Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Quote for the Day: "If His Pontificate Has an Agenda, It Is the One Martini Spelled Out from His Deathbed"

"Inequality Is the Root of Social Evil": The Piketty Debate

I was glad to note yesterday that Chris Morley and and Jerry Slevin brought up Thomas Piketty's best-selling book Capital in the Twenty-First Century in a thread here. I've been saving Piketty links to recommend to readers here, and Chris's and Jerry's mention of the book spurs me on to share them with you now:

Three Short Takes on Day of Four Popes: "If Every Pope Is a Saint, Who Could Dare Disagree with Them?"

Though you're probably thoroughly weary of the topic, three more short takes on the day of four popes that I find worth reading:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

David Clohessy for SNAP: Twice-Arrested Priest in St. Louis Still Being Defended by Small, Vocal Group of Local Catholics

I'd like to point readers today to David Clohessy's posting at the SNAP blog site about the small but loud bunch of Catholics rallying around Father Joseph Jiang in St. Louis, after a teenaged girl alleged that Jiang sexually abused her when she was fifteen years old. As David notes, the girls' parents believe her, as do the police, prosecutors, and St. Louis's most experienced attorney dealing with clergy abuse cases, Ken Chackes.

Beverly Wildung Harrison on Connections Between Racism and Misogyny, and Story of Donald Sterling: These -Isms Hang Together in Web of Patriarchy

Recently, when I wrote about Andrew Sullivan's take on Jonathan Rauch's essay calling for special tolerance for those who oppose same-sex marriage out of sincere religious conviction, I concluded by noting, 

Is It Just Me, or Do Things Feel Really Depressed Right Now, Following the Day of the Four Popes?

Is it just me, or do things feel really depressed right now, following the big papal circus of the day of the four popes? I had thought that the big papal circus was designed to have precisely the opposite effect. As Susan Jacoby rightly notes

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Legacy of St. John Paul II: This Is Leadership?!

As I continue reading about the preparations for tomorrow's canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, I keep thinking — I'll be honest — This is leadership? I'm not referring specifically to the two popes as I ask that question. 

Colleen Baker on Opus Dei's Spin-Doctoring of John Paul II's Record, Father Tom Doyle on What John Paul Knew When

At her Enlightened Catholicism site, Colleen Baker points out that the Vatican spin doctors who are now trying to spin Pope John Paul II's abysmal record vis-a-vis the abuse crisis prior to his canonization (I wrote about this yesterday) are Opus Dei folks: they belong to the powerful, exceptionally wealthy, secretive right-wing Catholic organization that has had increasing influence on the governance of the Catholic church from the papacy of John Paul II forward. Here's Colleen on this:

Cliven, Cliven, and More Cliven: Short Takes on the Bundy Debacle

Hate when that happens: One minute you're keeping it real defending a far-right scofflaw rancher who's skipped out on a million dollars in back fees to the federal government for using public land and is now guarding himself with a crew of heavily armed militia types and the next thing you know he turns out to be kinda racist.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Andrew Sullivan on Jonathan Rauch and the "Theological Underpinnings" of Marriage as a Gendered Institution: My Take

Andrew Sullivan's take on the Jonathan Rauch essay calling for special tolerance for those who oppose same-sex marriage out of sincere religious conviction — an essay I critiqued yesterday

Cliven Bundy a Racist: Who Could Have Guessed?!

As Joan Walsh says, "Who could have guessed?" Who could have guessed that the American folk hero, the brave, noble solitary individual standing up to the oppression of big government, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, believed all of that nonsense? About "the Negro" and happy slaves and picking cotton.

Upcoming Canonizations: Commentary Worth Reading (Amidst the Drivel, Shlock, and Outright Lies)

A lot of what's being written now on the eve of the canonization of Popes John XXIII or John Paul II is drivel and shlock of the purest (if unintentional) Orwellian form — like William Ditewig's proposal that we venerate John Paul II because he made "people look at things in new ways." Or, even worse, it's simply bold lying, like the Vatican's attempt this morning to spin-doctor John Paul's abysmal record vis-a-vis the abuse crisis with claims that once he became aware of the abuse situation in the church, he acted "immediately" on what he was learning (Can anyone say "Marcial Maciel"?). Joshua McElwee reports about this today in National Catholic Reporter today.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Michael Sean Winters at National Catholic Reporter on "Gendergeist" Issues

As Michael Sean Winters reports that Harold Meyerson sees liberal leaders resurgent in many American cities, he adds:

The Canonization of Pope John Paul II: My Continued Dissent (and the Loud, Clear Message to Me as a Gay Catholic)

As the canonization of Pope John Paul II (and of Pope John XXIII) nears, I thought it might be helpful if I pointed Bilgrimage readers to several postings in which I state my case for dissenting from the decision of the Vatican to canonize John Paul II. I made that case here, with a footnote added here, and I surveyed a number of other statements of dissent to the proposal to canonize John Paul II here.

The Argument for Tolerance for Those Opposing Marriage Equality on Grounds of Religion and Tradition: A Critical Response

Jonathan Rauch argues for tolerance for those sincerely opposing same-sex marriage on religious grounds by noting that "[v]irtually all human societies, including our own until practically the day before yesterday, took as a given that combining the two sexes was part of the essence of marriage." He also bases his appeal for tolerance in the assertion that "opposition to gay marriage has deep religious roots."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"Every Life Is Different Because You Passed This Way and Touched History": Easter Meditation Points

Good Friday sets the stage for Easter: to complete the bouquet of meditative pieces I gathered for you on Good Friday, here's an Easter offering from things I've read over the years, notes jotted in my journals (with a common thread of reflecting on the word "life" and its manifold meanings):

Friday, April 18, 2014

Richard Kim: Andrew Sullivan vs. Tony Kushner on Gay Rights — "Our Suffering Teaches Us Solidarity; or It Should"

Richard Kim writes in The Nation about the fundamental divergence between Andrew Sullivan's libertarian vision of what the movement for gay rights should be all about, and Tony Kushner's socialist vision: as he notes in his conclusion, if the movement for gay rights is all about rights for us and not for them, who needs it? If our suffering has been only about our suffering, what's it good for, in the last analysis?:

Thanks to Frank Strong, Letters to the Catholic Right, for Recommending My Series on Letters to Charlotte Bishop William Curlin

I'm very grateful to Frank Strong at his Letters to the Catholic Right blog site for recommending my series of postings linking the controversy at Charlotte Catholic High School to my letters to Bishop William Curlin in the 1990s. Frank has gathered my series of postings together in a series of links at his site. I appreciate his doing this, since it allows folks who want to read the set of postings as a single narrative to find them all at a glance.

"There Is No Such Thing As Foreign Suffering": Good Friday Meditation Points

Meditation points for Good Friday, all drawn from things I've read over the years, notes jotted down in my journals:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Short Takes on Week's News: Marriage Equality and Scalia, American Men and Guns, and More Men

Short takes from this week's news on matters political:

Short Takes on Week's News: Gay Rights, Canonization of John Paul II, America Magazine and Helen Alvaré, Pope Francis and Bishop Robert Finn

Short takes from this week's news on matters Catholic (with the addition of a report on Peter LaBarbera's appearance at Sinclair Community College): 

Some Good News: My Book Fiat Flux Wins Literary Prize

A bit of good news to share with you: I've received word that my book Fiat Flux: The Writings of Wilson R. Bachelor, Nineteenth-Century Country Doctor and Philosopher (Univ. of AR Press, 2013) has won the Booker Worthen Literary Prize. Information about that prize is to be found at The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Seeing Visions and Dreaming Dreams: Impending Socioeconomic and Ecological Crisis and Religious Theories of Change

In a two-part interview with Xavier Casanovas, Oscar Mateos, Santi Torres, and Nani Vall-llossera in Cristianisme i Justícia (via Iglesia Descalza, here and here), Benedictine Sister Teresa Forcades continues to insist that all viable, effective change in both church and society happens from the bottom to the top, not vice-versa: when the interviewers ask her about the euphoria surrounding Pope Francis and his papacy, she replies, 

Catholic Moral Theologian Lisa Fullam: An Argument for a Catholic Moral Obligation to Support Civil Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

At Bondings 2.0, Catholic moral theologian Lisa Fullam takes a careful look at the U.S. Catholic Bishops' argument that Catholics must oppose civil marriage for same-sex couples. She concludes that, in fact, Catholics appear to have a strong moral obligation to support civil marriage for same-sex couples.

