Wisdom Wednesday | July 5th

Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday. On this Fifth of July, we reflect on freedom, the decisions last week by the Supreme Court, the end of affirmative action, how people in other countries view the United States, and we add a few musical notes about a misunderstood song and a stunning tribute to America.

But first, we look at America without affirmative action, and at the Vatican without the Inquisition. Among interesting finds this week is a story about the increasing number of non-religious college chaplains and a report on why Barbie is banned in Vietnam.

While we are still working on displaying AUSCP Assembly videos on our website, we’ve added some audio and video links this week to a few unrelated items you may enjoy or disregard.

No more Inquisition

Pope Francis has appointed a bishop from his native Argentina to lead the Vatican office that enforces church doctrine. Francis named Monsignor Victor Manuel Fernández, the archbishop of La Plata, Argentina, as the prefect, or chief, of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. The doctrinal watchdog office has 16th-century roots in a commission to deal with heresy and schism, known as the Sacred Roman and Universal Inquisition (scathingly parodied by Monty Python and the Flying Circus).

Political News and Opinions

From MSNBC: The effective end of the Supreme Court’s term on Friday touched off what has become an annual tradition: summarizing the justices’ decisions. You can spin the data however you want, but the reality is actually simple. The conservative majority is pushing American law decisively to the right.

The Associated Press reports that “Overturning Roe v. Wade and eliminating affirmative action in higher education had been leading goals of the conservative legal movement for decades,” pointing out that “In a span of 370 days, a Supreme Court reshaped by three justices nominated by President Donald Trump made both a reality.

A Christian graphic artist who the Supreme Court said can refuse to make wedding websites for gay couples pointed during her lawsuit to a request from a man named “Stewart” and his husband-to-be. The twist? Stewart says it never happened. Stewart told The Associated Press last week that he didn’t even know his name had been invoked in the case until he was contacted by a reporter for The New Republic, which first reported his denial. Stewart said he was incredibly surprised, adding he has been married to a woman for 15years.

In an opinion piece at MSNBC, Jill Lawrence says “America’s foundational freedoms are shrinking” and that tens of millions of Americans are being deprived of rights that other Americans have.

America is viewed favorably by many people In other nations. That conclusion comes from Pew Research. Most say U.S. interferes in affairs of other countries, but also contributes to peace and stability.

In an opinion from Michael Sean Winters: “Bidenomics’ is good for the economy — and the president’s campaign.”

Some songs for the season

It is puzzling that Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” is often celebrated, perhaps because of its rousing rhythm, without noting its anti-Vietnam war lyrics. There is no mistaking the notion that “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” by Kris Kristofferson and sung by Janis Joplin. But post 9-11, Ray Charles offers words and images in praise of America the Beautiful, and Taylor Swift sings the National Anthem.

View from a new citizen

A Nigerian priest in Wisconsin writes in America magazine about the blessings of becoming an American citizen. (You may have to be a subscriber to read this account.)

A flag brings division

A proposal in Maine to build a billion dollar flag pole has riled up local opposition. The flagpole would be 1,461 feet tall, surpassing the Empire State Building, with elevators bringing people to observation decks where they could see clear to Canada. Frets one resident: “It’s like putting the Eiffel Tower in the Maine wilderness.”

Moms for Liberty

Moms for Liberty, a “parental rights” group that has sought to take over school boards in multiple states, is looking to expand those efforts across the country and to other education posts in 2024 and beyond. The effort is setting up a clash with teachers’ unions and others who view the group as a toxic presence in public schools. Among political figures linked with Moms for Liberty is Donald Trump.

Trump lawyer faces disbarment

US investigators zone in on Trump election-plot lawyer John Eastman. Experts say Eastman faces possible disbarment in California, under increasing scrutiny in federal and state inquiries.

Religious News

Catholics and Orthodox seek Ukraine peace: Papal envoy Cardinal Matteo Zuppi met with political and religious representatives in Moscow, June 28-30.

The archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky, the Most Reverend Shelton Fabre, was named temporary administrator to run the Knoxville diocese until a new bishop is installed.

Pope Francis is said to be “outraged and disgusted” upon learning that a man in Sweden publicly kicked a Quran and put bacon on it before burning it.

Meanwhile in the SBC: Earlier this year, five congregations — including Saddleback Church, which was one of the largest SBC churches in the country — were expelled from the SBC for having women pastors. Now, a North Carolina megachurch, known for its popular music and charismatic pastor, has left the Southern Baptist Convention.

Barbie banned in Vietnam

Vi Kien Thanh, director general of the Vietnam Cinema Department, was quoted as saying the National Film Evaluation Council made the decision to ban Barbie. It said a map in the film shows China’s “nine-dash line,” which extends Beijing’s territorial claims far into waters that fall within areas claimed by Vietnam and other countries.

Gospel nonviolence

Eileen Egan’s efforts to promote peace and “gospel nonviolence” left a significant mark on history. Her efforts to promote peace and what she called “gospel nonviolence,” as well as her service to refugees and other marginalized people, left a significant mark on the history of the 20th century. Her trailblazing work with Catholic Relief Services, Pax Christi USA, and the Catholic Worker movement continues to influence peace and social justice activists to this day.

Where not to look for love

The stories of LGBTQ, divorced, and disabled Catholics looking for loving relationships are drowned out by those that are simpler: young, heterosexual couples who marry and raise children. The story from US Catholic.

Top surgery, puberty, religion

These topics are all fair game at a Spencer LaJoye concert. Considered a “prophetic voice” by some, the queer songwriter Spencer LaJoye finds resonance outside religion, according to Religion News Service. Since LaJoye’s 2021 song “Plowshare Prayer” went viral invitations have come from churches asking for a performance by the artist who is “spiritual but not Christian.”

Bringing light without God

The number of humanist chaplains is growing. An article from Religion News Service features humanist chaplain Anthony Cruz Pantojas, and reports that colleges are moving to serve the 35% of millennials and 40% of Gen Z who say they are religiously unaffiliated.

Reflecting on waking up alive

We hoped for a miracle for OceanGate’s Titan crew. We ignore the ones waiting for us every day. Jewish tradition instructs that the first words to be uttered upon awakening in the morning are to be those of the short “Modeh Ani” statement of gratitude. It is one of the first things observant Jewish parents teach their young.

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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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