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Tag Archives: United States

Women as Priests – NYTimes.com

Andrea M. Johnson was ordained a Roman Catholic Womanpriest in 2007 and bishop in 2009. She has worked for many years as a religious educator at the adult and secondary levels. Her particular interest is ministry with marginalized and underserved Catholics.

Reposted from the New York Times.  Women as Priests – NYTimes.com.

REFORMERS within the Roman Catholic Church have been calling for the ordination of women as priests. The Vatican, however, refuses to consider the possibility and uses its power to silence those who speak out. Catholic clergy in Europe, Australia and the United States who have voiced public support for female ordination have been either dismissed or threatened with removal from administrative posts within the church. Read more and view the slide show of many Women Priests.

 

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News – Portland prayer vigil shows support for nuns who could break from Vatican

2 min video from TV news report

Catholic nuns in Portland, Maine, US, continue to struggle with the Pope’s criticism that they are not advocating the church’s teaching on abortion, gay marriage and women as priests.

They are meeting considering whether they will follow the Pope’s direction to reorganise or break away from the Pope’s teaching. As they have considerable support  this story will not go away for some time.

WGME 13 – News – Portland prayer vigil shows support for nuns who could break from Vatican.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in politics, theology, women's ordination

 

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Tradition Today: Male and female, he created them

Strange that when George W. Bush was turning the clock back for the US, John Howard was also building conservatism in Australia.  In addition, the UK’s New Labour all too quickly answered the call from the US to support them in invading Iraq. Religious fundamentalism does not walk altogether out of step with conservative politics.

While the political pendulum was clearly to the right in the ‘noughties’, post Sept 11th 2001, it is interesting to see the growth of religious fundamentalism in Islam and Christianity.  More surprisingly, however, Judaism, also shows the same swing towards conservatism, where there is a new drive for complete separation of men and women in transportation, shopping centers and even the public streets.

At the same time, amongst progressive Jews, there is a much greater participation in Judaism amongst women, possibly as a result of greater access to education.  Not unlike Christianity.

It is ironic that most of us, even conservatives, when viewing a different religion, see this passion to separate women from men to be misguided at best. When it comes to our own religion, however, some of us devoutly look back to various scriptures to justify our own conservatism and misogyny.

We seem easily able to accept the benefits of technological change, with fancy cars, wide-screen TVs and internet, but when it comes to relationships in times of trauma and change we often cling to the old sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’, the worthy and the unworthy.  In this modern world, however, where women are acknowledged as equally gifted, it is strangely disconnected to insist that women do not have God’s blessing for ordained ministry.  In a society where women are increasingly leaders in our secular world, it is rather limp to consent to such leadership but not to accept their pastoral leadership in the Church.

 

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2011 in sociology

 

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Interview with Martin Luther King

Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luthe...

Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King. Rosa Parks famously refused to move to the back of the bus, sparking the Montgomery bus boycott. - Image via Wikipedia

Non-violent action, as explored by Ghandi and Martin Luther King, and inspired by Jesus, presents an important option in how the people may respond to the inaction of the LCA on women’s ordination.

Nonviolent action is a technique by which people who reject passivity and submission, and who see struggle as essential, can wage their conflict without violence. Nonviolent action is not an attempt to avoid or ignore conflict. It is one response to the problem of how to act effectively in politics, especially how to wield powers effectively. Nonviolence: An Introduction

Martin Luther King was asked if it benefited blacks (sic) by being aggressive in demanding their rights. King responded, “I think it’s better to be aggressive at this point. It seems to me that it is both historically and socially true that privileged classes do not give up their privileges voluntarily. And they do not give them up without strong resistance. And all the gains that have been made, that we have received in the area of civil rights, have come about because the Negro stood up courageously for these rights, and he was willing to aggressively press on.” Martin Luther King Jr. – Interview of the Day.

List of methods of nonviolent action.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2011 in politics

 

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Why women shouldn’t be “burdened” with the vote: 1915

The arguments against the full participation of women in society are intriguing. This anti-women’s suffrage poster, from 1915,  places full female participation in society in opposition to male participation, as if one will cause the downfall of the other. In fact, ironically, that argument is no more true than within today’s male-only ordination, which has forced many women out of the Church over many years.

The poster’s patronising arguments are not so different to those of today, when women are told that they are not made of the right stuff.

Why women shouldn’t be “burdened” with the vote: 1915 – Boing Boing.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2011 in politics, sociology

 

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Eternal Fascism – the attempt to build a dissent-free LCA

I’m not the first person to wonder if I’m part of cult as a member of the LCA.  The following article helped me bring my personal concerns to the surface.  It helped me to understand the masochistic behaviour that I experience and witness in the LCA and our fixation with creating a fictitious, sentimentally nostalgic (confessionally traditional), xenophobic, dissent free culture.  Point number 11 particularly resonated.  It’s the first time that I’ve heard something put this way. I can’t help feel that sometimes our pastors see themselves as “Little Luthers”, which articulates itself through a cult of heroism.  We start to hear sloganistic “Here I stand” rhetoric.

Gormlessfool

Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt

Eternal Fascism:

Fourteen Ways of Looking at a

Blackshirt

Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt
By Umberto Eco
Writing in New York Review of Books, 22 June 1995, pp.12-15. Excerpted in Utne Reader, November-December 1995, pp. 57-59.

The following version follows the text and formatting of the Utne Reader article, and in addition, makes the first sentence of each numbered point a statement in bold type. Italics are in the original.

For the full article, consult the New York Review of Books, purchase the full article online; or purchase Eco’s new collection of essays: Five Moral Pieces.

In spite of some fuzziness regarding the difference between various historical forms of fascism, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.
* * *

1. The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.

Traditionalism is of course much older than fascism. Not only was it typical of counterrevolutionary Catholic thought after the French revolution, but is was born in the late Hellenistic era, as a reaction to classical Greek rationalism. In the Mediterranean basin, people of different religions (most of the faiths indulgently accepted by the Roman pantheon) started dreaming of a revelation received at the dawn of human history. This revelation, according to the traditionalist mystique, had remained for a long time concealed under the veil of forgotten languages — in Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the Celtic runes, in the scrolls of the little-known religions of Asia.

This new culture had to be syncretistic. Syncretism is not only, as the dictionary says, “the combination of different forms of belief or practice;” such a combination must tolerate contradictions. Each of the original messages contains a sliver of wisdom, and although they seem to say different or incompatible things, they all are nevertheless alluding, allegorically, to the same primeval truth.

As a consequence, there can be no advancement of learning. Truth already has been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.

If you browse in the shelves that, in American bookstores, are labeled New Age, you can find there even Saint Augustine, who, as far as I know, was not a fascist. But combining Saint Augustine and Stonehenge — that is a symptom of Ur-Fascism.

2. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism.

Both Fascists and Nazis worshipped technology, while traditionalist thinkers usually reject it as a negation of traditional spiritual values. However, even though Nazism was proud of its industrial achievements, its praise of modernism was only the surface of an ideology based upon blood and earth (Blut und Boden). The rejection of the modern world was disguised as a rebuttal of the capitalistic way of life. The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.

3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake.

Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering’s fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play (“When I hear the word ‘culture’ I reach for my gun”) to the frequent use of such expressions as “degenerate intellectuals”, “eggheads,” “effete snobs,” and “universities are nests of reds.” The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.

4. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism.

In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.

5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity.

Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.

6. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration.

That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old “proletarians” are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority.

7. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country.

This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the United States, a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson’s The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others.

8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.

When I was a boy I was taught to think of Englishmen as the five-meal people. They ate more frequently than the poor but sober Italians. Jews are rich and help each other through a secret web of mutual assistance. However, the followers of Ur-Fascism must also be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy.

9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.

Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such “final solutions” implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.

10. Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak.

Ur-Fascism can only advocate a popular elitism. Every citizen belongs to the best people in the world, the members or the party are the best among the citizens, every citizen can (or ought to) become a member of the party. But there cannot be patricians without plebeians. In fact, the Leader, knowing that his power was not delegated to him democratically but was conquered by force, also knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses; they are so weak as to need and deserve a ruler.

11. In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero.

In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Spanish Falangists was Viva la Muerte (“Long Live Death!”). In nonfascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death.

12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.

This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons — doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.

13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say.

In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view — one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.

Because of its qualitative populism, Ur-Fascism must be against “rotten” parliamentary governments. Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell Ur-Fascism.

14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.

Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the official language of what he called Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show.

* * *
Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, “I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares.” Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances — every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt’s words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: “If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land.” Freedom and liberation are an unending task.

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Posted by on October 1, 2010 in sociology

 

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