Friday, September 30, 2011

Mr. Dolan Writes His Fellow Bishops: Can't Let the Label "Bigot" Stick to Us

I can understand the psychological springs from which the temptation of people of faith opposed to gay people rise, as those people of faith tell themselves that they stand squarely with Christian tradition and aren't bigots like the fringe people of faith who used to imagine that slavery or segregation was justifiable.  No one likes to be thought a bigot, after all.

More on Commonweal's Discussion of Belforti Case: The Limits of the Centrist Perspective

The Pastoral Response
Piggybacking on the posting I made a few moments ago about the toxic effects of beltway "centrism" on the American political process: I appreciate the attempt of some participants (notably Gerelyn Hollingsworth) in the Commonweal discussion about Ledyard, NY, town clerk Rose Marie Belforti to which I linked yesterday, to point out that you have to stand somewhere, vis-a-vis issues like whether gay and lesbian persons deserve the same human rights other human beings enjoy.

In Catholic News: Scalia Talks Moral Truths, Benedict Calls German Church to Poverty

In Catholic news: Supreme Court justice (and right-wing Catholic) Antonin Scalia has made the news several times the past week, by addressing issues including

1. discrimination against gays on Catholic campuses (he's for it)

2. abolition of the death penalty (against).

End-of-Week Political Commentary: Frank Rich, Robert Scheer, Robert Reich

Frank Rich is doubtful that the vacuous "vanilla centrism" invented by beltway elites of both parties to comfort (and con) the American people (Michael Gerson likes to shop around the phrase "reassuring center") will prove to be anything like salvation, in the age of values-lite pragmatic Obamian sell-out bipartisanship: 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Commonweal on Rose Marie Belforti: Historical Revisionism Clouding Discussion of Religious Response to Gay Rights

One of the ways in which people motivated by religion to condemn gay people and oppose granting rights to gay people console themselves is by asserting that they are standing squarely on the side of unwavering, longstanding Christian tradition.  Furthermore, many of these religiously motivated anti-gay people like to claim that they are in no shape, form, or fashion akin to those who supported slavery and racial segregation in the past, since there was not--so they argue--a similar longstanding Christian tradition in support of slavery or the supremacy of white people and their right to subordinate people of color to themselves.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

U.S. Catholic Theologians Speak Out vs. Death Penalty

Important news to note this week: a group of Catholic theologians (the initial number was around 150, but the list of signatories is said to be growing daily) have issued a call for the eradication of the death penalty in the U.S.  The theologians' statement is at the Catholic Moral Theology blog.

On Eccentric Relations: Dorothea Herbert and Her Cousin Ned Eyre

Peter Somerville-Large, The Grand Irish Tour (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin, 1985), on Ned Eyre of Linville near Kilsheelan in Co. Waterford (I think Kilsheelan is in Tipperary, but that Eyre's house was across the count line in Waterford):

Arkansas Times on New Southern-Fried GOP: "Happily Hateful"

This week's editorial in the Arkansas Times is right on target.  It compares the hilarity of some of the GOP debate audiences about folks dying from lack of health insurance to the gallows humor one might have expected from a Buchenwald guard.  And then it notes the precise social and cultural locations from which the ugliness that is now the name and character of the Republican party in toto emanates:

Yawn: Me Talking More about Aging

Another posting about aging (it's on my mind as the month in which Steve and I met 40 years ago approaches):

I seem, throughout my life, but more frequently as I get older, to have a strange talent for saying things in all seriousness that others find hilarious.  After my observations elicit a laugh, I do see the humor in them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Young Catholics at Freiburg Vote on Benedict's Message: Reflections on Media Coverage of Papal Visit to Germany

Steve Schewe offers a fascinating tidbit of information in the thread following Michael O'Loughlin's recent posting at America's "In All Things" blog about media coverage of papal events such as Benedict's recent trip to Germany.  Steve notes that this Spiegel article reports on the reaction of "tens of thousands" of young people who came to Freiburg for the papal Mass in that beautiful devoutly Catholic south-German city.

Titles I Wish I'd Written: Eugene Robinson on GOP Field

Titles I wish I'd written: Eugene Robinson's title for his Truthdig article today about the incomprehensibly stinky slate of candidates the GOP has managed to put forward for the presidency in 2012:

Amnesty International Report Excoriates Catholic Church for Abuse of Children

As a follow-up to the four reports released by the Irish government in the past several years about the serious situation of abuse of children by Catholic clergy and in Catholic institutions in Ireland, Amnesty International has just released a report, "In Plain Sight" (the link points to a pdf file). The document is a damning indictment of the leaders of the Catholic church in Ireland for tolerating, and in many cases creating, conditions in which children were tortured.  As Francis X. Rocca notes in this summary of the report at Huffington Post, Ireland's minister for children and youth affairs Frances Fitzgerald has responded to the report by observing that it "reminds us that Irish children were subjected to treatment that would be horrifying if it were done to prisoners of war, never mind little boys and girls."

David Sirota on Disaffection of Obama's Base: Centrism Not Suited to 21st-Century Problems

David Sirota

David Sirota gets it right at Salon this morning, I think.  He argues that the reason many people from all demographic groups in the president's base are highly critical of Mr. Obama and, in many cases are outright abandoning him, is that the game of triangulating progressives that he adopted from the Clinton playbook is an absolutely disastrous response to the serious economic problems the nation now faces.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Centrism, Siding with Victors, and Betraying the Memory of Jesus: A Reflection

Centrism is, to my perception, all about being on the winning side.  And one of the reasons I grow increasingly impatient with the centrism of many of my Catholic co-religionists, who make more and more room for the powerful on the right, no matter how rabid their views are, and less and less room for those on the left, is that the propensity for siding with victors and not victims seems to me to disconnect us from some of the most significant foundational stories that call us together as a people of faith.

E.J. Dionne on the Shifting Center and Capital Punishment

Brian Gallagher noted in a recent comment on a posting here how far the center has moved to the right in American politics and culture in recent decades.  In light of Brian's observation, I'm struck by something E.J. Dionne reports today at Truthdig.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Remembering a Grandmother's Birthday: A Photo Essay

Warning: the following posting is, in many ways, an entirely personal one, and may be utterly boring to many readers with no interest in my family memories.  It's one I do want to make, though, as a tribute to my grandmother, who exerted a great deal of influence on me in my formative years.  Friday was the anniversary of her birthday, and she has been on my mind all weekend.  

Patrick Roberts to U.S. Catholic Bishops: Time to Rein in Bully Bill Donohue

And speaking of reining in (piggybacking here on what I just posted about Father Frank Pavone and Bishop Patrick Zurek): here's Patrick Roberts writing at the Irish Central website about the need of American Catholic church leaders to rein in Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, as he "defends" the church by attacking journalists and victims of clerical sexual abuse: 

More on Finances of Pavone's Organizations: Gospel for Life Soliciting Tax-Deductible Donations, But Has Lost Tax-Exempt Status

A small postscript to what I posted yesterday about the continuing-to-develop story of Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life (and Rachel's Vineyard and Gospel for Life) and the muddled finances of the groups Pavone heads:

Giovanni Franzoni on the Catholic Hierarchy's Attempt to Coerce Civil Society as Betrayal of Vatican II

Giovanni Franzoni

In the thread of comments following my posting about the attack on Hans Küng for his recent critique of Pope Benedict, Colleen Baker and Phil Ewing recommend a presentation that Giovanni Franzoni, a former Benedictine abbot, gave earlier this month at the 31st Congress of the Asociación de Teólogos y Teólogas Juan XXIII in Madrid.  A transcript of Franzoni's presentation is at the Iglesia Descalza blog site.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Forgetting, Remembering, and Aging Brains

Apropos of little of nothing (i.e., apropos of little I normally discuss on this blog): I'm feeling my age as this week ends.  Earlier in the week, I saw an article at Huffington Post with a tantalizing headline, something like, "What Disputed Finding about Aging Has Research Now Confirmed?"  I clicked and read: the finding is that people actually do grow shorter with age (as many of us already knew, sans scientific research).

In the News: U.S. Catholic Bishops Blast Obama re: DOMA, Pavone's Finances

Bits and pieces of Catholic news, as the week ends: 

In this week in which the state of Georgia executed a man, when there were thorny unresolved questions still under examination, re: the fairness of his trial and the way in which his case was handled, and in which the suicide of another gay teen bullied to death made the news, what burning moral issue did the Catholic bishops of the U.S. choose to address through their USCCB president Timothy Dolan?

In Memoriam: Jamey Rodemeyer

A not-to-be-missed posting about the tragic suicide of  Buffalo teen Jamey Rodemeyer a week ago: Jayden Cameron's latest posting at Gay Mystic.  It says all that needs to be said, with great wisdom and compassion.  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Knives Out for Hans Küng as He Critiques Pope Benedict: My Reflections

I find the discussion following my posting yesterday about Hans Küng's reflections as Pope Benedict visits Germany fascinating.  I haven't yet responded to the comments following the posting.  I plan to do that later today. 

I Get a Flu-Shot: Another Report on Health Care for the Uninsured in the Greatest Nation on Earth

Two years ago, I wrote about my experiences as I went to get a flu shot.

I had more experiences yesterday.  Here's what happened.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Catholic Centrists Keep Dissecting the Gays: I Keep Listening and Wondering

Pastoral Response

As I read the ongoing conversations at the America and Commonweal blog sites about the recent Fordham conference discussing issues of sexual diversity in the Catholic context, I do not think I can feel more distant.  Stultifying.  Beside the point.  Words piled on words, saying little at all.  Absurd, contemptible attempts of the omnipresent right-wing Catholics who (unlike openly gay Catholics) have absolute entree in these "dialogues" to smear the Fordham event by linking it somehow, mysteriously, to Dan Savage.

Robert Scheer on Troy Davis's Execution: Ending Pursuit of Justice Rather Than Advancing It

Commenting on the state of Georgia's execution of Troy Davis yesterday, Robert Scheer writes,

Execution is a means of summarily ending the pursuit of justice rather than advancing it.

As he notes when he frames this argument, putting a person to death through capital punishment ends the need to weigh right or wrong, to determine if the evidence in a particular case warranted the death penalty.  There is a finality about state-sanctioned killing of someone following legal deliberation--a finality that implicates all of us.  

The "Guyism" of Mr. Obama's White House: At What Price?

Two years ago, I wrote about how, when Mr. Obama took his summer vacation in 2009 and Huffington Post invited readers to make recommendations about his summer reading list, I suggested he add some books by women to the all-male list of authors he told the press he planned to read that summer.  I concluded my posting noting that Obama's mentors and lists of favorite books were totally male-centric, with the following observations:

As Benedict Visits Germany: Hans Küng on What the Reform of the Reform Is Costing the Church

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cardinal Brandmüller on German Catholics' Calls for Reform as "Insult to Jesus Christ"

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller

In the German paper Spiegel, Frank Hornig, Anna Loll, Ulrich Schwarz, and Peter Wensierski report that when Bundestag President Norbert Lammert and Education Minister Annette Schavan recently sent a letter to German bishops along with other reform-minded Catholics calling for open dialogue about the requirement that priests be celibate, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, a close associate of Pope Benedict, responded by saying that the letter was "an insult to Jesus Christ."

David Brooks on Obama's (Unproven) Break with the Center: Continued Special Pleading for the Super-Rich

I'm glad to see David Brooks's overwrought cri du coeur on behalf of rich folks being bullied by big, bad Mr. Obama getting the negative attention it deserves.  Here's Jason Linkins at HuffPo.  And here's Steve Kornacki at Salon.

Survivors of Clerical Sexual Abuse File Petition with International Criminal Court: Historical (and Theological) Reflections

I haven't yet said anything about the recent historic action of survivors of clerical sexual abuse who have filed a petition with the International Criminal Court calling for investigation of top Catholic officials for protecting clergy who have abused minors. Those named in the petition include Pope Benedict.  For an array of valuable statements by SNAP leaders about this historic filing, see this document released as the filing took place.

For Catholics Who Accept Magisterial Language of Gay Disorder: Five Points of Advice

As I mull over the attempt of Catholics of the center (along with Catholics of the right) to continue entertaining the magisterial language of disorder about gay folks, I think I'd like to make five points to them.  If they cared to hear what a gay Catholic might have to say about their desire to define him or her, that is . . . .  Here are my points:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

DADT Ends: Celebrations, Unfinished Business

The "don't ask, don't tell" ban on service by openly gay members of the military officially ended at midnight last night, and I'm celebrating, though, as John Aravosis notes at Americablog Gay this morning, there's still much work to do to assure full equality of LGBT service members with other soldiers.  There are still not equal partner benefits for gay couples in the military, for instance.  (And that subject remains always in the forefront of my own mind, since, as I've shared on this blog frequently, I don't have health insurance and Steve's employer won't provide partner benefits.  It's a constant struggle, deferring necessary health care as long as possible, since we simply can't afford insurance or expensive health care for me . . . . And it's a struggle too many folks in our nation live with; and more folks shouldn't be placed in this position of tremendous anxiety due to sheer prejudice, in my view).

Quote for Day: Colleen Baker on Healing, Compassion, and Love as Goal of Spirituality

One would hope that eventually those of us who call ourselves Christian will understand healing is much more effective from a position of love, rather than randomness.  But healing is only one aspect of spirituality.  Compassion and love are the real issues.

The graphic is Ernst Barlach's 1919 woodcut "The Good Samaritan," from the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

A Reader Writes: You Clearly Don't Understand--Hammers Go with Nails

Try again. Lifelong Catholic here, engaged, and I have done a good amount of study on the theology of the body. The Church tells engaged and married couples that every marital act needs to be open to life. Men are not supposed to ejaculate outside of the marital act. Every sexual encounter between married people is supposed to end in/involve the marital embrace--vaginal intercourse. The Church DOES have a problem marrying a couple who will contracept or only ever have non-vaginal intercourse. If the couple does so anyway? It's on their souls. (Trust me: being married in the Catholic Church does not mean you're Catholic. I know far too many people who are married in the Church because their families are Catholic or because they were baptized Catholic but who do not practice the faith, who have no intent to follow Church teaching.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Magisterial Teaching on the Intrinsic Disorder of Gay Persons: Previous Bilgrimage Discussions of the Topic

Catechism of Catholic Church on Objective Disorder of Homosexual Inclination

In the first two links in the list below, readers will see that I refer to previous postings at this Bilgrimage site about the term "intrinsic disorder" in Catholic magisterial teaching, and the attempt of Catholics of the right (and center-right) to deny that magisterial teaching defines gay persons in their very personhood as disordered.

More on Ongoing Centrist Catholic Conversations about How to Define the Homosexuals

And, as a complement to what I posted last evening about the ongoing discussion of how to define the homosexuals at centrist Catholic blog sites like Commonweal, where a discussion of this sort is going on right now (the preceding link points to a link to the Commonweal discussion): I want to recommend a complementary discussion at Michael Bayly's Wild Reed site

Continuing the Discussion of Family: An Historical Perspective

At the risk of being immodest (but also because I don't seem to find much of substance about which to blog this morning), I thought I might mention an article of mine that has recently won an award (the link points to a pdf file, for readers who need to know that information in advance).  I've mentioned this article in the past, both because it won a previous award from the state historical association for the best article published about local and family history in the past year.  The award it has now won is best family history article of 2010, from the Arkansas Genealogical Society.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Centrist Catholics Wonder What to Call the Homosexuals: I Wonder How to Avoid Being Underwhelmed

Reading the responses to Lisa Fullam's good posting at the Commonweal blog about the conference re: sexual diversity at Fordham right now, I feel as I imagine people of color might have felt reading discussions of "them" in "nice, "good," and "moderate" (white-owned, white-controlled, white-dominated, more or less white-exclusive) magazines of the period.

Friday, September 16, 2011

NCR on Chaput's Installation in Philadelphia: Pleas for Healing Met with "Fog of Pieties"

I highly recommend National Catholic Reporter's latest editorial, on the installation of Archbishop Charles Chaput as the new Catholic primate of Philadelphia.  The editorial argues that what the Catholic people of the Philadelphia archdiocese want from their pastoral leaders as one report after another emerges of the rape and molestation of their children by priests is this: the "boundless compassion" that Jesus exhibited by healing a woman with an issue of blood, by saving a little girl's life at the pleading of her mother, by raising his friend Lazarus from the dead.

Joseph Palermo and Glenn Greenwald on Captivity of Both Democrats and Republicans to Corporate Elite

At Huffington Post, Joseph Palermo reminds readers of why Obama and the Democrats are in political trouble: the president has surrounded himself with "political wizards" and "characterless hacks" who have no clue about the misery this administration has inflicted on working- and middle-class citizens, while bailing out the banks and Wall Street.  For many of Mr. Obama's most ardent supporters, his presidency has been exceptionally demoralizing, because it demonstrates to us the extent to which corporate wealth now owns the American political process, no matter who is in office: 

Paul Krugman on GOP and Value of Life: Compassion No Longer in Fashion

In the New York Times today, Paul Krugman notes that American political debates today are increasingly centering on fundamental moral issues, and political commentators haven't yet caught up with that fact.  Krugman focuses on what happened at the GOP debate in Florida recently, when Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul if a young man should be allowed to die because he couldn't afford health insurance:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

On This Day in History: Four Girls Murdered in Birmingham Church Bombing

A further commemoration (I'm building here on my previous posting today): as the New York Times reminded readers of its web edition today, on this day in 1963 four African-American girls were killed in Birmingham, Alabama, when members of the Ku Klux Klan placed a bomb in the sanctuary of their church, 16th Street Baptist church, and it exploded, killing them.

Family: A Memorial Reflection

Today’s the 10th anniversary of my mother’s death.  I’ve decided to commemorate this event by completing a reflection with which I’ve been tussling since the trip Steve and I took week before last to visit his family in Minnesota.  As I noted here, Steve had made arrangements to take his two aunts, who are nuns, to visit cousins around the state whom they haven’t been able to see in some years, except at family funerals.  All are aging, and travel is becoming more difficult for his aunts.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

High-Profile Activist Priest Frank Pavone Suspended Pending Financial Investigation

And (piggybacking on what I just posted about the recent GOP debate in Florida) as the 2012 election campaign gets underway, further complicating things for the U.S. Catholic bishops, with their meme, GOP = party of life and Democrats = party of death, there's this: yesterday, one of the leading spokesmen for the meme, Father Frank Pavone, was suspended by his bishop, Patrick Zurek of Amarillo, over concerns regarding Pavone's financial stewardship of his Priests for Life organization.  David Gibson reports on this story at Huffington Post.

Pro-Life Party Cheers Death Again: Let the Uninsured Die

The party of life--you know, the pro-life party that stands unambiguously for the value of life in every shape, form, and fashion--cheers and claps again at the prospect of death: in this case, the cheering and clapping is in response to question about whether an uninsured young man in a coma ought to be allowed to die because he has no insurance.  And this response, of course, echoes the response at another recent GOP rally when Gov. Rick Perry mentioned his abysmal record vis-a-vis capital punishment.

Glenn Greenwald on Paul Krugman's 9/11 Statement: Subverting Official Political Script for Remembrance

Glenn Greenwald at Salon, on the ludicrous charge that Paul Krugman politicized an otherwise apolitical 9/11 day of remembrance, committing a sin of etiquette akin to intruding on a private funeral with a political tirade: 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Continued (Non-) Conversation of Centrist Catholics with Their Gay Brothers and Sisters

In one of the tortured conversations about gay human beings and our lives that has been occurring recently at one of the centrist Catholic blog sites, a contributor has just praised another contributor to the discussion as a "loving, thoughtful, faithful" Catholic.  I don't know the person being praised.  I've been struck by the thoughtfulness and moderation of his contributions to the blog in question, though he's a Catholic of a different stripe than I am.

Continued False Meme about False Allegations of Abuse Against Catholic Clergy: Dave Pierre Attacks SNAP

As 2011 got underway, I took note of a statement by Los Angeles attorney Donald Steier, who has defended numerous priests in abuse cases, which maintains that false allegations about sexual abuse against priests are on the rise.  Steier maintains that most allegations of abuse made against priests are false.   

U.S. Catholic Bishops Continue Attack on DHHS Contraceptive Proposal

And speaking of less than enlightened boys' clubs (I'm piggybacking here on what I just posted about Ruth Rosen and Bill Keller): the U.S. Catholic bishops are ratcheting up their attack on the proposal (and see also here) of the federal Department of Health and Human Services to require employers to make contraception accessible to insured women at no additional cost to the insured.  As Nancy Frazier O'Brien of Catholic News Service reports, the U.S. Catholic bishops are inviting critical comments about this proposal to be sent to the federal government through a weblink provided by the USCCB.

More 9/11 Discussion: Krugman and Rosen

The arbiters of official meaning are not pleased with Paul Krugman for speaking out about what its response to 9/11 has done to America.  Krugman blogged about the post-9/11 period on Sunday, calling it a period of shame for the U.S. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

On the Whys and Wherefores of the Female Orgasm: Impressions of Recent Research

I am, God knows, hardly an expert on the female orgasm.  So anything I have to say on that topic ought to be taken with a mountain of salt.