Business leaders support Catholic Charities

Cardinal Egan will ring the opening bell for the NY Stock Exchange on Monday morning.

logo.jpgThe Stock Exchange will host the Cardinal’s Committee for Charity 2008 Wall Street Breakfast. New York’s business leaders will gather to show support for Catholic Charities of New York.

The guest speaker will be Ron Insana, CNBC’s senior analyst and commentator.

Catholic Charities says that the event is expected to raise $500,000 for its many programs.

Support, condemnation of gay marriage recognition

c61be219d7e746d28be27d2549a27570.jpgReactions continue to Gov. Patterson’s directive to NYS agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside of New York.

From the Reform Jewish world…

Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Rabbi Eric B. Stark, Regional Director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Greater New York Council, and Arleen Urell, Chair of Reform Jewish Voice of New York State, issued a statement welcoming the decision.

It reads, in part:

Gov. Paterson’s announcement is a significant and welcome recognition of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals’ right to share in the personal and legal privileges of civil marriage afforded heterosexual Americans. The directive reflects the important belief on which this country was founded – that all people deserve equal treatment under the law. We celebrate Gov. Paterson’s historic decision and strongly encourage the New York legislature to take the necessary steps toward legalizing same-sex marriage.

As Jews, we are taught that God created humans b’tselem elohim, in the Divine image. As such, all people are deserving of respect and dignity and should be treated equally under the law, regardless of sexual orientation. For too long, our nation’s laws have reflected narrow views of marriage, limiting which couples have their commitment and love sanctioned by the state. Those days are waning.

Meanwhile, the evangelical New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is calling on New Yorkers to write letters to their local paper protesting Paterson’s decision and to call and write Paterson’s office.

An email sent out today says: “BE KIND BUT FIRM about no recognition or benefits to people in these counterfeit marriages.”

Rachel Ray’s PLO ties snipped by Dunkin’ Donuts

rachael_rayap03.jpgWhat’s wrong with this picture of food-related personality Rachel Ray pushing Dunkin’ Donuts coffee?

If you’re like me and you like hot coffee, you might wonder about that giant iced coffee she’s holding. Why do so many people drink cold coffee on purpose?

But if you’re like conservative news commentator Michelle Malkin, you might have zeroed in on Ray’s scarf, which resembles the keffiyeh that Yassir Arafat used to wear.

It’s terrorism!

After Fox News commentator Malkin protested Ray’s scarf, saying it symbolizes “murderous Palestinian jihad,” Dunkin’ said they’re pulling the ad.

“Absolutely no symbolism was intended,” a spokesman for the donut giant said — offering one of the most unambiguous statements ever offered by a spokesman.

Another blow in the War on Terror.

If you ever had one of Dunkin’s old egg sandwiches, cooked in a microwave, now that was terrorism…

Church calls off church

photo11.jpgThis church will likely be empty on Sunday morning.

The United Methodist Church of Mount Kisco is asking its members stay away from the 10:15 a.m. service.

Instead, members will be asked to perform “purposeful acts of kindness.”

The church explains:

Volunteers from both the church and the community will be joining together to perform various tasks such as: carpentry work, cooking, cleaning, calling on shut-ins, hospital visits, painting, litter pick-up and yard work. A total of 8-10 work projects, with something for all ages and abilities, will be held during Faith in Action Sunday, bringing together community members from both within, and outside the church. The New York Blood Center will have its “Blood-Mobile” parked in front of the church at 300 Main Street in Mt. Kisco.

“We’re excited about how our congregation has rallied to support this special weekend of service to our community. Many of the people in our work parties are neighbors who don’t even attend our church, but see the value of what we are doing and want to help. We invite everyone to join us,” says United Methodist Church of Mount Kisco’s Pastor Matthew T. Curry.

Anyone wanting to help out can meet at the church, 300 Main St., at 9:30 a.m.

Catholic, evangelical lobbyists reject NYS recognition of outside gay marriages

Neither the NYS Catholic Conference nor the evangelical New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is happy that New York state will now recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries.

A May 14 memo from Gov. Patterson tells state agencies to take the big step.

1163e6dbcbc24a4faf63bc36a88a66c8.jpgSen. Majority Leader Joe Bruno (that’s him) said today he was surprised to learn of the policy change.

The NYS Supreme Court has held that gay marriage in NY can only be legalized by the Legislature. But a lower court ruled earlier this year that state law does not stop the recognition of marriages performed elsewhere.

Earlier this month, the California Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in that state.

New York State Catholic Conference Executive Director Richard E. Barnes says:

The administrative action by Gov. Paterson compelling all state agencies to recognize same-sex ‘marriages’ performed in other states is an unwelcome bypassing of the state legislature. Unfortunately, this unilateral move without legislative input is not in keeping with Mr. Paterson’s promises upon taking office of a collaborative and bipartisan governing style.

As we have said many times, the definition of marriage pre-dates recorded history. No single politician or court or legislature should attempt to redefine the very building block of our society in a way that alters its entire meaning and purpose. The state has a compelling interest in holding up marriage between one man and one woman as the societal model. What our biblical ancestors knew instinctively holds true today: Marriage between a man and a woman is the best way to assure the stable rearing of children and the flourishing of society. It should not be treated as simply one more lifestyle choice, equal to any other, because it is not.

Homosexual men and women must be treated with dignity by all. In cases where unjust discrimination occurs, it must be remedied. However, just as the state cannot declare a man to be a ‘mother’ or a woman to be a ‘father,’ it can not declare a same-sex union to be a ‘marriage.’ To use a distinctly New York expression, ‘It is what it is.’ ”

A press release sent out this afternoon by New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms — which claims to be the state’s only “full-time Christian lobbying organization” — says:

According to the Word of God, marriage is and always will be the union of a man and a woman. Since God created marriage, only He has the authority to change it.

The Governor’s decree is a violation of the New York State Domestic Relations Law, the New York State Constitution, and the Word of God.

NYCF and the thousands of evangelical churches that it represents call on the Legislature to do what it should have done years ago: pass a DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT. Forty-four other states have done so since the Federal Defense of Marriage Act was passed in 1996. It is time for the New York State Legislature to awaken and protect marriage before it is too late.

Beam me up, Shmuley

Can you believe that Capt. Kirk got roughed up by anti-Semitic bullies on his way to Hebrew School?

So says William Shatner, according to a Jewish Week interview promoting his new memoir, “Up Till Now.”

Now, I knew that Spock was Jewish (Leonard Nimoy, that is, not the character with the pointy ears). But I didn’t know that Kirk was, too.

shatner_kirk11_thumb.jpg“The mystique of being Jewish is something you wear as part of you, as though it were clothing,” Shatner tells the JW. “You don’t think about it, but when you do you feel like it’s nice to be a member of the club.”

Apparently, Shatner wanted the fifth Trek movie to be about a search for God — with an actual trip to hell to confront the devil. But studio honchos overruled.

I’ve never been able to watch an episode of Star Trek all the way through. But I’m sure that Trekkies have many elaborate theories on how Kirk and Spock’s Jewishness affected the show’s many deep and meaningful messages.

I’ll probably get a book about it dropped on my desk one of these days.

The fall-out from McCain vs. Hagee (and Parsley)

I’ve come across some interesting reactions to John McCain’s disavowal of an endorsement by televangelist John Hagee.

Hagee, of course, was first criticized for calling the Roman Catholic Church “the great whore” (for which he apologized) and for linking the Catholic Church to Hitler’s “final solution” for the Jews (a comment he said was misunderstood).

237hageeflag.jpgMcCain, though, broke ranks after it came out that Hagee (that’s him) also said that God sent Hitler to chase the Jews back to Israel (those who survived, apparently).

The Washington Post says that McCain’s rejections of Hagee and the Rev. Rod Parsley, another televangelist with a vast following, may hurt his support from evangelicals.

The Post notes:

Parsley said in a statement that he does not fault McCain, and he blamed the fallout on unidentified “political hit squads.”

Parsley has growing clout among evangelical Christians, a group he calls the “largest special interest group in America.” The pastor has said that he was divinely placed in Ohio to help influence presidential elections, telling a Christian magazine that he believes “in the geographic locating abilities of the Holy Spirit.”

Meanwhile, a Mother Jones blog says that Jewish groups are willing to forgive Hagee’s Hitler comment because of his strong support for Israel.

Blogger Justin Elliott says he asked the American Jewish Committee, the ADL and AIPAC if they would “finally take Hagee to task for his outrageous comments and for seeing Jews primarily in terms of their role in his eschatology?”

“The short answer is no,” he writes.

‘Oh, Davey’

I just heard that the creator of the “Davey and Goliath” TV show died earlier this month.

Richad T. Sutcliffe, who worked for many years in Lutheran communications, was 90. The son of a Lutheran minister, he lived in Dallas.

Davey and Goliath” aired from 1961 to 1976 and had an undeniable impact on the culture. It was what they called a stop-action animated show — or claymation — not unlike “Gumby.”together2.jpg

Every now and then, I hear someone reminisce about an episode of the show (where gee-whiz Davey would inevitably get into a minor bind and learn both the error of his ways and a lesson about God from his dog/conscience).

Or I hear someone mimick Goliath’s way of slurring “Davvvveeey.”

I wonder how many kids who watched the show back then knew that Davey (and Goliath?) were Lutherans. The family name was Hansen.

The show was produced by the Lutheran Church in America, which later merged with two other Lutheran bodies to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1988.

According to an obit in the Dallas Morning News:

Mr. Sutcliffe was director of Lutheran radio and television ministry in New York when he was approached by church leaders about using television to reach young people, said his daughter, J.T. Sutcliffe of Dallas.

“They wanted to do a little sermonette sort of thing, and Dad said, ‘In the television medium, people aren’t going to put up with that.’ ”

He proposed a format that would offer sound theology while being entertaining, his daughter said.

Mr. Sutcliffe’s team included Gumby creators Art Clokey and Ruth Clokey Goodell.

In 2004, Mr. Sutcliffe recalled that his goal in creating the series was to tell children how much God cares about them but that God also gives them responsibilities. The series featured a boy, Davey Hansen, and his talking dog, Goliath.

“Dad wrote the first several scripts, edited … and was the executive director from the Lutheran church standpoint,” Ms. Sutcliffe said.

It was years before Mr. Sutcliffe realized the impact his work had on viewers.

“People started saying, ‘My children love that,’ or ‘We loved it growing up,’ ” his daughter said. “He’s gotten a lot of good and positive feedback in these years looking back on it. I knew that he was happy with it then.”

Race and religion, then and now

The Jeremiah Wright saga, no doubt, triggered a lot of talk about the state and history of the black church in the U.S.

And about the relationship between race (and racism) and religion in this country.

The AP talked to people across the country about how their experiences regarding race affect their faith (and vice versa). I don’t know how many people saw the lengthy feature, penned by Shelia Byrd and contributed to by several others, so here it is:

(NOTE: The picture, by the AP’s Frank Franklin II, is of Mother AME Zion Church in Harlem.)

Associated Press Writer

Jesse McGee points to trophies he won in local marathons. He mentions his work with youth and volunteer school programs. He praises his church’s efforts to deliver scripture lessons to inmates.

For more than an hour, the 84-year-old church deacon, who is black, chats about his life, largely ignoring the subject at hand: racism.

It isn’t until his wife, Warine, sheepishly shares that their son’s wife is white that McGee offers a confession: He had been uncomfortable with the union for nearly 30 years — until his Bible study class offered enlightenment.

His story represents a snapshot of how America’s racial landscape is navigated daily, often with religion as guidance.

The issue of race drew sharp focus as Barack Obama’s contentious split with his longtime pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, played out in a national glare. In response, the United Church of Christ and National Council of Churches USA called on 10,000 ministers to initiate a “sacred conversation on race.”

7dbe6b83df7e440fbdccceda6f485b1f.jpg“The realities of race have not been addressed adequately,” says the Rev. John Thomas, president of the UCC. “Racism continues to demean and diminish human lives in this country.”

To listen in on that conversation, Associated Press reporters across the nation engaged pastors and parishioners about their individual experiences with racism.

They talked with a choir soprano whose faith fueled her defiance of racist laws, and with members of an all-white congregation that took the risky move of hiring a black pastor. They interviewed ministers who act as a conduit between the alienated and those who would judge them.

They found personal stories, like McGee’s, where religion can soothe a painfully sensitive dialogue and help summon mutual respect.

The conversation, which grew loud and rancorous around the Wright episode, started long before and continues afterward, but in softer tones that show the faithful want to be constructive, want to make progress, want their voices heard. Listen.


The picture on the fireplace mantel at McGee’s home in Jackson, Miss., shows a young man whose cream-colored skin hints at his mixed-race heritage.

It is far more than the likeness of a grandson — the offspring of the union between McGee’s black son and white daughter-in-law. For this grandfather, the picture also is a reflection of a black man’s spiritual journey through the painful past of a Jim Crow society to acceptance and love that ended at a church altar.

It was 1972 when McGee’s son, James Brooks, told him he had done something that was unfathomable in the older man’s mind. Brooks had married a fellow graduate student at the University of Michigan — a native New Yorker, and she was white.

The young couple moved to Mississippi that year to teach at what is now Jackson State University. The campus had been the site of racial violence that left two black men dead in 1970.

From the beginning, McGee was beset with unease.

“I had to work on that one. I was raised here, and that was a no-no. I know what would happen to you here if you just looked at (a white woman),” McGee said. “I’ve gotten past that now. When we started studying about ‘one blood’ that was a big help.” Continue reading

E.J. Dionne in New Ro tomorrow

20070416_dionne_3.jpgThe omnipresent political and social commentator E.J. Dionne will speak tomorrow evening (June 29) at 7:30 at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 10 Mill Road, in New Rochelle.

He’ll be talking about Catholic involvement in political life. He’ll address the Catholic bishops’ recent document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: Reflections on Catholic Teaching and Political Life,” and will certainly promote his own new book, “Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics After the Religious Right.”

The event is free and open to the public.

It’s being sponsored by the Upper Room, a group of progressive Catholics with ties to the College of New Rochelle.