Saturday, January 31, 2015

Pope Francis's Meeting with a Transgender Man: State of the Discussion in Catholic Circles

Two things strike me as I read this report by Tom Fox that Pope Francis met last week with a transgender man and embraced him. To be more precise: two things strike me as I read both the report and the thread following it. 

Pope Francis, Women, and the Band of Brothers: The Ambiguity of the Jesuit Heritage That's Being Ignored by Commentators on Francis as Reformer

Night thoughts: those vague, diffuse, but seemingly (at the time, that is) brilliant aperçus that come to us in the middle of the night, as we suddenly wake from sleep. Especially when we've only half-digested a rumbustious meal. Or article or book . . . .

Friday, January 30, 2015

Glenn Greenwald on Jonathan Chait: "What Made the Indignity So Much Worse Was That the Attacks Came from People These Journalists Regard as Nobodies"

As Joan Walsh notes in her valuable critique of Jonathan Chait's recent oy to the universe about, well, the astonishing way in which all those other people (black ones, brown ones, female ones, gay ones) now dare to talk back in the sight of God to well-placed hegemonic straight white men like him,

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Jerry Slevin on Pastoral Treatment of Divorced and Remarried Catholics, and Popes Benedict and Francis: Which Pope Is Infallible?

In a recent posting at his Christian Catholicism blog, Jerry Slevin points readers to William McDonough's Commonweal essay about Pope Benedict XVI and the issue of divorce entitled "Right the First Time." As Jerry notes, McDonough reports that Benedict is in the process of issuing his opera omnia. Nine volumes of his theological work have now been published.

EBook about John Howard Yoder and Sexual Abuse in Mennonite Community Now Available

On behalf of Ruth Krall* of the Enduring Space site, I'm posting the following announcement of an important new Ebook about Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder, which Ruth wants to recommend to those interested in issues of sexual abuse and faith communities:

As Southern States Call for "Secession by Another Name" in Response to Marriage Equality, Catholic Right-Wing Leaders Prepare to Issue Follow-Up to Manhattan Declaration

Two days ago, I commented on what's happening out in the U.S. heartland after the Supremes announced they'll take same-sex marriage cases in their upcoming session, and after judges in one state after another (most recently, the Deep South state of Alabama) knock down bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. As my posting notes, Oklahoma state representative Sally Kern (whose husband is a Southern Baptist minister) has introduced what David Badash calls a "trifecta" of bills whose plain intent is to inform LGBT citizens of her state that they're unwelcome there.

LDS Leaders Hold "Historic" Press Conference to Announce Support for Gay Rights, and Critics Suggest Mormons Are Punking the Media: My Response

As you may have read, this week top leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints issued a statement saying the following:

Abby Zimet on How "Fabulous Media Success" of "American Sniper" Story Highights America's Moral Failings

On Tuesday, I linked to Chris Hedges's powerful statement about how "American Sniper" lionizes what is worst in American culture — "the gun culture, the blind adoration of the military, the belief that we have an innate right as a 'Christian' nation to exterminate the 'lesser breeds' of the earth, a grotesque hypermasculinity that banishes compassion and pity, a denial of inconvenient facts and historical truth, and a belittling of critical thinking and artistic expression."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Memory: A Grandfather's Final Illness, Pink Shirts, Sissies, and the World's Going to Hell

A memory. We all have them, don’t we, those flashes of recollection that leap into our minds, triggered by nothing we’re doing or thinking at the moment? It’s 1976, the weeks of my grandfather’s last illness. So perhaps around the very time of year in which I’m writing this memoir, January, since he died in early February.

Chris Hedges on "American Sniper": "Lionizes the Most Despicable Aspects of U.S. Society"

In case you're wondering what Chris Hedges thinks of Clint Eastwood's new film "American Sniper," wonder no more:

Also in the News: $$$$$$. And Politics

Also in the news: $$$$$$. And money's always anticipated progeny, politics:

Commemorating the Liberation of Auschwitz: Online Resources

Today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and in commemoration of that event, some valuable resources have appeared online recently. These include the film at the head of this posting, which appears in an article by George Arnett in The Guardian today. Arnett writes, 

As Marriage Rights Sweep U.S., Reaction in Heartland: Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri, Etc.

In the news: as German Lopez reports for Vox that same-sex marriage rights are sweeping the U.S., here's what's happening out in the heartland, especially in states heavily dominated by conservative white evangelical voters:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Republicans All Alone in Opposing Marriage Equality, Religious Breakdown Is Key: Greg Sargent in Washington Post

Information for us to mull over: for Washington Post, Greg Sargent writes in his Plum Line column today,

Falling a Bit Behind with Comments

I'm in one of my falling-behind spells vis-a-vis acknowledging comments here, folks. I'm trying to answer at least most of the comments that address me directly. 

Robert Mickens on Pope Francis, Contraception, and Neo-Malthusian Schemes of Developed Nations: My Response

And then, of course, there's Robert Mickens's interpretation of Humanae Vitae and the ban on use of artificial contraceptives as being about protecting the poor in developing countries from neo-Malthusian policies of family planning forced on them by affluent developed nations, who don't want the poor breeding like rabbits. At least, that's Mickens's reading of HV through the optic of Popes Paul VI and Francis in the NCR article linked at the head of the posting.

Liberal Tolerance Not All It's Cracked Up to Be: How White Millennial Attitudes about Race Parallel Discussion of Contraception in Catholic Church

It's interesting, isn't it, that claims of greater tolerance on the part of the younger generation today don't necessarily translate into claims of any active concern for or solidarity with people on the margins — as in the contraception debate in the Catholic church, which I discussed yesterday. Younger "liberal" Catholics often say that they're totally over magisterial teaching about sexuality, and are completely open to the idea that everyone should have access to contraceptives.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Arkansas Leaders Continue Foot-Dragging on Human Rights of LGBT Citizens, as Real People with Real Lives Are Caught in Crossfire

A friend of ours died recently in Little Rock. His obituary at the website of the funeral home handling the funeral says that he is survived by "his loving and devoted husband of 28 years" and names that husband.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Argument of Some U.S. Catholics That Church Position on Contraception Doesn't Affect Poor Women in Developing Nations: What's at Stake Here?

Perhaps I have not been clear in what I have written this week (here and here) about some of the fault lines that are apparent among American lay Catholics now that the pope's comments about contraception and family planning in the Philippines have opened discussion of those issues all over again. I'm going to try again.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Power of "Complaining on the Internet": The Case of Beth Malarkey, Tyndale House, and The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven

Here's another reason I want to keep holding out hope that online tools of communication and networking are reshaping some significant conversations that have been tightly controlled by power elites in the academy, media, publishing world, and political sector for a long time now:

NCR Editorial: "Francis Needs to Re-Examine His Statements" about Contraception "If He Wants to Be the Pastor We Think He Can Be"

A National Catholic Reporter editorial addresses the pope's statements about contraception and family planning in the Philippines:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Jerry Slevin on Pope's "Three Card Monte" Approach to Birth Control: "Undercuts Many Catholics' Confidence in Pope Francis' Intellectual Integrity"

Jerry Slevin on how the pope's "disingenuous" remarks on contraception undercut many Catholics' confidence in his intellectual integrity:

Tara Culp-Ressler on Francis's Breeding Bunnies Quip: "Reinforces the Status Quo — Even Though It's One That Isn't Working Well for Catholics Around the World"

Tara Culp-Ressler on the problem with Pope Francis's breeding bunnies remark:

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Supremes Talk Gay Marriage, Catholics Talk Zsa Zsa

In response to a Catholic News Service article carried by National Catholic Reporter noting that the U.S. Supremes have taken several same-sex marriage cases this term, dove writes,

Patricia Miller on Pope Francis's Breeding Bunnies Remark: Challenging the "Breath of Fresh Air" Spin

I like how Patricia Miller calls the bluff of all the adulatory (heterosexual, male, married) Catholic journalists who have been trying to spin Pope Francis's remark about breeding bunnies as some kind of breakthrough on birth control for the Vatican, a breath of fresh air. As she asks,

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pope Francis on "Ideological Colonization," Same-Sex Marriage, and Contraception: Genealogy of a Disreputable Idea

In the Philippines, Pope Francis warned against the "ideological colonization" of developing nations by developed ones intent on forcing Western concepts of family and sexuality on the developing sector of the world. As Joshua McElwee notes in the National Catholic Reporter article I've just linked, Francis was understood to be speaking against same-sex marriage and contraception with this remark.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Responses of Lay Catholics to Pope on Same-Sex Marriage and Contraception

A theme emerging in several comments I've read at blog sites today regarding the pope's remarks in Manila about same-sex marriage and contraception: the theme of listening. Which is what many of us had understood that botched first round of the synod on the family to be all about — permitting the voices of those actually living family within the Catholic community to be heard, as matters of family and sexual morality are discussed . . . . 

