Archive for July, 2013|Monthly archive page

Will the Pope’s new tone regarding homosexuality ripple into The Cornerstone Forum?

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

During a return flight to Rome following his visit to Brazil, Pope Francis seemed to set a new tone regarding homosexuality in the priesthood when he answered a journalist’s question about it thus: “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and good will, who am I to judge that person?” He added that gays should never be marginalized: “The problem is not that one has this tendency (to homosexuality); no, we must be brothers. This is the first matter.”

David Badash of The New Civil Rights Movement described these words as “a shot—of tolerance and love—heard around the world.” The Rev. James Martin, a U.S. Jesuit and popular author, called the moment a “sea change.”

While it may be premature to infer from the Pope’s remarks that any substantive changes in the Church’s position on homosexuality are imminent, it’s safe to say that Francis’s disposition toward gay priests is more relaxed than that of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who said that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not be ordained. Francis’s use of the word “gay” is a striking departure from his predecessors’ choice of the more impersonal term “homosexual.”

What interests me and many other Catholic-watchers, however, is the “penumbra effect” of these statements. “Tone” is the word being tossed around in the media. Francis is setting a different “tone” about homosexuality—one that is more inclusive than his predecessor’s.

We will  be watching Gil Bailie’s The Cornerstone Forum in the weeks and months ahead for any signs of a reaction to the Pope’s words. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has already denied that the pope’s message is anything new. (Like, “Oh, we’ve been saying this all along!”) This is setting us up for the historical revisionist tack that will play itself out over the next few centuries, i.e., “The Church never persecuted or ostracized homosexuals,” and even, “The Church was in the forefront of efforts to end discrimination against LGBTs.” We’ve seen it before, with slavery and anti-Semitism. The Church is already lining up its revisionist historians to flatly deny that the Church had any role in scapegoating homosexuals.

Will Gil Bailie follow Cardinal Dolan’s lead? Is anyone willing to venture a guess?

What Kind of Catholic Was Walker Percy?

Walker Percy

Walker Percy

Today, Gil Bailie of The Cornerstone Forum posted the following “interview” with Walker Percy (all written by Percy himself):

Q: What kind of Catholic are you … a dogmatic Catholic or an open-minded Catholic?
A: I don’t know what that means. Do you mean do I believe the dogma that the Catholic Church proposes for belief?
Q: Yes.
A: Yes.
Q: How is such a belief possible in this day and age?
A: What else is there?
Q: What do you mean, what else is there? There is humanism, atheism, agnosticism, Marxism, Muhammadanism, Sufism, astrology, occultism, theosophy.
A: That’s what I mean …
Q: I don’t understand. Would you exclude, for example, scientific humanism as a rational and honorable alternative?
A: Yes.
Q: Why?
A: It’s not good enough.
Q: Why not?
A: This life is too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive at the end of it and then to be asked what you make of it and to answer “Scientific humanism.” That won’t do. A poor show. Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and the infinite delight, i.e., God. In fact I demand it. I refuse to settle for anything less. I don’t see why anyone should settle for less than Jacob, who actually grabbed aholt of God and would not let go until God identified himself and blessed him.
A: Grabbed aholt?
A: A Louisiana expression …
A: How do you account for your belief?
A: I can only account for it as a gift from God.
Q: Why would God make you such a gift when there are others who seem more deserving, that is, serve their fellowman?
A: I don’t know. God does strange things …
Q: But shouldn’t one’s faith bear some relation to the truth, the facts?
A: Yes. That’s what attracted me, Christianity’s rather insolent claim to be true, with the implication that other religions are more or less false.
Q: You believe that?
A: Of course.

Timothy Brock comments:

Percy admits he is a dogmatic Catholic and explains why: The alternatives (open-mindedness, other secular and religious ideologies) are simply unsatisfactory because they don’t inspire him. Notably, “scientific humanism,” he believes, robs life of its “delight and mystery.” Walker then defines God as “infinite mystery and infinite delight,” a being therefore deserving of our belief and worthy of our worship.

Assuming for the moment that “scientific humanism” is repellent to mystery and delight (which it is not), what about all the other religious alternatives? Sufism? Judaism? Russian Orthodoxy? Have they neither mystery nor delight? What about all the Protestant offshoots of Roman Catholicism?

