Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Grim Situation for LGBT Folks in Russia: A Petition to NBC to Make Rachel Maddow Human Rights Correspondent for Olympics

As a footnote to what I posted earlier today about the dire situation LGBT citizens of Russia now face, I want to note this: 

Father Tom Doyle on What He Has Learned in Thirty Years of Advocacy for Abuse Survivors: "With Bishops Yes and No Are Interchangeable Terms"

Father Tom Doyle, OP

Another excellent article I'd like to recommend to readers today: Father Tom Doyle's recent statement about what he has learned in thirty years advocating for justice and a pastoral response from the Catholic church for victims of childhood abuse by Catholic religious authority figures. Frank Douglas published Doyle's valuable reflection this week at the Voices from the Desert blog site.

Situation for LGBT Human Beings in Russia: Grim, Grimmer, Grimmest

Nancy Goldstein

I agree with John Aravosis at AmericaBlog: Nancy Goldstein's response in The Guardian this week to the decision of the International Olympics Committee to accept the "assurances" of the Russian government that gay athletes and gay folks attending the Olympics in Russia will have "safe passage" is excellent. As Goldstein reports, the eyes of the world are on what Russia is now doing to its LGBT citizens, and many folks are horrified--and this makes the cavalier attitude of the IOC and various world governments to the situation in Russia appear all the more shameful.

Quote for the Day: Max Lindenman on the Day the Pope Said "Gay"

On Monday, I pointed several times (and here) to John Allen's curious use (with the approval of National Catholic Reporter's editors, one assumes) of the term "homosexuals" when he reported about what Pope Francis said to journalists on the airplane that day: "Pope on Homosexuals: 'Who Am I to Judge?'" As I noted, Father James Martin finds it significant that the pope did not use the word "homosexuals" when he made his statement about not judging gay human beings: he used the word "gays."

Pope Francis Steps, Cardinal Dolan Back-Steps: Dolan on Francis's Statement about Gays--"What Surprises Me Is That People Are Surprised"

Yesterday, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, leader of the U.S. Catholic bishops, shared his understanding of Pope Francis's comments Monday about not judging gay human beings. In a word, Cardinal Dolan's response to Pope Francis: Meh. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Father James Martin, SJ, on Francis's Comments about Gays: "This Is a Sea Change"

The Italian may give the best insight into his thinking, and also, notably, uses the word "gay." 

Ken Briggs on Pope Francis's Statements about Gay Priests: "Is There a Degree of Willful Deception in a Larger Plan to Give the Church an Upbeat, Loving Face?"

Ken Briggs at National Catholic Reporter on Francis's remarks about gay priests: 

Pope Francis on Not Judging and Marginalizing Gays: My Reflections

As I type this posting, the lead headline at Huffington Post U.S. reads, "Breakthrough: Pope OK with Gays." The headline links to an article by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush with the title "Pope Francis on Gays: Who Am I to Judge Them?" Raushenbush reports (along with many other sources today) that Francis told journalists on his flight back to Rome from Brazil that he has no right to judge gay human beings, and those who are gay shouldn't be marginalized--though he also upholds magisterial teaching about the immorality of homosexual acts.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Vacation Report: We Go to the Courthouse to Research, We See Couples Entering Holy Institution of Marriage

Another morning when I have less time than I'd like to blog, since we'll pack and drive in a few minutes across the state from Crown Point to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where we'll be spending a number of days researching at the fabled (for genealogists) Allen County Public Library. Before we pack, though, a final report on events on this first leg of our journey:

Fred Clarkson on Christian Right's Determination to Renew Itself by Alliance of Catholic Leaders and Evangelical Right: Important Discussion

As one week ends and another begins, I want to take note of a very important new article by Fred Clarkson  at the Political Research Associates' website. It's entitled "Christian Right Seeks Renewal in Deepening Catholic-Protestant Alliance." Fred's thesis is that, far from being moribund, as many political commentators keep suggesting, the religious right is alive and well in American politics, and is now renewing itself via an alliance between the U.S. Catholic bishops and right-wing evangelicals.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Homophobia and the Theological Imagination of the Churches: The Challenge to See Better, Understand More Aptly

What set off my fellow Catholic who calls herself Purgatrix Ineptiae several days ago was a thoughtful essay at National Catholic Reporter by Presbyterian elder and journalist, Bill Tammeus, in which he argues that we Christians need to develop a better theological imagination today, as we talk about the place of LGBT human beings in church and society. Tammeus notes that the willingness of some Christians today to demonize and exclude those who are gay is not new: he points to the period in which American Christians struggled with the morality of slavery to argue that "I can think of no contemporary issue [i.e., other than homosexuality] that so closely resembles the way in which Americans in past generations abused Scripture to justify or excuse slavery."

Bishop Desmond Tutu: "I Would Refuse to Go to a Homophobic Heaven"

Another Summer Vacation Report: Serendipity Amidst Tombstones, Marriages and Re-Marriages

It takes very little to make a story, doesn't it? Start with a name--mother, Agheda Leibholz. A name in a baptismal record . . . . 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Notes from Our Vacation Trip (with Thanks for Your Comments Yesterday)

Thank you all for your wonderful comments yesterday, and for the many practical ways in which you offered support. I'd like to respond to each of you individually, but am not sure I can count on being online except at rare intervals today.* Jose, you asked me a direct question, and I'll definitely reply to you when I have a moment to post a reply. Thanks for your question.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "I've Known Quite a Few Homosexual Men . . . Almost Every One of Them Has Done Something Completely Unacceptable with a Kid"

We're on the road again this morning (in a few moments), so my blogging time is extremely limited. I do want to take notice of the following comment posted yesterday at National Catholic Reporter by a Catholic blogger who's been on my radar screen for some time now, who currently uses the name Purgatrix Ineptiae as she comments at NCR:*

Monday, July 22, 2013


I'm in one of those periods in which I've fallen behind with acknowledgments of your comments here, dear readers. I appreciate them very much, and do intend to reply to them.

Quote for the Day: White Churches and Deafening Silence about Zimmerman Verdict

Mormon Doubters, Repressive-Authoritarian Believers v. Seekers-Doubters, and Future of Religion

A footnote to what I posted yesterday about Laurie Goodstein's New York Times report re: Mormon doubters: in Goodstein's video interview with former Swedish Mormon leader Hans Mattson attached to the report, Mattson speaks about how Joseph Smith was a seeker. He notes that Smith prayed specifically because he doubted.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mormon Doubters: A New York Times Report

Laurie Goodstein's article in today's New York Times about Mormons who now have doubts regarding their faith due to what they discover about Mormonism online intrigues me. I suppose what intrigues me most is the question, How can people continue for so long in many religious traditions without doubting? How can people come to maturity and live within religious traditions as adults and not recognize the many inconsistencies, distortions, and falsities within any religious tradition?

A Poem for Sunday: Hart Crane's "My Grandmother's Love Letters"

Today's poem of the day from the Academy of American Poets is Hart Crane's "My Grandmother's Love Letters." I have a soft spot in my heart for Hart Crane. Because his parents' marriage was beastly and pocked by violence, he was raised by his maternal grandmother. 

Faithful America Petition: "Tell Roman Catholic Cardinal: Don't Offer Your Blessing to Ex-Gay Therapy"

On Thursday, I blogged about the decision of Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, the past president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to celebrate Mass at the annual convention of the group Courage, though the group's program will be featuring speakers from the "ex-gay" group NARTH. As I noted, Sister Maureen Fiedler is asking Cardinal George to dissociate himself from the bogus and harmful medical claims of NARTH that it can "cure" homosexuality, and she proposes that he cancel his plans to celebrate Mass for Courage as long as NARTH is part of the program.

Father Bryan Massingale on Trayvon Martin Story: A Sacrifice at the Altar of White Fear

As Bryan Massingale, a Catholic priest and theologian who is African American, processes what happened with the George Zimmerman trial, he comes to the same conclusion that President Obama has also reached as an African-American male: 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cooking to Save the Planet: Fried Eggplant

It's very hot this week in much of the U.S. Those of us who live in places like Arkansas know a thing or two about the heat, and about how to cook and eat when appetites flag due to the blast furnace the world has suddenly become, and when the desire to be in a hot kitchen succumbs to summertime torpor. As a public service to the rest of those not blessed to live in a perpetual sauna, here's my own prescription for eating well despite soaring temperatures:

Archbishop of Canterbury Admits Churches' Defeat in Culture War v. Gays: My Response

In his first address to the General Synod of the Anglican church, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby notes the "absurdity and impossibility" of the continued attempt of some sectors of the Christian churches to pretend that "overwhelming" changes in cultural attitudes about homosexuality have not taken place. He states, "We may or may not like it but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality."*

This Week in the News: From Mercy Sisters Shunning Mercy, to Sodomy Laws Outlawing Everything

This week in the news: Mercy sisters forget mercy, GOP gets worse, religious liberty inverts itself, Bachmann holds up white baby, when it became an emergency for Zimmerman, people get worked up and most vulnerable suffer, religious progressives eclipsing conservatives among millennials, and what sodomy laws outlaw (hint: everything, almost).

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cardinal Francis George to Celebrate Mass at Courage Conference Featuring NARTH Speakers

Maureen Fiedler reports at National Catholic Reporter this morning that the past president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Francis George, will be celebrating Mass for the group Courage next week. As she notes, Courage is "a Catholic group that encourages lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to remain celibate in keeping with the teaching of the Catholic hierarchy."

In the News: Mark Twain and George Zimmerman, Four Things That Happened

Two stellar pieces of commentary today that I can't really comment on, since there's no way I can excerpt a snippet from either one and do justice to the whole piece. Instead, I just want to post links to both, and encourage you to run, not walk, to each one and read both of them:

Anthea Butler's Essay Responding to Zimmerman Verdict Elicits Outcry: God or god?

Several days ago, I pointed readers to Anthea Butler's latest essay at Religion Dispatches, which responds to the George Zimmerman verdict by asking how we continue talking about God in light of the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman verdict. Butler argues (compellingly, to my mind) that the loving, liberating God of biblical testimony and Judaeo-Christian faith is distinct from the maleficent, racist white god constructed by generations of white males who need a god made in their own image to bless a world they've built to serve their own interests at the expense of targeted others.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Notes: Suzanne Berne on Family Values and Morning-in-America Mythology

Suzanne Berne, The Ghost at the Table (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2007):

Welton Gaddy and Barry Lynn on Religious Right and Religious Freedom: "Right to Do What They Want, Whenever They Want, Wherever They Want"

And talk about obscene inversion of moral narratives (I'm referring here to what I've just posted about the Trayvon Martin story): at Talk to Action, Fred Clarkson offers an excerpt from commentary about the religious freedom debate in the U.S. recently published by C. Welton Gaddy and Barry Lynn at Religion News Service. Gaddy and Lynn point out that, though there is absolutely no evidence at all that anyone is seeking to snatch religious freedom away from members of the Christian right, their rallying cry has now become that they are an embattled minority threatened by a bullying secular mainstream.

Trayvon Martin, From Lament to Rallying Cry: "Time Is Now to Commit to the Revolutionary Project of Living Our Lives Out Loud"

Mychal Denzel Smith sees hope amidst the darkness of a society and legal system that are capable of the following:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "We Need to End the World View That Structures Reality into Higher and Lower"

What would cause a Jesuit priest who is nearing the age of 80, who has been a Jesuit for 45 years and who has served as a provincial in his order, to make the unexpected decision to leave the priesthood? Father Bert Thelen, SJ, explains:

Thomas Roberts and Melissa Harris-Perry: To Fix a Broken Social Contract, We Need an "I Am Other" Agenda

In response to the George Zimmerman verdict, Thomas Roberts and Melissa Harris-Perry conclude that the American social contract is broken, and propose that the American media begin focusing for a change on those construed by the mainstream as threatening "others," and on letting those others have voices and tell their stories. Roberts states,

Frank Cocozzelli's Critique of Catholic Neo-Confederate Fantasies: The Pertinence of the Discussion

More indicators come out that libertarian darling and possible presidential contender Rand Paul is more than a little taken with neo-Confederate fantasies. A contestant on "Jeopardy" casually substitutes the Southern-coded term for the phrase which describes  what that war actually was, and gets away with the substitution. The Supreme Court guts the Voting Rights Act. And a verdict in Florida, one of the former slave states of the old Confederacy, raises nationwide questions all over again about the never-resolved, usually-elided question of racial disparity in American society.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Trayvon and George: Subjects, Objects, and Life Goes On

I have been haunted for years by questions about what happens to people who are clearly guilty but are exonerated when their guilt comes to trial. I lived through a life-altering experience as I completed high school. In my small south Arkansas town, three white boys in my class shot and killed a black boy in cold blood.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What Malala Said: Commentary on Most Significant Statements of Malala Yousafzai to the United Nations

Mary Doria Russell on Holiness: "Bombs Do Not Drop from God's Hand"

Another reflection from my reading over the years, on the theme of what constitutes holiness--this is Mary Doria Russell in her book A Thread of Grace (NY: Ballantine, 2005):

Weekend News Analysis: Unemployment, Immigration, Food Stamps, Medicaid, and the Blood of Our Brothers and Sisters

To my way of thinking, these four articles that I read yesterday share a common theme. A thread of moral analysis runs through all of them, linking them, though they were written as separate statements:

Friday, July 12, 2013

United Nations Declares July 12 "Malala Day": A Reflection on Saints for Our Times

A few days ago, a reader, bosicO, suggested here that reform-minded groups within the Catholic church should put forth their own candidates for sainthood--and that these need not be Catholic. Bosic's thinking about this matter dovetails with my own. I've long had my own eccentric, idiosyncratic canon of saints who have made a profound difference in my own life, but will never--barring miracles I don't see coming down the pike--be officially canonized.

Rumi on Holiness: "A Saint Is a Cloud That's Here, But with Its Cloud Nature Erased"

Another in the series of postings I've been making lately about the definition of the holy life or the making of a saintly life--this one from the Persian mystic poet widely seen as a saint in Sufi circles, in The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems, trans. Coleman Barks (NY Harper, 2002). This is from a poem of Rumi that Barks entitles "A Way of Leaving the World":

Evangelical Tribe, Catholic Tribe, and the Gay Community: Two Recent Snapshots of the (Non-) Conversation

A key contention of John Corvino in his lecture about what's morally wrong with homosexuality which I just uploaded is that, when many opponents of the full inclusion of LGBT human beings in churches and society start talking about homosexuality, a kind of irrational exceptionalism enters their discourse. Though the same arguments they use to condemn homosexuality as immoral apply equally to heterosexuals who don't meet the moral mark of traditionalist Christianity, those arguments are, in fact, seldom deployed against anyone except gay folks.

A Valuable Teaching-Learning Resource: John Corvino Lecture, "What's Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?"

Thursday, July 11, 2013

All Red, All Blue, No Purple? Andrew Sullivan on Religion and Future of the Planet

And, finally for this morning session of postings, here's Andrew Sullivan on how the world in which we live is increasingly either red or blue, with little purple--it's a world in which people and cultures are increasingly riven by religious fundamentalisms that want to resist the project of modernity at the most fundamental level possible:

May Sarton on Holiness: Detachment as Inability to Love, Holiness as Loving Engagement with Others and the Created World

Another excerpt from things I've read over the years dealing with the question of how to define holiness--this from May Sarton, The House by the Sea (NY: W.W. Norton, 1977):

More Catholic News: Lumen Fidei as Benedict's Final Encyclical, UN Puts Pressure on Vatican re: Abuse Crisis

More items about Catholic issues in the news right now:

The Canonization of John Paul II: A Selection of Previous Bilgrimage Articles

For any readers not thoroughly weary of the discussion of the canonization of Pope John Paul II, here's a final handful of articles I've posted on this blog in the past, which deal with that topic:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Alan Jones on Holiness in Our Time: "Finding a Story That Sees the Planet as a Holy Place and Includes Everybody"

As a complement to the (admittedly dreary) postings about the canonization of John Paul II with which I'm peppering you these days, I thought I'd reach into another of my grab bags and pull out some insightful statements that have caught my attention over the years, about the theme of holiness. What constitutes holiness? What do people look for when they look for role models in the life of holiness?

Joseph Amodeo Leaves Catholic Church: "Has Become a Tradition Steeped in . . . 'Command and Control'"

As Rome gears up for another expensive canonization spectacle, in which symbols of power, authority, splendor, and wealth loom large, one study after another shows young people leaving the churches in record numbers. Recent studies in the U.S. show some two-thirds of Americans aged 23-30 now leaving the churches behind--with an overriding percentage of those walking away reporting that it's the homophobia of the churches that is responsible for their decision to leave.