Sunday 3 October 2010

My Mother Died August 17th

It was a difficult death. My summer is a nightmare blur. Alzheimer's Disease takes away every scratch of dignity that one had during life. This was my second time going through it - my father-in-law had AD and lived with us for the last 5 months of his life. This was my mother and it was much, much worse. To see her trying so hard to maintain her sense of herself, to try and make herself understood was almost too much to bear. We got through it, but it was not easy for any of us. I may or may not write more about it at a later date, but for now, it is enough to know that my mother is much better off. It was a blessing when she finally died. We can now track the AD back to about 8 or 9 years ago at least. It was slowly disintegrating her mind. She had been such a vital, active person all her life and it was only in the last two years that it severely impaired her. But she was almost 92 and still didn't look like she was a day over 75. She had had one of those lives that was marked with one tragedy after another, yet she picked herself up and kept on going - sometimes with great difficulty - when my father died, it was a blow from which she almost didn't recover. She loved her grandchildren and got joy from her great grandchildren. She loved her daughters but was more afraid for us than we could have ever understood. As I have said before, we knew little about her past - we know a lot more now. Near the end, I spent over an hour with her in my arms; she was sobbing and wanted her mother. It was not easy.

If I could have taken this term off of work, I would have. I am feeling terribly non-social these days, but slowly as work starts to invigorate me, I am getting back on my feet.

I will try to get back to blogging - it should help refocus my energies. There is a lot of other writing to do that is not blog stuff. This is a start.

No matter how hard we try, we can't resurrect the dead

Christianity in all its forms is not going away anytime soon. I stay on the fringes of the religious system because it is/was my cultural heritage. My life experience meant that God died. It took me over 40 years to have the funeral – so I spent all those years grieving. If I can change even one small thing in someone’s life that helps them live with more peace, then that is good. People don’t interpret my Psalm of Anger the way I do – but their interpretations are valid because they are based on their own experiences – they bring to it their own past, and they take away from it, their own solutions. Sometimes those solutions surprise me, and I wonder how they got there. I spent too many years trying to get “god” back (or bring god back to life) to ever not understand that many people need to believe and do believe. My spirituality revolves around the on-going process of understanding the interrelationships in my life. These are what are critical to my existence.

I also hope that some of my writings will help those die-hard Christians understand that it is just not that easy. For many of us, God in his Christian guise died - maybe belief in any form of divinity died. Thomas Doyle understands and feels that it is one of the worst legacies of the child abuse scandal. (See his book on the 2000 year legacy of sexual child abuse in the RC church) We cannot go back. Our life experiences will not let us ever go back. We have to fashion meaning in this life differently. We do not even have the luxury that those brought up without belief have - we are haunted by the belief systems that we grew up in.

I no longer feel haunted by my religious past, but it took me decades to get here. I am looking forward to reading Ian Gurvitz' Deconstructing God: A Heretic's Case for Religion. Human beings seem to require belief systems to give life meaning. Look for a review once I have read the book.

Wednesday 11 August 2010

CBC News - Health - Alzheimer's predicted by spinal-fluid test

CBC News - Health - Alzheimer's predicted by spinal-fluid test

I have not blogged in quite a while. My mother is now in the last few days of her life. She is dying from Alzheimer's Disease as is my aunt, her sister. The last few months have been difficult for the family. It is a horrible horrible way to die.

I will be writing more after she has died. For those of you who pray, wish her godspeed on her last journey in this life. When all is said and done, I will miss her.

Sunday 18 April 2010


on My Favorite Sid Vicious Quote

I found it; I found it!!!!!!!!!!!

In the attic of a friend's house a few days ago.

Now, do I bring it into my new office - academic freedom & all - I'm sure my students will (for the most part) love it & ask who the hell Sid Vicious is :)

Friday 26 March 2010

Ratzinger, Kung, Schillebeeckx, and Jesus

There was this wonderful joke that went around religious scholar types in the mid to late 1980s. First, the info so that those who don't belong to this esoteric field can get the joke. This is my version of the story.

The Players:

Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was always considered to be entrenched in the (radically) conservative theological position of the Roman Catholic Church.

Hans Kung was a Swiss Roman Catholic theologian who was considered to have deviated somewhat from the "party line". For example, he wrote a book on the Priesthood that suggested that since a celibate priesthood was historical in development, it could be changed and priest should be allowed to marry. The hyperlink is the Google hyperlist of his books. He wanted change, but did not think that it needed to be as radical a other theologians. Mind you, I saw him Carleton University years ago (c. 1983), and then met him at the after-reception. I couldn't understand why he just didn't convert to Lutheranism. His talk was sooooo Martin Luther. I'll bet he never studied Luther, except from the POV of Roman Catholic "history".

Edward Schillebeeckx was a Dutch/Belgium Roman Catholic theologian. He was considered a radical liberation theologian (this link may have problems, but in general will give an overview of the issues & the issues between Ratzinger & Liberation Theology).

Saint Peter and Jesus: Do I have to explain?

The Story:

Ratzinger, Kung and Schillebeeckx all died on the same day. No surprise, they all ended up in the waiting room at the Pearly Gates of Heaven and were met there by Saint Peter. Saint Peter told all of them that they would have to have a discussion with Jesus to decide whether or not they had been good enough Christians to go straight into heaven, or whether they needed to spend a little time in Purgatory to ponder on their errors.

The first one to sit down with Jesus was Hans Kung. They had an amiable discussion that lasted about 2 hours. Then Kung walked back to the waiting room. Ratzinger and Schillebeeckx wanted to know how it went. Hans answered that he guessed that he hadn't been a good enough Christian because he was going to spend the next 6 months in Purgatory.

Schillebeeckx said that he would go next, and Kung said that he would hang around just to see what happened to him. After all, Schillebeeckx was the really radical one. Well, the three of them sat around for what seemed like forever waiting for Edward to come out. After about ten hours, he came out shaking his head saying "I guess I really wasn't a good enough Christian. I'm going to Purgatory for three years."

Now it was Ratzinger's turn. He went in to see Jesus while the others waited to see what would happen. They all thought that it would probably be a shoo-in. The first day passed; then a second. The three in the waiting room sat around discussing this in amazement. St. Peter said that this had never happened before. None of them could imagine what was going on.

About noon on the third day, a stunned Jesus walks out. They all look at him with various expressions on their faces. "What happened? What happened?" they clamoured. "Why are you here?"

"Well," said Jesus. "I guess I wasn't a good enough Christian. I have to spend the next five years in Purgatory contemplating my sins!"

Thursday 25 March 2010

Birds of a feather flock together

Pope Sexual Abuse Scandal: Benedict Implicated in Cover-up of Wisconsin Sexual Abuse Case

Just to reiterate. Why should anyone be surprised? All of these cases had to have gone through Cardinal Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI under John Paul II. He was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (re-branded Inquisition), and, was PJP2s gatekeeper and adviser. Watch the trailer for One of the reasons that I was never surprised at PJP2s conservatism.

The Roman Catholic Church is hierarchical bureaucratic institution. As with all bureaucracies, it has a vested interest in its own survival. We know exactly how the "sexual abuse scandal" has come about. The cover-ups begin at the lowest bureaucratic levels. However, as with all bureaucracies, extensive records are kept. (Oh to get hold of those records!!) I have know of only one archbishop who said "the buck stops here": Archbishop Penny in Newfoundland, who took on the responsibilities for the cover-ups in Newfoundland and then resigned. Now to be fair, this means that Rome could deny that it knew anything about this. So Penny "manned up" and took the flak for the Church, and they let him.

Ratzinger came up through the ranks. There is absolutely no way that he did not participate in "cover-ups" in his parishes, etc. The s**t has finally hit the fan in Europe - it will be no different there than anywhere else in Catholicism. What happened in North America, happened in Europe and everywhere else. We just need to wait as the cases fall out of the trees. Ratzinger/Benedict truly believes in those "old-fashioned" values of Roman Catholicism and its theology. Check out Gregory the VII, Pope Innocent the 3rd & the Fourth Lateran Council, the Council of Trent, Vatican 1 and even Vatican 2, the J-P2's Humanae Vitae.

People seem to be so shocked at what's going on. However, basic history of Christianity would show that "so it was, so it is". The question should be "so it ever shall be?" History tells us that if there is some sort of Council held over this issue & reform is in the air, the solutions will never go to the heart of the problem. The Church has already begun to retrench into its past theologies that allowed this to happen in the first place. The Church has been covering up child sexual abuse since its inception - why change now? Again read Doyle, Sipe & Wall. Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church's 2,000-Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse.

If people would just take off their blinders, things might get better.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday 13 March 2010

Catholic Church Child Abuse Claims Sweep Across Europe

All I can say is that it's about time. The Vatican has tried to make this a North American problem and a problem related to the "moral laxity" of the west for the last 30+ years (when they lowered themselves to address the issue). Never forget that Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly, known as the Inquisition - a wonderful re-branding if there ever was one) when this scandal broke out. Cardinal Law (he of the Boston scandal) is still living in the Vatican, if I am not mistaken. The Roman Catholic Church has (NOT) been dealing with this issue since the inception of the church (see Doyle, Sipe & Wall: Sex, Priests and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church's 2000-year Paper Tail of Sexual Abuse). I published a paper back in 1993 in the Canadian Church History Journal that discussed the situation in one part of Canada. It was already clear that this had to be a worldwide problem. Getting rid of compulsory celibacy and homosexuals in the church is not going to solve the problem, as much as the RC Church and its laity would like to believe it will. These are red herrings. Easy to see and easy to blame.

My heart goes out to all those who have been abused. Their journeys are hard. May they be heard.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Thursday 11 March 2010

Oh, those well meaning pastoral counsellors & educators

And God bless them, they do mean well but most of the time, they really don't have a clue.

The earlier post brought to mind another incident from the 2002 AAR regional conference. I was delivering a paper called, "God Isn't Really like That! - Or is he? The Child, the Bible and the Patriarchal God". The woman who was chairing the session was so excited to meet me. She had read my articles and wanted to know if maybe, sometime, I would like to lecture in one of her classes. She also told me that Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza had mentioned me in her latest book, Wisdom Ways (which I ran out and bought, of course). I delivered the paper and there were lots of questions that continued after the session. The next day, while we were all in line for cafeteria-style lunch, she came up to me and said something like, I think I know why are so interested in all of this. You were in a sexual relationship with your minister when you were about 17. Where she got that age is beyond me. I stood in line and looked at her for a minute, thinking about how I was going to answer this. I did not, at that time, bring my personal history into these academic discussions, for what should be obvious reasons (at some point, I will do a blog on the horror show that evolved when I did about 3 years later). I looked at her and said, "No, I was sexually abused by a Roman Catholic priest when I was 8 years old." I don't recall the rest of the minimal conversation, but it had something to do with how I didn't really think that the issues were well handled within the pastoral counselling department at St. Paul's, after she said that they had a course in the Canon Law (!!!) department that dealt with that. Needless to say, I never heard from her again.

What was sort of funny (not ha ha funny, but ironic funny) was that about 3 years later, as a peer reviewer for the Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion, I was sent a paper (on impact of child sexual abuse on some adult women) that came from the MA in Pastoral Counselling program at St. Paul's. St. Paul's is a Roman Catholic seminary and university with one of the best libraries in North America. After a first quick run through of a paper, the first place I go to for the review process is the bibliography to see whether the appropriate literature had been accessed for the review of literature. This review of literature should serve as the basis for understanding material, setting up the hypothesis and discussing the results. It was missing at least 6 critical books (and my dissertation). All 7 of these items were easily available at either St. Paul's or the University of Ottawa or Carleton University (the 3 universities are rather close together, so distance isn't an excuse & St. Paul's and the University of Ottawa are affiliated). I actually checked the on-line libraries at U of O & Carleton. All of these items would have answered the questions that the authors of the paper had in their discussion section of the paper. They would also have changed the structure of some of the questions that were asked of the participants. It was my recommendation to send the paper back to the drawing board, in large part because of this. I wasn't surprised, but it is so depressing to actually see how little things had changed. I should note that I would have been one of a minimum of three reviewers, so mine wasn't the sole decision maker on this submission.

We are finally getting a number of dissertation on the subject of god images, spirituality, psychology, child sexual abuse and religion (read Christianity - there is such a privileging of Christianity in most writings - they use "religion" when they mean Christianity). I will be reviewing them on the blog. From a cursory glance at a couple of them, it will not be a happy task. I love electronic databases - they make tracking these things so much easier that it was even 5 years ago, but it does mean that I don't have any reason not to keep up with the latest in my field! Maybe this will spur me to publish a book, who knows?

Sunday 7 March 2010

Everyone Should Watch This One

It is free on the Internet at SnagFilms. It is called Girl 27. It tells the story of one rape case from 1937 in Hollywood. It is a such a compelling story. You watch all of the people's lives that were destroyed because of the rape. First Patricia Douglas, but also her daughter, her mother, the parking attendant who perjured himself at the trial. The betrayal by her mother and lawyer.

This is not just a story about about corruption in Hollywood; it is a story about the long term and devastating impact of rape.

Girl 27 Girl 27

(2007) 86 min

The reclusive Patricia Douglas comes out of hiding to discuss the 1937 MGM scandal

Hollywood 1937—Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the world’s most prestigious and powerful movie studio, tricks 120 underage chorus girls into attending a stag party for its visiting salesmen. When dancer Patricia Douglas tries to flee, she is brutally raped; defying the studio’s order for silence, Douglas files a landmark lawsuit while MGM launches the biggest cover-up in Hollywood history-until six decades later, when author-screenwriter David Stenn stumbles upon the story. Stenn’s decade-long search for the truth leads to Patricia Douglas herself, nearly ninety and still in hiding. Will she go public once again, or will Hollywood’s best-suppressed scandal die with her?

Tuesday 9 February 2010

My favourite Sid Vicious quote

Undermine their pompous authority, reject their moral standards, make anarchy and disorder your trademarks. Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible but don't let them take you ALIVE.

Once had a poster with this quote on it hanging on my office door. Don't know what happened to it, but I still love the sentiment.

In the world we live in, more people should remember this one.

S.N.A.P.: Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

Just thought that I would put a separate link to the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests and Bishop Accountability separately. Neither of these are bogs, so they can't go on my bloglist

These are such important websites in the fight for accountability.

I have also added a blog, Mennonite Coverup to my bloglist that calls for accountability in the Mennonite Brethern community. Just one more Christian community that refuses to deal with the implications of its theology

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Why Oh Why???????

Dead Alberta boys subject of a custody battle.

Why did it all happen? Reason #1b: Homosexuality

See previous blogs, January 23rd and January 31st.

The second issue is a bit different. There is the totally misguided belief that the priests who sexually abuse children are homosexual. This is, of course, because most of the children who were/are being abused by priests are male. One of my friends, abused by the same priest as I was, when we talked about my sexual abuse, said in disbelief, "but he's gay". He could not see that what happened to him was anything but "homosexual". He had never pushed through to the point where he understood that what happened to him when he was 13, had nothing to do with homosexuality or "gayness". It was a clear abuse of power. This was perhaps the clearest indication of the problem faced by boys who are abused - confusion over sexual orientation.

I think it was back in 2002. I had delivered a paper at the regional AAR (American Academy of Religion). A bunch of us were in the "common room" discussing my paper when the U.S. Council of Bishops(or was it the Cardinals in Rome? - somebody can check that one - if I turn this into a book, I'll make sure to get it right) made some statement at a press conference about the sexual abuse scandal. There was a television in the room that was turned way up for the statement. There were a bunch of eastern rite priests sitting in the room and they started to talk about how it was all blown out of proportion. After all, most of these boys who were complaining were in their teens and they knew what they were doing. I tried to be nice, but in the end that was not possible - so I finally stamped my feet and said that if they wanted to be technical about it - these priests are called ephebophiles (the technical term for people who prey on post-pubescent children) and they were preying on young boys (or young men, if you will). Besides, these men weren't supposed to have sex at all - I think they call it the vow of celibacy. So what part of this can be excused or brushed off as "choice".

It also puts female victims of Roman Catholic priestly sexual abuse at a distinct disadvantage. There are fewer of them and the popular perception that these men are "gay", is fostered by the Church itself. To quote Cardinal Mahoney in Deliver Us From Evil - "We knew you were being abused but you were a girl; if you had been a boy, that would have been obscene". It is almost as if the institution is relieved when the priest is accused of sex with a girl - at least they're not "homos".

Our society seems to still have a lot of problems with homosexuality. The prejudice against them is never-ending. It permeates all aspects of our society. (as I constantly reiterate when I get into discussions about born or made - who would choose this sexual orientation given the prejudice?)

Given the prejudice, it is piling horror on horror for the gay man when the society makes this type of erroneous connection between men who sexually abuse male children and homosexuality. And the Roman Catholic institution is one of the "Leaders of the Pack" in this disinformation.

Sunday 31 January 2010

Why did it all happen? Reason #1a: Celibacy

See previous blog

Mandatory celibacy is often pointed to as a reason for the sexual abuse of children. There is the idea that removing the mandatory celibacy legislation from the Roman Catholic system is somehow going to solve problems of, not only the sexual abuse of children, but also all sorts of other "sexual issues" within the Roman Catholic priesthood (read: homosexuality). However, how can this be a solution?

The first issue is, "if celibacy is the problem, then why is it that there are lots of cases of non-Roman Catholic religious authorities (ministers, organists, counsellors)who sexually abuse children who are married?" Obviously, a married clergy does not solve the problem, and it then follows that a celibate clergy cannot be at the root of the problem. Celibacy can be chosen; sometimes celibacy is thrust upon people; some people just aren't all that interested in sex. However, human beings are made for relationships and most human beings crave the intimacy that a positive sexual relationship can bring.

Christianity has been obsessed with sexuality almost from the beginning. Jesus didn't have much to say about it; frankly neither did Paul. It was up to the Church Fathers to make it the central issue for Christian spirituality. Historically, there are reasons for this, not many that have been truly put in the context of the socio-cultural background out of which the Fathers came. The attitude towards sexuality only changed slightly with the Reformation, which attacked the issue of celibacy but little else about the rationale of sexual relationships within the Christian context. A good little book (now out of print) that discusses this is John Phillips' Eve: The History of and Idea. It is not celibacy that is the problem, but the idea that all sex is essentially a dangerous facet of human relationships. Celibacy puts the idea of the non-sexualized life on a pedestal. Everything else follows from that. Once not having sex is the be-all and end-all of holiness, then all sex is sinful - even if there are degrees of sinfulness. Sex with children just gets lost in the shuffle. Changing mandatory celibacy will not change much if the theology of celibacy remains as one of the lynch pins of holiness. I haven't seen anyone suggest that celibacy won't still be the ideal to strive for.

What would be the theology of the Roman Catholic priesthood be without mandatory celibacy? Is it possible? What would it look like?

Monday 25 January 2010

Ads by Google - In this case, please don't click

I have to laugh. When you play God's Gonna Cut You Down, you get Google ads running along the bottom of the video. Since Google determines the ads, I can't to anything about them. I don't put ads on this website. Goes against what I think the website is about. Furthermore, I can't control the ads.

The last thing that I would want would be to have ads about "Free Christian dating" - there are more than enough Christians out there. We don't need any more. I wouldn't want the ad "Why do bad things happen?" that then sends you to a Christian website that is recruiting more people to be saved - I assume that Jeeeeeeeesus will make sure that bad things don't happen to you - just accept the Lord as your Saviour and everything will be alright. All you have to do is read the website or my dissertation to see why that would give me the "screaming heebie jeebies".

The two ad links to get more songs by Johnny Cash would be just fine.

I would have no control over the ads chosen for the website. I don't want to make money from the websites.

So all I can do is laugh when these ads come up. If it allows me to actually embed the odd YouTube video onto the blog, I'll live with it.

Just so you know, there are no ad links on the trailer for Deliver Us From Evil.

Sunday 24 January 2010

They Still Call Him "Father": The Power of the Belief System

Whenever I watch the trailer for the documentary Deliver Us From Evil, I am always struck by the fact that the term the one woman uses for O'Grady is still "Father". It is a testament to the power of the socialization of this belief system. It is also a testament to the level of pain she still feels

Yesterday, I added Johnny Cash's God's Gonna Cut You Down. I just love that song. I so want it to be so, at times. I no longer believe in God, in heaven, in hell. I raised my children without any of these belief systems. However, I have no problem understanding why people do believe. Life sucks big time for many of us. I know that it isn't true, I know that there is no great cosmic payout. I know that there are some people who will never pay for the evil that they have done - mostly because they are able to justify within their own minds whatever they have done. (Generally speaking, I think we call them sociopaths!

On the other hand, part of me believes that what goes 'round, comes 'round - sometimes. As long as I don't think about it. Then I know it's a crock.

Jesus has been attributed with the words, "Let the dead bury the dead" (Matt. 8:22 - my youngest son's favourite gospel). I like to think of that as a mantra - one must leave the past in the past (and, trust me, I know that that is easier said than done). When the old is shown to be dead, one must let it go and find a new way to do things. There has always been a lot about the sayings of the prophet, Jesus that have been at the core of how I view the world. I probably raised my children as secular Jesus followers (if that is not an oxymoron - I don't happen to think it is. Jesus was no more a god than I am.).

But it sure would be nice to know that "God is gonna cut you down". In other words, to quote another of those sayings of my childhood, "be sure your sins will find you out". It all depends on what you think are sins.

Saturday 23 January 2010

Deliver Us From Evil: The Trailer

This is the trailer from Deliver Us From Evil. It is a perfect introduction to the full horror of what has been happening for centuries. It is only now that we can actually begin to understand what this does to believers.

Johnny Cash: God's Gonna Cut You Down

This is the song from the Trailer for Deliver Us From Evil

I tried to put it as a sidebar - like the Lucinda Williams, but it just won't work - it keeps bringing in all sorts of useless videos, so here it is for the future.

All the Usual Suspects

"The CHURCH has never erred, the CHURCH cannot err" (Pope Gregory VII, Dictates of the Pope)

And they ask why there is a problem.

So who are the usual suspects in the reviews of The Bishop's Man and society at large?

The Institution (or the people who run the church or the bureaucracy)
Yes, of course, because it let the priests (and, yes, nuns) get away with it for millennia. However, the problem is much deeper than the institutional nature of the Roman Catholic Church.

No, not even the fact that celibacy is not a choice for Roman Catholic priests, this plays no part in the sexual abuse of children. If celibacy were the problem, how can anyone account for all the men (and women) who are sexually active and still sexually abuse children?

Individual "sick" priests
Yes, of course, they did it. However, the institution has a responsibility for allowing them to do it. The people in the pews want these priests fired. The church hierarchy wants them gone - because they are an embarrassment.

The Unusual Suspect: The one that just doesn't enter into the equation
What does not seem to be questioned is the Christian belief system itself. After all, there is no shortage of Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox (and all the other types) Christian men and women who sexually abuse children.

Over the next few weeks, I will post on each of the usual suspects. Finally, I will look at the belief system itself.

Good old-fashioned Christianity: Just in case you thought things were going to change

Pope Francis used an offensive slur for gay men during a discussion with bishops, sources say. ope The Vatican apologized Tuesday “to those ...