Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Song for New Year's Eve, and a Happy New Year to Each of You

This is one my favorite new year's eve songs — a Scottish song I associate with new year's eve because it was sung at the end of gatherings in Scotland and Ireland before Robbie Burns wrote the song that has now become traditional for new year's eve, "Auld Lang Syne." I particularly like this rendition by the Choral Scholars of University College Dublin, with Mark Waters as the lead singer.

A very happy new year's eve and new year to each reader of this blog.

Belgian Bishop Calls on Catholic Community to Bless Gay Unions, More Heads Explode

Another happening that has religious right knickers atwist as the year turns: as Francis DeBernardo reports for New Ways Ministry yesterday, Antwerp bishop Johan Bonny recently stated in an interview with the Belgian newspaper De Morgen that the Catholic church should recognize and bless committed gay unions, and in this way, draw those who are gay (and often alienated from the church) into the Catholic community. 

Quote for Day: "The Bible Is Not the Book Many American Fundamentalists and Political Opportunists Think It Is"

Kurt Eichenwald's new Newsweek essay on how the bible is sinfully misunderstood by most Americans (and American political leaders and the American media) is drawing fire from the folks at Fox News and their cronies — which is reason enough for me to recommend it to you. In fact, I first learned of the essay from an article that popped up yesterday in some newsfeed I read routinely, noting that the Fox crowd imagine Eichenwald is attacking Christianity by commenting on the lamentable level of biblical education in the American public.

American Catholics Try to Discuss Race and White Privilege, Older Brother from Gospel Parable Revisits the Discussion

The year turns, and some things remain wearisomely predictable. These include the certainty that a solid percentage of white Catholics in the U.S. (a good portion of the some 60% who now almost unvaryingly always pull the GOP lever in voting booths, I suspect) will do everything in their power to try to derail intra-Catholic discussions of white privilege and racism, whenever these topics are discussed at Catholic blog sites.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

And This Year's Coughie for Best Exemplifying an Exclusionary, Strident Interpretation of the Catholic Faith Goes To . . . .

As the year turns, I now look forward every year to Frank Cocozzelli's annual Coughie award. As Frank explains

Quote for Day: "Social Media Has Made the Edges More Powerful"

Rebecca Solnit sees 2014 as a loud, discordant, transformative year for feminist insurrection against male violence. And as she notes, the internet has played a key role in what has happened: it has given women a new voice, and permitted them to organize against male violence in an unprecedented way.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Kali Holloway on 2014's Best Documentaries: From Colonialism to War to Ecology to Misogony, Homophobia, and Heterosexism

In this lull time between the various winter-solstice holidays and the celebration of a new year, when we have time on our hands, Kali Holloway's recent "Documentaries Extraordinaire" posting at Alternet is a real gift. I recommend it to you. 

Gay Rights and the Challenge of 2015: The Price Gay Citizens Pay for Continued Foot-Dragging on Marriage Equality

Something else that matters to me as the turbulent year of 2014 ends and a new year begins: the challenge of combating deeply entrenched injustice against LGBT people in religious communities and the wider society. Here are some articles I've read in the past few days that strenghten my resolve to keep caring about this issue and struggling for justice along with others working to that end:

Black Lives Matter and the Challenge of 2015: Some Recent Articles for Your Consideration

My Facebook feed lately is peppered with passalong articles (from connections of my Facebook friends) about how "black crime" has proliferated under the nation's first black president, a secret black Muslim intent on waging jihad against white American people. As I take note of these articles that continue to peddle in the 21st century racist filth I remember so well from my upbringing in the American South in the 1950s and 1960s, my resolve to keep speaking out against racial injustice only grows more determined as this turbulent year ends. Here's some of what I've been reading lately to strengthen this resolve:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Damon Linker on the Foolish Cruelty of Catholic Conservatives Who Want Gays to Disappear, and the Continued Fence-Sitting of Catholics of the Liberal Center

Conservative commentator Damon Linker gets the foolish cruelty of Catholic conservatives who want gay people to disappear absolutely right in his column in The Week today:

Pope Francis in the News: Media Memes and Informed Commentary (There's a Difference)

Perhaps you haven't noticed, but Pope Francis has been in the news lately. A lot. Headlines yesterday about his scolding of the Vatican Curia ranged from "Francis Gives Roman Curia Officials Coal for Christmas" (Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter), to "In Curia: Merry Christmas, You Power-Hungry Hypocrites" (Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service), to "Pope Francis Says the Vatican Curia Is Sick with Power and Greed" (Philip Pullella, Reuters), to "Pope Francis Denounces the Vatican Elite's 'Spiritual Alzheimer's'" (Barbie Latza Nadeau, Daily Beast). I especially like Charles Pierce's wry summary of Francis's come-to-Jesus meeting with the Curia:

Reader Writes: For Younger Catholics, Keeping the Faith Sometimes Means Leaving the Church

In a brilliant essay-comment here several days ago, Annika explains powerfully why some younger Catholics are forced to distance themselves from the Catholic church — in order to keep the faith they've been taught as members of the Catholic community: 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "One of the Most Creative Things That’s Happened to the Catholic Church in America Has Been This Vast Exodus of Catholics from the Church"

James Carroll in a recent interview with Michael Schulson:

Quote for Day: "White Christians Are Conflicted about Whether to Identify with the Oppressed Israelites or with Pharoah and Pharoah’s Enforcers"

Sweet Honey in the Rock Sings "Silent Night" — With Reminders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner

If Leonardo Boff is correct (and surely he is) when he maintains that we can't celebrate Christmas adequately around our inclusive family tables without remembering those on the outside, then how are we American Christians going to celebrate Christmas this year, I wonder, in the middle of a growing, significant national conversation about the different way in which the criminal justice system treats some of us, on the basis of our pigmentation? Sweet Honey in the Rock states,

As Christmas Nears: Leonardo Boff on Christmas as Celebration of Inclusive Commensality

I've blogged a number of times here in the past (e.g., here, here, here, here, and here) about how scripture scholars are strongly convinced that the historical Jesus practiced open commensality, and that his practice of inclusive table fellowship with sinners, outcasts, women, those shoved from the table of the righteous, was integral to his proclamation of the coming reign of God. And was part of what got him crucified, since the practice of open table fellowship with . . . everyone . . . was considered a revolutionary attack on the very foundations of the society in which he was engaged in ministry . . . .

Friday, December 19, 2014

Gay-Bashing Suspects in Philadelphia to Be Formally Arraigned: Update on Previous Story

Remember those young folks in Philadelphia, all graduates of the same Catholic high school, who were charged this past September after they beat a gay couple to a bloody pulp? If you need reminding of that story, click the label "Philadelphia" below, and what I've posted here — with links to various news reports — will pop up. 

Vatican Report on U.S. Nuns: Valuable Commentary by Joan Chittister, Christine Schenck, Sandra Schneiders, and Tom Fox

Some brief excerpts of responses to the Vatican report on American women religious that have struck me as well worth reading:

Jerry Slevin on Pope Francis's "Huge Papal Mistake" in Not Placing Father Thomas Doyle on Papal Abuse Commission

At his Christian Catholicism site, Jerry Slevin argues that Pope Francis is making "a huge papal mistake" and "exhibiting his papal fallibility" by passing over Father Thomas Doyle, one of the leading authorities on the Catholic abuse crisis, as Francis adds new members to his commisison on abuse. Jerry points to Tom Doyle's extensive qualifications to serve the church on this papal commission:

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas and the Empty Crib: Recent Catholic Commentary on the Broken Church

What am I doing as Christmas approaches, besides baking cookies, fruitcakes, and cheese straws, you ask? And keeping the house running and in decent order as Steve and his brother hammer and nail at their building project (you don't want to put a hammer or a nail in my little bumbling hands). Thank you for asking.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hurrier I Go, Behinder I Get — Apologies re: Delays in Acknowledging Comments Here

As you all may have noticed, I'm yet again behind with acknowledging recent comments here, and I may, in fact, not find time in the next few days to get to that task. I do hope all of you know how very much I appreciate your many wonderful comments here. I read them faithfully, even when I don't have time to let you know I've done so. Right now, Christmas preparation stuff, with added disarray in our household as Steve and his brother add a much-needed new bathroom to our house . . . . And as a result, I may not find time to reply to all of your comments of late, and wanted you to know the reason for that.

The graphic is from the Lewis Carroll Quotable Quotes page at Goodreads. (Does anyone know where Lewis Carroll says this? I had always understood this is a Pennsylvania Dutch folk saying.)

Amanda Marcotte on How Conservative American Christians Frequently Choose the Wrong Side of History

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

Here's the opening paragraph of an essay by Amanda Marcotte you really do need to read:

Torture Report (and Responses of U.S. Christians): Some Short Takes

Vatican Report on American Nuns: Some Short Takes

A few short takes on yesterday's report on American nuns by the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life:

Rachel Maddow, "This Is an Aspirational Dog"

Well, Advent is about living in hope, isn't it? The graphic is a screen shot from a short clip of Rachel Maddow talking about an aspirational dog, which is a teaser for a longer one in which she reports on the brouhaha caused by misreporting about a papal statement re: dogs and heaven recently.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nationwide Protests in U.S. Yesterday: Tweets That Caught My Eye

Two tweets from yesterday that caught my eye, which I want to share with readers here: above, Notre Dame Women's Basketball team tweeting; below, Eric Bohlert tweeting:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Jerry Slevin: Pope Francis and Women Cardinals

Earlier today, I suggested that Pope Francis would do well to read some women theologians like Ivone Gebara as he continues to put both left feet into his mouth when he makes jaw-dropping strawberries-on-the-cake statements quips about women. I ended that posting saying, "One can dream, I suppose."

Theologians Pope Francis Would Do Well to Read: Ivone Gebara on Catholic Church's Insistence on Maternal Role of Women

In the theologians-Pope-Francis-would-do-well-to-read category today, here's Brazilian theologian Ivone Gebara on what the maternity-centered view of women in official texts of the Catholic church actually does to real-life women. "No room for women to be worthwhile in and of themselves" . . . as they ornmanent the cake (which is, after all, the important thing in the equation) like beautiful red strawberries . . . . 

Reader Writes: "I Don't Think the US Ever Had Moral Leadership to Begin With"

In response to my posting about the torture report and how the U.S. has now forfeited any claim it had to moral leadership in the world, Leah comments

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Peter Laarman on Torture Denial and How U.S. Flunks the Religious Acid Test

Peter Laarman at Religion Dispatches on torture denial and how it shows the U.S. flunking the religious acid test:

Quotation Thursday: Glenn Greenwald on Torture Report, Robert Parry on Demise of The New Republic

And two more quotations — these from articles I've read online today that make interlocking points, to my mind:

Quotation Thursday: Among Animals, Who Tortures? and Connection Between Judicial Torture and Modernity?

Two quotations for you today from my grab-bag of citations from books I've read over the years:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Bilgrimage Open Discussion Forum — Continuing the Discussion

Weeks back, we discussed setting up some kind of open forum discussion at Bilgrimage. Maggie Crehan, I recall you having a particular interest in this, which some other readers seconded. If I am remembering the discussion correctly, you hoped there could be some kind of meeting place for readers of this blog who might want to contact each other directly, and/or discuss issues that might not be addressed in a particular posting.

"Strawberries on the Cake": Why Women Wince When Pope Francis Opens His Mouth

At Religion News Service, David Gibson explains why many women wince when Pope Francis opens his mouth and speaks . . . about women:

Jennifer Haselberger on Current Status of Nienstedt Investigation: Contextual Information

This is a footnote to what I posted yesterday about the archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis and its choice to hire a high-powered criminal lawyer for its ongoing investigation of allegations that St. Paul-Minneapolis archbishop John Nienstedt has behaved inappropriately with adult males. Yesterday, at her blog site, the former chancellor for canonical affairs of the archdiocese, Jennifer Haselberger, who resigned her position last year in protest of the archdiocese's handling of the abuse crisis, provides some information "by way of context" to interpret what's going on now in the archdiocese.

A Nation Awash in Violence Admits to Torture: "We Have Lost Forever the Right to Moral Leadership"

Abu Ghraib

• We are approaching the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, an event to which the U.S. has responded, at an official level, by doing . . . absolutely nothing at all.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Who's Paying for High-Powered Criminal Lawyer Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis Has Hired?

At Commonweal, Grant Gallicho reports that as it investigates allegations that its archbishop, John Nienstedt, has behaved improperly with adult males, the archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis has retained the services of a high-powered criminal lawyer, Peter Wold. (Note: in case this isn't perfectly clear, Nienstedt heads the archdiocese investigating these allegations.)

New Vatican Document to Prepare for Synod on Family: How to Care for "Persons with Homosexual Tendencies"?

Joshua McElwee comments at National Catholic Reporter on a document released today by the Vatican's office for the synod of bishops, calling on bishops' conferences to provide input as the Vatican prepares for the next stage of the synod on the family in 2015:

Ruth Krall on Sexual Violence Against Women and Children and Reform of Religious Institutions

As I've said before, on any given day, one of the delights I have in participating in this blog's wide-ranging conversations is to read the brilliant comments many readers routinely make in conversation threads here. They're better than anything I write.

