Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Papal Bull! - Interview With Joe Wenke & How You Can Win His Book

Dr Joe Wenke
Joe Wenke (joewenke.org).
Awhile back, I did a review of Joe Wenke's book You Got To Be Kidding : The Cultural Arsonist's Literal Reading of The Bible. I found the book funny and witty and recommended it. I gave it 4 out of 5 - "Worth it for a light, thought-provoking and quite amusing read!"

Joe was also kind enough to send me a couple copies of the book as well, which I sent out to some lucky blog readers here in Canada.

Well, Wenke is coming out with a new book later this summer called PAPAL BULL: An Ex-Catholic Calls Out the Catholic Church.

To me, the words Papal and Bull work well together in any phrase.

Like him, I'm also an ex-Catholic who finds calling out his old Church painful yet strangely cathartic. So this looks like something good - something meaty that I could really sink my teeth into, chew with satisfaction and swallow happily with no Catholic guilt whatsoever. Okay, perhaps a little lingering Catholic guilt, but that just makes it all the better.

Well, my own odd and creepy imagery aside, I've agreed to review Joe's new book when it comes out! But for now, Joe's agreed to answer a few questions I had about his childhood, opinions on the Church and how he describes his upcoming book.

If you want to know how you can win the book, just skip down to the bottom of the post! Now on to the interview!
What kind of Catholics are/were your parents? Were they staunch "pro life" Latin Mass traditionalists or more liberal? What was their reaction to you leaving Catholicism? Has/had your relationship with them changed? 
They’re both dead now. They were both very religious. My father was very rigid in his beliefs, so we clashed a lot. My mother was the most beautiful and purest person I’ve ever met. She accepted and embraced all of my ideas even though she disagreed. She thought I was very funny. At the same time there was a division between me and my parents over my beliefs, and there is today between me and my siblings with one or two exceptions.
Were you a devout Catholic back in the day? How much of a part did Catholicism play in your younger days? 
I was pure and idealistic when I was a little boy. We’re using a picture of me when I was seven dressed in my white First Communion suit as the author photo on the back cover of Papal Bull. It pretty much captures how I was back then. That was before I hit puberty and started questioning everything and dealing with the fact that the Catholic Church was all about being anti-sexual and warping young impressionable minds with suffering, sin and guilt.
Do you still catch remnants of your Catholic upbringing - either negative or positive? If so, what are some?

I still look at everything through a moral prism while at the same time thinking that life is absurd, so it’s a blend.
What are your opinions about the new Pope? His odd comments about atheists and gays.

I wrote two Huffington Post pieces about that. Some people are excited about the idea that he might be a reformer. He’s not. He supports all of the church’s traditional positions on the ordination of women, women’s reproductive rights, contraception and the status of the LGBTQ community. He just cleared the way for Pope John II to become a saint even though he was the single person most responsible for obstructing investigations into the church’s sex abuse scandal. He’s just a politician with a more pleasing personality than Benedict XVI, who was known as God’s Rottweiler” when he was the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith formerly known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition.
You can find Joe's latest blog in the Huffington Post here, Pope Francis, the Reformer.
Given the constant scandal around the Church - corruption, sexual abuse cover ups, hypocrisy, etc. - why do you think people cling to the Church and do you think there is a way to wake people up to this so they can stop supporting this organization and move to a less dangerous form of religion or no religion at all? 
I’m trying to “disturb” people, in the Andre Gide sense about these issues. That’s what Papal Bull is all about. I think there is a movement toward humanism and skepticism about religion. At the same time, however, there remain hundreds of millions of people who embrace institutional religion and who use the Bible to justify their own bigotry, particularly against the LGBTQ community.
Do you think you will see the Church change its stance about homosexuality being sinful within your lifetime? 
No chance whatsoever.
Your upcoming book is called, PAPAL BULL: An Ex-Catholic Calls Out the Catholic Church. Will this be in the same lighthearted satirical style as You've Got To Be Kidding, or will you take a more serious tone with this piece? Why did you write the book and what (if any) are your hopes and goals for the effect it may have on people?

Papal Bull is very funny, but I would say it’s got a harder edge to it. I’m very detached about the Bible, so it’s easy for me to treat it with a kind of light touch, even though the point of view of You Got to Be Kidding! is very radical. In the case of the Catholic Church, I’m more emotionally involved, so the humor is more cutting. They’re really companion books. I’m delighted to say too that Gisele is also on the cover of Papal Bull. She is the angelic, beatific nun on the cover of You Got to Be Kidding. On the cover of Papal Bull, she is the evil and possessed transgender pope. Once again, they’re companion books. They go together, but the tonality is different in each case.
Again, my goal is to disturb a few people, while keeping it funny. Serious but funny.
Thanks to Dr Joe Wenke for answering my questions and providing some copies of his book for me to distribute!

How You Can Get A Copy Of Joe's Current Book

Cover of book "You got to be kidding" by Joe Wenke.
Gisele Xtravaganza, successful fashion
model graces the book cover. Read the
interesting backstory about this here.
Okay, I'll be honest here. I'm trying to use these books to generate donations to the Humanist school in Uganda I have been fundraising for.

So it's sort of like a hostage crisis, except it's books not humans or pets in danger and you won't need to get a second mortgage on the house to free the hostages. But I do hope it carries some of the same urgency and guilt, just some, just enough to motivate you to make a donation.

So I have five print books to give away. To qualify you can:
  1. Make a donation of any amount to the fundraiser to build new classrooms for the school at Build a Humanist School in Uganda. You do not need to be a Facebook member to donate and I hear that in a day or so there will be no reliance on Facebook at all on the site. One dollar, five dollars, 100 dollars, no matter the amount.
  2. Email me with your name (I will keep it confidential for you if you like) and the amount you donated at godlesspoutine@gmail.com.
In one month, I will award the books in the following manner:

One book will go to the largest donor. If there is a tie then I will draw for the winner. Don't worry, I wont split the book up and send bits of it to the winners, that would be abominable.

One book will be won in a draw where everyone has a single entry. So no matter how much anyone donated, they all have a 1/N chance of winning where N is the number of participants.

Three books will be won in a draw where everyone will have the same number of tickets as dollars they donated. I'll need to write a computer script to do this. So the more you donate, the more you increase your odds.

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