Juan Oliver

Juan Oliver

by Juan M.C. Oliver

Until his retirement to Santa Fe in 2008, Dr. Juan Oliver was the director of the Hispanic/Latino Program and adjunct professor of Liturgics at The General Seminary in New York City.

He holds the M.Div., from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific and the M.F.A. in painting and drawing from the University of New Mexico. He earned the Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley with his dissertation, “The Look of Common Prayer: The Anglican Liturgical Place in Anglo-American Culture,” which explored how a local vision of the Reign of God might be the main theological criterion for evaluating worship spaces.

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By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

For most gay Americans in the 20th century, the church was a place of pain. It cast them out and called them evil. It cleaved them from their families. It condemned their love and denied their souls. In 2004, a president was elected when religious voters surged from their pews to vote against the legal recognition of gay relationships. When it came to gay rights, religion was the enemy.

A decade later, the story is very different. Congregations across the country increasingly accept, nurture, and even marry their gay brethren. Polls show majorities of major Christian denominations — including American Catholics, despite their church’s staunch opposition — support legal gay marriage. Read the full article here.

By Frank Bruni, New York Times

COLUMBUS, Ohio — No one at the Catholic high school that fired Carla Hale in March claimed that she was anything less than a terrific physical education teacher and coach, devoted to the kids and adored by many of them.No one accused her of bringing her personal life into the gym or onto the fields. By nature she’s private. And she loved her job too much to risk it that way.

But she lost it nonetheless, and the how is as flabbergasting as the why is infuriating.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

By Martin E. Marty

Martin E. Marty

Martin E. Marty

News of theological seminaries does not usually appear in public media unless someone who is part of one of them creates scandal — sexual or financial, since even heresy rarely gets covered in contemporary America — and cannot go unnoticed and not-covered. This week, therefore, this e-column has to take on a different character; for the first time its editors ask subscribers first to read the longish source, the Inside Higher Ed article, “The Struggling Seminaries,” whose link appears at the end of this Sightings, and then read the rest of this effort to provide context.

Why the shuffling of feet, clearing of throat, and doing this explaining? A simple reason: Sightings is devoted to the public faces of religion, and seminaries get dismissed as having effects only on private religious life in sectarian concerns. Such dismissal results from acts of overlooking or mis-defining the roles of theological and ministerial education. Because of denominational divisions, misunderstanding of who seminary graduates are and what they do and where they fit in the public life of a nation described as “pluralist” and “secular,” they can be passed by news analysts and the public.Then one thinks of this: hundreds of thousands of seminary graduates are priests, pastors, ministers, chaplains, teachers, administrators, and “lay” leaders in crucial places and spaces. As we write this week, some African-American pastors and the Roman Catholic cardinal in our town, Chicago, are forming a coalition to try to stem the tide of support by other clergy and congregations for gay marriage legislation. Other weeks it is the supporters who are central to or at the edge of pro-gay marriage moves. So it is on scores of issues. How these religious leaders are trained — most of them are seminary graduates — has something, usually very much, to do with their exercise of ministry. Read More…