Friday, May 31, 2013

Pope Francis - You Can't Proclaim Jesus With A Long Face ( Be Joyful )

We get some excerpts from the  Pope Francis daily homily via Vatican Radio today that I think is very important.

This happens to be the theme of my Bishop , Duca of Shreveport  , in his Year of Faith parish visits. He goes into why Catholics don't often feel joy and how to correct that.

How the early Christians loved each other and were joyful was a huge reasons for converts to the Christian Faith as we can find from various sources .

I often hear this topic taught on as to how we approach Mass. But more importantly it's noticed by our co - workers, friends, and neighbors. If we are joyful people then often ask you are you so happy. That gives and opening to witness.

California Senate Action On Boy Scouts Might Make Me A Grover Norquist Groupie

News from the Golden State !! Boy Scouts Nonprofit Status Stripped In California Legislation .

Well how about that. There is a lot to say about this , but here is something for people of Faith to chew on that advocate for higher taxes for the common good. How does something like this help that ? I am always amazed at the amount of people that want to punish speech , beliefs and associations they don't like through the tax code. I always find that a tad frightening and more so recently since it appears to be in more vogue.

Here we have California that has made the choice , a quite mainstream one no doubt , to have some fairly high taxes to do among other things care for the least among us. I really wonder though if the common good is using that dynamic as a tool to punish views one does not like via the State  tax code.

The next question is of of course who is next ?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Vatican Sending Signs Traditionalists and Others Have Nothing To Fear From Pope Francis ?

It is kind  of interesting to see a story that have hit the Italian press this week. First it appears perhaps  the Pope is letting it known he is not hostile to the traditional Latin Mass. Second he has no plans to sack the  papal master of ceremonies [Msgr Guido Marini] .

Hopefully even some of the American Catholic pundits that took a tad of joy in thinking Msgr Marini was depressed at the regime change will not get that depressed themselves.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Next Week Marks Generational Change in Southern Baptist Church - From Richand Land To Russell Moore

Next week marks a significant generational shift in the Southern Baptist Church that will have an impact outside the Southern Baptist Church itself. Russell Moore will replace Richard Land as head of the  Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.  Religion News Service has a good article on this at Southern Baptist Richard Land Passes Baton to Russell Moore.

For various reasons the head of this commission seems to be more of the face of the SBC in the secular press and media than even the President of the Convention. This might be because Southern Baptist Convention Presidents  often just serve 2 year terms. Thus that might be part of the reason  I have trouble recalling many of them.

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is a different matter though and also is the way the Southern Baptist Convention interacts with the public square the most. I suspect Dr Moore will have a successful tenure.

Corpus Christi Sunday - New Orleans Celebrations & Processions To Be Bigger Than Ever in 2013

One of my favorite times of the year is the Sunday where we Catholics celebrate the gift of the Body and Blood of Christ in a special way. Sadly in my parish this year the priest will be out of town so for the first Corpus Christi ever I will not have a Mass. Though there will be a communion service which in it's own way has lessons for us on this day.

That being said the tradition of the Eucharistic processions in the streets for the Feast of Corpus Christi have been revived down in New Orleans the last few years

This flyer from the Archdiocese seems they are getting bigger and better . Even shuttle buses for the one for the Archbishop. Go the bottom of the flyer to see all Archdiocese Corpus Christi processions.

Got Religious News? New Department of Education Speech Codes Affect Catholic Colleges Too !

The Department of Education new guidelines on speech and other matters that effect First amendment issues and due process has been getting some news. That is progress.

However I am dismayed that on the religious college front there seems to be little concern or coverage at all in comparison. Despite the fact that one of the main concerns of these laws is that it could curtail a good bit of political ( and yes that includes religious ) speech.

I contacted the head of F.I.R.E. that is on the front lines of this issue and h einformed me only FOUR colleges in the USA would not be impacted by these new regulations. If your school gets any sort of Fed funding or its students take out students loans well it is like everyone else.

There seems to be a impressions that secular and religious private universities don't have a dog in this fight. That is not tue

Religious Skeptics Could Be Major Part of Students at Elite Law Schools

Which since these folk often will hold the keys to the legal kingdom in the future is sort of troubling..

See Religious Skepticism and American Lawyers at First Thoughts

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Why Bishops Must Be Conservative

There is has been a good bit of talk about recent remarks the head of Episcopal Church USA has made.  Dan Martins Episcopal Bishop of Springfield  has responded now.

I am not really interesting in going back and doing the SHE SAID WHAT kinda of thing. Bishop Martins in responding to this I think makes a point that I think it is good for Catholics to recall as to our own issues.That is what exactly is the role of a Bishop .

To call Bishop Jefferts Schori's exegesis of Acts 16 "strained" or "eccentric" is too mild. It is utterly bizarre. But others have done an adequate job fisking the sermon. I'm going to cut right to what seems to me a rather larger and more fundamental issue, which is the duty of all Christians, but particularly those in ordained leadership, to operate from within the tradition, as an insider looking out, and not from a critical distance, as an outsider looking in. The Christian tradition (a term I use in what I think is an Eastern Orthodox sense, inclusive of scripture, liturgy, ascesis, and the mainstream of theology) is certainly an appropriate object of critical inquiry by detached outsiders, whether sympathetic or hostile. But such critical inquiry is not in the remit of a bishop; in fact, bishops pretty much surrender the option of engaging in that sort of work the moment they are consecrated. A bishop is, by definition, by job description, thoroughly a conservative, operating as a custodian of the tradition and articulating an insider's point of view. Is there room on the margins for prophetic voices that challenge the establishment, speaking words of truth and justice? Yes, there certainly is room for those voices. But they are not the voices of bishops. It is, rather, the job of bishops, speaking as consummate insiders, to equip the baptized faithful to listen to the voices from the margins and discern between true prophets and false ones. 

