Saturday, June 30, 2012

More on Climate Change: Colorado Fires as Window into Global Warming

Another quick Sunday flashback to something I discussed earlier in the week: on Tuesday, I wrote, 

And it seems that far too few people at the "everyday" level have a clue what's going on or what the climate changes mean--that too few of those who were hurrahing about the early, exceedingly hot spring in much of the country have any inkling that when areas of the world which once produced abundant food crops become deserts, we're in serious trouble.

Chris Hedges on Treatment of Least Among Us as Litmus Test for Morality

In a posting yesterday discussing the Affordable Care Act and the U.S. Catholic bishops, I stated that American Catholics are not likely to hear the moral voice in public discussion from our bishops these days.  And so we listen for that voice where we can find it--often, within other communities of faith, Christian or non-Christian alike.  Or coming from people of sound moral judgment and strong conscience who have no faith commitment at all, or who have even rejected religion altogether, because of the tendency of every religious group throughout history to do serious harm to people when it loses sight of the centrality of what Karen Armstrong calls practical compassion (click this label at the foot of the posting to find what I've posted on the topic).  

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Opting for the Condescending and Charged Term, Homosexuals"

This is one of those good droppings that provide valuable fertilizer: writing at America's "In All Things" blog about Oakland bishop Salvatore Cordileone's attempt to impose an "oath of personal integrity" on the group Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry (CALGM) that would even include forcing them to eschew the term "gay" for "homosexual," Michael O'Loughlin observes,

Many Catholic organizations, whether official or not, usually shy away from even naming gays and lesbians as such, sometimes opting for the condescending and charged term, homosexuals. Does the bishop’s suggestion that employing the words gay and lesbian openly may forfeit Catholic identity suggest that even recognizing these men and women exist is now verboten?

Friday, June 29, 2012

John Wojnowski: In Solitary Witness

Abuse survivor and activist John Wojnowski is a remarkable man.  I think I first became aware of him and of the solitary witness he has given for years now as he calls the Catholic hierarchy to accountability, when I read this account of his interaction with the papal nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, at Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish site in 2010.

Mitt's Mormonism: A Mormon Journalist Asks for Serious Discussion

I honestly know little about Mormons.  In the evangelical-dominated community in which I grew up, Mormons were a minuscule and fairly hidden minority.  I remember one Mormon classmate in my high school, and as I look back on my memories of her, I'm ashamed to remember that people at times did issue taunts to her about her "strange," polygamous, non-Christian religion.  As those Southern evangelical classmates of mine understood Mormonism to be, that is . . . .

More Notes on Supreme Court Ruling and USCCB: Continuing to Snatch Defeat from Jaws of Victory

I have to admit to being amused--just a little bit--by the crestfallen reaction of some of the usually blustering and jowl-shaking anti-Obama Catholic commentariat to yesterday's Supremes decision about "Obamacare."  At the America "In All Things" blog, the blustering gentlemen are surprised.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

More News Items: Bill Donohue's Anti-Semitism, Father Euteneuer and Human Life International

A few other news flashes that follow up on items about which I've posted here (or, in one case, about which Jerry Slevin has posted) recently:

Supreme Court Decision about Affordable Care Act: Keeping Moral Principle Front and Center

I don't often blog about news in "real time," but today's Supreme Court decision about the Obama administration's healthcare plan seems to me to warrant at least some commentary--though I don't have anything particularly novel to say about this decision.  At best, I can only echo (and say amen to) the fine editorial statement that National Catholic Reporter issued after the decision was handed down:

Colorado Springs and the Limitations of Rhetoric about Natural Disasters and Divine Punishment

Remember how, when the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America voted to ordain partnered gay candidates in committed monogamous relationships, some commentators claimed that God sent a tornado barreling straight down a street in Minneapolis to show the Lutherans how displeased He* was at their actions?  Google "Lutherans" + "Minneapolis" + "tornado" and one of the first hits you'll land on is a lurid YouTube clip uploaded by one LogosApologia with the title "Lutherans Endorse Homosexuality God Sends Tornado!"

Gerald T. Slevin: Will the Philly Abuse Cover-Up of Bishops and Priests Ever End?

Drawing on his wide legal expertise, Jerry Slevin has sent another critically important statement about the recent Philadelphia trial and what remains still to be done.  What follows is Jerry's statement:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Conversations of the Catholic Center about Gay Folks: Still Dangling after All These Years

Back at the end of 2009 and start of 2010, I blogged about an important manifesto Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong released in October 2009.  The manifesto is entitled, "The Time Has Come."  As the two postings to which I've just linked at the head of this statement indicate, my take on Bishop Spong's manifesto is as follows: when movement towards justice in struggles for human rights reaches a point of critical mass, the attempt to argue nay-sayers on board with the movement begins to be counterproductive.  A time comes when one must simply make critical decisions to move forward and leave behind those who refuse to understand and accept the appeal of a marginalized community for human rights and justice.

From the Blogs: Reforming the Catholic Church, Sr. Farley's Book, Southern Baptists, Regnerus, and Religious Right

Some mid-week commentary on a wide range of issues from bloggers whose insights I value, writing about the Lynn-Sandusky convictions, the need of the Catholic church for reform, the decision of the Vatican to bring Fox news in, the condemnation of Sr. Margaret Farley's book Just Love, Southern Baptists, the Mark Regnerus study (and controversy), and the role of the Catholic church in the American religious right:

The Lynn-Sandusky Verdicts: Three New Statements

Three more statements that catch my eye today, about the Lynn-Sandusky convictions in Pennsylvania: the first two are editorials (or op-eds) from newspapers, the third reflections shared by a parish priest with his parishioners:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Breaking News: Victim of Father Thomas Euteneuer Files Suit

Breaking news, thanks to this press release by David Clohessy of SNAP:  a woman who alleges sexual abuse by Father Thomas Euteneuer, formerly head of the pro-life organization Human Life International, has sued the Catholic diocese of Arlington, Virginia, its Bishop Paul Loverde, and  Human Life International for, as she alleges, covering up sexual abuse she says she endured as Euteneuer performed exorcisms on her.  

The Cost of Keeping Lord Ray Fine-Clad

In his essay about why the hierarchy fears the nuns to which I just linked, Frank Cocozzelli notes that Catholics are now living in a reactionary (as opposed to conservative) "reign of terror," one of whose principal players is Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.  

Frank Cocozzelli on Why Hierarchy Fears Nuns: Lived Faith as Opposed to Mouthed Faith

And on the nuns and their bus tour protesting the Ryan budget (and challenging us to see the faces of the least among us): don't miss Frank Cocozzelli's powerful statement right now at Talk to Action (with a cross-posting to Open Tabernacle).  Frank asks why the hierarchy fears the nuns.  

Fortnight for Freedom and Nuns on Bus: Protest Signs, Real and Fantasized

The U.S. Catholic bishops have kicked off their "fortnight for freedom" hoopla, and the graphic above shows how at least one American Catholic, Brandon Vogt, is choosing to celebrate his and the bishops'  freedom.

Alex Pareene on the Planet's Doom and the Supremes

Alex Pareene thinks that with sea levels rising precipitously (and inexorably) along the eastern seaboard of the U.S., whatever the Supremes say about health care this week is probably doomed to be a footnote to history.  High court rulings have a way of appearing insignificant as the imperial city in which they're handed down washes away into the sea.

Marci Hamilton on Lynn's Conviction and What Justice Looks Like

Marci Hamilton on what justice looks like in the Catholic abuse crisis and with the conviction of Msgr. William Lynn:

The key point here is that the shame and humiliation of the victims has now been successfully transferred to the predators and the Archdiocese.  That is justice.

Benedict Brings Fox into the House: Adele Stan on Vatican's New Media Announcement

The opening to Adele Stan's report on the Vatican's decision to bring Fox into its house says it all:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Southern Baptists Elect an African-American President: The Curious Blind Spots of Liberal Christian Commentary


I've read a number of statements lately by liberal commentators within mainline Christian groups about the Southern Baptist Convention's recent election of its first African-American president--statements I find frankly disheartening.  These include at least one statement by a liberal Catholic blogger at a high-profile Catholic blog site.

The Lynn Conviction in Philadelphia: A Selection of Commentary

Following the conviction of Msgr. William Lynn in Philadelphia last week for child endangerment, quite a bit of thoughtful commentary has been appearing at blog sites and in news publications.  Here's a selection of statements that, as Jerry Slevin did in his outstanding piece here a few days ago, look at the implications of this conviction for the Catholic church as a whole, and especially for its leaders:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gerald T. Slevin: The Jury Has Spoken! Will the Pope Now Speak?

In Philadelphia today, the jury in the Philadelphia abuse trial found Msgr. William Lynn guilty of child endangerment. Brian Roewe reports on this story at National Catholic Reporter.  Jerry Slevin, a Harvard-trained lawyer who has closely followed this trial, has sent the following powerful statement about the verdict:

More End-of-Week News: Maciel and John Paul II, Bayard Rustin, and Crisis of Democracy

I apologize that I'm a bit pressed for blogging time today, as I prepare for a day trip to chase down some information for the book on which I've been working--specifically, to see if some distant cousins who grew up with close connections to the book's subject, the 19th-century Arkansas country doctor-cum-philosopher Wilson R. Bachelor, can help identify some old family pictures.  Since I'm preparing to be on the run, I thought I'd post briefly about several articles that interested me when I read them yesterday.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In the News: More "Religious Freedom" Shock and Awe from U.S. Bishops, Civil Rights for Gays

Some news analysis that seems to me worth noting today:

Gerald T. Slevin: Philly Criminal Trial Reveals Vatican's Fatal Strategy

As the jury in the Philadelphia archdiocesan trial continues to be deadlocked, and as Catholics and others concerned about the issue of abuse of minors by Catholic clerics continue to monitor this trial, Jerry Slevin has provided another valuable statement dealing with the situation in Philadelphia and its implications from a more "global" perspective, and placing this situation against the backdrop of Vatican concerns and Vatican politics.  What follows is Jerry's statement:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More Canine Family Members' Snapshots

Well, the other two have informed me their feelings are hurt that I posted a photograph of one of the three yesterday, and not his brother and mama.  And so here goes: photos of Crispen and Flora, soon after she and her seven pups were rescued in the summer of 2007.  Though she looks surprisingly svelte (and as proud as punch that she's had all those pups) in this photo, she really was seriously ill at the time, and it took months of anxious treatment to get her back on her feet.

Still Playing to Peoria: His Eminence Cardinal Dolan Slams Irish Seminary as "Gay Friendly"

As Fr. Joe O'Leary noted here in a recent comment about Christiane Amanpour's interview with Sr. Joan Chittister, the report by His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan to the Vatican re: the Irish College in Rome has been leaked to the media, and it's causing quite a furor.  As David Gibson reminds us in an article about this furor at National Catholic Reporter, Pope Benedict commissioned His Eminence in 2010 to lead a delegation of church officials that would investigate Irish seminaries after the Ferns Report, the Murphy Report, and the Ryan Report had uncovered the extent of abuse of minors in Catholic institutions in Ireland.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Only Women Are Faced with That"

After several years (well, let's be frank: after even a few days) of reading comments by Catholics at various blog sites commenting on contemporary issues, I can write many of the comments in my sleep.  I know in advance what a certain ilk of reader representing a certain ilk of thought is going to say.

Henry Giroux on the Stories We Tell Ourselves and the Moral Coma of Elites in Casino Capitalist Societies

Henry Giroux gives us serious reason to worry about the future of democratic institutions, I think--and of the globe itself:

For the first time in modern history, centralized commercial institutions that extend from traditional broadcast culture to the new interactive screen cultures—rather than parents, churches or schools—tell most of the stories that shape the lives of the American public. This is no small matter since the stories a society tells about its history, civic life, social relations, education, children and human imagination are a measure of how it values itself, the ideals of democracy and its future. Most of the stories now told to the American public are about the necessity of neoliberal capitalism, permanent war and the virtues of a never-ending culture of fear. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Animals, Souls: Reminders

I know.

