Thursday, October 19, 2006

USCCB statement

... on ministry to homosexual persons is on the Web site. It's available here (Thanks, Amy).

More comment to come, but my immediate reaction is: this hits all the right notes. The devil will obviously be in the details ... how it will be implemented on the ground, etc. But it's what you'd want from a general Bishops' Conference. Plus it hacks off Dignity, which is just about infallible as an indicator of virtue.

UPDATE: Having had more time to read the USCCB release and think about it, my initial reaction largely stands. At the level of reiterating the Church's whole teaching on homosexuality and how it plays out in particular matters.

Still, I can't help but thinking that more specifics would have been even better. Maybe they'll be in the Document itself when it's released at next month's meeting. For example, I do think the church needs to say that Group X is an example of a good ministry to homosexual persons (hint, hint) and/or Group Y is an example of a bad one, while giving reasons A, B, C for these judgments, so that Group Y could reform.

From the archives

On the gay cowboy movie from last year. This was an e-mail I sent my friend Rod Dreher upon seeing Brokeback Mountain:
"Brokeback Mountain" expressed better than any film I've ever seen the tragedy of having "deep-seated homosexual attractions" and being unable to act on them with a good conscience. Acting them out has its own moral, spiritual and other problems, of course. But for a man cursed with the gift of faith, acting out is at one and the same time both only a theoretical option (your conscience won't let you) and one that will always look attractive (the grass is always greener). You can accept that Jack and Ennis were victims of a society that gave them no way to understand what they did and how they felt about it (which in some sense is clearly true, both of the movie and of the "real-life world" that it depicts). Because if the Church teaching on grace, and all three paragraphs of the catechism mean anything, it is that a social response of mere disapproval may be worse than nothing.

No man with homosexual attractions forgets the first time he ever had a serious love-crush on a male friend in a disapproving environment -- disapproval being either internal (morality) or external (society). There's a strange mix of terror and lust, and a need for SOME sort of same-sex approval that I cannot imagine having absolutely any equivalent in the straight world. It's a whirlpool of attraction and revulsion. You know that what you most want, what your body is telling you (and male bodies can't be fooled), is wrong and/or that acting according to it would ruin you in the eyes of the other, the one you love (in some sense). And in the eyes of the Other Who loves you. And in some sense yourself. If you know/believe (rightly or wrongly) that homosexual acts are wrong, there is simply no secular way out. Only the acceptance of tragedy, the embracing of the Cross, and seeking to die to self.

I think that's why I've always had a taste for romantic tragedy and can't watch "Brief Encounter" (which is about two adulterous spouses) without crying. And why once you understand that "Brokeback Mountain" is a tragedy, you don't have to take the implications from it that the secular liberal reviewers want you to -- "so why couldn't they just marry. Bad society, bad society. (Whack society on the nose with a newspaper.)" The essence of romantic tragedy is that it...can' for whatever reason. And to ask for reasons is to reject the world of tragedy, or presuppose a world in which tragedy is impossible. One where you ask "Why didn't Miss Julie and Jean go their separate ways?" Or "Why couldn't Anna Karenina just get over it?" "Couldn't Madame Bovary have joined her church's women's group or taken a yoga class?" "Othello and Desdemona needed to go to a marriage counselor to work on the trust issues."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

One always wonders ...

... when the MainStream Media (MSM) reports on the Church and anything having to do with the loins. But this article by Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press (as run here in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) about "rules for ministry to gays" has some quite fundamental problems. (I can't find the initiative mentioned on the USCCB Web site, so I'm alsoreliant on the article as truthful.)

I mean, do you laugh or cry at the start of the third paragraph?
But the authors repeatedly state that any such ministries must be led by people who uphold church teaching on sexuality ...
Damn tyrants -- insisting that people involved in church ministry uphold the Church's teaching on that subject. What happened to freethought and freespeech? Did we learn nothing from the lynching of Father Nugent and Sister Gramick. I know it's just three characters, but there is a whole worldview and a universe of presuppositions contained in the word "but." It implies that this is something unexpected or surprising in what the article takes pains to tell us the bishops "repeatedly state" (not just "state" mind you -- the damn tyrants MEAN IT!!!).

The problems actually start with Zoll's lead, which conflates two issues — (1) ministry to homosexual persons, which is an internal Church matter, and primarily a pastoral one to individual souls; and (2) the issues of marriage and adoption, which are public matters of the common good, and therefore not wholly about the Church, but also about the polity and populace. While there is certainly a moral dimension to both matters, strictly speaking they are unrelated. What does marriage have to do with a pastoral outreach?

Then we get to the end, and these priceless reaction paragraphs:
Sam Sinnett, president of DignityUSA, which represents gay and lesbian Catholics, said it was clear the document was prepared "by none of us for whom it is intended."
"They speak in willful ignorance about people in same-gender families. They speak in willful ignorance about homosexuality - sexuality in general," Sinnett said. "They are continuing to discriminate against us."
Ya think Mr. Sinnett should ... well ... calm the hell down? But one expects no better from Dignity, who claim They already know everything and so the Church has nothing to tell them (hence it being a problem that Dignity didn't get to prepare the proposal since it was "us for whom it is intended).

Actually far more telling is Ms. Zoll's word choice, saying that "DignityUSA represents gay and lesbian Catholics," which is ... not to put too fine a point on it ... a pile of crap. To the extent Dignity speaks for anyone, those people are dissenters, as five minutes poking around the Dignity Web site will tell you (I didn't know Mary Daly had found a new post -- I presume she doesn't have to deal with males at this one, while calling for a Catholic Stonewall).

Perhaps less seriously, the AP writer also apparently couldn't find (or didn't think to find or didn't know she could find) any homosexual persons or groups who believe what the Church teaches. So there's only negative reaction from homosexual persons to the bishops' proposal, whatever it might be. Which tells us by omission that the story is really the bad old homophobic Church "cracking down" on the poor innocent LGBT Community. Ms. Zoll, if you read this ... my e-mail is to the right. And if my unwillingness to be a "public homo" is too much, I have some friends in various cities, a chaplain of my own group, and a group with an office, all of whom might be willing to talk about this and other matters.

The despicable outers

Liberals are all about tolerance. Not. Senator Craig has issued a formal denial on the "trust me" charges made by the scumbag gay activist Mike Rogers. Mary Katherine Ham at Town Hall notes how flimsy the "evidence "is.
Ooh, and I heard that Kathy and David did the deed under the bleachers at Friday's football game. For real. Would I lie to you?
Andrew Sullivan says what needs to be said:
If the gay left thinks it will advance gay dignity by using tactics that depend on homophobia to work, that violate privacy, that demonizes gay people, then all I can say is: they are wrong. They will regret it. It will come back to haunt them. And they should cut it out. The fact that their motives might be good is no excuse. Everybody on a witchhunt believes their motives are good. But the toxins such a witchhunt exposes, the cruelty it requires, and the fanaticism of its adherents are always dangerous to civilized discourse. What you're seeing right now is an alliance of the intolerant: the intolerant on the gay left and the intolerant on the religious right.
Gay Patriot (great minds thinking alike, as this article I put up last night shows) said that in that short blurb he "discovered the old Andrew Sullivan whose blog I once very much enjoyed." And then he notes where the new Andrew Sullivan sneaks in and gets it wrong. "What you're seeing right now is an alliance of the intolerant: the intolerant on the gay left and the intolerant on the religious right." Actually, Gay Patriot notes, there is no such alliance, instead characterizing the dynamic as ...
the intolerant gay left ... trying to use the intolerance of those social conservatives to split the GOP.
... which isn't really an alliance. But I would also reword Gay Patriot's statement with the added phrase in italics to make it perfect:
the intolerant gay left is trying to use what it sees as the intolerance of those social conservatives to split the GOP.
And that's why this outing craze will not only not work but actually backfire. "The intolerance of the social conservatives" is a myth. Or at least grossly exaggerated in ways that eventually shrink to zero in this case because of how the outers and their liberal-left enablers and friends simply don't understand social conservatives.

Let's start with a few names: Phyllis Schlafly. Alan Keyes. Dick Cheney. Sonny Bono. Every one of them, conservative icons all, has a homosexual child. (There are undoubtedly others; these are just the ones I could think of where the family matter became public.) Besides family situations, practically every conservative knows or "knows" about some colleague -- at work, at church, across the street, etc. At some level of detail and intimacy, homosexuality and homosexual persons are now part of the ordinary fabric of daily experience for just about everyone. Homosexuality is no longer "the unspeakable vice of the Greeks" or "the love that dare not speak its name." Whether this be a good or bad thing about life today, it is nevertheless a fact about it. This normality (no other word for it) makes a certain primitive repugnance toward "butt-fucking faggots" a lot harder to maintain. This is indeed, the very logic of "Coming Out Days" -- to make people more "tolerant" of homosexuals by showing them persons rather than concepts. Religious conservatives simply are not what they used to be. I won't deny there are some outright haters. But they have become more and more marginal with time. And the Catholic Church teaching on the homosexual persons has developed considerably in the last 30 years (see next above post for the latest example).

To wax personal, never have my homosexual attractions been a problem with any of the approximately 40-50 other Christians (half of them other Courage members) who know about them. True, I have to a certain extent cherry-picked, but more often in the name of discretion than fear per se. The dance of disclosure is different for every person, every relationship, every occasion. I don't fear being outed myself because I seriously think I would show up at work (I work for a well-known conservative institution) or at Church the next day and be lynched by the righteous. Rather because, as Sullivan has written:
Properly understood, outing is not a resolution of something, a final act. It’s when the intricate steering of self-disclosure, with which every homosexual is intimately familiar, is suddenly seized by someone else, when one’s ability to describe oneself, one’s freedom to say who one is, is peremptorily taken away.
But every person who knows about my homosexual attractions outside the specific (and rather unique) context of Courage knew me as a person first. Knew "John." And so a certain amount of love and trust already existed, making me free to say things about myself. The persons in question — all conservative or religious, and most both — have never treated me badly. I can truthfully say I have never been the object of hostility or contempt from a Christian over my homosexuality. Or even certain homosexual sins. Ever. (OTOH, I have been the object of contempt and hatred from gay activists.)

More generally, Christians tend to be rather forgiving people -- something about which gay activists, because they are not such, always miscalculate. For someone else say that Sen. Craig is a sinner will and should surprise no Christian, whatever shape the universal fact of sin might take in his particular case. And this is also why many religious conservatives have no problem with people who preach against homosexuality in public or oppose the gay activists in public life, while having stumbles with it himself in private. We recognize that people are sinners, and that the dynamic of sin. Sin often means, as St. Paul said, doing what we know to be wrong. To "not do what I want, but do what I hate." For the "spirit to be willing but the flesh weak." This isn't to say there isn't such a thing as an unnatural obsession with certain sins. But still, because Christians acknowledge we are sinners, we tend not to be perturbed by the mere fact of hypocrisy or a gap between one's morality and one's conduct. Upon reflection, hypocrisy even becomes socially necessary since without it, all public morality goes into the shitcan because it can only ever be upheld by the sinless. Which is to say, by nobody.

This isn't to say there never might have to be temporal consequences. With Mark Foley, the e-mails were just too explicit and the conduct also involved minors. And if there's explicit e-mails or video or, as with Schrock, audio of Sen. Craig and some man, he (or any congressman) would be well advised to get out of Congress. But this won't cause religious conservatives to rethink either their morals or their political allegiance. In fact, quite the contrary. What "outing" does is transform the narrative. It pushes the spotlight from some (hypothetical) lawmaker's bathroom-hookups or whatever to someone else's gossip and reveals the true depth of the outers's politically-motivated hatred. Making a similar point is libertarian Ann Althouse:
I would like to see Republicans abandon social conservatism, and I'm not cheering on these slimy outings. But, honestly, I think these creepy, gleeful efforts at outing will only make social conservatives more conservative, and they will continue to look to the Republican party to serve their needs.
Exactly. Add to this how the outers cut such unattractive and transparent figures — clumsily trying to game us, to use our morals (which they proudly hate) against us. And for nothing but naked political gain, even at the cost of their own self-defined goals (privacy, dignity for homosexual persons, sexual freedom — two of which actually are real goods). Or as Gay Patriot put it:
That there are those on the left who would attempt to play into the prejudices of the most anti-gay forces in our society in order to help defeat the GOP shows that they are more interested in advancing their own partisan agenda than in respecting the private lives — and personal choices — of individual gay men and women. For them, it’s all politics. (I’ve said this before. As have countless others.) While they may express noble sentiments about helping gay people, they could care less about gay individuals who happen to be Republican.
I can no longer count how many times those on the left have wondered how I could support a political party which has contempt for gay people. And yet while I don’t always agree with my party — or the attitudes of some of its members — I have never encountered the level of hate or vitriol that those involved in the outing campaign have directed against closeted gay Republicans.
The outers are exactly what they profess to hate. In fact, this parody from Iowahawk isn't really that much of an exaggeration. Titled "it's the homos, stupid," it ends thus:
In less than three weeks you will be asked to make a stark choice. You can choose the GOP's same old Washington "backroom insider games" -- ewwwwww -- or choose a fresh start with a new team dedicated to rooting out and exposing the Republicans' culture of man-love. ... With your support, our team will make sure that you will no longer be at risk from tax cuts tainted with gay Republican AIDS cooties, and that your children trapped in the military will no longer be taking orders from the Butt-Commando-in-Chief.
But if, for whatever reason, you can't vote for us, why not stay at home and sit this one out? Let's face it, polls prove the GOP is doomed, and your traditional mindless loyalty to them has brought you nothing but heartache, disappointment, and a legislature full of sodomist and negros. The GOP came into power promising you a return to traditional values; instead, they were a Trojan Horse full of purse-swinging black Greek sailors who have turned Washington into Sodom on the Potomac, and Capitol Hill into the Love Shack on Brokeback Mountain.
While you're thinking it over, remember to register for the DNC's nationwide all-day Bible Study church lock-in on Tuesday November 7. Free chewing tabacky for the first 10 million enrollees!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Lavender Moonbats strike again

According to Daily Kos, outer Michael Rogers has declared that Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, is a closeted homosexual. Craig has three children and nine grandchildren, but that doesn't matter to the likes of Rogers. Anything to humiliate a Republican, true or not. According to the Kos item, Rogers said his sources are men who say Craig had sex with them and he will go to jail to protect their anonymity. From Rogers' initial post, available at Kos [I won't link to Rogers on principle], the sex encounters were of the anonymous-pickup at bathroom stalls genre. So there's no way to verify this -- just straight up one person's word. In the words of this cri de couer:
I was asked to confirm a story presented anonymously ... Why should I answer? I waited for someone with an actual name to come forward and accuse me of something with evidence. Nothing. Mere anonymous rumors.
Why should anyone in public life be forced to respond to such things? What, after all, was McCarthyism? In the history books, it is described as a method of political intimidation where someone is accused of something allegedly shameful, not told who his accusers are, and forced to respond.
You would think that the party that made privacy a constitutional right, that says it opposes intrusion in the bedroom, that says there's nothing wrong with homosexual behavior -- that this party would reject this behavior.


It's been a bit more than six hours since the item was put before the Kossacks. As I write this, there are 845 comments. These are some samples from just the first 50 or so:
Good work to out that hypocritical bastard. May he swiftly resign!

You haven't heard about Mehlman.......because he can't get laid.

It was never mentioned that Craig is the Guru of Guns in the Senate. Maybe he does that to look manly.

Gee -- self-flagellation. Do you suppose that's their turn-on?
There's also a Kos poll going on, and just this second, I voted "No" so I could see what the results were to the poll "Do you agree with outing gay Republicans?" Depressingly predictable:
Yes 2,624 votes 70%
No 1,110 votes 29%
I've said before that I hate the Democrats, and here is Exhibit 57700182305. They hate me. Or, to be precise, their voting base considers what Sullivan calls "the high-tech lynching of uppity homos" to be an acceptable, indeed a laudable, endeavour. One of my very favorite Sullivan articles is this one, which I can't find very quickly online. The walk-off line:
The gleam in the eyes of the outers, I have come reluctantly to understand, is not the excess of youth or the passion of the radical. It is the gleam of the authoritarian.
This is now what liberals stand for -- the forced political uniformity of totalitarianism for the selected victim groups that They in Thy Wisdom have designated as needing Thy protection. Whether they asked for it or not. (And this evil arrogant self-righteousness is not confined to homos either.)

Even as a strictly political matter ... wtf? Craig isn't even up for re-election. Nor is Idaho's other Senate seat. What do Rogers and the majority of Kossacks think this will accomplish? The private acceptance of homosexuality is just about an accomplished fact (I have never had a Christian, and I travel in some pretty conservative circles, denounce my behavioral lapses). Indeed, I hope this outing of Craig WILL become better known, because voters need to know what kind of fever swamps liberals inhabit and what kind of actions win approval among those to whom the country may be about to turn over the keys of power.

My heart hopes that those liberals who oppose this kind of thing will denounce the Rogerses of the world with as much vigor as they did Sen. Macaca and disassociate themselves from his works. But my head tells me the Kossacks suggest the likelier result.

But hey, extremism in the defense of political conformity and liberal power is no vice.

No, there's no media bias

Here is the lead of an Associated Press story running tonight:
Former Rep. Gerry Studds, the first openly gay member of Congress, was married to another man in Massachusetts at the time of his death, but the federal government has refused to pay death benefits to his spouse.
This does the intellectual equivalent of stealing all four bases. The article refers to the other man factually as "his spouse" — a construction and fact that the story simply takes for granted throughout that a man can marry a man as a matter of fact and this man is in fact Studds' spouse. Those are precisely the issues in dispute in the debate over homosexual "marriage." But you wouldn't know this was even an issue from the way this article is written. Here are some of the constructions that betray the way:
after gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts.

Hara, unlike the spouses of other members of Congress who have died

if the marriage were recognized by the federal government
This article by the nation's premier wire service is gonna run in a hundred papers nationwide, probably with minimal editing, under the suggested headline:
Gay Congressman's Spouse Denied Benefits
Here is one TV station that uses the same headline almost word-for-word.
Congressman's Spouse Denied U.S. Death Benefits Because He's Gay

The person in question is not the congressman's "spouse" because the two were not married according to federal law (and the universal understanding of marriage until just the day before yesterday).

At best, one could say that the two men were married in Massachusetts. But then by taking that as normative for the rest of the story, by calling a marriage what is a marriage only in Massachusetts and not in 49 other states, AP is thereby privileging Massachusetts as the norm, and constructing other states' morality as deviant or dubious or "controversial."

Why should anyone trust coverage of an important public issue from a news organization whose very style and choice of descriptors presupposes the rightness of one side of that issue.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Is homosexuality a choice?

This was something I wrote on a friend's site two years ago, during the 2004 presidential campaign. I reprint it simply because it is pretty much my comprehensive take on probably the biggest of questions on Topic H. David initially quoted moderater Bob Schieffer's question to the two presidential candidates.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, let's get back to economic issues, but let's shift to some other questions here. Both of you are opposed to gay marriage. But to understand how you have come to that conclusion, I want to ask you a more basic question. Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?
Here's how I would have answered the question:
"Mr. Schieffer, it depends what you mean by homosexuality. In any event, I don't think it's a closed question. If you mean homosexuality as a disposition or temptation, it almost certainly is unchosen. I note, though that this leaves open the question of whether it is genetic-biological trait, like eye color, or an acquired personality trait, like generosity or irascibility or alcoholism or saintliness. But if you mean homosexuality as behavior, then it certainly is chosen, on account of ... well ... all behavior is chosen. I note, though that this leaves open the question of the degree to which one's will or freedom can be clouded by previous habit."
I should note that the evidence for a strong version of the genetic-biological theory (homosexuality as eye color) is actually very skimpy -- not even the twin studies show the almost-100 percent correlation they would have to if homosexuality were purely genetic (and the brain studies -- please). The correlations are high enough, though, to support the acquired personality trait theory -- we're disposed a certain way, but environment and choice determine what we do with those dispositions. Again, the analogy with alcoholism is fairly precise -- scientists have located genes, but they merely raise the correlation rates. You won't become an alcoholic, no matter what your genes, if you live your whole life in Provo or Mecca. You'll become an alcoholic, no matter what your genes, if you drink enough.

I think this debate over choice gets clouded by, among other things, the connotations of the word "choice" -- it implies a fully-conscious act of decision-making at a given moment with all the options before one, with the pros and cons weighed, etc. "Choosy moms choose Jif." Clearly, nobody IN THAT SENSE chooses to be gay.

But that isn't the only sense of "choice," which is why, when I outlined my answer above, I used the word "acquire," which is less ... positivistic and deliberate. You can acquire something you didn't choose or (and this is the key point) are never conscious of having made a choice about. This is most clearly true in the case of one's personality traits, whatever they might be and indifferent to whether they are good or bad traits to have. In a phrase, you become what you do and you do what you become, in a never-ending dialectic. I didn't choose my homosexual dispositions, any more than I chose to be a scholastic pedant. I remember both dispositions from a very early age, prior to both formal education and anything that could be called sexual agency. I could have either confirmed or been confirmed in those dispositions; steered away or been steered away from them. They could have been either nurtured or neglected. (For example, I could have been born Amish, and so ended my schooling in 8th grade.) And the accidents of my environment, including a somewhat Catholic schooling, meant I never had to fully "come out" to myself until I had my first serious love-crush, which was at about 24.

As for the testimony of self-identified gay people, it's not that I believe they're lying. It's a combination of immersion in cultural propaganda (the society constantly TELLS everybody this) and the will to believe the strong-genetic explanation, since it soothes the conscience by seeming to end moral debate about homosexuality (it also short-circuits claims of changeability, which is both of its attraction and why I think it risible). But there's also two other things, neither blameworthy -- (1) the human tendency to describe one's life story in the terms of a teleological narrative ("this is how it was meant to be"); and (2) the existential fact that neither they nor any gay person they know remembers "choosing" to be gay, in the sense above.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Foley Agonistes

I suppose I'll play the dissenting fool on Mark Foley. To start with, I have no doubt whatever that this story was leaked to ABC by a Democrat because the party wanted an opportunity to pick up another House seat. If that means outing or humiliating a politically-incorrect homo,¹ so be it. As has been done to Schrock and Graham and Taylor -- and that's just the (supposed) ones I can think of off the top of my head at the national level (rinse-and-repeat with the racism Dems will direct at politically-incorrect blacks). As I've said before, I hate the Democrats. This Washington Post article seriously understates matters (hat tip: Jay Anderson). It says:
Foley's creepy behavior might have done him in even if he'd been the most liberal of Democrats. But that's not assured.
Actually, it pretty much would be assured. Two words -- Gerry Studds. The Massachusetts Democrat was censured by Congress for an actual affair (not simply dirty talk) with an at-the-time-of-the-affair current House page (not an ex-page). Those brackets aren't great distinctions, but they're not nothing. And Studds defended it. But when you're a Democrat who commits sexual immorality, you will survive and can count on the support of your party, as it basically stands for sexual immorality. And when voters from the bluest-of-the-blue-states had a chance to vote on Studds, they kept sending him back. As the Wikipedia link notes, Studds acted with contempt toward the censure, and claimed that his acts were morally peachy.
Studds's case [involved] a 1973 relationship with a 17-year-old male congressional page. The relationship was consensual, but violated age of consent laws and presented ethical concerns relating to working relationships with subordinates. ... As the House read their censure of him, Studds turned his back and ignored them. Later, at a press conference with the former page standing beside him, the two stated that what had happened between them was nobody's business but their own.
The non-sequitur in the first part of the quote is remarkable -- it violated "age of consent" laws but was "consensual." What a steaming piece of bovine scatology. The whole point of "age of consent" laws is to take the possibility of consent "off the table." To say that someobody under that age, as this page was, cannot "consent." But hey ... when you're a Democrat, I guess even statutory rape gets a pass if there's consent or you tell her to put a piece of ice on it afterward. And why not? From JFK and Chappaquiddick to gay "marriage" and the Boston-founded NAMBLA, Massachusetts is sexual immorality Ground Zero — Mecca, Rome and Jerusalem for amoral libertines all rolled into one.

Also, there is a very simple reason Hastert et al sat on the first set of e-mails, which were questionable in their forwardness and friendliness, but not smoking guns or anything dirty. No talk of fellatio under the table or using cigars as sex toys. The two sets of IMs are much more problematic, but they weren't in GOP leaders' hands. But take those IMs out of the picture, and what do you have? And then imagine how Democrats and the pro-gay MSM would react to an attempt to discipline or expel Foley. Since it was widely "known" (word deliberately in quotes) in Washington that Foley was a homosexual, and since that round of e-mails at most shows Foley expressing excessive but nonsexual interest in someone of the same sex ... all we'd be hearing about is Republican "homophobia." How Foley was just trying to be a mentor. And how straight congressmen always take an interest in helping the pages' careers. And gay people love like anyone else, and aren't defined by their sex drives, and have families and apprentice relationships too. And it's demeaning to infer sexual interest and on and on. We'd get the petulant "youreallyhateusyoubigot" tantrums. We know the script by heart. As the Wall Street Journal put it:
But in today's politically correct culture, it's easy to understand how senior Republicans might well have decided they had no grounds to doubt Mr. Foley merely because he was gay and a little too friendly in emails. Some of those liberals now shouting the loudest for Mr. Hastert's head are the same voices who tell us that the larger society must be tolerant of private lifestyle choices, and certainly must never leap to conclusions about gay men and young boys. Are these Democratic critics of Mr. Hastert saying that they now have more sympathy for the Boy Scouts' decision to ban gay scoutmasters? Where's Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on that one?
The other group I have absolute contempt for is the gay-activist crowd. At Beliefnet, Rod Dreher called Foley "a scumbag gay congressman." The whinnying started:
Don't turn this into an anti-gay thing! Most gay men are gay men because they want to be with OTHER ADULT MEN. I NEVER seen a creep who goes after teen girls called a "scumbag straight pedophile." How casually insulting and rude!
Quickly, the MSM reaction story came to remind us "never confuse homosexuality with pedophilia. it is Badthink."
Gays activists cautioned Tuesday - as they have since the scandal broke surrounding sexually explicit Internet communications with teens - that Foley's sexual orientation, in or out of the closet, has nothing to do with improper involvement with minors.
"His sexuality was never a question. Everybody knew. (But) being gay and being interested in teenagers are two different things," said Eric Johnson, who was assistant manager of a Foley campaign for the Florida Legislature in 1991 and 1992. ...
Johnson's view is backed up by science,² said Melodie Moorehead, a psychologist who counsels patients and their families at several South Florida hospitals, including Kindred Hospital in Fort Lauderdale.
"Molestation has nothing to do with homosexuality," she said.
I'm willing to accept that homosexuality has nothing to do with pedophilia, if that term is understood clinically, meaning "sex with someone pre-puberty." But by that definition, Foley was not a pedophile. His interest was in post-pubescent teenagers. In other words, males who, speaking biologically in the matters of sex and the secondary sexual characteristics, are adults. Not children.

None of what follows is meant to say that Foley's conduct wasn't immoral or that the legal fictions surrounding "age of consent" matters are unjust. But speaking strictly and clinically about Foley's desires, they were not pedophilic, but homosexual. The fact that he had a taste for youth (rather than, say, a taste for bears or jocks, or being a "leg man" or a "breast man") does not make it different in "sexual orientation," any more than the dirty old man lusting after high-school cheerleaders thereby isn't "straight." This isn't complicated. If attraction for the same sex over the opposite one defines sexual orientation, then a desire for males and not females makes a man a homosexual. Is there any evidence or even whispers Foley was hitting on female pages? After all, if "pedophilia" is a separate orientation having nothing to do with same-sex or opposite-sex attraction, then Foley The Non-homosexual Pedophile should have been doing that too. Where's the evidence of his interest in female pages? Where?

But it's the dirty little secret, that the gay activist crowd will never permit the MSM to note, that gay-male culture has a sexualized fascination with youth. First, it's clear that many men of every sexual persuasion find youth attractive (hence all the lusting after Britney Spears and Anna Kournikova). But the problem with the homosexual culture is that "It's men, without women" -- i.e., there is no natural restraint on the male impulse to sex-as-conquest. Second, the cult of the Beautiful Boy has been part of male homosexuality from the very beginning. No reader of Plato or Kenneth Dover can have any doubt that for the Greeks, homosexuality MEANT a man and a teenage boy. The Renaissance and the Victorian/Edwardian aesthetes, up to Oscar Wilde, took their cues from that, as Camille Paglia has shown. Or consider even any number of "growing up in an English boarding school" novels or films. As for today ... well, "barely legal" "baby-face" "boi" and "twink" are practically genres in gay-porn and personal ads, right alongside and in the same forums as desires for "military," "daddy" and "frat boy" types (i.e., the frankly-stated desire for young males is not marginalized in "mainstream" gay outlets as NAMBLA the self-conscious organization generally is). That a significant, more-than-random (and way more than enough to rule out the "bigotry" card) number of homosexuals express a sexual desire for teenagers, or for adults who are baby-faced enough to pretend they are teens or allow for the fantasy that they are teens, just seems to be the case.

Indeed, when the subject is sex ed, liberals (and gay activists) never seem to forget to patronizingly remind us old-fogies that even pre-pubescent children are sexual beings in some senses and that teenagers are so fully sexual that they need free condoms, with demonstrations on use. Whenever GLSEN wants to set up a high-school chapter, we'll hear all the pious talk about "gay teens." In other words, boys the same age as those Foley was pursuing. But now Nancy Pelosi et al want to get all moral on us? While pretending Foley is not a homosexual? Gimme a break.
¹ And not even that politically-incorrect. Foley was not the most-conservative Republican and had a pretty pro-gay voting record; very much, by GOP standards. Even the Daily Kos noted that, before this blowup.
² Insert Magnus Pike blurting out "Science!" in a Thomas Dolby video.

The dry period

To my friend David Seleb (and the hope that some others might find it useful):

So you've read through The Stranger. I knew you would dig Camus and see yourself in Meursault. But I also knew that it wouldn't "cure" your Angst -- Camus himself would be the first to agree. I don't know that there's anything I, or anyone else, can say that would "cure" you or make it all make sense.

A period of spiritual dryness is one of those things that happen even to the greatest saints (OK, so Mother Teresa isn't a saint yet, as if there's any doubt, but the term "long, dark night of the soul" comes from St. John of the Cross). There's no way around such periods, only through them. I wish I could direct you to Mother Teresa's letters, but as far as I know Il Segreto di Madre Teresa hasn't been translated into English and I doubt your Italian or mine is up to it. Nor is anger at God without precedent. In some sense, it's inevitable among the afflicted. There's Job, of course ("the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be His Holy Name"). A priest in confession once told me that St. Teresa of Avila cursed at God in a moment of distress when her cart got stuck in a stream, saying "if this is how You treat Your friends, no wonder You have so few." The much-cruder Martin Luther said "Love God? Sometimes I hate him."

But the Catholic faith is ultimately about truth, not about "enthousiasmos." Truths can be hard to accept, and hurt, in a way that feelings cannot. More to the point, we're both at the age by which most devout Catholic men have become fathers or Fathers. I could make a fairly fruitful analogy with "mid-life crisis," and thus advise you to go buy a Porsche or go do some hot young chick. But I think both those things are beyond our means. Anyway ... now it's hitting us -- and hard -- that this thorn in our flesh is apparently never going to go away (I haven't been able to go to a wedding since I was 28). Thorns in the flesh hurt. There's no way around that. The most I think I can say is to make living with the pain less intolerable. Some of what I'm about to say are thing I myself suck at. They may sound like bromides. But I composed the outline for this letter before the Blessed Sacrament at Adoration last night, and all my intentions were for you.

First of all, you're not lost or gone. The very fact that people, relationships and duty all still matter is still a sign of hope. The very fact that you're terrified by the thought that they might not is still a sign of hope. The very fact that you care about giving scandal and keeping up appearances is still a sign of hope. Next time you ask yourself "why," ask those "why" questions instead. Why DO I care about duty? Why DO I care about giving scandal? The easy, simple skeptical answer is "lifelong habit" or "reflex." Even if true, that begs the question of why have these acts become a lifelong habit, while other acts -- such as contempt for the souls of others in giving scandal -- not become such. After all, it's not as though any of us has never done the latter act or felt it mentally, right? But we knew it was wrong. In other words, it's quite coherent to say that "what we should do" is perfectly clear, even if sometimes the "why should we do it" is not. But the "what" answers the "why" -- because the "what" is who we are and have become. It's now our nature. Is this perfectly motivated love? In that sense, no. But if it's what we can do, for now, the Lord doesn't reject the gifts we can bring him according to the state that we're in at the moment -- The Little Drummer Boy, St. Therese's Little Way and all that.

Second, we both know that the gay lifestyle is not an option, and know that you (and I both) would be no better off or happier living that way. I can kinda-semi-sorta-"understand" leaving the Church for Dupont Circle -- preferring the life of flesh and so convincing oneself that therefore the Church must be wrong, etc. But not to leave the Church for the sake of a drift into the abyss. I know this sounds flip, but one may as well be buried in Angst with Christ than without Him. Particularly since we both acknowledge the Truth and the Church as its custodian, however uninspiring that will be at certain times. Reacting to that fact of its uninspiringness too hard, and going into a kind of depressive withdrawal isn't an option, at least in the long term. The spiritual equivalent of lying on the couch all day, watching soaps and eating bonbons is understandable for a while. I can attest. But I'm happiest when I think of Topic H the least, and most depressed when I dwell on it. And you (and I both) are self-conscious-enough and self-critical-enough and demanding-enough of (y)ourself to know that this only makes one more contemptuous toward (y)ourself. At some point, we always come to realize that we are called to more than that. We always do. As a little boy, my school uniform's badge read "Ad Majorem Natus Sum."

Third, to the extent that Topic H makes itself known to us (and it will, it will) do your best to take some kind of joy in it. This is the hardest thing in the world to do, I admit. And I double-plus-factorial-exponential suck at it. But remember that the most-Catholic symbol is the Crucified Lord, not the highly-effective person using his 7th habit. We *are* called to crucify ourselves also, in a certain sense. Or "die to self" if one prefers. It's one of the ways God calls us to him, and sees us as and makes us more "worthy." If God gave us everything we wanted — and he has cursed both of us with the gift of faith and same-sex attraction — then he'd be nothing more than a cosmic vending machine, with everything costing 0 cents. St. Padre Pio never asked (or maybe he stopped asking, I forget) to be lifted of the stigmata. Sure, this can bleed over into outright masochism, which can lead to unhealthy things, but it need not. Eve Tushnet has written that if she weren't gay, she likely wouldn't be Catholic (she doesn't elaborate on it at that particular post, but as I understand her, she's saying that her attractions made the Church's accounts of the Fall and of Beauty the easiest things in the world to assent to). Dreadnought writes about the homosexual as a sign of contradiction -- and there is no greater contradiction, a defiance of conventional categories of ordinary thought, than the Cross, a god offering himself up to a mocked criminal's death.

As I said, I wrote the outline of this at Adoration. While there, I also thumbed through the bookcase at the St. Agnes adoration chapel and came across St. Thomas Kempis's Imitation of Christ, and there were some things in it I found potentially valuable, in re the last point. I'm sure there's little you haven't heard, but Truth can't be said too often.

Bk. 3, Chapter 18 (in the voice of Christ):
Son, I came down from heaven for your salvation and took upon Myself your miseries, not out of necessity but moved thereto by charity, that you (my disciple) might learn patience and might bear without repining the sufferings of this life. From the hour of My incarnation to My expiring on the cross, I was never without suffering. I underwent great want of temporal things. I frequently heard many complaints against Me. I meekly bore with confusions and reproaches. For My blessings I received ingratitude, for My miracles, blasphemies, and for My heavenly doctrine, scorn.

Bk. 3, Chapter 19 (in the voice of Christ):
He is not truly a patient man who will suffer no more than he thinks good and from whom it pleases him ... But however much and however often any adversity happens to him from anything created, he takes it all with equality of mind, as from the hand of God, with thanksgiving and esteems it a great gain. For nothing, however little, that is suffered for God's sake can pass without merit in the sight of God. ...
(in the responding voice of the disciple)
You know that I can bear but little and that I am quickly cast down by a small adversity. Let all exercises of tribulation become amiable and agreeable to me for the sake of Your name.