As an insider looking out, as an apologist and cheerleader for the establishment, a bishop sits under the authority of the tradition, particularly the authority of sacred scripture. There are interpretive roads that are open to others--outsiders looking in--that are properly closed to bishops (and, by extension, to priests and others who preach and teach). In Acts 16, the author (presumably Luke) portrays Paul and Silas as the good guys, the slave girl as the exploited victim, and her "owners," along with the demon that possessed her, as the bad guys. What Paul did, operating in the power of the Holy Spirit, was to liberate an oppressed person. There is a homiletical treasure trove available here without disturbing this essential dynamic. To stray outside it only tortures the text. And I suspect that Bishop Katharine's concern that we recognize the image of God in one another could have been well-supported by the readings for Easter VII without so straying. 

One of the great temptations for either a theologian or a pastor is to be original. It's a tonic to the ego. Under the right circumstances, a theologian can get away with it. St Paul certainly did! A pastor, by contrast, eschews originality. A pastor, a bishop, is a relay runner, handing along (para-dosis, the root of "tradition") the baton to the next runner, the next generation. Originality is not compatible with that job description. 

Lawyers Need to Cultivate Interior Stillness - Saint Felix & the Notre Dame School of Law Graducation

This is a very nice graduation speech. Worth reading and it's lesson is for all of us.

Louisiana Bills On Gun Rights & Obama Care - Nullification and Misdirection

I have been wanting to talk about an rather idiotic gun rights bill in the Louisiana legislature this past week. Robert Mann ( who just got fired at to write  congrats ! ) give me the opportunity to do that as well as take on another issue. See his post My Nomination For Dumbest Bill Of The 2013 Louisiana Legislative Session

I actually think this is a very clever post and and perhaps a smart tactic. When I read the title of his piece on twitter I thought he was going to be talking about bill in the Louisiana Legislature that makes its a crime for Federal agents to enforce certain gun laws in Louisiana. This is house bill 5.

There is no House bill 5 is a nullification bill that has now been returned to the calender. Which means it might never see the light of the day again despite getting a ton of votes.The Jindal administration might have had something to do this. I don't know this for a fact of course. However I suspect Jindal does not  want to be in a position of vetoing a " gun rights " and on the other  hand having nullification questions hamper here on a national level.

Now the bill that Mann is having problems with deals with the Affordable Care Act aka  Obama Care . Rep Hollis has offered a bill to allow voters to add to the Louisiana Constitution this :

 In order to preserve the freedom of all residents of Louisiana to provide for their own health care, no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system.

Mann goes into the nullification debate right away which of course has the mention of SLAVERY. He says this is push poll kind of amendment. He call Rep Hollis a dim bulb.

The problem is this does not appear to be a nullification law. I am open to be corrected on this but it appears to pass muster to me .  it seems to be me it would be read to apply to State Law not Federal Law . Fed Courts are hesitant to strike now State Constiional amendments and will  often read them in a way most likely to save it if there is conflict. The amendment does not mention Federal law so I think it's in the clear.
  States can have stronger protections for rights than the Feds. We see this in such things the 4th amendment. Further it is pretty settled law that States cannot be forced to be agents of the Federal Government.  That is be forced to enforce a law.

Here is what I think is clever. I think Mann sort of gets this. I can't get into his mind but I think it is probable.

If the House Bill 5 ( the gun bill ) was written in a way that said Louisiana would not help the Feds in enforcing their gun laws it would be fine. This is similar to the sanctuary city laws where political subdivisions refuse to help Federal immigration agencies in some cases. That is not nullification and is  legal.

The problem is the Louisiana Legislature did not want to got that route. Perhaps they wanted to avoid some scenarios where the failure to help Fed agents would prove to be bad optics. So they attempted to pass a bill they know would be stayed by a Federal Judge while " acting " they are all great on gun rights. Also the criminal sanction in the bill above only applies to the Feds and not to Louisiana agents. I think that was intentional.

The bill by Hollis though is different. Getting states on board with the Affordable Care Act is a crucial part of its future success.  Needless to say a Constitutional amendment to prevent Louisiana but being able to partner with the Federal Government is a true threat.

This is one reason I think Mann is bringing in talk of nullification , slavery , talking about a legislator's intelligence , and push polls. Such an amendment would have a practical effect unlike the silly House Bill 5 gun rights law.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Should I Donate To Louisiana Pentecostal Preacher Turned Atheist Film ?

The Friendly Atheist had a post up that caught my eye. See Support a Documentary About Ex-Preacher Jerry DeWitt

This is a topic that gets buzz and talk in both the religious and secular arenas from time to time. I am interested in this film and the rural Pentecostal angle is intriguing to me.

They are asking for funds:

 If you want the inside scoop on the biggest challenge facing the filmmakers, it is this: We need to crack the tough nut that is DeRidder, Louisiana. We want to present an intimate and truthful portrayal of life in Jerry’s hometown. Not just the clichés about small-town intolerance, but the real deal. The good, the bad and the ugly. But it’s hard to do that when you live in California and have limited funds. We’ll need to spend a lot of time there to build trust. You can’t “helicopter in” on a story like this. That’s why we need your help. Your contributions will allow us to really settle down in Southeast Louisiana for long enough to develop relationships and approach the subject in a truly “verite” style. This is the only way to get past the understandable caution of folks in DeRidder, not to mention our own West Coast biases. 

