Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Monday, December 14, 2020

Ruth Krall, A Meditation: The Third Sunday in Advent


The photo is by Hans Vivek, who has generously made it available for online sharing at Unsplash.

Ruth Krall has written a beautiful sermon for the third Sunday of Advent, to follow on the one she wrote as Advent began, which I shared here a number of days ago. Ruth writes, 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Ruth Krall's New Study Course "Black Lives Matter": A Valuable Educational Resource.

Ruth Krall

If Robert P. Jones is correct when he writes that white Christianity has served throughout American history as "the central source of moral legitimacy for a society explicitly built to value the lives of white people over Black people," then white American Christians would appear to have a massive educational challenge confronting them. White US Christians would seem urgently to need educational resources permitting them to begin to understand and come to terms with their cultural effect as a major sustainer of white supremacy. Jones makes the claim I've just cited in his new book White Too Long, where he writes

Monday, November 30, 2020

The Case Died with Her: Documentary about Emilie Morris of St. Louis and Her Claim of Abuse Against Her High-School Coach


For those concerned about sexual abuse and exploitation of minors by adult authority figures, and about the difficulties that how those blowing the whistle on their abuse usually face when they go public, I'd like to note an upcoming televised documentary. On December 6 at 7 P.M. EST, 6 P.M. CST, the Oxygen network will be airing a program called The Case Died with Her.

Monday, November 23, 2020

An Advent Sermon from Ruth Krall on First Sunday of Advent

The photo is by Hans Vivek, who has generously made it available for online sharing at Unsplash.

It's my privilege today to share with you a sermon my friend Ruth Krall has written for the first Sunday of Advent (yesterday, 22 November). Other previous postings on Bilgrimage by Ruth Krall can be found at the label with her name beneath this posting. Here's Ruth's sermon:

Friday, November 20, 2020

Jeff Altaras, "Evil Thrives When Good People Remain Silent": Discussion of Sexual Abuse in the Mennonite Context



I'm pleased to have the opportunity to share with Bilgrimage readers a fine statement by Jeff Altaras, commenting on the response of some members of the Canadian Mennonite community to the recent revokation of credentials for John D. Rempel by the Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. Rempel served as chaplain, residence director, and adjunct professor at Conrad Grebel Univcersity in Waterloo, Ontario, from 1973 to 1989. The action taken by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada was in response to multiple allegations of sexual abuse substantiated by the church.

Jeff is responding, in particular, to defenses/excuses of Rempel by some Canadian Mennonites who, as he proposes, reflect old world cronyism and denial as they seek to offer words of days gone by to address a situation in which the balance of justice increasingly falls heavily on the side of victims of sexual abuse and not perpetrators.

Because the kinds of excuses offered for perpetrators against the claims of victims are not confined to the Mennonite context, but can also be found in other contexts including the Catholic one, I find Jeff's statement valuable and want to share it with you. What follows is Jeff Altaras's essay: 

Monday, November 9, 2020

"We Need to Talk About the White People Who Voted for Donald Trump": "Only Group in Which a Majority Voted for Trump"


Brandon Tensley, "Millions of White voters are once again showing who they are":

One thing that this week has clarified is the lengths to which many White Americans are willing to go in order to protect their Whiteness, to centralize it, even after a summer that saw unprecedented support for the Black Lives Matter movement.  

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Church Bells Ringing Throughout the World, Horns Honking, Fireworks and People Dancing in the Streets: Celebration of the End of Trump Presidency

"The GuardianCNN's Van Jones brought to tears as Joe Biden wins US election"

Mark Sumner, "America is celebrating like a cloud has left the skies and a weight is off our hearts":

Right now, a pandemic is raging. Right now, the economy is in recession. Right now, the nation is suffering from four years in which Donald Trump did everything possible to rewind decades of progress and tear at the foundations of democracy.

But right now. Right now. All of that has to be set aside. Right now, it is time to shout. To cry in joy and in relief. To jump. To dance. To celebrate.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Snapshots of Intersection of Religion and Politics, American Style, as Indicators Point to Biden Win

On this day when the worm may be turning (if at sloth's pace) in the US presidential election, when many folks are expressing baffled surprise that four years of that person in the White House have resulted in even more exultation of "religious" people in his rule over us, a few snapshots. These are who we are, and we need not to unsee what they show us.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

A Piece of Personal Testimony on All Saints' Day: The Sanctity of Many Queer People and Their Loving Relationships


This All Saints' day, I think of a little iconostasis I kept for some years next to my desk. The saints whose pictures or icons I had on the iconostasis were my own personal saints — an idiosyncratic collection, almost all of whom would never be canonized by the church.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Nation with Soul of a Church on Eve of Historic Election: Weaponized Bibles Brandished with Guns as Nuns Choose to Be Photo Props for Trump

Oliver Laughland and Tom Silverstone, "God and the GOP: Will evangelicals stay loyal to Trump?


Just in case you were concerned that this election wasn't crazy enough, and I know you were, here's the lieutenant governor of Idaho, featured in a demonstration with some militia crazies, waving a Bible and a firearm out the window of her truck.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Kristin Kobes Du Mez, Jesus and John Wayne: "In Reality, Evangelicals Did Not Cast Their Vote [for Trump] Despite Their Beliefs, but Because of Them"


I recently read Kristin Kobes Du Mez's book Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation (NY: Liveright, 2020), and thought the following passages were significant. Du Mez grew up in the household of a Christian Reformed theologian teaching at Dordt University, her alma mater, and knows the white evangelical world inside out. As her book notes, her own Christian Reformed church has in recent years moved inexorably in the evangelical direction, as have wide swathes of American white churches including the Catholic church — hence Amy Coney Barrett. She knows whereof she speaks, in other words, in Jesus and John Wayne.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

When the Instinctual Response of Christian Communities to a Changing World Is, No!


Read the responses of a number of bishops and the homophobic sector of Catholic Twitter to the recently released papal statement about civil unions for same-sex couples, and the word you will hear over and over is, No.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

"Nobody Should Be Thrown Out": Francis's Latest Shock Wave (in Some Circles) re: Same-Sex Civil Unions

James Alison, "Pope Francis backing same sex unions isn't a surprise. But it's still a big deal"

As Jamie Manson tweets today, the usual Vatican shuffle is now taking place regarding what Pope Francis is said to have said (or is now said not to have said) regarding same-sex unions. You know that shuffle: it's a two step; one step forward, then walk the forward step back two steps, until no one knows who has said what (or not said what) or what was meant. As Jamie Manson also says in the tweet I have just linked, LGBTQ people deserve much, much better than this.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

National Catholic Reporter Review of Sarah Posner, Unholy — "Sarah Posner's 'Unholy' implicates Catholics as well as evangelicals"



Here's a review I wrote of Sarah Posner's Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump, which appeared in the 2-15 October print edition of National Catholic Reporter and is now also online at the NCR website. It's entitled, "Sarah Posner's 'Unholy' implicates Catholics as well as evangelicals":

Monday, October 12, 2020

On the Destructive Pretensions and Posturings of Purists — While So Much Needs to Be Done to Change the World for Better



It's the militant atheism that so easily gloms together with the militant anti-Catholicism, both perfectly mirroring militant Catholicism and evangelicalism, that should give us pause to think:

Thursday, October 8, 2020

The Current US Election and Spectacularly Failed "Pro-Life" Politics of US Catholic Bishops


Catholic bishop Tobin of Rhode Island tweeted during last night's debate, "Joe Biden promises that if he’s elected president he will end division and bring the country together. It won’t happen. With his politically expedient embrace of a very extreme position on abortion, he’s already alienated half of the nation."

Monday, September 28, 2020

Commentary on the Discussion of Amy Coney Barrett's Religious Views and Their Pertinence to Her Supreme Court Nomination


Frank Cocozzelli, "A Catholic’s Case Against Amy Coney Barrett":

The issue with the Barrett nomination for me as a Catholic is quite simple: I choose to dissent from my Church on certain issues such as choice, birth control and embryonic stem cell research. Judge Barrett, on the other hand, follows a more orthodox approach to the Church. 

That is her right to do so. It is also the Church's right to set such doctrine. But what concerns me is that she may use the power of the federal government to impose her particular Catholicism, one that is clearly not in sync with most American Catholics, on me and those that share my faith who look to the government to shield me from the excesses of Church hardliners.

A number of my co-religionists, the ones who are anti-choice have a peculiar habit of looking at the issue of abortion only through the lens of orthodox Catholicism. What of a SCOTUS justice that sees abortion as "always immoral"? That sounds like someone that is primed and ready to substitute her Church's particular teaching on the matter as the only true religious position on the matter. 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Cameron Altaras's "Voice of the Residue": The Intergenerational Trauma of Growing up Female in a Patriarchal Religious Context

In the past, I have shared here some of the valuable work of Cameron Altaras, a scholar working to combat sexual violence based in patriarchal religious traditions. Cameron speaks from the experience of someone who has roots in the Amish-Mennonite tradition. I have shared her work here and here.

Now I'd like to share another statement by Cameron pointing to a new project on which she is working, and to a website she has set up to share material for the project, which is linked below. I hope readers of this blog may be interested in Cameron's work and her new site. Here's her essay:

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Valuable Recent Commentary about Link Between White Supremacy and White Christianity in the U.S.


I'm sorry to have been away for so long. As I noted in a posting some weeks back, we have been dealing with health challenges, and we're hoping that a surgical procedure today will put them behind us. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Robert P. Jones's White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity — Excerpts Worth Noting



As I did recently with Sarah Posner's new book Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump, I'd like to share with you some excerpts from Robert P. Jones's book White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity (NY: Simon & Schuster, 2020), which I recently read. This book is very important, as Jones's Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) issues a report today entitled, "Summer Unrest over Racial Injustice Moves the Country, But Not Republicans or White Evangelicals." This reports summarizes recent PRRI polling findings which show that, even as other white Americans are gradually coming to see and admit the depths of racial injustice everywhere in American society, Republicans and white evangelicals — who are to a great extent one and the same — refuse to budge. These groups continue to want to claim that white citizens are the real victims of injustice.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Robert P. Jones's Commentary on the "Historical Record of Lived Christianity in America," White Supremacy, and the Recent Sojourners Débacle


An important contribution (and subtext) of Robert P. Jones's new book White Too Long is its focus on how white Christianity is lived in the US — as opposed to what churches say about themselves or profess in their official statements. As Jones states,

The historical record of lived Christianity in America reveals that Christian theology and institutions have been the central cultural tent pole holding up the very idea of white supremacy (p. 6).

Friday, August 7, 2020

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

More Valuable Commentary about Robert P. Jones's White Too Long



New interviews with Robert P. Jones keep coming along after the recent publication of his book White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, about which I blogged a number of days ago. New interviews and commentary about the book, to which I will keep pointing you as I spot these pieces …. 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Valuable Commentary about Robert P. Jones's White Too Long



As a companion piece to my recent announcement of the publication of Robert P. Jones's book White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, here's some valuable commentary about the book, some of it by Robert P. Jones himself:

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Robert P. Jones's White Too Long Published Today: A Must-Read Book about American Christianity and White Supremacy



No matter how distracted and enervated I may be at present as we cope with some health issues, I can't let today pass by without noting that a very important book is appearing in print today. This is Robert P. Jones's White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity

Monday, July 27, 2020

Apologies for Being Out of Commission

A note of apology for my absence from this blog of late: we're dealing with some health challenges, and I find my time, energy, focus are limited as a result.

One of many predictable consequences of growing old, I'm afraid.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

"Where is the Sense of Decency? What Does It Profit a Great Nation to Conquer the World, Only to Lose Its Soul?" — The Legacy of John Lewis


Monday, July 13, 2020

News Commentary in Time of Plague: 43 Pages of Obituaries in Houston Today (and the Role Many US Christians Are Playing in the Pandemic)

(P.S. As Newsweek reports, this is a standalone section of obituaries for the year up to now. Read the Newsweek report, and you'll see a lot of commenters on social media are stating that it's likely a high percentage of those deaths are Covid deaths.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

David Clohessy of SNAP Speaking Outside Southern Baptist Convention, Birmingham, Alabama, June 2019: How to Effect Real Change with Churches and Abuse



I'd like to share with readers a presentation that David Clohessy of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) made in June 2019 when the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama. I'm grateful to David for permitting me to share it here, and to Carol Yeager of SNAP in North Carolina for sharing this video with me. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

"Public Health Train Wreck in Slow Motion" in US: Where's the Leadership? Where Are the Pro-Life White Christians Who Set This in Motion?




Teresa Hanafin in today's "Fast Forward" from Boston Globe

[A]s Dr. David Blumenthal, president of The Commonwealth Fund, put it, the coronavirus pandemic in the United States is like watching a "public health train wreck in slow motion." And the Choo-Choo-in-Chief is at the controls, either completely befuddled or completely callous. Take your pick.

Friday, June 19, 2020

PRRI's Robert P. Jones in Juneteenth Interview: Trump Presidency a "Moment of Reckoning for White Christians"


Today, for Juneteenth, CNN's religion editor Dan Burke has done an interview with Robert P. Jones, founder of Public Religion Research Institute, about his forthcoming book White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity. The CNN interview is entitled "This is a moment of reckoning on race for white Christians."

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

George Floyd Killed by Police, Catholic Bishops' President Takes Six Days to Speak; Supreme Court Forbids Workplace Discrimination Vs. LGBTQ People, USCCB Instantly Finds Its Voice


New York Times, "Gay Rights Are Civil Rights":
The vote was 6 to 3. It should have been unanimous.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

"As the Nation Grapples with Demographic Changes and the Legacy of Racism, Christianity's Role as a Cornerstone of White Supremacy Has Been Largely Overlooked"

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

SNAP to Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina: Nine Names Missing from Your List of Credibly Accused Clergy Need to Be Added



In January this year, I reported that after the Catholic bishop of Charlotte, North Carolina, Peter Jugis, and his diocese released a list of clergy credibly accused of having abused minors, survivors spoke out to say that the list Jugis released was incomplete. The January 2020 posting to which I have just pointed you provides an excerpt of a statement SNAP made on 30 December 2019, which states the following:
Catholic officials in Charlotte, NC have finally followed in the footsteps of the vast majority of dioceses around the country and released a list of priests accused of abuse. Unfortunately, the list released today is incomplete and leaves off allegations related to other church staffers. We call on them to update this list immediately in order to provide a clearer and more complete look at abuse within the Diocese of Charlotte.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Want to Know Why, Even Now, More Than Half of US White Christians Stand with Trump? See Robert P. Jones on GOP's White Christian Strategy


Three days ago on 4 June, the Public Religion Research Institute published results of a telephone survey PRRI conducted between 21-26 May. The PRRI report is entitled "Trump Favorability Slips Among White Catholic and Non-College Americans During National Unrest."


  • Ahmaud Arbery, an African-American man out jogging, was killed in Brunswick, Georgia, 23 February by Gregory and Travis McMichael. Gregory McMichael is a former police officer. 
  • Breonna Taylor, an African-American woman, was shot to death by Louisville police officers in her apartment on 13 March; no one has yet been charged in her killing.
  • George Floyd, an African-American man making a purchase at a convenience store, was killed by Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin on 25 May.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Has the Bible Ever Been Used to Assault and Oppress Vulnerable People? Let Me Share Some Important Information with You



This posting is a footnote to the main story today, the photo-op the man in the White House staged for himself while having troops tear-gas peaceful protesters legitimately gathered in a park — a photo-op designed to show him brandishing a bible he never reads in front of a church he never attends, to signal that he and other white males like him own the bible and the rest of us better adjust ourselves to that fact:

Has the bible ever been used as a tool of raw power to assault and oppress vulnerable people, you ask? Well, let me share some important information with you:

Bible as Weapon (Upholding Straight White Male Supremacy): Commentary on Yesterday's White House Stunt




Monday, June 1, 2020

Again, Case Study from Minnesota: Bishops Playing Culture-War Games Cannot Effectively Address Real, Pressing Problems Like Racism


On 23 May, I posted a piece here entitled "As US President Demands That Churches Re-Open, Case Study from Minnesota." That posting noted the intent of the Catholic bishops of Minnesota to "defy" the stay-at-home orders of the state's governor and re-open churches. The word "defy" is used in the headline of a 20 May MPR article about this story to which I linked on 23 May.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Reaping the Whirlwind: America Now Confronts the Reality of Its 2016 Election




Imagine what they're capable of when they're not live on national television. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

In a Play to His Base, US President Demands That Churches Open "Right Now": Twitter Talks Back



As US President Demands That Churches Be Re-Opened, Tragic Failure of Imagination of Many US Christians Driving Re-Opening Project



Wednesday, May 20, 2020

As Churches Re-Open Across US, CDC Issues Report on Arkansas Church in Which a COVID Cluster Spread into Wider Community




In the current pandemic, churches and church gatherings have proven repeatedly to be a perfect petri dish for spread of coronavirus infection. Churches within which infection begins to circulate then bring the infection into the wider community. Yet many Americans continue clamoring for churches to be re-opened even as medical officials urge caution, and. as they clamor, they want to weaponize the pandemic with claims that shutting churches down is an attack on religion.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Book I Co-Authored with Bill Russell and Mary Ryan Now Published: A Family Practice: The Russell Doctors and the Evolving Business of Medicine, 1799-1989



This is a brief update to information I shared with you last October: in the posting I have just linked, I told that a book I had co-authored with Bill Russell, a cousin of mine, and Mary Ryan, was to be published in spring 2020. The book's title is A Family Practice: The Russell Doctors and the Evolving Business of Medicine, 1799-1989.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols Calls for Catholic Churches to Be Allowed to Reopen Before Others: My Reflections



Harriet Sherwood reports in the London paper The Guardian today that the Catholic archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, is calling on the British government to open Catholic churches before other worship places re-open, because Catholics have special needs that other religious communities do not have. Sherwood's report is entitled "Catholic churches 'should be allowed to reopen before others.'"

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Remember the Discussion Here About Dangers of Singing Together in Churches During Pandemic? See the Update Below


Over a month ago, I pointed readers of this blog to a statement by Harvard epidemiologist Bill Hanage indicating that gatherings of any size pose dangers during this pandemic, and churches pose particular dangers given their habit of encouraging people to gather close to one another, to hug, shake hands, and sing together, etc. As Hanage states, church gatherings of any sort have the capability to be "super-spreading" events, and we know for a fact that some serious clusters of coronavirus infection have spread right from churches into surrounding communities.

German Catholic Bishops on Dismal Failure of Predecessors in Nazi Period; Anne Barrett Doyle on Anniversary of Vos Estis Lux Mundi



Writing in The Tablet yesterday, Christa Pongratz-Lippit reports on an in-depth study the German Catholic bishops recently commissioned in preparation for the 75th anniversary of World War II. The study, which is entitled in English "German Bishops During World War II," focuses on the role of the German bishops during the Nazi period. I'm highlighting this article as a footnote to my recent discussion of Susan Neiman's book Learning from the Germans.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Susan Neiman's Learning from the Germans and Working Off the Nazi Past and the American Racist Past: A Report with Excerpts



In February, I blogged a number of times about Susan Neiman's book Learning from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2019). As I told you in one of those postings, one reason Neiman's important book caught my attention and made me decide to read it is that Susan Neiman grew up in the American South during the Civil Rights era, as I did. Neiman is, however, Jewish, and she saw the struggles for African-American rights in Atlanta through the lens of her own marginalization as a Jew, an experience I did not have growing up as a white Anglo Southerner descended from slaveholding ancestors. 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Here's How I See the Response to the Pandemic Playing Out Now in the United States: People Who Will Pay Highest Price for "Re-Opening" Are the Vulnerable, Elderly, Poor, Minorities


Here's how I see things playing out now: the "re-opening" process is going to be more or less the norm across the US. We Americans are never long-term thinkers, in any case. We like frenzy and mobility and things to do. We also don't have a solidaristic bone in our bodies: it's all about individualism and (my) liberties.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

A Report on Daniel Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year (1722)



History is so strange, outlandish — unlike the present day — that it's a relief to escape into it and remind oneself this cannot happen again: people learn from the past and choose not to repeat it.

Friday, April 24, 2020

A Valuable Opportunity Tomorrow, April 25: "American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel" — "In Oklahoma, You Can Be a Democrat or You Can Be a Christian. But You Can't Be Both"


In Oklahoma, you can be a Democrat or you can be a Christian. But you can't be both. 
~ Rev. Robin Meyers, Mayflower United Church of Christ, Oklahoma City
I'd like to draw your attention to this promising-looking resource. Tomorrow at 3 P.M. CST / 4 P.M. EST, there will be a live online screening of the award-winning film "American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel," directed and produced by Jeanine Butler and Catherine Lynn Butler. Information — including information about how you can log in and watch — is at this link.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Wendell Griffen: "Chickens of Racism, Materialism and Militarism Have Come Home to Roost in the Convergence of Trump’s Presidency and the COVID-19 Pandemic"


 I'd like to point readers to a valuable essay my friend Wendell Griffen published two days ago in Baptist News Global. It's entitled "Our national curse: the cruel convergence of Trump’s presidency and the COVID-19 pandemic." Wendell does an impressive job of connecting the dots to show that "the chickens of racism, materialism and militarism have come home to roost in the convergence of Trump’s presidency and the COVID-19 pandemic." He writes:

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Whose Life Is Expendable, Whose Is Not? More on Tacit Agenda of the "Pro-Life" Party Supported by White Christians to "Re-Open" US


Two days ago, I wrote

What most "pro-life" white Christian Republicans will not say out loud right now — though an increasing number are doing just that — is that they consider some human lives expendable when it comes to generating income for those who are already rolling in money. 
This pandemic is disproportionately killing the elderly, those with pre-existing medical challenges,  members of minority communities including notably African Americans and Hispanics, and those in prison.  
For "pro-life" Republicans, some lives are expendable.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

While the Elderly, Minorities, and the Imprisoned Die, A Push to "Re-Open" the Country by "Pro-Life" Christian Republicans




The U.S. saw a grim milestone this week: A record 4,591 patients in the U.S. with COVID-19 died in a 24-hour stretch ending at 8 p.m. ET Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University
According to the Wall Street Journal, the figure beats the previous record of 2,569 deaths. 
The sharp increase is likely because in New York City's probable coronavirus deaths are now being counted in the official tally. 
As of Friday morning, John Hopkins University reports that the death toll in the U.S. has reached 33,286, the highest mortality rate in the world.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Wisconsin as Worst Place to Be Black in US and Recent Voting Débacle: These Are Related, in a State Whose Citizens Are a Quarter Catholic


For those seeking to understand the strange goings on recently in Wisconsin, where the US Supreme Court — to be precise, the bloc of right-wing Catholic men on the Supreme bench — forced Wisconsin voters to go out and vote during a lethal pandemic, rather than permitting them to cast votes by mail, a 2018 essay by S. Ani Mukherji's in Boston Review is necessary reading. It's entitled "The Worst Place to Black in the U.S. Is Wisconsin: Racism and the Wisconsin Idea." The essay is a review of Dan Kaufman's book The Fall of Wisconsin, which offers a rose-tinted version of a progressive Wisconsin dismantled by the Koch brothers who — this is an open secret — bought themselves a governor in Scott Walker, who turned the state into something of a Koch bros' paradise for Republicans and a nightmarish dystopia for everyone else.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Facebook Continues Censoring Bilgrimage, Labeling Links to Bilgrimage as Links to Violent or Graphic Content

I just shared a link to my latest Bilgrimage posting on Facebook, only to discover — and I suspected this would happen — that Facebook has once again begun censoring links to Bilgrimage with a warning label that the link points to material that may be violent or graphic. Here's what I just shared on Facebook:

Facts, Numbers, Trump's Real Pandemic Record — and Continued Truth-Skirting of "Pro-Life" White Christians as Death Tolls Mount

 


"One of the themes we’ve been talking about for the last month is that the official American death toll right now is almost certainly an undercount which will eventually be revised upwards after the epidemic has passed and we have time to sift through the records. 
Why? Because most localities seem to be ascribing deaths to COVID-19 only in the presence of a positive test. And since we've had a persistent shortage of tests, many patients in serious condition are admitted without being tested, since they are presumed positive cases and the test can be better used on someone else. 
Also we have home-deaths, in which case no testing is performed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

"Jesus Paid It All": How the Pushback of Some US Catholics Vs. Church Closings Reflects Captivity of Catholic Imagination to a Capitalist Worldview


Jesus paid it all,
All to him I owe.

As social gospel theologian Shailer Mathews noted in the early 20th century, those words from a beloved American hymn signal to us how deeply imbued American Christianity is with a capitalistic worldview and capitalist values.* The substitutionary atonement of Christ's death on the cross is celebrated in the hymn as a financial transaction — we sinners owe a debt; Jesus pays it on our behalf.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

12,000 US Catholics Sign Petition to Bishops to Permit Public Masses for Easter: "The Reckoning Is Upon Us"



Commentary I have found worth reading, and want to pass along to all of you:

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A Footnote to Previous Posting: Facebook Is Now Labeling Links to Bilgrimage as "Violent" and "Graphic"

A footnote to the posting I just uploaded here a moment ago: I shared a number of days ago that Facebook was removing from my Facebook feed postings I made there linking to this Bilgrimage blog which were about the dangerous response of the US Christian right to the current pandemic. After a number of us sent reports to Facebook protesting what it was doing — it flashed a message to anyone trying to post a link to my blog, saying that the blog violated Facebook "community standards" — Facebook restored several, but not all, of the deleted postings and unblocked links to my blog.

Cardinal Collins on Agitation of US Right for Congregational Worship During Pandemic: "Shallow" and "Absolutely Irresponsible"


The culture-war battles within the US Christian communities are so old, tired, enervating, aren't they? I regret any time I am pulled into them again — and yet, it's almost impossible not to be pulled into them, when you and people like you are among those being targeted by a powerful sector of Christians in the US.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Some Churches Holding Palm Sunday Services in States Across US: Reuters' Documentation, April 5, 2020


Despite huge red flags waved in front of their unbelieving faces, there are still people who want to maintain that religious gatherings are not being held in the US in defiance of stay-at-home orders, since everyone they know is participating in religous gatherings online. These folks remind me very much of an elderly German woman I saw interviewed in a documentary this week who vowed that, no, sir, no one was murdered during the Holocaust, that the gas chambers and crematoria were fake news — and as she spoke, the camera panned to actual footage of the crematoria stuffed with ashes and bones, and actual photos of people who had been shoved into mass graves after they were shot by the Nazis.

Today's Guardian on Growing Backlash to Appeals to Cease Religious Gatherings, Fueled by Top GOP Leaders


Since it appears some people just do not intend to get what's going on with some communities of faith — churches, notably — in the US during the pandemic, and the serious dangers some behaviors are posing to all of us, I'm glad the media keep hammering away at the backlash movement to keep churches open where they are now open and hosting meetings, or to reopen them where they have been closed. This is a largely American phenomenon, and it speaks volumes about the kind of American Christianity, especially "pro-life" white Christianity, that placed Donald Trump in the White House.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Quote for Day: Right-Wing Evangelical Churches Want to Resist Closing Services — But Risk Killing Off Their Congregations

David Neiwert, "Evangelical churches run smack into coronavirus' lethal reality, but some continue to resist"


Evangelical churches with a right-wing, Christian-nationalist political bent really want nothing more than to resist government orders to cease holding services during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The main drawback is that there’s the possibility of killing off their congregations.

Friday, April 3, 2020

An Update on What Has Been Happening with Facebook and Links to Bilgrimage


For those who have asked for an update about what Facebook did to some of my postings at that site yesterday (here, here, and here):

As Some Officials Exempt Religions Gatherings from Stay-at-Home Directives, Medical and Legal Experts Respond to "Incredibly Bad Idea"

St. Ambrose of Milan, Cain and Abel, book 1, chapter 1, 3-4, from "Advice on Prayer — Ambrose," at Crossroads Initiative 

Here's some commentary for you from the last day or so on the move of some US officials to exempt religious gatherings — they provide "essential services," we're being told — from stay-at-home directives that apply to everyone else.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Facebook Continues Removing Postings I've Made Linking to Bilgrimage: An Update



An update on what is happening today with Facebook and postings on Facebook that link to my blog: 

Facebook Is Also Censoring Links to Bilgrimage Even When I Try Sharing Them Via Private Messages



One of my Facebook friends just asked me to send him one of the three links to Bilgrimage that Facebook has removed from my Facebook feed today, telling me that the links violate community standards. All three postings deal with the dangers that some "pro-life" US Christians are posing to all of us today by their response to the pandemic.

My Facebook friend asked me to send him one of the links via Messenger, so he could try posting it in his own feed. The message above is what happened when I tried sending him the link via a private message.

Censorship much?

Facebook Is Censoring Links to My Postings About Belligerent Response of Many "Pro-Life" Christians to Pandemic



Today, Facebook has censored links to my two last Bilgrimage postings — here and here. When I try to post links pointing to the two Bilgrimage postings on Facebook, I receive a message that these postings violate Facebook community standards. It's clearly the Bilgrimage links themselves that are triggering Facebook censorship, since I can post material from both postings on Facebook and those postings go through, but when I try to post a link to either of the two postings, the posting will not go through and I receive a message that these postings violate Facebook community standards.

How Some Catholics Are Doing Their Bit to Defy Medical Advice and Government Guidelines and Own the Libs During This Pandemic


As McKay Coppins noted two days ago in an article "The Social-Distancing Culture War Has Begun," in the first part of March, it appeared that Americans across ideological lines might be getting the imperative need to practice social distancing. Widely circulated photos of those partying on beaches or Bourbon Street seemed to capture the reactions of younger people who were not acting out political defiance, but who had simply not gotten the message about the need for social distancing to flatten the pandemic curve.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Again, Belligerent Response of Many "Pro-Life" US Christians to Pandemic Restrictions Illustrates Serious Dangers of "Pro-Life" Christanity to the Rest of Us



At the risk of sounding like a broken record: these video documents need to be preserved for the record, so that if there is a future beyond this pandemic and people try to understand why so many Americans died in the pandemic, what brought them to this point, why they were so grossly underprepared for a cataclysmic event about which they had ample warning, they will have this documentation.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Pro-Life Head of Liberty University Reopens School Against Sound Advice: Nearly a Dozen Students Now Sick with COVID Symptoms

Jerry Falwell Jr., 25 May 2009, from the Brainyquote website

Despite pleas from some of his own employees, from the governor of Virginia, from medical authorities, from people who live around Liberty University, pro-life Christian leader Jerry Falwell Jr. reopened Liberty University last week following spring break. And now this:

The Guardian Reports Today on Churches from Rio to Moscow Contining to Hold Services Despite Warnings


If it were just their own lives they were putting at risk, we might shrug our shoulders and say, "Oh, well." But their belligerent stupidity puts other lives at risk, contributing to the spreading of a virus lethal for many people in the middle of a global pandemic.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Resilience of the Human Spirit: Choirs That Continue Singing Together in Time of Social Distance — Via Technology



It's refreshing to see some singing groups around the world now modeling for us a way both to maintain necessary social distance and to keep on singing — together — via the miracles of modern technology. This is a choir in Waterford, Ireland, called Intimations.

And then there's this:


The human spirit is amazingly resilient and creative, when it allows itself to be.

As America Becomes Number 1 in World Coronavirus Infections, the "Beautiful" Idea of Packing Churches for Easter: My Commentary


An update on the story I shared with you recently (and here), about First Assembly of God church in Greer's Ferry, Arkansas, which hosted a children's crusade March 6-8, and then discovered that some three dozen church members who attended that event were infected with coronavirus: that story continues to gain international attention, as with this recent NBC news report

Friday, March 27, 2020

Thomas O'Loughlin on Mass as Theater and Eucharist as Commodity: Theological Underpinnings of These Ideas



As a follow-up to what I posted yesterday about how the aberrant Mass-as-theater theology of many Catholics is asserting itself all over again in this pandemic, some sound theological reflection from theologian Thomas O'Loughlin in an essay entitled "Reimagining the Eucharist":

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Mass Suffering and Televised Masses: Watch Me Eat for You! Watch ME!


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Washington Post Reports on Arkansas Church with COVID Infections as Warning for Other Churches: My Response

KFSM News Arkansas, "Coronavirus live updates: 236 confirmed cases in Arkansas, 1,050 negative tests thus far"

In an article entitled "'Take it very seriously': Pastor at Arkansas church where 34 people came down with coronavirus sends a warning," Julie Zauzmer reports on the story about which I shared information yesterday, about a church in Arkansas 34 of whose members now have COVID. She reports that the pastor of the church, Mark Palenske, is urging other churches to learn from his church's experience, and take the coronavirus pandemic seriously.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Rev. Wendell Griffen on Our Choice for This Season of Pandemic



And for a different (and in my view, authentically pro-life) voice from an Arkansas church, after I just shared dismal news about a church in Arkansas in a previous posting, I want to share this recent sermon from my friend Pastor Wendell Griffen of New Millennium Baptist church in Little Rock. New Millennium stopped holding services some weeks back, and Wendell is now delivering his sermons online.

News Breaks That 34 Members of an Arkansas Church Are Infected with COVID: My Reflections on the Curiously Slow Learning Curve of Churches

Jose A. Del Real, Julie Zauzmer, and Ava Wallace, "Without guidance from the top, Americans have been left to figure out their own coronavirus solution"

On March 15, Jose A. Del Real, Julie Zauzmer, and Ava Wallace reported for Washington Post

In Arkansas, the Rev. Josh King met with the pastors of five other churches on Thursday [i.e., March 12] to decide whether to continue holding service. Their religious beliefs told them that meeting in person to worship each Sunday remained an essential part of their faith, and some of their members signed on to Trump's claims that the media and Democrats were overblowing the danger posed by the virus. 
"One pastor said half of his church is ready to lick the floor, to prove there's no actual virus," said King, lead pastor at Second Baptist church in Conway, Ark.