How hard do bishops have to listen?

Perhaps most interesting about the document, Hinze continued, is that it recognizes that some priests and bishops might not have figured out exactly what the church should be teaching on a particular subject.

“I thought it was pretty judicious that the hierarchy has to recognize that they may not have it right yet,” said Hinze, referring to a passage in the document that states that Catholics may “deny assent” to church teaching “if they do not recognize in that teaching the voice of Christ.”

via Vatican considers: How hard do bishops have to listen? | National Catholic Reporter.

Finally.

What happens when Jesus is not the answer?

What happens when Jesus is not the answer?:

Doing good cannot be an optional extra for Christians, but must be at the core of our existence. For our faith is not measured by a list of sound doctrine, but instead by the fruit it produces in doing good.

(Via Red Letter Christians)

Amen. Read the whole post. It’s worth it.

Quick Reply to Some Quick Thoughts

Opinionated Catholic: Quick Thoughts On Forced Organ Donation Hypo and Aborton.

Let me say at the outset that Opinionated Catholic’s thoughts are anything but quick.  You should take the time to read the full post. Good stuff in there. Opinionated Catholic has turned out be one of my good Twitter-friends whose thoughtful (stubborn 🙂 ) and carefully thought out (aggravating 🙂 ) ideas have been a blessing. Keeps me honest!

Opinionated Catholic (O.C.) has been careful to not speak for me on my position on abortion which I characterize as a Catch 22.  The short version is that a total and complete ban on abortion is ugly because it not only is akin to rape, but in extreme cases it is murder, so-called “double effectexceptions notwithstanding. (That would take a whole other post!) On the other hand, abortion on demand is also ugly because it makes life a matter of convenience and by such logic I should not exist. My father was poor and born to a single mother. So there we have my basic position.  I should add that I am not trying to debate the morality of abortion per se or what should be the proper form of legal abortion.  I’m only interested in the morality and integrity of the Catholic position.

Now, in discussion with O.C., I asserted that the pro-life movement, at least that advocated by Catholics, is more pro-baby than pro-life since we will respect a person’s body in some cases where life can be saved by another person donating tissue but not others. I used organ donation as an example to show that we play favorites. We will go to any length in some cases, i.e. abortion, and not others.  I also asserted that this is not true to Christ who’s love knows no bounds since our love does in fact have bounds.

O.C. has made a compelling reply on the basis of voluntary and involuntary moral obligations.  For the sake of brevity, I will paraphrase I hope accurately.  The mother’s obligation to her child is different than merely person to person moral obligations.

  1. The mother has a duty to care for her child.
  2. The uterus unlike other organs exists for the express purpose of carrying her child and serves no other essential function.
  3. Denial of treatment, e.g. refusing kidney donation, is not the same as intentional act, e.g. abortion is killing the unborn child.

To all of this I would say, is a strong legal argument for limiting if not outright banning abortion if somehow the unborn can be given citizenship rights.  Until that happens, legal abortion will remain the law of the land.  A woman has no parental rights obligations whatsoever to a non-person under our law.  And the unborn are not persons under our law.  But what O.C. fails to see, as far as I can tell, is I am not arguing a legal case.  I’m looking at how Christ loves.  To wit, Christ was deeply radical in his love.  It is not a respecter of boundaries, especially as a disciple:

  • Matthew 10:37 “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;”
  • Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? 48 So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

This is not worldly love and makes worldly life difficult if one wants to be true to Christ. I am not saying that the abortion issue can’t be resolved. I for one would gladly ban it, under certain conditions. For example, if we had the technology to carry any child from zygote to full term by artificial means, I have no trouble at all banning abortion, taxing the responsible parties for child support (and the general public in cases e.g. rape), and making adoption a real social and governmental priority.

So if I love both mother and child, I have to be true to what it is I am doing. Justice is the sound love makes when it speaks in public. And my justice ultimately comes from Christ.  So if I play favorites with my love and say that the child is more valuable than the mother then I’ve sinned.  It’s why, if it came to it, I would put my body on the line to ban abortion. Justice demands that I be on the same chopping block as any rape victim.  If we can traumatize her to save her child, I can lose a kidney in fairness.

 

Black Theology & Faith: James Cone, Critics and a Contrarian

I wrote the following as a final paper for one of the most powerful classes I ever had the pleasure to take in 2004. I was proud of it then and I’m still proud of it now. I had pulled an all nighter so my proofreading was limited. Still, I hope you enjoy. Much of my theology is unchanged, though now I do believe in a personal God that is compatible with the theology articulated here.

Black Theology & Faith:

James Cone, Critics, and a Contrarian

Robert Barrimond

AFAM519 Final Paper

Prof. Michael Eric Dyson

May 4, 2004

 

In this paper, I will accomplish three things centered around a discussion of James Cone’s black theology: 1) I expound upon the faithful source of James Cone’s black theology, (2) summarize some of the critiques and demonstrate their inadequacy, (3) in the best tradition of paid pests and colorful contrarians, provide a critique of some of the basic elements of black theology as well, and (4) the new possibilities and the value black theology has for us.  Because Cone is the field’s exemplar, I think it fitting that his theology be representative.  Let me begin by first examining the faith of black slaves.  I believe their faith to be the ground from which Cone’s theology springs. Continue reading

Why I Don’t Read Ideological Media

Coates’ great post, Dishonesty Is The Seventh Killer App:

You should read James Fallows’ takedown of Niall Ferguson deceptive case against a second Obama term. You should also read Andrew’s, and you should read Joe Weisenthal’s.

 
But one thing to keep in mind is there is no real penalty for respectable lying in our world of intellectual discourse. Ferguson will almost certainly continue to have a field for his thoughts, regardless of how little effort he puts into stringing them together. The Krugman rebuttal in which Ferguson claims he was only talking about the insurance end (it’s detailed in Weisenthal’s piece) is not a debatable opinion, but the sort of thing that would raise a red-flag for any fact-checker worth their weight.
 
When I first started wading my way into the world of ideas, I thought having a big university on your C.V. along a PhD held said something about your trustworthiness. I would have seen that Ferguson was a historian at Harvard and thought, “No way he’d fudge facts. He’s a Harvard big-shot who publishes in big magazines.” I would have been, of course, dead wrong. 
 
Dishonesty of this sort is insidious. It can’t be dismissed with the ease of plagiarism or manufactured evidence. As long you’re not egregious, you can actually make a career as respectable public intellectual, and occasionally lie. No one will stop you. Almost no one cares.

(Via Ta-Nehisi Coates :: The Atlantic)

I do.

On Rooting for the Gays Chick-Fil-A Edition

Recently there has been some controversy over Dan Cathy’s anti-gay statements and his support for organizations that target our LBGT brothers and sisters. I have very little to add to the controversy other than to support my LBGT brothers and sisters who have been targeted by organizations, e.g. the Family Research Council, that Cathy supports via donations from Chick-Fil-A; and to make some biblical observations.

Because of debates with my fellow Christians who oppose the LBGT communities equality agenda, I would question whether my view of how the Bible treats gays for fear I was being self-serving and imposing myself on the Word. And then I see the following and I wonder how I could have ever questioned God whispering to my conscience.  Any so-called Christian movement that inspires the following nuggets, pun intended, is a debasement of the values Christ stood for and ultimately died for.

  • Gabriel Aguiniga, a gay employee at a Chick-fil-A in Colorado, also said the hardest part hasn’t been hearing Cathy’s comments. Instead, “[it’s] constantly having people come up to you and say, ‘I support your company, because your company hates the gays,’” Aguiniga, 18, wrote in an email. “It really takes a toll on me.”
  • On the one hand, there is the customer who came in and said he supported Dan Cathy and then “continues to say something truly homophobic, e.g. ‘I’m so glad you don’t support the queers, I can eat in peace,’” the employee, who is 23 and has worked for Chick-fil-A since he was 16, wrote in an email.
  • Last week, when [Andrew Mullen] went out to the parking lot to help a trucker (not directly employed by Chick-fil-A) unload a shipment of goods, the trucker turned to Andrew confidentially and said, “If I see one more faggot at a Chick-fil-A protesting, I’m going to be sick.”

Obviously these are some pretty nasty comments and you might be inclined to say they don’t reflect the general sentiment of the folks who came out in droves to appreciate Chick-Fil-A. And you would be right to a degree. But what is inescapable is that the people who made these comments felt at peace and at home in this so-called movement. More directly, their hatred found joy and comfort. That for me is the truest indictment of this movement. Christ does not inspire or welcome hatred.

A Tree Known by Its Fruit.

Luke 6:43 “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. 45 A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Parental Indoctrucation

I’ve read and heard atheist critics who claim that parents who are believers are “indoctrinating” their kids with their religion and this is an unfair, intellectual crime. Parents should “give their children the chance to make a choice” by letting them decide their religious beliefs as adults.  The obvious point of all this is the assertion that religion would disappear within a generation if parents followed this sage advice.  After all, religion is nothing more than a delusional illusion buttressed by culture, a virus passed from parent to child.  They could be right…too right.  As per usual with any bigotry or prejudice, it’s the idea of indoctrination is more emotional, the primary emotion being hate, than reasonable.  If one generation doesn’t pass on its culture, which includes beliefs and values, to the next generation their culture would die out in a generation along with any religion.

But let’s take it back to parenting since I want to address this question of so-called indoctrination. I have a son and must steward him into a well-adjusted adult who can contribute positively to this screwy, sometimes dark and forbidding world.  And our world has lots of issues which I must help him navigate as he grows up.  Ch1ldren Now is “the leading, nonpartisan, multi-issue research, policy development, and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting children’s health and education in California and creating national media policies that support child development.”  The present on their website a list of tough issues for which they provide parents tips for discussing them with their children:

Whew!  Not exactly “How to Deal with Teasing” I know!  But what struck me was the list of general tips on how to work through these topics.  It perfectly highlights why this idea of “waiting until your child is an adult”, “indoctrination” is pure bullsh–err, foolishness.  Pay attention to the items emphasized.

  1. Start early.
  2. Initiate conversations with your child.
  3. …Even about sex and sexuality.
  4. Create an open environment.
  5. Communicate your own values.
  6. Listen to your child.
  7. Try to be honest.
  8. Be patient.
  9. Use everyday opportunities to talk.
  10. Talk about it again. And, again.

Now I try my best to be an intellectually honest person and more importantly a good father to my son.  My faith has direct implications on how I deal almost all of the tough topics above.  How am I supposed to talk about sickness and death with my child that doesn’t include God, the afterlife, etc.?  How do I communicate my values around questions of heaven or hell?  And remember what I do is probably as much if not more important as what I say.  If I behave as if my faith doesn’t impact on how I deal with sickness and death, I’m sending precisely the message those atheist critics want me to send: that my faith is unimportant in life and can be discarded.  What I find truly despicable is that those critics  claim I’m abusing my child by doing my job as a parent: communicating my own values, honestly, every day, again and again.