But Percy has announced right up front that he is closed-minded, so he will not consider religious alternatives in this interview with himself. Why [is he closed-minded]? Because he is attracted by “Christianity’s rather insolent claim to be true, with the implication that other religions are more or less false.” Note that he has switched the subject from Catholicism to Christianity. Perhaps he could not bring himself to call his own Church’s claims “insolent.”

At the beginning, Percy leads us to expect he will defend his belief in Catholicism, but in the end, he only explains why he is a Christian, not why he is specifically a Catholic. Perhaps Lutheranism is not closed-minded enough for him?

So there are his reasons for belief in the dogma of the Catholic Church. He has worked it all out and decided not to “settle for anything less than” infinite mystery and delight. But wait, if we are talking about a conscious decision-making process here, then how do we account for his answer to the interlocutor’s question:

“How do you account for your belief?”

And he answers,

“I can only account for it as a gift from God” (from which others, as the interviewer explains, have been excluded).

Then he has been chosen by God. No decision was involved. All his “reasons” (mystery and delight, etc.) were ex-post-facto rationalizations.

My feeling is that Percy wrote this imaginary interview to fend off massive doubts and uncertainties. Born into a family scarred by multiple suicides, Percy saw open-mindedness as a dangerous tendency leading to loss of control. The downward spiral had to be aborted at any cost, even the suspension of one’s critical faculties.

What is most peculiar about this interview is its tension between what is essentially an experience of “openness” (to mystery and delight, whose supreme expression is God), and Percy’s own rather weary embrace of closedness and his attraction to “insolent claims” of exclusive truth.

Anthony Esolen’s Hatred of Nature and of Sex

Terre Thaemlitz

Terre Thaemlitz

Shortly following the publication of Anthony Esolen’s article “Hatred of Nature, Hatred of Sex” on Crisis Magazine, Gil Bailie posts a link to the article with this short introduction:

This Anthony Esolen satire is essential reading. It is Chestertonian, and that is high praise indeed.

Comments:

Preetha Valentine:

Outstanding article! Identity crisis

Caroline Gissler:

Emperor Norton was ahead of his time.

Timothy Brock:

Esolen’s cruel and tasteless “satire” does nothing to address the problems that transgendered individuals face. I cannot imagine Jesus showing such callous indifference toward them.

How about some constructive suggestions instead of just more of the same poisonous ridicule? Esolen’s article perfectly exemplifies the attitudes that transgenders have to face daily. That it could have been published on a Catholic website is absolutely appalling.

Caroline Gissler:

It’s the rest of us who look at our bodies and know what we are by the evidence in front of our eyes who are being ridiculed when we are in essence told that it is all in our heads.

The Cornerstone Forum:

Esolen is not mocking people suffering from confusion about their sexual identity. He’s mocking the ideologues who think they are doing those people a favor by abandoning reality. The long term damage will be to the very people who think they are being helped.

Timothy Brock:

Two days ago, I was at the hospital with the family of a man who had just had open-heart surgery. We were in the surgery waiting room when the surgeon came in to report to us how the operation had gone. He conducted us into a small private room, where he described the patient’s condition and advised all of us about what to expect and how to help in the recovery.

We listened to the surgeon with total reverence and respect for his skills and his knowledge. Not one of the eight of us ever raised a hand to object that something he had instructed us to do didn’t seem “common-sensical.” We were in the presence of scientific knowledge on which the man’s life absolutely depended at every single moment for the next five days.

Which one of you thinks you have the authority or the expertise to insist, contrary to all available scientific evidence, that gender is what’s between your legs and not what’s between your ears? To me, it is simply appalling (1) that you do not already know this and (2) that you presume to question pediatricians and psychologists who do.
For the sake of our friend’s recovery, we listened with rapt attention to every instruction the surgeon gave us. Our friend’s life depends on it.

For the sake of our children, we must start listening to those who actually have a scientific understanding of gender identity. Let’s set aside folk wisdom and pre-scientific ideas for their sakes, please. Let’s listen to the doctors.

Gordon Savage:

“Which one of you thinks you have the authority or the expertise to insist, contrary to all available scientific evidence, that gender is what’s between your legs and not what’s between your ears?”

