Sunday, July 29, 2012

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Fried Chicken, the Deposit of Faith, and the Big Gay Gestapo

When I invented the birdcage droppings meme, little did I know that American Catholics would be intensely involved in a discussion about chicken sandwiches in the middle of the long, hot summer of 2012.  Little did I know, that is to say, quite how to the point the birdcage meme would be.

Or the droppings meme, either, for that matter.

Political Newsflash: Sarah Palin Loves Fried-Chicken Sandwiches!

Sarah Palin is loving her some fried-chicken sandwiches.  (Or do I mean Michelle Bachmann?  Anyhow, that's the photo of the lady in question, above.)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Voice of the Faithful on Catholic Hierarchy v. Penn State: Despite Similarities, Sharp Contrasts

The latest issue of Voice of the Faithful's e-journal In the Vineyard has just come out.  It carries an instructive article entitled "Lynn's Sentencing Illustrates Contrast Between Church & Penn State Scandals."  The article maintains that the Lynn case is a "textbook example of how the Church has fought to maintain its reputation and treasure at the expense of innocence."

Knowing, Then Dealing with What You Know: When Neighbors Sign Anti-Gay Petitions

The Washington Blade recently published a database of those who signed a petition in Maryland to put the question of civil marriage for same-sex couples up to a popular referendum.  Andrew Sullivan has published two statements about the publication of this database at his Daily Dish site (here and here).

Weekend News: Regnerus Study Again, More on Sally "Ad Multos Annos" to San Fran!

In the news as the weekend gets underway:

The Regnerus study, which an auditor of the processed used by the journal Social Science Research chose to vet the study calls "bullshit."  Peter Montgomery has a summary of the auditor's report at Religion Dispatches, citing a Chronicle of Higher Education article by Tom Bartlett.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Sally to San Fran! Ad Multos Annos!

The announcement comes down that the rabidly anti-gay bishop of Oakland, Salvatore Cordileone, is to be the new archbishop of San Francisco, and reader John Anderson responds to the Catholic News Service report of this at NCR:

Ad multos annos!

Dogpa, Church, and Beer: End-of-Week Humor

And on the lighter side as the work week ends:

I had missed TheraP's brilliant Heresy & Humor posting back in April about dogpa and zero nuns, and am glad she pointed me to it in a comment here earlier this week.  I love the totally whacky, but seemingly tightly reasoned, way TheraP arrives at her Vatican-like conclusions about why nuns = zero:

Gary Younge on Aurora Shootings: Now We Care about Guns and Violence?

After I posted several days ago about the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, I haven't written any further about that topic.  I haven't done so because, to be blunt, I have little hope that most Americans--particularly those with the political power to make a difference--will address the conditions that result in such horrific endemic violence in the U.S.  Not even now.  Not after yet another act of mass murder.

Global Warming and Food Shortages with Violence: Clock Continues to Tick

For those not thoroughly worn out with talk of global warming (or worn out by the intense, unrelenting heat and drought in some parts of the globe--or the flip side of that pattern, the cool, damp weather in other areas), three articles that catch my eye today:

Scottish Bishops, Catholic Answers, and Southern Fried Chicken with a Side of Hate: Discussions Abound

In one posting yesterday, I looked at the response of Scottish Catholic leaders to their brothers and sisters who happen to have been made gay by God.  I argued that  when religious leaders forfeit human decency through vicious and amoral attacks on gay human beings, they lose moral credibility.  In another posting, I focused on the current boycott of Chick-fil-A and found myself agreeing with the (Catholic) mayor of Boston Thomas Menino that gay rights are human rights and deserve the support of decent human beings.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gerald T. Slevin: Philly DA Must Go Higher

Jerry Slevin has sent one of his wonderful postings.  This one focuses on the unfinished business after Msgr. Lynn has been sentenced in Philadelphia.  What follows is Jerry's statement:

In Catholic News: Reaction to Lynn Sentence, AIDS, and Scottish Catholic Leaders

Having a Conversation

*In Catholic news today (I'm shoehorning a lot of material into my postings today in anticipation of our upcoming trip and my blogging hiatus next week):

Politics of Food, Pretentious Prats, Mike Huckabee, and Boston: Chick-fil-A Still in News

Prejudice comes with a price tag, and in the case of anti-gay prejudice, an increasingly high price tag in some parts of the country.  As Adam Peck reports at Think Progress today, both Boston and Chicago have informed the virulently anti-gay franchise Chick-fil-A that it's not welcome now that its CEO Dan Cathy has announced he's "guilty as charged" of supporting "biblical" values about marriage that demean gay folks.  Boston mayor Thomas Menino, a Catholic, tells Cathy that Boston is "guilty as charged" of supporting the freedom of all people.

Tracking the Microcosmic Effects of Global Warming: A Local Report

The reports of the emerging deep-infrastructure effects of protracted drought and heat across much of the U.S. make me more than a little crazy.  Crazier than usual.  Because it seems many folks don't listen, aren't paying attention, and it is now too late to reverse the damage.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stamp Out Sodomy! Gershom Gorenberg's Appeal to the Jewish Community

Thank you to all the readers who have encouraged me to keep spreading my silliness by blogging (though you may eventually regret encouraging me).  I really do appreciate the support.  And since we haven't yet left on our little work trip (for Steve) that will be a getaway trip for me, I do have one observation to share about something I read yesterday which may interest readers.

My Apologies to Readers

Well, that was embarrassing, wasn't it?  For me, certainly.  And perhaps for readers who had considered they were reading a blog written by someone with half a brain and not a total lunatic.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Frank Bruni on Sarah Palin's Religious Worldview: Wanted No Part of Sin, Plunged into Politics Nonetheless

Well, in the never-mind category: I'm so sorry I conflated Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann in what I say below--after I had thought I'd read Frank Bruni's article.  I'm leaving the mistake as is, with this preface, as a reminder to myself of how wildly wrong my brain-finger connection can be sometimes, when it thinks one thing and then types another.  I'm very sorry for the silly mistake.  Palin has been on my mind due something I mention in the final sentence.  Thanks to those who pointed out the mistake.

Frank Bruni is another writer I've learned to like (I'm echoing the opening of my posting just a moment ago about Thomas Harrington).  I've followed his op-ed pieces at the New York Times with interest after having discovered his autobiographical work Born Round a few years ago.  As someone who went from being so slight as a boy that I was sometimes described as no bigger than a bar of soap, to someone who began to round out with puberty and who has struggled to constrain the roundness ever since, I can sympathize with Bruni's account of his battle to maintain his weight, especially as a food maven. 

Thomas Harrington on Aggressive Cluelessness Then and Now: Parallels for Contemporary Catholic Discussion

I've made no secret (and here) of my admiration for Trinity College professor Thomas S. Harrington.  Harrington's a professor of Iberian Studies who does what any really capable historian does: he tells a compelling story about the area of the past in which he has expertise, and he then draws parallels between that story and the story of the present.

Bookends: Geraldine Brooks's Caleb's Crossing

In a posting weeks ago, I mentioned that I was reading Geraldine Brooks's Caleb's Crossing and would offer some reflections about the book when I had finished it.  Weeks have come, weeks have gone.  And I've been hesitant to write about this book, because I really like Brooks's work.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Hands: Speaking, Singing, Loving, Laboring

As I grow older, I become increasingly fascinated by hands--my own included.  Hands seem to me to communicate a great deal about the kind of life a person has led.  Hands speak, sometimes more eloquently than they realize.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blog Problems

For some reason, my posting about Ann Romney disappeared from the site after I posted it earlier today.  And along with it, any comments readers had made about the posting disappeared--and I apologize for that.  I know Kathy Hughes had left a comment, since I saw it pop up as I worked on a subsequent posting.

Not sure what has gone wrong with the blog this morning, but it has been functioning in a screwy way, stealing bits of text from one posting to slap down into another posting, then refusing to let me delete those bits.  And in the case of the posting about Ann Romney's "you people" comments, the entire text simply vanished as I tried to fix that problem earlier in the day.  

My sincere apologies.  Perhaps I'm doing something wrong.  But I haven't encountered these strange problems previously.

Colorado Shootings and Michael Moore's Moral Prescience

Steve and I had never seen Michael Moore's documentary about the Columbine, Colorado, shootings in  1999.  Some days ago, I saw that it was playing on some channel we get, and so I . . . is the word now "tivoed"? . . . it.  We watched it last night.

In the News as Week Ends: AIDS, Condoms, Moral Norms

More news commentary I've found worth reading this week: these articles focus on questions about HIV-AIDS, condoms, human rights, social justice, and morality as the XIX international AIDS conference comes to Washington, D.C.:

In the News as Week Ends: The Super-Rich as People, the Rest of Us as You People

As the week ends, a selection of news articles and commentary on the news that interests me: the following focus on the declining fortunes of everyone except the 1% in the U.S.:

In the News as Week Ends: Scouts (and Chick-fil-A) Double Down on Discrimination

More news items, these about the recent decision of the Boy Scouts to reaffirm their policy of discrimination against gay Scouts and gay leaders of Scout troops:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dialing Back the Crazy: Leading Republicans Call Out Bachmann's Islamophobia

When even the crazies call Michelle Bachmann crazy, you know she's gone waaay 'round the bend.

George Zimmerman and God's Plan: American Civil Religion Walking, Talking, Shooting

All day, I've been trying to put my finger on what appalls me most about George Zimmerman's statement that "it was all God's plan" for him to shoot Trayvon Martin, and to second-guess or judge that plan, because, well, who crosses God?  Pressed by Sean Hannity to speak to Martin's parents and the American public about what he did and why he did it, Zimmerman went on to say, 

I do wish that there was something, anything that I could have done that wouldn't have put me in the position where I had to take his life. 

Blog Talk: A Serving of Appetizing Bites from Around the Blogosphere

Once again, with a bow to Fred Clark's wonderful Slacktivist blog, from which I'm shamelessly borrowing, a serving of savory mezes to whet your appetite for the entire piece to which the meze bite links . . . . One of the following links points to Fred's blog.  If you can spot it cold, without clicking on the links below, you win the I'm Correct prize of the day.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Beautybeautybeauty! The Reform of the Reform, Liturgy, and the Cessation of Critical Questions

Catholic News Service distinguishes itself again (NOT!) with this bit of shlock touting the virtues of the "reformed reformed" liturgy entitled, absurdly, "The Call of Beauty."

Republican-Appointed Judge in Nebraska Dismisses Lawsuits v. Affordable Care Act

Judge Warren Urbom

Nebraska is a solidly red state.  Only four counties voted Democratic in Nebraska in the 2008 presidential election.  And yet yesterday in Nebraska, Judge Warren Urbom, a federal judge appointed by none other than Richard Milhous Nixon, dismissed the suits of seven states, two Catholic individuals, and three Catholic non-profits seeking to block the birth-control coverage provision of the Affordable Care Act.

Paterno and His Halo: The Danger of Precipitous Canonization

And speaking of the record of history (as I just did in my posting about David Frum) and those we canonize--either as secular saints à la St. Ronnie Reagan, or as religious saints à la St. John Paul II (who's on the way to canonization)--Ta-Nehisis Coates points out today that folks who had painted murals of JoPa with a halo shining atop his head have been quick to remove that halo, now that we know what we know.  He writes,

David Frum's "Conversion": Neocon Morality Tales and History's Judgment

Mark Oppenheimer's fascinating roadmap of the twists and turns neocon Wunderkind David Frum has taken in his talking-head career is well worth the read.  I find it valuable for the following reason (among others): it bluntly says what many similar reviews never say outright, as they survey the careers of other neocon young Turks who have now broken with the crazy show that the GOP has become.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mark Silk to Ross Douthat: What about the "Nones" and the Growth of Non-Denominational Churches?

At his Spiritual Politics blog, Mark Silk engages Ross Douthat's argument that liberal churches are withering on the vine--and his presumed contention that, by contrast, right-wing churches like his Catholic church under the last two papacies are thriving.  I blogged yesterday about Douthat's latest statement in this vein.

Psychologist Kathy Galleher on U.S. Bishops' Attack on Nuns: "Looks Like a Distraction"

At National Catholic Reporter, therapist Kathy Galleher draws on her experience with clients who are "stuck" in a blame-game that fails to see their own complicity in producing conditions that upend their lives.  She proposes that in attacking the Leadership Conference of Religious Women, the U.S. Catholic bishops have mounted a blame-game fight that, to her as a trained therapist, "looks like a distraction."

Marrying Well: Stable Families, Economic Success, and Morality Tales

At the Commonweal blog right now, Eric Bugyis offers a valuable discussion of Jason DeParle's recent New York Times article which appears to show a correlation between higher income levels, higher marriage rates, and marital stability.  Research appears to indicate, that is, that couples whose income is higher, whose educational levels are higher, and whose social status is, as a result, also higher than the norm, tend to marry and stay married at higher rates than is the case at the bottom of the economic and educational ladder.  There, in fact, among what used to be called the "working classes," marriage is becoming more infrequent, as couples have children out of wedlock at higher and higher rates.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Celebrating Woodie Guthrie, Celebrating Hope: Birthday Anniversary Continues

I can't get enough of the Woody Guthrie celebrations as his 100th birthday comes and goes.  Here's a great commemoration piece by British musician-activist Billy Bragg, originally published in the Guardian and picked up at Common Dreams.  Bragg writes from Tulsa, some 60 miles from Okemah, Oklahoma, where Woodie Guthrie was born.  As he notes, the Woody Guthrie Archives are in the process of moving from New York City to Tulsa.

