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    • Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand September 15, 2014
      Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand: A Vietnam Soldier's Story has just been released. The title comes from a stanza of the gospel traditional, Down by the Riverside, with its refrain--"Ain't gonna study war no more." Golden Sand is a bold, dark, and intense retelling of the Vietnam experience through the eyes of an army scout that is […]
      Obie Holmen
    • Gay Games Symposium July 21, 2014
      I am pleased and honored that the UCC has asked me to moderate a symposium during the games entitled Queer Christians: Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future. [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
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    • Quote of the Day April 27, 2017
      NOTE: Today's Quote of the Day is an excerpt from the April 25 eulogy by Étienne Cardiles [left] for his husband Xavier Jugelé [below], who was killed last week on Paris' famed Champs-Elysees by Karim Cheurfi, a 39-year-old Frenchman, in an attack claimed by ISIS.I suffer without hatred. I borrow this formula from Antoine Leiris [whose wife, Hélène […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Signs of the Times April 25, 2017
      Although I didn't participate in last Saturday's March for Science in St. Paul, I definitely support what it was (and continues to be) all about. And what exactly is it about? Well, the march's organizers describe it as "the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and govern […]
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      The Marian Shrine of Litmanova, Slovakia.Christmas 2017A forest chapel at the Slovakian Marian shrine of Litmanova.Stunning painting of the Sacred Heart inside the forest chapel.
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    • Not Our President November 16, 2016
      To hear the simplistic denial of those who scream out with naiveté “give Trump a chance” as they condemn others engaged in selfless protest against a certain political and social tsunami in the making, is to ignore his life-time public embrace of policies that tens of millions reject as not just destructive, but evil per se. They are not mistaken.Those in st […]
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    • Another World is Neccessary: Anarchism, Christianity and the Race from the White House July 30, 2008
      I’ll be presenting at the upcoming Jesus Radicals conference in Columbus, Ohio. My session (on the relationship between Church and State) will be on Friday afternoon. If you’re in the area, drop by. I’d love to meet some of the folks who frequent this site. Here’s the info: August 15-16, 2008 St. John’s Episcopal 1003 W Town Columbus, OH [...]ShareThis […]
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    • This little piggy April 27, 2017
      - Berryessa Snow Mountain National MonumentIt seems every day brings new scary awful stuff courtesy of Trump. Today it's his plan to have the wonders of oil drilling ans coal mining brought to our national monuments, like Berryessa Snow Mountain near where I live ... Don’t mess with California’s national monuments.But hey, the west coast will probably b […]
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John Allen on Vatican Critics as Sharks Out for Blood: That’s One Way of Looking at It

Followers of Vaticanologist (and, increasingly, Vatican head cheerleader) John Allen at National Catholic Reporter will find his latest screed at that site interesting, I think.  It compares critics of the Vatican to–get this–sharks.  Sharks circling in the water, who are now revved up by the blood they sense leaking out of the poor old Vatican as it encounters one hard knock after another in recent weeks.

Allen writes, “Right now, people with a beef against the Vatican smell blood in the water.”  And, later:”The novelty [of the current situation] is instead the brazenness of these outbursts, which suggest a sense of a wounded foe.”

And as I wrote yesterday in a comment yet to appear at the NCR site, that’s one way to look at it.

But another might be to see the current critical reaction to the Vatican in places like deeply Catholic Ireland as a manifestation of a longstanding and very powerful desire among faithful Catholics to see the papacy finally do what it’s meant to do, according to the gospels.  And that’s to serve.  Not to dominate.  Not to rule.  Not to issue orders and condemnations.

To serve.  To serve as Jesus served.  To serve the unity of the body of Christ with a papacy embodying the ideal of service that Jesus bequeathed as the supreme ideal for those who seek to exercise leadership in the Christian community: to be the servus servorum Christi.

Maybe the “sharks” circling in the water aren’t smelling blood.  And maybe they’re not sharks at all.  Maybe they’re actually faithful Catholics who are delighted to see the imperial structures of a papacy modeled more on the values of Caesar than those of Christ crumbling before our eyes.

Crumbling because it has behaved in imperial ways rather than embodying Christ’s ideal of service.

John Allen has made much over the years out of the notion that Benedict represents a springtime of new evangelism in the Catholic church.  St. Francis, who laid the spiritual foundations of the Capuchins who taught John Allen as a schoolboy in Kansas, famously said that we evangelize far more by doing than by saying.

Maybe faithful Catholics celebrating the demise of the imperial papacy aren’t sharks circling in the water at all: maybe we take heart at the thought that the crumbling of those imperial structures might, just might, begin to allow the papacy to do what it claims it’s all about–that is, embody the values of Christ for the church and the world in its own actions–as it proclaims the Christian message to us.

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