Southern Religion

Tweetly telling the Vatican what not to give up for Lent

luddite rage against the machine

London Times Religion Correspondent Ruth Gledhill tells us, “The Roman Catholic Church in Italy wants us to give up texting, Tweeting and other tecchie messaging services for Lent,” and she says, er, no.

Exactly the wrong move.

Had the Vatican been online reading blogs, using Twitter and the like, there would have been no historic row over Bishop Williamson’s past because “Italian blogs had been writing about it, The Catholic Herald in England had covered it and I had blogged and reported it extensively for The Times.”

No, , she says, “it is not texting they should be giving up, but Luddism.”


March 3, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Cultural, History, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bishop Williamson banned from Archdiocese of Los Angeles Churches

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles today announced he is barring the Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson from entering any church in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

In an extraordinary move, Mahony and two Jewish leaders penned a joint op-ed piece published in both the archdiocesan newspaper, The Tidings, and a local Jewish newspaper, the Jewish Journal.

Cardinal Roger Mahony, Rabbi Gary Greenebaum and Seth Brysk wrote in part:

Williamson’s recent “apologies” fall far short of satisfying the letter or the spirit of the Vatican’s directives. Yet while Williamson seems unwilling or unable to reject his odious positions, many religious and civic leaders have used his situation to acknowledge the Holocaust and to affirm its unique and terrible place in history.

We are heartened by the many leaders around the world who have rejected Williamson’s views. In particular, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Argentine Minister of the Interior Florencio Randazzo, whose country recently expelled Williamson, not to mention nearly 50 Catholic members of the U.S. Congress who wrote to the Vatican to express their concerns.

In the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Williamson is hereby banned from entering any Catholic church, school or other facility, until he and his group comply fully and unequivocally with the Vatican’s directives regarding the Holocaust. Later this year, I, Cardinal Mahony, will visit Israel and pay my respects to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust at the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem.

Holocaust deniers like Williamson will find no sympathetic ear or place of refuge in the Catholic Church, of which he is not — and may never become — a member. . . .

For our part, as Catholic and Jewish leaders in Los Angeles, we recognize that only by working together with renewed vigilance will we be able to keep anti-Semitism at bay and prevent its reassertion as a legitimate expression.

Their entire statement is here.

Bishop Williamson has made himself an object of repudiation and placed himself in danger of being cast out of Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) by failing to recant promptly his repellent and historically unfounded views. Catholic thinking has suggested a suitably humble statement of the sort that has been overdue from Williamson, for decades.

March 3, 2009 Posted by | anti-Semitism, Catholic, Churches, Nostra aetate, Pope Benedict XVI, Shoa | , | 2 Comments

For the beauty of it: Palais garnier’s grand salon

Opera House of Paris, the Palais garnier's grand salon (Photo authors: Eric Pouhier, Rainer Zenz, Niabo).

Opera House of Paris, the Palais garnier's grand salon (Photo authors: Eric Pouhier, Rainer Zenz, Niabo).

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, The Arts | Comments Off on For the beauty of it: Palais garnier’s grand salon

Our religion and the beheading in Buffalo

Susan Jacoby — responding to the beheading 37-year-old mother-of-two Aasiya Hassan by her husband — issues a call to conscience:



Of course there is a general relationship between patriarchal religion and domestic violence, and the more rigid and traditional the form of patriarchal religion, the stronger the relationship. Whether this particular murder by beheading in Buffalo was an “ordinary” instance of domestic violence or whether the Pakistani-born Muslim husband was animated by a sense of entitlement derived from his interpretation of Islam, or by his upbringing in a society in which “honor killings” are often winked at by law enforcement authorities, I do not know. [ . . . ] But the official skittishness and media evasions surrounding this case are part of the grand American tradition of pretending that religion has only good effects on individuals and society.

Read her honest, complex and disturbing piece here.

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Crime, Cultural | , , | Comments Off on Our religion and the beheading in Buffalo

American Women lead in spirituality

March is Women’s History Month: A new analysis of data from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey found American women to be more religious than men in a variety of ways. charted below:


March 3, 2009 Posted by | History, Religion | Comments Off on American Women lead in spirituality

How should a pastor deal with disgruntled members?

With compassion, suggests Enid, Okla., pastor Wade Burleson in a meditation on ministerial leadership.

Compassion and diplomacy rather than, we submit, some version of alienating hardball, which calls forth the kind of conflict that grinds lifelong relationships to dust while damaging individuals, families and institutions.

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Religion | , , , , | Comments Off on How should a pastor deal with disgruntled members?

Bishop Williamson warned against further Holocaust denial

Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) head Bishop Bernard Fellay has declared that Bishop Richard Williamson would be excluded from the order if he reiterated his holocaust-denial.

While Bishop Williamson’s recent apology for his Holocaust denial (which he failed to recant) is an “important step,” Bishop Fellay said, Bishop Williamson should probably stay quiet and “in a corner somewhere.”

Williamson is the only Holocaust-denier among four Catholic bishops whose excommunication was lifted by the Vatican on Jan. 21 as a first step toward healing a division between the church and SSPX. All four are members of the Lefebvre movement, whose long, troubled relationship with Judiasm was documented by the National Catholic Reporter.

Bishop Fellay’s declaration suggests that SSPX strongly wishes to proceed with restoration, and will cast out Bishop Williamson to do so if it must.

March 3, 2009 Posted by | anti-Semitism, Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion, Shoa | , , , , , | Comments Off on Bishop Williamson warned against further Holocaust denial

Batman combat techniques come to church

Batman gospel indeed, as Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, Tex., hosts a youth pastor fight class. Texas Cable News reports:

Jeff McKissack is spreading the Batman gospel to youth pastors in Dallas and across the country. He hopes to convert them into followers of the Keysi Fighting Method, the street fighting style used in recent cinematic blockbusters.

McKissack figures that pastors who know how to defend themselves against thugs can help protect the children they lead at church – or on field trips to amusement parks or on mission travels.

Here’s the Batman take on the technique:

Stephen Lohoefer, junior high youth director at Highland Park United Methodist Church, says Keysi gives him peace of mind. The training is reportedly focused on defensive techniques, BTW. Read the rest here.

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Crime, Cultural | , , | 1 Comment

Porn study or study porn?

You read the New Scientist porn study [.pdf] story? They wrongly found meaningful right-wingedness in porn consumption patterns. Molly rightly ran a GetReligion debunking of story and study. Good, even though her analysis was more about how some writers don’t get math than about how the press doesn’t GetReligion. As her illustration (at left) indicates.

Beliefnet Editor-in-Chief Steve Waldman does not appear to us to have read Molly before he wrote. For, you see, he speculated about the meaning of porn consumption patterns among church-goers, about which the study data tells us essentially nothing (which is also the principal significance of the study’s other findings).

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Economy, Religion, Science | , | Comments Off on Porn study or study porn?