George Lakoff and Elizabeth Wehling on Abortion Issue as About Male Control in Family Life

George Lakoff and Elizabeth Wehling think it's highly unlikely that Catholic leaders and the religious and political right are going to admit that they've been wrong about the "morning-after" pill now that exhaustive research shows the pill delaying ovulation rather than preventing the implantation of a zygote.  One of the central claims in the Catholic bishops' attack on the Obama administration's HHS guidelines is that the "morning-after" pill is an abortifacient, and the administration is requiring Catholic institutions to participate in abortions via its new HHS guidelines.

Schism in Catholic Church? A Snapshot of American Catholic Responses

And for a crisp snapshot of precisely where that thriving "we're number one!" right-wing Catholic church (about which I just blogged) is trending these days in American Catholicism, have a gander at the discussion thread following this good posting by Michael O'Loughlin at America's "In All Things" blog.  O'Loughlin asks readers whether Oxford professor Diarmuid MacCulloch is onto something when he suggests that there may be a major schism in the Catholic church in the not-distant future.

Ross Douthat's Catholics Win, Episcopalians Lose Meme: Let Us Make-Believe Together

The Episcopal Church USA holds its triennial convention, at which it approves the use of rituals to bless same-sex unions, and within days, New York Times talking head Ross Douthat offers readers a hand-wringing analysis of how liberal Christianity is failing to save Christianity.  That analysis focuses--surprise!--on the Episcopal church.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Celebrating Religious Freedom, Remembering Those the Vatican Has Bullied and Silenced

Here's how Joseph O'Callaghan, an emeritus professor emeritus of medieval history at Fordham and former chair of the board of Voice of the Faithful in the diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, chose to celebrate the Catholic bishops' "Fortnight of Freedom":

Religious Freedom for Me, Not Thee: Green Bay Diocese Claims First-Amendment Right to Protect Pedophiles

In a comment yesterday responding to my last posting about the U.S. Catholic bishops' "Fortnight for Freedom" débacle, Coolmom wrote, 

And now the Diocese of Green Bay is arguing that its First Amendment rights mean they can transfer a known pedophile and not be held criminally responsible? 
Tell me I misunderstood that!

Paterno as Pope and His Golden-Parachute Deal: More News about Penn State Nightmare

Howard Fineman on how Paterno and Penn State relentlessly branded the football team as a secular holy order with Paterno as pope:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Regnerus Study Appears June 10, Is Cited in Amicus Curiae Brief by Christian-Right Group on June 11

The deeply flawed, pseudo-scientific Regnerus study, which is being interpreted to "prove" that "gay parents" are poor parents, was published by the scholarly journal Social Science Research on June 10.

Guess what study got cited on June 11 by a right-wing group called the American College of Pediatricians in an amicus curiae brief in the Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management federal lawsuit seeking to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act?

Woody Guthrie Remembered: Letting the Best of Yourself Slip Away

For those who love Woody Guthrie's music as I do (and I know there are a number of you who often log into this blog): don't miss the collection of ten Guthrie songs Peter Rothberg has put together at the Nation site today, in honor of Guthrie's 100th birthday anniversary tomorrow.

Joan Chittister on Leadership: Three Foundational Stories

Maybe by posting a tidbit, a mere crumb, from Joan Chittister's May 2012 baccalaureate address to Standford graduates, which Michael Bayly has helpfully made available at his Progressive Catholic Voice blog, I can whet your appetite to read the entire statement:

More on New Evangelization: José Antonio Pagola on Evangelization and Renunciation of Control and Domination

Fr. José Antonio Pagola

On Wednesday, I drew readers' attention to Bill Tammeus's recent article at National Catholic Reporter  asking whether the Catholic church will still be standing in a few generations.  I highlighted Tammeus's assertion (which draws on Richard Giannone's book Hidden) that 

[t]he church -- if it's to adapt and not disappear with the blacksmiths, manual typewriters and Kodachrome film -- will have to return to its center, Christ Jesus, and to its mission.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Headlines I Wish I'd Written: Fred Clark, "Flaccid 'Fortnight for Freedom' Fizzles for Fathers"

In the headlines I wish I'd written category, this from Fred Clark at Slacktivist: "Flaccid 'Fortnight for Freedom' Fizzles for Fathers."  