Timothy: Putting aside for a moment your Ad verecundiam argument to simply shut up and submit to authority, what exactly do you mean by “between the ears”? The “social constructs” that Esolen critiques are between the ears in one sense, the interplay of brain and hormones is between the ears in another. And this seems to me a perfect example of the our Postmodern culture confusing its reverence for the plasticity of social constructs with the very concrete needs bio-social needs of children.

Real scientists who care equally about getting this right are divided over what to do. Ruth Padawar wrote this in the New York Times in August 8, 2012: “Transgender activists have also pressed for changes in the psychiatric establishment, which still officially considers children’s distress over gender identity a mental illness. Now the American Psychiatric Association is reviewing the diagnosis of ‘Gender Identity Disorder in Children’ for the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Critics, though, condemn the association’s choice of Dr. Kenneth Zucker to lead the inquiry. Zucker is the head of a well-known gender-identity clinic in Toronto and the most prominent defender of traditional interventions for gender nonconformity. He urges parents to steer their children toward gender-typical toys, clothes and playmates and advises them to prohibit behaviors associated with the other sex. Zucker’s academic articles assert that while biology may predispose some children to gender nonconformity, other factors — like trauma and emotional disorders — often play a role. Other contributing causes he cites include overprotective mothers, emotionally absent fathers or mothers who are hostile toward men.” I recommend the article.

I’m no fan of the DSM system, but it doesn’t sound like one of the those slam-dunk, “the science is settled so shut-up,” situations.

Timothy Brock:

Gordon, I have a question for you, but it will have to wait, as I am spending lots of time at the hospital with my friend who had heart surgery on Thursday. Watch this space.

Timothy Brock:

Gordon, after dismissing my appeal to the authority of medical professionals, you buttressed your own view by citing the authority of a medical professional.

There’s nothing wrong with deferring to authority when that deference is warranted, as it was in my hospital experience last week (see my earlier comment). But when a non-scientific institution presumes expertise about a scientific question, there is no such warrant.

Psychologists are indeed divided about whether to include transgenderism in the DSM, and I never said they weren’t. On both sides of the issue are people who understand transgenderism quite well.

I know that many transgenders do not want the stigma that comes with classification of transgenderism as a “gender identity disorder.” However, some (not all) transgenders want hormone treatment and medical interventions. These are not covered by insurance unless they are prescribed for a specific disorder. So that is a strong argument for classifying transgenderism as a disorder.

What I said earlier about gender is completely supported by the American Psychological Association (as well as the other medical associations): Sex is assigned at birth. It is a biological status. Gender refers to socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities and attributes that a society considers appropriate for boys, girls, men, and women.

I was surprised that Caroline and others did not know this and that they thought that you could simply “look between your legs” to establish your gender identity. Well, I’m afraid it’s not that simple.

The place to start in understanding transgenderism is NOT in the writings or opinions of a single psychologist. Go to the American Psychological Association’s Q and A:http://www.apa.org/topics/sexuality/transgender.aspx?item=1

Read the sections on discrimination and how to be supportive.

If you’re going to discuss these matters, it’s simply inexcusable not to be informed about them … for the sake of transgendered individuals who suffer daily as a result of your ignorance and indifference.

Gordon Savage:

All this time I was expecting a question.

Authority? Ad verecundiam means “appeal to reverence;” it is not a “dismissal of [your] appeal to the authority of medical professionals,” but a reference to your tactic of shutting down discussion by suggesting those who disagree with you embrace “folk wisdom and pre-scientific ideas” (bogus authority) over science (virtuous authority). And it’s not just about science but brave doctors who save lives in open heart surgery. Give me a break! Ad verecundiam is a way of diverting people from the judicious weighing of the conflicting arguments of equally authoritative sources. Hence my reference to competing authorities in the New York Times article.

But the real mistake was initial your reading of Esolen, that it was “tasteless ridicule” of those who suffer the consequences of gender confusion. The article wasn’t about transgendered children, it was about adults who consider gender wholly a social construct separate from biology. You wouldn’t think of suggesting that social identity is completely separate from biology — hence a man who thinks he’s a horse or Napoleon needs counseling — but you imagine it’s unproblematic to separate entirely social sexual constructs from bodily sexuality (BTW, if you were right, why shouldn’t a parent have the right to steer their minor child toward what they consider the “best social constructs” much like they try to get them in the best school?).

Are those who disagree with you always “ignorant” and “indifferent” or is it just me?

Timothy Brock:

Gordon, first of all, I did not “mis-read” Esolen. He’s a clever but very transparent writer. His article is clearly about California’s directives regarding transgender children in the schools. The photo at the top makes that explicit. The lengthy analogies with race and class are only intended to set us up for the “the real offense against nature,” which is even “crazier,” he says, than the objects of his ridicule (the Prince of Pasadena and the Queen of San Quentin). Can you not see that he is comparing transgender children to these delusional individuals, and then ridiculing the whole lot of them and the legislators who allow them to self-identify? Do you imagine that when Esolen writes about the “trans-blacks,” he is not analogizing with transgenders? All are delusional, in his view. All arel crazy. So, apparently, are the two APAs.

He writes, “…if I say that a boy may be a girl or a girl may be a boy, I do in fact reject the healthy and the normal.” And the legislators are “mad” for going along with such “delusions.” They “hate reality.” So, apparently, do the two APAs.

Esolen does not understand that there is a difference between a “transman” and his hypothetical “trans-black” because he is not interested in understanding. He writes regularly for Crisis Magazine, an ultra-conservative Catholic publication. He’s an ideologue who starts with conclusions and distorts facts to fit them. He knows nothing about transgenderism. Some of his statements are absolutely bizarre from the perspective of scientific understanding. He writes that “sex is not a social construct,” as if anyone had claimed that it is. Gender is partly social construct and partly a result of genetic influences, prenatal hormone levels, early experiences, and experiences later in adolescence. But it all comes through biology. Even the experiences are processed by the body-brain. Gender is not the same as sex. Esolen appears to think it is “insane” to believe that one is a female when one has male genitals, or vice versa. He has not, and could not have read scientific literature or given any serious thought to what he has written. I’ve blogged with Esolen many times, and this is completely typical of him.

So why does he called his article, “Hatred of Nature, Hatred of Sex?” Is he suggesting that transgenders and those who try to help them, such as the medical establishment, hate nature and sex? Don’t you find that a bit bizarre? Personally, I think it’s very hateful.

Timothy Brock:

Gordon, I have no interest in “shutting down discussion,” but I believe it is morally wrong to slander groups of people out of sheer ignorance. I am not a moral relativist or a post-modernist, and ignorance is not a social construct. It is an absence of knowledge and understanding. Rather than stop a discussion, I would like to stop slanders and encourage people to take responsibility for the damaging things they write about other people, especially entire groups such as transgenders. It’s one thing to praise another person or group out of ignorance, but it’s quite another to disparage them or to suggest that they are “crazy,” “unnatural,” and “unhealthy” when they are not. The psychologists and psychiatrists at the APAs are not “insane.” (These are all Esolen’s words.)

Esolen throws around expletives like “objectively disordered” when he is himself objectively ignorant of what he writes about. He is ideologically opposed to all the letters of LGBT, and arrogant in his presumption of expertise.

By all means, judiciously weigh the conflicting arguments of various sources, but don’t make the mistake of thinking they are all “equally authoritative.” There is a big difference between an authority and a shill. Look for consensus opinions of medical professionals on topics like these. They may not be perfectly reliable, but they are the best we’ve got.

Gordon Savage:

Timothy, Perhaps, as you say, you’re not a “moral relativist or post-modernist,” but you are a slanderer for continually dismissing all of those who differ with you as ignorant. I’m done with this.

Timothy Brock:

Gordon: In fact, I do not dismiss all those who differ with me as “ignorant” of the matters under discussion. As I indicated earlier, I am very respectful of people who have genuine expertise, especially if they represent or express a consensus view in the sciences. Although I know that modern medical professionals can occasionally be wrong, their training and certification tells me that they are far more trustworthy on medical matters than people without such backgrounds.

We have not been talking theology here. Transgenderism is a condition that is best approached through scientific inquiry.

If there’s any area where ignorance and knowledge are sharply differentiated, it is science, where one opinion is not just as good as another.

This is why I am offended when Esolen ridicules transgenders and their advocates. Esolen is not a scientist and he apparently has little respect for scientific inquiry. His is not a trivial offense, in my view. It fuels the scapegoating of transgenders and its end result is more wounding. Transgenders need genuine understanding, not ridicule.

Let’s honor and protect our transgendered youth.

7/6/13. Gil Bailie writes:

Prepare for more of this.

AB 1266, also known as the “Bathroom Bill,” serves as an amendment to the Education Code and requires all schools in the state to comply with its mandates.

Under the bill, “A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs, activities, and facilities, including athletic teams and competitions, consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records,” the legislation reads.

The bill was approved by the state Assembly earlier this year. On Wednesday, the bill passed overwhelmingly in the Senate 21-9.

Similar legislation is pending in other states.

Timothy Brock responds:

La Vie en Rose

Ludovic, in the 1997 French film, “Ma vie en rose”

Gil, I fully understand California’s AB 1266, but I don’t understand why there is any opposition to it. Is there, in the popular imagination, a suspicion that somehow transgender youth are actually voyeurs who are “shamming” transgenderism so that they can spy on students of the opposite sex? Or perhaps the suspicion is that they are just wayward and perverse in their refusal to “get with the program” of normative gender identity? In either case, these students stand accused of ulterior motives—evil motives, and they thus become even more vulnerable to scapegoating than before.

How is it that their persecutors are regarded as victims?

How is it that a disciple of René Girard, who wrote one of the finest studies of scapegoating ever published, cannot see or acknowledge the scapegoating of transgendered students in public schools?

Let’s care for all our children. They are beautiful, and every one of them has a family and friends who care deeply about them. We should as well, and we can do so if we fully identify with the Savior who cared about us all.

Transgendered students are at greater risk of dropping out of school. They are excluded from school activities such as physical education and athletic teams. They are humiliated on a daily basis in the schools, and their educational experience is negatively impacted. They are bullied and harassed even more than lesbian and gay youth.

What do you think should be the Catholic Church’s role in combatting these inequities? How can you and your church work to foster understanding of transgenderism?

If there was ever a time for application of Girard’s mimetic theory in the real world, this is it. Let’s combat the scapegoating of transgender individuals.

Ben Occupylife Hartford:

I have temperance and compassion towards all people. Just not towards all actions.

Brinck Slattery:

Um… my college had a womens rugby team, and we wrestled against schools with female wrestlers. This isn’t about guys putting on dresses to go to the girls’ locker room, it’s about people who already have a tough enough time going through adolescence being able to have some semblance of a normal time rather than having every structure of authority in society (particularly the government mandated one they must, by law, attend every weekday) deny their identity.

 

Chis Kelco:

Out of genuine curiosity, why does this action not agree with your ideologies? (Not being a smartass, just want to better understand the opposing standpoint)

 

Ben Occupylife Hartford:

Well, to start with, I need to make something clear.

I do not oppose this law (or laws like it) on religious grounds. I, of course, approach all things informed by the teachings of my faith. I did not bring up religion. Unless the law has a direct effect on religion (curbing religious liberty in some direct way), I do not bring it up, unless I know I am speaking to others who share my faith.That being said, God made us in His image. We are all perfect in our imperfection. Therefore, to live in any way you are not created to live is inherently disordered and to be avoided on the penalty of sin. This applies to transgenderism, homosexuality, and other (much worse to any human, but equally sinful to God) acts such as cannibalism and incest.

To approach sexuality in any way that does not keep potential life and external love guided by God at its core is also sinful but necessarily inherently disordered. Adulterous vaginal intercourse isn’t inherently sinful, for example, because the act being performed is perfectly spiritually (as well as physically, obviously) wonderful under other circumstances. But it is sinful. And equally as sinful as murder and lying and homosexual acts, by the way – to a perfect God, all sin is equally debased. Therefore, transvestism is not inherently disordered but transgenderism is.

Now. Take that with the fact that my faith teaches that I am to live it actively in every aspect of my life and I take that as a command to oppose laws that go against those other teachings. That does not mean, however, that I argue on religious grounds. I argue on common sense grounds. When we change the law to allow a fraction of a minority (transgender an tramsvestite individuals) to do something that is likely to put a larger minority (children) at risk by a separate but very dangerous minority (predators), I will oppose that law.

