effective in the 90's), over 250 people who were jailed for murder were proven innocent. Many of those innocent people would be dead for false convictions in states with the death penalty. Something to think about.