Posted in July, 2008

PZ Myers’ Hateful Protest

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 31, 2008 | Categories: Scandals

PZ Myers is a biology professor at the University of Minnesota Morris and author of the blog, Pharyngula.   The blog is eclectic, and Myers writes about science, education and religion.   Raised a Lutheran, Myers is now an atheist.  pz.jpg

But he cares deeply and passionately about Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, to have pulled his latest stunt.   He made good on his protest pledge to desecrate a Communion host.   “I pierced it (the Host) with a rusty nail (I hope Jesus’s tetanus shots are up to date). And then I simply threw it in the trash.”

Saying he did not want to “single out just the cracker,” Myers also tore pages from the Koran along with a few pages from Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion and nailed them to the Host.   He then said, “They are just paper. Nothing must be held sacred. Question everything. God is not great, Jesus is not your lord, you are not disciples of any charismatic prophet.”

Myers was given consecrated Hosts by an unknown person in response to his appeal:

“Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? There’s no way I can personally get them – my local churches have stakes prepared for me, I’m sure — but if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I’ll show you sacrilege, glady, and with much fanfare. I won’t be tempted   to hold it hostage (no, not even if I have a choice between returning the Eucharist and watching Bill Donohue kick the pope in the balls, which would apparently be a more humane act than desecrating a goddamned cracker), but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web. I shall do so joyfully and with laughter in my heart. If you can smuggle some out from under the armed guards and grim nuns hovering over your local communion ceremony, just write to me and I’ll send you my home address.”

What he did–the desecration of a Host–is an offensive and deliberately provocative gesture of contempt to people for which the Eucharist means something and is sacred.   It was a violent act.   I would certainly say it was a hateful act, but not necessarily a hate crime.

The University has received calls for his firing, and Myers has received hundreds of emails protesting his action.   Myers sighed, “There are days when it is agony to read the news, because people are so goddamned stupid. Petty and stupid. Hateful and stupid. Just plain stupid. And nothing makes them stupider than religion.”

He summed himself up very well.

There aren’t many instances when I’m in accord with conservative Catholic bloggers Jimmy Atkin and Mark Shea, but we all agree today.

 

Was Batman Outed in the ’50s?

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 28, 2008 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Lesbians & Gays

 rainbowbatmanr.jpg

Batman and Robin hide in plain sight much like another famous couple-Xena, Warrior  Princess  and her young companion, Gabrielle.   The gay subtext is  flagrant in some stories, barely hinted at in others. Sometimes, the characters have a fleeting involvement with members of the opposite sex – a date  to keep up appearances.

Is  Batman gay?  I found this gem by Tyrion Lannister on  The Bilerico Project.      

“The accusation that Batman was a homo, strange as it might sound to our own ears, was taken quite seriously by government and public alike. It wasn’t leveled by a marginal nut or crank, but by a world-renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Frederic Wertham.”

“In 1954, Wertham published a scathing indictment of comic books, The Seduction of the Innocent, which argued that comic books were an invidious influence on American youth, responsible for warped gender attitudes and all manner of delinquency.”

“Batman and Robin, Wertham charged, inhabited ‘a wish dream of two homosexuals living together.’ They lived in ‘sumptuous quarters,’ unencumbered by wives and girlfriends, with only an aged butler for company. They care for each other’s injuries, frequently shared quarters, and lounged together in dressing gowns. Worse still, both exhibited damning psychological characteristics: proclivities for costumes, dressing up, and fantasy play; secretive behavior and double-lives; little interest in women; and most damning of all, neurotic compulsions resulting in their violent vigilantism. Indeed, Wertham argued, depictions of Batman and Robin were frequently homoerotic, visually emphasizing Batman’s rippling physique and Robin’s splayed, bare thighs.” batbed.png

“‘Only someone ignorant of the fundamentals of psychiatry and psychopathology of sex can fail to realize the subtle atmosphere of homoeroticism which pervades the adventures,’ wrote Wertham. ‘The Batman type of story may stimulate children to homosexual fantasies.'” ambiguously_gay_batman.jpg

 

The Two Goofs of Sally Kern

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 26, 2008 | Categories: Accountability, Politics, Scandals

Sally Kern is a state legislator from Oklahoma.   She is also the wife of a Baptist minister. sally-kern.jpg

Kern first gained national notoriety back in March  when her anti-homosexual rant  to a group of 50 Republican constituents  ended up on YouTube.   Here are some highlights:

“Studies show, no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted for more than, you know, a few decades…”

“I honestly think it’s the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam…”

“They are going after our young children, as young as two years of age, to try to teach them that the homosexual lifestyle is an acceptable lifestyle…”

“One of my colleagues said, ‘We don’t have a gay problem in our community’…well, you know, that is so dumb. If you have cancer in your little toe, do you just say that I’m going to forget about it since the rest of you is fine? It spreads! This stuff is deadly and it is spreading. It will destroy our young people and it will destroy this nation.”

“The homosexual agenda is destroying this nation…. Not everybody’s lifestyle is equal, just like not everybody’s religion is equal and according to God’s word, it is not the right lifestyle.”

That was Goof #1, which took weeks to die down.   Now, Sally’s back in the news again.

Last Wednesday, Kern was stopped by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol trying to enter the state capitol building  with a loaded handgun in her bag.  She said she forgot to take the .380 caliber semi-automatic out of her purse after she stopped to talk to a colleague. “It was an honest mistake from being out of my routine, you know,” she said.

Huh?

She tells one whopper after another and doesn’t bat an eyelash!

Really, what kind of lady doesn’t check her purse before leaving the house.   Yep, house keys, car keys, sunglasses, cell phone, makeup bag, breath mints, loaded semi-automatic….uh, make sure the safety’s on…ok, I’m off! beretta.jpg

 

Church Defies Cardinal Newman’s Dying Wish

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 24, 2008 | Categories: Lesbians & Gays, Scandals

On April 23, 2008 the Vatican approved the  beatification of John  Henry Newman,  of one of the most significant Anglican converts to Catholicism. But, before he can be canonized, a few things need to occur:   namely, a second miracle, and removing his body from a grave he shares with his beloved–a fellow priest, Ambrose St John.

In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano shortly before Newman’s beatification, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, said Cardinal Newman  was “a man of thought, an emblematic figure of a conversion from Anglicanism to Catholicism.” The Cardinal added, “Personally, I hope that such a beatification may occur truly within a short time because it could be very important at this moment for the path of ecumenism.” j-h-newman.jpg

If so, Newman’s  beatification is certainly  ironic.

The Anglican Communion is tearing itself up over homosexual clergy and solemnizing the relationships of its gay communicants.   Several Anglican bishops from North America have already or are in the process of seeking reception into the Catholic Church.

It’s most famous  convert–John Henry Newman–was most certainly a gay man.   Converting in 1845 at the age of 44, he chose to live a celibate life as an Anglican priest.  However, his strong and intimate emotional attachments were with men–Richard Hurrell Froude and then, Ambrose St John.   When St John died, Newman clung to the body all   night.

It was Cardinal Newman’s dying wish that he be buried with his closest friend in the grounds of the house they shared as priests. The cardinal repeated on three occasions his desire to be buried with his friend, including shortly before his death in 1890.

“I wish,with all my heart, to be buried in Fr Ambrose St John’s grave – and I give this as my last, my imperative will,” he wrote, later adding: “This I confirm and insist on.”

Newman wrote after the death of St John in 1875: “I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband’s or a wife’s, but I feel it difficult to believe that any can be greater, or anyone’s sorrow greater, than mine.”

Ambrose had also become a Roman Catholic around the same time as John Newman, and the two men have a joint memorial stone, inscribed with the words Newman had chosen:

“Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem”, which translates as “Out of shadows and phantasms into the truth”.

But now, nearly 120 years after his death, Newman is to be reinterred in a sarcophagus in preparation for his becoming a saint, leaving the remains of his friend behind.

The decision to separate the remains of John Henry Newman and Ambrose St John has led some people to question whether the Church is  embarrassed about their relationship and doesn’t want to raise attention to it at the time of Newman’s beatification. cardinal-john-newma.jpg

 

U.S. Bishops Say “No”

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 22, 2008 | Categories: Bishops

U.S. bishops have rejected a new translation of Mass prayers, a rare instance of U.S. preclates denying a Vatican-ordered liturgical change.

Sister Mary Walsh, a spokesperson for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,  could not recall  another  instance in which a majority of the USCCB rejected a full document of Vatican translations.

The measure did not pass at the bishops’ meeting in June, and mail-in ballots won’t add up to the 166 needed to pass the new translation. A two-thirds majority of the USCCB’s Latin rite bishops is required for approval.

The vote was a shock. Most observers expected approval to be a formality, in part because four other English-speaking bishops’ conferences have already accepted it.

Known as the “Proper of the Seasons,” the prayers are said on Sundays, Holy Days and during liturgical seasons such as Lent, and change from day to day. Examples include the opening prayer, prayers said over the bread and wine, and prayer after Communion.

The late Pope John Paul II ordered the new translations to increase fidelity to the original Latin. Some Vatican liturgists said the church moved too quickly–and sloppily—in translating the Mass into local languages after the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s.

The vote over the Proper of the Seasons provided the most drama of the bishops’ three-day session, thanks to a speech by Bishop Victor Galeone of Saint Augustine, Florida. Bishop Galeone is a former Latin teacher. bishop-galeone.jpg

In his speech, Bishop Galeone argued the new translation is “too slavish” with respect to the Latin original, with the result the prayers are too awkward, too remote from normal English speech, to be proclaimed effectively.  

In effect, Galeone suggested the translation amounts to a departure from the post-Vatican II vision of worship in the vernacular languages of the community.

Among other things, Galeone cited the text’s use of the phrase “the gibbet of the Cross.” “The last time I heard that word was back in 1949, during Stations of the Cross in Lent,” Galeone said.

His speech motivated a number of other bishops to come forward to express their own reservations about the translation.   “It’s a linguistic swamp,” one bishop added.

The rejected translation will come up again, with amendments, at the USCCB’s next meeting in November.

If parishes return to phrases like “the gibbet of the Cross,” they are going to have to dedicate a portion of the Missal to explanatory footnotes.   The priest will also need to articulate very clearly and not mumble, so people don’t think he’s talking about “giblet” gravy and get really confused. gravy2.jpg

 

Hunky Priests Calendar

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 19, 2008 | Categories: Humor, Scandals

These priests are so handsome and seductive I’m thinking about becoming….a gay man!

The publication of Mormons Exposed had me wondering if Catholics had anything similar…and we do!   Calendario Romano publishes an annual calendar of  hunky seminarians and  priests at the Vatican.    The calendar also includes some helpful notes of places to see and things to do while you’re there….My advice: Guys, buy the calendar AFTER church so you’re still in a state of grace for Communion.   fr-march.JPG

I may order a copy for my sister.   Fr. March may be enough to get her back to church again. Fr. October, who is also the Cover priest, certainly would have been labeled “Father-What-A-Waste” when I was growing up. fr-october.GIF

Lesbians, as usual, have some catching up to do.   The publisher would probably have to go through six thousand reprints if they printed a calendar of twelve handsome sisters looking soulfully in our eyes with all kind of promises in theirs….

Just in time for World Youth Day,    the casting for Calendario Romano 2009  is about to begin.   Want  to get boys and girls back to the Church? Hunky seminarians may be the answer.   Boring homilies about following rules  are not.

 

“j”

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 16, 2008 | Categories: Lesbians & Gays

 “j” posted this message on the Forum on Sunday, July 13th.  

“God excepts us for who we are, our sins and all but to live in a lifestyle of disrespecting on how God made us being female or male and just giving in to our human sexual desires seems to defeats the purpose of following Christ and obeying His commands”

 I didn’t post the message, because regular Forum members would find it upsetting and an intrusion on safe, sacred space. But, I can respond on this blog; so, “j”, whoever you are, I hope you come back and read my reply:

Dear  j,

I detected a certain gentle  tone in your admonishment. In fact, it was almost a question, as if you were unsure.

Please know I agree with you, that God accepts us for who we are, sins and all, and that God loves us deeply and unconditionally.

If you have chosen as a gay person to live chastely, then please know I respect your decision.

I chose to live my life with a loving partner.   And I am a happier, and wholer person in every way because of it. Love gives me life and vitality, and sexual expression is part of that love.

Before you decide that we disrespect God by loving women, then I suggest you try this before you make up your mind:

Kiss a woman.   Deeply, fiercely, tenderly.   How does it make you feel?   kiss-2.jpg

Please write back and tell me, if that kiss “defeats the purpose of following Christ.”

I wish you well,

Karen

 

The Witness of Ingrid Betancourt

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 14, 2008 | Categories: Politics

Ingrid Betancourt, 46, a former Columbian presidential candidate and political hostage, was rescued last week in a daring raid by the Columbian military. Three American hostages held with her were also freed. betancourtingrid.gif

Betancourt had been held  captive nearly six years in the Columbian jungle by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, or Farc. She returned to a joyous welcome in France after the rescue. “I owe everything to France,” she said, after landing at a military base outside Paris to a warm greeting by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In comments to Europe 1 radio, she said that her captors had chained her day and night for the first three years, but that she was sustained by her Roman Catholic faith and thoughts of family.

“I was in chains all the time, 24 hours a day, for three years,” she said. “I tried to wear those chains with dignity, even if I felt that it was unbearable.”

Asked if she was tortured, she said, “Yes, yes,” and her captors had fallen in to “diabolical behavior,” adding, “It was so monstrous I think they themselves were disgusted.” She called her rescue “a miracle of the Virgin Mary” and said, “You need a tremendous spirituality to stop yourself from falling into an abyss.” She made herself a wooden rosary in the jungle, she said.

Listening to Betancourt’s account of her Farc kidnappers reminded me of a time in the 1980s when I cancelled my NCR subscription. (I have since returned as a subscriber!)

At that time, the paper petered out its coverage of gay, women’s   and lay protests for  a voice in church finances and governance; and seemed to focus exclusively Latin American “liberation” stories and editorials.

But unfortunately, like an Animal Farm parody, the writing cast “liberation soldiers-good,” “capitalistic Americans-bad.” After a while, it got to be so lop-sided and venomous about America I stopped reading NCR.

A lot of women I knew who were members of religious communities whole-heartedly endorsed NCR’s views and their one-dimensional portrayals of rebels, peasants, government officials, American military and multinational corporations.

A lot of military operations on both sides were funded by the sale of dope grown by peasant farmers, but I don’t remember anyone speaking out against it, or its impact on the poor and hopeless in this country.

Around that time a group of us used to get together for potluck supper on Fridays. Included were several sisters from different communities. For the most part, these women were good people, thoughtful, sincere and outspoken; if a little naive about life for people outside their communities and populations they served.

Anyway, during one Friday supper, one woman, a good friend of one of the sisters, proudly related her pilgrimage to the Sandinista rebels in El Salvador. When the halo became too visible, I finally had it and dropped a stink bomb. “Did you tell them you’re a dyke,” I asked. She didn’t answer, but gave me a defiant, hostile glare. “So you told them all about yourself, but you left that part out.”

“Of course you didn’t tell them you’re a lesbian, I said. “Because if you had,” I paused and went on, “you would not have been welcomed by them as a friend. Since you’re an American, and they want our money and goodwill press, you would not have been harmed. But I bet if one of   their people came out, they would have been beaten, maybe raped, and certainly forced back into the closet. How many gay groups are there in Cuba, China, El Salvador?” Nobody said a word.

The evening was over but the point was made: Let’s have a little clarity in our view, and with it, a little balance.   Ideology–any ideology–in the hands of extremists becomes a killer. Ideology should never be allowed to  forget the humanity it proports to serve.

Within 48 hours of her liberation, Betancourt said Columbian president Alvaro Uribe should find ways to acquire the release of other hostages held by Farc. “President Uribe, and not just President Uribe but Columbia as a whole, should change some things,” said Betancourt to the press.

Stating that forbearance and respect were urgently required, she also said: “I think the time has come to change the language of radicalism, extremism and hatred, the very strong words that cause deep hurt to a human being.”

Since Betancourt, now a global icon, may well run for president of Columbia again, it’s a  statement that is both political and personal.

The interesting question is what will be the impact of the spirituality she forged in her jungle captivity?  What does it mean to exist  with a chain around your neck? How do you look at your captors after you are freed? ibcaptive.JPG

 

Where is she? Dream Women of Craigslist

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 11, 2008 | Categories: Humor, Lesbians & Gays

I’m in marketing, and after hours of crafting line  after line of text for web, blogs, catalog pages and email newsletters,  I need a mental break.

Sometimes, I minimize the screen and click on to Craigslist -W4W. It is always a source of discovery and entertainment.

Up until this week, the best W4W ad I ever saw on Craigslist ended with these two words: “No nuts.” Did I laugh! How  many of us have  met a woman we thought was an interesting possibility, only to find she was  dragging  so much emotional baggage ten U-Hauls couldn’t have managed it.

A few days ago I read an ad by one of the thousands of searchers who shop Craigslist every day looking for a  woman who will turn them on. The women who shop Craigslist want sex.   A few want it with a little class and appreciate the intellectual and emotional components of mating; others can’t be bothered with even minimal flirtation or manage an interest in getting to know the person first before jumping on them. craigslist-erotic-sex.jpg

Here’s a  Craigslist poster whose  analysis of her fellow shoppers was so witty and withering, it earned a place of honor on this site:

“I’ve been searching these ads for a while, and  I find the ads fall into one of several categories. On Craigslist W4W, you can find several types of wonderful women, including:

a)THE POET: this craigslister may or may not be looking for a relationship. That is not really the point. The point is that she is a poet and she likes writing long lines of verse that make sense to her and maybe her psychiatrist. You are her captive audience. Enjoy!

b)THE FIRST-TIMER: she’s never been with a woman, but has thought about it for years (talk about extended foreplay!) or maybe just has gotten so disgusted with men she’s considering the alternative. She craves “a woman’s touch” as long as that woman is touching her ta-tas. She’s like a character from a pulp novel written in the 50s, really. You’ll either be the one to bring her out or the one to be drop-kicked to the curb the second she finds a man. Probably the latter.

c)THE MARRIED OR IN A RELATIONSHIP: She’ll have an innocent looking subject line that says “Looking for Love” so you click on–only to find her idea of love is you going down on her while hubby watches. Romance has sure changed a lot in 2008.

d)THE OVERSHARER: Long ads that go on and on about her sad life, her unemployment, her one-eyed dog, the fact that she’s on welfare, and not about what she has to bring to the table or what she’s looking for. The Oversharer might also write out a long political or philosophical manifesto, like the kind the homeless recite to you when you are on  the train.

e)THE FUSSY: You must be a faggy-boi top with three earrings in each ear who likes The Smiths. And live in Williamsburg, on Bedford, specifically.

f)THE GRAPHIC: Not much in the way of writing. But come on. She’s got such a beautiful va-jay, how can you resist?

g)THE SHOULD BE MORE CAREFUL: This ad asks: Wanna come to my apartment and hang out?  I don’t know you from Adam but I’m sure you’ll be normal. Uh, let’s not forget this is New York City.

h)THE LOOKING FOR A TOUR GUIDE: I will be coming to New York soon. Show me where all the lesbian clubs are. I won’t pay you or make it worth your while in any way. The reward will be hanging out with me, a reward within itself.

i)THE NORMAL, or HALFWAY NORMAL: An ad that tells you a little about the poster, what she is looking for, some humor thrown in for good measure. This is the kind of ad I post and respond to.

And now, for my ad: I’m 31, Jewish, femme, brunette, average figure, enjoys movies, concerts, film. Looking for woman 26-40 who gets what I’m talking about. Normally, I write a longer ad than this, but I think I’ve written enough already.

Hate mail is also encouraged, if you disagree with my ad. Entertain me. It’s a slow weekend.”

 

Chant: Music for Paradise

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 9, 2008 | Categories: Arts & Letters

When the album, Chant: Music for Paradise was released in Europe in May, it shot to #7 in the British pop charts, outselling releases from Amy Winehouse and Madonna. chantfc2.jpg

Maybe Pope Benedict is on to something, trying to rekindle interest in Catholicism by reestablishing some of the old traditions and cultural touchstones. If the popularity of Gregorian chant cuts across all ideological lines, and brings old and young together in a secular society, perhaps the Pope would do well to remember one thing: restore the beauty without the baggage. The beauty brings people in; the authoritarianism turns people off.

Gregorian chant has made pop celebrities of the monks of Heiligenkreuz, Austria. While not all of the monks are thrilled at the idea of sacred music being repackaged for a secular society, most seem to believe the music has the great potential to stir feelings of faith in a society that has drifted far from religion.

In 1994 the Benedictines of Santo Domingo de Solis in Spain prompted the last big revival of Gregorian chant with an album,  Chant,  that became a phenomenon. Within a year of its release, it had sold over 5 million copies, many of them to young people between 16-25.

For now, the monks of Heiligenkreuz seem sanguine they can balance their celebrity with monastic life. “If the problem becomes too big,” the abbott said, “I’ll take a plane down to Santo Domingo de Silos and ask the abbott there for advice.”