Saturday, July 30, 2011

Glenn Beck on Summer Camps for Youths Sponsored by Political Parties

Glenn Beck and other right-wing talk mavens have gone ballistic at the thought that a political party--in this case, Norway's Labor party--hosts summer camps for young people.  Beck said last week that the Utoya summer camp at which Anders Breivik committed his atrocities sounded like a Hitler Youth venture. 

Six Degrees: Surprising Discoveries of Interconnections

Isn't it interesting how frequently in life we discover hidden ties that have bound us to someone we've known for some time, entirely apart from those ties?  There's nothing whatsoever profound or new about that observation: six degrees of separation . . . .  And yet every time one of these discoveries comes my way, I find myself surprised all over again by the recognition of how my life has been interwoven with that of someone else in my circles of friends and acquaintances, without either of us having known of that connection.

John Allen on Vatican Critics as Sharks Out for Blood: That's One Way of Looking at It

Followers of Vaticanologist (and, increasingly, Vatican head cheerleader) John Allen at National Catholic Reporter will find his latest screed at that site interesting, I think.  It compares critics of the Vatican to--get this--sharks.  Sharks circling in the water, who are now revved up by the blood they sense leaking out of the poor old Vatican as it encounters one hard knock after another in recent weeks.  

Jon Stewart on American Conservatives' Claim That They're the Real Victims in the Norway Shootings

Jon Stewart is brilliant re: how American conservatives have made the attempt to dissect the motives of Norwegian shooter Anders Breivik all about them.  And about persecution of Christians.  This segment begins right before the one minute mark.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Commonweal Puts More Lipstick on the Pig: Dan Savage as Representative Gay Male Threatening Monogamy

So the leading publication of the American Catholic intellectual center, Commonweal, is choosing to respond to the implementation of marriage equality in New York with a double-barreled discussion of Dan Savage, monogamy, and licit or illicit desire?!  Commonweal's two blog sites, dotCommonweal and Verdicts, are now both featuring threads launched yesterday, in which Melissa Matthes of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and Commonweal editor Matthew Boudway lay into Dan Savage for his recent musings about monogamy.  Boudway's piece encapsulates Matthes's--evidently, so that readers of both of Commonweal's side-by-side blogs won't miss Matthes's critique of Savage's "gay" questioning of monogamy.

Sojourners and the Quest for Socio-Economic Justice: No One's Human Rights Can Be Optional (and That Includes the Gays)

And speaking of a false centrism that predictably provides cover for the religious and political right, while professing to be all about "balance": the question Sarah Posner asks today at Religion Dispatches about the recent Sojourners "God is watching" ad addressing the budget debate is exactly the question I asked myself when I first saw the ad: Was God watching when Sojourners refused to run Believe Out Loud's ad asking faith communities to support the human rights of LGBT persons?

Paul Krugman on the Centrist Cop-Out and the Budget Stalemate

In the New York Times today, Paul Krugman lambasts the false centrism (à la E.J. Dionne) foisted on us by beltway pundits, which perpetually makes concessions to the extreme right in the name of "balance."  As Krugman notes, centrism is a big cop-out that only encourages more bad behavior on the part of extremists: to be specific, it is now encouraging the deliberate holding of the entire nation hostage by Republican extremists.  It's encouraging a scenario in which a minority of legislators who do not represent the will of the majority of the American people are threatening to blow up the global economy in order to create deliberate chaos to enable that minority to impose its economic policies on the nation as a whole. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

E.J. Dionne on the Perilous Flaws of Centrism

Finally, a middle-of-the-road, mainstream Catholic commentator--E.J. Dionne--gets what some of us have been saying about centrism for some time now, until we're blue in the face, seemingly without making much impact at all: "the center bends."  Centrism is values-lite.  It's about calculation and not principle.

On the Unfathomable Psychology of the Corgi

The last corgi we had, Braselton (aka Brassie), was a squirrel chaser.  Had she been born among the native peoples, I feel quite sure her name would have been Mighty Squirrel Warrior.  We had only to say, "Get away, old squirrel!" and off she'd go on a tear, whether there was a squirrel in the picture or not.  Find the hidden squirrel she would, or die trying: that was the philosophy of life by which Brassie lived and according to which she framed the pattern of her days.

Terry Weldon on the Listening Church and Catholic Conference on Sexual Diversity

A don't-miss posting by Terry Weldon at his Queering the Church blog earlier this week: "Theology from Below: Catholic Conference on Sexual Diversity."  Terry notes that, though the Catholic church has declared itself to be a "listening church," it has failed to set up structures at any official level for the process by which the graced, Spirit-led experience of lay Catholics can be communicated to the hierarchical leaders of the church.  Particularly in the area of human sexuality . . . .

