Sunday, December 31, 2017

Kathryn Brightbill on U.S. White Evangelicalism in Era of Trump: "A Deeply Immoral Enterprise That Must Be Condemned and Resisted at Every Point"

As people compile lists of events and articles that impressed them in 2017 to share on social media, I happened to notice someone I follow on Twitter (and respect very much) tweeting a link yesterday to Kathryn Brightbill's essay this past August entitled "The Nashville Statement and the Moral Bankruptcy of Evangelicalism." I clicked and read the essay, and am very glad I did so.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

My Response to Timothy Keller on Rebranding White U.S. Evangelicalism: Going to Take a Lot More Than Rebranding

As an avis rara who has had feet in both the white evangelical and the Catholic world in the U.S., who has been repuidated by the latter, here's my response to Timothy Keller's parsing-and-rebranding proposal to solve the problem that is white evangelicalism in the U.S.:

At Year's End: Discussion of What to Do About the Now-Toxic Brand of White Evangelicalism in the U.S. — A Project That Should Go Well Beyond Rebranding

Among the biggest U.S. religion stories as 2017 ends: the attempt of a significant number of U.S. white evangelicals to distance themselves from the toxic brand that white evangelical Christianity has created for itself at this point in history — as the same percentage of white evangelicals (8 in 10) who voted for the man now in the White House after all we had learned about him then voted for Roy Moore. After all we had learned about him . . . .

Friday, December 29, 2017

Bishop William G. Curlin: Some Last Words (about Pastoral Image and Pastoral Substance)

I don't like beating dead horses — and could not bring myself to beat a live one, either. I do think it's important to make one final statement about Bishop Curlin and why I posted a series of pieces about my dealings with him over the years, and about his record in the Catholic abuse cover-up, at the time of his death.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"Bishops Like Curlin and Cardinal Law, What They Have Done Is Criminal": A Church That Wants to Be Pastoral Must Listen to Testimony of Abuse Survivors

In a 27 April 2002 letter to the Charlotte Observer entitled "In Eyes of Abuse Victims, Bishop Curlin Is No Hero,"* Neal Evans of Asheville, North Carolina, reports that after an initial 1995 meeting with Bishop William G. Curlin to discuss his abuse at the hands of a diocesan priest and after Curlin came to Asheville to issue a public apology to victims of clerical sexual abuse, Evans heard nothing — not a single word — from Curlin in the ensuing seven years. According to Evans, when Evans met with Curlin, Curlin made promises that he failed to keep, including a promise to form a lay advisory committee to advise him about clerical abuse of minors, a committee on which he would place Evans.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

What Christmas Means, and Why (White) U.S. Christianity Is in Crisis Now (Hint: It's about Pretend, as Opposed to Real, Pastoral Behavior)

Celia Wexler, author of Catholic Women Confront Their Church: Stories of Hurt and Hope (Rowman & Littlefield), in an essay just before Christmas entitled, "Cardinal Law's Papal Sendoff Shows Church's Laxity On Sex Abuse Scandal":

Remembering Bishop William G. Curlin of Charlotte As Eminently Pastoral (There's Still No Room in the Inn for You Queer Catholics) (2)

On 22 January and 3 February 2003, Cardinal Bernard Law was deposed in Boston by attorneys representing abuse survivors. In that deposition, the attorneys deposing Law asked him about Rev. George Berthold and how and why Belmont Abbey College ended up hiring Berthold with the approval of the bishop of Charlotte, William G. Curlin. 

Here are some highlights from that deposition:

Remembering Bishop William G. Curlin of Charlotte As Eminently Pastoral (There's Still No Room in the Inn for You Queer Catholics)

Tim Funk, the Charlotte Observer religion commentator, remembers Charlotte Catholic bishop William G. Curlin, who died on Christmas eve, as someone known as "a pastoral bishop" who followed Mother Teresa in reaching out to people considered untouchable lepers. As Funk notes, Curlin's tenure as bishop of Charlotte was, however, "not without controversy." Speaking as if the abuse crisis in the Catholic church in Charlotte is over and done with, Funk says that Charlotte never had the volume of abuse cases found in places like Boston:

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Message of the Church to LGBTQ Catholics: Merry Christmas — Oh, and There's (Still) No Room in the Inn for the Likes of You

One of the definitive messages of the Christmas story — perhaps more definitive for many of us who are LGBTQ and Christian — is the message of no room: there was no room anywhere for Joseph and Mary as they came to Bethlehem at the time of Jesus' birth.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve in Dark Times: Still, One Can Dream. And Hope.

I am, I have to admit, a pushover for flashmob videos, though I have a feeling the flashmob phenomenon has peaked. The world has taken a dark turn from the heady period in which this concept performative concept broke on the scene, when it seemed that European union and the election of an African-American president in the U.S. might herald a new age of international cooperation in which the human community might strive to overcome some of its old, deep hatreds and work to build a better world for all.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy Solstice: Veni et Illumina Sedentes in Tenebris

Happy winter solstice to all of you readers. The photo above is one Steve took in 2013 a day or so after the winter solstice, at the Pantheon in Rome. We were visiting the Pantheon around noontime on that day.

The photo below is one we took of the basilica of St. Francis in Assisi a few days before the solstice. I see a parable here, in the juxtaposition of these two photos.

O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae et sol justitiae,
veni et illumina sedentes in tenebris et umbra mortis.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

"A Living Symbol of the Catholic Church's Tolerance for the Sexual Abuse of Children": Cardinal Law's Legacy Remembered (2)

"A Living Symbol of the Catholic Church's Tolerance for the Sexual Abuse of Children": Cardinal Law's Legacy Remembered

For the New Civil Rights Movement website, David Badash gathers a thought-provoking compendum of responses to news of the death of Cardinal Bernard Law, whose legacy will be summed up by his protection of priests abusing minors, by the lies he told to accomplish that end, by his hunger for ecclesiastical power and power in the secular realm and how he used that power to harm others. As one thinks about this life and that legacy, it's hard not to hear gospel verses ringing in one's ears — about how we'll be judged at the end of our lives according to how we dealt with the least among us; about how what we whisper in the dark will be shouted from the rooftops; about how the crops we reap will be from the seeds we have sown.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Statement of Religious Right Leaders about Biology-Based Gender Roles as Key to Divine Revelation: "An Approach to God That Biblical Tradition Calls Idolatry"


I'm grateful to you readers who shared with us here a link to the "new" statement about gender matters from various religious right leaders. The U.S. Catholic bishops, several of whom are signatories to the statement, have placed the statement on their website, as several of you noted here yesterday. I read the response of Francis DeBernardo at Bondings 2.0 to this statement yesterday, and then offered my own response on Twitter as I shared Francis DeBernardo's reflections.

Dark and Light: Winter Solstice, Hannukah, Christmas (2)


It never takes longer than a few minutes, whenever they get together, for everyone to revert to the state of nature, like a party marooned by a shipwreck. That’s what a family is. Also the storm at sea, the ship and the unknown shore. And the hats and the whiskey stills that you make out of bamboo and coconuts. And the fire that you light to keep away the beasts. 

~ Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (NY: Harper, 2007), p. 309.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Amy Sullivan on the Weaponized (White) Fox Evangelicalism That Is America's New Religion: "You Can Do Anything and Still Be on the Right Side"

Amy Sullivan, "America's New Religion: Fox Evangelicalism":

Dark and Light: Winter Solstice, Hannukah, Christmas (1)


The events of September 11 were a dark epiphany, a terrible revelation of what life is like if we do not recognize the sacredness of all human beings, even our enemies. Maybe the only revelation we can hope for now is an experience of absence and emptiness. We have seen too much religious certainty recently. 

~ Karen Armstrong, Spiral Staircase (NY: Random House, 2004), p. 303.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

"When the Music Is Low and the Whiskey Is in the Glass": The Difference Southern History Makes in Seeing that Masterpiece Cake Is Piggie Park Redivivus

Tom Lee, "Song from a Birmingham Church," at The Bitter Southerner:

Friday, December 15, 2017

Not Even Close: Knowing Exactly Who Roy Moore Is, Majority of White Alabamians — and White Evangelicals Overwhelmingly — Tried to Put Him in Senate

Charlene White, "In Alabama, black women saved America from itself – as they've always tried to do":

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Quote for Day: Marie Griffith on How Deeply Entwined Is U.S. (White) Christians' Fixation on Sex and Power with (White) American Nationalism

At Religion News Service today, Jana Riess interviews Marie Griffith, author of the just-published Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics. Riess asks Griffith what surprised her as she did research about the fixation of American Christians with sex and power historically. 

Hot Takes on Moore Defeat: White Evangelicals Did It! It's All About Abortion! (And Why Masterpiece Cake Will Likely Prevail)

Some takes on the Alabama election I should have anticipated, but did not:

1. Though 80 percent of white evangelicals in Alabama cast their votes for Roy Moore, Doug Jones won because — are you ready for this spin? — white evangelicals abandoned Moore!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Roy Moore Defeated, But Polling Data Tell Us Why We Have Miles and Miles to Go Before We Jubilate — Fusion of White Nationalism and White Christianity Remains Potent Toxic Challenge

Ezra Klein, "Why Doug Jones’s narrow win is not enough to make me confident about American democracy":

Sunday, December 10, 2017

CNN Asks, "Roy Moore, Jerusalem and LGBT Rights: Why Is Religion So Divisive?" My Response in Twitter Thread


For CNN today, Daniel Burke asks, "Roy Moore, Jerusalem and LGBT rights: Why is religion so divisive?" Here's my response to the question he asks, in a Twitter thread:

Friday, December 8, 2017

Wedding Cakes and Conscience: A Twitter Discussion of the Heart of the Matter

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Cakes as Religious Freedom and Artistic Expression, and Rolling Civil Rights Back to Year Two: What Americans Love to Argue About in God's Name

Dana Milbank reporting on the first day in the current Supreme Court hearing about cakes as fetishes of religious freedom and artistic expression (yes, this really is happening; yes, this is what some of the finest judicial minds in our land are devoting their attention to right now):  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Supremes and Cake Bakers' "Artistic Expression": Back to Piggie Park, But This Time with (White) Catholics on Board

As Antonia Blumberg and Amanda Marcotte note, if the Supremes rule for business owners' right to discriminate against LGBTQ people and call that discrimination religious freedom, we're back to Piggie Park. We're back to South Carolina barbecue joint owner Maurice Bessinger in the 1960s, with Bessinger's claim that religious faith mandated he discriminate against African-American customers, and he should be permitted religious freedom to discriminate because his belief was sincere.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Roy Moore's Strongest Supporters? White Evangelicals — New Poll Results

News just breaking: a Washington Post-Schar School poll shows that white evangelicals continue to stand by their man Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race after all a number of women have come forth to tell their stories about how he sexually assaulted them when they were minors. Roughly the same percentage of white evangelicals in Alabama as the percentage of white evangelicals nationally who placed the moral monstrosity in the White House — 78% — say they intend to vote for Moore. Commentary on this:

Franklin Graham Tweets that the Man in the White House Stands Stronger for Christianity Than Any President in Graham's Lifetime: Twitter Goes Wild in Response

Franklin Graham, son of the noted U.S. white evangelical leader Billy Graham, tweets that he's never in his lifetime seen an American president stand so strongly for the Christian faith than the moral monstrosity white Christians have placed in the White House. Twitter responds to this claim: