turning the tables

Michael Bayly recently sent me an article he had written for the Star Tribune. I promised to write a response, so here it is, offered in parallel fashion: choose PDF or Flash format.

Although it is a bit tongue-in-cheek, part of my point is that his rhetoric is not presented in a spirit of dialogue. To illustrate that point, my response is offered in the same spirit.

22 thoughts on “turning the tables

  1. Clayton I love you. I don’t think I’ve ever told you that but after reading your blog today I must admit openly in front of God and everyone in cyberspace that I love you.

    As your father’s brother’s son I have always respected your intelligence. Your whole family was a fur piece more advanced than our group. I appreciate the fact that you are consistently kind and compassionate toward the sanctity of the person. You do not claim to have all of the answers and you are not afraid to admit error. I see in your blog courage to invite dialogue and I regret that many do not have the capacity to participate in a true dialogue.

    Thank you for standing for something. If we don’t we are liable to fall for anything.

    I challenge everyone to take the stand that you have taken in favor of communication.

    I’m now perplexed with the question of how Jesus himself would post on these pages. Somehow, I suspect he would sound a lot like you. Thank you for your courage, your kindness and your love.

    May I borrow $50?

    Cousin Drew

  2. I hope you sent that to the Red StarTrib , Clayton! That was good!

    RadioFreeRome, you are in my prayers. I am sorry for what you have gone through. There was no excuse for the way you were treated. Do not be deceived; those of us who truly love Christ do not hate you. We love you!

    Your attractions are not a sin, but only a temptation. We are all tempted in various ways, and those with same sex attraction are afflicted with a particularly painful cross. God bless you!

  3. Hi Clayton,

    Congratulations on your very clever reaction to my latest commentary.

    You obviously get a lot of pleasure from showing off your cleverness. Yet I think it needs to be acknowledged that like most expressions of sheer cleverness, your reaction is sadly cold and indifferent to the vast and holy realm of human experience. It also poorly conceals a palpable and unpleasant sense of anger and frustration – directed primarily towards those whose experiences of God don’t match yours. Not surprisingly, your reaction lacks any semblance of wisdom and compassion. I’d encourage you to work on a writing style that allows such qualities to be developed and displayed.

    It’s obvious that you experience a lot of self-satisfaction with both your “clever” style of writing and with passing on inaccurate and/or distorted information from your “excitable source” in the Twin Cities. Yet I hope that in the future you can open yourself to discovering more positive, constructive, and hopeful ways of experiencing satisfaction in your life.

    I wish you peace on your ongoing journey.

  4. Perfect! Not only do you manage to undermine this flawed rethoric but also you give strength to the Catholic point of view instead of just writing a pastiche.

    And I thought I was funny with my iPod sashers…

  5. Michael: Clayton’s responses to you, as is his habit, are as charitable as they are witty.

    Lighten up on the passive-aggressive gay drama. Ritual defaming of people who disagree with you hardly accords with wishing someone peace on their ongoing journey.

  6. I’m late to this game, but dag yo, Clayton, this thread looks suspiciously like a debate between opposing sides. Don’t you know the blogosphere is only for agreement, with a possible exemption for name-calling?

  7. Cousin Drew,

    Thanks for the lovefest. Glad you enjoy the blog.

    And, on a completely unrelated note, a cashier’s check is on its way.

    As far as the question of WWJP goes (What Would Jesus Post)… I suspect he wouldn’t spend a lot of time in front of a computer terminal. He’d delegate that mission field to some of his disciples, I suspect.

  8. Another quote for you, Clayton.

    “I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice, but I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'” “I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.”

    The source of the quote is Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King. Perhaps, you understand the ideals and the sacrifices of the civil rights movement better than Dr. King’s widow, who sacrificed her husband to it.

  9. radiofreerome,

    I am not saying that homosexuals should not enjoy civil rights. Obviously as individuals they should enjoy the same rights as anyone else, and they deserve to be treated with respect… not ultimately on account of their orientation but on account of the more basic and fundamental fact that they are persons. People enjoy rights as persons, not on the basis of proclivities or behaviors. We do not hear an outcry for the civil rights of people as alcoholics, etc, because it is understood that the state and the common good have nothing to gain from giving specific rights to this inclination/behavior. The state does have much to gain from giving rights to those who marry and procreate, as this directly affects the common good and civilization — the family is the fundamental building block of society.

  10. Michael,

    You might want to read the comments that follow my article before deciding whether I am without compassion.

    I don’t think that I am without compassion, nor are the other readers of my blog. As to wisdom, of course I have none of my own to offer, but I think the Church has a wealth of it. I was only trying to pass on a portion of what I have received.

    Of course you are free to judge that my words were clever but empty. I accept that that is your judgment of my words.

    As far as the inaccurate information, please let me know what was inaccurate or distorted. I’d appreciate the correction. I’ll take more care in pointing out the inaccuracies or distortions in your own writing as well, if you’d like.

  11. radiofreerome,

    I am very sorry to hear about your painful experiences. There is nothing offensive about your comments. I regret to hear about the way you were treated, and I am sure Pope Benedict XVI would have similar sentiments.

    The Church does not hate you, nor does it wish to encourage self-loathing. It wants to offer genuine compassion by pointing out sinful behavior, not by declaring you to be evil.

    If you read other posts of mine, you will probably have a better idea of my own thoughts.

    Pope Benedict XVI is not an evil man. He doesn’t want to obstruct your freedom and happiness, but to put himself at the service of them by an authentic pastoral ministry that embraces a true compassion.

    You are welcome here. As far as your ideals go, they are noble. May God, who has begun a good work in you, bring it to fulfillment. You have my respect and my prayers.

  12. Clayton, in response to your editorial, I submit the following quote.

    “… I rise in thankful recognition of the citizens of the District of Columbia who voted for me to come here knowing that I am gay, and who continue to labor and live in a city which has no voice in determining how it shall be taxed and which has no power to effect the decisions which affect the quality of our lives.

    “And finally, Mr. Chairman and members of the convention, I rise in anguished recognition of more than 20 million Americans who love this country and who long to serve this country in the same freedom that others take for granted, 20 million lesbian and gay Americans whose lives are blighted by a veil of ignorance and misunderstanding….

    “We come from towns and cities where our friends are jailed and beaten on the slightest pretext. We come from churches which have been burned to the ground because they admit us to worship. We come from families which have been torn apart because we have lost our jobs, and we have lost our good names which have been slandered by false accusations, myths, and lies….

    “Would you ask me how I’d dare to compare the civil rights struggle with the struggle for lesbian and gay rights? I can compare, and I do compare them. I know what it means to be called a nigger. I know what it means to be called a faggot. And I can sum up the difference in one word: none.

    “Bigotry is bigotry. I have been booed before. Discrimination is discrimination. It hurts just as much. It dishonors our way of life just as much, and it betrays a common lack of understanding, fairness and compassion….”

    Melvin Boozer
    President, Gay Activists Alliance of Washington, DC
    New York City, 1980
    Addressing the Democratic National Convention (withdrawing his nomination for Vice President of the United States)

  13. Remember Paul did not say being homosexual is a sin: Some are eunochs by choice, some by chance and others for the kingdom. The priesthood of christ wants men who can keep their sexuality in check. Acting on a homosexual urge is an intracte disorder and is contrary to natural law. Unrepentent sinners will be punished for their activity.

  14. Clayton,

    Cardinal Ratzinger made the argument that anyone known as gay could be discriminated against in housing, employment, insurance coverage, military service, etc. His reasoning is that those who assert their sexual orientation tend to be those who act on it. Leaving aside the question of whether society has a legitimate secular interest in preventing _all_ forms of homosexual behavior, we’re still have to deal with Cdl. Ratzinger’s assertion that not being in the closet amounts to some kind of crime (or pre-crime). Ultimately, he’s criminalizing speech which has no legitimate interpretation as disruptive to society. Personal acknowledgement of a condition which isn’t in and of itself morally wrong can never be said to be detrimental to society.

    However, libel is harmful, and you, your Church, and your Pope libel me. You compare me to an alcoholic. This is bigotted and reductionistic. It’s bigotted precisely because I’ve already explained to you that Chastity is one of the principles according to which I live my life. It’s reductionistic because my orientation is a source of selfless love for another and a willingness to sacrifice for that other in very real terms.

    As for the fundamental unit of society being the family, it’s simply bumper sticker philosophy. Today men without families die by the thousands in the name of your freedom. You disgrace yourself by claiming that single people somehow count for less. I’ve suffered because of ignorant attitudes like yours. I’ve been told to my face that I would be paid less because I wasn’t married by a boss who knenw I had debts because of my cancer treatment. I complained and was fired within a year.

    My taxes pay for your children to go to school.

    As for your Church’s notion of rights, it has no say so in the matter. Rights come from a social contract enforced by the legitimate threat of retaliation against those violating it.

    The response you can expect to Christo-Fascism is militant secularism.

  15. Jason,

    I am 44, and I’m a cradle Catholic from New Olreans. I am gay; I have been treated hatefully by Church institutions, starting with my high school and ending with the Vatican.

    My primary stress over my sexual orientation was the years that I lived in fear of discovery. From the age of 13 until the age of 22, I not only didn’t act on my sexuality but didn’t mention it alound. I didn’t need to; from 13 to 18, I got called “faggot” every day by students and teachers. I sexually harassed in the most graphic terms; I learned about all the things gay people supposedly did from allegedly Christian heterosexuals.

    The worst thing that happened was when at age 13, I consulted the Catholic encyclopedia about homosexuality and I read Chrysostom’s homily on the subject. It called homosexuals “worse than murderers” and accused them of “killing the soul within the body.” That made me hate and fear myself for having a crush on a fellow student. It also said homosexuals would be better off dead. That made me suicidal until I left high school.

    Oddly enough, I stayed with the church until I got testicular cancer at about 30. I was still very tormented about my sexuality. If I found someone attractive, I’d get depressed for days. When I got cancer, I found myself hoping that God would take my life because I was so ashamed of dissappointing God. When I didn’t I became angry at Him. I prayed for death at Christmas mass.

    I gradually learned to value my life again once I could be somewhat honest about who I was with others.In 1991, I read a letter from Cardinal Ratzingers Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Among other claims, the letter said the only way for me to avoid discrimination was to stay in the closet.

    I knew that staying there had very nearly killed me. I was outraged and felt (and still do feel) betrayed that heterosexual Catholics didn’t defend us.

    I still live according to my ideals and Chastity is among them. Another of my ideals is the fervent hope that future generations will have better lives than I did.

    I can’t reconcile the second ideal with being Catholic because I know that the current pope and his partisans will do all they can to assure a young man like I was will have no place in society and no future.

    After so many years of being treated like an enemy of the Church, I now have to become one because of the evil man who leads it.

    If this offends Clayton, then so be it.

  16. radiofreerome,

    Where do I begin? You make so many points, and each one requires a significant amount of time to respond to. It’s much easier to throw out accusations than it is to explain the Church’s position.

    I’m interested in responding to each point. But I also have a day job (as I imagine you do as well). And I have volunteer commitments two nights of the week. And every so often, I catch some sleep. So I may be a bit slow in getting around to all of your points.

    Maybe we should take this discussion offline, if it would generate an atmosphere of greater trust and less hostility.

    I have discovered that this seems to be the case with Michael Bayly, who has begun an exchange with me via e-mail that seems much more fruitful, partly because it is not taking place in a public arena. The recent synod of bishops in Rome had the right idea, I think, when they decided to exclude the press and the public from their afternoon deliberations.

    But just briefly:

    I don’t accept your spin on Cardinal Ratzinger. I assume you are referring to this:

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html

    Let’s agree about what it says and does not say before going too much further.

    Also, just to clarify, I don’t own a Church and a Pope. They are not “mine.” I belong to the Church; She does not belong to me. Maybe this is mere semantics to you, but I think it indicates something deeper.

    One other question: what do you have against alcoholics? Some of the finest people I have ever met are alcoholics… other friends of mine are homosexuals… and again, they are top-notch individuals, some of them living heroic lives of virtue. Living and working in Los Angeles, I am hardly insulated from the actual lives of people who define themselves as “gay.”