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Stephen Colbert on Media Retractions of Jihadist Meme re: Norway Shootings: Cooler Heads Covering Their Asses

Stephen Colbert was right on target Monday with his scathing send-up of the shameful, irresponsible way in which the American mainstream media immediately blamed the Norwegian terror attacks on Muslims (this segment begins at about the 3:40 mark on the program to which I've just linked). 

More Commentary on Anders Breivik: Max Blumenthal, Alex Pareene, and Chris Hedges

More valuable commentary on the atrocities in Norway:

Glenn Greenwald on Media Memes about the Norwegian Events

Glenn Greenwald discusses the media's response to recent events in Norway with Amy Goodman at Alternet today.  Points he makes:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Christians and the Potential for Violence: Norwegian Events Spark Important Conversation

When I was in high school--I think this was in my senior year, so it would have happened in 1967 or 1968--I saw a cross on fire.  My friends John, Joe, and I happened to be out one evening, driving around town, and there it was: a burning cross, at a drive-in theater on the outskirts of our community.

Steve's Aunt Tells Him of His Birth

Steve's aunt, telling him yesterday about the day of his birth 60 years ago, which was just a few weeks after she made her vows as a Benedictine nun:

Jane Smiley on Frank Schaeffer's "Sex, Mom, and God": Home Life as Nutty as It Could Be

You have got to love a review of a book by a member of a pre-eminently influential family of the American religious right that contains the following throwaway line: 

Andrew Sullivan on Anders Breivik as Living Definition of Christianism

For some inexplicable reason, American conservatives appear unhappy with the suggestion that Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik appeals to Christianist ideological notions in his published statements providing a rationale for his atrocious actions.  Even more astonishing, I find Catholic conservatives now raising Cain on various Catholic blog sites about any association of Breivik with anything Catholic at all, though he himself has indicated that his terrorism envisaged the reimplementation of a kind of cultural Catholic unity in Europe, to preserve the continent from Islam.

Monday, July 25, 2011

If Bin Laden Was an Islamic Terrorist, Is Breivik a Christian Terrorist? Mark Juergensmeyer at Religion Dispatches

Though Osama bin Laden was an entrepreneur and engineer, not a theologian or a cleric, he has been widely characterized in Western culture as an Islamic terrorist.  But the mainstream media and many folks in Western nations hesitate to call terrorists such as Timothy McVeigh or Anders Behring Breivik Christian terrorists.  The tendency, instead, is to treat them as unhinged ideologues, exceptions to the rule, whose ideology is in no way rooted in their understanding of Christianity.

Michael Bayly and Kittredge Cherry on Feast of St. Boris and Beginning of Gay Marriage in New York

And speaking of valuable commentary at other Catholic blog sites today, don't miss Michael Bayly's reflection on how the beginning of civil marriage for same-sex couples in New York yesterday coincided with the feast day of St. Boris in various Christian liturgical calendars.  As Michael points out, because of his long and rich relationship of love with George the Hungarian, many LGBT Christians have found inspiration in the story of Boris.

Colleen Baker on John Paul II's Choice to Make Rupert Murdoch a Papal Knight: The Vatican and Money

I mentioned in a posting yesterday that Colleen Baker has reminded me that in 1998, Pope John Paul II made Rupert Murdoch (who is not Catholic) a papal knight, a Knight Commander of St. Gregory.  The award is bestowed on those of "unblemished character."  It is widely thought Murdoch was given this distinction because of his and his wife's large donations to Catholic causes.  And what is happening to him now in England is re-igniting debate about whether the Vatican should bestow honors like this solely because of the money wealthy donors give to Catholic causes.

Tom Doyle on Enda Kenny's Speech to Irish Parliament: An Historic Bombshell

Dominican priest Fr. Thomas Doyle on why the speech about the Cloyne report that Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave last week to the Irish parliament is "an historic bombshell": 

Andrew Sullivan on Conniption Fit of Religious and Political Right about Contraception Proposal

Andrew Sullivan notes the conniption fit that the religious and political right is throwing over the recommendation of the Institute of Medicine that health plans under the Affordable Care Act cover birth control at no additional cost to the patient.  He cites Kay Steiger's response to the Family Research Council, which is objecting to the proposal because it regards contraception as a form of abortion, and does not think taxpayers should be forced to subsidize abortion.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Poem: Li Po's "In the Mountains on a Summer Day"

I've loved Li Po (and his contemporary Tu Fu) ever since I discovered them in my senior year of high school.  The textbook for the outstanding world literature course we were taught in that year introduced us to both poets.

NY Times Profiles Norwegian Suspect: Right-Wing, Gun-Loving Fundamentalist Christian

Also in the New York Times today: Steven Erlanger and Scott Shane profile the Norway terrorist suspect Anders Behring Breivik, and Nicholas Kulish situates his heinous acts in the context of the rise of Christianist anti-immigrant and anti-Islamist right-wing movements in Europe.  Erlanger and Shane write:

Maureen Dowd on the Cracking of Mythologies: Rupert Murdoch and the Vatican

They call her every name in the book.  They jut their haughty snoots to the heavens and say she can't--gasp!--write good English.

Cooking to Save the Planet: Poison the Old Lady Torte

Today's a significant day for Steve (and me): Steve's 60th birthday.  Spurred by valuable suggestions from many friends and family members, I've put together a small party--an indoors picnic--to celebrate.  Steve insisted there not be a big production, so I've invited a few close friends and family members, and have made fried chicken, potato salad, and macaroni and cheese, along with a cake.  A friend is bringing deviled eggs, and my aunt will make her Chinese cole slaw and a fruit salad.  We won't lack for good food.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tracy-Clark Florry on Religious Right's Attack on Contraception: Deconstructing the Religious Freedom Argument

Tracy Clark-Florry addresses the religious right's (including the U.S. Catholic bishops') response to the Institute of Medicine's recommendation that insurers be required to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive methods.  I blogged about this yesterday.

Norwegian Terrorist and Our Stereotypes about Sources of Violence

Turns out that Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian man said to be responsible for the horrific violence and death in Norway yesterday, is--this according to Elisa Mala and J. David Goodman in today's NY Times--a right-wing Christian anti-Islamist.  But from the moment the attacks occurred, the blog of my state's independent newspaper, Arkansas Times, lit up with rants about Muslims and the obligation of the Islamic community worldwide to issue an apology for the attacks (and see also here).

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cooking to Save the Planet: Summer Salads

Summer salads should be cooling.  Simple to make.  Using the freshest local ingredients available.  Served just between icebox-cold and room temperature.  Full of flavor to perk up heat-fatigued appetites.    Here are two we make routinely throughout the hottest days of summer:

All in a Week's Work: A Sounding of the Level of Intellectual Civility on (Some) Catholic Blogsites

Things I've been called in blog discussions with fellow Catholics this week:

USCCB Pushes NFP (Again), and They're Wrong. IMHO

In several of the discussion threads here lately, readers and I have talked back and forth about the proliferating use of bizarre acronyms that characterize the right wing of American Catholicism today.  To my mind, this growing use of our little in-house code jargon is a measure of how cultic American Catholicism in general is becoming--how countercultural in a cut-off, beside-the-point, inward-turned way--as the center keeps moving rightwards in our church.  

Who's the Barbarian? A Reflection on "Christian" "Ex-Gay" "Therapy"

Though he tried to deny it once he'd been exposed, Michelle Bachmann's therapist husband Marcus Bachmann has called gays (including gay children) "barbarians."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dr. Rekers' Bogus Claims to Cure the Gay: Questions for the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities

Back in June, when the story of Kirk Murphy and Dr. George Rekers' obscene, soul-wrenching "therapeutic" intervention into Kirk's psyche when Kirk was a boy hit the news, I wrote to note that Rekers enjoys all the rights and privileges of an emeritus professor at the University of South Carolina.  He is ensconced at a university fully accredited by the distinguished academic accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities (SACS).

Christian Parenti on a World in Which Bread Grows Scarce

Irish Prime Minister Responds to Cloyne Report: Vatican's Culture of Dysfunction, Disconnection, Elitism, and Narcissism

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday spoke to Parliament about the Cloyne report.  Kenny said that, after the Ryan and Murphy reports, one would have thought Ireland is unshockable, when it comes to questions of the abuse of children.  However: 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hot, Hotter, Hottest: Middle America Cooks and No Relief in Sight

I'm reading HuffPo's latest report about the "heat dome" that is now stationary over the central part of the U.S.  The article quotes Maryland meterologist Eli Jacks: "It gets really hot."

On Fulminating, Cultivated Despisers, and Ms. O'Connor

An interesting micro-discussion of the word "fulminate" and its use on some blogs (who knew?) has popped up at a Catholic blog site recently.  I find it fascinating.  

A Report on the Cloyne Report: Tommorow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow--Ongoing Cover-Up in the Catholic Church (3)

The Dramatis Personae: Magee, O'Callaghan, and Leanza

And so to the heart of this sorry morality tale told by an idiot (and the idiot here is decidedly not the Cloyne commission): here are the three reverend gentlemen who strut and fret across the stage of the Cloyne report, who strutted and fretted their hour upon the stage of the Irish Catholic church, telling the audience that they were all about protecting children from danger, and were very sorry indeed that children had ever been placed in harm's way by the Catholic church and its leaders.

The Rapture Conundrum and American Politics: Michelle or Barack?

