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Mary Magdalene

  Mary Magdalene                        Gerry OShea After the crucifixion the fledgling movement of Christians commemorated the life and death of a man who had deeply impacted their lives and who they firmly believed had come back from the dead   for reasons they didn’t understand but which included his love for them. The records we have of those times reveal that his early followers met in small groups to support each other in prayer and community as they tried to come to terms with the monumental events that they had witnessed, and this process continued into the generations that followed. The four gospels were mostly written late in the first century, probably completed in the early years of the following one. There is evidence of women playing leadership roles in the deliberations and ceremonial practices in those early centuries. However, as time went on the leadership structure reflected more and more the male-dominated culture that consigned women to minor ecclesial roles
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Democracy in Peril

  Democracy in Peril                Gerry OShea Athenian democracy lasted about 250 years from the early seventh century B.C.E. It was a magnificently successful experiment, involving military domination over the belligerent Persians while Athens grew in stature and wealth. And, famously, their educated class produced treasures of architecture, philosophy and art that continue on a high admiration pedestal to this day. The second experiment in democracy arose 2000 years later with the American constitution, guaranteeing representative local rule after George Washington and his colleagues ended British political control over the continent. The United States has dominated much of world history - economically, culturally and militarily - since that revolution in 1775. Like Athens, it too can claim major achievements as it approaches the 250-year marker. Unfortunately, the main message from the Greek experiment indicates that success does not breed success. Democracy has to be nurtur

Mandatory Celibacy for Priests

  Mandatory Celibacy for Priests                 Gerry OShea I cannot think of one good reason for the Catholic church to continue its policy of compulsory celibacy for priests. I search my mind in vain for any cogent explanation for maintaining the present damaging discipline. Up to the Second Lateran Council in 1139, most priests married, sharing that experience with the majority of the families in the pews. It seems that the main reason for the unfortunate policy alteration related to priests’ children claiming inheritance based on parentage. Understandably, this clashed with the church’s commitment to maintain ownership of any accumulated wealth. The inheritance problem could and should have been dealt with by other means than the extreme prohibition against marriage by priests. Sigmund Freud asserts that after self-preservation, the next most demanding human drive involves procreation, and celibates must find ways to respond to that human sexual imperative as much as married

Differing Utopias

  Differing Utopias                         Gerry OShea Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) is remembered mainly because he was beheaded for insisting that his boss, Henry V111, was breaching divine law by claiming leadership of the Catholic Church in England. Sir Thomas could never approve diminishing the authority of the pope, and, for his bravery and conviction he has been elevated by Rome to sainthood. Ironically, the Anglican Church, responding to the wheel of history, has also canonized him. His most famous book by far is a novella called Utopia . One of his contemporaries spoke of him as a man of “marvelous mirth,” and the new word he created for the title of his book certainly suggests a playful mind. Utopia, based on its derivation from the Greek, has two distinct and contradictory meanings as the “u” letter can convey a good or perfect community or it can indicate an unreal place that is too good to be true. The jokester author seems to be challenging his readers: take your pick

Abortion and the Law

    Abortion and the Law               Gerry OShea The 1973 Roe v Wade decision by the Supreme Court impacted the lives of tens of millions of Americans. It asserted a constitutional right to privacy allowing every woman to choose whether or not to continue her pregnancy. No government body at any level could interfere with her preference in this regard. For fifty years that right was accepted and in poll after poll it was validated by a majority of Americans. Compelling a woman to have a baby runs counter to a sense of decency and should be beyond the powers of church or state. Abortion rights activists are re-grouping to present a united front against the recent staggering move by the Roberts Supreme Court to remove what was accepted for so long as a fundamental right.   At least two of the justices that voted for this massive change had assured senators during their public confirmation hearings that they fully respected the Roe decision as settled precedent. Some 13 states h

Will Donald Trump be Indicted?

  Will Donald Trump be Indicted?             Gerry OShea The January 6 th Congressional Committee has done a superb job so far. Using testimony, mostly by stalwart Republicans, they have shown that ex-president Trump rejected the clear evidence that he lost the election, leading to his promotion of the Big Lie, which has caused a major crisis in American democracy. He warned people in advance of the poll in November, 2020 that there could only be one winner. Think about the absurdity of this contention. Elections are central to the idea of a democracy because it is clearly understood that the candidate who gets the most votes earns the legitimacy that accompanies winning. Trump’s statement in advance that if the voters favored his opponent, then the results had to be fraudulent makes a mockery of the whole balloting process. The committee has established that Mr. Trump settled on a multi-pronged attack on the official results. Focusing on the swing constituencies from Pennsylvan

1968

  1968                   Gerry OShea The Latinists with good reason named 1968 as annus horribilis, an awful year, a terrible time in America . It started with the Tet Offensive in January when the North Vietnamese launched surprise attacks in thirty-six major cities and towns that completely flummoxed the American and South Vietnamese forces. Tet signaled the beginning of the end for America’s mistaken involvement in that jungle war which a few years later left them scampering to evacuate the country after a major military defeat. At home, huge anti-war protests took place every week, and sections of the big cities were torched as thousands of young Americans came home in body bags. In April, Martin Luther King was assassinated in Atlanta, and two months later Robert Kennedy was killed in Los Angeles. In the spring, President Lyndon Johnson, bewildered by the Vietnam imbroglio, announced that he would reject his party’s nomination for re-election, and Richard Nixon defeated the