My wish list for the week includes a review copy of “The Harrisburg 7 and the New Catholic Left,” now reissued after first publication forty years ago. First published in 1972, author William O’Rourke chronicles anti-war activists Eqbal Ahmad, Philip Berrigan, Elizabeth McAlister, Neil McLaughlin, Anthony Scoblick, and Joseph Wenderoth through charges by the U.S. government for “conspiring to raid federal offices, to bomb government property, and to kidnap presidential advisor Henry Kissinger.” One can only wish they had been successful on the latter.
My recommended follow of the week: Maud Newton. Here’s part of a quote she posted yesterday, “Bertrand Russell on the implications of Protestantism”:
The Catholic Church was derived from three sources. Its sacred history was Jewish, its theology was Greek, its government and canon law were, at least indirectly, Roman… In Catholic doctrine, divine revelation did not end with the scriptures, but continued from age to age through the medium of the Church, to which, therefore, it was the duty of the individual to submit his private opinions. Protestants, on the contrary, rejected the Church as a vehicle of revelation; truth was to be sought only in the Bible, which each man could interpret for himself. If men differed in their interpretation, there was no divinely appointed authority to decide the dispute. In practice, the State claimed the right that had formerly belonged to the Church, but this was a usurpation. In Protestant theory, there should be no earthly intermediary between the soul and God.
Get bit by a shark, become a professional surfer anyway, star in a tacky movie, consider yourself the nation’s moral conscience. Bethany Hamilton, star of “Soul Surfer,” is the new spokesperson for National Back to Church Sunday.
Our founding editor, Jeff Sharlet, has a review of Christopher Hitchen’s posthumous collection of essays, “Mortality,” at Bookforum this month.
Jacques Berlinerblau, who writes about religion, politics and secularism, has a new book out, “How to be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom.” Catch his youtube clip on the Chick-Fil-A flay. He’s also a regular contributor to HuffPo. Here’s a clip from his most recent post, “Blasphemy and Public Funding of the Arts”:
The case of Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” (destroyed recently by Christian fundamentalists in France) is perennially instructive. The controversial 1987 piece embroiled Serrano and others in the “NEA 4” in all sorts of debates about public funding of anti-religious art.
Complexifying matters is that the artist himself observed, “I have always felt that my work is religious, not sacrilegious. I would say that there are many individuals in the Church who appreciate it, and who do not have a problem with it. The best place for Piss Christ is in a church.” So if a work deemed by some to be sacrilegious is produced by an artist who claims to be working from, in part, religious convictions, is that blasphemous art? Is that secular art?
Our friend and fellow traveler Nathan Schneider has a new article, “The Templeton Effect,” at The Chronicle of Higher Education (it’s a follow-up in some ways to a 2010 piece he had at The Nation). Schneider asks what an infusion of money (with some strings attached) into philosophy departments around the nation has done for the academic discipline. You can read the entire, important piece here.
From Mennonite World Review, a new post on a July report by the Rural Sociological Society on the exponential growth of the Amish population in “Ohio and elsewhere.” But have no fear, there are still less than a million Amish in the U.S. And yes, they do pay taxes.
“Jesus set an example of dangerous love.” In other Menno news, Anna Groff has a great little piece at The Mennonite on conscientious objectors serving patients at Veterans’ Administration hospitals.
Mark the date. We’ve got a fantastic and full calendar for fall. Click here to see a complete list of our events (sponsored by our publisher, The Center for Religion and Media, and our sister center, The Center for Media, Culture and History).
I’ve got two events coming up in the fall that I hope you can attend. The first is on Friday, October 5th, “Religious Exemptions, Sexual Freedom, and the Biopolitics of U.S. Healthcare,” hosted by NYU’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. The afternoon symposium will include three panels featuring such scholars and activists as Elizabeth Castelli, Lois Uttley, and Ann Pellegrini. For more information (and the entire CSGS calendar) click here.
The second is an all-day symposium at New York Law School on November 16, “Freedom of Choice at the end of Life: Protecting the Patient’s Rights over Government, Health Care Provider and Pressure Group Resistance.” More details to come (or by request, email@example.com).
Here’s a clip from Kelly Candaele’s LA Review of Books interview with Sean Wilentz, professor of American History at Princeton University.
I think there is a misperception today, even among many Democrats, that change occurs in America when radical movements or social movements come along agitating about issues that are of great moral and economic urgency, and that a portion of what has been called “the power elite” respond to that. That’s supposedly what liberals do — respond. What’s missing is that liberals have been in the lead not simply in terms of getting things done but actually in conceiving how injustices might be righted. The civil rights movement was, of course, a strong example of a social movement pushing liberals along. The Democratic Party had to go through a sea change in the 1940s and 1950s. So I think that there is a lack of appreciation for liberals “working within the system.” Also, to effect change requires laws. And laws of the sort we are talking about rarely pass easily.
He shoulda been a contender. Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini died last week. He was 85. Though once an influential progressive member of his church, Martini watched his peers move further toward conservative policies over the past few decades. You can read obituaries here, here, here and here.