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I like that little article by David Mills, Mac. It is something that I give a lot of thought to - more with regard to me than gay Catholics. But even removing the Church from the discussion, most Christian denominations are more comfortable with their married (men to women, of course) members than non-married. Nothing against those married people, but that is just a sad thing. It is great if you can marry and remain married, I'm certainly not against that, but this idea of "fault" and of course "sin" is really troubling. Since everyone is a sinner, why are the sins of the unmarried worse than the sins of the married? I've always thought that churches are sort of an uncomfortable place for all of the unmarried, and they shouldn't be. As with so much, there is no good answer. But one can be sure that Jesus would want everyone to be comfortable in his house.

A couple years ago one of Rod Dreher's more insightful blog commenters referred to the idea of the "condensed symbol" in relation to SSM, stating that it served as a sort of shorthand idea/practice for the entire progressive sexual movement. Thus, as you state, the opposition to SSM by traditional Christians isn't about homosexuality per se, but about the greater implications of its acceptance.

What's interesting is that Rod then went on to quote a 1993 Nation piece that shows that the progressive left saw it as exactly the same thing:

"All the crosscurrents of present-day liberation struggles are subsumed in the gay struggle. The gay moment is in some ways similar to the moment that other communities have experienced in the nation’s past, but it is also something more, because sexual identity is in crisis throughout the population, and gay people—at once the most conspicuous subjects and objects of the crisis—have been forced to invent a complete cosmology to grasp it. No one says the changes will come easily. But it’s just possible that a small and despised sexual minority will change America forever."

This sounds very much like your 2004 quote except from the other side.

Very interesting. I've seen suggestions of that view before. "Complete cosmology" indeed. Aka religion. I guess there is some disagreement within the gay/progressive camp as to where the revolution is supposed to end up. I often think of something that made a big impression on me back in the 1970s, a timeline for the progressive future in Shulamith Firestone's Dialectic of Sex. It involved (as I recall) complete elimination of all consciousness of physical gender, and reproduction by technological means.

"Since everyone is a sinner, why are the sins of the unmarried worse than the sins of the married?"

They aren't, of course, and it's wrong of us (whoever "us" is) to give that impression. But of course it's always more pleasant to focus on the sins we don't happen to be committing. The point has been made many times that the whole same-sex marriage thing could never have been taken seriously if the institution had not already been so badly damaged by divorce and by the separation of sex from reproduction.

"I've always thought that churches are sort of an uncomfortable place for all of the unmarried, and they shouldn't be."

I've heard that complaint many times over the years, and I'm sure it's justified. Some congregations (Catholic and other) have implemented "singles ministries." I don't know how much they help.

On California's "soft secession.

I've always thought that churches are sort of an uncomfortable place for all of the unmarried, and they shouldn't be.

I've been reading Flannery O'Connor's letters again (The Habit of Being), and they show that she was very much, lame and sick as she was, involved in the life of her church. I think she'd have laughed her head off at the very notion that singles were made to feel uncomfortable.

why are the sins of the unmarried worse than the sins of the married?

I'd have thought the opposite. Surely adultery is much worse than fornication?

Surely. I'm not sure what Stu meant but in my reply I was thinking of sins of equal gravity being given unequal attention. Offhand no specifics come to mind, though.

Re Flannery O'Connor and single people in parishes: I wonder if maybe parish life has changed, and/or people's expectations of what it should be are different now. Personally I've never looked to parishes for social life but then I don't look anywhere. :-)

My mother was very active in the altar society -- they looked after vestments, provided flowers, etc. -- in our parish when I was growing up, and several of the women who belonged to it were single, either never married or widowed, and I think at least one was divorced. Not sure, but I don't think many churches have altar societies now. Anyway, membership did have some social aspects, but that wasn't the societies' main purpose.

We have an altar society at the church where I work. All the members are married, but we have another group that runs a thrift store, and gives away boxes of food is made up almost completely of widows. Of course, they were married when they started the organization. We do have a good number of singles of both sexes who are active in the parish.

The fact that you didn't grown up Catholic may have something to do with not having any social life in the parish--and the fact that you homeschooled. My grandparents, and aunt and uncle and cousins were in our parish growing up, and so the family overlapped with the parish. Also, when kids are in Catholic schools, the parents are involved in a lot of school activities that create a community.


I gather you're talking to me? On that assumption: yes, not having Catholic family made a big difference in many ways. And home schooling did while we were doing it. But even after we started sending our children to Catholic schools it didn't change all that much. Just us to some extent.

I thought I put your name in there.


I avoid political discussions as much as possible, both online and in real life. Good for the sanity.


I've witnessed and slightly participated in a couple over the past week or so that left me thinking there's really no hope of reconciliation in this country.

There are some moments of dark comedy for slight compensation. People who in one breath say Trump can't divide us and in the next say "I hate those people."

In case anyone's interested, Patrick Deneen's recent book of themed cultural and political essays/talks Conserving America? is the best book of its sort that I've read in a very long time.

If you don't know Deneen, he's a political science prof at Notre Dame, practicing Catholic, and critic of liberalism in both its right and left varieties, coming from a Burke/Tocqueville perspective. He's also a good writer -- very readable for an academic.

Deneen is good. I expect that would be worth reading.


Has anyone read The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt? He is a moral psychologist. He is seeking to find a way to bridge the chasm. I just started it. I'll let you know what his conclusions are. In the mean time here is a cartoon that summarizes some of Haidt's ideas and here is an explanation of the cartoon.

I've been hearing good things about his work for a while now but haven't read anything beyond a few bits quoted by others. I'll definitely be interested in hearing what you think.

Me too.


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