Friday, August 31, 2012

Fr. Benedict Groeschel on Youngsters As Priest-Seducers: He Says, They Say, I Say

He said: "A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer."

End-of-Week Miscellany: Joan Chittister on Ethic of Life, Harvey Cox on Pussy Riot, Anthony Stevens-Arroyo on Hispanic Catholic Voters' Guide, Michael Sean Winters on Sarah Posner

A miscellany of end-of-week items touching on various issues we've discussed here recently:

His Eminence Cardinal Dolan's GOP Convention Final Blessing: A Word Count

Charles Pierce on How Many Lies, Evasions, Elisions, and Chunks of Gobbledegook Political Media Can Swallow

Charles Pierce wonders how many more colossal lies a political party can channel into the American political system before the system goes belly up from the toxins:

David Sirota on Climate Biting Back

David Sirota on how the climate is now biting us back:

As a wildfire/flash flood cycle ravages the American heartland, “the climate bites back” may be the 21st century’s karmic rejoinder to the hysterical screams of “freedom!” and “property rights!” when it comes to urban sprawl.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paul Ryan Scores Hit with GOP: Nose Grows Longer and Longer

The graphic: my commentary on the proceedings of the GOP convention last night--especially Paul Ryan's speech, which the media will bend over backwards to lionize and even praise.  On the latter, see the assemblage of commentators that Andrew Sullivan puts together in his reax column about Ryan and yesterday's assembly.

Michael J. Iafrate on Pussy Riot, Theology, and the Catholic Conversation

Finding Ears to Hear

And another just-now-seeing-it posting at another blog site: Michael Iafrate has recently been posting again at his excellent site, and via his latest posting there, I learn that he posted a reflection some days ago at Rock and Theology about the theological implications of Pussy Riot's protest in Moscow.  As I did in a previous posting, Michael addresses the surprisingly unsympathetic response of Margaret Steinfels at Commonweal to the sentencing of the three young women in the punk group.  

NCR on Dolan's Bipartisanship, and More on Latino Vote

Another posting this morning linking to something I discussed here yesterday--in this case, the announcement that the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, will pray at both the GOP and the Democratic conventions.  National Catholic Reporter has published an editorial statement about the announcement that Dolan will be heading to Charlotte after his Tampa foray.

Further Commentary on Cordileone Story: Colleen Baker, Thom Curnutte

When I posted yesterday about my experience after I had shared the news of Bishop Cordileone's arrest at my Facebook page, I didn't realize that two fellow bloggers whom I very much esteem had also posted about this same story, in ways that my own posting echoed--without realizing it.  (I tend to read what I think of as "news blogs" daily to catch up on the news, but I read "commentary blogs" less frequently.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bishop Cordileone Gets Arrested, and I Get Slapped Upside the Head for Noticing

So here's how my day went, two days ago: when the news broke that the rabidly anti-gay archbishop-to-be of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, had been arrested in San Diego for DUI, I posted a link to one of the reports of this breaking news on my Facebook page.  I learned the news when a friend of mine, a retired Catholic theologian living in San Francisco with his partner, called to tell me the news as soon as it broke.

Dolan to Pray at Democratic Convention: My Reflections

And speaking of not walking in a vain shew (I'm building on what I just posted about the two Romneys), and of standing on principle and valuing integrity above all vain riches: Common Dreams reports today that Archbishop Desmond Tutu has withdrawn from a leadership summit in South Africa because Tony Blair will be another high-profile participant.  Tutu characterizes Blair's support for the Iraq war as "morally indefensible."

John Nichols on Romney's Rejection of Moderate Path (and of Integrity and Principle)

John Nichols points out that George Romney walked out of the 1964 GOP convention when the party "went all-in for extremism" and rejected platform planks proposed by Romney that would have committed it to the struggle for racial justice.  But his son Mitt, by contrast:

Unlike his father, Mitt Romney will make no effort to guide his party back toward the mainstream. The man who just a decade ago was identified as the brave new champion of the centrism, even liberalism, that his father once espoused will make no demand for moderation. There will be no stance on principle. No show of integrity.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cheryl Mendelson on the Politics of Crazy and Mean

In a powerful, probing analysis of why crazy and mean commonly go hand in hand in politics, Cheryl Mendelson points out that morality (or conscience) and rationality are inherently linked: let go of rationality, and one is also letting go of morality.  This is the case because making sound moral judgments requires us to look carefully at the facts, such as they're available to us, and to weigh these as we try to arrive at a conscientious moral judgment which balances moral norms along with all the sound information we can find that has bearing on the case about which we want to make a conscientious judgment.

