Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Today this article caught my attention on the Huffington Post. The article was written by Grove Harris. She is described as a writer, speaker and consultant on religious diversity in America.
Harris asks some questions in her solstice article that I think any advent preacher would want to offer to his or her listeners.
The entire article is worth reading. Reflecting on the cycle of the seasons, Harris asks these questions: how do we live in the rhythms of this cyclic life?
The whole article is here. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/grove-harris/yule-eclipse-2010-winter-_b_799187.html
The questions she asks are these: "In what ways am I hibernating, turning inward, and resting at this time? What new ray of insight am I looking for, to guide me in the coming year? What's being born in me in the dark season, to be sheltered for a while and brought forth in the spring season? Solstice meditations can feed the year ahead."
Happy Solstice, Happy Advent!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Dedicated to the memory of the estimated 1,470 gay and lesbian youth who commit suicide in the United States each year and to countless others who are injured or murdered.
Matthew Shepard Was Pronounced Dead at 12:53am This Morning.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDoRcVodFNM The video interview with Fr. Breen
UPDATE…October 3, 2010
Father Joe Pat Breen came back to the Parish of St. Edward’s after all the recent attention from his video on the state of the church that sort of went viral. He received a warm welcome and ovation from the parishioners.
The bishop went to the hospital for heart surgery. I understand that he is doing well.
Meanwhile, there are not as many people viewing the video that caused such a stir especially with the neocats.
In many ways things are still the same. Father Breen is back in his parish. The bishop preserved some semblance of his authority. However, the many issues that Father Breen addressed remain.
It is likely only a matter of time until there is a new threat to Roman authoritarianism....
Here is a little local Nashville news. The linked video is one that Fr. Breen, a local pastor, put on his parish web site a few weeks ago. The bishop asked him to take it down from the parish web site which Fr. Breen did. In the meantime someone managed to capture the video and put it on YouTube where it is getting a number of views. The person who put it on YouTube also gave it the title “Holy Heretic, Batman.” This person also states that Fr. Breen “audaciously” calls for ordination of married men and the ordination of women.
I just want to say that Fr. Breen has been pastor at St. Edward’s in Nashville for many years now. Fr. Breen has more pastoral experience and sensitivity in his little finger than a whole gaggle of bishops. I watched the video with several priests recently. One just kept shaking his head and murmuring: “The man is speaking the truth.” The bishop, of course, lamented that Fr. Breen had to share his disappointment with the church in such a public way. I have lived in Nashville for a number of years now. I can only say that it is my experience that there are no forums in the diocese where any of these issues can be discussed.
So I return to a frequent question I ask these days. “What happens to a dream deferred?” Lanston Hughes. It seems to me what is happening in the church these days is that the dream is festering like a sore and oozing. One day it may explode.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Rodger Mahoney, a spokesman for God, said that the judge left God out of the decision. “Those of us who supported Prop 8 and worked for its passage did so for one reason: We truly believe that Marriage was instituted by God for the specific purpose of carrying out God's plan for the world and human society. Period.” This is exactly what the judge should have done, leave God out of the decision. There is, the last time I looked, the separation between church (God) and state in the Constitution of the United States.
I will grant people like Rodger Mahony and the American Family Association the right to new trial, and it would have to be sort of mock trial whereby they are allowed to bring in all their bible quotes and religious experts to try and prove God is against homosexuality and gay marriage. Since it would be sort of a trial, there would be a whole side for the defense, with more biblical quotes and many more religious experts to counter the arguments of those opposed to gay marriage. I think it would be a spectacular trial. In the end, it would probably end with a hung jury or no verdict reached. Well, you could always appeal to God, that is to the God of your choice.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Enlightened Catholicism: I Am Gob Smacked As They Say Down In Oz
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Here are a few thoughts for Pride. After I watched President Obama speaking to the LGBT Pride Reception at the White House on Tuesday, June 22nd. , I knew once again why I voted for him. You can watch him here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUBI7dmUeb4&feature=player_embedded Obama gets it right.
One person who does not get it right, and I am sure who will not be seen at the Pride Parade will be Cardinal George. He will probably be hiding in his mansion. Lately I have been thinking about an evangelization strategy that goes something like this: “If the people you want to take the gospel to are dancing in the town square, you need to be dancing in the town square.” I am sure there will be dancing and many other festive activities this Sunday in Chicago in Boys Town. I just want to say that I am grateful for all those who have ministered over the years to the GLBT community. I would add that the love talked about in the gospel is and will be very much a part of that celebration on Sunday even without his eminence.
Monday, May 31, 2010
As I look back I am grateful for being able to have been in pastoral ministry for fifteen years in the south, to have worked in training and formation programs and personnel work. Finally in recent years I have been responsible for running a religious house and managing an office.
I did allow myself the opportunity to celebrate with a small faith group I have been part of for the last four years whose focus is peace and justice. I told them this past Tuesday that I had transferred my Sunday obligation to Tuesday evening and celebrated Pentecost with them. The following are some thoughts I shared that evening.
At the time of Vatican II we prayed for a new Pentecost. I think at the beginning of the 21st. century the time has arrived not only to pray again for a new Pentecost; we must work to bring the Spirit of Pentecost to our world and the Catholic Church. We need to bring the excitement that the disciples had in that upper room on the first Pentecost again to our world.
We had determined that we would discuss Han Kung’s recent letter to the bishops. There is so much in that letter for us. I blogged twice in recent weeks using Han Kung’s letter. At one point I lamented that perhaps the wrong man was elected pope.
What struck me about Hans Kung’s letter was how filled it was with the Spirit of the Second Vatican Council. I could feel the excitement again as I read his letter, the same excitement that I felt back in the 1960’s during and shortly after the Council. As I read his letter, especially noting the criticism of Pope Benedict and litany of the many missed opportunities and unfinished agendas, I felt saddened that the vision of the Council seems for the moment lost; yet I still am hopeful.
These recent weeks have seen intense worldwide pressure put upon the papacy. Kung’s letter trying and hoping to restore a lost vision of the Vatican II Church is a ray of hope. In these past few weeks another article appeared ranking right up there with Kung’s letter.
Gary Wills, who wrote Papal Sins has an article in the May 18th. Issue of The New Republic on why he stays Catholic. It is a long article. You can find it here. http://reform-network.net/?p=5064 I think there would be some support and advice for all of us in that article. Wills lays out the present difficult situation the church finds itself in today and then launches into a historical review of the papacy with the help of Lord Acton, remember Acton’s famous quote, “All power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Wills reminds us that Lord Acton was a very devout Catholic who was almost excommunicated. I want to quote one paragraph. It is my favorite.
“Though Acton lived before the Second Vatican Council defined the Church as ‘the people of God,’ the entirety of Acton’s writings prove that he never equated Catholicism with the papacy. He was too good a historian for that. The Pope is a freak of history—specifically, of medieval history. His office does not date from the early history of the Christian community. Peter was not a Pope, or a bishop, or a priest—offices that did not exist in his lifetime. There are no priests in the New Testament. Peter was not the leader of the Church in either Jerusalem or Rome—communities led, respectively, by James, Jesus’s [sic] brother, and Clement. Paul, at the famous clash in Antioch, showed that he did not think Peter a sound interpreter of Jesus’s [sic] message. Males were not the only ministers at the outset, as the apostle Junia proves. In fact the early preachers of the Gospel were often a husband-and-wife team.”
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful with the Fire of your Love! Anymore when Benedict does something stupid, or a cardinal or a bishop abuses his power. I am just going to say: “The pope is a freak of history.”
Oh! and that picture at the top of the blog. It is supposed to be me, I guess. A gay couple gave it to me a couple of years ago at Christmas. It seems they found this framed picture of some former bishop of Chicago that was being thrown out frame and all. They gave it to a friend who is artist with a photograph of me. He painted my face on to the picture. It is a resonable resemblance except for the episcopal robes.
Monday, May 17, 2010
McNeill’s analysis is a strong indictment of the traditional catholic teaching on sexuality and a condemnation of Benedict’s continual attacks on gay people and gay marriage. In Portugal Benedict inferred that gay marriage is the most insidious threat to the human family. In the same article McNeill blasts Benedict for overlooking so many real threats to the human family from nuclear war to inner city violence.
In a particularly profound part of his critique, McNeill says of Benedict’s theology of human sexuality that the pope equates human sex with animal sex. It seems to me, Benedict's knowledge of human sexuality is more mechanistic. Sex for the pope is like the man and women in the picture in the plug and receptacle costumes. McNeill says that Benedict’s theory of human sexuality is based on gender difference and gender complementarity and not on the uniqueness of the two individuals entering into a marriage relationship.
McNeill argues that Benedict does not understand the reality that when two unique people enter into a marriage relationship it is much more than a fusion of biological opposites. McNeill moves far beyond simple gender complementarity as a basis for the marriage relationship pointing out that the two individuals bring a range masculinity and femininity to the relationship not based on biological gender.
Here are the two relevant and extremely significant paragraphs from John McNeill’s article. You can read the whole article here.
“Every human psyche has both masculine and feminine attributes. Both parties following the patriarchal model must accept only those aspects of their psyche that accord with their gender identity. Males, for example, should only accept the masculine dimension of their psyche and suppress the feminine, which they then must project out onto their female partner. Women, in turn, must suppress everything masculine in their psyche and project out the masculine on their husband. Many psychically healthier women today, who are more in touch with both their masculine and feminine dimensions, and see themselves as whole persons, increasingly are unwilling to play the role of being mediators of the feminine emotional, spiritual and compassionate needs of men. They want a man who is a total human person in himself! They are demanding, and rightly so, that we men get in touch with our feminine dimension”
“Many men, in turn, are coming into touch with both the masculine and feminine dimensions of themselves and refusing to play the role of being the mediator of the masculine needs of women for assertiveness and autonomy.” …”Both genders are being called on to develop the fullness of their own humanity, so that they can approach each other as complete, independent persons and not remain essentially dependent on the other gender for their completion.”
In McNeill’s analysis that coming together of two unique human persons to form a marriage relationship is much more than the coming together of two people at the level of gender difference. A further reality is that over the course of a relationship these two unique individuals will access differing aspects of his or her masculine/feminine polarity as they mature together.
McNeill’s conclusion is powerful saying that the coming together of two people whether male and female, male and male, or female and female in a marital relationship is much more than the coming together of two biological gender opposites. McNeill offers that there is a whole range of masculine and feminine psychic energy that comes together in a marriage relationship. This opens up so much more what the reality of marriage is. The reality is that when two people come together to form a committed relationship, marriage, that it is a union formed on a psychic, emotional, and spiritual level. Benedict’s theory of human sexuality is very one dimensional.
Instead of condemning gays and gay marriage Benedict should be praising it. Here is McNeill's powerful rebuttal. “Gay marriage then, rather than being a threat to the family, opens up a new paradigm for a fuller, more human and fulfilling love between the partners.”
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Now be truthful when you answer the question on this refrigerator magnet.
Here is a further reflection as you gaze at Benedict.
Professor Mark Jordan from the Harvard Divinity School, who wrote The Silence of Sodom: Homosexuality in Modern Catholicism, suggests all the protests by popes, cardinals, and bishops against gays and gay marriage is an attempt to distract and hide from the laity the reality that there is a significant number of gay men in the priesthood and a strong element of homoeroticism in the Catholic Church.
There are quite a number of other comments from other bloggers about Benedict's recent trip to Portugal and his continual condemnation of gays and gay marriage.
Here is the opening paragraph from John McNeill’s blog Spiritual Transformation. “On his recent pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, Pope Benedict XVI used the occasion to announce that he thought the greatest threat to the human race, apart from abortion, was gay marriage! To my knowledge no mention was made of the nuclear arms race; no mention of the destruction of the environment; no mention of disease, poverty and starvation which afflict the vast majority of humanity; no mention of the decrease in respect for the sacred value of the human person which has led to a remarkable increase in genocide, violence, murder, torture and enslavement. Which leads me to wonder what alternate universe the Pope lives in; what alternate reality is he dealing with?”
You can read the whole thing here.
Some bloggers have noted that Benedict may have been more restrained in Portugal when it came to the things he loves to condemn. This may be a positive movement. Unless Benedict can cool the anti-gay rhetoric all his renewed calls for dialogue will be hollow. One could hope that someday there might be a dialogue with hierarchs in the Vatican and gay and lesbian people. Popes, cardinals, and bishops just might learn something. They might also begin to learn something about themselves.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
I have this additional comment on Kung’s letter. If Benedict is going to take in the illegally consecrated bishops of the Pius X Society, then he should be willing to take in all the newly consecrated Womenbishops of the world.
Missed is the opportunity for a dialogue with Muslims in an atmosphere of mutual trust: Instead, in his ill-advised but symptomatic 2006 Regensburg lecture, Benedict caricatured Islam as a religion of violence and inhumanity and thus evoked enduring Muslim mistrust.
Missed is the opportunity for reconciliation with the colonised indigenous peoples of Latin America: Instead, the pope asserted in all seriousness that they had been “longing” for the religion of their European conquerors.
Missed is the opportunity to help the people of Africa by allowing the use of birth control to fight overpopulation and condoms to fight the spread of HIV.
Missed is the opportunity to make peace with modern science by clearly affirming the theory of evolution and accepting stem-cell research.
Missed is the opportunity to make the spirit of the Second Vatican Council the compass for the whole Catholic Church, including the Vatican itself, and thus to promote the needed reforms in the church.
This last point, respected bishops, is the most serious of all. Time and again, this pope has added qualifications to the conciliar texts and interpreted them against the spirit of the council fathers. Time and again, he has taken an express stand against the Ecumenical Council, which according to canon law represents the highest authority in the Catholic Church:
He has taken the bishops of the traditionalist Pius X Society back into the church without any preconditions – bishops who were illegally consecrated outside the Catholic Church and who reject central points of the Second Vatican Council (including liturgical reform, freedom of religion and the rapprochement with Judaism).
He promotes the medieval Tridentine Mass by all possible means and occasionally celebrates the Eucharist in Latin with his back to the congregation.
He refuses to put into effect the rapprochement with the Anglican Church, which was laid out in official ecumenical documents by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, and has attempted instead to lure married Anglican clergy into the Roman Catholic Church by freeing them from the very rule of celibacy that has forced tens of thousands of Roman Catholic priests out of office.
He has actively reinforced the anti-conciliar forces in the church by appointing reactionary officials to key offices in the Curia (including the secretariat of state, and positions in the liturgical commission) while appointing reactionary bishops around the world.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
The following is a list of six requests Kung makes to the bishops.
1. Do not keep silent: By keeping silent in the face of so many serious grievances, you taint yourselves with guilt. When you feel that certain laws, directives and measures are counterproductive, you should say this in public. Send Rome not professions of your devotion, but rather calls for reform!
2. Set about reform: Too many in the church and in the episcopate complain about Rome, but do nothing themselves. When people no longer attend church in a diocese, when the ministry bears little fruit, when the public is kept in ignorance about the needs of the world, when ecumenical co-operation is reduced to a minimum, then the blame cannot simply be shoved off on Rome. Whether bishop, priest, layman or laywoman – everyone can do something for the renewal of the church within his own sphere of influence, be it large or small. Many of the great achievements that have occurred in the individual parishes and in the church at large owe their origin to the initiative of an individual or a small group. As bishops, you should support such initiatives and, especially given the present situation, you should respond to the just complaints of the faithful.
3. Act in a collegial way: After heated debate and against the persistent opposition of the Curia, the Second Vatican Council decreed the collegiality of the pope and the bishops. It did so in the sense of the Acts of the Apostles, in which Peter did not act alone without the college of the apostles. In the post-conciliar era, however, the pope and the Curia have ignored this decree. Just two years after the council, Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical defending the controversial celibacy law without the slightest consultation of the bishops. Since then, papal politics and the papal magisterium have continued to act in the old, uncollegial fashion. Even in liturgical matters, the pope rules as an autocrat over and against the bishops. He is happy to surround himself with them as long as they are nothing more than stage extras with neither voices nor voting rights. This is why, venerable bishops, you should not act for yourselves alone, but rather in the community of the other bishops, of the priests and of the men and women who make up the church.
4. Unconditional obedience is owed to God alone: Although at your episcopal consecration you had to take an oath of unconditional obedience to the pope, you know that unconditional obedience can never be paid to any human authority; it is due to God alone. For this reason, you should not feel impeded by your oath to speak the truth about the current crisis facing the church, your diocese and your country. Your model should be the apostle Paul, who dared to oppose Peter “to his face since he was manifestly in the wrong”! ( Galatians 2:11 ). Pressuring the Roman authorities in the spirit of Christian fraternity can be permissible and even necessary when they fail to live up to the spirit of the Gospel and its mission. The use of the vernacular in the liturgy, the changes in the regulations governing mixed marriages, the affirmation of tolerance, democracy and human rights, the opening up of an ecumenical approach, and the many other reforms of Vatican II were only achieved because of tenacious pressure from below.
5. Work for regional solutions: The Vatican has frequently turned a deaf ear to the well-founded demands of the episcopate, the priests and the laity. This is all the more reason for seeking wise regional solutions. As you are well aware, the rule of celibacy, which was inherited from the Middle Ages, represents a particularly delicate problem. In the context of today’s clerical abuse scandal, the practice has been increasingly called into question. Against the expressed will of Rome, a change would appear hardly possible; yet this is no reason for passive resignation. When a priest, after mature consideration, wishes to marry, there is no reason why he must automatically resign his office when his bishop and his parish choose to stand behind him. Individual episcopal conferences could take the lead with regional solutions. It would be better, however, to seek a solution for the whole church, therefore:
6. Call for a council: Just as the achievement of liturgical reform, religious freedom, ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue required an ecumenical council, so now a council is needed to solve the dramatically escalating problems calling for reform. In the century before the Reformation, the Council of Constance decreed that councils should be held every five years. Yet the Roman Curia successfully managed to circumvent this ruling. There is no question that the Curia, fearing a limitation of its power, would do everything in its power to prevent a council coming together in the present situation. Thus it is up to you to push through the calling of a council or at least a representative assembly of bishops.
I have the feeling reading the rest of Kung's letter outlining the failures of Benedict's leadership that the present pope is leading the church back to the 1950's.
Then I read these statistics about the numbers of Catholics leaving the Roman Catholic Church in droves from two dioceses in southern Germany, the pope's homeland and where some of my ancestors come from; and I wonder how much longer the pope, the bishops, or any serious catholic can ignore the present crisis. Although this letter is addressed to bishops, there are many suggestions that can be taken up by anyone who cares about the Catholic Church.
There is wisdom in Kung's letter. It makes me think that the wrong man has been elected pope.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Maureen Dowd offers her opinion and the opinion of her brother Kevin who is male and conservative since the New York Archdiocese and Bill Donohue have been so dismissive of her and her opinions because she is a woman. Kevin Dowd writes: “In pedophilia, the church has unleashed upon itself a plague that threatens its very future, and yet it remains in a curious state of denial.”
Maureen Dowd adds: “I’ve been wondering, given the vitriolic reaction of the New York archbishop to my column defending nuns and the dismissive reaction of the Vatican to my column denouncing the church’s response to the pedophilia scandal, if they are able to take a woman’s voice seriously. Some, like Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, seem to think women are trying to undermine the church because of abortion and women’s ordination.”
She continues: “We must reassess. Married priests and laypeople giving the sacraments are not going to destroy the church. Based on what we have seen the last 10 years, they would be a bargain.”
Read the whole column here.
In my opinion Holy Week 2010 will mark another turning point in the history of Vatican II. If it takes a hundred years after a council to get where it was pointing, the church today seems to be moving away once again from the grip of the conservative and fundamentalist Catholics. The reality of the Catholic Church in Holy Week 2010 was that of Humpty Dumpty smashed. Just look at the tortured face of Benedict and his defenders. Through all the weeping and gnashing of teeth, there are glimmers that the vision of the Church of Vatican II still lives.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Speaks at Vanderbilt Divinty School
UPDATE -- February 19, 2010 -- Video of Bishop Joan Houk's talk at Vanderbilt University Divinity School http://www.vanderbilt.edu/divinity/lecture_20100202.php
I was at Bishop Joan Houk’s talk last evening at Vanderbilt. It was really my first up close experience with the issue of the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church. I came away very impressed.
Bishop Joan impressed me, first of all, as a woman with both feet firmly planted on the ground. She seems to have done all things well. She is still very happily married celebrating fifty years with her husband. She talked about her six children and grandchildren and now two great grandchildren. She has taught grade school. She has been involved in the mission of the Roman Catholic Church working in priestless counties in Kentucky. She has the academic qualifications expected of priesthood candidates today.
I think I was most impressed when she departed from the prepared text and talked of her own passion for the equality of women. She spoke of her experience working in a women’s shelter with battered, abused and raped women. She linked this experience to the Roman Catholic Church and the many ways in which the church directly and indirectly treats women as inferior. The church is complicit in the abuse of women.
Bishop Joan seemed challenged and said she would think about a comment made to her from a man in the audience who is a lawyer suggesting she needed to get tougher in her approach to the church. You know, maybe knocking the bishop’s hat off. She offered that this was not her approach. What she did say, and what resonated with me, is that what really needs to be done is to get the story out. Bishop Joan and the other womenbishops and womenpriests are doing a ministry rooted in the gospel.
This is what also impressed me. Bishop Joan talked about how she already was doing the things a priest would do before she was ordained. Those things were rooted in her day to day experience, like the day she went to visit one of her sick sixth grader’s in the hospital and prayed for him and laid hands on him even though a “real” priest was in the background. She is the one who had the personal connection with the student. I think our present idea of ordination and who can do priestly things is too constricted.
Benedict and some of his bishops can try to build higher and higher walls to keep women like Bishop Joan Houk out. I see a rising tide against all these walls. I’d like to call it grace or the work of the Holy Spirit. This was a very good, even historic evening, at least for me.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Here is a story about the event at the blog of the Nashville Scene...
Bishop Andrea M Johnson will be coming to speak in Nashville on the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
Bishop Johnson was ordained a womanpriest in 2007 and a womanbishop in 2009.
She will be speaking at Vanderbilt University on Wednesday evening February 10, 2010 at 8:00 PM in the Arts Room of the Divinity School.
This event is being sponsored by Anawim , the Vanderbilt Office of Women’s Concerns, the Vanderbilt Carpenter Program, the Vanderbilt Office of Religious Life, and the Society of St. Cornelius (DIV Catholic student organization).
A Follow-up Disscussion
On Thursday afternoon February 18th. from 4:00 PM until 5:30 PM there will be a follow-up panel discussion on the broader topic of women’s ordination in other denominations. The panel will include Professors Patout Burns (Catholic studies chair), Doug Meeks (Methodist studies chair), Ted Smith (PC-USA clergy and very active in Covenant Network), Eileen Campbell-Reed (her disertation was on the effects of the controversy over women's ordination in the SBC on women seeking ordination; she is also active in progressive Baptist circles on lesbian and gay ordination). Ellen T. Armour who is the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair in Feminist Theology and Director of the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality will be the panel moderator. The location for this discussion will be announced later.