Holy Thursday Again, and Return of the Don't Let Women Get a Foot on the Altar Debate

And, as if to prove President Carter's point that in many of the world's religions, male religious leaders frequently read "their" scriptures in a highly selective way to demean women and exalt men at the expense of women, this year, as Holy Thursday approaches, there's the usual controversy about whether the feet of women may be liturgically washed by priests —even though Pope Francis did precisely that last year, washing the feet of a number of young women at a juvenile detention center in Rome. As David Gibson notes for Religion News Service,

Former President Carter on Women, Religion, Violence, and Power: An Interview with Sister Maureen Fiedler

For Interfaith Voices, Sister Maureen Fiedler interviews President Jimmy Carter about his new book A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power. The book looks at the influence of religion (at a global level) on the lives of women and girls — as either an oppressive or a liberating force. What follows are my transcripts from and observations about the audio version of the interview to which the link above points.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Reader Responds: There's a Big Difference Between Believing Homosexuality Is Immoral and Claiming It's Clinically Disordered

On Sunday, I noted that the fateful 1986 document on the "pastoral" care of gay people issued by Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict) arrived on the scene soon after the major psychological and medical professional organizations throughout the developed sector of the world stopped classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder. The 1986 document speaks of gay human beings as suffering from a "disordered condition" and a "disordered inclination."

A Reader Writes: "When Religion Becomes Unbelievably Corrupt . . . The Temple Is Due to Be Destroyed"

On Saturday, I noted on the eve of Palm Sunday that many biblical scholars connect the decision of Jerusalem's Roman rulers to put Jesus to death to his cleansing of the temple, which was an act of outright defiance of the social and religious norms on which the Roman rulers, abetted by the religious rulers controlling temple worship, counted in order to maintain social stability. I pointed out that Jesus's cleansing of the temple evokes echoes of the prophetic insistence that God's house is made for everyone — and, in particular, for the outcast, the least among us, the barren woman and the eunuch — and that it's the accent on "for everyone" in Jesus's revolutionary message and his practice of open commensality that made Jesus so very dangerous to the powers that be that they sought to squeeze him like human junk from their world's operations.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Father Tom Doyle and Jerry Slevin on Abuse Crisis and Pope Francis: When Will Words Yield Actions?

I highly recommend Father Tom Doyle's recent presentation (pdf) to the group Voice of the Faithful regarding where we find ourselves with the abuse crisis in the Catholic church today. It's entitled "Clergy Sexual Abuse and the Church Today: Turning Talk into Action." Doyle's assessment of where we find ourselves is sobering (and, for my money, right on target): 

Charlotte Observer on Charlotte Catholic High Controversy: Kudos to Bishop Jugis for Discovering Charity . . . Now, That is

Writing for the Charlotte Observer, Peter St. Onge notes how . . . very odd . . . it is that Catholic Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte discovered the primacy of charity only after students and parents at Charlotte Catholic High School took Sister Jane Dominic Laurel (and the diocese) to task for attacking their gay family members and friends:

"Everything We Do Seems Designed to Make This Thing Possible": Holy Week Reflections on Gender, Race, Sexual Orientation (and Power, Privilege, and Homelessness)

Common threads: where is their shared point of origination, I wonder? And where are they all going? Where are the rest of us going, along with these threads that are all about power and privilege?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

"You're Suffering from a Mental Illness, and Rationality Is Not Something That You Can Really Handle": Oh, and Happy Palm Sunday! — Catholics and the Intrinsic Disorder Thing

Some of you may have noticed an interesting subtext that developed in threads here in the past several days, as we discussed the story of Sister Jane Dominic Laurel and Charlotte Catholic High School. The subtext: more than one person leaving comments here decided kindly to inform yours truly that he isn't sane, and that his mental illness causes him to be rationality-challenged.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"Those Squeezed Out Deliberately as Human Junk from the System’s Own Evil Operations": A Meditation on Eve of Palm Sunday

For this weekend that begins Holy Week, some meditation points (for me, at least, they seem valuable meditation points connecting to Holy Week):

Friday, April 11, 2014

Message to Steve Kellmeyer: Please Feel Free to Comment Here, If You Respect Dialogue Norms of This Blog

As I think about it, it's not entirely fair of me to block a commenter here and then discuss him or her as if the person I've blocked is not even in the room. I know what it feels like to be treated that way, and I wouldn't want to pass on the pain I've felt from such dehumanizing treatment to another human being.

End-of-Week News Snippets: Matters of Gender, Race, Moral Analysis of Economic Priorities of Government, Etc.

End-of-week news snippets about matters ranging from gender to race to moral analysis of the economic priorities of the American (and global) economies:

My Letters to Bishop William Curlin and the Charlotte Catholic High School Controversy: Whys, Wherefores, and In Conclusion

I feel I should write . . . something . . . as a wrap-up to the series of postings (here, here, here, and here) providing excerpts from my letters to Charlotte, North Carolina, Bishop William J. Curlin and the connections I see between those letters and the current controversy in that same diocese after Sister Jane Dominic Laurel spoke at Charlotte Catholic High School recently. As Bob Shine notes at Bondings 2.0 today, the diocese has acknowledged that the vast majority of parents who turned out last week to express concern about what Sister Jane Dominic told students stated that they were alarmed by the pastoral harm of her attack on gay folks. Shine also notes that many parents showed up last week to make this point, though right-wing Catholic websites are now seeking to suggest that students and parents protesting Sister Jane Dominic's presentation are only a tiny minority, a liberal fringe group in the diocese.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Charlotte Catholic High School Controversy: "I Began to Realize That the Abuse Crisis Was Rooted in a Profound, Widespread, Deep, and Systemic Betrayal of Pastoral Office in the Catholic Church"

Thanks to all of you who have been willing to listen (in some cases, again) to my cri de coeur to Bishop William J. Curlin of Charlotte in the 1990s, as I sought a pastoral response from him — any pastoral response — to actions by a Catholic institution in his diocese that effectively (and deliberately) ended my career as a Catholic theologian. As anyone reading the chronicle I've been posting in the past few days in light of the controversy sparked by Sister Jane Dominic Laurel at Charlotte Catholic High School knows, nothing happened in response to my letters to Curlin.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Charlotte Catholic High School Controversy: "When the Church Treats People as Things . . . It Undermines the Very Meaning of the Eucharist"

For an explanation of the context of this posting, please see this preceding posting. In light of the controversy that has developed in the diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, in recent days due to deplorable statements Sister Jane Dominic Laurel made about gay human beings at Charlotte Catholic High School, I'm posting excerpts from letters I wrote to the bishop of Charlotte, William J. Curlin, in the second half of the 1990s. The following posting replicates a posting I made here on 19 March 2010:

Charlotte Catholic High School Controversy: More Excerpts from My Letters to Charlotte Bishop William J. Curlin in Latter Half of 1990s

Okay, if it's not a total bore for those who have been reading this blog for some time now, I think I will offer some more excerpts from my letters to Bishop William J. Curlin of Charlotte in the period 1995-1999. I would say, "my correspondence with Bishop Curlin," but I can't really say that, can I, when he never even acknowledged any of my letters, let alone replied to any of them?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Brendan Eich Gay Mafia Furor: What's Really Going on Here?

On the weekend, I wrote about how curious the recent volte face of conservatives and their centrist enablers re: employers' sacrosanct rights has been in the case of Brendan Eich. One week, they're hot and heavy after the notion that Hobby Lobby is a person with religious beliefs and a conscience, and Mr. Hobby's right to do almost anything he wishes in the name of his tender conscience must not be questioned.

Mary Elizabeth Williams on Sister Jane Dominic Laurel: A Long History of Controversial Anti-Gay Remarks

Not in the least unrelated to what I have just posted about my dealings with the former bishop of Charlotte as controversy erupts in Charlotte following Sister Jane Dominic Laurel's anti-gay remarks recently at Charlotte Catholic High School: at Salon today, Mary Elizabeth Williams reports that Sister Jane Dominic has a long history of making such remarks:

Agni Asks If I Go to Church: Another Excerpt from My Letters to the Bishop of Charlotte — Eucharistic Bread and Daily Bread Connected

In a comment here yesterday responding to my posting about the recent uproar in the diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, Agni asks if I attend a Catholic church in Arkansas. I replied to Agni, trying to condense a lot of information into the brief space of a combox.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Charlotte Catholic High School Controversy: "May God Send You Many Outspoken Truth-Tellers and Holy Trouble-Makers"

With what has just happened in the diocese of Charlotte (I blogged about the controversy Sister Jane Dominic Laurel stirred with prejudice-laden statements about gay folks at Charlotte Catholic High School last week, and about the pushback of students and parents), how can I not think of the letter I wrote to the previous bishop of Charlotte, William J. Curlin, on 22 March 1997 as Steve and my mother and I left the Charlotte diocese?

Want to Know Why Americans Rank the Catholic Church as Religious Group Most Unfriendly to LGBT People? Look at Mike McMahon

Want to know why 58% of Americans think that the Catholic church is unfriendly to LGBT people? — the most unfriendly of all religious groups to LGBT folks, with Mormons being ranked next at 53%, and evangelicals next at 51%? Here's why.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Quote for the Day: "We Must Love One Another, Whatever Our Condition in Life, Canine or Otherwise"

I'm reading Alexander McCall Smith's Love Over Scotland (NY: Random House, 2006) now, and love this passage in which he comments on the reunion of lonely artist Angus Lordie with his constant companion Cyril, a dog stolen from him at "their" bar in Edinburgh, where Cyril daily laps a saucer of beer as Angus daily drinks his pint: when Cyril is found and returned to Angus, he whoops with delight and jumps into Angus's arms, and the narrator says, 

Yes, I Did Remove a Comment Here about "Ethnocentric Racists" Promoting "Sodomy" in Western Nations — Here's Why

A quick note to let you know about this situation, in case it explodes in some way in threads here: those who have followed postings here for some time may know that I posted a number of pieces back in September 2013 about comments (ugly ones) left here by a gentleman living in Nairobi, Mr. Njonjo Ndehi (see here, here, and here).

Saturday, April 5, 2014

"Silence Is a Most Powerful Consent": Lay Catholics Challenging (or Reinforcing) Institutional Homophobia

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "And Thus, This Man's Life Ended"

Pope Francis yesterday, in a homily at St. Martha's House in Rome, speaking about someone censored by Catholic authorities who was, Father Robert Imbelli suspects, the 19th-century Italian priest Antonio Rosmini:

Footnote to Brendan Eich Discussion: Yes, It Is about Gender, Race, and Sexual Orientation

"In discourse and analysis," Catholic feminist theologian Ivone Gebara says (citing French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu) "the male vision of the world is presented as evidence and functions as an ideology justifying what exists" (Out of the Depths: Women’s Experience of Evil and Salvation, trans. and intro. Ann Patrick Ware [Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002], p. 68). And then she goes on to say, in a passage I shared with you last month,

Hobby Lobby's a Person, but After Brendan Eich, We Want to Ask if CEOs Should be Held Accountable for Their Free Speech?

This is quite an interesting debate, isn't it? On the one hand, we have the owners of a large corporation, Hobby Lobby, appealing to the Supreme Court to recognize that their corporation has religious beliefs and a conscience. It's a person. And this appeal is not laughed out of court by justices who have already indicated their sympathy for the argument that corporations are persons in the Citizens United case.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Another Footnote: Parents Meet at Charlotte Catholic High to Discuss Sister Jane Dominic Laurel's Recent Presentation to Students

And, finally today, another footnote to material I've previously posted here: several days ago, I told readers about the controversy brewing in the Catholic diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, where Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, OP, recently gave a presentation at Charlotte Catholic High School that outraged some students and parents. I linked to an open letter (pdf) students and parents have placed online, expressing their shock that a Catholic authority figure would seek to peddle to high-school students long-outmoded theories blaming parents for the sexual orientation of their children (absent fathers produce gay sons), and connecting homosexuality to masturbation and pornography.

Money Talks: The Sincerity of the Green Family as a Moral Trump Card in Catholic Discussions of the Hobby Lobby Case

Another footnote to what I have just written about yesterday's Supreme Court McCutcheon decision and its clear Catholic connections: