Tag Archives: Catholic

Vatican Condemns Jesus’ Silence On Abortion, Homosexuality

Following a rigorous historical investigation of Jesus Christ and a careful analysis of the Gospel narratives, the Vatican has released a report criticizing Jesus for focusing on poverty and social justice while remaining silent on abortion and homosexuality, calling his silence on these issues “grave and a matter of serious concern.”

The report, released on Wednesday, acknowledges that Jesus never explicitly contradicted Church teaching on either issue. Nonetheless, officials argue, the Son of God’s failure to address these questions at all “seriously undermines our attempts to present opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage as central to the Gospel.”

“We have been trying, for several years now, to make vociferous, blood-spitting opposition to gay marriage a litmus test for Catholicism,” Vatican officials write. “While we of course admire Jesus’ ministry to the poor and marginalized, his teachings on sexual ethics are almost totally limited to his sayings against adultery and his qualified opposition to divorce and remarriage.”

A spokesman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which released the Vatican report on its website, conceded that Jesus’ silence on abortion, like his silence on homosexuality, does not necessarily mean Christ supported it. “But,” he said, “it’s not really clear that Christ opposed it, either. On an issue this difficult and complicated, it would be really nice to have a pat answer–no doubts, no nuance, no exceptions. Would it have killed him to give us one? Would it?”

Jesus could not be reached for comment.


So You’re Surrounded By Right-Wing Catholics

Happy Easter!

How was your holiday? I for one am still recovering from my Easter brunch food hangover–ah, the joy of bingeing on things I only half-way gave up for Lent.

My Triduum was good, mostly business as usual–stomach rumblings, Stations of the Cross, cringing through several of the Good Friday prayers, and staying up late to see new Catholics welcomed at the Easter Vigil.

There were also unpleasant reminders of the Catholic Right. Multiple anti-abortion posters in the church hall. Hyperbole about “attacks on religious liberty” in the church bulletin. A priest who waxed patriarchal about motherhood as women’s special lady vocation.

To be a progressive or moderate Catholic surrounded by traditionalists, Opus Dei members, Santorum supporters, Planned Parenthood protesters, or American Papist followers can be a bizarre experience–something like being the only person wearing jeans in a group of Colonial Williamsburg actors who refuse to break character, or the only participant in the smoke-filled room study. That is, what is obviously bizarre to you seems completely normal to everyone around you.

When you find yourself in a Catholic environment dominated by right-wing folks with an anti-gay bent, it ain’t the most pleasant of circumstances. So what is a Good Catholic Dyke to do? Why, make it into a game!

1. The “Gonzo Journalist” Game

In which you pretend you are Hunter S. Thompson, or the kid in Almost Famous, or Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed, immersing yourself in a strange subculture and reporting back.

via jakewilton.com
This plan can backfire.

2. The “Colbert Report” Game

In which you pretend offensive remarks are actually satire. This is particularly helpful when you hear people comparing abortion rights to genocide, or homosexuality to “man-on-dog” sex, or Obama to a totalitarian dictator.

3. The “Showing Patience and Sympathy to Probable Closet Cases” Game

In which you recognize that at least some of the anti-gay people around you are probably struggling with doubts about their own sexuality.

via glee.wikia.com

4. The “Remove Yourself from the Situation” Game

In which you distance yourself, or cut yourself off completely, from the situation or group of people crushing your soul.

5. The “Episcopalian” Game

In which you go to an Episcopal church until you find a healthier Catholic environment.

via simpsonswiki.net

6. The “Foxhole” Game

In which you find other moderate, progressive, queer, and queer-friendly Catholics and build community with them. They are definitely out there, dykes. We must always remember that most Catholics are not anti-gay. If you are lucky enough to live near a DignityUSA chapter, that is worth looking into.

via dignityusa.org

What do y’all think? How do you deal with less-than-welcoming Catholic environments?


So You’re Dating A Protestant

Horror!

Kidding. We think it’s great. Shine on you crazy diamond. But there are a few things you should know about your Presbylutheran potential or current ladyfriend from the outset, and the Dykes are here to help. Having been raised Protestant, I’d like to help the cradle Catholics among you navigate this charming community.

1. Know Your Protestants

Oh, they take many forms, these Protestants. To keep it simple, I have categorized them according to the convenient definitions and sweeping generalizations below.

a. Liberal Protestants

As with many things, you, as a dyke, are generally safe amongst liberals. You may proceed confidentally if your ladyfriend:

Avoids gendered pronouns for God even, or perhaps especially, when doing so results in painfully awkward and contorted syntactical constructions.

Is pursuing ordination. Oh, irony of ironies! If she is openly queer and a lady and yet her options are such that she has the option of pursuing ordination, then y’all are good to go. Plus, you might get to be, like, the preacher’s wife, and bake gluten-free brownies for liberal church bake sales. Church bake sales! In a queer way! Think about it.

Volunteers at interfaith things, or gay things, or Planned Parenthood.

Exhibits such dykeisms as: veganism, facial piercings, tattoos, socialism, asymmetrical haircuts.

Liberal Protestants are often found in mainline denominations, including the Episcopal Church USA, the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the United Methodist Church, and the Presbyterian Church USA.

b. Hipster and Touchy-Feely Protestants

via stuffchristianculturelikes

There are Protestants whose combination of exuberance and fashion-consciousness, while it gives us pause, does not necessarily indicate deep-seated psychological issues. These Protestants are not quite threatening but will probably make you uncomfortable. They are found in greater concentrations in more touchy-feely and hip forms of Protestantism, in churches that cater effusively to the youths. Proceed with caution if she:

-Refers to Jesus as “J.C.”

Claps above her head at church (the Megachurch clap).

-Listens to Christian rock or talks about “Praise music.”

-Reads books by Shane Claiborne or subscribes to Sojourners (also popular amongst liberal Protestants).

Exhibits such dykeisms as: acoustic guitar playing, tattoos, dreadlocks, facial piercings, NPR.

Hipster and Touchy-Feely Protestants are often found in evangelical churches, especially Megachurches full of bright shiny technology. Especially churches that have Starbucks inside–I shit you not.

c. Fundamentalist Protestants

via myballard.com

If you find yourself pursuing, or semi-involved with, a dyke in this category, you best turn back, ma’am, because it’s only a matter of time before she has a religious crisis, attends an ex-gay wilderness adventure program, and goes AWOL with your car/beagle/adopted child.

Go with your gut on this. To help, here are a few concrete cues to look out for. Politely remove yourself from the situation if she:

-Exhibits extreme forms of traits listed in “Touchy-Feely” section above.

-Uses the terms “Bible-believing Christian,” “Biblical womanhood,” “inerrancy of Scripture,” “Intelligent Design,” “Father God,” or “Supply-Side Economics.”

-Doesn’t celebrate Halloween and/or Christmas.

-Attended Oral Roberts, Regent, Bob Jones, or Liberty University.

-Belongs to an enormous church with a pastor who, while youngish, is nonetheless too old for his hair gel, soul patch, and designer jeans.

Volunteers at the “crisis pregnancy center” advertised on billboards in low-income areas across your state.

-Talks about inviting Jesus into your relationship. Get. Out. Now. Because you must not–I repeat, must not–get pulled into the “3 way with Jesus” thing. This is perhaps the most intensely uncomfortable form of the Protestant Jesusisms (see 2.a., below).

Exhibits such dykeisms as: acoustic guitar playing, interest in Africa, tattoos.

Fundamentalist Protestants are often found in evangelical megachurches of various denominational affiliations or no denomination at all; small store-front churches; churches with long names that include the words like “tabernacle” or “seraphim”; the Assemblies of God; the Southern Baptist Convention; some Baptist churches; the churches of Christ; the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

2. Passing for Protestant: Meet the Family

So you’re visiting her Protestant parents for the Protestant Holidays, and you want to blend in. But how?

via knol.google.com

Here are some tips for understanding and conversing with her schismatic relatives:

a. It’s all about your close personal relationship with Jesus Christ, your pal.

Our Protestant friends are not quite as hierarchical, anal retentive, and sacramental as we. The core of their religion involves lots of feelings and personal relationship talk, all focused on their best friend/brother/boyfriend Jesus. Helpful phrases: “I love Jesus”; “Jesus saved me”; “Jesus changed my life”; or any discussion of a “close personal relationship with Jesus.”

b. Prayers should be long-winded and extemporaneous, filled with gratuitous use of the word “just” (as in “only,” not as in “fair”), and should conclude with “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory” or “In Christ’s name we pray.”

If you are awkwardly called upon to say grace at dinner, you must remember this rule, dykes: anything memorized (except the Lord’s Prayer–don’t call it the Our Father–because it’s right out of the Bible) is suspect.

And don’t cross yourself. It’s like when some secret Canadian lets slip a “sorry” or an “about”–dead giveaway. Plus, it is a prime example of Catholic emphasis on suffering and death, which brings us to…

c. Death is icky.

Catholicism, with its affinity for crucifixes, transubstantiation, and saints’ relics, appears morbid and semi-pagan to the tidy and modern Protestant. The Protestant is likely to feel discomfort with the following features of Catholicism, which I have oh-so-cleverly dubbed, the Three C’s.

-Crucifixes

The Protestant prefers the plain cross, with its clean geometrical lines and understated elegance, to the rather gory and explicit crucifix. Celtic crosses are acceptable; they symbolize sunshine.

-Communion

Protestants dislike the cannibalistic implications of Catholic eucharistic theology. Moreover, some Protestants object to booze and fear foreign microbes. Accordingly, you may receive your own personal thimble of grape juice.

-Corpses

Dead people are dead and gone–not to be seen, or heard from, or prayed to, or prayed for. This, of course, means that Protestants:

Do not see apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

Do not pray to saints or for the dead.

Do not travel 3,000 miles to a cathedral in Northern Italy to see St. Catherine of Siena’s incorruptible foot on a satin pillow. For example.

3. Cultural Differences: Understanding Your Protestant

a. Excessive Cheerfulness

Mass is serious, introspective, death-centered, and at least a little depressing. Regular exposure to this particular form of religious expression discourages the vice of excessive cheerfulness. It is precisely this vice which Protestant churches, with all their talk of “freedom” and “redemption” and “getting saved,” encourage, and nurture, and reward, as though it were a virtue. Indeed, hard work and disproportionate happiness are considered not only virtuous, in some Protestant circles, but also as evidence that one is predestined to eternal salvation.

b. Drinking

Anyone who has ever partied with a group of Roman Catholic nuns knows how freely the boxed wine floweth. But Protestantism, unlike Catholicism, has a history of teetotalism. It wasn’t Catholics, dykes, who championed Prohibition, and that is a fact that you may proudly pass along to your adopted or in vitro fertilized child someday, in moments of Catholic chauvinism/insecurity. While most Protestants drink, I would argue that they take the more restrained approach of people who value self-control as much as they distrust pleasure.

c. Guilt

Catholics do not own guilt, dykes. Protestants, too, experience guilt. Oh yes. See, for example: the shenanigans at the Province of Massachusetts Bay, total depravity, limited atonement, or Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” for insights into the peculiarities of Protestant self-flagellation.

To put it rather too simply, Catholic guilt springs, primarily, from feelings of personal inadequacy, whilst Protestant guilt springs mostly from the charmingly egalitarian notion that we are all horrible and/or the fear that we have been predestined to eternal hellfire and have no way of knowing for sure. The fine distinctions, dykes! The fine distinctions. These forms of guilt often play out differently in life, which is what makes it all such a wild and exciting ride on this crazy merry-go-round.

What do y’all think? Have you dated any lovely Protestant ladies? What have we left out?


The Death Rattle of the Anti-Gay Movement?

As we reported in exhaustive detail late Friday night, the New York state senate voted 33-29 to legalize marriage equality. Governor Cuomo has signed the bill. In fewer than 30 days, same-gender couples will be able to marry legally in New York state.

Once the law goes into effect, the number of people living in states with marriage equality will double. Yes, dykes: double. Moreover, dykelets, New York is the largest state to achieve marriage equality through the legislative process.

But that ain’t all!

No, ladies, that ain’t all. Because it’s not just about size, right? (A wink and a nod to our straight lady readers.) The symbolism of it seems to be pretty damn powerful. People have predicted that this may be a tipping point in the battle for LGBT equality.

Some unusual things happened this time. For one, the state legislature, not the courts, made marriage equality law; for another, four Republicans broke ranks and voted for same-gender marriage; and for another, the bishops and the National Organization for Marriage pulled out all the stops and still didn’t win. This is especially significant in New York, where the bishops have traditionally exerted a strong influence on state politics. Oh, also, this battle the Catholic bishops lost was spearheaded by Catholic laypeople.

As Jamie L. Manson writes in the National Catholic Reporter, the passage of the marriage equality bill in New York represents a big, public, and ugly defeat of the NY bishops by Catholic laity. Catholics in elected office were key players in the fight for marriage equality: Andrew Cuomo, Daniel O’Donnell, Joseph Alesi, and Tom Duane among them. And as we learned from the Public Religion Research Institute’s report this year, the Catholics like the gays and also they would like us to have rights.

The bishops are not happy about this. Bishops don’t like being disobeyed, but they really, really don’t like being publicly defied. And now, they and their conservative supporters are freaking out. No, really.

A senior adviser to the Vatican, Prof. Edward Peters, wants Andrew Cuomo investigated by the Catholic Church and denied communion for his support for marriage equality, in the hopes that this punishment might “serve as an example” to other politicians considering support for same-sex marriage.

Bishop DiMarzio of Brooklyn, in a not rare burst of hyperbole, called marriage equality “another ‘nail in the coffin’ of marriage,” and asked Catholics in his diocese “not to bestow or accept honors, nor to extend a platform of any kind to any state elected official, in all our parishes and churches for the foreseeable future.”

The National Organization for Marriage, which I would never have accused of being moderate, reasonable, or respectful in its rhetoric anyway, has some unusually strong feelings about this. See, for example, NOM’s website as of the last few days. In white letters across a red and black graphic that looks like it was plagiarized from “Dateline,” the message reads: “Help us Defeat the New York Senators That Betrayed Marriage.”

Now, NOM has a multi-million dollar budget, and I personally would have hoped that one of the interns might have had the gumption to point out, as politely as possible, that the sentence really ought to read, “Help Us Defeat the New York Senators Who Betrayed Marriage.” But no matter. The point is, they’re pledging $2,000,000 to send those marriage-betrayin’ sonsabitches home. So there!

Finally, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who used his official blog to make the infamous North Korea comparison, posted a link last night to a National Review article by George Weigel, in which Archbishop Dolan himself is cited, and in which Weigel argues that marriage equality legislation is not only not libertarian, but actually represents the use of “coercive state power,” not unlike that used to impose racial segregation.

No, you’re not reading The Onion. That is indeed his argument.

After he or she finishes being offended by Weigel’s attempt to pit sexual minorities and racial minorities against each other with a hierarchy of oppression, the reader is left to wonder how Weigel imagines the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Brown v. Board of Education took effect. Weigel doesn’t go into that. He writes simply, “Once the American people came to see that [segregation], however hallowed by custom (and prejudice), [was], in fact, unnatural and not obvious, the law was changed.” No mention of who changed it, how, or in spite of what resistance. No mention of necessary government action to address inequality. Not important! The gays are like the segregationists! Done!

It is also worth noting that Weigel characterizes the movement for marriage equality as an expression of “the totalitarian temptation that lurks within all modern states: the temptation to remanufacture reality,” and writes that the “viciousness visited upon Archbishop Dolan” stands as “yet another testimony to the totalitarian impulse that lurks beneath the gay marriage movement.”

Why do I bore you with this information, you ask? Because it’s crazy. It’s extreme. It’s over the top. It’s undignified.

And it’s encouraging.

We are not hearing the thoughtful–or even emotional–objections of people who think they’ve still got a fighting chance. We are witnessing, rather, the full-on, kicking and screaming temper tantrums of people who recognize that marriage equality in New York is a tipping point in the debate to which some of them have dedicated their careers, and on which some of them have built their public profiles.

We are witnessing, I think and I hope, the beginnings of the loud, teary, vindictive death rattle of the anti-equality movement.


Live in Sin No More, New York Ladygays! NY Senate Approves Marriage Equality, 33-29

After long deliberations that had me thinking that New York would see flake-outs of the variety that killed marriage equality in Maryland this year, four Republicans jumped on the gaymo wagon and passed the same-gender marriage bill.

Rent a tux, buy a ring, and enjoy the awkwardness of having to choose amongst your many lesbian photographer friends–marriage equality is coming to New York.


The Folksy-Industrial Complex

Marriage equality seems like a real possibility in New York, with only one more vote needed in the State Senate. The bill has stalled, however, as religious leaders call for more “carve-outs.” I’m hopeful, but it’s far from certain that the bill will pass. Recall that marriage equality looked almost inevitable in Maryland earlier this year, too, until some highly bizarre last-minute flake-outs from a handful of Democrats shelved the bill till the next legislative session.

Ultimately, the Maryland Catholic Conference–through no lack of time, money, or lobbying on its part–played a smaller role than socially conservative preachers from some black churches in Prince George’s County in derailing same-gender marriage legislation in Maryland. But the MCC was, as state Catholic conferences always are, a major player in the fight against marriage equality. And the institutional Church is an even bigger player, it seems, in New York.

Yes, some conservative Protestant and Orthodox Jewish leaders in New York are fighting marriage equality, too, but the loudest and folksiest voice has been that of Archbishop Timothy Dolan, recently-elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and down-home, Midwestern back-slapper extraordinaire.

Let me tell you what I hate, ladies. Let me tell you what I have no time for. I have no time for the use of a folksy, chortling, beer swilling, man-of-the-people act to make one’s political or religious severity more palatable. I don’t like it when Sarah Palin does it. I don’t like it when Mike Huckabee does it. And I for damn sure don’t like it when Timothy Dolan does it. It gives me the creeps, and it insults my intelligence. The only thing more offensive than the charade itself is the underlying assumption that people are buying it.

Beyond making right-wing severity easier to swallow, though, the good ole boy act provides a cover for intellectual dishonesty. It lets politicians (and you don’t get to be Archbishop, much less president of the USCCB, without being a politician) put forth disingenuous arguments and still seem like decent, honest guys. It lets them advance disparaging and discredited stereotypes about groups of people–in this case, the gays–without seeming mean-spirited. Because, gee, they’re not trying to hurt anybody. They’re just good, simple, traditional folks.

I like examples, dykes. Allow me to share a few.

From the May 13, 2011 post on the official blog of the Archbishop of New York:

We are not anti anybody; we are pro-marriage.  The definition of marriage is a given:  it is a lifelong union of love and fidelity leading, please God, to children, between one man and one woman.

History, Natural Law, the Bible (if you’re so inclined), the religions of the world, human experience, and just plain gumption tell us this is so.  The definition of marriage is hardwired into our human reason.

In case you missed it, the Archbishop–heir to the 2,000-year-old Catholic intellectual tradition–just appealed to “gumption” as a source of moral authority in his argument against a piece of proposed legislation. Is this the way we honor the legacy of St. Augustine, St. Thomas, St. Catherine of Sienna, and Erasmus?

Okay.

I should also mention that, a couple of paragraphs later, Archbishop Dolan characterizes marriage equality legislation as “Orwellian social engineering.” He uses that term about as appropriately as Sarah Palin did.

It’s been over a month since his post on gumption and Orwell. On June 14, he posted once again on marriage.

Oh boy.

“The stampede is on,” his post begins. I won’t go through and discuss the whole thing–Mary Hunt nailed it today in her post for Religion Dispatches. But there’s one paragraph in particular that I must share. Apparently unsatisfied with the extent of his earlier hyperbole, the Archbishop writes:

Last time I consulted an atlas, it is clear we are living in New York, in the United States of America – not in China or North Korea.  In those countries, government presumes daily to “redefine” rights, relationships, values, and natural law.  There, communiqués from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of “family” and “marriage” means.

Yes, dykes. The effort to expand the legal definition of marriage in New York state through the democratic legislative process, in a way that is supported by public opinion, is equivalent to the “communiqués” sent out by the totalitarian, Stalinist dictatorship of North Korea.

The Archbishop does not possess a subtle or scholarly mind. His arguments are at best, weak, and at worse, deliberately misleading. And while his cringe-inducing Regular Joe persona indicates to me that he does not wish to be mistaken for an intellectual, it is equally clear to me that Timothy Dolan is not stupid.

He just thinks you are.


Bring Your Dyke to Mass, Part II: Smells and Bells

Don’t think you can get away with smelling ripe on Sunday just because Father Whatshisface will be swinging the incense all willy nilly. When you bring your dyke to Mass, you best bring her smelling good.

Now, dykes, I don’t mean to scold. I know you’d like to attend to your olfactory situation, but you don’t want to smell like a funeral home or a goddam cucumber melon salad–hence you avoid women’s fragrances. At the same time, it can feel awkward to stand shoulder to shoulder with a khaki-clad man your dad’s age at the pharmacy, clearly considering the same bottle of Aqua Velva aftershave, or–to your shame as well as his–the same bottle of Axe.

Confidence, homos! I, too, have been there. May I share a story? Gather round.

Just recently, while grocery shopping with a good Catholic straight woman, I hit the sale aisle, and oh boy. Glassware, shampoo, hair gel, and body wash. Here I was, in need of body wash, and a big ole bottle of it was on sale. On sale, dykes! It was red and bulky and cost-effective–clearly a men’s product.

But I worried. Yes, dykes. Worried that it might seem a tad peculiar to take it; worried that I was overdoing it.

What to do? In a moment of extreme neuroticism, I tucked it oh-so-sneakily under my arm with a bottle of gender-conforming shampoo (also on sale), hoping to conceal the purchase from my friend. It was only a few short minutes later, on the salsa aisle, when she turned to me and said, “Did you get a bottle of man body wash and try to hide it from me?” that I realized just how asinine this was.

Did she care that I bought man body wash? She did not. Did she think it was rigoddamdiculous (I’m paraphrasing) that I tried to hide a body wash purchase from her? Affirmative. Yes indeed she did.

I was being sneaky about body wash. Body wash, I say! What foolishness.

The body wash in question was Old Spice Classic Body Wash. When I saw it in the sale section that fateful evening, I already had Old Spice on the brain. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and it’s pretty decent. The smell of it is definitely masculine–at first it was a little too manly for me, to tell you the truth. But it has grown on me. It smells clean without smelling like flowers or detergent, and that’s basically what I was looking for.

I’ve also got a can of Old Spice After Hours Body Spray. This smells different. Less old man-ish. But not like flowers, not like detergent, so it is A-OK with this ladygay.

But enough of that. I’m not really here to tell you what to buy so much as to say: Do you, dykes; do you. Because nobody cares. As long as you’re a clean, mean, lezzing machine come Sunday mornin, it doesn’t matter what set of chromosomes your personal hygiene  products are supposed to go with. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: confidence. You’ve got to bring your dyke to Mass with confidence.