Monday, January 19, 2015

On Martin Luther King, Jr., Day: Jerry Slevin on Pope Francis's Trip to the Philippines, and Catholics' Dream

And another King-day-themed posting: at his Christian Catholicism site, Jerry Slevin comments on Pope Francis's encounter in the Philippines with a street child who poured out her anguish to him immediately before the pope gave a homily reasserting the papal ban on the use of contraception:

The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Elizabeth Johnson on Sources of the "Revolution" in the Theology of God Today

On this day celebrating the legacy of Dr. King, I'm thinking, too, of the opening paragraph of Elizabeth Johnson's book Quest for the Living God (NY: Continuum, 2008), which the U.S. Catholic bishops condemned several years ago. I did a series of postings reporting about my own reading of the book in 2012 — here, here, and here. And in this posting pointing to the work of Terry Weldon at his Queering the Church site, and also of Teresa Forcades, I summarized the opening paragraph of Elizabeth Johnson's book.

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, Legacy: Celebrating the Power of Ordinary People Acting Together to Bring About Effective Change

I have long thought that Martin Luther King, Jr., was put to death by the powers that be when he began to make the connections (a nod to Beverly Wildung Harrison as I use that phrase) between American militarism, the exploitation of working-class Americans of all colors and creeds by unbridled capitalism, and racism. As long as he confined his activist organizing to civil rights for people of color, the powers that be let King be, while keeping a close watch on him through his odious nemesis J. Edgar Hoover.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "The No. 1 Issue by Far, Which Came up Over and Over Again, Was the Catholic Church's Treatment of Lesbians and Gays"

For National Catholic Reporter, Father Peter Daly, pastor of St. John Vianney parish in Prince Frederick, Maryland, recounts what his parish learned when it invited its young adult members (many of whom do not participate in parish life and worship) to tell parish members why they have given up on participation. As Father Daly notes, of 500 young adults invited to this listening session, only ten percent showed up.

Tom Reese on Not Hinging Everything on the Pope: "There Is No Room in the Church for Passive Observers" — My Response

Pope Francis's fellow Jesuit Father Tom Reese writes in the National Catholic Reporter this morming about how the Catholic church is more than the pope, and how Catholics deceive themselves when they place all their hopes and dreams for their church on the shoulders of the pope. He concludes,

Pope Francis and the Throwaway Culture: Treatment of Gay Catholics Undercuts Pope's Critique of Global Economic System

Pope Francis identifies the "throwaway culture" created by rapacious global capitalism as the cause of some of the world's most serious problems. Our profit-driven economic system necessarily and by design makes some human beings dispensable, worthless, people to be thrown away. This dynamic feeds violence: the cold violence done to human beings by our economic system elicits the hot violence of reaction that reaches for guns, knives, bombs.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Brief Hiatus: Note of Explanation

Dear Friends,

I want to leave a note and let you all know that I plan to take a day, two days, perhaps several days right now to focus and seek peace. I recognize in myself a tendency of late to react to belligerent stupidity in online discussions (here, certainly, and also elsewhere) with a sharpness that probably helps no one at all, and leaves me feeling unhappy with myself. 

Panti Bliss on the Price LGBT People Pay Daily Due to Discrimination

Irish drag queen Panti Bliss keeps on educating. Here she is, in a video just uploaded to You Tube, addressing a group at a Tedx event in Dublin last September, saying:

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Quote for Day: Should Our Highest Value Be Free Speech or Love, Kindness, Generosity, and Respect for Others?

Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun, on the way in which the media are treating free speech as an absolute value, and the highest in the canon of values, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders, while the structural violence that inflicts suffering on millions of people to enrich a few goes totally unnoticed by the media:

Quote for Day: "Political Cartoons Are Free Speech, But They Are Not Always Innocent and Inherently Democratic"

For Truthout, Christen A. Smith maintains that while we must grieve the Charlie Hebdo dead, we must beware of misconstruing racism as a democratic ideal:

Local "Religious Liberty" Conference Sponsored by LDS Church with Assistance of Catholic Bishop of Arkansas: Right-Wing Politics Disguised as Religion

Someone I know heard the presentations today at this interfaith program on religious liberty sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Little Rock. He did not attend, but happened to be at the LDS church as the presentations were broadcast over a loudspeaker for anyone in the church to hear while the conference took place. 

In the News: Guns. More Guns.

On one morning, on one single day as I read the news online, I see that Talking Points Memo carries the following headlines on its main page: 

Gerald Slevin on Pope's Pivot on Rumors of a Vatican Council: Now or Never

In a new posting at his Christian Catholicism site, Jerry Slevin cites a recent observation by Robert Mickens:

Friday, January 9, 2015

Sister Teresa Forcades on the Necessity of Dreaming of Revolution in the Catholic Church — Especially re: Clericalism and Misogyny

Joel 2:28, NIV Translation

In the Catalan journal El Critic, Irene Ramentol asks Benedictine Sister Teresa Forcades whether the idea of any kind of revolution in the Catholic church is just a dream (Rebel Girl has provided an English translation at Iglesia Descalza). Sister Teresa replies:

Commentary on Charlie Hebdo Attack: Freedom of Speech, Economic and Social Oppression, Violence, and Religion

Here's a selection of commentary (running a wide gamut) that has caught my eye about the murder of the staff of Charlie Hebdo by terrorists in Paris this week:

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Without Freedom of Expression, the World Is in Danger" (Memo to Miami)

Yesterday, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, released a statement with the leaders of France's Islamic community indicating that they stand with Pope Francis in denouncing cruelty and violence caused by ideological oppression of others. The statement says,

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Maureen Mullarkey Strikes Again (and a Reminder About Commonweal Catholic Centrism)

Remember Maureen Mullarkey? Sure you do! Back in 2009, when it became public that she had contributed to the prop 8 campaign to strip gay citizens of California of the right to civil marriage, though she had made a name for herself as an artist painting drag queens, I posted commentary about her. And then I noted her cozy connections to, well, see my conclusion below.*

Commentary on Archbishop Thomas Wenski and His Threatening Response to Arrival of Marriage Equality in Florida

Also today, ongoing discussion of the response of Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski to the arrival of marriage equality in Florida, something I discussed yesterday: as I noted, on 6 January as same-sex marriages began in the state, Wenski issued a threatening letter informing employees of Catholic institutions of the archdiocese that anything they say in public forums celebrating marriage equality may be grounds for firing. Here's further discussion of this story from the past two days:

Commentary on Cardinal Burke and the New Emangelization Project

Twitter's aflame now with tweets about Cardinal Raymond Burke's new emangelization program, with tweets like Michael O'Loughlin's above. Do a search at Twitter with the search terms "Cardinal Burke," and you'll discover a sartorial smorgasbord of amazing photos of His Eminence modeling for us that manly resplendence he finds absolutely necessary to the maintenance of a manly civilization and manly church that will attract real manly men to the manly Christ and his manly priesthood.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My Real Very Own Strange Shopping Adventure: An Epiphany Story

In one of my disspirited spells last fall, some of you provided helpful feedback indicating that you like to hear me speak from what poet Sharon Olds calls my "real spot." (Well, I don't mean to say that anyone used that phrase — no one did, as far as I can recall — but that was the gist of how I heard some of your suggestions.)

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Cardinal Burke on "the Critical Importance of a Manly Character"

His Eminence 'splains to us "the critical importance of a manly character."

Really. Cross my heart and hope to die, he said those very words.

More on Florida's Epiphanic Moment: Anita Crying, Catholic Archbishop Shaking Bully Stick

Yesterday, I called the breaking out of human rights and equality for gay citizens in Florida an epiphanic moment. More on that theme today, in articles I've read this morning commenting on the opening to same-sex marriage in Florida:

In Online Blog Conversations (Especially About Religion), Where Are the Women Commenters?

At her Flunking Sainthood site, Mormon blogger Jana Riess asks an interesting question yesterday: Where are all the Mormon women blog commenters? Riess notes that, though 46% of her readers are women and 54% men, 90% of the comments to her blog come from men.