 

Timothy Brock:

Ben, we’re talking about children and youth here. I don’t think it is very kind to stigmatize them as “disordered” and “sinful.” Such treatment only makes their lives more difficult and leaves lasting wounds. By the time transgendered individuals are adults, they are often so stressed out, and their self-esteem has been driven so low, that they can never make meaningful contributions to society or realize their full potential as human beings. This is a tragic waste of human resources, and it is cruel.Mr. Bailie has said in the past that these individuals should “get help.” But pediatric professionals agree that the best help for them will come from their communities, not from psychologists. Communities need to be aware of the needs and feelings of transgendered persons and reach out to them with empathy and understanding. Is this too much to ask?

Maybe what is “disordered” and “sinful” is a society that shuns these individuals and drives them into lives of loneliness, unemployment, homelessness, and, in a disproportionate number of cases, suicide.

I doubt any transgendered child would understand any of your arguments, and it would be callous, cruel, and abusive to tell such a child that he or she is like a cannibal or a murderer.

Remember what Jesus said: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” —Matthew 18:6.

Continue reading

Moral Encouragement and Housecleaning

by Dean Hansen

Tolstoy

“I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabrics of their life”.  — Leo Tolstoy

Over the past year, Gil Bailie has expelled eight or ten bloggers from The Cornerstone Forum because they had the effrontery to try engaging him and each other in … conversation! All were serious and respectful, all had read his book as well as the works of his mentor, René Girard, and most were Catholics.

In the latest iteration of his housecleaning announcement, Mr. Bailie again complains that his illustrious project is being subverted by those who (a) ask vexing questions, (b) express opinions contrary to his own, (c) correct errors of fact, (d) expose logical fallacies, (e) think for themselves, and (f) fail to show strict and unswerving allegiance to the Catholic magisterium. He accuses these responders of “carping,” which he defines in part as continuously finding fault about trivial matters.

I have rarely seen anyone raise trivial concerns at The Cornerstone Forum.

Nevertheless, Mr. Bailie seems convinced he is beseiged by provocateurs determined to take potshots at the Catholic Church. When his critics complain about his dismissal of them, he ridicules them for believing themselves to be “martyrs in the cause of free expression.”

With that in mind, his idea of giving what he calls “moral encouragement” and credal succor to whoever remains apparently consists of:

  • Being tirelessly obsessed with and burdened by the approaching fall of Western Civilization (still pending), which will succumb to the forces of secular liberalism, particularly women’s liberation and gay rights.
  • Reminding his readers every day that the world has sunk into apostasy, depravity, decline, fecklessness, calumny, demographic death spirals, nihilism, socialism, fascism, totalitarianism, Marxism, and of course, “anthropological recklessness” whatever the hell that is.
  • SinkholeRepudiating and distancing himself from everything that could be possibly be construed as human, because being human means having the freedom to make choices that are not sanctioned by the Church. This apparently is what the groaning attempt at sainthood means to him. After all, every chuck hole is a pit, every stumble is a fall, every violation is an abomination.
  • Reminding people that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by scientists and their progressive, liberal, post-modern, agenda-driven secular brethren. In an effort to avoid confronting reality at all costs, he must treat any scientific theory that threatens his world view as a conspiracy.
  • Deploring the banality of evil. The culture of evil. The evil that men do. The evil that men are. The evil that men pretend not to do while doing the evil which other men, equally evil, approve of simply because they’re not as acquainted with it as he is.

Sexual Disorientation

  • Calling homosexuals intrinsically evil, and thus creating enmity between different groups of people based on their sexual orientation. (Is this the aforementioned “anthropological recklessness?”)
  • Assaulting women’s rights and condemning women who resort to abortion. Rejecting alternative forms of birth control that would render abortion largely unnecessary.

anti-abortion-politician-photo-u1

  • Conflating freedom with Marxist ideology and insinuating that liberty only works when it’s constrained by restrictive dogma that is utterly intolerant of individual initiative or personal conscience.
  • Converting the words “secularism” and “liberalism” into expletives, and suggesting that those who embrace these concepts in part or in whole are “tolerance vigilantes” suffering from “moral relativism” in a “multicultural” world under a “libertine regime,” who not only espouse a particular world view that is automatically destructive of and dismissive of anything that falls outside of it, but are somehow forcing him to be tempted against his will to the dark side through a slow and steady subversion of his “principles.”
  • Declaring that hate is a shameful passion to be shunned, but that intolerance, bigotry, homophobia, misogyny, sexual panic, denialism and paranoia are somehow acceptable substitutes.
  • Throwing Girardian terminology around while ignoring its principles.
  • Showing scant patience for anyone who questions the rigid and unbending doctrine he’s embraced to protect himself from a world he seemingly despises, and for which the savior he claims to love died.

The cost of vengeanceIn two concurrent posts he managed to scold the White House administration, Western Europeans in general, the Germans specifically, liberalism in general, liberal Jews specifically, Chicago politics, community organizer Saul Alinsky, those unnamed souls who are responsible for the death of marriage, British writers, “the Gentry” (whatever that still is), sexuality—both hetero and homo (a constant)—paganism, ecologists, British conservatives, birth rates (too low), immigration rates (too high), euthanasia, and cremation.  A minimum of 18 targets in two posts. Add a gloating little finale about Van Jones and suddenly it’s high noon in epiphany-ville!

Remember. This is a list of moral encouragements.  Designed to lift the spirits of his followers, I would guess.

In summation, Gil Bailie of late has sadly become to Christian theology what credit default swaps, predatory lending and junk mortgages are to the economy. He does for moral encouragement what Anthony Comstock* did for the public mails.

In the words of Peter Gomes, “Religious fundamentalism is dangerous because it cannot accept ambiguity and diversity and is therefore inherently intolerant. Such intolerance, in the name of virtue, is ruthless and uses political power to destroy what it cannot convert. It is dangerous, especially in America, because it is anti-democratic and is suspicious of ‘the other,’ in whatever form that ‘other’ might appear. To maintain itself, fundamentalism must always define ‘the other’ as deviant.” 

In keeping with his various stated views, Mr. Bailie seems to tacitly embrace the idea that “God” is a person who can only be approached when you cease being a person yourself. He proclaims against his own witness that he knows precious little about human nature, but more than is humanly possible about God’s nature.  Gil claims to be a teacher, but is impatient with “students” and resents being taught by others.  He seems mostly devoid of humor, frightened of change, afraid of the future, and either resentful or overly trusting of the past.

He has made a meager reputation for himself by being obsessed with the sins of others, especially those that Jesus never mentioned: homosexuality, sodomy, oral sex, transvestitism, sex reassignment, amniocentesis, sperm banks, masturbation, stem cell research, cloning, genetic manipulation, teenage pregnancy, and abortion. Any attempt to have a conversation about these subjects is muted into oblivion.

He once said that the worst crimes are committed by men who feel unforgiven. How then can anyone who feels ostracized or marginalized by the Church as he defines it ever hope to feel forgiven? The best way to treat homosexuality is to stop treating it not as something outside of human experience, but as part of the miraculous energy of God’s creation. The Biblical idea that homosexuals are sinners because their sexuality is somehow depraved, or outside the range of human experience, is absurd.  To scapegoat or repudiate a whole class of people because they seek to express their need for love in stable same-sex relationships or to be married like other people who love each other is simply wrong.

The Bible on which the church claims to base its authority is not inerrant, and never was. It’s not an instruction manual or the equivalent of an automotive handbook on how to live your life or toot your horn. And if you try to live your life by it exclusively, you will crash.

spanish_InquisitionMr. Bailie has stated in a moment of faux transparency, “…I often ask myself, and I am sometimes asked by my friends, why I allow myself to be distracted by the passing lunacies of the present age.” The self-flattery is almost as clumsy as the unintended hathos.

The time has come to reconsider those “passing lunacies.” Mr. Bailie has said that without Christ he can do nothing. Perhaps it’s time to recast those negatives as affirmations: with Christ, he can do something that isn’t harmful, self-serving, or trite. Or, in the words of Lao Tzu, “It’s better to do nothing than to be busy doing nothing.”