Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NCR and Commonweal Critique Theological Studies, and I Critique NCR and Commonweal

I'll be frank: I find the National Catholic Reporter (and here) and Commonweal critique of the journal Theological Studies for running a Vatican-mandated article that received no peer review less than convincing.  Certainly the practice of printing official-speak drivel disguised as theology in bona fide theological journals harms the church.  It harms the church every bit as much as any official speak disguised as real intellectual discourse harms any group to which it's directed.

New Public Religion Research Institute Finding: Support for Gay Rights Increasing Rapidly among Millennials

At Religion Dispatches, Peter Montgomery comments on a new Public Religion Research Institute study which shows rapidly accelerating support for gay rights in the millennial generation (with black Protestants and white evangelicals lagging far behind other religious groups in supporting gay rights).  Montgomery's conclusion cites PRRI research director Dan Cox as follows:

Robert Scheer on Dick Cheney and the Banality of Evil

Robert Scheer reads Dick Cheney's memoir as a study in the banality of evil.  Cheney lies as easily as pouring water on the ground, and is mesmerized by power--by the illusion that he himself has power, when he lies boldly, manipulates others, and contributes to the killing of thousands of innocent civilians in wars based on his fabrications.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Documentary Focuses on Ex-Gay Ministry Love in Action

I don't know if any readers of this blog followed the case of Zach Stark back in 2005, when his parents sent him to the ex-gay Love in Action program in Memphis.  Zach became something of a celebrity at that time, when he posted a plea for help on his MySpace site and protestors began to gather daily at the Love in Action facility to monitor what was happening to Zach and other teens enrolled in the LIA program.  The national media became interested in the story, and a brief national conversation about the desirability of placing teens in programs designed to "cure" them of homosexuality ensued.

Scott Herring on the Role of Literature in Recreating the Past

I think that Scott Herring's point about the role literature plays in bringing the past to life is well-taken: it's one of the points I wanted to make yesterday, when I wrote about Kathryn Stockett's book The Help.  Because we Americans have a short historical memory, we lose the significant check and balance that history can provide us if we pay close attention to it.  We lose its significant checks and balances as a culture, to the extent that our culture lacks knowledge or understanding of history.

Islamophobia as Bought and Paid-For Commodity in American Culture: Poisoning the Well of Democracy

This is an important story as the (overblown, hyped) commemoration of 9/11 approaches.  I've seen the story at several sites in recent days, but Andrew Sullivan's is one of the clearest and most succinct I've seen.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Thom Hartmann: Get Rid of the Freeloaders

Thom Hartmann wants us to get rid of all the freeloaders in the U.S., who are so addicted to welfare that they're bankrupting the nation.  I agree

Further Updates on the Shawn Ratigan-Robert Finn Story in Kansas City: Legal Actions Proceeding

I'm catching up with my reading about the latest developments in the Shawn Ratigan-Robert Finn story in the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.  Here are several articles that appeared in the last few weeks, which had somehow escaped my attention until this past weekend:

Patricia A. Turner on "The Help": Oversimplifying Falsifies History

I haven't seen the film version of Kathryn Stockett's book The Help, but I did read the book when it came out.  I thought it was okay, if not scintillating.  In my view, one of the most important contributions it makes is to offer us a slice of recent history--any slice at all--that we prefer to forget.  That we as a nation prefer to forget and dissemble about, even though it happened in the lifetime of many of us.  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Also in the News: Government Funding of Faith-Based Groups, Polarization of American Catholics

And in specifically religious news in the past week, here's what drew my attention:

Weekend News Round-Up: Bachmann and Gays, Post-Gay Discussion, and Bible Belt Family Values

A selection of articles from the week that caught my eye, on disparate topics:

A Reader Writes: "We Are Supposed to Enter into Their Confected Church Reality"

The following comment by John Shuster in response to my post several days ago about Patsy McGarry and Bishop John Magee is too good not to be shared as a post proper: 

