The next time you find yourself a little too high on the sweet sugar of life, precipitate a crash with some grand jury duty time.  I prescribe about 3 1/2 weeks.  Guaranteed to take the civic duty righteousness right out of you.

Which is to say that I’m just back at this beloved desk after spending grinding, disenchanting weeks in the Brooklyn courthouse.  If you didn’t notice I was even gone, you (and I!) have Nora Connor, Ashley Baxstrom and Amy Levin to thank for keeping the lights on.  They too should not get another summons for about 10 years.

Jim Davis sent me his latest for the Sun Sentinel.  An obituary of sorts for bishop Anthony J. O’Connell.  In the article headline, Davis calls O’Connell a “former Palm prelate,” which my semi-literal mind ran away with.  O’Connell, after all, had busy hands.  He was the second Palm Beach priest to admit to sexual misconduct, after Bishop J. Keith Symons, his immediate predecessor.

From Amy Levin’s recent post at Feminism and Religion:

I think it is important for any serious reflection of feminism and religion to take seriously both the liberating possibilities of liberalism, as well as the ideological limits it imposes. As feminists, religious or secular, we have always had to be cautious of rallying under the aegis of a shared experience, and yet our experiences of living in patriarchal cultures are what draw us together from both the left and the right.

The Immanent Frame has running an absolutely must read! series on the politics of religious freedom.  Today’s contribution is a post by Ann Pellegrini (a friend and faculty member of Religious Studies here at NYU; her office is just a few doors down) about the 1947 Supreme Court case Everson v. Board of Education.  Ann writes that the case was the first to hold that “the disestablishment provision of the First Amendment is binding on the states, and not just on the federal government.”  She continues:

On the one hand, this geographic shift has meant that formalized practices of religious establishment in individual states are henceforth subject to scrutiny and challenge. On the other, the application of the disestablishment principle to the states has also contributed, I’d argue, to the plaints of many Christians that a monolithically secular state is driving religion from public life. What we have is a regionalization of public conflicts over the place of religion and religious people in public life and in the state. This “and” is necessary, for the public is not the state—a confusion that regularly trips up public debates about the meaning and practice of religious freedom in the United States.

The rather supercilious (and surprisingly unread) First Things blogger Matthew J. Franck dragged Wendell Berry’s April 23 Jefferson Lecture at the Kennedy Center through the fields.  At Crisis Magazine, Christopher Shannon says not so fast.  Shannon writes, “Where one stands on [Wendell] Berry says a lot about where one stands on Catholicism and America, or more precisely on Catholicism in America.”

Speaking of court:  A recent case of sexual abuse in a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn reached the pages of the New York Times this week.  The story hook?  The community has hazed Mordechai Jungreis for reporting his son’s abuse to the police.  He’s lost his apartment, he’s hounded with menacing phone calls, even the parents of other victims have criticized his report of the crime.  Sharon Otterman and Ray Rivera write:

Their communities, headed by dynastic leaders called rebbes, strive to preserve their centuries-old customs by resisting the contaminating influences of the outside world. While some ultra-Orthodox rabbis now argue that a child molester should be reported to the police, others strictly adhere to an ancient prohibition against mesirah, the turning in of a Jew to non-Jewish authorities, and consider publicly airing allegations against fellow Jews to be chillul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name.

The soon-to-be-former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has found time in his schedule to write an article for Prospect Magazine (reprinted online here) about the blood donation system and how it constitutes “a large-scale redistribution of blood form the poor to the rich.”