Friday, April 29, 2016

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Requiescat in Pace, Ban on Giving Platforms and Honors to People Who Hold Views Contrary to Church Teaching

In a just-published essay at National Catholic Reporter, Father Thomas Reese calls on Catholic colleges and universities to bury the ban on inviting graduation speakers who espouse positions contrary to Catholic teaching (read: the ban on inviting Democratic speakers). As he notes, this ban emanated from the U.S. bishops, and has resulted in a significant diminution of the academic credibility of Catholic institutions of higher learning. It has signaled that "our" moral positions on issues like abortion, women's rights, and same-sex marriage are weak, since we expect to enforce those teachings by coercion and do not expect to persuade the larger culture of their truth by means of respectful conversation or rational argument. We do not, in fact, respect academic freedom when we choose the route of coercion rather than the route of persuasion.*

Mr. Trump Plays the Woman Card: Recent Commentary on Issues of Gender and Misogyny in Presidential Campaign

After his recent string of victories in the Northeast, Donald Trump has given us a taste of what's to come as he and Hillary Clinton square off in the 2016 presidential elections: he accused Clinton of playing "the woman card." Whatever that means . . . .

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Once Again, Why Are White Evangelicals (and Working-Class White Catholics) Gung-Ho About Trump? — "A Form of Identity Politics That Has Always Tied Together Jesus, America, and Whiteness"

The discussion about the (by now, clearly demonstrated) fact that Donald Trump is mopping up in the evangelical voting market continues, with Tobin Grant offering statistical analysis at Religion Dispatches a few days ago of this phenomenon in several recent primaries, and noting,

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

More Commentary on Tony Spence's Firing and Consequences for U.S. Catholics, Commentary on Norwegian Lutherans' Embrace of Same-Sex Marriage

More commentary on two stories that have been discussed here recently — the firing of Catholic News Service director Tony Spence after he tweeted criticism of the anti-LGBT laws recently passed in North Carolina and Mississippi; and the decision of the state church of Norway, its Lutheran church, to recognize same-sex marriage and to celebrate same-sex marriages in churches (the latter story has been discussed by Chris Morley in comments here lately).

Ivone Gebara and Krzysztof Charamsa on Amoris Laetitia: "Ideological Propaganda of the 'Joy' of Love Which Is Heterosexual Only, and Which Insensitively Excludes All Others, Who Should Not Exist"

Two more very valuable pieces of commentary about the papal exhortation on the family Amoris Laetitia that I'd like to recommend to you this morning:

Two Resources to Recommend to You: On Unpacking Invisible Knapsacks of Male Privilege, Racial Privilege, and Heterosexual Privilege

Two resources to share with you this morning. These are resources recommended at the conference on embracing and affirming LGBTQ diversity in the black church that I attended recently at New Millennium Baptist church in my home city of Little Rock. Many of you may already know of these two items. If not, it occurs to me to share information about them with you, so that you'll be aware of them.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Treasury Department Announces Harriet Tubman Will Depose Andrew Jackson from Front of Twenty-Dollar Bills: Knickers Become Atwist

As Amy Goodman and Dennis Moynihan state, legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman would seem to many of us to be the quintessence of what American democracy is all about, at its best:

In the News: Attacks on Transgender Community, with Commentary on Catholic Bishops' Support of Discriminatory Laws

Another in-the-news posting to follow the one I just posted about the ongoing story of the abuse crisis in the Catholic church in the U.S.:

Laurie Goodstein on Why the Catholic Abuse Story Remains a Story (and Minnesota Survivor Megan Peterson Files Lawsuit As Her Abuser Father Jeyapaul Is Returned to Ministry)

Recommended: New York Times reporter Laurie Goodstein's "Times Insider" report today on why the sex abuse story in the Catholic church remains a story. Be sure to listen to the podcast discussion between Goodstein and Susan Lehman about Goodstein's report.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Not Voting When the Supreme Court Hangs in the Balance? Not Morally Defensible — A Response to Anderson Cooper and Others Who Choose Not to Vote

Out gay journalist Anderson Cooper stated yesterday that  he does not vote, and that journalists should not vote because taking sides compromises their integrity.

Henry Giroux on Critical Importance of Connecting the Dots Between Issues and Groups in Battle Against Authoritarianism in U.S. Today

In an essay originally published at Truthout and just re-published by the Moyers & Company blog, Henry Giroux argues that American society is now facing "the endpoint of a long series of attacks on democracy," and that this reality calls for a new way of doing politics among American progressives — "an expansive understanding of politics, not fixating singularly on elections or any other issue but rather emphasizing the connections among diverse social movements."

Note to Tell You I'm Hoping to Respond to Comments Here

A brief note to let you esteemed readers know I'm hoping to find time today to respond to your welcome comments here in the past few days. The past week has been a week of many meetings for me, and my work with this blog has tended to fall a bit behind as a result — for which I apologize.

A Question for "Liberal" Catholics Now Praising Amoris Laetitia: What Kind of Holiness Is Purchased at the Price of Making LGBTQ Lives Miserable?

Conferences (when they're good) become thinking spaces for me. At many thought-provoking, energizing meetings like the one we attended this weekend on embracing LGBTQ diversity in the black church, I find myself jotting notes in the margins of my program — notes about seemingly unrelated discussions in which I'm involved which, to my way of thinking, relate intently to the conversations I'm hearing at the conference I'm attending. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Embracing and Affirming LGBTQ Diversity Within the Black Church: Notes from a Conference Sponsored by New Millennium Baptist Church, Little Rock

Fred Clark, Slacktivist

As I mentioned on Saturday, this weekend, Steve and I attended a conference on "Embracing and Affirming LGBTQ Diversity Within the Black Church" sponsored by New Millennium Baptist church in Little Rock. Those of us attending this wonderful event made a covenant not to tweet or share personal information revealed by participants in conference discussions, but unless I completely misunderstand, we're welcome to share information about the conference itself and about the important discussions that took place over the course of the weekend.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Diarmaid MacCulloch Again, on How Anger of Aggrieved Heterosexual Males Drives Many Christian Churches Today

As I think about the firing of Tony Spence of Catholic News Service this past week and about the underlying heterosexist and male-privileged worldview that the all-male ordained leaders of the Catholic church keep defending as recently as the document Amoris Laetitia, as I look at the wave of hot male anger feeding the campaign of Mr. Trump in the U.S., and as I think about the ugly spate of hateful legislation targeting LGBTQ people now pouring forth in one legislature after another, the following passages from Diarmaid MacCulloch's Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years (NY: Penguin, 2009), which I've shared with you previously, keep ringing in my ears:

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Keeping the Conversation about Amoris Laetitia Real: New Commentary by Mary Hunt, Jeannine Gramick, and Massimo Faggioli

Good morning! Are you as tired as I am of hearing about Amoris Laetitia? I know full well I have made myself tiresome talking about it to some folks connected to me on social media, who have entrée of a kind I will never have in Catholic institutional circles, though they're gay — and who do not want to hear that this papal exhortation betokens no good news to LGBTQ human beings. One of those gay friends, who has just come back from an audience with Pope Francis and who has always had entrée in the Vatican because her family is extremely wealthy, tried to shut me down on Facebook yesterday by telling me we all are broken, after all — a bullying tactic designed to shame me for calling on her institution (it's far more hers than mine) to live what it proclaims when it talks about mercy and justice.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "When Cardinals Say That Church Teaching Can Only Be Further Developed but Not Changed They Are Playing a Power Game"

I'm glad to see this insightful comment by reader rdp46 featured today at National Catholic Reporter as the top comment in response to NCR's initial set of comments about Amoris Laetitia. I think it's at the top of the queue of comments because it has move like votes than any other comment in the thread.

Keeping the Conversation about Amoris Laetitia Real: "Everyone Uses and Throws Away, Takes and Breaks, Exploits and Squeezes to the Last Drop. Then, Goodbye"

I'm now reading Amoris Laetitia — slowly — and am taking some notes on it. Here's a passage from §39 that makes me stop and think. These statements are embedded in a section of the exhortation speaking about impediments to family life in contemporary culture, and how the church should respond to those. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Seven Notes re: Amoris Laetitia and the Papacy of Pope Francis As a Project to Shore Up Waning Heterosexual Male Power and Privilege

Some mental notes as I'm making as I begin to read Amoris Laetitia carefully:

Mary Hunt Sums Up Amoris Laetitia: "Alas, the Hetero Monogamous Ideal Remains in Place While Lip Service Is Paid to the Remote Possibility of Other Options"

For The Tablet, Catholic theologian Mary Hunt sums up what a missed opportunity Amoris Laetitia is (though those dancing to the tune of the church talkers will not see or admit this, I suspect):

Sunday Stories for You: Dancing Outside the Lines of Church Talk and Church Folks

At the very outset of the American democratic experiment, Alexis de Tocqueville warned us about an ironic effect he could already perceive in our attempt to make "freedom" and atomic individualism the prevailing mode of social organization in our new society. He pointed out that these qualities have a centrifugal trajectory that made them dangerous as organizing principles for a society — a social grouping, a community of people. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

William Saletan on Amoris Laetitia As Closeted Argument for Gay Marriage: Growing Cracks in Foundation of Catholic Approach to Same-Sex Couples

Another interesting piece of (non-insider) commentary on Amoris Laetitia to which I want to point you today: William Saletan at Slate. Saletan argues that the double standard between how the Catholic magisterium treats heterosexual couples incapable of procreation and how it treats homosexual couples — using the same moral norm in both cases — is growing insupportable, and that Amoris Laetitia may open the door to a change down the road in the official Catholic approach to same-sex marriage, as more and more people recognize just how insupportable (and invidious) this double standard is.

"There Is Almost Complete Silence on Homosexuality" in Amoris Laetitia: There's Silence and Then There's Silence — Interpreting the Silence of Amoris Laetitia About LGBTQ Lives

So, silence. What to do about silence? Massimo Faggioli writes about Amoris Laetitia

Sifting Through More Commentary on Amoris Laetitia: "There Is Almost Complete Silence on Homosexuality" in Amoris Laetitia

Though I have not yet read the exhortation on family just published by Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, (except in excerpts provided in commentary I've been reading — some of them generous in length), I want to offer you a few links to more commentary I've run across that seems to me worth considering. You can find at various websites gatherings of links to wider commentary, much of it "insider" commentary — either insider commentary from known and trusted voices within the Catholic LGBTQ community (I'm not one of those), or known and trusted voices within the larger Catholic community (ditto). See, e.g., the list of links compiled by Michael Bayly at his Wild Reed site, by Bob Shine at Bondings 2.0, and by National Catholic Reporter.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Michael Boyle on North Carolina Bishops' Praise of Anti-LGBTQ Hate Law and Who Really Represents Christianity Adequately Today (and the Connection to Amoris Laetitia)

This is not unrelated to the discussion of Amoris Laetitia that I began in my first two postings this morning: I'd like to recommend to you as a companion piece to that discussion a posting Michael Boyle made yesterday at his Sound of Sheer Silence blog. Michael's responding to the David Gushee essay about which I blogged earlier in the week.

Barbie Latza Nadeau on Amoris Laetitia As No Good News for Women: Denial of Differences Between the Sexes Described As Ideological, But Who Claims That There Are No Differences?

Did I say something earlier today about the pope's "exhortation" on family Amoris Laetitia (still haven't read it, still reading commentary) being all about the assertion of heterosexual male ownership of, well, everything in the world, including the notion of mercy? Did I mention that the exhortation is a gesture demonstrating Pope Francis's determination to keep the Catholic church aligned with the dominance of men over women and the dominance of heterosexual human beings over homosexual ones?

Amoris Laetitia: No Good News for LGBTQ People or Women — The Commentary Begins

Good news! The definition of mercy remains securely in the hands of heterosexual (and heterosexual-posturing) men this morning. God's in His heaven and all is right with the world!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Commonweal Editor Matthew Sitman on Mississippi and North Carolina Anti-LGBTQ Legislation: "Freedom for Me But Not for Thee"

Commonweal associate editor Matthew Sitman on the "freedom for me but not for thee" approach to religious freedom of the new anti-LGBTQ legislation in Mississippi and North Carolina:

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Welcome to the Year of Mercy. You're Fired"

Father Peter Daly, pastor of  St. John Vianney parish in Prince Frederick, Maryland, writing in National Catholic Reporter yesterday:

North Carolina Catholic Bishops Peter Jugis and Michael Burbidge Issue Warm Thank You to North Carolina Legislators for Bill Attacking LGBTQ People

On Holy Saturday, I wrote that Steve and I had chosen to celebrate Easter with Christian communities that actually welcome us and invite us to participate in their liturgical life — unlike our "family" church, the Catholic church. I noted the draconian law Republicans in the state of North Carolina had recently passed to attack queer citizens of that state, especially transgender ones, and then I stated:

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Father Thomas Reese on John Paul II As a Loving Grandfather: Whose Experience of the Church Counts, As Pope Francis's Exhortation on the Family Is Published?

Father Thomas Reese thinks John Paul II came across as "a loving but benighted grandfather." And as I read that baffling observation, I try to place myself inside the circle of experience of those Catholics for whom John Paul II appeared to be loving.

A Midweek Grocery Store Story for You: More on the Role Religion Often Plays in Hardening Folks' Hearts Against Targeted Others

I have a middle-of-the-week story for you all. It's, among other things, a story about that lamentable tendency of groups of people who have experienced historic oppression to turn around and heap oppression on some other hapless group, once they think they themselves have gotten a leg up. It's about that shocking, deeply painful human tendency to refuse to learn empathy from one's own experience of oppression. It's about the role religion often plays in hardening folks' hearts against targeted others.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

David Gushee on "My Discovery in Recent Years of Versions of Christianity That Actually Make People Worse Human Beings Than They Might Otherwise Have Been"

For Religion News Service, David Gushee writes today about how the hopeful view of how Christian communities relate to the world around him that he learned from his professors Glen Stassen and Larry Rasmussen, both indebted to Bonhöffer, has had to be complemented over the course of time with a more somber assessment of what Christian communities can really be capable of. As he has reflected more on the real role Christian churches played during the Holocaust (a much more ambiguous and shameful role than many Christian apologists would like us to see), on the role that Christian communities have played in promoting racist ideologies in the U.S., and the role many Christian groups are now playing in spreading Islamophobic ideas, he has had to revise the hopeful understanding of Christian ethics he learned from Stassen and Rasmussen.

Race Matters: As White Supremacists Robocall Wisconsin, Discussion of "Hidden" GOP Racism Continues to Come Out into the Open with Trump Candidacy

As anyone with eyes open has seen for years now in the American political context, the Republican party has long used racial resentment cynically, as a tool to get white working-class voters to vote against their own economic self-interest. As anyone with eyes open has also seen, those working-class white voters have included an ample proportion of working-class white Catholics in the North who deny any racial motivation for their decision to abandon the Democratic party for the GOP, while strong evidence exists proving that this trend among white working-class Northern Catholics is, indeed, fed to a large extent by racial animosity.

Monday, April 4, 2016

With Knights of Columbus Funding and Strong Connections to Well-Heeled Right-Wing Catholic Elite Groups, Crux Promises No Good New for LGBTQ Catholics

Last week, I commented on a recent statement by Kaya Oakes at Religion Dispatches raising critical questions about the choice of John Allen to fund his Catholic news journal Crux with Knights of Columbus funds, now that Boston Globe has announced it will no longer fund Crux. As I noted, Kaya Oakes points out that the Knights of Columbus have established quite a reputation for themselves by sending over a million dollars to California to help snatch the right of marriage from gay citizens of that state with proposition 8, and by making million-dollar-plus contributions to campaigns in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington to combat gay rights. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Commonweal Editorial Slams "Illiberalism" That Would Shut Down Free Speech of Trump Fans: Implications for Commonweal's Discussions of LGBTQ Lives?

As I noted yesterday, the leading "liberal" Catholic journal in the U.S., Commonweal, has just published an editorial statement which maintains that "illiberal" forces in American democracy are seeking to shut down the free speech of anyone who is not a member of a minority group. The editorial (which, unfortunately, came out only a day after a 15-year-old girl was pepper sprayed in the face by protesters at a rally in Paul Ryan's hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, as Trump supporters screamed "Nigger lover!" and "Bitch!" at her) points to the actions of anti-Trump protesters to combat racism and misogyny as evidence that "illiberal" groups are now working to suppress the free speech of those with whom they disagree.