Eduardo Peñalver: Dolan Plays Footsie with GOP and Loses Latinos?

Eduardo Peñalver at Commonweal on how Dolan's choice to bless the GOP runs the risk of losing Latinos--for the U.S. Catholic church and its future:

Michael D'Antonio on Timothy Dolan and Dancing with Hacks

The fact that Timothy Dolan is leading the bishops in a partisan direction is not a surprise. Take away the clerical clothes and the cardinal is the central casting version of an old pol, glad-handing and joking in one minute and deflecting and deceiving in the next. As Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times reported in May, the cardinal lied about money paid to Wisconsin priests who had been accused of sexual abuse when he was their bishop. He described the money as "charity" when it was intended to induce them to leave the priesthood as quickly as possible. When documents surfaced contradicting Dolan, local Church officials admitted as much. New York's prelate chose to attack the suggestion that something was amiss as "false, preposterous and unjust."

And, of course, sometimes when we dance with the one what brung us, we suddenly realize it's the devil we've been courting.  But when that realization breaks, it's usually too late to do much to reverse the damage.

Andrew Sullivan on the GOP and Us

This is indeed a party more extreme than any other right-of-center party in the West, a party whose social policy is dictated by the Bible, whose foreign policy is directed by the furthest-right faction in a foreign country (Israel), and whose economic policy is based on the notion that if you cut taxes massively and boost defense spending and only cut entitlements in twenty years, we can best tackle the debt. 
But its candidate - who has ensured there is no daylight between him and the more rabid parts of his party - is neck and neck with a president still in the world of reality. The GOP's degeneration is its own fault; but that such a degenerate, irresponsible, ideologically extreme party is now, I believe, the favorite to win this election is a reflection not on them, but on us.

"[T]hat such a degenerate, irresponsible, ideologically extreme party is now, I believe, the favorite to win this election is a reflection not on them, but on us": yes.  Indeed it is

Monday, August 27, 2012

Centrism: Continuing the Discussion

More on centrism (I'm continuing here the discussion of the topic at this site last week):

One of the more instructive discussions of the topic I've run across is this analysis by traxus4420 at the now-defunct American Strangers blog.  Traxus writes,

Scottish Catholic Bishops Ratchet Up Pressure on Government to Rescind Marriage Equality Plans: Reactions

Scottish Catholic Bishops' Conference
Ekklesia reports today that the Catholic bishops of Scotland are stepping up their national campaign to build a coalition of Catholics and other right-wing religious groups to try to force the Scottish government to rescind its plans to permit civil marriage for same-sex couples.  But as Ekklesia notes, there's contention within the Scottish Catholic church over this unprecedented intrusion of the church into the political life of the nation.

More on Race in U.S. Politics Today: Scott Nakagawa on the "We" Factor

As a gloss on what I posted yesterday re: the dangerous memory of the oppression of people of color in the United States, a memory still alive and kicking in political events right up to 27 August 2012: I find the video of Scot Nakagawa that Laura Flanders embeds in this piece on Romney's lies very helpful (I've embedded the video at the head of the posting, too).  Nakagawa has started a blog called RaceFiles.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Timothy B. Tyson on Ruthless Suppression of Black Vote in 1890s: Past as Present

In Blood Done Sign My Name (NY: Crown, 2004), Timothy B. Tyson rehearses the history of how African-American citizens of Wilmington, North Carolina, were placed back into a state of virtual slavery in the latter half of the 1890s, following the brief window of opportunity that had opened for freed slaves after the Civil War--a window of opportunity in which they held the vote and political office.  As he notes, Wilmington was North Carolina's largest city by the 1890s, and it was also a center of African-American economic and political power with a black majority (p. 271).

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Headlines I Never Expected to See: GOP Heads for Florida, State of Emergency Declared

In the headlines-I-never-expected-to-see category, HuffPo right now has an article on its main page* entitled, "Florida Declares a State of Emergency Ahead of GOP Convention."

And surely someone on the editorial staff at Huffington Post realizes the rather wicked wryness of that headline, I'd like to think . . . .

*The headline after  you click on the article title is slightly different.

Dolan to Tampa: Frank Cocozzelli and SNAP Offer Comments

Two more valuable reflections on the message the top leader of the Catholic church in the U.S., Timothy Dolan, is sending to the American public and to American Catholics by his choice to play a leading role at the upcoming GOP convention through his final blessing of the convention and its actions:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dolan to Tampa: National Catholic Reporter Weighs In

NCR has just published an editorial statement on Dolan's choice to provide a final blessing to the doings of the upcoming GOP convention--and the nominations of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.  An excerpt:

Dolan to Tampa: Listening for the Alternative Voices in American Catholicism

Two reminders of the voice of the American Catholic church that will not be represented as His Eminence delivers the final blessing on the Republican national gathering (and on Paul Ryan and his Randian disdain for the least among us and adulation of the rich) in a few days:

Dolan to Tampa: A Selection of Reactions

And on to the equally humorous (?) (piggybacking here on my posting about monkeying around with Jesus): a smorgasbord of commentary today on the impending apparition of His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, pope of the Republican Catholic Church USA© (RCCUSA, or Recuse for short), at the GOP national convention.*  As I noted yesterday, His Recusant Eminence will be there to bless the doings after Romney is nominated--to give the final prayer and blessing to the whole shebang.  Reactions:

End of Week Levity: Monkeying Around with Jesus

In Spain near Zaragoza, artist Cecilia Gomez tries to repair Elias Garcia Martinez's "Ecce Homo" painting in a local church.  And, unfortunately, fails.

Just a little bit.  So that local punsters are now calling "Ecce Homo" "Ecce Mono"--"behold the monkey."

And now I'm left wondering: next time I see the face of a monkey burned into a slice of toast, will it be Jesus I'm seeing?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Readers Ask about Centrism: Paul Krugman Revisited

Several readers have asked me in recent days what I understand by the term "centrist" and why I keep using it.  As a partial answer to those readers' questions, I'd like to link back to something I posted this past April, which points to a statement on political centrism (as a game) by Paul Krugman in the New York Times

More on Akin, GOP Extremism, and the Pussy Riot Conviction

The following links are something of a grab-bag, but to my way of thinking, they are connected, in that they all comment on issues of women's rights that are front and center in many political and religious discussions these days--and which we continue to see societies negotiating long after many of us had imagined the question of whether women deserve full human status and the full range of human rights had long since been settled:

Resources for Abuse Discussion: Widening the Frame

Two valuable resources I've been pondering lately, which (to my mind) move the conversation about sexual abuse by trusted religious figures forward forward by issuing salient reminders that this kind of abuse occurs in many religious settings:

Climate Change and the Matrix of Life: Reflections

Abby Zimet points out today at Common Dreams that as the GOP prepares to gather in Tampa to bless a platform widely characterized as "the most conservative" in modern history--a platform largely driven by white men twisted in knots over issues of pelvic control--the earth is on fire.  Literally so.  And nary plank in that gorgeous big platform full of pelvic strictures addresses the reason for the drought-caused fires that no one in his right mind any longer disputes: global warming.

Joan Walsh on GOP Strategy of "Doubling Down on Whiteness"

I have a satchel full of articles I've been bookmarking and saving up of late, almost all of which attract my notice because they seem to carry on conversations about which I've blogged here.  I want to link to some of these articles today, noting their significance to me in light of ongoing Bilgrimage conversations or preoccupations.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nate Cohn on Flipping of Culture-War Calculus, Michael Sean Winters's Response: The Growing Quandary for Catholic Centrism

Nate Cohn writes at The New Republic that "the old culture war calculus has flipped from favoring Republicans to Democrats."  And Michael Sean Winters responds at National Catholic Reporter

The historic vocation of the Democratic Party is to fight for the interests of the working class. If it abandons that vocation to become a policy defined around preferences in the culture wars, I, for one, will no longer be interested in the Democratic Party.

Timothy Tyson's Blood Done Sign My Name: Parables about Race Turn into Parables about Gender

In what I just posted, I referred several times to Timothy B. Tyson's masterful first-hand account of the Civil Rights struggle in Oxford, North Carolina, in the 1950s-1970s, Blood Done Sign My Name (NY: Crown, 2004).  Tyson writes from the vantage point of someone who grew up during this period in the manse of a white Methodist pastor actively involved in the Civil Rights movement.  He's now senior research scholar at Duke's Center for Documentary Studies, with appointments to the Duke Divinity School and the Duke Department of History.

A Reader Writes: Do Churches Always Cement and Enhance Their Social Standing by Allying with Power?

