Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Testimonial (Sort Of) from a Gay Trad

So, this has been backed up in the pipeline for a few months now. As part of my goal of featuring marginalized or minority voices within Catholicism and especially the Traditional movement (ala my post "Testimonial from a Black Catholic") I've been meaning to recommend the blog of a rather new but very dear friend of mine that deals with traditionalism and homosexuality.

I was hoping he'd write me a tidy little testimonial for the blog, but his own position has been evolving (in what direction, we'll see) and he has dragged his feet about this, even expressed some hesitance regarding what you all will think of him.

Well, given that my blog is slowing down...I have decided to just go over his head and, since his blog is public anyway, I'm free to recommend whatever I want. I apologize to him if that's a betrayal of trust, but sometimes we all need a little jolt against procrastination, and we'll see how fate handles this. I just couldn't let such a brilliant light be kept under a bushel any longer seeing that I know there are other readers of mine who will find his work very helpful or enlightening personally, who need to see it (the undercurrent of homoeroticism in certain traditionalist sectors is becoming undeniably apparent, and it's not a bad thing).

If you want to get some sense of the journey he is on, the following posts are spread out over about a year now and taken together could roughly form the sort of narrative testimonial I might have preferred: the first is his original introduction to the blog, the second a piece titled "Homo Perplexus" which has become the subtitle, and the third is his most recent post which summarizes the place he finds himself today.

However, he has many other posts that do not just concentrate on himself and his story. He is an amazing writer, and there are pieces on there of remarkable spiritual depth and beauty. I think some of his posts on the spiritual danger of lust are remarkably insightful especially. His posts on the crisis in the liturgy and the problems of secularization in the Church are also wonderful.

As you will likely notice, I obviously can't agree with him about everything right now, especially when it comes to the questions of chastity and sexual morality. But open-mindedness and tolerance are what my blog is supposed to be about. And broadening perspective. And not getting too hung-up on the sex part. Our religion is more than that, I'd hope.

Too often in the Church these days certain voices are silenced in the name of a facade of Pleasantville unity. And while defiant heresy is one thing, it is simply indicative of ones own insecurity to demonize sincere doubt. The practice of simply ignoring or dismissing the practical existential realities and difficulties that people face in trying to apply Church teaching to their own lives has been a pastoral disaster.

Perhaps it is just the nature of ideologues to react against those areas where they are currently most embattled, but the hierarchy has clearly done a terrible job ministering to homosexuals, especially, and very often it seems that the position of neocons and trads is that homosexuals (celibate or not) should just be silent and invisible so everyone can pretend they don't exist and that it is the 1950's forever. Well, that approach has sapped the hierarchy of its credibility with almost anyone except its own die-hard fanboys.

When it comes to homosexuality, the double-standard regarding different types of sinners, the reduction to virtual pariah status, the politicization of even children, the incredibly offensive link some have tried to draw to pedophilia, and the McCarthyite atmosphere implied in the seminaries by the recent (though laughably impractical) "No Gays" policy...are all indicative of an unspeakably sinful lack of empathy (or self-loathing; many of them are closet-cases themselves obviously) on the part of men in an institution that is supposed to concentrate on reaching out to the lost and broken most of all!
All in the name of "family values" and right-wing politics.

Now, I personally have no doubt that society is decadent, probably beyond recovery, and that there are many obvious symptoms including the horrors of abortion, the dehumanizing severing of sex from the dignity of its natural context, and the commoditization of persons as capital. The near-sociopathic compartmentalization of our selves (yes, none of us are immune) and the malaise of internal alienation and disintegration are both a cause and effect on the psycho-spiritual level; sin in all its ugliness. But conservative Catholics lately seem to be fighting a mere political battle for the salvation of "civilization" (vanity of vanities), yet I suspect this is unwinnable. This same friend has shown me how the progress history has taken was perhaps implicit in Christianity from the start.

We cannot fight forever for Christendom when really we are supposed to be fighting for the salvation of souls. Come out of her, my people! Early Christian spirituality was apocalyptic; if we want to sincerely cry "Maranatha!" and if we really want Him to come again, we know that must needs mean that antichrist comes first. The Resurrection only follows the Crucifixion, the Mystery of Iniquity must play out. Wishing to maintain political Christendom forever is as much a secular messianism as the progressive narrative: for His kingdom is not of this world.

I'm not saying that the End is nigh, I am convinced these things are cyclical (A Canticle for Leibowitz, anyone?), and we may well end up with a Christian China or even Arab Christian Europe after a new Dark Age if "Western Civilization" has gone through its arc into natural death (it's the circle of life, people, don't fight it). I'm also not saying we can't wish or work for making things better structurally. But I've realized more and more the old wisdom (which I once disdained so much) that this would only come about by winning individual hearts...but if you win the individual hearts, what more is there to do? And my faith in Providence compels me to believe that as many hearts are able to be won, as many souls are being saved, in sickly decadent periods as in robust and vital periods (albeit perhaps by different means for different reasons, but all arranged by God's sovereign plan). Isn't that all that matters in the end?

Maybe it's my closet universalist tendencies coming out, but if we have to cause anyone to suffer for the sake of the rest, then the result isn't worth it; we're all in this together, we shouldn't be happy until everyone is. How can my soul be saved unless/until I've done everything I can to make sure everyone's is? For this reason, the unwillingness of the conservatives to meet people where they are, and their eagerness to blithely sacrifice so many people (like homosexuals) at the altar of ideology, to see them simply excised like tumors, merely because their existence is troubling or inconvenient for the Right's unnuanced enough for me to stop listening to the Right. The massive personal dishonesty this encourages is the facade of self-righteousness we are seeing collapsing among the clergy currently, even as they scramble so desperately to erect it again. Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of Heaven before them!

Anyway, I'm rambling on a tangent now, but I urge you to read his blog. My friend is aware of his own contradictions and sincerely angsts over them. He really is trying to figure them out, is truly trying to give God room to work in his life and to be open to constantly re-evaluating these questions, without simply foreclosing. And I find that his experiences and his struggle to be authentic are brutally honest, refreshingly genuine, and incredibly brave. Virtues we see so little of in the world of pretension and demagogic ideologues which is the Catholic blogosphere.

In fact, he is probably the bravest and most genuinely spiritual person I know, an inspiringly beautiful soul in his passion for Truth. Truth hard-won, as it can only ever be, not the Trooth
peddled by the fundamentalist Catholics to be swallowed whole as an easy answer (as superficially identical as the two may seem). For me, that is the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price. This is what we're fighting for. This is the light we stand to lose or to gain. Pray that we gain it, even when some days the whole institution seems bent on snuffing it out.


Who Am I said...

Where are the KNOWN homosexual Saints ? Where are the POSITIVE homosexual role models ? For both the former and the latter, I'm not referring to the whole repressed way of going about it. I am referring to people who accept that they have a cross in life, but DON'T see it as an obstacle to living as Christ taught and following Church teaching in that regard. For them to live life as would any normal, healthy sane individual.

Anonymous said...

Well, I was surprised when listening to a talk by Fr. Benedict Groeschel once, when a caller phone-in who was struggling with homosexuality AND drug addiction and asked what he should do? The surprise came, of course not that he hold this person to get in contact with the Catholic group called "Courage" which supports and tries to help homosexuals where they are, but that he told him to pray to Mother Theresa. He said that he knew her really well in her life and that her prayers would really be able to help. Fr. Groeschel is a Capuchin friar and psychologist.

Now, I don't want to say that Mother Theresa was a lesbian, because is not what I am implying, but she did definitely embrace a Cross and live a normal, healthy sane (and saintly) life. Perhaps her prayers really are effective. Supposedly the issue of homosexual persons was very dear to her.

Maybe ask for her intercession?

Who Am I said...

But that is the thing, there is never this EXPLICIT example for sinners of that particular persuasion to pursue sanctity. IF for instance, a Saint were named that indeed BORE THAT VERY CROSS, it would facilitate the process for that person to model themselves after someone.

Technically speaking, ANY and ALL Saints can be prayed to for a host of reasons (they are not gods and goddesses after all), but in terms of identity, it is much easier for a person to relate to a particular saint if they had similar circumstances. Basically being able to talk with The Saint and say "I don't have to explain, you've been there.". Prostitutes have that in St.Mary of Egypt, expectant mothers in St.Anne and The Theotokos Miriam, etc., but what about those dealing with homosexuality, pedophilia, eating disorders, being over weight, etc., where do they go ?

Michael said...

This is a cry in the Orthodox Church as well, and many have called for the glorification of Blessed Seraphim of Platina. Interestingy and encouragingly, the opposition to this in some quarters comes not because of his homosexuality but rather some of his writings concerning the soul after death.

I have read part of his biography and intend to finish it at some point. I wish there were more like him and that our Synod glorifies him soon. There's a committed group in our diocese who make a point of mentioning this to the bishops of our Synod every time they visit.

Who knows what may come of it.

Carpe Diem said...

"...if we have to cause anyone to suffer for the sake of the rest, then the result isn't worth it; we're all in this together, we shouldn't be happy until everyone is."

Hmmm...where have I heard this one before?