New York Town Clerk Refuses to Validate Same-Sex Marriages, Claims They'll Lead to Human-Animal Marriages

I hate to break this news to Ms. Belforti, but her concerns with the forms used by New York town clerks to report civil marriages now that same-sex marriage is legal in that state are misplaced.  Wildly so.  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Frank Bruni on the Anthony Bourdain-Paula Deen Dust-Up: Unsavory Elitism

I think Frank Bruni is right on target with his critique of the unsavory cultural elitism that underlies Anthony Bourdain's recent attack on Paula Deen.  First, a disclaimer: I've never watched either of these food authorities on television, and never read anything either has written, though I've read articles about both.

Updates on Abuse Crisis in Catholic Church: The Netherlands and Kansas City

Since I've been talking about matters Catholic this morning, and this is becoming one of those end-of-week news roundup postings I sometimes do, I want to take note of two stories about which I've intended to blog for some days now. 

World Youth Day: Listening to Alternative Voices

For those who want a corrective to the official party-line "evangelical Catholic" meme that National Catholic Reporter Vaticanologist John Allen has been seeding for some years now, Ken Briggs and Nicole Sotelo offer interesting alternative perspectives on World Youth Day in the same publication.  These contributions open the conversation to more voices than the authority-centered one Allen represents, though, of course, his views regarding Catholic this and that have always been given a prominence by NCR's editors not accorded to the views of their other columnists.

The West Memphis Three and the Death Penalty: What Would Texas Have Done?

A little piggyback on my posting yesterday about the response Arkansas journalist Gene Lyons has gotten to a recent posting that messed with Texas: this is Max Brantley, editor of the Arkansas Times, writing about the recent deal that allowed the West Memphis three to get out of prison:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rabbi Yehuda Levin on East-Coast Earthquake as Divine Punishment for . . . You Guessed It

So if God is punishing D.C. and the east coast power mavens for being pro-gay through this week's earthquake, then why is He (the God who smacks folks down with natural disasters is always a He, in the minds of those using this toxic rhetoric) punishing Texas with unprecedented drought and protracted heat?

Continuing Yesterday's Conversation about the Limits of the Centrist Catholic Conversation

If there's a single thing that might make me begin taking the American Catholic center, with its powerful media and intellectual spokespersons, seriously again, it's this: that those spokespersons of the center begin grappling honestly and forthrightly with the heterosexual power and privilege that have contributed tremendously to placing them in the power seats they occupy.

Lady Thatcher's Friends Object to Meryl Streep's Granny-Gone-Mad Biopic

Oh dear.  Close friends of Lady Thatcher are furious--furious, I tell you!--at Meryl Streep's soon-to-be-released Margaret Thatcher biopic.  It employs a granny-gone-mad theme, they say, which has Lady Thatcher hallucinating and regretting the high price she had to pay to obtain and wield power.  The high price she had to pay to wield power ruthlessly . . . .

Gene Lyons Messes with Texas, Gene Lyons Hears from Texans

Samples from Gene Lyons' email inbox, after he dared to mess with Texas by telling the truth about Rick Perry:

I like feeling superior and more wise than you.  You are a scared little man with no heart ... Just a little wimpy leftist.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

National Catholic Reporter and the Limits of the Centrist Catholic Conversation

Interesting, isn't it, that Tom Roberts at NCR zeroes on in my use of the word "skewed" in this thread right along with  one of NCR's most persistent far-right commentators?  No matter what the article, you can count on TNCath and his/her cohort kscrawler to log in and argue for the most conservative position possible.

Illinois Bishop Says State Is at War with Catholics

Bishop Daniel Jenky
And talk about ratcheting things up (I'm piggy-backing on a remark I just made in my post about Wayne Besen): this HuffPo article, which may be from AP feed (I don't see a source attribution) reports that Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria has just opined that the state of Illinois is "basically at war with the Catholic community."

Wayne Besen on Gay-Bashing as New Third Rail of Repulican Politics


Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out comments on how gay bashing, once so effective for Republican political candidates, is quickly becoming the third rail of Republican politics--as Christine O'Donnell demonstrated recently when she stormed off a t.v. set when pressed to talk about her stance re: the gays, and as the Bachmanns are now doing as they issue insincere statements about how they love them some gays.

Peter Montgomery Responds to Lisa Miller: Continuing Discussion of Religion, the Media, and Politics

At Religion Dispatches, Peter Montgomery issues a rejoinder to Washington Post religion writer Lisa Miller, re: her recent slam of "the left" as it deals with religious issues in political debates.  I linked to Miller's statement at the start of this week in a posting noting the ratcheting up of media discussion of religion in American politics as the 2012 election cycle gets underway.  

Patsy McGarry on Cloyne Bishop John Magee's Davaluation of Language

John Magee, the bishop of Cloyne, Ireland, who had been in seclusion following the Cloyne report (and here and here) has finally been tracked down, and has spoken to the media.  Irish Times reporter Patsy McGarry is not impressed.  McGarry hears echoes of Humpty Dumpty telling Alice that he is the master of words and will determine what they mean.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stephen Kaus on the Democrats' Independents-Wooing Strategy: Pre-Settling and Standing for Nothing


San Francisco attorney Stephen Kaus on why he may well sit out the 2012 federal election: the "political Einsteins" surrounding Mr. Obama, as well as the president himself, appear to think that pre-settling for compromise will woo the all-important independents.  And the base can be taken for granted.

Sojourners Again: Candace Chellew-Hodge on Sojourners Ad about Homeless Gay Youth

The discussion of the refusal of a leading group of faith-based progressive activists, Sojourners, to refuse an ad by Believe Out Loud earlier in the year won't go away.  And it shouldn't.  It shouldn't go away, because the issue of gay people and our place in the world (and in faith communities) continues to be unresolved and subject to debate, as news breaks of yet another killing in the U.S. of someone due, it appears, to his perceived sexual orientation.

More on Baroque Sensibility from Thomas Harrington: Learned Helplessness and In-Built Obsolescence

Thomas Harrington has another posting up at Common Dreams on the baroque sensibility.  As with his previous posting about this topic, which I discussed here, he sees strong parallels between how the Spanish empire behaved in its decline during the Baroque period, and the American empire at present.  He notes, in particular, that the baroque behavior of the Spanish empire set the conditions for the empire's demise.  As it ruthlessly suppressed alternative social imaginations and imposed a monolithic way of doing things from a supercharged, all-powerful center, it introduced the conditions that led to its fragmentation.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pennsylvania Photographer Won't Do Ugly, Rejects Business of Teens Bullying Others Online

Pretty Is As Pretty Does

I think Pennsylvania photographer Jennifer McKendrick may be on her way to becoming a new hero of mine.  Last week, when McKendrick learned via Facebook that some of the young women who had made appointments to have her shoot their senior pictures had been bullying others on Facebook, she cancelled their photo shoots.

Media Discussion of Religious Right: A Selection of Recent Articles

Yesterday, I linked to an article of Fred Clarkson noting that the mainstream media in the U.S. still just don't get the religious right.  Every election cycle, it seems, the media rediscover with a surprise that the U.S. is a nation with the soul of a church--that religion and religious ideas profoundly influence the political thinking and culture of the U.S.  And that many of those fighting for their particular candidate or political agenda are largely motivated by religious outlook to do so. 

Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Red-Tailed Hawks, and Family: Late-Summer Meditation

As intense heat breaks in our region now, I watch black swallowtail butterflies and bumble bees swarm over the latest blooms of the chaste tree.  They alternate with frenetic, determined hummingbirds, which then fly to the hummingbird feeder on the porch near the tree.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Malcolm Harris on the "Get Lost Generation" and Redefinition of Family

I'm struck by the intelligence and humanity of Malcolm Harris in his essay on the "get lost generation" at Common Dreams.  He himself is a member of that generation.  As he notes, the generation that has come of age in this decade and the previous one is often stereotyped by the media as "lost," in the sense that it has diminished expectations of any sort of employment that reflects its real creativity and educational competence.  The jobs facing members of his generation are often, Harris notes, characterized by "the bare-life instrumentality of the on-demand labor contract."  They're going nowhere, and they don't provide venues for self-expression, creative contributions, and the application of a honed intelligence.

