Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Brother Dan Horan on Santorum's Distortion of Religious Liberty

Brother Daniel Horan at Dating God on how Rick Santorum's right-wing Catholicovangelical misreading of the foundational documents of the U.S. about religious freedom (and of John F. Kennedy and Catholic magisterial teaching) seriously distorts the concept of religious liberty: 

Lynn Parramore and What Are Men For? Male Minds and Corset Stays

I love how Lynn Parramore's mind works--perhaps because she's a fellow Southerner and I understand its quirks a bit more than I understand the quirks of some other minds.  I find her response to James Poulos's recent "sophomoric and risible" (her terms) essay "What Are Women For?" brilliant.

VOTF Statement about Philadelphia Cover-Up: Renders Dallas Charter Worthless

Abuse Survivors, Catholic Cathedral, Philadelphia, March 2011

Voice of the Faithful has just issued a statement about the evidence recently produced in the Philadelphia trial of Monsignor William Lynn--evidence that Cardinal Bevilacqua and other church officials shredded documents tracking the sexually abusive behavior of clerics.  As the VOTF statement stresses, 

Maryland Priest Denies Communion to Lesbian at Mother's Funeral

Father Marcel Guarnizo

I mentioned yesterday (in passing) the recent story of a priest denying communion to a woman at the funeral of her mother.  The priest in this story is Fr. Marcel Guarnizo of Saint John Neumann Catholic church in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  When she approached him for communion at her mother's funeral, he told her, she says, that he could not give her communion because she lives with another woman and this is a sin. 

Tim Huelskamp Protects (His Catholic) Religious Freedom

You know how I said from the very beginning of 2011 that the Vatican and U.S. Catholic bishops had latched onto the religious freedom argument in order to stand it on its head?  How they intended to use the religious freedom argument to argue that their religious freedom and their rights trump your religious freedom and your rights?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Joan Walsh on Rick Santorum as Disgrace to American Catholics

Joan Walsh at Salon on the embarrassment that Rick Santorum (and I'd add, the American bishops and their "liberal" co-belligerents in their phony "religious freedom" war) have become for American Catholics who remember how hard the previous generation worked to emerge from defensive, sectarian tribal, ghettoized Catholicism following the election of John F. Kennedy and Vatican II:

Ellen Degeneres, the Catholic Bishops, and Losing Control of the Conversation about Spirituality

I feel pretty sure I've mentioned to readers more than once that part of my normal daily routine is to slog, slog away at a treadmill (on days when the weather or our schedule doesn't permit us a long walk) while I watch the Ellen Degeneres show on t.v.

From the Blogs: Limits of Religious Liberty and Santorum's Surge Against Backdrop of Global Catholicism

From the blogsphere, very significant commentary in the past several days on issues about which I've previously blogged:

At Hepzibah, Alan McCornick hits the ball out of the park all over again with a powerful deconstruction of the claims of San Francisco archbishop George Niederauer that the Catholic hierarchy is throwing a new Boston tea party to defend your liberty when it seeks to snatch rights (access to contraceptives in health insurance, the right of civil marriage) away from you.

Marci Hamilton on Philadelphia Abuse Trial: "Following Orders Is No Defense"

Esteemed legal scholar Marci Hamilton weighs in on the "no one's responsible when everyone's guilty" defense of Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia about which I blogged yesterday

Unfortunately for all the higher-ups in [Lynn’s] position, following orders is no defense to criminal behavior.  If someone chooses to put a pedophile in contact with further children, that’s a crime. That’s endangerment of children, whether someone told you to do it or not.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Jonathan Chait on Growing Desperation of "Last Chance" Republicans

Finally this morning, a helpful article by Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine right now about why the Republicans are so intent this election cycle, and so determined to do anything possible to derail Obama's chances at a second term in the White House:

Online Resources for Examining Catholic Life in Britain Today

A quick note now to share with readers a resource recommended by Chris Morley--for those interested in what's happening in the Catholic church in England these days: 

Update on Catholic Leaders' Attack on SNAP in Missouri (with a Glance at Philadelphia)

It has been a while since I've offered readers an update of what's being done to the victim advocacy group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in Missouri.  As I noted last month (and here), SNAP is facing unprecedented challenges in Kansas City and St. Louis as attorneys working for the Catholic hierarchy play hardball legal games with the group, demanding that it disclose private communications that have nothing to do with the cases for which these disclosures are being demanded.

There's Throwing Up, and Then There's Throwing Up: Santorum on Religious Freedom and Catholicism

There's a great deal of valuable commentary online today after Catholic presidential contender Rick Santorum told George Stephanopoulos yesterday that John F. Kennedy's famous speech about separation of church and state made him want to throw up.  He also informed reporter David Gregory yesterday that separation of church and state was not in the founders' vision.  Alana Horowitz has a run-down of yesterday's events involving Santorum at Huffington Post (with video clips).

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Catholic News Service: Still Playing Pravda to the USCCB Kremlin?

Recently, when I noticed that a Catholic News Service article at National Catholic Reporter about the Komen-Planned Parenthood debacle had been gutted and revised with no notice of this to readers, and when I saw that both versions of the article were nothing but gross propaganda for the USCCB with its "religious freedom" crusade, I wrote

Sr. Maureen Fiedler to U.S. Catholic Bishops: Read Handwriting on Wall about Gay Rights

After the Maryland legislature passes a bill enacting civil marriage for same-sex couples, Sr. Maureen Fiedler encourages the U.S. Catholic bishops to read the handwriting on the wall: 

Mormons in the Public Square: Romney's Candidacy and Controversy about LDS Baptism of Anne Frank

One of the interesting religion-and-politics stories of the past week: due to Mitt Romney's prominence in the Republican campaign for the presidential nomination, a longstanding controversy about the LDS church's practice of baptizing Holocaust victims has come back into the news.  In this case, what's being discussed is the revelation that, after the Mormon church has stated that it no longer baptizes Holocaust victims, it has nonetheless recently baptized Anne Frank.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tribal Catholicism Still Going Strong with Anti-Contraceptive Politicking

And, to add sociological depth to what I just posted about the disconnect between Jesus, the gospels, and what some Catholics today want to do and say about issues of contraception and abortion, two significant articles that have caught my eye in the past day or so:

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Write an Article in Support of Forcing the Followers of Jesus Christ to Pay for Contraception, Sterilization and Abortion"

My latest dropping from the Catholic birdcage is right here from Bilgrimage.  Earlier this week, one Steven Faludi logged into this blog to provide me with a list of five Lenten imperatives--a must do list (for me) for Lent:

More Book Notes: Dara Horn's In the Image

If this is Saturday, it must be time for another musing about a book I've read recently, since I'm avoiding

Friday, February 24, 2012

Challenging Disinformation: Links Between Economic Stress and Abortion

As I noted yesterday, Sarah Posner argues that those promoting women's rights to basic health care should not let their guard down after the apparent breakthroughs with the HHS guidelines and the Komen Foundation. Posner notes, in particular, the need for vigilant monitoring of the disinformation the political and religious right continually disseminate about issues of contraception and abortion.

Bishop Spong on Catholic Bishops Killing Their Church, Howard Schweber on Catholicization of American Right

The posting I just uploaded ends with the observation that, for growing numbers of American Catholics, the behavior (and lives) of the bishops who are our pastoral leaders no longer proclaim the gospel to us.  To the contrary, they threaten to occlude our hearing and reception of the gospels.  Our pastoral leaders have become, in significant respects, countersigns to the gospel we hear proclaimed in our churches each Sunday.

On Religious Freedom, Conscience, and the Gospels: Recent Discussions in Media

At the Nation, Jessica Valenti agrees with Sarah Posner (in a Salon piece to which I linked yesterday) that the American political and religious right is involved in a long-game strategy to roll back women's rights in the area of healthcare.  But she wonders why we're so surprised to discover this right now, and why it has become a campaign talking point in 2012, when the handwriting on this particular wall has been plain to see for some time now:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Peter Cameron's Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You: A Brief Review

I'm not entirely sure why I don't blog more often about novels I happen to be reading.  I do read far more than the dry and frequently brittle political and religious analysis about which I seem to be perpetually babbling on here.  In fact, throughout my entire reading life (that is, from the time I was six years old), it has been stories--fiction, novels, fables, myths, plays, short stories--that have formed the backdrop to my thinking, to my entire being, far more than anything I've ever read in an academic context.

More Commentary on Politics of Contraception Debate

More recent commentary, this batch of articles specifically on the contraception debate:

At Salon, Sarah Posner warns those defending women's rights to basic health care not to celebrate prematurely, after what has happened with both the HHS guidelines and the Komen attempt to attack Planned Parenthood.  Posner argues that the political and religious right are playing a long game with the attack on women's access to basic health care, and that they will continue to strategize to remove or embroil or complicate funding for contraception at the state level across the country.

Recent Commentary on U.S. Catholic Bishops as Political Players

Commentary in recent days about the overtly partisan political role the U.S. Catholic bishops are choosing to take in advance of the 2012 elections, under the leadership of His Eminence Timothy M. Cardinal Dolan:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Conservative Agenda with Contraceptive Debate: Repress Women, Reverse Gains of Women's Movement

Ben Adler's overview of what conservative political sorts are saying these days about the contraceptive issue is helpful for a variety of reasons.  In the first place, it gathers together a miscellany of recent commentary from folks I deliberately avoid reading much of the time.

Mark Silk and Michael Sean Winters on Contraceptive Battle and Analogical Imagination

At his Spiritual Politics site, Mark Silk takes a careful look at Bishop William Lori's recent kosher deli parable--what Jodi Jacobson calls the "ham-sandwich" defense of religious freedom.  Silk's conclusion: Lori's parable is an exercise of the analogical imagination "fit to make David Tracy wish he was a Protestant."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

John Greenleaf: What if We Wrote a Consumer Report of U.S. Catholic Bishops?

John W. Greenleaf brilliantly asks how the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops might fare if we Catholics (and others) looked at the USCCB and the church the bishops pastor as an organization vending goods to the public.  How would the USCCB and its customer service appear if most Catholics were allowed to write a consumer report on the corporation's marketing effectiveness and treatment of customers?

Bishops' (and Republicans') Dirty Little War on Women's Health Needs: Recent Comedic Coverage

Congressional Religious Liberty Hearing, Feb. 2012

And if "Downton Abbey" isn't your cup of tea, but you're looking for good television to watch, at Alternet Sarah Seltzer has a good run-down (with clips embedded) of comedic send-ups this past weekend of the Catholic bishops' and Republican men's current war on women's health care.  She links to a clip of Jon Stewart munching a pastrami sandwich and noting the crude, nonsensical absurdity of Bishop William Lori's recent ham-sandwich defense of the bishops' dirty little war. 

More Downtoniana (for Those not Tired of Plum Pudding)

More Downtoniana for those not yet cloyed by plum pudding: Heidi Schlumpf has a great piece at National Catholic Reporter right now summarizing the appeal of "Downton Abbey" to many viewers, herself included.  I learn from this educational piece that there's a YouTube video on s--t that the Dowager Countess Lady Violet Crawley says--which I freely confess I'll be heading to visit immediately.  I love the opening line of Lady Violet's that struck Heidi Schlumpf, too: "Don't be defeatist, dear; it's so middle-class."

The Cruelest Month and the Careless Child

T.S. Eliot famously said that April is the cruelest month.  But I suspect for many of us who live in the middle Southern states, it's February that breaks the heart.  One day mild, with japonica, forsythia, Japanese magnolias, spring beauty, Quaker ladies bursting into bloom all around, and mourning doves calling, well, mournfully but beautifully in the shrubbery in the back yard.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Downton Abbey" Plot Turns Thicker Than Plum Pudding

Is it just me, and perhaps half the world, or did "Downton Abbey" descend in its last two installments to formulaic tragicomedy of a certain predictable soap-operaish sort that made the series--finally--unbearable to watch?  (Warning: spoilers ahead.  As David Itzkoff's interview with Julian Fellowes in today's New York Times says, if you want to know how World War I turned out, please read no further.)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Every Sperm Sacred, Every Ovum Holy: A Brief Theological Addendum

It occurs to me to add a few specific theological notes to the primer I offered readers earlier today, re: some traditional (and, for many of us, highly antiquated) Catholic notions of human sexuality and reproduction that have been trotting unexpectedly across the public stage in recent days due to the heated debate about contraceptive coverage in insurance plans.  I have thought to add this brief theological addendum to what I posted earlier because of the insightful and valuable comments of several readers about the philosophical-theological basis on which traditional Catholic notions of natural law theology rest.

Every Sperm Sacred, Every Ovum Holy: A Primer on "Catholic" Sexual Ethics for Non-Catholic Readers

A brief postcript to what I just wrote about the Catholic bishops, the Republicans, and making Martha jump: as I just said, 

Mike Luckovich on Political Game of Republicans and Bishops: Make Martha Jump

Another brilliant cartoon this week by Mike Luckovich at Truthdig commenting on why the U.S. Catholic bishops have teamed up with the Republicans right now to make women's healthcare needs a culture war issue as the 2012 elections approach.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Once Upon a Time . . . Nationwide Pork Mandate"

This week's dropping from the Catholic birdcage comes from the Most Reverend William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, head of the U.S. Catholic bishops' "religious liberty" initiative, who opened his Congressional testimony about "religious liberty" two days ago with the following statements:

Friday, February 17, 2012

His Eminence Timothy Michael Dolan Becomes Cardinal: SNAP Responds

This weekend, His Eminence the Most Reverend Archbishop Cardinal-Elect Timothy Michael Dolan will be made a cardinal of the Roman Catholic church.  A cardinal's scarlet beanie is the highest honor a pope can confer on a member of the Roman Catholic church.

Two Pictures, Two Thousand Words: Congressional Hearing on Religious Liberty

As Pema Levy notes at Talking Points Memo today, the picture at the head of the posting is from yesterday's Congressional hearing about "religious liberty," and has been circulating all over the Internet since the hearings were convened.

Can you imagine why?  Do you spot anything remarkable in this picture of men people gathered for an official hearing to talk about the healthcare needs of women?  

Commonweal Editorializes about Bishops' Continued Contraception War: The Wall Discloses More Handwriting

Frank Cocozzelli, writing at Talk to Action about the choice of Catholic bishop Richard Malone to put every resource possible in Maine's Catholic church at the disposal of fighting civil marriage between two people of the same sex, dividing and demoralizing the church he leads, while he says next to nothing about the erosion of social safety-net programs to assist the least among us:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

This Just in: USCCB Legal Counsel Anthony Picarello Tells Media Bishops "Will Not Relent"

This just in: right-wing propagandist legal counsel to the U.S. Catholic bishops Anthony Picarello informed reporters today that the U.S. Catholic bishops "will not relent" on their refusal to accept the Obama administration's offer of a compromise in their ginned-up contraception war.

Bill Moyers on Religious Freedom: Freedom of and Freedom from

As always, Bill Moyers is eminently sane in what he writes about the made-up holy war for "religious freedom" that the Republican party (and a large number of white evangelical men) now want to wage alongside the Catholic bishops vis-a-vis contraceptive coverage.

So here we are once again, arguing over how to honor religious liberty without it becoming the liberty to impose on others moral beliefs they don’t share. Our practical solution is the one Barack Obama embraced the other day: protect freedom of religion — and  freedom from religion. Can’t get more American than that.

Gerald Beyer on Strange Bedfellows: U.S. Bishops' Religious Liberty Crusade and Neoliberalism

There was one other valuable article of which I intended to take note in the posting I just uploaded, and I lost sight of it in the thicket of other commentary I was summarizing.  And perhaps it's better that it has a separate notice, since it's an article that deserves serious attention (but no less than he others to which I just linked).  This is Gerald Beyer's commentary at National Catholic Reporter on how the bishops' faux religious liberty crusade is really a crusade promoting a neoliberal philosophy antagonistic to the rights of workers and the poor.

Contraception Battles: More Commentary Hot off the Presses

I'm immersed in mounds of footnotes for my book right now, and working in a chair beside a long table stacked high with books, which Steve has helpfully set up for me so that I don't have to run from bookcases in one room to bookcases in another as I write.  I can glean all the books I think I'll need for a day's work early in the morning, stack them on the long table, and then have at the niggling footnote work.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Commenting Problems?

Dear Readers,

A regular reader of Bilgrimage, who often comments here, has emailed me this morning to say he is having problems posting comments through the Disqus system.  He posts, his comments appear to go through, and then they never show up.  Nor do I get any email notice of these comments, and when I check the queue of comments for the blog at the Disqus site, they're not there.

A Catholic Wife and Mother Explains Why She Skipped Mass Last Sunday: Anybody Listening?

A Catholic wife and mother writing anonymously explains why she and her husband skipped Mass last Sunday:

As she notes, her son is preparing for first communion and her husband asked her not to attach her name to her statement because their son might come to grief as a result of their speaking out.  As she also notes, while the bible uses words like "love," "poor," "rich," "forgive," and "sick" repeatedly, it never once--not a single time!--speaks of "contraception." But every four years now, in a sickening display of political partisanship, the U.S. Catholic bishops crank up their amplifiers and blare incessantly about pelvic issues.

Hearing Voices of Disaffected Catholics: Anybody Listening?

The following are comments from Bilgrimage in the past several days.  Most of them are from a single thread.  They're comments made by Catholic women and Catholic men, some of whom have had it with the Catholic church, others of whom say they are hanging on by a thread.  And that the behavior of the U.S. Catholic bishops and their co-belligerents in recent weeks is making the option of cutting the tiny thread of affiliation seem ever more attractive.

Robert McClory on the Embarrassment the Catholic Bishops Have Become (and How They've Gotten There)

Robert McClory at National Catholic Reporter writing about the U.S. Catholic bishops and what an embarrassment their campaign for "religious freedom" is for many American Catholics: 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Marriage Equality and History of Marriage: Some Catholic Resources

And, finally this morning, I want to make a brief mention of a valuable resource that Jim McCrea has brought to my attention: this is a lengthy scholarly document (written as a letter, but it's much more than that) that Fr. Stephen Schloesser, a Jesuit teaching history at Boston College, sent to Senator Marian Walsh of Massachusetts in 2004.  It's at Au Waipang's Yawning Bread website.

David Brooks Misses the Point Again: What Has Gone Wrong with American Society . . . .

Speaking of the inability of centrist powerbrokers to see and learn (I'm building on what I just published about the teachable moment for American Catholicism): David Brooks is singing his very tired old song again today in an op-ed statement in the New York Times.  You know the song, the one whose irritating little tune never varies and whose shallow lyrics have grown so threadbare you can't believe the elevator wants to keep piping them into your ears one more day as you ascend and descend:

Contraception Debate Aftermath: Teachable Moment for American Catholicism (If We Choose to Listen and Learn)

While Arianna Huffington reminds Huffington Post readers that there's more to be discussed in the world of politics right now than contraception (and that the made-up controversy about contraceptive coverage in Catholic institutions came along conveniently just as news was breaking of the Obama administration's  success in stimulating economic recovery), we of the tribe Catholic continue dusting madly away at our old tried and true shibboleths.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Political Commentary: Voter Disenfranchisement and "Severe Conservatism"

In other political news today: at New York Times, Alexander Keyssar offers a valuable survey of the ongoing attempt of elites in the U.S. over the course of American history to suppress one group of voters or another at various moments for various reasons.  The one constant in this sordid history, Keyssar notes, is the following: 

Grant Gallicho at Commonweal and the Writing on the Wall, Post-Obama Compromise

And, though I know I risk looking like the disaffected crank I may well be as I continue to blog about the response of centrist Catholics who signed on as the bishops' co-belligerents in the war against the Obama administration, and who now have to deal with the bishops' response to Obama's compromise: