Archive for the ‘Gil Bailie’ Category

Bailie to follow Cardinal Dolan’s lead on Francis’s new “tone”

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

by Doughlas Remy

(This is a follow-up to my recent post, “Will the Pope’s new tone regarding homosexuality ripple into The Cornerstone Forum?” (7/30/13), where I invited speculations about Mr. Bailie’s reading of Pope Francis’s recent remarks about homosexuality. I wondered if Bailie would follow Cardinal Dolan’s lead in denying that anything is afoot.)

So far, Mr. Bailie is channeling Cardinal Dolan on this, i.e., “Okay, just move along now, there’s nothing to see.” (Bailie links to an article by James V. Schall, S. J., in The Catholic World Report of 8/3/13.) The conservative spin on Francis’s new tone is captured again today in a Crisis Magazine article entitled “Pope Francis Will Enliven the Benedict Legacy,” by Jeffrey Tucker. (Notice the title is not a question inviting discussion. ) Tucker takes the liberal media to task for reading too much into the new Pope’s words:

The line [is] that he is overturning all previous ways of doing things. He is embracing progress over tradition, loves the poor and not the rich, favors people over ritual, and is willing to rethink fundamental teachings and reopen the debate over moral issues.

What’s true and what’s not in this line of thinking? Very little of it is true at all.

Did I get this right? Tucker is claiming that there is no essential difference between Francis and Benedict? No change was needed because everything was just fine under Benedict? Neither Francis NOR Benedict favor people over ritual? (astonishing admission!) Neither of them loves the poor and not the rich? (another startling admission!) Neither sees—or has seen—any need for progress or change in the Church’s financial dealings, its stance toward gays, or its policies regarding cover-ups of child sexual abuse by priests?

Tucker’s piece is unadulterated propaganda. Who can ever forget Benedict’s Prada shoes, his extravagant costuming, his bullet-proof Pope-mobile (Where’s God when you need him?)? Who can ignore Francis’s easy mingling with crowds and his exhorting young Catholics to “protest,” and to “shake things up” in the Church?

The Church does change when its feet are held to the fire, as we saw in the aftermath of the child-abuse scandals. The Church is as fragile as a man’s ego, which is all the more reason why women should be welcomed into the priesthood. The Church would just like you to think that it is a rock, and this is where Jeffrey Tucker and Crisis Magazine come in with their propaganda machine.

“Move along, everyone! There’s nothing to see here.” (Sub-text: “We haven’t screwed up. We can’t screw up. We’re all males. You’re in good hands. Trust us. Just trust us.”)

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?

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.

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From distinguished antiquity to anthropological nonsense

by Doughlas Remy

(This is a continuation of my previous post, just below, in which I am responding to Gil Bailie’s untitled post of 6/28/13 on The Cornerstone Forum Facebook page. [TCF])

Gil Bailie writes:

Pope Red PradaA few critics seem to think that opinions expressed on this FB Page are so alien to common decency as to be intrinsically odious. These critics are unlikely to be convinced otherwise when shown that these opinions and perspectives are shared, not only by the Church to which I belong and to which I intend to remain loyal, but also by the greatest theological and philosophical minds of recent memory, including Hans Urs von Balthasar, Joseph Ratzinger, Joseph Pieper, Henri de Lubac, John XXIII, Paul IV, John Paul II and Pope Francis, to name but a few. These points of view and principles are rooted, however, in anthropological reality and moral reason, the persuasiveness of which depends on no particular religious belief.

Those who consider the distinguished antiquity of these principles as proof of their contemporary uselessness, and who therefore regard those who adhere to them as mean-spirited Neanderthals and moral dullards, often use the comments section of the Cornerstone Forum FB Page to let fly entirely predictable salvos of contempt. When reminded that our purpose here is not to argue with those who do not share our perspective but to be of use to those who do, howls of protest arise. And when, in exasperation, we refuse to allow this Page to become a bulletin-board for anthropological nonsense, moral muddle, and anti-Catholic discourses, their authors enjoy the satisfaction of believing themselves to be martyrs in the cause of free expression.

They are as welcome to believe that as they are to believe all the rest of what they believe. I bear them no ill-will, but they will have to find other venues for propagating ideas that, though wildly popular among Lady Gaga Liberals, evince rather than seriously address the civilizational crisis that is upon us.

Mr. Bailie says his purpose here is “not to argue,” and yet he presents several arguments to refute criticisms of TCF’s principles and assumptions. He might more accurately have written that his purpose here is “not to tolerate counter-arguments.”

The first of his arguments—the appeal to authority—is in fact Mr. Bailie’s first line of defense, and its logic goes something like this: “Our opinions are highly respectable because they are shared by our church and by certain theologians and philosophers that we happen to hold in very high esteem.” Mr. Bailie apparently sees no need for further discussion of any of these opinions, since their definitive and authoritative expression has already been offered up in distinguished texts that should be considered the modern-day equivalents of sacred scripture. And yet, TCF offers a comments field after each dollop of wisdom from these august sources, apparently in the hope of gathering up offerings of assent and admiration for them.