Fred Clarkson: Mainstream Media Just Don't Get the Religious Right

I blogged a week ago about the insubstantial--indeed, shoddy--coverage of the recent Rick Perry Response rally by the mainstream media.  As I noted in that posting (and have noted repeatedly at Bilgrimage), the American mainstream media are exceedingly weak when it comes to covering religious issues in the accurate, informed, and critical way that such an important topic demands.  They frequently take their talking points about religious news from spokespersons close to corporatist-political power centers and the religious right.  And they are woefully ill-informed, in general, about religious matters and their significance in the political sphere.

Michael Bayly on Developing Minnesota Battle re: Marriage Equality

For those following the story of the involvement of the National Organization of Marriage in the attempt to prohibit same-sex civil marriage in Minnesota, about which I blogged several days ago, Michael Bayly has a wonderful posting right now at his Wild Reed blog.  As I did, Michael links to Alvin McEwen's valuable overview of the Minnesota story at Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters.

But also of great importance is a list of links to previous postings at Wild Reed about the Minnesota story.  As a Catholic thinker-activist living in the Twin Cities, Michael Bayly is in the thick of this battle, and his perspective on what's happening in Minnesota is very important to consider.

Another Take on Evangelical Catholicism: Fur-Licity Blog on How WYD Revolves Around Papal Monarchy

Here's Daisy's formulation at the wonderful Fur-licity blog of a point I tried to make yesterday, in my critique of what journalist John Allen mistakenly labels "evangelical" Catholicism:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Computer Bug: Comments Feature Appears to Be Down

Dear Folks,

I've noticed as the day goes on that the comments feature appears not to be working here today.  When I go to Disqus, the site that manages comments for this and many other blogs, I find that site seems not to be working properly.

So I'm assuming that, whatever the problem is, it's with Disqus and is system-wide for Disqus, and not just confined to my blog.  I apologize for the inconvenience, and appreciate your patience as this bug gets dealt with (as I hope it will) soon.  I had tried some time earlier today to acknowledge and reply to previous comments here from the past few days, and haven't had success doing so for the reasons mentioned above.

Quote for Day: Glenn Greenwald on Social Unrest Down the Road Due to Austerity Misery

Glenn Greenwald in Salon, on the social unrest that will predictably be sparked throughout Western nations by "austerity misery":

John Allen on Evangelical Catholicism and World Youth Day: Tradition, Devotion, Authority

It's fascinating to try to follow the mental gymnastics, when Vatican cheerleader John Allen writes about "evangelical Catholicism."  He's on that topic again as World Youth Day occurs in Madrid.

Bishop Senyonjo Preaches the Gospel: One Doesn't Need to Be Converted to Another Sexuality to Be Loved by God

"I don't care what anyone says.  It's Bible-wrong.  And you go to hell if you don't believe the Bible."

I walk in on this conversation, from another room.  My Aunt Pauline is speaking.  I'm on a trip to Texas to visit relatives, with my mother and her sisters Pauline, Kat, and Billie.

Information Emerges about Identity of London Rioters: Poor, Jobless, Educationally Disadvantaged

As I've been saying in posting after posting about the London riots, there's an entirely predictable moral lesson embedded in them, but it's one that the architects of the new world order now coming into being--a world order in which the grossly rich overtly claim the right to rule everyone and everything--do not want to face.  They prefer, instead, to talk about morality as if morality is confined to issues of sexual fidelity, having a strong work ethic, and obeying authority figures.

