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)



The busiest hospitals in Houston are increasingly telling emergency responders they cannot safely accept new patients as hundreds of coronavirus patients crowd emergency rooms, and hospitals scramble to open more intensive care space.

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 DΓ©bacle: 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.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Good Advice from Healthcare Workers in Belfast to Flatten the Curve: STAY AT HOME!



This is an excellent little video shared yesterday on Facebook by David Honeyford of Glenavy, Co. Antrim, Ireland. In case its message is hard to decipher or it seems muddled,* it boils down to the following as advice for flattening the pandemic curve, STAY AT HOME!

*Sarcasm alert

Thursday, March 19, 2020

My Reflections as Minnesota and Vermont Declare Grocery Clerks Emergency Workers


The people putting their lives on the line right now to serve the rest of us are medical personnel and also grocery store workers and people delivering goods in trucks all over the country. The latter two groups are often significantly underpaid and have few or no benefits, including paid sick leave.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Media Vita in Morte Sumus: Pandemic Wave Is Now Cresting in the US, with Dire Results Predicted by Experts for Weeks Now


My apologies for being slow to post. I am dealing with the shock of learning from my brother that his partner was hospitalized this weekend for pneumonia, and is on a respirator with sedation.

Today, they got the results of diagnostic tests, and his partner has COVID-19.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

What We're Seeing Now: Unmasking of What "Pro-Life Politics and Religion in US Have Always Meant

The photo of grafitti on a wall in Munich is by Peter Kneffel, AP, by way of The Guardian 

I'm continuing to provide information and commentary about the coronavirus pandemic, and, in particular, about the response to it in my country, the United States. I'm doing this because so much disinformation is circulating — "It's just the flu," "All these preparations and precautions are ridiculous panicky reactions infringing on my liberty," "It's a Democratic ruse to re-impeach my president," "It's a foreign virus and a foreign plot to bring my country down," "The death rate is minimal right now and this shows us that the concerns are overblown." And on and on.

Friday, March 13, 2020

"Smoking Gun: Trump Suppressed Coronavirus Testing to Keep the Numbers Low and Boost His Chances at Reelection" — More Commentary


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

In Trump Administration Response to a Pandemic, the "Pro-Life" Agenda Is Unmasked: Hasn't Been About a Meaningful Ethic of Life at All

Top headling, Huffington Post, noon, 11 March 2020.



The number of COVID-19 cases reported across the country is expected to grow in coming days as testing efforts expand.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

"Pro-Life" Christians May Yet Be the Death of Us All: Who's Driving Trump's Nonchalance About Coronavirus and Why



Yesterday, I pointed you to a recent article by Ruth Graham about why Trump-friendly Christian leaders are feeling fine about coronavirus. As that article notes, if Mr. Trump says the virus is contained and it's no worse than the flu and his "numbers" are good, his white Christian fan club will fall into formation and cheer him on — though they claim they support him to the moon because he's "pro-life," and lying about and ignoring an impending pandemic that's killing lots of people seems hardly congruent with any meaningful "pro-life" values.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Fiddling, Burning: Commentary in the Time of Coronavirus



Donald Trump is incapable of truth, heedless of science, and hostage to the demands of his insatiable ego.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

More on Forgiveness and Clergy Abuse Situation: Kaya Oakes on Need for New Understandings


A month ago, Ruth Krall offered us a valuable statement about the "sin or crime" dilemma facing religious bodies as they deal with sexual abuse of vulnerable people by religious authority figures. Should a community frame sexual abuse of the vulnerable by pastors, priests, religious authority figures primarily in terms of forgiveness? Or should religious communities begin from the starting point of recognizing that sexual abuse of minors is a crime, as they deal with these issues?

Monday, March 2, 2020

Ruth Krall on Coronavirus: "If We Fail to Adequately Care for Those Who Cannot Care for Themselves, the Door will Open to Threaten Us All"



I'd like to share with readers this morning an email that Ruth Krall sent to me yesterday, which contains some of the best commentary I've yet read on the coronavirus discussion. Ruth has kindly given me permission to share her thoughts. She writes, 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Quote for Day: "People Voted for Hitler as They Voted for Putin and Trump, Because They Didn't Want to Give up Their Own Privileges"

PRRI, "Despite Chaos and Controversy, Trump Favorability Stable Throughout 2019," 26 Feb. 2020

In her book Learning from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2019), Susan Neiman cites German philosopher Bettina Stangneth, author of Eichmann Before Jerusalem (NY: Knopf, 2014; German edition, 2011):

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Centering Religion on Possession or Lack of a Penis Seems to Have Some Significant Downsides


Tina Beattie, "A 'frozen idea of the feminine," The Tablet, 20 Feb. 2020


I think this morning of three famous men in the world of religion I met while I was active in the religion academy as a scholar and teacher. One was a theologian whose work has been very influential in the area of peace studies, especially in his Protestant world.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Is It That the Democrats "Lost" White Christians, or That Obama's Elections Re-Energized GOP's "White Christian Strategy"?



Yesterday's PRRI "Morning Buzz" email newsletter* discusses a recent article by Jack Jenkins' entitled "Democrats lost white Christians. Can they win them back?" As I read this article yesterday, the thought that kept running around in my head was this: But the Democratic party did not "lose" white Christians. White Christians have walked away from the Democratic party because US white Christianity is deeply racist.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Notes on Gerardo Marti's American Blindspot: Race, Class, Religion, and the Trump Presidency



I recently read Gerardo Marti's American Blindspot: Race, Class, Religion, and the Trump Presidency (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2020), and would like to share some thoughts about that book with you. A key insight of Marti's book is that, in looking at Donald Trump, we Americans are looking in a mirror and seeing our own faces. It is not, as many in the media have wanted to imagine, a fluke that he seized the White House in 2016, riding significant backlash against the nation's first African-American president to do so. This outcome is consistent with ugly currents long present in American history — from the outset of the nation, in fact — that many Americans appear determined not to see.

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Holocaust and Christian Theologies of Sin and Forgiveness: Imperative Need for Christians to Listen to Jews

Elizabeth Johnson, The Quest for the Living God (London: Bloomsbury, 2007)

Ruth Krall's recent sounding of various ecclesial responses to the sexual abuse of minors and how they raise profound questions about theologies of sin and forgiveness has made me think about the valuable contribution of Jewish thinkers to Christian theological reflection about these matters. Ruth's essay includes a paragraph surveying some Jewish thinkers on the topic of sin and forgiveness.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

A Report from Trump Country on the United Methodist Split Over Whether to Welcome LGBTQ People or Not



This is a report from the ground, which is to say, from the white evangelical heartland of the U.S. that is solidly Trump country. It's a report of an encounter a cousin of mine had several days back at a bible-study group he attends, which is connected to a United Methodist church he no longer attends. He left that church — and, without a formal resignation, the United Methodist Church in general and any church in general — after the election of Donald Trump. As he says to me, "I told them that if I had wanted to join a Republican country club, I wouldn't have joined a church."

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Ruth Krall, "A Sin or a Crime?"

David Stoltzfus Smucker (age 75) wheeled into court in Lancaster, PA, Pittsburg Post-Gazette, 24 Jan. 2020

I'm happy to share today a recent essay by Ruth Krall that packs a lot of valuable information and theological reflection into a small space. Though it's specifically focused on questions about how abuse of vulnerable people is handled in her own religious community of origin, it offers a valuable lens through with those studying abuse in other religious or institutional settings can also look. Ruth writes:

Sentence: 38-76 years of imprisonment: This means that Smucker will likely die in jail.  The crime: 20 felony counts for sexually molesting children, i.e., rape, of his grandchildren.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Commentary about the New ProPublica Database of Catholic Priests Across the U.S. "Credibly Accused" of Sexual Abuse


Some commentary for you about the new ProPublica database of Catholic priests across the U.S. "credibly accused" of sexual abuse or misconduct, which is searchable online:

Monday, January 20, 2020

Now This in Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina: "Advocate Wants Former Belmont Abbey Priest Named as Child Sexual Abuser"



In an article entitled, "Advocate wants former Belmont Abbey priest named as child sexual abuser," Nathan Morabito writes

The names of more than 40 clergy members credibly accused of sexually abusing children before, during or after their time in the Diocese of Charlotte are now public, but just weeks after church leaders released that long-awaited list, we've learned there are still others who served in our area who were not named.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Ruth Krall, "Bearing Witness, Part Two — Speaking Truthfully" (2)

Vincent van Gogh, "The Good Samaritan," original in the Kroller-Muller Museum in Otterlo, The Netherlands, uploaded to Wikimedia Commons for online sharing.

The posting that follows is the second half of Ruth Krall's essay "Bearing Witness, Part Two — Speaking Truthfully." The first part of this essay is here. As that previous posting indicates, this is the fourth in a set of essays Ruth has published discussing what it means to bear witness as one engages in the work of compassionate peacemaking. In this second half of her essay about speaking truthfully as one bears witness, she probes questions about how clinicians and others both safeguard the privacy and integrity of those who have entrusted their stories to them, and, at the same time, handle the professional and moral obligation to prevent harm. Ruth's essay follows:

Monday, January 13, 2020

Ruth Krall, "Bearing Witness, Part Two — Speaking Truthfully"

Vincent van Gogh, "The Good Samaritan," original in the Kroller-Muller Museum in Otterlo, The Netherlands, uploaded to Wikimedia Commons for online sharing.

With this posting, we're nearing the end of Ruth Krall's invaluable, thought-provoking essay series entitled "Compassionate Peacemaking: Healing the World's Wounds One at a Time," with the first part of the series comprised of four essays under the title "Part One: Bearing Witness." This is the fourth essay in the "Bearing Witness" set of essays, and is entitled "Bearing Witness, Part Two —Speaking Truthfully."

I'm posting this final essay in Ruth's essay series in two pieces. The first half of "Bearing Witness, Part Two — Speaking Truthfully." Endnotes begin with xliii because this essay is a continuation of previous essays in the series, the previous one in the series being here and here. Ruth's essay follows:

Saturday, January 11, 2020

"It Is Rarely Noted That Trump Was the Clear Choice of White America": Recent Commentary on White Evangelicals Continuing to Burn Hot for Trump




White evangelical Protestant attitudes about Donald Trump have moved through three distinct phases since PRRI has been tracking them beginning in 2015: 
1. Before Trump became the official Republican nominee for president in mid-2016, Trump's favorability never reached the majority among white evangelical Protestants. 
2. Between Trump's nomination and the inauguration, Trump’s favorability among white evangelical Protestants advanced past the 60-percent mark. 
3. By the time of his inauguration in early 2017, Trump's favorability among white evangelical Protestants jumped to nearly three quarters (74%). While Trump has struggled to lift his favorability numbers among the general population above the low-40-percent range, throughout his presidency, favorability of Trump among white evangelicals has remained exceptionally high, between 65% and 77% with an average favorability rating of 71%.