Sunday, March 28, 2010

Texas' Terleton State University's Life Lesson: It's Easier to Burn than to Learn

     What would Jesus do if he were a Christian Republican in Texas and a student in a theatre class at a public university was doing a private class project composed of scenes from four plays, including the play Corpus Christi, that "tens and tens" of people were going to see?  Why he'd rile up the conservative masses, of course, to the point that rangers have to be called in to protect the students from angry, violence-threatening Christians, and he'd fan the flames of hatred until, for the safety of the students, the teacher cancels the class presentation. 

     This is the news coming from northern Texas and Terleton State University, where advanced directing student John Jordan Otte's choice to use a few scenes from the 1998 Terrence McNally play, Corpus Christi, in which, dog-forbid, Jesus and his disciples are portrayed as gay.  The private, in-class performance was canceled last night "after the school received a barrage of threatening calls and e-mails."

     The Star-Telegram reports the frightening level of hatred and threats that the school received:

     "Our department received calls of a threatening nature," he [drama professor Mark Holtorf] said. "I could not guarantee the security of my students. The administration was truly behind the academic exercise, but I could not justify the risk."  Officials announced Wednesday that the Corpus Christi performance would be moved from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday and staged before a restricted private audience. Campus police planned additional security.  But during the past three days, the threats "ratcheted up to such a degree, it made me nervous," Holtorf said, adding that the identities of those making the threats could not be determined. "One call was a fairly long rant of incredible expletives. It was a scary rant. It was actually frightening."
     So, once again, Christians threatening the sword, rather than offering the other cheek score another victory for their Gospel According to Hate and miss the opportunity to learn something that could have given them a deeper insight into their savior and the experience of those different than themselves.  No!  It's easier to burn than to learn. 

     Here are some politically powerful Texans' responses to the events at Terleton.

     "Every citizen is entitled to the freedom of speech, but no one should have the right to use government funds or institutions to portray acts that are morally reprehensible to the vast majority of Americans."
     Lt. Gov. Dave, does that mean that you support the use of public funding for abortion since the majority of Americans believe that abortion should be legal?  You must have supported the healthcare reform, since 77% of Americans supported a public option, which didn't get past thanks to lying Republicans (like you) and their myth of death panels.  Since the majority of Americans also are against the war in Iraq and want the troops removed, I'm sure you support that, too.  Also, a majority of Americans are against the use of torture, so I'm sure you don't support that.  And finally, the majority of Americans favor letting homosexuals serve openly in the military and they also don't think that consenting sex between two adults of the same sex is morally wrong, nor is it a moral issue.  You agree, right, or are you just a another conservative Republican Christian who doesn't practice what you preach?

     University President F. Dominic Dottavio published an opinion piece in the Star-Telegram in which he explained:
     Although the university had not endorsed the play, it had no legal basis for stopping it. But Dottavio made clear that he didn't like it.  "I see no artistic or redeeming quality in the work," he wrote. "I believe, as many have opined, that it is offensive, crude and irreverent."
     Way to stand by your students and faculty, while still fanning the conservative flames and egging on the threats to your students' safety, Dom!  You might want to recall the etymology of "university," which comes from the Latin universus, meaning "whole" or "entire."  A university education is meant to be whole, entire; universal.  The quest for true knowledge does not come by stifling freedom of speech, academic exploration, and artistic expression.  By fanning the flames of those attacking the universal education of your students, you do your "university" and your post a disservice. 

     Hillcrest Church of Christ Preacher David Harris stated the following in an interview with The 33 News in a segment titled "What would Jesus do?":
     "Evidently they've got an agenda and it's a readical homosexual agenda that is being promoted and I don't know whether Tarleton is gettin it or not but they are using them as a venue for it.  Just leave Christ alone that's all, just leave him alone and quit defaming him."
     Defaming Jesus?  What of the wars, hatred, murder, sexual abuse, slavery, rape, abuse of women, child abuse, and lies committed in Jesus' name? 

     Conservative religious people get mad when Jesus is portrayed as gay, but cultures all over the world have adapted Jesus to be like them. 

     How many different skin colors does Jesus come in?  How many different shaped faces does Jesus have?  How many different cultural styles of clothing does Jesus wear

     Artistic portrayals of Jesus are as diverse as the world's individual Christians.  So, why wouldn't homosexual Christians follow suit and portray Jesus as gay?  But, when that happens it's a sacrilege and blasphemous, "defaming" and "misrepresenting" the white, crystal-blue-eyed, northern European, Soloflex Jesus that so many fundamentalist Christians adore.

     Lost in the political posturing and religious condemnations was the student's reason for choosing Corpus Christi and what he was saying with the work.  In an on-air interview by Tarleton’s Texan News Service, student director Jon Otte said that:
     ...he picked the play because, as a gay Christian man, he could relate to it. He did not feel the script was blasphemous, but he said it was, in fact, tasteful. "Never did I choose this play to attack Christians." 
    He further stated:
     This play deals with [gay] subject matter, I believe in a tasteful way. ... I don't believe in a God who hates me for who I am.  Never did I choose this play to attack Christians. I am one. 
     Imagine what David Harris, David Dewhurst, and their conservative brood could have learned had they listened instead of demanding fagots and flames.

Image Credits:
Photos of police cars guarding the Terleton State event: Whitney Lee, of the Reporter-News
Photo of white Jesus with blue eyes, from the Roman Catholic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.; photo from Notes of an Anesthesioboist

The Catholic Church Should Make a Woman Pope to Prove it's Serious about Cleaning up Sexual Abuse

     After a week in which Pope Benedict has been exposed as an incompetent liar and perpetrator of coving up sexual abuse of children by his holy priests, is there anything that can the Catholic Church do to regain any sense of authority in the world?  The pope's calls for prayer, confession,  and finger pointing at evil, gays, nuns, and foreign bishops has failed to solve the problem. 

     Maureen Dowd of the New York Times has an idea.  She thinks the church should elect a Nope, that is, a nun for a pope.  Can you imagine the impact that would have on the world?  It would truly be the aggiornamento, the opening up of the musky Vatican drapes and letting in of the fresh breezes of change that John XXIII spoke of when he called the Second Vatican Council.  But, it's not going to happen. 

     Hypocrite Benedict, a.k.a. Ratzinger, a.k.a. god's rottweiler, will never step down.  He doesn't get it.  He's as corrupt  as the pedophiles and the self-serving bishops who covered for them.  He's as complacent as the majority of his flock, who sit blissfully in pews with their ethical blinders turned to abortion.  Ben's hands are soiled, but to him, his failure is just a moral failing that can be washed away with a little trip to the confessional followed by a swallow of Jesus at the altar.

     Still, it's fun to dream.  Imagine a woman becoming pope.  Some claim that it's happened before, with Pope Joan, but most Catholics think she's just a legend.  Dowd's hope for a Nope is a fantasy, but there's nothing wrong with dreaming in political satire.

    Pope Benedict has continued the church’s ban on female priests and is adamant against priests’ having wives. He has started two investigations of American nuns to check on their “quality of life” — code for seeing if they’ve grown too independent. As a cardinal he wrote a Vatican document urging women to be submissive partners and not take on adversarial roles toward men.  But the completely paternalistic and autocratic culture of Il Papa led to an insular, exclusionary system that failed to police itself, and that became a corrosive shelter for secrets and shame.
    If the church could throw open its stained glass windows and let in some air, invite women to be priests, nuns to be more emancipated and priests to marry, if it could banish criminal priests and end the sordid culture of men protecting men who attack children, it might survive. It could be an encouraging sign of humility and repentance, a surrender of arrogance, both moving and meaningful.
     Cardinal Ratzinger devoted his Vatican career to rooting out any hint of what he considered deviance. The problem is, he was obsessed with enforcing doctrinal orthodoxy and somehow missed the graver danger to the most vulnerable members of the flock.  The sin-crazed “Rottweiler” was so consumed with sexual mores — issuing constant instructions on chastity, contraception, abortion — that he didn’t make time for curbing sexual abuse by priests who were supposed to pray with, not prey on, their young charges. 
    American bishops have gotten politically militant in recent years, opposing the health care bill because its language on abortion wasn’t vehement enough, and punishing Catholic politicians who favor abortion rights and stem cell research. They should spend as much time guarding the kids already under their care as they do championing the rights of those who aren’t yet born.
    The nuns have historically cleaned up the messes of priests. And this is a historic mess. Benedict should go home to Bavaria. And the cardinals should send the white smoke up the chimney, proclaiming “Habemus Mama.”
Image Credits:
Pope Joan covers by Serendipitous Readings and Amazon.com
The Female Pope cover by the authors' homepage (Pardoe)

If You Are Good without god, Come out on Facebook

     Are you good without god?


     This week on Facebook, those who choose no religion are posting As all across Facebook to show that the world is full of people who are good without god and don't need religion to influence their lives.
     Go to http://www.aweekonfacebook.com/ for more information and to download your scarlet letter A.

Priest Never Punished by Pope Used the god-Trap to Sexually Abuse Deaf Boys in Wisconsin

     Some of the survivors of the sexual abuse perpetrated by Father Lawrence Murphy, who was spared defrocking by Pope Benedict XVI's Vatican office in the 1990s are speaking out. 

     If you are one of the people still giving money to the Catholic Church, still giving your undying devotion to the pope and the ecclesial system that has tried to bury this sex scandal for generations, you need to listen to every victim's story.  This is the system that you finance and empower.

     It's tragically apparent that Father Murphy (I can still respectfully call him Father, since the pope never defrocked him.) and so many like him used their priestly power as an intermediary between children and the Catholic god to prey upon the trust and sexual naivety of children.  In Murphy's case, the victims include about 200 boys at St. John's School for the Deaf outside Milwaukee.


     Steve Geier, now 51:
     Geier said when he told Murphy what was happening was wrong, the priest replied, "Oh, yes. God sent me. This is confession.  Father Murphy put everything into the context of God," Geier said through a sign-language interpreter Thursday. "I felt like I was really brainwashed."
     Geier shook his fist in anger as he talked to The Associated Press about Muprhy. "I can't believe (the pope) can be so stupid," Geier said. "He is supposed to be doing God's work and yet abusing children is in direct conflict with that. ... Where is God's punishment for Father Murphy abusing all those boys? Is that kind of behavior acceptable to God?"
     It's the kind of behavior that is apparently acceptable to the Vicar of Christ, Hypocrite Ben, who spared the rod and spoiled the pedophile-priest.

     Arthur Budzinski, now 61:
     At the age of 12, he asked Murphy to hear his confession. Instead, Budzinski said, the priest took him into a closet under the stairs and sexually assaulted him. There were two other assaults in Murphy's bedroom and Budzinski's bed in his dormitory room, he said.  "It seemed like my father would be walking into a trap every time," said Gigi Budzinski, his 26-year-old daughter who interpreted his sign language.
     A trap indeed!  That is how sexual predators operate.  They groom victims, friends, family, coworker, and entire communities setting their sexual traps.  Confession is the perfect opportunity, as a priest-predator not only has his victim trapped in a confined space, but also trapped within the confines of guilt and fear that their god is condemning them to hell.  The victim is vulnerable to whatever Father orders, for Catholics are taught to venerate, trust, and obey their priestly fathers.

     Donald Marshall, now 45:
     ...said Murphy visited him several times a week at the center, where he was sent at age 13 for burglary. Marshall said the abused happened when the priest visited the boy while he was isolated in a cell after a fight.  "He was sitting on my bed, reading the Bible to me, and he put his hand on my knee," Marshall said. "He leaned over and started kissing me. That's when he tried to put his hand down my pants."
     Scripture and tradition are the Catholic way, tradition of abusing others with scripture that is

     The AP article goes on to state:
     One of the documents, written by the Rev. Thomas Brundage of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and dated October 1997, said some of Murphy's assaults began in the confessional, where he began by asking the boys about their being circumcised. Brundage said at least 100 boys were involved.  "Odds are that this situation may very well be the most horrendous, number-wise, and especially because these are physically challenged, vulnerable people," Brundage wrote.
     This is just one more reason for Catholics to stop mutilating their infant son's genitalia.  Why do Catholics continue this barbaric and unnecessary ritual?  They are not Jewish.  There is no Catholic soteriological need for circumcision, yet they keep putting their beloved boys (who are supposedly perfectly formed in god's image) through this painful and mutilating practice.  Oh, but it's for hygiene purposes.  Why aren't the uncircumcised dropping over dead by the millions because of their dangerous foreskin?  Why are women still having sex with them around the world?  Catholics strip their boys of their protective layers from the start, physically and sexually.
     Budzinski said that when he was 26, he and two others victimized by Murphy went to police. E. Michael McCann, then the Milwaukee County district attorney, said his office couldn't file charges because the six-year statute of limitations had run out.
     The law here is ridiculous.  Statute of limitations concerning sexual assault and rape are asinine, as if a child or an adult who has been victimized is supposed to be able to work through the trauma and psychological shattering that such abuse causes on some sort of prescribed time frame.  "If you miss your window, too bad.  We'll just let the perpetrator continue to abuse others, but we're not responsible.  You should have told us sooner."

     So, the perpetrator is let off the hook, by the civil authorities and by Pope Ben.  Now isn't that a god and church in which you want to believe and offer your undying obedience and devotion?  If you do, don't be surprised when it's your child, sibling, nephew, cousin, or friend who's being abused or the one working through it as an adult. 

     Of course, you can always blame the victim.  Condemn them for leaving the church and seeing through the facade of your god.  That's much easier, and with your god and Gospel According to Hate on your side, you can ensure that innocent children and vulnerable adults will continue to be sexually assaulted, raped, and exploited in your god's name for generations to come.

Image Credit: AP and Comcast.net