Thursday, April 8, 2010

Jon Stewart's "Pope Opera"

     Jon Stewart's coverage from last night's Daily Show of the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal and recent responses of Pope Benedict XVI and Vatican to news articles that have revealed the Holy Father's involvement in the harboring of known pedophile-priests.

"Pope Opera."
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Pope Opera
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Cheating Father Earl Woods Returns from the Grave to Chastise Cheating Tiger Woods and Sell Nike Products

     There's nothing like a multinational company using a sex scandal and a dead man to sell tennis shoes. 

     Tiger Woods is back at the Masters this weekend, trying to regain his record-breaking momentum in the world of golf.  Thus far, I've remained quiet on the Woods' sex scandal, because he's an athlete and I never saw him as a religious/moral role model for people. 

     Woods is not one to wear his religion on his his face makeup, Tim-Tebow style.  Can you imagine Tiger thanking the Buddha for sinking that last put on eighteen that won the tournament?  American Christians would demand he be stripped of his stripes.  Maybe that's why he's had to go so far out of his way to publicly apologize: because he's not Christian.  Would the Christians demand such an apology and bloodletting from their own?  What if Tim Tebow was caught in a gay sex scandal or for aborting an illegitimate child?  Would born-again he face the same repeated public floggings that non-Christian Woods has endured?

     I don't view Woods' affairs and mysterious addiction--Is it sex, sleeping pills, painkillers, Twitter, In-N-Out burgers?--as an act of public hypocrisy.  He's a golfer, who for better or worse keeps his mouth closed concerning political issues.  He's never publicly condemned other adulterers (that I know of) while he was quietly sleeping around, like John Ensign and the Christian, Republican like, nor has he condemned others for covering up their sexual transgressions, while he was doing the same, as Pope Benedict and the Vatican have done.

     But, I cannot refrain from commenting on the commercialization of Woods' return to golf this weekend, and the way that he and Nike are exploiting the situation to make a buck, creating a commercial in which Tiger's deceased father addresses Tiger's sexual affairs and fall from golden-boy grace.

     "I want to find out what your thinking was; I want to find out what your feelings are. Did you learn anything," the elder Woods says as the golfer looks into the camera.
     Who knows how Earl Woods would have reacted to Tiger's infidelity crisis?  Apparently, Nike does.  He would want Nike to make a buck.

     Nike has shown how far a company will go.  Not only has Nike exploited third world laborers around the world to make a profit, but they have no qualms about robbing a grave in order to make a buck off of their star's infidelity. 

     Even more hypocritical is that Earl Woods' also was unfaithful to his wife.  Did Nike not consider that, when they put together this call for public penance from beyond the grave?  Maybe this makes Earl's line "Did you learn anything?" all the more powerful and honest, but we can't know what Earl learned from his affairs.  He's dead.

     Here are a few other responses.  The commercial is embedded below.      

     If Woods is feeling real, true shame -- not regret that he got caught, not regret that his golf game has suffered, but real sorrow over what he's done to his family -- then he might be able to fix the mess he's made of his life. But his shame is his; it shouldn't be used to sell golf shirts. What's next, a 30-second video clip of Elin yelling at him for forgetting to take out the trash?
     A lot of people were making a big deal out of Nike’s new Tiger Woods commercial. I didn’t want to watch it, mostly because Nike wanted me to. An editor suggested I take a look, so I did. Here it is. And all I can say is, I wish I could make money off my dead dad and the family’s philandering ways. Oh, wait, one other thing: Does the deceased Earl Woods have any social conscience questions about the factories in which Nike makes its sneakers?

More Priest-Pedophile and Church Mishandling Scandals in Memphis, Norway, and Spain

     In Norway, after a bishop admitted to sexually abusing a minor, numerous new accusations are being voiced, while in Spain, a priest was just convicted for raping two girls, 10 and 11.  While in the United States bishops, who covered up sexual abuse, have yet to be tried and even some priests, who are known abusers, have never faced criminal trial.  The following is an example of such a case.

     Father Juan Carlos Duran has a history of abuse and being shuffled around for years by Catholic authorities.  In his wake, Duran left a series of victims.  All has been recently revealed since court documents were ordered open.  The entire story can be read at Memphis' the Commercial Appeal.  Here are a few excerpts from the article:
     "I just remember him asking me in the car or asking when we are alone, 'Please, please, let me give you (oral sex),' stuff like that," said a 14-year-old boy identified as "John Doe" in a sex abuse lawsuit filed against the diocese and the Dominicans. "I can't remember the exact number of occasions, but it was multiple."  "It just drives me crazy because I feel like trash," the boy said later, adding that Duran plied him with alcohol and exposed him to pornography. "I feel like trash, you know? That's what I feel like. It makes me upset."
     The "John Doe" case prompted The Commercial Appeal and the Memphis Daily News to file suit to gain access to court documents related to that case. A judge on Tuesday lifted the seal on the files after lawyers for both sides spent a year redacting the names of victims from more than 10,000 pages.
     The documents show that at least 15 priests have been accused of sexual misconduct over about four decades in the Memphis Diocese. Some had been accused of sexual abuse elsewhere and had been moved from one diocese to another.
     "The Southern Dominican Province knew Duran had committed prior acts of sexual abuse before placing him in Memphis and therefore should never have placed him here," attorney Karen Campbell, representing "John Doe," said in court papers. "Additionally, a review of Duran's résumé with a 31-year gap should have alerted the diocese to inquire into his background. This is exactly the type of information that should have raised a red flag to church officials that this was a pedophile priest."
     In many ways, the case of Father Juan Carlos Duran -- with frequent moves and silent superiors -- stands as an example of how child sex abuse was allowed to thrive for decades in the Catholic Church.
     "Revelations of thousands of cases of clergy sexual abuse have shown that the Catholic hierarchy had a standardized method of responding to reports and accusations of clergy sexual abuse," said Thomas Doyle of Virginia, a Dominican priest and addiction therapist who has testified as an expert in many abuse cases. "With rare exception, the alleged perpetrators were surreptitiously moved from one assignment to another with no warning to the receiving parish or community."
     In 2004, the St. Louis police department issued a warrant for Duran's arrest, for his allegedly sodomizing a boy in 1999.  The warrant has never been served.  If the leaders of the Catholic Church want to regain any sort of credibility in the world, they need to start driving pedophile-priests like Duran directly to the police to stand trial, regardless of whether the priest has been laicized.  It's time that these criminals stand trial for their crimes.
*Cartoon via Dvorak Uncensored

Warning, in Danger of Extinction: American Listening

     Everyone has a story. 

     Did you hear it shatter?  Did the pinging of the last threads ripping apart register in your inner ear?  Did you halt and take notice when the hands of self-righteousness increased their stranglehold around the neck of diversity, who's fists went slack after the gasping terminated?  Did you feel anything?  Did you mourn?  Did you keep walking? 

     Somewhere, in the distant and/or not so distant past, Americans forgot how to listen without prejudice to their neighbors' stories.  Maybe we never did, but wasn't listening the primary value upon which this this country was founded, the coming together of a diverse group of individuals to create a land where all were free of religious, monarchical, and economic tyranny, in a spirit of cooperation, that has, thankfully, expanded over the years to embrace multi-chromatic natives and immigrants from around the world and to reject slavery and racial discrimination and sexism and even homophobia?  

     In 2010, we find ourselves living in a nation divided, where people are planning armed revolt because they don't want the poor to have healthcare, governors proclaim the "sanctity" of Confederate history glossing over slaverychildren are still being killed because they are gay, racism and sexism are as alive and tolerated as ever, and churches are trying to impose their version of god's will upon the entire diversity that has made our nation a refuge for persons regardless of religious affiliation.


     Americans have forgotten what it's like to listen.  The compassion of Christians in this nation, the ability to consider what life is like for another very different person than one's self, has atrophied under the downpours of fear and sandstorms of suspicion whipped up by politicians and clergy.  As a result of this pummeling, American compassion is at risk of extinction.

     One website is combating this.  im from driftwood has been founded in hopes of giving LGBT people around the world a chance to share their stories.  Hopefully, others will listen, and the erosion of American compassion for LGBT persons will be reversed.  

     There are so many stories to be told and heard, from the diverse tapestry of American life.  Listening is an American virtue that our nation cannot afford to lose. 

     Preached in the name of fear, judgment, and condemnation of anyone different from one's limited version of god, The Gospel according to Hate is diametrically opposed to the virtue of listening and must be stopped.  One of the ways to combat this fear baiting is for people to keep telling their stories.  And, people must start to listen again.  No election, no political posturing, no personal religious bias, and no amount of lobbyists' cash is worth the price of Americans listening to one another, especially to those whose lives are completely different, but no less American.

     Since I once served as a priest in Dubuque, Iowa, where my own silence in the face of discrimination and abuse added to the erosion of American equality, I found the following story shared from the perspective of a lesbian, middle school teacher living in the most Catholic part of Iowa haunting.  This is the America in which many LGBT persons live.  Listen.

     There’s something you should know about me: I’m a liar.
     Don’t judge me. Because if the first thing you should know about me is that I’m a liar, the second is that I’m a teacher, and the third that I’m a lesbian.
     I teach at a middle school, and most of the girls are in their boy crazy stage. “Chris Brown is so cute!” they say, and I lie and say sure he is. And when a student comes to me in tears over the death of a sibling in a gang fight, he asks me if life is going to get better, and I lie and say, yes it definitely is. Students ask if going to college will guarantee them a good job and a better life, and I lie and say, of course it will. “When are you getting married?” they ask me, and instead of saying, “when it’s legal” I lie and laugh and say I’m too busy caring about them. “I saw you at the movies with your friend, Ms. A” they say, and I lie and don’t correct them.
     “Where do you go to church?” the other teachers ask me, and I lie and say I’m looking for one. “Was that your boyfriend at the concert?” they prod, and I lie by not telling them that “he” is a “she.” “I’m so glad we don’t have any of them homos in this school. They’re gonna ruin this country” they say over lunch in the teachers lounge, and in fear for my job I lie by staying silent and walking out of the room.