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I write the biweekly “Beliefs” column for The New York Times and also report for The Atlantic, The Nation, This American Life, and elsewhere. I have four daughters and two dogs.

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Thursday
Sep302010

“Bishop” Eddie Long’s accuser ambushed by TV station

Check out this NPR story about how an Atlanta TV station tracked down one of Long’s accusers in the church sex scandal; raises some interesting questions about whether this sort of ambush journalism is exploiting the  man (allegedly) all over again. Or just go right to the video:

Thursday
Sep302010

UFOs, the guvment, and the troof

Sent to me by Jeff Kripal, a great scholar of the paranormal (and other stuff). Some UFOlogy that intrigues me.

 

Wednesday
Sep292010

“Bishop” Eddie Long: “come out!” says John McWhorter

While I am uncomfortable with how readily this piece assumes certain facts that are, to say the least, still contested, I think this is an important statement from a major intellectual about the good that could come from this brewing gay-sex scandal in Atlanta. Dig:

At this point, whatever “fight” Long comes up with—the best possible outcome imaginable is that he tries to get by with some kind of “I’m not really gay” explanation based on, shall we say, “Tis better to give than to receive”—these revelations will stick to him forever. They will be his legacy, in the same way that Larry Craig will always be known for the bathroom episode despite his clunky denials (not just the wide stance thing, but “I don’t do things like that,” betraying a certain preset consciousness of the “things” in question).

Eddie Long would do himself and his own race a massive favor if he, shall we say, had a conversion here. “Got the call,” to put it in language familiar in his realm. He should openly admit what he did, disavow his antigay positions, and serve as a beacon to a black community that needs to get beyond an unthinking prejudice especially unseemly in a group positioning itself as a standard-bearer of America’s moral advancement.

He should get with the times—as the NAACP has, with Benjamin Jealous announcing an upcoming “One Nation Working Together” march with gay and transgender groups. America becomes ever more open to gay marriages. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is doing a slow fade. Ever more celebrities are coming out with no detriment to their careers. Call it a new kind of New Birth.

Long likely fears how many parishioners would desert him. Plenty would. However, let’s face it – these people would be the equivalents to the hold-outs against Civil Rights, the people on the sidelines in the photos of Little Rock, the people on Mad Men making casually dismissive comments about the Freedom struggle. Perhaps Long could think about what he would leave behind—or about his afterlife. People change. Leaders help them do it.

Eddie Long could, right now, become a great man. It would be a small thing indeed for him to cave in and “fight” rather than seek the higher wisdom of acceptance—of himself and so very many other souls.

And, as a lagniappe, here is some McWhorter for you:

Wednesday
Sep292010

Soon-to-be-saint excommunicated for revealing sex abuse

This is a very important story, described eloquent by the Jesuit journalist James Martin in America magazine. Here is the rub:

The stunning news that a soon-to-be-saint was excommunicated for urging the church to take action against a sex offender is a reminder of the virulence of the crimes of clerical abuse. And the astonishing story of Blessed Mary MacKillop, an Australian sister and foundress of a women’s religious order, who will be canonized on Oct. 17, says a great deal about sanctity, about sin, about women in the church and, finally, about hope.

The saga of Mother Mary MacKillop’s excommunication was thought to be well documented in church history books, and widely acknowledged as an almost unprecedented stop on her circuitous path to sainthood.  After all, very few saints have been excommunicated—the church’s harshest penalty, which denies reception of any sacraments.  But in 1870 Laurence Sheil, the bishop of Brisbane, formally ejected her from the church.  Until recently, the story of MacKillop’s punishment was understood mainly as the result of a conflict between her and the bishop, who cited insubordination as the official reason for this extraordinary move against the foundress of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. 

But the full story is that Mary MacKillop was excommunicated out of “revenge,” in the words of one priest familiar with her life, for uncovering a case of sex abuse by a Father Keating, in a nearby parish.
Wednesday
Sep292010

Tragic Suicide, modern world to blame...

Is there anything sadder than this, the Rutgers student who killed himself — threw himself from the GW Bridge — after his roommate webcasted him hooking up with another man?

One thought: this young man might have been comfortable with his sexuality, out to his family, basically well adjusted, happy, healthy, etc., and still pushed over the edge by the thought that for the rest of his life people might be able to find amateur porn of him on the internet. That is a lot to walk around with, and I think it could push more than a few American college kids off a bridge.

Makes me nostalgic for the days when the worst your roommate could do was listen outside the door and then gossip about you.