Monday, October 31, 2011

Anniversary Notes: Steve and I Celebrate 40 Years Together

Today's the final day of October.  And I can't let the month end without mentioning that it was in this month 40 years ago that Steve and I met.  

New Resource for Online Study of Theology and Ethics: Global Digital Library on Theology and Ecumenism

The posting I've just uploaded about Alice Walker emphasizes (without explicitly talking about this) a theme foundational to my own theological thinking, which is among the reasons I started and continue with this blog: this is that academic theologians ignore the profound theological reflection going on in the world around them among non-academically trained theologians at our peril.  Much of the most significant theological reflection taking place in the world today takes place outside the walls of the academy.  

Another Reader-Requested Piece: Reflections on Alice Walker's Significance for Me

I blogged recently about my response to Rembert Weakland's book A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church, noting that I was doing so because a reader of a previous posting about Weakland had invited me to read Weakland's memoir and then write about my response to the book.  Today, I want to fulfill another promise to a reader of this blog whose feedback I also value.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Recommendation for Readers: A Petition Demonstrating Catholic Support for Marriage Equality

Finally, this Sunday morning, I want to draw readers' attention to a valuable initiative about which Terry Weldon blogged this past week at his Queering the Church blog.

More News from the Week: A Fantasia about Bishops' Apologies for Catholic Homophobia, and Mr. Lori Testifies Before Congress

Bishop Lori Testifying Before House Judiciary Subcommittee, 25 Oct. 2011

Other read-worthy articles from the previous week I'd like to recommend to readers:

A Tale of Two Bishops: Finn in Kansas City, Morris in Toowoomba

In the news this week, stories of two bishops and the radically different way in which Rome is choosing to deal with their cases: Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph in the U.S., and Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba in Australia:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Who Has Known the Mind of the Corgi, and Who Has Been Her Counselor?

Scripture asks, "Who has known the mind of the Lord, and who has been his counselor?" (Isaiah 40:13, echoed in Romans 11:34).  And it also wonders who can understand the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9).  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rembert Weakland's Memoir A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Wrap-Up Comments

I hadn't planned to do this, but the good responses (and questions) of some readers to my two-part series on Rembert Weakland's A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church have spurred me to add some brief(ish) wrap-up commentary to my previous two postings.  (I will, by the way, be responding to readers' comments directly in a short while: as the week winds down, I find myself a bit tired, specifically because writing the two postings about Weakland's book engaged me at a significant emotional level and sapped my energy.  And because, to be honest, I tend to go through cycles in which it strikes me that not much I say on this blog is really worth reading, in the bigger scheme of things--and that I need to tend to my own spiritual wellsprings as I blog, so that I don't blog about nothing at all).

More Sliding Towards Barbarism: Ohio High-School Student Beats Gay Classmate As Peers Watch

And talking about inching towards barbarism, or running towards barbarism as fast as our legs can carry us (I'm building here on what I just posted about Alabama's new immigration law):

Alabama's Anti-Immigrant Law: When "Pro-Life" States Make Life Unlivable for Unwanted Minorities

More commentary about the theme that we Americans are inching towards barbarism, and those leading the pack are the loudest among us to proclaim themselves "pro-life": Elise Foley reports at Huffington Post that the legislators who crafted the ugly legislation in Alabama now targeting that state's immigrants are openly admitting that the legislation is deliberately designed to drive immigrants from the state.  As she notes, Republican state legislator Micky Hammon (R) has stated, "We really want to prevent illegal immigrants from coming to Alabama and to prevent those who are here from putting down roots."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rembert Weakland's Memoir A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Reflections (Part 2)

And now the continuation of my posting reflecting on Rembert Weakland's memoir A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: I ended yesterday's preface by noting that my reading of Weakland's book hadn't changed my view of him.  That's not entirely accurate.  I feel the need as I begin these reflections to note that the initial portion of his memoir, in which he talks about growing up in poverty in the small Appalachian town of Patton, Pennsylvania, moved me.  

Occupy Wall Street: Two Powerful Videos

Two powerful video statements that caught my attention yesterday about the global Occupy movement.  In the first, on the "Democracy Now" show, Cornel West explains to Amy Goodman why he was down the road being arrested in front of the Supreme Court while President Obama was speaking recently at the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr., monument.  West identifies himself as a "revolutionary Christian" in solidarity with anyone who wants to build a more humane and inclusive society around the world.  This is how he wants Dr. King to be remembered, as well.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rembert Weakland's Memoir A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Reflections

In December 2010, I posted something I had written in June 2002 in a journal I was keeping at that time, about breaking news that the archbishop of Milwaukee, Rembert Weakland, had had an affair with a man to whom he had paid money secretly out of archdiocesan funds when his former lover, Paul Marcoux, threatened to go public with information about their relationship.  My journal entry of 2 June 2002 states that the revelations about Weakland had left me cold.

Dan Savage on Rick Santorum Paradox: Small Government, Big Role in Your Vagina

Dan Savage, on the paradox of Rick Santorum's claim that he's all for tiny government, except when it comes to controlling the reproductive choices of others:

Santorum's for a smaller federal government... because the smaller the federal government, the more of it Santorum can stuff in your vagina . . . .

Christopher Ketcham Reports on Occupy Wall Street: Denunciation and Disruption

At Truthdig today, Christopher Ketcham reports on the events of 15 October in the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York--including the police brutality he witnessed.  He concludes that the movement is driven by a double goal of denunciation and disruption.

The occupiers intend to shame and ridicule the parasites, the 1%, who feed off the rest of the body politic, the 99%.  And they are staging a politics of disruption--by sheer (and growing) numbers, by their occupation of public spaces, by their marches, chanting, and drumming--designed as street theater to draw attention to their denunciation of the parasitic 1%.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Frank Rich on Occupy Wall Street and Long-Term Fixes

Frank Rich writes yesterday at New York Magazine about what Occupy Wall Street signifies long-term for American culture and its political process.  Two points strike me:

1. What's messed up in the corporate and financial structures of the U.S. (and the world) goes well beyond Wall Street, and fixing Wall Street is not likely to be a long-term fix for the systemic problems producing our current widespread misery. 

2. And second, the 2012 election will not resolve the problems, no matter who's elected, because our system, as it's now configured, is designed to produce stalemate.  No matter who's elected . . . .  

Women's Ordination Supporters Detained by Police at Vatican: Bill Quigley Reports

On the weekend, I wrote about the Vatican statement (as it turns out, it's a document from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace) on economic justice that's has just been released this morning.  As my posting noted, the statement is supposed to issue a reminder that Catholic teaching places the dignity of individuals and the demands of justice front and center, when we assess the morality of economic institutions.  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: End-of-Week Commentary

Glenn Greenwald on Glee at Gaddafi's Death: A Reflection about American "Pro-Life" Values

As gruesome photos of the corpse of Mommar Gaddafi circulate online, Glenn Greenwald writes about the kind of people we Americans are becoming as our empire declines and our national identity becomes more and more about whom we can execute--and how loudly and long we can cheer the latest national execution:

Not Raptured Again: The Political Utility of Religious Ideas in the American Context

Remember how the world was supposed to end back in May?  And it didn't.

Then, Rev. Harold Camping* of Family Radio Network, who was the prophet spreading the news of the impending end of the world, announced he'd gotten his calculations a bit off, and the real end of the world would occur on 21 October.   21 October 2001.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pope Benedict to Issue Statement about Economic Justice: But Convincing Teaching Presumes Practicing

Fr. Thomas Reese posted a statement yesterday at the Holy Post blog site saying that on Monday, Pope Benedict will issue a document about the reform of the international financial system that will be closer to the views of Occupy Wall Street than to those of the U.S. Congress--and far to the left of where any American politician stands.  According to Reese, the document will focus on the dignity of the individual and the demands of justice, as we assess the morality of economic systems.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fr. Anthony Ruff, Accidental Activist: Catholic System Not Set Up to Tell the Truth

And talking about speaking truth to power (I'm piggybacking here on what I just said about the attempt of beltway pundits to make Mitt Romney's religious beliefs a non-issue as we vet him as a candidate): how about this powerful observation from Fr. Anthony Ruff, in Jamie Manson's recent article about him at National Catholic Reporter:

Madison Shockley on Romney's Mormonism: Let's Talk

Madison Shockley gets it right, I think, in his commentary at Truthdig today, asking why Mitt Romney's religious views ought to be off the table as we discuss his viability as a presidential candidate.  The beltway media want to draw a . . . sacred? . . . line around the issue of a candidate's religious views, arguing that questions about what a presidential candidate believes and what her religious body maintains are intrusive and irrelevant.

Occupy Wall Street: End of Week Assortment of Commentary

Some recent pieces about Occupy Wall Street I've found helpful, and want to share this morning:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Amidst Controversy about Susan Sarandon's Benedict-Nazi Remark, Anti-Semitic Bishop Williamson Spouts Off Again

A day or so ago, when Kathy Hughes mentioned to me the dust-up about Susan Sarandon's recent remark re: Pope Benedict Hitler Youth past, I hadn't yet seen the news about Sarandon's remark.  I subsequently read an article at Truthdig reporting what Sarandon said.

Controversy about Guy Fieri and the Gays: Reflections on the Butching Up of the Foodie World

This story illustrates why I go on periodic rants* about the increasing domination of the world of foodie stardom by macho men who, to my mind, want to send strong signals of disdain for the gay men (and the women) who have made and who sustain the world of culinary creation and culinary appreciation out of which today's slow-food movement has developed.  As the HuffPo article to which I link at the start of the preceding sentence notes, there's a big stink now developing over disdainful remarks that Food Network star Guy Fieri has allegedly made about gay folks in the food biz.

Jason Linkins on OWS as Media Meme-Altering Movement

If Jason Linkins is correct in his analysis of the media here (and I think he is), then the mainstream media in the U.S. might well be called sociopathic: 

Robert Scheer on Bill Keller and OWS: "Arrogance of Disoriented Royal Privilege"

Robert Scheer's characterization of New York Times executive editor Bill Keller at Truthdig today contains a fine phrase: he lambasts Keller's "arrogance of disoriented royal privilege."  Scheer focuses on Keller's recent snarky observation that the Occupy Wall Street protesters are warmed-over hippie anarchist types conducting soggy sleep-ins.  He notes that, given how badly wrong the Times has turned out to be in its cheerleading for the deregulation of Wall Street (cheerleading that occurred on Keller's watch as managing editor), you'd expect a little humble understanding from this crowd now, re: the protesters huddled in the rain in New York.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Continued Interest in the Spike in Exorcisms: What's Behind This Development?

Andrew Sullivan linked a few days ago to a thought-provoking article this past May by Daniel Burke about the precipitous rise in exorcists (and exorcisms) in the Catholic church these days.  Burke notes that "[e]xorcism is experiencing a renaissance in American Catholicism," and there are more exorcists now than at any time in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S.

Church as People of God: Conflicting Catholic Views about Who Owns the Church

Democracy inculcates values that are antithetical to those the Church proclaims.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Minnesota Catholic Bishops: Every Catholic Parish to Form Teams Attacking Marriage Equality

To many of us in many different faith traditions, it often appears that our religious leaders have actively betrayed our religious traditions, in their core significance . . . .  [T]hey focus obsessively on issues that appear peripheral to the most pressing moral problems of our period of history, while they ignore those pressing problems--as the American Catholic bishops continue to do, in the perception of many American Catholics, with their unrelenting attention to issues of sexual morality, while they remain almost totally silent about matters of economic and social justice.

Media Coverage of Finn Indictment: An Authoritarian Culture in Serious Denial

In a posting yesterday, I linked to A.G. Sulzberger's recent New York Times article about how Catholic pastors in the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph seemed to tiptoe around the topic of their bishop's recent criminal indictment in the homilies they gave this past Sunday.  And now today, I find that theme becoming something of a meme at various blog and news sites.

Cooking to Save the Planet: Cream of ------- Soup

The following recipe is not precisely a new recipe in this sporadic series of postings I keep calling "Cooking to Save the Planet."  I've shared versions of it twice before--once, when I wrote about making cream of asparagus soup, and another time, when I blogged about cream of tomato soup.

The Movement to Occupy Faith Communities: A Postscript

This is a postscript to my posting yesterday about how the Occupy Wall Street movement is beginning to raise interesting critical questions among various religious groups.  The most important question I hear some religious folks asking now in light of Occupy Wall Street is whether communities of faith need to be occupied by their adherents--particularly when the leaders of those communities appear to be missing the point about what is central to their religious traditions.  Or suppressing the central threads of the tradition in favor of threads that would loom far less large in the warp and woof of religious proclamations to the world at large, if we paid attention to what is primary in our traditions . . . .

Monday, October 17, 2011

Irmgard Hunt on Nazi Treatment of Homosexuals: Counter to Religious-Right Lies

One of the ugliest, most hate-filled anti-gay lies that religious right leaders including Bryan Fischer have tried to foist on the American public is the claim that the Nazi movement in Germany was a gay movement.  Fischer keeps repeating this lie despite the fact that the Nazi government sent gay men to concentration camps, and anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 gay men are thought to have been murdered in these camps under the Nazi regime.

Rendering to Caesar: On the Political Uses of a Biblical Text (and More on OWS and Bishop Finn)

A minuscule postscript to what I just posted about the Occupy Wall Street movement and religious communities:

Yesterday, we attended a family birthday party.  It was out in the country north of Little Rock, on a pumpkin farm that children love this time of year--hayrides, a corn maze, ripe orange pumpkins to be selected from a field, stands selling humongous corn dogs, a petting zoo, etc.

Occupy Wall Street and the Movement to Occupy Faith Communities: Reflections

A number of days ago, theologian Tom Beaudoin posted commentary at the "In All Things" blog site of America magazine asking whether the Occupy Wall Street movement might be a moment for Catholics to consider occupying our own church.  Needless to say, Beaudoin's question provoked lively commentary at this site, where a group of ultra-right wing Catholics have for some years now dogged the steps of the Jesuit editors of the journal, trying to force them to toe the religious and political line of the American right.  The Jesuits are a particular target of the American Catholic right, after one of their previous Superior Generals, Pedro Arrupe, made the preferential option for the poor a priority for this religious community.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Actor Zachary Quinto Comes Out as Gay

Actor Zachary Quinto comes out on Oscar Wilde's birthday (and I'm not sure he knew the synchronicity of his decision to make his coming-out statement today, on Wilde's birthday).  Here's why he says he decided to come out now:   

Remembering Oscar: Wilde's Birthday

Oscar Wilde was born today in 1854.  And as I read about his significance online this morning, remembering how much he gave to all of us when he insisted that the love of people of the same sex ought not to be criminalized, and when he tested that insistence by going to prison and dying of the hardships he endured there, I'm fascinated to read that his tombstone in Paris's Père Lachaise cemetery is covered in kisses.  In shadows of lipstick kisses of every color in the rainbow.

And it seems to me entirely appropriate that Wilde be remembered in this precise way.

Occupy Wall Street Goes Worldwide: Reflections

How far has the Occupy Wall Street movement now spread?  Everywhere.  

David Harris-Gershon presents a wonderful collection of images from the OWS protests worldwide at Daily Kos yesterday.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wayne Besen on John Smid's Admissions: "Ex-Gay" Therapy Employs Cult-Like Mind Control

Because Wayne Besen's commentary about John Smid and his recent admission that "ex-gay" conversion therapy hasn't worked for him came out the same day I wrote my own piece about this, I didn't link to Besen's statement at Truth Wins Out.  Now that I've seen Besen's commentary, I want to take note of it.  It's impossible to overstate the importance of Wayne Besen to the movement to expose the fraud, lies, and malice of the "ex-gay" movement.  He's been tracking this movement for years, and what he has to say about it is of extreme importance.

The News That's Fit to Tell: End-of-Week List

From a week of news-reading in which I haven't felt sufficient energy to comment on these stories as carefully as I might have wished: here's a set of recent stories/commentary (about widely scattered matters) that have caught my attention, and may interest readers:

Friday, October 14, 2011

More on Finn Story: Huffington Post Top Headline Reads, "Dereliction of Duty"

Right now, 6:41 P.M. CST, the Finn story is the headline news story at Huffington Post--headline reading, "Dereliction of Duty: Bishop Charged in Shameful Case . . . Highest Ranking U.S. Catholic Official Ever Indicted for Failing to Protect Children."

Further Reflections on Bishop Finn's Indictment: Accesorizing for the Clink

I'm sorry: I just can't help myself.

As the day goes on and I think of the historic indictment of Mr. Finn in Kansas City-St. Joseph, I can't help wondering how that beautiful silk cappa magna might work for him in prison.  I have a feeling it would fight a wee bit, sartorially speaking, with those dreary horizontal black and white stripes of a prison uniform.  

Unless he accessorizes just right.  Maybe the pom-pom pillbox hat is a good start in that direction.  Reckon?

Breaking News: Bishop Robert Finn Indicted

This is breaking news I'm just now seeing: Catholic bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph was indicted today on charges of having failed to report child abuse in the case of Father Shawn Ratigan.  The indictment was issued by the grand jury of Jackson Co., Missouri.

It's Not You, It's Me

Yes, that line that "Seinfeld" immortalized: I'm using it as the heading of a post,

In which I tell the world, and, what's more important, the valued readers of this blog, that I've been somewhat under the weather in recent days, and sensing that I may not always be giving the best that I can give to this blog--and to email communications from various readers, which I cherish and will reply to, when I recover a bit of strength.

Leonardo Boff on Cristo Redentor

Words that stir my heart deeply right now at the website of Leonardo Boff, helpfully (and beautifully) rendered into English by Rebel Girl at her Iglesia Descalza blog:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stories to Accompany John Smid's Testimony: HuffPo Celebrates National Coming Out Day

Perhaps because yesterday was National Coming Out Day, Huffington Post carried a number of good articles that connect to themes developed by John Smid in his Grace Rivers statement about which I've just blogged.  In a piece called "I Didn't Ask, He Didn't Tell," Mara Shapshay recounts her painful experience of marrying a closeted gay man.  She writes with redeeming wry humor that doesn't entirely mask her justifiable hurt.

This was a painful experience that led her to discover that boatloads of other women have taken the same same boat, not knowing where their ticket was taking them when they bought it:

Prominent "Ex-Gay" Leader Tells Truth about Conversion Therapy: Doesn't Work, Perverts the Gospel

There's an important story breaking right now regarding how churches--and, in particular, the conservative wing of evangelical churches--are coming to understand homosexuality.  This story, which will perhaps not receive as much notice in the mainstream media as it should, is a significant one because it illustrates the extent to which even those faith communities most strongly opposed to acceptance and inclusion of gay people in church and society are slowly coming to revise their attitudes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Who Owns Jesus, Again: Reflections on Nature as Sacramental Gift

I love to be outside sweeping this time of year.  The air begins to have that tonic feel it acquires in fall, though we've had a return to summer the past several days, with the storms in the Gulf region and the Atlantic pumping hot tropical air up to the mid-Southern plains.

Questions Continue about Who Owns Jesus: Phoenix and Madison Dioceses Take Communion Cup from Laity

Back in January, I posted about New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof's op-ed piece reflecting on (among other things) the struggle that has gone on recently in the Catholic diocese of Phoenix, in which Bishop Thomas Olmsted excommunicated a nun, Sister Margaret McBride, ministering at St. Joseph's hospital and then yanked the title "Catholic" from the hospital.  Because Sister Margaret and St. Joseph's had come to a different decision of informed conscience than his own . . . .

Monday, October 10, 2011

Robert McClory on Slavery, Faithful Dissent, and Elephants in Living Rooms

Robert McClory hits the nail squarely on the head with his article today in National Catholic Reporter about whether the church's toleration (and even blessing) of slavery for nearly two millennia, and its subsequent change of mind about that critical moral issue, mean that we might legitimately dissent from church teachings that are now increasingly coming (for valid theological reasons) to be seen as incorrect.

Father Pavone Ally Mark Crutcher Worries about Snakes in Texas

Mark Crutcher, friend and ally of Father Frank Pavone (and a member of the board of Priests for Life and a recipient of money from that group),  is worried about the snakes Pavone may encounter at the Franciscan community outside Amarillo where Pavone is now staying.  The Franciscan nuns' home is, according to Crutcher, a place of "isolation," "desolation," "almost at the end of the world."