Friday, July 25, 2014

In the News at Week's End: Pastoral (?) Leadership (?) in Catholic Church, Faith-Based Anti-Gay Discrimination, Gaza, Immigrant Children, Healthcare, and Theocracies and Women

Michael Bayly, The Wild Reed:

I find myself thinking of and agreeing with Colleen Kochivar-Baker's contention that it's actually the system of the cultic priesthood that's the real problem, more so than individual "leaders," even those as inept as John Nienstedt. After all, as theologian and former priest Paul Collins points out, the clericalism that largely defines Roman Catholicism's cultic priesthood is a system "which has developed a kind of moral immunity over the centuries."

Rebel Girl, Iglesia Descalza:

Two more examples this month demonstrate that the institutional Roman Catholic Church has not yet learned the lesson Jesus tried to teach over and over again that love and compassion are more important than strict -- and merciless -- adherence to religious laws and doctrine (see Mk 2:23-28, Mk 3:1-6, etc.).

A religiously affiliated organization does not hire an inclination or an act, it hires a person, and the church has affirmed, repeatedly, that the homosexual person is to be loved and is not to be unjustly discriminated against. On what basis, then, should we decline to abide by a government regulation that we not discriminate against LGBT people in hiring? 

Andrew Sullivan, The Dish:

[Doug Mataconis asks,] Where, exactly, should the line on what a valid "religious belief" is be drawn, and who gets to draw it? 
It gets drawn at gays and women alone. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?

Fred Clark, Slacktivist: 

But apparently a handful of religious leaders were worried that Obama’s extension of protection against discrimination was — what did Dr. King’s correspondents call it? — unwise and untimely. A small group of these folks, spearheaded by Jim Wallis, fretted that Obama’s action was not “well-timed” and drafted a letter urging a more cautious, piecemeal approach, accommodating a more gradual pace of change by carving out the kind of "religious exemption" that was never permitted when it comes to race, sex, creed, color or national origin . . . . 

Dave Zirin, The Nation

That brings us to the four Bakr boys. There was Mohamed Ramez Bakr, eleven years old, Ahed Atef Bakr and Zakaria Ahed Bakr, both ten, and Ismael Mohamed Bakr, nine. They were all killed by an Israeli Defense Forces military strike while playing on the beach in surroundings as familiar to them as a corner playground.
 The first shell sent them running. The second took their lives. Existing in a land where are you are always underfoot, the beach is one of the precious few places a child can freely roam.

Paul WaldmanThe American Prospect:

The next time Republicans are wondering why so many people think their party is cruel and uncaring and will gladly crush the lives of ordinary people if it means gaining some momentary partisan advantage, they might think back to this case. They might remind themselves that the problem isn't that Americans just don't fully comprehend the majesty of Republican philosophy. It's that they see it quite well.

Joe Conason, Truthdig:

Where are the real Christians? Where are the true people of faith? They may be found in houses of worship near the border and around the country, where people of all political persuasions realize that they are called to feed, clothe, shelter and heal God's children, even when they arrive on a bus without papers. If there is a kingdom of heaven, it is these generous souls who will be admitted when they reach its border. The hypocrites will be sent somewhere else.

Leslie Savan, The Nation (note: several embedded links open to videos):

[Tamron] Hall is one of the very few in the media to even put the words "immigrant children" and "Little Rock" in the same story. She said she was reminded of the "young children going to school in Little Rock and being met by angry adults when the kids did not understand what was going on."

Timothy Egan, New York Times

But this year, the ancient struggle of My God versus Your God is at the root of dozens of atrocities, giving pause to the optimists among us (myself included) who believe that while the arc of enlightenment is long, it still bends toward the better.

Margaret Atwoood, The Guardian (speaking about her book The Handmaid's Tale):

Like any theocracy, this one would select a few passages from the Bible to justify its actions, and it would lean heavily towards the Old Testament, not towards the New. Since ruling classes always make sure they get the best and rarest of desirable goods and services, and as it is one of the axioms of the novel that fertility in the industrialised west has come under threat, the rare and desirable would include fertile women – always on the human wish list, one way or another – and reproductive control. Who shall have babies, who shall claim and raise those babies, who shall be blamed if anything goes wrong with those babies? These are questions with which human beings have busied themselves for a long time.

"Harper's Index," Harper's Magazine:

Percentage [of Americans] who have never heard of the Holocaust : 36

And so it goes this July 25, 2014, when the liturgical calendar of my church and many other Christian churches features a gospel reading from Matthew 20 in which Jesus tells us that those who expect to be great in the reign of God must be servants, and those who want to be first in God's reign must make themselves slaves, since the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.

The graphic: I'm not sure of its original source; I find it used at a number of blog sites, with no mention of its origin. A quote often attributed to the great 20th-century Protestant theologian Karl Barth was, "Read the bible in one hand and the newspaper in another." Barth may not actually have made that precise statement, but it's a good summary of his thinking about the need for believers to read the signs of the times as they live their faith in the world.

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