My life has suddenly become very exciting and very busy. I may have to miss a few Sundays. There will be a better update for those curious in a few weeks.
So I’m late to this, but I wanted to get a few of my thoughts down on *paper* (cyberpaper?). In an interview the Pope gave on a plane, he was asked a question regarding a so-called gay lobby at the Vatican. So first thing I wondered is, what the heck is a gay lobby? This is a term being used by the Italian media to signify a supposed set of gay priests who may have influence in the Catholic Church as an entity. Apparently it stems from something vague the Pope said in June about gay influences in the church. I’m not gonna try and get at what he said then, because I’m more interested in what he’s just said. Here is the direct quote (translated from Italian):
When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept The Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency is not the problem. They are our brothers.
That is what he said and I left context in place as best I could. You would not believe how hard it was to find this quote. Most sources have shortened it to a soundbite: who am I to judge?
I am including a video of his remarks so you can see it for yourself. He mentions alot of things, and all in Italian with translation at the bottom of the screen.
As for what I think? It’s nice the Pope is making it clear he isn’t out to remove celibate gay priests. He is again symbolically reaching out in friendship and welcoming gay church membership. We can split hairs over the act itself later (which the church still considers a sin). At least it’s a start. And it’s a far cry from saying gay=pedophile or from Former Pope Benedict saying homosexuals have no business being priests. I’d also point out that sex outside marriage is also still a sin, as is divorce NOT via annulment. There are plenty of places where nobody is bothering shunning the people that commit these sins.
The church I visited this week played a bible trivia game with the congregation. I noticed they got two of their own questions wrong and that means you get to hear about it!
Question: To whom did the angels announce the birth of Jesus?
Wrong answer: The wise men.
Better Answer: The Book of Matthew specifies that the wise men showed up because they followed a star. There is no mention of angels. The book of Luke says the angels appeared to shepherds but does not mention wise men. The other two books do not mention the birth.
Question: Who lied to Eve?
Wrong answer: The serpent.
Better answer: Ok, stay with me on this one and feel free to get your bible out and check me. After creating Adam, God tells him not to eat the fruit of the the tree of good and evil, because if he does, he’ll die. Presumably Adam shares this information with Eve. The serpent talks to Eve, asking her what God told them. Eve recounts the mandate pretty much word for word; that they face death if they eat that fruit. The serpent says ‘Um, no you won’t die. You’ll be smarter.’ And he’s right. Once both of them eat the fruit, they realize they are naked. Their eyes are opened. And they’re not dead. So as I read it, the serpent just asked pointed questions. It was God who actually lied to Eve. It’s confusing because when asked by God what happened Eve says, “The serpent deceived me.” What’s she gonna say? You deceived me?
My short series is fully up now at Love Joy Feminism. It is in three parts. This link will take you to the main site where I’m currently on top. You can also poke around and explore what blogger Libby Anne writes herself. As an atheist/former fundamentalist Christian, she often points out dangerous themes which invade certain Christian teachings. Her writing is thorough and thought provoking. I’ve found her extensive knowledge and unique perspective helpful in navigating and considering the Christianities I encounter on my journey.
Today I am featured as guest blogger at Love Joy Feminism. I have written about the Elsie Dinsmore books, a children’s book series with religious overtones. Go check it out:
I’m rather disappointed with the new Pope, Francis. The initial stories seemed encouraging; he did a foot-washing ceremony for women in prison one of whom was Muslim. That’s great seeing as it was always done traditionally with for Christian men. Then there was the fact that he paid his hotel bill after selection as Pope, which is something the Vatican would usually take care of. He was also careful in several instances to call himself Bishop of Rome rather than Pope. The significance in this is humility and also possibly an attempt to appeal to the Eastern Orthodox Church which (along with many Protestants) takes issue with the Papacy and the fact that it has grown so far beyond a simple bishopric.
At the time the new Pope was introduced I was happy with these details but also wondered if these tantalizing bits of progress weren’t possibly just for show while all eyes were on him. I felt I was probably being too cynical and decided to wait and see. Since then I’ve read that the Vatican has restated it’s chiding of that nuns group- you remember? A group of American nuns were called to visit the Vatican then ambushed with accusations that they were too focused on poverty and hunger and ignored such important issues as gay marriage and combatting abortion. This was all during the leadership of the last pope. Well apparently Pope Francis agrees.
Then recently he went ahead and excommunicated a priest in Brazil who spoke regarding homosexuality and open marriage and the possibility that these might be ok. Excommunication is something of a harsh punishment and seems overblown in this case. And it’s striking that other sins priests have committed (child abuse?) do not have excommunication as punishment and in fact are usually “punished” with a look the other way.
Of course I dunno why I’m surprised. The Catholic Church has never been about conversation between members and leadership. The hierarchy is just too tight. I guess I was hoping Pope Francis was ready to relax a bit and listen. These incidents suggest perhaps not. Whatever, I guess I’ll keep waiting to see what happens.
My grandad got into fights. I suppose there’s a little of that in me because sometimes I’d like to think problems just need a good punch in the face to solve them. Unfortunately I can’t think of a single problem that could really be solved that way. Lucky for me (and all of us) there’s some other ways to do things. Yesterday at the church I chose to revisit, the entire congregation was invited to write letters to reps in congress asking them to find room in the budget for programs that reduce hunger. We actually all did this together after the service was over. Then someone collected all the letters and mailed them in a group. I wrote one. And I visited this website that has info and a petition you can sign:
In the middle of the second paragraph there is text you can click to sign the petition.
In a nation as advanced as ours, hunger is a stupid problem to still have. We should fix it, so we can move on and get to fixing some other problems.