Friday, November 16, 2018

Beyond Parochial Faith


Yesterday I sent my completed manuscript, Beyond Parochial Faith: A Catholic Confesses to my publishing company, Wipf and Stock. They publish mainly academic religious works, but mine is a memoir.

I combine my personal story of growing up German Catholic in Stearns County with my spiritual evolution. As a lifelong educator I aim to educate with this book too. It exposes my deepest vulnerabilities to encourage readers as they experience the pain of their own wounds.
I hope my story eases the spiritual work required of absolutely everyone—reflecting on our lives, honoring our pain, and grappling with life's questions. I reveal my secrets because seeing another's story somehow makes it easier to face one's own. 

Beyond Parochial Faith weaves together alcoholic husband and mid-life meltdown, judgmental siblings and prudish aunts, the Goddess and the historical Jesus, the Father/Son myth and Carl Jung, atheists and Benedictines. I aim to inspire self-awareness, to open minds. to broaden horizons.

This book started four and a half years ago with a series of articles in Crossings, the magazine published by the Stearns History Museum. My writers group encouraged me to write more personal stories, which I did, but as I continued writing, I fell back into my usual intellectual reflection. 
The result is this memoir that merges my life story with information challenging the religion I learned in my youth. I had to unlearn a lot. Now you can unlearn and learn with me.

Beyond Parochial Faith reemphasizes the message in my book published in 2007, God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky: Cherishing Christianity without Its Exclusive Claims. Its message is that Christianity mistakes its myth for history and its symbols for facts. With a few clicks on this site you can read excerpts from that book. 

I neglected this blog while I was preparing it for publication. Now I plan to post here more often, probably some excerpts from Beyond Parochial Faith, which will come out in Spring 2019.




Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Cardinals and #MeToo

When I saw the idea in National Catholic Reporter, I thought, "Impossible." But making women cardinals seemed much more plausible when I read the facts given there.

The rule that cardinals must be ordained is only 100 years old. It was part of a new Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917 to curb abuses in naming cardinals.
Some men had little knowledge of theology, and others were, well, very young. 
One was only 8 years old.

John Paul II wanted to appoint a woman cardinal. I can't think of a less likely pope to do that. Timothy Dolan reported on EWTN that John Paul offered it to Mother Teresa, but she didn't want it. This story was corroborated by Cardinal Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI.

The list of eminent women theologians suggested as candidates makes another good argument in favor of making women cardinals. I mention only those whose names are familiar to me: Elizabeth Johnson, Margaret Farley, M.Shawn Copelend, Phyllis Zagano.

I still think it can't happen until hell freezes over, but I like putting out ideas to subvert the common mindset that automatically places men as authorities over women.

             ****************

I aimed to subvert the common mindset in a letter to the StarTribune of Minneapolis last Sunday, September 30. Adding to the discussion, "How to fill the churches: reconciling reason and faith," I said that God was imagined a woman in prehistoric cultures. Myths portrayed the supreme authority in heaven as a great lady.
Before Hera became the jealous wife of Zeus, . . .  She sat on the throne with Zeus at her side. God was known as "Queen of Heaven," "Her Holiness," . . .
Everything changes when God is imagined to be a woman rather than a man.
Greek historian Herodotus wrote that in Egypt, "women go in the marketplace, transact affairs and occupy themselves with business, while the husbands stay home and weave." 
Imagine that.
It's actually not so hard to imagine today because roles in some marriages are already reversed. An American living in Stockholm, Sweden, wrote in Time magazine that he was startled by the number of dads there parenting kids full-time. I have seen the same here and applaud men brave enough to do it.

Thank Goodness, we have made some strides toward equality but what a distance to go! The most pernicious sexist habits happen in church--always, without exception, referring to God as He, Him, or His, and never as She or Her.

Sexist God-talk has got to go if Christians seriously want to address #MeToo.


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Democratic socialism


I’m sharing another of my published opinion pieces, this one in the St. Cloud Times. An email friend told me it was in. That’s usually how I find out it’s been published, because I don’t get the paper until days later from a kind neighbor. This arrangement saves both the environment and my pocketbook.

The Times used my suggested title— “Socialism” is not a dirty word. I explain that democratic socialism does not reject capitalism but checks its vices—power-grabbing, union-busting profiteering at the expense of all citizens with less money and power.

The U.S. already has forms of socialism because our taxes fund transportation, police, schools, FEMA, Social Security, Medicare, and many more socialist institutions. They provide for the welfare of all and check the power of capitalist bosses to control what rightly belongs to everyone—like our government.  

Without socialist checks, Washington D.C. becomes an enemy of the people instead of our protector.

During this time of Trump, people of conscience must do what we can to resist destruction of socialist protections: clean air, water, and soil, safe drugs, health care, protections for consumers, workers, elderly, disabled, and marginalized persons. All are at risk today.

Democratic socialism tempers strict capitalism with kindness and justice. This is where religion and politics intersect.

********************
I just listened to MPR Presents, The Making of Male Dominance.  It quickly summarizes sexist developments over millennia, back to pre-history.
I would have liked to hear more about religion's role in this, but my greatest criticism concerns language. They call humanity "man." How could people working to topple male dominance fail to recognize this vocabulary of male dominance? 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Bottom-up power


I neglected this blog to work on my memoir, but I continued getting opinion pieces published elsewhere—recently in the Minneapolis StarTribune about righting patriarchal wrongs. To provoke awareness of what’s been done to women, I write, “Consider an ad displaying a man’s genital area clad in a clinging fabric.” I urge women to educate men in healthy relating.
Yesterday, the St. Cloud Times titled my piece: Citzens gain power when they work together. 
The real voter fraud is blocking people from voting by expensive ID requirements and other restrictions, obviously, to suppress bottom-up power. . . .
The Consumer Financial Protection Agency, formed during President Obama’s term to protect consumers . . . was taking three to five enforcement actions against powerful wrongdoers each month. After Donald Trump took charge, its enforcement actions dropped to zero. . . .
But this bleak picture tells only half the story. As top-down power surges, bottom-up power is roused to action. . . .
In the new wave of sensitivity, . . . Minneapolis police now are listening to the homeless and finding out what they need. . . .
“Focusing on what’s wrong leads to despair. . . . We can infuse hope, living by Paul Wellstone’s words: We all do better when we all do better.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Obscenely Rich

My recent letter in the St.Cloud Times got such favorable response that I decided to post it here. But it can leave a person despairing for our country, so I'd like readers to scroll down to the post below to see reasons for hope.  Excerpts of my Times letter:
One sentence in “The Politics of Politics” stands out for me: “We cannot be jealous but are to be grateful to those who do well and not punish them with punitive taxes.”
 It displays a naïve concept of economic reality in the U.S.
 Multi-millionaires and billionaires hold their wealth in assets that are not taxable. . . .
The belief that cutting taxes boosts the whole economy contradicts reality. . . . Strenuous efforts fail to find any benefit for most people.
The top 1 percent own more than the bottom 90 percent combined. . . . Big Money buys influence in D.C. . . .
Raising taxes for those who are doing obscenely well would not be punitive. It would be wise. 
My letter in the Times spells out how our national government tilts toward the rich and powerful, but it inspires little hope. Again I remind readers to scroll down for reminders that all is not bleak. 

Injustice has always existed in our national government. From the very beginning it privileged the privileged and burdened the needy by, for instance, excluding women, Blacks, and persons without property from playing a role as citizens. Our current president and administration only do it more blatantly and extremely.

But that rouses ordinary citizens to action. Just this morning I heard about citizens countering NIMBY (not in my back yard) resistance to building apartments in neighborhoods with single-family homes.

A woman who saw how NIMBY was fueling the housing crisis in San Francisco decided she did not have to settle for being angry. She could do something to relieve homelessness. And thus began the YIMBY (yes, in my back yard) movement. It assures fearful homeowners that building affordable housing in stable neighborhoods does not threaten their economic security. YIMBY has spread around the country—including Minneapolis—and even to Australia.

Similar stories of volunteers springing to action show grass-roots in motion as never before. And that gives me hope.  


Friday, July 20, 2018

The Good of Trump

I'm gratified by the scene in America today. Sounds like a Trump-fan, huh? How can Clancy be saying this?

I'm serious. What's going on in our country gives me hope. Never before have so many Americans defended Blacks, Muslims, and immigrants. Never before so many men nurturing children and doing housework. Never before so many women and people of color entering politics. Never before so much concern about unequal wealth and power, disgust with Big Money, awareness of discrimination in our criminal justice system, and concern for victims.

At the same time, macho toughness seems to be rising not only in our country but around the world. Victor Orban in Hungary and Morawiecki in Poland turn away immigrants, Putin persecutes opponents in Russia and kills them elsewhere, Duterte slaughters citizens in the Philippines, Xi Jinping tortures political opponents in China, el-Sissi in Egypt and Erdogan in Turkey jail dissidents, Kim Jong Un tortures citizens and executes rivals in North Korea.

Trump expresses admiration for these strongmen, he calls them friends, but American citizens are repulsed by strongman brutality and cruelty. As they come into stark relief, they engender reverse impulses. People are waking up to the ugliness of making enemies of people who are different from us and disagree with us.

The story of Americans insisting that immigrant children must not be torn from their parents shows the rise of compassion and understanding of otherness. Stuff going on in our country and elsewhere pains me, but it forces awareness and I believe this ultimately leads to good. When we hit bottom, the only way to go is up.

July 22
As I read about the administration's dirty, less well-known policies that persecute refugees, workers, consumers, and marginalized of all kinds, it becomes a challenge to keep my chin up. Seeing things from a long-range perspective helps.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Food Aid


Having just given the rich hefty tax cuts, the Trump administration and Republican Congress now are bent on reducing aid to have-nots in sundry ways. NCR editorialized:
While cable pundits are buzzing about Stormy Daniels, the most vulnerable Americans now face the prospect of losing critical nutrition support for their families. 
The editorial bemoans the draft of the 2018 farm bill that proposes cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Rep. Colin Peterson of MN said it would drop 8 million people—children, seniors, disabled, and those who aid them—from getting food aid. Authors of the draft are reconsidering because of intense opposition. 

It’s already an old story during this administration. It and Congress propose outrageous attacks on vulnerable people, then have to back down in the face of vigorous objection. Citizens have power during this critical time, but only if we keep paying attention. 

We must not accept as normal what is now going on in D.C. This president and this Congress do not represent citizens fairly. They got their positions of power through gerrymandering and misleading propaganda paid for by Big Money. We need to keep calling out against injustice. Only if we are vigilant can we save our country from its immoral politicians. 

Responding to proposed food-stamp cuts, a Benedictine friend mourns, "What next?"

I draw strength from a psychic friend who sees the sun rising because of Trump's presidency. When we've sunk so low, the only direction to go is up.

But we have to make it happen, with our attention if nothing else. Staying informed, paying attention, is not doing nothing. Our mind activity alone can help to make things happen.