We'll still have Mr. Obama with us.  But Ms. Palin will be with the Lord and all his angels.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Andrew Sullivan on the Bachmann Surge: The "Core Nature" of What Republicans Have Made of Themselves

Andrew Sullivan on Michelle Bachmann's surge in the Republican presidential race:

Chaput Goes to Philadelphia: My Reflections

Colleen has done a great posting over at Enlightened Catholicism about the Chaput appointment to replace Rigali in Philadelphia.  The Commonweal crowd have been kicking ideas around about the appointment in the last day or so, too.

A Report on the Cloyne Report: Tommorow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow--Ongoing Cover-Up in the Catholic Church (2)

As my initial posting yesterday indicated, in the subsequent sections of my commentary on the Cloyne report, I want to provide readers with excerpts from the report.  My goal is to point to the heart of what the Cloyne investigation found, so that readers without sufficient time to read the entire report will have a brief summary of its most salient findings—in the words of the Cloyne report itself.  And for those who do intend to read the entire report, this set of excerpts may also provide a valuable framework for viewing the whole, when those readers have the opportunity to wade through the entire document. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Report on the Cloyne Report: Tommorow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow--Ongoing Cover-Up in the Catholic Church

I have now read the Cloyne report.  At one level, I feel ambivalence in writing about it.  The ambivalence stems from the strong sense of déja vu anyone who has followed the abuse crisis for some years now will undoubtedly feel in reading the report.  The same elements—seemingly perennial and intractable ones that appear in each new breaking story about the ongoing abuse crisis in the Catholic church and its cover-up—are there.  This is Philadelphia is Kansas City is Boston is Belgium is Munich, etc., ad nauseam.

Frances Kissling on Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis: Abuse of Power No Surprise

Frances Kissling from The Revealer's series on the John Jay report, in an essay entitled "Abuse of Power Comes As No Surprise":

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Amanda Marcotte on Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis: The Link Between Sex and Dominance in Patriarchal Cultures

Sisters of Charity Gathering, 2008

Another significant passage from The Revealer's series on the John Jay study: Amanda Marcotte writing about ""Keeping the Patriarchy: Sex as Dominance in the Roman Catholic Church":

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Herman Cain: Permitting Muslims to Build Mosque Infringes My Religious Freedom

As 2011 began, I noted that I had begun to see a new subject-changing rhetorical ploy on the part of Catholic church leaders and the religious (and political) right in general: this is the argument (which Pope Benedict developed in his 2011 World Peace Day statement) that religious freedom is the most fundamental human right of all, and that the religious freedom of believers trumps the alleged rights of anyone who illicitly claims rights that a religious body refuses to recognize on the grounds of its faith claims.

Mary Valle on the Men-Only Power Club of Catholicism (and the Men in Dresses Inside the Club)

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Papal Secretary of State

I've just discovered a new website where I can already see I'll be spending quite a bit of time in days to come.  It's The Revealer.  I can't quite retrace my steps to the referring site that brought me here, but I do know that the series I'd bookmarked at the site several days ago is a set of essays by "journalists, activists, academics and theologians" commenting on the John Jay study.

Jon Stewart on Obesity and Fast Food (and Commercials to Make His Point)

So, I'm watching Jon Stewart's "Daily Show"--the 13 July episode--and he has a segment on the alarming obesity rates in the U.S. now.  This mentions two new studies that show obesity at epidemic levels all across the U.S.  One of these has to be, I think, F as in Fat, a report just released by Trust for America's Health, which is on my radar screen because I've just written a grant proposal for a group trying to combat obesity-related diabetes through nutrition education.  And F as in Fat notes the imperative need for nutrition education as the U.S. copes with the rise in obesity.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Scandal Breaks on Scandal: Vatican Accepted Murdoch Money for Papal Visit

Pope Benedict and James Murdoch on Papal Visit to Britain

As if the Vatican hasn't had enough trouble to deal with this week, while the Cloyne report elicits blistering criticism of what's been called Vatican-engineered evasion by Irish bishops of laws requiring the reporting of child abuse and as the Irish foreign minister has called the papal nuncio on the carpet and demanded that the Vatican respond to the report:

Conservative Catholic and Evangelical Preoccupation with Gender, and Ironic Subversion of Gender-Based Orthodoxies

Jim McCrea has forwarded a group of his e-friends an interesting essay by a blogger who calls herself Pentimento, and who writes at the Vox Nova site about the sola skirtura controversy now swirling around in certain Catholic circles.  (And who knew?  Who knew that a half century after Vatican II called us to creative dialectic engagement with secular culture, the portentous issue on some American Catholic plates AD 2011 would be to assure that Catholic women wear the kind of skirts Our Blessed Mother used to wear?