Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend…

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

Hey, look at that – it really has been a fortnight this time! Sit back, relax, and prepare for some links worth visiting.

Perhaps you remember my post from just over a fortnight ago entitled “Roman Catholicism in the News, with some Protestant Reflections”. My first unit today will bring you an update on that whole situation.

  • All these links come from the NYTimes, so let’s begin with an editorial they published recently - The Politics of Religion. Here is a quote:
    The First Amendment also does not exempt religious entities or individuals claiming a sincere religious objection from neutral laws of general applicability, a category the new contraception rule plainly fits. In 1990, Justice Scalia reminded us that making “the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land” would mean allowing “every citizen to become a law unto himself.”
    By way of application, the present situation seems to have the RC hierarchy wishing that they were (again, as they were in the past) a law unto themselves. Of course, look at the RC scandals in Ireland from the last century for a vivid example of how well that works out.
  • The nuns are attempting to be “respectful” while also exercising some backbone. What does that mean? They’re going to Rome “on June 12 to open a dialogue with Vatican officials.”
  • It isn’t enough that the nuns are going to Rome; they’re also going on tour! That’s right, they are hopping on a bus and going cross country, stopping at various social and economic justice ministries with which they are involved to highlight the important work. All this has a nice political edge as well. Here are two examples:
    The sisters plan to use the tour also to protest cuts in programs for the poor and working families in the federal budget that was passed by the House of Representatives and proposed by Representative Paul D. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who cited his Catholic faith to justify the cuts.
    And again:
    Sister Simone, a lawyer who ran a legal clinic for the poor in Oakland, Calif., for 18 years, is not completely on board with the bishops’ religious liberty campaign. She said that financing for Catholic social services had increased significantly in the three years since President Obama took office: “We’re celebrating the religious freedom we have.”
  • Maureen Dowd never disappoints when it comes to biting sarcasm. One has to appreciate her mastery of the genre on display in her piece, “Is Pleasure a Sin?”, regardless of whether you agree with her positions on particular of the issues discussed. The particular topic is the CDF’s recent censuring of a book on sexuality by a Roman Catholic scholar (and professor emeritus at Yale…). Here is an excerpt:
    The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which seems as hostile to women as the Saudi Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, spent years pondering it, then censured it on March 30 but didn’t publicly release the statement until Monday. The denunciation of Sister Farley’s book is based on the fact that she deals with the modern world as it is. She refuses to fall in line with a Vatican rigidly clinging to an inbred, illusory world where men rule with no backtalk from women, gays are deviants, the divorced can’t remarry, men and women can’t use contraception, masturbation is a grave disorder and celibacy is enshrined, even as a global pedophilia scandal rages. In old-fashioned prose steeped in historical and global perspective, Sister Farley’s main argument is that justice needs to govern relationships.
  • Finally (for today), we have a more positive note. Huffpo is reporting that leaders of the USA Franciscans are backing the nuns, calling the Vatican crackdown "excessive." The article has a great first line: "The brothers have come to the sisters' defense." Of course, the Franciscans have had their own run-ins with the Vatican over the centuries, and one hopes that their experience in such things will serve them well.

This stuff has once again ballooned to take up a lot of space, but here are a few other links just to balance things out for you.

  • For those of you who are interested in the Lord’s Supper or in Mercersburg theology, there is a new edition of Nevin’s Mystical Presence coming to print.
  • Darren Sumner posted some good work on Psalm 22 and Jesus’ cry of dereliction that is definitely worth a read.
  • Roger Olson threw up a brief post about how odd it is that churches do not make greater use of the (trained) theologians in their midst. He speaks from personal experience, and I would add my observation from various churches as well (note: observations are different than experiences). I’ve heard many Christians complain that academic theology has left the church, but I’ve always felt that it is equally true that the church chucked it out, or at least ignored it until it went away…
  • Bobby Grow, frequent commenter and longtime friend of the blog, posted about the state of evangelical exegesis and made application to folks like John MacArthur and David Jeremiah. It will probably come as no surprise to readers here at DET that these names were not lifted up as sterling examples...
  • Continuing with that theme, as it were, Jason Goroncy offers a lengthy quote from Bonhoeffer's prison fiction on bad sermons. Like Jason, I have heard far too many bad sermons, and Bonhoeffer's little vignette really gets to the heart of things. Go read it all, but here is the last line: "My dear Frau Direktor, did it escape you again that the pastor said what you wanted to hear; but didn’t preach the word of God?"
  • Jon Coutts posted a couple paragraphs from Barth on why religion is worse than theoretical atheism. The topic of atheism keeps popping up here at DET…
  • Speaking of which, here is a quote I found from Moltmann on the subject. There is more, but here is the best part, and I’ll leave you with this until next time:
    [O]nly an atheist who does not worship false religious and economic gods can be a good Christian. . . . [O]nly a Christian who believes in the crucified Jesus is free from the pressure to create gods and idols for himself.

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