Friday, October 31, 2014

Patricia Miller on Ross Douthat and Synod on Family: Catholic Doctrine Has Evolved

At Religion Dispatches, Patricia Miller has an interesting take on Ross Douthat's recent temper tantrum regarding the synod on the family's willingness (initially) to entertain discussion of welcoming gay folks and permitting divorced and remarried folks to receive communion. As she notes, Douthat argues that church teaching on these matters is locked in, unchangeable, quasi-infallible (if not outright infallible). And to change a jot or tittle of any of the teachings about marital matters would be to cause the whole Catholic edifice to fall to the ground.

Sarah Posner on David Gushee's Solidarity with LGBT Community: Anti-Gay Culture Warriors of Today Will Look Like "Dead-Enders on Race" After Civil Rights Struggle

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice ~ Martin Luther King.

I like how Sarah Posner frames the significance of David Gushee's important announcement that, as an evangelical Christian ethicist, he now stands unambiguously in solidarity with LGBT human beings. I discussed this announcement here several days ago. Posner states,

Apple CEO Tim Cook Declares that Being Gay Is "Among the Greatest Gifts God Has Given Me," and I Think of the Synod on the Family

It is fascinating to read the announcement of Apple CEO Tim Cook in Businessweek yesterday that he's gay in light of the tortured back and forth that has just taken place at the highest level of the Catholic church about whether "these people" have gifts or should have any place at the Catholic table. The initial draft of the synod's relatio, which the fathers of the church found impossible to affirm, said, 

Synod on Family: Commentary by Juan José Tamayo, Jamie Manson, and Frank Brennan — "Trying to Confine the Genie to the Episcopal Kitchen"

As another work week ends, a round-up of several more statements about the recent Catholic synod on the family well worth reading:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mary Hunt on Synod on the Family: "No Substitute for Straightforward Acknowledgement of a New Reality"

As with everything theologian Mary Hunt writes, her take on the recent synod on the family is excellent. As she says, she understands why so many people both inside and outside the Catholic church had hoped that this event might show a willingness of the leaders of the church to be dragged "kicking and screaming into the 21st century."  But:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

More News: Updates to Stories about Archbishop Nienstedt, Rev. Frank Schaefer, David Gushee, and LDS Church

And finally this morning, some odds and ends providing updates on stories we've discussed here in the past: 

Conservative Response to Ross Douthat on Impending Catholic Schism if Church Welcomes Gays: Damon Linker and Andrew Sullivan

Two conservative thinkers respond to Ross Douthat about the schism he sees looming in the Catholic church if Pope Francis continues, as Douthat thinks, to betray the "small minority" who have "kept the faith":

In the News: Male Violence Against Women, Online Harrassment of Women — "We Are So Very Lost Here in America"

As I prepare for my day of presentations (see my last posting yesterday), I'm going to share with you some clippings from articles I've read recently that seem to me worth recommending — these dealing for the most part with questions about male power and privilege (and violence) and women as the brunt of said male power, privilege, and violence: 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Checking in with All of You As I Prepare for Artist-in-Residence Events

I'm sorry to be slow to blog today, dear friends. This is the week in which I'm doing my artist-in-residence thing at the University of Central Arkansas (I had mentioned this in a previous posting or two), and this evening, in addition to those events, I have another lecture to give about my book Fiat Flux: The Writings of Wilson R. Bachelor, Nineteenth-Century Country Doctor and Philosopher (Univ. of AR Press, 2013). 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Towards the Next Synod: Jerry Slevin on What Pope Francis Needs to Do If He's Really Serious About Reform

At a discussion thread here earlier today, some of you may have seen that I asked Jerry Slevin if he could perhaps summarize an argument he has just made at greater length in a posting at his Christian Catholicism site. In this posting, Jerry argues that, if Pope Francis is to be effective as a reformer, he must aim for the following at the final synod on the family for which the one that has just occurred set the initial stage:

Ross Douthat on the Pope's Betrayal of Catholics Who Count: A "Small Minority" Have "Kept the Faith"

