Showing posts from May, 2014

Blogging the Lectionary--Ascension Thursday Edition

Readings (Catholic)
Acts 1: 1-11
Psalm 47
Ephesians 1: 17-23
Matthew 28: 16-20

Picture this--you've watched Jesus die on the cross.  You've seen him raised from the dead.  You have seen him walk and talk and eat with you.  And  now, he gathers you on a mountain top, and tells you to wait for something very special called the Holy Spirit, which is coming.  His time on Earth physically is coming to an end, and you have one last opportunity to ask Jesus a question.  What do you ask him?

If you answered "I think I would ask him about politics," well, you are in good company, because that's what the Apostles did.  "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" basically means "so when are you going to kick out the Romans and put us in charge?"  In 1st Century Palestinian understanding, the Messiah would come to free the Jewish people, kick out the Romans, and restore the rightful Jewish monarchy--the "Kingdom of God."…

On Being (and Not Being) That Guy

No one will ever mistake me for a ladies' man, or some sort of Cassanova.  My track record with women has been, on the whole, not very successful.  I am 36 years old, and I am still single.  I would like to think that, in general, I am OK with this reality, but the truth is that I sometimes struggle coming to terms with this.  Despite the fact that I have wonderful friends and an amazing family, there are definitely times that I feel lonely.  There are also times when I look at being single as a failure, a black mark, a sign that I am somehow flawed and broken and defective.  That is not a pleasant feeling.

Before he ended the lives of six people on Friday, Elliott Rodger took to Youtube and posted a video manifesto.  I won't link to it, because I am uncomfortable with supporting in any way what he did.  But I read a transcript of what he said in the video.  He basically claims that he is going to shoot a bunch of people, especially women, because they would not date him.  He…

Through a Father's Eyes

My youngest sister graduated from college last weekend.  She's really an amazing person.  She has a job doing international development work, with a focus on Africa.  She is incredibly smart and passionate, and is a dynamic and self-assured person.  She's really special.  I'm very proud of her.

This weekend saw a new hashtag campaign, #yesallwomen.  I missed the beginning of this movement, but I gather it was prompted by the shooting in Santa Barbara, California on Saturday.  Apparently, the shooter left a manifesto that blamed his deeds on the fact that women have rejected him, and the loathsome and brain-dead Men's Right's Advocate (MRA) community took to Twitter to blame women generally for this shooting.  #yesallwomen was a series of stories from women about the kinds of experiences that women deal with on a daily basis from men.  The thread running through many of these stories is men who believe that women have a one-way obligation to them, simply because the…

Quick Hit--Please, Stop With That

Cardinal Luis Tagle is the Archbishop of Manila, and one of the three people appointed to chair the upcoming Synod on the Family in October.  For this reason, it was particularly disheartening to read his comments regarding the survey of Catholics on family issues.  Here's what he said:

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, told Catholic News Service he found the responses "shocking, if I am allowed to use that word."

"Shocking because almost in all parts of the world, the questionnaires indicated that the teaching of the church regarding family life is not clearly understood by people, and the language by which the church proposes the teaching seems to be a language not accessible to people,"

"So this is my hope, not for change -- how can you change the biblical teachings? But maybe a real pastoral and evangelical concern for the church: How do we present the good news of the family to this generation, with its limitations, with its greatness, …

Blogging the Lectionary--6th Sunday of Easter

Readings (Catholic)
Acts 8: 5-8, 14-17
Psalm 66
1 Peter 3: 15-18
John 14: 15-21

Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you

Christianity is a religion of hope.  The Scriptures, and ultimately Jesus himself, makes promises to us about this life and the life to come.  In other words, we receive the Good News.  We cannot prove, at least in a scientific way, that this Good News is real.  All we can do is hope in those promises.

Blogging the Lectionary--5th Sunday of Easter

Readings (Catholic)
Acts 6: 1-7
Psalm 33
1 Peter 2: 4-9
John 14: 1-16

In a bit of good timing, we begin the "Blogging the Lectionary" series with one of my favorite passages from the Gospel of John.

A number of years back, I was one of the people involved in teaching an RCIA class.  "RCIA" is the "Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults"--basically the program by which people become Catholic.  There were about five of us teaching the classes, and we divided the lessons up among ourselves.  Somehow I ended up taking on the lesson involving "death, heaven, hell, and judgment."  Definitely a tough draw.  I remember futzing around for a while in preparing the lesson, before settling on this Sunday's Gospel reading, and in particular John 14:2:

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

So many of our common images of judgment and salvation, both inside and out…

Blogging the Lectionary

This is an opportunity to do something I've been thinking about doing for a while.  Rachel Held Evans has announced a "Blogging the Lectionary" program, where she will post a reflection on the Sunday readings assigned for the week in the Lectionary.  She's also invited others to join in, and so I will.

She's using the Revised Common Lectionary, which is used by Mainline Protestant churches.  The Catholic Lectionary is basically the same with a few slight differences (the RCL was derived from the Catholic Lectionary).  I'll probably use the Catholic one--we'll see.

She will be posting on Thursdays.  I am going to try to keep the same schedule.

If You Didn't Think It Was Worth It, You Wouldn't Fight For It

I am the oldest of four--a brother and two sisters.  I will get to see all of them this weekend, when my youngest sister graduates from college.  Each one of them is a wonderful, interesting person.  I love them with all my heart.
We are alike in many, many ways, but there is one way in which I am very different from my brothers and sisters.  None of them practice Catholicism, or any other religion for that matter.  They are not angry at Catholicism, not really (well, maybe one of my sisters is, but in general not).  They just don't care.  I think, on many levels, they don't think religion is worth being angry about.  
As anyone who has read this blog will probably gather, I do care.  You have to care to take the time to follow what is going on in Christianity and Catholicism.  You have to care to dive deep into theological issues, about God, about Jesus.  You have to care in order to advocate for change.  You have to care in order to take the time to write a blog.  Because, i…

The Clergy Fashion Wars

I am about to wade into very dangerous territory with this post--I am going to talk about women's fashion.

Deacon Greg Kandra has a post today on his Deacon's Bench blog about The Clergy Collection, a new line of clothing for female priests and ministers put out by a London fashion outfit called the House of Ilona.

I will say up front that I am the least qualified person on the planet to judge these pieces from a fashion perspective.  I am seriously color-blind--I can't match my own socks most of the time.  To the extent I have a notion of two pieces of clothing "matching," such as a shirt and a pair of pants, it is a product of someone (usually my sisters) telling me particular colors match, as opposed to some innate sense of my own.  So, no one should take my fashion analysis remotely seriously.  Having said that, these outfits seem perfectly lovely and appropriate to me.  It seems to me if you remove the collar, these outfits would at home in a normal office s…

Two Quick Hits in the Culture War

Projection is Not the Same Thing as Analysis

The story of Emily Letts is making its way through the Interwebz this week.  She is a 25-year old woman who filmed a video of her abortion and the immediate aftermath.  Letts says she released the video as a counter to the notion that abortion is a shameful act that leaves the women that seek one damaged in its wake.  Unsurprisingly, there has been commentary from the Catholic blogosphere, notably from Elizabeth Scalia.  Scalia purports, based on a study of her facial expressions in one segment of the video, to see the truth of the video:

If you let yourself become distracted by what is coming from her mouth, you miss all that is revealed in her face, which tells the whole, and very different story. A month after the abortion — with the dramatic change in hairstyle that so many women effect when emotions are high and they need to feel in control of something — watch Emily, then. The light is gone from her eyes. The seeming disconnect between…

The Holocaust and a Hierarchy of Heroism

Lost in the canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II the Sunday before last was the beatification of Father Giuseppe Girotti, OP.  Beatification is the last step on the road that leads to canonization, so you could say that Fr. Girotti is "almost" a saint.

Girotti was an Italian Dominican priest and Scripture scholar.  In the 1930s, he studied at the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem, with a focus on the Prophets.  Whether it was because of his time in Israel, or because of his love for the Old Testament, or his inherent goodness and sense of justice, during World War II he was actively involved in organizing an "underground railroad" of safe houses and escape routes in northern Italy for Jews fleeing the Holocaust.  In 1944, he was caught by the Gestapo helping a wounded Jewish man, and was sent to the concentration camp at Dachau.  On April 1, 1945, Easter Sunday and just weeks before the U.S. Army liberated Dachau, he was killed by the Nazis when they injected g…

How to Balance Religious Freedom and Civil Rights

The latest round of litigation over same sex marriage occurred this week in North Carolina, where clergy and parishoners of the United Church of Christ challenged Amendment One to the NC Constitution, passed in 2011.  One element of the suit challenged the highlight-grabbing portion of Amendment One, which placed a ban on same-sex marriages into the NC Constitution.  I don't want to be dismissive of this element of the case, as it is clearly of enormous importance to the plaintiffs, but that is the less-interesting part of the case.  We have seen many similar challenges to state constitutional amendments regarding same-sex marriage, and the arguments are well established at this point.

The part of the case that caught my eye was the religious freedom challenge to Amendment One made by the UCC ministers.  Under Amendment One, it would be a crime for a UCC minister to perform a marriage ceremony involving a same sex couple.  Since the UCC Church authorizes same sex marriages, and ha…