Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Reader Writes: "Sadly, Our Church Does Not Consider Racism 'Inherently Disordered'"

Another powerful, thought-provoking statement I'm just seeing here this morning, from Rolando, in response to the Ferguson situation and a question Michael Sean Winters asked last week at National Catholic Reporter: How deep is the racism? Here's Rolando's reflection:

Ruth Krall on Ferguson and the Task of Re-Humanizing Ourselves and Our Culture

Yesterday, Ruth Krall sent out a meditation on what Ferguson teaches (or should teach) us. It's very powerful, and manages to weave together the Christmas story of incarnation with the events of Ferguson. Ruth has kindly permitted me to share her meditation with you here. (As I've mentioned previously, Ruth is a Mennonite theologian who maintains the Enduring Space blog and has been very actively involved in the movement to call the Mennonite to accountability around issues of sexual abuse of minors and violence to women). Here's Ruth's meditation:

Campaign to Assist Lucie's Place and Mission for Homeless LGBT Youth Raises $25,000

Friday, November 28, 2014

New Essay by Jerry Slevin: "Thanksgiving, Catholic Hope and Pope Francis"

For your weekend reading on what's a long weekend for many American workers, I'd like to recommend to you Jerry Slevin's new essay at his Christian Catholicism site entitled "Thanksgiving, Catholic Hope and Pope Francis." As with everything Jerry writes, this posting is actually an essay, and it bears very careful reading. In offering you some excerpts and framing remarks about the essay, I don't want to give you the impression that I'm summarizing it. 

More Commentary on Ferguson Story Worth Reading / Seeing: What's the Pattern Here?

Lawrence O'Donnell discusses what St. Louis Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kathi Alizadeh accomplished by handing the grand jury, at the start of its hearing about Darren Wilson, a copy of a Missouri law declared unconstitutional in 1985 by the U.S. Supreme Court:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Command to Open Our Hands and American Exceptionalism: Marilynne Robinson on the Real Roots of American Christianity

On this American holiday centered on giving thanks, Marilynne Robinson's words in her essay entitled "Open Thy Hand Wide: Moses and the Origin of American Liberalism" spring back to mind:

Thanksgiving As Giving: Recommending to You Today a Local Group Supporting LGBT Youth

You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be (Deuteronomy 15:8)

For those celebrating a holiday centered on thanksgiving today (and I realize that much of the world isn't in that category), here's a story that may be of some interest — since giving thanks is about giving first and foremost. It's by giving to others that we open the spaces in our hearts and lives that enable us to be thankful, it seems to me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ferguson Again: Why Things Are Burning

And, no, I can't let this day pass without sharing more excerpts from articles I've found well worth reading, about the Ferguson story. Because it's simply too important to ignore, no matter how much  my harping on it may irritate some readers of this blog:

Talk About Ex-Gay Conversion Therapy Not Working: Update on John Smid Story

I've blogged about John Smid and his remarkable story a few times in the past — here and here. As these postings note, Smid previously headed a faith-based "ex-gay" program in Memphis called Love in Action. He and the program came on the radar screen of many folks in 2005 when Zach Stark, a young teen, was sent to the program by his parents against his will, and cried out for help online. 

Pigs Seen Flying: Mississippi Judge Knocks Down Ban on Same-Sex Marriage (Arkansas, Too)

Josh Marshall spotted flocks of pigs flying over Mississippi yesterday. I didn't see them in my neighboring state of Arkansas (and,  unless I'm mistaken, a collective of swine isn't called a flock, but a herd — as in Luke 8:32-3, when the KJV of the gospels tells us that Jesus sends a legion of demons into a herd of Gadarene swine. Or it appears that one may speak of a "gang of hogs," a term I've just met in an 1801 estate sale in North Carolina, in which an ancestor of mine bought a "gang of hogs" from the estate of his deceased relative. We know things like what to call collectives of pigs in places like Mississippi and Arkansas and North Carolina. But I digress.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Quote for Day: Chris Hedges on the "Sacrifice Zones" Required by Unfettered Capitalism (with Application to Ferguson)

After Ferguson Verdict, I Remember My City's Last Lynching in 1927: Rioting Mobs, Destruction of Property, Failure of Grand Jury to Return Indictment

