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Sunday, July 03, 2005

I don't think we're in Kansas Totto che visse 2 volte

Sandra Day O'Conner has chosen to make her final act the compromise on monuments to the 10 commandments. I don't think she decided yes on one and no on the other swinging the Supreme Court to an absurdly middling path just to show off her power. Could have been worse. A compromise that its ok to display 5 of the 10 commandments would have been even more absurd (notice I didn't dare mention this possibility while the cases were under consideration).

Over here in Italy we don't have Separation of Church and state. Instead the Constitution contains article 6 which adopts in full the patto latarense, the concordat signed by Pius XII and Mussolini. There is freedom of religion. The Italian compromise implies that parents can decide whether or not their children are taught Catholic doctrine in school. Some schools offer history of religion as an alternative. My daughters have study hall instead. An interesting thing is that almost all parents opt for religious instruction. This is odd in a country where the Communist party has received up to one third of the votes, but basically no Italians, except Pius XII, see a contradiction between being communist and being catholic. I have two catocomunist colleagues with offices on the same corridor as mine. Of course now they are CatoDS. One of them, Giovanni Vecchi, does not actually believe that genuine atheists exist.

On the other hand, Massimo d'Alema (another semi ex communist) said on TV "sono ateo" "I am atheist" before he became prime minister. Fat chance of that happening in the USA. I mean its possible that we will reform the constitution to establish the office of prime minister, but no way will an atheist get the job.

The Totto reference in the title is to a film which was banned for "denying the divine and therefore denying the human". In Italy hard core porn is restricted to people over 18 but basically never banned. The producers of the film were not charged with the crime of Blasphemy, which is theoretically illegal although no one is ever actually convicted.

Kansas refers to the Wizard of Oz and the Kansas school board which is deciding if the theory of natural selection should be balanced with creationism in schools.

Now the real effect of religion in schools in Italy on my family happened in kindergarten. Our younger daughter Kathy was converted to catholicism by her kindergarten teacher who, since there is no curriculum in kindergarten, taught Christianity on her own initiative.

Kathy was inordinately pleased with herself for figuring out that it is perfectly possible to believe in God, the Big Bang and evolution by natural selection (which she called "the monkeys"). She liked to tell me that there was no conflict between my beliefs in the big bang and "the monkeys" and her belief in Jesus Christ. I considered her point to be, perhaps a bit obvious, but, I mean, she was only 5 years old at the time so I can see how it didn't seem absurdly blindingly obvious to her.

What's the matter with Kansas ?

Update: Giovanni Vecchi is not now and has never been a communist.

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