Thursday, October 30, 2014

How the Pope's Recent Remarks on Evolution Highlight a Major Discrepancy in Church Teaching

There's been a lot of media attention focused on Pope Francis' recent comments about evolution.

Reports the Washington Post:

Delivering an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope Francis continued his habit of making provocative, seemingly progressive statements. The pontiff appeared to endorse the theory of the Big Bang and told the gathering at the Vatican that there was no contradiction between believing in God as well as the prevailing scientific theories regarding the expansion of our universe.


The way some news outlets are reporting it, Francis has made a groundbreaking declaration. In reality, he's simply reiterating what's been official Catholic thinking on the matter for the past six decades, i.e., belief in God is not incompatible with the acceptance of evolution. During his papacy, Benedict XVI espoused the same view. Indeed, ever since the reforms of Pope Pius XII, the Vatican has espoused belief in theistic evolution, meaning the Divine Presence which we commonly refer to as God, set in motion and infuses the creative process known as evolution.

I welcome Francis reminding us of this, and intend using some of his recent statements in "Companions on a Sacred Journey," the workshop on evolutionary spirituality that I'm currently conducting with groups of local Catholics. Yet the Pope's statements also serve to highlight a major discrepancy in the Vatican's thinking and teaching.


Two different worldviews

This discrepancy stems from two very different worldviews that are employed when dealing with different areas of human inquiry and experience. When it comes to the evolution of the universe, the planet, and humanity, the Vatican is open to what is known as the historically conscious worldview. According to this worldview, reality is dynamic, evolving, and ever-changing. The findings of science are valued and readily integrated into theological understandings and formulations. We see all of this with the Vatican's stance on evolution. Yet when it comes to the reality of human sexuality the Vatican chooses to employ a very different worldview, one that's known as the classicist worldview. Unlike the historical conscious worldview, the classicist worldview sees reality as static, fixed, and always and everywhere the same.

So here's the interesting thing: in important areas such as biblical scholarship and the study of the cosmos, the Vatican has, over time, shifted from the classicist worldview to the historical conscious worldview. Yet in the fields of gender and sexuality, it remains firmly entrenched in the classicist worldview.

In other words, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church now accepts science when it comes to thinking and talking about astronomy and the evolution of the planet (including the evolution of humanity), but it doesn't accept science when it comes to thinking and talking about the complex reality of sexuality. This discrepancy has been described by some as a glaring and untenable example of intellectual dishonesty. (For more about the classicist and historical conscious worldviews, click here).


A certain mindset

Why are the members of Roman Catholicism's clerical caste so reluctant to embrace the historical conscious worldview when dealing with issues of sexuality? The answer, I believe, is, in part, rooted in a certain mindset that formed in the Middle Ages and lives on in the church's clerical caste. In his authoritative work The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies, James Neil clearly and succinctly identifies and discusses this mindset, one that is vividly illustrated by the writings of Saint Anselm of Canterbury, included in Neil's book.

There is one evil, an evil above all other evils, that I am aware is always within me, that grievously and piteously lacerates and afflicts my soul. It was with me from the cradle, it grew with me in childhood, in adolescence, in my youth it always stuck to me, and it does not desert me even now that my limbs are failing because of my old age. This evil is sexual desire, carnal delight, the storm of lust that has smashed and battered my unhappy soul, emptied it of all strength, and left it weak and empty.


It's a rather negative view of sexuality, wouldn't you say?

Personally, I prefer the more poetic and thus, I believe, more honest and truthful musings offered by author Winston Graham who, in the eighth Poldark novel, The Stranger from the Sea, has the character of Demelza imagining sexual desire as "a sea dragon of an emotion . . . causing half the trouble of the world, and half the joy."

Perhaps poor Anselm only ever experienced the trouble and never the joy. It's just a pity that his subjective experience of sexuality become codified as objective truth for a good number of centuries. But that's the danger of the classicist worldview: it can turn the particular into the universal and immutable.

Here's what James Neil writes in The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies about Anselm's situation and its consequences for Christianity:

Late in [his] life, Saint Anselm of Canterbury anguished over the sexual drive that, despite a lifetime of devotion to God, stubbornly refused to release him even in old age. In writing these words, Anselm could have been speaking for many other Medieval clergymen who devoted themselves to the church's strict anti-sexual moral teachings – a moral code that demonized their own sexual natures. The roots of the psychological disturbance or neurosis are easy to see in the sincere dedication of these devout clergymen to the ascetic sexual ideal that not only required them to suppress a fundamental human instinct, but taught them that their innermost self was evil. The conflict between their beliefs, on the one hand, and the urges of their bodies on the other, set in motion a psychological struggle that was, in fact, a classic example of neurosis as defined in standard psychoanalytic reference work.

. . . Such a conflict would appear to be particularly acute in the case of a person conditioned by religious indoctrination to be repelled by sex, one of the most basic instinctual drives. If the urges were homosexual, the psychological stress would be even greater. The "neurotic symptoms" produced in individuals with such an internal conflict typically take the form of reaction formation, a psychological defense in which the negativity they feel toward the intolerable characteristic is directed to others who display the same loathed characteristics. . . . The level of hostility they displayed to homosexuality was directly proportional to the strength of homosexual responsiveness recorded within each of them.

Putting it another way, because of the distorted lens through which such clergymen perceived sex, and because of his own emotional discomfort with it, [Anselm] could never deal with the subject truly rationally or dispassionately. Hence the references we see to sexual behavior in the morally conservative clergy of the Middle Ages are in almost all cases couched in histrionic and super-heated hyperbole. Likewise the visceral disgust conservative clergy felt for those practicing homosexuality.


In assessing the impact of the anti-sexual thinking and writings of Anselm, Augustine, William of Auxerre, and others, theologian Daniel Maguire insists that we must be candid in acknowledging that "Catholics and other Christians pumped a lot of bad notions of sex and sexual pleasure into Western culture."

Maguire also makes this interesting observation:

One might think that the puritanical horror of sex has been dissipated in a culture where sex is used ubiquitously in the marketplace to promote sales, and frenzied pornography abounds. However, as theologian Grace Jantzen observes, this obsession reflects the historical Christian obsession and is really “the same preoccupation, turned inside out.” The addiction to pornography is fueled by discomfort with sex. It has been suggested that pornography might dull our feeling for the other – in effect, killing love.


Signs of hope

It seems sadly obvious that when it comes to issues of gender and sexuality, the Roman Catholic clerical caste, including the Pope, remain entrenched in the classicist worldview, one still tied in many ways to the anti-sexual moral teachings of Medieval thinking. Yet there are signs of hope in our church for a renewed understanding of sexuality, an understanding firmly grounded in the historical conscious worldview.

Earlier this month in the Twin Cities, Fr. John Heagle and Sister Fran Ferder, longtime educators and authors in the field of human sexuality, spoke at Call to Action MN's Fall Conference. The title and focus of their presentation was "Where Love and Justice Meet: An Emerging Sexual Ethic for Our Time."

This focus was consciously chosen by the conference's organizers because of the strong believe held by many local Catholics that our church is facing a crucial turning point in its understanding of sexuality. Indeed, for many Catholic worldwide, it has become clear that the lived experience of ordinary people differs significantly from official church teaching. The "traditional" Catholic ethic that most grew up with, an ethic grounded in Medieval philosophy and natural law theory, is simply no longer adequate in addressing contemporary issues of human sexuality.



Throughout their October 18 presentation, Heagle and Ferder explored a biblically-based understanding of the gift of sexuality and the responsibility of faithful loving. Such an exploration involved making the connections between relationships and biblical justice, sexuality, and systems of power. At one point they noted that Jesus had little to say about the biology of sex, but spoke decisively about the qualities of authentic loving: respect, responsibility, covenantal faithfulness, and mutuality.

Overall, it was a very helpful and hopeful presentation, one that explored issues of gender, sexuality, and intimacy in much more meaningful ways then those offered by the hierarchy. This is because Heagle and Ferder are operating within a historical conscious worldview, one that is open to the collective wisdom of humanity.

I would contend that the majority of Catholics are operating within this worldview. In her latest National Catholic Reporter column, Jamie L. Manson offers support to this contention when she compellingly writes:

Many bishops have spent the last three decades remaining silent on issues related to the family or silencing those who dared to question the institutional church's teachings on sexuality. In the meantime, Catholic theologians, ethicists and laypeople have been pursuing deeper inquiries, listening to concrete human experiences, and developing contemporary moral frameworks grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition.

Many laypeople have already cultivated their own capacity for moral discernment; they have exercised their God-given gift of conscience; they have managed to grow spiritually without institutional church's constant instruction; they have found that their relationships, which the bishops would label "irregular," are, in fact, deeply sacramental.


Another sign of hope is the recent position paper written and published by the Twin Cities-based Council of the Baptized, a 21-member panel of Catholics chartered in 2012 to be a "collegial voice for a growing community of Catholics . . . in honoring their baptismal responsibility for their local church." The council's latest position paper is entitled "Toward a Healthy Christian Theology of Sexuality," and I'll close with an excerpt from its introduction. (The full paper can be read by clicking here.)

The Council of the Baptized of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is concerned about developing a healthy Christian theology of sexuality. We know that sexuality is with us from conception to death, and that any knowledge and understandings we can gain about it will be self-enhancing and result in improved personal and interpersonal relationships. Unfortunately, the Church's theology of sexuality often comes across to many people as basically negative – a series of no's and prohibitions. We believe a more positive and nourishing theological approach to human sexuality would better serve as a basis for addressing contemporary questions and for dialoguing with other Catholics, other Christians, our Jewish sisters and brothers, and all who are genuinely interested in dialogue.

As faithful Catholics we have heeded the spirit of the Second Vatican Council and informed our consciences on Church teachings. The proposal [contained in this paper] will show that the Church teachings on sexual ethics are reformable. We ask that the entire People of God – hierarchy, theologians, and laity – be consulted and their voices respected on sexual topics. We urge the Church to take into account the findings of contemporary biological research and the policies of professional health associations and world organizations dedicated to improving health. We ask that men who have taken the vows of celibacy no longer be the sole arbiters of official teaching on Christian sexual morality. Only when the voices and lived experience of the whole "People of God," especially those of women and all those who are sexually active, are taken into account will a sexual ethic be credible and faithful.


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Beyond the Hierarchy: The Blossoming of Liberating Catholic Insights on Sexuality
The Non-Negotiables of Human Sex
The Many Manifestations of God’s Loving Embrace
Same-Sex Desires: "Immanent and Essential Traits Transcending Time and Culture"
A Church That Can and Cannot Change
Sister Teresa Forcades on Queer Theology
Quote of the Day – May 31, 2014
Jesus, Sex, and Power
Daniel Maguire on the Wedding of Sexuality and Spirituality
Getting It Right

Related Off-site Links:
Five Facts About Evolution and Religion – David Masci (Pew Research Center, October 30, 2014).
Homosexual Relationships: Another Look – Bill Hunt (The Progressive Catholic Voice, September 8, 2012).
Creating a Liberating Church – Rosemary Radford Ruether (The Progressive Catholic Voice, July 15, 2010).


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Aunt Peg Tells It Like It Is

I share this evening a clip from the Australian TV comedy series Please Like Me. It shows Aunt Peg (played by Judi Farr) standing up for her gay grandson Josh (Josh Thomas) during Mass.

In describing this scene, Frank Minero writes at Addicting Info:

In the ABC Australia situation comedy, Please Like Me, Aunt Peg finds out someone very dear to her is homosexual. While she sits in church, her priest delivers an intolerant message about homosexuals to his flock. Aunt Peg, torn between her feelings for her grandson and her faith in the church has an epiphany. She stands up a delivers a response that is inspirational. When a member of the LGBT community "comes out" to a gay-intolerant family member, this is the response they hope to hear.


The clip is also posted on the Upworthy website, where Joseph Lamour notes:

As a gay man who grew up in a Roman Catholic household, I know the push and pull of being a good Christian versus being exactly who God made you, especially if you're part of the LGBTQ spectrum. But those things don't have to be mutually exclusive, do they? This grandmother from Australian TV comedy Please Like Me doesn't think so.

Just wait for the last line.





I have . . . I have just learned that I have a homosexual grandson. Technically he’s not my grandson, but, anyway, that’s . . . that’s not important. Certainly it was a disappointment. I feel like I’ve been robbed of great-grandchildren. But if he has decided to lead a homosexual lifestyle isn’t it . . . isn’t it my responsibility to love him? Because . . . because if they are born that way, they . . . they have no choice but to be true to themselves. Josh? Josh, stand up. Stand up. This is my Josh. He . . . he is homosexual. And I love him. Which is what God would want. And if it isn’t what God would want, then He, or She, can . . . can stick it!

