It hardly seems possible that it’s been a year since tmatt was giving me pointers on how to write for GetReligion. There was so much I had to learn — and although I’ve learned a lot, I haven’t learned everything, by any means. Sometimes I read the work of my GetReligion colleagues and wonder how they make it appear so easy.
Eleven years ago gay teen Matthew Shephard was beaten and left to die on a Wyoming fencepost. That was also the year three white men in a truck, in another sickening act of violence, pulled African American James Byrd behind them until he was dead. This past Wednesday, President Obama signed the Matthew Shephard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. In a fairly common practice, it was passed as part of a totally unrelated spending bill.
Yes, I do read the women’s mag Marie Claire – this wasn’t a tip from one of our commenters.
As my GetReligion colleagues and the media (particularly the Brits, of course) have again and noted this week, again portrayed Pope Benedict’s move to create a personal ordinariate for conservative Anglicans as a bold move to poach members from the world’s third-largest denomination. Terry had praise for a story in the New York Times which noted that accepting Anglican priests into the Catholic Church was by no means without precedent.
As you can see from the numerous posts on media coverage of the pope’s outreach to conservative Anglicans this past week, clerical celibacy has been a subplot (not solely fostered, but certainly abbeted by a speculative press). And then there is of course, the shadow side we have seen covered before — the sex abuse scandals of the past 25 years. These involve mostly pederasts — clergy abusing children.
Sunday evening the Catholic diocese of Wilmington, Del. filed for bankruptcy protection — just ahead of the start of Monday morning trials to weigh the claims of potentially hundreds of victims of clergy sex abuse. This is big news here in the United States — and also abroad. As in the Irish Times article just referenced, it is being treated as a business story as well as, if not more, than a religion story.
Near-death experiences, phenomena that cross national, gender, age and religious lines, are a subject of great fascination to many here and around the world. The Amazon.com website has 15,908 possible links for books, starting with the “Big Book of Near-Death Experiences.” Little wonder if, as the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) says on its website, studies in the United States, Australia and Germany appear to suggest four to fifteen percent of the general population has had an NDE.
Another “faith-healing” tragedy. Another dead child. Another newspaper article.
Anyone concerned about America’s fertility industry should ponder “21st Century Babies” being posted in installlments on the the New York Times website. Writer Stephanie Saul is doing an excellent job of revealing the moral dilemmas and, frankly, distress and suffering that may occur when potential parents decide to try in-vitro and intrauterine insemination.