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Thursday, December 11, 2003

Mister Hand...turning...into Mister...Fist. Must Fisk...Drooling...Idiocy...Stat!

How long, O Lord? How long?

How long will SixtiesChurch plague us? That tribune of cutting edge (ca. 1968) Catholic thought, the National Catholic (see Canon 216) Reporter, has finally decided to tote that heavy dust-covered book-thing sitting on its shelf out to the yard sale.

What's it called again? I got it during confirmation, and it's sat there ever since. Starts with a "b."

Definitely a "b" word. Man, this is frustrating.

Argh. Oh, well, it'll come to me.

Editor Tom Roberts and a lunch buddy were recently baptized by the Holy Spirit™, and feel the need to testify.

Pardon me a moment--I'm checking my loads.

Double-aught: Ehhhhhhxcellent.

Hold the condemnations

Heh. Suuuuuure.

Trust me: I'm a lawyer.

“I’m tired of having the Bible dragged into this discussion,” my friend and occasional lunch partner wrote in an e-mail.

Translation: I'm getting my a** kicked, scripturally speaking. Trying to be convincing using Episcopal exegesis against Catholics who actually read the frigging book makes me feel like a one-legged cat trying to bury turds on a frozen pond. It doesn't get me anywhere, and after an hour I just feel stupid.

On an unrelated issue: my, the Chilean sea bass was simply exquisite last week, wasn't it?

He was adding a postscript to a discussion we had over lunch recently about homosexuality and same-sex unions, having gathered up more thoughts on the ride home.

And the chocolate truffle--yummy, yummy!

One side quotes scripture,

Winning in the biggest rout since Patton's Third Army broke out of Normandy.

while the other side tries to render the quoted passages harmless.

Succeeding just as brilliantly as the Nazis did, who watched the Shermans roll east as they were marched off to captivity in Kansas.

Which is why we have to change the subject. Right. Now.

As if somehow it all hinged on scripture; as if scripture decided the question for us.”

Because if it did, we'd certainly wave it in your face and say "Discussion over."

But not here. Here, the Bible is quaint, outdated, culturally conditioned. Yes, quaint indeed! Why, those poor Hebrews and homophobes didn't even have Mercedes Benzes and Dan Brown books, and we're expected to listen to them today? I don't think so.

I think he makes an important point, especially since few other questions in the public square, except perhaps abortion

Another issue where we can't let the other side wave scripture or tradition around.

attract as much religious language and conviction. So I’ll let him speak for himself:

Please do.


“What’s really going on is that scripture is being used to justify preexisting prejudice.

All right: The "bigot" card!

Didn't see that one coming.

I love the smell of clay in the morning.

Look at it this way: No one cares what scripture has to say about slavery.

The bigot card on roids: Adherents to scriptural understanding of homosexuality = slaveowners. It's not subtle, original, smart or a tenable analogy, but by all means continue to emit your share of greenhouse gases.

Borrowing an insight from Mark Shea: The delightful irony in all this is that during biblical times, some philosophers (Aristotle comes to mind) essentially argued there was a slave orientation, meaning that some people were not fully human and deserved to be slaves. Interestingly, the Bible makes the counter-argument that all are created by the same God, but are flawed and sinful. However, there is redemption equally available to all. That includes slaveowners and slaves, as well as practitioners of heterosexual and homosexual conduct. Indeed, that essential Biblical equality of all men before God is what motivated certain backward scripture-mongers to battle against slavery.

O thou God of love, thou who art loving to every man, and whose mercy is over all thy works; thou who art the Father of the spirits of all flesh, and who art rich in mercy unto all; thou who hast mingled of one blood all the nations upon earth; have compassion upon these outcasts of men, who are trodden down as dung upon the earth! Arise, and help these that have no helper, whose blood is spilt upon the ground like water! Are not these also the work of thine own hands, the purchase of thy Son's blood? Stir them up to cry unto thee in the land of their captivity; and let their complaint come up before thee; let it enter into thy ears! Make even those that lead them away captive to pity them, and turn their captivity as the rivers in the south. O burst thou all their chains in sunder; more especially the chains of their sins! Thou Saviour of all, make them free, that they may be free indeed!

No, really.

Today, we have modern-day Aristotles arguing that there is an orientation which dispenses from the Biblical precepts of equality....

"No one cares what scripture has to say about slavery," eh?. Sure. No one 't'all.

No one cares what Jesus said, or didn’t say, about

Anything we disagree with?

slavery. Still more noteworthy is the fact that no one cares that when scripture touches upon slavery it’s either neutral toward slavery as a societal institution or actually approving of it.

Uh, huh.

Indeed, there was a time when slaveholders used scripture to prove their point. Not anymore. Not even the most diehard literalist pays attention to what the Bible says about slavery.

Maybe that's because (1) the biblical counter-arguments were more convincing, and (2) the 13th Amendment has since made slaveowning a dicey career move.

That, and I wouldn't be quite so dogmatic on the modern slaveowners using scripture point--you likely don't know the Quran any better than you know the book you're kicking to the curb right now.

Why? Largely because nonbelievers, allied with a handful of believers who ignored what the Bible had to say on the subject, decided that slavery was unacceptable.

Yes, many's the time I can remember stories quoting Wesley saying "Scripture?!? Pfffthpppppt!" Indeed, I've lost track.

Also, I hate to break it to you, but you'll search in vain for the annals of Atheist Anti-Slavery Society. The driving force for abolition, sadly, was organized God-botherers toting around The Greatly Inconvenient Book.™

That’s worth bearing in mind when both sides on the issue of sexual orientation rush to their Bibles. The Bible doesn’t change popular opinion. It follows it.”

There are some things that are so utterly, completely and absolutely moronic that they just fisk themselves.

Strange that it happens so often with NC Reporter articles.

In the case of homosexuality, I think scripture is too often called upon to reinforce arguments that are based not so much upon what we know as upon fear of what we don’t know.

Fear = Phobia = Homophobes!

Wow. Didn't see that one coming, either, slow-pitch.

While many certainties are thrown around about God’s wrath being visited upon those who act on their same-sex orientation, I think the only certainty is that we know very little about homosexuality, or heterosexuality for that matter, about what makes us who we are and how and why we are sexually oriented.

Behold the pseudopious, quasi-humble retreat into uncertainty. Drivel. Roberts' pal is full of certainties on this and other subjects. First and foremost is the awareness that his biblical arguments and slave analogies are as ship-shape as the Lusitania. Which is why he finishes with a reference to the alleged fire and brimstone of his opponents.

~ ~
[Roberts]: In recent years I have attended meetings of gay and lesbian Catholics, gay and lesbian journalists and met with members of the group Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. What became clear to me is that knowing someone and having as intimate a connection with another as can exist between parent and child can have a profound effect on one’s point of view. I’ve met parents who were as staunchly anti-gay as anyone until a child “came out.” Then things change. From the unknowns to the famous, parents know their children are not evil or disordered or perverse.

The ghost of the church of Fred Phelps. Catholicism--thankfully--does not use the terms "evil" or "perverse." "Disordered" is another matter, but it's much more nuanced than NCR would have you believe. [Faking surprise.]

They know them as gentle, loving, talented individuals whose attraction -- no matter how it is fought -- is to those of the same sex. That’s what they know.

Of which I have no doubt--on all points. Moreover, as others have noted with profound clarity, SSA is not sinful.

Moreover, you have to take into account each individual on his or her own terms. It's not that scripture is some iron law applied by God without some consideration of the unique circumstances of each human person. Such are to be loved as Wesley loved slaves and slave-owners.

Such emotions matter. It is also abundantly clear that such is no mandate for discarding a cornerstone of both our faith and classic Western morality in general (or what's left of it).

And many also know those relationships to be deep and committed, life-giving in a multitude of ways and holy.

After all, there is no other kind.

Is there?

What they know is that life just did not work out in all the neat categories that our social structures and our textbooks of old and our religious presumptions would require. They don’t know why God’s creation has made room for gays and lesbians, but they do know in the deepest, most human part of themselves that God hasn’t condemned their sons and daughters to a lifetime of loveless and sexless exclusion.

I don't think we have to ask Tom what he thinks of priests and religious, now do we?

The problem is, once you start playing Bible Editor, where do you stop? If you're accusing your opponents of only being motivated by the "ick" factor, then, over time, prevailing cultural gales can probably wear away the icky stuff near the top of the list, too. So long as it's in a committed relationship, that is.

Especially since contraception keeps us from getting those three-eyed inbreds nowadays.

Response, Tom?

Anyone? Anyone?


[Sound of crickets]

I think such realizations -- not some demon

Another scriptural belch we outgrew thirty-nine or so years ago.

-inspired “gay agenda” -- are behind the gradual erosion of resistance to same-sex unions. That is why the law is changing and society, at least in some places, is beginning to adjust.

Bring the jubilee. Of course, Tom can afford his pose as a sanguine dispenser of the wisdom according to the prevailing wind gust. Like most boomer pundits, he won't be around to pick up the pieces.

That's all right--the generations permitted to be born since 1965 have been coming to realize that they're going to be the janitors for the messes, and are getting prepared for it.

That reminds me--got to get another shovel....

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