Wisdom Wednesday | December 14th

AUSCP NewsDecember 14Roundup

Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday. Topics this week include critics of Pope Francis, a tool to measure the “moral injury” of sex abuse, a view of voting as “a certain kind of prayer,” and a Mormon TikTok star offers deadpan humor along with biblical scholarship. New Zealand bans selling cigarettes to 13-year olds this year, 14 year olds next year, 15-year olds after that and on and on for a lifetime.

We also find news of Greek myth, modern witchcraft and living volcanoes. Also, wearing a veil in Iran, freedom not to believe in the United States, and a push for a papal encyclical on Gospel Non-Violence.

We offer a question: Should the Cherokee Nation have a delegate in Congress?

We begin, though, with the sad anniversary of the Sandy Hook murders, ten years ago today. We offer a report from the Associated Press.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis’ critics are gutting the Gospel, says Michael Sean Winters. They are “misrepresenting what he says,” “fanning the flames of alarm,” “assuming the worst about the synodal process, and crossing the line between criticism and defamation.”

Meanwhile, a new conference in Rome could serve as a push for a papal encyclical on Gospel nonviolence – an idea favored by an AUSCP working group – and Bishop John Stowe (an AUSCP member) writes about the pope’s peacemaking efforts.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Mexico’s largest religious pilgrimage for its Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe returned Monday without restrictions for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. For two years, the multi-day pilgrimage had been cancelled or curtailed because the massive numbers of faithful presented a risk of contagion.

Meanwhile, the Pope on Mexican feast day sympathized with migrant caravans.

When one digs deeply into the Marian image revealed to St. Juan Diego and Bishop Juan Zumárraga, OFM in 1531, a distinctly Black Catholic narrative emerges. Nate Tinner-Williams dives in.

Politics and morality

Voting is “a certain kind of prayer,” some may conclude. Raphael Warnock’s election victory leads Democrats to eye faith as a pathway to greater victory in the South, elevating the various causes of the religious left.

New state legislative sessions are likely to bring fresh efforts to restrict, penalize or altogether ban abortion in the reddest states.

A seat in the house? In 1835, the Treaty of New Echota forcibly removed the Cherokee Nation from its homelands in Georgia to lands west of the Mississippi, resulting in the deaths of thousands on what became known as the Trail of Tears. The same Treaty also guaranteed the Cherokee Nation a delegate in Congress — a promise that has never resulted in so much as a hearing, until now. The Native Organizers Alliance Fund is seeking signatures on a petition.

Religious Rights

Black Catholic scholars have signed on to a new statement proclaiming the “unique gifts” of transgender and nonbinary persons and calling for anti-discrimination efforts throughout the Church and the wider society.

Humanists International has taken its annual look at how non-religious individuals — comprising atheists, agnostics, humanists and freethinkers — are treated because of their lack of religion or absence of belief in a god.

The veil in Iran has been an enduring symbol of patriarchal norms – but its use has changed depending on who is in power.

Some Native Hawaiians believe volcanoes are alive and should be treated like people, with distinct rights and responsibilities. The eruption of Mauna Loa is a profound spiritual experience for many Native Hawaiians. An anthropologist explains Native American beliefs on the living Earth and volcanic lava.

Supreme Court

Once again, the U.S. Supreme Court will resume issuing its decisions in the courtroom. Major decisions are expected on elections, the use of race in college admissions and the clash of religion and gay rights.

Same sex marriage

In the next few months, the Church of England’s long-running debate on marriage for same-sex couples may come to a head.

Religion News Service offers a look at why the LDS and Catholic churches parted ways on the Respect for Marriage Act. “They understand the world, and their place in it, differently.”

Pfleger cleared

Chicago priest Michael Pfleger is cleared of abuse charges and reinstated to St. Sabina. Cardinal Blase Cupic of the Archdiocese of Chicago announced Saturday that an investigation had found no support for the allegations against the well-known priest.

How do you measure abuse?

A research team from Xavier University in Cincinnati has created a tool that measures the “moral injury” caused by clergy sexual abuse and its concealment by officials in the Catholic Church.

The times, they are a-changing

As attendance dips, churches change to stay relevant for a new wave of worshippers.

An Historic Salt Lake City congregation has sold its meetinghouse, now downsized and moved into another church’s space. It’s an increasingly familiar trend.

Away from the headlines

A Mormon TikTok star debunks Bible conspiracies and misinformation. Religion News Service repoprts that more than a quarter-million TikTok followers enjoy Dan McClellan’s unusual combination of deadpan humor and solid biblical scholarship.

RNS also discovers what Greek myth tells us about modern witchcraft. From ancient Greece to modern-day TikTok witchcraft, the world of witches has been a changing one.

Chat GPT technology – a ‘second brain’

Chat GPT technology will write a full-fledged essay for you on any topic of your choosing. In a nano-second. Open Artificial Intelligence takes your question, scans the internet for answers and compiles a coherent statement out of fragments of data. It could fool an overworked English teacher or maybe even a college admission board. Could it write a sermon or a homily? Will it rot our brains?

“It’s going to be fascinating to see how people incorporate this second brain into their job,” writer Derek Thompson says. It has intensified the debate over what the rise of AI-generated writing and art means for work, culture, education, and more.

Congratulations to NETWORK

This Saturday, December 17, marks 51 years since 47 women religious gathered in Washington, D.C. Called together by their faith and commitment to doing the work of justice, they discerned, prayed, and ultimately, built a vision for a better world by founding NETWORK.

A law that ages as you age

New Zealand on Tuesday passed into law a unique plan to phase out tobacco smoking by imposing a lifetime ban on young people buying cigarettes. The law states that tobacco can’t ever be sold to anybody born on or after Jan. 1, 2009. It means the minimum age for buying cigarettes will keep going up and up. In theory, somebody trying to buy a pack of cigarettes 50 years from now would need ID to show they were at least 63 years old.

Happy Holidays!

Back from last week! Check out the following entries from an Interfaith Calendar, for the month of December. Some unfamiliar names and traditions are included – perhaps an augmented context for the usual lame greeting, Happy Holidays.

Support Wisdom Wednesday

We hope you have enjoyed this roundup of recent news about faith, politics, and culture. We will return next week with another edition of Wisdom Wednesday.

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