Sunday, August 31, 2014

Posting About National Catholic Reporter's Censorship of Jerry Slevin: 847 (Now 1002) Reads and Counting

It's fascinating to see, this morning, that the posting I made Friday reporting on how National Catholic Reporter has treated Jerry Slevin has had 847 900 1002 reads (and counting)* in a mere two days — and on a holiday weekend at the end of summer at that, when many Americans are out of pocket due to Labor Day and people elsewhere are finishing summer vacations and not spending time online as a result.

Friday, August 29, 2014

More on Jill Lepore's Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin — The Challenge of Reconstructing Women's Lives in Historical Studies

Some days back, I blogged about Jill Lepore's brilliant history of Jane Franklin Mecom, a sister of Benjamin Franklin — Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (NY: Random House, 2013). As I noted, Lepore points out that, while the sky was the limit for her brilliant brother, Jane spent her life giving birth, caring for and burying numerous children, dealing with the messes several of her children made of their lives, cleaning house, buying and preparing food, trying to eke out a living for her dependents on a tiny income, making soap, dyeing cloth, plying her needle to sew and earn money for her family through needlework, etc. Though she had a brilliant mind and a thirst for the education afforded without question to her brother Benjamin and most men in her time and place . . . .

National Catholic Reporter Exercises Censorship Again: Jerry Slevin Reports Being Blocked from Commenting at NCR — Without Any Explanation

An important discussion has been taking place here in the past several days on two different threads. At both threads (cited below), Jerry Slevin reports that he was recently blocked from making comments at National Catholic Reporter — blocked without explanation or warning. And when he has sought an explanation for this from the powers that be at NCR, he receives no replies to his questions.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thanking You for Recent Comments, and Explaining Why I'm Running Behind in Replying to Them

Dear Readers,

My schedule has been more than usually chopped up with non-blogging commitments lately, and I'm falling behind in thanking you for comments you've left here in recent days. I wanted to let you know that I appreciate them and will do my best to respond, when I can find a few free minutes. Wishing all of you a good weekend, too — one that will perhaps begin for U.S. readers of this blog tomorrow, given the Labor Day holiday . . . .

The Catholic Abuse Crisis: Three Recent Stories — Cardinal Pell (Again) Infuriates Survivors, Bishop Finn Up for Probation, Damning Report on Józef Wesołowski , Former Apostolic Nuncio to Dominican Republic

On the front of the sex-abuse crisis in the Catholic church, there have been several important stories in recent days. I'd like to point readers today to commentary about these stories that I've found valuable: 

Quote for Day: "We Must Not Lose Sight of Michael Brown's Body"

At Moyers & Company, Ian Haney López reminds us that, beyond all the heated rhetoric about what has or has not happened in Ferguson, Missouri, lies a human being. Whose body was left lying for hours in the street after he was gunned down, no weapons in his hands:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Apologies for Absurd Spell-Correct Error

My apologies to readers that I did not see until now the crazy spell-check correction the automatic-insert program made in my first posting today. I typed "evangelical pastors," and sassy Ms. Spell-Check changed the phrase to "evangelical pastures." She has done that before when I type the word "pastors." This time, I didn't see it happening, and am only now spotting the change as I re-read the text later in the day.

I do know the difference, and am chagrined to think readers of the posting may have imagined I don't.  Don't even get me started on the way Ms. Spell-Check tries to change the word "contracept" into "contract." Her theological vocabulary appears to be a bit limited, to say the least. 

Talking About Exile: Valuable Testimony from Tom Doyle and Ruth Krall

Yesterday, I looked at the movement now developing among conservative Christians in the U.S. to herd the church into exile. The reasoning that lies behind this rhetoric appears to be that since contemporary American culture has resisted the attempt of the churches to control culture to offer the good news of Christ to it via culture wars, the churches are left now with only one plausible response: to turn their backs on contemporary culture and go into exile.

Michael Brown's Eulogy: "This Is About Justice, This Is About Fairness"

1 Picture 1000 Words: From Michael Brown's Funeral

The photo is by Richard Perry of New York Times, and shows Michael Brown's father as his son's coffin was lowered into the ground yesterday.

The Fiasco of Evangelical Leader Mark Driscoll: "Something in the Masculine Christianity Playbook"?

Yesterday, I noted that the contemporary discussion of exile among conservative Christians who believe they are losing culture-war battles against women's and gay rights is clearly being driven by straight white males. It's that subset of the church who, quite specifically, feel defeated and now want to lead their churches into petulant exile. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Translating the News: Police Officers Spout Off About Threats to "Caucasian Christians" — Ferguson Is About the Fear of Many White Americans That "We" Are Losing Control"

At Talk to Action and the Political Research Associates website, Rachel Tabachnick reports that new video documentation has surfaced about St. Louis police officer Dan Page, who shoved CNN's Don Lemon in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 18 and was placed on leave for this action. Page has been making the rounds of right-wing talk radio circuits to promote what he calls his "Caucasian Christian" ideology. As various video clips presented by Tabachnick indicate,

More on Recent Discussion of Internet Trolling: Common Dreams Catches Trolling Game-Player, Sara Scribner Asks What We Can Do About "Furious Trolls"

In the recent past, I posted a link to an interesting article by Farhad Manjoo in the New York Times which suggests that the internet may be losing the war against trolls. For those interested in the discussion of the effect trolls are having on internet discussions, two more recent articles worth reading:

Trend in American Christianity to Keep Our Eyes on Now: Talking About Exile

A trend in American Christianity to keep our eyes on now: as Christians of a certain stripe recognize that they may well lose the heated culture-war battles by which they defined Christian purity in the latter part of the 20th century — notably, the battles against women's rights and the full inclusion of gay people in church and society — many of these Christians are moving to abandon the public square. They're moving to a hard, determined Christ-vs.-culture stance in which they're calling for "pure" Christians to turn their backs on a world headed to hell in a handbasket, as they create enclaves of pure Christianity apart from culture.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ferguson and Who Gets to Do What to Whom: One Day, Three Videos

"What Good Fortune for Those in Power That People Do Not Think": Religion (of a Sort) and Justification of Police Brutality

Several observations culled from my file of notes from books I've read over the course of many years, which have helped me to see more fully and to understand better. To my way of thinking, what both of these authors have to say could well powerfully gloss discussions we've had here of late about the role of religion in the world — and the quandary religion often presents to LGBTI folks. Both Alice Miller and Philip Greven are addressing the strongly held belief of many Christian cultures that physical punishment is necessary for the right rearing of good children.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Quote for Day: "Tear Gas Is an Abortifacient. Why Won't the Anti-Abortion Movement Oppose It?"

Bibles, Churches, Gays, Religion: Bilgrimage Readers Continue an Important Discussion

Recently, I responded to a question asked by a thoughtful reader of this blog (Bob/tinywriting) about how one determines when Christian groups have gone completely off-track as they appeal to the Jewish and Christian scriptures to ground their claim that they authentically represent the message of Christ. I also later added to that initial discussion several remarks about a recent study which appears to show that LGBTI folks who seek counseling from religious groups are at greater risk of suicide than those who seek counseling from non-religious sources.

Definitions Belong to the Definer, Not the Defined: What We're Talking About as We Talk About Ferguson

Clever, but schoolteacher whipped him anyway, to show him that definitions belonged to the definers—not the defined (Tony Morrison, Beloved [NY: New American Library, 1987], p. 190).

Monday, August 18, 2014

SNAP Fundraising Drive: Please Consider Donating

Sister Elizabeth Johnson to LCWR: "The Submerged Female Half of the Church, Indeed of the Human Race, Is Rising"

Sister Elizabeth Johnson, as she accepted the the top award of the Leadership Conference of Religious Women last week: 

All in an Evening's (Police) Work in One American Suburb: Tear-Gassing an 8-Year Old, Threatening and Arresting Reporters, Driving Trucks Through Citizens Gathered in Streets

Good morning, America. Here's an account via Twitter of what went on in one American suburb last evening. As Gabrielle Bluestone was reporting for Gawker as this fresh hell broke loose in Ferguson, Missouri, the police abruptly appeared well before curfew began, donning gas masks as they jumped out of their vehicles, and hitting reporters and children (the gathering was a peaceful gathering of people on the streets at this point) with the gas. Bluestone writes,

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Rachel Maddow's Summary of the Story of Shooting of Michael Brown: Two Clips Worth Watching

Study Finds That for LGBTI Folks, Seeking Help from Religious and Spiritual Sources Associated with Higher Odds of Suicide Attempt

Remember that new Gallup survey to which I pointed several days ago, which finds that LGBT Americans are significantly less religious (as in, affiliated with religious groups and attending their worship services) than the rest of the population? Well, now there's also this to add to the discussion: as this Williams Institute media release from the end of June states, 

More One Hand, Other Hand: Recent Commentary on the Promise and Peril of Online Interaction at Social Networking Sites (or, The Ferguson We All Inhabit)

Two more one hand, other hand contrasting statements this morning culled from articles I've read online recently:

In Recent News (One Hand, Other Hand): How Catholic Leaders Deal with Priests Guilty of Abusing Minors v. How Catholic Leaders Deal with Lay Employees Who Are Gay

In the news lately, there's this: as this editorial in the Daily Gazette (Schenectady, NY) indicates, this past Wednesday, Father James Taylor, a Catholic priest in Niskayuna, pled guilty to having sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl. Taylor was arrested in April. His bishop, Edward Scharfenberger, placed him on administrative leave after the arrest, but has announced that the diocesan sexual misconduct review board will not make a final decision about Taylor's continuing work as a priest until after the civil proceedings against him have finished.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Trending Discussions on Twitter Now That Darren Wilson Revealed As Michael Brown's Killer

Trending discussions on Twitter right now, after Ferguson, Missouri, released the name of Michael Brown's shooter — Darren Wilson:

Shooter of Michael Brown Just Named: Officer Darren Wilson

Breaking news: Ferguson, Missouri, police chief just named Officer Darren Wilson as Michael Brown's shooter. I heard the announcement on MSNBC live feed of the press conference. There's already quite a hashtag developing about the announcement and Darren Wilson at Twitter #darrenwilson.

Remembering Maya Angelou: Bill Moyers on Maya Angelou and Facing Evil — "We Need the Courage to Create Ourselves Daily"

Why Should Michael Brown's Killer Be Named? An Argument for Transparency

On his Facebook page today, Judge (and Pastor) Wendell Griffen makes a powerful, compelling case for those who know the identity of Michael Brown's killer to disclose this information. As he argues,

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "How Could a Catholic Priest with Such a History End Up As Second in Command of a Diocese—in 2014?"

At Commonweal, Grant Gallicho examines the curious case of Father Carlos Urrutigoity, who was removed by the Vatican in July from his position as vicar general in the diocese of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. In defending Urrutigoity and the decision of Ciudad del Este bishop Rogelio Livieres to make him vicar general of the diocese despite repeated (and seemingly credible) allegations that he had sexually abused minors and seminarians, diocesan officials state that Urrutigoity came to Ciudad del Este with the recommendation of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Reader Writes: "Are These Conservative Churches Really . . . a Weird Kind of New World Hebraic Cult?" — Reflections on the Neo-Calvinist Movement in U.S. Evangelicalism

Several days ago, in response to my posting about how Steve's two aunts who are nuns received the news of our marriage in May, tinywriting posted some very good questions (and here) about how we can discern when Christian movements have departed in essential ways from the foundations of the Christian message and no longer adequately represent Christianity. Tiny notes that "when these conservative Christian churches take conservative life-style positions it's always the Old Testament that they quote."

"How Often Must We Drink from This Bitter Well?": Commentary on the Michael Brown Shooting and Ongoing Police Violence in Ferguson, Missouri

The situation in Ferguson, Missouri, where police shot to death an unarmed African-American teenager, Michael Brown, this past weekend, continues to deteriorate. Last night, Ferguson police — who still refuse to release the name of the officer who shot Brown — deployed a panoply of military devices more suited to a war zone than to a suburb of an American city, including tear gas, incendiary and explosive devices, and armored vehicles to intimidate those protesting Brown's shooting. As Sherrilyn Ifill told Lawrence O'Donnell last evening on MSNBC news (video link), the alarming militarization of the police force in Ferguson (and, increasingly, in many places in the U.S.) is a key aspect of this story.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

One Final Photo from Our Wedding Celebration: Friends Sharing a Laugh

One final photo from the 21st June celebration of our wedding I thought I'd inflict on you today. It may just be my favorite photo from the whole batch taken that day: our friends Jo and Quentin and Pat and Wendell enjoying a hearty laugh about . . . well, something. The picture tickles me, and sums up a day that was full of high spirits and jollity for all of us. Or so it appeared. (And I should mention once again that the photo was taken by Little Rock photographer Marcus Rachard.)

Translating the News: Immigrants as Targets, Gays as Targets, Women as Targets, Religion as Vehicle — Some Common Threads in Recent News Stories

The news is often written in code. The news is a foreign language that calls on us, wherever we are in the world, to translate it. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Jill Lepore's Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin — Men, Women, and Divines in Colonial New England

I've been reading Jill Lepore's history of Benjamin Franklin's sister Jane Franklin Mecom and the interaction of the two siblings: Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (NY: Random House, 2013). It's a reminder of the harsh disparity between how the law, religious institutions, and various cultures treated men and women at the period of history in which both Franklins flourished. 

Another Gratitude Story for You: Response of Steve's Aunts Who Are Nuns to Our Wedding

Here's another gratitude story for you, to accompany the photos of our wedding celebration that I uploaded last evening:

Sunday, August 10, 2014

O Frabjous Day! Callooh! Callay! Photos from the Party Celebrating Our Wedding

Guests Enjoying Themselves

You asked for more photos of our marriage events. Well, some of you asked for them. For those who aren't entirely weary of them, here are some we received last week from the photographer (Marcus Rachard) who took pictures at our party on 21 June in celebration of our wedding on 12 May. I've selected a set of black and white and sepia-toned ones I like. There are color photos, too. 

Gratitude: A Story from Our Recent Trip

Gratitude is the highest form of acceptance. Like patience, it is one of the catalytic agents, one of the alchemist's secrets, for turning dross to gold, hell to heaven, death to life (Stephen Levine, A Year to Live: How to Live This Year As If It Were Your Last [NY: Bell Tower, 1997).

Purity and Danger: On the Racist Subtext of Current U.S. Debates about Latino Immigrant Children and the Ebola Virus

Some days lately as I read the news, I wonder, "Did Mary Douglas have some kind of crystal ball that allowed her to see fifty years into the future when she wrote her book Purity and Danger in the early 1960s?" So much happening today seems almost as if it is lifted from the footnotes of that classic essay — as if it is being scripted to prove the validity of Douglas's analysis.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Signposts on a Spiritual Journey: "It Is Such an Irony. The Holy Land Has Such a Long History of Being Drenched in Blood"

Photograph: Petri Storlöpare,

When we return from our trip of the last week, a postcard from our friends John and Andre is waiting for us. They're visiting the Holy Land.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "The Bodies Become Fully United at, Well, to Be Blunt, Ejaculation in the Vagina"

At the Little Catholic Bubble blog site, Bethany writes,

The bodies become fully united at, well, to be blunt, ejaculation in the vagina, thus fulfilling the necessary requirements to allow the potential of reproduction to take place.

We Go, We Return, We Fall Down, We Get Up: On Life Journeys As Spiritual Journeys (2)

The view from Bobonong, she mused: was that how the world looked to Mma Makutsi? It seemed an odd thing to say, and yet all of us had a view from somewhere, a view of the world from the perspective of who we were, of what had happened to us, of how we thought about things (Alexander McCall Smith, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon [NY: Random House, 2013], p. 40).

We Go, We Return, We Fall Down, We Get Up: On Life Journeys As Spiritual Journeys

You were almost right, coolmom: though we didn't go to Minneapolis on our trip last week, it was definitely a Midwestern trek, from Fayetteville, Arkansas, to Kansas City and Independence, Missouri, and on to Dyersville, Iowa. And here's Waldo proof (in part): yours truly standing in front of a window at Crystal Bridges Museum last Wednesday, before we headed on to Kansas City. I have smiled and smiled as I read your "Where's Waldo?" proposal and hrh's stone tablets comment, and all the other precious and much-appreciated responses to my last posting. (I did encounter the stone tablets on this trip, hrh. But I suspect they conked me on the head as I walked up the mountain, and so I have no memory of having seen them.)