Monday, July 3, 2017

James Martin's Bridge to Trauma & Bad Memories


Phillis Wheatley
Phillis Wheatley did not paint a happy picture of memory in "On Recollection." She visualizes Memory as a mischievous goddess, who bears wisdom but also a "cup of wormwood."

"Days, years misspent! O what a hell of woe!" Phillis Wheatley says of Memory, adding, that "hers are the worst tortures that our souls can know."

I studied Wheatley extensively for my dissertation and the first scholarly book I published, The Colorful Conservative. Like so much other great poetry, hers has impressed its deeper meanings gradually on me as I have aged. Now, in this summer of 2017, her words have sunk in. It is truly like drinking a poisoned cup when you are plunged into days, years misspent, and you relive--because of Memory--painful times that you have no power to undo.

My "birth family" (I use the term to distinguish from my wife and children, who are a completely different case from what I am to describe) finds itself in the throes of a number of crises. I will not expose people's intimate details but stressful events have made it necessary for me to have a great deal of contact with siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, and the whole host of extended relatives who made my Catholic childhood the miserable mess of confusion that nearly ruined me.

And now, because of the Trump era's peculiar blend of freakish news stories hot in the press, I find the difficult re-connection with old family ties combining with media overload to make me feel like I am drowning in Memory's wormwood. Think of what is big right now in the politically polarized news cycles: LGBT ideology amplified into a global totalitarian dystopia, higher education melting like scrap metals in a cauldron, loads of insane "investigations" dominating the news, Christianity and Judaism careening into theological bedlam, racism.

See here:




Oh gee! That's a bummer! Those happen to be all the issues that framed my tumultuous life for 45 years!

It is as though four and a half decades of my life threw up, and the chunks of vomit got stuck all over twitter. I was raised by a divorced woman in a lesbian relationship with another divorced woman, and I myself jumped into homosexual sex at the age of 13, staying there until the age of 28. My profession is higher education, where I lived through a nightmarish academic-freedom case and had to leave a tenured position. What was the nightmare about? I was beaten down with phony accusations from a clique of Clinton Global Initiative lackeys who tricked me, among other things, to run an intelligence grant that provoked vicious protests from people on campus. With Kamala Harris as the bumbling Attorney General, I went through years of the Clintonesque, Comeyite, Loretta-Lynch-like investigations based on nothing, until finally I left the academy in a horrible case of academic freedom gone haywire. 

Days, years misspent! Preach it, Phillis-I know exactly what you mean. Almost every gross news story can be answered with a been there/done that from me.

But two stories from the religious world are particularly unsettling. One is the Southern Baptist Convention's passing of a resolution condemning racism and the "alt-right," which is of course a slam against Trump supporters engineered by highly placed Baptists still mad at the election and hoping to hang on to their ties to the liberal establishment, which they cultivated by carefully playing to Obama and Clinton for years. More on this will result in an article, which I hope to publish soon.


The other is far more sinister--the push by Jesuit James Martin to force the Catholic Church to "build a bridge" to the LGBT community. By now the old adage that you must speak truth in love has been done to death. The Catholics, like all Christian groups, have for decades couched their Biblical sexuality in the language of healing, spiritual love, etc., emphasizing that we love all children of God and want all God's creations to be delivered from sins like homosexuality. Arguments on Twitter serve as a fair approximation of the way gay groups have leveraged their own testimonials about being bullied to guilt-trip the church. When blasting "anti-gay" people who want the Church to hold true to Scripture, two arguments are presented from foul-mouthed pro-gay Twitter militants:

1) Gays have been bullied and called mean names, as they can tell you from their painful memories of high school when cruel peers called them sissies and picked on them for the way they talked.
2) The Catholic church had a sex abuse scandal so any Christian (even someone like me with a Twitter name literally "Baptist4Freedom") must never say anything about homosexuality under threat of having copious links to exposes about pedophile priests flung onto one's Twitter timeline.

While James Martin has some arguments that rise slightly above the juvenile brinksmanship of these two emotional blackmail games, he is not really much more complex. He functions on the basic level of naivete, pretending that the gay community is something it isn't. He sees the gay community as well-intended people who have suffered too much and never done anything wrong, and who just want to be loved and comforted by the full spiritual blessing of the Church. Starting with this two-dimensional fantasy, he suggests that Catholics engage highly paid political strategists from the self-appointed LGBT leadership, who have a ruthless history of crushing all opposition to their egotistical quest for sexual gratification without any criticism or self-constraints, in order to follow their advice about how best to make the church atone for the past sin of causing harm to gay kids. Their advice, unsurprisingly, happens to encourage large numbers of young impressionable people to experiment with gay sex, identify as gay, and support the gay community's political causes, while taking no action that's ever shown a track record of relieving gay-identified adults of their horrendous rates of suicide, depression, anxiety, loneliness, anorexia, bulimia, overeating, steroid abuse, drug addiction, sex addiction, alcoholism, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual assault, domestic violence, and emotional abuse.

