- There are some things you can’t un-see
- Kristoff’s bigotry
- Duplicitous dissenters among us
I had some pretty sharp words in my last installment for the idea that “Heather” (who famously has two mommies) should, if the mommies were “married” at her birth, ipso facto get both names on her birth certificate. But another nice absurdity or duplicity in this came to mind later.
The state’s interest in marriage because of the procreative potential of male-female sexual union has been denied and even mocked in part because “if that were true, you’d screen for fertility and require oaths of intent to procreate.” Here’s an example of that sort of thing.
Now the folks who won’t presume fertility of male-female bonds are filing lawsuits based on a presumption that female-female bonds produced a baby.
Just shoot me.
Are you tired of this sort of subject? Sorry. I am, too, believe it or not.
But there’s a conscious campaign to silence dissent, to style all caveats about SSM as hateful. It extends all the way up to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who I predict will once again accuse people like me of “animus” and a “bare desire to harm” in the coming SCOTUS national “resolution” of this issue.
For the record, I bear Heather’s two mommies no hatred. They look exactly like poster children are supposed to look, and their willingness to be pictured in the news story carries some risk, however small.
In contrast, I am quasi-anonymous as Tipsy and even if my cover was blown wide open, I’m largely immune to being crushed by some gay fascist boycott. So don’t give me credit for much courage as I nominate myself to keep saying the Emperor has no clothes. Somebody needs to do it so history will know, if and when it comes to its senses, that we didn’t all take the madness and mummery lying down.
And then there’s Eye of the Tiber, which appears to be something of a Roman Catholic Onion: Woman Who Believes Church Has No Respect for Women Can’t Wait To See Fifty Shades of Grey.
Today’s liberalism almost always avoids any direct encounters with disagreement. Kristof mocks the notion that any reasonable person could have the slightest objection to same-sex marriage. We’re to be addressed with meta-moral categories: bigotry, hate, fear, out of step with history.
This mode of non-engagement is part of the deepest failure of post-modern liberalism. It systematically “otherizes.” A traditional Christian (or Muslim) regards a proponent of same-sex marriage as mistaken about sexual morality, the nature of marriage, and the will of God. For a liberal such as Kristof, those who disagree with him don’t even rise to the status of human beings trying to live in accord with their moral convictions. We are fundamentalists “obsessed with homosexuality.” Or as Justice Kennedy put it, we’re motivated solely by an irrational animus.
The non-engagement is not accidental to liberalism. It helps liberals discredit any challenge to their power. If I object to President Obama’s policies on immigration, then I’m a nativist. If I think affirmative action policies misguided, I’m a racist. That I even suggest in the slightest way that women may be more likely than men to want to stay home to raise children makes me a sexist. And, of course, opposing same-sex marriage is just an expression of my homophobia.
In all instances I can be summarily dismissed as sub-rational. No conversation need take place. In fact, that’s not permitted. It’s a liberal dogma that those who disagree must not be accorded the dignity of a response. One does not discuss with bigots.
G.K. Chesterton, from the grave, indicts Kristoff: “Bigotry is an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition” and “A man … is only a bigot if he cannot understand that his dogma is a dogma, even if it is true.”
I’ve fairly recently discovered Aeon, which has some excellent longer-form writing. The first of its articles I read to the end was Undercover atheists: Seduced by science and rationalism, yet tied to their families and communities, Hasidic atheists opt for a double life.
I’d wager these folks are not alone. I’m reading James K.A. Smith’s “How (Not) To Be Secular” as well, and Smith, channeling Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, speaks of secularity in once sense as having “permission, even encouragement, to not believe in God,” a state of affairs that he says “is an accomplishment, not merely a remainder. Our secular age is the product of creative new options, an entire reconfiguration of meaning.” It’s not that he approves, or approves unequivocally, but he’s trying to observe accurately and critically.
When I left my former denomination to become Orthodox, a member of the former denomination confided that he thought the Orthodox had a lot of things right. He proceeded to enumerate them, but I cannot think of a single one that accurately described Orthodoxy. Several were new-agey sort of things that were simply beyond the Christian pale.Perhaps I should have more aggressively proselytized him for Orthodoxy, but I didn’t. He remains in my former denomination, and I believe has held office in the Church, despite his secret heresies.
That’s pretty easy in a secular age. It’s even easy, for religious traditions that aren’t thick with social commitments and a distinctive way of life, to pack up and leave. Such, of course, famously is not true of Hasidic Jews, where the double life assuredly would be tempting. I suspect, too, that many Mormons know full well that their founding story is fraudulent, that Joseph Smith was a humbug – but can’t bring themselves to abandon a prosperous, family-centered lifestyle too rare outside the LDS Church.
My own Church, the Orthodox Church, tends at times to have an extremely strong ethnic identity. To be Greek, for instance, is to be Orthodox in at least some sense. That’s almost ironclad, even if the sense of Orthodoxy is essentially atheism that loves an annual party. Russians aren’t too far behind, though Islam, Judaism and American-style Evangelicalism have some presence in Russia for various reasons. There are, I’m mortally certain, any number of atheist Russian “Orthodox,” particularly in the homeland.
What distinguishes the Hasidic, I think, is the pervasiveness of the duplicity, as the religious observances suffuse the day with rituals. You can’t just blend into a crowd, your unobservance unnoticed.
It’s a pretty complicated thing being human, and I don’t think it’s naïve to think that the ability to quietly prescind one’s religious beliefs from those of the community – because few communities are as “thick” as the Hasidic – is a largely modern complication.
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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)