    I am sorry that people have treated you in bigotted and reductionistic ways… I’ll take you at your word that that has been the case in your life. But the answer is not to treat others (myself included) in a way that you would not want to be treated.

    I never said that single people count for less. I happen to be single myself. I don’t have children, and I don’t plan to, as I made a decision that I will live my life in the Church as a single man, possibly one day in consecrated life, but not necessarily.

    Long story short, more questions, and fewer assumptions, please. That is the way toward an authentic dialogue. If you’re not interested in that, I respect that choice as well. But this is my blog, and I’ve decided that this will be a place for dialogue, and I will only tolerate a limited amount of grandstanding. There are many other places on the Internet for that sort of thing.

    Again, you are welcome on this blog. But there are some rules of engagement, that I guess I should not assume are self-evident. I should probably post them so that visitors know what is expected.

  17. Clayton,

    Here is a posting from the http://www.byzcath.org site. This was made a few months ago in the midst of a conversation around the Vatican document. I believe it captures wonderfully the pastoral nature of this action by the Vatican for all those with SSAD.

    Pace e’ bene,

    Gordo

    PS: Here is the direct link:

    http://www.byzcath.org/bboard/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=002268;p=4

    ___________________________________

    From: RomanRedneck

    I hesitate to contribute to this thread. However since I have not read any post by someone who has actually been affected by this document I thought I would speak up.

    I have SSAD and I have always wanted to be in the ministry. When I was Protestant I even attended and graduated from an Anglican seminary with the intent to be an Anglican priest. However, the Lord had other plans and that dream did not come to be.

    Since I became Catholic I have been considering the priesthood or monastic life. Because I am divorced I am working on an annulment but had hoped that once that was accomplished I could persue one of these. Yet apparently now, that too is not to be.

    I don’t believe I owe anyone justification for my ssa. But for those who might jump to conclusions about my personal morality and spiritual condition I write the following few sentances: I don’t understand why I have it and neither does anyone else. I choose, by grace, to live as faithfully to Christ and the teaching of the Church as I can. Am I chaste? I don’t sleep around, I don’t act out, I don’t look at porn. Does that make me chaste? I don’t know. Though it seems to me that chastity is not something obtained by *abstaining* from something. Its not a negative thing, its a positive. Chastity is a state of being, a way of life, a fruit of the Spirit. To this end I strive. God is judge of whether or not I have succeeded.

    In my personal experience I have found most people to be understanding about ssa. I personally have not experienced bigotry or meanness though I know of some who have. But what I have found a lot of is confusion. And what really gets under my skin is someone spouting off about it, pontificating on the alleged responsibilities of the ssa sufferer or pretending to have an understanding about it. It would be nice if such people would simply limit their vocabulary about the topic to what the Catechism says unless they want to get their hands dirty with a ministry like Courage and actually help people with ssa. After they have had some experience dealing with the stress and anxiety of living with ssa then perhaps they will have something of substance to say.

    What does this all have to do with the topic of this thread? Very simply that it’s nice to read the posts that do not treat this document as something utterly objective but realize that it is a pastoral document intended not only to curb or remedy the sexual scandal crisis in the Church but to put those of us with SSA in a position in the church where we can be ministered TO.

    I believe far more often than not, homosexuals who enter the ministry do so in a misguided attempt at self healing. They dont enter the priesthood as ravenous wolves intent on preying on the young and naive. They think they will be given the discipline to exercise self control. Sadly they miss the point of the priesthood entirely and instead become victims of their own lusts and leave wounded people in their paths wherever they go.

    If I thought this document was intended as a “slam against gays” I would be very distressed and wonder what kind of future I might have as a Catholic. On the contrary, it is a document, as far as I can see, that puts the person with ssa precisely where he REALLY needs to be…under the pastoral care of a competent chaste priest…which is what we will be getting out of the seminaries now.

    So, on the one hand I fell acute disappointment that I can never be a priest or religious. On the other hand it is very heartening to see the Church make such a bold move not only to preserve herself but to minister to those who need it and to go to such extremes to see that they receive the care they need.

    I hope this post is not taken in any offensive way. I write it intending simply to express my thoughts. Not to jump on or criticize anyone. If any one does take offence please forgive me.

    Jason a sinner

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