Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Margaret Farley's Just Love: Just Love Is About Real Persons and Their Concrete Reality

More excerpts from Margaret Farley's Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (NY: Continuum, 2006): these strike me as very significant because they encapsulate the central theme of her book--that love must be just if it's authentic love, that authentic love never ignores the concrete embodied reality of the person who is loved:

Politicians and Pundits Talking (or Not) about Global Warming Following Sandy

Politicians and pundits talking about climate change and global warming (or not talking, as the case may be) following megastorm Sandy:

Sane Moral Voices re: Global Warming after Sandy

Sane moral voices talking about global warming and climate change in light of Sandy, our latest megastorm:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Arthur Goldwag on Backlash Politics of Religious Right: What Lies in Store

Arthur Goldwag, author of The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right (NY: Pantheon, 2012), on how and why the backlash politics of the religious right have become more pronounced in the 2012 election cycle--and what this portends for the future:

More on Theological Implications of Mourdock's Rape Remark: Pre-Adolescent Moral Development and Political Consequences

There are a number of different ways to dissect the underlying theological argument of Richard Mourdock in his recent observation that pregnancies due to rape are intended by God.  As journalist Tony Norman notes, one of the central theological questions we need to ask about Mourdock's observation is the following:

Megastorm Devastation and Climate Change: A Selection of Articles for Background Reading

It hasn't been easy the last two days to think about much of anything other than the megastorm threatening the inhabitants of the northeastern U.S. and Canada.  I wonder, in particular, about the effects of this storm on the least among us, the homeless above all.  I'm not seeing much news coverage of that topic.  And, of course, I'm intently concerned about the effects of Sandy on all the inhabitants of the densely populated areas affected.  I have a niece in Manhattan, and good friends who are regular readers of and contributors to this blog in the region devastated by the storm.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

On Clericalism: Priests as Servants or Little Lords? Implications for Gay Rights Discussion

Following its conference in September, the group Voice of the Faithful has made available at its website a number of documents from the conference.  One of these, which came to those interested in VOTF's work by email last week, is entitled "The Clerical Culture Within the Catholic Church."  

Saving Monsignor Ryan: Frank Cocozzelli Announces Documentary

You wouldn't know this now, but there was a time when Catholics were known in American culture and politics for defending the rights of workers and the poor.  Catholics used to be known for their emphasis on communitarianism--on building just societies in which everyone was included, and, in particular, in which those shoved to the margins were drawn into social participation and allowed to use their talents to the fullest and lead fulfilling lives.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Doug Wright to His "Moderate" Republican Friends: "Simply Be Honest" about Homophobia

Doug Wright to his Republican friends who intend to vote Romney-Ryan for "economic" reasons, and who don't, of course, intend anything discriminatory at all as they vote GOP:

Theological Commentary on Richard Mourdock's Rape Comment

A selection of commentary about Richard Mourdock's recent statement about what God intends when women become pregnant due to rape: 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gerald T. Slevin: After Elections, Who Will Prosecute More Predatory Priests? Constitutional Lawyer Obama Or The Three R's---Romney, Ryan & Ratzinger? And Why Does It Matter?

Another hard-hitting and exhaustively researched essay by the Harvard-trained former Wall Street lawyer Jerry Slevin today.  Jerry looks at the two U.S. presidential candidates in light of their records in dealing with issues of child abuse and of church and state, and challenges Catholics to inform our consciences as we select a candidate by thinking carefully about why the Vatican and U.S. bishops appear to be playing very overt partisan politics in this election cycle--to assure that the candidate (Romney) more likely to be lenient to Catholic officials prosecuted for criminal activity with child abuse cases is elected.  What follows is Jerry's essay:

Fr. Emmett Coyne, The Theology of Fear: When Religion Takes Leave of Spirituality

Usually, when I discuss or recommend a book on this blog, I've already read it.  In fact, I can't think of an instance in which a book I've recommended here hasn't been one I've yet read.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Margaret Farley's Just Love: More on Theories of Gender Complementarity

More from Margaret Farley on the notion of gender complementarity that has come to play such a central role in the theologies of male-dominant religious traditions since the latter half of the 20th century: the following are two passages from Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (NY: Continuum, 2006), that, to my mind, make very important points:

Abortion and Catholic Politics: Continued Claims, Counter-Claims

A not-to-miss article: Betty Clermont's recent essay at Open Tabernacle noting the U.S. Catholic bishops' "deafening silence" about Mitt Romney's support for abortion and contraception.  (Well, at least the support that one etched sketch of Mr. Romney has recently offered for abortion and contraception . . . . )  Betty frames her essay as follows:

Paul Brandeis Raushenbush to Richard Mourdock: "No. God. Didn't."

Mitt Romney and Richard Mourdock, 4 Aug. 2012, Evansville, IN

I appreciate Paul Brandeis Raushenbusch's response to the astonishing claim of Indiana GOP senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock that God has "intended" pregnancies occurring due to rape.  Raushenbush replies baldly:

No. God. Didn't.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Profound Waste of Catholic Resources to Attack Gays Is Profoundly Profane

One of those good droppings from the Catholic birdcage that I occasionally post here: this is Kate FitzGerald responding to what I posted yesterday about the collection of funds from Catholic dioceses across the country to attack gay citizens of Minnesota:

An Interview with the Missouri Pastor Whose Testimony to Springfield's City Council Has Gone Viral

A brief follow-up to my recent posting of a video that has now gone viral, in which Pastor Phil Snider addresses the Springfield, Missouri, city council about an ordinance to prohibit discrimination against LGBT citizens of that community (the ordinance has now been tabled, by the way): 

Talking about Race (and Republicans, Mormons, and Catholics): Important Recent Discussions

Several very important articles this morning that I recommend readers read side-by-side with each other, since each glosses the other in significant ways:

Candace Chellew-Hodge on Straight Folks Telling Gay Stories: My Reflections

The final line of Candace Chellew-Hodge's recent essay at Religion Dispatches entitled "When Straight People Tell Gay Stories" hits me between the eyes:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Talking about Sex: Hasidism, Catholicism, and Republican Politics

In Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (NY: Continuum, 2006), Margaret Farley notes the widely divergent understandings of sexuality in the various religions and cultures of the world.  She notes that when we look carefully at what sexuality means and how it's handled across cultures and religions, the most important factor that may emerge from the cross-cultural perspective is not the amazing differences in how many cultures handle sexuality, or the striking cross-cultural similarities that can be found, but "the very plasticity of human sexuality, its susceptibility to different meanings and expressive forms."  

Paul Ryan's Soup-Kitchen Stunt Backfires: Donors Pushing Back vs. Right-Wing Backlash

I was unhappy, but not surprised, to read recently that Paul Ryan's soup-kitchen stunt had brought grief to the Youngstown, Ohio, soup kitchen in which he staged the photo-op stunt that showed him and his wife washing cookware that didn't need to be washed.  To make it appear that he and his wife are intently concerned to assist the hungry and really do care about the poor . . . . 

Happened in Maine, Now in Minnesota: Catholic Dioceses Across Nation Funding Anti-Gay Fight

In 2009, after Maine governor John Baldacci signed into law a bill passed by the state legislature that would have permitted same-sex marriage in that state, citizens passed a referendum blocking the right of same-sex couples to civil marriage in Maine.  The drive to remove this civil right from gay citizens of Maine was led primarily by the Catholic church.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Margaret Farley's Just Love: Feminist Questions about Notions of Gender Complementarity

Another excerpt from Margaret Farley's Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (NY: Continuum, 2006), which, to my mind, has great pertinence to the nexus of issues around gender, politics, and religion that I addressed in my previous posting:

Gender in the News: Religion, Politics, Men, Women

A miscellany of recent news articles that have caught my eye, all with gender analysis that seems to me critically important: 

Former Irish President Mary McAleese on Attack by Cardinal Law and Mary Ann Glendon

Just think for a moment about what this report means: a former president of a sovereign nation reveals that when she is on an official political visit to another nation, a prince of the Roman Catholic church feels perfectly free to upbraid her for theological views she has every right to hold, and then to usher her and her visiting political team into a room "where a well-known American conservative Catholic, Mary Ann Glendon, is waiting to lecture the President on her views on women priests."  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune Endorses Obama: Too Many Mitts

This strikes me as significant news: Utah's flagship newspaper The Salt Lake Tribune has just endorsed Obama.  The reason?  There are too many Mitts.

Missouri Pastor Speaks About Gay Rights (with a Twist): Applications to Catholic Conversation

A Conversation Overheard on the Eve of U.S. Presidential Election

A conversation overheard on our flight from Atlanta to Little Rock last evening:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cardinal Dolan at the Al Smith Banquet: Remember the "Uns"

At America's "In All Things" blog and National Catholic Reporter, Fr. James Martin and Michael Sean Winters praise His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for his appeal to us at the recent Al Smith banquet to remember the "uns" of the world--the "unemployed, the uninsured, the unwanted, the unwed mother, the innocent, fragile unborn baby in her womb, the undocumented, the un-housed, the unhealthy, the unfed, the undereducated," to quote Winters.

Boy Scout Perversion Files and the Scouts' Ban on Openly Gay Leaders and Scouts

In an NPR Talk of the Nation segment, Neal Conan talks with Los Angeles Times investigative reporter Jason Felch and child psychologist Polly Dunn about the recently opened Boy Scout "perversion files."  And the following statement by Felch leaps out at me:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down DOMA: Discrimination Requires "Exceedingly Persuasive" Justification

Yesterday's big news on the gay rights front: yet another federal appeals court has struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  The federal appeals court for Manhattan's 2nd Circuit follows the precedent of a federal appeals court last year in Boston.  The majority opinion in yesterday's ruling was written by Judge Dennis Jacobs, a very conservative H.W. Bush appointee.  

Church-Going Latino Catholics Favor Same-Sex Marriage: The Surprise of the Centrist Catholic Commentariat

Also in the news, Latino Catholics and their stance regarding gay marriage: at the Commonweal blog site, Paul Moses notes that a recent Pew Research Center poll shows 46 percent of Latino Catholics who attend church weekly favoring same-sex marriage, as opposed to 37 percent who oppose it.  This is in sharp contrast to the findings for white Catholics who attend Mass weekly: in that group, 39 percent favor same-sex marriage, while 53 percent oppose it.

Knights of Columbus Back in News: $15.8 Million Spent Since 2005 to Strip Gays of Civil Rights

Earlier in the week, I excerpted observations from Joanna Brooks's The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith (NY: Free Press, 2012) in which Brooks notes (p. 174) that the fight to snatch the civil right of marriage from gay citizens of California cost $82 million.  Brooks points out that this is the largest amount of money spent to date on a culture-war issue in the U.S.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Margaret Farley's Just Love: The Personal as Political (and Applications to U.S. Presidential Debate)

Several days ago, when I told readers I had begun reading Margaret Farley's book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (NY: Continuum, 2006), I noted that I find Farley's work a valuable corrective to a tendency among Catholic theologians of the center (and even among many liberation and political theologians) to dismiss issues of sexual ethics and the profound questions of justice these raise as less-than-serious diversionary questions that can be quarantined from the rest of theology.  I noted that many theologians of the solid center (and, I'd add, theologians in the liberationist and political theological movements as well) appear to think that the questions raised by sexual ethics can be safely quarantined from the discussion of issues of marginalization, oppression, and injustice we consider, say, when we talk about the abuse of the poor by the super-rich, or of the peoples of the developing nations by those of the developed nations.

Rosie Perez on Mitt as a Gay Latina

And because I can't help myself--because this video produced by the Jewish Council for Education and Research and the American Bridges SuperPAC says so much that I had hoped to say in what I just posted about love and about who still continues to control the center-defining and power-allocating conversations of the center--I offer this today for readers who may be interested.

Ten Points about Love as the Signpost Along the Way: Retreat Notes, Day Three

Pilgrim Feet

More reflections from this period of retreat--which I offer with some concern that I'm foisting on others what are very private thoughts about very private struggles, which may not be of much interest to anyone but me, and which probably ought not to receive much attention from others, because these are idiosyncratic note-jottings from the margins of the Catholic church and its theological traditions today:*

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Signposts Along the Way: Retreat Notes, Day Two

Pilgrim Feet

I've been thinking, as Steve and I talk and walk, or sit together in silence, about signposts along the way of our shared spiritual journey.  One of the most significant of these, it seems to me, has been the counsel Rilke gave the aspiring young poet in his letters to the young man.  Rilke tells the writer-to-be to live towards the future he glimpses, but which is not yet present--and may never be fully present in his life or in the world around him.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A World Crammed with God's Presence: Retreat Notes, Day One

Pilgrim Feet

Day one of our retreat--a retreat day that begins this way can't be a bad day:

More from Joanna Brooks on the Steep Price of Bigotry

Another passage this morning from Joanna Brooks's The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith (NY: Free Press, 2012) commenting on the amount of money her Mormon community spent to remove the right of civil marriage from the gay citizens of California with prop 8:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Keeping the Unwelcome Mat Firmly in Place: Michael Sean Winters and Grant Gallicho Issue Reminders

So I already can't keep my mouth shut (and, yes, I am reading some recent news stories, despite my best intentions to focus on more ponderous matters this week): 

On Retreat: Notes from the Journey

Pilgrim Feet

Dear Readers,

This may be another of those weeks in which I promise to be quiet, and then end up posting a stream of statements here--because I am not good at holding my tongue.  I do want to let you know, though, that Steve and I are away for a period of recollection.  This is the week that we met 41 years ago, and we've chosen to spend it trying to wind down a bit from daily routines, to walk, listen to music, read, talk, and pray.

Joanna Brooks on LDS Purge and Mormon Exiles: The Catholic Parallels

In The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith (NY: Free Press, 2012), Joanna Brooks frames her connection to the Mormon church she loves in terms of exile, following the LDS church's purge of feminists, those affirming gay people, and scholars and intellectuals.  She writes: 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Remembering the Price Some People Still Pay for Love: A Documentary about Execution of Gay Teens in Iran

As a follow-up to what I posted yesterday regarding Box Turtle Bulletin's report about a horrifying attack on people gathered last week in a gay-affirming club in Moscow:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Political News: Myths of Right-Wing Noise Machine, Arkansas Crazies, "Pro-Life" Contradictions, Russian Anti-Gay Violence, Election and Cyber Friendships

And since I've been talking politics today, a few more articles in that vein which catch my eye as this week draws to a close:

Glenn Greenwald on Establishment Journalists as Creatures of D.C. and Corporate Culture

And piggybacking on what I just posted re: David Roberts's critique of the straitened, self-serving, and entirely blind worldview of beltway centrist political and media commentary, here's Glenn Greenwald on the same topic.  Greenwald notes that Martha Raddatz stated in the face of abundant and much-discussed proof to the contrary that Medicare and Social Security are "going broke," and spoke of America's "entitlement" programs.  As he notes, she made these demonstrably false (and highly ideological and rightward-skewed statements) because "she's long embedded in the DC culture that equates its own ideological desires with neutral facts."

David Roberts on Twisted Priorities and Collective Delusions of Beltway Centrism

David Roberts is absolutely correct about the insane stupidity of the echo chamber that dominates centrist beltway thinking--and how this was revealed in the questions asked at the recent v-p debate:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Remembering Matthew Shepard: "Love Has Founded for the Dead an Everlasting Alliance"

Matthew Shepard died this day in 1998 at the age of 21.  He had been tortured, beaten, and left hanging on a fence to die by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson.  Because Shepard, who weighed 105 pounds and stood 5'2", was gay.  

In memory of Matthew Shepard and his martyrdom, a poem by Chinese poet Bei Dao, "Requiem," commemorating the martyrs of Tiananmen Square:

The Softer and Gentler Mitt Romney? Testimony from the Mormon Community

And, again, not unrelated to the excerpts I have just posted from Joanna Brooks's The Book of Mormon Girl and Margaret Farley's Just Love: Geoffrey Dunn's article at Huffington Post yesterday reporting on what various Mormon women for whom Mitt Romney has been a pastoral leader have to say about him and his pastoral leadership is must-read testimony.  Dunn discusses the case of Carrel Hilton Sheldon, a Mormon woman in Massachusetts whose doctor informed her in 1983 that her life was at stake if she continued her pregnancy.  She was 8 weeks pregnant at the time.

Margaret Farley's Just Love: Radical Effect of Women's New Self-Understandings on Sexual Ethics

And, as a counterpoint to the excerpt I have just posted from Joanna Brooks's The Book of Mormon Girl, the following passage from Margaret Farley's Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (NY: Continuum, 2006) leapt out at me as I read it yesterday:

Joanna Brooks Documents LDS Church's Savage Repression of Feminists, Scholars, and Gays in 1990s: Mormon-Catholic Parallels

In her book entitled The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith (NY: Free Press, 2012), Joanna Brooks documents what happened in the 1980s and 1990s when she and other Mormon scholars (and Mormon feminists, and Mormons organizing to make the LDS church a welcoming place for LGBT persons) began to retrieve the strong feminist strands of Mormon history and thought that the church's all-male leaders had obliterated throughout the 20th century:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Margaret Farley's Just Love: New Knowledge about Human Biology and Sexual Ethics, News Flash for Todd Akin

Margaret Farley, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (NY: Continuum, 2006):

U.S. Catholic Theologians Defend Catholic Social Teaching v. Paul Ryan

Meanwhile, as the bishops fulminate and brandish their big sticks (and as their leader His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan seeks yet again to pull a veil over Paul Ryan's Randian philosophy and its blunt contradiction of Catholic social teaching), some members of the people of God continue to struggle to keep the fullness of Catholic social teaching in the forefront of public and Catholic awareness during the current election cycle.  A group of some 120 American Catholic theologians has just issued a statement entitled "On All of Our Shoulders: A Catholic Call to Protect the Endangered Common Good."

Catholic Bishops and Politics: Recent Discussion

National Catholic Reporter's latest editorial succinctly argues that the bishops' ability to fulminate persuasively on matters political has been more than a little undermined by their behavior during the abuse crisis: