Alan Wolfe has a very smart, concise review of a book about Reinhold Niebuhr by John Patrick Diggins, published posthumously after Diggins untimely death in 2009. Wolfe, who is a careful thinker and writer, clarifies some of the ways that Niebuhr is invoked carelessly by those with a political agenda. Well worth the read.
One of the commenters on my blog post about playing the organ at St. Joseph’s Church mentioned going on an “organ crawl” in Holland. For those unfamiliar with the term, an “organ crawl” is when one or more organists make a tour of instruments in a region. I do not know why the word “crawl” is employed, except that some organs are in lofts with difficult access.
In the event, my organ crawl of Northeast Connecticut continued this weekend. On Friday, I went to St. Mark’s Episcopal Chapel in Storrs, Connecticut, located right on the campus of the University of Connecticut. St. Mark’s hosts a 1978 organ built by John Brombaugh, an organ builder in Oregon. In that summer of 1978, I was a go-fer on the project of installing this organ and learned a great deal about the intricate mechanics of the instrument.
Today is the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, the patronal feast of the island of Puerto Rico and especially of the archdiocese of San Juan. So, a hearty "Feliz Fiesta" to Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez of San Juan and to all our readers on that blessed isle.
At the New Republic, Peter schrag writes about a new memo from the Obama administration that suggests a more humane way forward on deportations and other immigration-related policies. It is about time, as Schrag notes. It is also necessary that those of us concerned about immigrants keep the pressure on the administration. Gay rights activists, especially fundraisers, made it clear to the administration that unless the White House put all its efforts behind the effort to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, those activists would sit out the next election. We should not sell our support cheaply either and must make sure that the words in the hopeful memo are actually translated into action on the ground.
I know, I know: Who wants to read something that is sure to depress them? But, read it we must. Philadelphia Magazine has a long story about the sex abuse scandal that continues to rock that city.
The most damning quote:
Earlier this week, I called attention to a posting by Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, at his blog, in which he spoke about the Church’s stance towards contemporary issues regarding gays and lesbians, defended the Church’s beliefs about traditional marriage, and placed the Church’s stance on gay marriage properly alongside the Church’s stance against divorce and other threats to traditional marriage.
Most importantly, Cardinal O’Malley placed the entire issue of defending traditional marriage within the Church’s most fundamental anthropological and ethical belief, the inviolability of human dignity. The key graphs in O’Malley’s statement read:
Over at Sussidiario, Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete has a fine essay on Dorothy Day. Albacete is, in his own very different way, possessed of a certain saintliness, so it is unsurprising that he finds in Day's life and witness that marks of sanctity as well. And, therein, the breezes of the Spirit by which God renews the face of the earth.
Dan Gilgoff at CNN has an article up about the religiosity of newly minted presidential aspirant and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Like Mitt Romney, Huntsman is a Mormon, but the two seem to approach their religion quite differently.
There is a lot to learn about Huntsman, and examining a candidate's religion has become par for the course, which is not entirely unwelcome. Before we entrust the vast powers of the presidency to any man or woman, we should know a lot about what does and does not motivate them, whence they derive their values, what influences have shaped their worldview. It is imperative, however, that Americans embrace the spirit of the Constitution's ban on religious tests for office. As voters, we tend to embrace a whole range of concerns and considerations when assessing a candidate, but it is bigotry to consider a person's religion against them. A candidate should be able to explain how his or her religion does or does not inform their views, but we are not electing a Theologian-in-Chief.
Generally speaking, when a President finds a speech being criticized alike by the more extreme partisans of both left and right, he probably got it just about right.
Last night, President Obama outlined his policy regarding the war in Afghanistan. The increase in troops he ordered in January 2009, the "surge," always came with a timetable. Obama never gave Gen. Petraeus an open-ended engagement nor, to be clear, did Petraeus ever ask for one. Naturally, any commander would rather have more resources than fewer, but Obama's decision to draw down 10,000 troops this year and an additional 23,000 next year reportedly fell within the parameters Petraeus outlined.
If you happened to wander into St. Joseph’s Church in Willimantic, Connecticut yesterday and heard the organ music, you would have been tempted to shout up to the organist, “Could you try that last number…without the mittens.” In an effort to touch the mystic chords of memory, I returned to the instrument where I largely learned to play as a teenager and where I performed my one and only recital. Alas, it has been a few years since I touched the keyboard, so there were many and frequent wrong notes. But, I did, in fact, touch those mystic chords and they were not only musical in nature.