This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

'Yet until brown clay has been rammed down my larynx....' | National Catholic Reporter

'Yet until brown clay has been rammed down my larynx....' | National Catholic Reporter  by MSW.  MGB: Michael Sean Winters gives his Church Gratitude List.  I agree with everything he said, as well as his contribution to NCR and the opportunity for all of us to comment on his work.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Links for 11/24/15 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 11/24/15 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: My sister's friend Dennis Coyle testifies through Steven Schneck that the Parisians flocked to Notre Dame to pray after the recent attacks like we did after 9-11.  Of course, this did not stop France from seeking a military solution, which they have been very successful at, much more than anyone else.

The Vatican Insider shows that Francis is heading into the lion's den.  At some point, this wrecklessness may be like throwing yourself off the Temple Heights.  I fear for his safety in going to a mosque where Jihadis are active.

Twitter is cashing in on the Pope's visit to the U.S.  Fun stuff. by MSW. MGB: As MSW indicates, we know that at the top of the who not to trust is extraction industries.  Their continued politicization of the issue in the wrong direction is a sure indication that they are lying.  The state exists, in part, to balance the excesses of capitalism.  This is one of those times where balance is necessary.

I trust the scientific community to show that there is a correlation between industry and planetary warming.  I trust them less to say with certainty what that warming will do.  After all, 1000 years ago the north was warmer than it is now and nobody died of it - although quite a few did die as the Vikings raided because it was warm enough to do so.  It may be that they raided because there was a problem with their own agriculture - or it could be that warming allowed population growth and they needed more land - which they found from Iceland to Greenland to what is now Newfoundland.  These data lead me to believe that the jury is out on effects.

I trust Pope Francis to talk about the morals of what we must do to deal with an effects that do arise, as well as what we must do to put capitalism in check.  Those are more questions.  As for climate, I do trust Jorge Bregolio's assessment of the science - as a scientist, not as Pope.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Links for 11/23/15 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 11/23/15 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The old saying is that if you can't beat them, join them.  Sadly, pro-life Dems still have to buy into the myths that repealing Roe or passing first trimester personhood abortion restrictions are possible or appropriate.  Still, its fun watching the GOP sputter that its their movement - which in reality, it is.

There was a lot of de-Judaizing in the nineteenth century.  My own family tree backs that one up.  Interestingly, if he had been alive at the death of St. John Paul, he would have had a shot at Pope had his background been known, since the Glory of the Olive could have meant Jewishness, rather than a love for St. Benedict.

As for the SNL skit, there is nothing like a good power ballad.

Francis' Address to the German Bishops | National Catholic Reporter

Francis' Address to the German Bishops | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The current generation was lost because their parents and grand parents were lost. Looking at current conditions does not explain the causes. Consumerism is as strong, if not stronger, in the US than it is in Europe, so that is not the cause.  Indeed, capitalism in Europe is everywhere tempered by social democracy that makes sure people's needs are met - and provides the charity without the Catholic on numerous occassions - see the Syrian refugee crisis if you have doubts.  So, have they outgrown God, while at the same time doing his will?  Under Matthew 25, that is perfectly fine, by the way.

God prescribes worship for our sake, not His.  If we can feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc, without going to Church, we are still going to Heaven.  Still, I don't think German Catholics are staying away secure in the knowledge that living in a social democracy punches their ticket to Heaven.  I suspect that the intellectual life of Europe sees God as a vestigal organ, to be cast off once we know better.  I am not sure they teach this is primary school, but I am sure the message is loud and clear by university.

It is interesting to see what got Europe to that point. MSW cites the Thirty Years War, intervening wars, all the way to Hitler.  Do they blame religion for Hitler?  I doubt it.  Do they blame themselves for Hitler (at least from when Mass attendence fell off) and the Church for not telling them to stand against him, until it was obvious that Naziism led to ruin, defeat, post-war famine and, more than that, an overwhelming sense of guilt?  It is no accident that not only God ignored in school and society, so is the history of the period.  I suspect that they feel, or felt, that the judgment of God upon them is great for acceeding to acts so terrible as to be left out of the history books.

What Germany, and Europe, need is forgiveness and reconciliation.  Years ago there was a flap about Pius XII collaborating with the Nazis.  Perhaps we should admit to the fact that, in some way, he did - or at least did not urge active resistance (which was happening anyway), nor did the bishops - although some priests did, and their heroism is the exception, not the rule.  The fear of Hell must be palpable, until you get rid of God, then there is no Hell and you can die, and if in difficulties suicide with medical help, secure in the belief that nothing happens next.  The way out is simple, then.  Atone publicly for the War - starting with the Church and offering that to the people.  Be graphic.  Dredge up the horrible crimes upon Jews, Gypsies, enemies and themselves.  Forgive the U.S. for atrocities committed from the air, especially is Dresden.  Only then is the concept of a God pallatable. Until then, the only mercy from God is to ignore God and the possibility of punishment for crimes of an earlier generation.  Sadly, a Church that could do no wrong would not see this as necessary when it could have given comfort to a generation now gone.  One hopes it is not too late.  Of course, under the Kingship of Christ, all things are possible.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Links - sort of - for 11/20/15 | National Catholic Reporter

Links - sort of - for 11/20/15 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: I also try not to tweet and never look at the e-mail account that I have responses going to.  The question is whether St. John Paul did the best he could to subvert the parts of Vatican II he never liked and that Benedict supported him in this, even as Pope.  The answer is obvious.  Is this Pope departing from the retrenchment?  I have not seen the Mass translations to literal word for word forms revoked, so there is continuity.  If Francis going back toward the spirit of Vatican II?  Probably not - although he will give it actual council the honor due it. What is without question is that he is going foreward with the Joy of the Gospel (which Benedict had a hand in) - which is more dangerous for the reactionaries than anything said in Vatican II or attributed to the spirit of Vatican II.

Paris: The Aftermath | National Catholic Reporter

Paris: The Aftermath | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Sadly, among American voters and polticians, people tend to see what they want to see.  This issue is a Rorschack test to determine how people already feel.  The results are not pretty.  Still, while it is good to take in people in need, it is sad that the Syrian diaspora is so thorough.

On France, the people MSW is calling neo-cons are simply just conservatives (a neocon is a former Marxist, probably Jewish, who has seen the folly of revolution and is now taking a very hard line in support of Israel - there is literally nothing relevant to the neocon ideology in this crisis unless we are talking boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq).  That said, there will be and never was a Christian Europe (no matter how many Inquisitions the Church tries), nor is the idea of Christendom going to re-emerge anywhere - and certainly not France, which has mastered anti-clericalism.

As for the left, individuals are tolerant, not multicultural - everyone still has their own culture, both in terms of ethnicity, religiousity and what we call grid-group theory.  This also has nothing to do with materialism, which is not a part of capitalism but a reaction to it (capitalists would rather keep all the stuff - materialism happens when they have to lower prices so everyone can buy so they can continue to make profit).  France, like Europe at large, has a decent Socialist Party and social democratic movement which insists that we work to live, not live to work.

That this has again emptied the Churches means that the Church must be more humanistic in its message, something the French are not wont to do, although the current Archbishop of Paris is at least sounding the right notes on the tragedy.  Just to be clear, the God of Christianity is the God of Israel and Islam - its how we look at Him that is important - mostly on an individual level.  He is certainly not some bloodthirsty moralist that wants us to make things perfect by violence, either the violence of terror or the violece of the state (sorry Kim Davis and Cardinal Burke).

There is nothing we can do about the Paris tragedy.  It is done and ISIS has made threats that we will respond to with hightened security - as well as heavier bombing and better intelligence.  The teaching moment, however, comes from how we respond.  That involves leadership.  Most Americans, like most people in the world, are not above fear mongering.  No one has changed their minds about refugees this past week.  Indeed, surveys published again this week show that this has always been the case.  It is up to leadership to act rightly, regardless of what the hayseeds back home say.  Its called courage and it seems that one of the parties has a bigger deficit in this than the other, although it has been the other way - though mostly among conservatives - no neo required.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Links for 11/19/15 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 11/19/15 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: On Warren's speech, sadly neither logic or emotion can reach through a heart afflicted with hate, fear and xenophobia.  People individually will moslty behave themselves, but they are dangerous in groups, especially on the right wing.  It used to be that, while our fellow citizens famously have great disdain for the constitutional, human and economic rights of their neighbors, people in the political class usually had a decent respect for them.  Of course,as Silk reports, now that we have real estate moguls and neurosurgeons sucking up all the oxygen, the lack of courage by those who should know better are afraid to speak out against the nonsense.  At least the Church gets the humanitarian part right - even though it misses some of the constitutional nuance on abortion and gay marriage.:

Reflections on the USCCB Meeting, Part II | National Catholic Reporter

Reflections on the USCCB Meeting, Part II | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: I will go in reverse order. The bishops do these meetings for themselves, not for us. It is actually a pity that policy is discussed at all. We would be better off if they just fellowshiped in private. Indeed, I bet there are very few Catholics, even among those who read their diocesan newspapers, who are even aware that the bishops met this week. Perhaps if policy questions were settled with synods on just that issue, we would be less democratic.

On the other hand, they do decide policy. Pity that the Pope could not adjust his schedule to be here for the meeting. I am certain the opponents of hermeneutic of reform would have kept their tongues - and I doubt Faithful Citizenship would have passed. We would get the same result if we had a national patriarch to look too, instead of Rome - to adopt the more Orthodox model. It would certainly have an impact on the careerists, as the spectre of Roman interference always looms large for them - and with our own Patriarch, it would be totally absent. It would also be easier to explain constitutional law to the Patriarch, which would change everything, starting with the translation of the Mass.

Links for 11/18/15 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 11/18/15 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The Koch investigative machine is not so efficient.  I keep writing that we have a long way to go before we are too warm and I have not yet seen my check from Mr. Koch

I am shocked Stephen King did not endorse Trump, so this gives Cruz some heft in the caucuses - at least among King's network of volunteers.  Is this worse than Trump.  Probably not, but it might keep the process open until we get a good look at Kasich, who is the best of that bunch.

I think we can assume that Obama has P.R.'s back. The question is whether Ryan and McConnell are willling to play ball, since many of the changes, probably including establishing a control board, require legislation.  I tell you, if they do nothing than either statehood or independence need a serious look.

I think the divisions between civil and religious life in France have been improving for a long time, although never entirely to the Church's satisfaction - which is likely a good thing too. The days of religious power in France are long gone and never to return, which is true here as well. As for ISIL, when people stop leaving and start shooting back, or if we force the Saudis to quit sending money (and bomb the wells that are supporting them), it is most likely that the tribal elders will have their fill of the Jihadis and will be the ones shooting at ISIL - as they did the last time they were chased into Syria.  We need to realize we cannot cause someone else's revolution, nor can we stop it (as Viet Nam proved well).

Reflections on the USCCB Meeting, Part I | National Catholic Reporter

Reflections on the USCCB Meeting, Part I | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The rudeness of DiNardo and cluelessness of Blair are why I believe in local election for bishops - as if that occured they would not likely be in the conference.  I am also not that sanguine with Wuerl, who with Blair and DiNardo essentially blocked any meaningful change in the focus of the USCCB.  I agree that McElroy was a bright spot.  I hope he gets both a red hat and an elected position in the conference.  The reform minded bishops will appreciate him, but may not have the heft to block DiNardo from the Presidency - but Vice President would be lovely.

As to continuity and discontinuity - much of the discontinuity in reform was reversed by both St. John Paul, who fought it at Vatican II, and Benedict, his attack dog - who even in the papacy gave us a translation of the Mass (which is what people mostly notice), that almost word for word reflected the English translation of the Mass of St. John XXIII.  Of course, some changes can't be undone, much to the chagri of Bishop Blair.  The Sisters have found their own path that is not as dependent on the local Ordinary (and some are very Ordinary) as the bishops would like, taking health care reform as an example and their williness to accept the accommodation on birth control offered by Obama.

This brings me to the heresy of Americanism - which is a feature, not a heresy.  It is not a bad thing when doctrine must be bound within our constitutional system.  Our legislature will not simply bend its will to Catholic voters, prompted by Catholic prelates on many of the issues of the day - primarily because they are issues of individual rights - like gay marriage, contraception, gay sex and, yes, abortion.  Only England and English common law nations put rights over the power of the legislature and the institutions (like the Church) who would dictate otherwise. Its a feature, not a flaw, and until the Vatican and the USCCB come to grips with this, they will be spitting in the wind with such documents as Faithful Citizenship.

St. Pius was also wrong about his Condemnation of Modernism - especially as it pertains to biblical and theological scholarship. At least most of the Church, aside from the CDF and some in the USCCB, have granted that the Modernists have won and its a good thing.  Anti-modernism is essentially the stance that doctrine must be protected from the truth as it developed.  Francis seems to understand these dynamics, so it is no shock that some of our bishops are confused, although he does not understand American law and I suspect President Obama did not have the time to explain it to him.  Mores the pity.

Note that the holding of Modernism or Americanism does not block one from being a faithful Catholic.  Indeed, accepting reality is no block to a belief in the Resurrection and all of those doctrines that really matter.  We are for the Church, not against it, even when it errs like the bishops did this week. Those of us who are to the left will vote like we always do, without regard to the latest disasterous document.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Faithful Citizenship Debate Continues | National Catholic Reporter

Faithful Citizenship Debate Continues | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: There is nothing like public controversy to put people on the record for how they think and who they stand with.  The take-away line is that the Pope is aware of the opposition in the US to his approach.  Perhaps that should be enough to withdraw the document - although I think the damage has been done to a few careerists who very much deserve to be outed. With this crowd, I don't expect an exhortation on the joys of Modernism - I suspect the Church will always be a little behind on that front - but it need not stay in place.  Still, focusing on both Religious Power (not freedom) and the settled law on gay marriage is enough to reject this quadrenniel guilt tripping of progressives from the altar.  Where gay marriage should be a worry is from those who would ask that their marriages be blessed or at least recognized - much in the way that Francis greeted and acknowledged one of his gay friends and his husband when he visited the U.S.  Can't wait to hear the vote. Too bad its a secret ballot.

Debate on Faithful Citizenship, Part 1 | National Catholic Reporter

Debate on Faithful Citizenship, Part 1 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Props to Bishop McElroy for telling the truth everyone knew anyway.  Lets see if it allows people the freedom to vote no, no matter what DiNardo and Wuerl say about the limited objectives of continued cooperation with the G.O.P., even to the extent that they conflict with what the Pope has been saying.  Of course, it is no tragedy.  Catholic voters vote in the same partisan share as anyother voters - and those who vote Democrat will simply ignore this document.  Of course, if it only pleases those who agree with it, its not authoritative teaching, it is at best propoganda and at worst, waste paper and wasted breath by those pastors who bother to teach on it a year from now.

USCCB Election Results I | National Catholic Reporter

USCCB Election Results I | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: If the election of Fr. Bransfield send the staff who believe that serving Christ is best served by serving the Republican Party, then that may not be a bad thing.  Of course, if it chases out the moderates, that would be a bad thing.  Upper level jobs are not that easy to come by, so I doubt there will be a rush to the exits by anyone.

USCCB Strategic Priorities | National Catholic Reporter

USCCB Strategic Priorities | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Just a question: Did Jesus have strategic priorities?  Would they be any of these?

Day 2 at the USCCB: Strategic Priorities | National Catholic Reporter

Day 2 at the USCCB: Strategic Priorities | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: It is sad that the poor get lip service and not real policy recommendations - but it is sad because the staff who drafted this round of Faithful Citizenship know that if they mention specifics, those specifics will favor Democratic candidates.  The powers that be can't have that - it would be bad for their Republican party connections in the anti-equality and anti-abortion movements.

Evangelization as they describe it centers with them, not Jesus and certainly not with evangelization with the poor (the least of His brothers).  What they are after is Religious Power, not religious liberty, and no one will be clamoring to join this movement except other bishops and priests who want to be bishops. Of course, as MSW says, they don't seem to realize that the Pope who will promote them, or even retain them, as changed the rules.

The election of General Secretary will demonstrate whether a vote of confidence will occur in how the staff is handling issues - or if someone who is possibly more extreme will get the job.  An interesting day that has already played out as I post this.

Monday, November 16, 2015

USCCB: National Advisory Council Report | National Catholic Reporter

USCCB: National Advisory Council Report | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The question of who appoints the NAC is actually pretty important.  Is it staff driven or does it reflect the biases of the appointing President - which would have been Cardinal Dolan and would explain much.  To even bother to put porn on the agenda is silly - as its main flaw is the extent to which the actors are exploited, say with drugs or violence, rather than happily going to work. As far as the users, its only harmful if it keeps one from getting into the dating pool and finding their own lover, rather than watching someone else's.  I am going to stop, as I am not sure the NAC is a big enough matter to even mention.