As furor ensues following the Missouri grand jury verdict, I'm astounded to be told on Facebook by a fellow citizen of my state that "we" have the "best legal system man has ever created." When I read that statement, my mind immediately scrolls back to the last lynching that occurred in my city of Little Rock. It happened in 1927. In my mother's lifetime. She was a girl of five years old living 20 miles downriver from the city. This happened in my mother's lifetime . . . . I remember being told stories about all of this in my own childhood

Commentary on Ferguson Verdict: "The Message That the Missouri Grand Jury Has Now Sent to Young African Americans . . . Is That Black Lives Do Not Matter"

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Reader Writes: "In History, This Sort of Gender Binary Essentialism Has Been an Important Support to Nazism, the Taliban, and Various Theocracies in the West"

In response to my posting on Thursday about the lack of socioeconomic analysis of family and what it takes to sustain family at the Vatican colloquium on gender complementarity this week, Mark writes an eloquent, profound essay, to which I can add nothing at all, since it speaks so powerfully for itself: 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Archbishop Chaput's Forecast for the 2015 Synod on the Family: Gays Out of Sight, Out of Mind

For Religion News Service, Josephine McKenna reports that Archbishop Charles Chaput told the Vatican colloquium on gender issues this week that, at its final meeting next year, the synod on the family will not focus on "neuralgic sexual issues." As David Gibson reported recently, at their meeting in mid-November, the U.S. Catholic bishops elected Chaput a member of the delegation of bishops they'll send to the synod on the family, though — or because? (as Gibson also notes) — his record as a "culture warrior" is well-known.

A Reader Writes: I Don't Take "Inevitable" Progress for Granted

In response to my posting yesterday about NOM's (purported?) economic collapse, mgardener writes:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NOM's Economic Collapse: Mark Joseph Stern on Whys and Wherefores

At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern offers three possible explanations for why the donor base of "the viciously anti-gay National Organization for Marriage" (his words) may have collapsed. NOM just released its 2103 tax filings, two days late (in direct violation of federal law). They show the organization in the red by some $2.5 million.

Readers Write: At Vatican Colloquium on Gender Complementarity, Where Was the Socioeconomic Analysis of What It Takes to Sustain a Family?

Two very valuable pieces of commentary in the last two days by readers here, about who was in the control seat at the Vatican colloquium on male-female complementarity (despite reminders from those who were actually in the driver's seat about how it takes two to tango). Both of these pieces of commentary note that the analysis of the ideal family offered to us almost exclusively by men at the colloquium seems curiously to ignore the socioeconomic matrix within which real families live.

Theologian José Arregi on Synod on Family: Was It Worth It?

At her Iglesia Descalza site, Rebel Girl offers a translation of commentary on the synod on the family by Basque theologian José Arregi from the journal Redes Cristianas. Arregi frames what he has to say about the synod by noting that the Greek word we render as "synod" has the root meaning of "journeying together": as he states, 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

On Eve of Arkansas Supreme Court Hearing on Marriage Equality, We Lose a Friend, His Marriage Still Unrecognized by Our State

This is a posting I'm composing with a heavy heart. Readers who have followed this blog for some time may remember that when Steve and I married in Little Rock this past May, I shared a photo (it's the one above) of the marriage of our friends Steve Thomas and Allan Cox. Judge (and Pastor) Wendell Griffen officiated at the marriage of Steve and Allan, and then later in the day, at my marriage to my Steve, with Steve Thomas and Allan Cox witnessing the marriage. That's Wendell in the photo above.

Mormons Celebrating Pope Francis's Affirmation of Traditional Family Values: Wait, What?

Big headline in Salt Lake City's Deseret News yesterday:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Reader Writes — Cardinal Müller to Vatican Colloquium on Complementarity: "Both Masculine and Feminine Are Necessary to Communicate to the Child the Presence of the Creator"

I hope I'm not being too chatty here today. There seems to be so much to talk about, and I never read through a day's worth of comments on threads here without thinking that much that you readers say is more important to hear than what I myself write on this blog.

A Reader Writes: Re: Christians and the Gay Community, "Is It Really a Matter of Changing One's Mind? Or, Is It More a Matter of Changing One's Heart?"

In response to my posting earlier today about evangelical leader David Gushee's change of mind re: standing in solidarity with gay human beings (rather than standing by as a bystander), a reader responds

David Gushee on the Difference Between Being a Bystander and Standing in Solidarity: The Suffering of LGBT Christians Who Have Been "Pushed Out"

In an interview at Religion Dispatches with Candace Chellew-Hodge, evangelical theologian David Gushee explains what has caused him to make his "existential core decision" to stand with LGBT human beings, "those who've been pushed out":

More Catholic Voices on "Jesus' Effusion of Inclusion, Love and Mercy"

Mark 1:1 (NRSV)

In addition to Jerry Slevin, whose latest essay on Pope Francis and structural reform of the Catholic church I've just discussed, other Catholic voices are being raised right now to call on the leaders of the church to point it back to Jesus and the gospels:

Jerry Slevin on Pope Francis as a Ray of Hope in a Crisis of Trust — A Holy Mess

At his Christian Catholicism site, Jerry Slevin maintains that if Pope Francis represents "a ray of hope" for the Catholic church, as many Catholics wish to believe, the window of opportunity for hopeful light to enter the church will close, perhaps definitively, if Francis is not prophetic and transparent. Meanwhile, Catholics watch, and are increasingly less convinced by the convenient, shopworn arguments about hierarchical power that have been overused to thwart the open discussion and faithful dissent necessary to maintain a vital church.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "If Christ Is Undiscovered Now . . . That Is in Part Because of Scandals Done in His Name, by Those Who Call Out His Name Most Loudly"

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Pope Francis to Vatican Conference — "More and More People Are Simply Giving Up on Marriage As a Public Commitment"

Joshua McElwee commenting on Pope Francis's opening address to the Vatican colloquium on the complementarity of male and female:

How People Speak of Gender of God As Predictor of Their Stance on Same-Sex Marriage: Recent Sociological Findings

At Huffington Post, Antonia Blumberg reports on a recently published article by sociologist Andrew L. Whithead which shows that the gender people choose to associate with God is a predictor of their attitudes about same-sex marriage. Whitehead's article, entitled "Male and Female He Created Them: Gender, Traditionalism, Masculine Images of God, and Attitudes Towards Same-Sex Unions," is in the September issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. The site to which the link I just provided points allows you to read a précis, but requires you to buy the article if you want to read it in its entirety.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Maureen Fiedler on Vatican Colloquium about Male-Female Complementarity: Pope Francis Still Needs Course in "Woman 101" and "Family 101"

In an essay she published Friday at National Catholic Reporter, Sister Maureen Fiedler notes that the word to be featured in the upcoming Vatican colloquium on "the complementarity of man and woman" — the word "complementarity" — is a "trap": "It’s a word and concept long rejected by those who care about the equality of women and men in our world." As she notes, instead of emphasizing the humanity that men and women share and the fact that men and women can hold similar positions in life, the word "complementarity" is inevitably used to imply that men and women have different roles to play, different places to occupy, different tasks to assume in their work lives.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Jeanette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?: A Booknote

This is a booknote I've been meaning to share with all of you for some days now. I call it a "booknote" rather than a review of this book deliberately: I'm not really seeking to comment on the book as a whole, but to share with you some reflections (perhaps idiosyncratic ones, at that) that struck me as I read Jeanette Winterson's memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (NY: Grove Press, 2011) recently.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Father Tom Doyle on Sexual Abuse by Clergy: An Audio File from Presentation to Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Updates on Two Catholic Abuse Stories: Cardinal O'Malley on Bishop Finn and Pope Francis; SNAP Holds Media Event to Press Arkansas Bishop for More Information about Abusive Priest

Two updates on previous stories I've told here about the clerical abuse situation in various parts of the Catholic world. The first has to do with Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Missouri, who was convicted in 2012 of criminal behavior in shielding Father Shawn Ratigan after Finn knew that Ratigan possessed child pornography (he had been taking pornographic photos of little girls) on his computer. If you want to follow what I've reported about that story in the past, please click on the label "Bishop Robert Finn" below this posting.

El Salvador Martyrs: Valuable Educational Resources Now Coming Online

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Election Consequences from the Ground: Monica Potts on How Arkansas Has Pulled a Full Huckabee — From Politics of Compassion to Control by Wealthy Elites

Ex-pat Arkansan Monica Potts writes about how working-class Arkansans cut off their economic noses to spite their culture-war faces in the 2014 election:

Patricia Miller on What the U.S. Bishops Have Wrought, Michael Sean Winters on USCCB Meeting, James Carroll on Francis Effect

Recent commentary that has caught my eye, about various Catholic issues:

Robert Mickens on Disproportionate Influence of Cardinal Burke's Groupies: Tail Wagging Dog

Robert Mickens reports that, as he leaves his Curia post, Cardinal Raymond Burke continues to fan the flames: to be specific, he continues to speak of the possibility of schism in the Catholic church, if the leaders of the church do not choose to dance to his tune:

2014 U.S. Elections and the Affordable Care Act: Conservatives Brimming with Excitement at Prospect of Removing Healthcare Coverage from Millions

Some commentary worth reading from recent days about the effects of the 2014 elections on the Affordable Care Act:

Commentary on 2014 U.S. Elections Worth Reading

The next Senate was just elected on the greatest wave of secret, special-interest money ever raised in a congressional election. What are the chances that it will take action to reduce the influence of money in politics?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Lines I Wish I'd Written: Now, When Popes Demote a King-Making Prelate, "We'll Say He's Been Burked"

In the lines-I-wish-I'd-written category, here's Mark Silk commenting on Cardinal Burke's excellent new Maltese adventure: 

Cardinal Burke, the Galero Wars, and the Revival of Real Catholicism — Kicking It Old School (Re-Posting from April 2011)

As Cardinal Raymond Burke is bumped out of the Curia, I suddenly see the stats counter at this site showing me that people are logging in here today to read the following posting I made about Cardinal Burke in April 2011. To make it easier for people to find and read that posting, which is now several years old, I think I'll simply re-post it here today. Here goes:

Cracked Pots and Pilgrimages: The Parable of Filling in the Cracks

When I posted last week about my misgivings re: continuing this blog, I posted this photo at the head of my posting:

Back to Work? I Hear You Saying to Me, This Blog Is a "Breathing Hole in This World of a Hard-Frozen Pond"

As a new work week begins, I'm going to take a stab at summarizing some of what I think I have heard from your valuable, so much-appreciated response to my cri de coeur last week. A proviso: I still feel akimbo inside, a bit off-kilter spiritually, and I distrust myself when I'm in such a state. To be specific: I'm not sure that what I write when I'm akimbo is worth reading, and whether it does good or perhaps causes harm.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Backstory of Blogging Fatigue: Dealing with Religious Bullies

Well, hanged for a lamb, hanged for a sheep. Or is the aphorism I want, In for a penny, in for a pound? Whichever: I've decided that, having shared with you yesterday my feeling of intense frustration right now (post-U.S. elections) about, well, everything from the worth of my existence to the contribution (or lack of contribution) made by this blog, I might as well share some backstory stuff with you.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "'I Love You, I Respect Your Human Dignity, but Damn, I Am Going to Make Sure You Can’t Get Health Care,' Is not Exactly a Convincing Christian Witness"

In response to Rusty Reno's recent essay arguing that Catholic institutions providing benefits to legally married same-sex spouses are signing a concordat with Hitler (I blogged about the essay here), Michael Sean Winters notes that "America is the only place in the industrialized West where health care benefits are conferred through employment." 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Quote for Day: Sixth Circuit Ruling Upholding Ban on Same-Sex Marriage "Treats Both the Issues and the Litigants Here As Mere Abstractions"

Quote for the day, Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey dissenting from the ruling of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals today upholding bans on same-sex marriage in Michigan, Ohio, Tennesse, and Kentucky:

Amicus Brief of Catholic Bishop of Arkansas Calling for Continued Ban on Right to Same-Sex Civil Marriage vs. Amicus Brief of Former Episcopal Bishop of Arkansas

I had promised some time ago (to Chris Morley, in particular, and Chris has kindly reminded me of this promise) to share something about the amicus curiae brief that the Catholic bishop of Arkansas, Anthony Taylor, has submitted to the Arkansas Supreme Court as he calls on the court to uphold the ban on marriage equality that Judge Chris Piazza declared unconstitutional earlier this year. I had promised to compare and contrast Bishop Taylor's statement with that of retired Episcopal bishop Larry Benfield, who also wrote an amicus brief to the state Supremes (in collaboration with the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, Mormons for Equality, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Jewish Reconstructionist Communities, Union for Reformed Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Methodist Affirmation, Covenant Network of Presbyterians, Friends for LGBTQ Concerns of the Religious Society of Friends, Methodist Federation for Social Action, More Light Presbyterians, Presbyterian Welcome, Reconciling Ministries Network of the UMC, Reconciling Works: Lutherans for Full Participation, and the Religious Institute).

The Elections: Report from the Ground (and Why It May Be Time for Me to Throw in the Towel As a Blogger)

So here's what's happening in my state following Tuesday's elections:

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Peter Montgomery on Upcoming Vatican Conference on Family: Participants Include Anglican Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Who Links Gays to Devil

As Peter Montgomery has pointed out in a comment about my comparison today between the recent Southern Baptist Convention meeting at which gay participants claimed a voice in discussions and the impending Vatican conference on the family, among those who will be included in the Vatican conference is Nigerian Anglican archbishop Nicholas Okoh, who has linked gays to the devil and praised Nigerian president Goodluck Johnson's decision to sign into law a draconian anti-gay bill. Peter has published commentary about the upcoming Vatican conference today at Right-Wing Watch.

Fred Clark on Shift in Southern Baptist Dialogue About/With Gays: Difference Between Talking About and Talking To

At Slacktivist, Fred Clark points out that looking carefully at Twitter conversations as the Southern Baptist Convention shifted its tone (though perhaps not its substance) regarding gay folks last week may give us a more accurate representation of what's taking place between the SBC and gay people than media spin does:

EriKa Munson on Meeting of World Congress of Families in Salt Lake: "Attempt by the WCF to Divide One Family from Another and Promote Fear among Friends and Neighbors Is Sad and Dangerous"

In Sunday's Salt Lake Tribune, EriKa Munson, Mormon mother and co-founder of the group Mormons Building Bridges, which seeks to build dialogue between the Mormon community and the LGBT community, maintains that the World Congress of Families, which plans to meet in Salt Lake a year from now, should not meet in a city that houses the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints because "[w]elcoming an organization to our state that has worked relentlessly to identify LGBT people as 'the other' is not in harmony with the Utah values I cherish."

While Southern Baptists Dialogue with Gay Christians, Vatican Plans Conference on Family with No Gays Included

At Religion Dispatches, Mike Greer reports on the surprise Southern Baptist leaders had last week when they gathered to discuss "The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage." To their surprise, real gay people — you know, the folks whose lives the conference intended to put under the microscope, dissect, and define — showed up.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rusty Reno on Benefits for Spouses of Same-Sex Couples in Catholic Institutions as Concordat with Hitler: On Catholic Centrist Lionization of Douthat and Reno

A few days back, I noted my bemusement that the movers and shakers of the American Catholic public conversation (in the media and the academy) can't do enough to praise Ross Douthat and Rusty Reno, while they continue to find it impossible to admit openly gay Catholics into the conversation they control, or to listen respectfully to us.

Aletha Blayse's Essay on Child Abuse, War, and Need for a National Commission of Inquiry: A Footnote (and Recommendation)

Dear Readers,

I'm multi-tasking right now after a day of traveling, and apologize that I didn't take time (I didn't have time would be accurate) this morning to say more to you about the excellent essay of Aletha Blayse that I posted early in the day). Because Aletha ends her essay with some biographical information, I had counted on that information to introduce her to you, and to tell you where she is coming from as she comments on the issue of sexual abuse of minors — and something of her outstanding credentials.

Aletha Blayse: Child Abuse, War, and the Need for a National Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse

We Are Losing the War

On the eve of the November 4 election, America is at war. I’m not talking about the war in the Middle East. I’m talking about a different war. On the one side of the battle lines are those who abuse children or allow children to be abused. On the other are those who have declared war on these monsters in a fight for a world in which children are safe from all forms of predation. If ever the doctrine of jus bellum iustum applied, it is here and now. Because the statistics are horrifying. This year, the US Department of Justice cited figures from the Centers for Disease Control that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. Rates of other forms of abuse are also high. This is the here and the now. This is not historical. And it is totally and utterly unacceptable.