Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cathleen Kaveny on the Long Goodbye of Some American Catholics, and the Continuing Need for Honest Conversation

I had not read Cathleen Kaveny's recent Commonweal article "The Long Goodbye" when I posted the other day about the reputation for mean-spiritedness the Catholic church has earned for itself due to its abusive treatment of gay and lesbian human beings.  In that posting, I wrote,

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Righteous Christians and Unrighteous Gays: The Educational Challenge Facing Churches Today

An update to the story about which I blogged Thursday, a story unfolding in my own state the past several days: Clint McCance, the vice-president of a school board in northeast Arkansas, who recently posted offensive anti-gay comments and horrific taunting statements about suicide of gay teens on his Facebook page, told Anderson Cooper on CNN Thursday night that he will resign his school board position.  He has not yet submitted a letter of resignation, however, and various watchdog groups continue to monitor this situation.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Male Entitlement: Theological Roots of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Pastors

A postscript to what I just posted about Bishop Eddie Long and the theology of the body: I encountered the CNN report re: Long's sermon about "fresh sperm" at the Bishop Accountability website today.  And here's what strikes me as I think about why Bishop Accountability, which does tremendously important work every day monitoring the crisis in the Catholic church caused by clerical sexual abuse of minors, may have uploaded a link to this story to its website:

Fresh Sperm: Bishop Eddie Long and John Paul II's Theology of the Body

One of the supposedly earth-shaking insights of the Catholic theology of the body developed by the late pope John Paul II is its insistence that male-female complementarity is the central thread on which Judaeo-Christian beliefs hold together.  The theology of the body insists that everything in scripture and tradition should be read through the optic of the crude biological facticity of gender, of maleness and femaleness.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Arkansas School Board Vice-President Responds to Gay Teen Suicide: Celebrating Death

And, as a brief postscript to what I wrote earlier today about the sickening climate of hate in our nation, much of it to be laid at the feet of people of faith (at the feet of people of faith who torture the fundamental tenets of world religions to justify hate, and other people of faith who remain silent in the face of such abuse of religion):

Mirror, Mirror: The Catholic Church in the U.S. Earns a Reputation for Meanness, as Bishops Continue Silence about Bullying of Gay Teens

Sorry to be away, gentle readers.  I am downhearted these days, and not confident that I have much of significance to say as people scream mindless slogans and hateful words at each other in our turbulent religio-political public square.  Sometimes, it seems better to be silent and to tend one’s own garden.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kate Childs Graham on Making American Catholicism a Welcoming and Safe Space for Gay Persons

I blogged yesterday about a recent article of Peter Steinfels at Commonweal discussing the alarming attrition rate in American Catholicism (and here): a Pew Forum study in February 2008 found that one in three American adults raised Catholic have left the Catholic church, and one in ten American adults is a former Catholic.  As this happens, the pastoral leaders of the American Catholic church, its bishops, have been totally silent about the problem, its causes, or a solution to the problem.  Though the gospels are insistent that one who walks in the footsteps of Jesus as a good shepherd seeks each and every sheep that has strayed from the flock . . . .

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Conversation the Catholic Center Continues to Refuse: Gays Not Welcome

And as a supplement to what I just posted: note the number of times in my conversation with Kathy at the Commonweal thread to which I draw readers' attention, when I asked Kathy what she thinks of Michael O'Loughlin's enumeration of the messages the church is giving its gay members today (and here).

Catholic Attrition and the Need for Better Hymns: A Centrist Catholic Discussion at Commonweal Blog

At the Commonweal blog, Grant Gallicho summarizes an article by Peter Steinfels on the crisis of attrition in American Catholicism in the latest issue of that journal.  As I've noted in numerous postings here, Pew Forum data in February 2008 show a third of adults raised Catholic in the U.S. having left the Catholic church.  One in ten American adults is now a former Catholic.

More on the Erosion of American Democracy by Filthy Rich Anonymous Donors (And, Yes, on the Minnesota Catholic Bishops)

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, writes about the perfect storm now threatening the democratic institutions of the U.S.: as he suggests, we're returning to the age of robber barons, when obscenely rich businessmen could buy elections by depositing money on the desks of legislators (or, in the case of the Minnesota Catholic church, Catholic bishops), while the public never learned the identity of these overlords.

Monday, October 18, 2010

NY Times Editorial on Elections and Stealth Money: Further Questions about Political Activities of Minnesota Catholic Bishops

The New York Times editorial today about the stealth money now stealing American democracy--some of it apparently from hidden corporate donors overseas--once again raises disquieting questions for me about the choice of the Catholic bishops of Minnesota to accept what is thought to be at least a million dollars from a donor whose name they will not disclose, to mount a political campaign against same-sex marriage that benefits the Republican gubernatorial candidate in their state.

Religious Leaders on Links Between Religion and Bullying of Gay Teens: Gene Robinson and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Speak Out

Bishop Gene Robinson tells it like it is, re: the bullying of gay teens that is leading to suicide: it's undeniably rooted in (even when this is not the sole explanatory factor) religious attitudes and religious rhetoric; and the silence of people of faith of the center in the face of the hateful bigotry of many people of faith of the right is part of the problem.

A Follower of Christ Writes to Assure Me I Am Hellbound, and I Reply

A contemporary conversation, illustrating the divided mind (and heart) of people of faith today, as they try to cope with the fact that some of their brothers and sisters are gay and will not apologize for being made by God to be gay: this is an email exchange I have had in the last three days.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Michael Bayly on the Catholic People as an Important Component of the Teaching Process

As a follow-up to what I posted earlier today on the question of consulting the faithful in the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese as churches are closed while the archdiocese accepts funds to attack gay marriage--the following is a marvelous observation from Michael Bayly of the Wild Reed blog (Michael lives in St. Paul):

St. Paul-Minneapolis Catholic Archdiocese Releases New Strategic Plan: Who Was Consulted?

As a brief gloss on what I wrote yesterday about the growing trend of U.S. Catholic bishops to listen predominantly to corporate business leaders, as they chart the course of American Catholicism:

The archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, which is "right-sizing" by closing churches and merging parishes (even as the archdiocese engages in a hugely expensive, glitzy political video campaign against same-sex marriage) has a statement now on its website about the strategic planning process that supports the right-sizing.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

U.S. Catholic Bishops and the Corporate Model of Pastoral Leadership: A Few Reflections

As some of you have said in comments responding to my recent posts about the choice of Catholic bishops to divert funds to mean-spirited political attacks on gay persons while bishops close churches and schools and (along with major Catholic organizations) cut back on funds for works of mercy, it's hard to understand what the bishops are thinking, as they proceed down this path.

Ongoing Catholic Conversation about Sexual Morality: Two Recent National Catholic Reporter Pieces

And, even as the Catholic hierarchy bash away today, and are willing to divert huge sums of money to the bashing when that money is needed to keep Catholic parishes and schools open, feed the hungry, heal the sick, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and defend the unwelcome stranger in our land: the Catholic conversation goes on. 

Catholic people keep thinking and talking (and praying and living our faith).  And we increasingly come to conclusions, on the basis of our graced experience, that don't entirely mesh with those of the hierarchy,  particularly in the area of sexual morality.  In fact, we increasingly come to conclusions that actually challenge the claim of our pastoral leaders to speak in the name of God definitively and for all time, in a way that ends all discussion, about these issues. 

The Price of Catholic Homophobia: While Spending to Bash Gays, Minnesota Catholic Bishops Close Churches

I've noted in my previous postings about the current political initiative of the Minnesota bishops to affect the state's gubernatorial election by issuing an anti-gay marriage video that this initiative is thought to have a price tag of around a million dollars, though the Minnesota bishops claim not to know the cost of this video and its mailing, and are shielding the identity of the donor(s) who is paying for this political operation.

And now this:  yesterday, the archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, which is spearheading this partisan anti-gay political initiative, has announced plans to close 20 churches and merge many parishes.  Due to financial exigency.

Arizona Catholics Kick Off Celebration of Manhattan Declaration: Local Clergy Push Back

Timothy Kincaid reports at Box Turtle Bulletin today on the upcoming out and proud celebrations in the diocese of Phoenix--out and proud celebrations of Catholic homophobia, that is.  While one gay youth after another kills himself or herself and not a single top American Catholic leader even addresses the problem, the diocese of Phoenix intends this Sunday to kick off a celebration of the noxious Manhattan Declaration which seeks to impose on our entire pluralistic society the uniquely Catholic rhetoric of disorder to describe gay and lesbian persons.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bill Maher: If Brett Favre's Penis Could Talk

Warning: NSFW (some smutty language, for which I apologize):

Smutty, yes--it's Bill Maher, after all.  But amusing and apt commentary on a new rule for clueless white males, which provides a counterpoint, sort of, to what I wrote about earlier today re: the strange fixation on the rule of the penis (of heterosexual males) in contemporary Catholic thought.

Continued Silence of U.S. Catholic Leaders: Conversation about Gay Teen Suicide (and Lack of Moral Leadership) in American Catholicism

I’ve noted in recent postings the discussions that have been taking place at a number of U.S. Catholic blog sites about the recent suicides of one gay teen after another, and what might constitute an appropriate Catholic response to these.  I’ve noted, for instance, David Gibson’s posting about this at the Commonweal blog, and Fr. Jim Martin’s statement at America’s “In All Things” blog.  Bryan Cones also has an outstanding reflection at his blog at the U.S. Catholic site.

As I direct readers’ attention to these statements, I also want to emphasize that the conversation occurring in response to each of these postings (and others I’ll mention in a moment) is, in my view, significant—as a snapshot of the struggle of a major religious community in the U.S. to come to terms with a pressing moral issue, about which there is almost no guidance at all coming from that community’s pastoral leaders.

Carl Paladino and the Catholic Preferential Option for the Heterosexual Male: The Real Moral Message of Catholicism for the World

This is increasingly the face of Catholic teaching about sexual morality.  This is the iconic standard for everyone to which the Catholic church points with its teaching that every person born heterosexual is automatically "ordered" aright by the happenstance of his or her birth and therefore automatically normative, while every gay or lesbian person is ipso facto disordered and abnormal.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Gay Nephew? Mazel Tov! Rabbi Yehuda Levin on Carl Paladino's Recantation

If you want a healthy belly-laugh--and at least one good laugh a day is outstanding medicine, I keep hearing--read Elizabeth Harris's report today about the spat that's developing between New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino and the Orthodox Jewish community to whom he made his nasty homophobic remarks several days ago.

Gabriel Arana Calls Obama Administration's Bluff on Justification for Defending DADT

At American Prospect, Gabriel Arana calls the Obama administration's bluff as it continues to try to justify slow-walking repeal of DADT and taking the "long view" on issues of human rights for gay and lesbian human beings:

Joel Burns, Fort Worth City Council Member to Gay Teens: It Gets Better

Joel Burns' testimony (I'm using that religiously charged term deliberately here) at a recent Fort Worth city council meeting in Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" project is circulating around the internet right now, and deserves serious consideration.  It's a powerful testimony, heart-wrenching and mind-altering to witness.

Rahm Gets It Wrong: The Centrist Trap into Which Obama's Advisers Have Led the Democrats

And here's one centrist who seems to have gotten it spectacularly wrong, when he chose to advise the president to head down the path of pragmatic calculation, and not strong, principled leadership, with human rights at the forefront of the new administration's agenda . . . .

Jason Linkins on Washington Post's "Two Sides" to Gay Teen Suicide Story: Hearing the Lion's Side as He Devours the Lambs

You see: this is precisely why I keep chipping away at the argument of centrists that all in the world they're about is holding a big ole love fest at which everyone is welcome at the table.  And that there are two sides to every argument.  With centrists in the elite power seat of deciding the flaws of both sides.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cooking to Save the Planet: Cream of Tomato Soup

Can anything (any supper, that is) be more soothing for a raw throat and stuffy head than a steaming dish of cream of tomato soup?  I make mine with a hefty pinch of cayenne, which has to be good medicine for a sore throat and inflamed sinuses, because I can actually feel it working magic on the sore areas as I sup the soup.

Amy Dean on Democrats' Self-Created Trap

Amy Dean on the trap the Democrats keep creating for themselves, when they campaign on hope and vision and then govern according to a pragmatic "transactional" agenda that back-stabs members of their base to whom they've made promises they never intended to keep: 

Randi Reitan on the Love Ethic, the Churches, and Gay Youth: What Messages Are Believers Giving?

Eric Reitan writes at Religion Dispatches about how his faith and the faith of many other Christians compels them to embody love for their LGBT brothers and sisters--contra  the insistence of conservative Christians that it's the Christians on one side, and the gays on the other.  Reitan discusses the recent suicide (yes, they keep occurring) of Zach Harrington in Oklahoma, a young gay man whose father says that learning precisely what his community members, most of them ardent Christians, thought of him drove him over the edge.

Heteronormativity and the Challenge of Creating Welcoming Communities: The Problem of Cognitive Dissonance Confronting the Catholic Church Today

Here's the message that the Catholic church gives its gay and lesbian members, including gay and lesbian youth, according to Michael O'Loughlin in the America posting I cited yesterday:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Under the Weather . . . .

I'm here, dear hearts and gentle people, and haven't forgotten this blog.  The bug I mentioned several days ago seems to have settled into my chest now, and I have been feeling pretty washed out for a number of days, that washed-out feeling in which one's thoughts seem to move in slow motion while the world spins around too fast.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Words, Words, and More Words: Human Rights Campaign and Valerie Jarrett Provide Cover for White House MIA re: Gay Rights

(Building on what I just posted about the need for continued work with schools and churches, to combat bullying of gay youth): And we in the LGBT community have work to do, too, with our own organizations.  As Pam Spaulding and John Aravosis report today, last night the Human Rights Campaign and Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett gave cover to the Obama administration for its shameful inaction re: LGBT rights, at a gala banquet at which Jarrett was the keynote speaker.

More on Gay Teen Suicide: Naming the Problem, Dealing with Religious Roots

Salon is carrying a very good article today by David Crary of AP, about the attempt of schools to deal with bullying of gay youth.  Crary notes that many school administrators and teachers around the country find themselves between a rock and a hard place, as young folks are bullied for being gay or because they are thought to be gay, and as conservative interest groups push back against attempts of the schools to deal with such bullying.  Or to name it for what it is--bullying of gay youths and those perceived to be gay.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

More on the Fire Next Time: The World Continues to Burn

A brief addendum to my recent posting about the burning of the world, and the role that the political elite in the U.S. has played in blocking effective attempts to deal with global warming:

Quote for the day: Jeff Jarvis attempts to explain to Katie Couric why Tyler Clementi's tragic suicide is not a morality tale about the dangers of technology, but about the "human tragedy" in which we are all involved, when we fail to create safe spaces in our society for young people struggling to accept their identity as gay or lesbian:

Friday, October 8, 2010

David Gibson at Commonweal on Catholic Response to Gay Teen Suicides Due to Bullying

David Gibson has written an outstanding piece at the Commonweal blog site re: Catholic responses to gay bullying.  This links to a more extensive statement about the same topic (well, more precisely about religious soul-searching in light of gay bullying deaths) at the Politics Daily site.

Cooking to Save the Planet: Creole Red Beans and Rice

I didn't grow up with red beans and rice.  I didn't grow up with Creole or Cajun food at home, period, except on special occasions when my mother cooked a south Louisiana dish for which a friend had given her a recipe, or when one of her friends from that region cooked a typical Cajun or Creole dish and brought it to us.

Buying and Selling of American Democracy by Anonymous Donors: More Reflections on Archbishop Nienstedt's Political Anti-Gay Marriage Initiative

More articles coming out in recent days about the way in which donors hiding behind non-profit shields are seeking, in an unprecedented way, to buy American democracy in the coming elections.  Robert Reich writes about this yesterday at HuffPo in an article entitled "The Secret Big-Money Takeover of America." As Reich notes, not only do we see obscenely rich interest groups attempting to buy American democracy today, but these groups are accomplishing this behind closed doors.

We don't see the faces of those funding this takeover.  We don't know their identities.  They are not accountable to the public at large, or in any way responsible to the democracy they are buying.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More Resources to Address Gay Teen Bullying, and Right-Wing Pushback vs. Mainstream Media Reporting on This Issue

I've mentioned to you that I record the "Ellen Degeneres Show" and watch it as I do my daily treadmill walk--well, I watch Ellen for at least one leg of my daily walk, which I divide into two stints daily to make a total of an hour and fifteen minutes each day.

I also mentioned several days ago that Ellen had done a segment on bullying of gay youth and the suicides that sometimes result from this bullying.  Ellen continues to work to raise awareness about this serious problem and to do something constructive to address the situation.

Gay and Catholic?: No Bread, but a Blessing for You!

I just blogged about the unique Catholic message for those who are gay and lesbian: delight, ye chosen of the Lord, in being special "victim souls" who live a lifelong crucifixion of loneliness and isolation from intimate relationship.  Because God loves you soooo much (and we do, too) . . . . 

And as a corollary of that "loving" message, be forewarned that you may also expect to be denied bread from the eucharistic table.  If you're not dressed right, that is.  And happen to be gay or lesbian, or standing in solidarity with your gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

John Shore on Christian Anti-Love Approach to Gays, Andrew Sullivan on Catholic Gays as "Victim Souls"

As the culture at large discusses the alarmingly high rate of suicide among LGBT teens (they are three times more likely than straight ones to commit suicide), that discussion is also eliciting further discussion of the correct attitude Christians ought to adopt towards those who are gay.  John Shore has a helpful summary at Huffington Post this week of what many Christians are now proposing to their gay brothers and sisters--the just-say-no approach.