Pope Francis on "Unusual" Situation of Catholic Families with Gay Children: Some Reflections

At the Backlot, Ed Kennedy responds to Pope Francis's recent interview with Argentinian journalist Elizabeth Piqué in La Nación. When Piqué notes that the synod on the family stirred controversy by mentioning gay couples in its first draft, Francis replies:

Monday, December 8, 2014

Perceptions of Gender: Study Suggests Preference for High Masculinity and Feminity Peculiar to Modern Societies

This is a link I had intended to post earlier today, in my posting about gender complementarity. And then it somehow got away from me, and I've only now remembered that I didn't include it. I'm posting it now as an addendum to my earlier posting about complementarity:

More on Institutionalized Racism in U.S. (and Michael Brown and Eric Garner): Chris Hedges, Geoffrey Stone, Ta-Nehisi Coates

More commentary hot off the internet presses that strikes me as very important this morning:

More on Gender Complementarity and Catholic Teaching: Michael Mullins and Todd Salzman

Some quotations from articles hot off the (internet) press (for me, at least) that may be of interest to readers of Bilgrimage — these, about the issue of gender complementarity in Catholic thought:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Questions to Ask in Light of Michael Brown and Eric Garner: Who Gets Blamed and Who Gets Exonerated? (Remembering the Philadelphia Gay-Bashing Story)

Christmas Miracle Comes Early! Cardinal Pell Finds € Hundreds of Millions "Tucked Away": Catholics React

Christmas miracles have come early this year, it seems. As Gaia Planigiani reports for New York Times yesterday, Pope Francis's Vatican finance watchdog Cardinal Pell announced Wednesday that he has found hundreds of millions of euros "tucked away" in accounts that the Vatican had no notion it owned.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Frederick Clarkson on Pastor Steven Anderson's Call to Religiously Fueled Violence vs. Gays

Baptist pastor Steven Anderson of Tempe, Arizona, is at it again. This time, he's calling for homos gay folks to be killed as a cure for AIDS (never mind that the majority of people in the world living with HIV-AIDS are African heterosexuals, including millions of children). As Frederick Clarkson reminds us, in 2009, this man of God called on his church members to pray for the death of President Obama and encouraged a member of his congregation to carry an automatic rifle when the president spoke in Phoenix. 

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Crisis of . . . the Family Is Tightly Coupled with the Passing of the Patriarchal Family Structure of Male Headship"

In response to Kelly Stewart's National Catholic Reporter article about the pope's rhetoric on women and the recent Vatican colloquium on male-female complementarity, Luis Gutierrez writes,

Quote for Day: "The Pattern Is Nevertheless Hard to Ignore"

Steve Benen at Maddow Blog on the grand jury's decision not to indict in the Eric Garner killing:

Twitter Lights Up After Eric Garner Verdict: "My Church Spends a Lot of Time Praying for Christians in Syria but Doesn’t Breathe a Word on #BlackLivesMatter"

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Judge Wendell Griffen on Ferguson and What a Grand Jury Is and Is Not

My friend Judge Wendell Griffen on what a grand jury is and isn't (the essay is in Wendell's Facebook feed, and has also been published at the website of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference):

Advent Arrives: My Fellow Catholics Debate Immigration, and I Watch Appalled from the Sidelines

Advent's here now, and I'm once again in one of those watching-appalled-from-the-sidelines moments in my spiritual journey, as I look at how many of my fellow Catholics are responding to the debate about the immigration issue now roiling the American public square. As the national holiday of giving thanks ended (a holiday, let's not forget, featuring a mythic story about immigrant Puritans relying on the mercy of native peoples to feed and keep them alive), at several National Catholic Reporter discussion threads dealing with the immigration issue (e.g., here and here), things got so bad that multiple comments had to be deleted and the threads locked down.

Rachel Maddow on Lawrence O'Donnell's Report re: the "Mistake" Made by St. Louis Assistant Prosecutor in Ferguson Grand Jury Hearing

In a news segment yesterday, Rachel Maddow noted the importance of Lawrence O'Donnell's hard-hitting questions about the mistake St. Louis assistant prosecutor Kathi Alizadeh made in the Ferguson case, when she gave grand jurors a 1979 law declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1985. I discussed this story a few days ago, linking to O'Donnell's commentary about this incident. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

"The Times They Are A'Changin'": Recommending a Video by Matthew Schwartz to You

This is a day when I'm playing catch-up with email after the holidays, and so I haven't had time to formulate any kind of extensive post. I do want to take a moment, though, to recommend to you the video at the head of the posting. It's from the Spadecaller channel at You Tube, and I find that this channel links to a blog of the same name, which states that the artist who produced this video (and who produces other stellar artworks) is named Matthew Schwartz.

Flying Pigs Now Spotted Coming Through My Mail Slot

Guess what arrived in today's mail? I'm pretty sure it has something to do with this previous posting.