Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Charles Pierce on Pope's Decision to Meet with Kim Davis As Dumbest Thing He's Ever Done — "Undermines Everything He Accomplished on His Visit Here"

Charles Pierce on the pope's meeting with Kim Davis as the dumbest thing he's ever done as pope — and on the disastrous consequences of this meeting for his credibility and what many folks thought he had accomplished on this papal visit:

Responses to Pope's Meeting with Kim Davis from My Facebook Feed: "Last Straw," "Don't Want to Identify As ROMAN Catholic Anymore," "Tiny Sliver of Hope Now GONE," "So Disappointed"

Responses to the news that the pope met with Kim Davis and her lawyer Mat Staver of the anti-gay hate group Liberty Counsel has had my Facebook page lit up all morning. I'd like to share with you some of the comments now coming in:

Vatican Confirms Pope's Secret Meeting with Kim Davis, Moynihan's Site Comes Back Online

Robert Moynihan's Inside the Vatican report on Pope Francis's secret meeting with Kim Davis has just now come back up (I reported earlier today that it had been down previously), right after Laurie Goodstein sent out the tweet above.

Quote for Day: If Kim Davis-Pope Francis Story True, "Conservatives Will Feel Cheered by It"

Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Harriet Sherwood, and Calla Wahlquist in The Guardian this morning on the secret meeting Pope Francis is said to have held with Kim Davis:

Pope Francis, Pretty Words, and My Medicare Nightmare: An Update

While Pope Francis was in the U.S., I reported to you from the real world about my ongoing nightmare with Medicare — a nightmare that has everything in the world to do with the fact that Steve and I married in May 2014 when a judge in Arkansas knocked down the ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, and then I became Medicare-eligible in April 2015 while the Arkansas Supreme Court was maintaining a stay on same-sex marriages that called the legality of all the marriages that had occurred in May 2014 into question.

Pope Francis Met with Kim Davis and Wrapped His Protective Mantle Around Her?! As Those Reporting This to Me Say, Absolutely Disgusting If True

When I told you yesterday that I'd be very surprised if Pope Francis did not have direct knowledge of Kim Davis's case, little did I know I'd wake up to an email inbox full of messages sending me articles which are now reporting that the pope met secretly with Kim Davis on his U.S. visit. Laurie Goodstein is reporting about the meeting at today's New York Times, for instance. As she notes, the report that Pope Francis had a secret meeting with Kim Davis comes from Vatican reporter Robert Moynihan at his Inside the Vatican site. That site is returning an error message as I write this posting, but one of the email friends who sent me information about this story early today has sent me a copy of Moynihan's report.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pope Francis and Kim Davis: Pretty Words in Absence of Practice Fail to Make the Case

In comments here yesterday, several of you (e.g., MagpieinMadrid, Jerry Slevin, and Chris Morley) point to Pope Francis's response to a question by Terry Moran of ABC News as Francis returned to the Vatican. Moran asked Francis whether he supports government officials who claim, on grounds of religious freedom, a right not to do their jobs and to deny rights to other citizens. Francis's response to this question was utterly unnuanced: it sets up the right to religious freedom as an unqualified right that appears not to be weighed against any other rights in conflict situations, including the rights of people denied goods and services by government officials citing religious freedom as their warrant for denying rights to others.

Papal Visit Wrap-Up, Or Unwrapping Media Spin Along with Women, Abuse Survivors, and LGBT Catholics

Not a wrap-up of the papal visit, but an attempt to unwrap the neatly wrapped package that has just been delivered to us vis the media (i.e., via the self-appointed official mediators of reality for the rest of us) in the visit of Pope Francis to the U.S.:

Monday, September 28, 2015

From Nuns on the Bus Town Hall Meeting in Little Rock: Rev. Wendell Griffen on Radical Revolution of Values

I recently blogged about the town hall meeting the Nuns on the Bus held in my community of Little Rock on 13 September, which my husband Steve and I attended. The video above is our friend Wendell Griffen talking about the needs of our community in response to a question the Nuns on the Bus asked each table to discuss among ourselves. In Wendell's view, the "radical revolution of values" from profits and property to people, to which Dr. King was pointing American society at the time he was murdered, remains the most imperative need of our society today.

