Advent is a time of hope, of anticipation, of waiting for the celebration of the coming of God among us, of waiting for the time when God will come again to make all things new. We await the age to come, we await the remembrance of the past that inaugurated that future age, and we do it every year. Advent, especially, reveals the circular, spiraling nature of liturgical time, as it begins the new liturgical year in the same way every year.

This year, Advent finds me surrounded by things that have not been done, that are not going to get done, because grief slows me down and tires me out and makes everything harder.

This year, I am gratefully conscious that Jesus comes down from heaven into our occupied cities, our mucky stables, our messy houses, our fraying lives. He doesn’t require that we dress up for company or make ready for royalty, which is good because I’d like to but I can’t. All he asks is that we welcome him into the middle of our mess, so that he can abide with us.

That… that I can do.

Come, Lord Jesus.

O come, o come Emmanuel
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

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The Ragamuffin Parade

During the second half of the 19th century, Thanksgiving traditions in America varied from region to region . . . In New York City, people would dress up in fanciful masks and costumes and roam the streets in merry-making mobs. By the beginning of the 20th century, these mobs had morphed into “ragamuffin parades” consisting mostly of children dressed as “ragamuffins” in costumes of old and mismatched adult clothes and with deliberately smudged faces, but by the late 1950s the tradition had vanished entirely.[29]

Source: Thanksgiving (United States) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

citing [29] Nigro, Carmen. “Thanksgiving Ragamuffin Parade“, a blog post which is full of comments attesting to the scattered persistence of the Ragamuffin tradition, either begging or parading, past the 1950s.

When I was in 4th grade, which was my second year at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic school in Jackson Heights, NY (I’d been on the waiting list since kindergarten), my school either held or participated in a Ragamuffin Parade. It seemed to be a well-established tradition, but it must have been an extremely localized one, because my mother, who had grown up in East Elmhurst, an adjacent walking-distance neighborhood, seemed never to have heard of it.

Our costumes were required to be home-made, and they were definitely not supposed to be scary: so no re-using Halloween costumes. We were also supposed to be, well, ragamuffin-y, although this was not as strict a requirement.

My mother brilliantly dressed me as “Cinderella after midnight”: raggedy clothes, ashes besmirching my face, my hands reddened as if from hours of scrubbing, and carrying the bright orange pumpkin-shaped candy carrier, with three large plastic rats poking out of it. I seem to recall that my hands were red from the cold, too! It was the only costume she ever made for me (home-made craftiness not being one of her strengths), and it’s a very fond memory.

(My little brother, less interestingly, was dressed as one of the three kings, wearing a crown and carrying a gold brick, that is, a cardboard brick wrapped in gold tinfoil – to my astonishment, because I’d thought that tinfoil only came in silver. In retrospect, it was probably gold foil wrapping paper… even less interesting!)

As I recall, this was a school-wide activity, at least for the younger grades. Somewhere, I believe I have a picture that was taken of the whole lot of us in the schoolyard before we set off.

We moved from New York to Rhode Island the following summer, in 1970, so I have no later data – I don’t know whether this was the tradition’s last gasp, or why there had been no parade (or had I just not participated?) the first year I’d been enrolled. (I know it was the second year, because my brother was there too: when I was in 3rd grade, he was in kindergarten, and Fatima started with 1st grade.)

I’ve always remembered marching in the Ragamuffin Parade — well, we didn’t march in this parade, you wouldn’t expect ragamuffins to march, now would you? we sort of straggled along in a vaguely chaotic crowd — but I couldn’t remember when it was, and I don’t think I’d ever been told the context or given a reason. (Since when do kids need a reason to dress up and play around, right?)

But I was thinking about it tonight & it occurred to me that the internet probably knew — and lo and behold, it did! I’m fascinated to discover that it was such a local custom.

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Pope Francis, Kim Davis, and the Care of Souls

During the time between the announcement, made mere hours after the his departure from the US, that Pope Francis had secretly met with Kim Davis, and Friday’s official statement from the Vatican clarifying the nature and implications of the meeting, there was a flurry blizzard of press coverage, speculation, and astute analysis from experienced Vatican-watchers.

Much of the discussion that I saw was focused on internal church politics, because that seemed, and indeed turned out to be, the relevant interpretive lens through which to make sense of the meeting with Davis in light of everything else that Francis had said and done during his trip.

What prompted this post was the coincidental appearance of a tweet and an email on my screen within minutes of each other on Wednesday, at which point the meeting had been confirmed by the Vatican with no comment but no other information was yet forthcoming. A theologian I follow on Twitter asked:

and a friend of mine, Doug, wrote in an email (emphasis mine):
Continue reading

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I haven’t been following all the Pope coverage, but there were a few things from today’s Pope news that I thought I’d comment on. Note that I’m mostly watching this on Twitter.

Interfaith Blessings

I was delighted that Wednesday’s speech began with prayers for the Jewish people on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. What a terrific example! I always think we Christians should be praying for those of other faiths during their holy days. This past Sunday, my parish (which worships in an interfaith center) had mass in our usual space but with most of the statues, stations of the cross, etc, missing. At the end of mass, the pastor explained that this was because one of the Jewish communities was celebrating the High Holy Days in our space (because their usual space wasn’t big enough. Apparently Jewish communities also have folks they only see once or twice a year!), so we undecorated for them. That’s terrific; but it makes me sad that even when we share our space with our Jewish sisters & brothers, we don’t think to pray for them in our General Intercessions.

Then Thursday evening at St Patrick’s, he began by praying for Muslims, especially for the hundreds of pilgrims who were killed on hajj to Mecca, and asking our prayers for them as well. That’s not surprising from Pope Francis; but it’s depressingly remarkable when considered as speech by a public figure in the US, especially in Manhattan.

Let’s also pray for an end to Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry.

Four Americans with a Dream

In his speech to Congress, the Pope lifted up four Americans each of whom had a dream: Continue reading

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Natural Law and the Gender Bimodal

Observing the world

Moral arguments based on natural law always begin by observing the world, because it is an axiom of natural law that God’s intended purposes can be discerned by careful study of the world.

It is therefore clear that doctrine derived from natural law will naturally develop as our observations of the world become more comprehensive and more detailed over time, and we discover aspects of creation of which we were previously unaware.

The ancient Israelites who wrote the book of Genesis, observing the world around them and interpreting the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through their cultural perspective, saw that humans, like other mammals, were anatomically differentiated between females, most of whom were for part of their lives capable of conceiving and bearing offspring, and males, most of whom were for part of their lives capable of siring offspring. Thus, their inspired creation myths declared that human beings were created by God in God’s own image and likeness, “male and female God created them” (Gen 1:27); and that the primordial human couple from whom the race must have descended were a man and a woman who came together to form an enduring, intimate relationship (Gen 2:24).

Twenty-first century Christians, observing the world around us with modern technology and the scientific method, can see things that were entirely unknown to humans until a mere century or two ago.

Anatomy is outcome, not ontology

Specifically, we know much, much more about human physiology and reproduction. We know about genetics and chromosomes. We know that a Y chromosome is necessary for the development of male anatomy. We also know that it is not sufficient: a human fetus with a Y chromosome that is not exposed to the proper hormones at the proper time will not develop male anatomy. We know that chromosomal differences give rise to hormonal as well as anatomical differences. We know that some humans have three or even four sex chromosomes instead of only two. We know that chromosomes can be damaged and that genes can mutate. We know that some humans are chimeras: their bodies contain more than one genetic signature, presumably the result of multiple conceptions, only one of which ultimately survived, after having absorbed material from the others.

Distributions, not binaries

We know that the anatomical differences distinguishing males and females, like most if not all human characteristics, vary within the population. If you measure human characteristics, including the genitalia of human infants, you’ll get bell curves, not delta functions.

It seems to come naturally to human thought, or at least to Western thought, influenced as it is by Plato and his successors, to think about the world in terms of ideal or prototypical forms: whether we’re talking about a bird, a cat, or a human, we imagine that there is some standard, normal form, and then that all the actual instances we see are interpreted as variations from that norm.

But that’s not how the world works. Continue reading

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Blogiversary: Four Whole Years?!

Cake with four candlesI started blogging four years ago today this past Friday, 4 September. Given what the past year has been like, it’s annoyingly appropriate that my blogiversary post is late. :b

This last year has been a particularly slow one; I’ve blogged less than ever, only 34 posts this year down from 78 the year before. This has been partly for reasons discussed in my last post, and partly because I haven’t figured out how to prioritize my blogging in the absence of semester constraints and in the presence of so much going on in the world and the church that’s worth blogging about.

I do have a handful of pieces in various stages of completion, and a couple dozen more “oh I should blog about that” starters, so I’m hopeful I can get back into the swing of things this year. However, if anyone has any favorite topics or things you’ve been wishing I would blog about, do let me know – maybe that will help me prioritize.

Only one of this year’s top 10 posts was written this year; it ranked 6th (excluding the Home and About pages), and it has the most comments of any post on my blog:

The Purpose of Marriage: Gen 1 or Gen 2?

The rest of the top ten are all strong performers from previous years. The top three are clearly student-driven: yay, students! I hope you found something helpful (and remembered to cite it correctly ;) )
Continue reading

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Requiem for a Never-Ending Conversation: Remembering Mark

One week ago last night, I watched as one of my best friends died.

Longtime readers of this blog knew him as commenter Mark S.

Mark was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer in early 2013.

But our conversation had begun years before that, not long after my manager had hired him. He was passing by my office when he heard me laughing while delightedly telling my officemate that the American Academy of Religion was devoting an entire session at their upcoming conference to discuss whether or not Pastafarianism — the cultus of the Flying Spaghetti Monster — qualified as an actual religion. He backtracked a couple of steps, stood at the doorway listening till I wound down, and then said, “Wait… what? You obviously take your religion pretty seriously – you have a flyer for a religion lecture on your bulletin board – but you’re laughing about the Flying Spaghetti Monster?”

In retrospect I can hear him thinking, “Don’t you know the FSM was made up by a bunch of atheists who are mocking you? You’re supposed to be offended, not amused. What kind of a Christian *are* you?”

So I burbled on a bit about how fabulous I thought it was that religious studies people could use the FSM as a test particle to probe the definition of “religion.” He said, “That’s interesting, I’d like to hear more about that – maybe we can have lunch sometime and talk about it.” And so our conversation began.

I don’t think he’d ever met an irreverent religious person before. A few months later, after a set of office moves had placed us next to each other in a bullpen, I told him one of my favorite Catholic jokes. When I got to the punchline, he laughed so hard he almost fell off his chair, then looked at me with an expression of real shock on his face and said, “I think they’re supposed to burn you at the stake after that!” (At which point *I* laughed so hard I almost fell off my chair.)

That summer was the beginning of our afternoon conversation walks. We had started to design a test management and reporting system — I wanted a tool that would help me monitor & investigate data-dependent failures in the hundreds of tests I was writing for a software package we were commissioning, and he wanted a tool that would simplify his daily chore of running & checking the status of an increasingly disparate set of the branch’s nightly tests. The building we were in was so cold that I suggested we go outside for our design discussions. So we’d go out and work for a while, either while we walked or after we’d found a good place to sit; and after we’d done about as much as we could do in one session, we’d take a break and talk philosophy before we went back inside. The next set of office moves placed us as officemates in a warm sunny office, so we didn’t need to go outside to warm up anymore. But almost every afternoon, we’d take a break to go for a walk (weather permitting) and talk philosophy.

“Philosophy” — well, that’s what he called it. It was our shorthand for conversation that ranged widely through ethics, evolution, theology, sociology, morality, science, science fiction (especially Star Trek) and beyond. We were always sending each other email with ideas or links to articles that would make good “conversation fodder.” He was especially interested human nature, in the history of warfare, and in what he considered the peculiar notion of “rules of war.” If the course I was taking that semester focused on moral theology or theological anthropology, I’d often send him my short homework papers so we could talk about them.

Mark was not the first atheist with whom I had discussed religion, of course, but his willingness and ability to enter into my theistic Christian Catholic worldview, in an attempt to understand, to empathize, and to ask probing and productive questions, was unmatched in my experience. We both appreciated the intellectual stimulation of being asked questions we hadn’t previously considered, or challenged on assumptions or inconsistencies we hadn’t noticed we possessed — the kinds of questions that can only be asked by a worldview outsider. The kind that keep you honest.

Sometimes we talked about why and how it was that our friendship, and our never-ending conversation, had blossomed and borne fruit (okay, that metaphor is all mine – he didn’t do metaphor), given that the more usual result of Christian-atheist discourse is incomprehension at best, acrimony at worst. We agreed that the key was our mutual respect and trust: it’s impossible to have an authentic conversation about things that matter deeply to you if you’re always wondering whether and when your conversation partner is going to turn on you.

Part of that trust was that neither of us ever tried to convert the other: that was built into the conversation right from the beginning. Oh, we each hoped that the other might come around, but we knew it was very unlikely. We’d explored the reasons for our belief and unbelief early on in the conversation, of course. He concluded that I was a rather compartmentalized thinker, and there were elements of my worldview that were simply incomprehensible to him, but he admired the seriousness with which I thought about and practiced my religion. I concluded that there was evidence available to me that was either unavailable to him or that he did not consider reliable, but I understood his reasoning, and I admired his unflinching dedication to the pursuit of truth. We occasionally talked about writing an article about it together; I wish we had. But then, there are so many things I wish we had done.

We had been good friends for several years on the day he said “Let’s go for a walk, I have something to tell you,” and told me that his annual physical had turned up something that looked like it was going to be very serious, either cancer or something equally grave; and that he didn’t know anything else yet, he needed to have more tests done. A few weeks later, we went for another walk, and he told me they’d determined it was definitely prostate cancer, but he needed more tests to determine how far it had spread; basically, he said, if it was still confined to the prostate then it was curable; otherwise, it was not. I walked with him, both literally and metaphorically, as he talked to doctor after doctor, having to recite what was going on over and over again each time. I walked with him during the unbearable days while he waited for the phone call with the test results that would tell him whether he was going to die. And I was in the office with him when he got that phone call: he hung up the phone, said “It got out,” and buried his face in his hands.

That was February, 2013. He was 49.

The thing about prostate cancer is that there are several hormone suppressant treatments, each operating in a slightly different way, that can slow or even temporarily reverse the growth of the cancer. But the thing about these treatments is, each one eventually stops working, and there’s no way to tell when that’s going to happen. There’s anecdata about patients that live for 10, 15 years on these treatments — every doctor we talked to had one; but the median survival time is 5 years, and you know there have to be some awfully short numbers to bring the median down to 5. Most men get prostate cancer significantly later in life, and it progresses slowly enough that many die from some other cause; men who are diagnosed young tend to have an extremely aggressive form of the cancer, as Mark did.

So most of the past two and a half years have been an ongoing series of cycles structured by the once-every-three-months blood test results that would tell whether the current treatment had stopped working, with the corresponding significant reduction in the amount of time he would have left. It felt like a continual series of crises. And it gave me a whole new understanding of “walking in the valley of the shadow of death.”

I am profoundly grateful that he was able to come to my graduation last year: because my academic work had been so integrally woven through my conversation with him.

Our friendship, which had been mostly confined to the office, went into high gear after his diagnosis: I started to hang out with Mark and his wife Carolyn on evenings and weekends, and we started carpooling one or two days a week — preferably on days with bad traffic, so we’d have more time for conversation. I was driving us home on one of those early carpool days when he said, “I’ve noticed you haven’t said you’re praying for me; though you told me you were praying for my dad when he was diagnosed with dementia. So I figured you were probably doing it anyway, but just not saying anything about it out of respect for my beliefs.”
“Pretty much,” I said. “It just really Did Not Seem Like the Time for your Christian friend to shove her beliefs in your face.”
“I appreciate that,” he said. “But I wanted to let you know, it’s okay for you to talk about it, if you want to, or if it would naturally come up in conversation.”
Given that opening, I talked a bit about an insight I’d just had a day or two before: I’d been so busy praying for him, that I’d forgotten to pray for *myself*, that I would have the grace and strength to best support him through this, and to get through it myself.
“Does it help?” he asked. “Yes, it does seem to,” I replied.

And I was so touched that he remembered that; and, over the next weeks and months when I would occasionally break down and cry, my atheist friend would say to me,”Hey… don’t forget to pray for yourself. Somebody told me once that was helpful.”

Mark maintained a normal work schedule as much as possible throughout; he told me early on that he wanted to live as normal a life as possible. The cancer was going to take away thirty years he’d expected to live; he didn’t want to give it anything else. Work was also a helpful distraction; he’d rather come to work and think about programming than sit around at home all day thinking about the cancer.

It was my honor and privilege to be the person at work that he could talk to, as he struggled to absorb and cope with the fact that he was dying; or reflected on what his legacy would be; or researched the next available treatment options, and how much time they might buy him; or struggled with the socially ubiquitous greeting “How are you?” to which no one actually wanted to hear the answer “I’m dying.” I knew, too, that part of my job was to help with the living a normal life and the distraction: I collected conversation fodder even more assiduously, so I always had something ready when he’d say, “That’s enough depressing stuff for now… can we talk about something else?”

All the treatments had side effects, most noticeably fatigue. Our afternoon walks necessarily became slower, then shorter, and eventually stopped altogether; this year, we mostly took our afternoon breaks sitting in the cafeteria or on the terrace, but still talking all the while.

In February, there were some indications that the last available suppressant treatment was starting to be less effective on certain tumor sites, and he had a course of radiation treatment for several weeks to shrink a tumor that was causing him pain. In mid-May, the results of a diagnostic scan he’d had to see if he qualified for a clinical trial made it shockingly clear that the cancer had progressed to his liver (“large tumor”) and lungs (“innumerable lesions”). He immediately scheduled a round of chemotherapy, to try to kill off some of it; the night before starting chemo, he broke a rib – the one that had been weakened by a very large tumor. (They said he should go ahead with the chemo anyway.) While recovering from the chemo, he scheduled two more radiation treatments, both in an attempt to keep the cancer from getting to his spine and causing paralysis.

After that, his decline was shockingly rapid. At the end of June, he was no longer well enough to come to the office every day, and decided to transition to nearly full-time telecommuting; after a couple weeks, he realized he no longer had the energy even to keep up with email, and went on disability. In mid-July, we hoped that his symptoms were side effects of the chemo and radiation that he’d recover from after a few weeks.

At the end of July, he started home hospice care. A week later, the hospice people told us that, based on what they were seeing, they wouldn’t be surprised if he died within a week or two. In the middle of that week, he rallied for a couple of days: he had enough energy that thursday to visit with several of us from work, and even advise on a technical problem. But the next day, he declined again, and it was clear he was in his final days.

A couple of days later, Mark and I said our goodbyes, sadly and solemnly (well, mostly solemnly: he did say to me, “I’m glad I could be the atheist friend who wasn’t a dick about it.”), and with gratitude for the gifts of our friendship. And I said to him, with a sad smile, because I had said it to him so many times over the years, “And if I’m right… I’ll see you in heaven.”

A few days after that, on the evening of Saturday, August 15th, the feast of the Assumption, I watched and prayed as he breathed his last.

I have always described our friendship as a never-ending conversation. Now, I must find other words.

May the angels lead him into Paradise,
May the choirs of martyrs welcome him
And lead him to the holy city,
The new and eternal Jerusalem.
May he come to be
where Lazarus is poor no longer.
May he find eternal rest.
May he find eternal rest.

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Amazing Grace: the President preaches in the Black Church

I’d heard that President Obama delivered the eulogy for State Senator Rev. Clementa Pinckney; but that doesn’t begin to describe the sermon he preached.

I would especially encourage white Christians who are unfamiliar with the black church, to take half an hour and listen to this sermon, which inspired even a black atheist. It gave me a much greater appreciation of the central role that the black church has played in the African American community since the days of slavery, and also some insight into the liturgical and preaching style of the black church.

Let me reassure my Catholic readers that there is much you will find familiar in the sermon, although it is expressed in different ways: a call to “express God’s grace” where we would say “cooperate with God’s grace so that it bears fruit in our lives”, for example. But I heard nothing alien, and much to which I could say Amen.

For those who’d like to read more about the black church in America, this article by Michele M. Simmsparris on the significance of black church burnings is excellent: it necessarily explains the historical role of the black church in order to explain the significance of attacks on these churches.

I’d actually started this blog post a day or so after the funeral for Rev. Pinckney, and meant to post it then. But as it turns out, I think it is a helpful reflection for the Fourth of July, as we consider when and how this nation has, and has not, lived up to its professed acknowledgement that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights for all persons; and especially how white Americans have, at best, been willingly ignorant of the ways in which other white Americans have conspired to deny these rights to our black sisters and brothers, whether by more or less covert acts of racism, or by acts of terrorism like the Charleston massacre and the subsequent burning of black churches across the south.

America, America,
God mend thine every flaw:
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

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Love wins: Lectionary Reflection

A lectionary reflection for the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B, in light of the recent Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.


All of creation is good. None of it is bad or destructive.

No human beings are ontologically ordered towards evil.

For he fashioned all things that they might have being;
and the creatures of the world are wholesome,
and there is not a destructive drug among them

2 Corinthians:

(…Pause for a moment here, and remember that the church of Corinth, to whom Paul is writing here, was perpetually plagued by factionalism and divisiveness.)
Continue reading

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On the #AMEShooting in Charleston, SC

On Wednesday, June 17, an avowed white supremacist went to a Wednesday night Bible study and prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in Charleston, South Carolina: a historic church, the oldest black church south of Baltimore. The young man, who is white, was welcomed into the circle by its African American pastor and church members. The service continued.

After about an hour, he shot them.

He killed nine. Two survived by playing dead. He deliberately left one alive so she could tell what had happened, what he had said, that he had killed them because they were black, and black people “have to go.”

There are some things you have to know in order to fully appreciate the symbolism of this act. You have to know that the African Methodist Episcopal church was founded by black Christians who boldly followed the Good News of the gospel out of the segregated white churches and into congregations of their own. You have to know that this AME church, fondly called Mother Emanuel church, was founded by Denmark Vesey, and was later burned to the ground in the wake of rumours that he was planning a slave uprising and flight to Haiti. You have to know that this AME church was founded when chattel slavery was still legal in the United States. You have to know that the shooting occurred just two days before the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, the day when the last slaves in the United States finally found out they were free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

And you have to tell anybody who claims that this massacre is evidence that Christians are persecuted that they are full of shit. This was an act of white supremacist terrorism. The perpetrator was quite explicit about it.

I’m sorry. I don’t have anything else to say.

Please pray for the nine African American men and women who died, who surely went straight from having welcomed the stranger into the arms of Jesus:
– Cynthia Hurd
– Susie Jackson
– Ethel Lance
– Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor
– Rev. Clementa Pinckney, pastor and state senator
– Tywanza Sanders
– Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr
– Rev. Sharonda Singleton
– Myra Thompson

Pray for their families, friends, loved ones, congregation. Pray for all the black people in this country that this act was intended to terrorize. Pray that God will comfort and console them.

Pray for their killer, for his associates, and for all white supremacists, that God will convert their hearts to repentance for their evil.

Pray for the United States & all who live here, especially those of us who are white, that God will move us and shake us so that we may finally confront and repent of our racist history, structures, institutions, and unconscious biases, and commit to acting for justice.

Please, read the links, and share your own prayers or resources in the comments.

Essential reading for white Catholics:

Confessing Our Vicious History: White Catholics and Violence Against Black Churches | WIT.

Any white Catholic response to the slaughter of these black Christians must begin by confessing that while black churches all over the United States struggled for freedom, white Catholic dioceses throughout the South were owning black slaves as a corporate body. Wealthy white Catholics sometimes deeded slaves to their dioceses in their wills.

Essential reading for all Christians: what the AME church asks. Includes address for donations.

More Catholic reflections:

Praise and Lament: That We May Protect Life and Beauty | Daily Theology.

From Cheerful Recklessness to Sobriety: ‘Laudato Si’’ and Charleston | America Magazine.

Between Laudato Si’ and Black Lives Matter | The Jesuit Post.

[Pope Francis] argues that praising the God of creation includes being willing to challenge and transform systems, institutions, and our own patterns of comfort and consumption that fail to respect our duty to care for the planet and for each other. “Human life is itself a gift,” he says, “which must be defended from various forms of debasement.”

A Tale of Two Churches | Commonweal Magazine.

n the same way, the fact that the church targeted last night was another such community—a community not just of Americans and Christians, but of black Americans and black Christians—makes the shooting a very different sort of event than it would have been otherwise.

What did we expect? #BlackLivesMatter | Daily Theology.

What did we expect when, time and time and time again, the largest unified Christian denomination in the United States–Roman Catholicism–failed to consistently and vehemently repudiate the defilement of the human body that is racism in all its forms? What did we expect when the confederate flag is flown freely? What did we expect when gun laws remained lax, and racial tensions continued to grow? What did we expect would incur from the silence of the Church?

Becoming a Better Friend to Job | Daily Theology.

What must I do to be a better friend to Job, to be in solidarity with African Americans whose mourning and anger this week is the newest page in a long book of suffering?

More responses to the massacre:
What I Need You to Say in Response to the Shooting in Charleston | Osheta Moore.

Murder in Charleston: The Episcopal Church Must Respond.

Anti-racist resources:
Where to start when you’re afraid to talk about race | between worlds.

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