Friday, August 19, 2011

NOM Gearing Up to Outlaw Same-Sex Marriage in Minnesota: Alvin McEwen's Overview

At Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, Alvin McEwen offers a valuable summary of the game-plan of the National Organization for Marriage, as it seeks to use the issue of same-sex marriage to drive right-wing (read: Republican) voters to the polls in 2012: a massive infusion of money from unnamed sources; direct mobilization of the churches as players in a partisan political game; outright lies about gay folks and attempts to blur the line between religious and civil marriage in order to confuse people; expensive media vehicles to bombard people with lies and distortions of the truth, etc.

David Bromwich on Obama's Pragmatism: Maxims That Ratify the Existing Order--Any Order

I'd like to return briefly this morning to the article by David Bromwich to which I linked yesterday, about how the Obama presidency is a continuation of the Bush one.  I see this morning that Bromwich's statement has made the round of progressive blog sites, and deservedly so: it's a sharp, pointed, necessary statement that I hope someone in the current administration will pay attention to.  Though I very much doubt anyone will, except to scorn Bromwich's critique . . . .

Cooking to Save the Planet: Pasta with Walnuts and Fresh Vegetables

I offered a version of this recipe to readers about a year ago.  At that time, I described an early fall version of this dish, featuring cauliflower.  Now, I'd like to describe the same pasta dish as a quick, nourishing dish using summer vegetables when they are at their most plentiful--in particular, summer squash and its cousins including zucchini--and when cooking lengthy, complex dishes that heat up the kitchen is not appealing for most cooks or diners.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Obama Administration Continues to Slam Its Base: Prognostications for 2012?

Meanwhile, since we're talking politics (well, since I'm talking them in what may well be a monologue this morning--but politics with connections to religious and moral ideas), here's the kind of thing that has appalled me about the Obama administration from the get-go: as Amanda Terkel notes at Huffington Post recently, at the beginning of August, Obama campaign director for New Mexico Ray Sandoval sent out an email blast attacking Paul Krugman and the "firebagger lefty blogosphere" for their criticism of Obama's debt-ceiling deal.

Joan Walsh on Tea Party: Republican Base Dressed Up in Silly Costumes

Joan Walsh's summary at Salon of Robert Putnam and David Campbell's findings about the social and religious milieu from which the tea party springs is an instructive companion piece to the Adele Stan article to which I link in a previous posting.  As Walsh notes, Putnam and Campbell find that tea partiers are "social conservatives who believe religion should play a strong role in politics: 76 percent said our 'laws and policies would be better if more elected officials were deeply religious.'"

NY Times on David Cameron's Simplistic Moralizing: Wrong Answers

The New York Times finds the moralizing and punitive response of David Cameron to the riots in England precisely wrong-headed and ineffectual:

Adele Stan on Religious Right: Economic Downturn Equals Win for Right-Wing Religion

At Alternet today, Adele Stan notes the media's obtuseness when it comes to understanding the workings of (right-leaning) religion in the American heartland.  Her rather chilling conclusion: the path charted by the religious right in the final decades of the 20th century and start of the 21st may well represent the future of the U.S., politically, economically, and religiously, as economic misery becomes more pronounced:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

U.S. Catholic Bishops' Doctrinal Official Attacks Theologians As Curse and Affliction

Fr. Thomas Weinandy

Plus ├ža change: the recent attack of Fr. Thomas Weinandy, executive director of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Doctrine, on (some) theologians as a "curse and affliction upon the church," reminds me exactly of the similar attack on Sr. Elizabeth Johnson that took place when I was teaching theology at Belmont Abbey College in 1993, about which I report here.  Weinandy was the point man for the U.S. bishops' attack on Elizabeth Johnson this past March.

Spin Continues: NY Catholic Official Attributes Marriage Equality Victory to Money

As I noted in a series of postings following the vote for marriage equality in New York--a series about how the Catholic church has turned itself into anything but a welcoming place for its LGBT brothers and sisters at this point in history--no sooner had the vote for marriage equality in New York taken place than leading luminaries of the American Catholic intellectual center began to whisper about how the vote had been bought by rich gays.