Terrorism, In Brown and White

Two weeks ago, Paris was rocked with a number of coordinated terrorist attacks by ISIS fighters. Two days ago, a “lone wolf” engaged in a prolonged shootout with police in a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While the former has been roundly condemned by almost all Americans as nihilistic barbarians, regardless of their political orientation, the latter is seen very differently, depending on how you feel about abortion.Some on the right like Carly Fiorina have been “Not All Pro-Lifers” while others like Donald Trump have simply dismissed the shooter as some random maniac who in no way represents mainstream conservative opinion on anything:


The Friendly Atheist has compiled a bunch of tweets from users celebrating the shootings:


Clearly, terrorism isn’t terrorism when it’s being used by a cause one approves of.

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On Being “That Girl”

This, alas, is not a post about the wonderful 1960s sitcom “That Girl.” It is a post about being “that girl,” i.e., the only black girl in the room. Or the building for that matter.

Recently, I saw this article on the Atlantic site:


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It Takes a Village to Abuse a Child: Further Thoughts on Spotlight

I saw the movie “Spotlight” this morning, and it exceeded my expectations in every way. It’s definitely an Oscar contender, and I think it’s a film everyone should see. Not only does “Spotlight” do a great job of dramatizing the Boston Globe’s investigation into the abuse scandal, but it also shows the extent to which Boston was controlled not just by the Catholic church but by what one could call “the old Irish boy’s club” that demanded silence from priests, police, survivors, their families, and entire communities. Indeed, it seems like many Bostonians had direct knowledge of abusive priests, but assumed that it was just that one guy and the church knew how to handle things. The willingness for communities to turn a blind eye to abusive priests leads a lawyer working for abuse victims to proclaim (and here I’m paraphrasing), “It takes a village to raise a child, and a village to abuse one.”

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Although “Spotlight,” the new movie about how the Boston Globe exposed the Catholic sex abuse scandal, only went national yesterday and not too many people have seen it thus far, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops isn’t taking any chances, sending out “talking points” to every diocese in the country:



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Pentecostalism as Liberation

Readers are probably aware of the common quip that the Catholic church in Latin America decided to have a preferential option for the poor, and the poor decided to have a preferential option for Pentecostalism. Conservotrads and traditionalists use the huge inroads made by Pentecostalism and evangelicalism in general in Latin America as proof that the liturgical and theological laxness of the post-Vatican II church was/is driving away people who just wanted Jesus and not Marxism in Christian clothing (i.e., liberation theology). But is this a correct assessment? Let’s take a look.

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Secular Humanist Response to Paris Attacks

Friends from the whole world, thank you for #prayforParis, but we don’t need more religion! Our faith goes to music! Kissing! Life! Champagne and joy! #Parisisaboutlife

— From Charlie Hedbo cartoonist Joann Sfar


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What We Mean When We Talk About the Pre-Vatican II Era

The Second Vatican Council began in 1962 and officially ended in 1965, and for many Catholics, church history is completely defined by this event, regardless of their political or liturgical orientation. There is the pre-Vatican II era, and everything that came after it. For conservotrads and traditionalists, the pre-Vatican II era was when everything was swell, and then everything went to hell in a handbasket after Vatican II. For progressives, the spirit and promises of Vatican II liberated Catholics from a rigid, oppressive, and narrow-minded obscurantism. However, the pre-Vatican II era, strictly speaking, covered almost 1,900 years of history in a variety of different cultures. When American Catholics in 2015 discuss the pre-Vatican II era, they probably aren’t talking about the devotional practices of ninth century Anglo-Saxons. So what does the phrase “pre-Vatican II church” mean in current Catholic discourse?

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All My Skinfolk Ain’t My Kinfolk

One of Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson’s schticks is his insistence that if nominated and elected, he would be America’s first “real black president.” As opposed to the “fake black” president we have now. This assertion isn’t new, since Herman Cain was saying the same thing during his own failed presidential run, and this meme is being reiterated by white Republicans who are desperate to run a black candidate to make them seem less white and less racist. Whatever one thinks of Obama’s policies, the notion that he is somehow “less black” than Carson or Cain ignores the way in which blackness was and is constructed in the United States.

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