– Aunt Peg


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Grandma Knows Best
Catholic Rainbow (Australian) Parents
The Bishops' Guidelines: A Parent's Response
Voices of Parental Authority and Wisdom
A Parent's Prayer
The Triumph of Love
Quote of the Day – February 4, 2011
Summer Vocation
From Australia, "Possibly the Most Beautiful Ad for Marriage Equality"
God Weighs In on the Gay Marriage Debate


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Art of Dancing as the Supreme Symbol of the Spiritual Life


The Wild Reed's series on dance continues with an excerpt from Havelock Ellis' 1923 book The Dance of Life. I found this particular excerpt in the 1992 anthology Ballet and Modern Dance: A Concise History, edited by Jack Anderson.


Dancing and building are the two primary and essential arts. The art of dancing stands at the source of all the arts that express themselves first in the human person. The art of building, or architecture, is the beginning of all the arts that lie outside the person; and in the end they unite. Music, acting, poetry proceed in the one mighty stream; sculpture, painting, all the arts of design, in the other. There is no primary art outside these two arts, for their origin is far earlier than humanity itself; and dancing came first.

That is one reason why dancing, however it may at times be scorned by passing fashions, has profound and eternal attraction even for those one might suppose farthest from its influence. The joyous beat of the feet of children, the cosmic play of philosophers' thoughts rise and fall according to the same laws of rhythm. If we are indifferent to the art of dancing, we have failed to understand, not merely the supreme manifestation of the physical life, but also the supreme symbol of spiritual life.

The significance of dancing, in the wide sense, thus lies in the fact that it is simply an intimate concrete symbol of a general rhythm, that general rhythm which marks, not life only, but the universe, if one may still be allowed so to name the sum of the cosmic influences that reach us. We need not, indeed, go so far as the planets or the stars and outline their eternal dances. We have but to stand on the seashore and watch the waves that beat at out feet, to observe that at nearly regular intervals this seemingly monotonous rhythm is accentuated for several beats, so that the waves are really dancing the measure of a tune. It need surprise us not at all that rhythm, ever tending to be moulded into a tune, should mark all the physical and spiritual manifestations of life.




Dancing is the primitive expression alike of religion and of love – of religion from the earliest human times we know of and of love from a period long anterior to the coming of humans. The art of dancing, moreover, is intimately entwined with all human tradition of war, of labour, of pleasure, of education, while some of the wisest philosophers and the most ancient civilizations have regarded the dance as the pattern in accordance with which the moral life of humans must be woven. To realize, therefore, what dancing means for humanity – the poignancy and the many-sidedness of its appeal – we must survey the whole sweep of human life, both at its highest and its deepest moments.

– Havelock Ellis


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Dancer and the Dance
The Premise of All Forms of Dance
The Church and Dance
The Soul of a Dancer
The Naked Truth . . . in Dance and in Life

Image 1: Carlos Acosta photographed by Laurie Lewis.
Image 2: The Garth Fagan Dance Company photographed by Steve Labuzetta. Book cover design by Meg Davis.
Image 3: Ivan Vasiliev photographed by Stas Levshin.
Image 4: The Colorado Ballet Company photographed by Jana Cruder.


Friday, October 24, 2014

A Guidepost on the Journey


It's the first day of my 50th year.

Yesterday I turned 49 and, although you can't really tell from the photo above, there was a partial solar eclipse at sunset. Not being superstitious, I take this as neither a good or bad omen. It was just a beautiful and natural occurrence that took place on a special day for me.

At some point in the last 48 hours the seed of an idea has been planted within me: To make this milestone year a particularly intentional one in terms of my being consciously grounded in – and thus open to – the Divine Presence.

Now, what exactly this means, I'm still figuring out. But I'm grateful to my dear friend Cathy in Australia for sending me the following quote from Henri Nouwen, one that I believe serves as an important guidepost as I enter this time of intentionality and discernment.

Deep silence leads us to suspect that, in the first place, prayer is acceptance. A person who prays is a person standing with their hands open to the world. They know that God will choose to be revealed in the nature which surrounds them, in the people they meet, in the situations they run into. They trust that the world holds God’s secret within it, and they expect that secret to be shown to them. Prayer creates that openness where God can give the divine Self to them. Indeed, God wants to give Self; God wants to surrender to the person God has created, God even begs to be admitted into the human heart.


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:

Be Just in My Heart
Prayer and the Experience of God in an Ever-Unfolding Universe
May Balance and Harmony Be Your Aim
Journeying Into the Truth . . . Valiantly, of Course!
The Most Sacred and Simple Mystery of All


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

Quote of the Day

The idea that some random people are debating my life and my love now seems strange and insulting. . . . I am done with the debate on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. It has reached the tipping point.

The same week as the Catholic Church walked back even a modest welcome for gays and lesbians, a poll from Pew came out saying that over 85 percent of young American Catholics accept gay people, and 75 percent of them support gay marriage. Couple that with a survey done on millennials, a third of whom said they had left their religion because of the negative treatment of gays and lesbians. The conversations at Hillsong and the [Catholic bishops' recent] Synod [on the Family] seem more and more divorced from the reality of gay people, who are their family, friends and neighbors.

Many people who closely watched the Synod felt that within all the back and forth there were good signs for the future for gays and lesbians in the Catholic Church. And probably, there is a silver lining in the Hillsong story as well. I wish them well as they work their way through the "issue" of homosexuality. But I will no longer hope for their approval. I know I was beautifully made by God and that my relationship with Brad is blessed. They can call me when the debates are over and they can (finally) see that as well.

– Paul Brandeis Raushenbush
Excerpted from "Debating My Gay Marriage? Don't Do Me Any Favors"
The Huffington Post
October 20, 2014


Related Off-site Links:
We Don't Need Vatican Affirmation, Says Gay Catholic Congregation – Ines Novacic (CBS News, October 20, 2014).
Pope Francis Wins a Battle to Welcome Gays in the Church – Barbie Latza Nadeau (The Daily Beast, October 20, 2014).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
LGBT Catholics Respond to Synod 2014's Final Report
On the Feast of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus, Thoughts on Marriage Equality in the U.S. and the Vatican's Synod on the Family
LGBT Catholics Celebrate Being "Wonderfully Made"
Catholics Make Their Voices Heard on LGBTQ Issues
Compassion, Christian Community, and Homosexuality
Trusting God's Generous Invitation
Celebrating Our Sanctifying Truth
The Gifts of Homosexuality
Same-Sex Desires: "Immanent and Essential Traits Transcending Time and Culture"

Image: Paul Brandeis Raushenbush (left) and his partner Brad.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

LGBT Catholics Respond to Synod 2014's Final Report


A compilation of quotes and links to articles and commentaries about the final report of the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, also known as the Synod on the Family.


UPDATED 10/29/14


The respectful language of the midterm report is gone. A return to what we've heard for decades will dishearten LGBT people, same-sex couples, and our families.

What we saw through the Synod process is that there are deep divisions in what the Catholics bishops think about LGBT people, even at the highest levels of leadership. Unfortunately, today, doctrine won out over pastoral need. It is disappointing that those who recognized the need for a more inclusive Church were defeated.

However, we now know there are many bishops who believe in a more welcoming approach to LGBT people, and that they are finally drawing closer to the majority of Catholics who strongly support LGBT people. We anticipate that significant dialogue and debate at all levels of the Church will continue for the year leading up to the Synod in October 2015.

In the meantime, as this just-concluded Synod has shown, the words and actions of Church leaders matter deeply and impact LGBT people and our families every day. Whether a bishop stands against a law criminalizing homosexuality, whether a Church employee in a same-sex marriage can keep her job, whether an LGBT high school student is bullied — all of these things flow from what the Church teaches.

DignityUSA remains committed to the truth that LGBT people are beloved children of God and deserve full inclusion in our Church and society. We intend to be fully involved in discussions leading up to the full Synod.

Marianne Duddy-Burke
Executive Director of DignityUSA
"LGBT Catholics Disappointed by Final Synod Report"
October 18, 2014



The synod's final report significantly backtracks on LGBT issues from the draft released earlier this week, but the synod’s process and openness to discussion provides hope for further development down the road, particularly at next year’s synod, where the make-up of the participants will be larger and more diverse, including many more pastorally-oriented bishops.

It's very disappointing that the Synod's final report did not retain the gracious welcome to lesbian and gay people that the draft of the report included. Instead, the bishops have taken a narrow view of pastoral care by defining it simply as opposition to marriage for same-gender couples. Additionally, their further comment about supposed "international pressure" to accept same-gender marriage selfishly views the hierarchy as the victims, not LGBT people who receive unjust and oppressive treatment by governments, church, families, and society.

. . . It’s important, however, to keep two things in mind. First, the paragraphs on homosexuality which did not receive the required 2/3rds vote, and which were more welcoming of LGBT people, failed by only a handful of votes, indicating significant support from a majority of bishops. Second, this report is not the final word, but as a Vatican spokesperson explained, it is still a working document which will be discussed in the coming year.

What was good about this two-week long meeting? The real value of this synod is that it has started the discussion among the hierarchy on LGBT issues which has been going on for decades among the lay people and theologians in the Church. The bishops began to catch up, and I don’t think that the discussion will stop here, but will only continue, with more promising outcomes for LGBT people and their families in the future.

. . . [T]his synod revealed that there are some strong voices for LGBT equality and for change in church teaching, something which was not known clearly before the meeting. Now that these voices have been bold enough to speak, more bishops who think like them will surely follow their example. The biggest problem in the Church up to this point has not been lack of support among the hierarchy on LGBT issues, but lack of courage for those bishops to speak out what they truly think. The silence has ended. Nothing will be the same.

Francis DeBernardo
Executive Director of New Ways Ministry
Excerpted from "Synod Final Report Disappoints,
But Significant Progress Is Made In the Process
"
Bondings 2.0
October 18, 2014



Many of the reports on the “final” synod document . . . have focused on claims that this is somehow a victory for the conservatives, or a defeat for Pope Francis. Both are completely unjustified.

One clue to why this is so, is in this useful information about the synod posted in the Changing Attitude facebook group by Johan Bergström-Allen: ". . . Very good BBC interview with Cardinal Vincent Nichols . . . who reveals that some of the 72 Synod delegates in Rome who voted against the “welcome to gay people” wording in the final document (with 118 in favour) did so because it either went too far or not far enough. Vincent says he can’t remember how he voted (there were 60 votes in under an hour), but that – reflecting the policy in his own diocese of Westminster – he felt the wording didn’t go far enough, because the key words “welcome”, “respect” and “value” were missing. The cardinal hopes the next stage of the Synod will encourage a more welcoming attitude to LGBT people. Let’s hope the Synod process moves forward with discernment, honest discussion, and a Christ-like passion for pastoral care. God bless Cardinal Vincent for his compassion and balance, and God bless Pope Francis for his wisdom, his collegiality, and his caring heart."

. . . Also worth noting, is that approval for the final text was not based on simple majority vote, but required a two–thirds majority. Reports elsewhere have suggested that on some of the more welcoming passages that were left out of the final text, did in fact have the support of the majority, but just not enough to get to two thirds. Also important, just as words of support were excluded from the bland final document, so too were the harsher words that were proposed by the reactionaries. There were no “winners” or “losers” in this, other than a clear win for open and frank discussion – a major step forward for the Catholic Church.

Terence Weldon
Excerpted from "Synod: So, Who 'Won'?"
Queering the Church
October 19, 2014



Venerable fathers of my Roman Catholic church: you may, if you wish, continue to talk until you are blue in the face about who's worthy to sit at your table. But no matter how long you talk, I will continue to believe that it's God who makes the final decision about who will sit at the table that belongs to God, and not to you. I will continue to believe that all God's children are going to sit at the welcome table one of these days.

And, yes, I'm going to tell God how you've treated me — though I intend to plead with Her not to deal with you as cruelly and mercilessly as you have dealt with me. Because no human being deserves such treatment, and certainly not by those who imagine they are the final judges and arbiters of who may sit at the table that belongs to God alone.

William D. Lindsey
Excerpted from "I'm Going to Sit at the Welcome Table One of These Days:
A Sunday Sermon
"
Bilgrimage
October 19, 2014



The synod’s final report backtracked on key issues around admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to the eucharist, and more LGBT-friendly pastoral strategies. Fear had overcome courage and rigidity had strangled the rights of conscientious dissent with regard to church teachings – which were not primary-level doctrines anyway.

“LGBT Catholics! Why don’t they just pack their bags and leave?” some ask. The reason we stay is because our baptism gives us rights, enshrined in church law, as well as responsibilities to inform our pastors of all that builds us up as mature believers, integrating our sexuality, gender and personality as the glory of God in the human person, fully alive. “But you’re trying to change church doctrine!” our opponents state, from inside and outside the Catholic stable.

Enter Pope Francis, not in the autocratic style of some popes, but seeking to change pastoral practice and attitudes. His Latin American experience reflects a different approach to doctrine. He starts from where people are, and develops solidarity – particularly with those whom he sees as alienated or marginalised, whether from church or society. Out of this orthopraxis – consistent action – there is a possibility of developing a rooted theological reflection, orthodoxy – consistent teaching. Such action invigorates reflection, and vice versa. Hence he has strongly insisted on more inclusive practices within the church, rather than starting from abstract dogmas and attempting to impose them on an unreceptive community.

– Martin Pendergast
Excerpted from "Progressive Catholics Still Have Faith in Pope Francis' Vision"
The Guardian
October 20, 2014



This report is not the final word, but as a Vatican spokesperson explained, it is still a working document which will be discussed in the coming year. We now call upon the Vatican and local Bishops’ Conferences to institute Listening Processes over the coming year, to include LGBT people, parents, and other family members, alongside theologians and experienced pastoral ministers. . . . Pope Francis has placed these issues on the table, and all the signs are that his action is irreversible, given the strong statements made in his closing speech to the Synod. If, as on a range of matters held to be controversial by some sections of the hierarchy, there is a move to a more open and listening pastoral practice then this could lead to the development of a richer theology of human sexuality, and a more credible and human face of the Church. In this way we can become credible disciples, witnessing to the joy of the Gospel with which the Pope constantly challenges us.




As it turned out, the final wording was pretty much the same old same old: deeply entrenched anti-body, anti-women ideas that give institutional Catholicism its well-deserved reputation as an unwelcome place for all but the most rigidly observant. . . . Initial statements and the first report contained some very promising possibilities. Then the jousting started as blustering bishops panicked at the slightest suggestion that new ideas would gain traction. What survived the onslaught were “timeless truths” about how to exclude people who experience disastrous marriages. Words of welcome and mercy were replaced with tiresome, offensive repetitions of old teachings on same-sex loving people. Such efforts to micromanage the morals of others find scant welcome in contemporary society.

The voting men were ostensibly horrified by the notion that same-sex couples might have any redeeming features, or that there might be “charity in its caring…” rather than “weakening of its faith…” (par. 46 of the early draft) if divorced and remarried people receive communion. Dear God, what crumbs they quibble over and fall on their croziers to defend. Have they missed the fact that the worldwide pedophilia crimes and cover-up on their watch have left them without a fig leaf of credibility? No wonder no one looks to them to be helpful about the moral issues at stake in Ebola, terrorism, or environmental threats.

– Mary E. Hunt
Excerpted from "Church Synod Recap: Micromanaging the Morals of Others"
Religion Dispatches
October 27, 2014



Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI would have excised [the Synod's discussion on] the outreach to gay people altogether. And the idea of a transparent vote tally – revealing a vigorous internal division on these questions – would have been unthinkable.

The true headline of this past remarkable week is therefore: the Vatican hierarchy cannot find a consensus on the question of pastoral care for gays, the divorced and the re-married, and the Pope is happy for this fact to be very, very public. These remain open questions for a year of continued debate and discussion before the second stage of the Synod this time next year and the Pope’s subsequent summary. That these are open questions is the real result of this Synod.

– Andrew Sullivan
Excerpted from "Two Steps Forward, One Step Back"
The Dish
October 19, 2014



J.R.R. Tolkien once reminded us that "not all those who wander are lost." I would argue that if anyone needs guidance at this point in history, it is the bishops who need to be shepherded by the laity.

Many bishops have spent the last three decades remaining silent on issues related to the family or silencing those who dared to question the institutional church's teachings on sexuality. In the meantime, Catholic theologians, ethicists and laypeople have been pursuing deeper inquiries, listening to concrete human experiences, and developing contemporary moral frameworks grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition.

Many laypeople have already cultivated their own capacity for moral discernment; they have exercised their God-given gift of conscience; they have managed to grow spiritually without institutional church's constant instruction; they have found that their relationships, which the bishops would label "irregular," are, in fact, deeply sacramental. The synod document suggests that the bishops aren't ready to treat the faithful like the mature adults they've become.

Francis wants the bishops to love us, guide us, and be merciful to us. But do any of these bishops want to hear the truths that Catholic laypeople have discerned and discovered in their own theological reflections on their lives? Or do they simply want to continue to treat laypeople who live in "imperfect" relationships (that is, the vast majority of Catholics) as misguided children in need of a parent or teacher?

One of the unfortunate repercussions of having a popular pope is that the conversation about the empowerment of the laity seems to have taken a backseat. On issues related to sexuality and the family, the voice of the laity, in all of its diversity, could not be more crucial.

– Jamie L. Manson
Excerpted from "Synod on the Family Proves That Father Still Knows Best"
National Catholic Reporter
October 29, 2014



Updates and Recommended Off-site Links:
Pope Francis and Gays Will Win by Losing This Round on Synod Draft — Jonathan Capehart (The Washington Post, October 20, 2014).
Pope Francis’ Talk on Gays Moves Catholic Church Into Modern Era — and Out of 17th Century – Mike Lupica (New York Daily News, October 19, 2014).
Vatican Call for Church to Welcome Gay People Did Not Go "Far Enough" Says Cardinal Vincent Nichols – John Bingham and Andrea Vogt (The Telegraph, October 19, 2014).
How Catholic Synod on Gays Made History, Even With 'Disappointing' End – Mark Sappenfield (Christian Science Monitor, October 19, 2014).
Pope: "God Is Not Afraid of New Things" – Philip Pullella (Reuters via HuffPost Religion, October 19, 2014).
Vatican Bishops Scrap Opening to Gays and Divorced Members – Scott Neuman (NPR News, October 18, 2014).
Bishops Scrap Welcome to Gays in Sign of Split – Nicole Winfield and Daniela Petroff (Associated Press via Yahoo! News, October 18, 2014).
Catholic Synod: Pope Francis Setback on Gay Policy – James Reynolds (BBC News, October 18, 2014).
Synod Report Narrows Open Tone, Pope Calls for Middle Path – Joshua J. McElwee (National Catholic Reporter, October 18, 2014).
The Vatican Cancels Its Earthquake. This is Not Pope Francis’ Finest Hour – Damian Thompson (The Spectator, October 18, 2014).
Synod A Win for Francis and for Openness – Thomas Reese (National Catholic Reporter, October 18, 2014).
Five Things the Synod Just Did – James Martin, SJ (Commonweal, October 18, 2014).
The Backlash Mounts Against Francis – Andrew Sullivan (The Dish, October 17, 2014).
Conservative Bishops Get “Different Translation” Dialing Back Language on LGBT Acceptance – Patricia Miller (Religion Dispatches, October 17, 2014).
Overwhelming 85% of Young American Catholics Support Gays and Lesbians – Carol Kuruvilla (The Huffington Post, October 17, 2014).
“Gradualism” and the Inevitability of Doctrinal Change – Terence Weldon (Queering the Church, October 15, 2014).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
On the Feast of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus, Thoughts on Marriage Equality in the U.S. and the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Breaking News – October 13, 2014
Quote of the Day – October 14, 2014)
Beyond the Hierarchy: The Blossoming of Liberating Catholic Insights on Sexuality


Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Soul of My Love



I am not of this world nor the next,
not of heaven, nor of purgatory.
My place is the placeless,
my trace is the traceless.
It is not the body nor is it the soul,
for I belong to the soul of my love.
I have put duality away
and seen the two worlds as one.

One I seek, One I know.
One I see, One I call.
He is First, He is Last.
He is the Outward, He is the Inward.
I know of nothing but Hu, none but Him.
Intoxicated with the cup of Love,
two worlds slip from my hands.

I am occupied with nothing
but fun and carousing.
If once in my life I pass a moment without You,
I repent my life from that moment on.
If once in this world
I should win a moment with You,
I will put both worlds under my feet
and dance forever in joy.

– Rumi
Excerpted from "I Am Not . . ."
From Love Is a Stranger: Selected Lyric Poetry of Jelaluddin Rumi,
translated by Kabir Helminski.


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
To Be Held and to Hold
Lovemaking: Pathway to Truth, Harmony and Wholeness
Making Love, Giving Life
Getting It Right
David Whyte: "To Be Courageous is to Stay Close to the Way We Are Made"
The Many Manifestations of God's Loving Embrace
The Longing for Love: God's Primal Beatitude
Never Say It is Not God
The Holy Pleasure of Intimacy
Celebrating Our Sanctifying Truth
"In Finding Myself, I Found God and My Voice"
Charis
Quote of the Day – November 16, 2011
Your Scent I Know
Be Just in My Heart
The Most Sacred and Simple Mystery of All

Image: Subjects and photographer unknown.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Quote of the Day

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While mercy is being recommended for Catholics in difficult situations, let us not forget the bishops, who are intellectually in the hardest circumstances of all. They see that large numbers of the faithful are rejecting or ignoring their magisterial pronouncements on sexual morality as irrelevant, repellent, or just plain wrong. But unlike those whom they presume to teach, the bishops cannot simply turn away from outworn ideas. They are confined in an iron cage built by Aristotle, Aquinas, and many other men—mostly men—who had the self-assurance to believe that they could decide the one true way for all people in all circumstances for all time. They have not the freedom of the fallible to say, "We were wrong. We're sorry." They are in great need of mercy, though they do not know it yet.

And so there will be paragraphs full of "kerygma" and "kenosis" and other deliberate obscurities meant to dazzle and overawe the masses with sheer verbal firepower. There will be the usual august and mellifluous passages, a style that the Church has brought to perfection, and then a little way beyond, to the border of parody. And apparently there will be much talk of gradualism, as if humanity had not found out eons ago that life is a long learning and a rare getting-it-right.

I could truly feel some pity for the bishops' plight but for one thing. They are trying to shift responsibility for the Church's troubles from their own shoulders to the backs of ordinary people, who are burdened enough already without being condescended to as weak, childish, or stiff-necked. But then, checking my censoriousness for once, I reflect that the bishops too are in a narrow place not entirely of their own choosing, and perhaps deserve a measure of mercy.

– John Prior
Excerpted from the comments thread of
Grant Gallicho's "Synod Halfway Report: Tremors"
Commonweal
October 13, 2014


Thanks to William D. Lindsey for bringing this quote to my attention via his extensive and insightful two-part compilation of responses to yesterday's Synod on the Family's 'relatio.' For Part 1 of Bill's compilation, click here; for Part 2, click here.


Updates:
Change in the Air? – J. A. Dick (Another Voice: Reflections About Contemporary Catholic Belief and Practice, October 14, 2014).
"Are We Capable of Welcoming These People?" – Fred Clark (Patheos, October 15, 2014).
The Greatest Non-Story Ever Told? – Ken Briggs (National Catholic Reporter, October 15, 2014).
Why Isn't Anyone Talking About the Synod's Paragraphs on Contraception? – Jamie Manson (National Catholic Reporter, October 15, 2014).
Vatican Retranslates Synod Document, Muddles Openness to Gays – Joshua J. McElwee (National Catholic Reporter, October 16, 2014).
Now the English Speaking Catholic Church Will "Provide for Homosexuals" Not Welcome Them – Josephine McKenna (Religion News Service via The Huffington Post, October 16, 2014).
Synod Document's New Theological Approach Can Benefit LGBT Issues – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, October 16, 2014).
The Debate About Welcoming Those Who Are Gay — A Reader Asks: "What Are Catholics Afraid Of? And Why" – William D. Lindsey (Bilgrimage, October 17, 2014).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Breaking News – October 13, 2014
On the Feast of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus, Thoughts on Marriage Equality in the U.S. and the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Daniel Helminiak on the Vatican's Natural Law Mistake
Aquinas and Homosexuality
Louis Crompton on the "Theological Assault" of the Ulpianic-Thomistic Conception of Natural Law (Part I)
Louis Crompton on the "Theological Assault" of the Ulpianic-Thomistic Conception of Natural Law (Part II)
Nathanial Frank on the "Natural Law" Argument Against Gay Marriage



Photo of the Day



Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Breaking News


News Outlets Report on "Stunning" Shift in Catholic Bishops' Stance on Gays

[At the Vatican's Synod of the Family] Catholic bishops are showing unprecedented openness to accepting the real lives of many Catholics today, saying gays have gifts to offer the church and should be accepted and that there are "positive" aspects to a couple living together without being married.