In response to my latest posting, Adam Fisher asks a question which, in my view, touches on some valuable points that deserve further notice.  Adam asks,

Just as a point of interest for those of us who are less well educated, has there EVER been an institutionalized spiritual persuasion that did NOT seek to cement and enhance its social standing by allying itself with whatever power base might assure its safety and growth? Is there even one that is not, in on sense, as inbred as backwoods West Virginia is sometimes accused of being?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pussy Riot and Defense of "Traditional Family Values" (and My Response to Catholic Centrists about Pussy Riot Conviction)

Vis-a-vis another recent news item about which I blogged a number of days ago--the sentencing of the Pussy Riot group in Moscow for "hooliganism driven by religious hatred and offending religious believers": I find Gillian Kane's article at Religion Dispatches today situating the feminist rock group's trial against the backdrop of the campaign of Russian Orthodox leaders to block human rights movements at an international level instructive.  Kane reports that the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox church have been lobbying at the United Nations to enshrine "traditional family values" in human rights statements, and to block U.N. initiatives that, in their view, work against such values.

Blowback for Akin: "Legitimate" Rape Comment Solidly Grounded in Religious Right Theology and Politics

Now that the cat's out of the bag, Rep. Todd "Death's-Head" Akin wants to maintain that he "used the wrong words in the wrong way" when he talked Sunday about "legitimate" rape and how the bodies of legitimately raped good girls have the propensity to "shut that whole thing down" when they're raped--and so avoid conception.  Unfortunately for Mr. Akin, however, lots of folks aren't buying his damage-control claims about having misspoken.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Women's Lives and Male Control: A Surprising Genealogical Find

There's an oft-repeated maxim among genealogists (well, the sort who actually care about the facts) that you should be prepared to find anything when you set out on a quest to track your family history.  In fact, there seems to be an inbuilt karmic thing in genealogical research which assures that you will quite definitely discover the opposite of whatever fool myth you decide to prove when you begin your search.

Rape, "Mansplaining," and Violence: Three Statements on Gender, Violence, and Religion

So much energy expended in imagining the lives of gay folks, classifying and ordering the lives of gay folks--especially the lives of other men who happen to be gay.  What might happen to the world and to the churches--which are bleeding members in droves as heterosexual men twiddle their thumbs about these impossible-to-imagine eventualities of full inclusion of gay folks in the world--if those same heterosexual men who are so fixated on their blessed rage to order the lives of gay men and women began to turn that obsessive moral focus on themselves
And began to ask who died and made them gods?  And who has anointed them to create the blessed order of the universe?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "There Is an Urgent Need to Grade Various Levels of Homosexual Activities"

At National Catholic Reporter, reader Tom ATK takes Sr. Maureen Fiedler to task for, well, everything under the sun.  It seems her "taxonomy" of homosexuality and homosexual sin is not clear.  Plus, she's a "white, Anglo-Saxon post Victorian 60’s raised liberal arts academic."  Or if she doesn't fit that taxonomy herself, she's clearly in cahoots with those post-Victorian 60's-raised oddities.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Combox Problems May Be Fixed

Dear Readers,

As I noted about a week ago, a number of you have told me by email (and in comments here) that you've been having some problems commenting after Disqus began notifying some readers that its comment system isn't supporting outmoded browser programs.  Michael Hazell of the Techman's World blog saw my posting and kindly sent some suggestions that I believe may have fixed the commenting problems for Bilgrimage.  I say "I believe," since I will need your feedback to know whether you are still having difficulties.

America's Summer of Drought, Global Food Shortage, and Dystopian Futures: Report on Travels in the Heartland

Readers will perhaps know from remarks I've made here of late that, in the last part of July, the hottest month on record in American history, Steve and I took a trip into the American heartland.  Steve had business-related work in Kansas City, and I accompanied him in order to have a small break from my everyday routines.  Since he had saved a day off allocated for his birthday, we also had an extra day (and weekend time) which enabled him to drive us up to Sioux City, Iowa, to visit an elderly cousin with whom he's been in touch about family history, but whom he'd never met.

Pussy Riot Found Guilty of "Hooliganism Driven by Religious Hatred and Offending Religious Believers"

Earlier in the week, I linked to the closing statement of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of the singing group Pussy Riot, which has been on trial in Moscow.  The group of women singers who are frequently described as a "feminist punk band" were thrown in jail after they went into the cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow and, in a dramatic impromptu performance, prayed to the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Putin.  For their actions, they've been in jail for six months, and a verdict has just been handed down finding them guilty of "hooliganism."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Paul Ryan's Bishop Robert Morlino: Assessments of Colleen Baker, Frank Cocozzelli, and Michael McShea

As background to my posting earlier today noting that Paul Ryan's bishop Robert Morlino deliberately distorts Catholic social teaching to raise the right of private property (and the rejection of socialism) to the level of intrinsic evil for overt political reasons--to give Ryan and his rejection of Catholic social teaching the appearance of episcopal approval--I want to provide a set of links from three bloggers whose work I admire.

The Catholic Vote and the 2012 U.S. Elections

And (piggybacking here on what I just posted about the shoddy pastoral performance of Paul Ryan's bishop Robert Morlino as he distorts Catholic social teaching to give Ryan cover), as Carol Dechant explains at Huffington Post, the Catholic vote--whatever it actually might be--is still in play for the 2012 elections.  And GOP operatives and bishops who make themselves putty in the hands of those operatives desperately want the votes of the "undecided" 10% of Catholic voters on whom the election may well hang.  In other words, as I've been saying for weeks now, the outcome of the 2012 presidential elections may well be determined by a small minority of Catholic voters, and behind them, the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference, which wants to use them to throw the elections.

Paul Ryan's Bishop Plays the "Intrinsically Evil" (Pro-GOP) Trump Card

Paul Ryan's bishop Robert C. Morlino has just played what I called, several days ago, the "typical vote-GOP election-cycle trump card of the USCCB for some years now."  At his blog site in the diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, Morlino writes that he can't and won't endorse a particular candidate (wink, nudge), but in obedience to church law, he has an obligation as Paul Ryan's bishop to defend Ryan's good name and point out that Ryan "is aware of Catholic Social Teaching and is very careful to fashion and form his conclusions in accord with the principles mentioned above."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Official Catholic Teaching about Sexuality: Side-by-Side Statements of Mary Cunningham and Phyllis Zagano

I just ended my overview of an assortment of articles about Paul Ryan by placing two op-ed statements in today's New York Times--Maureen Dowd and Ross Douthat on Paul Ryan--side by side.  As I noted when I concluded my previous posting, it's interesting to me that Dowd and Douthat are both Catholic, as Ryan is.  Yet Dowd and Douthat have strongly contrasting moral assessments of the agenda of their fellow Catholic Ryan's agenda for the nation.

The November Choice: Ryan Commentary Continues

Mr. Romney's announcement that Mr. Ryan will be his running mate has now had time to ferment a few days, and quite a bit of new commentary is bubbling up--much of it noteworthy.  A few excerpts from pieces that strike me:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Reader Writes: "Before Movements Emerge There Are Centers of Energy"?

In response to my posting about Catholic centrism and American politics earlier today, Adam Fisher responded to my citation of Jeffrey Eugenides with a quibble.  And so I'd like to talk very briefly about what I hear Eugenides saying in the citation I took from his book Middlesex.
Eugenides writes, "Before movements emerge there are centers of energy . . . " (Middlesex [London: Bloomsbury, 2002], p. 488).

More Paul Ryan Commentary: Death's-Head Budget, Media Fluff, and Wife Janna

Wise words from Peter Laarman at Religion Dispatches about the GOP "death's-head budget" and how Ryan (as opposed to Romney) makes absolutely clear what the GOP death's-head plan for the nation really is:

Unlike Romney, Ryan is anything but a cipher in respect to concrete policies. We know exactly what he thinks, and his entire party’s backing for his death’s-head budget means Obama doesn’t have to stretch at all to say, "This is their plan, folks. More for them, less for you. And the idea that this will grow the economy is just fairy dust."

Left, Right, Center: American Catholic Centrists Recycle Predictable Election-Year Meme

Lots of blather these days at centrist Catholic blog sites about who occupies the center (which is to say, who issues the defining dictates that limn the lives of everyone else in the world).  About who's center-right, center-left, center-center . . . .

Monday, August 13, 2012

Letter to a Young Catholic Considering Leaving the Catholic Church (After Mike and Cathy's Chick-fil-A Cheerleading Stunt)*

I understand.  Believe me, I do.  At least, I think I do.

I think I understand why you are thinking about leaving the Catholic church right now—about  distancing yourself from a religious community which claims to offer you the living memory of Jesus, but tells you in the name of Jesus that your humanity is less than that of all other human beings.