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.