Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pope Benedict Talks The Eucharist This Past Sunday - Five Weeks of Eucharistic Posts - July 29 through August 26

As we continue My Five Weeks of Eucharistic Posts - July 29 through August 26 ( Bread of Life ) it is time to return to this past Sunday Mass readings that have started off the Eucharistic theme we are in.

I have been waiting for Pope Benedict's full  translated remarks at his Sunday Angelus because I figured his meditation would have a heavy Eucharistic theme. He did not disappointed. See "It Is Not the Eucharistic Food That is Changed Into Us, But Rather We Who Are Mysteriously Transformed By It"

Let me just post the Eucharistic remarks.

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 30, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo

Dear brothers and sisters,

This Sunday we begin the reading of chapter 6 of John’s Gospel. The chapter opens with the episode of the multiplication of loaves, which Jesus then comments on in the synagogue in Capernaum, indicating himself as the “bread” that gives life. Jesus’ actions parallel those of the Last Supper: “He took the bread and, after giving thanks, he gave them to those who were seated.” Thus it is stated in the Gospel (John 6:11). The emphasis on the theme of “bread,” which is then shared, and on giving thanks (6:11, in Greek – “eucharistesas”), recalls the Eucharist, the Sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of the world.

The evangelist observes that the feast of Passover is near at this point (cf. 6:4). The focus turns to the cross, the gift of love, and to the Eucharist, the perpetuation of this gift: Christ makes himself the bread of life for men. St. Augustine comments on it in this wise: “Who, if not Christ, is the bread of heaven? But so that men might eat the bread of angels, the Lord of the angels became man. If he had not done this, we would not have his body; not having his body, we would not eat the bread of the altar” (Sermon 130, 2). The Eucharist is the permanent grand meeting of man with God, in which the Lord becomes our food, gives himself to transform us into himself.

In the scene of the multiplication of the loaves a young boy is also depicted, who, presented with the problem of feeding many people, puts what little he has at the disposal of the others: 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish (cf. John 6:8). The miracle does not produce its effect out of nothing: God is able to multiply our little gesture of love and make us participate in his gift. The crowd is struck by the marvel: it sees in Jesus the new Moses, worthy of power, and in the new manna, the future secured, but they stop at the material element, which they have eaten, and the Lord, “knowing that they wanted to come to take him to make him king, he retreated again to the mountain by himself” (John 6:15). Jesus is not an earthly king who exercises dominion, but a king who serves, who condescends to man to satisfy not only material hunger but above all the profound hunger for direction, for meaning, for truth, the hunger for God.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask the Lord to make us rediscover the importance of nourishing ourselves not only with bread, but with truth, with love, with Christ, with the body of Christ, faithfully participating in the Eucharist with keen understanding, to be ever more intimately united with him. In fact, It is not the eucharistic food that is changed into us, but rather we who are mysteriously transformed by it. Christ nourishes us by uniting us to himself; he draws us into himself (Sacramentum caritatis, 70). At the same time, we wish also to pray that no one ever lacks the bread that is necessary for a worthy life, and inequalities be overcome, not with the weapons of violence but with sharing and love.......

I am  posting all my daily posts on this at My Five Weeks of Eucharistic Posts - July 29 through August 26 ( Bread of Life )

Son of General William Tecumseh Sherman - Jesuit Priest, Patriot , and Kinda of Crazy ( St. Ignatius of Loyola Memorial Day Post )

Today the Church like every July 31 celebrates and recalls St. Ignatius of Loyola .

So the Jesuits come out of the woodwork today. On that note I wanted to highlight one of the Jesuit Priests I have always have taken a interest in . That is Rev Thomas Ewing Sherman son the great Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman.

He had to say an interesting life that had some troubles. I am glad in the end it all seemed to work out for him. If you are ever driving down Interstate 49 in South Louisiana stop off and say a prayer at his grave in beautiful Grand Coteau.

Find a Grave has a good bio on him and mentions in the weird quirks of history who is buried besides him.

Priesthood Vocation Boom In the Diocese of Nashville

It now time to talk about " What's going right in the United States Catholic Church". Bad news sells and sadly we Catholic social media types often buy into the negative stories pushed by the media only and forget to provide some balance at times.

So today we are looking at the Diocese of Nashville that is celebrating its 175 anniversary.

A couple of days ago a Diocese of  Nashville Seminarian tweeted:

Why I love the Diocese of #Nashville: this morning 34 seminarians celebrated 175th birthday w/ the 11th bishop over the 1st bishop's tomb .

Those are some very good numbers for a Diocese that has just 80,000 registered Catholics and in which the Catholic population is just 3.4 percent of the population as a whole. Somehow a strong Catholic faith and ID is being maintained here.

He also informed me that there are more men in the pipeline. If all goes well, we will have 6-8 ordained to the diaconate in '13.

That is a pretty darn good number. Also this is coming in the days after the sexual abuse scandal where the Church is being very careful in not just taking anyone with a pulse. In other words a lot more screening is taking place.

So again what the Diocese of Nashville is doing right should seem to be a topic of interest to all Catholics in the USA. Vocations to the Priesthood are not by themselves the lone indicator that things are going all guns in a Diocese of course. However they are a good indication a lot is going right.

Their Vocation page is here. Note it needs a little updating since this pic shows 26 seminarians.

A good place I like to look when I see numbers like this is too look at their local Catholic newspaper. Here is the latest edition. It seems like a pretty vibrant diocese. Looking at page 4 of the paper it appears such things as Adoration is very well encouraged and practiced.

On the campus ministry level it appears the Dioceses is very proactive. That includes bringing in such groups as FOCUS to places like Vanderbilt.

I would love to learn more on what is happening on the ground there. Needless to say this is the home base of the famous  Nashville based Dominicans that must contribute in many many ways.

I could not help but notice they take Seminary education quite seriously in this Diocese. In this recent article Seminarian prepares for final year of study in Rome it is noted they have 5  seminarians at the North American College in Rome which seems like a pretty high number. The above Seminarian whose tweets I posted is attending the Pontifical College Josephinum  which is sort of the Marine Corp for Priesthood "recruits". None of these schools are very easy nor cheap for that matter so the Diocese seems to be investing in the future a great deal.

This does appears to be one of those "Bible Belt" Diocese that is worth watching in when applicable perhaps try to incorporate what they are doing right elsewhere.

Obama Grandson of First American Slave Sheds Light on Colonial American's Interracial Sexual & Marriage Practices

Some interesting news on the genealogy front and President Obama. See Genealogists Say Obama Likely A Descendant Of First American Slave.

The article goes on to say that the John Punch fathered a children with a white woman way that passed on her freedom to the kids. Thus from this we have Obama's maternal line.

People are shocked often but in this time period of indentured servitude this was not uncommon. Interracial sexual relations are not often what people think at this time and far more complicated than is assumed today

We see in this time period a time where we had quite transitioned from a society with slaves to a slave society. In fact contrary to what people assume when looking at the records it was not a white male and black female that came together but a white females and often a black male with also native American bloodlines thrown in. This again was not uncommon.

I starting observing this when trying to track down ancestors in North Carolina. I quickly observed that  a good many of the people with the last name I was trying to track down were of mixed racial backgrounds and were not slaves. From my research the overriding concern of the authorities in this region was not so much race but class.

Going from a society with slaves to a slave society changed all that of course. To maintain the economic power of slavery colonial governments started forbidding interracial marriage. Something foreign to the common law right of marriage.Dr Beckwith talked about this dynamic at  Interracial Marriage and Same-Sex Marriage.

There are two good resources on this that people might find interesting. I cannot recommend enough Heinegg's Free African American genealogy site that has done extensive research on this and traced a good many of the family lines.

As Berlin notes in the forward:
...Heinegg's studies of free black families bear with particular force on the period when the South was a society-with-slaves. During those years--prior to the advent of the staple producing plantation, tobacco in the Chesapeake and rice in the Carolinas-- the line between freedom and slavery was extraordinarily permeable. Various peoples of European, African, and Native American descent crossed it freely and often. In such socially ill-defined circumstances, white men and women held black and Indian slaves and white servants, and black men and women did like. Peoples of European, African and Native American descent--both free and unfree--worked, played, and even married openly in a manner that would later be condemned by custom and prohibited by law.

Such open relations have long been known to students of the colonial past, but Heinegg's genealogies--by the weight of their number and by their extraordinary detail--make evident their full complexity and expose their extraordinary intimacy. Everywhere whites, blacks, and Indians united in both long-term and casual sexual relations, some coerced and some freely entered. That mixing took place at the top of the social order, where white men of property and standing forced themselves on unwilling servant and slave women, often producing children of mixed racial origins. But Heinegg maintains such relationships produced a scant one percent of the free children of color. Inter-racial sex was far more prevalent at the base of colonial society, where poor and often unfree peoples--mostly slaves and servants of various derivations -lived and worked under common conditions. Indeed, as Heinegg demonstrates, most free people of color had their beginnings in relations between white women (servant and free) and black men (slave, servant, and free). These relations, moreover, often represented long-term and loving commitments. It was precisely the lowly origins of free people of color--outside the ranks of the propertied classes--that condemned free people of color to poverty and excluded them from "respectable" society in the colonial South. The poverty of their parents--particularly their black fathers--denied free children of color the patrimony and the allied connections necessary for social advancement.

Such egalitarian intermingling ended with the advent of the plantation. Legal proscriptions on sexual relations between white and black, particularly between white women and black men accompanied the transformation of the colonial South from a society-with-slaves into a slave society. As Heinegg observes, with the prohibition on inter-racial sexual unions, mixed race children became illegitimate by definition and could be bound out for upwards of thirty years. Their mothers, if servants, received additional terms of servitude. During their captivity, the term of service of both mother and child could be extended for any one of a number of offenses. As a result, free people of color spent a large portion of their lives in the service of others. "In some instances," as Heinegg concludes, "the indenture laws virtually enslaved a person for life."

I have never quite understood why so few couplings of white males and black females happened. Again it 's perhaps a class issue. It would seem that in a society with perhaps more men than women the oppiste would have happened. However his research indicates the polar opposite.

Another great resource is a publication that is put out by the National Parks Service. A Study of Africans and African Americans on Jamestown Island and at Green Spring, 1619 - 1803.  That gives a lot of background to this and again shows how an transition to a slave society changed everything.

Do Catholics and Christians Do a Good Job Explaining Eternal Life ?

Msgr. Charles Pope has a good post at this place that touches on a central Catholic belief that like the Resurrection of the Body Catholic and Christians need to do a better job of explaining. That is living forever and forever amen. See What Is Eternal Life?

He includes in his throughts that Pope Benedict had as to this subject in his Encyclical Spe Salvi .

Perhaps many people reject the faith today simply because they do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive. What they desire is not eternal life at all, but this present life, for which faith in eternal life seems something of an impediment. To continue living for ever —endlessly—appears more like a curse than a gift. Death, admittedly, one would wish to postpone for as long as possible. But to live always, without end—this, all things considered, can only be monotonous and ultimately unbearable….The term “eternal life” is intended to give a name to this known “unknown”. Inevitably it is an inadequate term that creates confusion. “Eternal”, in fact, suggests to us the idea of something interminable, and this frightens us; “life” makes us think of the life that we know and love and do not want to lose, even though very often it brings more toil than satisfaction, so that while on the one hand we desire it, on the other hand we do not want it. (Spe Salvi, 10, 12).

American Civil Rights History and Pope Pius the XII

First Things has a nice essay on a bit of American Civil Rights History and Pope Pius the XII which I was not aware that happened. See A Civil Rights Hero Remembers a Pope

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cardinal George Ponders A Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities - Chik-fil-A Stuff

Cardinal George has a way with words.

To Be A Church One Must Eat God - Five Weeks of Eucharist Posts

Time for another Eucharist post. See My Five Weeks of Eucharistic Posts - July 29 through August 26 ( Bread of Life )

In 2007 there was  a little bit of an uproar when the Church released the document RESPONSES TO SOME QUESTIONS REGARDING CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE DOCTRINE ON THE CHURCH

The gist of it was in the Catholic Church's view only the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox could be called Churches. The rest were Faith communities where the  " Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church”.

Where this called an uproar. Interesting enough Southern Baptist Albert Mohler told every one to stop be offended . See No, I’m Not Offended.

At the heart of what a Church is according to our Faith is linked to the Eucharist which of course is linked to the Priesthood and the Succession of Bishops.

According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense .

In other words one has to EAT GOD to be Church.

The Sacred Page put it well when commenting on the this past Sunday's Mass readings

God could have made us with solar cells in our skin, so all we would have to do is lie in the sun to get the energy we need for life.

But he didn't. In his divine plan, God created us as creature that need to eat. The first command he ever gave us concerned food: what to eat and what not to eat. We turned away from him by an act of eating. And now, since the coming of Christ, we can turn back to him by an act of eating.

Our need to eat reminds us that we are dependent on something or someone outside ourselves—ultimately God—to stay alive.

The Church of course is saying nothing new here. We can see this theme played out in the Church Fathers

See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is[administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid."

Ignatius of Antioch,Epistle to the Smyraens,8 (c.A.D. 110),

Debate On Catholic Social Teaching and Social Welfare Programs - What is Dissent From it ?

Prog Garnett is engaing Michael Sean Winters and  Charlie Camosy . See The Church's social teaching and criticizing current social-welfare programs (updated)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

2012 Bread of Life Discourse Begins With Old Testament Prophet Elisha ( Eucharist )

Elisha Multiplies the Bread TINTORETTO (1577-78)

It is time to start off five weeks of daily ( hopefully) posts on the Eucharist.There might be one a day or more depending on what inspires me.

 The occasion is because we are entering that time of the year for the Bread of Life discourse. Keep track of all my post on this at my post My Five Weeks of Eucharistic Posts - July 29 through August 26 ( Bread of Life )

To start it off I am looking at this Sunday's Mass reading s and for that I go where I make a stop every week before going to Mass. That is The Sacred Page. See their post The Prophet Who Feeds the New Israel: The 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time that looks at all the readings for today.

I think the Eucharistic themes we see in the reading are well set out there. I also like how he starts out.

God could have made us with solar cells in our skin, so all we would have to do is lie in the sun to get the energy we need for life.

But he didn't. In his divine plan, God created us as creature that need to eat. The first command he ever gave us concerned food: what to eat and what not to eat. We turned away from him by an act of eating. And now, since the coming of Christ, we can turn back to him by an act of eating.

Our need to eat reminds us that we are dependent on something or someone outside ourselves—ultimately God—to stay alive......

Vanderbilt and University of Alabama Polar Opposites On Religious Freedom

The Priest that heads up the Catholic campus ministry at Vanderbilt University had a good review of the sad year that was. It is very detailed and it has themes that we are seeing in society outside little ole Nashville . See from his blog Finer Than a Frog's Hair his post Culture

On that note it is very interesting that the University of Alabama is taking quite the opposite approach as to protecting students and churches religious liberty on campus.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Should Persecution of Chinese Catholics Become An 2012 Campaign Issue

I think it should. When are we going as Catholics involved in both parties press this? China is not Iran and indeed we have some influence do we not? I just see this getting worse worse by the day and little consistent effort to rally the forces over here.

Today see Seven Chinese priests forced from parishes following illicit ordination

HARBIN, China -- Chinese government officials have forced seven priests in Heilongjiang province who resisted the illicit episcopal ordination of Father Joseph Yue Fusheng of Harbin to leave their parishes, local Catholic Church sources said.

The action was taken, the sources said, to force the priests to "repent for their wrongdoing," reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

The priests are either staying with parishioners, returned to their hometowns or have fled to other provinces, according to the sources.

Prior to the July 6 ordination, religious officials within the Chinese government warned that disobedient priests would face dire consequences. In recent weeks, they ordered priests with "dissatisfactory performances" to take three months of leave for self-examination, sources said.......

Get that the GOVERNMENT is telling Priests to repent.

Read it all

97 Year Catholic Violin Player Still Going Strong In Church Choir

Since we have just in one week  heard great reports on the current  and future state of Catholic Music  that while from location thousands of miles apart  ( see here and here ) have a nationwide impact here is a fun article. See He’s not just fiddlin’ around about a 97 Violin player still going strong in his Church Choir.

New Black Leader of Southern Baptist Church Faces Black Marriage In White Church Controversy in Mississippi

This story is going to get interesting quick. See from the Jackson Mississippi paper Black couple says white church banned wedding (video)

I expect this to get some major headlines that would happen regardless if the Southern Baptist had not just elected their first Black President in history.. Now it just screams attention.

What caught my eye was a tweet from influential Southern Baptist and Mississippi native Dr Russell Moore. Catholics might recognize that name because he is friends and works very closely with Robert George on a number of issues.

In a tweet he said this morning:

Absolutely pathetic. I am humiliated that this is an SBC & Mississippi Baptist church


Again, a white supremacist church is just as anti-gospel as a sexual liberationist church, and should be just as disfellowshiped.

He has made similar statements before. I think this is going to be a theme we shall be seeing. It's not clear what the Southern Baptist Convention can do as as body itself officially at this moment. That is because it of course meets just once a year. So the action is going to go to the local association and state association I suppose. Though the leadership of the SBC no doubt will be involved.

I suspect this issue will be dealt with before there is an actual vote on this.However there has been an uptick in " disfellowship " actions or threats  among associations and local Baptist Churches. These have often dealt with female pastor issues, gay issues, and also Calvinist theology issues. Which also adds more heat to the fire as Calvinist are not too happy about. So expect a lot of SO WE GET DISCIPLINED AND THIS DOES NOT stuff to move things along rather quickly.

My Five Weeks of Eucharistic Posts - July 29 through August 26 ( Bread of Life )

Over the next 5 weeks the Sunday Mass readings will have a Eucharistic theme. I have noticed that Priests are encourage to talk on the Bread of Life theme . I a mere laymen am going to try to get into a very Eucharistic mode the next 5 weeks by trying to post daily on this this great gift.

The Sunday Mass reading from Mark will be going on from  July 29 through August 26 are links as follows:

July 29, 2012- Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 5, 2012-Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 12, 2012-Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 19, 2012-Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 26, 2012- Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

I intend to try to do some quality work on these posts. I will also post every new Eucharistic link I do the next 5 weeks on this post also. After its over I will try to put the different topics in some order.

I have no real though out plan about talking about particular elements of the Sacrament in any order. Of course I the Mass readings  will be focused on  for that week.

One I suppose can spend a hundred lifetimes and not exhaust or fully understand the Eucharist. But I am hoping after five weeks I can give some contribution to Catholics and interested non Catholics alike.

July 28- 2012 Bread of Life Discourse Begins With Old Testament Prophet Elisha ( Eucharist) .

July 30- To Be A Church One Must Eat God - Five Weeks of Eucharist Posts

July 31- Pope Benedict Talks The Eucharist This Past Sunday - Five Weeks of Eucharistic Posts - July 29 through August 26

August 2, 2012 - St. Peter Julian Eymard Apostle of the Eucharist - My Five Weeks of Eucharistic Posts - July 29 through August 26

August 4 ,2012 - Commentary on August 5th Sunday Mass Readings - Five Weeks of Eucharistic Posts - July 29 through August 26 ( Bread of Life )

August 10, 2012 - Detroit : Just Another Story Where Parish Adoration of The Eucharist Brings Blessings From Unity to Vocations

August  13, 2012-  Looking At These Past Sunday 's Mass Readings for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time ( Bread of Life Discourse Continues )

August 16, 2912 Swine Flu and Its Life Threatening Complication Could Not Keep Louisiana Boy From First Communion

August 19, 2012- Bread of Life Discourse Continued This Past Sunday August 19th 2012 ( 20th Sunday Ordinary Time )

Gay Marriage Advocates and Others Getting Worried About Chick-fil-A Battles ( Religious Liberty )

I am old enough to recall as a kid how vibrant the free speech community was at time. I vividly recall how a black lawyer was standing up and giving legal assistance to a group of Nazis to be able to march in some neighborhood !!

Wow have times changed. It's been subtle  change year by year but it appears that all offensive beliefs deemed a evil by the powers that be should be stamped out at all cost by some.
The latest is the  Chick-fil-A issue where if one can believe it the mob appeasing Chicago Alderman is doubling down on his comments and going into whole new realms of conduct that tramples the First Amendment. See Chicago Alderman: I Will Deny Business Permit Because “There Are Consequences for [Its Owner's] Statements and Beliefs,” and They Should Include Denial.

Its interesting to note that even some of the most biggest proponents of things like gay marriage that can see the long term view  are starting to get real nervous .

At the top of this list is Sarah Posner where she is also nervous how this will effect concerns over various religious liberty debates. See Chick-fil-A Has a Right to Open Crappy Sandwich Shop in Chicago .

She ends that post by saying:

....Can I say that I hate—almost as much as a chicken sandwich—when Democrats try to throw that “values” language back in the face of conservatives. Conservatives don’t own the “values” conversation—we know, we know! (I think Rahm is having a 2006 campaign flashback.) But since when do businesses get permits (or not) based on their religious or political views? Chick-fil-A should be permitted by city officials to open its restaurant. If Emmanuel is right—that it will be empty of customers—the owners will find out the hard way. But not by giving conservatives ammunition to claim that progressives want to silence their religious views.

Posner who is also part of the whole the Bishops are overeacting to religious liberty concerns and being chicken littles   I suspect sees the bigger picture. If one just looks at this from a political standpoint the Chicken people controversy is perhaps even more effective in alarming people than all the events the Bishops have done so far this year.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

First Newspaper Same-Sex Wedding Announcement For Deep South Catholic Louisiana

It is not my intent in this post to discuss the merits of same sex marriage, blessing, unions etc. I hold a pretty orthodox Catholic position on that.

Still it's worth noting that this is a pretty significant first for this conservative  very Catholic Parish of the State  , and I agree with writer of this story it is perhaps a first for this greater region we call Acadiana here in Louisiana.

Also I do agree that  it taking  place in Kaplan of all places is unexpected. In fact its perhaps is  one of the last places I would expect. See their post This week in awesome: The Kaplan Herald via The Independent.

Louisiana Teacher Unions Demand Catholic Schools Withdraw From Voucher Program Or Else ( Demand Letter Text)

Oh this will go over well. Needless tosay I suspect these things are going to too other private and religious schools.

Ross Douthat Points Out Flaw In Diana Butler Bass Observations On " Conservative " Church Member Loss

Ross Douthat had a good resposne to Diana Butler Bass in their back and forth on "Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?"

He responded  in full here.

He hits on something that I was thought was a major flaw in her argument , and I too thought was a tad "stacking the deck". ( The bold is mine)

What’s more, Bass stacks the deck somewhat by comparing liberal and conservative denominations, since much of conservative evangelicalism’s post-1960s gains were concentrated in nondenominational churches rather than bodies like the SBC, and the growth of nondenominational congregations continues apace today. Some of these congregations, it’s true, are more theologically and politically liberal than the evangelical norm, in the style of “emergent church” figures like Brian McLaren and hip pastors like Rob Bell, and to the extent that liberal Christianity seems to have any kind of future at the moment it’s more likely to be found in the liberal wing of evangelicalism than in the faded Mainline. But overall, most of the vitality and growth in American Protestantism is still concentrated in congregations that are culturally and politically conservative, if not necessarily orthodox or theologically rigorous. And meanwhile, alongside the nondenominational category, the other fast-growing form of American Christianity is of course Mormonism — which obviously isn’t an orthodox form of the faith, but clearly isn’t anything like a self-consciously liberal or progressive form of Christianity either. (Per Stark’s numbers again: In 1940, there were roughly three Episcopalians for every Mormon; now it’s roughly the reverse.)

I think that is the case. Also as I pointed out as in the big scheme of things the rather small decline in the Southern Baptist numbers can often be attributed to defections to those groups. Groups that had a more charismatic flair and such. Add to that perhaps a lack of focus on BAPTIST ID and thus when the kids moved to the city there was just more options.

In the end both Bass and Butler agree on some things and trends that should not be overlooked. He hits on more points including the Catholic angle.

I am sadly in agreement with the paragraph of his piece by the way. Read it all.


Catholic Family Businessman And His Fight Against HHS Contraception Mandate

Time for another HHS mandate post dear readers. Got to keep the issue in front of us as they say

Lopez over at the National Review has an excellent interview with a Catholic man that has an air conditioning  and heating company. The HHS mandate is about to complicate his Faith life a great deal.

See HVAC and the HHS Mandate -Catholic business owners fight for their religious liberty.

Today contraception tomorrow ..... ?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Episcopal Church Bishop of Western Louisiana Will Not Authorize Same Sex Blessings

A little bit of news from my neck of the woods  that came out pretty quick after he was consecrated.

I thought a certain retired Episcopal Church Priest  from Shreveport that was the tv the day it passed was a tad to quick with his prediction on what would the Bishop would do as to this.

By the way for those people that like Liturgy period the Episcopal Bishop Consecration service can be viewed here.  ( Its a very long service , but they helpfully give highlights on where you might want to jump too.

Strange Sickness That Chills First Amendment Spreads To Another City - Mad Chick-fil-A Disease

Chick-fil-A’ madness which is not form of particular food poisoning , but rather a disorder that manifests itself by cheering on violating the First Amendment spread today to yet another city. It's too early to tell that  if we shall  observe more carriers ( politicos) that will infect others.

The Anchoress had last night a very good column on this last night that I think sums things up nicely. See Chick-fil-A: if you’re not sure, this is how fascism works

Sadly  that did not help stop the spread of the disease from going from Boston to Chicago today in rather savage fashion . As usual many of the educated crowd , including those that depend on the 1st amendment - artists, online media, musicians , etc  ,cheered this on via the social media.

Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway was quick out of the box showing how dangerous and INDEED how Unconstitutional all this is at Chicago Alderman: No Building Permits For Chick-Fil-A.

Later on a legal must read the respected Law Prof Eugene Volokh really showed how bad and illegal this all is at   No Building Permits for Opponent of Same-Sex Marriage . He pretty much tears these politicos apart that should know better.

I hope we can get back to a world where Government officals can't deny business permits to people who views they don't like or whose views the majority of their citizens don't like.

FOCUS - A Fast Growing Catholic Campus Outreach Expands Louisiana Footprint to Tulane

FOCUS - Fellowship of Catholic University Students, which as regular readers of this blog know I am big fan of has expanded their Louisiana Presence. With a substantial presence at the University of Louisiana Lafayette , FOCUS has now expanded to the premier private school in Louisiana. That being the very important Tulane University and their Catholic Student Center in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Curtis Martin who is the President and Founder of FOCUS has been recently named by Pope Benedict as Consulter to the Pontifical Council of the New Evangelization.

With the construction of the new Catholic Student at the Tulane Campus ( see New Catholic Center at Tulane becoming a reality ) plus the edition of  FOCUS on campus these are hopeful signs of an vibrant Catholic Faith on Louisiana Campuses.

FOCUS was recently profiled  by an evangelical magazine here recently and shows why are they are one biggest movements in American Catholicism right now.

Hopefully we shall see FOCUS expand even further in Louisiana .

On Vacation Pope Benedict Likes To Visit His Estate Farm That Feeds the Vatican

The article below has is from this page .

Let me also give arelated links. A very good one is the this Gourmet magazine link that gives a lot of interesting details. A Visit to the Vatican Farm. We learn among other things  the Pope has 64 head of cattle on the farm, with 26 in production, giving anything b etween 450 and 600 liters [120 to 160 gallons] of milk each day and they havean annual yield of some 320 gallons of olive oil. We also learn all Popes like to look at cows.

On to the Vatican Insider story.

Castel Gandolfo: Country estate with an agribusiness that also provides the Pope with food and flowers year long

Translated from the Italian Service of Vatican Insider

July 24 2012

The need to save on household expenses as well as the desirability of organic foods for the table are complementary practices in the Pope's summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.

As Italy and the rest of Europe are cowering at the persistent and worsening financial crisis, Benedict XVI is obviously not oblivious to the widespread public concern while he is at his 'beautiful retreat' at the pontifical villas where he spends the summer. The crisis is bound to affect his summer, occupied this time with working on his third volume on JESUS OF NAZARETH, the texts for his trip to Lebanon in September, and those for the coming Synodal Assembly of the New Evangelization and the opening of the Year of Faith in October.

Sources at Castel Gandolfo say that during the Pope's long afternoon walks through the gardens of the Villa del Moro, Villa Cybo and Villa Barberini - one of his indulgences while in Castel Gandolfo - he often ends up at the pontifical 'farm' which Pius XI set up around 1929, once the Lateran Pacts had regularised the political status of the Vatican.

Since then, this thriving enterprise has provided the papal household with homegrown organic produce as well as meat, dairy products and eggs. In recent days, he has watched with interest the harvesting of plums from the extensive orchard. Agricultural production is ample here, and the crops are numerous.

He has also been visiting the area that houses the cows and chickens all raised 'free range', and the center of the agribusiness that provides the papal household, as well as the Vatican supermarket, with milk, eggs, honey, fruits and vegetables throughout the year, allowing the Pope the benefit of fresh organic nourishment, using entirely 'in-house' resources. Consider that the papal farm produces 200 eggs a day and 50 liters of milk.

Castel Gandolfo has greenhouses, a huge arboreal patrimony, farms, plantations, farm animals, and even beehives. The director of the Pontifical Villas, Saverio Petrillo, supervises the work and harvesting of the papal villas' floral, agricultural and animal products.

All this must be pleasing to the Pope who has always advocated the sustainable utilization of natural resources. And a self-sufficiency that is, in itself, a message in this time of crisis.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

From Hungary Olympic Gymnastic Team To A Louisiana Deputy Sheriff ( VID)

This is a really cool story!! A Louisiana Rapides Parish  Sheriff 's Deputy that was on the Hungary Olympic gymnastics team .There is a vid at the link.

Regarding that Notre Dame Petition Opposing University Suing Over HHS Contraception Mandate

There has been a petition put in circulation at Notre Dame that protest the University suing over the HHS Contraception mandate.

Rick Garnett from Notre Dame exposes some of the faulty reasoning and argument within the petition itself. See Petition / Protest regarding Notre Dame's challenge to HHS mandate

Deaf Catholics and The New Evangelization

As Catholics are about to embark on the Year of Faith and continue  with the New  Evangelization , I thought this article from the Archdiocese of Vancouver  Catholic newspaper was rather apt.

See Deaf Catholics can evangelize where others cannot go

It gave me some things to think about I had not about the deaf Catholic community.

The NCAA, Penn State and The Catholic Church- Response to CNN Contributor Stephen Prothero

Stephen Prothero in this opinion piece I think is missing some key points.

See My Take: Why is NCAA taking sex abuse more seriously than Catholic Church?

When this scandal hit many people were thinking what was Penn State thinking.

 They had seen in dramatic fashion what the Catholic Church went through. The Church early last decade enacted the Dallas Charter to deal with sex abuse. The Dallas Charter has largely been successful as we have seen in a series of audits that that the author of this piece mentions.

Further let us talk about the NCAA.

Countless tens of thousands of kids go through athletic summer camps at America's universities. From football to gymnastics, to baseball etc these often weeklong overnight summer camps are a fixture at any college of any decent size.

The NCAA seem to have shown little recent interest in making sure as to sex abuse protection these camps have safeguards , or for what I can tell other related matters the last decade. . No doubt the Penn State scandal is going to call for a review of that , and indeed we have seen in some States ( like Louisiana) new laws to start attention to this potential problem.

On a side note one can argue if what the NCAA did was proper here. That is ignoring a good bit of due process in order to get this problem off the radar fast. Maybe they were correct. However in the sports world there is considerable debate over this which I think is reasonable. Strangely this debate was happening in Catholic Church circles too.

As to sexual abuse we have to deal with the problem at different levels.That is the Vatican, the National Bishops Conferences, and the local Diocese. One could throw in the various female and male religious orders to boot.

 At the Vatican at the beginning they saw their role as everyone sort of has their day in Court.

This usually dealt with the issue of removing people from active ministry of the Priesthood or removing them from Holy Orders completely. Even as to this there was  no central command and these cases were in different Curia offices and departments.  This was painfully slow  much like the American Civil Justice system.

Cardinal Ratzinger changed that early on once he took it upon himself  to get a full grip on the problem. A must read on this is John Allen's piece Keeping the record straight on Benedict and the crisis.
 John Allen is a rather respected Vatican observer. Of key note is the section  "3. Canonical Trials "  at the bottom of that article.

Contrary to the tone of the CNN piece it shows an American Church wanting to act fast in cases of sex abuse , in what  one could say was a NCAA fashion,  and Cardinal Ratzinger apparently very much in agreement and leading the way.

We can never know how the Cardinals voted in the conclave , but there is little doubt that the appreciation for Ratzinger going at warp speed on this and giving Bishops more power to deal swiftly with the problem was very much appreciated.

 See Setting the Record Straight: Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta Discusses Role of then-Cardinal Ratzinger in Responding to Clerical Sexual Abuse Crisis in US Church . Archbishop Gregory at the time was head of the United Catholic Bishop Conference ,and played a key role in getting the Dallas Charter off and running.

The next place is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In many ways it is incorrect to think there is a creature called the  United States Catholic Church.

There are  Dioceses  in the USA in communion with the See of Rome. The true authority of National Bishops Conferences has long been in dispute. In reality their power is limited ,and a Bishop can often just pretty ignore what they say if he wanted too.

See  Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter Apostolos Suos. 
See Benedict XVI on the role of bishops conferences

In other words it is wrong to think of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as something akin  to the Episcopal Church USA or  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) . It has no Church courts of it's own and can exert no discipline on anyone. In fact in the big scheme of things it has less power than even the Southern Baptist Convention .

I mention this  because even with the lack of any nationwide internal enforcement mechanism we saw amazing speed and almost total agreement in the enactment of the Dallas Charter early last decade .

 It appears that through the audits we have been doing it has shown great success. There is still much too do , but in reality the Catholic Church is light years ahead of many other both in the religious realm and the the government arena.

At this point it might be helpeful to review some recent news that has happened while the Penn State Scandal has been going on. There is a reason a major newspaper in an Op-Ed this year said that the public school system should look to the American Catholic Church in how to handle it's own sex abuse crisis

As we see the summer has brought no break from some tragic  news. See Even Summer Vacation Does Not Stop Avalanche of Teacher Abuse Atrocities, But Major Media Continue to Ignore Stories.

Yet in the past months what do we see? We see the Hawaii State Government exempt themselves and their political subdivsions from laws related to sexual abuse of minors.  .

The most under reported news from the week is what California Teacher unions managed to do. See Why California Democrats Protect Sex Abuser Teachers . Not only did the California State Legislature fail to learn from Catholic Church sex abuse reforms , but they apparently learned nothing from PENN STATE!!

There is no doubt the Catholic Church still has much to do. It is also clear some Dioceses might have not have got  the message in the same degree as the majoirty have.

No system will be perfect and mistakes no doubt will happen in the future. However it seems pretty clear to me that people if they are really concerned about protecting children should look at our reforms and if we have anything to contribute.

Judge Posner's Zingers In High School Graduation At A Church Case

Good stuff at Seventh Circuit: Holding a High School Graduation in a (Richly Iconographically Religious) Church Violates the Establishment Clause

..The best that a judge of determined neutrality faced with a case such as the present one can do is to be guided by Gibbon’s aphorism (from chapter 2 of the Decline and Fall) that “the various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful.” For “the Roman world” substitute “the United States” and for “the magistrate” substitute “the judge” and one has the right starting point for the analysis of this case. The judge should not be concerned with the truth or falsity of any religious faith but should regard the various faiths as “equally useful” from the standpoint of society, in recognition of the importance that Americans attach to religion, the diversity and intensity of their religious beliefs and observances, and the bitterness and strife that the government’s taking sides among competing faiths would engender...


...."But could it be that the cross and the banners and other religious paraphernalia visible to occupants of the auditorium of the Elmbrook Church would predispose attendants at the graduation to join the church, thus giving the evangelical sect that owns it a competitive advantage? And might not the conferral of such an advantage be thought a form of establishment? But the plaintiffs find the church offensive, and are thus in no danger of being converted. There is no suggestion that holding a high-school graduation at the Elmbrook Church has ever triggered a conversion. How often are visitors to churches converted by the visit? Conversion generally precedes attendance. How many of the millions of non-Catholic visitors to St. Peter’s — Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, and so forth -- have converted to Christianity as a result of their visit to that awesome site? I mean no disrespect to the Elmbrook Church in pointing out that no counterpart to the treasures of St. Peter’s that include Bernini’s baldacchino and Michelangelo’s Pietà, the tombs of 91 Popes, a fragment of the True Cross, and the spear that pierced Christ’s side at the Crucifixion (of course the authenticity of the last two items has been questioned), is to be found there."....

And he was just getting started . More at the link,

Monday, July 23, 2012

Are Catholic Bishops Going to Lose Our Church Tax Exemption - Response to America Article

This is a good response to the Politics and the Pulpit—Are some bishops putting the church’s tax exempt status at risk?” written by Nicholas Carfardi that is in America magazine.

See via Mirrors of Justice “Politics and the Pulpit

I think  Law Prof Father Robert John Araujo is largely correct. In fact I have seen very little serious discussion on the legal blogs or elsewhere that seem to raise justifable fears that the tax exemption is at risk

FOCUS -The Growing Catholic College Campus Ministry Expands to 16 New Schools Including Harvard

This is exciting news.

FOCUS was recently profiled here.

Democrats Target Congressman Fleming Shreveport Times Headline Screams but ....

But when we read the article we learn that no viable Democrats has stepped up to run, and the Democratic party did not return repeated phone calls.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Episcopal Church Welcomes Chick-fil-A

The Daily Episcopalian is not owned or operated by Episcopal Church USA , but its fair to say that this is the news portal on the Internet where a good many Episcopalians get their news.

Further I think its fair to say that Jim Naughton is a prime mover and shaker in how that news is often presented and framed. I also think it is fair to say he pretty much fairly represents the people that run the show often in the faith community that has ancient American origins .

Which brings us to the subject of the week. That is the evil  Chick-fil-A corporation.

Now one would think that just days after the rather alarming and thuggish remarks of the Boston mayor all Christians would have a vested interested in going COME ON MAN to the good mayor.

So I have been sort of monitoring different Faiths to see their reaction. Well Jim Naughton talked about Chick -Fil -A but it had little to do with the probable heavy handed and illegal tactics of the Boston Mayor. See  his post Another reason to love The Muppets.

Now the Episcopal Church folks have been upset at some press treatment of their recent convention. In fact they had cause with one rather fact challenged opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal. As a Catholic that has to deal with the Maureen Dowds of the world I feel their pain.  Thus one hopes they might actually look at what the CEO of the Chicken place actually said vs what the media actually said he said.

Now here is my gripe. The folks that run this corporation are attempting to run their corporation in a Christian way. People can disagree with their stance on gay marriage but their intent should be commended. This got me thinking about a remarkable document from the Vatican.That document is slightly remarkable because they have produced something that is actually a good and accessible read. See “Vocation of the Business Leader”.

Now no doubt Jim Naughton is a sincere believer and no doubt we would disagree with each other onsome topics. But my point to Naughton is should Christians be cheerleading the boycott of this company. If we do what are the consequences? It seems that it affects us talking about other Christian principles talked about in the above link. That is paying folks a just wage, just working conditions, the use and role of profits etc. Again see the above Vatican document.

I keep hearing there is open conversation in the Episcopal Church on these issues. It seems going RAH RAH on boycotting companies that are attempting to to put their Christianity into business practice seems counter to that. If we view the  Chick-fil-A CEO remarks as so out of out bounds it means war then why in heavens name will people listen to us on other other Christian Social Justice issues in the work place.

Is this really the future of this debate and of ecumenical affairs?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Good Shepherd Teaches the Flock - Commentary On Sunday Mass Readings Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time ( July 22 , 2012 )

From the always good The Sacred Page.

Law Professor Ann Althouse Looks at the Liberal Logic of E.J. Dionne's Mind On Gun Control

See here.

Depending on the arguments we here on this issue might engage the gun control issue more.

1992 ACLU President Was Against Catholic Hospitals Having to Provide Contraception Services ?

I need to find the full testimony of this. See ACLU’s President on Forced Provision of “Contraception Services” Over Religious Objections–Circa 1992


Vatican’s Financial Transparency Reaches A Huge Watershed Moment ( Progress )

John Allen has another excellent article up at  A Vatican watershed on transparency, and a new tool for reformers

It start off with a both a comic and sad  review of the world headlines

•Associated Press: “Vatican passes key financial transparency test”

•AGI: “Moneyval flunks the Vatican”

•L’Espresso: “Moneyval passes the Vatican”

•RTE: “Serious failings identified in Vatican Bank”

•Sunday Times: “Report cites progress in Vatican anti-money laundering efforts”

Sometimes the juxtaposition actually came in the same piece. The Italian daily Il Messaggero ran a headline (“Moneyval: Still little transparency at Vatican Bank”) which was at odds with its own opening paragraph (“The Vatican Bank is not quite transparent, but almost, the report says.....

The Vatican financial situation has been in the news a great deal , but as Allen reports this is quite a major culture moment for the Vatican.

He also points out :

...First, journalists probably need to update their draft obituaries of Pope Benedict XVI. Up to this point, the consensus has been that Benedict is a teaching pope, not a governor, and that his inattention to management has allowed a string of train-wrecks to happen. There’s still truth to that assessment, but we now have independent secular evaluators saying that considerable progress on financial rigor has been made on Benedict’s watch....

He also points out a rising Vatican star as related to this.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mayor of Boston Misplaced the First Amendment Somewhere ( Chick-fil-A ) ( Updated )

Update- Required Reading on what the Chicken guy actually SAID.

I did not not make a good many friends when I said it was wrong for politicalofficials in New York and elsewhere to try to block the "9/11" Mosque based on political or religious viewpoint.

Further for some standing up and saying NO people of certain town in Tennessee you can't block construction of a mosque because of an religious or alleged political viewpoint was not very popular.

You certainly cannot play around with licensing laws to make a end run around that either.

It's also I think distasteful that a public official would monkey around with his oath in stirring up this stuff.

The  Mayor of Boston , sadly Catholic it appears,  has not got the memo on this underlying principle either . See Mayor Menino on Chick-fil-A: Stuff it Vows to block eatery over anti-gay attitude.

He justifies this under the theme of we are city of inclusion. What if a Catholic bookstore like Daughters of St Paul  wanted to move into the area? Would they be given the boot too?

How about this mayor. If people want eat chicken there they can go and if they do not they don't have to go. Don't play with licenses to side with a particular religious or political viewpoint.

This sort of brings up the discussion we have been having related to the HHS mandate and those that seem to think religious views only have Sanctuary in the actual Sanctuary .

Why are There Well Over 30,000 Lutheran Kids In New Orleans ?

Bruce Nolan , which sadly is about to be laid off the  New Orleas Picayune ( don't get me started ) has a good article on this. Abita Deacon has it at  Lutheran teens roll into New Orleans for massive conventiom

As you can see they are a huge asset to the city.

Something Smells More Rotten In Ouster of Orthodox Church Of America Leader

Following Eastern Orthodox matters is always confusing to me because of the various jurisdications so I am no expert. However the more I look into this the more I am wondering what really happened here. In fact it looks like the worse Church politics I have seen in some time. Makes the Vatican troubles look like playground.

Much of the Press that can barely handle Catholic matters at times I think will be lost as to this story. For that reason as Get Religion points out caution is really needed. See Byzantine accusations, jammed into a bad headline

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Religious Liberty Is Precious- Horrid Arkansas Anti Catholic Laws From Last Century

The Arkansas Catholic has to say the least a timely article up about a rather horrific piece of legislation that was passed early last Century in Arkansas that targeted Catholics.

See Arkansans struggled for religious liberty 99 years ago -Suspicious of Catholics, lawmakers introduced Posey Act in 1913 and passed it in 1915.

It interesting too look at the archive of the Arkansas Catholic newspaper that are available for some portions of this time period as to this legislation. I have spent just a little time looking at the papers available from this time period and intend to do more looking.

There was a general call to arms , and it should be noted a good many Protestants stood with us.

70th Anniversary of Dutch Catholic Bishops Letter Protesting Expulsion of the Jews ( Plus Consequences)

Rorate Caeli. has performed a great service by publishing the full English translation here at 70th anniversary of the Pastoral Letter of the Bishops of the Netherlands  on the deportation of the Jewish population .

After the translation they give the history of the dramatic awful consequences  in how the Nazis responded. Thus from that time as noted it was viewed by both Catholics and Protestants  in order to save lives such explicit condemnation about crimes against the Jewish people would have to be curtailed.

Lutheran Pastor Takes a Look at Humane Vitae For The First Time

We are seeing more this as Protestants ( of all shdes - Reformed , Baptists, Evangelicals ,etc) are now taking a look at what Pope Paul VI said way back in 1968. See Bachelorettes and Humane Vitae

Vietnamese Christian Brother In New Orleans And His 14 Tries to Escape Vietnam

The Catholic paper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans highlights the incredible story of a Vietnamese Christian Brother in New Orleans. It took him 14 attempts to escape Vietnam. He eventually did in 1986. See Christian Brother is ‘14th-time lucky’ in quest for freedom. See Christian Brother is ‘14th-time lucky’ in quest for freedom .

Jesuit Priest and Law Prof Takes Critical Look at NPR Interview of Sister Pat Farrell ( Head of LCWR )

Jesuit Priest and Law Prof at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law  Fr. Araujo takes a critical look at the July 17th NPR  interview  “An American Nun Responds to Vatican Criticism"  . The person being interviewed  is Sister Pat Farrell, OSF who is the current President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

See his post here.

Baton Rouge Louisiana Virgin Mary Statue Alleged Miracle

I posted on this a couple of weeks ago. It is still going gangbusters it appears .

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Happy 175th Birthday Mississippi Catholics- The Bishop Who Built Church From Nothing

                 St. Mary Basilica, Cathedral Natchez Mississippi

On July 18, 1837, Pope Gregory XVI erected the Diocese of Natchez,which  then covering the whole state of Mississippi.

Pat McNamara has an excellent post on the first Bishop that had to literally build the Church from nothing. See Up from Scratch: Bishop John Chanche and Mississippi Catholicism

Huge Day On HHS Contraception Mandate Fight - Wheaton College Is A Player

Some slightly bad news and some very good major news on the HHS Contraception Religious Liberty fight.

First the good news that was also it appears to be a topic at the White House Press Briefing today. That is Wheaton College has  joined in the lawsuit against the HHS mandate. See Wheaton College Sues over HHS Mandate

Wheaton is I suppose the Notre Dame of evangelical Colleges so this is going to be very significant.

On to the bad news. A Nebraska Judge has dismissed some HHS mandate lawuits. However people need to take a big breath here. See from the Beckett folks  National Review Online: One HHS Mandate Case Dismissed, Don’t Read Too Much Into It, by Kyle Duncan

As to this one case I think there is a good shot on appeal. However people need to get use to this up and down as to these cases. In many ways it will follow the Obamacare cases as each side overplays the victories and defeats in individual circuits accross the country.

The Law firm that is represent the Catholic Church no doubt planted these cases in various areas as a result of some well planned  forum shopping. So like the Obamacare cases expect at times Judges to come to different conclusions which is well how it generally all works.

Conservatives Talks About Vice President Nominee Bobby Jindal The Exorcist

I gave some rather extensive thoughts and background on this issue not long ago at Democrats Think Bobby Jindal 's Exorcism Experience A Winning Issue?

The link has a rather long excerpt of the article that Bobby Jindal wrote  and is good reading.

Time magazine sort of set this off this morning.

The issue is being discussed at National Review today.

Lopez starts off at Re : Jindal & the Exorcism

Andrew Stuttaford responds

Ramesh Ponnuru responds here at The Jindal Exorcism Business

Lopez responds back here at re: re: Jindal and the Exorcism

I stand by by original post on how I think this would play out.

5 Men Stand Under An Atomic Bomb As It Goes Off ( VIDEO)

This is just freaking awesome.

Ex Mormons Getting Defensive About Romney and the Mormon Faith

I think this was well done essay has been making the rounds but I wanted to give it a shout out too.

..As for Romney himself, the man, the person, I empathized with him and his predicament. He no more stood for Mormonism than I did, but he was often presumed to stand for it by journalists who knew little about his faith, let alone the culture surrounding it, other than that some Americans distrusted it and certain others despised it outright. When a writer for The New York Times, Charles Blow, urged Romney to “stick that in your magic underwear!” I half hoped that Romney would lose his banker’s cool and tell the bigoted anti-Mormon twits to stick something else somewhere else, until it hurt. I further hoped he’d sit his critics down and thoughtfully explain that Mormonism is more than a ceremonial endeavor; it constitutes our country’s longest experiment with communitarian idealism, promoting an ethic of frontier-era burden-sharing that has been lost in contemporary America, with increasingly dire social consequences. Instead, Romney showed restraint, which disappointed me. I no longer practiced Mormonism, true, but it was still a part of me, apparently, and a bigger part than I’d appreciated.

Sometimes a person doesn’t know what he’s made of until strangers try to tear it down....

It's a great essay . Get Religion takes a look at all of it and the author of it at
A Mormon thumbsucker.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Catholics Becoming Liberal Protestants Is Not The Problem

I have been following the back and forth people are having about the Ross Douthat article "Can Liberal Christianity be Saved " and Diana Bass Butler's Can Christianity Be Saved? A Response to Ross Douthat .

I was going to comment on Butler's Southern Baptist observations because I think she might be missing the real dynamic going on. However this caught my eye:

The Roman Catholic Church, a body that has moved in markedly conservative directions and of which Mr. Douthat is a member, is straining as members leave in droves. By 2008, one in ten Americans considered him- or herself a former Roman Catholic. On the surface, Catholic membership numbers seem steady. But this is a function of Catholic immigration from Latin America. If one factors out immigrants, American Catholicism matches the membership decline of any liberal Protestant denomination. Decline is not exclusive to the Episcopal Church, nor to liberal denominations--it is a reality facing the whole of American Christianity.

A few remarks on this. While it is true that the Church on the ground is moving in a more conservative directions this is fairly recent. It is very much having to recover from decades of when the Church on the ground was in much liberal and progressive hands.

She is right about the loss of members and stopping that is of prime concern. However why and where are these people going?

This relates to constant theme I see among the Catholic elite and their friends in secular newspapers. That is unless the Church changes it's position on "x" to a more liberal position people will leave.

Now no doubt some leave over that. Some of course go nowhere

But the far GREATER problem as to loss I find is that many Catholics leave to go to Evangelical/ Pentecostal / Fundamentalist Churches that hold by the way some very conservative positions.

I have known Catholics that have become Episcopalian or Methodist etc. But I know far far far  more Catholics that go into the Conservative Evangelical ranks . There are many reasons for this. To be honest decades of bad Catholic education plays a major role. An recent poll conducted in just one diocese showed the shocking results of that. From that poll wel earn that 57 percent of the Catholics believed Jesus had sinned during his time on Earth and also thought Christ was “no different” from other human beings . Only 28 percent of non-Catholic Christians thought Jesus had sinned.

It is no wonder that when sadly many Catholics hear the Gospel Message clearly and become convicted of it that it happened in a non Catholic setting.

Speaking of the Southern Baptist 10 percent of their congregations are non Anglo. I bet that is largely ex Catholic Latinos. Instead of talking about how we need to approve things like gay marriage , we might need to think how we can get  resources to states like Arkansas where the Pentecostals, the Baptists, the Adventist , etc are picking off Catholic Latinos and others in droves.

What A Real War On Nuns Looks Like - Blessed Teresian Martyrs of Compiègne ( French Revolution )

Mirrors of Justice has Remembering the Blessed Teresian Martyrs of Compiègne

Monday, July 16, 2012

Video Lecture on Huge Church Father Find- Origen 's Homilies on the Psalms !!

I am not sure finding the lost Church Father Origen 's homilies on the Psalms was a "we found the Titanic" moment for Church Father addicts ( it might be). I love the Church Fathers, but I am pretty much an interested observer that loves reading them. Still it's pretty darn significant and exciting. It's  been I guess a little over month since the  exciting news of this  discovery was made public.

That being said  Dr. Lorenzo Perrone (University of Bologna) who confirmed the contents gave a lecture on this to the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem. Thankfully the vid and the some cliff notes of the talk can be found here. The talk is entitled “Rediscovering Origen Today: First Impressions on the Newly Discovered Collection of Homilies on the Psalms,”


Making the Case For Religious Liberty to Secular Citizens

There has been an ongoing discussion about the threats to religious liberty over at the CLR blog ( Center for Law and Religion at St. John's University School of Law).

Of prime concern is it appears that the defense of religious liberty might be under some serious strain in the legal academy itself.

People might scoff at that as "alarmist", but some very big legal minds in this area think the problem exists. People that have contributed to this conversation include:

Steven D. Smith- Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of law.

Mark L. Movsesian- Frederick A. Whitney Professor of Contract Law and the Director of the Center for Law and Religion at St. John's University School of Law.

Marc O. DeGirolami - Assistant Professor of Law; Assistant Director, Center for Law and Religion at St John's University School of Law.

Paul Horwitz- Associate Professor University of Alabama School of Law and also contributor to the popular  and well read PrawfsBlawg.  

The posts in order are:
Can Religious Freedom be Justified?
The Dis-integration of Neutrality
Religious Freedom and the Social Contract

Laycock on the Vulnerability of Religious Liberty
Horwitz on the Impact of Justification Scholarship

Justifying Religious Freedom: Three Observations
How Important is Public Support for Religious Freedom?

In the post Justifying Religious Freedom: Three Observations  , I think this argument to our more secular citizens is a "winner":

..Second, if one were looking for a secular justification for religious freedom, it seems to me that providing a check on state power is a pretty good one. Pluralism is the best guarantor of political freedom, and pluralism requires that the state have competitors. In Western history, nothing has proved a stronger competitor for the state than religion and, specifically, Christianity. Because of its unique capacity to encourage commitment, religion has provided a counterweight to state power since – well, since the late Roman Empire. Even people of no faith — in fact, even people who are hostile to religious belief as such — should be able to see this benefit of religion...

I agree with that and in the grand American experiment it's proven I think to be much needed and powerful check on Govt power.

The problem is often  many Americans have "blinders" when they or their group have to take a hit for religious freedom. For instance it's really no secret that a lot of people that scream the loudest about religious freedom are not exactly defending Muslim Religious liberty rights. See the Louisiana headlines last week where some people are shocked that education vouchers have to go to Muslim schools also.

These blinders are everywhere and seem to go across different "partisan " lines. I think we are seeing the same thing as to the HHS birth control mandate. Thus even more the need to be aggressive withreasons for religious freedom that appeal to more secular folks.

Which brings us to these observations at Laycock on the Vulnerability of Religious Liberty which looks again at the secular perhaps more hostile demographic  to religious liberty.

Today I (re)read Doug Laycock’s recent essay called “Sex, Atheism, and the Free Exercise of Religion,” 88 Detroit-Mercy L. Rev. 407 (2011). It’s an important essay, and everyone who reads a blog like this one ought to read it and think seriously about it.

The essay, written before the current controversy about the “contraception mandate,” begins with the sobering observation that “[f]or the first time in nearly 300 years, important forces in American society are questioning the free exercise of religion in principle– suggesting that free exercise of religion may be a bad idea, or at least, a right to be minimized.” And he “worr[ies] that the success story [of American religious liberty] may now be at risk.”

Doug describes the challenge to free exercise as coming from two main sources. First, the gay rights movement has come to perceive traditional religion as its principal enemy. And “[i]f traditional religion is the enemy, then it might follow that religious liberty is a bad thing, because it empowers that enemy. No one says this straight out, at least in public. But it is a reasonable inference from things that are said, both in public and in private.” Doug makes it clear, by the way, that he is strongly in favor of gay rights, and he lays approximately equal responsibility on gay rights activists and religious conservatives for their unwillingness to compromise.......

...The essay should serve as a warning to those who think expressions of concern about religious freedom are trumped up or “much ado about nothing.” Doug’s expression of concern is especially credible for several reasons. First, he is not only a leading scholar of religious liberty, but he has also been active in litigating and lobbying for religious liberty. He knows what he’s talking about, first-hand.

Second, Doug’s support for gay rights and his publicly expressed religious agnosticism should make it more difficult to dismiss his expression of concern as just pretextual or paranoid, as critics may say when Catholic bishops or LDS authorities raise similar concerns. In addition, I don’t think Doug is temperamentally pessimistic or apocalyptic (as his essay suggests that I may be– heaven forbid!).........

I think that is very true and is something I observe often. Again as to religious liberty we find everyone sort of has to take a hit. Making that argument is never easy.

One  case that comes to mind here ( that seems in endless litigation) is  the New Mexico State case of  Elane Photography v. Willock . A case that I think correctly concerns a good many people. Prof

tolerate a wrong – i.e., “discrimination” – which they would otherwise prohibit, penalize, or discourage.

Such requests then raise the question whether it is “worth it” for the authorities to do so – that is, whether doing so would complicate too much the government’s own projects or conflict too glaringly with its values—and so, when they are granted, accommodations are regarded all around as concessions.

Sometimes, to be sure, we do and probably should think about  legal rights as protecting, or simply tolerating, a liberty to do even the wrong thing (so long as the wrong thing is not too wrong). We should not forget, though, that a dimension of the freedom of religion is, sometimes, precisely the freedom to “discriminate,” and that this freedom should be protected not simply because such discrimination is an all-things-considered tolerable wrongsometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t – but because it is inextricably tied to a human right and is, sometimes, beyond political authorities’ legitimate reach....

The legitimate reach question is of course of prime importance. Does political authority  at some point just sort of peter out that it cannot address every imaginable wrong. In fact do we  even want it too.

The New Mexico Elaine case strikes me as a important case that seems to be pressing the limits of State power. Something that perhaps might offend even the most secular person or at least give them cause for concerns. In other words where does the long cherished American principle of the "right to be left alone" that often interplays with religious liberty come in. If the "right to be left alone" means basically having to be a hermit on a mountain somewhere it does not seem much of a principle anymore.