I'm no expert in what is undoubtedly a rather complex set of circumstances surrounding all these threatening pieces but I am intrigued that we would go after extremists in Somalia while it seems our attention is needed elsewhere.
Was the Somalia operation simply an opportunity not to be passed up? Why Somalia? Aren't the circumstances in Nigeria, Libya, Syria and Iraq more compelling as to the need for action?
Maybe someone smarter than I can help me understand why we're bombing in Somalia and pretty much ignoring what seems to be more threatening circumstances in other places.
On May 24th, a few dozen people gathered in a conference room at the Central Library, a century-old Georgian Revival building in downtown Portland, Oregon, for an event called Radfems Respond. The conference had been convened by a group that wanted to defend two positions that have made radical feminism anathema to much of the left. First, the organizers hoped to refute charges that the desire to ban prostitution implies hostility toward prostitutes. Then they were going to try to explain why, at a time when transgender rights are ascendant, radical feminists insist on regarding transgender women as men, who should not be allowed to use women’s facilities, such as public rest rooms, or to participate in events organized exclusively for women.
The dispute began more than forty years ago, at the height of the second-wave feminist movement. In one early skirmish, in 1973, the West Coast Lesbian Conference, in Los Angeles, furiously split over a scheduled performance by the folksinger Beth Elliott, who is what was then called a transsexual. Robin Morgan, the keynote speaker, said:
I will not call a male “she”; thirty-two years of suffering in this androcentric society, and of surviving, have earned me the title “woman”; one walk down the street by a male transvestite, five minutes of his being hassled (which he may enjoy), and then he dares, he dares to think he understands our pain? No, in our mothers’ names and in our own, we must not call him sister.
Such views are shared by few feminists now, but they still have a foothold among some self-described radical feminists, who have found themselves in an acrimonious battle with trans people and their allies. Trans women say that they are women because they feel female—that, as some put it, they have women’s brains in men’s bodies. Radical feminists reject the notion of a “female brain.” They believe that if women think and act differently from men it’s because society forces them to, requiring them to be sexually attractive, nurturing, and deferential. In the words of Lierre Keith, a speaker at Radfems Respond, femininity is “ritualized submission.”
So who do you root for in this battle? Whose side do you take?
Here's an idea.
How about we root for women in touch with their femininity? Women who love men. Women who love children. Women who love God.
But over the last two years the Evangelical movement has taken some very dark turns. As one friend of mine described it, Evangelicalism has hit an iceberg and is taking on water fast. As a result of this accident, many have begun to jump overboard and are seeking a new vessel on which they can express their faith. At the same time, many refuse to acknowledge the magnitude of the damage that has been done to the ship after the collision and instead are clinging tighter to the boat as it begins to sink in to the unforgiving debts of the sea. Still others ran to the bowels of the ship and began trying to repair the damage done by the accident in order to save the ship. I was a part of this last group.
For the past few years, I have seen the amount of damage that has been done to Evangelicalism and tried my hardest to stop or at least slow it’s sinking. But the truth is, the hole is too big, the ships taken on too much water, and very soon, Evangelical Christianity as we know it will have sunk to the bottom of the ocean, where it will lie as a reminder of what was for generations to come. Yes, I believe that all hope of rescuing Evangelicalism from its impending demise is in vain.
Shh... don't tell anyone but... I'm about to do something I hope will bear fruit in a big way, hopefully sooner rather than later but... I'll settle for later if I must.
A loved one needs to take a week long study trip as part of his job. He was told to bring an iPad or a tablet if available as it would make things simpler for him. He doesn't have one so... here's where my plan gets unhatched (rubs hands gleefully while grinning).
I'm going to let him borrow my iPad, on which is the Kindle app, on which is the newly downloaded book by Jennifer Fulwiler titled Something Other Than God. I'm going to ask him to consider reading it as he should have some spare time on his hands and it's a great read from what I'm hearing.
In Augustine’s Confessions, the first Western autobiography ever written, we discover the probing journey of a brilliant man, traveling through a maze of philosophies before emerging into the light of Christianity. The destination brought him to tears for though he sensed Christianity to be true, it was the last place he expected to turn.
Years later, when Oxford professor C.S. Lewis embarked on his own pursuit of truth, he too ended up at Christianity, converting with great hesitancy: “I gave in, and admitted that God was God … perhaps that night the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”
And then there was Jennifer Fulwiler. When Jennifer stood in a Catholic Church on Easter 2007, preparing to become Catholic, there was hardly a more unlikely convert. Born and raised in a skeptical home, which valued Carl Sagan more than Jesus, Jennifer developed an ardent atheism. She rejected God, mocked religion, promoted abortion, and chased happiness above all through pleasure, work, money, and partying.
Mr. Vogt of course has more, including a Skyped interview with Jennifer well worth watching.
She tells the story of going to her grandparent’s place in the country as a young girl, and digging an ammonite fossil out of a bank by a stream. It was an exciting moment, and yet contemplating the fossil she was filled with existential despair. The ammonite had lived its day, and all that was left was this fossil. Her life would be the same: here today, gone tomorrow, fossilization if she was lucky, oblivion if not. Her chances for fossilization were not a comfort. Her description of that moment is chilling, and I’m glad I’ve never felt the same way.
Though she searched, she found nothing that would override that sense of dread and meaninglessness except an endless round of fun and excitement. By living in the moment, and keeping herself very busy, she could for a time forget the pointlessness of it all.
And this lasted until after her marriage with Joe. Those parties, and the fine dinners, and the wine tastings, they were all just ways of staving off despair.
And then something happened, and their lives took an abrupt left turn. The conversion process (a lengthy one, to be sure) had begun.
Will goes on and includes a reference to my confirmation Saint, Justin Martyr, that had me chuckling.
And then there's Simcha Fisher, from whom I stole the title of this post:
It's a thoroughly delightful read, with no slow passages. Even more remarkably, it has no insincere passages. Fulwiler sees with clear eyes and reports with honesty, humor, and hope. This book will speak to Catholics who have forgotten just how compelling our Faith really is, and to unbelievers who believe that thinking, research, and honesty have no part in religious conversions. Highly recommended!
I confess to not having it read it myself, except for portions of the first chapter prior to downloading it to the Kindle but plan on doing so... maybe even today as it does seem to be a quick, funny, and compelling read but... let's face it... the real reason for this post, these reviews and my taking the time to write a little about it myself is... so that he who shall remain nameless will read it... and will, as a result, ponder deeper things.
And hey, maybe you dear reader, would do the same.
Since Pope Francis began speaking in public about the Christian view on economic matters, opponents have engaged in what often feels like a McCarthy-era smear campaign, accusing the Pope of things like Marxism, communism, and Leninism.
It was Rush Limbaugh on his radio show that first leveled charges of Marxism after the publication of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium; he later doubled down on the accusations:
Pope Francis called today for governments to redistribute wealth to the poor in a new spirit of generosity to help curb the economy of exclusion that is taking hold today…That's Marxism, that's socialism. That's not charity.
Following suit, an Economist blogger diagnosed Pope Francis' recognition of a link between capitalism and violence as Leninism. "Francis may not be offering all the right answers," the piece opines, dripping with patronizing conceit, "or getting the diagnosis exactly right, but he is asking the right questions. Like a little boy who observes the emperor's nakedness."
The pattern is always the same: dismiss Pope Francis, with the greatest respect for his office or the most genteel admiration of his character, by labeling his ministry more political than theological. And the motives attributed to Pope Francis are never neutral; rather, they're mere metonymy, short for larger arguments.
Identifying Pope Francis' theological analyses with the boogeymen political ideologies of yesteryear denies, however implicitly, that what he is doing is strictly Christian. This is accomplished by conflating what is religious with what is secular, and in part through selecting ideologies that have been defamed in American culture for their anti-Christian tendencies.
It will likely never matter to these critics that Pope Francis himself has emphatically denied any association with Marxism or Marxist ideology. And so in a recent interview, he took another tack: Rather than making another attempt to roundly decry a set of ideologies no one seriously suspects him of adhering to, Pope Francis turned the criticisms around on the critics:
"I can only say that the communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian. Poverty is at the center of the Gospel," he said, citing Biblical passages about the need to help the poor, the sick and the needy. "Communists say that all this is communism. Sure, twenty centuries later. So when they speak, one can say to them: 'but then you are Christian'." [Pope Francis, via Reuters]
In other words, since his concern for the poor causes critics to accuse him of Marxism, Pope Francis reversed their accusations: rather than Christianity looking suspiciously communist over its concern for the poor, perhaps communism looks suspiciously Christian. After all, justice for the poor is hardly a communist invention; as Pope Francis points out, a focus on helping the poor was native to Christianity long before the 19th century.
But Pope Francis' reversal has another effect: namely, it calls into question why our political narratives immediately categorize any demand for justice for the poor as anti-Christian communism. In fact, it would seem rather impossible to practice any legitimate form of Christianitywithout seeking justice for the poor. If we immediately identify support for impoverished people as evidence of some anti-Christian impulse, then we've built up a political narrative that can't sustain the truth about Christianity.
On Monday, police in Phoenix, Arizona, announced that they've arrested a homeless ex-convict for the June 11 murder of a Catholic priest, Rev. Kenneth Walker, and the beating of his colleague, Rev. Joseph Terra. The accused, 54-year-old Gary Michael Moran, has already spent at least eight years in jail for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and drug charges, and police say he stole a camera and car from the priests.
The story of the assault is where the tragic story gets interesting. According to police, Rev. Terra opened the door of the Mother of Mercy Mission rectory to look into noises in the courtyard when Moran attacked him and beat him with a metal rod. Injured, Terra retrieved his .357-caliber handgun from his room, but Moran allegedly took it from him and robbed Terra at gunpoint before the priest blacked out. When he woke up, Rev. Walker had been shot by Terra's gun.
Terra was able to give Walker last rites before he died later that night. Arizona Republiccolumnist E.J. Montini notes that the two priests "operated in a tough part of town," then asks the obvious question: "Should a Catholic priest carry a handgun?" They are legally allowed to, of course, Montini notes, adding that he has "read that the church has no overarching policy on priests and weapons. Nor does the Phoenix Diocese."
What say you dear reader?
Should a Catholic priest carry a handgun?
I personally have a serious problem with the notion. You?
UPDATE: So, I'm catching some grief on this from a number of different quarters and thought I might expound just a bit.
I did not intend this post to impugn the character of Fr. Terra. No way. His presence alone at the funeral speaks to me in huge ways about the kind of man he is.
Neither do I intend this to be about gun control. I'm frankly tired of those debates though I'm recognizing that this will likely become fuel to that fiery back and forth (and yes, for the record, I think gun control does little to solve the problems we're having with mass shootings and the plethora of murders in this country).
Instead, I see this to be an issue having more to do with theology.
When I think of priests, I think of those who go into battlefields unarmed to minister to the dying and the wounded. When I think of priests, I think of those who stand against evil with nothing more than the weapons provided by God's Holy Spirit. When I think of priests, I think of those who in the face of threatened violence, even death, have the courage to turn the other cheek. When I think of priests, I think of those who stand in the place of others threatened with violence and even death.
We don't know the circumstances yet with what happened in this instance but... the presence of the gun itself, shatters my perception of who priests are.
And that's what I'd like to see a discussion on.
Not anything else.
Now, I'm aware that the timing of this post might be too early and for that, I might stand to take additional heat but this I see to be an important issue and so I'll risk the offense.
A coalition of black pastors announced on Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. that they are launching a campaign to gather one million signatures on a petition calling for the impeachment of Attorney General Eric Holder for violating his oath of office by trying "to coerce states to fall in line with the same-sex 'marriage' agenda."
"President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have turned their backs on the values the American people hold dear, values particularly cherished in the black community: values like marriage, which should be strengthened and promoted, rather than weakened and undermined," says a statement by the Coalition of African American Pastors that has been posted online with their impeachment petition.
"Our nation calls for the building up of a healthier marriage culture; instead, our elected leaders are bent on destroying marriage, remaking it as a genderless institution and reorienting it to be all about the desires of adults rather than the needs of children," says the coalition.
"In pursuing this intention, the president and his administration are trampling the rule of law.Attorney General Holder in particular has used the influence of his office and role as the chief law enforcement figure in our nation to try to coerce states to fall in line with the same-sex ‘marriage’ agenda," says the coaltion. :Millions of voters in 30 states have voted to defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman, but Attorney General Holder is attempting single-handedly to throw those votes away!
"For abandoning the oath he swore in taking office and his duty to defend the common good, Attorney General Holder should be impeached by Congress," says the coalition. "CAAP is calling on all men and women of good will to sign the following petition urging Congress to take action against the Attorney General’s lawlessness today!"
I've not yet seen any reactions from your media go to guys for all things black (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, or anyone leading the NAACP) and frankly, doubt that I will but... what I find intriguing is that media types can't simply lay this issue at the feet of Catholic or conservative Christian 'bigots'.
Which is probably why they'll stay hands off on this story.
Ever had a conversation with that person staring back at you in the mirror? I have, on occasion, particularly of late after celebrating yet another birthday, with the exchange starting these days with "Dad!?... is that you?".
But I digress.
Mark Shea has had a conversation with himself and the subject matter is the re-release of a book he wrote called By What Authority?:
Shea: By What Authority? is an explanation of what the Church means by “Sacred Tradition” written in user-friendly language. It is written for Evangelical Protestants and the Catholics who love them. The core argument of the book centers on the question “How do you know what books belong in the Bible?” and the centerpiece of that argument is basically found in Chapter 6, where we discover that the reality is not that Catholics believe in Sacred Tradition and Evangelicals don’t. Rather, it is that Catholics believe in Sacred Tradition and know that they do, while Evangelicals believe in Sacred Tradition and don’t know that they do. The central image I use to try and get at this is that of Light and Lens. Scripture is the Light, but it is often a fuzzy and blurry light. We require a Lens in order to focus that Light. The lens is Sacred Tradition and both Catholics and Evangelicals make use of that Lens all the time—but for Evangelicals, it’s often unconscious.
Shea: Sure. In addition to telling us which books belong in the Bible (the Table of Contents is, after all, not inspired), Sacred Tradition tells us things like “monogamy is the one and only way to conceive of Christian marriage”, “abortion is a sin”, “God is a Trinity”, and “revelation closed with the death of the apostles”. None of those things are clear from Scripture alone. And some of those things are less clear in Scripture than, say, the doctrine that Mary is the Mother of God or the Church’s teaching on Purgatory. I don’t go into it in the book, but you could likewise point out that Scripture does not tell us how to get married (there are examples ranging from “kill all the males in a town and cart the women off as captives” to “take over the harem of your father” that I doubt Focus on the Family or Rome would smile on, but only Rome can explain why these “biblical” examples are not our model as Christians). Nor does Scripture have anything explicit to tell us about why communion is supposed to be a regular sacrament but foot-washing (another ritualistic act performed at the Last Supper) is not.
Bottom line: what matters as much as the bare text of Scripture alone is the way in which the Scripture was read in the context of the life of the Church. The simple fact is, the Church handed down both the book and the way of understanding the book. And so, for instance, it celebrated “the breaking of the bread” regularly, but not the washing of feet. The book was read in light of the rule “Lex orandi, lex credendi”—the way we worship is the way we believe. In weighing doctrinal questions, the Bible was not on the Judge’s Bench, but in the Witness Box. So when the Church came to deliberate, say, the question of whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised (Acts 15), they did not do a topical Bible study on circumcision. Instead they looked at apostolic Tradition, arrived at a decision (“We are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ”) and then said, “Hey! Look! The Scriptures agree with us!”). Then they send out a letter with the daring statement, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…”
Mark: Yeah. That is pretty daring. And some would say that your crediting of a narrative like that is an example of the fact that you are—not to put too fine a point on it—a boot-licking Vatican toady. Protestant critics have been saying that for years. But in the past year or so, even many Catholics are starting to say the same, given what your critics call your “craven defenses of the Novus Ordo Church”. Many wonder how you can you possibly credit the reliability of Sacred Tradition as it is embodied by the Magisterium of a post-conciliar Church that has lost all its moral authority?
Shea: Funny you should ask. Because that goes right to the heart of one of the two reasons I wanted to revise and expand the book.
Mark: Two reasons?
Shea: Yeah. The first one is the inexplicable popularity of The Da Vinci Code, which came out a few years after my book was published and which millions of presumably educated people took seriously as “impeccable research” on the origins of the Christian faith. Not coincidently, the reason they did so was, in part, due to the second reason: the fact that the Church’s witness went into eclipse due to the priest scandal at just the moment Da Vinci was published.
Mark: And rightly so. How can you make excuses for those horrors or the bishops who covered them up, help facilitate them, and in some cases, even committed them?
There's much more, check it out and learn something.
Me... I'm gonna go talk to the guy in the mirror about getting me a late birthday present... Mark's book.