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March 12th, 2015
The End Of The Natural Law Excuse
by Bruce |
This New York Times article came across my Facebook stream this morning. It’s well worth reading…
Last month, Salvatore Cordileone, the archbishop of San Francisco, made controversial changes to a handbook for Catholic high school teachers in his jurisdiction. The changes included morals clauses, one of which forbids those teachers from publicly endorsing homosexual behavior. There are plausible legal and educational objections to this move. But there is a deeper issue, one that raises fundamental questions about Catholic teachings on homosexuality and other sexual matters.
Those fundamental teachings being the notion that the Catholic hierarchy can justify its dogmas about morality not merely with an appeal to supernatural authority but so-called Natural Law reasoning. The deep thinkers of this Natural Law tradition assert that morality flows…naturally…from that which makes us human and that homosexual acts can be rightly condemned simply on the basis of careful reasoning about what behavior nurtures our humanity and what behavior degrades it.
But can you can see the problem here? An understanding of what it is that makes us human is at best a work in progress. But it can also be a dandy rhetorical sleight of hand for presenting one’s bar stool opinions about human nature as settled fact when they are anything but. And that is how it usually works with the deep thinkers of Natural Law, such as NOM co-founder Robert George, who use it as an excuse to cull gay people out of the human family. Homosexual acts are contrary to Natural Law, so the deep thinking goes, because they run counter to what makes us human, and that makes them morally objectionable and also not coincidentally a grave sin. See? Religious dogma and science properly understood agree!
The problem as the article points out, is that a good faith search for understanding of what makes us human would seem to support not object to homosexual behavior. But good faith is hard to come by in the Natural Law crowd, and their objections to homosexual relationships have two fatal flaws. Gay folk if not always straight people usually see the first problem with it right away in the relentless focus on homosexual Acts. As the article points out…
The courageous uncloseting of many homosexuals has revealed them as people like most everyone else, searching for and sometimes achieving a fulfilling human life through rich and complex relationships.
It’s our visibility that’s moved our struggle for equality forward. I’ve said this repeatedly: proving that we do not choose our sexual orientation, while it addresses many issues, does not get to the heart of it. Which is…the heart. Homophobia’s central immovable dogma is Homosexuals Don’t Love, They Just Have Sex. You see it running throughout the so-called Natural Law rhetoric this article discusses. It’s always the Acts. The heart is never considered. It was easy once upon a time, before Stonewall, when the persecution of gay people was so relentless most gay folk stayed tightly inside the closet, to reduce our lives to the sex we have. But those days are over. The closet door has opened. And as we live our lives out in the open we are seen as every bit as human in our desires and needs as our heterosexual neighbors. That alone does the Natural Law Excuse irreparable damage.
“The natural-law argument might make some sense to those who see homosexuals as dominated by an obsessive desire for pleasure, to which they subordinate any notion of fidelity or integrity.” That is its only recourse, against which the argument that same sex sex is fundamentally sterile because it cannot lead to reproduction, but which excuses opposite sex couples who cannot naturally bear their own children is seen as hypocrisy. There is the second fatal problem. As the article notes, “Just trying to formulate the argument shows how strained it is.” Well…yes. It’s strained just like every hypocritically dishonest excuse for hurting your neighbor is strained.
The fact that heterosexual couples can still love and desire each other wholeheartedly and live lives together deeply devoted to one another, absent an ability to bear children, proves the power of love over biology, which pulls the rug out from under the Natural Law dogma. And it Is dogma, because the central premise about what it is that makes us human are ultimately and irreducibly matters of religious dogma. And the transparently bogus attempt to rationalize discrimination against same-sex couples but not sterile opposite sex ones anyway proves the intent here is not some sort of search for truth, but an excuse to hate: a little bowl of water to wash, wash, wash their hands before the multitudes of the harm they’ve done to innocent people in love. We were only doing what we thought was moral and right. No. No you weren’t.
This is Exactly why bigots like Salvatore Cordileone and his kinfolk in the anti-gay industrial complex want so badly to shove gay people back into the closet, and silence our heterosexual friends and family. The lie that sex between same sex couples is innately selfish and sterile, that Homosexuals Don’t Love, They Just Have Sex, dies the instant people can see our lives and our humanity for themselves. It becomes obvious we share the same human heart the rest of humanity does.
And then the question becomes, what kind of person wants to persecute someone for being in love…
February 13th, 2015
Christianity’s Identity Crisis: Older Than You Think
by Bruce |
This came across my Facebook Stream this morning…
On any given day you can find endless social media chatter among Evangelical Christians debating “culture”, and the “culture wars”, and lots and lots of talk of us, “fighting the culture”. There’s recently been a great deal of similar discussion surrounding the promotional push for a new book by popular pastor David Platt, whose forthcomingCounter Culture, seeks to once again position Christianity (as represented by The Church) as the sole solution to our numerous societal ills. I’ve really enjoyed Platt’s past books, and have found inspiration and wisdom in them.
The premise of Platt’s latest is a fine one, and it echoes the ministry and message of so many of those sharing his overall theological perspective; that Jesus was always counter-cultural, and so the Christian Church is called to be that as well.
So many American evangelicals have existed for so long in a materialistic, affluent, largely white, male-dominated religious bubble, that they mistakenly believe they are by default, living out the radical, upside-down mission of Jesus…
It’s a good read, and for me especially when he writes this:
When Rome commandeered Christianity, it affixed to the faith something it was never meant to be marked by: Power.
I think this may actually be the first time I’ve ever seen anyone mark the beginning of the decline of Christianity as being when the Roman Emperor Constantine made it the official imperial religion (in exchange naturally, for helping him win a war). I’ve been thinking this for years now. But it was inevitable. What Ta-Nehisi Coates said a week or so ago about how “The interest in power is almost always accompanied by the need to sanctify that power” is obvious yet it keeps needing repeating. Christianity could never keep speaking truth to power without power eventually co opting it. Power is always attracted to power, for the sake of power. The more powerful Christianity’s message became among the common folk, the more attractive it would inevitably become to The Establishment of any age. So Constantine overthrew the old gods, and not so coincidentally rivals to the throne who followed them, and Christianity became the very thing its founder hated most of all, a religion of the establishment. The Pharisees put down their Torahs and picked up their Bibles, spoke in Latin to the masses, and served the new boss, same as the old boss…
The political sway, the financial storehouses, the abuses of power, the gender disparities, the gentrification, and the bullying dominance of the marginalized, which so often characterize the Church today; these all embody a huge part of the culture that Jesus was running counter to.
You can argue that the religion of Jesus of Nazareth never died, but is reborn in every person who takes his teachings to heart and walks his walk. Yes. Just so. But that is not the religion of the Establishment and the high priests of that Christianity take no prisoners. Ask them in South and Central America what happened when Christianity threatened to actually become the champion of the poor, the oppressed and the outcast. It had to happen. The surprising thing is to finally see with clarity how long ago it was that it happened. The risk in speaking truth to power isn’t you are led to the gallows, but to the throne. The king is anointed by God, and it’s good to be God.
November 17th, 2014
The Complementary Nature Of Prejudice And Ignorance
by Bruce |
You wonder some days if some people even bother listening to themselves…
“In these days, as you embark on a reflection on the beauty of complementarity between man and woman in marriage, I urge you to lift up yet another truth about marriage: that permanent commitment to solidarity, fidelity and fruitful love responds to the deepest longings of the human heart…” -Pope Francis The Oblivious.
Here it is again in another form: Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. That’s what Francis is saying there if he’s holding that up as a reason why same-sex couples ought not to be allowed equal access to marriage. He’s saying that homosexual relationships can’t, by their very nature, aspire to permanent commitment, solidarity, fidelity, and fruitful love. He’s saying that the deepest longings of the homosexual’s heart are actually quite shallow. They can’t aspire to marriage because they don’t have what it takes. Because homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.
If that’s not what he meant, then why say it in front of an audience that includes some of the worst bigots in the United States. He’s telling them he shares their belief in the essential emptiness of the homosexual’s soul. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex… And if that’s the case, then this man will simply continue his flock’s long jihad on the deepest longings of the human heart after all, reassuring himself as they always do, that the knife isn’t actually cutting hearts capable of bleeding. And as they always do, he’ll continue to blame the pushback on modernism…
“Do not fall into the trap of being swayed by political notion. Family is an anthropological fact – a socially and culturally related fact.” -Same Guy.
Oh it’s facts now is it? Here’s one: same-sex couples share the same longings as opposite-sex couples, because they are as human as anyone else. Gay people have the same human heart, and it is moved by love in the same way. That is a fact. You’d see it if you could see the people for the homosexuals: and yet, it moves.
October 29th, 2014
Come, Let Us Reason Together. No…Not You…
by Bruce |
The Southern Baptists are still trying to figure out what to do about The Homosexual Menace…
The Christian Post is reporting that there has been plenty of healthy and outspoken debate on the issue of “the homosexual lifestyle” at a conference hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Commission in Nashville. Much of the debate has taken place on Twitter (#ERLC2014).
The conference is live streaming.
The Christian Post describes it as a conference to address “…how Christians should react to the ongoing battle between those framing the homosexual lifestyle debate as a civil rights issue and those supporting what they believe to be biblical moral values, including traditional marriage…” Oh…is that what it’s all about is it? Guess who was invited…
And guess who wasn’t…
As the Christian Post would have you see it, the conference attracted “plenty of fireworks” mostly on “social media”. But Theocrat In Chief and Baptist Pope in Waiting Richard Land stood firm…
“The gay community is never going to find the Evangelical response satisfactory because we’re not going to accept their behavior.”
Their behavior. Their behavior. Their behavior. Still can’t see the people for the homosexuals can you Richard. And you never will. But is that “the Evangelical response” or is it simply the knee jerk dance of the irredeemable bigot? You lost this fight decades ago Richard. Those voices outside the doors Richard…do you hear the people sing…?
Back before there was a commercially open Internet…back in the stone knives and bear skins days of DOS PCs, 800 baud Modems and dial up BBS systems, I saw the world change right before my eyes. Before home computers had powerful multi-tasking operating systems, back when 640k of system ram was considered more than most people would ever need or use, little computer bulletin board systems sprang up everywhere. At first, they just connected the people in their local dialing area. Then in the mid 1980s some of them banded together into an amateur computer network called FidoNet. Back in those days I was on a local BBS system that had a gay Fidonet echomail board called Gaylink. It had participating BBS systems on it all over the world. I had an uncle back then who was a HAM radio operator. He kept trying to interest me in taking up the hobby, telling me about all the people all over the world he was able to communicate with via shortwave radio. And I kept trying to tell him about all the people all over the world I was communicating with via FidoNet. The world was changing before my eyes. Still, as a young gay man, I knew there were things that would never change. And then they did.
Gaylink was mostly a social forum. We chatted about this and that…a little politics, a little dishing. It never really got very serious. One day a message from a BBS in the Netherlands appeared. It was short and to the point:
I’m 14 years old. I think I might be gay but I’m not sure. How did you know about yourself? What was it like?
And from literally all over the world this kid began getting coming out stories. Not the one where you come out to family and friends. The one where you come out to yourself.
Some of them were painful to read. Some were hopeful. Some were amazingly nonchalant. There were folks whose parents disowned them. There were others whose parents completely accepted them. Some people struggled for years with it. Others seemed to have always known and accepted it. There was romance. There was heartbreak. I sat down and for the first time ever, really thought about my own experience coming to terms with my sexual orientation and wrote it down for this kid and the whole world to see. And I could sense that something…wonderful…was happening.
It went on for two weeks. We never heard a peep from the kid throughout that entire time. And the stories, from all over the world, from people in all walks of life, just kept coming and coming. We all began talking to each other, seeing common threads in our lives that we all had, which set us apart from the heterosexual majority. Seeing those things that made each of us unique and at the same time those things we all seemed to share, no matter where we lived, no matter what culture we were raised in. Then the kid spoke up one last time:
Thank you. You’ve all given me a lot to think about.
That was it. We never heard another word from him. Maybe we gave him what he needed to accept himself. Maybe he was just confused about his own awakening sexuality, and what it meant to be homosexual. At that age, who knows? Maybe he wasn’t what he represented himself to be. That was as easy then as it is now. But as I watched that event unfold I realized that there had to also be hundreds of others, maybe even thousands, all over the world, generation upon generation, watching that conversation, hungry for those same answers to that kid’s question. And I saw it then, what this new technology could do for us as a people. We no longer had to see ourselves through heterosexual eyes.
Now look at this again…
But they have their voices now. And they will use them. We will speak our truths to the world, and we will be heard. Weep for the old days Richard Land, when you could tell us lies about ourselves from the pulpit you were thumping and we believed them because yours was the only voice we could hear. They are gone. You kept gay voices out of your conference, but you couldn’t silence them outside of it. And that is the reality bigots like you have had to deal with for decades now, since all there was for an online social space were the first primitive personal computers and some modems. Your song and dance took place, fittingly, at the Opryland Hotel. An actual conference was held in the virtual street outside. You can keep gay voices out of your church. You can keep them out of your theology. But you can’t keep them in the closet. Not anymore.
September 3rd, 2014
The Fine Art Of Inciting Violence While Looking Like A Victim
by Bruce |
Most heterosexual Americans probably don’t have the Google “personalized” news page I do, which has a custom section powered by a google search that seeks out stories relating to Gay people. That custom news section gets me a torrent of news stories from news sources here in the U.S. and all over the world. And much of it is about violence directed at gay people.
