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Two Popes

With my son and daughter, I watched "The Two Popes" on Christmas Eve, depicting fictional conversations between Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. The film accurately depicts the debate between right and left in the Catholic Church. In a PBS Newshour interview, the director voices my bias by saying he began thinking of Benedict (played by Anthony Hopkins) as the bad guy, but when working through the project he could see the grey areas.

Although the two never had those conversations, "The Two Popes" accurately presents right and left positions. It is also historical in showing Francis' conversion as a result of his experience when Argentina's military waged a "Dirty War" against the Catholic Church. We see that guilt and suffering have the power to enlighten. 


Listen to me

I will be on “Voices of the Sacred Feminine,” an online radio program by Karen Tate on the day after Christmas, December 26, at 11:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Central, 2:00 Eastern time.  
My topic will be "The Goddess in the Bible." Follow the link and do it five minutes early in case you have to sign in.  The Bible is suffused with feminine God imagery, but redactors and translators have made Her hard to recognize.

Pagan Christians

http://jeanetteblonigenclancy.com/
They fasted, they made sacrifice, they sang hymns, they recited litanies, they walked in processions, they initiated people with water, kissed the altar, bore sacred vessels with ritual solemnity, communed with their god by partaking of a sacred meal, and they had a professional priesthood. They were Pagans.

 “Pagan” originally meant rural or rustic—in Latin paganus. It carried no negative feeling at all. Christianity was born in the Roman Empire, which accounts for Latin being the language of the Catholic Mass. People outside of cities in the Roman Empire—Pagans—clung to their old religions longer than city people, who were more easily swept into the new Jesus Movement. The rival Christians gave Pagans a bad name.

After Jesus was crucified, his followers, profoundly affected by the spiritual master, kept his memory alive. Thus, the Jesus Movement rose and spread. It could be expected that the emerging religion would borrow ways of worshiping from re…

Quantum Physics on Prayer 2

In my previous post I quoted this by physicists Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner:
Quantum mechanics challenges [commonsense] intuitions by having (conscious) observation actually create the physical reality observed. These physicists don’t shy away from the shocking implications of quantum science—that’s what I love about Quantum Enigma. After the statement above they write:
This idea is so hard to accept that some soften it by saying that observation appears to create the observed reality. Most physicists . . . today decline to sidestep the enigma with semantics and rather face up to what Nature seems to be telling us . . . Years ago, when I first read what happens in quantum experiments, I immediately drew spiritual implications from it. Since then I’ve read multiple experts—physicists and spiritual masters—who support my conclusions.
Rosenblum and Kuttner refuse to affirm spiritual lessons—they stick to physics—but for me it’s impossible to avoid spiritual implications because cons…

Where I grew up

http://jeanetteblonigenclancy.com/
The square house where I grew up originally had three sets of stairs anchoring its middle—basement stairs to main floor, stairs to bedrooms, and stairs to the attic. We could climb even higher, but I’ll leave that for now. There were four rooms downstairs, four upstairs. To me, the most appealing things about our house were the flowers my mom cultivated around it—her precious Blumen.

The house had been reconfigured by the time I arrived. The back door had become front door with a small porch. It led to the largest room downstairs, our dining, sewing, television, music, family room, where everything but cooking and sleeping happened—band practice the loudest. The room's corner in the middle of the house held the Loch—meaning “hole” in German—a walled-in area under stairs to the bedrooms.

Before reconstruction, this space had held stairs from what had been the back door to the basement. The narrow Loch’s ceiling slanted down almost to the floor on …

Image sacred to indigenous vandalized

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In connection with Pope Francis’ synod of bishops for the Amazon, indigenous people of the Amazon brought sacred symbols to the Vatican for a prayer service. One was the figure of a pregnant woman, which triggered conservative outcry on the Internet. Vandals stole the figure and threw it into the Tiber River.

The NCR editorial relating this story decried racism in the conservative outcry and vandalism. But I see more. This could not have happened if the Catholic Church accepted God as Mother and prayed to Her.

The indigenous people of Latin America revere the Divine Mother regardless of Church doctrine’s careful distinction—only Father and Son are divine, Mother Mary is not.

Latins prefer Mother Mary to Father anyway, continuing indigenous worship that preceded the arrival of Europeans. Goddesses were popular in South America long before Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego. Her garb, mysteriously imprinted on his cloak, is that of an Aztec Goddess.

One outcome of the Amazon …

Apathy over sexist God-talk 2

I’m not done writing about sexist God-talk—“He Him His Father Son Lord”—because its damage to people disturbs me. I aim to raise awareness of it so that more Christians resist praying to lords in church and replace the word “Lord” with inclusive terms. I replace “Lord” with “God” because I can think “God-She,” but a lord is always male and always authoritarian.

The constant drumbeat of “Lord Lord Lord” in churches has a subtle effect. It conditions churchgoers to assume that male top-down power is natural, normal, proper, and right.
During funerals in my home-town parish I cringe when I hear intercessions end with “we pray to the Lord,” and the congregation immediately answers, “Lord, hear our prayer.” I feel like shouting, “Get that damn lord out of our prayers.”

Although that repetitious “Lord” lording over every prayer and song spoils church for me, I don’t want to stop participating in church services because I value my ties with church people.

The issue is not only fairness—the i…

Apathy over sexist God-talk

When I was growing up, we drove to Sauk Centre for the Stearns County fair where we exhibited as 4-H members. As I grew a little older, I learned that on the other side of town was a reformatory for girl juvenile delinquents. I had no idea.

A book review in the StarTribune on Sunday was written by someone whose grandmother was born in the Minnesota Home School for Girls in Sauk Centre. Girls were committed there until age 21 because they were pregnant or ran away from home or were “incorrigible.” Girls as young as 8 were in the Home to be “reformed.”

School officials bragged that the girls were happy to be learning domestic arts. The high number of escapes put the lie to this boast. One resident’s poem began, “I live in a house called torture and pain, it’s made of material called sorrow and shame.”

Lisa Pasko, a criminology professor at the University of Denver, said about two-thirds of girls sent to juvenile facilities had experienced sexual violence. From other studies I suspect th…

Reader response

E.  thanked me for the previous post, An old story, and said she appreciates my last statement: While l press for women’s ordination, I’m not anxious about it, because time is on the side of the women.  The longer the official CC delays, the less relevance it will have in real life.  Its institutional structure will crumble. That sustains me and gives me hope!Peace.
I replied, I'm pleased, surprised, and also not surprised that a professed religious can think this way.  It tells me I'm right when I tell people they'd be surprised by how much their most progressive views are also represented among religious sisters.
E: Oh Jeanette, There are quite a few of us who believe that the institutional CC needs a lot of reform…and openness.
Given thatreligious communities have also had their share of decadence, reform and ongoing need for reform, we tend to be patient … at least outwardly. But we do pray … and sometimes act … for a more gospel-like CC.
Jeanette: I knew many of you w…

An old story

Women doing the real work but not recognized.What’s new? Preparations for a Catholic synod of bishops from the Amazon posed another version of the story.
Conservatives objected to suggestions for ways the Church could meet the vast needs of people threatened by ecological destruction in the Amazon basin. The document opened for consideration ordaining married priests and . . .     What did it say about women? It suggested identifying “the type of official ministry that can be conferred on women, taking into account the central role they play today in the Church in the Amazon."  A timid approach to women’s ordination. Official ministers in the Catholic Church are ordained—the only true and sure way for women to continue the work they already are doing.
But U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke said he would undertake a 40-day "crusade of prayer and fasting" in hopes that the synod’s document would not be approved because it contains "theological errors and heresies."I …

Richard Rohr reflection

When I read or hear Richard Rohr, I am reassured. If this beloved and renowned Franciscan can say what he says, I belong where I am—in the Catholic Church, challenging its damaging teaching. He calls his theology “alternative orthodoxy.” That’s what I can call my set of beliefs. Rohr takes issue with the belief in original sin, taught to Christians since before medieval times.
I agree with Rohr that everybody is born with divinity inside her- or himself; we are not born with a sin that needs to be erased. When I was studying theology for a Master’s degree, the pronouncements of theologians who assumed people are born with original sin repelled me. Anselm of Canterbury’s interpretation seemed the most outrageous.
To vent my scorn, I translated his ideas into a tragicomedy, a medieval drama with a cast of three: The feudal LORD-GOD who collects payments of honor, MAN who was created to give honor to LORD-GOD, and GOD-MAN JESUS.
In the beginning, MAN dishonors LORD-GOD by sinning. He…

Morally bankrupt hierarchy

Religion and politics are intertwined. Religion is not the same as spirituality, particularly if we’re talking about institutional religion.
The political structure of the Catholic Church works against spiritual goals that should be the main concerns of religion—kindness, fairness, and compassion. Instead, Catholic hierarchy wants to tell people what to believe and what to do. It wants to judge what’s good and what’s sinful.
Pope Francis’ dislike of judging sins and his focus on loving kindness do not sit well with Catholic conservatives, who flourished under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. They have veered further right since then. I believe Benedict resigned because he realized he could not fix financial and sexual corruption rampant in Church hierarchy. Pope Frances was voted in to reform it, but he receives steady pressure from right-wingers.
The extreme right is led by Cardinal Raymond Burke, who claims to know the “authentic” teachings of the Catholic Church. His anti-Fr…

Like immigrants today

http://jeanetteblonigenclancy.com/beyond-parochial-faith

A New York Times article threw national attention onto anti-Muslim hostility in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Besides sadness and embarrassment here, it generated an ongoing debate in the St. Cloud Times between supporters of immigrants and persons opposed. I wrote in a Your Turn article for the St. Cloud Times:
I am sad that I saw German names signed on letters angry at the Times for encouraging hospitality to Somali immigrants. . . . Stearns County is known for its heavy concentration of German-Catholics—my people. I’d like to be proud of them. I noted striking parallels in today’s anti-immigrant feeling to facts I found in writing Beyond Parochial Faith: A Catholic Confesses.

German-Catholic families fled poverty and violence in Europe as Somalis flee al-Shabaab in Somalia and Hispanics flee violent gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. In the 19th century, my great-great grandparents living in the poorest region of Germany …

Beyond Parochial Faith

My memoir, Beyond Parochial Faith: A Catholic Confessesis now available at http://jeanetteblonigenclancy.com/beyond-parochial-faith
Six years ago, a woman rang my doorbell and said she walked a mile to tell me that my book, God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky: Cherishing Christianity without Its Exclusive Claims, had a profound effect on her. Its subversion of common Christian belief seemed undeniable but left her bereft. She asked me to write a sequel for persons like herself who wonder, “If not Christianity, then what?”
Beyond Parochial Faith offers some answers. My fire-of-purification story traces my evolving views of religions and spirituality, culminating in faith I call “secular.” It weaves together strands of my life—alcoholic husband and mid-life meltdown, judgmental siblings and prudish aunts, Carl Jung and Father-Son myth, the Goddess and the historical Jesus, lord-gods and sexual abuse, atheists and naïve seminarians, Teilhard de Chardin and quantum theory, Benedictines and …

Intrigued by 4th Gospel

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JFK & Mary Magdalene, May 10, 2019

John F. Kennedy won the Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage. The book deserved the honor but not the purported author. Kennedy did conceive the idea and some of the content, but he did none of the research or writing. Most of that was done by Theodore Sorenson, whom Kennedy called his “research assistant.” Sorenson is the one who gave the book its “drama and flow,” according to historian Herbert Parmet. Ted Sorenson was essentially the ghostwriter of Profiles in Courage

I see a parallel in the gospel I call the “Fourth Gospel” instead of the “Gospel of John.” Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do not really name authors of the gospels. Each of these gospel names, for various reasons, developed while the gospels were being passed around. They became convenient tags for identifying and discussing the gospels, but they are not the authors’ names.

“John” was thought to be the only real name of the Fourth Gospel, because John is named at the beginning…

Church hypocrisy

Again I offer an excuse for not writing here more often. I've been preoccupied with getting my memoir ready for publication. That consumes my writing energy--how many hours it takes amazes me--but I keep up with my usual reading of magazines and newspapers. For Catholic news, National Catholic Reporter is tops. The latest NCR turns my attention to the following.

Officials in the Church finally are responding to outside pressure and removing the cloak of secrecy hiding their sexual misdeeds. German Cardinal Reinhard Marx admitted that Church files documenting sexual crimes were destroyed or never created. Victims' rights were "trampled underfoot."

The word "hypocrisy" now is heard in official  mea culpas.
An excerpt from a new book,In the Closet of  the Vatican, contains facts that surprised me, despite decades of reading about sex abuse in the Church. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was going on. I didn't.

Author Frédéric Martel spent four ye…