Monthly Archives: March 2013

Catholic women deacons by 2020

detail of religious icon

Pope Francis now settles into his first full week as leader of the Roman Catholic Church. There is one long-lived, self-inflicted nuisance that he and the Church can and should begin to fix starting this very week. “Begin to fix,” because the remedy is radical, and ought not to be confused with any half-way measure that Francis could implement this afternoon with a pen stroke. Ironically, if and when the change is implemented, many will see it as a half-way measure anyway. They will be wrong.

The Roman Catholic Church should ordain women as permanent deacons by the end of this decade, beginning during Francis’ pontificate. That way, one leader can oversee the reform, if the groundwork begins now. Here’s why women should be ordained as deacons without further avoidable delay.

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A Do-it-yourself New Testament

Tomorrow is the roll-out for Hal Taussig’s book, A New New Testament. The volume combines, with original commentary, the canonical New Testament plus ten other well-known ancient religious writings, eight of them found in the legendary Nag Hammadi trove (and the separately discovered Berlin Codex) of “Gnostic” compositions.

In fantasy, once upon a time, there was a Committee who chose which works to anthologize as the Twenty-seven from Heaven. These shadowy canonizers may be imagined to have met in a great hall, or maybe they sat around a table, each advancing some disreputable, or at least debatable, agenda. Sometimes a Roman Emperor takes personal charge, or lurks just off-stage.

There never was any such committee, but what if you could sit on a committee like that? Oh, hell, dream large. What if you were the chairman?

So dreamt Hal Taussig, a pastor, professor, and New Testament scholar, apparently subject to the constraint that he became chairperson only after twenty-seven books had already been selected. Taussig convened a real-life committee to consider rehabilitating 43 writings, all of them ancient, arguably Christian, but omitted from the canon. The working group chose 19 finalists, which were culled to the book’s 10 during a later and larger four-day “Council” in New Orleans.

If this sort of thing interests you, then why not do likewise? Taussig invites that response. Instructions and measured drawings for his DIY New Testament follow, or you can customize the project and do your canon your way.

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