Monday, 1/12/15

  1. What being a Christian isn’t
  2. Loneliness and sexual sin
  3. Europe headed out of Christendom
  4. The historical judgment of Kevorkian
  5. Art and fungible commodities
  6. Not enforced austerity

1

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

(James 2:19 King James Version) This verse should be underlined and memorized by everyone who thinks being a Christian means checking the right boxes on a checklist of doctrines. Their name is Legion.

The devil … never eats.

Lenten Triodion (Orthodox Church), reminding Orthodox Christians that being a Christian means more than fasting during Lent and keeping other Church Rules.

Satan never eats and never forgives.  For the fast to be spiritually purposeful, we have to do more than Satan! We are to forgive others from our hearts.

(Father Ted’s Blog, March 1, 2014, emphasis added)

2

Loneliness provokes more sin among queer people – even more sexual sin – than intimate same-sex friendship.

(Eve Tushnet, quoted in a review of her book Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith in the February 2015 First Things magazine, page 55 – not yet online.)

Even before I had among my friends two who are famously Christian, lesbian, celibate and partnered, I admired and was fascinated by Eve Tushnet – not only because she was a celibate lesbian, but because she converted to Roman Catholicism, seemingly spontaneously, from a liberal academic family.

Whether through her or elsewhere, as I tried to empathize with the gay and lesbian Christian experience, I realized that there must be a need for intimacy. I thought that was a conundrum because intimacy “threatens” sexual expression.

Maybe this idea is familiar to the point of banality among gay and lesbian Christians, but it wasn’t (at least not beyond a glimmer of an intimation) to me.

I still suspect that intimacy threatens sexual expression:

  • If one is becoming emotionally intimate with someone he or she finds sexually attractive and
  • especially as one enculturated with alienation (or deeply lonely from the experience of the closet) stumbles toward intimacy, but then
  • (with Tushnet) suppresses the need for sexual expression when fully realized.

Ironically, the best way for a gay or lesbian person to avoid a partner who’s sexually attractive is to partner with an interesting person of the opposite sex. If a lesbian and a gay man cohabiting strikes you as less scandalous than two women or two men rooming together, though, I think something’s seriously skewed – maybe even phobic – in your outlook.

But these aren’t easy issues, and Tushnet’s dictum is, from what I hear, directly contrary to what many or most priest-confessors or spiritual fathers/mothers recommend. Nevertheless, I think Tushnet has contributed an important possibility into the mix even for those who think, as I do, that all non-marital relationships are to be non-sexual (and that “same-sex marriage” is an oxymoron).

3

Tomorrow, I will submit my passport renewal application, having not used my December 2000 passport. I am intent on seeing Europe again before Notre Dame de Paris becomes a Mosque and Belgium becomes an Islamic Republic.

Demography is destiny, and european Europe is toast. The future is not Charlie Hebdo, but the assassins, or at least their more moderate, but similarly fecund, co-religionists.

Would you care to reconsider any opposition you have to Christian immigrants from Mexico? Europe should be so lucky.

4

am often asked for interviews by students who are writing papers about the assisted suicide issue. I am always happy to oblige. Most ask why I oppose assisted suicide and whether I think guidelines can prevent the slippery slope. But, the other day, I was contacted by a high-schooler writing a paper about something I had never considered: the historical significance of Jack Kevorkian.

Having cut my anti-euthanasia advocacy teeth during Kevorkian’s assisted suicide spree in the 1990s, I was deeply involved in opposing everything he represented. But until I received this interview request, I had never considered what his legacy might be.

It is too soon to answer what, if any, historical significance Kevorkian will have. I hope none. If we are a moral society in one hundred years, he will be remembered—if he is remembered at all—as a crass social outlaw, operating at a time of cultural hesitancy, who preyed upon the despairing in pursuit of his own nihilistic ends. But there’s a chance we will not be a moral society. So, I did my best to put on my “objective hat” and give the most dispassionate answer I could.

Here is part of what I wrote: …

(Wesley Smith) You’ve got the link if you want the rest of the story.

For my money, Jack will be best remembered for his daughter Kim and son-in-law Kanye.

5

Yes, there is a limit to what I’m willing to categorize as artistic expression that should be immunized from involuntary servitude or the nags and scolds of nanny state human relations commissions. And flower arrangements are very near that limit.

As I see it, the job of a florist is to make a pretty arrangement of the flowers desired by the customer, or to ad lib a pretty arrangement with little customer guidance. Perhaps I’ve missed some nuance, failing to see the intrinsic dolorousness of an arrangement intended as a funeral spray in contrast to the joyousness of a bridal bouquet.

Counterpoint: are some florists more in demand than others because of the excellence of their arrangements? If so, did I underestimate the expressive element?

I may be wrong, but I think there’s a real expressiveness to a cake made for an occasion, and I know that I’d not only have moral qualms, but might draw an artistic blank were I asked to photograph a same-sex wedding.

UPDATE:

Non-florists don’t usually understand what it takes to create floral designs. It’s not as simple as “just making the flowers.” Using my artistic skills to custom-design wedding arrangements would offend God, because it would be celebrating, and even participating in, something that contradicts the sacred covenant of marriage. Marriage is between a man and a woman and is a picture of Christ’s relationship to his church, his bride. I spend hours with my wedding clients so that I can make the wedding as special as it is. The creations should convey what they want to say with flowers and capture their vision for the ceremony. It becomes a work of the heart. The support often includes attending the nuptials, performing touch ups for the flowers at the ceremony and reception, helping the wedding party prepare for the ceremony, and offering encouragement to the wedding couple. There is no question that I would have been participating in celebrating my customer Rob’s marriage in direct contradiction to my religious convictions.

I stand corrected.

6

We fail to realize it is not enforced austerity and deprivation that is required, but a submission in love to Christ that brings us new found freedom to be true to ourselves.

(Abbot Tryphon)

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.