Ginsburg, one of the most liberal members of the nation’s high court, spoke Saturday at the University of Chicago Law School. Ever since the decision, she said, momentum has been on abortion opponents’ side, fueling a state-by-state campaign that has placed more restrictions on abortion.
“That was my concern, that the court had given opponents of access to abortion a target to aim at relentlessly,” she told a crowd of students. “… My criticism of Roe is that it seemed to have stopped the momentum that was on the side of change.” . . .
A more restrained judgment would have sent a message while allowing momentum to build at a time when a number of states were expanding abortion rights, she said. She added that it might also have denied opponents the argument that abortion rights resulted from an undemocratic process in the decision by “unelected old men.”
Roe v. Wade did far more than create a constitutional right to abortion—it crippled the pro-choice and energized the pro-life movement, creating one of the largest campaigns of moral suasion in American history. Even while nationalizing abortion politics, the Supreme Court’s decision also localized and personalized the issue by pushing it almost entirely out of legislatures, giving an unexpected opening to the pro-life movement to affect the culture, and in turn the wider political debate, in ways no one expected.
Before Roe, the pro-choice movement was truly a movement: It organized letter-writing campaigns, subverted restrictive abortion laws through underground networks of clergy and doctors, and eagerly sought opportunities to debate pro-life advocates. After Roe, obviated by its near-total victory, the movement almost collapsed. It has never fully recovered its former strength and energy.
Yosel Tiefenbrun is a rabbi of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement and an apprentice tailor at Maurice Sedwell, the distinguished Savile Row house operated by Andrew Ramroop (himself a somewhat unusual figure on the Row). Tiefenbrun’s unique combination of classic style and hasidic Judaism (he eschews the traditional simple black-and-white wear of hasidic men) is starting to draw notice:
Tiefenbrun is careful to note that his clothing choices are his alone and not emblematic of any Chabad-specific trend.
“It’s not like it’s a Chabad thing, it’s me,” Tiefenbrun insisted. “I love art. I love quality clothing.”
With its sprawling global network of emissaries working to inspire religious observance among secular Jews, it’s perhaps little surprise that Chabadniks are practically alone within the hasidic world in pushing the boundaries, if gently, of their community’s dress codes.
“One can make the case Chabad, more than any other hasidic group, is in direct contact with the non-hasidic world, so they have a real good feel for that world outside,” Heilman said. “They have learned how to recruit there.”
Sacho said there is little interest in his stylish kapotas from members of other hasidic communities. Chabad men are selling “a product called Judaism” to the wider world, he said, and that tradition impacts their choice of clothes.
“People will listen and appreciate you more if you dress well and look presentable,” he said.
Within the confines of the hasidic community, however, it’s often a different story. Young customers come in looking for one thing, but then their mother arrives and “chews my ear off,” Sacho said.
But still, Sacho insists the style-conscious community is growing in the Chabad world and someday kapotas like his will be the norm.
“There are quite a few of us,” Sacho said. “All my clients are younger. It’s the future.”
Tiefenbrun can be found, naturally enough, on Tumblr.
Legion of Christ priest Fr. Thomas Williams has requested dispensation from his ministry in order to look after his son and his son’s mother, writes John Connor, the Legion of Christ’s assistant for apostolate for the North America Territory:
Roughly a year ago, I heard the news that our brother Legionary Fr Thomas Williams LC fathered a child a number of years ago. As a result, Fr Thomas discontinued his public ministry and took a year for prayer and penance to discern his future course in the light of God’s plan.
Fr Thomas, after much prayerful reflection and discernment, has written to the Holy Father to request dispensation from the obligations of his ministry.
Such decisions are not easy. We all balance success and failure, joy and sorrow in our lives. None of us escapes sin and the need to ask forgiveness.
I have known Fr Thomas well for the better part of a decade. I have appreciated and enjoyed his friendship, his wisdom and counsel and I deeply respect his decision about his future. After recently finishing spiritual exercises he wrote me saying “I came to the serene conviction that what God expects of me now is to devote myself to caring for my child and his mother. By responsibly and lovingly accepting the consequences of my actions, I will continue to serve God and his Church. I know I should be with my son and try to be the kind of father he needs.”
I have complete confidence that Fr Thomas will continue to be a valuable instrument in God’s plan and positively influence many, many people for the good of Christ’s Kingdom. I hope all of you will join me in praying for the success of Fr Thomas in his new life.
Three Presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) recently approved an overture requesting the General Assembly to assume original jurisdiction over TE Peter Leithart, a teaching elder member of Pacific Northwest Presbytery.
Calvary Presbytery approved the overture at its April 25, 2013 meeting, and Gulf Coast and Mississippi Valley Presbyteries approved the overture at their respective meetings on May 7, 2013. The vote at all of the meetings was unanimous or at least without audible dissent. . . .
In June 2011, Pacific Northwest Presbytery held a trial, and the Presbytery found TE Leithart not guilty of the five charges. In November 2011, one month after the Presbytery met and adopted the judgments on the five charges, a complaint was filed against the actions of Pacific Northwest Presbytery. In April, 2012 the Presbytery denied the complaint at which point the complaint was carried to the SJC. . . .
The three Presbyteries voted to approve the overture asking the PCA General Assembly to, “Assume original jurisdiction and direct the Standing Judicial Commission to hear ‘Pacific Northwest Presbytery vs. Peter Leithart,’ because PNWP has ‘refused to act’ per the provision found in BCO 34-1, by not declaring a mistrial in this case because of its chief prosecutor’s conflict of interest, stemming from his transition into membership of the Roman Catholic church.”
The controversy centers on Leithart’s views on baptism, which he recently restated here.
One of the more remarkable aspects of Francis’ pontificate has been his rhetorical style. Whereas Benedict XVI generally spoke in carefully crafted Latin paragraphs, Pope Francis has adopted a more casual style of Italian—often speaking without prepared notes. Most notable of all, Francis has gone about coining striking phrases that capture spiritual concepts in contemporary terms.
Archbishop Claudio Celli, head of the Vatican’s Council for Social Communication says that Francis uses images to “communicate concepts that people can perceive immediately.” According to Celli, Francis is ”helping us to rediscover that communication is not only an intellectual problem.”
Vatican observer Rocco Palmo cites an article in article in Avvenire by Stefania Falasca that compared Francis’ rhetoric to sermo humilis—the simple Latin by which the church once spoke to the ordinary man. Falasca also connects Francis rhetoric to “pastiche.” This, says, Falasca, “is precisely the juxtaposition of words of different levels or different registers with expressive effect. The ‘pastiche’ style is today a typical feature of communication on the web and of postmodern language. This is therefore a matter of linguistic associations unprecedented in the history of the Petrine magisterium.”
Here, then, is an early document of some of Pope Francis’ more notable phrases:
March 14: “We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord.”
The push for gay marriage is part of the state’s “drive to assume direct control over the reproduction of the population” writes British theologian John Milbank:
Heterosexual exchange and reproduction has always been the very “grammar” of social relating as such. The abandonment of this grammar would thus imply a society no longer primarily constituted by extended kinship, but rather by state control and merely monetary exchange and reproduction.
Milbank, the founder of “radical orthodoxy,” begins his argument by pointing out the impossibility of defining gay marriage in traditional terms of “consummation” and “adultery.” The impossibility of doing so means that marriage will “inevitably be redefined even for heterosexual people in homosexual terms.”
Consummation and adultery would cease to be valid categories even for straight unions. Thus would end “the public legal recognition of a social reality defined in terms of the natural link between sex and procreation.” This, says Milbank, “reveals what is really at issue here.”
There was no demand for “gay marriage” and this has nothing to do with gay rights. Instead, it is a strategic move in the modern state’s drive to assume direct control over the reproduction of the population, bypassing our interpersonal encounters. This is not about natural justice, but the desire on the part of biopolitical tyranny to destroy marriage and the family as the most fundamental mediating social institution.
“The recipe for psychological confusion, family division and social conflict,” Milbank writes, “is all too evident and cannot be averted.”
For the individual, the experience of a natural-cultural unity is most fundamentally felt in the sense that her natural birth is from an interpersonal (and so “cultural”) act of loving encounter – even if this be but a one-night stand. This provides a sense that one’s very biological roots are suffused with an interpersonal narrative. Again, to lose this “grammar” would be to compromise our deepest sense of humanity, and risk a further handing over of power to market and state tyrannies supported by myths both of pure human nature and technocratic artifice. . . .
“We have sleep-walked into the legalisation of practices whose logic and implications have never been seriously debated,” he writes. Milbank’s forceful piece is yet another wake-up call.
Russell D. Moore, president-elect of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has issued a statement with Kevin Ezell, head of the Souther Baptist Convention’s North American Missions Board, on recent worries about the curtailment of religious liberty in the armed forces:
Timothy Winter, a Muslim scholar who serves as director of studies at Wolfson College Cambridge, has drawn criticism after videos surfaced in which he criticizes homosexual acts.
“You don’t even understand what your bodies are for,” Winter says. “How ignorant can you get? Even the animals know. It’s the ultimate inversion, an abuse of the body.”
“The fact that somebody is born with a tendency is no moral argument for actualizing that tendency,” Winter says.
“Arson, for instance . . . is attributed by many modern scientists to a certain genetic configuration. . . . that’s no argument for legalising what they do. So the claim that a human being is born with this particular tendency and so should be legalized is neither here nor there. . . . It is no argument.”
Cambridge’s LGBT group has issued a statement suggesting that these remarks may be “incompatible with [Winters'] current role in the college, especially if it has a pastoral nature.”
Winter told the London Evening Standard: “I have explained to the students that the YouTube clip they understandably objected to was at least 15 years old, and represented views I no longer hold.”
[The] appalling details of the Gosnell trial elicit reactions that might be called revulsion or disgust or horror. The word that eminent bioethicist and physician Leon Kass prefers is “repugnance.” This intense human reaction reflects a sort of deep moral intuition, he says, and it is one that deserves much more serious consideration than our too-sophisticated culture allows.
“As pain is to the body so repugnance is to the soul,” Dr. Kass says as we sit down for an interview in his book-lined office at the American Enterprise Institute, where he is the Madden-Jewett Scholar. “So too with anger and compassion. Repugnance is some kind of wake-up call that there is something untoward going on and attention must be paid. These passions are not simply irrational. They contain within them the germ of insight. You cannot give proper verbal account of the horror of evil, yet a culture that couldn’t be absolutely horrified by such things is dead.” . . .
Dr. Kass says his critics misunderstand the role of repugnance in his thinking. “It’s not that repugnance is always right,” he says. “There was once repugnance at interracial marriage, and there have been other repugnancies that turned out to be mere prejudice. But you wouldn’t want to live in a society where people feel no guilt or shame just because guilt and shame are sometimes disruptive—or in a society that doesn’t feel righteous indignation at the sight of injustice.”
Delaware state officials have launched an investigation of two Planned Parenthood locations after reports of unsanitary and unsafe conditions. “Planned Parenthood should no longer be self-regulated,” says a former employee who describes herself as radically pro-abortion:
The state Division of Professional Regulation has launched a new investigation into the conduct of several licensed medical professionals at Planned Parenthood of Delaware . . .
Surgical abortions have been halted for now at the Wilmington and Dover offices, Lytle-Barnaby said, but outpatient medical abortions continue at both sites. Training for new staff is under way, she said. . . .
At least two former employees of Planned Parenthood Delaware – both registered nurses – have publicly called for investigations into the operation’s practices.
“What I believe should happen is that Planned Parenthood should no longer be self-regulated,” said Joyce Vasikonis. . . .
Vasikonis describes herself as “radically pro-abortion,” but said she could not continue to work under the conditions she saw. . . .
Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich of Newark could not bear the conditions, either. She worked part time for about three months, kept copious notes, pressed for reforms and resigned last August.
“I cannot continue to work in such an unsafe, unhealthy and hostile environment,” she wrote in her resignation email.
Metropolitan Methodios, the leader of Boston’s Greek Orthodox Christians, contrasts the act of terror with the humanistic values represented by the tradition of marathon-running:
On a day particularly rich with symbolism, an act of terrorism wounded the beautiful heart of our city and broke our hearts with the tragedy endured by innocent victims and their loved ones.
We reflect on the meaning of the Marathon runners which, even though forgotten most of the times, becomes especially poignant in the face of today’s tragedy: the first Marathon runner was a herald of victory—he covered the distance from the battleground of Marathon to Athens in order to announce to his fellow citizens the joyous news: Νενικήκαμεν! “We have won!” Historians claimed that in the battle of Marathon the European civilization won over an empire that devalued freedom and democracy. It was a victory of humanity against the forces of evil and that mentality which depreciated the values of individuality for which the Athenian city-state proud itself.
The Boston Marathon always coincides with another special holiday of our Commonwealth: Patriot’s Day. In that day we commemorate another victory on behalf of humanity, the victory of the first battles of the War of Revolution that gave birth to our Nation and to the liberties for which America stands.
Today’s terrorist attack becomes particularly meaningful when viewed under the light of this double association. It was an attack not only against our City, not only against our Nation, but, like every act of terrorism and regardless of its perpetrator, it was an attack against our civilization. The Boston Marathon is an international event and, therefore, the effects of today’s tragedy are felt worldwide.
We offer our condolences and prayers to the victims of this tragedy: to the innocent people who lost their lives and were injured senselessly. We stand in solidarity with every citizen of our Commonwealth, our Nation and every person of good will who shares the values of our civilization. We pray that our God, healer of our souls and bodies, bring healing to everyone affected by today’s events and peace in our hearts and in our world.
The Vatican calls for a “more just, free and secure society” in the wake of the Boston bombing:
Deeply grieved by news of the loss of life and grave injuries caused by the act of violence perpetrated last evening in Boston, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes me to assure you of his sympathy and closeness in prayer. In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy, His Holiness invokes God’s peace upon the dead, his consolation upon the suffering and his strength upon all those engaged in the continuing work of relief and response. At this time of mourning the Holy Father prays that all Bostonians will be united in a resolve not to be overcome by evil, but to combat evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21), working together to build an ever more just, free and secure society for generations yet to come.
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston issued the following statement on the marathon explosion:
The Archdiocese of Boston joins all people of good will in expressing deep sorrow following the senseless acts of violence perpetrated at the Boston Marathon today. Our prayers and concern are with so many who experienced the trauma of these acts, most especially the loved ones of those who lives were lost and those who were injured, and the injured themselves.
The citizens of the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are blessed by the bravery and heroism of many, particularly the men and women of the police and fire departments and emergency services who responded within moments of these tragic events. Governor Patrick, Mayor Menino and Police Commissioner Davis are providing the leadership that will see us through this most difficult time and ensure that proper procedures are followed to protect the public safety.
In the midst of the darkness of this tragedy we turn to the light of Jesus Christ, the light that was evident in the lives of people who immediately turned to help those in need today. We stand in solidarity with our ecumenical and interfaith colleagues in the commitment to witness the greater power of good in our society and to work together for healing.
A Romanian lawyer is suing his local Orthodox bishop and four priests claiming they failed to properly exorcise flatulent demons that were forcing him out of his home.
Madalin Ciculescu, 34, accused the five of fraud after they turned up several times to exercise the demons which were responsible for the bad smells that were ruining his business. . . .
The case alleging ‘religious malpractice’ is reportedly the first time there has been such an allegation made in a Romanian court. . . .
The case has already been rejected by a lower court in Romania and was rejected again this week by the Romanian High Court, but now the businessmen says he plans to go to the European Court of Human Rights.
He told the court: ‘If they (the accused) represent the way of God then God’s ways are crooked. They did not remove the demons that made these bad smells as they promised to do, and I still see all sorts of demons in the form of animals, usually crows but also other such things, that are making my life miserable.
The religious impulse will find litigious expression in a litigious age.
For a Catholic to receive holy Communion and still deny the revelation Christ entrusted to the church is to try to say two contradictory things at once: “I believe the church offers the saving truth of Jesus, and I reject what the church teaches.” In effect, they would contradict themselves. This sort of behavior would result in publicly renouncing one’s integrity and logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury.
My choice is to not support abortion, except in cases of a clear-cut choice between the lives of the mother and child.
A child conceived through incest or rape is innocent and deserves the right to be born.
That first sentence leaves something to be desired, but Ebert was a film critic, not an ethicist. May he rest in peace.
Update: A commenter writes below:
The first sentence of Ebert’s observation indeed “leaves something to be desired.” But look way down in the comments to his original post. There, a reader confronted him with the story of the reader’s own wife, who was raped by another while they were married. He asked Ebert how he would explain making her carry a child to term, had she become pregnant, and making them both care for the child.
“I am silent before your words,” Ebert replied. “Who am I to say? Yet what are you to say about the rights of the unborn child?”
Who else admired left of center has recently said anything at all like that?
We can get as close as we want so long as we maintain critical distance.
This philosophy, primitively grasped, guides the four young women in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, who skip through frame after frame of booze, bongs, and omnipresent breasts only to phone home and tell their parents that they’re learning so much. If the largely appreciative reviews are any indication, filmgoers escaped with a similar sense of edification.
Neither embarrassment nor titillation is a sufficiently sophisticated response to the indiscretions captured by Korine’s ambivalent camera. Call the film sexist or racist (concerns about indecency, I’m afraid, are as anachronistic as is the Britney Spears in the film’s soundtrack) and you’ve missed out on the ironic point of the party. For those viewers in on the game, Korine’s work will curl nothing but amused lips, raise nothing but knowing eyebrows. We are to smirk rather than leer, and it all works well enough that one wonders why St. Alphonsus Liguori did not prescribe irony to young Christian men.
Korine very earnestly hopes this irony can save him and us from sin, but the sin he’s worried about is not immodesty but moralism. As in the straightforwardly named Trash Humpers, Korine dares us to prove our tolerance, challenges the limits of our cosmopolitanism. How committed are we to not turning away in disgust? How long can our fascination outlast our revulsion? (For the film editors, the answer was ninety-two minutes.)
One’s opinion of the ethical value of Spring Breakers, then, will depend on what one makes of the ethic of nonjudgmentalism that it impressively elaborates. It is possible to admire the piety of a man whose beliefs differ greatly from one’s own, and Korine proves himself a singularly devoted servant of the closest thing we have to a public faith. As if to prove his commitment, Korine even casts his wife Rachel Korine as one of the damned damsels.
It is perhaps worth nothing, then, that Rachel Korine’s character is inseparable from the other starlets until the real sex scenes begin. For reasons unexplained by the film, Rachel disappears before an early romp involving James Franco and her sidearm-wielding friends. Then Mrs. Korine leaves the film again (this time for good) before Franco and the two others begin an extended sex scene that her co-star, Disney starlet Vanessa Hudgens, said she found harrowing.
Critical distance has a hard time when it approaches what touches us most closely. Irony, however faithfully we serve it, cannot immunize us against everything.
Harry rushes to see Dumbledore, who tells him to find “the one who created everything”, as he’s the only power that can stop Voldemort. . . .
Harry is then teleported to an orthodox church where he learns his parents baptised him into Orthodoxy just before they died.
He heads to Jerusalem to see the descent of the Holy Flame with his new friends – Anastas and Agniya, two Orthodox siblings he met along the way.
The final encounter with Voldemort happens in the Holy Land and with the help of Saint Cyprianus, his patron saint, Harry defeats his enemy.
The treatment of magic in the original Harry Potter series was greeted with skepticism by many Christians, both inside and outside Orthodoxy. The Greek Orthodox Church in Thrace said the books “acquaint people with evil, wizardry, the occult and demonology” and Orthodox writer Galina Voznesenskaya charged the books with “pure Satanism.”
More positive Orthodox assessments of Rowling’s creation came from Andrei Kuraev in his 2003 book Harry Potter in the Church and John Granger in Looking for God in Harry Potter. With this new play, Harry Potter is well on his way from satanist to saint.
Google’s decision to display the visage of Cesar Chavez on Easter Sunday has provoked immediate fury from many corners. The decision indeed is difficult to justify. Yet Google’s odd choice should remind us that whatever one thinks of Chavez’s politics, they are impossible to understand apart from his belief in the resurrected Christ.
As Ronald A. Wells recounts in the Journal of Presbyterian History, in 1966 the United Farm Workers organized a march from Delano, California, to the state capitol of California in order to demand recognition of the rights of farm workers. While the outside world saw Chavez’s protest as a political march, he and the farm workers also saw it as a pilgrimage. The slogan they chose was “Peregrinacion, Penitencia, Revolucion,” or “Pilgrimage, Penitence, Revolution.”
As seen in archival footage from KQED television, the Christian nature of the event was unmistakable. The 300-mile march, led by an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, was scheduled to end on Good Friday. A large rally, beginning with Mass, was to take place on Easter Sunday.
In an open letter, Chavez explained his hope that the march would function as a pilgrimage, that it would not only raise awareness of injustice, but also remind strikers of their own sins:
Throughout the Spanish-speaking world there is another tradition that touches the present march, that of Lenten penitential processions. . . . [It is] in the blood of the Mexican American and the Delano March will therefore be one of penance—public penance for the sins of the strikers, their own personal sins as well as their yielding perhaps to feelings of hatred and revenge in the strike itself. They hope by the march to set themselves at peace with the Lord, so that the justice of their cause will be purified of lesser motivations.
As a Christian, Chavez believed that the first revolution had to be a revolution of the soul, which meant that personal sacrifices were demanded—not just of the oppressor, but of the oppressed. Journalist Frank Bardacke observed, “What many of the liberals and radicals on the staff of the union could never understand was that all the fasts, the long marches and the insistence on personal sacrifice were not publicity gimmicks, they were the essential Chavez.”
Chavez understood at least in part Nicolás Gómez Dávila’s warning that too often politics consists of “schemes for putting the Beatitudes into effect,” for “reducing to a collective structure external to the individual an ethical behavior that, unless it is individual and internal, is nothing.”
For Chavez, social reform was never merely external. Without peace of spirit and purity of heart, there was little point in pursuing justice. Collective bargaining, just wages, shorter workdays: for Chavez none of these made sense outside the fact of his risen Lord.