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Pope Joan: A Medieval Tale for Modern Women
London Student ^ | 10/21/2013 | Hannah Elsy

Posted on 10/23/2013 2:06:19 PM PDT by Alex Murphy

I left the National Youth Theatre’s production of Pope Joan feeling both angry and extremely moved. The disputed myth of the first and only female Pope touched something very deep in my psychology. Pope Joan is a medieval tale about the alleged first (and only) female Pope who rose to the top of the Vatican styling herself as ‘John’- she is devout, brave and willing to risk anything to be close to God. Prior to the start of the action, Joan has revealed her true identity to a Cardinal in the Vatican who she has slept with and is now carrying his child, obviously problematic in her desire to maintain her male disguise.

Joan’s problems, therefore, are tenfold. She is not blameless in the child’s conception and does not wish to keepit, as her cover will be blown. However, by aborting the child she feels as if she would be angering God because this would be a disavowal of God’s gift to females: the ability to procreate. Sophie Crawford’s (Joan) expressive eyes internalise this pain and conflict, in a tour de force of a performance. Crawford makes it clear that is her body that is her betrayer, and that she is torn in a fundamental dichotomy between her faith and her biology. Although her faith is stronger than any mans, her body renders this faith heretical. She dies a martyr as she is ‘discovered’ when she goes into labour whilst giving a delivering a sermon in the pulpit.

The setting of the play in St James’s Church, in Piccadilly is perfect for the production. It allows designer Fi Russell to excel in creating an extremely atmospheric setting, because she has already been given the gift of the ornate church wall and stained glass to work from as a backdrop. She has pushed the altar back and has filled the floor space with an enormous horizontal white cross. This acts as a raised stage for the action, and is a constant reminder throughout the play of Christ’s bodily sacrifice to God, reflecting upon Joan’s own struggle with her body.

Considering this is her first published play, Louise Brealey’s script is excellent, particularly the dialogue between Joan and her antagonist, the snarling Cardinal Anastasius who wants the papacy for himself, played with a sting by Robert Willoughby. The most powerful moment in the show is a silent physical scene where director Paul Hart uses the National Youth Theatre’s ensemble training to create a staircase up the isles and to the to Church altar which Crawford climbs up, breasts bared reaching out in desperation to the edifice of Christ above her head. She is prepared to give her body over entirely to Christ, but it is that same body and the child growing inside her that nullifies her connection with God.

Richard Geller and John Lipman have excelled in their creating the costumes for this piece. In tandem with Russell’s design and the church setting, Joan’s papal robes are heavily brocaded, creating an authoritarian sweep around he as she commands the Vatican, cutting through the dust of the Church. Anastasius is dressed, fittingly, in long and rich Satan-red robes, elongating Willoughby’s already tall natural height to make him tower above Joan and the rest of the Vatican, a genuine threat. The strengths in this production are typical of the National Youth Theatre, as they lie in the incorporation of the space into the ensemble work. As you sit in the pews, the Vatican meets, squabbles and shouts all around you, creating a multi-sensory experience where the entire cast is valuable in creating the scene around you.

Although this is a fictional story and has become long-embroiled in Christian and urban mythology, the tale of Pope Joan is particularly pertinent to today’s modern professional women facing the problems of maintaining a work-life balance between their career ambitions and their desire (or not) to have a family. Pope Joan is an aptly timed show, performed just as the bill to allow women bishops in Wales was passed, proof that the Church is finally accepting that the strength of your faith is irrelevant to your gender.


TOPICS: Catholic; History; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: popejoan
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Pope Joan is a medieval tale about the alleged first (and only) female Pope who rose to the top of the Vatican styling herself as ‘John’- she is devout, brave and willing to risk anything to be close to God. Prior to the start of the action, Joan has revealed her true identity to a Cardinal in the Vatican who she has slept with and is now carrying his child, obviously problematic in her desire to maintain her male disguise. Joan’s problems, therefore, are tenfold. She is not blameless in the child’s conception and does not wish to keep it, as her cover will be blown. However, by aborting the child she feels as if she would be angering God because this would be a disavowal of God’s gift to females: the ability to procreate...Crawford makes it clear that is her body that is her betrayer, and that she is torn in a fundamental dichotomy between her faith and her biology. Although her faith is stronger than any mans, her body renders this faith heretical.