Ezra Klein on How New Online Media Technologies Shift U.S. Political Conversation: Implications for "Pope Messiahs" and Centrist Catholic Media Gatekeepers

This is what I mean when I keep saying repeatedly that new media made possible by online technology, as well as the tools of social networking, are changing the game for the centrists who have long sought to control public political and religious discourse in the U.S.: Ezra Klein explains what, in his view, is going on with the rapidly shifting terrain of American politics:

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pope Francis on Families and Their Gifts, John McNeill and Margaret Farley on Fruitfulness of Gay Relationships: Generativity Depends on Ecclesial and Social Support

What Catholic theologian John McNeill is pointing to in the quotation I shared with you yesterday is very much like what Catholic theologian Margaret Farley also pointed to in her recent comments at the Commonweal discussion of whether the church is a fortress or a field hospital. Margaret Farley offered her listeners several examples to illustrate what she means when she speaks of how the tradition of natural law in Catholic moral thinking requires us to attend carefully to concrete reality, to the experiences of others, and to learn from these.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Pope, the Toppled (Catholic) House Speaker Mr. Boehner, and White Evangelicals As the GOP: Commentary for Your Edification and Amusement

This is partly for fun. As you know, I'm not political — just a theologian. Just as Pope Francis or Jesus is not political (and I'm not comparing myself to either of them in terms of substance and character), I'm not political. Just a theologian writing about theological issues.  

Remembering John McNeill, As Doors Slam Shut on Thousands at World Meeting of Families

As several of you have noted in comments here in the past few days, on the day on which Pope Francis arrived in the U.S., noted theologian and former Jesuit priest John McNeill died at the age of 90, with his partner of 46 years, Charles Chiarelli, at his side. Many of you will know quite a bit about John McNeill, so I don't think it's necessary for me to say more about his life than to remind readers that he was expelled from the Jesuits in 1987 when he refused to stop his ministry to LGBT people, and to cease his theological work in the area of sexual ethics. He attracted the animosity of Pope John Paul II and that pope's theological watchdog Cardinal Ratzinger, later Benedict XVI, and was ordered by Ratzinger to choose between his ministry to LGBT persons and his Jesuit vocation.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Joan Chittister to Pope Francis: "It Is Impossible, Holy Father, to Be Serious about Doing Anything for the Poor and at the Same Time Do Little or Nothing for Women"

Because I do remain a bit muzzy in the head due to my recent tooth issues (and, above all, the difficulty one has in sleeping as she/he deals with pain in the night), I don't think I can write anything of great substance or length right now. (Lucky you, right?)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Francis's Oblique Comments Today on Abuse Crisis: Open Mouth, Insert Foot — Taking Us Back to Square One

As Jerry Slevin says in a comment here earlier today, Dennis Coday has some pointed things to say after Pope Francis's address to the bishops when they and he gathered for a prayer service in D.C.'s Cathedral of St. Matthew. In that gathering, Francis told the U.S. bishops, 

As Francis Comes to U.S., I Remember JPII's Visit to My University in 1987 — When the Ceiling Fell

As the current pope comes to the U.S., how can I ever forget the visit of another previous rock-star pope, John Paul II, to the U.S.? When, as he was doing his thing at Xavier University in New Orleans, where I was teaching theology, the ceiling in my office fell down. In just the same way that he and his right-hand man, Cardinal Ratzinger, fell down on one theologian after another, over and over, throughout JPII's long papal reign. As I wrote in 2011, remembering this papal visit:

#FrancisUSA: Some Noteworthy Tweets As Francis Brouhaha Gets Underway in D.C.

From my Twitter feed as the Francis brouhaha in D.C. gets underway, so you won't have to wade through the shlock to find the occasional glittering gem. You're welcome. 

Kim Davis and Theology of "I Cannot Be Washed Unless I Define You As Unclean"

As David Badash asks after listening to Kim Davis complain on ABC's "Nightline" yesterday evening that she is the real victim, as she denies constitutionally guaranteed rights to LGBT citizens, "Has she ever shown an ounce of empathy for all the people she's hurt?"

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why I Keep Asking Where Francis Effect Is for Marginalized Catholics: Pretending Is Never Way to Build a Healthy Anything

When I keep asking where the Francis effect is for various groups of marginalized Catholics (like the black Catholics about whom Anthea Butler writes with first-hand testimony, or survivors of childhood clerical sexual abuse, or Catholic women and millennials, or native Americans, or divorced  Catholics, or LGBT Catholics), I'm not blaming the pope for these problems. They're problems with and within the Catholic church in the U.S. I'm simply stating that talk about the Francis effect that is pure media spin, disembodied hype that overlooks the real-life situation of American Catholics in all their diversity, will hide those problems, pretend they do not exist, compound them — and pretending is not what we need.

It's never the way to build a healthy anything.

The photo of Pope Francis on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, 28 January 2014, is by Stefano Spaziani.

As Pope Francis Arrives in U.S., Centrist Catholic Media Continue to Harp on "Balance" and Holding the Center

As Pope Francis arrives in the U.S. to a church very bitterly divided on ideological and political grounds, the centrist Catholic publications are still talking "balance," as they've done for decades now. As if someone has appointed them divine overseers to stand in the middle and keep the quarreling children on either side in line. As if they themselves are omniscient and objective, and have no dogs in any frays. As if the pope himself is a model of "balance." As if "balance" and the "center" were what Jesus himself was about. As if anything really important in the world gets accomplished by "balance."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Book Notes: Joelle Casteix's The Well-Armored Child: A Parent's Guide to Preventing Sexual Abuse

I have a book to recommend to you — particularly those of you raising children, or with friends and relatives raising children. The book will also be useful and very instructive for those committed to addressing the problem of sexual abuse of young people, as I believe many readers of this blog are. It's Joelle Casteix's The Well-Armored Child: A Parent's Guide to Preventing Sexual Abuse (Austin: River Grove, 2015).

As Pope Arrives: "Until Francis Gets the House in Order on the Matter of Sexual Abuse of Clergy, All the Other Pastoral and Charitable Efforts of Our Church Are Like Sandcastles"

Two simple (but are they simple?) reminders this morning about the abuse situation in the Catholic church, and the imperative need of Catholic pastoral leaders to address it — from the highest level of church governance:

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Why Does Kim Davis Keep at It? The Resilience of the Anti-Gay Stance in American Culture on Eve of Pope's Visit

So why does Kim Davis keep at it? Why do she and her followers persist, though they have, to all intents and purposes, lost a culture-war battle that ended when the Supremes handed down the Obergefell decision? As Michelangelo Signorile has just pointed out, though media pundits love to tell us that the religious right is waning and the culture wars are over and done with — and that there's some mythic GOP "center" that's going to save the Republican party from anti-gay extremism — at this week's GOP debate, the mythic "moderate" candidate, Jeb Bush, told us that he stands with the extremist Mike Huckabee regarding Kim Davis and her "religious freedom" to deny rights to LGBT citizens.

Friday, September 18, 2015

New York Catholic Pastor Reports Meeting with Pope Francis, in Which Pope Says, "I Would Love to Visit and Talk to Gay and Lesbian People and Please Tell the Gays to Pray for Me"

Kira Brekke reports at Huffington Post today on a report provided by Father Gil Martinez, pastor at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City, to HuffPo reporter Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani. The interview is captured in the video at the head of the posting.

Father Martinez reports that he was celebrating Mass yesterday with Pope Francis in the pope's house chapel, and he handed the pope a copy of the video "Owning Our Faith," which documents the lives and experience of LGBT Catholics in the U.S. And then this occurred according to Father Martinez (I'm excerpting Brekke's article):

The Francis Effect: Putting Rhetoric Together with Reality on Eve of Pope's Visit (3)

For parts one and two of this series, see here and here.