I’ve been reading the news about my people, that goes largely under the radar of most Americans, for decades now. Back in the BBS days I did volunteer work for a nonprofit Gay BBS that involved sifting through wire service stories and reposting them for the other BBS users. As my online world expanded, so has my ability to seek out news that would otherwise get lost in the background static. So I have decades of awareness under my belt that maybe you don’t.
So it might be hard to really appreciate how to read crap like this from Life[sic]site…
He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it
“John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint. While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.
“According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, ‘It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,’ Herodias became ‘furious’ with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech…”
“The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice…”
…but I’ll give you a clue: The vast majority of violence directed at gay and gender nonconforming people, nearly 100 percent of it, is religiously motivated. Either the perpetrator acted from a violently twisted religious passion, or they acted knowing they have social permission to attack gay people. Sure I might get caught, I might even get sent to jail, but it won’t be like I killed a real person… And that permission comes directly from the pulpit.
Not all pulpits by any means…I am not pointing my finger at Religion capital ‘R’ or Christianity capital ‘C’. But you need to understand this: not all predators actually like having blood on their hands. Some predators do, others enjoy watching. There are the rapists, and there are the voyeurs. The relationship is a simple one: thugs beat the living crap out of gay people, sometimes killing us, because they hear the permission they’re being given to do exactly that from the pulpits. “Their blood is upon them…” And those voices from behind those pulpits know exactly what they’re doing, exactly what effect they want their words to have. It’s a symbiotic relationship, that benefits both parties.
So it may look superficially like Lifesite is warning Christians to beware of the impending gay holocaust, but what they’re actually doing is inciting the mob in the traditional, old-fashioned way, with whatever tools are handy at the moment. Militants in Iraq and Syria beheaded two American journalists recently, so here comes Lifesite with a story about how John The Baptist was beheaded after condemning a pagan king’s ungodly false marriage…AND YOU KNOW WHO ELSE DOESN’T LIKE IT WHEN CHRISTIANS STAND UP FOR GOD’S PLAN FOR MARRIAGE…
The homosexuals want to behead Christians…just like those scary people you see on TV…you know what to do…
May 4th, 2014
My Boot On Your Neck Is Proof That I Love You!
by Bruce |
You find yourself just staring in awe and wonder at the rags people will dress a pig up in, as though it’s actually hiding the fact that it’s a pig. This bullshit from Rick Warren for example…
Swear to god if I see that in my Facebook stream one more time I’m going to explode. Yes, yes…you just Love gay people don’t you Rick. And your love is worth its weight in gold.
The weasel word there is “disagree”. Yes, Rick…you Dis A Greeee with my Lyfe Sty El. And if I call you a bigot for reducing my humanity to a Lyfe Sty El that would be so unfair of me. And I suppose it would also be unfair of me to call Al Capone a crook just because he disagreed with the police about things like robbing banks and murdering people. They threw Al Capone in jail just because he disagreed with them! People just aren’t fair are they Rick.
And oh goodness I know Exactly what you mean there about agreeing with every fucking little annoying thing people do. Like for instance watching football. I know so many otherwise lovely people who can’t tear themselves away from the TV when football is on. It just boggles my mind how they can get any pleasure out of watching that. I can’t begin to tell you how much I loathe having to watch football. I go into a nice local bar for some good drink, good food and a little company, and the goddamned playoffs are blasting at me from every fucking screen in the room. I absolutely hate it. That said, people would have reasonable grounds to doubt how much I loved them if I waged a ferocious multi-million dollar political campaign to deny any of them the right to marry, simply because I can’t stand their entertainment choices. And if I went to Africa and stirred up violent religious passions against people who like football, those people could reasonably doubt how much I loved them while the mobs were beating them to death. So many doubting Thomases in this world aren’t there Rick?
I know…I know…God forgives you because you love Jesus. Poor Jesus doesn’t know what he’s in for.
April 13th, 2014
Merely Because I Put A Knife Into Your Heart Is No Reason To Call Me Hateful…
by Bruce |
It seems the militant homosexual conspiracy has caused some feelings to be hurt…
Correspondence from a reader with traditional Christian beliefs
One of the sophistries you encounter early on when you walk (or are shoved) into the fight for gay equality, is that treating bigots like bigots just makes you a bigot too. And sure as the rising sun they were canting it loudly after Brendan Eich resigned as CEO of Mozilla. Conar Friedersdorf, took to the pages of The Atlantic to wag his finger at all the militant homosexuals that wouldn’t gracefully forget the multi-million dollar child molester smear campaign Brendan helped to finance, and just let bygones be bygones. And low and behold, he gets fan mail from someone with sincerely held beliefs…
It’s so rare for me to see gay marriage supporters saying the things you have said, and I desperately wish more gay marriage supporters would say those things. You understand that being opposed to gay marriage does not necessarily stem from hate. Very few people seem to understand that, and I am so sick and tired of my beliefs always being misunderstood. It seems like gay marriage supporters never actually take the time to understand traditional marriage supporters. We’re all automatically labeled as “homophobes,” and that’s an excuse they use to stop listening to anything we have to say.
If only they listened, they would understand that we’re not the evil, hateful bigots they think we are…
Sick and tired are you lady? This graphic came across my Facebook stream just now…here, let me show you sick and tired…
I was fifteen when the Stonewall riots happened. This man would have been maybe 5. You’d think the world he grew up in would have been better to him than mine but it wasn’t all that much. And for those gay kids growing up in strongly fundamentalist homes still have this same life ahead of them.
But then, homosexuals don’t love they just have sex…so Friedersdorf’s starry-eyed fan doesn’t have to feel badly that the knife in that man’s heart has her name on it too. God made sex just for men and women to have in the context of a godly marriage and if homosexuals have their own special burden to bear…well don’t we all?
Everyone sins. Everyone has an innate desire to sin, unfortunately. Some people’s innate desire is for homosexuality. I understand when gay people say that they can’t help having those feelings. I understand that hearing “you can change if you pray and try hard over time” is extremely difficult. Maybe we Christians haven’t talked enough about how we believe that everyone is a work in progress, including ourselves.
This is arrogance disguising itself as humility. The wolf in sheep’s clothing telling itself that it really is one of them and just happens to have a taste for lamb chops every now and then. Lady, if you really thought you were no better than the rest of us you wouldn’t be treating your neighbors lives like they’re your stepping stones to heaven. Your Gay Neighbor Is Not Your Work In Progress!
So many desperately lonely people in this world. But if gay people aren’t lonely, love lorn and despairing then the righteous aren’t being righteous enough. Jack McIntyre, one of the first clients of the first ever ex-gay ministry, Love In Action, wrote the following just before he killed himself…
I am not asking you to sanction my actions. That is not the purpose of my writing this at all. It is for the express purpose of allowing each one who will read this to know how I weighed things in my own mind. I don’t want you to think that, ‘I alone,’ should have been the perfect person, without sin. That would be ridiculous! It is the continuing lack of strength and/or obedience and/or will power to cast aside certain sins. To continually go before God and ask forgiveness and make promises you know you can’t keep is more than I can take. I feel it is making a mockery of God and all He stands for in my life.
Sick and tired are you lady? Look at that…a gay man kills himself rather than make another promise god he knows he can’t keep and you are sick and tired of being called a bigot are you? You wish gay people would just listen to you do you? We listen all right. Jack McIntyre listened. The roll call of the dead is full of gay adult and teenagers that have listen to the likes of you. Perhaps it’s time you shut up and listened to us. We are not your work in progress. We are not your stepping stones to heaven. Listen to us if your conceits can stand to hear another voice besides your own. Your kind have been killing us for centuries. When you haven’t killed us outright than through that living death prison of the heart you demand we make of our lives so you can go to heaven. Stop. Just stop. The only thing being compromised by letting us live our lives is your hubris. Stop mistaking it for righteousness, it is turning innocent people’s lives inside out, it is killing people and it is dragging you deeper and deeper into the gutter.
Your work in progress needs a lot more work. Cutting your neighbor’s ring finger off isn’t getting you any closer to being a better person.
March 26th, 2014
Thumping The Bible Verses Thumping The Tire Iron…
by Bruce |
This came across my Facebook stream just now…
700 Club Host And Christian Evangelical Leader Compares Gays To Abortion, Laments Gays Aren’t Stoned To Death Anymore Because Homosexuality ‘Denies The Reproduction Of Human Species’
You had to sorta figure that the TV preacher who told his viewers gays have secret rings that cut people who shake their hands and infect them with the AIDS virus would be sad gay people aren’t being stoned to death anymore.
So are a lot of them. Sit down and total up everything you know about religious conservatives, let alone right wingers, and you discover that you know volumes about who and what they hate and nearly nothing about who and what they love. Charles de Gaulle once said that patriotism is when love of your own people comes first and nationalism is when hate for other people comes first. So if religion is where love of god comes first what is it when hate for other people comes first, because it isn’t religion.
December 13th, 2013
Milepost On The Road To Baba Yar
by Bruce |
This, via Towleroad…
Popular Russian Actor Applauded After Announcing He Would Like To Burn All Gays Alive
Popular Russian actor Ivan Okhlobystin was cheered by an audience this week after announcing that he would like to burn all gays alive, Queer Russia reports:
“I myself would shove all live gays into furnace. This is Sodom and Gomorrah, I as a beliver in God can not treat this indifferently, this is a live threat to my kids!… I do not want my kids to think that faggots are normal. This is lavender fascism.”
Lavender fascism, as opposed to systematically murdering a hated minority which is a sacrament…
If you think it’s bad in Russia now, wait until after the Olympics, when it will be easier for the world to look the other way.
February 27th, 2013
Religion As The Mirror In Which You See God
by Bruce |
The author Mary Renault once said (and I’m paraphrasing now because I don’t have that exact quote) that all politics, like sex, was merely a reflection of the person within, and that if you are mean and selfish and cruel it came out in your sex life and in your politics when what really mattered is you aren’t the sort of person who behaves like that. To that I would only add religion. If you are mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your religion too, when what really matters is you aren’t the sort of person who behaves like that…
A provocative new study is challenging assumptions about the deterrent effect of religion on criminal behaviour.
The U.S. study found that through “purposeful distortion or genuine ignorance,” hardcore criminals often co-opt religious doctrine to justify or further their crimes.
Among the interviewees…
A 25-year-old criminal nicknamed “Cool” said he always does a “quick little prayer” before committing a crime in order to “stay cool with Jesus.” As long as you ask for forgiveness, Jesus has to give it to you, he said.
He also suggested that if a crime is committed against another “bad person,” such as a dope dealer or child molester, “then it don’t count against me because it’s like I’m giving punishment to them for Jesus.”
The interviews show that criminals will often employ “elaborate and creative rationalizations” to reconcile their belief in God and their serial offending, the researchers concluded.
As you read this article it isn’t hard to hear in the voices of these criminals every justification the religious right uses to prey on other people. Here is the voice of predatory christianism as if spoken on a minimalist stage. Strip the frippery away and you have a prison gang. How is it that murderers, robbers and thugs don’t see themselves that way? Well, don’t blame religion for it either. Humans have an amazing capacity to see only what we want to see…to lie to ourselves even when it is killing us, rather than admit an uncomfortable truth. Yes, actually…I’m a dick… The religious right uses Christianity the way a thief uses a crowbar. Here in that study, are the professionals.
February 14th, 2013
by Bruce |
Good morning, all you happy not lovers!
In a special speech to honor Valentine’s Day and discuss the meaning of love, the Bishop also said that being gay is a ‘condition’ that can be dealt with through a ‘life of chastity’.
“This Valentine’s Day we would also do well to focus on a more authentic understanding of the word ‘love’”, says Bishop Paprocki. Love is never having to say you’re sorry for destroying other people’s hopes and dreams of love and happiness.
So, Happy Valentine’s Day, all you lonely gay singles living out your righteous lives of celibacy. The Bishop of Springfield says, “You’re Welcome!”
February 10th, 2013
Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown…No Rescue For The Rescuers…
by Bruce |
There was the guy I met on the path in Rock Creek Park. I was bicycling to work in those days because I didn’t have a car, and the path through the park was a good shortcut that allowed me to stay off the main roads. It was also a peaceful ride through the woods early in the morning. No busy buzz of traffic, no early morning commuter noise. I saw a cat laying on the side of the path and as I got close noticed it wasn’t moving. At first I thought it was dead, but as I slowed down next to it the poor thing raised its head and looked at me. It was in distress.
Another guy about my age comes bicycling up and together, me gently carrying the cat and him walking both our bicycles, we get the cat to his house, which was nearby. By the time we get there the cat has perked up a bit, but still isn’t moving much. It was a longhair of some sort, there was no blood anywhere on it and its coat was in good condition. But there was no collar so no way to tell who its owner was. Nothing seemed broken but you couldn’t be sure. The guy and his dad agreed to take it to a nearby vet. I went off to work.
After work I stopped by their house to ask about the cat. But I had nefarious motives. The guy who helped rescue the cat was beautiful, and had set even my dull gaydar ringing. On the walk back to his house we began chatting about this and that. There was an air of sadness to him. He spoke in soft, quiet tones as though he was sitting in church. His mother he said, had passed away some years ago and he and his dad lived together. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life but for now he was working part time and in school part time and hoped to get his degree soon. Somehow we begun talking about books we’d read and I’d thrown in a couple trolling comments about Lambda Rising bookstore, which he was familiar with enough that he knew where it was and where it had moved from, and when he mentioned he often used the path for an early morning jog I mentioned Billy Sive, the main character in the novel The Front Runner, and he replied that he was a vegetarian too and it was a better diet not just for runners but everyone.
So there I was at his front door, and his dad answers and invites me in. The guy I’d met was there and the three of us sat in the living room and chatted for a bit, first to assure me that the vet had said the cat would be okay and they were going to take care of it until its owner could be found. Then the talk turned oddly to me…what did I do for a living, how long had I been living in Rockville, what were my interests, and so on. I didn’t mind the inquisition, which came almost exclusively from his dad. In fact I was wanting just then to make myself seem interesting enough to the guy who knew who Billy Sive was that he’d want to see more of me.
Oh yes…I work at a custom plastic shop over in Kensington, and in my spare time I paint landscapes and and draw cartoons. Plus I do photography work for a couple local newspapers and I’m working on a book of my art photography. I emphasized as I usually do when I’m trying to get someone’s attention, my creative side. As his dad chatted with me about my photography, I noted that I had his son’s absolute attention, and from the occasional sideways glances I could tell that his dad saw it too.
His dad asked about my political views and then, as casually as he could manage, asked how I felt about gay rights. And with all the nerve I could manage I replied that I was completely in favor of gay equality. At this point I almost expected to get shown the door, but his dad nodded his head and…smiled warmly. “That’s good,” he said, “that’s good.”
Dad…approves?! This was unknown territory for me, but I was more than willing to explore it. His son seemed very uncomfortable. Shortly after that his dad excused himself, saying he had work to do. When we were alone, his son set me straight.
Dad was a happy agnostic apparently, but when the mother died the son converted to Catholicism. And to be homosexual was a very grave sin (it later became a mere intrinsic disorder…). I could have argued it with him, but there’s a point where you just see it in someone’s eyes that it’s going nowhere. Perhaps he saw it in mine too. He didn’t try just then to get me to believe it too, just to make sure I knew he believed it.
So we shook hands and I left. Years later I experienced for myself the bottomless grief of my own parent’s deaths…dad first and then many years later, mom…and have never doubted since how despairing and vulnerable it leaves a person. And I have wondered ever since if that gay guy’s dad had been trying, not so much to set his gay son up with a nice boy, but trying somehow to awaken him out of grief. Life goes on…find someone to share it with… But there are those who prefer gay people pass the hours of our lives alone, and in despair. I have no idea if, absent one life hating priest somewhere anything might have come of it between us, but a even a brief walk in the garden might have done wonders for both of us just then. Which, of course, is exactly why he had to believe that love between men was a grave sin, and I had to believe he believed it.
[Edited a tad…]
November 28th, 2012
Feelings. Hungry, Hungry Feelings…
by Bruce |
“Here’s what we know about life. I have all kinds of natural feelings in my life and it doesn’t necessarily mean that I should act on every feeling. Sometimes I get angry and I feel like punching a guy in the nose. It doesn’t mean I act on it. Sometimes I feel attracted to women who are not my wife. I don’t act on it. Just because I have a feeling doesn’t make it right. Not everything natural is good for me. Arsenic is natural.” -Rick Warren
Hate is natural. Prejudice is natural. Who to hate is learned, but the capacity to hate is there, deep in the ancient pit within the human consciousness. We all carry the history of millions of years of life on earth within us every moment of our day. Tribalism is natural to us. To be afraid of the alien other, and to hate them, is natural to us. Blind obedience to the alpha leader is natural to us. The unthinking, bloodthirsty mob is in our blood. But so is love, so is kindness to the stranger, so is curiosity, and the yearning for truth and meaning. We are, by nature, civilization destroyers, but also civilization builders. The mindless beast is within us all. The good person is the one who will not unleash it within themselves, or in others. Do you want to be that good person Rick, or do you want to feed the beast? Every moment of your day Rick, it’s one or the other.
You’re right Rick. Just because you have feelings that does not make them right. What makes them right, or makes them profoundly evil, is how your feelings translate into acts. Do you help your neighbor in this life, or do you let the beast eat them? Who is your neighbor Rick?
November 15th, 2012
Justification By Love Alone
by Bruce |
Nobody expects the Minnesota Inquisition…
The Assumption Church, a Catholic congregation in Barnesville, Minnesota, does not mess around when it comes to fighting followers who support marriage equality.
The church’s priest, Rev. Gary LaMoine, told the family of 17-year old Lennon Cihak that he cannot participate in his scheduled confirmation because Cihak shared his opposition to the recently defeated amendment that would define marriage as one man and one woman.
Not only that, LaMoine is now denying Communion to the entire family, including Cihak’s parents, who have attended the church for decades.
It’s something to remind me how glad I am, even at this stage in my life, that I was raised a Baptist, if only for the satisfaction of knowing I’d have been on the pope’s shit list for that fact alone, never mind my homosexuality. The only thing better would be to have been born a Jew.
But more importantly, being raised in a Baptist household meant I was never taught to believe I had to ask permission from the clergy to have a spiritual relationship with my creator. I will probably never really understand how painful this all is for that family, and especially that boy who is now afraid his church won’t allow him to be buried with his parents, simply because he stood up for the human dignity of his neighbors. I want to tell them there is no shame in walking out that door and never looking back. But I know that isn’t their way. You have to let everyone find their own way. That was something else the faith of my childhood taught me.
I’m an atheist now, and I can only watch these things happening to good-hearted people from a respectful distance. Meanwhile the boy inside me who once went dutifully to church every Sunday wonders how anyone would want to take the body of Christ from the hand of someone who is pissing on his cross.
[Edited…there was something else about being raised in a Baptist household that in retrospect I needed to get in here…]
October 1st, 2012
You Have To Cut The Heart Out When They’re Young
by Bruce |
One small step taken against a widely practiced form of child sexual abuse yesterday in California…
The thing to remember here is this only applies to licensed therapists, not pulpit thumping hate mongers who are still as free as ever to stick a knife in a kid’s heart and twist it in the name of Christ, and then twist it again in the name of love. But already the usual suspects are screaming bloody murder…
In a statement on NARTH’s website, the group says the law will seriously jeopardize the livelihoods of “licensed therapists in California who would otherwise be willing to assist minor clients in modifying their unwanted same-sex attractions and behaviors.” It also will “supplant the rights of parents,” the group says.
Note the reliable appeal to the rights of parents. But no parent has the right to subject their child to sexual abuse and ex-gay therapy is just that. If you think that’s hyperbole I strongly recommend you listen to the stories of the survivors of ex-gay therapy and compare them to the survivors of other forms of sexual abuse.
Kendall said the therapy he underwent “led me to periods of homelessness, to drug abuse, to spending a decade of my life wanting to kill myself. It led to so much pain and struggle. And I want them to know that what they do hurts people. It hurts children. It has no basis in fact. And they need to stop.
The self loathing. The shame. The despair. Blaming yourself for what happened. People need to look at what this practice does to children. And not just ex-gay therapy but the general cultural shaming and bullying of gay kids. Really look at it. This is sexual abuse.
But the abusers won’t stop of their own accord. Oh no…the kids really wanted it you see…
…the law will seriously jeopardize the livelihoods of “licensed therapists in California who would otherwise be willing to assist minor clients in modifying their unwanted same-sex attractions and behaviors…
What those kids want is to be loved. They don’t want to be abominations in the eyes of God. They don’t want their parents breaking down in tears, screaming at them that they’re ashamed to be their parents. They don’t want to be monsters. But who told them they were? No Mr. Nicolosi, those kids didn’t want you feeling up their souls, poking around in the most secret private places of their hearts, you just told yourself they did. That’s how it usually is with the seducers of the too young to understand.
The only purpose this practice ever had is to make gay people hate themselves, and incidentally to excuse the righteous for hating them. You don’t have to be gay, so it isn’t our fault for making your lives miserable, it’s yours for being gay. You choose to be gay, so you choose to be persecuted. There’s a political side to ex-gay therapy, as justification and cover for anti-gay politicians, but beneith the surface there’s the core value: homosexuals must hate themselves, must accept they are society’s outcasts.
The pulpit thumping homophobe who gets caught preying on minors. The bar stool moralizer with a gambling habit. The family values politician who goes for a hike on the Appalachian trail. It’s the homosexuals who are destroying the moral fiber of society, surely not any of these. Our enemies say they are fighting against the normalization of homosexuality. But it isn’t what society and culture think of us, it’s that we might stop hating ourselves they won’t endure. If open homosexuality stops being the touchstone of moral decay, then where will the fingers point when another righteous culture warrior gets caught with their pants down? It’s having to look in a mirror and admit the crying wreckage they’ve made of their own lives was their own doing they’re fighting tooth and nail to prevent.
So the scapegoat must never think themselves worthy of being loved, must never know what it is to love, and be loved. Because love is patient, love is enduring, love can nourish and sustain through the worst of times. Because love can move mountains. Because the one thing you never want the scapegoat to be able to do is move mountains.
To make a scapegoat, you have to cut the heart out when they’re young.
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