My family once belonged to a country club. I hated every moment we spent in that club, because its "old" members made it very plain to my family that we were jumped-up interlopers who didn't belong as they did. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Colman McCarthy Publishes a Paean to NCR As Vehicle of Free Speech, and I Think of Jerry Slevin's Censorship: "The Upstart NCR Was Itself An Effort at Free Speech"

Today, National Catholic Reporter has published a powerful statement by Colman McCarthy noting that, in its very inception some 50 years ago, 

Recommended: Ruth Krall's "Religious Leader Sexual Abuse and Institutional Clericalism: A Resources Bibliography, History, Context, Analysis"

While I'm recommending to you theological resources like James Alison's article on the gifts LGBT Catholics bring to the church today, I'd like to point you to an extremely valuable resource that Ruth Krall recently uploaded to her Enduring Space website. This is a "resources bibliography" for those seeking to understand and read about "religious leader sexual abuse and institutional clericalism."

James Alison on the Gifts Offered by LGBT Catholics to the Church Today: "Bearers of Catholicity on Terms of Equality with Everyone Else"

Some theology for you on this beautiful fall weekend (beautiful here, at least — and I hope in many other places too): I'd like to summarize the argument set forth in a presentation that the openly gay priest James Alison gave in early October at the "Ways of Love" conference sponsored by the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups in Rome. Alison summarizes where LGBT Catholics find themselves right now by addressing four points: 1) a matter of basic Christianity; 2) Catholicity, rather than inclusion; 3) preparation for evangelization; and 4) holiness, speech and witness.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Parables and Pictures: Diwali, the Festival of Lights

Speaking of parables (I did so earlier today, in my first posting of the day): this photo from Dominique Mosbergen's article about Diwali at Huffington Post today strikes me as parabolic. I'm not entirely sure what words I'd put to the picture to explain why it strikes me as a parable. What do you think, and what would you say?

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Let the Gays Marry, and Elderly Men Will Create Babies with Different Mothers

Gay people should not be allowed the right of civil marriage because — get ready for it! — if the gays are allowed to marry, elderly men will create babies with different mothers:

Dorothee Sölle on Inseparability of God and Love: Implications for Catholic Discussion of Welcome Tables

Because the following posting seems (to me, at least) so pertinent to the post-synod discussion right now about the Catholic (un)welcoming table for gay folks (I also don't forget divorced and remarried folks), I'm going to do something I seldom do, and repost a piece from the past. I first posted this piece in December 2010. I've made a few minor changes to it as I repost it now:

"This Fellow Welcomes Sinners and Eats with Them": Catholic Discussion of Welcome Tables and the Gospel Context

Jesus talks about tables, and he demonstrates what he means by his talk about tables by inviting public sinners, the unclean and outcast, to eat at his table, and this happens: "Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him" (Luke 15:1). This statement prefaces the chapter in Luke in which Jesus tells his followers three astonishing stories about the reign of God and its table set to welcome everyone — a story about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a prodigal father. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Massimo Faggioli on Shifting Tectonic Plates of Global Catholicism: Europe and Latin America at Forefront of New Openness, North America, Africa, and English-Speaking Catholics Determined to Resist

Massimo Faggioli in Conversation US on how the synod on the family reveals a tectonic shift in global Catholicism, in which old alliances and loyalties are breaking down and new ones forming:

Another Post-Synod Meme Among Some "Liberal" Catholic Commentators: Ironically, Catholic Leaders May Bless Gay Unions Before They Accept Contraceptive Use

I wrote yesterday that I find it very interesting that so many "liberal" Catholic academics and media commentators continue to find one way after another to assist conservative groups within the Catholic church and society as a whole as these groups seek to stigmatize and demean gay people. I focused on a meme that has developed in some "liberal" Catholic circles as the synod is being discussed, which argues that it's not so bad, after all, that the leaders of the Catholic church found themselves unable to say the word "welcome" to gay Catholics at the synod, since the word "welcome" is — just as the conservative faction at the synod argued — ambiguous. Better to speak of "providing for" gay Catholics . . . . 

Takes on the Synod on the Family: Gay (Un)Welcome Issue, Contraception, Women

Here are some (among many) responses to the recent synod on the family that I'd like to recommend for your reflection: 

Quote for the Day: Marilynne Robinson, "Shorthand Justice Is Not the Thing at All"

Marilynne Robinson speaking to Bill Moyers about her magnificent new novel Lila, which I've just finished reading:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage — "Liberal" Catholic Commentators: Maybe the Word "Welcome" Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be

In repeated postings here, I've made no secret about the fact that I've long since come to the conclusion that many educated "liberal" Catholics, Catholics with strong ties to the academy and the media, are a serious part of the problem as the leaders of my Catholic church continue to find it impossible to say the word "welcome" to those who are gay. Many of the discussions of the synod deliberations I've followed in the past week or so at "liberal" Catholic blog sites have done little to dispel that conclusion.

Welcome Table, Jesus's Practice of Open Commensality, and Catholic Discussion of Welcoming the Gays: Theological Soundings

Yesterday, I shared some reflections about the old spiritual, "I'm Going to Sit at the Welcome Table." I did so, obviously, because, at its highest levels of leadership, my own Catholic church continues to find it exceptionally difficult to say the simple word "welcome" to me and others like me — to openly gay human beings. At the highest level of its leadership structures, many of its pastors continue to wish to give us the message that we do not belong and that we are not welcome at the Catholic table.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Photos You Requested As My Book Received Booker-Worthen Prize

Someone (I think it may have been you, Mary Q?) asked that I share photos when I received the Booker-Worthen prize this past Thursday. Unfortunately, no photos were taken.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage — Cardinal Burke: Gays Should "Leave the Church If They Absolutely Can't Accept" Magisterial Teaching

John Hayes, contributing to a thread discussing the synod on the family started by Father Robert Imbelli at Commonweal:

Questions of the Day: Can the Poor Receive Communion? What Is a Catholic Family?

At Iglesia Descalza, Rebel Girl offers a translation of an article by Father Jorge Costadoat, SJ, in Reflexión y Liberación, asking whether the poor can receive communion. Here's the problem: in Chile, "it's normal for the poor to form their families little by little." Many working-class couples simply don't have the resources to marry sacramentally in the church, when they lack land or lodging, and when a fiesta is expected to mark this important stage in their journey together as a married couple.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pew Research Center: "Young U.S. Catholics Overwhelmingly Accepting of Homosexuality"

Yesterday, the Pew Research Center study published an article by Michael Lipka, editor of Pew's Religion and Public Life project, with a headline reading, "Young U.S. Catholics Overwhelmingly Accepting of Homosexuality." The article notes the following:

A Re-Posting from Christmas 2010: "Welcoming Churches and Homeless Wayfarers"

I first posted the following meditation on the day after Christmas 2010. I also posted it at my travel blog site, Never in Paradise, with the title "Welcoming Churches and Homeless Wayfarers." It seems to me appropriate to re-post this brief meditation now, as a statement about the discussion taking place in my Catholic church at present, regarding whether the church can or should welcome those who are gay. I wrote this from London on Christmas eve 2010:

The Debate About Welcoming Those Who Are Gay — A Reader Asks: "What Are Catholics Afraid of? And Why"

In your comments about "the ideological warfare and spin-control struggles" that have broken out at the synod on the family over the word "welcome" (the fine phrase about warfare and struggles is Peter Montgomery's, in his valuable overview of this week at the Vatican), several of you (e.g., mgardener) have asked what folks are so afraid of with the word "welcome." What about the clear, unambiguous statement that human beings made gay by God are welcome, for God's sake, in the Catholic church is so threatening to some Catholics?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quote for the Day: "Are We to Infer that the Catholic Bishops in America Really Don't Want to Welcome Gay People?"

Andrew Sullivan on how the U.S. Catholic bishops (spearheaded by Cardinals Burke and Dolan, according to numerous reports) are trying to rewrite the relatio document issued by the synod on Monday, with its pesky word "welcome" re: the gays:

Quote for the Day: Heidi Schlumpf on Synod's "Gradualist" Approach to Catholics Still Denied Fundamental Human Rights

Heidi Schlumpf, on the much-touted "gradualism" of the synod on the family's relatio, and how it supposedly represents an "earthquake" — but what does any of this mean for people still denied fundamental human rights and told they're not fully welcome in the Catholic church?:

Quote for the Day: For Michael Brown, "There Can Be No Real or Lasting Justice. He’s Dead, and Death Is Forever"

Bill Blum on the kind of justice we can, in all probability, expect in the case of Michael Brown:

Quote for the Day: "Tone Is Always Irrelevant When You’re Telling Someone That You Are Not Capable of Welcoming People Like Them"

Fred Clark, on the question posed at the beginning of this week by the synod on the family's relatio document, "Are we capable of welcoming these people?":

Seeing "Love Is Strange" in the Week of the Catholic "Earthquake" for LGBT People: A Reflection

I was not designed to be a moral example. (If it's not apparent, I'm building here on what I just posted about my two recent visits to the dentist.) I never wanted, expected, spent years training for my life to be turned into a moral case-study. By people who don't know me but feel perfect entitlement to pass judgment on me, while they see only an empty cipher, the outlines of a void to be filled by their prejudice, when they claim to be casting their eyes on me.

Update on Recent I-Go-to-Dentist, I-Fill-in-Forms Story of a Week Ago: I Listen to Your Advice, I Act Accordingly

A week ago, I told you that I had gone to the dentist (a new dentist, and that fact is a component of this story) and found myself nonplussed by several questions on the new-patient form asking whom to contact in case of emergency, and whom I designate to receive medical information about me. Both questions asked me to specify the relationship of these designees to myself.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Listening Is Good. Hearing Is Better": Valuable Commentary on the Synod on the Family Document (2)

Here's commentary about the relatio published yesterday by the synod on the family that seems to me well worth reading (for the context of this opening remark, please see the preceding posting, of which this one is a continuation):

"Listening Is Good. Hearing Is Better": Valuable Commentary on the Synod on the Family Document (1)

As I follow media and blog discussions of the relatio produced yesterday by the synod on the family to sum up its discussions thus far — follow to the extent that I'm able, as I try to clear my head  of fever and vapors — I find myself drawn, moth to flame, to commentary from the margins. While I'm underwhelmed (to use Chris Morley's good word) by much that's being said by commentators closer to the center of things in church and society . . . . It's interesting to me to observe how certain kinds of commentary speak to me with force and immediacy: a reminder of where I myself fit in the scheme of things (clearly on the margins and not anywhere near the center).

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Cold with Headache, Cold with Fever: Talk Amongst Yourselves

Cold with headache, 
Cold with fever,  
Cold with cough that shakes the — 

Friday, October 10, 2014

In the News: Matters Churchy, Especially the Synod on the Family, at Week's End

And now, an end-of-week summary of news (and other) commentary on matters churchy, especially the Catholic synod on the family:

In the News: The Courts and Marriage Equality in U.S. at Week's End

As the work week ends (and as I continue hosting guests, and finding very little time to blog), some excerpts from statements I've read this week about the Supremes and marriage equality in the U.S. (and about how progressive social change happens):

Thursday, October 9, 2014

More on the Supremes and "It's Time Now": A Report on My Visit to the Dentist Today

A comment I made today to friends on my Facebook page, about my first-time visit to a new dentist today, now that I have healthcare coverage under the ACA — this comment follows on what Dahlia Lithwick says in her Slate article that I excerpted earlier today:

Maureen Fiedler to Catholic Hierarchy re: Marriage Equality: Take a Leaf from Supremes' Book

Sister Maureen Fiedler argues that the Catholic hierarchy stand to learn from the way in which the Supremes are approaching the issue of marriage equality: as a matter of equality under the law. She writes,

Dahlia Lithwick on the Supremes and Marriage Equality: "It's Time Now"

Dahlia Lithwick at Slate on why it's time now for the Supremes to put an end to the state-by-state, patchwork-quilt nonsense regarding the legal rights of LGBT citizens, nonsense that is making the lives of gay people and their families miserable:

Monday, October 6, 2014

Quick Note: May Be Out of Pocket Here As I Juggle Responsibilities

A quick note to tell you all that I have a number of rather pressing obligations right now, and they may keep me from blogging very much in the next several days, and also from responding to comments here. I very much appreciate your comments, and hope you don't take my silence as indifference. We have guests arriving today and want to devote our attention to them, and this is the month in which I will be at University of Central Arkansas as an artist in residence, and will also be receiving the Booker-Worthen prize for my book Fiat Flux: The Writings of Wilson R. Bachelor, Nineteenth-Century Country Doctor and Philosopher — two happenings I've mentioned in previous postings here. Both require me to give presentations about the book (multiple ones, in the first case), and so I'm juggling quite a few responsibilities, and may be slow about catching up with this blog. My apologies if I'm absent from this site for some days to come!

Pope Francis and What He Represents: Ten Reasons Why I Keep Listening Widely and Maintaining Hope

As I just stated in my previous posting, as I read commentary about Pope Francis and what's happening in my church today, I commit msyelf to listen widely, and I intend to keep doing that, for a variety of reasons. I do also, believe or not, commit myself to continue trying in every way possible to keep hope for a better church alive, even as I take seriously the testimony of many Catholics living on the margins of the institution, or those who have been so savaged by the institution that they want nothing more to do with it — especially survivors of childhood clerical sexual abuse — as a reality-check against hope that is grounded in nothing more than fantasy and media spin.

Here's where I come from as I continue listening to testimony about these issues:

Pope Francis and Synod: Coercive Top-Down Model of Church, or Consensual Bottom-Up Lay-Dominated Model? Recent Analysis Worth Reading

The synod on the family opened in Rome yesterday, and as this gathering begins, journalist Robert Mickens states, in an interview with Ari Shapiro of NPR,

Protesters Interrupt St. Louis Symphony Performance of Brahms "Requiem": "Black Lives Matter"

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Synod on Family Opens, As My Ears Keep Ringing with Pope Francis's Statement about "Little Monster" Priests

Some Sunday-morning questions for you:

Frank Bruni on Church's Gay Obsession: "Selective, Bigoted and Very Sad"

Frank Bruni notes that, when he has written about the hounding of gay employees and ministers in Catholic institutions and parishes, people are quick to respond with defenses of these attacks which inform him that all of this is to be expected: you join the club, you play by its rules. Bruni responds:

Saturday, October 4, 2014

On the Feast of Francis of Assisi: "I've Spent Much of My Life Waiting for the Church to Emerge from the Mists — The Church of Joy and Welcome"

Today is the feast day of Francis of Assisi in the Roman Catholic and other liturgical calendars, and I'm re-reading what I wrote on the pilgrimage Steve and I made to Assisi before Christmas last year. At the shrine of Francis, Steve bought me a simple little olive wood tau cross as a pilgrim memento, and I wear it (now rough and cracked from my daily showers) tied together with a Celtic cross he got for me when we made a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. David in Wales a number of years ago — reminders of both pilgrimages and the prayers I prayed at both places.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Catholic Academy As Serious Part of the Problem of Impoverished Catholic Conversation about Sexuality: Catholic University Cancels Screening of "Milk"

Earlier today, I wrote,

Questions from a Ewe on the Eve of the Synod on the Family

As a complement to my ten modest theological conclusions on the eve of the synod on the family, here are some questions from Questions from a Ewe to the church's pastors, as the synod nears. This blogger asks the men running the church, "Are you threatened welcoming 'sinners' to table because they might interfere with some delusion of your own perfection?"

The Catholic Conversation about Sexuality and Family on Eve of Synod: Ten Modest Theological Conclusions

Ten modest theological conclusions that I think one might reach as one surveys the discussions going on in Catholic circles about issues of sexuality and family on the eve of the synod on the family (I'm keying, in particular, off my two postings yesterday — here and here):

A Reader Writes: "Married People Contribute Many Goods to Society in Addition to Procreating . . . and the Provision of These Goods Is Not Gender-Dependent"

Yesterday, I blogged about the story of Father James Melnick, who was removed from ministry in my home state of Arkansas this past weekend, after our local Catholic bishop, Anthony Taylor, informed the public that he had received credible allegations of "multiple acts of sexual misconduct [by Melnick] with multiple adult victims during the period of less than a year." As I also noted, Melnick is a champion of the "new evangelization" ideology of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and a graduate of the Pontifical North American College and has studied at the John Paul II Institute.