Can’t say this on facebook

or I’d alienate too many FB friends.  But, I don’t think they read my blog and I’ve got to get this off my chest… Based on this weekend’s photos, I want to say that I’m just really tired of all the dance costumes, etc., that over-sexualize pre-teen girls, or are at least hyper-feminine.  There’s nothing equivalent at all for boys.   Of course, if Sarah wants to dance, I’m not going to stop her (but I sure will whine about the costumes, etc.), but still, I’m pulling for soccer.

Sex and the bible

Nice column from Nicholas Kristof today about how heinously most Americans mis-understand sexuality and the bible (and how self contradictory the bible is on the matter).  It’s got a nice little quiz– I did okay, not great (I did not realize you could choose multiple answers for each).  Anyway, here’s the item I found of most interest:

7. The people of Sodom were condemned principally for:

a. Homosexuality.

b. Blasphemy.

c. Lack of compassion for the poor and needy.

7. C. “Sodomy” as a term for gay male sex began to be commonly used only in the 11th century and would have surprised early religious commentators. They attributed Sodom’s problems with God to many different causes, including idolatry, threats toward strangers and general lack of compassion for the downtrodden. Ezekiel 16:49 suggests that Sodomites “had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” [emphasis mine]

Hmm. “Did not aid the poor and needy.” Who knew that that’s what the Bible condemns as sodomy? At a time of budget cuts that devastate the poor, isn’t that precisely the kind of disgusting immorality that we should all join together in the spirit of the Bible to repudiate?

I can see myself throwing around Ezekiel 16:49 a lot in my future.

Damn bishops

Might as well take the day I regularly go to Catholic Mass to criticize the US Catholic Bishops. Jon Cohn does excoriates Archbishop of NY and President of US Confernce of Catholic Bishops, Timothy Egan, for supporting Paul Ryan’s anti-poor person budget:

It seems sacrilegious to suggest the leader of the America’s Catholic Bishops has made a deal with the devil. But his latest political gesture makes me wonder if he is in negotiations.

Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York and president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, sent a letter on Wednesday to House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan… Ryan has (according to Politico) been brandishing it as a signal of support:

As you allude to in your letter, the budget is not just about numbers. It reflects the very values of our nation. As many religious leaders have commented, budgets are moral statements.

I commend your letter’s attention to the important values of fiscal responsibility; sensitivity to the foundational role of the family; the primacy of the dignity of the human person and the protection of all human life; a concrete solicitude for the poor and the vulnerable, especially those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty; and putting into practice the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, here at home and internationally within the context of a commitment to the common good shared by government and other mediating institutions alike.

[Emphasis mine]

It is entirely appropriate that Dolan cite the church’s interest in protecting the poor and vulnerable. Ask anybody who has spent time studying or working in low-income communities, and they will tell you about the critical role Catholic organizations and leaders play in providing financial, social, and medical services to people who desperately need them. And if you want to know about the Church’s history of advocating government policies to help the poor and vulnerable, read an account of the New Deal or consult an expert like Michael Sean Winters:

As early as the 1919 statement of the Catholic bishops on social reconstruction after World War I … the Catholic Church has stood, almost unanimously, for such measures as Social Security, ending child labor, unemployment insurance and other provisions of the welfare state. … Catholic social teaching has at its heart several key principles … [including] the principle of the Common Good, the idea that we are all in this together and that our public policies should reflect the aspirations of all for a decent life, not the goals of the few and monied interests that had brought the country to ruin in their reckless pursuit of profit in the previous laissez-faire structures of the 1920s.

Given this history, how can Dolan say anything remotely charitable about either the Republican budget or the man who wrote it?

To review what many of you know: The Republican budget would dramatically reduce federal funding for Medicaid. By 2021, Washington’s contribution towards the joint federal-state program would more than be 40 percent lower. As a result, between 30.8 and 43.8 million fewer people would end up with government coverage, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Exactly.  To support this budget is to turn one’s back completely not on being a liberal Democrat, but quite frankly on Catholic social teaching.  It’s clear that even among Bishops, partisanship is a very powerful thing.  Egan is surely a Republican for his very strong anti-abortion and anti-homosexual views.  Since he’s a Republican, that’s enough to cause him to turn his back on some of the core teachings of his own church.

To further make us question just one these Catholic “leaders” are up to, they’ve identified the real culript in the sexual abuse scandals– hippies:

A five-year study commissioned by the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops to provide a definitive answer to what caused the church’s sexual abuse crisis has concluded that neither the all-male celibate priesthood nor homosexuality were to blame.

Instead, the report says, the abuse occurred because priests who were poorly prepared and monitored, and were under stress, landed amid the social and sexual turmoil of the 1960s and ’70s.  [emphasis mine]

There’s a lot of really good people in the Catholic Church.  The bishops, however, have not impressed me.

Democrats and gay marriage

For once, a Gallup update allows me to do something other than criticize the meaningless of their polls.  What polls are very useful is judging changes across time (using the same question) and judging differences between groups.  In this case, we learn both from Gallup’s latest that finds majority support for gay marriage for the first time:

1996-2011 Trend: Do you think marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?

What’s especially interesting, though, is the partisan breakdown which accounts for the recent rise in support:

Support for Legal Same-Sex Marriage by Political Subgroup, 2010 vs. 2011

I continue to be amazed at how fast public opinion has moved on this issue.  Not only Democrats went up a ton in a year, but Independents did as well.  Republicans simply held steady.  Basically, I think what you see has happened is that support for gay marriage has become the standard position of the Democratic party, and as that is increasingly the case, Democrats increasingly have adopted the view.  Just a few years ago, the civil union option (and downright opposition) were entirely common and appropriate positions for Democrats.  Now, it’s become increasingly clear to most Democrats that to be a Democrat means to favor gay marriage.  There’s really not a lot of meaningful space between civil union and gay marriage–both basically respect gays whereas the “no legal recognition” camp does not.   Thus, I don’t think the basic attitudes towards gays have changed for most Democrats, rather what’s changed is what it means to have an essentially pro-gay attitude.  A few years ago (and more) that was civil unions and maybe gay marriage.  Now, it quite clearly means favoring gay marriage.

Still here?

I thought I’d schedule this post to go live at 12:01am on May 22.  Are we still here?  End of the world?  If the rapture happens, what happens to pre-scheduled blog posts?  Best story on the topic, this profile of a family in the Times where 3 seemingly normal teenagers attempt to deal with the fact that there parents have become end-of-the-world rapture whackos:

“I have mixed feelings,” Ms. Haddad Carson said. “I’m very excited about the Lord’s return, but I’m fearful that my children might get left behind. But you have to accept God’s will.”

The children, however, have found something to giggle over. “She’ll say, ‘You need to clean up your room,’ ” Grace said. “And I’ll say, ‘Mom, it doesn’t matter, if the world’s going to end!’ ”

Now, that’s convenient.  Alas, they’ll only be able to use it till Sunday.

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