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    • To my Republican Friends July 6, 2020
      You voted for Trump even though you didn't like him. Doubted his character. Questioned his fitness for the job. Yet, your aversion to Hillary was even greater The post To my Republican Friends first appeared on Spirit of a Liberal.
      Obie Holmen
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      The Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MIPA) recently named Wormwood and Gall as one of three finalists for a Midwest Book Award in the Religion/Philosophy category. The awards program, which is organized by MIPA, recognizes quality in independent publishing in the Midwest. The post Wormwood and Gall a Midwest Book Award Finalist first appeared on S […]
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    • Rob Sheffield Pays Tribute to the “Peaceful and Stormy at the Same Time” Songs of Christine McVie December 6, 2022
      Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone magazine has written a heartfelt and insightful appreciation of the life and music of Christine McVie, who died last Wednesday, November 30.Following, with added images and links, are excerpts from Sheffield’s tribute that particularly caught my attention.Christine McVie always came on like the grown-up in the room, which admit […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • “Your Perception Is a Choice” December 5, 2022
      My friend Iggy is dedicated to facilitating mind and body transformation – within his own life and the lives of others who are similarly interested in holistic personal growth and change. To this end, Iggy’s professional/vocational life involves providing a range of services, including mindset mentoring, naprapathic massage, and personal training in boxing, […]
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    • So the Former US President and Current GOP Candidate for the Presidency Calls for a Coup and the End of US Democracy — And? December 5, 2022
      President Donald J. Trump 2 March 2019, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, MD; official White House photo by Tia Dufour, at Wikimedia CommonsHeather Cox Richardson, "Letters from an American: December 3, 2002":The leader of the Republican Party has just called fo […]
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      I've now succeeded in setting up an account on Mastodon.My handle there is @wdlindsy@toad.socialPlease feel free to connect to me there if you wish. I'm hoping to reconnect via Mastodon to as many of the friends and conversation partners I had on Twitter, with whom I've lost touch after I left Twitter when Musk acquired it. I'm a total no […]
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    • A saint for the millenials: Carlo Acutis beatified today in Assisi. October 10, 2020
       A saint for the millenials: the young Italian teen, Carlo Acutis, who died in 2006 of galloping Leukemia, will be beatified today in Assisi by Pope Francis (last step before being officially declared a saint). Carlo came from a luke warm Catholic family, but at the age of 7, when he received his first 'Holy Communion', he displayed an astonishing […]
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    • Ronan Park and Jack Vidgen: The Travails of Gay Pop Stars October 28, 2019
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    • We the People December 6, 2022
      We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.Trump has called for ... Why? So […]
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Gay Marriage: Catholic Bishops’ Assault on Religious Freedom.

“Freedom of religion” is an important principle in the constitutions of the United States, and of many other countries. It has also been firmly endorsed in Catholic teaching. It is right and proper that Catholic Bishops should be speaking up for religious freedom, wherever it is threatened.

In the debates over marriage equality, however, their appropriation of the mantle to support their arguments is appalling Orwellian newspeak. They are not defending religious freedom here, but undermining it.

None of the marriage equality legislation anywhere, already passed, or under consideration, imposes same -sex marriage on anyone. To repeat the obvious, if your religious beliefs leave you opposed to same-sex marriage, the remedy is simple: don’t marry the same sex. If, as a minister of religion leaves you unable to conduct a same-sex wedding, don’t do it.  Equality legislation will no force you to do either of these things.

However, prohibiting legal recognition of same-sex nuptials restricts the religious freedom of those religions who value equality. In January this year, two senior lesbian priests of the Episcopal Church celebrated their wedding in Boston Cathedral. Last year, the British Quakers made direct representations to government, for approval for full, gender-neutral religious weddings. Many other religious groups, including the MCC, the United Church, some dioceses of the Episcopal Church, and local congregations of other denominations, are practicing full marriage equality. Their numbers are growing. LGBT atheists too are entitled to religious freedom, and expect civil (not religious), discrimination-free marriage. Where does enshrining marital discrimination protect religious freedom?

“Freedom of Religion” is about respect by the state for people to practice their religion, and to live their lives, in a manner congruent to their religious beliefs. It does not confer the right of one religious group to impose their beliefs on others – which is what some Catholic bishops are attempting to do.

Notably absent from the bishops’ claims on gay marriage, is any supporting references from the Gospels. (Not surprising. There are none). At “What Jesus Did Do”, where Brandon Parks has a strong emphasis on precisely this, I found a post on the topic from May this year, but which has particular relevance now to the Catholic bishops. Here’s an extract:

Gay Rights and Freedom of Religion : What Jesus did Do.

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Catholic Bishops, Gay Marriage: “the Outer Fringes of Crazy Town”

Catholic mothers, like all others, delight in their offsprings’ weddings – and those of other family members. They are not alone. Weddings are the occasions of major family gatherings, where we gather to celebrate with them, cement the family bonds and interrelationships that have been set up by earlier weddings when we catch up with news from those members we only see at weddings and funerals, and lubricate the family bonding with suitable refreshments, music and dance.

Such celebrations apply to all couples, opposite-sex or same-sex. A few months ago, a colleague told me that his son was preparing for a civil partnership with his then boyfriend – and my friend gave me a regular running commentary of the hoops his wife and son were making him jump through in the wedding preparations, from early visits to (gay) wedding shows and expos, to choosing the outfits, to planning the “wedding” reception. When my niece married her wife on a Cape Town beach a few years ago, my staunchly Catholic mother and the rest of the family gathered from across the country to celebrate with her, just as they regularly do for all family weddings.

All this is to do far, far more than simply “congratulate” the new spouses. Yet in New York, a report at Unicorn Booty claims that Archbishop Timothy Dolan has “forbidden” Catholics from even congratulating gay or lesbian newly-weds:

But then the decree takes a sharp right turn and steers right off a cliff into Even Crazier Town, the affluent suburb to the north of Crazy Town proper’s city limits.

Dolan, on behalf of the Catholic Church, forbids Catholics from even being happy for their newly married gay friends or offering congratulations. Failure to comply with this perversion of law from their all-knowing, all-loving god that hates some of the things he lovingly created in his own image will result in canonical sanctions – a fancy way of saying priest court.

Oh, and stay the F away from Catholic churches, homos.

– Unicorn Booty

Now, the writer of this has himself veered off into Crazy Town – there is not a word in the decree to prevent Catholics from congratulating or celebrating with lesbian or gay newly weds, just a ban on doing it on Church property, or by Church personnel. One of the tragic features of (some) bishops’ crazed, irrational overreaction to gay marriage, has been the crazed, irrational overreaction to the Catholic Church from (some) secular gay activists.

There is, however, good reason nevertheless to conclude that Catholic bishops’ reactions to gay marriage, in the US and in Scotland, have taken them to the outer fringes of crazy town – but not for the reasons  given by Kevin Farrell at Unicorn Booty.

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Gay Marriage: The Fallacy of the “Catholic” Argument Against.

Writing in El Paso Times, Texan priest Fr Michael Rodriguez has launched an impassioned diatribe against all forms of legal recognition for same sex union. His ranting could easily be dismissed as the lunatic fringe, but as so many Catholic catechismophiles share his ridiculous claims and assumptions, I think it is worth responding in full. This is his key assertion:

Remember: Every single Catholic, out of fidelity to charity and truth, has the absolute duty to oppose (1) the murder of unborn babies, and (2) any and all government attempts to legalize homosexual unions.”

Sergius & Bacchus: Lovers, Martyrs, & symbol of Christian Same sex Unions

Not content to invent a supposed moral obligation to oppose all forms of union, he goes even further:

“Any Catholic who supports homosexual acts is, by definition, committing a mortal sin, and placing himself/herself outside of communion with the Roman Catholic Church.”

Furthermore, a Catholic would be guilty of a most grievous sin of omission if he/she neglected to actively oppose the homosexual agenda, which thrives on deception and conceals its wicked horns under the guises of “equal rights,” “tolerance,” “who am I to judge?,” etc.

What has he been smoking? He claims to base his words on a pastoral letter of the US bishops, which says, in part:

“It is not unjust to oppose legal recognition of same-sex unions, because marriage and same-sex unions are essentially different realities. The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it.”

Now I disagree with the bishops’ stance, but it as least an understandable, coherent position. It’s a big leap, though, to go from “it is not unjust to oppose…”, to saying that there exists an “absolute duty to oppose …“ Continue reading

The democratic polity of the ELCA

As an ELCA Lutheran who experienced graduate studies at a Catholic School of Theology (Benedictine St John’s University of Collegeville, Minnesota), it is my perspective that the greatest difference between Lutheranism and Catholicism is ecclesiological.  Since the Roman Catholic hierarchy is a prime focus of this blog, allow me to explain the polity of the ELCA for whatever such information may be worth.

The ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—the ELCA makes it clear that “Evangelical” is an historical term and implies no relationship with the 20th century evangelical movement) is the largest American Lutheran denomination (roughly 4.5 million members), ahead of the Missouri Synod (LCMS–slightly over 2 million members), Wisconsin Synod (WELS–less than half a million members), and numerous smaller Lutheran organizations.  The ELCA is also the only moderate Lutheran denomination, and the others are all considerably more conservative.  The predecessors to the ELCA began ordaining women over forty years ago (the others do not), and at the 2009 church wide assembly, the ELCA voting members voted to allow gay clergy in relationships (defined as “publicly accountable, lifelong, and monogamous”).  Prior to 2009, the ELCA policy had allowed gay clergy only if they promised to remain celibate.

ELCA Assembly Applause, 2009

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What’s happening in my Lutheran world

For my first post to this collaborative effort, I will borrow a previous post from my own blog, because it serves to define what has been happening in my world.  I am an ELCA Lutheran, and I was present at the historic assembly this August when gay clergy and blessing of gay relationships was ratified by the voting members.  I’m a gay ally, and I was at the assembly as a Goodsoil volunteer, which is a Lutheran LGBT advocacy group that has been around for awhile.  This post appeared immediately after the momentous vote.

Since then, a dissident group called Lutheran CORE has been saber rattling and causing many congregations to withhold funds from the mission of the national church.  A trickle of congregations is following the constitutional process of withdrawing from the ELCA.  More about post-assembly machinations to follow.

“They called the question!”

When the facilitator in the darkened computer room made this announcement, many abandoned their computer screens and scrambled back to the floor of the assembly.  Others, tweeters mostly, remained at the ready to release the news – what news? – into cyberspace.

Up in the Goodsoil Central room, LGBT folks, some volunteers but others gathered from around the twin cities to share in this moment, clustered around a big screen TV monitor, clutching the prayer scrawls wrapped warmly around their shoulders.  A horde of red vested volunteers left their desks or their floor monitoring stations and assembled around the big screen in the registration area.

Was this another false alarm?  The question had been called at 11:00 a.m. but the vote to stop debate failed.  The plenary session was adjourned for the midday worship service and those with differing views shared bread and wine together.  Then came the lunch break followed by other scheduled business.  In mid-debatersafternoon, the question was called a second time, but again the motion to end debate failed and emotional three minutes speeches continued rapid fire, first from the red mike, then the green, then red again.

The tone of some was harsh: “Are you willing to jeopardize your mortal soul?” asked one, but that was the exception; most expressed the angst of interior wrestling, along with Jacob at the ford of the Jabbok, to discern the will of God.  Some reached across the aisle to touch their brother as if to say, “I disagree, but I know your heart, and it is pure.”

The motion to end debate and call the question succeeded on the third try, and the hall hushed as Bishop Hanson said, “Let us pray.”  And then came the electronic vote, “push one for yes, two for no,” intoned the bishop.  Seen only by him, the tally appeared on the Bishop’s monitor; he hesitated for a moment, and then said, “when the results appear on the big screen, please do not respond with clapping or cheering but with prayer.”

559 yes, 451 no.

prayers No one was surprised, but the moment had arrived.  Gays who love their God but also love another would be allowed to serve as ordained, rostered leaders of their church.  Openly.  Recognized and supported.  The reaction among a thousand voting members and another thousand assembled guests and observers was muted.  By twos and threes and fours and fives, the children of God huddled together in tears and prayer, some in joyous thanksgiving and others in grief.

Thy will be done.