The People Speak
52 Guitars: Week 42

Some Interesting Words from Eve Tushnet

Well, of course, the Catholic neighborhood of the Internet is still ablaze with commentary about the synod, and I'm certainly not going to attempt any summary, especially as I've only read a little of it. But this from Eve Tushnet, which someone posted on Facebook, caught my eye. I don't necessarily agree with all of it, but it is interesting, because she's a gay Catholic who wants to follow the teachings of the Church, and yet without repudiating what she sees as an essential part of her nature.

I admit that I really don't see a good resolution for that problem. One thought the question provokes, though, is that her vision of some sort of place for "celibate partnership" (there's a link to further discussion of that idea in her piece) is something that I can see more easily workable for lesbians than for gay men. Despite the abundant evidence, most women don't really understand just how commanding and obsessive the male sex drive is. They may understand it as an observed datum, but since they don't experience it, they still tend to underestimate its power.

Eve Tushnet has a book out, by the way, which I'm sure would be interesting.

EveTushnetBook

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Well I asked two things, one of which has to do with this: And to whatever extent is possible, resist the evil trends. And I'm asking what kind of resistance you mean. Do you mean just to resist being subtle taken in by it yourself, of to resist it by fighting back against it by writing or talking to people you meet about it or something like that?

Then I'm asking why we have these discussions. When we have had them, what would we have like to accomplish by them. Are we just seeking information so we will have it, or do we want to use it somehow. What you said suggests the former. I'm asking if I'm correct in my understanding of that.

Sometimes, I it's helpful to me to know that I'm not up against the whole world--that there are other people who see through the delusion that seems so rampant out there. That's one reason why I'm here. But I think there has to be more than that. I'm struggling with that.

AMDG

Some day I'll learn to proofread. That third sentence should read, Do you mean just to resist being subtly taken in by it yourself, OR to resist it by fighting back...

AMDG

I didn't mean anything very definite about resistance, but both of those, I guess. Whatever presents itself. It does include the effort not to be subtly taken in by it. But my main point was just that it's very important to me to understand what's going on. I don't engage in a discussion like this in order to accomplish anything beyond that--for me it's an end in itself.

I think that the bi-sexual idea is a real trap.

??

The sample is small, but in a sense encouraging.

Well, I was as a youngster acquainted with two chaps who later asserted themselves into the gay life, one in New York and one in Rochester for much of his life and then in Washington for his last years.

Mr. Rochester/Washington's life was consumed by his homosexuality. He was identified as HIV+ at the age of 27 and died at the age of 51 after decades under treatment. His avocational life and then his work life consisted of efforts on behalf of philanthropies and political organizations concerned with the gay cause. I've no reason to believe he was a kook, though.

Mr. New York is, alas, a fanatic, but not in any unsurprising way. His particular elixir was ActUp and then another organization formed to harass the Ancient Order of Hibernians. He actually works as a magazine journalist and previously had work in the advertising business. He has an engineering degree that for whatever reason he never used.

Yes there are many who will privately express doubt or distaste about the activist strategies. Possibly even the majority will do so in some circumstances at least. But in my experience, in the end it matters not at all. The word that comes to mind is "thrall." In private, when it doesn't matter, such people will express their doubts and frustration. But when push comes to shove, the vast majority of them still feel beholden to those activists, and will go along with whatever comes next. I have seen it so many times. There's even a two-facedness that comes into it, where they gripe to you and you sympathize, then they throw you under the bus to prove their own solidarity with the group.

If you watch the short film "Desire of the Everlasting Hills" (I personally had mixed feelings about it) there's a section where the one woman, who has walked away from her lesbian life to be a devout Catholic, recalls a shocking moment with her former partner. They were at a lesbian festival and encountered two women engaged in an act of incest. The woman who eventually left expressed shock and horror to her partner. The partner said "well I don't like it either, but you know, we can't condemn them. Because if they are condemned, we will be condemned too." That is exactly the attitude I repeatedly encountered. People in that community learn to turn off their natural moral compass, to ignore what is "written on the heart," and at some level they know exactly why.

I just found an interview Eve Tushnet did with America magazine this past July about her recently published book, in which this exchange took place:

What would you say to people who believe the Catholic Church is an unwelcoming place?

I mean, it often is unwelcoming, right? The first thing to say is that a lot of the criticism the Catholic Church receives for treatment of her gay members is true. Lots of people I know who were raised Catholic had a much harder time than I did accepting themselves and finding some degree of peace with who they are. When you run into people who have fallen away from the church very violently, often you find that it’s coming from real pain caused by sins committed against them by other people. One of the reasons I wrote the book is to cut down the miseries that gay people experience within the church.

But depending on where the person is coming from, we can talk about more positive stuff too. I think a lot of people have only heard some church leaders give a list of things you can’t do if you’re gay and offer some weak explanations of why you can’t do them. That leaves the question of “what can I do as a gay Christian” completely blank. Most of the book is focused on all of the ways the church is calling you to actually live a life full of joy and beauty, a life where your suffering and your loneliness are going to be acknowledged and respected in a church where people share those experiences with you.

a life where your suffering and your loneliness are going to be acknowledged and respected

Perhaps that's what the interim relatio meant to say rather than: "Are our communities capable of this, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation..."

Anyway, reading the whole interview left me thinking that Tushnet is truly a gift to the Church, even if she does sometimes veer off into strange by-ways.

I doubt that the relation was meant to say that, but it's charitable of you to say so.:-)

One of the things I used to like about Eve Tushnet's blog was that she really seemed to be having some success in channeling her sexual inclinations toward other things--raising them, you might say. (It seems impossible to get away from the idea of "lower" and "higher" things when speaking of human life.)

(Not that I changed my mind--as I mentioned earlier, I just quit reading it because I don't like reading anything at Patheos.com.)

That thralldom of which you speak, Cailleachbhan, presents itself to many of us, or I guess to all of us, in one way or another. But that's a particularly dramatic way of encountering it. "People in that community learn to turn off their natural moral compass..." That reminds me of a conversation with a friend of mine many years ago. We were speaking of a local journalist who was gay and who was an acquaintance of my friend. The friend said "He believes he's damned and there's nothing he can do about it." That was 30+ years ago and I still find it shocking and disturbing. I don't remember the guy's name and have no idea whether he persisted in that belief.

And since we're swapping anecdotes: the first objection I ever heard to what came to be called "political correctness" in academia was from a gay couple. It was in the early 1970s, probably not later than '72. I can't remember the details of the story now, but one of them (they were both teachers) had been pressured to change what he taught and compromise standards for left-wing political reasons. They were outraged. That in turn makes me think of Allan Bloom. author of the anti-relativist Closing of the American Mind, who was homosexual and died of AIDS. I don't know how he reconciled homosexuality with his appeal to objective standards. But since I haven't read the book maybe that's not even an applicable concern.

Allan Bloom. author of the anti-relativist Closing of the American Mind, who was homosexual and died of AIDS.

No, RawMuscleGlutes peddled the idea he died of AIDS (derived from the novel Ravelstein, which made use of Bloom as a template for its protagonist).

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/10/08/obituaries/allan-bloom-critic-of-universities-is-dead-at-62.html

The partner said "well I don't like it either, but you know, we can't condemn them. Because if they are condemned, we will be condemned too." That is exactly the attitude I repeatedly encountered.

The mental health trade assists in finessing that one, with their black-box sorting of who counts as 'healthy' and who does not.

I got that about AIDS from his Wikipedia bio. Seems like it would be disputed there if it weren't true, or at least had some evidence. It's not necessarily incompatible with the NYT obit.

My favorite "mental health" trick in that category right now is how you had better not say that transgender people have a mental illness, but you'd also better not remove their illness from the DSM, because they are entitled to health insurance coverage for their cosmetic surgeries, or else they might off themselves. So a proper politically correct person will hold that transgenderism is completely mentally healthy and normal, and also a life-threatening mental illness requiring extremely expensive and invasive medical treatments.

It is a very slippery thing in general though, that "mental health" bit. It can be changed by fiat, has been, and will be again.

"For now, I'll just say "God help us.""

A good prayer, even at the best of times.

"And it's about knowing stuff?"

For me - absolutely. If there is a serious problem, I want to know as much about it as I can, because that will help me deal with it. That is absolutely true with a number of major things I have had to deal with personally. I guess it's akin to having a serious disease and so you want to know as much as you can about it for the sake of getting well, or at least ameliorating symptoms.

"And then, Louise, I know you are doing something about it because I'm sure you are preparing your children to go out into it."

Well, yes, I'm doing what I can on that front.

"Do you mean just to resist being subtle taken in by it yourself"

If you ask me, this is the most important aspect of the whole thing.

"For me - absolutely. If there is a serious problem, I want to know as much about it as I can, because that will help me deal with it. That is absolutely true with a number of major things I have had to deal with personally. I guess it's akin to having a serious disease and so you want to know as much as you can about it for the sake of getting well, or at least ameliorating symptoms."

But see, what you are saying that it isn't just about knowing stuff. It's about knowing stuff for a reason--dealing with it. Not just knowing for the sake of knowing. Am I making sense?

AMDG

I don't mind saying that I want to know for the sake of knowing. Not that that's the only reason.

I'd never thought about that contradictory way of dealing with the "transgender" business, Cailleachbhan, but I guess that's true. I can't think or talk about this without thinking about those who resort to surgery, and therefore feeling a little ill. I feel a great pity for those messed-up people. But I'm sickened in another way by the liberals who have trumpeted this business as the next phase of the civil rights movement. The left has long since exhausted the moral capital of that movement, but the tactic still works politically.

Quite a few years ago now, more than twenty, after I'd left a job and moved away from the area, I heard from someone who was still there that a co-worker of ours had had the whole surgical...treatment, and that there was some controversy about which restroom he/she would use. I confessed that I was glad I wasn't there to have to deal with it, and with him in this quasi-female form. And I realized immediately that that was the wrong reaction in the other person's eyes. So this has been coming for a while, I guess.

And as for the malleability of "mental health"--the pseudo-scientific authority of such pronouncements has obvious uses for those who want to make others conform to their views.

Heh. Well, yes, I know you don't. I'm just having a hard time wrapping my mind around that so, I just keep struggling to understand, but I think I'm not going to.

AMDG

My understanding is that Allan Bloom died of complications arising from AIDS (so the cause of death was not directly AIDS). I tried to read The Closing of the American Mind in the early 1990s, but couldn't make much out of it. The main thrust (if I recall aright) was that great works of literature should be read even if they are by dead, white males, because they can expand your mental horizons regardless of the author's ethnicity, sex or "relevance". In my memory it was quite a sneering book, belabouring what seems an extremely obvious point, and attacking a lot of feminist straw men (or straw women?) rather than making a very appealing case for the books it claimed to be promoting. But the caveat "in my memory" is an important one.

I thought "complications arising from AIDS" was always the way AIDS killed. But I don't know much about it.

Clearly Closing is a reactionary book, in the straightforward sense of the term. I'm not sure I'll ever get around to reading it. But there was (and is) a lot to react against.

Janet, it would be more precise to say I want to understand for the sake of understanding.

That is so odd, Paul, because I probably read CAM about the same time, and I don't remember much about it all, but I seem to remember liking it--although I didn't finish it.

I may have liked it because it led to a very good discussion in a book club I used to attend at the Memphis Library. It was a very remarkable book club for a public library because of the books we read, Mere Christianity, Death of the Archbishop, CAM. I think this was all driven by one man who, unfortunately, moved away.

AMDG

Thanks, Maclin.

AMDG

"I mean, it often is unwelcoming, right? The first thing to say is that a lot of the criticism the Catholic Church receives for treatment of her gay members is true."

I can't say I've ever noticed it.

Janet, I guess the "doing something" with the knowledge I gain is at a personal, rather than activist level. So yes, normally I'm not interested in knowing about things for the sake of it.

"That thralldom of which you speak, Cailleachbhan, presents itself to many of us, or I guess to all of us, in one way or another."

Yes.

"We were speaking of a local journalist who was gay and who was an acquaintance of my friend. The friend said "He believes he's damned and there's nothing he can do about it.""

Tragic. I wonder if it is just that he really didn't want to change his lifestyle (as opposed to orientation) or whether he actually believed that merely being homosexual meant that he was damned. Either way, he is being kept away from the Father Who loves him.

My understanding is that Allan Bloom died of complications arising from AIDS (so the cause of death was not directly AIDS).

There's no distinction. What kills you is the opportunistic infections. And, no, that's not what killed him. He was a 63 year old man with a mess of unhealthy habits. Nothing odd or mysterious about his death.

As I understood it back when it was always in the news, the "ID" being "immune deficiency", the virus itself doesn't kill you but makes it possible for something else to kill you. I was wondering why the story would be put about if it were not true, and Googling "allan bloom aids" I find that this is a source of controversy. This, for instance, was the first hit.

Once upon a time I had a good friend who was a gay man who similarly believed he was damned. His family was unquestioningly supportive of him and he had many caring friends who were all of the more "alternative' state of mind. It all seemed to be within him, not coming from any obvious source. He was fascinated with dark imagery and art, horror movies, death, gory stuff, demons, that sort of thing too. Looking back at what happened to him--the trajectory of his life was truly senselessly tragic--I really started wondering if there was something supernatural going on. He really seemed, well, oppressed. He certainly never seemed joyful in his identity, even for all his "pride," and his boyfriends always seemed to bring trouble and danger rather than comfort.

And I've always been one to roll my eyes when people reach for that kind of explanation, when other factors could account for the same things happening. But sometimes it really seems the most obvious.

I was very young then and had little to offer. Now I wonder, what can we do for people in that state? If they won't accept being dragged to church for a laying on of hands, naturally.

My recollection about Bloom's book was that it had something to do with the idea that the insight of the Greeks was that there is a universal human nature, and that because of Nietzsche, we have lost that in the U.S. The example; how blacks and whites don't integrate in college cafeterias.

I suppose one can only pray for them, Cailleachbhan. And be good to them, of course, if you're close enough to do so.

Curious: my memory of Closing is that it was rather pro-Nietzsche as a great interpreter of the classical tradition and an accurate diagnostician of current cultural dissolution. I'm torn between wanting to read it again to check, and not wanting to read it again. I only attempted it in the first place because a couple of people I admire spoke highly of it (one of whom, incidentally, is a homosexual, although I didn't know that at the time).

As to AIDS, Art Deco had linked to an obituary giving cause of death, but my point was that that would in any case not be "AIDS", so proves nothing either way. Not that it much matters: I can't see any point or position in literature, philosophy or educational thought depending on whether or not he had AIDS and whether or not he died from its complications.

I read more by Bloom in the late 90s, when I was reading a lot of political philosophy, and that might retrospectively colour my memories of Closing. He had some curious blind-spots about the "great authors" he wanted to be central contributors to a Western liberal tradition — people like Plato and Machiavelli, who dreamt of order and justified despotism — while entirely discounting any medieval contribution (such as the institution of parliament, or thinking about natural right and resistance to tyranny). But sorry - this is very off-topic in a thread about homosexuals in the Church.

Maybe it's a magic book that changes depending on who is reading it.

AMDG

this is very off-topic in a thread about homosexuals in the Church.

Oh yeah, we always try never to stray off topic around here. Go to your room!

You know, the older I get, the less I understand why that's supposed to be a punishment.

AMDG

"You know, the older I get, the less I understand why that's supposed to be a punishment." Ha! Esp. since that is where my books are. The ones I never get to read.

As far as I remember Bloom's book, he argued that Nietzche was an anti-egalitarian who had been co-opted by the egalitarian left because they saw him as a useful solvent to dissolve traditional structures that stood in the way of their revolution. The book as a whole, I think, was not so much a simple exhortation to read good literature as it was an historical forensic analysis of how the intellectual life of American universities had become corrupted -- i.e. "how was it that the 1960s were possible?" -- and a lament for the sad effects that corruption has had on students. I liked the book a good deal.

Well, I'll be: here are the notes I wrote on the book at the time. I won't say much for them, but they might be useful to someone who wants to revisit the book without entirely rereading it.

I can't see any point or position in literature, philosophy or educational thought depending on whether or not he had AIDS and whether or not he died from its complications.

No you cannot, but Andrew Sullivan could, which is why he was in the business of conflating the fictional character with the man. For the purveyors of culture, it was important, hence the meme. The actor Robert Reid died of colon cancer, but downmarket versions of the same sort promote the idea that he died of AIDS (with greater warrant because his death certificate did note HIV antibodies).

Here's another tidbit:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-professor-allan-bloom-1556931.html

Guillain-Barre Syndrome, decades of heavy smoking, bachelor, sedentary occupation and hobbies, old. What else causes a bleeding ulcer with liver damage and why might you suppose that Saul Bellow would not add that to the character and Andrew Sullivan would not attempt to appropriate such a character? Lushingtons are not sexy.

Craig, your description of the book fits perfectly the terms of the controversy as I recall it from the when the book was published. So does the obit you linked to, Art.

"Lushington"?

Yes, Lushington. The ulcer and the liver failure suggest heavy drinking.

Andrew Sullivan's not going to write

"One of the most influential conservative intellectuals of the last 50 years succumbed to his own crapulence....One day, there will be a conservatism civilized enough to deserve him."


Keep in mind that in Sullivan's original remark (ere I modifed it), every element of those two sentences incorporated a lie. Bloom was admired by the starboard, but he never regarded himself a part of it nor had any expressed views on any topic bar liberal education; the notion he 'died of AIDS' was cooked up 8 years after his death by people given to motivated reasoning, and RawMuscleGlutes scales the heights of pretension when he fancies he is fit to instruct anyone on what it means to be 'civilized'.

Ok, I finally Googled "rawmuscleglutes".

[nauseated sound]

Again, as I recall the controversy surrounded the book, Bloom complained from the beginning about being labelled as a conservative. It sounds like he was a good example of those who ended up appearing to be on the right simply by staying put while the culture moved around him.

Thank you Craig, that is very useful.

the basic picture of the Left sketched by Bloom is of a patchwork comprised of Nietzsche and Freud, neither of whom really fit, and neither of whom are properly understood

This chimes with my recollection. He thought this tame pseudo-Nietzsche had done a lot of damage. But I somehow got the impression that he was rather more favourable to what he regarded as Nietzsche properly understood.

the first third of the book is a sensitive exploration of the inner lives of modern students with respect to relationships, love, the arts, and so forth

This weakened his case tremendously, at least in a rhetorical sense, because I was a student myself at the time and regarded most of what he wrote about student attitudes and activities as patent nonsense. It's not just a difference of nationality: I'd guess between 80 and 90% of the students on the philosophy course I'd started were from the US and Canada. But in retrospect, perhaps they weren't properly modern students? (They had, after all, elected to study at a Catholic university in Europe.)

Curiously, for all his defence of tradition and his love of Western culture, Bloom seems hostile to Christianity, regarding it as used-up and unable to provide anything of value.

His position on Christian thought was that it had never provided anything of value to the intellectual tradition he saw himself as part of: that where it agrees with secular philosophy it's redundant, and where it doesn't it's wrong. What he loved was the Western liberal tradition, and he hated the intrusion of illiberalism (relativism he was fine with, as long as it wasn't comfortable, boosterish or dogmatic). As Art Deco notes, it's a strange irony that he should be thought a "conservative intellectual".

it had never provided anything of value to the intellectual tradition he saw himself as part of

I'll revise that slightly: he might have thought that Christianity had been a useful vehicle for conserving and transmitting those parts of the tradition it did conserve and transmit. Just that it had not added anything of value.

Setting aside that Bloom didn't consider himself a conservative, that basic syndrome is pretty endemic in American conservatism. The appeal to "Western values" tends to be an appeal to the Enlightenment. In fact it's so widespread and has been so widely remarked that it's pretty trite to say it.

'"I mean, it often is unwelcoming, right? The first thing to say is that a lot of the criticism the Catholic Church receives for treatment of her gay members is true."

I can't say I've ever noticed it.'

Different church communities and different particular churches will have different degrees of the same problems (or totally different problems); plus unless you're part of the group under discussion there's a lot you might miss. I wouldn't care to guess how welcoming gays have found or would find most church communities I've been part of, though I have some expertise when it comes to questions like "how welcoming is this community towards socially awkward foreigners?"

I'm aware there's a large number of people out there who want or need community and support from their church that they aren't getting, and which sometimes is actually there on offer but there's problems making the connection - I've been in the latter situation on occasion. (I know one person with certain difficulties in life who needs community support and who somehow manages to attend mass several times a week without making any contacts or friendships. It seems to me that if you have a Eucharistic celebration from which you can walk away without danger of human contact, something has gone wrong.)

...which brings me to the comment I promised a few days back defending "gay uncle so-and-so", which I hope will be reasonably coherent:

I've been reasonably lucky that I've been places where families - particularly couples who don't yet have kids or whose kids are grown up, who naturally have more time - do open up to random weirdos who've somehow darkened the door of the church, and this contributes a lot to creating community and mutual support within the Body of Christ (and can contribute to the wellbeing of the weirdos in question); so when the Spiritual Friendship peeps call for people to do this more with gays this seems a no-brainer. If gays, freaks, outsiders and emotional defectives can wander into your community repeatedly without anyone trying to befriend them, that's a serious problem (for a church community, at least; for a book club or whisky appreciation society, not so much). As to the benefits from reaching out in this manner, well, Gott vergelt's dir, as they say in German - may God pay it back to you.

Cailleachbhan's post seemed to imply that gays are unreasonable for wanting to be incorporated into church communities. But everyone tends to benefit from community, support, encouragement, etc. (Particularly if you're trying something difficult or counter-cultural, which orthodox gays generally are.) We're social animals, we need these supports - some of us more than others, admittedly - and the church should especially try to provide them to people on whom Christian morality (or life in general) is making difficult demands.

Now, if gays (or anyone else) trying to live up to orthodox Christian teachings find the church isn't giving them much support, but is rather in the position of loading them down with burdens and not lifting a finger to help, it is far better that they complain than keep silence. (Or, more exactly: those of us involved in the non-lifting of fingers can either hear about it from the overburdened or hear about it from a Higher Authority down the line.) You can quibble with the exact form that community support should take, but as I've mentioned families being welcoming is a good thing in my experience, and even if you don't like the idea I hope you can see why some people might. You can quibble with whether there are benefits to families from being hospitable ("gay uncle so-and-so"), but I think it's good for kids if their families are welcoming and have lots of guests (insert "within reason" qualifications about guests not being raving lunatics, axe-murderers, etc. here). Whether the Spiritual Friendship peeps' specific claims of forms of benefit are on-target, I don't know. There's some other qualifications that need making as well, like "not everyone has time for hospitality", but one of the good things about the Body of Christ is even if you're not able to do something now (or you're just totally useless at it), there are other people around who can take the lead or pick up the slack but that's another issue.

Now it should be granted here that blaming a church for not giving support has a pitfall or two - one being that criticism needs to be constructive (you can't just lambast people with a hellfire sermon on the subject and expect them to become warm and friendly with each other out of terror or shame), and secondly, it can become, or at least look like, an evasion of responsibility. There's a fine line between condemning people for not supporting someone, and absolving that unsupported someone of any responsibility. Also, "life is pain, princess", &c.; it can be tempting to point to failures in the larger church community so you can use said community as punching-bag when you actually just need to grit your teeth and accept life is difficult sometimes.

Anyway, Cailleachbhan, I hope (a) this makes sense and (b) doesn't misrepresent your objections unduly.

(Apologies to anyone whose computer crashes from trying to load this entire comment.)

(Additional notes: I hope I'm not misunderstood if I class gays, freaks, weirdos, outsiders and defective people together for certain purposes - having been an outsider for a certain chunk of my life this seems simply a natural way of talking; also I don't capitalise "church" in the above, due to not speaking about the Church Catholic but individual communities, or - where community is absent - individual consecrated buildings with sets of people who preferentially attend liturgies at those buildings.)

gays, freaks, weirdos, outsiders and defective people

That seems to cover most of us.

That was very good, godescalc.

Paul-;-)

AMDG

"Different church communities and different particular churches will have different degrees of the same problems (or totally different problems)"

Ok. But I take exception to people being so precious about how "welcoming" a particular groups of people is (and in my experience that's simply a "human condition" thing - I have felt pretty unwelcome in any number of groups through my life) and then extrapolate out to all parishes by saying that the Church often is unwelcoming. And what does she even mean by it exactly?

"Plus unless you're part of the group under discussion there's a lot you might miss."

Because I'm not special enough I guess. :)

Although I am pretty defective, so I'm part of that particular coalition. :)

"I'm aware there's a large number of people out there who want or need community and support from their church that they aren't getting"

I agree that in general, Catholic parishes today are sadly lacking. I don't really understand why that would be. I have never understood it. But that's a distinct problem and not really related to my objection to the notion of the Catholic Church being "unwelcoming" to homosexuals. If the Church *is* unwelcoming, it seems to be "universally" so. Which is appropriate. :/

The ineffectiveness of parishes may be due to the fairly small number of "intentional disciples" within them.

Good stuff, godescalc.

"It seems to me that if you have a Eucharistic celebration from which you can walk away without danger of human contact, something has gone wrong."

Certainly true, but all too common at Catholic parishes. Contrived attempts to rectify this with official "greeters" strike me as quite lame, but perhaps they're good for some people.

It occurs to me that I've been taking the charge that the Church is "unwelcoming" to gays (or anyone else) to mean actively unwelcoming--giving a definite rebuff. And I've been somewhat skeptical of that. But if it means passively unwelcoming--failing to offer any explicit positive welcome--it's certainly true. But it's true in general. It may be that many people in "irregular situations" feel unwelcome purely on the basis of knowing that something they're doing is not in line with the Church's moral teaching. That would be an understandable tendency. Not sure how you would overcome it, on either side. I guess that's the whole issue. I mean, apart from those who just want the teachings to change.

I don't know where to start, godescalc. I've certainly had this conversation before, though. There's always certain preconceptions that I try to debunk but I guess I just don't know how. Like the idea that anyone who somehow manages to find a person of the opposite sex to marry and procreate with is automatically "inside," a cool kid, welcomed and embraced and "included." It just is not so.

Louise said a lot that I would echo. But I'm still frustrated. I don't know how to make it clear that this imaginary "welcoming" you picture happening to families is just not a real thing at all. I've been on both sides of the divide, and I know. It isn't real, but the belief that it is real is very important to people who shape their identities around being "different" and needing everyone to notice, acknowledge, and validate that difference.

The idea that people with children have some kind of emotional wealth we are neglecting to share with gay people out of bigotry and fear is based on so many false assumptions, I don't know where to start deconstructing. But let me assure you, we walk in, have a seat, receive the Eucharist, and walk out without being noticed too. Through thick and thin, good health and ill, very few people are getting any kind of emotional "support" from the Church these days. But it irks me because it seems like this is only seen as a horrible crime against humanity in "special cases," not in a general sense. And those of us also starving are meant to give and give and give even more, even as we starve, to prove some sort of point about "inclusivity." It's tackling the problem from exactly the wrong end.

It's also going to be more women's work, which I will quite readily admit I resent. My job to pretty things up to the aesthetic standards of a single gay man, invite over, cook, clean, entertain, while the many children of course behave charmingly to make one feel optimally "welcomed." To make an artificial family for someone who has opted out of family life oddly enough falls on the one who sacrificed and chose to sustain a real family life. Yes, I do resent that imposition. It's not organic, it feels forced upon me, so I resent and reject that ideal with which the Spiritual Friendship crowd seems so enamored.

It boils down to this: when so many are outside, so many are lonely, struggling, rejected in some way, adrift, why are gay people a special case? I don't like the threatening sounds that come with this yearning. The "well you ask a lot of us, so you better give us support, or we'll be more likely to sin!" Isn't that true for everyone? Everyone is tempted, everyone is fragile and apt to fall short. Why is the gay single in the parish so special as to need a special pulling together of resources that isn't needed for anyone else?

On the other hand, you know who else is not "welcomed" or "included" in many, many parishes in the West? Poor folks. Working class folks. Oh, try being a working class family at the Catholic homeschooler gathering. You'd think that these folks with one income and 9 kids would "get it" but I haven't found that to be the case. Part of it is the unholy muddling together of Catholicism and the GOP. Part of it is the confusing of wealth and virtue, respectability and morality. Try admitting that you work for an hourly wage and not as a "contractor" or "IT consultant" in those circles. Try admitting you can only sustain your abundant family on food stamps. Having to either sit out potluck after potluck as a non-contributor or make uncomfortable sacrifices to bring something for the materially well-off to pick at.

There are a great deal more poor folks than gay folks. One reason I appreciate our current Holy Father is because he keeps steering, with great force at times, the craft back on course. The poor have always been a central concern of the Church. All this sex and culture war stuff should not subsume it or drown it out. I converted into the Church from mainline Protestantism and over there, it has been a sure and gradual process where "inclusive" and "welcoming" now mean, quite exclusively, "GAY." People of various racial backgrounds, people who are poor, people who are disabled, single mothers, small and unborn children, all thrown quite eagerly under the bus. It is an ugly thing and I am thankful that our current pope at least wants to save the Church from that same error.

It occurs to me that I've been taking the charge that the Church is "unwelcoming" to gays (or anyone else) to mean actively unwelcoming--giving a definite rebuff. And I've been somewhat skeptical of that. But if it means passively unwelcoming--failing to offer any explicit positive welcome--it's certainly true.

I don't know how representative the group Courage is of gay persons in the Church but I think that would be what they'd say -- that it's a passive unwelcoming. One of the handouts on their website, Ministering to Persons with Same Sex Attraction: What Courage Members Would Like Clergy to Know, approaches what would perhaps constitute active welcoming to them with suggestions like these two:

--Offer a safe place where persons with SSA can discuss their struggles and work on their relationships with God. If there is no Courage meeting in your diocese, consider starting one. Offer to meet with us for spiritual direction; consider inviting us, at the end of a confession, to meet with you for a conversation outside the
confessional.

--Please suggest a role for us in the parish and/or diocese. We want to serve and we have much to offer!

Has anyone here ever gone to Mass with the intention or expectation of getting to know new people? Perhaps it's just me, but it sounds unlikely.

Caill: I'll respond in detail later but thanks for your response and I will try to understand. I want to think a bit before replying though. (Also, "respond later" may mean in a day or three, I'm moving flat and, uh, shouldn't really be reading this thread now >.> )

I'm in the old austro-hungarian empire so church & GOP is not a major issue here. Respectability and poverty are pretty much universal issues, though.

I don't mean to be American-centric however I can only speak to what I am able to directly observe.

I apologize if my comment was incoherent. I have trouble putting my finger on exactly why the "hospitality to gays" formulation rubs me the wrong way. I just don't trust a lot of the people formulating it, to start with. I think that insisting on hospitality that singles someone out according to identity politics is a stealthy way of getting me to accept the terms and conditions of the identity politics. And I also feel like there's some further dishonesty, where people are not admitting that they have made a choice--not to have the attraction, perhaps, but to prioritize certain things and arrange their lives in a specific way. People with SSA marry (the opposite sex) and have children quite often, and have, through history. To opt out of this is to make a choice, even if it is so expected now that it doesn't seem like a choice. In refusing to acknowledge that a choice has been made, there is some dishonesty or at least disingenuity at play. And I detect a kind of entitlement that mimicks the secular equivalent. Secular gays feel entitled to my reproductive capacity, as a working class woman, to provide them with the children they biologically will not produce. On the religious, celibate side, with the Spiritual Friendship crowd, it seems they will leave my uterus alone but they want me to act as a surrogate wife or a surrogate maternal figure, adopting lone adults into my home as though they were my second husband or my adult child. The reasoning--"you owe us this because you are privileged and we cannot manage it ourselves!"--is the same, either way.

It's also going to be more women's work, which I will quite readily admit I resent. My job to pretty things up to the aesthetic standards of a single gay man, invite over, cook, clean, entertain, while the many children of course behave charmingly to make one feel optimally "welcomed."

Right! I confess I sniggered at the "to pretty things up to the aesthetic standards of a single gay man" bit. The *only* homosexual ever to have visited our house is the male relative I think I mentioned earlier. He is a good fellow and doesn't seem to be the type to be fussy about decor. Too bad if he is!

Sorry, that first para was meant to be a quotation.

"Has anyone here ever gone to Mass with the intention or expectation of getting to know new people? Perhaps it's just me, but it sounds unlikely."

Generally not, but at my last parish we were a pretty social bunch and so yes, I did certainly expect to meet with new people regularly. That was not my standard parish experience.

"Offer a safe place where persons with SSA can discuss their struggles and work on their relationships with God."

And where is the the "safe" place where an abandoned spouse can discuss their trauma, material and spiritual needs etc without being told to just get an annulment and "move on"?

Honestly, homosexuals are not the only people with problems, or even sex-related problems.

"Please suggest a role for us in the parish and/or diocese. We want to serve and we have much to offer!"

Visit the sick, the elderly, take communion to the shut ins, join Vinnies, help out at a pregnancy support centre.

Help mothers of young children and try to understand that since we are not aristocrats who employ a nanny to do all the hard yards, we probably won't be able to help you much or even just have an uninterrupted conversation. Quit bitching about how we are not meeting your neeeeeds.

"It boils down to this: when so many are outside, so many are lonely, struggling, rejected in some way, adrift, why are gay people a special case? I don't like the threatening sounds that come with this yearning. The "well you ask a lot of us, so you better give us support, or we'll be more likely to sin!" Isn't that true for everyone?"

Exactly.

Regarding optimal welcome, I can't help thinking that clutter and screaming children make for a more rather than a less inclusive experience. Surely?

"On the other hand, you know who else is not "welcomed" or "included" in many, many parishes in the West? Poor folks. Working class folks. Oh, try being a working class family at the Catholic homeschooler gathering. You'd think that these folks with one income and 9 kids would "get it" but I haven't found that to be the case. Part of it is the unholy muddling together of Catholicism and the GOP."

Very interesting - in a bad way. :/ I really struggle with the anti-poor vibe here in Texas. It gets my goat severely. I wonder how much of the respectability thing has to do with the majority of church-goers being middle class? If it's true at all that the middle class is more conservative or traditional than either the upper or working classes and if therefore the last ones remaining in the Church tend to be middle class, isn't it just simply that the natural values (as opposed to the absolutes of doctrine) of the middle class will make it so much harder to relate on a friendship basis with the working class and the poor? Just thinking aloud here.

"I can't help thinking that clutter and screaming children make for a more rather than a less inclusive experience. Surely?"

:)

Well, I would think so, but then I'm not the kind of person who minds clutter and screaming children! But as a hostess, both of these would stress me out severely with guests I don't know well or who have very high standards in such matters.

"I have trouble putting my finger on exactly why the "hospitality to gays" formulation rubs me the wrong way. I just don't trust a lot of the people formulating it, to start with."

BINGO! I think your intuition is pretty sound. Others may disagree, of course.

It reminds me of the mentally ill family member who said all kinds of somewhat plausible but nasty things about me to the point where I had no self-esteem left. Getting back from that position was not easy. Basically, when outsiders (non-Catholics) or heretics etc start criticising the Church I just think "They're off their meds. Pay no attention. God is the judge."

"Part of it is the confusing of wealth and virtue, respectability and morality."

Pure Calvinism. Avarice was turned into a virtue. A terrible distortion of the First Psalm, among other things.

*shudder*

"And where is the the "safe" place where an abandoned spouse can discuss their trauma, material and spiritual needs etc without being told to just get an annulment and "move on"?

Honestly, homosexuals are not the only people with problems, or even sex-related problems."

Exactly. This is at the very core of what bothers me so much about this. There are so many who have sorrows like this--or hey, how about women who have difficulty with pregnancy or couples for whom NFP is an unfunny joke?--but these problems are apparently too commonplace and mundane to be worth special attention, or any attention at all. They're not glamorous, they're not fabulous, and it's assumed the people burdened with such cares should be able to tough it out using their vast, well frankly I think the social leftist language of "privilege" is implicit. Yes, yes, you were abandoned, but you have straight privilege so it's nothing compared to the loneliness of a gay man of 28! And the whine comes, "at least you get to have seeeeeex! What about meeeeee?"

"Has anyone here ever gone to Mass with the intention or expectation of getting to know new people?"

I certainly don't. Honestly I think it's unrealistic to expect much socially out of a parish beyond people bringing casseroles when you're very sick (that's nothing to sneeze at!) and a good round of I-can't-believe-this-weather-the-Seahawks-are-dreadful-this-year around the doughnut table. For me that certainly is sufficient. The key is keeping your expectations appropriately modest. If you need the people you pray with to be your BFFs, monastic life or some kind of commune may be in order. Or maybe a small study group.

Well, again, I don't have time to respond to anywhere near everything I'd like to here, but a very interesting conversation.

I've always been annoyed by the therapeutic "what I hear you saying is..." way of responding to someone's complaint, but it came to mind when I read Cailleachbhan's last. What I heard (sorry) was someone pretty frustrated, at least, with the way parish life tends to go, and the general state of the American Church, and who resents a fuss being made over someone else who in many ways has a less difficult time. One reason I "hear" that is that it's very much the way I felt about life in the Church for a long time. Attempting to raise children in the Catholic faith is about as thankless and discouraging a task as there is these days, and to work hard at that and feel like the Church as a body doesn't much care and isn't going to help is extremely depressing. Probably at least as depressing as being a celibate gay trying to find a place to fit in.

I remember feeling almost exactly what you describe, Cailleachbhan, about the endless coddling of feminist sensibilities in the Church in the '80s and after. Many bishops and clergy would go to great lengths to appease them, and meanwhile religious education became a farce...etc. etc., no need to go over all that again.

Re the identification of orthodox Catholicism and the GOP, I agree that it's deplorable. But most of the blame for the situation lies with the Democratic party. When it sold its soul to the cultural left, dissenters were pretty much expelled from the party, a syndrome still very much in evidence ("homophobe!"). Personally I don't really run into that many faithful Catholics who are devoted to the Republican party, though I know they exist. The attitude I encounter more often is roughly "the Republicans are bad but the Democrats are worse."

"Visit the sick, the elderly, take communion to the shut ins, join Vinnies, help out at a pregnancy support centre.

Help mothers of young children and try to understand that since we are not aristocrats who employ a nanny to do all the hard yards, we probably won't be able to help you much or even just have an uninterrupted conversation. Quit bitching about how we are not meeting your neeeeeds."

Yes, exactly, again. I don't understand the demand for some kind of special role. No one asks about your proclivities or history before you volunteer for choir or ushering or doing sick visits. The need for more hands on deck is so great in most parishes and nonprofits these days, they will barely let you hang up your hat before they have you running the newsletter or doing some other central and miserable task. In my experience, quite a few very eccentric and possibly slightly demented people are volunteering in the church on any given day. There's no popularity contest or admission process, here, so what's stopping folks who want to help and have "such gifts" from just plunging in? And why assume that whatever is stopping them has to do with sexuality or "identity" and thus in need of some kind of special encouragement?

""I can't help thinking that clutter and screaming children make for a more rather than a less inclusive experience. Surely?"

:)

Well, I would think so, but then I'm not the kind of person who minds clutter and screaming children! But as a hostess, both of these would stress me out severely with guests I don't know well or who have very high standards in such matters."

Yeah, same here. In fact, expecting to have access to my home and family "unplugged" would be an even greater imposition. As much as some would like to socially engineer it so that my family home is a kind of kibbutz where anyone who needs a family life experience can be assigned to mine for refuge, I'm not at all fond of the idea.

"I wonder how much of the respectability thing has to do with the majority of church-goers being middle class?"

I think it's a self-perpetuating cycle. The atmosphere in the church adapts to the sensibilities of the middle class, who then feel more comfortable there than anyone else, who then reinforce the standards and make sure they remain in place, etc.

It's very obvious in mainline Prot churches where people of certain means are treated like symphony subscribers, people above those means are treated like benefactors, and people below are treated like ruffian charity cases who you can openly boot from the sanctuary without raising anyone's open ire. Fortunately most Catholic parishes I have visited are at least somewhat better in this regard, but it's still an issue.

Mac, yes, that's about it. The melodrama is a bit much to take. The other fellow protested about being told "life is pain, princess" but well, it kind of is. I don't see what grounds there are to pick out this particular pain of celibate gays as an emergency unlike any other.

Your analogy to the feminist coddling in the 80s resonates a lot too. Again, I remember my experience in the mainlines, where the bones have been picked bare by such catering and coddling and censoring, until not only is there no new generation but a smugness about the barrenness. The church I left for Catholicism, the particular congregation where I had worshiped for years and was baptized as an adult, boasts now that they don't really need or want families, because they are "inclusive." Trying to get programming for kids or parents was not just met with indifference but hostility. One woman (a lesbian activist with a big chip) actually said that if we tried to be more inviting to families she would feel "less welcome." Being smacked in the face with the admission that these things are indeed mutually exclusive to those who move and shake was quite the eye-opener.

"What I heard (sorry)..."

hehehe

"... was someone pretty frustrated, at least, with the way parish life tends to go, and the general state of the American Church, and who resents a fuss being made over someone else who in many ways has a less difficult time. One reason I "hear" that is that it's very much the way I felt about life in the Church for a long time. Attempting to raise children in the Catholic faith is about as thankless and discouraging a task as there is these days, and to work hard at that and feel like the Church as a body doesn't much care and isn't going to help is extremely depressing."

*sigh*

By golly, you are right. I have been very blessed to be part of a good Catholic lay community in Oz and now in a great homeschooling group in Texas, so that this task has definitely been easier for me than you. I hate to think what it would have been like to have only the parish for backup! :o

"In my experience, quite a few very eccentric and possibly slightly demented people are volunteering in the church on any given day."

LOL!

"In fact, expecting to have access to my home and family "unplugged" would be an even greater imposition. As much as some would like to socially engineer it so that my family home is a kind of kibbutz where anyone who needs a family life experience can be assigned to mine for refuge, I'm not at all fond of the idea."

The people for that are the ones with a charism of hospitality. I have some protestant friends who seem to always have visitors and they all thrive on it, but I know that is their gifting. As much as I do love visits, I know this isn't my area.

"The church I left for Catholicism, the particular congregation where I had worshiped for years and was baptized as an adult, boasts now that they don't really need or want families, because they are "inclusive.""

Where's Orwell when you need him? :/

I don't feel inclined to go into detail, but what Caille said about being a working-class homeschooler is quite on the mark. It is very sad and frustrating.

:(

That is sad. I didn't experience that. Our homeschooling group had many problems, but being a club for the affluent was not one of them. Several families in it were constantly struggling economically, and I doubt if more than one or two had above the median income.

"...so that my family home is a kind of kibbutz where anyone who needs a family life experience can be assigned to mine for refuge..."

Is that really being asked? That would be pretty weird.

Interesting discussion. What frustrates me most about the demands for inclusivity at church is that they seem to be formulated in a way that first of all sets straight people against gay people, and secondly ensures that the straight people lose no matter what. If we play "don't ask, don't tell" and don't worry about why Joe isn't married yet, then we are not welcoming and accepting. But what's our alternative? Having special reserved pews marked with rainbow flags, so that gay people are guaranteed seats with a good view of the altar? That's obviously ridiculous. Anything where we don't make a big deal out of sexual orientation is unfriendly, anything where we do make a big deal out of it seems out of place at church.

I absolutely agree that gay people should have ways to "use their gifts and talents" at church. But what I'm not seeing is a clear argument for why/how those gifts and talents are linked with their sexual orientation. I am trying to join the choir, I'm part of the young adult group, and I attend some lectures and concerts. My husband is an usher and also part of the young adult group. We have ways to participate (beyond the obvious going to Mass, which I think is seriously ignored in these discussions). But that has nothing to do with the fact that we're both straight.

What does this group actually want, in practical terms? Am I really supposed to go up to single people and say, "Hey, are you gay? Would you like to come over for dinner so that you aren't lonely?" That seems incredibly condescending. It would also be ineffective--you can't create friendships so artificially. Furthermore, I think the general tenor of these requests for inclusivity is often itself rather offensive. It almost suggests that without special effort, as a natural friendship develops, if I find out that Joe is gay, I'll stop becoming his friend. I'm acquainted with one of the Spiritual Friendship guys (we went to the same college and had the same major). He was always someone I would have liked to know better, but someone I never got the chance to really become friends with. I suspected he was gay long before he announced it. None of those things are related at all, and I don't see why they should be. If he were still near me, I'd invite him over for dinner, but I'd do it because he's a good guy, and interesting to talk to, not because he's gay and being Kind to Gay People is my work of mercy for the month.

Gay people want friends, and people to eat dinner with. But so do we all. I moved to a strange city in June and I have no friends at all (except my husband). The young adult events take place in bars, which I don't like. I get the vibe from many people at the young adult events that they are just looking for a date. I almost never see anything in my bulletin that seems like an event at which a child would be welcome. I already feel out of place, and once my baby is born, I simply won't be able to go to many events (unless I want to take my newborn to a bar on a Sunday night). Can I plead discrimination?

The Spiritual Friendship et al people seem to think that there is this wonderful community that gay people are excluded from. But it seems to me that in fact this community simply doesn't exist for most people. And I find it unfair and insulting to suggest that we're systematically excluding them, via our privilege and lack of caring, from something that we are also in desperate need of.

I'm puzzled by a lot of what some of you are saying. Is this sense of gays wanting special treatment, special welcoming at church, etc., a feeling that you're picking up from Spiritual Friendship (which I know nothing about, have not even looked at their web site)? Or is it something actually happening--I mean, like gay people coming to the pastor, introducing themselves as being gay, asking what can be done for them, looking for volunteers to invite them over for dinner, etc? The latter case would certainly be weird, and is not something I've ever heard of happening around here, but I live in a pretty conservative part of the country. Is there something going on in parishes that I'm not aware of?

It's good to know what's really said and done within the secular gay rights movement. And even without the things Cailleachbhan said I certainly knew that some of it is pretty sinister. But we can't let that affect the way we receive any particular homosexual who knocks on the door of the Church.

Teresa says "What does this group actually want, in practical terms?" I guess that's what I'm asking, too, from a slightly different angle. Are we assuming too much about this special treatment thing? Or is it explicitly being asked for, if not demanded?

If the "demand for inclusivity" is coming from a standard gay rights group, which is basically engaged in political agitation, some kind of resistance is needed. But if it's something you're imputing to individuals on the basis of what others have said, it may be very unjust. Like I said, I'm puzzled.

Sorry, this is hasty and may not be very clear, as I'm having to work tonight.

As has been pointed out above, and as Teresa says, and bears repeating, parishes in general need to be more supportive in general, of everybody.

Well the Spiritual Friendship people are a group of authors whose writings are fairly widely dispersed within Christian circles. Published books, talking at conferences, teaching seminars, etc. And they all have slightly different POVs but they do seem to see themselves as a movement with some "planks" to advance, as it were. Getting rid of the "intrinsic disorder" language, for instance, or advocating this intentional hospitality as a solution to the loneliness of celibacy. In circles of "thoughtful young Catholics" as I said, they seem to be very influential. But that is a pretty limited audience.

In daily life, I don't know how influential they have been. I live, in contrast to you, in a very liberal area. In many parishes, same sex couples are already around as a kind of open secret. At the Cathedral, I felt very old-fashioned when a gay male couple announced their surrogate-born child was going to be baptized and I was actually shocked. No one else seemed to be, though. So with that level of "look the other way" going on, it doesn't seem like there's even a need for the intentional hospitality bit that the Spiritual Friendship school of thinkers would advocate. It's those of us who still object who know to stay shut up and avoid socializing in certain parishes, or hide out in various liturgically conservative outposts.

But the thing that worries me is that from talking to people mostly online about this stuff, the SF "woe is me" stuff is a skipping stone not over to orthodoxy but away from it. "Why shouldn't I get to call myself gay even though I am Catholic and celibate? Isn't there something special about being gay, after all? And why don't parishes make sure gay singles are taken care of?" among my friends quickly turns into "well screw what the Church teaches, I've found a girlfriend!" very quickly.

I hope I'm not being unjust. The impression that I've gotten from reading SF (although I'll admit that I don't read there regularly) is that it's a group of people who, by and large, want their homosexuality to be seen as a gift (that admittedly has burdens) rather than a cross (that has the potential to be redemptive). I have no idea how this translates into their real-life activities, besides the fact that they all seem to value eating dinner with their married friends. I understand this--I lived alone, for all practical purposes, my senior year of college. It did get very lonely and I am a very introverted person. But it seems like some of them think that one of the primary purposes of marriage is to provide a space for other unrelated people to socialize. You can get a feel for this, I think, reading through the posts tagged "community."

Agreed, Teresa. Here's one post in that vein picked pretty much at random from the archives:

spiritual friendship dot org /2014/06/22/a-love-that-fills-and-a-love-that-opens/

I find the sentiments expressed in that post pretty problematic and a bit inadvertently insulting, but I am also a grouch and an introvert so take that for what it's worth. I see the vocation of marriage needing to be fruitful and not focused inwardly on the satisfaction of the couple, yes...but in the form primarily of childbearing and -rearing. The sleight of hand at work in changing "be fruitful and multiply" into "be fruitful and host" seems born directly of the cultural baggage that casts children as options and disruptions rather than the expected blessing of marriage.

And Teresa, also, I meant to say earlier, I very much relate to your feelings about the "young adult groups" in bars and the general lack of anyplace to connect in that phase of life. I don't get the impression any other phase is a whole lot better, but I remember that as being particularly miserable for exactly the reasons you describe.

I glanced at that post but then ran out of lunch break. Will read it later. However, my first impression of the site is that it looks like something I would support.

That link just takes me to a Google search page.

AMDG

Try this.

Ok, I read the piece, and I can see that it has some implications that could be problematic. But I think it's fundamentally generous. Both the couple who composed (or at least used) the prayer, and the guy who wrote the blog post, are young and either single or just married. The just-married couple will most likely soon find out, as married couples generally do, It Ain't Going To Be That Easy. Having children may well find them asking themselves "What were we thinking in that prayer?" On the other hand, they may have, to use the nice term that Louise used above, a charism of hospitality, and their home may really be a blessing to single friends. I'm guessing they used that prayer with friends like the author of the blog post in mind.

I guess the point where it could become a matter for resentment is if the offer on the one side becomes a demand on the other side, which you, Cailleachbhan, seem to be saying is a definite tendency.

My wife and I are both introverts, and although I don't welcome it, a call to hospitality is probably something we should hear. But we don't have children at home. That makes a huge difference.

I really think I might buy Eve Tushnet's book. I remember Amy Welborn once linking to something of Eve's with the remark "Somebody give this woman a book contract." Somebody did, apparently.

It definitely does turn into a demand, I think. There's a very obvious overtone, if you keep reading and listening, of "you are privileged, we are deprived, you owe us." It's very one-sided. And whenever there is pushback, from other bloggers or commenters, the smug entitlement really comes out. Along with the claws and sarcastic, misdirected pity:

http://spiritualfriendship.org/2014/01/03/all-the-lonely-people-on-hospitality-again/

Well, I'm breaking my absolute rule of no talking on the computer before Mass, but I was here to do research for a blog post and saw the link.

I don't know how many people think of their marriage as Damian describes, "We often celebrate marital love as a love in which the man and woman are seen as fulfilling each others’ deepest desires, creating an insular community in which the couple is viewed as “enough” for each other," however that attitude is the kiss of death. It makes me think of A Severe Mercy.

AMDG

I really like what he is saying there. I wish I could say more, but unless I'm going to work in my nightclothes, I am going to have to close the laptop now.

Later hopefully.

AMDG

I thought about Severe Mercy, too. It wouldn't surprise me if more young people now tend to view marriage that way than when we were that age.

And btw I'll read that link later.

Cailleachbhan, If this stuff upsets you so much, why do you keep reading it?

Do you mind if I ask about your family? How many kids and about how old? And about how old are you?


AMDG

The exchange at that link is very unfortunate all around. Frau Luther certainly seems to have been having a bad day, and probably some bad years. Some of the commenters say good things, some make it worse. "I find your post to be cold and not in the Spirit of Christ" is definitely in the Very-No-Make-That-Extremely Unhelpful category.

I don't really read that stuff much anymore, I'm just prepared to discuss it when it comes up. For a time I read a lot of it as I was trying to find some way to negotiate between the remaining friends and attachments from my old life and the new life I am making. I didn't find it very helpful in that regard, obviously. But in general I have tried to stay informed about these issues because unfortunately I care.

Mac, yes. I thought the comment about being "unsuited to family life" or whatever particularly cruel. There's something just...off...to me about a bunch of professional, published authors descending upon some mom's personal journal and tearing her apart because she dared to criticize their ideals. That level of insecurity points to the same fatal flaw I have seen all too many times in such advocacy groups.

Facing the prospect of a solitary life must be a very daunting thing. And that applies to anyone, not just those who are in that position because of their sexual inclinations.

The son of a close friend became a priest and chose to become part of an order, in his case the Dominican, rather than be a parish priest for that very reason -- he said he didn’t think he could handle the solitariness that meant and needed the support offered by a close community life.

I guess for that reason I’m willing to cut the Spiritual Friendship folks quite a bit of slack in this “welcoming” matter.

We have always had single people over for meals, sometimes to family holidays. I think the principle is pretty much the same either way. I don't know if any of these people had ssa. I suspect a couple might have. But the hospitality thing doesn't strike me as a gay issue, except that they seem to have a venue for asking for it while others just sit ignored.

AMDG

"I’m willing to cut the Spiritual Friendship folks quite a bit of slack in this “welcoming” matter."

Basically my view. More importantly, Cailleachbhan said earlier: "But the thing that worries me is that from talking to people mostly online about this stuff, the SF "woe is me" stuff is a skipping stone not over to orthodoxy but away from it."

That's the most important thing, of course, and a valid concern, and a real possibility I'm sure. I'm more struck, though, by how far some of these people may have come to get to where they are. I say "some" because many of them seem to be young and maybe have not lived the full homosexual way of life, which we know for men especially can be pretty crazy, and is probably hard to walk away from completely. Anyway, they may really need that lifeline thrown to them. And though it may be irksome to those of us who also need (or needed) it for other reasons to have it suggested that we've just had it easy and need to get busy and give them a hand, the basic duty to be welcoming is still there--to the extent that we are capable of it--materially and psychologically.

By the way, I didn't see that post itself as people ganging up on Frau Luther and tearing her apart. I thought it was a genuine attempt to think about the matter. There was one sort of supercilious remark in the email the poster quoted. But mostly the harsh stuff was in the comments.

I finally took time to read something I found early in this discussion, when David Morrison was mentioned. I think it's really good: Out of the Closet and Into Chastity. I see it's 20 years old(!), and I hope it still represents his views.

"My wife and I are both introverts, and although I don't welcome it, a call to hospitality is probably something we should hear. But we don't have children at home. That makes a huge difference."

From experience I can say that your hospitality is great!

From Frau Luther over at that post: "The idea that life in a family is not lonely is laughable. Think it through. Do you remember Betty Friedan? I spend most of my life in a static-space between utterly alone and never alone. I rarely have a soul to talk to and I can’t go to the bathroom for 5 minutes without someone interrupting."

Yeah. The early years of mothering were some of the loneliest of my life. Little children are wonderful and a great gift, but they are not the kind of companion one needs for social connection. That changes as they get older, and probably as a mother gets used to a more solitary life in the home. That's not really applicable for women who work outside the home, who have other difficulties I imagine. The bottom line is that people all have needs of one sort or another and ideally, many of those would be met within the Church. Some can only ever be met by God.

"Perhaps when she can see beyond her own situation, she will be able to think more about how God may extend the gifts and fellowship of her family to others who won’t be quite as demanding as her little ones."

When I read that, my irony-meter broke.

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