Philocrites : Scrapbook : November 2005 Archive

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

How to ignore the Vatican's ruling on gay priests

Quoted 11.30.05:

There is a reason this kind of document is open to such widely divergent interpretations by Church leaders: It was designed that way. Americans raised in a pragmatic political culture like to have things spelled out; we want terms defined and no loose ends. But Vatican documents are designed to achieve a studied ambiguity. Besides, as a priest explained to me, "Rome always wants to be able to say in 50 years, 'Oh, well we never meant that!'"

Michael Sean Winters, New Republic Online 11.30.05, reg req'd

God save the queens

Quoted 11.30.05:

[Nearly 500 years after a German monk, Martin Luther, married a nun and launched the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church] is still loudly upholding celibacy. Why? Because the Roman Catholic hierarchy has become predominantly homosexual, and celibacy has become its most effective smoke screen. No wonder the Catholic clergy clings to it with teeth and claws. Were Catholic priests allowed to marry, their cover would at last be blown wide open.

Uta Ranke-Heinemann, SoMA Review 11.16.05

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Aslan the anti-Christ

Quoted 11.29.05:

Aslan the lion, the Christ symbol, who has exasperated generations of freethinking parents and delighted generations of worried Anglicans, is, after all, a very weird symbol for that famous carpenter’s son—not just an un-Christian but in many ways an anti-Christian figure. . . .

[A] central point of the Gospel story is that Jesus is not the lion of the faith but the lamb of God, while his other symbolic animal is, specifically, the lowly and bedraggled donkey. The moral force of the Christian story is that the lions are all on the other side. If we had, say, a donkey, a seemingly uninspiring animal from an obscure corner of Narnia, raised as an uncouth and low-caste beast of burden, rallying the mice and rats and weasels and vultures and all the other unclean animals, and then being killed by the lions in as humiliating a manner as possible—a donkey who reëmerges, to the shock even of his disciples and devotees, as the king of all creation—now, that would be a Christian allegory. A powerful lion, starting life at the top of the food chain, adored by all his subjects and filled with temporal power, killed by a despised evil witch for his power and then reborn to rule, is a Mithraic, not a Christian, myth.

Adam Gopnik, New Yorker 11.21.05

Rev Billy's Church of Stop Shopping

Quoted 11.29.05:

Whether this is theater or religion remains an open question. I have come to see a man expound a moral truth to a crowd of believers while his choir sings hymns from the dais behind him -- in a church no less. So how is that different from any religion? If the preacher is a fake, but he preaches his sermon sincerely to a crowd of authentic believers, is it an act or is it conviction?

Brad Tytel, The Revealer 11.28.05

Monday, November 28, 2005

Mr and Mrs God?

Quoted 11.28.05:

As a trained biblical theologian turned archaeologist, [William] Dever spent more than 30 years excavating in Israel trying to understand the people who gave rise to today's monotheistic religions. In various inscriptions and artifacts, he's uncovered evidence that suggests many people in ancient Israel worshiped a Mr. and Mrs. God -- Yahweh and a goddess named Asherah.

Faye Flam, Philadelphia Inquirer 11.28.05

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Kosher Christmas

Quoted 11.27.05:

My wife and I are both Jewish, we're raising our kids in the Jewish faith, and yet somewhere in our marriage contract, a Santa Clause made it into the final draft.

Shawn Peters, Boston Globe Magazine 11.27.05, reg req'd

In 'Jesus and Yahweh,' Harold Bloom takes bleak view of interfaith dialogue

Quoted 11.27.05:

Jesus and Yahweh: The Loves Divine, by Harold BloomDespite [Harold Bloom's] studies of Christian theology and his daily commerce with Christian scholars, he does not find himself in a position to endorse the notion of Jewish-Christian dialogue. Quoting the biblical scholar Jacob Neusner, he claims that "the two religions represent 'different people talking about different things to different people.'" The Christian God the Father bears only the slightest resemblance to Yahweh. Different people are talking about different things. The theological Jesus Christ has nothing to do with the God whom Yeshua called his father -- as Bloom remarks, they never met. Greek theology and Hebraic experience have nothing in common. Modern American Christianity certainly offers no hope of productive dialogue.

Frank Kermode, New York Review of Books 12.1.05, sub req'd

Episcopal school gives children 12 hours of refuge every day

Quoted 11.27.05:

Tucked between Codman Square and Fields Corner, [Epiphany School] takes in children whose worlds can sometimes be filled with chaos, neglect, and violence -- and devoid of role models or even warm meals and housing. Rather than ignore those forces or battle them one by one, the school has tried to create a competing and almost all-encompassing universe where students can not only learn, but grow up.

Megan Tench, Boston Globe 11.27.05, reg req'd; School co-founder John Finley weds (New York Times 11.20.05, reg req'd)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Blogging for dollars

Quoted 11.26.05:

Businesses have noticed the growing readership and influence of these Internet postings and are spending $50 million to $100 million this year on blog advertising and marketing, said Charlene Li, an analyst at Forrester Research, a company that looks at the impact of technology on business and consumers. Recognizing that blogs have become more mainstream, companies are paying for advertisements or mentions on blogs, courting blog writers with public relations efforts and inviting writers to come blog on one of their corporate sites.

Louise Story, New York Times 11.26.05, reg req'd

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Vatican's gay ban depends on local interpretation

Quoted 11.24.05:

"Unless you get a critical mass of bishops and religious superiors who say, Now we can't admit any gay men, I don't think it's going to have any discernible effect," Father Bretzke said. "There are lots of excellent gay priests and seminarians, and we have a priest shortage. We're not exactly in a buyer's market here. If you're not going to ordain gay men, and not going to ordain married men, and not going to ordain women, well then who's left? It's not exactly a big pool."

Laurie Goodstein, New York Times 11.24.05, reg req'd; Vatican bans priests with 'deep-seated homosexual tendencies,' Ian Fisher and Laurie Goodstein, New York Times, 11.23.05, reg req'd

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sam Alito loves religion

Quoted 11.22.05:

When his rulings on religion are taken as a whole, their most noteworthy aspect isn't Alito's independence. Rather, it's his fealty to the view—fervently espoused on the current court by Antonin Scalia—that the government must give religious groups the same access to public benefits that it gives secular ones.

Emily Bazelon, Slate 11.22.05

Orthodox rabbis ban Internet in Jewish homes

Quoted 11.22.05:

The [Lakewood, N.J., Orthodox] community's policy -- formed with the principals of the area's 43 yeshivas, or Jewish private schools, and unveiled in late September -- decrees that any student with home access faces suspension or expulsion on the grounds that even one Internet-corrupted student could sway others. . . .

Lakewood's Jews comprise about a third of the township's population, community leaders said. . . .

If the scene at Lakewood's public library is any indication, the rabbis will not get 100 percent compliance. Last Friday afternoon, six boys in traditional Jewish clothing were surfing the Web.

Jeff Diamant, Star-Ledger 11.21.05, reg req'd

Sunday, November 20, 2005

How Google tamed online advertising

Quoted 11.20.05:

[M]ajor ad buyers still spend a majority of their client's online budgets on banners and display ads and, increasingly, on video commercials. But even in the deployment of these formats, one can see the effects of Google's civilizing influence: these advertisements, for the most part, eschew the strong-arm tactics of earlier times. David Hallerman, senior analyst at eMarketer, said, "Paid search has brought to the fore the cliché 'the consumer is in control,' and there is no going back."

Randall Stross, New York Times 11.20.05, reg req'd

Peter Drucker's religiosity

Quoted 11.20.05:

In 1989, the editors of Leadership, an evangelical quarterly for pastors, asked [Peter Drucker], "After a lifetime of studying management, why are you now turning your attention to the church?"

Mr. Drucker politely corrected them. "As far as I'm concerned, it's the other way around," he said. "I became interested in management because of my interest in religion and institutions."

Peter Steinfels, New York Times 11.19.05, reg req'd

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Lawmaker: Suburban Republicans wary of overturning 'Roe'

Quoted 11.17.05:

At a breakfast gathering of reporters, [Virginia Congressman Tom] Davis said Republicans have a political cushion with voters as long as Roe is intact. Currently, "you can be prolife and no one feels that's a threat to someone having to make a difficult decision" if abortion is illegal, he said.

Nina Easton, Boston Globe 11.17.05, reg req'd

Protestants win delay on bill aimed at Catholic church finances

Quoted 11.17.05:

The legislation would require all religious organizations that have annual revenues of more than $100,000 to file annual financial reports and a list of real estate holdings with the attorney general's charities division. In response, Archbishop Sean O'Malley has laid out plans to release financial information for the archdiocese.

Though the Catholic Church has mounted a strong campaign to defeat the bill, yesterday's last-minute effort was led by the Protestant leaders who felt that their churches were getting caught in a battle over issues in the Catholic Church and that their concerns were not being taken into account.

Frank Phillips, Boston Globe 11.17.05, reg req'd; Church finance bill approved by Senate (AP 11.9.05); earlier: 8.9.05, 8.10.05, 8.11.05

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Investigation: Public Broadcasting chief violated law, CPB rules

Quoted 11.15.05:

Investigators at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting concluded today that its former chairman [Kenneth Y. Tomlinson] repeatedly broke federal law and its own regulations in a campaign to combat what he saw as liberal bias.

Stephen Labaton, New York Times 11.15.05, reg req'd

Monday, November 14, 2005

Who will join Kerry and Clinton in supporting the Workplace Religious Freedom Act?

Quoted 11.14.05:

After raising no objections during the first eight years of the bill's life, abortion rights and gay rights organizations are now pressuring congressional Democrats to oppose the bill, and they're having some success. Their involvement creates the first serious showdown between those Democrats who want to reach out to religious voters and the advocacy groups that have traditionally been among the party's strongest supporters.

Amy Sullivan, Boston Globe 11.13.05, reg req'd

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Conservative lawyers' Federalist Society: KKK is funny!

Quoted 11.13.05:

"Today, when most of the country thinks of who controls Massachusetts, I think the modern-day KKK comes to mind, the Kennedy-Kerry Klan," [Gerald] Walpin, who sits on the [Federalist Society's] board of visitors, said to hearty laughter [at the 35,000-member Society's annual meeting]. "One person who has been victorious against that tide in Massachusetts is Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney."

Scott Helman, Boston Globe 11.10.05, reg req'd; 'Romney distances himself from KKK joke,' AP, Boston.com 11.10.05

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bush's misleading statements about leading the country to war

Quoted 11.12.05:

The administration's overarching point is true: Intelligence agencies overwhelmingly believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and very few members of Congress from either party were skeptical about this belief before the war began in 2003. Indeed, top lawmakers in both parties were emphatic and certain in their public statements.

But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions.

Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus, Washington Post 11.12.05, reg req'd; see also John B. Judis and Spencer Ackerman, 'The First Casualty' (New Republic 6.19.03); Josh Marshall (11.12.05); Kevin Drum (11.14.05)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Senate votes to strip Guantanamo detainees' right to challenge detention

Quoted 11.11.05:

Stop Torture - Unitarian Universalist Service CommitteeThe US Senate yesterday voted to abolish the right of Guantanamo Bay prisoners to challenge the legality of their detention in federal court, a sweeping proposal that would reverse a 2004 Supreme Court ruling, end a pending Supreme Court review of military commissions at the base, and bring to an abrupt halt more than 150 individual detainee cases.

Charlie Savage, Boston Globe 11.11.05, reg req'd

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

How local religious cultures shaped the nation

Quoted 11.09.05:

Randall Balmer argues that the Middle Atlantic states gave us our patterns for dealing with the religious pluralism we face today. "Real liberty of worship in the American republic probably owes more to the fact that William Penn's 'Holy Experiment' worked than to any theory of the separation of church and state," he writes. The region remains a remarkable setting where a plurality of Catholics is joined by nearly half the nation's Jews, a full array of Protestants, and more representatives of Islam and various Eastern religions than any other region save the Pacific. Bowne Street, in Queens, has become an iconic territory, with members of more than 40 congregations of immense variety jostling for parking places.

In contrast to the Middle Atlantic's welcoming of a certain religious and cultural chaos, the South has more recently urged a more "properly ordered" way upon the nation. Paul Harvey argues that we largely have the South to thank for the rise of the religious right to national strength. Southern white evangelicals, now overwhelmingly Republican, are the vanguard of the culture war, defending their view of a properly ordered American way of life.

Nancy Ammerman, review of the Religion by Region series, Christian Century 11.1.05

Monday, November 7, 2005

Vice President fights restrictions on torture

Quoted 11.07.05:

Stop Torture - Unitarian Universalist Service CommitteeOver the past year, Vice President Cheney has waged an intense and largely unpublicized campaign to stop Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department from imposing more restrictive rules on the handling of terrorist suspects, according to defense, state, intelligence and congressional officials.

Dana Priest and Robin Wright, Washington Post 11.7.05, reg req'd

IRS challenges Episcopal church's tax status because sermon said Jesus would oppose Iraq war

Quoted 11.07.05:

The letter [from the IRS] went on to say that "our concerns are based on a Nov. 1, 2004, newspaper article in the Los Angeles Times and a sermon presented at the All Saints Church discussed in the article."

The IRS cited The Times story's description of the sermon as a "searing indictment of the Bush administration's policies in Iraq" and noted that the sermon described "tax cuts as inimical to the values of Jesus."

Patricia Ward Biederman and Jason Felch, Los Angeles Times 11.7.05, reg req'd

Why Catholics are the Supreme Court's new brain

Quoted 11.07.05:

When George H.W. Bush appointed [Clarence] Thomas, it's a good bet that his Catholicism wasn't foremost on the president's mind. But the emergence of the Court's Catholic bloc reflects the reality of social conservatism: Evangelicals supply the political energy, Catholics the intellectual heft.

Franklin Foer, New Republic 11.14.05

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Public Broadcasting board boots Tomlinson

Quoted 11.05.05:

Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the former head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, was forced to step down as a member of its board on Thursday evening.

The move came after the board began reviewing a confidential report by the inspector general of the corporation into accusations about Mr. Tomlinson's use of corporation money to promote more conservative programming.

They included Mr. Tomlinson's decision to hire a researcher to monitor the political leanings of guests on the public policy program "Now" with Bill Moyers; his use of a White House official to set up an ombudsman's office to scrutinize programs for political balance; and secret payments approved by Mr. Tomlinson to two Republican lobbyists.

Stephen Labaton, New York Times 11.4.05, reg req'd; via Romanesko

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Scooter Libby's nasty sex novel

Quoted 11.03.05:

“The Apprentice” -- Libby’s 1996 entry in the long and distinguished annals of the right-wing dirty novel -- tells the tale of Setsuo, a courageous virgin innkeeper who finds himself on the brink of love and war.

Lauren Collins, New Yorker 11.7.05

Why liberalism needs a good fight

Quoted 11.03.05:

The fundamental divide [on the left] is whether you believe that jihadist totalitarianism is produced by a lack of freedom and opportunity, or whether you believe that jihadist totalitarianism is created by American and Western imperialism. The Democratic Party has not fundamentally, internally decided about which of those it believes.

Peter Beinart, Blueprint 10.21.05

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

CIA holds terror suspects in secret prisons

Quoted 11.02.05:

Stop Torture - Unitarian Universalist Service CommitteeThe CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.

The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.

Dana Priest, Washington Post 11.2.05, reg req'd

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Desperation at Guantanamo, where detainees are held outside the law

Quoted 11.01.05:

[Jumah] Dossari's suicide attempt two weeks ago is believed to be the first such event witnessed by an outsider at the prison, and one of several signs that lawyers and human rights advocates contend point to growing desperation among the more than 500 detainees there. Lawyers believe Dossari, who has been in solitary confinement for nearly two years, timed his suicide attempt so that someone other than his guards would witness it, a cry for help meant to reach beyond the base's walls.

Two dozen Guantanamo Bay detainees are currently being force-fed in response to a lengthy hunger strike, and the detainees' lawyers estimate there are dozens more who have not eaten since August. . . .

The hunger strikers are protesting their lengthy confinements in the island prison, where some have been kept for nearly four years and most have never been charged with a crime. The most recent hunger strike came after detention officials allegedly failed to honor promises made during a previous hunger strike.

Josh White, Washington Post 11.1.05, reg req'd