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Entries in Vatican (30)


The Religious Wisdom Of Retired Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong

This video transcript of John Shelby Spong, retired Episcopal bishop from Newark, N.J., is part of an interview by Keith Morrison for Dateline, NBC, Aug. 13, 2006, provides tremendous food for thought.

Spong: I don’t think Hell exists. I happen to believe in life after death, but I don’t think it’s got a thing to do with reward and punishment. Religion is always in the control business, and that’s something people don’t really understand. It’s in a guilt-producing control business. And if you have Heaven as a place where you’re rewarded for you goodness, and Hell is a place where you’re punished for your evil, then you sort of have control of the population. And so they create this fiery place which has quite literally scared the Hell out of a lot of people, throughout Christian history. And it’s part of a control tactic.

Morrison: But wait a minute. You’re saying that Hell, the idea of a place under the earth or somewhere you’re tormented for an eternity – is actually an invention of the church?

Spong: I think the church fired its furnaces hotter than anybody else. But I think there’s a sense in most religious life of reward and punishment in some form. The church doesn’t like for people to grow up, because you can’t control grown-ups. That’s why we talk about being born again. When you’re born again, you’re still a child. People don’t need to be born again. They need to grow up. They need to accept their responsibility for themselves and the world.

Morrison: What do you make of the theology which is pretty quite prominent these days in America, which is there is one guaranteed way not to go to hell; And that is to accept Jesus as your personal savior.

Spong: Yeah, I grew up in that tradition. Every church I know claims that ‘we are the true church’  – that they have some ultimate authority, ‘We have the infallible Pope,’ We have the Bible.’… The idea that the truth of God can be bound in any human system, by any human creed, by any human book, is almost beyond imagination for me.

I mean, God is not a Christian. God is not a Jew or a Muslim or a Hindi or Buddhist. All of those are human systems, which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honor my tradition. I walk through my tradition. But I don’t think my tradition defines God. It only points me to God.

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Italy's Conflicted Soul: In This Sensually Rich Country, Violence Against Women Rises

Photographer Szymon Brodziak shoots a visually delicious, mysterious spy story for Martini Cava in Rome. Ironically, in this AOC feature that links one of the most sensual countries in the world with its severe problem with violence against women, everyone is mentioned in the credits but the models.

Born in 1979 in Poland, Brodziak shoots only in black and white.

Violence Against Italian Women

Many women were horrified to read in May that acid attacks against women are escalating in Italy. It seems a total contradiction in reality that a country so drenched in sensual beauty and authentic joie de vivre Italian style leads the European continent in violence against women. 

The rise in assaults against Italian women in which they are murdered by their lovers in acts of jealousy causes particular concern. One of the latest victims was a 15-year-old girl beaten, stabbed 20 times and then burned alive, allegedly by her boyfriend who has confessed.

It’s said that Fabiana Luzzi bled for two hours in the southern town of Corigliano Calabro, when her jealous boyfriend returned with a tank of gas. The young woman tried to fight him off when “he doused her with fuel and set her afire.”

A recent UN Report says that homicides against men have fallen in Italy, as violence rises against women. Author of the report Rashida Manjoo says  that 78 percent of all violence against women in Italy is domestic in nature, with one third of Italian women reporting facing physical or sexual violence during their lifetimes. It’s believed those numbers are underreported.

Even on television, Italian women keep their mouths shut. Manjoo cited studies that found that 53 percent of women appearing on television in Italy didn’t speak, while 46 percent of them “were associated with issues such as sex, fashion and beauty, and only 2 percent issues of social commitment and professionalism.”

Italy Ratifies Istanbul Convention

On June 7 Lithuania signed the Council of Europe Convention dedicated to preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Called the Istanbul Convention, the initiative was introduced in May 2011 and has been ratified by only five other states — Albania, Montenegro, Portugal, Turkey and most recently Italy.

It’s not clear how many delays in ratification are cultural versus institutional. New Europe reports:

“For example, the convention requires a free national telephone hotline for victims of domestic violence. In an interview this month, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told the French press that – starting next year – such a nation-wide telephone hotline would be made available. France is among the 25 states which have signed, but not yet ratified the convention.”

In its essence, the Istanbul Treaty says that domestic violence is not a private matter, that states have an obligation to prevent violence, protect victims and punish the perpetrators.

Like the recently passed UN Treaty to protect women, opposed by the Vatican, fundamenalist Islamists including the Muslim Brotherhood, the treaty bans cultural customs based on religion and ‘honour crimes’. In fact, the Vatican led activity at the March UN Summit, trying to defeat the measure.

Religious Bodies

Satan, Yoga & Fashion Monasticism Challenge Our Embrace of Body & Self? Questions Worth Considering Anne’s Blog

I was rather shocked to read that yoga is considered the work of the devil. Sure enough, former Vatican exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth says that yoga — along with Harry Potter — are the tools of the devil. And retired Pope Benedict has warned that yoga “can degenerate into a cult of the body.” Bottom line, in the case of Christianity, ambivalence about having a healthy relationship with one’s body and sexuality are a daily struggle.


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David Bowie's 'The Next Day' Video Savages Un-Christ-like Catholic Church

French Roast News

Anne is reading …

David Bowie’s latest video ‘The Next Day’ is back up on YouTube after being taken down from the Google-owned website a few hours after being uploaded. The video in which David Bowie is dressed as Christ, accompanied by Gary Oldman as a debauched priest and Marion Cotillard as a prostitute was said to have “breached YouTube’s terms of service.”

The Independent reports that former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey called the video “juvenile”. 

He told The Telegraph: “If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery perhaps Christians should not worry too much at such an exploitation of religious imagery.”

“I doubt that Bowie would have the courage to use Islamic imagery - I very much doubt it.”

There is no doubt that the video for ‘The Next Day’ is heavily critical of the Church. Imagery includes a Cardinal dancing with a bare-breasted woman, stigmata wounds erupted in the hands of Cotillard, and a figure engaged in self-flagellation.

‘The Next Day’ video is directed by Italian photographer Floria Sigismondi, who began her career as a fashion photographer.

Religious Purity in Rome

Did Pope Clement VII Father Alessandro de Medici with a Nigerian Slave Girl? AOC Sensual Rebel

This attempt to focus didn’t last. When the goddess knocking begins, it’s futile to try to beat it back. Accepting that there is a reason why I flew off to Florence in my Italian-inspired burst of creativity last week — and it has nothing to do with my glorious, sexy existence in and out of the country for years — I began Googling. 

Ask and you will receive! Within minutes I was on PBS Frontline, reading about Alessandro de Medici, the great 16th century Italian Renaissance figure whose Medici prince remains are buried in the famous tomb of Michaelangelo.

Without even trying to mount my religious hypocrisy soapbox, enter stage right one 17-year-old Cardinal Giulio de Medici, as the father of Alessandro. The later Pope Clement VII, is believed by researchers to be the father of a bastard child conceived with a North African slave girl.

Good goddess! A Catholic pope is unintentionally besmirched by my flower pots in this accidental bout with the creative truth.

Doomed | 2Ps in a Pod

Believing in Birth Control Doesn’t Make Me Un-American AOC Sensual Rebel

I just watched a PBS segment on family planning in the Philippines. In it the Catholic bishop spoke aggressively against controlling population, saying that it was fine that women have as many children as possible. We both know the Catholic Church believes it is a woman’s duty. It’s the world’s challenge to figure out how to feed all these babies, not for women to have fewer children argues the bishop who has never had a baby in his life.

(This wandering essay was part of Anne’s short-lived 2012 blog with a Catholic brother. Brother Dennis assured her that he would stand by her, as she was called a whore and every other despicable name in the book. Instead, the brother threw her to the wolves. Based on Anne’s most recent skirmish with the Catholic Church, the new David Bowie video ‘The Next Day’ got her attention.)