Mr. Obama Wags His Finger Again: Stop "Sulking and Sitting Back"

David Mark reports at Politico that last night at a fundraiser, President Obama lit into the Democratic base yet again, telling us to stop sulking and sitting back.  And here are my reflections, which I've just posted to a blog discussing the enthusiasm gap in the coming elections and the attempt of Democratic leaders to reignite enthusiasm in the Democratic base:

I think the Democrats have a serious problem right now, and it comes right from the top. Yesterday evening at a fundraiser, the president once again wagged his finger at the Democratic base and told us not to sulk and sit back as the elections approach.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Minnesota Priest Speaks Truth to Power, Challenges Bishops' Anti-Gay Marriage Video

This is an encouraging report: a Catholic pastor in Minnesota speaks out against the decision of the Minnesota Catholic bishops to play the partisan gay-marriage card on the eve of the fall elections.

Tom Roberts at National Catholic Reporter summarizes a letter Fr. Michael Tegeder of St. Edward Parish in Bloomington, Minnesota, wrote to the Star-Tribune.  The letter was published on 2 October.

Gay Teen Suicide and Our Loss: A Personal Reflection

My stomach is wimbly this morning, and I have a sore throat and am sneezing my brains out.  So I conclude I’ve caught some bug, and decide to coddle myself with nostrums as the day begins.  What those nostrums might be, I have no idea—an extra cup of coffee, perhaps.  But I like the ring of the phrase "coddle myself with nostrums" in my slow, waking-up mind—something like “comfort me with apples.”

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chamber of Commerce Funneling Contributions of Foreign Corporations to Defeat Democrats

I noted recently that there's considerable cross-over between the Knights of Columbus, an organization helping to fund the political right's battle against gay human beings and their rights in the U.S., and the Chamber of Commerce, which in recent years, has become virtually an arm of the Republican party as it lobbies relentlessly against Democratic officials and the policies they promote.  On one Catholic blog at which I frequently interact, one of the most frequent commentators is someone who is both an active member of the Knights of Columbus and the president of his community's Chamber of Commerce.

Gay Youth as the Canary in the Mine: Toxic Homophobia in American Culture

And so, in short, the point I'm taking from some of the statements to which I've been linking about the current epidemic of suicides of teens who are gay or perceived to be gay: gay or gender-questioning teens are now the canary in the coal mine, when it comes to ascertaining how toxic homophobia is in our society at present.

Homophobia in American society is reaching toxic levels.  And young people are dying at alarming rates as a result.

Three More Statements about Gay Teen Suicide: Keli Goff, Sarah Silverman, Jim Martin

Three more good online statements about the recent spate of suicides of gay American youth catch my eye today.  The first is Keli Goff's "Why We Shouldn't Blame the Bullies for the Recent String of LGBT Suicides" at Huffington Post.

I find Keli Goff's response valuable for a number of reasons.  First, she is among those African-American commentators who have taken the gay community to task for what she sees as an unfair attempt to blame people of color for the removal of the right to same-sex marriage with prop 8 in California.  As a corollary of her analysis of the vexed relationship between the gay and African-American communities, Goff also encourages gay folks to take seriously the role of religion among people of color--and among many other Americans who continue to frame their response to gay issues in largely religious terms.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hot Off the Press: Two Views of Catholic Top Leadership, Michael Sean Winters and Richard McBrien

Two views of the top leadership of the Catholic church at present, in National Catholic Reporter.

First, there's Michael Sean Winters' "On Devotion to the Papacy."  Michael is a huge--make that HUGE--fan of the current pope.  His reflection is a plug for a newly published book edited by Sister Mary Ann Walsh, media director for the United States Catholic Bishops Conference.  The book, Pope Benedict: Essays and Reflections on His Papacy, is published by USCCB.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rabbi Michael Lerner on Cluelessness of President Obama and the Democratic Party

Rabbi Michael Lerner on the cluelessness of President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and the leadership of the Democratic party re: the disaffection of their base:

The president has a bully pulpit that could have rallied the American public to an alternative worldview. Reagan did that while facing a hostile Democratic Congress; Roosevelt did that while facing a hostile Republican Congress-and that is what made them the most significant presidents of the 20th century.

Many of us will vote Democratic in November, despite all this. But don't expect us to be able to rally others when the best we can say is that the Democrats and their national leader are better than the plausible alternatives. That is not a rallying cry likely to produce many votes or move us beyond our deep disappointments. And many others, feeling humiliated at allowing themselves to have opened to the hope Obama elicited, now find themselves either totally uninterested in politics or wishing to strike back at the Democrats for making fools of those who trusted. Obama and the Democrats remain clueless.