Saturday, 7/28/12

  1. Citizens United.
  2. Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day (and invisible Christians).
  3. I bet my life on that.
  4. What will embarrass you in 20 years?
  5. Same-sex attraction as “Eucatastrophe.”
  6. Reed Heustis was half right.

1

I’m not a fan of the Citizens United SCOTUS decision, but it does produce some interesting humor (“With polls this week showing the race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney tightening even further, a growing number of political experts have declared this year’s election will almost certainly be decided by a small handful of swing corporations”) and it’s not easy to get rid of without really bad consequences or fresh Constitutional violations.

2

In support of Chick-fil-A and of the traditional Christian conception of marriage (you know the one: the odious, indefensible, homophobic view that President Obama officially held as recently as 6 months ago, before the Overton Window shifted), former Presidential candidate and Baptist Minister Mike (“Gosh! He’s Lost A Ton!”) Huckabee and CatholicVote are encouraging everyone to go eat at Chick-fil-A on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, Wednesday, August 1 — a day on which the most traditional Christians will be fasting from meat, poultry and other things because (a) it’s Wednesday and (b) the first day of a major Fast for those on the Gregorian (“new”) calendar.

3

A campaign to “end AIDS” is in the news lately.

AIDS is only one disease acquired (mostly) by reckless behavior, and we treat diseases whatever the cause, from Pepto Bismol (remember “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”?) to surgery, radiation, chemo and whatever for cigarette-induced lung cancer. But it’s an enduring annoyance to me that our public health approach to AIDS is condoms rather than chastity. Would we congratulate ourselves on promoting the great health benefit of filters on cigarettes without encouraging people simply to stop?

A sexually faithful couple does not need condoms. I bet my life on that.

4

I’ll give him credit for not comparing it to black civil rights, but I think Michael Kinsley may be trying consciously to create a halo effect over same-sex marriage by associating it with future, not past, social reform movements:

  • Prisons. We incarcerate more of our population than any country in the world. Jokes about prison rape are staples of American comedy. In 20 years, we may look back in amazement that people would think this was funny.
  • Industrial farming. The longstanding discussion of the conditions under which animals are grown for food is turning into a discussion of the morality of using other animals for food at all.
  • The elderly. Baby boomers already feel guilty about how their parents spend their last years. Just wait until it’s the boomers’ turn.
  • Greenery. Environmental degradation is a debt to our children that parallels the debt to our parents.
  • My own favorite nominee will win me no friends: high school football.

I agree that all of these are scandals waiting to be perceived broadly, though I don’t think that vegetarianism is the logical and necessary consequence of opposition to industrial farming. I cite in support unrepentant carnivore Joel Salatin.

And on the same-sex marriage subject, I’ve weighed in enough times that I’ll take a pass this time. I may be shouted down, but I expect to be saying it’s a bad idea in 20 years just as now.

5

I am fascinated in these latitudinarian times with the stories of faithful Christians who struggle with, rather than capitulate to, same-sex attraction. The latest installment coming to my attention is from a man involved in the arts in the midwest who does not call himself a “gay Christian”:

I do not identify as “gay.” Rather, I say that “I live with same-sex attraction.” Like “consubstantial,” it is an awkward phrase, nearly absent from common usage. I refuse to identify myself as gay because the label “gay” does not accurately describe who (or what) I am. More fundamentally, I refuse to use that label because I desire to be faithful to the theological anthropology of the Church.

In 1986, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wrote the “Pastoral Letter on the Care of the Homosexual Person.” In it, we read:

The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation. Every one living on the face of the earth has personal problems and difficulties, but challenges to growth, strengths, talents and gifts as well. Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual” and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.

With confidence in the Church, I embrace this teaching about my identity in the same way that I have accepted the word “consubstantial” in the Creed. I accept all of the words of the Catechism concerning who I am in nature and in grace. I take no umbrage at the phrase “objectively disordered” and feel no shame that it truthfully describes my sexual desires. I view my same-sex attraction as a disability, in some ways similar to blindness, or deafness, and I view it with the same hope communicated by Jesus about the man born blind: It has been allowed in my life, so that God’s work would be made manifest in me (cf. John 9:3). In the words of Tolkein, I view it as my personal “Eucatastrophe.”

In an age that’s forgotten that sex is optional, such voices need to be heard. I’ve subscribed to his blog.

6

In 2002, I made the acquaintance of a California Attorney, Reed R. Heustis, Jr., under Religious Right auspices the details of which aren’t relevant. We remained in a sort of contact via e-mail or listserv for some years thereafter, and I became quite annoyed when he began lambasting the GOP as worthless and insincere on issues that mutually concerned us, and pledged his support to the Constitution Party.

I eventually dropped out, and have mostly stayed out, of the Culture Wars, though my sympathies, subject to several qualifications, generally remain with the Right side of those wars. But the last time I glanced at the Constitution Party platform, my blood ran a bit cold. The goal to “restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations,” for instance, is one that I’m disinclined to entrust for implementation to a “Reformed Baptist” like Heustis.

So although the Constitution Party is, I think, the wrong cure, I now agree with Heustis’ diagnosis of the GOP, and if he’s reading this (fat chance) or has a Google alert set for his distinctive name (likelier), I thought I’d give him his due on that.

* * * * *

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.