Friday, July 31, 2015

Jacob J. Erickson on Killing of Cecil the Lion As Part of "Larger Theological History of Environmental, Gendered, and Colonial Injustice"

In several comments yesterday, I recommended Jacob J. Erickson's recent essay at Religion Dispatches entitled "The Martyrdom of Cecil the Lion." What I like about Erickson's approach to this story is that he frames it as a story about "a larger theological history of environmental, gendered, and colonial injustice." I think he's right to see the story in this way.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Leah Mickens on Kenyan Catholic Bishops' Response to Polio Vaccination Campaign: Problem Is Not Just Kenyan Bishops

Yesterday, Leah Mickens published a statement about the response of the Catholic bishops of Kenya to the polio vaccination campaign in their nation, about which I had posted. As I did, Leah notes that the Kenyan bishops had previously opposed a tetanus vaccination initiative with claims that it was a covert attempt to make Kenyan women infertile. She points out that Islamic clerics in some countries have also been maintaining that polio vaccinations are used by the West to sterilize or give contraceptives to non-Western people.

Quote for Day: "Why Is It an Animal Being Shot Gathers More Empathy Than Black People Being Killed for Nothing in America?"

Anthea Butler of the department of religious studies at University of Pennsylvania, commenting on the widespread outrage of Americans at the shooting of Cecil the lion by dentist Walter Palmer . . . . 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Doctored Gotcha Planned Parenthood Video and Catholic Responses to It: Some Critical Questions

I haven't talked about that doctored gotcha video made by David Daleiden, who is in cahoots with the odious right-wing gotcha activist James O'Keefe. I haven't discussed it since I knew I could count on various centrist Catholic publications, whose métier is, after all, to give intellectual respectability to the ideas of the hard right no matter how disreputable, to do that job for Catholics. I knew I could count on centrist Catholic publications to clothe the video and those promoting it in "objective" newspapers like the New York Times — can anyone say Ross Douthat? — in respectable garb, even as those publications claim to stand in some mythic, objective "middle" space devoid of commitments to the agenda of either left or right.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Kenyan Catholic Bishops Oppose Polio Vaccination for Children

One minute, the Catholic bishops of Kenya are up in arms about the fact that the U.S. president dares to defend the human rights of a criminalized minority group in their country — the LGBT citizens of Kenya. As the right-wing Catholic media outlet Catholic News Agency (whose newsfeed directly links to the official website of the Kenyan Catholic conference) reported after Mr. Obama's remarks in Kenya, African bishops are depicting his statements defending gay rights as a form of "ideological colonization" of Africa by the West.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Stephanie Krehbiel on Violence, Community, and Struggle for LGBTQ Justice in the Mennonite Church: Parallels to Catholic Conversations — Or, Why LGBT Folks Remain the Problem Even As Straight Men Engage in Sexual Predation

I've mentioned the work of Mennonite American Studies scholar Stephanie Krehbiel here in the past — for instance, in this February 2014 posting highlighting an article she published at Religion Dispatches on the parallels between "the Woody Allen problem" and the story of Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder. As she notes, in the stories of both of these men, we encounter troubling questions about the ability of not merely conservative social and ecclesial structures, but also liberal ones, to shelter and offer excuses for the predatory sexual behavior of powerful men.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Men (American Ones) and Their Guns: Two Takes on Lafayette Shooting

Hot off the press this morning, two noteworthy observations about the shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana, on Thursday: 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

As Catholic Institutions Still Fire Gay Employees Who Marry, Two Mennonite Universities Announce They Will Hire Such Employees

At Inside Higher Education and Slate, Scott Jaschik reports that two Mennonite colleges — Eastern Mennonite University and Goshen College — announced on Monday that they will now permit the hiring of faculty members in same-sex marriages. Jaschik writes:

A Reminder from Think Progress of What Women and Others Put Up with Online, and Ta-Nehisi Coates on How the Internet Has Opened up Cultural Conversations

SNAP on Premature Forgiveness and Harm It Does to Abuse Survivors: The Need for a Moratorium on Forgiveness Talk in Clergy Abuse Cases

Today, I'd like to share with you a statement from Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which appeared a few days ago at Marci Hamilton's blog, Hamilton and Griffin on Rights. It's an appeal for religious leaders to place a year's moratorium on talk about forgiveness in clergy abuse cases.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Right-Wing Catholics Suddenly Tired of Pope's Scoldings: Where Were These Folks During Papacies of JPII and BXVI?

Well, isn't this special? Right-wing Catholics Elizabeth Scalia and Carl Olson are tried of being "scolded" and "harangued" by a pope, as David Gibson reports in a Religion News Service article today about the drop in Pope Francis's approval ratings after he issued Laudato Si'.

Thoughts Following the Funeral of a Friend Today: The Rare Gift of Being There for Others

I'm sorry to be slow to blog today and to respond to comments, folks. Today was the funeral of a friend and neighbor of ours, who died suddenly last week. I've been rather dreading it, because I knew it would force me to face the fact that she is, indeed, gone — and because I feel so deeply sorry for her husband that I wasn't sure how I'd be able to offer my condolences to him without adding to his misery by breaking down myself.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Steve Neumann on Franklin Graham As Donald Trump of Religious Right: Racist, Xenophobic, and Ignorant of Reality

At Salon today, Steve Neumann maintains that, with Rev. Billy Graham's son and heir to the throne Rev. Franklin Graham, the religious right is having a "Donald Trump moment." As he notes, in response to the recent shooting in Chattanooga, Franklin Graham chose to use his powerful position as a leader of U.S. evangelicals to engage in a vicious attack on Muslims.

A Gay Priest and Gay Former Priest Speak Out: Time for Catholic Leaders to Stop the Gay-Bashing (and Why I Think These Voices Will Not Be Heard)

As I noted here back in May, after Seton Hall University chaplain Father Warren Hall posted a picture on Facebook supporting the NOH8 campaign to challenge bullying of LGBT people, this Catholic school fired him. As the visit of Pope Francis to the U.S. approaches, Father Hall has written an open letter to the pope asking him to meet with and listen to LGBT Catholics on his visit to the U.S.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Confederate Flags Come Down, Trump Shoots Up in Polls: Rick Perlstein on Conservatism as Bigotry Whack-a-Mole

For Talking Points Memo, Rick Perlstein points out that just as the Angel of History was flapping her wings to take the racist Confederate flag down from flagpoles, a Republican candidate who has made open, crude immigrant-baiting statements shot up in the polls — since "conservatism is like bigotry whack-a-mole." It's driven by a constant, never varying us-vs.-them dynamic fed by the belief that "our" country needs to be "taken back" from some new group identified as the enemy: 

"You Can't Say You Love Someone . . . and Then Disagree with a Positive Movement for Their Civil Rights": Continued Discrimination Against LGBT People in Catholic Institutions and the False 'Love the Sinner' Meme

Colin Israel writes an open letter to an uncle who informs Colin that he loves him, but cannot accept the Supreme Court's marriage equality decision due to church teachings. Colin's response zeroes in on the falsity, the self-delusion, of claiming that you love someone when you oppose the extension of rights to them:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Study War No More, or He Taught Me How to Watch, Fight, and Pray? Bellicose Bible-Grounded Christianity As No Christianity at All

Another of those captcha-like postings designed to prove that a real human being and not a monkey is typing these meandering musings:

Douglas Laycock on U.S. Catholic Bishops and Marriage Equality: "Being on the Losing Side of a Revolution Can Be Very Dangerous for Churches" (the Continuing Ruse of U.S. Catholic Centrism)

Father Thomas Reese reports today at National Catholic Reporter that University of Virginia professor Douglas Laycock thinks "being on the losing side of a revolution can be very dangerous for churches." Reese is summarizing points Laycock made recently in a presentation at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University and in an article in the University of Illinois Law Review.

A Reader Writes: "It Turns Out That It Was Obviously Stupid to Think That There Was Never a Time in Which People in the North Owned Slaves" — Slavery and Racism as the American Original Sin

I find Annika's comment in response to my recent posting about my Southern roots and the Confederate flag fascinating. Annika writes

Thursday, July 16, 2015

"I Am for Peace; But When I Speak, They Are for War": A Consideration of the Christian (and Catholic) Reponse to Obergefell

I've been thinking about war and peace lately, not primarily because, in response to the possibility of a peace-seeking agreement with Iran, one of my nation's two major political parties, which claims to represent Christian truth in some unique way, wants war — continued war, always war, always an enemy. I've been thinking about war and peace lately because of the continued bellicose determination of many American Christians, not a few Catholics included, to keep on making war on their LGBT brothers and sisters after those fellow human beings have gained the right to civil marriage.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Quote for Day: "The Confederate Flag Represents an Attempt to Perpetrate a Lie About American History"

In an interview at Slate yesterday, Isaac Chotiner asks Ta-Nehisi Coates if it's possible to see Dylann Roof as "a victim of history from the other side." Coates says that he thinks it's entirely possible to look at Roof in that light, and then explains what he means:

The Confederate Flag: With One Great-Grandfather Who Was a CSA Soldier and Three Others Who Had Brothers in the CSA, I Could Not Be Happier to See It Come Down

To repeat myself: one of my great-grandfathers was a Confederate soldier in Alabama, and my other three great-grandfathers in Louisiana and Arkansas all had brothers who served in the Confederate army. And I could not be happier to see the racist Confederate battle flag taken down from public buildings and now recognized for what it always was and remains — a symbol of white supremacy.

A Reader Writes: Nothing About Us, Without Us: No One Should Discuss *Any* People Designated as "Others" Without the Robust, Respected Contributions of Those "Others"

Mary O'Grady writes in response to my posting yesterday about Father William Grimm's question, When Catholics talk about LGBT people, what would the arguments look like if real people were part of the evidence?:

Monday, July 13, 2015

How the Confederate Battle Flag Is Like the Tridentine Mass: What Sister Never Knew and Father Never Told You Speaks Out

At the What Sister Never Knew and Father Never Told You site, blogger Consolamini minces no words as he compares the Confederate battle flag to the traditional Latin Mass, as it has become a shibboleth and organizing symbol of Catholics opposed to Vatican II at this point in history: 

Inquisitions, Church Apologies, and the Reaction of Christians to the Obergefell Decision: Three Interlocking Statements

There's a theme linking these three keen observations, it seems to me — and I wonder if others see it, too. First, Mapgie in Madrid noted here several days ago, as we were discussing Kiko Arguello's Neocatechumenal movement through the lens of Brittmarie Janson Perez's fine analysis, 

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: What Would the Arguments about Gay and Trans Folks Look Like If Real People Were Part of the Evidence?

What would the arguments look like if real people were part of the evidence?, Maryknoll Father William Grimm asks, as he looks at the typical responses of many Catholics to gay people and same-sex marriage.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Naomi Klein on a Radical Vatican Under Pope Francis?

Some excerpts for you from Naomi Klein's recent New Yorker essay entitled "A Radical Vatican?": Klein notes that she was asked to speak at a Vatican press conference about Laudato Si' in early July, and attended the event with some trepidation. The torrid heat in Rome in July, the requirement that women visiting the Vatican be enswathed in clothes that cover their limbs, the fact that she was the only non-Catholic invited to be part of this panel, worry about whether the Vatican would turn off the air-conditioning at the event, since Laudato Si' states that the growth of an air-conditioning culture points to "harmful habits of consumption" now affecting the entire planet . . . . 

The Catholic Sensibility and Trans People: Another Perspective

At the Catholic Sensibility site, Todd Flowerday provides his own riff on the discussion of how Catholics should respond to trans people that I discussed yesterday. As I noted, Commonweal now has a discussion thread chewing over this question, and I find that thread frustrating to read because of the we-vs.-them way in which the discussion is framed from the outset — we Catholics vs. those trans people.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Commonweal Catholics, Trans Folks, and How Much "We" Love "Them" (But Not "Their" Choices and Actions)

A thread about transgender people now underway at Commonweal suggests to me that trans folks are in the process of becoming the new battleground over which "liberal" Catholic folks fight out the same condescending battles they've long fought over gay folks — those dismissive us-vs.-them battles that claim the center for us and people like us, while othering gay (or trans) human beings and defining them as not-the-center. As not us.

Religious Freedom and Signs from Our Past: Reminders of How the Religious Freedom Argument Has Persistently Been Abused to Justify Discrimination

At his Facebook page, Mark David Gerson shares a collage of photos from the not-distant past, as he notes, 

Former Jesuit Ben Brenkert Asks, When Will the Catholic Church Stop Firing Gays?

At the Daily Beast, Ben Brenkert, whose Catechism of the Heart: Memoir of a Gay Jesuit, will be published next year, asks when the Catholic church will stop targeting and firing gay folks working in its institutions. In his estimation, "Far from becoming more open [at this point in its history], the Catholic Church is doubling down on its homophobia." 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Two More Excerpts from Articles in NCR's Retrospective on Catholic Abuse Story: "I Cannot Find Language That Can Adequately Communicate the Full Import of This Monstrous Phenomenon"

Two more excerpts from the series National Catholic Reporter is doing this week to look back at the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church — which goes beyond a crisis, as Father Tom Doyle says, into a realm of darkness and betrayal for which there simply are not words adequate to express what many Catholics now feel about our pastoral leaders and our church itself, given what we've had no choice except to see and learn:

Down the Road from Obergefell: A Personal Reflection from a Catholic Theologian (I.e., Yours Truly)

I keep trying, these days, to write a post-Obergefell reflection for you. To be precise: what I keep trying to capture are my own tumultuous roller-coaster feelings following this historic event, towards which many of us have so long lived with great expectation, and which has seemed to so many LGBT people of my generation an unthinkable thing for which to hope.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Jamie Manson on Pope Francis's Warm, Deep Ties to Evangelicals: Predictions for World Meeting on Families in Philadelphia

Jamie Manson on Pope Francie's deep ties to evangelicals (in Latin American, as well as to influential American ones), and how those ties will undoubtedly strongly affect what happens at the World Meeting on Families in Philadelphia this September:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Frederick Clarkson on Christianity in the Religious Freedom Debates: Highly Recommended

Another hot-off-the-press article I'd like to recommend to you today: Frederick Clarkson's "When the Exception Is the Rule: Christianity in the Religious Freedom Debates" at Political Research Associates' Public Eye. Fred's article is  very well-researched, and I think many readers will find it valuable for the bibliography alone. 

Barbara Blaine Tells Story of SNAP's Founding, St. Louis Priest Attacks SNAP, Discussion of Yoder's Legacy Continues: New Notes on Abuse Crisis

This week, National Catholic Reporter is publishing a week-long series of articles looking back at the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church. I highly recommend this series to you. I was particularly moved by hearing Barbara Blaine's story of how she (and others) came to found the group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. I'm not sure I had ever heard all the details of her own painful, liberating story — certainly not in her first-person narrative.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Brittmarie Janson Perez, "On False Prophets and Parallel Churches: Kiko Arguello and His Neocatechumenal Way"

Today, another exhaustively researched essay by Brittmarie Janson Perez, which I'm happy to share with you here. This one focuses on the role of Kiko Arguello and his group the Neocatechumenal Way in organizing the massive "pro-family," anti-gay demonstration held in Rome on 20th June. As Colleen Baker noted several years ago on her Enlightened Catholicism blog, Arguello's Neocatechumenal Way is yet another example of the influential fascist strand of Spanish Catholicism (Opus Dei being another) that seemed to capture the imagination of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI — and which has done much to try to identify Catholicism at this point in history with macho-heterosexist, misogynistic, and homophobic ideas resistant to the rights of women and gay people. Here's Brittie's outstanding essay:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

"Just Who Do We Think We Are?": More Responses to Justice Roberts' Question in Obergefell Dissent

After Obergefell, people are having a field day throwing Justice John Roberts' huffy "Just who do we think we are?" back in his face. Here are two more articles in that vein that have caught my attention in the past several days:

Clouds of Witnesses: More Testimony About How Obergefell Affects Real Human Beings and Real Human Lives — The Challenge for Catholics

Some more testimony for you today: two days ago, I offered you some testimony from my own spot about what Obergefell and its extension of rights to LGBT citizens meant to me as an openly gay, married Catholic theologian who has been shut out of employment, my vocation, health insurance coverage, and the manifold benefits that come from being part of a community. Shut out, quite specifically, by Catholic institutions and by the men running the Catholic show, who love to talk endlessly about human rights and love as they continue doing this to LGBT folks . . . .

On Laudato Si' and Its "Integral Ecology" and Themes of Relatioality: Helpful Commentary

When I first responded to Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si', I promised to provide you with some more reflections on the encyclical. These are not my own, but are from pieces I've read that strike me as valuable, since they zero in on the theme I wanted to point to in my own reflection — the theme of relationality. As I noted, the encyclical's stress on relationality, as it discusses the human connection to the environment and the need of human beings to acknowledge their own interconnection to address environmental crisis, is both its strength and its weakness.

#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches: A Series of Links for You

A series of excerpts from commentary I've seen in the past few days about the spate of suspicious burnings of black churches in the South after the Charleston shootings, which I want to share with you: