Sunday, May 29, 2016

Another Footnote to Discussion of Role of Women in Early Christian Rome: Patricia Miller on Stepped-Up Exodus of Women (Especially Catholic Ones) from Church Life

Another footnote to my discussion two days ago of Nicola Denzey's Bone Gatherers, a study of the roles played by women in early Christian Rome: at Religion Dispatches this week, Patricia Miller points to a new Pew Research Center study which shows that while religious attendance continues to decline among Americans across the board, it is now declining more among women than among men. Why is this the case, Patti wonders?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Footnote to Discussion of Role of Women in Early Christian Rome: Women Priests Project's Rome Poster Campaign Challenges Ban on Women's Ordination

I cannot say this better than Chris Morley says it in a comment in response to my posting yesterday, which ended with the following statements: 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Nicola Denzey's The Bone Gatherers: The Lost Worlds of Early Christian Women — Book Notes

My last posting was, in some respects, a piece of historiographical commentary. It was a meditation of sorts on how historians might face the challenge of the lacunae, the aporias, the silences (along with the lies and secrets, to echo Adrienne Rich) buried within historical documents, artifacts, texts, etc. My posting pointed you to a recent Salon essay by openly gay Irish novelist Colm Tóibín in which he argues that the pro-marriage equality side prevailed in the Irish referendum about same-sex marriage because gay Irish people — and the families of gay Irish people — chose to make themselves visible in a new way in Irish society, so that many of their fellow citizens could fill in a blank that had not been filled in previously, and recognize that they knew gay people, that they had close ties to families with gay sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers. Tóibín's essay is an excerpt from his foreword to a forthcoming book by Charlie Bird — A Day in May (Dublin: Merrion, June 2016)— about how the marriage equality battle was won in Ireland.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Unearthing Hidden LGBTQ Stories in Family History Research: The Mirror That Reflects Nothing Back

A warning before you dive in: this is one of those postings about one of my particular interests, tracking family history. And so it may not be of interest to all readers. It's also, however, about the challenge of unearthing buried stories about LGBT relatives, in particular, as we pore over historical records.

Jennifer Haselberger: "The Philosophy, the Ideology, Has Always Been to Protect the Assets of the Church" — Not to Respond with Pastoral Concern

As abuse survivors in Minnesota charge that the archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis is shielding millions of dollars of assets in a bankruptcy case, Jennifer Haselberger, former canon lawyer for the archdiocese and whistle-blower regarding its cover-up of clerical sexual abuse of minors, reminds us that it is and always has been about protecting the assets of the church (and its image), when abuse survivors come forward to report what has happened to them.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Quote for Day: "Liberal Christians Often Pay Lip Service to Many Politically Radical Christian Thinkers and Activists While Lining Up Behind the Political and Economic Forces That They Fought Against"

At Religion Dispatches, Daniel José Camacho responds to a recent article at the same venue by Ruth Graham which argues that liberal Christians could, if they so chose, position themselves to retrieve the designation "party of God" under Hillary Clinton's leadership: Camacho demurs for the following reasons,

Commentary on the Bathroom Wars (and the Role of Religious Folks in Them): "Fighting Over Bathrooms Is the Oldest Move in the Prejudice Playbook"

More commentary for you from the last several days, as a new work week begins: these pieces focus, for the most part, on the current "bathroom wars" in the U.S., and the role being played by church people in those wars — a considerable role, in fact,  since, as Bill Berkowitz has just noted, the Christian right's distress over transgender youth hit fever pitch last week when President Obama reminded public schools that they have an obligation to adhere to already established non-discrimination guidelines as they deal with transgender students.

More Commentary on Pope Francis and Women Deacons: Jamie Manson and Mary Hunt — "He Believes That God Simply Cannot Work Through the Female Body in the Way in Which God Works through the Male Body"

Here are two more pieces of good commentary I'd like to recommend to you, regarding the discussion of the possibility of studying the place of women deacons in the Catholic church and Pope Francis's recent remarks to a group of women religious about this. I discussed this topic last week.

Friday, May 20, 2016

David Gibson and Tom Heneghan Publish Religion News Service Report about Father Tony Anatrella: "Scandal That Could Have Repercussions All the Way to the Vatican"

An update as the week ends, on the story of Father Tony Anatrella, about which I've been keeping you posted (and here) as it's discussed in the French media recently: at Religion News Service, David Gibson and Tom Heneghan have just published a report about the Anatrella story with the headline "Prominent French Priest and Vatican Adviser Accused in Sex Scandal." This is the first such report I've seen in the English-speaking media, though, admittedly, I have not been searching carefully for such reports, after I found initially that the French media were reporting on the new Anatrella allegations, while I found no such reports in English-language media.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

More on the Claim That Religious Right Is Waning, as Evidence Mounts of Massive White Evangelical Support for Donald Trump

Two days ago, I posted commentary expressing my own strong reservations about the argument — often pushed by liberal-centrist political commentators — that the religious right and its culture wars are waning in the U.S. political sphere. Here's Rob Boston today at Talk to Action making a similar point: 

Supremes Hand Zubik v. Burwell Mess Back to Little Sisters of the Poor, U.S. Catholic Bishops, and Obama Administration: Good Commentary

Andrew Glass, "Supreme Court Upholds Segregation, May 18, 1896, " Politico

As the Supremes hand the Zubik v. Burwell mess back to the Little Sisters of the Poor, the U.S. Catholic bishops, and the Obama administration — despite seven of eight lower court rulings which have found that the spurious "religious freedom" complaint of the bishops hiding behind the habits of the sisters are entirely confected, here's some commentary I've found worth reading:

Catholic Scholars Ask About Silence of Liberal Catholics re: LGBTQ Issues as They Praise Amoris Laetitia, While Vatican Official Attacks LGBTQ Community

About a month ago, I summed up my response to so-called liberal or progressive Catholics who praise the recent papal document on the family, Amoris Laetitia, despite its ugly trajectory of combined silence and condemnation as it speaks of LGBTQ human beings, as follows: 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The United Methodist Church's General Conference and the Question of Welcoming and Including LGBTQ People: A Reflection and Prediction (UMC Will Not Move to Welcome LGBTQ People)

* UMC offer of "all" does not include LGBTQ people.

The videotaped theological conversation between Ivone Gebara and me that I've just posted here mentions several times the prophetic witness of Rev. Gilbert Caldwell, a longtime civil rights activist who marched with Dr. King — it mentions Gil Caldwell's prophetic witness within the United Methodist Church, as he stands with fellow Methodists calling on their church to welcome and include LGBTQ human beings. As I've noted several times in discussing Gil Caldwell's civil rights activism, he and other United Methodists who protest the exclusive and condemnatory policy of the UMC towards LGBT people have been arrested at General Conference for doing so.

Sharing Our Life as Theology: Another Videotaped Theological Conversation with Ivone Gebara, About Diarmaid MaCulloch's Silence, Christian Amnesia, and Gospel Mandate for Inclusivity

I've previously shared with you two videotaped conversations that I had the honor of having in the past year with the distinguished Brazilian theologian Ivone Gebara (here and here). As I noted when I shared these videos, Mark Shumway and Rachel Fitzgerald Shumway, who maintain the evolving deep forms blog, organized and videotaped these conversations (with expert technical assistance from Mark's son Chris Shumway and Rachel and Ivone's friend Marlene Denardo, who speaks Portuguese and helped facilitate the conversation when Ivone and I needed her wonderful linguistic skills).

Monday, May 16, 2016

From Strawberries on the Cake to the Diaconate: Commentary on Pope Francis's Remark About Studying Women and the Diaconate

As many of you will perhaps know, Pope Francis made an off-the-cuff remark to a closed-door meeting of superiors of religious women last week, about the possibility of studying whether women might be admitted to the diaconate, and the media and twitterverse lit up right away with reports that the pope of grand surprises might be opening the door to women's ordination to the priesthood. However, as AP reported almost immediately afterwards, Vatican officials then began "tamping down expectations" with alacrity as the Vatican media guru Father Lombardi announced that the pope had not meant to signal any openness to ordaining women deacons, let alone women priests.

Want to Know Why "Pro-Life" Democrats Are Vanishing Breed? Go See "Spotlight," Fred Clark Advises: On the Catholic Bishops, the Culture Wars, and Mr. Trump

Want to know why the "pro-life" Democrats have vanished, Fred Clark asks? And then he recommends: "Go see 'Spotlight.' " Fred writes,

Claim That the Culture Wars are Over and Religious Right Is Obsolescent Links to Claim That Political Left and Identity Politics Are Responsible for Trump: My Take

One thing I suppose many of us can agree on about the current U.S. presidential election cycle is that it has been full of surprises. Not the least of those has been the surprising way in which Mr. Trump has risen to the top of the GOP heap, when one media guru and statistician after another — most of these folks living in media bubbles and elite enclaves set apart from the rest of the nation — smugly assured us as the campaign began that we could safely laugh at him, since he had a snowball's chance in hell of being the Republican presidential candidate.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Msgr. Anatrella, Vatican "Expert on Homosexuality" Accused of Molesting Patients, Now Back in News As Paris Archbishop Vingt-Trois Issues Statement

An update to the story I told you earlier this month about allegations regarding . . . unusual . . . therapeutic methods (i.e., curing of homosexuality by "corporal" methods involving genital touching) employed by French monsignor Tony Anatrella, the Vatican "expert on homosexuality" who believes homosexuality is an illness that can be cured by reparative therapy: 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Apologies for Mistakes (Now Corrected) in My Review of Scott Pomfret's Only Say the Word: Forests Have Timber, But Voices Have Timbre!

My apologies to all of you for the embarrassing mistakes in the review of Scott Pomfret's Only Say the Word, which I spotted this afternoon when I re-read my posting with care. I do know the difference between "timber" and "timbre," and have now corrected that egregious error.

I also know that a sentence using the phrase "disparity between how he deals with" should have a complementary phrase "and how he deals with," and I've cleaned up that sentence, too. There may well be other solecisms sprinkled in the text, but for now, I've spotted those (and a typo or two), and have corrected the version of the book notes I had posted earlier today — and apologize to you all for not having seen the mistakes earlier.

Scott Pomfret's New Novel Only Say the Word: Book Notes

In a few days, Nine Star Press will release Scott Pomfret's new novel Only Say the Word (Waterford: Nine Star Press, 2016). It's available now via Kindle, and I've just had the pleasure of reading it. I'd like to share a few notes with you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Quote for Day: The Current Trans-Panic and "A Process Which, If Followed to the End, Will Make Us Into Devils"

Fred Clark at Slacktivist, commenting on a lurid fantasy being peddled by conservative Christian commentator Rod Dreher, about gangs of "transgendered" thugs who are, we're told, terrorizing upstanding theater-going Texas suburbanites:

Trump and Race: Trumpism "Corresponds to the Geography of White Racial Resentment in the United States"

When you click to watch the video at the head of the posting, you'll discover that The Guardian's distinguished journalist Steven Thrasher thinks that Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the U.S. Why? Hint: it's about the venerable American tradition of meeting civil rights breakthroughs with fierce, ugly reaction that tries to set back those who have just experienced a breakthrough in the area of rights. And so Thrasher asks, Following the election of the nation's first African-American president, why shouldn't we expect the United States to follow that development with the "meanest, whitest, most vile bigot possible"?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

As U.S. Attorney General Defends LGBT Rights, Some U.S. Catholic Institutions Continue Attacks on LGBT People: Gender-Policing at Catholic School Prom in Pennsylvania

In writing a moment ago about Loretta Lynch's clear, impassioned, morally cogent defense of the humanity and rights of transgender human beings — and of the obligation of a democratic society to protect these rights — I noted that some Christian communities appear intent on throwing away their moral authority by handsful at this point in history. Some Christian communities have, in fact, abdicated their responsibility to take compassionate and courageous moral leadership in an historic struggle for human rights and to combat the oppression of a viciously maligned minority group — and these Christian communities will, I predict, pay a very high price down the road for that evacuation of moral authority at this important juncture of history, after the dust has settled and the "debate" about the full humanity of LGBT people is over and done with. 

Loretta Lynch's Historic Speech Connects Dots Between LGBT and Black Struggles for Rights: "Not the First Time That We Have Seen Discriminatory Responses to Historic Moments of Progress for Our Nation"

Saturday, May 7, 2016

"The Church Came Early to the Hanging": Deciphering Conversations About Race and Religion (and LGBTQ Humanity), As Trump Rises to Power

The current political context is forcing Americans to discuss race, and churchpeople have some serious reckoning to do. Not only did the church turn a blind eye to racism, but congregations would often let out early on days there was to be a lynching in the town square so parishioners could get a good seat for the festivities. The church came early to the hanging. 
Sandhya Jha in a review of Drew G.I. Hart's Trouble I've Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism (Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press, 2016) in Christian Century

Friday, May 6, 2016

Cousin of John Nienstedt Reports That He Told Nienstedt of Abuse by Nienstedt's Priest-Friend, and Nienstedt Did Nothing: The Unholy Trinity of Lies, Secrets, and Silence

The story told in the video above is one to which a valued reader of this blog alerted me yesterday. The report is from KMSP (Fox News) in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. As you'll see when you watch the video, a reporter from this news outlet, Tom Lyden, interviews a cousin of deposed Twin Cities archbishop John Nienstedt — Mike Hinske — who maintains that a priest-friend of Nienstedt's, Samuel Ritchey, sexually abused him when he was 16 years old. Lyden also interviews an unwilling Nienstedt.

"Liberal Redneck" Trae Crowder Back in Video About How He Became Liberal: Did Not Appreciate How Church Treated His Gay Uncle

Several days back, I shared with you a video by Tennessee comedian and self-styled "liberal redneck" Trae Crowder offering devastating (and devastatingly funny) commentary on the stupidity of what Charles Pierce calls "the Urinal Cooties Protection Act" of the now consistently insane state of North Carolina, Tennessee's mother state. The video at the head of the posting is an interview Trae Crowder did two days ago with Lawrence O'Donnell's "Last Word" program.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

French Media Report Allegations That Vatican "Expert on Homosexuality" Monsignor Tony Anatrella Sexually Abused a Minor Undergoing "Reparative" Therapy

I have seen no reports about this story in English-language media. I thought I would share it with you since 1) we've previously discussed the role played by Monsignor Tony Anatrella, a Vatican "expert on homosexuality," at the Synod on the Family and in a recent controversy about a Vatican document instructing new bishops that they need not report allegations of sexual abuse by clergy to criminal authorities; and 2) some readers of this blog may not read French and so may otherwise miss this report. A French-speaking friend of mine on Facebook has shared this news link with me.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

As Their Party Puts Forward a Reality-Show Star Who Spouts Racism, Misogyny, and Xenophobia, Catholic Bishops Use "Religious Freedom" Video to Attack Hillary Clinton

Did I just say that the yuuuge affection of large numbers of (white) Catholics in the U.S. for the outright racist (and misogynist and xenophobic) Donald Trump bespeaks colossal moral and pastoral failure on the part of the U.S. Catholic bishops — as do the ugly comments now piling up at the website of the liberal Catholic journal Commonweal, some from Commonweal subscribers, after that journal dared to publish an editorial chastising the Republican party for seeking to deny the right to vote to minority voters? As all of this happens, here's where the U.S. Catholic bishops are, where they want to lead their flock:

Trump Trounces Primary Opponents: Political Commentary with Moral Insight Worth Pondering — (And There's This: "My Suspicion Is That Trump Will Do Well Wherever There Are Catholics")

Monday, May 2, 2016

Ruth Krall's Inanna’s Way: A Personal Journey into the Underworld — A Book Recommendation

I've been walking in the past weeks with some family members as they deal with the diagnosis of someone in their particular family circle who has recently learned he has serious cancer. Taking this journey with these loved ones (to the extent that I can as a cousin and someone less affected in a direct way than they are by this diagnosis) has had me thinking a lot about sickness, suffering, healing, and journeying on all of those paths in our own lives and along with others. 

Andrew Sullivan Breaks Silence: Democracy Is the Problem! Political Correctness Is the Problem! Liberal Smugness Is the Problem! — An Apologia for White Working-Class Support for Trump

Andrew Sullivan has broken his long silence (after he discontinued his blog) with an essay published yesterday in New York Magazine. His thesis: democracy is problematic.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Protesters Vs. North Carolina Anti-Trans Hate Bill: "You Will Not Pit Black People and Gay People and Poor People Against Each Other"

In the excellent photo report posted this week by the LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund about its April 25 rally and sit-in against North Carolina's hate bill targeting trans people, working people, and people of color, two tweets stand out for me. Both feature Reverend William Barber, one of the founders and leaders of North Carolina's Moral Mondays movement. One tweet's above, the other follows.

If You Cherish Daniel Berrigan's Legacy, Do Not Forget the Racist Roots of the Trump Phenomenon — and of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Bogus "Religious Freedom" Crusade

Daniel Berrigan, No Bars to Manhood (NY: Doubleday, 1970), p. 64

In his moving tribute in this morning's Washington Post to Daniel Berrigan, who died yesterday,  fellow Catholic radical and peace activist Colman McCarthy reminds us that Berrigan spent two years in federal prison after burning draft files at the old Knights of Columbus hall housing a Secret Service office in Catonsville, Maryland, in 1968. As McCarthy notes, Berrigan was a "willing recidivist" who was repeatedly arrested for protesting the American military machine. He died with a rap sheet as long as his winding sheet.