[cross-posted at Acts of the Apostasy]
So who is Stephen Prothero? He’s a professor at Boston University, and he contributed a column to CNN’s Belief Blog.
1-6: Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor
I know that justices are supposed to stick to interpreting the law rather than making it, especially if they adhere to the judicial philosophy of “original intent,” but I’m not buying it. When it comes to “judicial activism,” there are really only two kinds of judges: those who know they are acting and those who wrongly imagine they are not.
Throughout U.S. history, the Supreme Court has played nearly as important a role as the presidency on the race question, and a more important role than the U.S. Congress. Women seeking abortions do so under a regime written and enforced by the courts.
In a 2011 speech at Duquesne University School of Law, Scalia denied that his Catholicism affected his legal decisions. I’m not buying that either, which is why he and the five other Catholics on the Supreme Court occupy half of this list.
7: Speaker of the House John Boehner
As any child (or parent) can attest, the word “no” is powerful indeed, and as the leader of the House Republicans, John Boehner wields that power today. Before he gave the commencement address at Catholic University last spring, more than 80 professors at that university wrote an open letter to Boehner saying that the budget he pushed through the House contradicted Catholic social teachings by neglecting the poor. But Boehner continues to say “no” to the Obama administration, most recently on its decision to require Catholic-affiliated employers to cover birth control services in their health plans.
8. Vice President Joe Biden
The first Catholic vice president of the United States, Joe Biden wields by most accounts more power than many vice presidents in American history. (Remember Spiro Agnew?) And though Biden has ruffled the feathers of church authorities on the abortion question, he is an observant Catholic who attends church regularly and met with Pope John Paul II four times. “The animating principle of my faith, as taught to me by church and home,” Biden told the Christian Science Monitor in 2007, “was that the cardinal sin was abuse of power.”
9. Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania
For a while, Newt Gingrich was the Catholic Republican front-runner, but that title has been seized by Rick Santorum. Unlike Gingrich, who converted in 2009, Santorum is a cradle Catholic, and he’s a more convincing fellow traveler in Christ to the religious right.
Everyone thought this election was going to be about the economy, but Santorum’s mantra seems to be, “It’s the culture, stupid.” Santorum has grabbed headlines in recent weeks by calling President Obama a purveyor of a “phony theology” and otherwise keeping questions of faith not just on the front burner, but at a rolling boil. This weekend, Santorum said that John F. Kennedy’s famous church/state speech, in Houston in 1960, made him want to “throw up” when he first read it. “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” he told ABC News on Sunday.
10. Archbishop Timothy Dolan
It says something about Catholic authority today that it is hard to think of a member of the Catholic hierarchy who stands among the most influential U.S. Catholics. But Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan is the most likely person for this honor. A theological conservative, Dolan was elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2010, and he was elevated to cardinal in Rome last month. In 2008, Dolan took on Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi for their views on abortion, and in 2009, he criticized the University of Notre Dame for inviting President Obama to speak at its commencement.
11. Stephen Colbert
The man behind the Super PAC Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow will not be happy to learn that he fell outside the top 10 here, but he is still one of the most influential Catholics in the United States today. Colbert makes his political jabs with a smile, but they sting nonetheless.
Last year, The Washington Post asked whether Colbert was “Catholicism’s best pitch man,” and he does put a very different face on a church that has been best known in recent years for sex scandals. Both Colbert and the character he plays on “The Colbert Report” are committed Catholics. In fact, Colbert (the character) loves his Catholicism so much that he gave it up last year for Lent.
Colbert (the real person) regularly books Catholics on his show and has appointed Father James Martin, S.J., as the show’s official chaplain. With Martin and other theists (and atheists), Colbert regularly discusses matters of faith. In fact, his character often gives guests discussing such questions wider berth than his more political guests.
12. Blogger Andrew Sullivan
In another era, this final slot might have gone to Garry Wills, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and public intellectual whose writing regularly addresses the intersection of faith and politics in the United States. But we now live in a digital age, so the nod goes to Andrew Sullivan, the Brit behind “The Dish,” a popular blog now hosted by The Daily Beast.
The thumbnail bio is that Sullivan is gay, Catholic and conservative, but his blog is far more nuanced (and coherent) than readers might imagine from that trifecta. In part because of his unpredictability, his site is the go-to blog for all things political and cultural. And the reading is easy because of Sullivan’s refusal to pull his punches. (Obama’s “uninspiring” state of the union was, in his words, a litany of “cramped, tedious, mediocre micro-policies.”)
Imagine that – no one outside of the Washington/New York hub of whatsitpatootie. It’s almost as if Prothero doesn’t believe there exists an America beyond the Eastern seaboard. And here’s another ‘not a big surprise’: conservative Catholics are bad, liberal Catholics are good. Boehner is a Catholic who says “no” to Obama’s compassion and outreach, while Biden sees the abuse of power as the worst sort of sin. Bias much? I’m surprised he didn’t include Sister Keehan or Kathleen Sibelius on this list – in fact, with the exception of Justice Sotomayor, there are no women on the list. *Gasp!* Not only is the Church misogynistic, but so are Boston University professors!!
And Andrew Sullivan is an influential Catholic? Who in the world is Andrew Sullivan? Who outside of Washington/New York cares?
We can do better than this guy, right? Isn’t Cardinal Burke more influential than Boehner? Isn’t Archbishop Chaput a bit more influential than Joe Biden? With the exception of Cardinal Dolan, no one on his list has the power or ability to shape Catholic thought or protect Catholic identity or propose Catholic truths. Eleven on this list do not have the power to ex-communicate (an influence I wished would be wielded more liberally) or the power to forgive sins. That’s real influence.
No – the influence wielded by most on that list, to one degree or another, is to affect religious liberty. Maybe that’s Prothero’s point.
So who would you include on this list? What changes would you suggest, or his analysis spot on? I have a couple ideas, but I’m interested in what you have to say.
(cross-posted at Acts of the Apostasy)
(AoftheAP) Calling it the “most exciting archival discovery in the post-Reformation era”, Vatican archivists have announced that in October 2011, they discovered what they believe to be the unfinished 13th Rosary Encyclical penned by Pope Leo XIII. Pope Leo XIII, who had a strong devotion to our Blessed Mother, issued 12 encyclicals on the rosary between the years 1883-1898. It is believed this newly found incomplete one was started several months before he died in July 1903.
“We’ve translated the text,” Fr. Hugo Thistleway said at yesterday’s press conference, “and it’s entitled Decursu Saeculorum, taken from the first sentence of the encyclical: ‘Decursu saeculorum, sanctissimam Matrem pietatis manifestatio per fideles in recitatione a sanctissimo Rosario nuncupatur’, which translates to: ‘Throughout the ages, devotion to our Blessed Mother has been expressed by the faithful in the recitation of the Holy Rosary’.”
In all, the encyclical totals six and a half pages, and is clearly incomplete. But its content has caused an immediate controversy at the Holy See, as Pope Leo XIII indicated in very precise language how the rosary is to be prayed. Namely, that the only means by which to receive grace and indulgences from recitation, is to pray the rosary in a counter-clockwise direction. According to the encyclical, praying the rosary in a clockwise direction would ‘bear no fruit and Heaven would be closed to the petitioner and his pleas’ (‘…fructum nequaquam facient, quod caelum claudatur, et preces eius et actori.’).
“Due to its incompleteness, there is uncertainty as to the encyclical’s binding nature upon the faithful,” Thistleway said. “But make no mistake, this is huge.”
Fr. Thistleway demonstrated Pope Leo XIII’s instructions to those gathered at the press conference. “If you hold out the rosary at the crucifix, and let the beads hang down, what the encyclical is saying is that the first decade must be the one to the left of the crucifix, the second decade to the left of the first, and so on, all away around until you return to the crucifix. Starting to the right would be wrong – not necessarily sinful, at least according to several moral theologians I’ve spoken to, but wrong nonetheless.” Continue reading
But which teams can Catholics root for, and not be guilty of committing serious sin? If only there was some way of knowing.
Introducing the Catholic’s Examination of Conscience Guide to the NFL Playoffs, measured by the Moral Culpability Scale of Sinfulness, or MCSS, ranging from 1-10, with 1 = anathema sit!, and 10 = holier than the Pope. Teams with MCSS scores of 5.0 or higher are acceptable for Catholics to root and cheer for. If you’re pulling for teams with scores under 5.0, well, you might want to have a chat with your spiritual director before you get penalized for Immoral Procedure.
So let’s look at the individual teams and see how they rate. Keep in mind, this is focusing on teams and where they play, not personnel or coaches or anything like that. Current players are not being considered or mentioned in this examination of conscience. Because I say so. Continue reading
(Cross-posted at Acts of the Apostasy)
(AoftheAP) Attendees at the Call-to-Action National Conference, held earlier this month in Milwaukee, were treated to a special announcement that brought cheers and tears of joy: the apparition of “St.” Martin Luther, who had appeared to an Omaha woman over a period of seven years, has been designated as “worthy of belief” by the CTA Board of Directors.
Marjoram Fennel, a former catechist in the Archdiocese of Omaha, was warmly accepted by the CTA crowd, as she spoke to them about whom she calls her “special friend”. “At first I thought I was seeing things, or going crazy,” she explained. “But I soon discovered that we shared much in common, and his messages to me were comforting and uplifting.”
She was grateful to the Board for their pronouncement. Fennel told the crowd about the apparition’s circumstances. Continue reading
No, not Limbaugh, not that Rush. You know – Rush.
I had to drive cross-state yesterday on a sales call, so I grabbed some CD’s to play, and one was Gold, by Rush – a compilation of their biggest hits. The Trees struck an appropriate chord.
At the very least, you’ve got some Neil Peart percussive excellence to jump-start your morning… Continue reading
Drop everything. Donald, put down that book on Civil War trivia and pay attention here. Tito, maybe you should take a moment from launching those five or eight new blog ideas and listen up.
The 6th Annual Cannonball Catholic Blog Anti-Awards are on – hosted by the indomitable The Crescat…, one of the best bloggers in the Catholic blogiverse.
Why am I mentioning this? Well, The American Catholic has been nominated in the Best Political Blog category. So head on over there, show some bloggity pride, and cast your votes! Sure, no one will get a statue to put on a mantle, or any endorsement deals. But so what? It’s called “fun”.
Oh – and by the way – while you’re over there – remember to vote for Acts of the Apostasy in the Most Hifreakinlarious and Snarkiest Blog categories. Yeah, you’ll see that Lisa Graas has been nominated for Snarkiest Blog as well. So here’s a suggestion: contributors with last names from A-M vote for me, and those from N-Z can vote for Lisa. That’s fair, isn’t it? Maybe?
And you can vote once per 24 hours. How cool is that? You can pretend to be a dead liberal union member from Chicago, and it won’t be illegal or immoral! I’m not sure when the contest closes, so don’t delay.
There are other crazy categories as well – like ‘Best Potpourri of Popery’ and ‘Best Blog By A Heretic’. So go join in the celebration of averageness!
(Cross-posted at Acts of the Apostasy)
Earlier this week – yesterday, in fact – President Obama went to the University of North Carolina to campaign for his new jobs bill, and he actually told the attendees:
Seriously, he said that. Can you imagine if other world leaders and famous persons had used that line?
President Ronald Reagan: “Gorbachev, if you love me, then tear down this wall!” Continue reading
(Originally posted at Acts of the Apostasy)
There is way, way too much serious football, societal and political punditry being posted here as of late. Time for a more light-hearted variety of punditry, me thinks.
Introducing “Theology +”, featuring…
“Amine, amine, I say unto you…”
Since Christ’s Ascension into Heaven, we have been living in the enzymes.
The Book of Ester comes after the Book of Judith.
“And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and Helium.” (Mk 6:13)
We must love our enamines and pray for our persecutors.
“Two frequent temptations threaten prayer: lack of faith and acidity…” [CCC 275]
The three theological virtues are faith, hope and chirality.*
King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Urea the Hittite.
“Then they Cesium and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house.” (Lk 22:54)
OK, you punsters – put on your thinking caps and add your own in the combox.
*Yes, it’s pronounced ‘kahy-RAL-i-ty’, so it’s a stretch. But I like the way it looks.
(cross-posted at Acts Of The Apostasy)
Do you run a Catholic blog, or is it more like a Catholic blahhhhg? Do you wish you had more readers? Is your Sitemeter daily count smaller than Kate Middleton’s waist size, and you wish it would expand (the daily count, not KM’s waist)? Does your combox have more robo-generated spam comments selling shoes and junk than comments left by actual people?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then what you need are The Top Ten Topics That Will Rock Your Catholic Blog, as compiled by the AoftheA Editorial Board. The EB scoured Catholic blogs for several hours days weeks months and months to generate a list of hot-button issues that delivered consistent results across the world.
If you want to increase traffic to your blog, and you want the combox conversations spiced up a bit, touch on any of the subjects listed below. You can either be pro or con – doesn’t matter. You don’t even have to write well or display logic – just have an opinion and a thesaurus and a glib turn of phrase or two, and bang! Your daily hits will spike. Your combox will quickly resemble a back alley at midnight deep in gang-contested turf. Yeah, it will get rather testy, but that’s what commenting at Catholic blogs is all about: loving our neighbors – even the Anonymous ones – with ham-fisted charity and bare-knuckled mercy. Continue reading
…and we learn that they’re rather ignorant of politics, history and economics. To be fair, I was too at their age, and since then, I’ve grown wiser and put away belief in childish things…like fairy dust and the power of unicorn farts.
There used to be a video – it was removed from Vimeo at 11:37 PM EST on 6/27 (presumably by the maker, and presumably because it was being skewered throughout the Innerwebz)) – but despair not! I found another copy of it! Fortunately, before the video was removed, I had transcribed it, and I’ve included my own commentary following each statement.
OK, you’ve watched it. Let’s go.
“I’m a Democrat because…
…because I believe hope is the stuff of dreams, and I believe in keeping that hope alive.”
[Dear Lord, they started with this guy? Yo! Spongebob Wishpants! "Hope" won't pay your college loans when you're unemployed!] Continue reading
…then ads such as the following would never get made!
From Huffington Post: Kia Sportage Ad Sparks Pedophilia Controversy
A new Kia ad is raising eyebrows—with some even saying that it promotes pedophilia. The ad, which promotes a dual-zone climate control feature in one of Kia’s cars, took home the Silver Press Lion at the prestigious Cannes Lion Awards. But it is controversial, to say the least.
The ad features a teacher lusting after his elementary school-aged student. On one side of the page, she appears as a young girl. On the other side, though, she becomes a scantily clad, buxom teen, seemingly as a product of the teacher’s imagination.
Oh wait – it won an award. It’s all good then. Never mind.
Click here if you wish to contact Kia Motors and complain. I did tried – their system won’t allow you to send a message electronically, so I called their number and lodged a formal complaint. I wasn’t the only one to call.
(Cross-posted at Acts of the Apostasy)
***UPDATE*** (10:25 PM EST 6/24/11) – from the Kia Motors website:
Statement Regarding Inappropriate Advertising Material From Brazil
Kia Motors America (KMA) has become aware of an offensive piece of advertising material that was created by an ad agency in Brazil that KMA has no business relationship with and has never worked with. This ad was not created in the U.S. by Kia Motors America or any of its marketing partners and does not reflect the opinions or values of KMA or Kia Motors Corporation. The ad is undoubtedly inappropriate, and on behalf of Kia Motors we apologize to those who have been offended by it. We can guarantee this advertisement has never and will never be used in any form in the United States, and our global headquarters in Seoul, South Korea is addressing the issue with the independent Brazilian distributor.
Kudos to Kia on the quick response. Still makes me wonder how this ad managed to get submitted in an international contest and win an award if it was never approved by KMA in the first place, but at least they’ve made a public announcement denouncing it.
(Cross-posted at Acts of the Apostasy)
June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. It used to just be Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, initiated by former President Clinton in 2000, and then made more inclusive by President Obama in 2009. Of course, it’s not totally inclusive, because heterosexuals aren’t on the list. (So I won’t celebrate it until I’m forced to, which may happen sooner than later…)
In fact, if you read through the list of National Months, there’s no National Normal Heterosexuals Month anywhere. How come? Why the discrimination?
There’s no National Blogger Month, no Heaven-bound Catholic Pride Month, no Guys Who Love Girls and Girls Who Love Guys Month or anything like that. Where’s the justice?
There’s nothing close to a National Men’s Month, or Men’s History Month, either. Continue reading
The NRSC has come up with yet another great ad. This one pulls no punches.
I hope the 2012 Republican candidate is great as well – and not just on the issue of energy policy.
I have a coworker who is Catholic – not in a Nancy Pelosi sort of way, mind you. He’s an ardent pro-lifer who really walks the walk – prays in front of a couple local abortuaries once or twice a month, and does a bit of sidewalk counseling as well. He frequents the Sacrament of Confession often, attends Mass during the week, supports the Pope – just a solid all-around Catholic guy.
He has this one quirk that befuddles me.
He’s a truther. And a birther. And lately, now, he’s become a deather. And not in some casual, “hmmm-that-sure-seems-interesting-as-a-theory-I-wonder-if-that-might-be-true” sort of way. He’s all in. Compared to him, Fox Mulder is a doubter. As far as I know, he hasn’t rigged his house a la Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory. Still, he’s firm in his opinions and isn’t afraid to express them.
Now, it isn’t a sin to maintain an incorrect opinion, no matter how outlandish it is, on issues unrelated to faith and morals. It may be stupid, but it isn’t necessarily sinful. But what about those conspiracies that focus on the Church? Not just the sex-abuse crisis conspiracy, or the sedevacantism one either. Continue reading