Saturday, December 31, 2011

TWO Petition Asking Cardinal George to Resign Reaches Goal of 5,000 Signatures

Quick new year's eve note: I just noticed that the Truth Wins Out petition calling on His Eminence Francis Cardinal George of Chicago to resign after his hateful remarks comparing gay people to the Ku Klux Klan has just reached its original goal of 5,000 signatures, and has now upped the ante to 7,500 signatures.  The petition reached 5,000 mark just a minute or two ago.

Happy new year, and may righteous justice (and peace) roll down like a river in 2012, for everyone.

In the News on the Cusp of the Year: More Cardinal George, Benedict's Rudderless Church, Gay Rights and Moral Center of Discourse

In the news as the old year ends (a highly selective slice of news, needless to say):

1. Andrew Sullivan thinks that the kerfuffle over His Eminence Francis Cardinal George's hateful comparison of gay folks to the Klan will result in the pope's decision to keep George on after he submits his mandatory retirement when he reaches age 75 on 16 January.

I agree.  Because nothing seems to say Catholic these days quite like anti-gay hatefulness.

Black-Eyed Peas and New Year's Good Fortune for All

And p.s.: yes, we'll be having our traditional black-eyed peas (and here) for good luck tomorrow.  Steve found fresh ones at the market yesterday--an unusual find for us in this season of the year.  I think perhaps they'd been shelled and kept very cold (semi-frozen?) from summer until now.  Because I have the mother of all colds right now and can detect nothing beyond hot or cold with my taste buds, how to cook them will be a challenge, since I can't taste as I cook.  I think I may go for something as zingy as possible, to try to give them even a modicum of flavor to detect through the miasma of the cold--perhaps a salad presentation, with lots of chopped garlic and parsley, a bit of sweet onion, and good wine vinegar and olive oil? 

A Happy New Year

"There are three times: a present of things past, a present of things present, and a present of things future," Augustine, Confessions.

I mentioned several days past that I might bore readers with a brief account of why Steve and I were traveling in California the past few weeks.  Steve had business meetings there, and I accompanied him.  

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cardinal George Says Gays = Klan, but What Does the Klan Say about Gays?

The past-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Francis George, says that gays are like the Ku Klux Klan.

National Catholic Reporter Names Sr. Elizabeth Johnson Person of the Year

NCR has chosen Sr. Elizabeth Johnson its 2011 person of the year.  Its editorial announcing the selection concludes,

Truth Wins Out Continues to Call Cardinal George to Accountability

Truth Wins Out continues its attempt to call Cardinal Francis George of Chicago to accountability for his recent inflammatory comparison of gay and lesbian persons with the Ku Klux Klan.  In a press release yesterday, Wayne Besen, TWO's executive director, notes that the group's petition asking George to resign after his Klan remark has now garnered more than 4,000 signatures (the count is actually now 4,691 as I compose this posting).

Joan Walsh on Women's Rights and World Religions (and Where Does the Catholic Church Stand?)

At Salon, Joan Walsh notes (and decries) the increasing stridency of the American far right (which is to say, the Republican party as it's now configured) about issues of women's rights, including access to contraception.  As she notes, the religious and political right have not only abortion, but contraception as well in their sights.  Though she doesn't note this, she might have: the Catholic bishops are squarely on the side of the fringe right in this battle, and those powerful centrist Catholic media spokespersons like Michael Sean Winters of National Catholic Reporter and Margaret O'Brien Steinfels of Commonweal who have been carrying water for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the anti-Obama brouhaha about contraception are in bed with the radical right through their support of the bishops' attack on the Obama administration vis-a-vis the contraceptive issue.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Jeffrey Eugenides's The Marriage Plot: Comedy of Manners, Meet Postmodern Literary Theory

I've just finished Jeffrey Eugenides's The Marriage Plot (NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011).  I have to say, it doesn't strike me as quite the equal of Middlesex.  To be specific: it lacks the sweeping scope and mythopoeic quality of its Pulitzer-winning predecessor.  It's more comedy of manners gone wild and standing on its head (a jumble of an image that makes perfect sense to me, even if I'll grant it might be mystifying to many readers).  It does ring some refreshing changes on the traditional trope, using postmodern literary theory as its foil while it simultaneously defends and deconstructs the venerable plot devices of comedies of manners à la Austen.

Bill Tammeus's Predictions for World of Religion, 2012

Good for a smile: Bill Tammeus's bold predictions for the world of religion in 2012.

