In Defense of the Catholic Church

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

I’ve been keep­ing a leery weath­er eye on the cur­rent in­car­na­tion of the chron­ic Catholic priest sex abuse scan­dal. It dis­gusts me.

If you are Catholic and you have in­formed your­self about this cur­rent batch of priest­ly rape and tor­ture of chil­dren and you ig­nore it, equiv­o­cate, ra­tio­nal­ize, or oth­er­wise at­tempt to de­fend or mit­i­gate the ac­tions of the priest­ly rapists and tor­tur­ers of chil­dren, the church hierarchy’s re­spon­se and ac­tions re­gard­ing those priest­ly rapists and tor­tur­ers, or the re­spon­si­bil­i­ty of any cler­gy or laity who has known the slight­est bit about the priest­ly rape and tor­ture of chil­dren, up to and in­clud­ing the Pope, you are an ac­com­plice to the priest­ly rape and tor­ture of chil­dren who are mem­bers of the very fam­i­ly you claim to be­long to.

If you are Catholic and you have in­formed your­self about this cur­rent batch of priest­ly rape and tor­ture of chil­dren (some of which has been per­pe­trat­ed by priests for longer than I have been alive), and you wish to hold on to some mod­icum of re­spect for your­self, you must:

  • Examine your con­science, es­pe­cial­ly if you feel in­clined to equiv­o­cate, ra­tio­nal­ize or oth­er­wise at­tempt to de­fend any­thing hav­ing to do with the priest­ly rape and tor­ture of chil­dren;
  • Hold the per­pe­tra­tors of the­se crimes, and the in­sti­tu­tion that has en­abled their sin ful­ly ac­count­able for their ac­tions, in the courts of law, with pris­on sen­tences, and do all that you can to make sure that they are held ful­ly ac­count­able by so­ci­ety;
  • Repent for the sins of the Body you be­long to;
  • Take a penance. The Church Itself should take on a penance, dis­clos­ing all in­for­ma­tion it has re­lat­ed to the priest­ly rape and tor­ture of chil­dren, and chang­ing its poli­cies, pro­ce­dures and cul­ture of non-re­spon­si­bil­i­ty and se­cre­cy to some­thing a bit more hum­ble and Christ-like.
  • Then, af­ter all this has been ac­com­plished, hope for for­give­ness.

I want to hear no ar­gu­ments about how un­fair the me­dia or any­one else is treat­ing the Catholic Church. I want to hear no ar­gu­ments about how the Pope isn’t re­spon­si­ble, or any dis­agree­ment re­gard­ing pos­si­ble rea­sons why the in­sti­tu­tion that has en­abled the priest­ly rape and tor­ture of chil­dren is be­ing tar­get­ed. I want to hear no mis­di­rec­tion of blame, no calls for me to ex­plain how I can feel right­eous enough to make the­se claims when I’m a sin­ner my­self. My po­si­tion is unas­sail­able. I have the moral high ground here. There are very few, if any moral grounds low­er than the rape and tor­ture of chil­dren.

If you do any of the­se things, you are en­abling the con­tin­u­ing, chron­ic and de­praved cul­ture that cur­rent­ly pro­tects those priests who rape and tor­ture chil­dren.

There is and can be no de­fense for the priest­ly rape and tor­ture of chil­dren, ever.

What do all Catholics, but es­pe­cial­ly Church Itself need from the rest of the world? Attempts at em­pa­thy, prayer, and the hands of jus­tice, both scale and sword.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan is a lit­tle bit nicer about it.

Cirque Imaginaire

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Yesterday I went to the Sachsenheim for Cirque Imaginaire, a trav­el­ing art gallery. There were a lot of arts & crafts packed in­to the hall, and I squeezed through the throngs with a gi­ant mug of beer.

Two booths re­al­ly caught my eye, the t-shirts from Psycho Reindeer, and Erin Carek’s sci­ence-fic­tion col­lage work. I picked up the set of rock­et­man coast­ers from her. Erin is al­so re­spon­si­ble for or­ga­niz­ing the art show. The ad­di­tion of a few good bands helped make the night a great time.

Here are the bands:

And here are a few of the folks there who had stuff I liked:

Cuyahoga Charter Transition Thoughts

Saturday, 27 March 2010

On Thursday, af­ter work but be­fore I went to my Applied Quantitative Statistics class at CSU, I spent 3 hours at the Cuyahoga County Ombudsman’s Office mak­ing phone calls to Charter Transition vol­un­teers. Along with oth­er mem­bers of the Public Engagement Committee, I was call­ing vol­un­teers that we’d iden­ti­fied as like­ly to not have heard from a speci­fic work­group. The goal was to de­ter­mine if they were still in­ter­est­ed in par­tic­i­pat­ing and of­fer them some op­tions on in­volv­ing them­selves, while pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion about up­com­ing plans for the Economic Development Workgroup.

I hate tele­phones. Most folks who know me know this. I don’t even like call­ing my good friends and fam­i­ly. So I wasn’t look­ing for­ward to mak­ing cold calls to strangers. What I was look­ing for­ward to was find­ing out what ques­tions, com­ments and ideas the vol­un­teers on my list would have about the process, the County or what­ev­er. I love hear­ing what oth­er peo­ple have to say. That’s just part of my per­son­al­i­ty. After I’ve got that in­for­ma­tion, my an­thro­pol­o­gy de­gree kicks in and I try to fig­ure out what all the­se thoughts and opin­ions mean. I’m used to hear­ing opin­ions about the County from my fel­low County em­ploy­ees, who have all been around a lot longer than I have, or read­ing about it (es­pe­cial­ly over the last 2 years) in a neg­a­tive light (typ­i­cal­ly mag­ni­fied in the com­ments) on Cleveland​.com.

To some ex­tent I was ex­pect­ing more of the same when I made the­se calls.

Much to my sur­prise and plea­sure, every­one I called and ac­tu­al­ly got to talk to was ex­treme­ly sup­port­ive, in­ter­est­ed in the in­for­ma­tion I had to im­part and en­thu­si­as­tic to get in­volved.

I’m go­ing to be self-im­por­tant for a mo­ment to make a point. For years I’ve been work­ing in ways that I hope will em­pow­er reg­u­lar folks to af­fect change in their com­mu­ni­ties. It’s been a bumpy ride, and I’ve learned a lot through tri­al and er­ror. I see this process I’m en­gag­ing in now as an­oth­er chance to make that hap­pen. I con­sid­er my­self an open gov­ern­ment ad­vo­cate, and I’ve learned a lot about the wide-spread in­sti­tu­tion­al re­sis­tance again­st the­se ef­forts by in­ter­act­ing with folks at GovLoop, work­ing on the eGov­ern­ment Interest Group at the World Wide Web Consortium, and think­ing through things on my own at The Design State. I even based one of my pa­pers for my PAD 600 course on the run-up (and de­lays sur­round­ing) the Obama administration’s Open Government Directive. (Somewhat iron­i­cal­ly, the OGD was re­leased the day af­ter I turned in my pa­per.)

The point of all that is that I’ve done some home­work on in­clud­ing cit­i­zens in the process­es of gov­ern­ment. That’s all great, right?

Not re­al­ly.

All the work I’ve done on my own, and that the Charter Transition is do­ing now doesn’t mean squat with­out pro­duc­tive and con­struc­tive cit­i­zen in­volve­ment. It was heart­en­ing to me to do the phone bank­ing, be­cause I heard from just a few of the 1000+ vol­un­teers, and they were all ready to get to work. Including them dur­ing this Transition process and do­ing our best to keep them (and oth­ers) around af­ter it ends can on­ly strength­en the work that the County does as an in­sti­tu­tion.

I have high hopes but re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions. I know very well that every rec­om­men­da­tion made by the Charter Transition work­groups might be dis­missed and thrown out by the new­ly elect­ed coun­cil and ex­ec­u­tive. If that hap­pens, bum­mer. It will be a blow to all of the vol­un­teers who have worked on pro­vid­ing op­tions to im­prove our coun­ty. The out­come I’m hop­ing for, whether or not the work­group rec­om­men­da­tions are ac­cept­ed, is that both the County and its cit­i­zens re­al­ize that work­ing to­geth­er is bet­ter for every­one, and that ef­forts to provide more in­for­ma­tion to cit­i­zens and in­clude them in the busi­ness of the County should be­come busi­ness as usu­al. This Transition process can, at the very least, be an ex­er­cise that lets cit­i­zens fig­ure out how to in­ter­act with gov­ern­ment and gov­ern­ment in­ter­act with cit­i­zens.

When I first start­ed work­ing for the County in December 2006, there were talks about mov­ing to the Ameritrust com­plex on East 9th Street. I had a vi­sion of re­brand­ing the County as “The New Cleveland Trust Company”. Now’s our chance to make that phrase do more than just sound catchy.

Disclaimer Time

This post is my opin­ion and does not nec­es­sar­i­ly re­flect the thoughts, opin­ions, pro­ce­dures or plans of Cuyahoga County, the Cuyahoga County Charter Transition Advisory Group, or the Public Engagement Workgroup.

New Design

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Well, I’ve got a new de­sign up, fi­nal­ly. Doesn’t look too much dif­fer­ent on the face. Most of the changes are be­hind the sce­nes, HTML5 and CSS3. If you’ve got the right browser, you might see some cool fonts and oth­er stuff. As usu­al, it ain’t com­plete, if I ever get around to it some oth­er cool­ness might ap­pear.

Well, it fig­ures, some stuff isn’t work­ing cor­rect­ly that worked just fine on my de­vel­op­ment box. Switched back to the old de­sign un­til I can fig­ure it out.

Well, I fi­nal­ly fig­ured out the bugs. @font-face should be work­ing now, I’m us­ing Greyscale and Midiet. The whole de­sign is cod­ed in HTML5, and I was us­ing every CSS3 bell and whistle just for prac­tice but end­ed up rip­ping most of them out. I plan on mak­ing a few more up­dates and to con­duct an au­dit of all my posts, to clean them up, but that process will take even longer than it did for me to come up with a new de­sign.

Thou Shalt

Sunday, 14 March 2010

“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the an­i­mals, de­spise rich­es, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stu­pid and crazy, de­vote your in­come and labor to oth­ers, hate tyrants, ar­gue not con­cern­ing God, have pa­tience and in­dul­gence to­ward the peo­ple, take off your hat to noth­ing known or un­known or to any man or num­ber of men, go freely with pow­er­ful un­e­d­u­cat­ed per­sons and with the young and with the moth­ers of fam­i­lies, read the­se leaves in the open air every sea­son of every year of your life, re-ex­am­ine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dis­miss what­ev­er in­sults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great po­em and have the rich­est flu­en­cy not on­ly in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and be­tween the lash­es of your eyes and in every mo­tion and joint of your body…”
Preface to Leaves of Grass — Walt Whitman