Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mid-Week News One-Liners: Oklahoma and Equal Protection, Christie's Troubles and Women, Let Them Eat Prison, Women Cardinals and Vatican and U.N., Street Doctors

Pithy, brief takes from articles that have caught my eye in the last day or so, on a variety of topics ranging from a street doctor's care for homeless people, to court rulings overturning laws targeting gays, to women as the (naturally!) cause of Christie's woes, to the belief of elites that they earn their elite status, to women cardinals and the Vatican's upcoming appearance at the U.N.

As it has gone on, the logic of equality has proven far stronger than the logic of exclusion.

In other words, Christie’s troubles are all women’s fault. But then, what isn’t?

And what we’ve found is that because they have this belief that the people who aren’t doing well aren’t doing well because of their genes, upper-class individuals — or people put into this upper-class mindset — are more likely to endorse harsher, more retributive forms of punishment.

Utah is a really, really, really red state. Really red. But, you know, what’s redder than Utah? Oklahoma.

Hence I’m against the idea of a woman cardinal – a case of flummery without power. But then I’m against anyone being appointed to this anachronistic title.

Indeed, to date the Holy See has never had to defend its record to any large extent or in court since it has successfully argued that it is immune from lawsuits as a sovereign state and that, regardless, bishops were responsible for pedophile priests in their care, not the pope or his policies.

What he's learned: "There are as many paths to the street as there are people out there," and "everybody matters."

In the video at the head of the posting to which the final quotation above points, Dr. Jim Withers says several things that leap out at me: 

I thought we needed a classroom where we could see what things look like from the perspective of excluded people.


We would have to stretch ourselves, and care enough to stretch ourselves, into their reality. To me, that's a whole new frontier for rediscovering how healthcare should be delivered.

And, finally, as he sketches a vision of programs in which doctors provide medical care to street people across the U.S.:

We can do it under one unified vision, that everybody matters, that we need to look out for the people that are the most ostracized in our own communities, and that that will make us better people.

To my ears, Dr. Withers's insistence that people learning to be doctors have much to learn about what healing really means from rubbing shoulders with excluded people sounds a great deal like Pope Francis's recent statements about how seeing things from the vantage point of those on the peripheries corrects our solipsistic, narrow vision of the world, if we imagine that we occupy the power seat at the center. Both Withers and Francis are talking about the challenge of seeing the societies (and faith communities) in which we live more accurately, by learning to see with the eyes of the excluded.

And both offer us a vision of a complete, whole human community that ostracizes no one, that includes everyone--in part because, as Withers insists, any one of us could be the person on the street, if certain events in our lives had pushed us in that direction.

I continue to wait to see whether the pope will apply this profoundly gospel-rooted vision of things to women, survivors of childhood abuse at the hands of priests, and gay folks.

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