Tuesday, January 3, 2017

For Consideration: Assortment of Thought-Provoking Statements About Current Events and Ethics — from Trump to Prosperity-Gospel Preachers to Churches and LGBTQ People

As the first work week of 2017 gets underway following the New Year's holiday, here's a collection of items I've read in the past few days, which you may find interesting. The only strong thematic connection between them is that they're all, in one way or another, commenting on current events from an ethical standpoint:

Guy Lancaster at Tree of Talking commenting on the significance of the November elections in the U.S.: 

If you listened to Trump voters, they often spoke of hating the "elites," the political and financial powers seen as the source of their misery. However, they were not organized in such a way as to take any real action against said elites (again, race). Therefore, I believe, they voted primarily to cause pain to those viewed as tied to elites–the college educated, secular people, LGBT communities, immigrants ("who take our jobs"), racial and ethnic minorities, etc. This was not a vote for president. This was a vote against their fellow Americans. And thus they struck out hoping to find some reward in the act, not only not caring who gets hurt but finding pleasure at the thought of inflicting pain, finding pleasure at forcing an alleged child rapist and racist con-man upon all those people who think themselves so high and mighty. 
This was a donkey punch, pure and simple. This was as vulgar and degraded an election as possible.

Mark Pinsky at Religion News Service reporting on prosperity-gospel preacher Paula White, Trump's favorite televangelist, who will deliver the invocation at his inauguration as Cardinal Timothy Dolan stands beside her bringing Trump the blessing of the U.S. Catholic bishops: 

Her high rolling lifestyle enabled her to buy an apartment at Trump Tower, a $2.2 million bay front home in Tampa and, for a time, a private jet. In 2007, she reported an income of $80,000 a week.

Benjamin Brenkert at Hear Our Voices on Pope "Who Am I to Judge?" Francis and his track-record so far, vis-a-vis the segment of the human community that is LGBT: 

Whether one considers the papacy of Saint John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, or the Jesuit Francis, the truth is that these men are uncomfortable with accepting God's plan for creating LGBTQ people in God's image and likeness. They have returned to warped interpretations of the Hebrew and Christian testaments, they have misused the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas. These Popes have redirected the faithful time and again back to the official teaching of the church, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They have preferred intolerance, and contradicted their years of mercy, all in an effort to support a medieval theology, one that is neither prudent or befitting the example of Jesus.

Michael Boyle at Sound of Sheer Silence about why right-wing Christians really zero in on LGBT folks and the "gay agenda" as the great enemy with whom Christians must do battle in the 21st century:

It is something that I have thought for a long time, but it has become absolutely, unquestionably clear.  This insight is essential to understanding almost everything that is going on in modern Christianity, and I think it will be the defining issue for Christianity for the next generation, at least.  You cannot understand where we are or where we are going if you don't grasp this.  It is so important that it deserves to be written separately, and it should be written on the top of every paper and every essay discussing any of these topics: 
The issue of homosexuality (or whatever terminology you want to use) in Christianity is not ultimately about homosexuality; it is about gender.

Brian Gallagher in a comment here at Bilgrimage recently about Father Dwight Longenecker's attack on LGBT folks at the Catholic journal Crux:

I have been trying to find words to describe this constantly repeated "Natural Law" argument. Facile and jejune come to mind. For those who repeat it over and over, sophmoric and smug. For my reaction as someone who was once afflicted with the conviction that the Catholic Church was a receptacle of wisdom, fremdschämen, the feeling of being vicariously embarrassed by someone else. 
The totally incurious clergy have only become more self-satisfied. They truly believe that real, authentic pastoral care is to issue "merciful" proscriptions and that empathy is suspect. The only group welcomed into the Church with open arms in recent years? Anglican deviants. Meanwhile, hysteria reigns over a suggestion of a proposal of a discussion about divorced Catholics receiving communion! 
I have little hope in the Roman Church reforming itself. I grieved over this loss for a while but I've come to realize that it has been a moment of spiritual growth for me. I have a greater respect for my conscience, a feeling of positive freedom, and a relief from so much anxiety and, admittedly, acquired neuroticism. 
I see little of God, Jesus, Spirit or even theology in Longenecker's impatient pronouncements and I have no interest in belonging to a church of vulgarized natural philosophy.

And, last but not least: On 16 December, at his A Piece of My Mind site, wild hair notes that a spike in readers from a faraway place (hint: rhymes with Prussia) had occurred at his blog. I noted a similar spike for Bilgrimage around the same time. And isn't it interesting that almost immediately after I posted my notice about this, my readership from Russia began to plummet dramatically, so that for the first time in months now, my stats counter is not indicating that Russia tops the list of countries for people logging into Bilgrimage? Almost makes you think that some real people with real power to turn their laser beams on and off have been following this blog from faraway places — for reasons unbeknownst to me. And have now turned off the laser in response to my posting about these statistics.

Why, one must wonder? 

(Thanks to Jim McCrea for emailing me and others the Tom Toles cartoon from Washington Post at the head of the posting.)

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