The Francis effect? Anecdote #1: in a National Catholic Reporter article published yesterday, Joshua McElwee reports on a forthcoming book from the Catholic Women Speak project. The book, entitled Catholic Women Speak: Bringing Our Gifts to the Table, will be published by Paulist Press before the October Synod on the Family begins. It gathers essays from Catholic women in various places in the world.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Francis Effect: Putting Rhetoric Together with Reality on Eve of Pope's Visit (2)

Note: this article is part two of a two-part series. The first part of this article is here.

The Francis effect? Anecdote #1: Mark Joseph Stern comments today on last night's GOP debates,

The Francis Effect: Putting Rhetoric Together with Reality on Eve of Pope's Visit (1)

On the eve of Pope Francis's visit to the U.S., I've been collecting information that, to my way of thinking, provides something of a snapshot of the Catholic church in the U.S. at this point in time. This is not a systematic project, but rather an anecdotal one, one in which I am gleaning information simply by reading the news day by day, rather than searching for it intentionally.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Poll Indicates Faux "Religious Liberty" Stunt of Reverend Huckabee and Mat Staver Involving Kim Davis Is Backfiring — Except Among White Evangelicals

Several days ago, I predicted that the phony "religious freedom" drama Reverend Mike Huckabee and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel have been staging with Kim Davis in Kentucky was going to backfire on the U.S. religious right. I cited Mark Joseph Stern who had noted what a "terrible poster girl" Ms. Davis has been for the religious right and its faux "religious freedom" crusade. And I stated,

Rolando Rodriguez on Trump's Appeal to White Male Fantasy: "The Image of Our Naked Brother Hanging on the Cross Is the Result of 'the White Male Phantasy' "

A week ago, I posted some comments about David Rosen's recent Salon article which argues that Donald Trump is appealing to a group of U.S. voters who long for the resurrection of what Rosen calls the "white male fantasy" of being on top of the world. Rosen thinks that

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: World Meeting of Families "Greasing the Skids Under Gay Folks and Their Families" and Assuring Them Catholic Church Doesn't Want Them

EyeTee responds to David Gibson's report at National Catholic Reporter about the choice of the organizers of the upcoming World Meeting of Families to make Ron Belgau, a celibate gay man, the official face of gay Catholicism at its meeting:

Monday, September 14, 2015

Meanwhile in Rowan County, Kentucky . . .

Here's what was going on inside Kim Davis's clerk of court's office this morning. 

(Thanks to Chris Morley for pointing me to this video.)

The video is from YouTube and CNN.

Blog Readers and Teachable Moments for the Catholic Community: "This Diversity Is Completely Absent from What Passes for Discourse in the Catholic Media"

In her comments at the recent Commonweal panel discussion of the topic "Fortress or Field Hospital?" that I discussed yesterday, moral theologian (and Sister of Mercy) Margaret Farley points out that the venerable tradition of natural law thinking in Catholic moral theology requires church teachers to pay careful attention to concrete reality, and to listen carefully to the graced experiences of the faithful. On any given day, much of the conversation on this blog is, it seems to me, a valuable snapshot of contemporary Catholic thinking that could, if any Catholic pastoral leader chose to pay attention to it, be extraordinarly instructive to pastoral leaders. If they chose to listen and to learn . . . .

Nuns on the Bus Come to Little Rock: Practicing Holy Curiosity and Sacred Gossip in the 21st Century

Steve and I spent last evening at the town hall meeting hosted by the Nuns on the Bus, as they arrived in Little Rock yesterday after having hosted a meeting in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Their Fayetteville meeting was in an Episcopal church, and in Little Rock, at First United Methodist church.

Man Who Torched Church's Rainbow Welcome Bench Turns Himself In, Has Ties to Catholic Crusaders of Immaculate Heart of Mary Group

Some of you will no doubt have read about the torching of a rainbow-colored bench outside a Presbyterian church in Ogdensburg, New York, last week. The congregation had placed the bench outside their church as a statement of welcome to everyone. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Michael Arceneaux on Why He Won't Return to Church, Even with Francis: "If You’re Not a Straight, White, Cisgender Man, Catholic Culture and Theology Isn’t Speaking to You"

In The Guardian today, Michael Arceneaux, a black, gay man who has left the Catholic church, explains why Pope Francis hasn't convinced him to return:

Refugee Crisis: Valuable Commentary from Recent Articles

As Lauren McCauley reports this morning at Common Dreams, tens of thousands of people rallied yesterday in London and across Europe in support of refugees seeking new, safe places to live. McCauley quotes the Facebook page of the group organizing the rally, #EuropeSaysWelcome

Commonweal's "Fortress or Field Hospital?" Discussion: Margaret Farley on Natural Law Theology and Church's Obligation to Learn from Married Same-Sex Couples

Yesterday, Commonweal sponsored a panel discussion of the topic "Fortress or Field Hospital?" Commonweal editor Mollie Wilson O'Reilly moderated the disucssion. Panelists were moral theologian Margaret Farley, journalist David Gibson, theologian and professor of law Cathleen Kaveny, and Barbara Dafoe, who directs the John Templeton Center for Thrift and Generosity. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Quote for Day: "All Lives Do Not Matter When We Must Sort the Dead by Sides" — A 9/11 Remembrance

Patricia J. Williams's powerful observation yesterday at The Nation site, which has to do with what we get when we remix the Confederacy for 2015, strikes me as valuable commentary, too, on 9/11, as the United States remembers that event:  

Highly Recommended: Sarah Posner's Just-Published Essay on Duggars' Close Ties to Discredited IBLP Ministry of Bill Gothard

A very important essay to which I'd like to point you: Sarah Posner's exhaustively researched investigation of the ties of the Duggar family to the discredited ministry of Bill Gothard and his Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). As Sarah reminds us, Jessica Michelle Duggar has used Gothard's Advanced Training Institute (ATI) curriculum to home-school her children.* 

Concluding Thoughts on the Huckabee-Staver Show Involving Kim Davis: It's a Catholic Show, Too

As this work week wraps up, and as we reach the level of full glut (and concomitant dyspepsia) with more news about Kim Davis, some wrap-up thoughts about her story:

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pictures Today: Walls, Marriage Licenses, Things Not Like Each Other, and Prehistoric Teeth — On Finding (or Not Finding) Narratives

Pictures today:

A Picture Today, Revealing Tragically Displaced Moral Priorities of Many American People of Faith

Pictures today. Though I plan to do another posting featuring pictures, I cannot post the picture above alongside the other ones I intend to post. It would be . . . wrong . . . to imply that the heart-breaking story this picture tells stands alongside the chatter of almost any other story.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

David Rosen on the Fantasy Trump Adroitly Peddles to Working-Class Straight White Men: Longing to Be Back on Top of the World

And, finally for this morning, another outstanding essay I read early today to which I want to point readers — David Rosen on the white male fantasy that Donald Trump exploits adroitly to hook working-class white male voters:

Katha Pollitt on Laudato Si': "If Pope Francis Really Wanted to Fight Climate Change, He'd Be a Feminist"

And more outstanding commentary today — this by Katha Pollitt at The Nation noting that Pope Francis's considerable blind spot regarding women's rights significantly diminishes the power of his encyclical Laudato Si' to address the world's ecological crisis effectively:

Colleen Kochivar-Baker on Kim Davis and Her Handlers: "Anyone Who Gives a Fig about the Face of Christianity in America Should Be Sick at This Stunt"

And more brilliant commentary on the faux religious liberty show staged by Rev. Mike Huckabee and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, involving Kim Davis — this from Colleen Kochivar-Baker in a comment responding to Michael Sean Winters and his "sympathetic" assessment of Ms. Davis's story at National Catholic Reporter yesterday:

Brittney Cooper on Kim Davis and Her Handlers: "Social Grammar of White Evangelicalism Inheres in the Deployment of Moral Claims to Obscure the Systemic Operations of Structural Inequality"

Following on yesterday's Liberty Counsel-Rev. Mike Huckabee faux "religious liberty" show involving Kim Davis, some outstanding commentary this morning to which I'd like to point you:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fred Clark on Kim Davis: "57 Years to the Day After Other White Evangelical Christians in the South Defied a Court Order" Contradicting Their Religious Views

Fred Clark's neat summary of the parallel between the Kim Davis story and the Orval Faubus story: 

Catholic "Liberals" Continue to Go on Record with Sympathy for Kim Davis — But Not for Her Victims: Continuing to Assess the "Francis Effect"

As I've predicted in several previous postings about the Kim Davis case, Catholic "liberals" are now steadily going on record to express their sympathy for Kim Davis and their consternation that the mean gays are doing their usual bullying act with Christians who are sincere in their belief that the gays cannot and should not marry. I pointed you several days ago to the comments in this thread at Commonweal responding to Bethe Dufresne's statement about the Kim Davis story. Add to the list today Michael Sean Winter's "sympathetic" essay in National Catholic Reporter.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

John Bijarney on Kim Davis and Her Supporters: Seeking License to Escape Change and Project Status Quo into the Future

This commentary by my Facebook friend John Bijarney on what Kim Davis and her supporters are really all about, at the core of their movement, is right on target, I think.

Liberty Counsel's Faux Religious Liberty Stunt Involving Kim Davis: Commentary Worth Reading

Friday, September 4, 2015

On This Day in 1958: Defiance of Supreme Court Decision Brown v. Board of Education in Arkansas — How Little Some People Learn from History

"Gov Faubus Save Our Christian America"
As Richard Kreitner reminds us at The Nation today, on this day in 1958 in my hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas, the governor of Arkansas Orval Faubus called out the national guard to prevent the integration of our city's white Central High School after the Supreme Court found, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954, that segregation of public schools violated the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Kim Davis Goes to Jail for Contempt of Court

As Chris Morley has pointed out in a series of comments here a little bit ago, the breaking news is that the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk defying court orders to issue marriage licenses (to all couples in the county, apparently, though gay couples are the target) has been sentenced to jail for contempt of court. Steve and I have not had access to an internet connection much of the day, and I'm just seeing the news. Chris's links will be very helpful for those of you who haven't yet heard the news.

Must-Reading As Papal Visit Nears: The Economist on "Unholy Mess" of Finances in U.S. Catholic Church

For anyone asking why so many Catholics have walked away and continue to do so despite the "Francis effect"; for those with serious concern for the future of the Catholic church; for those who care about the effectiveness of the church in proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ to the world:

Rachel Held Evans on Faux Persecution Complex of Conservative Christians, and Betraying the Gospel

Rachel Held Evans argues that when the Christian brand becomes assertion of the "right to refuse" service rather than serving, when it becomes standing against those suffering real oppression rather than with them, Christians shouldn't be shocked that large numbers of people are walking away from their "gospel" at this point in history:

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

After Ashley Madison, Lots of Talk about Mercy: Men, Women, Gays (and Kim Davis), and the Strangely Disappearing Mercy Seat of the Christian Churches

I told you, didn't I, only a day or so ago that the reason godly Christian heterosexual men are succumbing to sexual temptation right now is that their women have bitten the alluring but tainted apple of uppity feminism and are no longer servicing them? And the gays: if it's about uppity women, it has to be about the gays, too, doesn't it? Those two — uppity gals and the gays — go together like tea and biscuits or hats and horse races.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

John Corvino on Kim Davis: "Willingness to Impose a Standard of Marriage on Gays That She Does Not Apply to Others, Herself Included" Reveals Her True Intent: Singling Out Gays for Discrimination

It's On in Rowan County, Kentucky (3): "Under God's Authority," Religious Freedom, and the Elite Commentariat

A YouTube user, 646guy, is uploading videos from today's events at the Rowan County, Kentucky, courthouse. The video above is more extensive footage than what I previously posted, showing Kim Davis denying a marriage license to a same-sex couple "under God's authority." It may be worth watching this YouTube page to see if 646guy uploads more videos today.

Titus Presler on Rising Religious Thuggery: Cynical Governments Exploit Bigotry As Resources Grow Scarce (and on Kim Davis As a Homegrown U.S. Religious Thug)

Titus Presler, an Episcopal priest and principal of an Episcopal college in Pakistan who was beaten by government thugs because of his religion, explains why such religious thuggery is on the rise in many places in the world: