Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sam Albano on the Pastoral Emergency in American Catholicism Caused by Abuse of LGBT People: A Personal Response

Sam Albano co-founded a youth ministry in his Catholic parish in Carmel, Indiana. Until August 2014, he served on the parish council. 

And Now West Virginia: Another State Considering Copycat Legislation Modeled After Arkansas's "Pro-Business" Right-to-Discriminate Law

As I noted two days ago, immediately after Arkansas enacted its new "pro-business" right-to-discriminate (against gays) legislation, a Texas legislator filed a copycat bill in that state. And now West Virginia: as David Badash writes,

Quote for Day: "Boundary Maintenance Is Very Important to White Evangelicals"

How do white evangelicals, as a small minority group, exert such outsized control on American politics at a national level (I'm piggybacking on my previous posting with this question)? As Jacob Lupfer explains, it's by monitoring the boundaries of political and religious conversations, and excluding anyone who will not dance to their right-wing tune — including potential candidates for national office:

PRRI Releases American Values Atlas: Outsized Control Exerted by White Evangelicals to Block Expansion of Rights for LGBT Citizens

Today, the Public Religion Research Institute is releasing a new American Values Atlas.  As Cathy Lynn Grossman reports for Religion News Service, 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Plano, Texas, Continues to Protect LGBT Citizens from Discrimination; Catholic News Service Responds by Circulating Report of Liberty Institute That Christians Are Persecuted

Can Catholic News Service undercut its credibility any more decisively as a bona fide journalistic venture? I doubt it. Not when it's willing to become a propaganda organ for the likes of Liberty Institute in Plano, Texas.

As Arkansas Enacts Right-to-Discriminate Legislation, Texas Legislator Files Copycat Bill

And so it begins: as David Badash writes, just as the right-to-discriminate bill becomes law in Arkansas (see Max Brantley at Arkansas Times on this),

Sunday, February 22, 2015

1 Picture, 1,000 Words: The Crusades (Way Back When?)

Clay Bennett on the Crusades:

Quote for Day: Arkansas Right-to-Discriminate Bill Is Roadmap for the Nation — More Wide-Ranging and Dangerous Than Failed Arizona Anti-Gay Bill

Michelangelo Signorile continues to sound the alarm bell about the right-to-discriminate legislation in Arkansas, which is, he points out, citing none other than Tony Perkins, head of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council, intended to be a "roadmap" for similar legislation around the country. As Signorile keeps noting, the national business community and even political leaders one would expect to have spoken out about the Arkansas legislation (e.g., the Clintons) remain curiously silent about this legislation that directly targets LGBT citizens: 

Coming Soon to a Political Theater Near You: Expansion of the "I Believe" Argument to Justify Refusal to Have Children Vaccinated

Coming soon to a political theater near you: an expansion of the "I prayed about it" and "I believe" and "I have a personal relationship with Jesus" argument to justify the refusal to have children vaccinated against infectious diseases. In fact, as Catherine Thompson reported for TPM several days ago, we're already there.

Friday, February 20, 2015

New Battlefield for LGBT Rights: If I "Prayed About It," and if I "Believe" and Have a "Relationship with Jesus Christ," Your Rights Don't Count

German Lopez sees a new frontier opening in the battle for LGBT rights in the U.S., as the fight for the right of civil marriage appears to be winding down: 

Asking the Right Questions about John Howard Yoder (and Powerful Men Who Abuse the Vulnerable): Hillary Watson Reflects on the Issues

About the celebrated Mennonite theologian (and serial sexual abuser of women* who were his students or had sought his pastoral counseling), Mennonite pastor and poet Hillary Watson thinks we're asking the wrong question. As she notes, even after the history of Yoder's predatory activities over many years is becoming clear, Watson continues to encounter people asking how we can use his work and honor him as an advocate for peace — sanitizing the story of the life from which this work proceeds, as it were.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Story for You: We Go to Lunch, We Wait. And Wait. And Wait. As Six Tables That Arrived After Us Are Served.

A story for your consideration today, which I shared recently with my circle of friends on Facebook: a few weeks back, Steve and I head out for a quick lunch over his lunch hour. We want to combine having lunch with shopping at a Habitat for Humanity "re-store" as Steve and his brother continue their project of building a new bathroom onto our house. We have found some very nice items (at good prices) for the bathroom at this "re-store," including a door and some light fixtures. 

Cultural Violence and Gay-Bashing: Four Quotations for Your Consideration

Four quotations for your consideration, from thought-provoking works I've read, bookmarked, and annotated over the years — all on the theme of violence, where it comes from, its roots in religious ideology, and its manifestation as attacks on LGBT persons: 

Henry Giroux on Politics of Disposability and Violence: Implications for the Orchestrated Attack Now Underway on Gay Citizens of U.S. after 2014 Elections

Henry A. Giroux writes, regarding the wild success of "American Sniper," the latest shoot-'em-up movie glorifying macho American exceptionalism and holy-war violence visited on our perceived enemies,

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Backlash Getting Underway: Just Look at Arkansas — A Footnote to My Earlier Posting

Earlier today, I noted that the business community in Arkansas has been conspicuously silent about the right-to-discriminate legislation just passed by the Arkansas legislature, which Arkansas's governor Asa Hutchinson says he will permit to be enacted. As I noted, an article yesterday by Jeff Guo in the Washington Post points out that the legislators who crafted the right-to-discriminate bill have framed it as legislation that will be good for business in Arkansas.

For Ash Wednesday: Allegri's "Miserere" Performed by the Choir of New College, Oxford

And for Ash Wednesday, a performance of Gregorio Allegri's "Miserere" by the choir of New College, Oxford. I'm grateful to Phil Ewing for having uploaded this clip to her magnificent Ennis Blue blog today. As Phil notes, information about the song and psalm (psalm 51) on which it's based, along with the Latin text, may be found in this Wikipedia entry.

Quote for the Day: "Why Should Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals Stand Together with Trans People? 'Because We All Get Beaten Up by the Same People!'"

In The Guardian today, Owen Jones reminds us that the pivotal catalyst for the gay rights movement of the latter half of the 20th century — the Stonewall riot of 1969 — happened because transgender people refused to take police abuse any longer. And yet the LGBT community has remained, up to now, largely silent about the T in its acronym.

Quote for the Day: "#‎ItsNotOver The Backlash Is Getting Underway. Just look at Arkansas and Kansas"

In a statement she published yesterday at the Huffington Post site, Dana Beyer suggests that it's not yet time to party — as in, to celebrate the victory of gay rights in the United States — because, well, Arkansas. Beyer notes that while some of us are already jubilating over what we imagine to be an irreversible tide of support for the human rights of LGBT citizens of the U.S., others are very busy setting into place mechanisms of ugly backlash that have radically unhappy consequences for LGBT people in some parts of the country.

Quote for the Day: Bayard Rustin on How Laws Permitting Discrimination Threaten Everyone, Not Just Targeted Minorities

On 17 April 1986, civil rights activist Bayard Rustin testified before a meeting of a committee of the New York city council as the council deliberated about proposals to gut laws protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination. Rustin stated, 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Footnote to Previous Posting about "Furious Religion": Portland, Oregon, Evangelical Church Excluded for Welcoming LGBT Christians

Mark 1:41, Describing Jesus's Healing of a Leper

Earlier today, I wrote with regard to the pastoral letter issued today by the bishops of the Church of England and Pope Francis's homily to a consistory of cardinals last Sunday, 

Bishops of Church of England on "Furious Religion" and Scapegoating of the Other, Pope Francis on Jesus and Lepers: Where Is There Good News for Gay People Today?

Luke 5:13, Jesus's Healing of a Leper

It's interesting to read the pastoral letter that the House of Bishops of the Church of England published today side by side with Pope Francis's homily this past Sunday to the consistory of cardinals gathered in Rome as the pope made twenty new cardinals. In significant ways, what the bishops of the Church of England are saying overlaps with what Francis says in his recent homily to cardinals.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Valentine from Me to You — and You and You

Please click the image and it should enlarge. Happy Valentine's day to all of you!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Arkansas Chooses Wrong Side of History Again: Legislature Passes "Right to Discriminate" Bill

The Republican-controlled Arkansas legislature today passed a bill protecting faith-based discrimination against LGBT citizens of the state — a state that affords no legal protection to those citizens against discrimination in housing, employment, provision of medical services, etc. As Arkansas Times editor Max Brantley says in the video at the head of the posting, though the bill purports to be about protecting people's consciences, what it's really about is protecting discrimination against those who are gay. 

Social Networking Sites and the Way Americans Do Death: My Notes with Questions

I wonder if this has happened to anyone besides me. First, I happened to notice a posting pop up on Facebook last year from the Facebook feed of a friend in Florida from whom I hadn't heard in some time. 

Visibility and the Alphabet Soup of Letters: Tori Wolfe-Sisson Talks to Juan González about Battle for Gay Rights in Alabama

Juan González asks Tori Wolfe-Sisson, who, with her partner Shanté, was a member of the first gay couple to marry in Montgomery, if she can talk about the long battle for marriage equality in Alabama. González asks what steps she and others have taken to gain equality.

David Carr on the Importance of the Little People to Journalists Seeking Truth

New York Times journalist David Carr, who died yesterday, talks about his first big break as a young journalist investigating police brutality against African-American residents of Minneapolis: Carr notes, 

Churches, Male Entitlement, and the Place of God in the World: Why I Refuse to Participate in a Church That Excludes Women from Leadership

I will not participate in the activities of a church that excludes women from its leadership structures. I will not pretend that I find God in such a church.

April 2013: my uncle is buried, and I spend his funeral thinking about women. To be specific, I think about the interesting conversation I have in front of his coffin before the funeral with two of his nieces who aren't my cousins, since they're on the other side of that family.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Still Running Behind, Folks

I'm still behind, folks, and am coming to see that I will probably not be able to respond to remarks left here in the past several days. I do like to try to respond to comments people have left here addressing me directly. I simply may not be able to do that right now, due to the number of other niggling obligations I have had lately. Please know that I very much value your remarks, and, as always, feel free to talk among yourselves!

Christianity, Islam, Violence: Three Thoughtful Reactions to Mr. Obama's National Prayer Breakfast Remarks

Three thoughtful quotes from three thoughtful articles responding to the manufactured right-wing outrage after President Obama told the attendees of the National Prayer Breakfast that Christianity, too, has its heritage of violence with which to contend:

In the News This Week: Arkansas

More interlocking news links: while all that (see my previous posting) has been going on in Alabama, this week, our state legislators in Arkansas have been busy little beavers as they beat their anti-gay drum and their religious-liberty drum to appeal to their evangelical base:

In the News This Week: Alabama

And the next nesting doll (for an explanation of this allusion, please see the preceding posting): Alabama. And white evangelical values, dreams of nullification, defiance of the Constitution, memories of George Wallace and his stand in the schoolhouse door:

In the News This Week: New Report on History of Lynchings in U.S.

To my way of thinking, the news this week has been something like those Russian matryoshka dolls, in which doll nests inside doll, each identical to the other, a larger doll enclosing its identical offspring inside itself. Discussion of the history of American lynching connects to discussions about the alliance of the U.S. Catholic bishops with right-wing white evangelicals who are willing, in collaboration with the bishops, to rend the fabric of the nation by trampling on the Constitution, if gay citizens receive rights. Arkansas and Kansas, in their attacks on LGBT citizens, nest inside Alabama, just as the Catholic bishops nest inside Roy Moore, Mike Huckabee, and other political leaders calling for nullification of Supreme Court decisions and of the Constitution itself, insofar as it protects the rights of LGBT citizens.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Falling Behind, Determined to Catch Up

I'm slightly behind in acknowledging your wonderful comments here, folks — and in saying all I'd like to say about what's happening right now vis-a-vis marriage equality in the U.S., and my great disappointment that, to all intents and purposes, the leaders of the U.S. Catholic church (as opposed to many lay Catholics) are standing with those who want to defy the Constitution and trample on human rights at this point in American history.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "As a Gay Man, I Have Tried and Tried to Work Out in My Head and Soul and Conscience How I Can Remain in the Catholic Church"

In response to a good essay by Mariam Williams in National Catholic Reporter today about whether it's worth staying with a church that keeps the oppressive status quo, Tim Creekmore writes:

Marriage Equality Comes to Alabama, as Grandstanding of "Faith-Based" Southern Leaders Continues

Violets Gathered on a Funeral Morning: A Poem Commemorating the Anniversary of a Grandfather's Death

A few days back, I shared a story of the final days of my grandfather's life, a memory of an experience I had as I sat in the hospital waiting room during his final illness. Today's the anniversary of my grandfather's death in 1976, and so I thought I'd share with you a poem I wrote not long after his funeral. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cardinal Burke Throws Down the Gauntlet: "I Shall Resist" (Is This Cordileone's Message, Too?)

The new insert added by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone to the faculty handbook of employees of Catholic high schools in the San Francisco archdiocese: all administrators, faculty, and staff of these schools are to 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Islam, Christianity, and Barbaric Violence: Discussion of the Issues in a U.S. Catholic Forum, National Catholic Reporter

In response to an article by Sister Maureen Fiedler in National Catholic Reporter this morning about the bogus controversy following President Obama's statements that Christianity has its own history of violence to face, a Catholic regular at NCR who is ever ready to demonize Muslims, one Purgatrix Ineptiae, writes,*

Mary Hunt on Vatican Council on Women: Funny If It Weren't So Insulting

In the hope of encouraging you to read Mary Hunt's wonderful essay on the Vatican council on women at Religion Dispatches today, I'm going to pick out some of its finest lines and point you to them: first, 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Archbishop Cordileone's New Anti-Gay Handbook for Catholic Schools: A View from the Belly of the (Evangelical) Beast

Because I live in a heavily evangelical part of the country, and grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition, I think that readers of Bilgrimage sometimes forget that my perspective on issues of concern to American Catholics is often not precisely the perspective of many U.S. Catholics — a large percentage of whom live in the northern half of the United States and have little to no familiarity with the evangelical-dominated culture of the bible belt states. I want to issue that proviso as I begin to talk about the story now making the rounds in the Catholic media about Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone's new faculty handbook for Catholic schools in San Francisco, targeting gay folks and those who stand in solidarity with gay folks. 

"Christian" Hate Mail and Power of Authoritarian Religion to Produce Doublethink: Valerie Tarico on New Book by Military Religious Freedom Foundation Founders

As Valerie Tarico reports, Bonnie Weinstein has now published a book sharing with the world the hate mail she and husband Mikey Weinstein have received as founders of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which seeks to defend the religious freedom of every kind of believer (or of those who opt out of religious belief), and not just evangelical Christians. The book is entitled To the Far Right Christian Hater: You Can Be a Good Speller or a Hater, but You Can't Be Both.

Andrew Sullivan, Shrillness, and the Commonweal Worldview: Please Discuss

"Shrill" is a gendered term, isn't it? Especially as it's used in popular-level American political discourse: "Once they started with all that shrill stuff, I stopped listening." 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Giles Fraser's Response to Stephen Fry's Critique of Christian "God": "Too Many Religious Reople Actually Worship Power"

Giles Fraser's response to Stephen Fry's recent statement that he feels he has no option except to repudiate the "evil, capricious, monstrous maniac" presented to us as "God" by many Christians reminds me of the insistence of the classic 20th-century Catholic theologian Karl Rahner that many people may have a moral obligation to repudiate the idea of God and choose atheism, when the "God" presented to them by people of faith wears a demonic face. Rahner insisted that atheists have a great deal of value to teach Christians about who the God Christians worship really is — if we who are believers would only listen attentively to atheists.

The Vaccination Thing: Interplay of Issues of Freedom and Common Good — Valuable Commentary

It's entirely possible not everyone in the world (or in the U.S.) shares my near-obsession with the "debate" about vaccination that has suddenly emerged from some dark undercurrents of American culture to become a real political thing. I'm interested in this topic because it illustrates so clearly, I think, a fatal propensity of many Americans across party, ideological, and regional lines to fetishize "liberty" in a way that's dangerous to the well-being of all of us, and of the whole planet. I tried so say some of this several weeks ago as we were discussing the Charlie Hebdo massacres and freedom of speech, and got the same kind of fierce pushback I get anytime I mention guns here — pushback against my insistence that no freedom of any kind is an absolute value, and that in a sane society, liberties must always be measured against the common good to be meaningful.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Commentary on Naked Lady Bound in Ropes Image Vatican Used to Advertise Conference on Women

Lively (and thought-provoking) commentary from various places about the naked lady bound in ropes image the Vatican Pontifical Council on Culture has chosen to advertise its conference (which starts today) on women:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Vatican. Vatican. Vatican. Women. Women. Women. ("Equal" but Different and Subordinate.)

The Vatican's Pontifical Council on Culture (whose members are all cardinals and bishops) will discuss women tomorrow. And for several days after that. And as Kaya Oakes says (see the tweet above), this is the image their website is using to advertise their discussion?

Huckabee. Huckabee. Huckabee. Gay. Gay. Gay. (And Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp.)

Well, former Arkansas governor, current GOP presidential contender, and Southern Baptist minister Mike Huckabee surely got press coverage this weekend, didn't he? Here's commentary about his shenanigans that has caught my eye — Caitlin McNeal summarizes the story for TPM:

Four Stories Hot off the Press: Catholic Whistleblowers, Mennonite Conference on Yoder, Catholic Abuse Case Settled in Arkansas, Dr. Rosemary McHugh Tells Her Story

Several links this morning to stories about the abuse situation in communities of faith:

Sunday, February 1, 2015

On How My Jesuit Education Taught Me I'm Not a Very Good Catholic: Implications for Bilgrimage

I'm not a very good Catholic, you understand. One of the first ways I learned that lesson decisively, as a callow convert to the Catholic church studying at a Catholic university, was from a Jesuit. Father Henry M. was an old-school Jesuit — ramrod straight military bearing, no-nonsense teaching style as he barked out his lectures from notes he'd long since memorized, taking deep draws on an endless succession of unfiltered cigarettes as he did so, flicking the ashes dismissively from his black cassock. 

A Reader Writes: About Pope Francis and the Jesuits, "Many of the Origin Stories of Religious Orders Do Look a Lot Like a Spectacularly Successful Effort at Prolonged Adolescence"

Not to be missed: Brian Gallagher's stellar response to my posting yesterday about the ambiguity of Pope Francis's Jesuit roots, as Francis deals with women's issues: