Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Birthday Note (My Birthday, That Is) to Readers

Dear Friends,

Today's an anniversary for me--my birthday, actually.  My 60th, and so a certain kind of milestone.

Because of the anniversary, I may be quiet for a bit, as I do a few birthday things and think about what it means to reach this particular milestone.

If I'm slower to post in the next few days or so, please know that I'm occupied with birthday events and the  thoughts they elicit.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Andrew Sullivan on George Weigel: They Still Don't Get That It's about Raped Children

I highly recommend Andrew Sullivan's posting today about the dynamic re: which I blogged earlier in the day--the circling of the wagons to defend Benedict in the face of damning evidence of his participation in covering up sexual abuse of children by clerics.  Sullivan aptly calls the dynamic the "digging in" of the theocons.

To be specific, he's responding to George Weigel, erstwhile defender of Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, who abused a string of minors as head of the Legionaries, and has now been found to have fathered a number of children whom he supported, along with their mother, secretly on the dole of his religious order.  As Andrew Sullivan notes, Weigel now wants to play the homophobic card and lay blame for the revelations about Benedict's cover-up of abuse cases at the feet of Rembert Weakland, who resigned as archbishop of Milwaukee after admitting having had an affair with an adult male.

Stupak Speaks Out: True Motives of Many "Pro-Life" Groups Becoming Clear

As I've said in a number of previous postings, I admire Bart Stupak for speaking out now--and I'm sorry for the pain he's enduring at the hands of those who previously regarded him as their ally in a last-ditch effort to halt health care reform.  I find it strange that Stupak couldn't see how he was being used prior to the blowback against him after he voted for health care reform.

But I'm glad he's now telling the unvarnished truth about the real motives of those who were using him to try to stop health care reform--including, as I noted in a previous posting focusing on Stupak's statements following the passing of the health care bill, the U.S. Catholic bishops.

Küng on Ratzinger: Benedict at the Very Center of the Abuse Cover Up

The pope’s gallant boyos have come out with gloves off this weekend.  Folks who have left the Catholic church due to its record of child abuse throwing wide punches to defend their boy Benedict.  Non-Catholics who say they don’t believe in the principle of papal authority, but who intend to fight to the bitter end to protect the papacy in the case of Benedict because, well, we need some authority in the world.

And the kind for which Benedict stands is the kind of authority of which we boys dream everywhere: male-dominant, contemptuous and exclusive of the gifts and talents of women, ruthlessly authoritarian, top-down, and most of all, conservative—in the constricted, distorted sense of that word that those now twisting the truth about Benedict mean when they speak of themselves as conservatives. 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Defenders of Vatican Claim Conspiracy: The Obligation to Remember Where This Papal Regime Went Wrong

As spin about what Benedict knew when gets underway (it’s an international atheist- and Freemason-driven media conspiracy; it all points back to Rembert Weakland and the gays—it’s boys being abused, doncha know), I’m thinking of something a priest-theologian friend of mine, Fr. Bill, first told me in the mid-1980s.  I’m thinking of Bill’s insights as I read today the announcement of Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect emeritus of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, that the spate of recent revelations stems from a “conspiracy” against Pope Benedict, a “well-organized plan, with a clear aim.”  (See Marina Hyde’s wonderful commentary on Cardinal Martins’ conspiracy theory in the Guardian today.)

The cardinal’s comments bring to mind Fr. Bill’s insight even in the 1980s about one of the possible futures the restorationist regime was building for itself: “The men running the church right now would be wise to consider what will happen if their regime ever cracks.  Hurt a lot of folks for a long time, and you can’t expect sympathy and support when your day dawns.”

Lines I Wish I'd Written: The Coven of Masculine Narcissism That Rules the Church

 Tom Beaudoin at America blog, on the Catholicism whose expiration date is past:

As the news is again reminding us, Catholics are part of a secretive and abusive church, built on “homosocial” power: men governing men and excluding women; men in a culture of homoerotic images too often and too loudly denying genuine life beyond heterosexuality; and willing to go to almost any length to protect this coven of masculine narcissism.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Response to Michael Sean Winters on Defending His Church: It's My Church, Too

 I’ve spent much of today trying to figure out how to write a response to Michael Sean Winters’ posting at America blog today, taking the New York Times to task for its article yesterday about Pope Benedict’s connections to the story of a Wisconsin priest who evidently sexually abused some 200 deaf boys.

I’ve written postings critical of some of Winters’ positions in the past.  I don’t want to write something now that appears to be a broadside attack on a journalist whose work I often admire, even as I disagree at a fundamental level with some of Winters’ theological starting points.  Michael Sean Winters takes heat from the Catholic right for his attempts to place the best of the Catholic tradition in dialogue with a political sphere that transcends the Republican party. 

U.S. Catholic Bishops' Media Relations Director Addresses Violence in Political Sphere

Two days ago, I wrote,

As I say to the U.S. Catholic bishops in my October 2008 open letter calling on them to denounce the escalating verbal violence in our political sphere, including verbal violence by people claiming to represent pro-life positions, the credibility of the bishops depends on whether they speak out.  Their outspoken rejection of the health care bill obligates them to condemn the kind of violence Bart Stupak is now experiencing.

And because I wrote those words, it’s important that I note a statement that came from the office of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference the following day.  On Thursday USCCB’s media relations director, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, made a statement on the USCCB media blog addressing the violence now roiling our political life in the U.S. (and see Fr. Jim Martin’s excerpts at America blog).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lines I Wish I'd Written: Andrew Sullivan on Church's Leaders as Too Objectively Disordered to Run a Church

Andrew Sullivan's take on the ongoing revelations about the Catholic hierarchy's cover-up of child rape:

And when it's clear that at the center of this kind of pathological secrecy and shame is the current Pope, then it is clear that the entire institution is corrupt from the top down.

These men are too objectively disordered to run a church. They bask in self-denial, while they wage a culture war against gay men who have actually dealt with their sexuality, who have owned it, and celebrated it and even found ways to channel it into adult relationships and even civil marriage.

Well said.  Almost makes you think that the continued (and these days, stepped-up) attacks on gays and lesbians, and the invention of the term "disordered" to ground the attack, is a diversionary tactic designed by cynical men desperate to deflect attention from their own egregious crimes.

Anthea Butler on the Self-Chosen Irrelevancy of the U.S. Catholic Bishops

 My last posting yesterday suggested that the U.S. Catholic bishops have become—through their alliance with the rabid religious and political right—enablers of the violence that has roiled American political life from the last election cycle up to the present.  Verbal violence and threats of overt violence are peaking again following the passing of the health care bill.

And the bishops remain silent.

What Benedict Knew When: Wisconsin Priest Abuses 200 Deaf Boys; Ratzinger Informed

Today’s big news: a blockbuster exposé by Laurie Goodstein in the New York Times, showing the direct involvement of the current pope in shielding an American priest, Lawrence C. Murphy, who abused at least 200 deaf boys from the 1950s up to his death in 1998.  Files obtained by the Times show Cardinal Ratzinger receiving correspondence about this priest from Wisconsin bishops, including Rembert Weakland, archbishop of Milwaukee, who wrote Cardinal Ratzinger twice in 1996 to inform him about Fr. Murphy.

Following Weakland’s letters, Ratzinger’s second in command Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, now the Vatican secretary of state, told the bishops of Wisconsin to begin a secret canonical trial to consider Fr. Murphy’s defrocking.  Murphy then wrote to Ratzinger asking that the trial be stopped, and stating that he had repented and the time allotted for a trial in the church’s statute of limitations had run out. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stupak Under Attack: What Have the Bishops Wrought?

And this is what the U.S. Catholic bishops have been enabling, massaging, creating, for some time now, with their "pro-life" politics.

I'm sorry for Bart Stupak--sorrier than I can say. 

I'm glad that he has found his conscience now.  And I hope he will continue to have courage to speak out about the ugly political games the bishops have been playing with the lives of millions of Americans without health care coverage.

Oscar Romero to the U.S. Catholic Bishops: Now is the Time to Recover Your Consciences

Today is the anniversary of Oscar Romero’s martyrdom.  And I am thinking of the words he spoke in his final homily the day before he was shot at the altar, saying Mass in the chapel of the hospital of Divine Providence. 

In his final homily, Romero pleaded with the soldiers of El Salvador, addressing them as brothers, reminding them that they came from the same people they were murdering at the commands of their superiors.  He asked them finally to find their consciences, saying,

Ya es tiempo de que recuperen su conciencia.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Titles I Wish I'd Written: Miracle Whip, Pope John Paul II, Self-Punishment, and The Fast Track To Sainthood

Paul Gorrell's title for his Religion Dispatches article about the revelations that Pope John Paul II practiced self-flagellation--"Miracle Whip: Pope John Paul II, Self-Punishment, and The Fast Track To Sainthood"--is brilliant.  Especially when those promoting the narrative of JPII's self-flagellation seem to think that stories about his whip are miraculously going to convince us that the former pope was outstanding in holiness.

As Gorrell points out, belief in the virtue of physical self-abnegation is rooted in the body-soul dualism that Christianity inherits not from its Jewish roots, but from the Graeco-Roman world in which it first took shape as a religion.  Gorrell also notes that there is an ironic--and dangerous--connection between beliefs about self-mastery and the desire to master others, between the glorification of practices of self-abuse and the easy acceptance of abuse of others.

On the Catholic Roots of Ken Cuccinelli's Anti-Gay Politics: Dishonest Use of Gay Acts-Gay Persons Distinction

Several days ago, the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, was asked if he thinks that gays are a detriment to our culture.  This question came on the heels of a ruling by Cuccinelli instructing the commonwealth’s universities to rescind policies prohibiting discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

Cuccinelli’s response to the question about whether gays are a detriment to our culture is interesting.  It illustrates a point I’ve made both here and at the Open Tabernacle blog: namely, that right-leaning Catholics want to use the distinction between disordered gay acts and disordered gay persons to continue discrimination, even as they claim that it’s the gay acts and not gay people they’re combating.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Anthea Butler on Gutting of Catholic Theologians as Ground-Laying for Clerical Abuse Crisis

I highly recommend Anthea Butler's "Training God's Rottweiler: Catholic Church Sex Abuse Must End" at Religion Dispatches today.  Butler teaches religion at University of Pennsylvania.

She notes the incalculable damage inflicted on the Catholic church by the "gutting" of theologians at a point in history when it most needs astute theologians capable of placing the best of the tradition in dialogue with postmodern culture.  As she notes, the movement to silence theologians in the final decades of the 20th century emanated directly from Cardinal Ratzinger, the current pope.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Michael Sean Winters on Stupak as a Principled Champion: Just Not Getting It

Michael Sean Winters keeps emitting chirps of praise today (here and here) at the America blog, because Bart Stupak has found his way to a yes vote on the health care bill.  In Winters’ view, Stupak is a principled pro-life champion who deserves praise.

Winters’ latest says it will be interesting to see which Catholic blogs continue denouncing Stupak after he delivered his vote (and his bloc) for the health care bill today.  I very seriously doubt that my blog is on the radar screen of those who “deal,” to use Stupak’s charming word about what he’s been doing vis-à-vis the health care bill.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Michael Moore on Stupak and Boys Who Like to Play with Boys: The C Street Connection

C Street is where power, money, sex and religion meet. So am I led to believe that Bart Stupak lives in a brothel and belongs to a cult? He says he was just renting a room there. But that just doesn't ring true. Something stinks to the high heavens here, and Stupak sees no irony in taking his holier-than-thou position while living in a house that should be dubbed "Hypocrites' Hideaway."

If Stupak were truly pro-life then he'd vote for this bill. Right now, a mother in the U.S. has a ten times greater chance of dying in childbirth than a mother does in Ireland. If you really wanted to reduce abortions, you'd have to ask yourself this question: Why does godless France, where abortion is nearly free (it's covered by their universal health insurance), have 20% fewer abortions per capita than we do?

Stupak's exceptionally stupid comment about "the nuns" gives the game away: it really is about a Catholic hierarchy in absolute denial of its own grievous sins, rooted in puerile fantasies about "dealing," intent on controlling women.  While claiming to to be pro-life.