That has got me thinking I might want to send a few bucks if they are going to be fair. Though this part of their plea has me worried

But our filmmaking journey is only beginning. Jerry’s book is coming out in June, which is likely to change a lot of things for him. In the same week he is planning a major secular service in Baton Rouge, which may be the beginning of the humanist congregation down the road from Bobby Jindal’s statehouse .


I am not exactly sure why that religious and political dog whistle is there except maybe to reach a certain demographic. I suspect Bobby Jindal nor most folks in Baton Rouge are going get the vapors over a secular Church service . Still it is sort of an interesting film and If done in a fair manner that does not portray my fellow Louisiana folks as idiots one I am interested in.

No Pope Francis Does Not Teach Salvation by Works Yesterday

Lot of buzz about a Papal Homily yesterday. I might try to handle the media angle of this story later. See Did Pope Francis Preach Salvation by Works??

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Young French Catholics Like Bigots of Old Are Doing Eucharistic Adoration

Get Religion looks at a article on the young Catholics that are fighting gay marriage. The language the paper uses is something else.

The Sexual Politics of the Florida Lesbian Teen Charged With A Felony

The Huff Post and and few other internet media places has a rather misleading headline yesterday that got some chatter. That is “Kaitlyn Hunt, Florida Teen, Faces Felony Charges Over Same-Sex Relationship” . Now that is true but what is left out of that headline is crucial.

For that see this legal blog post on this story Statutory Rape of 15-Year-Old by 18-Year-Old.

I find this interesting on several fronts because I of a age to see how attitudes have changed on this at tad. This was not so uncommon as might think back in my younger years. Also if the parents objected often this was handled a lot more quietly and often no charges were filed.

However times have changed and the messages seem conflicting.  Its now viewed as silly by many to try to keep your kids away from sexual activity. Further we also have made teen much more sexual beings in our culture. However we also have in the last 20 to 30 years slowly raised the age of consent for teenagers to have sex. It really does not take I think a Master's Degree to realize these conflicting trends were going to cause a problem.

In many ways I am feel for Kaitlyn Hunt since to be honest I am not sure all boys that finds themselves in the same situation should be labeled a sex offender all their life. However this happens all the time ( and please note in these cases mistake about the girls age is not a defense). So I am a tad amused about the sudden uproar. Where has it been for boys.

Would there be " outrage " is this had been a girl boy situation. I suspect not which makes the politics of this pretty interesting.

As the above link shows maybe its the possibility that the girl can't get pregnant. Maybe some same sex relationships different than hetrosexual teen ones which is indeed ironic because of the talking points we have heard recently.

59 Percent of Priests Don't Like New Mass Translation - 70 Percent of Catholics Overall Do

An interesting survey came out that I suspect will be closely examined. 59% Priests do not like the new English Mass translations.

This is compared to a survey last year that 70% of Catholics LIKE THE NEW TRANSLATIONS.

I am not totally shocked by this I and I suspect we are going to get a lot more closer to 50/50 as some Priests have more time to get "used to it ".

The Priest study from my quick glimpse of it does not talk about the age of the Priests and their answers. From my pure personal experience most younger Priests seem to be far more OK with the new translation that those that are older. So I guess time will tell

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pro Tip - Telling a 14 Year Old Boy in Confession To Use Condoms Could Bring Lawsuit ( Diocese Settles )

An interesting breach of contract lawsuit that the the Catholic Diocese up in New Hampshire settled involving a 14 year old boy and the confessional.

n the lawsuit filed at Hillsborough County Superior Court, [the parents] accused [Rev. George] Desjardins of asking the boy whether he had “engaged in watching pornographic material and masturbating.” When the boy said that he hadn’t and that he had a girlfriend, Desjardins told the boy to use “rubbers” and warned him to be careful because a girl can “yell ‘rape’ ” during sex, the lawsuit continued.

Well then.

Religion Clause has  Catholic Diocese Settles Suit Complaining About Priest's Statements During Confession

Friday, May 17, 2013

Delusional Exegesis Part II

Ever had on a Priests, Pastors, etc that had a pet issue and would try to cram it into the Sunday reading all the time &  the link was akin to the distance of  earth to Pluto ?

I was thinking of that again as to a issue I talked about two days ago  and in which a Baton Rouge Episcopal Church minister alludes to today at Presiding Bishop's "Delusional Exegesis"

Is Your Newman or Catholic Center at College Too White Too Anglo ?

Ninoska Moratin who is a second year Catholic College Missionary with FOCUS has a post up called Why are there just white people at the Newman Center?!

I thought this was intriguing because it seems this is still a issue from the time I was at College. In Louisiana where I went to college  it did seem the Newman Catholic centers  ( besides those at the traditional black colleges of course ) were very white Anglo . Despite the fact that  Louisiana had a good percentage of black  Catholic percentage . Compounding thing was the fact that there were a high number of Vietnamese Catholics that you saw using the place to study on occasion but never got involved in the main activities. This despite having a Vietnamese Priest as one of the campus minister

Of course the reason this was so were complex. For instance as to the Vietnamese they were still a fairly recent immigrant group and were still a tad clannish Many still had some quite vivid recollections of their escape from their native homeland and the dramatic relocation here.. I am not sure if this is has changed or not .

Anyway it was sort of seen as a problem then and no one had easy workable solution to this than perhaps let time work it out.

The issue here is of course not black or Latino Catholics , but also Asian and in many places African immigrants or children of these immigrants.

Anyway I think Miss Moratin offers some good practical points.

Dallas / Fort Worth TV Station Highlights Texan & His Catholic Seminary in Louisiana

What a wonderful news vid from the CBS Dallas  / Fort Worth TV that highlights a Diocese of Fort Worth  Texas man that is in Catholic Seminary at St Joseph's in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

It goes not only into him but St Joseph's and the rise in young men entering the priesthood. Very nice PR for the seminary. Its pretty interesting that the the station made the long trip down to South Louisiana for this very well produced story.

I saw this on the the St Joseph Seminary Facebook page as regards to this.

CBS in Dallas-Fort Worth ran a feature on its 12 May news program entitled "More Young Men Choosing Priesthood," featuring one of our seminarians from the Diocese of Fort Worth, Brett Metzler, and an interview with President-Rector Fr. Gregory Boquet.

 We're very excited about the coverage, and we wanted to corroborate Fort Worth's increasing vocations with our own figures. The news looks good, not only for the past few years, but for the one to come.

2011-2012 83 Seminarians
2012-2013 106 Seminarians

2012 Graduation was 16 Bachelor of Arts and three Pre-Theology Certificates
2013 Graduation was 26 Bachelor of Arts and two Pre-Theology Certificates; twenty-four of these are going on to graduate studies in theology

Father Gregory is projecting an enrollment of 110 students in Fall 2013.

Please keep up your prayers for vocations and encourage the young people you meet to seriously consider the religious life. The monks here at the Abbey frankly find their lives a blessing, contrary to the public perception of religious life as something burdensome or unappealing. Let's get that message out there!

New Department of Education Imposed Speech Codes Major Threat To Political & Religious Liberty

This week the First Amendment seems to be in getting a large amount of attention. From the freedom of the press in the AP story to freedom of association and political activity in the IRS / Tea Party story.

However there is in the big scheme of things a much bigger story that threatens First Amendments freedoms and could have life altering consequences for countless people that is struggling for oxygen to get noticed.

That is a new speech code that is about to be imposed on our College and Universities  that  threatens core values of the First amendment and could put countless students at the mercy of a very sorry campus judicial system.

The Wall Street Journal has a piece up today. In fact it has given the lead op ed to a person that is has been leading the charge and warning about this trend  for some time. See   Feds to Students: You Can't Say That -The Justice and Education departments issue a dangerous new speech code for colleges.

As he properly notes this goes far beyond trying to stop sexual sexual harassment or the crime of sexual assault.

The Wall Street Journal is not the only place where people are raising the call for all to be on deck for this assault. See  No Sex Talk Allowed What's wrong with the Obama administration's definition of sexual harassment.via the Atlantic.

We are facing perhaps the biggest threat to political and religious liberty on our college campuses that we have seen in some time. This seems like a issue where a broad coalition can come together and push back this threat.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

New Orleans Highlighting Their Special Connection To the Virgin Mary

Our Lady of Lourdes, grotto at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in New Orleans

From the NOLA Catholic Experience it appears the Archdiocese is pushing to highlighting the Virgin Mary's special connection to New Orleans and  also wants the natives help. See #MotherMaryNOLA

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Example Why Religious Literacy for Law Students Matters - Jurors and Reasonable Doubt

I have been enjoying Dan Crane posts over at  CENTER FOR LAW AND RELIGION FORUM

He has a good post up called Religious Literacy Training for Law Students?  

He makes the point that Law Profs are complaining that they are getting students that are not educated in things that normally they would have picked up in college or even high school. That can be in economics or in this case religion. He makes a good case a certain amount of religious literacy is needed to see how our law developed. He goes into such things as contract laws and an very intriguing example as to our legal concept of reasonable doubt. I have some comments to add on that after the excerpt

One wonderful example:  In The Origins Reasonable Doubt:  Theological Roots of the Criminal Trial, Yale legal historian Jim Whitman shows that our current assumptions about the reasonable doubt standard in criminal cases have the history exactly backwards.  Today, everyone assumes that the reasonable doubt standard is meant to protect the criminal defendant—to give him every benefit of the doubt and erect barriers to over-zealous prosecutors.  Whitman shows that, historically, this story has it absolutely backwards.  The reasonable doubt standard developed not for the purpose of making prosecutions harder but to make them easier.  To understand why requires a basic understanding of Christian doctrine.  In eighteenth century England, jurors took seriously Jesus’ command, “judge not or you will be judged.”  The jurors feared that if they passed a wrongful judgment of conviction—keeping in mind that Jesus himself was wrongly convicted—they themselves would be eternally damned.  The crown finally started telling juries that if they found guilt beyond any reasonable doubt, then surely they wouldn’t need to worry about damnation.  So the reasonable doubt standard came into being not to protect the criminal defendant but to facilitate convictions.

I can not tell you how that practical knowledge would have come in handy for many a lawyer. In many cases " I can't judge " is a dodge to get off jury duty.  This increases when a a person gets a sense that the trial might be of some duration.

However many hold that view in a legitimate fashion. If you are an area with a high number of African Americans this " I cant' Judge " things comes up more than with other groups.  This can create problems for the prosecutor if he is appealed ( what no blacks on the jury ) and  to a defense attorney that wanted a African American on the jury  but got the " I can 't Judge " roadblock. I use the African American example because in my area it is the demographic that this comes up most with.

That little knowledge used by a lawyer in a criminal trial might have come in real handy in their dialogue with a prospective juror. 

Calling All Catholics & Lovers of Southern Literature- Walker Percy Festival Being Planned

Rod Dreher is helping spearhead an excellent idea. A Walker Percy Festival in St Francisville Louisiana. He gives an idea of what he envisions and is looking for ideas . See his post A Walker Percy Festival?

Walker Percy was many things including one of the American South best Catholic writers. Percy received from Notre Dame the Laetare Medal which is American Catholicism highest honor. He is with such people as Civil War Gen. William Rosecrans, operatic tenor John McCormack, President John F. Kennedy, Catholic Worker foundress Dorothy Day,, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, and death penalty abolitionist Sister Helen Prejean in that regard.

So I am hoping this idea gains some steam.

Pope Francis vs Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on the Devil & Demons

There is no doubt that Pope Francis from his first homily as Pope to his everyday Masses think the Devil and Demons are real facts and not just symbols.

On that note I read part of an incredible homily by the presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA that is down in South America that is just well astounding via Not Another Episcopal Church Blog  

See his post The Worst Sermon Ever? The Presiding Bishop Explains Away Paul and the Female Slave 

As you can see the scripture reference is this

"Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days.
But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities." Acts 16:16-19 (KJV)

As linked above this is the Presiding Bishop's viewpoint of  THAT

"We live with the continuing tension between holier impulses that encourage us to see the image of God in all human beings and the reality that some of us choose not to see that glimpse of the divine, and instead use other people as means to an end.  We’re seeing something similar right now in the changing attitudes and laws about same-sex relationships, as many people come to recognize that different is not the same thing as wrong.  For many people, it can be difficult to see God at work in the world around us, particularly if God is doing something unexpected."
"There are some remarkable examples of that kind of blindness in the readings we heard this morning, and slavery is wrapped up in a lot of it.  Paul is annoyed at the slave girl who keeps pursuing him, telling the world that he and his companions are slaves of God.  She is quite right.  She’s telling the same truth Paul and others claim for themselves.  But Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness.  Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it.  It gets him thrown in prison.  That’s pretty much where he’s put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God’s nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so!    The amazing thing is that during that long night in jail he remembers that he might find God there – so he and his cellmates spend the night praying and singing hymns."
"An earthquake opens the doors and sets them free, and now Paul and his friends most definitely discern the presence of God.  The jailer doesn’t – he thinks his end is at hand.  This time, Paul remembers who he is and that all his neighbors are reflections of God, and he reaches out to his frightened captor.  This time Paul acts with compassion rather than annoyance, and as a result the company of Jesus’ friends expands to include a whole new household.  It makes me wonder what would have happened to that slave girl if Paul had seen the spirit of God in her."

Well I have no words to that Thought the above bloggers makes a good case for the rather obvious counterpoints for this view. .

I am curious how some folks with same sex attraction will feel being compared to a demon possessed Fortune Teller by an friend in the progressive Christian camp. Usually that comparison is done by some in the other camp across the aisle.

Anyway it is an interesting compare and contrast that puts into some dramatic relief that the divisions in Christianity are great on some matters that were just commonly accepted 50 years ago.

If the Presiding Bishop is endorsing rortune Tellers and others folks we shall leave for another day.


Why Pope Francis Does Not Distribute Communion at Mass

Perhaps I am the last person that does Pope blog things  to realize that this significant change has happened. From past history and comments of the Pope Francis Sandro Magister gives us an answer. See Why Pope Francis Doesn't Give Communion

Obedience to Petrine Office Doesn't Depend on " Liking" the Pope" Says Shrewsbury Bishop

From the UK I found a wonderful and insightful homily by the Bishop of Shrewsbury Mark Davies that he gave this past Mothers Day. An overview and the full text is here at Bishop of Shrewsbury: loyalty to the Pope is not based on personal 'likes' or 'dislikes'

He interesting notes that he is seeing signs that the UK media is souring a bit on Pope Francis. He also makes an interesting and indeed true observation that people really misinterpret St Francis , the Pope's namesake, even today. It's an excellent homily with some good teaching insights.

Here is just a part :

Pope Francis has himself become the focus of fascination in the media - much as his Blessed predecessor John Paul II was following his election in 1978. I can’t remember how many times I have been asked everywhere from radio stations to petrol stations whether I liked the new Pope? To the Catholic mind this is a strange question as the loyalty we owe to the Pope is not based upon personal “likes” or “dislikes”. My invariable reply is that “We love the Pope whoever he is.” This may seem just as puzzling to my questioners. Those long experienced in the media warn of something we may already see taking shape and will require of us the very supernatural perspective Pope Francis urges. They tell of how a public personality can be built up in the media. In this case, it is based on the Pope’s evident goodness and an informal style which is then contrasted even with his most saintly predecessors. Expectations are subtly or less subtly raised that this is the man who will change the Catholic faith itself in accordance with the commentator’s own wishes and agenda. However, when the Pope fails to conform to these false expectations a souring begins to take place.

I noticed only last week a concern being expressed in our national media that our Holy Father is proving as “hard-line” as his predecessors. “Likes” may quickly turn to “dislikes” in the public forum.
We know, as Catholics, that the loyalty we owe to the Pope is greater than the passing loyalties people give to political figures or celebrity personalities whose popularity may fade. Our loyalty is given to the Pope because he is the one called to take the Chair of St. Peter in our time and to continue an Apostolic ministry for us. Here I wish to make a heartfelt plea. In our life-times, we have been gifted with great and saintly Popes. We think of the Venerable Paul VI, Blessed John Paul II and our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. I have no doubt that generations of Catholics to come will continue to find great encouragement in their profound teaching and courageous example. However, the media often misunderstood their witness. And so I hope today amidst the sometimes superficial focus of the media we won’t fail to appreciate the gift the Church has now received in the witness and teaching of Pope Francis.

Read it all

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pressing Senator Mary Landrieu on the HHS Contraception Mandate

Senator Mary Landrieu is going to be up for election again next year and she needs to be pressed on a few issues. One of those issue is the HHS Contraception mandate. On that note Micah Murphy from Shreveport has a good post on this at Landrieu’s Religious Dishonesty Bears Rotten Fruit . We need to be seeing more of this and people that are concerned about religious liberty should be pressing this issue at her public appearances.

Here is some questions I would ask.

First does she agree with the Obama administration position that corporations ( even the common small business L.L.C. ) has no standing even to get to court on the issue. Does Senator Mary Landrieu. think there is some sort of of Separation of Faith and Work at play here ? This issue is being played out right now in these HHS Contraception mandate cases.

Second she needs to be pressed on how in her view this does not violate the The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 which was passed by a huge bipartisan majority

That is can the HHS contraception mandate burden religion because it  meets the following.

1) be justified by a compelling governmental interest and
(2) law or policy must be narrowly tailored to achieve that goal or interest and
(3) The law or policy must be the least restrictive means for achieving that interest, that is, there cannot be a less restrictive way to effectively achieve the compelling government interest.

I think its problematic on all three parts but very much fails as to the least restrictive means test. The Government could have done a direct grant etc .This is a very good easy to understand overview of why the HHS mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. I suggest reading that and then pressing our good Senator on these issues.

:Last but not least Senator Landrieu needs to be pressed on how we can limited this " just " to birth control. A fact that many people of Faith that have no problems with contraception themselves. If we can just ignore the RFRA today then why can't we ignore it as to things like abortion and other ethical problems for folks tomorrow.

LSU to Have LGBT Graduation ?

I mentioned earlier I was without phone and internet for about 5 days through a power company mistake. My main source of news was the cable and I have to say I am tad Cleveland kidnapping story out.

So I missed a lot of news most of which I get through social media. One item I missed was Louisiana State University Sponsoring Gay Graduation Ceremony

I will be the first to admit that LSU graduations because of the class size are not the most intimate of affairs. Still a gay graduation ? Its hard to see how this idea could be limited. What about a LSU Newman Club graduation , or  College Republican club graduation. In fact one would have to think FRAT only graduations would be a hit.

Not sure LSU is thinking this through.

The Difference Between Texas & New York In Helping Small Business

 Law Prof Josh Blackman takes a critical look at a New York Times article on the libertarian nature of Texas as to regulations on such things as business regulations in Texas. The article has the recent West Texas explosion working in the background. See “Antipathy Toward Regulations” After West, Texas Explosion

I though he made an interesting person observation at the end.

I have a somewhat related comparison between living in New York and Texas, which has suited me quite well. Recently, I had to file the state franchise taxes for the LLC I incorporated in Texas this year. The process was absolutely painless. The website not only walked me through the process–no need to buy any software–but told me that based on my paltry revenues in 2012, I was below the “no-tax-due threshold.” In other words, I owed nothing. This small vignette stands in stark contrast to my previous experiences with corporate taxes. When I was in college, I incorporated a business in New York to provide web design services. My first year in business, I think I paid more in taxes and tax-preparation fees than I earned in revenue. In the second year, it about evened out. By the third year, I said forget it, it wasn’t worth paying all the taxes. I would operate as a sole proprietor  I shut down the corporation (at some cost). These are the costs that are hidden with regulatory burdens–the company that simply ceases to exist. This was an early foray into shrugging.

Back Again !!

The power company was replacing transformers outside my house  and managed to shut of my phone and internet for about 5 days. Did not miss the phone but its pretty amazing how much I missed social media for things like news.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cambridge's Polynices - The Greek Tragedy Antigone & The Need To Bury Terrorist Tamerlan Tsarnaev

N]one shall entomb him or mourn but leave him unwept, unsepulchered, a welcome object for the birds, when they spy him, to feast on at will.

Prof Robert Hockett via Mirrors of Justice has some thoughts on the need to give Tamerlan Tsarnaev a proper burial . See Cambridge's Polynices

Statement From Southern Baptist Convention On Military Religious Liberty Issues Strikes Right Tone

Russell Moore, president-elect of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) have issued a statement on variety of religious liberty issues as to the military that has been in the news so much.

The statement that is linked  is worth reading in full See   Moore, Ezell address military religious freedom . First it looks at four recent incidents and show the results of their investigation. Showing also they moved move pretty quickly to look into complaints. They also make a point of saying everyone needs to be careful about every conspiracy theory they hear.

They also state that they are concerned about lets say some " smoke " ( my word not theirs ) and continued dialogue with the military is needed.

They end their letter I think on a important note .From their statement:

.........We ask then, and expect, from our military leaders, and from their civilian
command, clarification of a commitment to safeguarding religious liberty, including the
right for all servicemen and women to share their faith, short of coercion or harassment.
This would entail a less subjective and more precise definition of such coercion and
harassment, beyond the ambiguous language of “proselytizing.”

Our military men and women have submitted themselves to the authority of the
United States armed services. They have not placed their souls or their consciences or
their constitutional rights in a blind trust. Moreover, we reaffirm what our country has
always recognized, that chaplains do not serve a merely civic function. They are there in
order to facilitate the First Amendment-guaranteed free exercise of religion for our
servicemen and women. That is only possible if these chaplains are free to be,
respectively, Baptists or Catholics or Jews or Muslims or Latter-day Saints, etc., rather
than merely ministers of some generic American civil religion.

We pledge to continue meeting with military leaders to ensure civil conversation
about religious liberty. We also pledge to continue meeting with elected and appointed
officials in the political arena, to ensure that constitutionally guaranteed religious
freedoms are maintained. We further pledge to work with persons of good will to ensure
that our First Freedom is maintained, in the military and in the civilian arenas, as we
render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, but not that which belongs only to God.

The Virgin Mary & Traditional Catholic Devotions At Center of Pope Francis 's Life

Vatican Insider took a look at the as of as of yet a little remarked on facet of Pope Francis. See Pope Francis is attached to traditional devotions and is not afraid to show it

Deep South Catholicism - Archbishop Rodi of Mobile Blesses the Fishing Fleet In Bayou La Batre Alabama

 The 64th annual Blessing of the Fleet is held Sunday, May 5, 2013, in Bayou La Batre, Ala. Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi and other clergy lowered a wreath into the bayou as a remembrance to those lost at sea, then continued down the bayou as they blessed the parading vessels and those docked along the parade route (Mike Brantley/

It is that time of the year in the South where we do the Blessings of the Shrimp and Fishing  Fleets. So it's apt that one of today we look at the historic Archdiocese of Mobile where the arrival of Catholicism in the region traces its origins to the early Spanish and French explorations and permanent settlements at Pensacola, Florida in 1696, and in Mobile in 1702 .

The Mobile newspaper has a nice write up and a vid  here at  Blessing in the Bayou: Archbishop Thomas Rodi delivers annual blessing of boats in Bayou La Batre. 

As the article note many fishermen see this as a MUST DO .

There is also a nice photo gallery here. 

After 17 Month Wait Pope Francis Appoints Aux Bishop Mark Seitz Bishop of El Paso

The Diocese of El Paso finally has a Bishop being without one since late 2011. This morning the news came from Rome that Pope Francis  appointed  Auxiliary Bishop Mark Seitz of Dallas, 59, as bishop of El Paso, Texas .

The delay on getting a Bishop appointed to such a important and Catholic heavy area that is  the Diocese of El Paso has been of much talk. Rocco Palmo in his post gets into those issues and also the fact that is Anglo appointment to a very heavy Latino Diocese.  See Border Crossed – After 17 Month Wait, Pope Taps Dallas' Seitz for El Paso

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A New Role For the Catholic Parish Choir - Your Deathbed

Get Religion looks at an interesting article by Jaweed Kaleem who is the the national religion reporter for The Huffington Post. See The powerful ghost in the death choir story .

This appears to be a sort of ecumenical movement with a emphasis on the spiritual not so much religious lyrics.

It would be interesting if any Catholic group of singers has a similar group of singers in the country.  Hospice and other related services are a big part of the Catholic Health system. This seems like a wonderful idea and I can think the revival we are seeing in some forms of Catholic music could place a nice role here.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Do the Freedom From Religion Foundation & Atheists Have A Marketing Problem Or Diversity Problem

There is always the interesting question and debate among Christians. How much is your politics affected by religion and is how much is your Faith being polluted by politics.

I often wonder if the same question can be asked among some Atheists.

The above Ad ran in the Washington Post  yesterday. See Friendly Atheist  and his post  FFRF Places Full-Page Anti-National Day of Prayer Ad in Washington Post

Now  I will skip the interesting and selective use of case law in the advert. What leaped out to me was the HUGE BOLD PRINT OF DON'T LET THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT HIJACK OUR SECULAR CONSTITUTION .

Now I am not sure what the National Day of Prayer has to do with the Christian Right. I am not sure the " Christian Right " as we know know it was around in the " I like Ike days ". Also as  the National Day of Prayer at my Courthouse square showed the participants were from a wide range of the theological and political backgrounds. I think that is the norm.

In terms of marketing from the Atheist and groups such as the FFRF the Religious Right is talked about a great deal. The Religious left or progressives not so much

Not that I am complaining or would find that a great move as a Christian to say the least. But sometimes one gets the impression that Atheists pushing the agenda  not only have problems with the Religious Right but the Right in general .

It might be not intentional , but I do wonder if how Atheist market their issues might turn off a good many atheist , agnostic  conservatives and Libertarians people of no Faith .

It is  popular and indeed very good politically if one is from the Atheist left to go after a Dallas Baptist preacher on his comments on Obama and Mitt Romney. However when the Nuns on the Bus and their various allies says a Christian CANNOT vote for Paul Ryan because of youthful Ayn Rand reading & possible Libertarian heresies its crickets.

I have seen little established  Atheist Agnostic outrage on all the Church involvement , use of scripture, Vatican documents, U.S. Catholic and Protestant Church positions on the gun debate. In fact one of the more important Catholic publications in the United States now has as it's official position to REPEAL THE SECOND AMENDMENT.  I find that curious.

Of course I realize it is more popular and PC to go after Pat Robertson than let us say Nuns on the Bus . THOUGH  a few did point out that problem .

Again I am not sure this is intentional but its an interesting play on how one politics effects the orthodoxy of Faith or in this case No Faith

In reality this has an effect on people of Faith and No Faith that should be raise some alarm bells since the rise of the nones as they say is on the rise.

For instance observe this Atheist treatment of First Amendment values on the College Campus. Contrast that to the position of F.I.R.E on this same issue . F.I.R.E by the way was in part founded by two Atheist and is now headed by one

The problem the issue that F.I.R.E brings up are often off the radar of many Atheist groups that get the news and are in position of power. In effect is the Atheist faith in a way being held hostage to a certain political viewpoint .

On one hand there are many Atheist groups that raise the alarm bells on Christians to " control women's bodies ". The same fervor and devotion is not really shown to Christians that wish to "control your paycheck" through taxes .

Now to be clear I think RELIGION plays a needed role in issues from what should a wage mandated by law to immigration policy. I think Christian morality plays a role in that and needs to influence the public square.

However the point is rather if they mean too or not it does seem atheist appeals are selective on Christians in the public square.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Is Louisiana Political Factions Hating Each Other Progress ( Rod Dreher Piece )

Rod Dreher had a good post today How Will We Know Whom To Hate If The Media Don’t Tell Us? . 

He sort of makes a broader point that goes beyond Louisiana political woes that is good. However I wanted to stay a tad more local. Here is part of Rod's post ( again read it all ) and my comments come after.

I’ve been down in Baton Rouge this morning, meeting with Jay Dardenne, the lieutenant governor of Louisiana, who is in charge of the state government’s culture and tourism efforts. I was there to give him a copy of The Little Way Of Ruthie Leming, and to talk to him about the book’s themes. Turns out that he’d read my essay making the cultural case for coming home to Louisiana, and was eager to read the book and talk about it around the state. That was great to hear.

On the way back to my car, parked near the Capitol, I ran into an old friend who’s a veteran of state politics. We talked for a while about my coming back home, and about Louisiana politics. He said that it’s really toxic now, between Republicans and Democrats, way different from how it was when he first entered the political world. “People got along then,” he said. “You might fight like cats and dogs on the legislative floor, but at the end of the day, you could have a drink together, because you genuinely liked each other. That’s not true anymore. It’s all about Republicans and Democrats now, and being loyal to your tribe. I’m so disgusted with both parties now, on the national level too, because nobody can compromise to get anything done.”
Everybody says that, it seems, but this is a guy who has spent his long career working in politics at the sausage-making level, if you know what I mean. And he’s worn out. Things really have gotten worse. He said he gets so weary of the darkness that drives so much political energy these days — people sitting around thinking the absolute worst of their opponents.

“They don’t see the other side as opponents, but enemies,” I said. “They don’t see the other side as wrong, but evil.”

I went to get lunch, and afterward ran into another friend. Because I was downtown, not far from the Capitol, we talked about politics. He’s a liberal Democrat, and knows I’m a conservative Independent who writes for a conservative magazine; neither of us care about politics enough to let it come between friendship, ours or with anybody else. He mentioned that he had been over at a pal’s house the other day, and spent an hour or two watching MSNBC with him.

“Good grief, you ever do anything like that?” he asked. No, I told him, I don’t watch TV news.
“Don’t,” he said. “After a couple of hours of that stuff, you either hate everybody or hate yourself. It’s poison. I can’t imagine what filling your head with that stuff does to the way you see the world.”

Rod's big picture observation I for the most part agree with but a few observations as to the local scene.

First Government in Louisiana no doubt was a tad more friendly and easy going a while back. Of course one reason was there was a lot more money to spend. When hard choices as to the budget have to be made that affect real people the knives come out. Louisiana has far less money and in fact far far  less population than it has in the past.In fact we have just started to recover over well over two decades of sustained population loss.

Second we have to recall that for decades and decades there was no real two party in this state whatsoever. In fact for most of our history as a State we have operated under a strong Governor one party system with small factions in it. I can recall that only real opposition ideas wise was sometimes the  few voices of folks like Woody Jenkins who was viewed by most as quaint I suppose . After our Financial " Hayride " was over that changed a good bit. Further as we have seen how we we wasted the resources of this State one can question how good the good ole days really were.

However Rod and his friends do have a point. It does seem we have gone from one extreme to the other and that is not healthy at all. That needs to be fixed and quick . How that happens I am not sure.

Will the Jesuits Return To Iraq ? Interview With Jesuit Head In Jordan

I thought this was interesting interview linked in this piece  with the Jesuit Head in Jordan both as  to Christians in Jordan and signs the Jesuits might finally be able to to return to Iraq.

Trinity College Running Over First Amendment Values of Fraternities and Sororities

I have never really thought in deep detail about the First Amendment issues and value questions surrounding Social Fraternities and Sororities on the American College campus except as to a few specific issues.

However the rather jaw dropping actions of Trinity College up in Hartford Conn. has got me thinking about it today. From F.I .R.E. see Trinity College Jettisons Freedom of Association for Greek Organizations and their past Letter to Trinity FIRE Letter to Trinity College President James F. Jones, Jr. 

Basically it seems they pretty much want to ban Frats and Sororities on and indeed OFF CAMPUS .

 I have to think if they were more honest about their approach and just did an alright ban  on Frats about the First Amendment values issues still  raised and indeed there are troubling ones. However it seems the way are doing this ( quotas on members and leadership positions as to Gender etc ) even makes this more problematic. The fact that membership in a social society that is OFF CAMPUS could result in expulsion is even more troubling. That shows even more the wider threat this is to Trinity students that are Frat or not.

Again as always Trinity is a Private College and they do indeed have a First Amendment rights in that matter. However as F.I.R.E points out its important to look at how Trinity has morally and legally bound by its own promises to students that enter.

In an area where colleges either through their administration ( see Vandy ) or their SGA ( see TUFTS ) wish to mute some Christian rights on campus this might should raise some flags.