Monday, March 31, 2014

Catholic Blogger Asks Why Gays Don't Feel the Love When Some Christians Hold Forth; Frank Strong Responds

At the Dominicana blog site, Dominican brother Dominic Mary Verner asks why many gay folks often perceive the love of Christians opposing marriage equality as the opposite of love. Frank Strong responds:

Bishop Gene Robinson to Christians Who Feel They're Victims of the Gays: Here's What Victimization Looks Like

Gene Robinson to Christians who claim the gays have victimized them:

New York Times "Retro Report" on "The Shame of the Church"

What did you think, those of you who watched the Al Jazeera America "Holy Money" documentary last evening? And the video documentaries just keep coming: the New York Times has just released a documentary entitled "The Shame of the Church," which is part of its "Retro Report" series.

More on Talking about Hypotheticals and Ignoring Real-Life Human Beings: USCCB Point-Man on Abortion and What Affordable Care Act "Could" Do

Last week, I blogged about the waning moral credibility of a major religious tradition that has come to focus much of its moral analysis on hypotheticals--on what ifs--rather than on real human beings living real lives. I wrote,

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Mormon Mother's Testimony: "My Religion Didn’t Teach Me How to Love. Jordan Did. My [Gay] Son Did."

Today's my birthday, and Steve has a birthday lunch planned for me at a Chinese restaurant we both love. So I'm going to take a little breather from blogging today (and aren't you glad?).

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Quote of the Day: "Let's Start with How This Affects Real People"

I love the opening line of Fred Clark's last posting today at Slacktivist:

Let’s start with how this affects real people.

On the "Tipping Point" Metaphor, Gay Rights, and the Notion of Progress

Some of you pressed me this week (and here and here) about what it means to say American culture is at a "tipping point" regarding questions of gay rights. You were right to do so. 

Highly Recommended: Al Jazeera America Documentary, "Holy Money," 30 March, 9 P.M. ET (U.S. and Canada)

I'd like to bring to your attention a documentary that will air tomorrow evening on the Al Jazeera America network: "Holy Money," an investigation of the financial aspects of the worldwide Roman Catholic operation. The documentary will air at 9 P.M. ET (U.S. and Canada) and 6 P.M. PT, 30 March.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Why Hobby Lobby and the Koch Brothers Will Likely Prevail with the Supremes: Hint -- It's About White Men Who Own Things

You do realize, don't you, that Hobby Lobby and the Koch brothers will almost certainly win the Supreme Court case? If the Supreme Court (as it's currently configured) respects anything at all, it respects money.

End of Week News Clips: World Vision and Marriage in Michigan

Elizabeth Drescher, "World Vision Rescinds Decision to Employ LGBT Marrieds":

End of Week News Clips: Hobby Lobby and Supremes

Simon Maloy, "GOP's Toxic Contraception Politics: Why Being the Party of 'Uncle Sugar' Will Doom Them": 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Hobby Lobby Case: Questions about the Waning Credibility of Catholic Moral Discourse, or Ignoring Real People to Talk about Hypothetical Ones

So, thank you for the many insightful comments affirming a central point of my last posting: that is, that I'm not simply imagining that we're at some kind of cultural turning point when it comes to questions of how gay people are to be received and treated by religious communities and societies at large. And (a point we've discussed here before), the more that turning point is reached, the more vehement becomes the reaction in some quarters of faith communities and society. Witness the brouhaha over the quickly reversed decision of World Vision to include married same-sex couples in their organization's policy statement about married couples.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I Am Here -- A Hard Week

I am here, folks. It has been a hard week. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fred Phelps's Death and the Gospel Proclamation of God's Unlimited Love

"The heart that breaks open contains the whole universe" ~ Joanna Macey.

Fred Phelps has died.

Cardinal Egan Slated to Preside at Children's Choir Mass, SNAP Calls Foul, Egan's Appearance Cancelled

I just wrote about a recent situation in which watchdog groups drew attention to an egregious misuse of "Catholic" beliefs, with a positive outcome to the protest of watchdog groups: as my posting notes, when Catholic lay leader Austin Ruse recently called for liberal university leaders to be taken out and shot, the group Faithful America petitioned for Monsignor Anthony Frontiero of St. Joseph's Cathedral in Manchester, New Hampshire, who was on Ruse's C-FAM board, to resign.

In Catholic News: Austin Ruse's Call for Violence, Censorship of Sister Teresa Forcades (and of Me, Again, by NCR)

As Sister Joan Chittister says in her recent stellar statement now running at the National Catholic Reporter website (to which I pointed yesterday), it behooves none of us to be complacent about legislation (like the recent anti-gay bill in Arizona) targeting a scapegoated minority group, because we ourselves may be the next group to be targeted. Nonetheless, both in response to Sister Joan's article and throughout the Catholic blogosphere, there are, in fact, scads of Catholic voices calling quite precisely for the targeting of this or that segment of the human community--uppity women, gays and lesbians, even university professors.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "I Think You Are An Abomination, but, Hey, I Mean That in a Religious Way, Not a Hateful Way"

At Commonweal, Abe Rosenzweig tries to help Chicago deacon Jim Pauwels understand that gays and African Americans are people, as Pauwels defends "religious liberty" exemptions for flower vendors and cake-makers dealing with the gays. Rosenzweig tells Pauwels:

Mid-Week Short Takes: "Religious Freedom" and Gay Discrimination, Advice for Pope Francis, Evangelicals and Birth Control, Fred Phelps, and Tony Kushner

Sister Joan Chittister hits the ball out of the park with an impassioned plea to us to remember that, when we allow "religious" people to claim a "right" to hate any targeted group in the name of God, we might well remember that we ourselves may be the next group targeted: 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Two Takes on "Religious Freedom" Debate about "Right" of Florists and Bakers to Discriminate: Nathaniel Frank and Matt Bruenig

Nathaniel Frank on the absurdity of the argument that opposing gay marriage is rational, while it's irrational to oppose interracial marriage:

As Promised: My Perspective on the "Religious Freedom" Argument That Christian Florists and Bakers Should Enjoy a "Right" to Discriminate

Okay, I’m going to bite the bullet and write (again) about the “religious freedom” argument that Christian florists and Christian bakers who object to selling their wares to gays should be accommodated. Because scruples. Because conscience. Because God and because religious freedom.

Pew Report on the "Francis Effect" on U.S. Catholic Church as First-Year Anniversary of Papal Election Comes and Goes

Some solid empirical data on what the "Francis effect" is accomplishing in the U.S. Catholic church up to now: the Pew Research Center recently released a report of a survey it conducted in February, as the first-year anniversary of Francis's papacy approached. Michael Lipka has summarized the report (here) in an executive statement. Its unsurprising findings:

Benedict Critiqued Francis's Interview about Church of "Small-Minded Rules": Your Take?

I haven't seen any mention of this interesting story at Catholic news sites today. I haven't seen much mention of it at all, in fact, after I first read it at the Talking Points Memo site today. I now find similar reports in the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, ABC News, the New Haven Register, and the Edmonton Journal, all pointing to an AP article by Nicole Winfield which reports that Pope Francis asked Emeritus Pope Benedict to critique Francis's remarks in America last September about the church's obsession with "small-minded rules." (America conducted the interview on behalf of La Civiltà Cattolica, if I understand things correctly, and so you may see the latter cited as the source for Francis's interview.)

Feminist Theologians on the Bible and Slavery and Christian Theology and Skin Color: Applications to Debate about Gay Marriage

Two interlocking quotations from feminist theologians I've been reading lately--Delores S. Williams and Ivone Gebara:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Richard Kim on Why Gays Can't "Accept a Polite Culture War Truce by Letting 'the Dissenters Opt Out'"

At The Nation, Richard Kim asks, "So why can’t gays accept a polite culture war truce by letting 'the dissenters opt out?'" He provides five answers to his questions--all are direct quotes from Kim's article:

Quote for Day: If Pope to Be Believed, He Must Not Only Talk, but Change Systems of Belief That Victimize Those He Serves

Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson shares his hopes for Pope Francis and his agenda of reform: 

Sister Elizabeth Johnson Talks About Her Vocation As a Theologian: "There Were These Men and They Had All the Power"

At BuzzFeed, a marvelous article by Jamie Manson surveying the theological career of Sister Elizabeth Johnson, whose book Quest for the Living God was condemned by the U.S. Catholic bishops in March 2011--though they never met with Johnson to discuss the book before they chose to condemn it, and didn't even inform her that they were deliberating about the book and intending to condemn it. 

On St. Patrick's Day: The Forgetting of Irish Americans (Including Paul Ryan)

As St. Patrick's day arrives, interesting commentary about the grand irony of Irish-American history--that a people who arrived in the U.S. starving, dispossessed of land and futures, have, in many cases, become the chief promoters of the socioeconomic philosophy that led to the Great Famine that drove their forebears out of Ireland. Irish Americans now lead the political pack as the politics of racial dog whistles plays its ugly games, blaming people with darker skins for the woes of the nation, suggesting that "they" are lazy, shiftless, addicted to a culture of handouts--rhetoric used by the English at the time of the Great Famine to justify ignoring the needs of their starving neighbors in Ireland.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Remembering My Brother's Death: A Memorial Reflection about Fathers and Sons (and Mothers and Sons and Brothers and Brothers)

I've mentioned here in the past that my brother Simpson (Patrick Simpson Lindsey was his full name) died on 14 March 1991 at the age of 39, as my mother, my brother Philip, and I stood beside his hospital bed. He died far too young after years of uncontrollable alcohol abuse. This was the first death of a family member at which I was present--the first of several to follow, including my mother's death.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Religious Freedom and Special Rights to Discriminate: Three Takes (Two on How the Current Argument Descends from Southerners Resisting Integration)

Three takes on the argument that religious people in the U.S. deserve special rights when it comes to the "right" to discriminate against gay folks (and how that argument is a direct descendant of the very same argument offered by white Southerners resisting integration in the 20th century):

Irish Television Documentary on Maciel and Legion of Christ, and the Francis Effect: What Difference Is Francis Really Making?

John XXIII knew.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bishop Accountability Releases Important New Document Studying Pope Francis's Record on Abuse Cases in Argentina: News Is Not Promising

Today, the group Bishop Accountability has just uploaded to its website an important new document examining Pope Francis's record on abuse cases in Argentina, when he was (as Cardinal Bergoglio) archbishop of Buenos Aires. The news this document summarizes is not promising for those hoping that Francis will proactively address the abuse crisis in the Catholic church now that he is pope.

Mark O'Connell on How Anti-Gay Laws Make Targets of All of Us

Therapist Mark O'Connell points out what I've tried to say over and over here about laws targeting gay citizens and making them susceptible to discrimination on religious grounds: those laws hurt everyone in any society that permits them to be enacted. As he states,

Holly Welker on Why It Makes Sense for a Religious Commentary Blogsite to Pay Attention to Mormons

Holly Welker on why it makes sense for a blog like Religion Dispatches to include a Mormon blogger like herself, when Mormons represent only 2% of the U.S. population and .21% of the world population: 

Anti-Gay Movement and Jim Crow: Historian Carolyn Dupont on Role of Religion in Movement to Resist Civil Rights of African Americans in Mississippi

A tactic frequently used by those who resist seeing the current call for religiously grounded discrimination against gays as akin to the resistance of white Southerners to the rights of black people is to deny that there was any religious component to the refusal of white Southerners to respect the rights of African Americans during the Civil Rights struggle. An important new book by historian Carolyn Dupont challenges this argument.

NCR Report on Vatican Questionnaire in U.S.: Only One-Third of Dioceses Made It Available

For those following the discussion of the questionnaire that the Vatican asked bishops around the world to make available to Catholic laypersons in advance of the Synod on the Family, National Catholic Reporter has just published a valuable report by Michael O'Loughlin. NCR reports that it has done an exhaustive study of U.S. dioceses to find out what percentage made the questionnaire available to the laity, and what percentage has subsequently reported to lay Catholics on the responses of those who answered the questionnaire.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Frank Cocozzelli on Continuing Spectacle of Convicted Criminal Bishop Robert Finn: "He Has Become the Symbol of Ongoing Institutional Intransigence"

Frank Cocozzelli on the continuing spectacle of convicted criminal Bishop Robert Finn, who refuses to relinquish his bishop's seat in Kansas City despite calls of Catholics in many places, including his own diocese, for him to do the right thing and step down after his conviction on charges of endangering children by protecting a pedophile priest:

Robert Boston on Religious Freedom: If It Requires Government "Help" to Enforce It, It's Probably Not Religious Freedom

At Religion Dispatches, Robert Boston talks about his new book Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn't Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2014). He notes that he was inspired to write this book as he has watched the religious right seek to expand the notion of religious liberty to apply to private businesses, as the religious right seeks to deny access to birth control to employees under the Affordable Care Act, and to fight for the "right" of private businesses to discriminate against gays.

On the Increasingly Wild Claims of Religious Right That It's Being Ghettoized by the Gays: Case of Mark Regnerus

Frank Strong on the absurd (and growing) meme of the anti-gay religious right, as it claims that bullying gays are ghettoizing "Christians":

Ivone Gebara on the Violence of the World's Main Religions Against Women, and Extension of This Violence to "All Kinds of People"

In my posting several days ago, I cited Ivone Gebara's Out of the Depths: Women’s Experience of Evil and Salvation, trans. and intro. Ann Patrick Ware (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002), on the ways in which various male-dominated religious traditions reduce women to silence, make them voiceless, deprive them of any means of expressing their spiritual insights in language that makes sense to them as women. Gebara's analysis of this reduction of women to silence goes further: she emphatically depicts these effects of patriarchal culture and religion as a form of violence against women.

Meinrad Craighead: Divine Mother and Clouds of Invisible Witnesses

Jayden Cameron has a beautiful posting up at his Gay Mystics blog site right now, focusing on artist-mystic Meinrad Craighead. I recommend it for all kinds of reasons: it's a Lenten resource for those who keep Lent; and it flows together perfectly with some of the themes developed by feminist theologian Ivone Gebara to which I pointed in my last posting here--the need of women to articulate their experience of the divine in their own terms, the imperative need of a church whose governing structures are dominated by males to listen to and welcome that experience, the way in which women refashion male-dominated symbols of the divine handed to them by male religious leaders, the relegation of women's refashioned symbols of the divine to a feminine "little world," etc.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Placing Pope Francis's Remarks about a Theology of Women Against the Backdrop of Ivone Gebara's Real Theology of Women

Sister Ivone Gebara

One of the themes that emerged in Pope Francis's anniversary interview this week was the question of the place of women in the Catholic church. As readers will know, this has been a persistent theme of Francis as pope: we need a theology of women, he said last summer. But to a great extent, what he has said in this vein is echoed in what he suggested in his interview this week: namely, that women's place in the church is to represent the feminine, Marian nature of the church, and not to usurp positions of authority that the tradition has assigned to males.

Males active and dominant. Females passive and receptive--like the Virgin Mary, as the male-dominated tradition likes to imagine her.

A Selection of Responses to Pope Francis's Anniversary Remarks about the Abuse Crisis: Pope "Reading from a Script That Should Have Been Abandoned Years Ago"

A selection of responses to Pope Francis's anniversary remarks about the abuse crisis and the Catholic church:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "A Majority of Respondents in a Recent Polish National Survey Believe There’s a Jewish Conspiracy"

Donald Snyder, "The Indelible Stain of Hate," National Catholic Reporter: 

A majority of respondents in a recent Polish national survey believe there’s a Jewish conspiracy to control international banking and the media. Yet, 90 percent of Poles say they’ve never met a Jew.

Kansas Catholic Conference Still Defending "Right" of Private Businesses to Discriminate on Grounds of Conscience

As Sarah Posner points out for Religion Dispatches today, even after the demise of Arizona's anti-gay bill, state Catholic conferences still continue to push for "religious freedom" legislation to "protect" Christians from gay folks as cakes are baked and flowers arranged: Posner cites Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, who recently told the Kansas City Star,

The "Find Another Baker/Florist" Argument and Arizona "Religious Freedom" Legislation: A Critical Consideration

A persistent refrain of conservative commentators both defending and critiquing the recent anti-gay legislation in Arizona and Kansas has been that gay folks seeking cakes and flowers surely ought to cut bigots a bit of slack and take their business elsewhere when a baker or a florist chooses to dispense Christian-heterosexual-biblically-correct-only goods. Andrew Sullivan puts the point this way:

Pope Francis on Civil Unions--and Why My Ears Aren't Listening (The Catholic Church Has "Done So Much" to Deal with Abuse Crisis)

I did, of course, see what Pope Francis said about civil unions in the interview marking his first-year anniversary as pope about which I blogged yesterday. In writing about that interview yesterday, I deliberately chose not to mention that the pope had said that various nations are regulating the arrangements by which people choose to live together in various ways, and each instance needs to be evaluated on its own terms.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Lenten Commitment: "This Spiritual Atrocity of Abuse Will Not Be Done in My Name"

A quote from Ruth Krall's Elephants in God's Living Room series of online books, which, to my way of thinking, provides both a powerful theme for Lenten meditation and commitment and a gloss to Pope Francis's disappointing statement that the Catholic church has "done so much" to address child abuse by clerics:

Pope Francis on Anniversary of His Election: Catholic Church "Has Done So Much" on Child Abuse, and SNAP's Response

Today, Corriere della Sera (Milan) and La Nación (Buenos Aires) published an interview in which Pope Francis reflects on his first year as pope. Joshua McElwee reports on the interview for National Catholic Reporter. As he notes, Francis defends Paul VI's ban on artificial contraception, while stating that this ban needs to be applied pastorally; and he states that on the issue of sexual abuse of children, the Catholic church "has done so much. Perhaps most of all."

Ash Wednesday Meditation: Ivone Gebara on the Communtarian Dimension of the Cross

Today's Ash Wednesday, a day in which some Christian liturgical traditions limn crosses of ash on the foreheads of the faithful, to challenge them to remember that they are dust and will return to dust. Ash Wednesday inaugurates a liturgical season of remembering the cross and resurrection of Jesus, the central symbols on which Christian faith turns.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Concluding Look at John Corvino's What's Wrong with Homosexuality?: The Fork in the Road to Social Transformation

I promised you all a final overview statement about John Corvino's outstanding book What's Wrong with Homosexuality? (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2013) after I'd finished offering excerpts from it. And here it is--not a review per se, but something closer to a reaction, and a reaction to a very specific aspect of the book at that.

Liberation Theology Founder Gustavo Gutiérrez on Legacy of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI: "Ratzinger Was More of a Theologian"

The Iglesia Descalza blog offers an English translation of an interview with the founder of Latin American liberation theology, Gustavo Gutiérrez, summarized in a report by Religión Digital following Gutiérrez's recent appearance at a Vatican book-signing for a book written by the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller. Religión Digital reports on questions that several journalists asked Gutiérrez following his presentation at the book-signing. What's interesting to note is what Gutiérrez didn't say as he was interviewed--and that's to say, what's interesting to note is what he did say by implication and through silence.

Delores Williams on Black Womanist Theology, the Cross, and the Rape and Defilement of Nature

Delores S. Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1993):