FBI Releases Report about Penn State Sandusky Cover-up: Top Officials Knew

The FBI's Freeh report is now telling us that Joe Paterno and Penn State's president Graham Spanier deliberately engaged in cover-up of Jerry Sandusky's abuse of a minor in 1998.  The report offers incontrovertible evidence to show that Spanier and Paterno knew of the abuse, showed no concern for the victim, took no action, demonstrated no concern to prevent possible abuse of more minors, and allowed Sandusky to retire with kudos for his honorable service to Penn State and with never a mention of his history of abusing minors.

Heat, Drought, Deer Grazing in Cities: Apocalypse Now and Papal Scripts to Turn History Upside Down

That small doe Steve and I saw standing stock-still on the perimeter of a park on 18 June, about which I blogged the following day: we spotted her again on our walk on the fourth of July.  This time, she bounded across the pathway of the park about 20 yards in front of us, heading down into the wooded side of the park that slopes to the Arkansas River, where herds of deer have long lived within the city, grazing along the banks of the river and sheltering themselves in the abundant copses that line the riverside.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Droppings from the (Presbyterian-) Catholic Birdcage: "Manning . . . the Barricades Against Modernity"

Bill Tammeus is a first-rate religion reporter, one of the best in the nation.  National Catholic Reporter was canny to provide him with a column entitled "A Small c Catholic."  Tammeus writes from the vantage point of a well-informed Presbyterian elder who knows a great deal about, and is sympathetic to, the Catholic tradition.

Oh, Freedom! (for Whom?): American Rhetoric about Freedom and the Matrix of Gender

I had begun to think I might have dropped in from outer space, without realizing it.  Last week, I mean. With the annual American hotter than blazes high holy day.  With the annual feast of American self-congratulation that we call Independence Day.  

Standing Freedom on Its Head: Bill Moyers and Michael Winship on Supremes' Defense of Citizens United

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship on the recent Supreme Court defense of "free speech" [by corporations, which are people, too] when the Supremes announced they won't reconsider Citizens United

It’s one big joke. Big enough to make you cry. Three things don’t go together: Money. Secrecy. Democracy. That’s the nub of the matter. This is all a sham for invalidating democracy in the name of democracy. It’s the trick authoritarians always use to hide their real intentions, which in this case is absolute power over our public life and institutions: the privatization of everything.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Leopards and Spots, Silk Purses and Sows' Ears: Exodus International and Reality as Reality

And speaking of media-hyped, market-driven re-branding (as Valerie Tarico does in her take on the Southern Baptist Convention's latest moves, about which I just posted): I think Zack Ford is right on target in his analysis of media coverage of the latest developments with Exodus International.  As Ford notes, the influential "ex-gay" organization is now stating that it repudiates the notion of gay-conversion or reparative therapy.  Because it doesn't work, and there's abundant evidence it doesn't work.

Valerie Tarico on Southern Baptists' New Marketing Strategy: Pitting Churches Against Moral Arc of History

I've said before, and I keep thinking, that the top leaders of the Catholic church have made a cynical, calculated decision to write off the majority of Catholics in the developed sector of the world for crude market-driven reasons.  At the urging of the super-rich handlers to whom the pope, the Curia, and the bishops answer more than anyone else these days, the leaders of the Catholic church are seeking to rebrand Catholicism as true blue old-time religion that appeals to the current growth market of Christianity in the developing parts of the globe.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Frank Cocozzelli on Bill Keller's "Shut Up and Go" Invitation to Catholic Dissenters: Stay and Fight

Not to be missed: Frank Cocozzelli's recent assessment of Bill Keller's invitation (à la Bill Donohue) to dissident progressive Catholics to exit the Catholic church.  Keller issued the invitation in an op-ed piece in the New York Times last month, noting as he did so that he was surprised to find himself agreeing with Donohue.  He notes that he agrees with Donohue that the Catholic church "is not about to change direction.  Not in this century."

Going to the Chapel: Straight Marriage Celebrations and the Gays

That letter a woman wrote Dan Savage back in June?  That was the first thing I thought of when I read that Brad Pitt's mother had sent a letter to the editor endorsing Mitt Romney--"a family man with high morals"--because Romney opposes marriage equality.  You remember the letter I'm talking about, I'm sure: a straight woman planning her wedding in a a state with no option for same-sex marriage wrote Dan to say she was busy sending out invitations to her straight wedding, and as she addressed the invitations to her gay friends, she felt "like a schmuck."