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Quick Thoughts on Cardinal McCarrick

In the last few days, a bombshell story has dropped that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, D.C., has been suspended from ministry as a result of a "credible allegation" of unwanted sexual contact with a minor when he was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.  Here are some unorganized reactions.

1.  Don't Take Your Eye Off the Ball.  I have a prediction--not based on any secret evidence, just a hunch--that the victim who made a "credible accusation of abuse" is male, and was a teenager at the time the event occurred.  Fifteen, sixteen, maybe even seventeen, something like that.  [Edit: turns out I was right]  When that comes to light, and it will, there will be a segment of people who will say "see, this is what gay men do," and others who will say "well, jeeze, I mean, it's not really a kid, right?"

Both of those takes are wrong and beside the point.  The relevant mental category for assessi…

That's Not How Any of This Works

I've been living to see you.
Dying to see you, but it shouldn't be like this.
This was unexpected,
What do I do now?
Could we start again please?
I've been very hopeful, so far.
Now for the first time, I think we're going wrong.
Hurry up and tell me,
This is just a dream.
Oh could we start again please?

"Could We Start Again, Please?"  Jesus Christ Superstar.


I’ve had folks tell me they get tired of me talking like I do now. That’s more than fair, cause I’m tired of talking about the things I talk about too, & even more tired of thinking about the things I think about. Frankly, I want to crawl back under the covers & go back to sleep. — Jonathan Martin (@theboyonthebike) June 18, 2018
Look man, I try to be nice. But some of y’all make me bang my head against the wall, acting like it’s business as usual, like we aren’t riding shotgun on the titanic. What do you have to lose with your “platform”? Afraid you’ll not get to be a footnote on Wikipedia? — Jonathan Ma…

Sola Gratia

I remember what a beautiful day it was.  It was late October, by far the best time of year in most places but especially in the Midwest.  It was probably in the low 50s, with the wind blowing the fallen leaves around, making that distinctive crackling/shuffling sound that will always be associated in my mind with autumn.  The sun was shining in that low, pre-winter angle that gives everything a glow.  It was like something out of a picture book.

The night before we had a storm.  I remember that because I was up most of the night, lying in my bed, listening to the wind.  I love listening to the sound of storms normally--I usually find it very soothing, relaxing.  But not that night.  That night, I remember very clearly having this fantasy of the wind blowing down the tree outside my window, driving it through my bedroom, and killing me.  It seemed so real, so plausible.  And, on that night, there was a very real part of me that wanted it to happen.

So, on that beautiful October morning…

Smaug is Real, and Strong, and He Is My Friend--On Jordan Peterson

There is a conservative line of argument that goes something like this.  "Sure, I get it, you hate religion and think it is bad and retrograde.  But, you haven't thought about what will replace it--that's going to be much worse!"  Now, I happen to think there is merit to this line of inquiry.  I think that people are religious on a fundamental level, and so will find some sort of religious cause or content, no matter what label that content is given.

The problem, and this is where the conservatives get sideways, is in the examples of what that would look like.  In the conservative narrative, the nightmare scenario is something like gay couples living in the suburbs and going to the PTA meetings of their adopted kids, or women flying airliners and having economic autonomy.  Oh, the humanity!  No, the real danger is replacing the (flawed and often not consistent with their own principles though they may be) account of human dignity and the inalienable rights of all peo…

"'T Is Not Too Late To Seek a Newer World"

Come, my friends, 
'T is not too late to seek a newer world. 
Push off, and sitting well in order smite 
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds 
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths 
Of all the western stars, until I die. 
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: 
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, 
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew. 
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho' 
We are not now that strength which in old days 
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; 
One equal temper of heroic hearts, 
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will 
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Ulysses, Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I have always loved this poem, and in particular this last part, ever since the legendary Frank Smyth taught it to us in Junior Year Honors English.  There have been times in my life when I have been looking for the courage to step out and do something that was risky, something in which I was unsure about what was at the end of a par…

Memories of the Thing that Supposedly Never Changes

My first memory of church was my grandmother's parish, Church of the Precious Blood in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey.  It was pure white on the outside with red doors (kind of like an Episcopal Church, ironically), but the inside was small and dark--big dark wood beams bracing the ceiling, lots of 50s-style "Catholic kitsch" statutes.  I remember going with grandma mostly, but we didn't go much otherwise without grandma, especially after the pastor, Earl Gannon (who has been there since the 60s, back to when mom was a kid), publicly called out my mother in the middle of Good Friday service for not keeping her young boys from making more noise than he felt acceptable.  Monsignor Gannon's successor was a child molester, who, based on the timeline set forth in this article, was shuffled off to Precious Blood to get away from the "mess" he created at Incarnation Catholic Church in EwingHis successor never bothered to visit my grandmother--a parishoner of hi…

Some Thoughts on Gender Neutral Language

This summer, the Episcopal Church will be having its triennial General Convention, in Austin, Texas (a strange choice in my book, as Texas in July might as well be the surface of the sun).  Among the topics to be voted on is the initiation of the process to rewrite or revise the Book of Common Prayer, last done so in 1979.  Revisions to the Book of Common Prayer are truly a "third rail" and an inevitable source of controversy.  In fact, the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music, the group that would be in charge of the mechanics of a revision, seems to be less than completely enthusiastic about the project, offering an alternative that would delay a revision for a least a decade.  And my sense, based on reading stuff on the Interwebs, is that it is likely that folks will take the out and kick the can down the road.

The rector of my parish, who will be heading to Austin as a delegate, is resolutely against opening up the Prayer Book to wholesale revisions.  He opposes revis…