Note that she didn't mind "angering God" by sleeping with the cardinal. There isn't a "fundamental dichotomy between her faith and her biology", there's one between her faith and her actions!

1 posted on 10/23/2013 2:06:20 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

Pope Joan is probably my favorite Pope.

That being said I’ll wait for the movie.


2 posted on 10/23/2013 2:09:34 PM PDT by Gamecock (Many Atheists take the stand: "There is no God AND I hate Him.")
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To: Alex Murphy
Many is the Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, Monsignor, Prior, Abbot, and humble parish priest who had numerous offspring throughout the history of the Western Church.

The Lady Pope ... who the Vatican insists never existed ... but since then always makes sure the Pope Guy is really a guy by a very touchy-feely exam and by riding the Pope guy around on a sedan chair which has a hole cut in the bottom for re-assuring visual checks.

There is also a street in Rome uipon which no Pope will ever set foot. Legend has it this the very street where Pope Joan went into labor while in a Holy Procession and her deception was discovered!

The Romans were not pleased, to say the very least.

3 posted on 10/23/2013 2:23:43 PM PDT by Kenny Bunk ( "Obama, The Movie" Introducing Reggie Love as "Monica! ")
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To: Alex Murphy
Note that she didn't mind "angering God" by sleeping with the cardinal.

Nor by the lies of pretending to be male and assuming a false name.

4 posted on 10/23/2013 2:23:57 PM PDT by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed & water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS NOW & FOREVER!)
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To: Alex Murphy
Pope Joan is an aptly timed show, performed just as the bill to allow women bishops in Wales was passed, proof that the Church is finally accepting that the strength of your faith is irrelevant to your gender.

Your faith may be irrelevant to your sex but your role in the church certainly isn't. The bible is pretty clear that only men can be pastors and bishops.

5 posted on 10/23/2013 2:25:51 PM PDT by John O (God Save America (Please))
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To: Alex Murphy
Nice that the Canadian National Youth Theatre, subsidized by Canadian taxpayers, is sponsoring this nice bit of anti-Catholic propaganda.

Same Canadan gov. which forbids Catholic hospitals to offer ANY gynecology or obstetric services, because they won't do sterilizations or abortions, or offer artificial insemination to lesbians (or anyone else.)

Same Canadian gov. which brought human rights charges against pastors who preach against homosexuality, or write a letter to the editor opposing gay marriage.

Constantly using the power of the State to influence the culture, entertaiment, and art industries to attack Christianity --- analogous to what happens in the U.S., for instance when the Museum of Modern Art (NY-tax-subsidized) hosted "P*SS CHRIST".

With additional publicity given free by anti-Christians everywhere.

But we're not supposed to take offense.

6 posted on 10/23/2013 2:37:02 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (In partibus infidelium.)
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To: Kenny Bunk

There is a small shrine there in Rome to Pope Joan.


7 posted on 10/23/2013 2:48:40 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar

The fake, fictitious Pope.... shrine? What kind of religion builds shrines to dead mortal humans?


8 posted on 10/23/2013 2:49:55 PM PDT by GeronL
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To: Gamecock

‘cock, anything to flout the Roman Catholic segment of Christendom? Funny thing I’ve noticed that the more vituperative the attacks on that segment get, the more the attacks SOUND like something you’d hear from them. Like the point for a Really Good Evangelical is to be more Roman Catholic than Roman Catholics.

She’d be impossible under even their rules, let alone biblical ones. “Be close” to a “God” who approves of just what? Sounds like a womyn “God” to me. No ma’am. Go back to the hell from which you came, ma’am.

Be careful, the enemy of your “enemy” isn’t always your friend.


