Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Friend sent me this

Good in discouraging times.

From "The Prophet" by David Torkington, pp. 165-66
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"Peter, I've failed so often since we last met," I blurted out, "but I'm going to start again with your help."

"Well," said Peter, with a reassuring smile. "If you say you've failed so many times it must mean that you have continually started trying again, and in the Trying is the Dying; the dying to the 'Old Man,' the egoist within you, so that the 'New Man' can be born. You can do no more than try, inside or outside of prayer. Every moment is a moment for Trying, for Dying, and for Rising till Christ be perfectly formed within you. Simone Weil once said a person is no more than the quality of their endeavor. This is how God will judge us all. Not by what we have achieved; not by some man-made measure of success, but how best we have tried."

"When the final trumpet sounds, God won't say, 'What interior mansion were you in or what rung of the ladder of perfection were you on,' but 'How best did you try?' Believe me, the whole of the spiritual life, the very essence of mystical prayer is about Dying through Trying. It is not the cowards, it is the saints who die a thousand times before their death, and it is in this Dying, through this Trying that they reach the height of the spiritual life: total identity, complete at-one-ment with the Christ of Easter Day."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

CM at others' comboxes -- 4

I wrote the following at Disputed Mutability, a blog by a lesbian-turned-new-mom who calls herself "ex-gay until some better term comes along" but can be rather skeptical of parts of the Ex-Gay Movement (as am I). The context was the dispute over the genesis of homosexuality, whether it's a developmental condition or an inborn trait (or to be more precise, how sure we can be of either alternative, either generally or in given cases; my answer: "not one bit at all").

But my words there were on a different point, a side issue. They were as follows:
--------------------------------------------
Why do at least two people think that the developmental theory should lead to greater optimism re change?

After all, if a condition be decisively inborn and/or biological (I am obviously speaking generally and hypothetically) … that tells us exactly what the “cure” is. Reverse the effects, change the gene, alter the hormones in utero, etc.

But if a condition be the result of a set of historic circumstances and one’s interactions thereto, neither the circumstances nor the adolescent soul doing the shaping can ever be recreated or “relived.” To put it simply and crudely (and I put it to my shrink this way) … you can only grow up once.

“Bios” is dumb and so is easier to change than the self-conscious “psyche.”

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Carried out

This photo only makes sense if this post from about this time last year rings any bells (ha ha). But a couple of people have expressed concern for me publicly or privately, given the long gap since my last post.

The fact is, I've plainly been "on the stretcher" for a while now -- early spring at least. I have on a couple of occasions mentally "resigned" from the Church and not gone to Mass or Adoration for weeks at a time -- and no ... not for reasons narrowly or especially related to Topic H or because of  having fallen head over heels for the man of my dreams or somesuch. It's stuff much, MUCH more fundamental.

It happens often, but always the thinnest twitches upon the thread¹ remind me that resignation simply is not an option. Ever. I wait for the intellect to reassert itself over my depression and remind myself that regardless of my worst fears, I've never not been able to say the Creed. I may be a bad Catholic, but I am still a Catholic.

In the meantime, deadlines have to be met and rules followed, and so nobody should look for me at this year's Courage Conference in Boston. I was "in the dressing room" when the time for registration passed.

But while I am being cuffed about in the ring, it's very hard to blog in this persona I've created because I am acutely aware that he often doesn't come across as a particularly happy or admirable man or much of an advertisement for Our Lord. Second, I have a very difficult time with the "confessional" mode of discourse (it's a hard enough thing in a private sacramental context; publicly, I detest it). Third, I have an overriding desire not to scandalize people, and it remains strong even in the "in the dressing room" periods.²

So my tendency is to resist making a public point of these things (even writing this post is something I've been off and on about for a month). And remind myself of Mother Teresa, the patron saint of the spiritual darkness, who hardly spoke of her feelings of abandonment for decades. And just try to forget.

I hope those of you who link or come here regularly understand.
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¹ That post from last year on one occasion; a visit from a friend who regards me as a "spiritual hero" on another; finding myself bowing my head and making the Sign of the Cross before dinner on another.
² That is, it's not that I'm thinking "the Church is stupid/evil/wrong, etc.," (if such were the case, one should "scandalize" others). But "the Church is who She claims to be but I am not called to follow Her."

Monday, March 31, 2008

I can still run for president

I asked our Courage chaplain last week whether there were any videos of his preaching floating around the Internet that could become an embarrassment for me when I run for higher office. Fortunately, he told me, there's only this:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

My favorite lesbian atheist

I only read the leftist cyber-rag Salon once a month ... on the Wednesday that Camille Paglia's column runs. In fact (stopped clock alert!!!) Andrew Sullivan said the following last year:
Sorry, I can't help it. Like many non-lefty homos, I just can't get enough Camille (as enraged former New Republic readers in the 1990s will recall).
I've never met a man like myself (regardless of how we react to our same-sex attraction) who doesn't absolutely love her combination of erudition and bitchiness. Here she is this week on the Hillary "it's 3am ... do you trust" ad:
Would I want Hillary answering the red phone in the middle of the night? No, bloody not. The White House first responder should be a person of steady, consistent character and mood -- which describes Obama more than Hillary. And that scare ad was produced with amazing ineptitude. If it's 3 a.m., why is the male-seeming mother fully dressed as she comes in to check on her sleeping children? Is she a bar crawler or insomniac? An obsessive-compulsive housecleaner, like Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest"? And why is Hillary sitting at her desk in full drag and jewelry at that ungodly hour?
If you're familiar with her talk-show performances, you can just *hear* her say this. This is what makes Paglia such a singular writer: she writes as she speaks. But to why I post about her here now, I was recently rereading her book "Sex, Art and American Culture," which includes her brilliant essay "The Joy of Presbyterian Sex." But the thing I found inspiring this time was from a speech she gave at MIT, in which she crystallizes, from the other end of the sexual-morality spectrum, how uncritical the acceptance of a link between same-sex attraction and "gay identity" has been:
Now, you know what I hate? This thing of, say you have a man who's married, he has children, and maybe every month or every few weeks he goes out and picks up a guy. Today, in this fascist environment it's "you're gay! You're gay and you're secretly homophobic! You are self-loathing! You are hiding behind the mask of respectability!" What if he's just married and likes to sleep with men now and then? ...
I don't like the situation because right now it's bad for gay people! Right now, people are afraid. Often, a woman is afraid to go to bed with another woman because she's afraid that if she does that, even though she's attracted to her, she'll be "gay"; she'll have to have an identity crisis, be gay and all that other stuff. Why? I'm influenced by the great foreign films of the Late Fifties and Sixties where you had Catherine Deneuve and Jeanne Moreau and Dominique Sanda floating from bed to bed with a man, then with a woman, then with a man, then with a woman. ...
In terms of my history, you know, for a long while in my life I felt that, well, I have to be gay, because I'm so attracted to women, but then in a way it's living a lie, because then I have to repress my attactions to men. So after a while I thought, well, why do I have to give myself any label? Why can't I just respond from day to day and just go with the flow in the Sixties way? ...
It reminds me a little bit of Holly Woodlawn, the great Warhol drag queen, who was on an early Geraldo show. And Geraldo said to Holly Woodlawn: "are you like, a man who should be a woman, or are you a woman who was a man, or are you a man/woman?" And Holly Woodlawn said, "Oh — who care? As long as you look fabulous!"
Obviously, Paglia is not a champion of Catholic sexual morality (though her relationship to it is mature and ambivalent, not hate-filled and infantile like so many of today's gays). But she's making an important point about sexual identity, how it's actually repressive and constricting, even to someone like her who thinks homosexual acts are not immoral. She refuses to be boxed in and sees her true liberation as moving beyond gay identity. She had feelings, but asserted her freedom not to be defined by them (though she's certainly acted on them).

Honestly, and counterintuitive though it may seem ... Camille Paglia, "a bisexual radical libertarian and fulltime scold of the feminist establishment" (to quote Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes, from memory) and Andrew Sullivan helped me get through American universities in the early 90s, at the height of political correctness and about the time I was starting to become fully conscious of "That." Though neither could be called an orthodox Catholic, they both kept me away from the gay establishment of a time when I might have been quite vulnerable to it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Spitzer scandal

This conversation took place after a Confession in which I had acknowledged abusing myself three times in the previous 24 hours (reconstructed from the best of my recollection). Father's penance involved a devotion to Mother Teresa, the saint of the darkness and spiritual dryness.

FATHER: A treadmill can be gotten off.
(long pause)
ME: You heard about the New York governor today?
HIM: Yes.
(long pause)
HIM: And you're afraid of the same thing.¹
ME: Yes. I didn't want to say it during Confession so as not to come across as making excuses.
HIM: It puts it in context.
(long pause)
ME: I got a call on my cell today from a prostitute I hired a year ago -- unsolicited, not a call-back.
(long pause)
ME: Big etiquette violation on his part.
(Father nods)
HIM: Might be a setup; delete the number from your phone.
ME: Oh, I've already done so, believe me! I've not even close to being tempted. No way, not now.
(CM lets out some mordant, sarcastic laughter)
ME: Wonderful. That's how perverse I am. I'll resist sin if I fear getting caught.
HIM: That's not the best reason, but it'll do.²

Now to repeat, I am not not not not not not not not not not not not not not not not not not not not not not not not (is that enough "not"s) "blaming" Elliot Spitzer for such a hard fall. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

As Father said, I had been gutted by fear and not for the first time, and I responded in one of the ways people do -- seeking to medicate and forget through escapist private vice (drunkenness and drugs are other examples). I confess that I don't see exactly how, or even whether, this situation would be covered in any of the classic Nine Ways of Being an Accessory.³ And obviously "hey, the New York governor bought a prostitute, so I will too"⁴ is not a self-conscious thought process many people go through.

But the effect of Spitzer's whoremongering on me is, I think, illustrative of how all sin is social and how there is no such thing, ultimately, as a "completely private act." Your acts, everything that you do, becomes a part of the world that everyone else lives in and thus influences everybody else and in ways over which you have no control. Admittedly this next is a greater concern for public figures than other person, but at the end of the day, you can't even really have any knowledge of that influence, only the knowledge that it's there somehow.

I don't expect Elliot Spitzer to care whether he raised anxiety levels in others who have purchased prostitutes or encouraged the masturbatory response -- he has many more-pressing and important-to-him concerns. To make an obviously imperfect bawdy analogy, it's like pissing in the pool. Everybody knows and understands that you can't just pee in your own end. Obviously, one person's discreet whizz is hardly noticeable in any discrete way. But we still know that it circulates, and, if diseased, can infect anyone anywhere in the pool.

The meaning of the term "scandal" has changed. Now it just means "the public fracas over a celebrated person's wrongdoing, often in the personal or private (certainly non-official) sphere." But in the past, as in the phrase "giving scandal," "scandal" meant "the encouragement of bad acts/thoughts in others." And in that sense, Spitzer's purchasing prostitutes, though it may be a "victimless crime" in the sense that bourgeois libertarians imagine -- it is, truly, scandalous. And thus not victimless.
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¹ I'm not even close to being a public figure, so fears at the level of "front page of the New York Times" are completely irrational. Lesser forms of outing ... not so.
² Father has told me in more than one other context that I shouldn't worry so much over doing things for not-the-noblest of motivations.
³ "By counsel. By concealment. By command. By partaking. By consent. By silence. By provocation. By defense of the ill done. By praise or flattery." As I say ... not clear if this fits any example.
Or as Chris Rock put it apropos of Marion Barry: "How you gonna tell little kids to not get high, when the mayor's on crack. 'Don't get high, you won't be nothing.' / 'I can be mayor'."

Friday, February 29, 2008

And a moment of amusement ...

To Mick Blattberg, who sent me a bulk email from the address Mick-onologic@BAYLEYS.CO.NZ ...

You might do better in soliciting your pills to men like myself with a Subject Line other than "Click here for chicks!"

Friendly advice.

"Queering" the church registry

One of Fort Worth's most prominent Baptist churches engaged in an anti-Solomon decision last week, deciding to cut the baby in half by not printing any family photos in its directory rather than printing those of homosexual couples. From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (HT to Mark):
FORT WORTH -- Broadway Baptist Church voted Sunday to publish a 125th anniversary directory without individual or family portraits after some members of the congregation opposed allowing gay couples' portraits to appear in the publication.
In a compromise recommended by the church's board of deacons, the directory will show members in candid snapshots of small and large groups. The group pictures will identify people by name, and every effort will be made to include all of the church's members.
Church leaders said this approach provides the photographs needed by members to identify each other and follows church bylaws to treat all members equally. It also avoids making any statement regarding Scriptural interpretations regarding homosexuality.
The headline writer said "Neither side wins on gay couples in directory." Which rather presupposes a lot, in my opinion -- namely that there are in fact "two sides." And I wonder (actually, I don't wonder) why the Star-Telegram writer laid the blame for the decision on the theological conservatives, saying the decision was made "after some members of the congregation opposed allowing gay couples' portraits to appear in the publication" rather than "after some gay couples demanded to have their portraits appear in the publication."

There's a couple of other things I'm curious about.

First of all, what has these gay couples' self-presentation been? The Star-Telegram report reads as if the three pairs in question already had been attending the church openly and "as a couple." On the assumption that this is correct (I grant a secular media outlet is unreliable on the point), then I think the gay couples have a legitimate request. And Broadway Baptist made its own bed long ago.

If one has been attending a church under a certain public persona and holding yourself out in a certain way, I find it hard to see why this public persona doesn't belong in the yearbook. You can't really object to a photo, as one person in this Star-Telegram story does, on "having to explain it to the kids" grounds. Not if those children are already seeing a same-sex couple at Sunday services, presumably holding hands or other PDAs of the kind considered acceptable for married-or-dating couples. And how would the so-called compromise -- candid snapshots that attempt to cover everyone -- fix that. Are the children not supposed to realize that Adam and Steve were together at all the church picnic photos too? And even if the two are in a portrait-type situation, as the gays wanted, couldn't a parent just as convincingly say to a curious girl [boy] "it's like when you and your sister [brother] had your photo taken together."

As it happens, I know two same-sex-attracted men who live together and go to the same parish. They are ex-lovers but are now Catholics, sleeping in separate bedrooms and committed to chastity, which they have broken once in more than a decade. Never would they either commit a PDA that might scandalize others nor (and here's where I'm guessing) would they insist on being a couple in the parish directory. They are both in it as individuals.

But second, in what meaningful sense is this decision, whatever one thinks of it in the sense of "agree-disagree" or "good-bad," not a "statement about Scriptural interpretations regarding homosexuality," which the Star-Telegram report says it was crafted not to be. Even a decision not to say something says something -- namely that this congregation can't say anything about the morality of homosexuality and therefore this very public matter is one of religious liberty. Or, to use the formulation of St. Augustine, who knew a thing or two about sexual immorality, that homosexuality is one of those "dubiis" in which there should be "libertas." Which is of course a substantive teaching -- that homosexuality is one of those "doubtful things" and is not one of those "necessariis" that call for "unitas." Which does, of course, marginalize and exclude those who believe sexual conduct is a "necessary thing" that requires "unity."

Thus this quarrel underlines something I'm confident I've said more than once. "What a group of people are disputing and why" is a far more telling fact about the world than "how that dispute is decided substantively."

The fact that any Baptist church is even debating whether to put pictures of openly-gay couples in its yearbook tells us how far the gay agenda has wormed its way into the body of Christ. That they decided not to may be a good or bad thing. But more revealing than even the fact of a debate is that the only way the church could "refuse" was not "just say no" but a "compromise" on having no family photos at all. And more revealing still is the fact that the church called in "New Testament experts."
"The New Testament experts [sic] made it clear that thoughtful, intelligent Christians disagree on what the Bible says about homosexuality," [Senior Pastor Brett Younger] said. "Many realized that Christians can hold different opinions on this without letting it divide the church."
Not really. Or rather, there is no disagreement among thoughtful intelligent Christians who hold that the Bible is normative and inspired about what it says on homosexuality. The only way a thoughtful, intelligent person can hold that the Bible does not condemn homosexual acts is by starting from the presupposed worldview (i.e., before any actual engagement with the text) that the Bible is not normative and is not inspired — that it is merely the product of men and thus can be superceded absolutely ("there is no binding magisterium" also has to be smuggled in somewhere or thus inferred).

Lest I come across as an anti-intellectual, let me say that there is nothing wrong with these two (or three) worldview premises for certain purposes, primarily scholarly ones. That the Bible is a historical text written by men is, in a certain sense, undeniable and for some historical, sociological or philological work, whether it's the inspired word of God binding for all time and what that means¹ is a question that can be set aside. But ... that does not in any way shape or form make such scholars "experts" in any normative sense or especially competent to testify on doctrine, either on faith or morals. Their expertise explicitly excludes them from such a self-presentation.

So the question becomes, can there be a religion that includes people who do believe the Bible inspired and binding and those who do not. One guess what I think, but the fact is that this Fort Worth congregation has no way to answer that question definitively, in no small part because of the congregationalist structure that is a Baptist pillar. Instead, they worship the One True god ... Diversity:
"This has been a difficult decision for our congregation," said Kathy Madeja, chairman of the deacon board. "Our members continue to have diverse opinions, but we are still a church family and we will continue to struggle with how to honor our diversity," she said. ... (CM: how about honoring God??)
"Broadway will continue as a congregation in which diversity is embraced," [Senior Pastor Brett Younger] said. (CM: how about embracing the Cross??)
And ultimately this is why Episcopalians are in a necessary internal schism over Bishop Gene Robinson. It's not the sin of sodomy per se, but the questions of biblical authority. Robinson's consecration and the defenses of it proved to conservatives that liberal "wetness" went all the way down, with no limits. The two groups do not worship the same god and thus do not belong in the same church, as St. Paul taught. Schism simply objectively was and the so-called acts of schism in the last few years by individual parishes and dioceses in the US and by the African and South American bishops are mere recognitions of that fact.

The Episcopalians may be in the infirmary right now (actually hospice care, I'd say), but this Fort Worth church shows that the rest of mainline Protestantism is starting to call in sick as well.
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¹ However that formulation shakes out in the details, about which there are legitimately held differences among Christians and Christian bodies.

CM at others' comboxes -- 3

Jay Anderson recently fisked Barack Obama's pledging his soul to Planned Barrenhood, which, combined with his saying during Tuesday's debate that his vote to save Terri Schiavo was his greatest mistake, makes him the Official Candidate of the Culture of Death™.

Anyhoo, Jay left out one point in Obama's speech as reported. My rebuttal to that point (which Jay later highlighted ... thanks) follows, with only minor edits for clarity. The first paragraph is Obama, criticizing the Supreme Court's decision upholding the ban on partial-birth abortion:
"For the first time, the Court’s endorsed an abortion restriction without an exception for women’s health. The decision presumed that the health of women is best protected by the Court—not by doctors and not by the woman herself. That presumption is wrong."
Since when, exactly, has a core principle of the Democratic Party been Ayn-Rand-ism in matters of regulating health care?

Every drug has to win state approval to be sold; every person needs some sort of state license to practice medicine at any level (doctor, nurse, aide, pharmacist); every medical procedure needs to have approval of the state or some quasi-state board to be performed; the state holds liable all practice of medicine of which it doesn't approve.

All these decisions -- all of them made a part of the medical landscape by the Democratic Party -- presume EXACTLY that the health of persons of both sexes is best protected by the state, and not by doctors and not by patients themselves. Saying "that presumption is wrong" is deeply dishonest for all non-Libertarians.

If abortion were treated by the state as merely one more medical procedure among others, Planned Parenthood, Obama, et al would be having fits. Parental consent? Clinic rules? Pre- and post-care standards? The train left long ago on the matter of whether the state should regulate medicine or interfere in the doctor-patient relationship, and none of us this side of Ayn Rand want that Express back.

CM at others' comboxes -- 2

At Rich Leonardi's site, he blogged about a recent survey of American religiosity that his city's paper (the Cincinnati Enquirer) had localized, with comment from people there who had left the Catholic Church. Here is one excerpt:
Reasons for leaving vary. Janet Steele of Springfield Township cites the priest sex abuse scandal and the [C]hurch's teachings on birth control among the reasons she's no longer Catholic. Her family joined Forest Chapel United Methodist Church in Forest Park, where she is now lay leader.
My response follows:

I maybe shouldn't say this given some of my own struggles, but ...

I will never understand leaving the Catholic Church for some other Christian body over the teaching on contraception. Not because the teaching is objectively correct and you'd have to be ill-willed or stupid to think otherwise; I can well imagine being unpersuaded by the church's teaching on any particular matter.

It's that, if you have any faith to begin with, it just seems so petulant ... jeopardizing your soul over a matter that, while not trivial, is not life-or-death either. And it occurs in that field of human activity where ... to put it delicately ... the human capacity for self-delusion, selfishness, rationalization and being-guided-by-passion are at their greatest.

I mean ... what's the worst thing that can happen if you obey the teaching: (1) you might not have as much sex as you'd like; or (2) you might have more children than you thought ideal when you first married.

(1) can be a painful PAINFUL sacrifice but, at the end of the day, hardly seems worth damnation. As for (2), ditto the first part, but, at the end of the day, I don't know too many parents who seriously, existentially regretted having a particular child, once born.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Response to Michael Bayly

My last post on an 8-year-old "transgendered" boy in Colorado excited responses from a frequent visitor to my site Michael Bayly (StatCounter doesn't lie, dude), who is executive coordinator of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities.

His latest response was initially posted here and I'm bringing it out and up, because I want to respond in detail, an exercise I think worthy because so much of the basis for his scandalous counterwitness is so common. His words are in italics and block quotes, with my responses on each point following.
You seem to be conflating issues of gender and sexuality. Just because a child (or anyone, for that matter) identifies with the opposite gender doesn't mean they want to be sexually active.
It may not. My point is not about the particulars of what this child wants but his general competence to speak on sexual matters. I repeat my unanswered question ... if an 8-year-old is competent to decide “gender identification” (which, while not the same thing as sexual behavior, is inextricable from it) as you seem to think, Mr. Bayly, why is he not competent to decide whether to be sexually active. It doesn’t matter what said decision of this 8-year-old or any particular one may be. “Age of consent” laws rest on the assumption of incompetence and inagency, not an empirical matter of whether a competent agent actually wants to.

Further, what harm is done, exactly, by parents and schools here doing what they traditionally would have done, which is to chalk this boy's feelings up to a phase and wait till he grows out of it. If it is just a phase or an excessive imagination or curiosity, you've spared him years of humiliation and steered him away from a self-fulfilling prophecy (i.e., he would **come** to see himself that way by everybody else indulging himself). And if it isn't a phase, if there really is such a thing as a "transgendered person" (which I doubt, but I'll stipulate for the moment) and he is an example of that ... he'll still be a "transgendered person" when he turns 18 or 21 or some such age when he can then act accordingly -- snip it off, cram hormones, wear dresses, change his name, etc. The only possible harm I can see is "repression" as an adolescent, though in this day and age I see that as a positive good.

I mean ... I hope you DO realize that (1) kids have phases that are mostly meaningless and (2) that a child should not get everything he wants and/or his wanting something is not a moral warrant. (Actually, I'm pretty confident you realize (1); not so much (2).)
So your mentioning of NAMBLA is misleading and, quite frankly, rather bizarre. Then again, perhaps it's an attempt to demonize and silence any opposing viewpoints. "Oh, you watched that film ["Ma Vie en Rose"] so you must be supportive or aligned in some way with NAMBLA!"
Given that I said I saw the film myself, I rather doubt that’s a reasonable reading.

What I do think does associate you with NAMBLA is your apparent assumption, correct me if you don’t hold it (though it certainly seemed to be your point in citing it) that “Ma Vie en Rose” tells us some great truth about the human person that our Courage group meetings could profit from. One might enjoy (parts of) "Ma Vie en Rose" as a kind of fairy-tale movie, but you brought it up in the context of this real-life Colorado case, which rather suggests you think it insightful. And yes, if a boy of 7 or 8 is a sexual agent competent to decide his/her/its/their “gender identity,” then NAMBLA is correct and our current taboo on "intergenerational love" (that's what it will be called, BTW ... and what DO you have against love, Mr. Bayly) is every bit as irrational as you think past taboos against "same-sex love" were.
Sorry, but that's a ridiculous and false assertion, and I for one won't be cowered by it.
Just to avoid a potential misunderstanding (and one that I'm sensitive to regarding men like us) I’m not saying that you diddle 7-year-old boys or have any desire to, or that your homosexual attractions per se either incline you that way or are evidence that you secretly may be doing so.

Nor am I saying that "diddling 7-year-old boys is good" is a thought you hold self-consciously. But I am saying, and I will stand by this, that "diddling 7-year-old boys is good" is the endgame logic of ideas that you DO consciously hold and practices like the Colorado parents and school-district's that you DO consciously defend (that's how cultural degradation advances ... like warming up the water in a lobster-pot).
And what am I closed-minded about exactly?
Three things I can think of quickly, that I'll phrase in the form of things you closed-mindedly deny ... that same-sex sex and all other sex outside marriage is wrong; that sexual desires do not definitively type the human person; that the Church has a real teaching office.
I fully support you in living a life of celibacy if that's how you feel called. Yet you can't say to me that you support me in building and sustaining a loving and committed relationship with another man. Why is that?
I rather doubt your "support" given some of the picketing you've done.

But to avoid the personal stuff ... the problem is in your usage “feel called.” No ... it’s what I **am** called to. I can pretty much assure you that I often DON’T “feel” called. And if I were married and Sophia Loren¹ were to come and whisper sweet nothings in my ear, at that moment, I wouldn't "feel called" to marital fidelity either. Feelings simply do not create moral warrants or obligations (this is another thing on which I don't know whether you are closed-minded or simply haven't thought it through).

Anyway, I don’t have any problem with anybody having a “loving, committed relationship,” properly understood. But if same-sex sex is always immoral (it all does eventually come back to that), then engaging in it is not “loving.” I well understand that same-sex sex feels good (there’s that verb again) and can be enjoyable. But “feels good” and “enjoy” are not the same things as “loving” though; and attempts to derive “loving” from those unquestionable facts are ... well, it’s "Katie, bar the door" time on just about anything (NAMBLA actually would be a minor issue).

I’ll even say the following. Any sin can be aggravated, and therefore “not aggravated” and thus (speaking strictly relatively) less bad. So, there are aggravated and not-so-aggravated ways of living the gay lifestyle. And perhaps over time, a legitimate friendship can grow and fucking can leave the picture. Suffice to say though that this is extremely rare and certainly not the desired eschaton of Dignity, et al.
Similarly, I'm fine for Courage to exist and help people. Yet you can't seem to say the same thing about Dignity. So who's really being closed-minded here?
I freely admit to being closed-minded about certain matters, including matters that the Church has definitively taught. Anyway, open-mindedness is not a virtue that anyone seriously holds; it's merely a holding strategy for debunking morals one thinks wrong.
As to my "questions and issues" not being compatible with scripture, tradition, and right reason, that's very much open to discussion and debate. Do we really know exactly what scripture is condemning with regard same-sex relations?
Yes.

In part because Tradition always read it that way, including in times when they were far closer to the social context than we could ever be. I must say I find it darkly humorous that people dismiss the Greek-speaking Church Fathers of the 2nd-4th centuries as having a poor or at best irrelevant understanding of the subtleties and cultural shadings of the text (which pro-gay apologists must say, if they are to dismiss their unanimous teaching on sodomy), but think Mel White or John Spong have a good one.

In part because Scripture has a broader, normative vision of what sexuality in general is, one that is not reducible to issues of Koine translation on the two or three New Testament proof texts on homosexuality². For example, and Pope John Paul begins "Theology of the Body" with these passages, the Church teaching reflects Our Lord's words on divorce and His citing of Genesis 2-3, and what it says about embodied sexual complementarity as part of our nature, created as good in the beginning. Homosexual acts do not, by their nature, meet that broad normative understanding.
Most reputable biblical scholars would say that its exploitive sex that, more often than not, is being condemned. And rightly so.
Dale somewhat beat me to the punch ... and given what counts as reputation-enhancing in the American academy, the more “reputed” a Biblical scholar is, the less likely I am to believe him. (Puts on Joe Piscopo-in-"Johnny Dangerously" voice) I read Bart Ehrman once. Once.
But what about loving and committed [homosexual] relationships? Where are they condemned?
Scripture also doesn’t mention 4-sided triangles or male pregnancy or nonviolent boxing because everyone simply understood that these things were as oxymoronic as gay “marriage.”
As for tradition, that's a living thing
No, not Tradition with a capital-T in the Catholic sense of that word, which always has to take account what went before and whether any new statements are compatible with what went before. What you’re describing is democracy, or, at best, a radically congregationalist, and thus un-Catholic, understanding of sensus fidelium.

I also should add that I find it darkly humorous that everyone who says "tradition is a living thing" becomes a fire-breathing proof-texting fundamentalist when one of their pet teachings is trampled on -- "you know, my conscience tells me that homosexual persons should be the object of violent malice in speech and action" (which actually is a proposition that would find more proof-text support in the writings of more Church authorities than "same-sex sex is good" would).
and accordingly should be informed and shaped by new insights and knowledge - including insights and knowledge related to human sexuality.
What “new insights and knowledge” might you be referring to? It cannot be the fact of homosexual acts, which were quite well known in the Hellenized Mediterranean world. Nor the fact that certain people may develop habits, which was just as well understood. Nor psychology, which is largely self-fulfilling prophecy about how people feel, not knowledge of how things are. And certainly not genetics, which has definitively refuted radical-biologism as the genesis of homosexuality (a deterministic cause might, strictly in principle, have provided the kind of serious “new knowledge” that would require doctrine to develop; but it isn’t true, as experience long ago told us and modern science merely confirms on a new basis).

No ... the only “new insights and knowledge” here is that a small group of people have chosen to define themselves according to a sinful act and accordingly warped their souls into moral blindness.
That's not happening in the Roman Catholic Church.
Actually, that’s not true. The Church’s pastoral understanding has developed a great deal on this subject, and for the better, in the last 40 years ... and that’s OK because pastoral practice has much more to do with the social particulars than moral truth does. A non-condemnatory support group like Courage (or Project Rachel to give an example of a pastoral response to a degraded cultural fact other than homosexuality) would have been unthinkable 50 or 100 years ago. Then, a man like myself probably would have been encouraged to “deal with it” by marrying. And more likely than not, damaged some woman and probably some children in the process. Now, the Church discourages marriage as cure-seeking.
Accordingly, to suggest that the Church's sexual theology is supported by "right reason" is a joke, and the vast majority of Catholics - gay or straight - know it.
I repeat what I said about “democracy.” The Church is not, and cannot be, a democracy (nor can even a secularized understanding of "reason" be either). So the fact you cite, true enough though it probably is, is of no moral weight whatever.

And frankly, in the current social environment of ill-formation, secularization, poor catechesis, dissent-worship, faithlessness, authority-phobia, a pornified public space and self-worshiping individualism -- it would be more surprising if most Catholics did think reason supports Church teaching. That doesn't make the teaching untrue. Or optional. Or not binding.
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¹ The photo is because I have to give the heterosexuals some reason to come here and there was too much text with no art otherwise.
² None of which BTW feature much "discussion" of the subject per se but usually only mention a condemnation en passant in service of some other point. Which indicates (1) that St. Paul can assume the reader's assent as one of his minor premises, and relatedly (2) that there was no issue of overturning the unanimous inherited Jewish tradition on the matter, as Scripture records that there was on diet and circumcision.

Monday, February 18, 2008

At 8, I couldn't even spell "transgendered"

On the "WTF Is The World Coming To" front ... an elementary school in Colorado is planning on accommodating an 8-year-old boy who says he's "transgendered."
He's an 8-year-old boy who wants to attend second grade here in the Douglas County Public Schools, but with an unusual stipulation: He wants to go to class as a girl.
That means wearing girls' clothing if he likes, being addressed by his teacher with a girl's name, and using the school's two unisex, family bathrooms instead of the boys' room.
School district officials are preparing to accommodate the transgender child and his family, but not without public fuss.
Other parents at the school have gone public with their objections, citing concerns about exposing their own children to the sensitive subjects of sex and gender identification, and questioning the wisdom of the school's accommodation of the boy.
"I don't think a [second-grader] does have the rationale to decide this life-altering choice," said Dave M., who told Denver's KUSA-TV that his daughter will be in the same class as the transgendered boy.
I distinctly remember being 8 years old and ... the very concepts "transgendered" and "transsexual" would have been absolutely beyond me. And not because they would have been beyond my comprehension (I was pretty smart as a boy ... and I probably could have spelled them, the 5-time School Spelling Bee champ says). And not because I didn't know, at some pre-sexual level, that I didn't "fit in" amongst the other boys. But who knows what I might have thought at that time had I had "Comprehensive Sex Education" or otherwise had my mind fucked with by the sexual revolution and the sensitivity police.

This is a large part of what we opponents of sexual revolution mean when we say it is corrupting. Where, in the name of Whatever, could an 8-year-old even get the notion that he's "really" a girl or should be called by a girl's name? What competence does he have to even decide on the matter? I should note that I'm really not commenting exactly on moral matters per se. I could very well believe ... this is experience talking ... that an 8-year-old boy might have some latent issues and they might later morph into full-blown same-sex-attraction ... and, if so, his post-pubescent body will tell him that in about 5 or 6 years. And when he's an adult, he might be competent to decide what to make of such a fact. It is actually possible (gay men assure us repeatedly) to believe that homosexuality be moral and that there's no need to prematurely sexualize children.

And why the hell are his parents accommodating what would once have been understood as simple malingering, childishness (in an 8-year-old ... imagine that) or an excessive fantasy life? An 8-year-old might not even have made his first confession yet and certainly doesn't even have his adult voice yet, and his parents are going along with some declaration on a lifelong matter like "gender identity"? Children have no attention span and no concept of time or lifespan. I remember wanting to change my name when I was 10 ... it lasted a day. The fewer adult concepts you introduce into a child's head, the less chance he has to screw up.

As our Courage chaplain once wrote (keep in mind that he's writing explicitly about high-schoolers, but that was back in the Dark Ages, the Unenlightened Era of 2005. We've made so much progress among the youth since.):
Rather than struggle through the difficulties of adolescence, a high-school freshman or sophomore can now, with official support, profess to be gay—and he instantly has an identity and a group. Now he belongs. He knows who he is. Gone is the possibility that adolescents might be confused, perhaps even wrong. Adults typically display a wise reserve about the self-discoveries of high-school students: they know adolescents are still figuring things out, and they recognize their responsibility to help sort through the confusion. So why is all this natural wisdom somehow abandoned these days—in the most confused and confusing area of adolescent sexuality?
Of course, the phrases are tempting because of their convenience and efficiency. They are common, close at hand, and make quick work of a difficult issue. But they also identify an individual person with his homosexual inclinations. They presume that a person is his inclinations or attractions; he is a “gay” or is a “homosexual.” At some point adults have to admit that a fifteen-year-old who claims to be “a questioning transgendered bisexual” is really just confused.
In fact, it used to be the case that we believed an 8-year-old was not competent to make decisions on sexuality, whatever they may be -- that's the presupposition of all age of consent laws. And that analogy goes to the heart of what is evil, not just laughable, about this Colorado case. By giving an 8-year-old his way on this matter, and trying to make others accommodate him using the power of the state, this boy's parents and the school district are treating him as a sexual agent. This undermines the "age of consent" presupposition and thus does something as violating, as evil as anything NAMBLA does, even though nobody is being touched or fondled or "messed with." We used to understand the difference between adults and children. I don't think we do any more. In this case, both because a child is trying to be too adult and adults are succeeding in acting like children.

Pretty soon, this won't be satire ...

video

Friday, January 18, 2008

Retreat this weekend

I'll be seeing some of my readers and co-bloggers this weekend (at least these two here) at the Courage men's retreat (I depart in a few hours). And probably not a moment too soon, to be honest, given where I am.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Why "outing" matters

Wow ... maybe I should write more about the Piskies in the future.

My post about the despicable behavior of the High Priestess of the ECUSA was noted this morning at Stand Firm in Faith, a site for "traditional Anglicanism in America" (original notice to a smaller site run by Peter Ould) and this was probably responsible for a few other site links.

Anyway, today I got about 20 times my usual traffic, though probably most are Episcopalians. The rot in the ECUSA and some similar Anglican churches is no time for triumphalism, since the disease that has the Communion in the infirmary at least is not one unfamiliar to us Catholics. In the tradition of then-Cardinal Ratzinger ... I hasten to assure you of my heartfelt prayers for all those [in traditional Anglicanism] ... there is a unity in truth and a communion of grace ... With this in mind, I pray in particular that God's will may be done by all those who seek that unity in the truth, the gift of Christ himself.

Anyhoo ... one gift I received from visiting the Anglicans (which I confess I don't do regularly) is that I read this piece at Stand Firm and this piece at Mr. Ould's.

The ugly, but necessary background for those pieces to make sense: A gay blogger, whom I will neither name nor link, responded to the call by Bishop [sic] Katharine Jefferts Schori by saying late last week he had a short-lived sexual relationship (weeklong, consummated twice) with a particular Church of England priest who later became a bishop. Bishop X (the only way I will refer to him, though the gay blogger names him) has committed the cardinal sin since those acts of associating with and backing the homophobes in global Anglicanism and believing the Christian teaching on sexuality. This has been the subject of much talk in the Anglican blogosphere the past several days.

Anyway, this is the key part of the spiritual reflection by Jackie Bruchi (in both cases, RTWT):
There is no mention in the article if the bishop in question continues unrepentant in the alleged acts; only an implication that having participated in homosexual acts, it is now hypocritical to take an Orthodox view or support others in their stand for Biblical Authority. If one follows this logic, it means once you have sinned, you may never condemn that particular activity as a sin. Every bank robber must condone theft, every unfaithful spouse must embrace adultery. Repentance is never even considered. Since we are all sinners in desperate need of the redeeming grace and salvation of Our Lord and Savior, this would be bad news indeed.

Of course, this is really not news, is it? The revisionist are simply taking a page out of the LGBT playbook which says you are welcome to your sins provided they do not interfere with their agenda regardless of how morally depraved those sins may be. From a secular point of view that is bad enough but when you seek to apply that same standard from a Christian standpoint, the clarity becomes overwhelming. The message has become a threat, spiritual blackmail, if you will – the only way to escape seeing your sins in neon lights is to uphold the liberal agenda or don’t sin. (this latter not really being an option, CM) It’s a little fuzzy as to whether it is the liberal view that gives you a pass or whether embracing your proclivities keeps them from being sins. ...

We would all do well to remember that it is not the sin that makes the man. It is our willingness to repent of our sins and submit our lives to the Kingship of Christ that determines who we are. We should also ask if it is a matter of hypocrisy or the beginning of wisdom when one recognizes a sin in one's life and refuses to call it holy?
And here is Peter Ould:
The comment thread and other posts from other bloggers began to fill with a number of people echoing the original cry of hypocrisy. The one theme that comes through these commenters and the original post is that the Bishop in question is repressed, in denial and undertaking "fear driven decisions".

Curiously though, one word was missing from all the comments and articles.

Grace.

The reason why the blogger outed the Bishop and why the liberal feeding frenzy commenced wasn’t because of the Bishop’s hypocrisy. In fact, the Bishop in question has been commitedly single and celibate for many years. There is nothing hypocritical about someone who rejects a sinful past, embraces the orthodox position and lifestyle and then supports others who do the same (trust me on this one). There is nothing self-repressive about someone who realises that they have sinned in the past and now lives a life centred on holiness, not sexual gratification. There is however one expression that can describe the activity of God in transforming someone’s life and leading them on the path of righteousness.

Grace.

There it is again, that wonderful word. It is, as John Newton would say, "Amazing". It’s a sweet sound that saves wretched sinners, that makes us found when we were lost, that lets the blind see. Grace forgives and grace leads on. It points to a sinless heaven not a fallen earth. It breaks down stereotypes rather than reinforcing prejudices.

Grace transforms.

And that, my friends, is the real reason the liberal bloggers have it in for the Bishop in question. They don’t like grace because it requires an acknowledgement of sin, and they particularly don’t like the grace that God has exhibited in this specific Bishop’s life.

How so? Very simple:
  • The choices made by the Bishop in the past decade reveals the lie that one’s sexual attraction dictates one’s whole life
  • The Bishop’s consequent rejection of prior sexual activity challenges the liberal notion that gay sex is holy
This is why the liberals have to attack this Bishop, because his current lifestyle and his rejection of not only his past sexual activity but also the contemporary pro-gay agenda is a denial of everything they stand for. How dare he? How could he?
The personal risk or social consequences of "outing" really are not why I have such contempt for people who engage in it, frankly bordering on hatred, I admit.¹ The bastards could, in principle, humiliate me or Bishop X or others -- but sub specie aeternitatis, that doesn't matter all that much.

My contempt is because, as Bruchi and Ould explain, the logic of "outing" is necessarily a denial of grace, of the possibility of repentance, of the grounding of forgiveness ... in other words, pretty much a denial of Christianity itself.

This would be bad enough from the Signoriles of the world, but we're now seeing this despicable Gospel-pissing from the presiding bishop of the ECUSA. That's the head of one of America's most-prominent churches and necessarily one of its leading Christian figures.² Anyone of such faithlessness in her (pseudo-)position causes enormous damage, both from present scandal and from the precedents she enables/solidifies. She, her predecessors and her current courtiers have morally certainly cost many souls in their prowling about the earth and turning the ECUSA into an effectively non-Christian body. I am sure her skull will make excellent paving.

St. Michael the Archangel ... pray for us.
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¹ I have no plans to ever again refer to Bishop Smarmi by anything other than some form of insult.
² Yes, I know what Dominus Iesus says. But the objective nature of the Episcopal Church does not speaks to the effects it has on souls. I do not subscribe, either in politics or religion, to the "the worse it gets, the better" school. The Body of Christ is stronger when our separated brethren are strong.

Bishop Signorile

I would normally try not to say anything about the Anglican Communion-rending dispute over Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, on account of manners in speaking about the internal affairs of one of the Protestant churches, or to put it more snarkily: "Robinson is just as much a bishop as the rest of them." But the Big Cheese of the Episcopal Church has engaged in the ultimate in pro-gay smarm -- outing, which is one theme of this blog.

No, actually Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori doesn't even rise to the level of an "outer" (and no gay man would ever tolerate her taste in robes either, as this Jackson-Pollock-worthy ensemble proves). But at least Signorile, Rogers, Ehrenstein and the rest of that despicable gossiping lot would have the stones to say "Bishop So-and-So is a homo." They might use anonymous or unreliable sources, but they at least say who they're talking about.

Bishop Schori? No such honor. Why out "Bishop X" and risk being rebutted or having to offer proof. She simply does a Clintonian drive-by smear-by-implication, with the slushy slide already set up, the escape hatch already well-greased. She tells the BBC:
"[Bishop Robinson] is certainly not alone in being a gay bishop, he's certainly not alone in being a gay partnered bishop," she said.
"He is alone in being the only gay partnered bishop who's open about that status."
She said other Anglican churches also have gay bishops in committed partnerships and should be open about it.
"There's certainly a double standard," she told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.
This self-righteous pro-gay ideologue, working in the guise of a shepherd of Christ, has sinned through her own fault, in her thoughts and in (especially) in her words, in what she did and what she failed to do.

(1) She has made an impossible-to-rebut implication against every unmarried bishop in the rest of the Anglican Communion. And put them all on the spot without their having done anything to warrant or deserve it. I realize the good bishopess does not herself think sodomy is wrong, but this is an act of pure contempt against those who do, some of whom she is still supposed to in communion (as in Anglican ------) with.

(2) She has put without reason journalists in an awkward quandary -- how does one report "an outing" without giving it credit (like with the false "Obama is a Muslim" smears, which caused much more consternation). Her statement is, as made, uncheckable, and she offered no proof of it. But it is made by a prominent-enough person that it has to get reported. She thus gets journalists to make the charge for her if they dig for details. Orwell talked about the morality of those who always managed to be elsewhere when the trigger was pulled.

(3) Does Bishopess OutersRUs really think that she will change the mind on this issue of any closeted-gay bishop by threatening, however sotto voce, his public humiliation? Does she think they're either so spineless (exposure to the bishops in her own ECUSA may have encouraged this perception) or so ruled by their dicks (exposure to gay groups in her own ECUSA may have encouraged this perception) that they will not take such a threat as an affront worthy of digging in their heels (even if those heels be Prada-clad). But regardless of anything, on absolute principle, it's a call she has no right to make (see Gay Patriot and Andrew Sullivan on that principle, called "playing God").

Blame Canada

Maybe the Canadian Human Rights Blackshorts have overreached in the Mark Steyn case, trying to punish an internationally-famous columnist over straight factual statements about Islam. Though, as was predicted almost 20 years ago in the Salman Rushdie case (and seen in the cases involving the Danish cartoons, Theo van Gogh and Oriana Fallaci), free-speech is rapidly becoming an internationally indivisible right.

But, as Lifesite notes here (and the Steyn link above makes the same point), these panels have consistently been solicited, successfully or otherwise, by homosexuals and their enablers to silence Christians, starting almost 10 years ago with a Christian printer who didn't want to do business with a gay group. The bullet list will only expand as homosexuals' definition of what constitutes "hate" expands.

I vacation every year in Canada, where I have extended family, and I'm tempted to take along with me next time something by Father Harvey or Father Groeschel and see if Customs does anything.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

I ♥ Bishop Nienstedt

The coadjutor-archbishop of Minneapolis-St. Paul has been trying to rein in much of the homosexuality-based dissent in his diocese, home of the famous St. Joan of Arc Parish and much more mirth (to the consternation of those who should be consternated). One of his acts was repealing an invitation to an open lesbian to speak at a church. A decent, if biased (and in one place nonsensical), roundup of what has happened is here.

What I liked was Archbishop Nienstedt's response to Ann Marie de Groot, who thought to write "what's this new sin called complicity?" (Aside: does Miss De Groot really think "complicity" is a new concept ... it's just a more-contemporary sounding word for the Thomistic lingo "formal cooperation"). Here is the whole letter, with the part worth highlighting in italics.
In her Dec. 19 commentary, "What's this new sin called complicity?" Ann Marie DeGroot presents an argument against the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexual activity that is representative of many such proposals I have recently received -- with one exception: She does claim that this archbishop is "good"!

The caricature that she makes of my argument is that "parents of an actively homosexual child cannot invite that person home for Christmas dinner" without committing a sin. I never said or implied that, and I never would.

After being born, raised and educated in a Catholic home and Catholic schools, my brother decided to join an evangelical church. My parents were heartbroken but continued to keep in touch with him. He knew that my parents never accepted his action, but he also knew they would not reject his person.

The same is even more true for any child involved in an immoral activity. You don't have to sanction the behavior in order to eat Christmas dinner with that son or daughter. At the same time, you do not have to condone that activity. You urge the offspring to reconsider his/her activity and you pray for his/her conversion. In other words, you let it be known you do not approve. Parents, family members, friends are called to radical honesty and moral integrity. There is nothing "new" about that.
"Loving the sinner while hating the sin" is not a snap-fingers-easy thing to balance. Indeed, one of many detestable things about gay identity (quite apart from the sin of sodomy) is that by identifying the person with the sin, it makes that very balance impossible in principle (and for any sin).

But this analogy about conversion away from the Church is about as good a pastoral analogy as possible since it presupposes a situation that all people have experience of (religious difference within the family) and also doesn't require that the listener already agree with the Church on the morality of homosexual acts -- changing churches is widely considered in this society to be a morally neutral and sometimes-good act. Thus religious difference is an analogy that explains how and why you can have somebody in your house who practices the gay lifestyle / evangelicalism without approving of it, and thus has the potential to better penetrate a "skull full of mush" than analogies of homosexuality to alcoholism, kleptomania or bestiality.¹
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¹ Yes, I am aware that schism is an objective wrong. But, because my point is about pastoral response and effectiveness, the wide perception that it is not one is far more salient to the point I am making.

Friday, January 04, 2008

You don't often hear it stated this baldly

Conservatives often accuse liberals and leftists of being closet (or not-so-closet) secular bigots who only find religion tolerable if isn't taken seriously.

Most opponents' descriptions of the other side should be taken with a grain of salt, of course. But this one might not ... from the "Catholic Church in Britain" files:
'A group of bishops appear to be taking a much firmer line and I think it would be useful to call representatives of the Catholic church in front of the committee to find out what is going on,' [Barry Sheerman, chairman of the parliamentary cross-party committee on children, schools and families] said. 'It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith. But as soon as there is a more doctrinaire attitude questions have to be asked. It does become worrying when you get a new push from more fundamentalist bishops. This is taxpayers' money after all.'
Now of course, it's bad enough that Britain is apparently considering making Catholic bishops explain themselves before an official tribunal (regardless of its consequences) for the sin of actually believing Catholicism is true and that schools that are supposed to be Catholic should act as if it were. These schools are supposed to be Catholic even though they are state-funded; the notion of "church-state separation," whatever its merits, is an American one that has never been the practice in Europe. And Sheerman repeats one of my pet peeves of liberal-secularist insularity -- common vulgar misuse of the worst f-word in the language (that would be "fundamentalist"¹)

But did you catch that part ... "It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith." How does one parody such unthinking ... unthinkingness.

I will acknowledge that this was a sinus-clearing quote. You could cut this MP's contempt with a knife (and if he were to speak that way about Islam, some people would be cutting more than that). But, to quote myself, "you don't often hear it stated this baldly." British blogger Cranmer, who calls the whole shameful thing an "inquisition" put it best:
Well, Mr Sheerman, Cranmer has news for you. People who are 'not serious about their faith' do not possess a faith. And faith schools which are 'not serious about their faith' are not faith schools. Does Parliament 'work all right' if politicians are not that serious about politics?
Hey, it's not as if religion or one's eternal fate² is something worth being serious about? What's eternity sub specie aeternitatis? What doth it profit a man if he take his soul seriously but lose the world?
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¹ Any use of that word to refer to anything other than a strain of mostly Anglo-American Protestantism since the early 20th century either proves the user's ignorance or mendacity.
² Or the lack thereof. If there is no God or next life, that'd be just as much a fact and just as serious a matter as their existence.