James Martin, with all due respect--I know very well about what awaits you on the other side of the bridge you are saying you want to build. It isn't a bevy of new doe-eyed Christians clamoring to get close to Jesus if only the church could not beat them up and condemn them for urges beyond their control. No group, especially one lacking a collective history of oppression akin to the abuses precipitating the black civil rights movement, is ever that pure and simple. The bridge you want to build will eventually connect to an emotionally afflicted but highly organized political camp that has dominated the media, education, culture and fashion for half a decade--and which has been, for a whole generation, well placed in the most powerful echelons of law, business, government, and the military.

Build the bridge, and they will pour over the bridge into your church, take it over, add it to their list of vassal institutions, corrupt it, and turn the religion into a mockery of itself.

To understand why all this is, let's revisit the 2 basic arguments pro-gay people give for wanting the Catholic Church to celebrate and affirm gay people.

1. Lots of gay people have unhappy memories of being bullied as kids.
2. The Catholic church had an inglorious history of protecting priests who molested boys.

It's hard to build a bridge when all the plans for the bridge are disconnected and disjointed. If this bridge were a good idea, you would have to prove:

1. That a new Christianity, which encourages people to engage in sodomy, would result in happier and more faithful Christian souls.
2. That there really is a large contingent of aspiring Christians who were born gay and have no choice but to engage in gay sex.
3. That there exists a gay community willing to engage in dialogue with dignity and respect, and which has proven its ability to have a good-faith dialogue with those who have dissenting views.

I can't even get to the end of #1 above, let alone #3, without dying of uncontrollable laughter. Nobody can solemnly argue for 1-3 above, because:

1. Anal sex is gross and two men have no choice but to engage in it all the time, resulting in unsanitary bedding, bleeding, long-term damage to each others excretory system, absolute chosen infertility, the spread of diseases, and generally unpleasant sexual experience...for their whole lives! The Bible isn't naive about anal sex-it bans it and classes it with bestiality, child sacrifice, and incest as the worst possible of sins, in Leviticus. (And no, it doesn't list sodomy alongside eating shellfish-sodomy falls under the highest class of abominations, which Jesus does NOT override as one might argue He does with dietary or ceremonial laws.) It is in Leviticus that the line appears, "do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community but love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18), which I am sure few people would want to dismiss as just Old Testament grouchiness, old wine for old wineskins. Why would we want to "affirm" a practice the Bible condemns and which our own common sense can observe as harmful? Are people born with the absolute needs to damage their own bowels? No! From the centrality of an act that is really unpleasant span many other effects--the addictions, the self-harming worries about beauty, the difficulty with monogamous supportive relationships--because gay male culture constructs itself on men uniting with other men to do something that doesn't bring long-term joy or togetherness.

2. In his letter to the Romans, Paul says not to conform to the ways of this world and to renew our minds. Jesus says that to follow Him you must deny yourself; He also says sexual immorality defiles a man. Overwhelmingly Christianity tells us to overcome desires except those--like the covenant of marriage--that can bring us closer to, and please, Jesus Christ. I see no defensible leap from these central tenets to the claim that a certain class of people must be applauded and honored for carnal desires that are nowhere applauded in scripture, because they can't deny themselves, they can't reform their minds, and they must conform to the sexual practices of their gay friends whom they have sex with. Like, no, dude. This is a complete non-starter.

3. As I outlined and provided many links to in this earlier piece, the sad reality is that the gay community exists as a particular subculture, one marked by histrionic politics, gossip-based empowerment strategies, pathological obsessions with youth and status, and unrelenting viciousness and vulgarity. Pro-gay people have sent me messages calling me a "fat and inbred creature who should go kill yourself," "a piece of shit," "an ugly moron," etc.--we are talking, tweets in the hundreds. The least of this subculture's incompatibilities with Christian theology is the actual sex act. The fact that the culture is unforgiving, unloving, gossiping, backstabbing, and many other unchristian things, poses the role problem. See this excerpt from the piece I wrote in May, in which I list the critical evils Paul warned would result from rampant uncritical homosexuality. This list has largely come true:

Tier 1: Misbehaviors: unrighteousness, evil, greed, wickedness, envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, malice. 

Tier 2: "Identities" of people who have become their sins: gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. No, all these documented problems are not isolated or atypical events with no relation to "who gay people are." This is the gay culture, on which the "gay community" is built. If you carry on with an acknowledgement that actions are homosexual but people are simply male or female with no identity based on sexual orientation, you can be kind and loving and save people while still fighting valiantly against the affront to God, which is the rampant act, not particular human beings. Gay is what some choose to do, not who anybody is. 

There's nothing there to build a bridge to. The best way to bring the gospel to people in the LGBT community is to get them out of the community, encourage them to drop the gay label, show them that their only label is child of God, and do not involve ANYONE who "speaks for" the gay community or who has shown complicity with all the problems mentioned above.

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But what about the 2 claims I discussed earlier, which people skeptical of James Martin are sure to encounter?  These are harder to dispel because, while not rhetorically coherent, they are very emotional and draw on Memory, the wormwood of Wheatley's poems:

1. Gays have been bullied and are hurting.
2. The Catholic church protected pedophiles.

Let me address these carefully below.

The problem is that even when I was a child in the 1970s, the antigay bullies who picked on kids in school weren't quoting Scripture or doing what Catholic priests told them to do. They were usually arrogant jocks or "ruffians" (to quote the Smiths) who were as likely to mock male virgins practicing chastity as they were to mock boys deemed homosexual.

Much of the bullying that colors the minds of gay-identified adults came from people who forced a gay label on them when they weren't ready for it. In many cases, it was never a real label to begin with. Young boys with high voices, who play with dolls, who talk with their hands, or who aren't good at sports, were often called sissy and other gay-related slurs. People assumed they were gay because they were unmanly and girls were uninterested in them.

But here is the thing: both mean straight bullies and gay people engage in this kind of abuse, telling people they must be gay based on stereotypes. When I was a boy, straight boys rarely commented on or speculated about my sexuality. It was gays who constantly forced me into gay identity, often to coax me into having sex.

So the answer to the painful memories of bullying is not to "affirm" LGBT and its "born that way" ideology, since this is the very logic underlying the abusers who tell effeminate boys that they have to be gay and have no future other than as homosexuals. Affirming the popular LGBT rhetoric encourages bullying and becomes part of the abuse.

Second, regarding the history of Catholic church abuse, it is important not to lose sight of what we must learn from such history. The Catholic church erred egregiously by refusing to admit there was abuse going on in the institution's ranks, and by silencing victims in the interest of protecting the Church's name. There should have never been so much unsupervised mentorship between priests with same-sex attractions and teenage boys. As I explained in this article in 2013, the gay community is absolutely retreading the same mistakes. The high-profile controversy surrounding Milo Yiannopoulous became a missed opportunity, a warning sign ignored.

Groups like the Human Rights Campaign are pushing for highly sexualized curriculum for toddlers and children, while the boom in Gay Straight Alliances has created many unsupervised mentoring relationships between gay adults and children who are being, effectively, groomed for homosexuality. There are many cases of these precarious mentoring relationships turning into sexual molestation, not to mention the daunting statistics on rapes in the military, where we see that male-male molestation can occur on a massive scale if a culture becomes sexualized and no safeguards exist in vulnerable situations.

The statistic that should cause everyone to stop and think is this: Infections are spiking among boys aged 13-19, and 95% of these cases involve HIV- boys being sodomized by someone HIV+. Epidemiologically the odds lean towards the probability that the HIV+ sodomizer has more life history and has had time to pick up the virus, which means... this is a wave of older men molesting boys. (It is actually hard to pass on HIV, and it usually is transmitted about 1 out of every 130-150 times a person engages in passive anal sex.)

The gay community's reaction to reports of abuse has mirrored the horrible reaction from the Vatican over the sex abuse cases it dealt with--again, in the name of protecting the gay brand, victims are silenced, they are told they wanted this sexual exploitation or they wanted it or it is who they are, and then gay activists continue to claim there is no problem. Some have claimed that gays are not an institution so can't be held liable, but this betrays a flaw in the LGBT community's thinking--they have no sense of duty to each other and feel little need to protect the weakest among them, making them worse than Catholics.

If Martin gets the bridge he seeks, he will be merging the gay and Catholic histories of sex abuse in a perfect storm of moral disaster.

I've seen this before. I remember this entire sad arc. I paid the price for poor guidance, corrupted mentorship, confused morals, and the Catholic church's lack of discernment. I left the Catholic Church because by my thirties I had too many memories of authority figures showing no responsibility for the moral and spiritual development of the church's children. I left the LGBT community for exactly the same reason. Phillis Wheatley's cup of wormwood never disappeared.