9 posted on 10/23/2013 2:50:10 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (The Lion of Judah will roar again if you give him a big hug and a cheer and mean it. See my page.)
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To: Alex Murphy
When I was teaching the introductory course in Management at U. Dayton, one class session was devoted to managing your own career. If you don't manage it, someone else will, and you may not like it. Anyway, the advice I gave to the female students was, "Be like Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi: have your family first, then become Prime Minister." I don't know how many took it, though.
10 posted on 10/23/2013 2:50:19 PM PDT by JoeFromSidney ( book, RESISTANCE TO TYRANNY, available from Amazon.)
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To: JoeFromSidney

Well, ultimately if that someone else is God, then it will turn out a blessing. Even if sometimes it is a painful blessing. A lot of modern angst is caused by systematic unfaith in God.


11 posted on 10/23/2013 2:55:00 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (The Lion of Judah will roar again if you give him a big hug and a cheer and mean it. See my page.)
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To: GeronL

Google Pope Joan, then go to images and you will see the small shrine.


12 posted on 10/23/2013 2:55:46 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
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To: Alex Murphy

Lying and having a kid out of wedlock makes you closer to God?

and does anyone really think all this is even possible?


13 posted on 10/23/2013 2:56:25 PM PDT by GeronL
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To: GeronL

“What kind of religion builds shrines to dead mortal humans?”

Statolatry that’s what.

How about those SOCIALISTS that worship the state. And I’m not talking about anything in the former USSR. I am talking about the good ole USA. Huge monuments built to former politicians, as in Lincoln and Washington, Jefferson and the others and now Martin Luther King of all people. If that ain’t idol worship, I don’t know what in the hell it is.

Going to Washington DC you think you’re back in the Roman
Empire with all those huge busts and statutes of Ceasar and any other king or emperor they had.


14 posted on 10/23/2013 3:01:07 PM PDT by NKP_Vet
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar; GeronL
Google Pope Joan, then go to images and you will see the small shrine.

Or you could just go to this 2011 FR thread:
When in Rome: The Legend of Papessa Giovanna

15 posted on 10/23/2013 3:03:19 PM PDT by Alex Murphy (Just a common, ordinary, simple savior of America's destiny.)
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To: John O
What does the Catholic Church have to do with the Bible?

And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.

16 posted on 10/23/2013 3:09:26 PM PDT by GeronL
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To: NKP_Vet

The pictures of DC bring exactly that image to mind!

Pharaoh Obama?


17 posted on 10/23/2013 3:10:24 PM PDT by GeronL
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To: Alex Murphy
True story:

Two young priests were caught in England when it was against the law for there to be priests in England. They were on trial. The Anglican bishop conducting the trial began to regale the young priests about the supposed female pope that the Catholic Church had. He felt as though he had scored huge points when he asked the pair what they had to say about "Pope Joan."

One of the young priests as he sat in his chair said, "This female pope you speak of, even if it were true, which it is not - why should it bother you when you have, in reality, a female heading your church."

To which the entire jury bust out laughing. No one would vote to find the two priests guilty, so they were carted off to London where a conviction would be assured.

18 posted on 10/23/2013 3:18:47 PM PDT by Slyfox (Satan's goal is to rub out the image of God he sees in the face of every human.)
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To: Gamecock

your wait was over 4 years ago: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0458455/


19 posted on 10/23/2013 3:53:20 PM PDT by vladimir998
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To: GeronL
And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.

What to do with the guy who's name is after that term on my Birth Certificate?

Should he not get a card on the date-that-shall-not-be-named every June?

20 posted on 10/23/2013 3:58:46 PM PDT by Last Dakotan
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To: GeronL

All of them.

Jews, for instance:

Joshua’s tomb (fought over even today): http://occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/jewish-settlers-raid-kifl-hares-in-bid-to-claim-shrine/

Dedicated to Ezekiel: http://www.academia.edu/1607971/Pilgrimage_to_the_Prophet_Ezekiels_Shrine_in_Iraq_A_Symbol_of_Muslim-Jewish_Relations

Auschwitz: http://www.jta.org/1964/02/11/archive/jews-in-poland-plan-to-have-jewish-shrine-inside-auschwitz-memorial


21 posted on 10/23/2013 3:59:04 PM PDT by vladimir998
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To: GeronL

“And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.”

So, what do you call your father...er, I mean your male parent?


22 posted on 10/23/2013 4:00:35 PM PDT by vladimir998
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To: Last Dakotan; GeronL

>> “What to do with the guy who’s name is after that term on my Birth Certificate?” <<

.
Obviously a facetious question.

Yeshua declared that there are no great men, we are all on the same level spiritually, and that we are not to use false titles to so elevate men.


23 posted on 10/23/2013 4:04:38 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: editor-surveyor

bump

we are all equal in the eyes of God


24 posted on 10/23/2013 4:05:25 PM PDT by GeronL
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To: vladimir998; GeronL

>>”So, what do you call your father...er, I mean your male parent?” <<

.
So, Matthew 23 is not in your Bible?

You’ve never read that chapter, and have no clue as to what Yeshua was saying?

The priesthood of Aaron is over. We have no one on Earth that is authorized for such a role, and we are not to try to create one.

There is nothing whatsoever that we need a “priest” to do.

Capiche?


25 posted on 10/23/2013 4:18:05 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: editor-surveyor

bump


26 posted on 10/23/2013 4:20:45 PM PDT by GeronL
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To: editor-surveyor

“So, Matthew 23 is not in your Bible?”

The verse in question is in my Bible. Now, what do you call your father?

“You’ve never read that chapter, and have no clue as to what Yeshua was saying?”

No, I understand the verse. What I have no clue about is what you call your father?

“The priesthood of Aaron is over. We have no one on Earth that is authorized for such a role, and we are not to try to create one.”

So, what do you call your father?

“There is nothing whatsoever that we need a “priest” to do.”

So, what do you call your father?

“Capiche?”

No, I do not understand yet what you call your father because you’re apparently refusing to answer that simple question. So, what do you call your father?


27 posted on 10/23/2013 4:31:43 PM PDT by vladimir998
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To: editor-surveyor; GeronL

e-s, I thought your post was from GeronL. My mistake. The outcome will probably be the same anyway, of course.


28 posted on 10/23/2013 4:34:01 PM PDT by vladimir998
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To: GeronL

The Catholic Church gave the world the Bible. Even Luther gave Catholics credit!


29 posted on 10/23/2013 4:38:10 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

lol

The Catholic Church hadn’t been invented until well after the events in the Bible


30 posted on 10/23/2013 4:40:03 PM PDT by GeronL
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To: GeronL
"bbbrrrrrkkkkk!! the catholic church gave the world the Bible...bbrrrrkkkk...and upon this rock....bbrrrrkkkkkk...faith without works is dead....brrrrkkkkkk!!!"

The three verses of Scripture parroted daily for a wafer treat...no new verses will be taught, that's enough for the faithful flock.

31 posted on 10/23/2013 4:42:11 PM PDT by smvoice (HELP! I'm trapped inside this body and I can't get out!)
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To: Salvation

They did a good job editing it and arranging the books, no doubt


32 posted on 10/23/2013 4:42:23 PM PDT by GeronL
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To: editor-surveyor
The Catholic priesthood is not that of Aaron but of Christ. Of the order of Melchizedek, the priest-king of Salem who offered a bloodless sacrifice of bread and wine.
33 posted on 10/23/2013 4:48:07 PM PDT by RobbyS (quotes)
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To: vladimir998
Cool! It's in German even!


34 posted on 10/23/2013 5:25:28 PM PDT by Gamecock (Many Atheists take the stand: "There is no God AND I hate Him.")
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To: RobbyS

No, the catholic false priesthood is a rejection of Yeshua’s commandments.

Yeshua said we are all spiritually equal and no man was to seek a title.

There is on office of priest outside of the universal priesthood of all believers. There is no Biblical function for any priest to perform.


35 posted on 10/23/2013 6:07:57 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: vladimir998

I have always called him Dad, when he was alive anyway.


36 posted on 10/23/2013 6:10:43 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: RobbyS

>> “ Of the order of Melchizedek” <<

.
Vile blasphemy.

Yeshua is the Melec Zedek.


37 posted on 10/23/2013 6:14:28 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: editor-surveyor

“I have always called him Dad, when he was alive anyway.”

Okay, “Dad” means “father”. Thanks.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dad


38 posted on 10/23/2013 6:46:53 PM PDT by vladimir998
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To: Gamecock
That being said I’ll wait for the movie.

You're late:



1972 version

 



2009 version

39 posted on 10/23/2013 7:07:43 PM PDT by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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To: markomalley
You're late

So I hear!

40 posted on 10/23/2013 7:48:26 PM PDT by Gamecock (Many Atheists take the stand: "There is no God AND I hate Him.")
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To: vladimir998

No, it doesn’t mean Father the way that the pagan catholics mean it, not “great one.”

There is no Biblical office of priest, only the pagan office of priest of Mithra/Tammuz.


41 posted on 10/23/2013 7:54:56 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: Alex Murphy

oh brother.....pathetic


42 posted on 10/23/2013 8:04:01 PM PDT by terycarl (common sense prevails over all)
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To: Kenny Bunk
The Romans were not pleased, to say the very least.

your last name in your tag line describes your post perfectly

43 posted on 10/23/2013 8:11:38 PM PDT by terycarl (common sense prevails over all)
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To: editor-surveyor

“No, it doesn’t mean Father the way that the pagan catholics mean it, not “great one.””

Your comment is bizarre and nonsensical. 1) “Dad” means “father”. Period. That’s what it means. When a Catholic, or an Eastern Orthodox, or an Anglican refers to their ministers as “Father” it means “father” not “great one”.

“There is no Biblical office of priest, only the pagan office of priest of Mithra/Tammuz.”

No. There is, of course, a New Testament office of priest. The very word “priest” is from the Greek word “presbuteros” which mean “elder” and appears in every Greek NT manuscript.

To say that the office of priest is from Mithra/Tammuz is ridiculous for several reasons. 1) The fact of what I just mentioned about presbuteros. 2) Mithra and Tammuz are different ancient gods. They are from different time periods, were worshipped by different people and are not even words from the same languages. 3) if you’re basing this on some sort of stupid Hislopian theory, should know that even his former adherents realize he was actually an idiot and often got even basic things wrong. Here’s an example: http://www.ralphwoodrow.org/books/pages/babylon-mystery.html

http://jimmyakin.com/library/the-office-of-new-testament-priest

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cclergy/documents/rc_con_cclergy_doc_24111998_pnewt_en.html

http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/where-in-the-new-testament-are-priests-mentioned


44 posted on 10/23/2013 8:14:43 PM PDT by vladimir998
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To: GeronL
What kind of religion builds shrines to dead mortal humans?

ever see a statue of Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Mt. Rushmore.....all built by Christians.

45 posted on 10/23/2013 8:18:18 PM PDT by terycarl (common sense prevails over all)
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To: GeronL
And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.

you don't have a Father and a Mother???

46 posted on 10/23/2013 8:21:12 PM PDT by terycarl (common sense prevails over all)
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To: terycarl

Are those religious shrines?


47 posted on 10/23/2013 8:22:22 PM PDT by GeronL
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To: terycarl

That is just the stupidest thing I have heard in 5 minutes


48 posted on 10/23/2013 8:22:42 PM PDT by GeronL
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To: smvoice
bbbrrrrrkkkkk!! the catholic church gave the world the Bible...bbrrrrkkkk...and upon this rock....bbrrrrkkkkkk...faith without works is dead....brrrrkkkkkk!!!" The three verses of Scripture parroted daily for a wafer treat...no new verses will be taught, that's enough for the faithful flock.

what a brilliant post...surely you must be proud to have achieved such an intellectual level.......or maybe....

49 posted on 10/23/2013 8:26:07 PM PDT by terycarl (common sense prevails over all)
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To: editor-surveyor
No, the catholic false priesthood is a rejection of Yeshua’s commandments. Yeshua said we are all spiritually equal and no man was to seek a title. There is on office of priest outside of the universal priesthood of all believers. There is no Biblical function for any priest to perform.

oh good grief...very few people in the history of the world have enough faith to believe the diatribe that you spout.

50 posted on 10/23/2013 8:31:47 PM PDT by terycarl (common sense prevails over all)
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