The Refusal of Bishops to Be Good Shepherds: Deep Roots of Abuse Crisis, the Rest of the Story

And so the rest of the story: yesterday, I shared excerpts from a series of letters I wrote to the bishop of Charlotte, North Carolina, William J. Curlin, in the 1990s, in which I asked him to meet with me as a member of his diocese whose vocation as a theologian had been smashed by Belmont Abbey College, and whose livelihood and health care coverage had been taken away in the process.  Without any explanation for these actions.

I told Bishop Curlin that my faith—in the church as an institution—was radically undermined by what this Catholic institution had done to me.  I told him I found myself unable to partake of the Eucharist any longer, when priests can stand at the altar offering holy bread to the people of God, after having removed daily bread from our mouths.  With no explanation for their actions.

Boys Who Like to Play with Boys: Bart Stupak on Wheeling, Dealing, and the Nuns

I wrote yesterday about boys who like to play with other boys in the governing structures of both church and society.  I noted that the boys' club has produced in both church and society an early adolescent fixation on power over others, on phallic strutting, and on game playing that’s all about being on the winning side and turning others into losers—and not about healing the world or building a humane society for all.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Refusal of Bishops to Be Good Shepherds: More Roots of the Abuse Crisis (2)

And now, as a continuation of the story I began to tell in the first half of this posting, excerpts from two letters I wrote Bishop William J. Curlin of Charlotte in 1997, five years before revelations about clerical abuse of minors in the Catholic church began to pour forth in the mainstream media in 2002, in a tidal wave of reports.

The Refusal of Bishops to Be Good Shepherds: More Roots of the Abuse Crisis

As news breaks daily about the crisis of clerical sexual abuse of children in the Catholic church in European countries, including most recently that a known sexual predator was reassigned to another position in which he could (and did) molest children when the current pope was bishop of Munich, I’ve been looking at a file of letters I wrote to a bishop in the 1990s.

I rarely revisit this file these days.  I have no reason to do so.  Life moves on, and I’ve moved on with it.  And the events the letters chronicle were such dismal ones that it fractures my spirits to read the letters again.

Boys Talking to Boys: The Roots of the Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church

I woke last night thinking about the attack of Carl Olson and Mark Shea on Andrew Sullivan for daring to be a . . .well, a  homosexual: that's the word Olson wants to put front and center . . . who dares to tell the truth about what the Catholic hierarchy have done vis-à-vis clerical sexual abuse.  Believe it or not, I do actually sometimes spend restless nights thinking about the church and its comportment, though I no longer set foot in the church after I was robbed of my vocation as a theologian, and of my livelihood and health care in the process.

And what struck me in the middle of the night, as I mulled over Andrew Sullivan’s summary of the preposterous confabulations that these defenders of Benedict now want to get away with, is this: perhaps the biggest problem the Catholic church faces now, the one most responsible for the abuse situation, is the lack of women’s voices in the church.  The lack of any effective power for women in the church.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Hired Guns Come Out: Andrew Sullivan Attacked by Apologists for Benedict

The hired guns are out, and they’re blazing today.  Their target?  Andrew Sullivan, one of those “celebrity ‘conservative’ homosexuals” who think that Benedict might bear just a tiny bit of responsibility for the reassignment of a pedophile priest while he was bishop of Munich, a priest who then went on to abuse more minors—when officials of the Munich diocese had been well informed about his likelihood to continue molesting children.

Because, you know, it really, really matters whether the person disclosing incontrovertibly true information about Benedict’s shameful role in the clerical sexual abuse crisis is homo- or heterosexual.

The phrase “celebrity ‘conservative’ homosexuals” is Carl Olson’s.  On Mr. Olson, his situation in the Denver diocese of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, and his . . . let’s call them “ties” . . . to some of the most well-heeled right-wing Republican Catholic powerbrokers in the U.S., see my report a year ago, after Olson attacked me on his Insight Scoop blog, re: right-wing Catholicism and right-wing politics and the thick, incestuous ties that run through this politico-religious wing of American Catholicism today.

Boulder Pastor Defends Decision to Exclude Girls from Catholic School: It's All about Catholic Freedom

As a follow-up to Tom Fox’s interview with the two women whose daughters have been put out of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic elementary school in Boulder, Colorado, which National Catholic Reporter published earlier this week, Tom Fox published an interview with the pastor of Sacred Heart yesterday.  In this interview (and on his blog, cited below), Father William Breslin defends his decision to exclude the three-year and five-year old girls from the school, because their mothers are a lesbian couple.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Feliz NaviPat, Y'All: He Drinks Tequila and She Talks Dirty in Spanish

Cute cute cute, this Irish family singing over-the-top Southwestern swing.  And just a wee bit scary.

Far more pleasant to watch than little colleens step-dancing, with that wild flyaway hair that seems de rigueur at Irish dancing schools nowadays.  It's not the colleens that bring out the St. Pat's grinch in me.  It's that hair--hair God never intended on any human's head, listing and sailing in huge flotillas around tiny faces, as they step their little hearts out on the stage.

Richard Hughes on the Riddle of Conservative American Christianity: No Room for the Common Good

As a supplement to what I just posted about the centrality of practical compassion—of “the wondrous process of saving all living things”—to the religious traditions of the world, I’d like to recommend today a marvelous two-part series of articles by Richard T. Hughes of Messiah College.  Richard Hughes is a scholar of American religion. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day: Turning the Green Leaf into Buddha's Body

St. Patrick's day is about green, right?  The symbolism of this feast day so dear to Irish hearts revolves around green this and green that.  When I was growing up, we were proud to put something bright green on for St. Pat's, to let the world know we were Irish--and happy to be so.

So perhaps it's appropriate today that, on this feast day of green this and green that, I'm thinking of the instructions Japanese Zen master Dogen gave to those doing the cooking for their monasteries.  I'm grateful to a reader of this blog for bringing Dogen's Instructions for the Cook to my attention.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Devils in D.C.: Texas Republican Louis Gohmert Opines Again

Sorry to be so chatty today, but it's hard to avoid these days, as religious-themed news keeps popping.

This just in: demons have invaded D.C.

Will Gets 'Em Told: Will Phillips's Acceptance Speech at GLAAD Media Awards

At a time when hope seems well-nigh suffocated by venality and stupidity, a message of hope from an unlikely source—a small-town ten year-old boy.  From Arkansas.

Young Will Phillips’ recent acceptance speech at the GLAAD media awards is going viral in our area, I understand.  It’s a reminder that we do sometimes grow them right, even in what H.L. Mencken the miasmtic jungles of Arkansas.

Mothers of Girls Excluded from Boulder Catholic School Tell Their Story: You Are No Longer Accepted Here

In what I just posted, I mention that National Catholic Reporter has just published an interview by Tom Fox with the two women whose children have been told they are unwelcome at a Catholic school in Boulder, Colorado.  This is an exclusive interview.

Wild French Lesbians, the Gays, and Freemasons as Enemies of the Church Today: And Now Come the Jews

I wrote yesterday that, as evidence mounts for what we’ve already known all along—Benedict is right at the center of the cover-up of clerical sexual abuse of minors, pulling the strings—we’ll hear ever stranger accusations that somebody other than the Vatican and bishops is responsible for the abuse crisis. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

More Double Standards: D.C. Catholic Charities Implements New Hiring Standards

The double standard in how the Catholic church treats its heterosexual sinners and its gay ones grows ever grosser and more evident--even as right-wing Catholics try to deny that any discrimination exists.

A week or so ago, it was Archbishop Chaput of Denver excluding a child from a Catholic pre-school in his diocese, on the ground that the child's lesbian parents were contravening Catholic teaching.

Theological Truth vs. Ethics: On the Illict Attempt of Catholic Apologists to Separate the Two

Regarding what I wrote last week about hate and the slowly (very slowly) dawning consciousness of the American Catholic center that the purge of gay Catholics begun by Cardinal Ratzinger’s 1986 “pastoral” document about homosexuality has been all about hate-filled prejudice, and not about sexual ethics: one of the tactics the center uses to marginalize insights from the margins is the claim that one must sharply distinguish the pursuit and articulation of theological truth from ethics.

The Devil, Freemasons, Wild French Lesbians, Gays: Playing the Blame Game, As Benedict's Involvement in Cover-Up of Sexual Abuse Crisis Becomes Clear

As we begin to learn the truth we’ve known all along—that Benedict is at the heart of the cover-up of the abuse crisis in the church, and has been pulling the cover-up strings in the Vatican for years—it’s fascinating to observe the blame game now being played by church officials.  A blame game that will, they seem to imagine, keep the blame from falling where it should fall, on the pope himself.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Anniversary of A Brother's Death: In Memoriam

I posted the following remembrance of my brother’s death on this blog in 2008.  As the anniversary comes around again this year, I’m re-posting what I wrote in 2008:

Today is a day of remembrance. On this day in 1991, I stood beside a hospital bed and watched my brother Simpson die. He was 39.

Friday, March 12, 2010

ABC News on Ugandan Situation: It's All About Hate

It’s all about hate, I just wrote, as I reflected on the organized campaign of influential members of the Catholic hierarchy to demonstrate to gays and lesbians that we are unwelcome in the Catholic church, and are second-class citizens of secular societies.

And now I’ve just watched the report that ABC news did two days ago about the situation in Uganda. 

Lines I Wish I'd Written: Chaput as 21st-Century Bishop and Paying That This May Be

Lines I wish I’d written: a poster named frère charles du désert OSB OBLAT, responding to a poster named Presbyter simplex in a discussion of John Allen’s recent NCR puff piece about Charles Chaput as a “21st-century bishop”:

Simplex writes: “Right on, John Allen -- and Archbishop Chaput! Will the Church have the imagination to put aside ecclesiastical politics for once and make him Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles? I pay that this may be.”

And frère charles responds: “and apparently many others also pay that this may be, and in the brave new 21st century church as in the middle ages it is who pays who wins, not the people of God.”

Indeed.  Many have paid throughout history, and in the church of the 21st century, it continues to be entirely likely that those who have the gold will rule.  And those who have the gold definitely love Charles Chaput.

Chaput's Gross Injustice and Glimmers of Conscience for Catholics of the Center

Forty-three years ago today I joined the Catholic church.  I was 17 years old.

What can I have been thinking?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Churches' Confrontation with Historic Guilt: Implications for the Present

When I ask where hate goes, once it has spent itself and done its dirty work within a given social context, I’m asking, as well, where such hate goes in the lives of faith communities who participate in or even engender such social violence.  Where does hate go, for communities of faith that have taken part in the scapegoating and even destruction of demeaned minority groups?

Lines I Wish I Had Written: These Exciting Times

A respondent, William McAleer, addressing National Catholic Reporter's discussion of Archbishop Charles Chaput's defense of excluding children of same-sex couples from Catholic schools:

In these exciting times, what with the pope whipping himself, children raped in churchs everywhere, the popes brother slapping singing children, chaput (R-DEN) has to try harder than ever to stay in the limelight. 

Indeed.  There is at the bottom of everything Chaput does a discernible whiff of babbitry, the kind of mindless, oily, preening boosterism one expects more in a small-town Knights of Columbus hall than the chancery of a large diocese.  In Chaput, the apotheosis of parochial Republican American "values" as Catholic "values" is made perfect and complete.  

While claiming to represent countercultural purism, he and the businessmen who have bought his power seat in the church work night and day to turn the American Catholic church into a good ole boys' club utterly captive to Republican ideology. Watch for the day when those cronies have succeeded in buying him an even higher power seat in the church: if you think you've already seen babbitry strutting and fretting its hour on the stage, wait for the spectacle that will unfold when Cardinal Charles Chaput tells us how it's really to be done in Catholicville.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Spiral of Violence: Alice Miller on Child Abuse as the Foundation of Social Violence

Earlier today, I wrote, 

Perhaps, in fact, there’s a line of continuity between slapping children in the face and sexually abusing them, and refusing to see Jewish citizens outside our window being carted off to gas chambers. 

Since at least one reader of my posting has questioned the relevance of the use of corporal punishment by the pope's brother to "anything," I'd like to offer the following reflections from the website of the noted Swiss child psychologist Alice Miller:

Benedict Meets with Ugandan Bishops: Total Silence about Kill-the-Gays Legislation

What I earlier today wrote speaks to the foundations of faith for the community to which I belong—or, at least, this is how I understand those foundations.  But then there’s the everyday reality of that faith as it’s expressed here and now, the frightening everyday reality of what Catholicism is coming to mean to many people around the world today.

Do This in Memory: The Obligation to Stand in Solidarity as the Precondition of Remembrance

I wrote yesterday about how, woven deep into the heart of many faith communities of the world, is the conviction that we have an obligation to remember.  We cannot choose to regard the victims of history as the mere detritus of history, the raw material on whose backs our contemporary “progress” and “civilization” are unfortunately constructed, because the past is never past.  Those victims and their pain live on, whether we choose to listen or not.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bart Stupak and the Catholic Bishops: "Very, Very, Very Engaged"

Several days ago, when I gave a thumbs-down to the way in which Michigan Representative Bart Stupak has involved himself in the health-care debate, I wrote,

Stupak is carrying water for the U.S. Catholic bishops, who are doing incalculable harm to American society as well as to the church by their behind-the-scenes arm-twisting and bullying tactics.

And so I’m interested read the take of Newsweek’s Lisa Miller on the “righteousness” of a new generation of politics-playing U.S. Catholic bishops (h/t to Dennis Coday at National Catholic Reporter). 

On the Obligation Not to Forget: The Challenge of Hope in Faith Communities

What haunts me, as I move towards a new phase in my life (I’m approaching a birthday that’s symbolic to me, as I’ve noted previously—my 60th—and one . . . ponders . . . as one ages):  

Where does hate go?  What happens to it, when it’s done its dirty work, had its field day, and been temporarily vanquished?

In one sense, I ask these questions naively, because I know their answer perfectly well.  In speaking of “hate” here, I’m talking about the intractable, venomous, never-overcome tendency of people in any human group to single out a particular sub-set of their community for scorn, demonization, exclusion, and often, active persecution that may even result in their eradication.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Frank Rich on What Obama Administration Needs: Substantive Belief System, Bedrock Convictions

Frank Rich in today's New York Times about the inability of Mr. Obama's pragmatism to meet the needs of a nation in distress: 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Stupak’s Shenanigans: Thumbs Down


Five reasons:

1. He has been closely associated with The Family and their C Street residence.

He’s now trying to downplay that association, while centrist Catholics are helping him with this disingenuous cover-up.  The Family is an overtly theocratic religio-political organization that espouses political and economic positions wildly at odds with core aspects of Catholic teaching. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Jesus Loves the Little Children; But the Catholic Diocese of Denver . . .


In what I wrote earlier today about the cognitive dissonance the Catholic church is creating  now for Catholics who take core Catholic teachings seriously, by its inexplicable fixation on gay and lesbian persons and its hateful attacks on this minority group, I stated,

I suspect more and more “ordinary” Catholics are troubled now, as the pastoral leaders of the church seem not to be troubled, about the pain we inflict when we:

6. Destabilize families headed by same-sex parents raising children, thus inflicting misery not only on the parents of such families, but on their children, as well . . . .

And now I read that Sacred Heart of Jesus school in Boulder, Colorado, will not permit a preschool student to return next year because the student's parents are a lesbian couple.  The Denver archdiocese has announced that "homosexual couples living together as a couple are in disaccord with Catholic teaching." 

Cognitive Dissonance: When the Church's Behavior Belies Core Church Teachings


Cognitive dissonance: I have been insisting in recent days that the Catholic church is now exacting, as a membership fee from those who remain affiliated with it, a cognitive dissonance that is increasingly intolerable.  The word “intolerable” echoes Latin roots that mean “not able to be carried.” 

The Catholic church today increasingly places a burden on the backs of those who remain Catholic that is impossible to carry.  It is impossible to carry when one adverts to the most fundamental affirmations of Catholic belief, which are increasingly at odds with what the church demands that Catholics think, do, say, and believe at this point in history.