Nothing is more boring than pictures of other folks' pets.  Well, except for pictures of other folks' vacations and other folks' families.  (And except that I often do enjoy the pictures friends send me of their pets.)

From the Blogs: Raining Gays, Nuns and More Nuns, Rats and Regnerus, and Jesus

At Huffington Post, Larry Womack notes that  "[w]hen it comes to sex, study participants lie a lot."  This may be particularly true of LGBT folks who live in places where honesty can come with a very high price.  And so how do we get a fix on the percentage of the U.S. population who may be gay?  Womack proposes looking at studies of who googles to find gay porn.  The surprising finding: some of the most conservative anti-gay states in the U.S.  (hint: Texas, Florida) are high on that Google list.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Diane McWhorter on "Reason-Blind Tribalism": Catholic Applications

Diane McWhorter's Pulitzer-winning book Carry Me Home (NY: Simon & Schuster, 2001) is, along with Taylor Branch's trilogy about the life of Dr. King, one of the most powerful books I've read about the Civil Rights movement in the American South.  I found McWhorter's book particularly riveting because the sociological world it sketches--affluent Birmingham of the 1950s and 1960s--appears not to have been dissimilar from the world in which I grew up in central and south Arkansas in the same period.  McWhorter's grandfather was a lawyer, as was my father.

Mark Regnerus's New Study of "Gay" Parenting and Ross Douthat on Gay Marriage and Severing Marriage from Procreation

As he comments on Mark Regnerus's badly conceived and badly executed recent study of "gay" parenting, which isn't actually about gay parents at all and which was bought and paid for by two well-heeled right-wing foundations, one of them closely associated with the National Organization for Marriage, Ross Douthat writes,

And the near-universal liberal optimism on the subject notwithstanding, we don’t really know how straight culture will be influenced on the long run by the final, formal severing of marriage from procreation.

Friday, June 15, 2012

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? The Vatican's Current Turmoil

In Der Spiegel, Fiona Ehlers, Alexander Smoltczyk, and Peter Wensierski chronicle the astonishing turmoil now taking place inside the inner power circles of the Vatican, where a deep-throat source yet to be identified and calling itself "Maria" keeps spilling bean after bean about what's going on inside:

New Burning Issue for U.S. Catholic Bishops: Image Management

In case you didn't know: the U.S. bishops have been meeting in Atlanta.  And when they're not talking about the only issue of importance in the world today religious freedom, they're talking about . . . themselves!  And how they're perceived in society.

Catholic Identity Again: More on Joan Chittister and Christiane Amanpour

Benedict and Curia, December 2008

I keep hearing in my head snippets of Joan Chittister's dialogue this week with reporter Christiane Amanpour, to which I linked yesterday.  Amanpour says she needs to "push" Chittister, and then she voices what she hears the Vatican and U.S. bishops saying to American religious women: 

You are a part of the Roman Catholic church. 
You either stay in line or you get out of Dodge. 
It's back to basics. 
Toe the line.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Christiane Amanpour Interviews Sr. John Chittister: "Problem Is not Radical Feminism, It's Radical Patriarchy"

In the News: Nuns, Religious Freedom, Gay Parents, North Carolina Legislating

P.S.  When you have a moment, please denounce my book: Professor Marie Fortune writes a letter to the pope.

State senators in North Carolina passed a measure Tuesday in open defiance of the laws of nature: North Carolina legislates.

Pictures, Words: Images Capturing Inconvenient Truth

Ken and Barbie sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g: Vancouver photographer Dina Goldstein produces a photographic meditation about what may have gone wrong when Ken married Barbie.*

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Colbert on the Nuns, Stewart on Romney and Causasiastan

Two recent video clips that make, to my way of thinking, valuable points in humorous ways--and if we don't need humor to make valuable points go down smoothly in midweek, when do we need it?:

The Josh Weed Story: Heterosexual Marriage as an Ideal for Gays?

Last week, Josh Weed revealed on his blog that though he's a happily married man (in a heterosexual marriage) with children, his primary attraction is to other men.  He's gay.  He chose to enter a heterosexual marriage largely because he's a devout Mormon and wanted to live a committed Mormon (which is to say, heterosexually married) life as an adult.

Old News Updated: Uganda's "Kill the Gays" Bill Still Alive, Pew Foundation and USCCB Lobbying Figures

Some news seems never to go away.  In the news-that-keeps-cycling-around category:

Despite numerous premature obituaries, the infamous bill in Uganda that Rachel Maddow has adroitly tagged the "kill the gays bill" is still not dead.  In fact, it's very much alive, most recently due to an appeal from the nation's top religious leaders--the Uganda Joint Christian Council--to the Ugandan parliament to pass the bill.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Show Support for the Nuns: Free Stickers Available Online

Thanks to Jim McCrea, I've just learned of a free sticker to support American nuns being offered by Faithful America in collaboration with Groundswell.  The link to place an order for a sticker (or more than one: you can get one free, and buy more than that) is here.   A graphic of the sticker itself is above, and I hope I'm not violating some copyright law in using it here, as I recommend this opportunity to readers.

Increasing Radicalism of Anti-Abortion, Anti-Contraception Movement (and Stand Up for Freedom Rallies): Sarah Posner and Amanda Marcotte

Two recent not-to-miss articles for those following the arguments about "religious freedom," contraception, and the role of the religious right (including the U.S. Catholic bishops) in American political life as the 2012 elections near:

Catholic Bishops Meet: "800-Pound Gorilla" Gathers with Them, According to David Gibson

At the end of last week, I linked to a powerful statement of journalist Susan Hogan reminding us that, ten years ago this month--a month in which the U.S. Catholic bishops are now staging shock-and-awe "religious freedom" demonstrations around the nation--the bishops were gathered in Dallas to deal with the explosive situation that had developed as Boston court actions blew the lid off the cover-up of childhood clerical abuse in the Catholic church.  Hogan notes that the bishops now want to flex their muscle and appear powerful as they try to topple a sitting Democratic president (the bit about toppling the president is me speaking, not Hogan), but ten years ago the situation was very different.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Gerald T. Slevin: This Week>>>U.S. Bishops & Pope Will Face Stark Challenges from Philly Criminal Trial

As a new work week begins, more outstanding commentary from Jerry Slevin about the challenges that the Philadelphia archdiocesan trial poses to the Catholic hierarchy, and lessons the U.S. bishops might take away from that trial, as they convene in Atlanta this week for their semi-annual meeting.  As always, Jerry speaks out of years of experience as a highly effective and well-trained Harvard-educated attorney.  The following is Jerry's text: 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Why I Keep Blogging: People Are Suffering (and Notes on Margaret Farley's Vatican Condemnation)

My reasons for thinking it's important for everyone to think about these issues is because people are suffering. All over the place, people are suffering.

Sr. Margaret Farley, addressing members of the Catholic Theological Society of America Friday evening and explaining why she wrote the book Just Love, for which the Vatican has just condemned her.

Things Change: A Sunday Story-Meditation

I remember the house on the corner.

Or perhaps truer: I have the impression of memories of the house that stood on that corner, hazy, floating, shifting images from my earliest childhood.  In what I can still access of my child's mind, it was a white-frame, two-story house with a screened wraparound porch.  A mirror image, in fact, of the house on the other end of the block, both facing my grandmother's house from the north side of the street.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

About Those "Non-Partisan" Stand Up Rallies Yesterday: One Reporter's Analysis

As I noted yesterday, some leading Catholic journalists are still trying to spin the U.S. Catholic bishops' religious freedom initiative as non-political and non-partisan.  After I had posted about this yesterday morning, Michael Sean Winters reiterated his claims about the bishops' non-partisan intents with a later statement at his NCR blog, claiming, 

I actually believe that most bishops do not wish to pursue a partisan agenda. I believe a large number of bishops, perhaps even a majority, worry when they pursue a non-partisan agenda that has partisan consequences.