Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Charles Curran on U.S. Catholic Bishops' Current Abortion Teaching: Unfounded Certitude

National Catholic Reporter is running an excellent essay now by Catholic moral theologian Charles Curran.  It's an abridgement of a chapter of his forthcoming book The Social Mission of the U.S. Catholic Church: A Theological Perspective.  The essay focuses on the shift in the teaching of the U.S. Catholic bishops about abortion over the past forty years, and then critiques the ethical basis the bishops use to support their current position.

Illinois Catholic Conference Opposes Civil Unions for Gays

Remember how some Catholic bishops keep telling us they support rights for gay folks, and oppose discrimination against us?  And that they will even support civil unions in lieu of marriage, which is the real sticking point?  Since, you know, the Catholic church supports human rights for all, and opposes discrimination in all its forms, and there's copious evidence that the lack of legal recognition of gay unions exposes those in these unions, and their families, to manifold forms of discrimination.

Andrew Sullivan on the White Evangelical Exception in American Politics


Andrew Sullivan writes yesterday about "the white evangelical exception" in American politics.  As he notes, the latest Pew study about gays in the military shows Americans favoring an end to DADT and its ban on gays in the military by 2-1.  

Frances Kissling on Benedict's Condom Remark: Procreative Ethic as Crux of Problem

Frances Kissling writes today at Religion Dispatches about Benedict's condom remark and the discussion it has prompted, noting--as I did in my posting focusing on Peter Steinfels' interpretation of the controversy at Commonweal--the way in which even liberal Catholics of the center continue to defend a procreative ethic that does not reflect what graced experience about human sexuality has taught many Catholics.

Monday, November 29, 2010

SNAP on New Revelations about Archbishop Ratzinger's Reassignment of Known Pedophile in Munich Archdiocese

A quick update to my posting earlier today about the Spiegel article re: what Archbishop Ratzinger knew when, in the case of Munich diocese priest Peter Hullerman: SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) has a press statement now by Lieve Halsberghe, its Belgian leader.  This notes,

Gay Catholic Theologian David Berger Tells All: Catholic Right Gentleman's Club, Closeted Homophobic Church Officials

And, speaking of Spiegel (see my first post this morning): some readers will no doubt already have read this Spiegel article last week, focusing on out gay Catholic theologian David Berger.  Berger was a darling of the Catholic right in Europe and the U.S. until the cognitive dissonance between his partnered gay life and his public persona as a defender of the institution became too great to bear.  His insider account of what the Catholic right is really all about, really like, as it "defends" "the" church against enemies, is stomach-churning.

The Defenders of the Church and the Apologetic Challenge of Catholicism Today

And, building on what I have just posted: it strikes me that Austen Ivereigh at America continues to get it all wrong, when he writes today* about the need of loyal Catholics to defend the church.  What the church needs is not to be defended, but to recognize the extremely serious apologetic situation its own shortcomings have created for it at this point in history, and to begin the path of addressing those shortcomings honestly and with humility.  Its loyal defenders are doing a disservice to the Catholic church, when they deal with any question or challenge that comes along with a clenched fist, as though being a good Catholic is akin to hopping into a rugby scrimmage and pummeling one's opponent into submission.

German Newspaper Spiegel on What Ratzinger Knew When: New Documents Reveal More

In an article that is sure to elicit anger among the defenders of the Vatican, the German newspaper Spiegel today continues probing what Ratzinger knew when about abuse cases, as archbishop of Munich.  Conny Neumann and Peter Wensierski write that, despite the attempt of church officials to shield Ratzinger from any responsibility for the decision to keep Fr. Peter Hullerman in active ministry in the Munich diocese after credible allegations of sexual abuse were made against him, Ratzinger was clearly involved in the decision to permit Hullerman to continue in ministry (and see also this article in Mitteldeutsche Zeitung).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Next Installment of Nienstedt Story in Minnesota: From Gay Bashing to Bashing Survivors of Clerical Abuse

In case you were wondering what Archbishop John Nienstedt has been up to in recent weeks, in addition to sending out videos to Catholic households bashing gays to gain votes for Republicans (see the links at the end of this posting to a selection of my previous postings on this topic)*: this report from Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is eye-opening.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cooking to Save the Planet: Hot Eggplant Relish

Perhaps you're tired of cloying foods, whether you're American and did Thanksgiving or not.  I know that I often hanker for something more piquant, less heavy, that perks up my appetite in winter months, when meals can often be stodgy, and, frankly, more boring than in summertime, with many fresh vegetables at hand.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bible Belt and Gay Bashing: With Links to Surveys Showing Extensive Violence vs. Women in Africa

Timothy Beauchamp writes at Americablog Gay today about anti-gay hate crimes in the bible belt of the U.S.  He's reporting on a recent gay bashing in his home state of Oklahoma, in Tulsa.  As he notes, there is a prevailing cultural attitude in bible-belt areas that not only legitimates but actively celebrates violent assaults on openly gay persons:

Cooking to Save the Planet: Apple Loaf and Apple-Nut Cakes

You all may be sick and tired of cloying desserts after Thanksgiving ("you all" who have just celebrated American Thanksgiving, that is, and--thankfully--not all readers of this blog are Americans).  If not, Box Turtle Bulletin has just published a recipe for a sinfully rich sweet potato and apricot puree with pecan streusel, to which I'd provide a link.  But I can't get the Box Turtle webpage to load in my browser.  I can read the posting only because I receive email updates from Box Turtle and can see the posting in my email inbox.  (Later today: here's the link to Rob Tisinai's recipe at Box Turtle.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gratitude: My Five Points

My family never did Thanksgiving when I was growing up.  So I'm unaccustomed to the practice that now seems embedded in American culture, of listing things for which I'm grateful as Thanksgiving day arrives.

When I say that we didn't do Thanksgiving, I don't mean to say that we ignored the holiday.  We did have a traditional family meal, though, as my mother often told me, in her childhood Thanksgiving was hardly marked at all, and the traditional Christmas table was far more likely to feature chicken baked with dressing and ham than turkey.  So "tradition" is a slippery term when it comes to this particular holiday, as it so often when people think they know precisely what their traditions stipulate and have always maintained.

News on Thanksgiving Day: Necon Catholics Resist Pope on Condoms, Benedict on Media and Maciel, and Mormon Musings

In the news this morning of American Thanksgiving: three articles that have caught my eye online in recent days (though I'm finding far too little time to read the news):

First, neocon Catholics are perturbed--perturbed, I tell you!--that the pope has spoken out about condoms.  And contradicted their messages of hate, transmitted for years now to anyone struggling with decisions about whether it might be morally better to use a condom to avoid infecting someone else with a fatal illness, than to refrain from using a condom. 

Cooking to Save the Planet: What About Those Thanksgiving Leftovers? (Curried Turkey Salad and Sweet Potato Salads)

So, you now have all that turkey left over, and perhaps sweet potatoes, too, if you merely baked them for the Thanksgiving dinner,* and didn't fuss with them, as is our wont in the American South, where they're likely to be served candied to accompany the ham that's as essential as turkey on our Thanksgiving table.  Candied, as in cubed and cooked slowly in a rich syrup of butter and brown sugar until they begin to be translucent, then tossed with pecan pieces, bits of orange and orange peel, and nutmeg and perhaps a bit of allspice.  And some pineapple chunks if you want to gild the lily.  And the whole rich mess finished in the oven until it's bubbling and brown on top.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski Has Himself Depicted in Cathedral Window Commemorating Crucifixion

I wonder what all the cheerleaders for the new archbishop of Miami, Thomas Wenski, will make of this news: Wenski has had himself included in a stained-glass window of the crucifixion in the renovated cathedral at Orlando.

Tom Doyle on the Catholic Clerical Sexual Abuse Situation: Bishops' Response Is Convincing on Paper, Hollow and Hypocritcal in Reality

This is from the latest installment of Fr. Tom Doyle's ongoing series entitled "Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church," in Voice of the Faithful's newsletter In the Vineyard.  I last posted an excerpt from this series on 24 September.  Here, Fr. Doyle is talking about the self-congratulatory rhetoric of the American Catholic bishops following their establishment of a National Review Board to handle the sexual abuse crisis after the media exposed the depths of this problem in the American Catholic church in 2002:

More on Benedict and Condoms: Shift Occurs, I Remain Underwhelmed

I’m still trying to get my mind around the flurry of discussion Pope Benedict’s condom remarks have elicited in Catholic circles and in the culture at large.  Thinking this issue through isn’t easy for me now, since I’m not technically “at my desk” these days, and am not finding much time to be online and read (hence my pre-fab postings of the last two days, relying largely on material from things I’ve written before or excerpts from Peter J. Gomes’s The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus).

More from Peter J. Gomes on Religion-Based Homophobia: Irrational Fear of the Sexual Other

Another passage from Peter Gomes's The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus (NY: HarperOne, 2007), which I find in my journals from several years ago.  Where the two passages I posted yesterday focused on the churches' responsibility for fostering homophobia at this point in history, this one notes the way in which fear of gay and lesbian human beings operates at a political level, particularly in the U.S., a nation in which a considerable number of us over the course of our history seem to need someone to fear, hate, and target.

Cooking to Save the Planet: Daily Bread

As I transcribe this recipe the day before American Thanksgiving, I ask myself if baking bread at home is in and of itself an ecologically sound practice--since this series of recipes is all about offering people ideas for ways to cook to save the planet.  And, on the whole, it seems to me, home baking is, in general, good for the planet--though I'm far from a purist about this, and we often buy bread from a bakery near us that we particularly like.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tea Party Jesus on Bryan Fischer's Reading of Crucifixion as Justification for Aggressive War

Here's what the Tea Party Jesus site makes of the recent remarks of Bryan Fischer of American Family Association depicting Jesus's crucifixion as a religious justification for aggressive war with massive conflicts.

Peter J. Gomes on the Failure of the Churches Today Vis-a-Vis Gay Human Beings

And, in a journal from 2007, I find several passages I had copied from Peter J. Gomes's book The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What’s So Good about the Good News? (NY: HarperOne, 2007), as I was reading that book after its publication.  Here are two of them:

From the Past: Vatican Decision to Purge Seminaries of Gays

Going through some of my past journals these days for one reason and another, and I have just noticed the following passage that I wrote on 23 September 2005.  Reading this in conjunction with the discussion of Benedict's statements about condoms is telling--to me, at least:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Benedict on Condoms: Confronting the Real (and Deep) Apologetic Challenges of the Catholic Church Today

I haven't yet commented on the recent discussion of a remark of Pope Benedict in a forthcoming book that permitting the use of condoms by a male prostitute might represent a first step on the path to moralization of the prostitute's activity.  I haven't commented for a variety of reasons.

NY Times on Problem of Hidden Donors in Democratic Society and the Case of the Minnesota Catholic Bishops

The outcome of the gubernatorial election in Minnesota remains undecided, with the lead for Democratic candidate Mark Dayton so slim in the final vote tally that there will be a recount.  This is the election in which the Catholic bishops of the state crossed the church-state line to lobby on behalf of the Republican candidate for governor Tom Emmer with a gay-bashing video about same-sex marriage.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ellen Degeneres Continues to Combat School Bullying, Invites Teen Graeme Taylor to Her Show

I've mentioned a number of times here that I record and watch Ellen Degeneres's show while I slog away at my treadmill each day.  Today, I watched her show from this past Friday.

And since I blogged recently about an inspiring young gay teen in Michigan, Graeme Taylor, who gave powerful witness at a school board meeting a few days back, I want to note that Ellen announced on her Friday show that she'll have Graeme Taylor on her show next Monday.

Ellen deserves strong credit for all she's doing to push back against bullying of gay and lesbian teens.  She's one of those elder-mentors who has opened doors and given back to the LGBT community in significant ways.  I'm looking forward to hearing what Graeme Taylor has to say on her show next Monday.

Jamie Manson on Need for "Elder Prophets" to Mentor Progressive Young Catholics: Where Are Elders to Be Found?

Jamie Manson's  latest posting at National Catholic Reporter about the need for "elder prophets" to mentor young Catholics who are part of progressive Catholic movements touches on something I was trying to get at with my last posting about the young "urban monk" Shane Claiborne and NCR's persistent advocacy on his behalf.  Manson notes that though she has long admired Claiborne, she's saddened by the fact that, when the annual Call to Action conference took the rare step of inviting a keynote speaker from her generation, it chose someone who wasn't born and bred Catholic to deliver this keynote.  Call to Action is, after all, all about promoting progressive change in the Catholic church.

Michael Jones on Timothy Dolan's Election: Goodbye to Social Justice, Hello to More Demonizing of Gays

I just wrote, 

Meanwhile, I don't look for a break anytime soon, under Timothy Dolan, in the intent, obsessive focus on abortion and same-sex marriage, and the shocking amnesia about core principles of Catholic socio-economic teaching, even as our democracy totters on the brink of collapse due to the selfishness of those who own and control the vast majority of our resources.

On Catholic Social Teaching and the Common Good: Whither the U.S. Catholic Bishops?

In a posting yesterday, I linked to a recent Alternet article by David Korten summarizing the introduction to a revised edition of his book Agenda for a New Economy.  As my comments yesterday noted, Korten stresses the need for a new vision of economic life, as the perilous shortcomings of the imperfect vision now dominating our socio-economic imaginations become apparent in our current economic crisis.  I also noted that Korten thinks that a more humane, inclusive, and viable vision for the economic reorganization of our society is far more likely to come from "common" people and those on the margins than from the top of our society.  Because one of the most salient facts we have learned all over again about our political institutions during the Obama presidency is that D.C. and the beltway media that insulate and protect our central governing institutions are owned lock, stock, and barrel by Wall Street.

Chauncey DeVaga on DADT and the Guide to Command of Negro Naval Personnel

Chauncey DeVaga with wise insights (rooted in the African-American experience of struggle against marginalization) into what the DADT debate is really about:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cooking to Save the Planet: Fall Nut Torte

There's nothing particularly ecological about the following recipe, but as with the one I recently shared for a sweet potato soufflé, it's on my mind as American Thanksgiving approaches, and as I leaf through a journal of handwritten recipes I've recorded (very sporadically) since the late 1980s.  I first find myself dating these recipes which are my own inventions in 1991.

A Gloss on Catholic Theology of the Body as Bogus Science Propping Up Bad Theology

A gloss on what I've just posted about the ludicrous science now being used to prop up bad theology, as proponents of the theology of the body now assert that the superiority of male-female sex is proven by the response of the vagina to semen: 

I want to make the theological point crystal clear.  That is, I want to make crystal clear my point that this particular rendition of the theology of the body is bad theology clothed in preposterous science.  Here's why: it actually moves Catholic ethical thinking backwards in the area of sexual teaching, while claiming it is doing so in response to good science.  It retrieves ethical conclusions long since discarded by the Catholic tradition itself, at its best, while it also claims to be offering an entirely new, scientifically astute reading of sexual ethics:

Catholic Theology of the Body: Bogus Science Propping Up Bad Theology

And dear God again: I noted yesterday the extremely shaky "scientific" foundation that the newly elected president of the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference, Timothy Dolan, wants to cite for Catholic officials' opposition to same-sex marriage: a one man, one woman model of marriage is hardwired in human DNA, doncha know.

Pope Addresses Health Care, and His Most Vocal Defenders Throw His Words Over Their Shoulders

Interesting: I read the predictable, ideology-driven comments of some of my fellow Catholics at this America blog posting about Pope Benedict's support for universal healthcare, and I wonder where these folks live, who say, "I would argue that all citizens of the US do have access to this level of care."  Or who argue, "Access to minimal levels of health care has probably been around almost everywhere for centuries, if not millenia [sic]."

Bryan Fischer on God's Approval of Aggressive Wars: The Price of U.S. Catholic Bishops' Alliance with Religious Right

Dear God: it wasn't enough for Bryan Fischer to write recently that Jesus's death on the cross is an icon indicating God's approval of militaristic aggression, and as Andrew Sullivan aptly puts it, kicking ass on the cross.

David Korten on An Agenda for a New Economy: Insights for a New Catholic Reformation

Writing about the desperate need to create an agenda for a new economy in the U.S., David Korten notes,

I have abandoned my brief flirtation with the fantasy that Obama might be the exception and that contrary to what I have believed and taught for more than 20 years change might come from the top.

If change comes, the leadership will come from below through citizen action that originates from outside of the institutions that are failing us on so many fronts. Change from below can succeed only when a large number of people have a shared understanding of the roots of the problem and share a vision of the path to its resolution.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More Reactions to Dolan-Kurtz Election: Left, Right, Center, Faces of American Catholicism

More reactions to the elections of Timothy Dolan and Joseph Kurtz as president and vice-president of the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference:

This is the full text of Tom Reese's commentary, emphasizing the bishops' "tilt to the right," which I mentioned in a posting yesterday.  And here's another perspective viewing the election of Dolan-Kurtz as a victory for the vocal right wing of the U.S. Catholic church, by Susan Jacoby, a non-Catholic looking in from the outside.

Wonder of Wonders: Mormons Step Forward as Catholics Leap Back

Joanna Brooks writes today at Religion Dispatches about a self-styled Mormon "Martin Luther" who has just uploaded the Mormon Church Handbook of Instructions to the internet.  The CHI is apparently a guidebook to everything you need to know about being Mormon, which has previously been restricted to church leaders.  The decision of one Mormon to make this document available online (and the church itself followed suit soon after this by posting the latest copy of one volume of the CHI online) is part of a growing movement within the LDS church on the part of some lay members demanding greater transparency of their leaders.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cooking to Save the Planet: Sour-Cream Sweet Potato Soufflé

As American Thanksgiving nears, I'm leafing through a journal in which I've recorded recipes as I concocted them, if they seemed fairly successful.  This one turns sweet potatoes--one of the few vegetables I have to force myself to eat--into something between one of those cloyingly sweet side dishes many of us seem to like with our other Thanksgiving vittles, and a dessert.  I honestly can't recall which way I served it in 1996, when I thought up this dish and served it at some gathering.

Lutheran Bishop of Bavaria on the Curious Preoccupation with Homosexuality in Church Circles

I'm intrigued by one line, in particular, in this Huffington Post story about the decision of the Lutheran church in Bavaria to permit clergy in partnered gay unions to live with their partners in rectories.  This is the observation of the presiding bishop of Bavaria's Lutheran church, Johannes Friedrich, that while society itself has moved in the direction of understanding and affirming those who are gay, "church circles" remain more intransigent on these issues.

Tom Reese on Dolan-Kurtz Election as Culture-War Battle Cry

And here's Fr. Thomas Reese of Georgetown on the election of Dolan-Kurtz to head the USCCB:

This is a signal that the conference wants to be a leader in the culture wars. The two vice-presidential finalists were the two most conservative on the ballot. That says something about where this conference is going.

When top CEOs, who have all the power in their hands, and who control the branding of their product ("we are the teachers," Timothy Dolan has announced) find themselves with their backs against the wall, their first impulse is likely to be to engage in superficial re-branding.  Image management.

Timothy Dolan's Election as USCCB President: More Calls to Obediential Catholicism

Joseph O'Leary left an insightful comment at my posting yesterday about the hope to be found in the clear-eyed, intelligent, passionate vision of young folks like Graeme Taylor of Michigan, about whom the posting wrote.  Fr. O'Leary says,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Past As Foreign Country: Family Memoirs and Strands of History

And so here's what I do when the "disoriented, disarranged social structure[s]" in which I find myself (and about which I blogged earlier today, citing Eldridge Cleaver) threaten to drive me crazy and rob me of hope: I retreat to the past.  Because the past is a foreign country, and has infinitely variable possibilities (and infinitely variable plasticity, since we can pick and choose the moment of history in which we want to immerse ourselves at any given time), I look for slices of history to amuse, entertain, and instruct me.  And divert my attention from the dismal present.  Though, as my previous posting indicates, I do continue picking the bones of the present for hope: my faith obliges me to do so.

Hope for the Future: Articulate Young People Challenge Homophobia

This story is certainly making the rounds of the internet in the past several days: a 14-year old gay teen, Graeme Taylor, recently defended his teacher Jay McDowell at a school board meeting in Michigan held to discuss the teacher's suspension by local school officials.  McDowell was accused of not respecting the religious views of two students who spoke out in his class against gays and lesbians, one of them wearing a Confederate flag belt-buckle as he did so.  

Cardinal George and the Spiritual Homelessness of Many Faithful Catholics: "The Bishops Speak, All the Rest Is Opinion"

I’ve just begun reading André Brink’s novel An Instant in the Wind, and am struck by its epigraph from Eldridge Cleaver.  Cleaver writes,

We live in a disoriented, disarranged social structure, and we have transcended its barriers in our own ways and have stepped psychologically outside its madness and repressions.  It is lonely out here.  We recognize each other.  And, having recognized each other, is it any wonder that our souls cling together even while our minds equivocate, hesitate, vacillate, and tremble?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Faith in America's "Addressing Religious Arguments" Report: Framing the Educational Challenge with the Churches, re: Gay Issues

Last week, when I blogged about Faith in America’s recent report outlining “core messages” that those working to combat religion-based homophobia might use in their interaction with faith communities, Colleen Baker of the Enlightened Catholicism blog commented,

Bill I think most of us who have looked at the gay obsession in our Catholic leadership have connected these dots a long time ago. God's chain of command seems to be rooted in control, dominance and exploitation of the lesser ranks.

I think Colleen’s exactly right with these observations.  They touch on the conclusion to my own posting, and today, I’d like to say a bit more about that conclusion—to elucidate my concern with the educational approach taken by Faith in America and other groups like it.

Still Here . . . .

Kind Hearts and Gentle Readers,

I haven't forgotten Bilgrimage.  I had to put on another hat for the latter part of last week and the weekend, when Steve and I spent time with his brother and my nephew re-roofing a small cabin we own in the hills north of Little Rock.  I am useless at work like that, but tried to make myself useful by, at least, cooking good meals for the workers, and scrubbing the inside of the cabin and airing it out.

And so I now find myself behind, particularly since I have a grant-writing project to complete this week.  I will do my best to blog here, as time permits.

Meanwhile, I wanted you to know I am here and reading your very welcome comments on previous postings with great interest, but without any time to respond to them.  I wish all of you well.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Minnesota Catholics Respond to Anti-Gay Marriage Video: So Much Needless Pain

I just wrote,

Gay and lesbian people are frequently made homeless today by their brothers and sisters in Christ.  And that pain--the pain of exclusion from home and family--is at the heart of the problem of suicides of gay youth.  It is a terrible indictment, indeed, of Christianity as it is now understood and practiced by many Christians, that many of its adherents seem unable to understand the cruelty and hurt they are inflicting on other human beings by their commitment to a ruthless border logic that turns some human beings into unwelcome outsiders, simply because of who God has made them to be.

Brandy Daniels on Border Logic of Contemporary Christianity and Gay Teen Suicide

Two valuable points in Brandy Daniels' analysis of the connection between what some Christians think, say, and do, and the suicides of gay youth:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Religious Roots of Anti-Gay Attitudes: Two Recent Commentaries

Two noteworthy pieces in the past several days dealing with the significant connection between religion and people’s approach to issues of sexual orientation.  At Religion Dispatches, Constance Chellew-Hodge dissects the divine “chain of command” argument that structures many conservative Christians’ approach to homosexuality.