Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Nun Revolt: Why Benedict's Own "War On Women" Has Backfired.

Update re: Nuns On The Bus
DES MOINES, Iowa (The Blaze/AP) — A group of Roman Catholic nuns who have come under fire aren’t quieting down. In fact, they’re doing quite the opposite, as they began a nine-state bus tour on Monday protesting proposed federal budget cute. The women said they weren’t trying to flout recent Vatican criticisms of socially active nuns but felt called to show how Republican policies are affecting low-income families.
The most frequent method in disposing of strong-willed or inconvenient women has been to send them to a convent: "Get thee to a nunnery" was a phrase that voiced exasperation and contempt for the "uppity" or unmarriagable female. Indeed, the restrictions of the confines of a prison with the inmates subservient to the dictates of a distant male hierarchy. 

It was this image of total subservience that permeated western civilization's psyche*, so ideas of leadership, authority or initiative were always relegated to the absurd. Mother Theresa aside, nuns have had exceptionally few chances to make a difference.

The New American Nun and "Radical Feminist Doctrines"

As with all Catholic controversies these days, Pope Benedict XVI is at the center: from condoms to corruption, "Papa Ratzi" has had a direct hand, especially in the realm of Church doctrine. Before becoming pope, Cardinal Ratzinger was, after all, the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, rooting out heresies and advocating strict adherence to policy. So it comes as no surprise that Benedict disapproves of actions by nuns that the Church deems "inappropriate."

And America's nuns have been "inappropriate" for years:
[The latest, yet-unpublished] report approved by Pope Benedict XVI, claims that vast majority of American nuns are pushing “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” But rather than preaching against Church doctrine, the sisters are often just staying silent on the church’s pet issues of abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, and the ordination of women. Their silence is interpreted as endorsement so by not speaking out against such evils, the report says the sisters are effectively showing their approval.,

Deja vu: the same image crisis occurred with librarians decades ago as "book people" started exhibiting a very liberal streak - e.g. the fallout from carrying Heather Has Two Mommies was the image of the meek, quiet, benign little woman. Overnight, they turned into "radical feminists." Now, like their librarian counterparts, nuns actively participating in social issues are painted as "commie pinko" rabble-rousers, as this tweet from an associate of NOM (National Organization for Marriage) can attest:

Because those "radical feminist themes" are actually akin to the dreaded themes of "social justice" feared by today's Christian Right. The "silence" on gay issues and the rumblings of women in the clergy along with the Vatican's own "war on women" threaten to undermine two misogynistic millenniums determined to keep women in their place: both the Leadership Conference of Women Religious LCWR) and the National Coalition of American nuns have veered away from the issues of abortion and homosexuality in favor of taking overt action against issues like cuts in government programs for the poor and disenfranchised.

And then there's Sister Margaret Farley:
Coming as it does in the wake of the rebukedelivered last month to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the censure of Sister Farley’s book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, is enough to make one wonder if there are doctrinal risks taken simply by being Catholic while female.
The Vatican has now censured Sister Margaret Farley and threatens dire consequences to the LCWR if it does not clean up its act: within the next five years it is instructed to formulate new rules and regulations - even a stricter dress code - to conform with what the Vatican deems "appropriate." In other words, American nuns have to shut up and go back to the 15th century where they belong.

The LCWR, needless to say, is not taking this lying down and will soon come up with a strategy to counter the Vatican's demands: a "nun war" may be looming.

Instead of nuns on buses, we may yet see nuns on tanks.

*Of course the image of the tough-as-nails teaching nun will always veer to the absurd as well: the most humorous novel to ever touch upon the subject of nuns - John Powers' Last Catholic In America - exploded the myth of the quiet, acquiescent nun and portrayed her as a bully taking out her frustrations on every male ever created:

[Sister] Boom Boom Bernardine liked to grab guys by the ears and bang their heads against the wall whenever they annoyed her. Fortunately for Boom Boom, most of the kids at St. Bastion Grammar School weren't too bright to begin with, so if there was any brain damage, it was years before anyone realized it. At the peak of her career, Boom Boom Bernadine got over-zealous and ripped an arm muscle while bashing some head against a banister. Never again were her hands to crunch a set of earlobes. The arm muscle refused to heal. For Boom Boom Bernadine, banging heads against walls was what being a nun was all about. She left the school, never to be seen or heard from again, though there are some graduates of St. Bastion's who still hear her name whenever they brush their hair or other wise touch their heads.

An Open Letter To Tony Perkins: Why I Celebrate Gay Pride Month And Not Self-Righteous Pride Minute

The month of June is Gay Pride Month. Now, I have not yet seen where they have declared Adultery Pride Month, I have not seen where they have declared the Drunkenness Pride Month.
- Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, in response to a caller on American Family Association radio.
To: Mr. Tony Perkins
From: Rev. Dan Vojir

Dear Mr. Perkins:

For twenty years, you and the Family Research Council have demonized the LGBT community, comparing homosexuals to drunkards, adulterers, drug addicts, child molesters and even Nazis.

Where is your pride? What's more: do you celebrate it?

I know where my pride is:

It is in the courage of the hosts who overcame the prejudice instilled by fear-mongering and righteous arrogance.

It is in the creativity of people who gave us quilts and red ribbons to instill compassion and courage against hatred and bigotry.

It is in the audacity of people who loved each other openly, thereby creating more love for fellow man.

It is in the beauty of people who had a higher percentage of caregivers than your "righteous" families.

It is in the vitality of people who kept fighting for the civil rights of themselves and others.

It is in the humanity of the thousands of people who gave enormous compassion to those AIDS victims whom you unceremoniously evicted from their homes, while they were sick and dying,  during the worst epidemic our country has ever seen.

And it is now in the President who came to terms with his own conscience and declared that love for one another is a human right, one that should be celebrated and not be restricted by laws.

Mr. Perkins, you demonize the people and the celebration of all these things because you cannot believe that people can be good without your distinct imprimatur, masking it, of course, as "God's will". But in what love, compassion, and humanity you demonize and hold in contempt, I and millions of others have a deep sense of pride.

And I ask you again, where is your pride? Perhaps ...

It is in your ignorance of the love two people can for one another, regardless of gender.

It is in your self-righteousness which overshadows respect for humanity.

It is in your intolerance towards people who are different from you.

It is in the disdain you feel for diversity.

It is in the man-made authority vested in you by a group of people who share in your pride.

It is in your acts of destroying rights, livelihoods and yes, families.

It is in your fear-mongering and pronouncements of a fictional "homosexual agenda"

For twenty years your pride has been placed in these things.

As I witness Pride parades and celebrations throughout the country, I see the joy at knowing who we are and who we have been. I witness the effervescent streak of humanity. I witness the survival of the human spirit, the kind of spirit that cannot be put down by the demonizing you and your cohorts so arrogantly proclaim to be the "Word of God."

Mr. Perkins, over the last few months I have been nurturing a Rainbow Garden to grow for Pride Week here in San Francisco. It resides in the Juan Bautista Community Garden in Park Merced. Far more than just a tiny bit of flowers and sparkle amongst the other more staid garden beds, it has garnered respect as a small quadrant of Pride in beauty, and beauty in Pride. People recognize it as a celebration of life, love and survival. They have pride in it, and, I am happy to say, pride in me.

Yes, I know where my Pride is, and after twenty years, the country knows where yours is.

I feel sorry for you, Mr. Perkins. Very sorry. When I conduct a small ceremony in the garden this Sunday in celebration of San Francisco's Pride Day, I will say a prayer for you.

Very Truly Yours,

Rev. Dan Vojir
San Francisco

Channeling Mel Gibson: Bill Donohue's War Against All Things Non-Catholic Is Heating Up ...Against Jews.

Maybe he was drunk at the time.

"Jews Had Better Not Make Enemies Of Their Catholic Friends Since They Have So Few Of Them"

One pope shedding tears at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem did nothing to eradicate anti-Semitism in staunch pro-Catholic circles: the latest exchange of emails between Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League and Philadelphia Rabbi Arthur Waskow indicate an animosity worthy of Mel Gibson.

Called "The Rottweiler's Rottweiler" (in reference to his defense of Benedict XVI and his own problems due to scandal and cover-ups), Donohue seems to goad people and groups into a fight. In fact, Donohue is such a staunch defender of the Catholic Church, he has turned offense into an art form: he has taken on progressive Catholic nuns ("totally lost their moorings"), the pay-away-the-lay controversy ("a severance package"), President Obama ( “He is now taking the culture war to the boiling point and he will pay.”) and gay marriage ("I want the law to discriminate against all alternative lifestyles, against gays and unions.").

Now he has taken on Jews as enemies of Catholicism.

It all started when Waskow, criticized the Vatican in a HuffPost op-ed piece for "attacking the religious freedom of millions of American women and the religious freedom of American nuns" on the matter of contraception. A rough email exchange ensued, with the indignant Donohue stating that "Jews had better not make enemies of their Catholic friends since they have so few of them." He then attributed the statement to former New York mayor Ed Koch. 

Koch has denied saying anything of the sort.
"Waskow is a man full of hate," he said, calling Waskow's op-ed "the kind of thing I'd expect from Bill Maher, not from a rabbi."

The exchange brought about a bit of irony as well: Donohue portrayed the recent Orthodox scandal of child abuse as an "epidemic" that Waskow (a Reformed rabbi) should take care of by "following the Catholic Church's reforms in dealing with clerical abuse." Rabbi Waskow obviously restrained himself from correcting Donohue on generalization of rabbis and - most notably - any comeback about cover-ups and pay-offs, the latter being a subject which Donohue has yet to fully address.

The odd connection to Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic sentiments comes in Donohue's defense of the Gibson's movie, "The Passion of the Christ":
[wikipedia] Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, OK? And I‘m not afraid to say it. That's why they hate this movie. It's about Jesus Christ, and it's about truth. It's about the Messiah.

NUNS ON THE BUS gets the Donohue treatment.

Waskow's defense of American nuns brought out the animosity Donohue has displayed for socially progressive nuns, such as the current Nuns On The Bus event touring the country. In an aptly titled Daily Kos article Catholic League to Progressive Catholics: don't let the door hit you on the way out, Armando succinctly points out that Donohue thinks that disagreeable Catholics should simply leave the church - and that includes nuns:
“Do we have more than a handful of nuns who have totally lost their moorings?” Donohue mused. “Oh, yeah.”
The problem is that the number of nuns has shrunk considerably in the last decade (now down to a mere 60,000 in the U.S.) and if the trend continues, there won't be anyone left to pay homage and subservience to the likes of Bill Donohue anyway.

With his uneducated and inappropriate statements, Donohue continually shoots himself in the foot, but he doesn't care, because he has always relied on the support of the Vatican: Sedevacantist* Mel Gibson mirrors Benedict more than even Benedict is willing to admit.

And God knows, the current pope has never been truly anti-Semitic.


Could A Treason Trial Be In The Air? Newly Declassified 9/11 Docs Reveal The Real Enemy: George W. Bush

Another Reason For Mitt To Treat Bush Like Poison
Washington, D.C., June 19, 2012 – The National Security Archive today is posting over 100 recently released CIA documents relating to September 11, Osama bin Laden, and U.S. counterterrorism operations. The newly-declassified records, which the Archive obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, are referred to in footnotes to the 9/11 Commission Report and present an unprecedented public resource for information about September 11.
Hammering nails into the coffin of the Bush administration's involvement in 9/11 hasn't been easy: Republicans have avoided the topic for a decade. They'll certainly be spinning everything they can with this latest revelation: pointing to Clinton, distancing themselves from Bush, painting the CIA as dunderheads, maybe even saying that Al Queda didn't really exist before 9/11. Whatever the spin, however, the fact remains: Bush knew about eminent attacks from the very beginning of his Presidency and EVEN HAMPERED EFFORTS to catch/kill Bin Laden. 

Perhaps most damning are the documents showing that the CIA had bin Laden in its cross hairs a full year before 9/11 — but didn’t get the funding from the Bush administration White House to take him out or even continue monitoring him. The CIA materials directly contradict the many claims of Bush officials that it was aggressively pursuing al-Qaida prior to 9/11, and that nobody could have predicted the attacks. “I don’t think the Bush administration would want to see these released, because they paint a picture of the CIA knowing something would happen before 9/11, but they didn’t get the institutional support they needed,” says Barbara Elias-Sanborn, the NSA fellow who edited the materials.
From June to September 2001, a full seven CIA Senior Intelligence Briefs detailed that attacks were imminent, an incredible amount of information from one intelligence agency.
 Documents also show that the CIA gave warnings to the out-going Clinton administration, indicating that Bush knew about them from the very onset of his Presidency. 

Big News?

To many people, the new evidence is not surprising, but what is the most damning of the situation is that the Bush administration defunded the CIA operations as it was getting the info. Even the associated security meetings were downgraded to mere deputy level. Conspiracy theories have always centered around "intentional neglect" of some sort, and now that part of the theories seems more plausible than ever. 

But can Bush be held accountable IN TIME? 

And will Democrats make the revelation a stance against any of Romney's foreign policies? As de-regulator in national economic affairs, Romney has struggled to distance himself from the disastrous effects of the Bush administration while trying to convince the American public that Bush had set the stage for bin Laden's death.
“I think the tools that President Bush put into place — GITMO, rendition, enhanced interrogation, the vast effort to collect and collate this information — obviously served his successor quite well,” Rove said on Fox News.
The revealed docs now catapults statements like this into the highest category of BS in U.S. history. 

Accusations of war crimes have hung over the Bush administration for years with nations such as Malaysia creating tribunals, entities having little effect on the former President's image of himself as defender of democracy. The latest evidence of prior knowledge of imminent attacks, however, may be approached from a different angle: treasonous neglect. Failure to act sufficiently in defense of the country and the act of downgrading and defunding intelligence efforts certainly calls for action of some sort. 

The timing of the declassification of the documents couldn't be more ironic: with President Obama declaring Executive Privilege in the matter of "Fast and Furious" and in defense of Attorney General Holder, Republican congressmen will have a hard time maintaining focus. 

Spin. Cover-ups. Focus.  Distractions. If the CIA docs  have any traction in the coming weeks, our political scene is going to get a lot dirtier ...and definitely more entertaining.