– Nicole Winfield
Excerpted from "Bishops Say Gays Have Gifts to Offer Church"
Associated Press via Yahoo! News
October 13, 2014






Related Off-site Links:
New Ways Ministry Welcomes Church’s New Approach to Gay and Lesbian People – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, October 13, 2014).
Midterm Report from Synod on the Family is Unexpectedly Positive for LGBT People and Families – DignityUSA (October 13, 2014).
Vatican Stuns Catholic World with Greater Openness Toward Gays and Lesbians – Josephine Mckenna (Religion News Service via Crux, October 13, 2014).
Synod: Need for Welcoming and VALUING Gay Couples! – Terence Weldon (Queering the Church, October 13, 2014).
A "Pastoral Earthquake": Catholic Church Proposes Extraordinary Shift on Gays and Lesbians – Judd Legum (ThinkProgress.org, October 13, 2014).
Vatican Signals More Tolerance Toward Gays and Remarriage – Elisabetta Povoledo (New York Times, October 13, 2014).
Vatican Proposes "Stunning" Shift on Gays – Delia Gallagher (CNN, October 13, 2014).
Synod Releases Document with New Tone, Calling for Mercy and Listening – Joshua J. McElwee (National Catholic Reporter, October 13, 2014).
Catholics React to Vatican Relatio Document's "Revolutionary" Tone on Gay Relationships – Antonia Blumberg (The Huffington Post, October 13, 2014).
The Bishops Are Catching Up to Pope Francis on Gay Rights – Christopher J. Hale (Time, October 13, 2014).
A New Welcome for Gay Catholics in the Church – Francis DeBernardo (CNN, October 13, 2014).
Family Synod's Real Work Will Be Done Over the Next 12 Months and Beyond – Robert Mickens (National Catholic Reporter, October 13, 2014).


Carlos Acosta Recalls the "Clarion Call" of His Vocation in Dance

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The Wild Reed series on dance continues with an excerpt from Carlos Acosta's autobiography No Way Home: A Dancer's Journey from the Streets of Havana to the Stages of the World.

Born in Cuba in 1973, Carlos Acosta is widely considered the most accomplished male ballet dancer in the world. Based in London, he has danced with many companies, including the English National Ballet, National Ballet of Cuba, Houston Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. He was made a permanent member of The Royal Ballet in 1998. Five years later he was promoted to Principal Guest Artist, a rank which reduced his commitment and allows him to focus on a growing schedule of international guest appearances and tours.

The excerpt I share from No Way Home focuses on what broadcaster Alan Titchmarch calls the young Acosta's "Damascus Road moment," the moment when the rebellious teen-aged Acosta realized that his vocation was to be a dancer.

The idea of vocation interests me greatly. I've written about my own sense of vocation here, and in 2010 shared as part of The Wild Reed's "In the Garden of Spirituality" series, Parker Palmer's thoughts on vocation. Writes Palmer:

Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic selfhood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks – we will also find our path of authentic service in the world. True vocation joins self and service, as Frederick Buechner asserts when he defines vocation as "the place where your deep gladness meets the world's deep need."


For sure the world needs beauty, beauty that embodies and conveys the often complex truths about what it means to be fully human. I believe this is the beauty of Dostoevsky's famous line from The Idiot, "Beauty will save the world." Like so many performing artists, Carlos Acosta's profound and dedicated embodiment of his vocation brings this type of salvific beauty to the world.

In his 2009 address "Meeting with Artists," Pope Benedict XVI spoke eloquently of this type of beauty, one that he called "authentic beauty."

Authentic beauty . . . unlocks the yearning of the human heart, the profound desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, to reach for the Beyond. If we acknowledge that beauty touches us intimately, that it wounds us, that it opens our eyes, then we rediscover the joy of seeing, of being able to grasp the profound meaning of our existence.


Yes, art has the potential to connect us to the Divine Presence! This liberating truth reminds me of Rosanne Cash's words of wisdom:

The more exploitative, numbing, and assaulting popular culture becomes, the more we need the truth of a beautifully phrased song, dredged from a real person’s depth of experience, delivered in an honest voice; the more we need the simplicity of paint on canvas, or the arc of a lonely body in the air, or the photographer’s unflinching eye. Art, in the larger sense, is the lifeline to which I cling in a confusing, unfair, sometime dehumanizing world. In my childhood, the nuns and priests insisted, sometimes in a shrill and punitive tone, that religion was where God resided and where I might find transcendence. I was afraid they were correct for so many years, and that I was the one at fault for not being able to navigate the circuitry of dogma and ritual. For me, it turned out to be a decoy, a mirage framed in sound and fury. Art and music have proven to be more expansive, more forgiving, and more immediately alive. For me, art is a more trustworthy expression of God than religion.


Wow! Who would have thought Dostoevsky, Parker Palmer, Pope Benedict, and Rosanne Cash would all be quoted in the same blog post? That's The Wild Reed for you!

And now I add to the mix the words of Carlos Acosta! They're followed by a short interview that Alan Titchmarch recently conducted with Acosta for The Royal Ballet. In this interview Acosta talks about his production of Don Quixote and offers cautionary words for young dancers lured by fame.

But first, an excerpt from Carlos Acosta's autobiography, No Way Home: A Dancer's Journey from the Streets of Havana to the Stages of the World.


The Vocational Arts School in Pinar del Rio was a huge concrete block on the edge of the city. Its three buildings bordered an enormous interconnecting courtyard and were surrounded by stairs leading up and down to the classrooms for music, the visual arts, and ballet. It was here I discovered love and friendship, as well as other qualities that helped the boy I was become the man I am.

It was here that I found my passion for ballet.

One evening the school organized a visit to the Saidén Theatre on Real Street in Pinar del Rio to see the Cuban National Ballet perform. I was annoyed because I wanted to stay in and watch the baseball game between my Havana team, the Industrials, and the Pinar del Rio team, the Vegueros, which all the other pupils in the school supported. But I was dragged along with the rest of the group and seated next to our teacher Juan Carlos in an uncomfortable seat in the theater's third row.

My friend Rogelio and I were discussing who would lead the batters that year. Lazaro Vargas was his hero, and Rogelio always imitated his batting style whenever we played in the rough concrete sports area of the school.

We were shushed as the curtain went up. It was a slow piece. "Educational," the teachers might say; "a jewel of classical repertoire," a fan or critic might say; a load of crap, I thought.

I was calculating that by now the game would have reached the third inning. The Vegueros were leading the championship. If they lost, the Industrials would be only half a game away from first place. It was not just a game of baseball between Havana and Pinar del Rio; there was more at stake than that. My honor as a Habanero was on the line, but I also knew I stood to lose either way. If the Industrials won, then some people would vent their spite and frustration on me; if they lost, three hundred people would shout at me, "Ha, ha, ha, Havana lost the game, you're a yellow Habanero, you can't beat us 'cos we're better than you!" They would push me and tug at the neckerchief that we had to wear as part of our school uniform. I was getting frustrated just thinking about it.

I made myself watch the ballet. The ballerinas who floated across the stage as delicately as goose down distracted me from the baseball game for a moment, when suddenly a male dancer leaped across the stage and was suspended in the air for what seemed like a full minute before falling back down to his knees.

Shiiiit! I thought. How the hell did he do that? He was just hanging in the air!

Everyone applauded. I was trying to work out where the wire was, thinking the muscular guy must have been held up by something. He jumped again. It looked effortless. He did not even appear to be sweating, just smiling as he kept time with the heavenly music.

My spirits soared. I felt transported. Perhaps if I worked hard, then I could hang in the air like that!

It suddenly dawned on me why my father had been so tough with me all these years. I saw it all with great clarity. All he had ever wanted was for me to be able to jump like that! I was mortified to have caused him so much trouble. . . . But at the same time I was happy and grateful that God had given me another chance.

When we returned to the school there was a crowd of people waiting for me. The game had gone into extra innings, but the Industrials had lost 2 to 1.

"Ha, ha, ha, Havana lost the game! Yellow Habanero, you're yellow, you're yellow, you're a yellow streak of piss!" my classmates shouted at me, tugging at my neckerchief. But instead of reacting, I simply smiled and thought: One day I'm going to be like that dancer I just saw. One day I'm going to be like Alberto Terrero!

I did not give a damn about the Industrials' defeat, or the fact that the championship hung in the balance, or that my classmates were trying to provoke me. I had heard the clarion call of vocation. It was a sanctuary, a refuge that would help me bear the leaks in the roof of [my half-brother] Pedro's house, the cockroaches, the mosquitoes, the overpowering stench of the river, and the loneliness. All I had to do was concentrate on my mission, which was to dance like Alberto Terrero, the ballet dancer whom I seen fly through the air that day at the Saidén.

Up until then, I had applied myself, at best, about 70 percent. I had grown stronger, and for the little effort I put in, I had done all right, but now it was different. During the week I worked furiously, forcing myself through the corrective exercises that my teacher set for me. At the time I thought that the olive-skinned Juan Carlos, with his wiry body and his Andalusian eyes, was a brutal taskmaster, but I understand now that he was an excellent teacher. He had been a dancer with the Camagüey Ballet, but his knees could not bear the strain they were subjected to over the years, and one day they gave up and never obeyed him again. So he started again as a teacher, a little disillusioned and resentful, but still with the desire to achieve something worthwhile. His work came to be recognized in the highest educational circles in the country.

Normally, after the school lunch, my body demanded a good siesta, but now I forced it to keep working. I had to adapt my muscles to flight.

– Carlos Acosta






Related Off-site Links:
Carlos Acosta's Official Website
Carlos Acosta is the Image and Inspiration for a Dance Program – Luis Manuel Mazorra (Cuba Headlines, October 7, 2014).
Cuba’s Carlos Acosta to Promote BBC’s Young Dancers ContestLatin American Herald Tribune (October 2, 2014).
Carlos Acosta: Cuban Dancer and Novelist – Michael Cathcart (ABC Radio, July 7, 2014).
Leaving the Barre: Ballet in Crisis Over Lack of Women, says Carlos Acosta – Adam Sherwin (The Independent, July 19, 2013).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Dancer and the Dance
The Soul of a Dancer
The Premise of All Forms of Dance
Ruth St. Denis on "Dancing as a Life Experience"
The Trouble with the Male Dancer (Part 1)
The Trouble with the Male Dancer (Part 2)
The Trouble with the Male Dancer (Part 3)
The Church and Dance
The Naked Truth . . . in Dance and in Life
Gay Men and Modern Dance
Recovering the Queer Artistic Heritage
Dark Matters


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tina Beattie: Why I Stay

Why [stay in] a male-dominated institution where progressive liberalism is repeatedly thwarted?

Progress is a dubious concept, and our rights and freedoms are daily corroded by the politics of greed, power and wealth. The Catholic church has a rich tradition of social teaching and solidarity with the poor which challenges these neo-liberal corporate values and offers a different way of living. It is a rich and diverse tradition, weaving together a vast multicultural family that defies the growing xenophobia and exclusivity of modern western societies. It offers a perspective from which to evaluate our muddled values and short-term goals against a more enduring and hopeful outlook on what it means to be human.

The church’s intellectual heritage is a complex mixture of theology, philosophy, art and science that enriches the mind, even if its own leaders have tended to be the worst enemies of this tradition – the sex abuse scandal has revealed a malignant darkness at the heart of the hierarchy. Yet all this is just as true of life outside the church. One should expect better of those who claim to be Christian, but in reality we humans are a species with a peculiar proclivity towards violence, shame and corruption.

Christians call it original sin, and I find in the Catholic church a powerful narrative of hope and redemption in the midst of that.

It is surely worth struggling for.

– Tina Beattie
Excerpted from "Sex, Marriage and the Catholic Church"
The Guardian
October 8, 2014.


For more insights from theologian Tina Beattie, see:
Quote of the Day – January 14, 2012
Quote of the Day – September 13, 2012

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Knowing What to Do, Knowing Why to Stay
Staying on Board
One Catholic Gay Parent Who Isn’t Leaving the Church
Choosing to Stay
A Brave Hope
What It Means to Be Catholic
"I Love the Radical Catholic Church"