Laurie Goodstein on Catholic Bishops' Religious Freedom Rhetoric and Gay Parents

In the New York Times yesterday, Laurie Goodstein surveys the new meme of the American Catholic bishops (borrowed from their religious right bedfellows) that "Catholic" religious freedom is being infringed when the bishops are expected to adhere to state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination against gay people and gay couples as a precondition for receiving federal/state funding for Catholic organizations.  As Goodstein points out, the Catholic bishops of Illinois have for the most part chosen to shut down Catholic Charities adoption programs rather than abide by state nondiscrimination laws.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Stakes in the Case of Bishop Finn: Frank Cocozzelli's Analysis

Bishop Finn's Cappa Magna

At both Talk to Action and Open Tabernacle right now, Frank Cocozzelli offers powerful (and cogent) analysis of precisely what's at stake in the exercised reaction of the Catholic right to the criminal indictment of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph.  Finn is under indictment because he contravened Missouri law by failing to report Father Shawn Ratigan's possession of child pornography to legal authorities after it came to his attention that Ratigan had child pornography on his computer.  Instead of reporting Ratigan, Finn chose, in fact, to shield him and to move him about, where Ratigan remained in contact with children for months after Finn knew he had child pornography on his computer.

When a Kiss Is Not Just a Kiss

When's a kiss not just a kiss?  When it's "perverse social engineering."  

In the eyes of some followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, that is.  Who are inclined to see perversity everywhere they turn, and who say all kinds of frankly evil stuff about folks they want others to see as perverse.

What we see depends very much on the eyes we use to see with, I conclude.

Three Pictures, Several Thousand Words: Common Dreams on Pictures of Humanity, 2011

Common Dreams selects three pictures from 2011 to illustrate what humanity can be, at its best: the one above shows a group of Christians creating a circle of protection around Muslims praying during the Egyptian protests.

I Hear from Cardinal George: It Is Sinful That Gays Are Harassed

My email inbox today contains an email from Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, the past president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.*  It reads:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Children: Christmas Toy-Shopping Rant vs. Gender Stereotypes

One more Christmas-themed item today (since Christmas is, in key respects, all about how a child can reveal to us mysteries hidden to older and "wiser" heads):

We Go to Mass, We Experience the "New" Liturgy, We Leave Shaking Our Heads

And speaking of the "new" liturgical translations (I just did so in my posting about Michael Iafrate's music): as I've just said, Steve and I went to the Christmas vigil Mass with our friend Richard.  We went to the old cathedral, St. Mary's, in Chinatown in San Francisco.  When I last blogged about our highly selective and sporadic liturgy-attending experiences in the past year, we had gone to Mass with Steve's aunts as we took them on a trip to visit relatives around Minnesota.

More Inspirational Music for Christmastime: Michael Iafrate & the Priesthood

More Christmas-season music (and music for meditation and inspiration all year 'round), and this, too, is a resource provided by a wonderful theologian-songwriter-activist to whom Bilgrimage has connected me: at his website M Iafrate (& the Priesthood), Michael Iafrate has links to his various albums, which include links to some of the songs on these albums.  You may already have noticed Michael's name in my bloglist, since it includes his catholicanarchy blog, and I did a posting this past September summarizing Michael's powerful theological reflections on militarism and discipleship, which notes that Michael is a doctoral student in theology at University of St. Michael's College in Toronto, Steve's and my alma mater.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Stinky Right-Wing Bedfellows of the U.S. Catholic Bishops: An Addendum

This is a quick addendum to what I posted earlier today about the fact that the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty is defending two right-wing religious colleges/universities, the Catholic Belmont Abbey College and the evangelical Colorado Christian University, colluding with the U.S. Catholic Bishops in their attack on the Obama administration for seeking to implement health care guidelines that require contraceptive coverage by insurance plans:

In the News: The Kiss, the Newt, and Stinky Right-Wing Bedfellows of U.S. Catholic Bishops

Tidbits of news from the past several days--items that caught my eye:

1. Truthdig gives its Truthdigger of the Week designation to Marissa Gaeta and Citlalic Snell, whose reunion kiss last week has become an iconic depiction of the post-DADT world in which we're now living.  The political and religious right in the U.S. predicted that the skies would fall if openly gay soldiers were permitted to serve in the American military.  Chasms would open and entire cities fall through them.  Birds would drop from the skies.

More (Post-) Christmas Music: John Bijarney and "Lux Aurumque"

During the Christmas season, I pointed readers to the beautiful music that one reader of this blog, Fran Schultz, makes available at her Reverbnation site.  And now as the pre-Christmas madness transmutes into post-Christmas madness (more shopping!) and some of us keep looking for resources to maintain sanity and feed our souls, I want to recommend the equally inspiring and beautiful music of another reader of Bilgrimage.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Gift from America: Catholics Should Raise Voices to Defend Human Rights of LGBT Persons

The latest editorial of the Jesuit journal America makes a strong statement (keying off Hilary Clinton's recent Geneva address) about the need of the Catholic church to raise its voice in support of the human rights of gay and lesbian persons.  As a Catholic concerned to defend the human rights of all marginalized minority communities, I read the editorial as a Christmas gift because,

Remembering a Grandmother, Christmas Day

I can't let today pass without a note of remembrance of my grandmother, Vallie Snead Lindsey, who died on Christmas day in 1976.  The photo above is the last picture taken before her death.  It was taken in October of the year in which she died.

For Christmas Merriment: It's All Because (the Gays Are Getting Married)

The Dream of Home for All: A Christmas Meditation

Luminarias in Snow

Ryōkan* writes,

On a journey,
each night I stay
in a different place
but my dream is the same,
a dream of home.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Paul Robeson Sings "Silent Night"

And again, from that great (and vastly under-appreciated) American whose voice flowed like a river of velvet: Paul Robeson performing "Silent Night."  A merry Christmas to all--and a place at the table for all!

Cardinal George, Meet Frank Mugisha: Francis DeBernardo Puts the Two Together

And, by way of my e-friend Claire Bangasser's Facebook page (what would I do without the wonderful resources provided by so many friends at Facebook?), a wonderful statement by Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, juxtaposing Cardinal George's extremely hurtful remarks about his gay brothers and sisters with the Catholic witness of Frank Mugisha of Uganda:

Christmas/Hanukkah/Solstice Greetings, Grateful Thoughts: The Table Set for All

Who knew I still had such tears inside my aging eyes?  But they flow, as I listen to Nana Mouskouri singing "Stille Nacht" and read Randi Reitan's Christmas letter to her son

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Solstice and "Paganism" Again: Clarification

I've just had an email from a reader (and I appreciate it) who heard what I was saying in my posting yesterday about the winter solstice celebrations as an attack on "paganism."  Since that's the precise opposite of what I had thought I was communicating, I want to issue a little gloss on yesterday's statement, to assure that my comments on the (inappropriate, in my view) use of the term "pagan" in the HuffPo headline about the solstice celebrations are crystal-clear.

Faithful America to U.S. Catholic Bishops: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

The snapshot is a photo of a sign Steve and I saw yesterday in City Lights bookstore in San Francisco.  (Sometime down the road, I may bore you with a few details about why we've been traveling in California--in addition to the requirements of Steve's work and a bit of a Christmas break for both of us.)

Human Rights Leader Frank Mugisha Speaks Out about Anti-Gay Violence in Africa

Yesterday, commenting on Pope Benedict's statement to the synod of African Catholic bishops in 2009, I wrote,  

Minnesota's Gay Community Apologizes to Philandering GOP Leader for Ruining Her Traditional Marriage

Despite the lies and venom of the Cardinal Georges of the world, there abides amazing grace in the gay and lesbian community--grace that constantly amazes me, when I observe the resilient, courageous, loving gay and lesbian people I know who keep on keeping on through it all.  Who keep on loving, caring for others, sacrificing to tend to aging parents and ailing family members, picking up the pieces when families fall apart, loving one another in faithful relationships that give generatively to the surrounding community.

Merry Christmas to the Gay Community from Cardinal George: Gays = Klan

Just in time for Christmas, the former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, gives the gay community a special Christlike designation: we're like the Ku Klux Klan, George informs Fox news broadcasters.  The occasion for the remark?  Next year's gay pride parade in Chicago will pass in front of a Catholic church, and George thinks the parade will disrupt the church's Mass.  The parade organizers have now pushed the time of the parade back to accommodate the church.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice Celebrations Around the World: A HuffPo Slideshow

And to feed the spirit when hope is challenged: I like this Huffington Post article surveying the way in which cultures around the world commemorate the winter solstice, which is today--though I'm baffled that the article speaks of these celebrations as "pagan."  Particularly when it notes that many of these celebrations in Western cultures are rooted in pre-Christian religious celebrations (as Christmas itself is, and this is why the Puritans in both England and New England sought to outlaw the feast).  And when it mentions that the Talmud takes note of the winter solstice and even has a name for the event.  

Advent, Hope, and the Current Situation of the Catholic Church

I like very much the gist of Maureen Fiedler's review of John Allen's book about U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference president Timothy Dolan (even if M. Fiedler did choose to censor a comment I made recently in response to her article about Hilary Clinton's defense of LGBT human rights--a comment supporting Fiedler's analysis).  Allen's book about Mr. Dolan is called A People of Hope.

African Religious Leaders Standing Against Anti-Gay Oppression: Naomi Abraham Reports

I blogged last week about the dismal situation in which LGBT persons find themselves in Africa, where more than half of the nations in the continent still criminalize homosexuality.  Throughout much of Africa, gay and lesbian persons face outright violence, and the violence is escalating as American right-wing religious groups deliberately escalate homophobia and encourage the leaders of African nations to target the LGBT minority.

And Then There Were Two: Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Calls on Catholic Church to Reform Itself

Maxime Verhagen

Unfortunately for those seeking glimpses of reality-based reporting in the mainstream media, this is not a news item you're likely to be reading about in the American media as Christmas nears.  They're too busy falling over themselves right now to report on a study that supposedly shows the shroud of Turin to be a true snapshot of the crucified savior's face--a story being shopped about by well-heeled right-wing Catholic sources determined to prettify the media image of the Catholic church as the year ends.  And the mainstream media are all too ready to cooperate with those big Catholic $$$$.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Maccabeats Tell the Hanukkah Story

For Hanukkah: the Maccabeats tell the Hannukah story with verve, style, and humor.  A happy Hanukkah to all.

One Picture, 1,000 Words: Rush Limbaugh Climate-Change Misinformer of Year

Media Matters has just named Rush Limbaugh the climate-change misinformer of the year.  And the site's analysis of Limbaugh's astonishing chain of lies about global warming is worth a read for the picture alone.

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Declining Empires and Wealth Disparity: Miserere!

That movement to reLatinize the Catholic Mass?  It may not be entirely beside the point:

As this Huffington Post article notes, in a recent article in the Journal of Roman Studies, historians Walter Schiedel and Steven Friesen calculate that the maldistribution of wealth in the U.S. today is actually at a higher level than was the case in the Roman empire as the empire began to fall apart.  As it began to fall apart due to huge disparities between the rich and poor, that is.  We Americans might as well be speaking Latin, because we're becoming the Roman empire in its movement towards decline.

UN Report: LGBT Persons Experience Violence and Discrimination across the Globe

Several days ago, the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations issued a report (pdf file) surveying the discrimination and oppression to which LGBT human beings are subjected around the world.  As the introduction to the report notes, serious discrimination and outright violence are practiced against LGBT persons and even those perceived as gay or gender-transgressive in many places around the globe:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Shadi Ghadirian's "Qajar": The Ambiguity of Religious Practices (and the Place of Women)

I saw Iranian photographer Shadi Ghadirian's "Qajar" exhibit yesterday at the Los Angeles Museum of Art, and have been thinking since I did so of several of the photos of women with fully veiled faces, one of which I've selected for the graphic above.  In her artist's statement appended to the exhibit (this can be accessed at the link above by clicking on "Statement"), Ghadirian says that her work has focused on and will continue to focus on Iranian women because women in Iran are "dazed."

J.L. Carr's A Month in the Country: The Buberian Dilemma

J.L. Carr, A Month in the Country (1980; repr. NY: New York Review Book, 2000):

I never exchanged a word with the Colonel.  He has no significance at all in what happened during my stay in Oxgodby.  As far as I'm concerned he might just as well have gone around the corner and died.  But that goes for most of us, doesn't it?  We look blankly at each other.  Here I am, here you are.  What are we doing here?  What do you suppose it's all about?  Let's dream on.  Yes, that's my Dad and Mum over there on the piano top.  My eldest boy is on the mantelpiece.  That cushion cover was embroidered by my cousin Sarah only a month before she passed on.  I go to work at eight and come home at five-thirty.  When I retired they'll give me a clock--with my name engraved on the back.  Now you know all about me.  Go away: I've forgotten you already (p. 31).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What Would Rush Do? Richard Schiffman on Limbaugh as Representative of Jesus

Yesterday, I wrote that I'm inclined to agree with theologians who suggest that, given the demonic face of "God" some of us encounter in the utterances and behavior of some people of "faith," we may have a moral obligation to reject "God."  And in light of that observation, I'm interested to read Richard Schiffman's analysis of Rush Limbaugh and how Rush represents Jesus in what Rush has to say on his popular radio show.

Times Excoriates Alabama for Immigration Law: Foolish Gesture of Defiance

The New York Times today rightly takes Alabama to task for its sordid immigration law.  The law is proving, to say the least, an embarrassment to the state.  What some groups within the state of Alabama imagine they've gained by way of ginning up social animosity towards immigrants is clearly offset by the damage the state is doing to itself with the new law in terms of its image, economy, and, as becomes increasingly apparent, its legal system.  

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Reflections on the Death of Christopher Hitchens: Cheap Grace and American Exceptionalism

I haven't commented on Christopher Hitchens's death because, to be honest, I didn't much follow the debates in which he was involved.  I am interested in atheism, perhaps primarily as a defensible response to the misrepresentation of authentic religious values by adherents of many religious traditions.  I have long thought that Catholic theologian Karl Rahner is exactly right when he argues that, given the demonic face of "God" some people encounter through organized religion, they have a moral obligation, in fact, to reject "God."

Newt Signs NOM Marriage Pledge, Maggie Gloats, Blogsphere Goes Ballistic

As Andrew Sullivan says, one can definitely find hope in the comments responding to Maggie Gallagher's gleeful report that the Newt has signed her NOM "marriage pledge."  The NOM home page states that the mission of the National Organization for Marriage is "to protect marriage."  As this NOM press release attacking civil marriage for same-sex couples in Rhode Island notes (and as numerous statements by NOM for some years now stress), NOM exists to defend the "traditional" definition of marriage as between one man and one woman for life.  NOM advertised its August 2010 rally in Charleston, West Virginia, as a "One Man, One Woman" rally.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Commonweal Offers Revised Translation of Christmas Cookie Recipe: Advent Humor

And for a bit of fun as the seasonal madness (shop, shop, drop, drop) reaches its peak: whoever crafted the "Christmas Cookies Recipe: Revised Translation" for Commonweal is one highly clever individual.  A highly clever person who has gotten the vastly inflated and entirely misplaced (and totally empty) pomposity of the "new" Catholic liturgical translation down to a perfect T . . . .

Religious Right + Corporate Right = GOP: A Fault Lines Video Discussion

USCCB, Political Lobbyists or Advocates?: Minnesota Board Rules Anti-Gay Marriage Video as Advocacy

Here's why the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is all a-dither right now about that recent Pew Forum study that shows the USCCB occupying second place among faith-based political lobbying groups in D.C., in the amount of money it spends for political lobbying: 

Report on Abuse in Catholic Institutions in the Netherlands Issued: One of Highest Rates of Abuse Yet

A report by an independent commission in the Netherlands probing cases of sexual abuse of children in Catholic institutions since 1945 has just been issued.  Wim Deetman, mayor of The Hague, who headed the commission producing this report, states that the investigation shows as many as 20,000 children suffering abuse in Catholic institutions in the Netherlands in this time frame--one of the highest rates of abuse yet to emerge in any report of its kind.  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Meghan Daum on Newt's Marital History: A Hot Mess

A follow-up to what I wrote earlier today about Thomas Peters' absolutely incredible attempt to spin the Newt as a good Catholic candidate strong on marriage issues: here's Meghan Daum's take in the Los Angeles Times

Newt's Train Picking Up Speed: Evangelicals on Board, (Some) Catholics Buying Tickets

Two interesting tidbits (interesting to me, at least--and I hope to readers of this blog) about the Gingrich race for the presidency: at Salon, Steve Kornacki thinks the now solidly GOP South is loving us some Newt.  Mitt?  Not so much.

Father Wenthe of St. Paul, Minnesota, Gets Year in Jail, Judge Zeroes in on Clerical Narcissism

Father Christopher Wenthe

Readers may recall the case of Father Christopher Wenthe of St. Paul, Minnesota, about which I blogged several times earlier this year (here, here, here, and here).  In early February, Wenthe was arrested on charges that he had abused his pastoral relationship with a young woman, a recent convert to Catholicism,  whom he lured into a sexual relationship when she came to him for counseling and confession.  Diocesan officials had known about the situation for over five years at the time of Wenthe's arrest.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent Resource: "Silent Night" on Spanish Guitar

Bernie Law Honored Again, and Benedict's Market Value Continues to Plummet

Pope Benedict and Cardinal Bernard Law, Vatican, June 2006

As I noted recently, following his 80th birthday, the infamous Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned in disgrace as archbishop of the Boston archdiocese after it became public knowledge that he had shielded and moved about notorious clerical serial abusers of children, submitted his resignation as archpriest of the basilica of St. Mary Minor in Rome.  And Pope Benedict accepted the resignation.

In the News: Continued Shifts in American Attitudes re: LGBT Persons, Continued Challenges for People of Faith

A collection of articles all sharing common themes:

At National Catholic Reporter right now, Sister Maureen Fiedler calls on people of faith to celebrate Hilary Clinton's recent defense of the human rights of LGBT persons.  Fiedler thinks we are "in a new and positive moment" for LGBT persons, as societal attitudes shift from exclusion and condemnation to inclusion and acceptance.