Friday, August 31, 2012

Thanking You, Archbishop

As executive coordinator of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN, I'm happy to report a recent spike in the number of "Another Catholic Voting No" yard signs being distributed.

And, believe it or not, we may partly have Archbishop John Nienstedt to thank!

You see, last weekend our brother John either mandated or requested (it's not clear which) that a announcement on the Minnesota 'marriage amendment' be read out at every parish. From what I can gather, this announcement was either identical or very similar to the archbishop's latest column in The Catholic Spirit, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. In short, the archbishop's message was a reiteration of the Roman Catholic understanding of sacramental marriage – one man, one woman for life, with the implied understanding that each and every sex act within this union must be open to biological procreation.

I have no problem with a church official articulating official church teaching. There's definitely a time and place for that. It gets problematic, however, when neither the perspective of the church's theologians or of the collective wisdom of the laity gets a similar hearing. In an earlier column about what it means to be "Church," the archbishop's focus was on the episcopal magisterium. Again, no discussion, much less recognition, of the role of either the theologians or the laity. This prompted the editorial team of The Progressive Catholic Voice (of which I'm a member) to ask the archbishop:

Will you please follow up with a column about the role of theologians, clergy in orders other than bishop, and laity in the teaching authority of the Church? Do you believe that as part of the “faith assembly” theologians, lesser clergy, and laity have any contribution to make to the teaching authority entrusted to the bishops, particularly with regard to love, “properly understood and properly lived”?


Like many other people, I look forward to this particular follow-up column.


Crossing a line

It should also be noted that the archbishop's message last weekend, delivered via parish priests and deacons, is also problematic when one considers the wider context This context is, of course, the highly contentious issue of the 'marriage amendment' – an amendment that the Minnesota bishops are actively championing, yet which the majority of Catholics, if credible polls are to be believed, are decidedly less enthusiastic about. It's also a context that extends far beyond the boundaries of the Roman Catholic Church. Not that one gets that impression when reading the archbishop's message, which seems to assume the whole world is Roman Catholic and needs to be brought into line with the official Roman Catholic understanding of the meaning and purpose of marriage. According to the archbishop, this understanding of marriage is "authored by God," is unchanged since Adam and Eve, and is unchangeable. I heard that in at least one parish, the deacon – when dutifully imparting the archbishop's message – read or said something to the effect of: "You need to remember this when you go into the voting booth in November."

"That's when it crossed a line," one woman told me yesterday when she came by our Minneapolis office to pick up a yard sign. "I'd been thinking about getting one of your signs, but what I heard on Sunday finally did it for me," she said. "I realized I just had to display this sign and send a very different message as a Catholic."

Another woman, again while at our office picking up a yard sign, informed me that several people at her parish got up and walked out during the reading of the archbishop's message. In a number of other parishes, however, there was no need to walk out. Why? Because according to an informal survey conducted by Joe McLean on his Facebook page "I Am Catholic. I Am Voting NO!," as many as 15 parishes – some of them quite prominent – simply did not read the archbishop's message.


And thanking you, again

In contrast to the archbishop's 'marriage amendment' message, I share today two thoughtful, well-reasoned commentaries that have recently come to my attention. As with the increase in demand for our yard signs, it seems clear that we have Archbishop Nienstedt and his pro-'marriage amendment' activism to thank for the writing of these two insightful commentaries. My sense is that there are many, many Catholics who hunger for the reasonable and compassionate approach reflected in these commentaries – commentaries written in response to the words and actions of our clerical leadership. I believe that for the majority of Minnesota Catholics, the words and actions of our clerical leaders lack reasonableness and compassion. Such essential Catholic qualities are being sought and found elsewhere. This seems crystal clear to me, and I actually view it as a sign of hope. For as Simon Rosser notes, in the face of the clerical leadership's ultra-conservative and ill-informed rhetoric and actions, "Catholics [are being] forced to think for themselves. And that’s a good thing."

I posted the first of these two commentaries, a piece by Don Conroy simply entitled "The Marriage Amendment," at The Progressive Catholic Voice yesterday. Conroy makes the important distinction – one that appears lost on the archbishop – between the unchanging need for family and the historically changing laws of civil marriage.

Like all good teachers, Conroy leads us to new levels of understanding by posing thoughtful questions grounded in actual human realities. He writes, for instance that:

. . . Today we confront another development in our understanding of family, the inclusion of same-sex couples in our social, personal, but not necessarily religious definition of marriage. What consequence, if any, would the inclusion of same-sex couples have on the family structure? Would the meaning of family, our safe, comfortable and developing nest, be significantly altered or even lost, as has been claimed (Nienstadt's "letter to the priests")? What would be the religious, social, and personal consequences of excluding a significant percent of our adult citizens from the advantages of legal marriage? These are the questions Minnesota voters face as they go to the polls in November to vote on the proposed amendment.


The second commentary I bring to your attention is "Catholics and Gay Marriage" by an individual who goes by the intriguing pseudonym, "Knight of Nothing." I conclude this post by sharing an excerpt from this insightful commentary.

. . . In Minnesota, led by the bishops, the Catholic Church has come out in support of a constitutional amendment to permanently ban gay marriage. Frankly, I am not sure what is driving the Catholic campaign against gay marriage, nor do I understand why the church has chosen to take such a stand at this time. If I had to guess, I would say that it is a top-down effort by the Church to re-assert its moral authority in the United States at a time when it has been rocked by scandal and its influence is waning. It certainly does not seem like a widespread and spontaneous expression of anti-gay sentiment by its members.

In a way, I can understand why this debate is so important to Catholics. For Catholics, marriage is more than a long-standing and powerful institution; it is a sacrament: a sacred rite that binds its recipients to each other and to the church. Catholic marriage has many tenets: it is a lifelong, indissoluble commitment and the only proper place for sexual expression. Procreation is seen as a primary purpose. Marriage between Catholics and non-Catholics is circumspect and even frowned upon. And so on. In a formal and strict sense, the church does not recognize non-Catholic marriage because its expression outside of the church does not enshrine these tenets as its foundation.

I have seen a fair number of essays and other commentary by Catholics that purport to explain why everyone should oppose gay marriage. Really, though, all of these arguments simply express why people should oppose Catholic marriage for gays. Essentially, they reiterate Catholic beliefs about coupling, reproduction, and sexual morality. Forgotten or abandoned in these essays is that there are other ideas about marriage that simply do not conform to Catholic beliefs.

Religious people of many faiths, as well as non-religious people, define marriage differently, and some religious organizations openly embrace marriage between same-sex couples. I am certain that Catholics do not want to have the marriage standards of another faith imposed upon them. So they should not seek to impose their standard on others. This is the heart of the matter, and everything else simply clouds this essential truth. . . .



Recommended Off-site Links:
Archbishop Nienstedt's Latest Marriage Amendment Letter Adds to Catholic Turmoil – Beth Hawkins (MinnPost, August 31, 2012).
Catholic Q&A on the Minnesota 'Marriage Amendment' – Michael Bayly and Florence Steichen (Sensus Fidelium, August 7, 2012).
Why Catholics Can Vote 'No' – Bob Pierson, OSB (Sensus Fidelium, June 11, 2012).
Gay Marriage, Bishops and the Crisis of LeadershipNational Catholic Reporter (July 5, 2011).
A Catholic Case for Same-Sex Marriage – Jeannine Gramick and Francis DeBernardo (Washington Post, February 14, 2012).
Amendment Campaign Contrary to Church Moral Teaching – Paula Ruddy (The Progressive Catholic Voice, March 3, 2011).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Catholic Rationale for Opposing the 'Marriage Amendment'
"A Thoughtful, Entertaining, and Inspiring Program"
A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride
The Minneapolis (and Online) Premiere of Catholics for Marriage Equality
Sharing the Good News of Marriage Equality at the Basilica Block Party
At UST, a Rousing and Very Catholic Show of Support for Marriage Equality
Tips on Speaking as a Catholic in Support of Marriage Equality
Responding to Bishop Tobin's Remarks on Gay Marriage
Catholic Attitudes on Gay and Lesbian Issues: An Overview
A Catholic Statement of Support for Marriage Equality


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Your Scent I Know


The ferry to any shore, to any land,
to any realm, it is the wine cup, the heart.

An unseen vessel it is though to most,
love, but so capable of travel, via a prayer
or a soul's deep wish.

And your spirit's arms, they can reach out
and really touch anything you want to hold.

It should be that way, and it is.
For you, dear, all within time, are right before me.
Your scent I know; your ways I shape.

– Hafiz
A Year with Hafiz: Daily Contemplations
(translated by Daniel Ladinsky)
p.129


For more of the poetry of Hafiz at The Wild Reed, see:
Never Say It Is Not God
It Happens All the Time in Heaven

See also the precious Wild Reed posts:
"More Lovely Than the Dawn": God as Divine Lover
The Many Manifestations of God's Loving Embrace
The Inherent Sensuality of Roman Catholicism
[D]ewy-Kissed
Getting It Right
Charis
Cherish
One Fearless Kiss
Sex as Mystery, Sex as Light
Song of Songs: The Bible's Gay Love Poem
Sergius and Bacchus: Martyrs, Saints, Lovers
Honoring (and Learning from) the Passion of Saints Sergius and Bacchus
"You and I Are One": Blessed Bernardo de Hoyos' Mystical Same-Sex Marriage to Jesus

Image: Photographer unknown.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Something to Think About . . .

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Related Off-site Links:
Parables of the Not-So-Social Gospel – James Martin, S.J. (The Huffington Post, August 23, 2012).
What the G.O.P. Platform Represents – Editorial (New York Times, August 21, 2012).
For G.O.P., Storm Has Already Gathered – Eugene Robinson (TruthDig.com, August 24, 2012).
Time to Get a Grip, America – Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez (CommonDreams.org, August 26, 2012).
How to Speak Republican – Pete Kotz (The Village Voice, August 22, 2012).
Oops, A Republican Told the Truth – They Do Hate Black People – Wendy Gittleson (AddictingInfo.org, August 23, 2012).
It's About White Male Privilege, Not President Obama's Birth Certificate – Colleen Kochivar-Baker (Enlightened Catholicism, August 26, 2012).
Arizonification of the Republican Party – Jeff Biggers (CommonDreams.org, August 24, 2012).
Marco Rubio Touts G.O.P. Abortion Platform That Suggests Women Are Not Humans – Sarah Jones (PoliticusUSA.com, August 26, 2012).
The G.O.P.’s Hidden Campaign Against Obama – Bill Boyarsky (TruthDig.com, August 24, 2012).
How the Republican Convention Contradicts the Republican Convention – Max Slavkin (Upworthy.com, August 27, 2012).
Timothy Dolan: The Republican Party Cardinal – Andrew Sullivan (The Daily Beast, August 23, 2012).
Dolan is Playing a Dangerous Game – Editorial (National Catholic Reporter, August 24, 2012).
Cardinal Dolan, Bain Capitol, and Archbishop Romero – Frank Cocozzelli (The Open Tabernacle, August 24, 2012).
Cardinal Dolan, Nuns, and the Conventions – Hendrik Hertzberg (The New Yorker, August 25, 2012).
Who Best Represents American Catholics? – Viviana Hurtado (NPR, August 24, 2012).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – August 22, 2012
Theologian Daniel Maguire on Paul Ryan's "Catholic Problem"
Quote of the Day – April 10, 2012
Marching on the RNC (2008)


Sunday, August 26, 2012

"A Thoughtful, Entertaining, & Inspiring Program"


"A thoughtful, entertaining, and inspiring program" . . . That's how one participant described Catholics for Marriage Equality MN's August 15 event "I Do! Believe in the Freedom to Marry."

Held in Minneapolis' Loring Park, the evening event drew over 300 Catholics and friends, providing an opportunity for them to pray together, sing together, and through fun, improvisational comedy, learn how to listen to and talk with family and friends about the proposed Minnesota 'marriage amendment.'

The event also served as the premiere of C4ME-MN's music video "For All the Children."



Above: Standing at right with fellow C4ME-MN board members Jim Smith and Lisa Vanderlinden, and Lisa's son Jason.

As executive coordinator of C4ME-MN I had a few minutes in the program to speak. Here's what I said . . .

In preparing my brief remarks for this evening I realized that the best way to describe who C4ME-MN is is to offer a description of all of us gathered here this evening. After all, C4ME-MN couldn’t do what it does as an educational and advocacy organization if it wasn’t for your presence, input and support.

I see C4ME-MN – the organization – as being like the visible crest of a wave. But, together, each and everyone of you comprise the ocean beneath us, giving us the momentum and power to change hearts and minds. Thank you!

So how to describe us? Well, collectively, we here tonight are first and foremost FAITHFUL Catholics. We’re faithful to Jesus’ message of compassion, justice and inclusion, and we’re faithful to our church’s traditions of social justice and primacy of conscience.

We are also INFORMED Catholics. We know we can in good conscience disagree with our bishops. We know that our experiences and insights have a valid role to play in the ongoing development of church teaching. We know too the power of our stories and are committed to working with Minnesotans United for All Families in facilitating honest and effective conversations that will change hearts and minds.

Finally, we’re UNITED Catholics. We are united in our efforts to defeat injustice in all its forms. We’re therefore united in our belief that the MN marriage amendment is unfair, hurtful and not worthy of us as Catholics or as Minnesotans.

We’re going to see all of these aspects of how I’ve just described ourselves embodied tonight in ways that are both inspiring and entertaining. And as executive coordinator of C4ME-MN it would be remiss of me not to join with Jim and the entire C4ME-MN board in thanking the many people who have freely given so much to make this evening possible. . . .




Above: C4ME-MN volunteers assemble the August 15 event program for distribution to attendees.



Above: As attendees arrived they were invited to make and decorate placards displaying the name of their parish. Over 20 parishes were represented at C4ME-MN's August 15 event.



Above: One of the crew of the audio visual company Big Event Productions which, along with Stagetime Productions, Fire Up Video, Table Salt Productions, and Creative Direction, volunteered their time and services to C4ME-MN's August 15 event.

Thanks also to DignityUSA for their generous support.



Above: C4ME-MN board members Kathleen Olsen, Mary Beckfeld and Cheryl Maloney.

Kathleen, along with fellow C4ME-MN board member Lisa Vanderlinden, led the following opening prayer for the evening.


Gracious God, known to us in many ways, you are with us as we gather as one community and ask your blessing.

All: Bless our unity in diversity, that it be a humble reflection of the beauty of creation.

Bless our celebration, that it be an expression of our joy for the gift of life and love!

All: Bless our laughter, that it herald new hope in our work to build a society of mutual love and justice.

Bless those with whom we disagree, may our happiness be contagious.

All: Bless our differences as a source of our strength and a sign of our respect for one another.

Bless those for whom it takes courage to be here, that they may feel the abundance of life.

All: Bless our call for equality and freedom, that we may both hear and speak your vision of justice and peace. Amen. Alleluia!







Above: Jim Smith, C4ME-MN board member and driving force behind the "For All the Children" music video, welcomes attendees to the August 15 event.

Later in the program Jim led attendees in the following Profession of Belief.


Do you believe that your baptism calls you forth into the world to sow seeds of love? I do believe!

Do you believe that all God's children have a place in the choir, a place at the table, a place in our world to love who they are called to love? I do believe!

Do you believe in the freedom to marry for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters? I do believe!

Do you believe that God calls you to love tenderly and act justly and to walk humbly with God? I do believe!

Then let us go forth to love and serve God and God's people! Thanks be to God!




Above: Performers from Table Salt Productions humorously demonstrate how to talk – and how not to talk – with family and friends about the marriage amendment.

Later in the program the following prayer was offered in the form of a Commitment to Action:


May all of us called to engage in conversations about loving relationships for all of God's people come to the table with hearts that are open, transparent, and faith-filled. May our conversations be marked by a deep listening to the voice of the Spirit at work in our world.





Above: Joe Kruse and Zach Johnson of the Rye House Catholic Worker community address the crowd at C4ME-MN's August 15 event. To read Joe Kruse's speech, click here.



Above: Zach Johnson and Joe Kruse (center) with C4ME-MN board members Brent and Lisa Vanderlinden. Brent and Lisa features in C4ME-MN's video series, "Catholics for Marriage Equality."



Above: The Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus performs the song "Marry Us!" at C4ME-MN's August 15 "I Do! Believe in the Freedom to Marry" event.



Above: Yard signs by C4ME-MN were made available for the first time at the August 15 event . . . and proved to be very popular! For information about obtaining a yard sign, click here.




Above: The world premiere of "For All the Children" music video featuring more than 300 Catholics and friends. To view the video and the Star Tribune's video report on its premiere, click here.

For a behind-the-scenes look at its making, click here

For a written report on its making, click here.


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Our Progressive Catholic Youth
A Catholic Rationale for Opposing the 'Marriage Amendment'
Casey Michel on Archbishop Nienstedt's "Crusade Against Gay Marriage"
People of Faith Are on Both Sides of the 'Marriage Amendment' Issue

Recommended Off-site Links:
Catholics Rally for Freedom to MarryStar Tribune (August 19, 2012).
Marriage Fight Divides State's Catholics – Rose French (Star Tribune, August 19, 2012).
Church Anthem Sends a Message of Acceptance to Minnesota – Lucas Grindley (The Advocate, August 17, 2012).
“For All the Children” Highlights Catholic Support for LGBT Equality – Ross Murray (Glaad.org, August 17, 2012).
Catholics Sing “For All the Children” and for Marriage Equality – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, August 18, 2012).
A Young Minnesota Catholic Speaks Out on Marriage Equality and the Future of the Church – Eric Fought (EricFought.com, August 26, 2012).
Catholic Q&A on the Minnesota 'Marriage Amendment' – Michael Bayly and Florence Steichen (Sensus Fidelium, August 7, 2012).


Quote of the Day

. . . There is a very important sense in which the marriage amendment is anything but "conservative": It rejects a longstanding and fundamental understanding of the function of a constitution that reaches hundreds of years into our history. While in one sense amendment proponents seek to preserve our heritage, in another and important sense they seek to destroy it. In their zeal to define marriage, social conservatives have run up against a conservative principle we should all care about – that the Minnesota Constitution should limit government, not the freedom of individuals.

Amendment proponents are concerned that "activist judges" might overturn the law that currently defines marriage, but that is true of all statutes, and it is no reason to upend the core purpose of a constitution. Many criminal statutes, for example, have been found unconstitutional, but we would not want to simply paste the criminal law into our state Constitution to solve that problem.

– Mark Osler


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – October 20, 2011
Lisa Cressman's Concise, Reasonable Answers to Marriage Equality Questions
Quote of the Day – October 16, 2011
Law Professor: Marriage Amendment is Divisive and Mean-Spirited
A Catholic Rationale for Opposing the 'Marriage Amendment'

Recommended Off-site Link:

Catholic Q&A on the Minnesota 'Marriage Amendment' – Michael Bayly and Florence Steichen (Sensus Fidelium, August 7, 2012).


Saturday, August 25, 2012

In the Garden of Spirituality – Andrew Harvey

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“We are not on earth to guard a museum,
but to cultivate a flowering garden of life.”

– Pope John XXIII


The Wild Reed’s series of reflections on religion and spirituality continues with an excerpt from Mark Thompson's interview with author and mystic Andrew Harvey. Thompson titles this interview "Rebirth Through the Wound," and it's one of a number of interviews that comprise his book Gay Soul: Finding the Heart of Gay Spirit and Nature with Sixteen Writers, Healers, Teachers, and Visionaries. In the excerpt that follows, Harvey talks about his understanding of soul and spirit, and how "love engenders action."

________________________________________


I would say that soul is the diamond and spirit is the shining of the diamond. Soul is the divine essence in us that is changeless and unaffected by anything that happens and is always at peace, always in a state of calm, bliss, and love.

Spirit is the agency, if you like, of the soul – like the Holy Ghost is the agency of the Father and Son. It's the creative fire, the creative effulgence of the soul that acts in life to permeate different activities – from scrubbing the toilet to writing poetry. But no human words can ever be adequate to the subtlety of the interaction between the spirit and the soul. It might be said that the soul is like a sun and the spirit its rays. The rays and the sun are one, but the rays have a different function; they are the glowing agents of the soul, working in reality to transform reality.

. . .[I]t's essential to nurture the soul, and the best way to do that is to continue to remind yourself of its existence. Sitting in simple meditation and following your breath is a very good way. Or repeating the name of any divine person who really moves you, repeating it in your heart and imagining the divine light drenching your body and mind as you are doing so. Those two forms of meditation are extremely simple and can be done anywhere, under almost any circumstances.

Very slowly you will come to realize that your whole life can flower into a kind of meditation, and you become not disassociated from your life but freely detached from it, able to watch it and so able to manage and love it with generous dignity. As Blake wrote: "He who binds to himself a joy / Does the winged life destroy; / But he who kisses the joy as it flies /Lives in eternity's sunrise."

You're beyond the point of knowing. You are in love with a mystery. You trust it and go on and on moving deeper and deeper into its heart of light. . . . [This] mystical transformation doesn't lead to passivity nor to a higher sublime form of narcissism; it leads to the most passionate, unstinting form of action in the world, which is the action of love and service. . . . Love engenders action. What's remarkable about the lives of nearly all the greatest mystics is that after their illuminations they work, work tirelessly. They build monasteries or write books or go on and on explaining, communicating – Buddha didn't just sit about after his illumination; he trampled throughout India for fifty years giving what he had been given away!


For a series of excerpt's from Andrew Harvey's book Son of Man: The Mystical Path to Christ, see The Wild Reed's 2010 Holy Week series:
Jesus: Path-blazer of Radical Transformation
The Essential Christ
One Symbolic Iconoclastic Act
One Overwhelming Fire of Love
The Most Dangerous Kind of Rebel
Resurrection: Beyond Words, Dogmas, and All Possible Theological Formulations
The Cosmic Christ: Brother, Lover, Friend, Divine and Tender Guide

See also:
A Dance of Divine Light
Toby Johnson on the Mysticism of Andrew Harvey

Opening image: Michael J. Bayly.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Weekend in Chicago (Part IV)


I conclude the sharing of photos from my recent trip to Chicago with images from the afternoon of Saturday, August 11, 2012. This was when I met up with my friend Eduard (who moved from the Twin Cities to Chicago in 2005) and enjoyed a long walk with him along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

We started at Thorndale Avenue Beach and walked south to Montrose Harbor, passing through a lakeside dog park, a nature reserve, a golf course, and a marina! Later in the evening we shared a delicious Thai meal and a bottle of Malbec at a sidewalk restaurant in Boystown.



Above and below: Thorndale Avenue Beach.





Above: Eduard and a new-found friend at Montrose Dog Beach.



As always, it felt like a real gift to spend time with Eduard. For reasons I won't go into here, such times, however, always put me in a strange and unsettling place in which I'm both reaching out and holding back; a place that draws forth from me feelings of hope and doubt, and all kinds of questions about our relationship, about my future, and about life and love in general. It can all feel rather overwhelming. Given this and the coastal environment I found myself in, it's perhaps no wonder that the following lyrics came to mind.


Too far out on the wilder shores of love.
Too far out, what I knew before
on the wilder shores of love . . .








Above and below: Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, where I think I saw a coyote! There are quite a few of them in Chicago, you know.



Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves . . .
Don't search for the answers,
which could not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future,
you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer.



See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Weekend in Chicago (Part I)
Weekend in Chicago (Part II)
Weekend in Chicago (Part III)
Out and About – March 2008
A Day at the Abbey
Chicago (2008)
The Empty Beach
Photo of the Day – January 11, 2012
Photo of the Day – March 7, 2012
Out and About – Winter 2012

Images: Michael J. Bayly and Eduard.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

. . . [I]n St. Paul, Minnesota, my hometown, there is Archbishop John Nienstedt, waging a nasty personal-patriarchal crusade against [civil] gay [marriage], spearheading the production and distribution of 400,000 copies of a DVD on why Catholics should stand against same-sex marriage.

. . . City Pages, a Twin Cities alt-weekly newspaper (with an estimated readership of more than 300,000) recently featured a caricature of Nienstedt on a cover – in 12th century Crusader knight regalia, brandishing a sword, a cross-embossed shield and a death-ray gaze. . . . The name Nienstedt, which translated is something like "no town," could perhaps be more liberally rendered as "nowhere." Thus, I'd like to suggest that the title "Nowhere Man" is as fitting as "Crusader" for the Archbishop and could perhaps be added to his titles. From Rome to Russia to the Nuns on the Bus, the celebration of protest and the shock of scandalous revelation on world-wide questions of human rights, gender equality, institutional hypocrisy and corruption – and the dying off of the Old Guard in all its forms – leaves one struggling to imagine how lonely it must be out there on that mountain of unwatched . . . DVDs. (A local artist made a sculpture of several thousand of the rejected disks).

Introibo et altare Dei. Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam. "I go unto the altar of God, unto God, who is the joy of my youth." I don't go to the Nowhere Man – I go to my own idea of the deity, and he isn't up on a mountain, flinging DVDs at a frightened flock below. He's the joy of youth, he (or she) is celebrating joy of love in all its forms and functions – since there is so little of it in this world, Nowhere Man, so little indeed.

– Carol Muske-Dukes
"Nowhere Man"
Huff Post Religion
August 22, 2012


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Coadjutor Archbishop Nienstedt's "Learning Curve": A Suggested Trajectory
Interesting Times Ahead
An Open Letter to Archbishop Nienstedt
Nienstedt's "Trauma of His Own"
300+ People Vigil at the Cathedral in Solidarity with LGBT Catholics
Why We Gathered
The Talk of the Archdiocese
Thoughts on Archbishop Nienstedt
Archbishop Nienstedt Calls (Again) for a Marriage Amendment to Minnesota's Constitution
It's a Scandal
Pastor Mike Tegeder Challenges Archbishop Nienstedt's "Bullying Behavior"
Progressive Perspectives on Archbishop Nienstedt's Anti-Gay Activism
A Head and Heart Response to the Catholic Hierarchy's Opposition to Marriage Equality
Quote of the Day – January 3, 2012
PCV Publishes Archbishop Nienstedt's Marriage Amendment Directives to Priests
Media Matters
Palm Sunday at the Chancery
A Catholic Rationale for Opposing the 'Marriage Amendment'
Casey Michel on Archbishop Nienstedt's "Crusade Against Gay Marriage"


Weekend in Chicago (Part III)


I share today a few more images from my recent visit to Chicago. (To start at the beginning of this series, click here).

One of the best things about the whole trip was that it was shared with some wonderful friends of mine, including Liana and Curtis (pictured at left), Phil, and Liana and Phil's parents John and Noelle.



Right: The cloud formations we saw while driving from the Twin Cities to Chicago on Friday, August 10 were quite something! 


Left: Hey, wake up, Philly! We're almost there! (Actually, this photo was taken on the journey home.)


Right: Noelle beside the rental vehicle that took us to Chicago and back!









As I documented in Part I, one of the first things we did upon arrival in Chicago was to visit Thorndale Avenue Beach, located walking distance from the home of our friend Nate, with whom we stayed while in Chicago. Later that night we all enjoyed a meal at a nearby Thai restaurant. Pictured above from left: me, John, Phil, Nate, Noelle, Curtis and Liana.



Much of Saturday was spent at the Museum of Science and Industry (see Part II). On Sunday we visited Millennium Park in the downtown area of Chicago.

Above: A popular feature of Millennium Park is “Cloud Gate,” artist Anish Kapoor’s intriguing 110-ton, highly polished steel monolith popularly referred to as “The Bean” – although from this angle it looks more like the cosmic egg of Doris Lessing's Memoirs of a Survivor. Well, that's how I like to think of it at least!



Above: Aww . . . Don't they make a lovely couple?



For more photos and commentary on "Cloud Gate," see my April 2008 post, Chicago.



Other features of Chicago's Millenium Park include the impressive interactive work of public art and video sculpture known as Crown Fountain (above) and the beautiful 2.5-acre (10,000 m2) Lurie Garden (below).





Above and below: Chicago sights!





NEXT: Part IV


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Weekend in Chicago (Part I)
Weekend in Chicago (Part II)
Chicago (2008)

Images: Michael J. Bayly.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quote of the Day

. . . The Republican Party has moved so far to the right that the extreme is now the mainstream. The mean-spirited and intolerant platform represents the face of Republican politics in 2012. And unless he makes changes, it is the current face of the shape-shifting Mitt Romney.

The [party's recent] draft document is more aggressive in its opposition to women’s reproductive rights and to gay rights than any in memory. It accuses President Obama and the federal judiciary of “an assault on the foundations of our society,” and calls for constitutional amendments banning both same-sex marriage and abortion.

In defending one of the last vestiges of officially sanctioned discrimination — restrictions on the rights of gay men and lesbians to marry — the platform relies on the idea that marriage between one man and one woman has for thousands of years “been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values.”

That familiar argument ignores the fact that the number of children raised by one-parent families has been rising steadily since the 1970s, long before anyone was talking about same-sex marriage. Census figures indicate that one out of every two children will live in a single-parent family before they reach 18. Studies purporting to show that children of lesbians are disadvantaged have been shown to be junk science. Marriages between people of the same gender pose no threat to marriages between men and women. . . .

– Editorial
The New York Times
August 21, 2012


Image: Kristen Solberg.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Theologian Daniel Maguire on Paul Ryan's "Catholic Problem"

Regular readers of The Wild Reed may recall that the organization in which I serve as executive coordinator (CPCSM/Catholics for Marriage Equality MN) sponsored an event in October 2010 featuring Catholic theologian and author Daniel C. Maguire (pictured with me at right). Also, I include Maguire's Whose Church?: A Concise Guide to Progressive Catholicism in The Wild Reed's list of "Recommended Books." (See sidebar for other titles). I share all of this as way of introducing the following article by Maguire published earlier today at The Huffington Post. In it he takes on Republican vice-presidential hopeful Paul Ryan's "strange version of Catholicism." It's definitely worth reading.

____________________________________


Paul Ryan's Catholic Problem

By Daniel C. Maguire

The Huffington Post
August 21, 2012


Sound the alarm! There has been a Catholic coup d'etat in the United States of America! Six members of the Supreme Court are Catholics (just imagine the furor if six were Muslims or Jews!). Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell are Catholics. And now, rising to top of this surging Catholic dynasty is the alleged Wunderkind of Republican economics, perky Paul Ryan.

Ryan wears his strange version of Catholicism with a jaunty sophomoric pride. "Catholic social doctrine is indispensable for officeholders." If only Paul Ryan knew what "Catholic social doctrine" is he would take flight from it just as fast as he is scrambling from the Ayn Rand breasts that, as he has proclaimed, suckled him and inspired all his political and economic views. Catholics who know the difference between Jesus Christ and Ayn Rand skewered perky Paul. They know that Jesus' mission, unlike Ayn Rand's, was "good news for the poor" (Luke 4:18). They embarrassed the righteous Ryan when he spoke at the Jesuit Georgetown University carrying a sprawling sign that asked: "Where were you, Paul Ryan, when they crucified the poor?"

Of course they know where he was. He was driving the nails into everything that helps the poor – and remember most of "the poor" are children. Budgets are intensely moral documents. They show where the heart is. To budget-makers we can say: show me the losers and the winners and I will tel you what you are. The Ryan budget plan, embraced by Mitt Romney as "marvelous," puts greed over need. Among its losers: medicaid, medicare, food stamps, health insurance, preschool programs, environmental and financial regulations, Pell grants, Head Start, mortgage guarantees. "Are there no poor houses?"

The budget is not all sour. There are sweet tidings for the already engorged mega-rich. And as for the military, ah, yes, the military, Ryan feels they do not ask enough though they have never been known for modesty or timidity in their requests. Ryan would further feed that black hole in the economy that already sucks out some $2 million a minute. Kill-power is prized more highly than Head Start and Medicaid.


How Dare You, Paul Ryan!

How dare you invoke "Catholic social teaching" to bolster that warped and brutal vision! Had you presented that budget as an assignment in my theology class at Marquette University I would have had to give you an F and a note would go to your parents saying, "this student is wasting your tuition money." So, listen up, Paul, and I'll show you why the "Nuns on the Bus" and Catholic university faculties are storming against your Catholic pretensions. It is no major undertaking to correct you. That's why your ignorance must be classified as crass.

Just last year, in October 2011, Pope Benedict's Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace gave all the help you need. They summed up centuries of "Catholic social teaching" in a single document and applied it to today's tottering global economy. When asked about the document, you equivocated about whether you had read it. Clearly, from your recent utterances you either did not read it or you read it and trashed it. Small wonder. It would give Ayn Rand a stroke. Jesuit Thomas Reese said the document is "closer to the view of Occupy Wall Street than anyone in the U.S. Congress."


Catholic Social Teaching 101

Here it is in gist: The Vatican document supports fair taxation, greed-controlling regulation and bailouts "with public funds" when necessary. Now, brace yourself, Paul, it excoriates "neo-liberalism," the greed-is-good creed of your right wing. The document calls for an international solidarity that would end poverty and obsessive reliance on military violence for security. It calls for more active citizenship, not voter suppression. Internationally, it calls for "a new model of a more cohesive, polyarchic international society that respects every people's identity within the multifaceted riches of a single humanity." It calls for a "public, supranational authority with universal jurisdiction," a "true world political authority" and a "world bank" to preside over a "global, universal common good." Nations need to "transfer a part of each nation's powers to a world authority and to regional authorities."

It does not call for a tyrannical despotic world authority. The Catholic tradition of "subsidiarity" means that nothing should be done by a higher authority that can be done by active participation at lower levels. Right-winders like you grab that one word "subsidiarity" and claim it supports their maniacal hatred of government. It doesn't. The document, like the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, considers government the prime care-taker of the common good with a particular mission to protect the powerless and the poor from exploitation.

Catholic social teaching abhors despotism, either that of governments or that of corporate power that can enslave the poor of the world as it is now doing. The blood, sweat and tears of the poor are on our clothing, our shoes and on our iPads. Using what is cynically and euphemistically called "labor arbitrage," corporations ship most of their work to slave operations in "the third world."

Now at this point, my student, Paul Ryan, is squirming in his seat. What I had just taught, relying on papal teachings, is not right wing. It is left wing in as much as the left stresses social justice and fair distribution of wealth and opportunity, and the left has a preference for peace-power over kill-power.

So, Paul Ryan, call your knavish, mean-spirited budget plan what you will. But do not call it Catholic. Stop defaming and insulting the stirring compassion and richness of Catholic social teaching by associating it with your form of upper-class warfare.

Have you no shame!


Daniel C. Maguire is Professor of Moral Theological Ethics at Marquette University and past-President of the Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health, and Ethics. Holder of a degree in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, one of the world’s major Catholic universities, Dr. Maguire is author of more than 150 articles in publications such as the New York Times, Atlantic, USA Today, The Crisis: Journal of the NAACP, the Christian Century, the Humanist, the Journal of Religious Ethics, the National Catholic Reporter and Ms. Magazine. He is also the author of eleven books, including Sacred Energies: When the World’s Religions Sit Down to Talk about the Future of Human Life and the Plight of This Planet and Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions.


Related Off-site Link:
Biden And Ryan Share Faith, But Not Worldview – Barbara Bradley Hagerty (NPR, August 21, 2012).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Daniel Maguire on the Progressive Core of Catholicism
Daniel Maguire on Catholicism's "Long History of Demeaning Sexuality"
Daniel Maguire on Sex as Liturgy
Daniel Maguire on the Wedding of Spirituality and Sexuality
Quote of the Day – April 10, 2012


Something to Think About . . .



Related Off-site Links:
Todd Akin: Women Can’t Get Pregnant From ‘Legitimate Rape’ – Tracy Bloom (TruthDig.com, August 19, 2012).
Is It Really Best for Women If Akin Withdraws? Questions About a Defining Moment – Jodi Jacobson (CommonDreams.org, August 20, 2012).
Blaming the Victim, Again – Eugene Robinson (TruthDig.com, August 20, 2012).
GOP Platform to Call for Ban on Abortion With No Exemptions for Rape, IncestThe Huffington Post (August 21, 2012).
Dear Mr. Akin, I Want You to Imagine . . . – Eve Ensler (The Huffington Post, August 22, 2012).
Eight Staggering GOP Comments on Rape and Women – Sarah Seltzer and Lauren Kelley (Salon.com, August 22, 2012).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Irene Khan: Shaking Things Up Down Under
"It's a Great Time to Be Catholic and Hopefully Part of the Change That Must Come": A Conversation with Simon Rosser
Angela Bonavoglia on the Church's "Continued Demonization of Women"