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      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 […]
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      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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      . . . help us sing the story of our land.Recently my friend Pete and I watched Terrence Malick's 2005 film The New World. It's a beautifully rendered historical drama depicting the founding of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia and inspired by the historical figures Captain John Smith (played by Colin Farrell), Pocahontas (Q'orianka Kilcher) […]
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      Let me tell you: The facts are out. In Minneapolis, black people are almost nine times more likely to be arrested for minor offenses than white people. Black youth are almost six times more likely than their white peers to be arrested for low-level crimes. Black people consistently report bias in how they are treated by police, and the numbers support this. […]
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      And two more Thanksgiving videos for you this morning (with greetings and a statement of appreciation for readers outside the U.S., who aren't celebrating this American national holiday): the video at the head of the posting, featuring Appalachian singer Sam Gleaves reminding us that we're brothers and sisters under the skin despite our incidental […]
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    • God's Mercy and Hate Rhetoric in the U.S. Public Square: A Thanksgiving Meditation November 26, 2015
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      - Pope Francis is visiting Kenya, then Uganda, and then the Central African Republic. The African Catholic Church is the fastest growing, but it's also the most conservative. Kaya Oakes at Religion Dispatches addresses this: Will Pope’s African Tour Change Attitudes on Divorce and LGBTQ Among African Catholics?- The Vatican is charging with crimes two j […]
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Cardinal Dolan’s Neocon Cheerleader

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

Since Pope Benedict announced his resignation  only one of the potential successors  (Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi) offers hope for a more moderate papacy. So while conservatives are unlikely to be disappointed, prominent American Catholic neo-con Michael Novak is rooting for Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York.  Indeed, if Novak’s one man dream team were to ascend to the Chair of Saint Peter, neo-conservatives like Novak would have the ability influence world events beyond their wildest dreams.  

And if Novak’s dream comes true it would certainly involve the kind of  state-based faith and buccaneer capitalism I have written a lot about.  As typical of many American neocons, Novak began his political odyssey on the Socialist Left but over time, lurched over to the neoconservative Right.  But he is still a revolutionary in search of a revolution.

Novak is a hyper-libertarian when it comes to money but leans towards collective state power on individual morality. And yet there is something profoundly hypocritical about complaining about any state -role in economics while advocating state directed and enforced neo-orthodox Catholic morality. When it comes to business it’s “laissez-faire”, but individuals including (maybe especially) non-Catholics should be coerced into Novak’s neo-Catholic orthodoxy by the long arm of the law.

We should remember that neo-conservatism is built upon a three-legged stool of nationalism (as opposed to patriotism); laissez-faire capitalism (as opposed to the New Deal legacy variety); and religious orthodoxy (as opposed to religious neutrality). It is with this in mind that I must wonder about Novak’s recent cheerleading for Cardinal Dolan to become the Church’s next pope.

While Novak did not mention Cardinal Dolan by name it isn’t difficult to figure out who he wants running things from Vatican City. The neocon “philosopher” has declared, “it’s time for an English speaking candidate to be considered for the post.” After this was pointed out to Cardinal Dolan in a recent interview, with the added proviso “Novak was also referring to the cultural contribution a U.S. Pope could make acting as a crossroads between European and Hispanic cultures” Dolan replied, “Novak is a very intelligent person and what he says always makes sense.”  

For all of his jovial outward appearances, Gotham’s prelate is a vicious culture warrior. For example, when the Opus Dei bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Robert Finn, was taking heat from the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), he joined Bill Donohue and the Catholic League in waging a scorched earth campaign against them, designed to drain it of money while scaring potential victims from cooperating with SNAP.  Novak, it should be noted, serves on the Catholic League’s Board of Advisors, along with other Catholic neocons. The Cardinal has also gone to war against the Affordable Care Act while blunting Catholic criticism of GOP Congressman Paul Ryan’s Ayn Rand, libertarian-inspired budget plan.

While Dolan might be the neconservative’s man, Novak’s cheer leading for him is about more than the papacy.  

It is no secret that neo-conservatism has taken a big hit since the debacle of the Iraq War and the halcyon days of  the Bush administration.  Indeed, some of the more pointed criticism of the 2003 invasion has come from the Vatican. Beyond that, much to neocon chagrin even the Papacy of Benedict XVI has denounced the libertarian economics favored by the likes of Robert George, George Weigel and Mr. Novak himself.

Short and sweet:  having a pope who speaks their language sure would help the Catholic necons rebound out of the doldrums.


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