Sunday, February 28, 2010

How they think

There are now 56 comments on this article, 7 of which are mine. Almost all the rest are from very conservative and homophobic Roman Catholics.

This set of comments includes almost every major assertion used to deny queer Catholics their rights:

it's a disorder, like alcoholism
it's a choice
it's a mortal sin
gay is OK but gay sex is sinful
tradition teaches us that its wrong
the bishops have the magisterial authority
it's a cross to bear
the bible tells us it's wrong
some things really are black or white

This thread should be read by anyone attempting to understand the homophobia embraced by the rank and file of American Catholicism.


In the Kitchen With Don said...

I've been following that post since you first posted the link. Some very interesting things keep popping up. But the question that I keep hearing in the back of my mind is this...just how would those same folks react if Papa Benedetto died and a more level headed pope was elected who decided it was time for a more balanced view of homosexuality was called for in the church. What would these folks say then? Would they all go over to the Society of St. Pius X? Makes me wonder!

Sheepy said...

It has been very interesting reading these.

I can understand people thinking that homosexuality seems somehow unnatural, given the role of sex in procreation. I can also understand people thinking that homosexuality is at odds with their religious tradition, in the same way that many Muslims wince seeing someone eat pork.

I don't understand this widespread view among religious conservatives that homosexuality is destructive and dangerous. Why does this naturally or logically follow? That God punishes those who stray from the Law in this life? Isn't that the opposite message of the Gospel? Have these people ever met a real homosexual? What is all of this talk of going in and out of "the lifestyle"? It's so strange.

I am, however, very happy to have come across this comment:

Or alternatively one could conclude that the promise of Jesus (that the gates of Hades would not prevail) would have proven false: In which case Jesus is not God, was not raised from the dead, and all our hopes are vain, as St. Paul states. Under those circumstances, mass suicide might be the most rational option, but those without the courage to do that could presumably deceive themselves into finding some other meaning for existence for as long as their meat-puppet remained healthy enough to eat, excrete, and suck wind.

I think that the New Atheists really fail to comprehend that the meaning that religion gives to a lot of people is really a matter of life and death, and that they won't just abandon it when faced with logic and reason. One is reminded of a quote from Fyodor Dostoevsky:

If anyone could prove to me that Christ is outside the truth, and if the truth really did exclude Christ, I should prefer to stay with Christ and not with truth.

Tony Adams said...

Dear Sheepy,
The fear they have is key. And I think it has to do with not allowing the gay part of their nature some breathing space. They are alarmed by gay thoughts or desires that may have popped into their heads. They resent those who have given themselves permission to exercise the gay part of their nature. I should like to see a survey conducted by Baskin Robbins that would show how few conservative Catholics ever allow themsleves any of the 31 flavors other than vanilla.
Menahwile, we have this extremely enlightening survey done by the K of C

go to pages 16-18 for the gay part. The kids are OK! The rest of it is also startling.

Birdie said...

Something you might add to your list of "How they think" is an aversion to the term "homophobia." In an effort to have a calm discussion, you might want to avoid using the word. While one commenter expressed his distaste pretty clearly, I'm willing to bet all of the dissenters felt the same way. Many conservatives have heard pundits dissect the term in ridicule, ignoring its common use.

"Homophobia" has become a hot button to straight conservatives in a similar way "homosexual" has become a pejorative in the gay community. Rather than try to argue about its meaning, use neutral terms instead: "prejudice," "ignorance," etc. You will get past the wall that jumps up when employing a hot-button term.

The conversation is fascinating and frightening. But trust that the silent ones who agree with you are reading too. When your voice reaches them, it might give them the strength to speak with you.

Tony Adams said...

Dear Birdie,
Would that there were a better word. But they have to knuckle under to usage and the definition it has carried since its coinage.

Spouse Walker said...

I can relate to homosexuality being a struggle or cross to bear, not because of the way i feel about myself but, because of the way in which we are made to deal everyday with these idiots creating unnecessary havoc. Being gay is a non issue. Let's call this for what it is. OPPRESSION at the hands of others. And i really don't care if they get it. Why do gay people give these groups so much credence and clout?

Birdie said...

Actually, they don't have to knuckle under.

Do you really want them to hear you? There's a chance they won't when you use "homophobia" in an argument that they perceive to be hostile to their current way of thinking. Believe me, it will hurt your argument when dealing with conservatives. (Conversely, it will probably help your argument when talking to those whose passion matches your own.)

Words and their usage are being changed by public figures, and we must be aware of the traps of hot buttons. (I give this same talk to straight people about the terms "family values, " "tolerance," "homosexuals," etc.) By keeping the walls down with careful word choice, we improve our chances of being heard.

Tony Adams said...

dear ewe,

I know you don't understand why I should care, but the fact is they took my church. Mine. And they trashed it. I want it back. Not because I need it. That church needs me.

Tony Adams said...

No, Birdie, it's a new game. We've gone beyond all that. Those diplomacies are over. It's jungle. It's gloveless. It heaven/hellish. The young are with us. Money will decide this. Within three years, this will all be over.

Birdie said...

Ah. You're not trying to change minds. Instead, you are firing up the hearts of those who already know the rightness of equality, so that they might find the strength to speak up as well. Go for it.

Spouse Walker said...

I understand. Here is a better idea.

good luck FT.