Mr. Bailie’s second argument is an attempt to shore up the first: “These points of view and principles are rooted, however, in anthropological reality and moral reason, the persuasiveness of which depends on no particular religious belief.”

This is of course circular, since the “anthropological reality and moral reason” of which he speaks have been garnered from the eight theologians and philosophers he cites, all of whom, significantly, are Catholics, and five of whom are popes! And then he adds, as if not having noticed any of this, that “the persuasiveness [of these views and principles] depends on no particular religious belief.” Really?

Mr. Bailie’s third argument is the appeal to the “distinguished antiquity” of these principles. The older the better, right? To this I would say, if you want antiquity, go to ancient Greece, Egypt, India, or China. Antiquity is a guarantee of nothing, least of all truth, justice, and the American way.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

And when all else fails, one can always resort to name-calling. No one has called Mr. Bailie a “Neanderthal” or a “moral dullard,” but he has no scruples about calling his critics “Lady Gaga Liberals” who use TCF as a “bulletin-board for anthropological nonsense, moral muddle, and anti-Catholic discourses.”

One would like to know WHY he has reached these conclusions about his interlocutors. But we are not likely to find out, because in Mr. Bailie’s world there is no intermediate stage between expressing an opinion and attacking those who disagree with it. There is no desire to enter into conversation, no respect for divergent opinions, and no tolerance of vigorous debate. This is the Old Catholicism of centuries gone by, a Catholicism that held sway through ignorance, fear, and deference for authority. It is a far cry from our contemporary lay Catholicism that has sought openness, dialog, and reform.

TCF’s own comment thread for Mr. Bailie’s post follows:

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From intrinsically disordered to intrinsically odious

by Doughlas Remy

After more than a week of testy exchanges with friends and other respondents on The Cornerstone Forum’s Facebook page, Gil Bailie expresses his exasperation in an untitled post on 6/28/13. I believe his post clarifies his position very ably, and I will respond to it in detail. First, however, a little background:

Mr. Bailie believes we are in the midst of a cultural crisis. So do I. The one that he sees and the one that I see are same, but our perspectives on it are very different.

Though hardly a utopian, I see our cultural stresses in a mostly positive light, for I believe they are signs of a creative unfolding of the better parts of our human nature. I am hopeful, but not always optimistic, that this unfolding will continue, because time is running out and the worsening condition of our planet is creating environmental stresses that could warp or reverse these positive tendencies.

Mr. Bailie’s view, on the other hand, is apocalyptic: the worst impulses of our fallen natures are in the ascendency, and only those who are faithful to the teachings of the Church will resist being swept away by the currents of cultural change.

The “crisis” results from the opposing movements of two great tectonic plates: modernism and religion. Modernism is associated with the European Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and, more recently, the scientific and communications revolutions. It is fundamentally consequentialist and pragmatic, secular and naturalistic, progressive, democratic, and egalitarian. Religion (including the political religions of Communism and Nazism) is associated with resistance to all of the above. It is supernaturalist, conservative/regressive, authoritarian, and anti-scientific when contradicted by science. It tends to distrust and even abhor the expansion of knowledge and the free exchange of information and ideas.

The Cornerstone Forum’s Facebook page is a microcosm of the cultural clashes that I have just described. This accounts for my longstanding interest in it. One can’t do a longitudinal study of a cultural petrie dish without somehow staying in the lab and collecting data.

So, I found Mr. Bailie’s post very enlightening and will respond to it here as best I can. He begins:

A few critics seem to think that opinions expressed on this Facebook page are so alien to common decency as to be intrinsically odious.

Notes from the UndergroundThe term “intrinsically odious” cannot fail to remind us of the Catechism’s description of homosexuality as “intrinsically disordered.” Is this just a coincidence, or is it a reverberation? Several of Mr. Bailie’s critics and one of his supporters have already commented on the mimetic doubling effects that have become apparent, both in Mr. Bailie’s responses and my own project of “mirroring” TCF on this site. I believe there is considerable truth in these observations, and I am willing to own that truth for my part. Resentment has indeed driven many of my responses to Mr. Bailie’s incessant disparagement of homosexuals over the years. Why do I continue reading his homophobic comments? It’s not because I enjoy being demeaned. Rather, it is because Mr. Bailie’s treatment of me and other LGBTs makes me angry, and I believe I can both own that anger and put it to good use in the service of others. (I realize this holds the promise of a fruitful discussion about the merits of righteous anger from a Girardian perspective: How can one be certain that one’s anger is righteous, and what if it is not?)

An additional reason for my returning again and again to track Mr. Bailie’s shabby treatment of homosexuals is that I am witnessing the fascinating spectacle of a mimetic reversal in progress. In recent years, those who were once so virulent in their denunciations of all things gay have begun to worry that the tables are being turned on them and that they will become as marginalized for their bigotry as LGBTs have been for their sexual orientation. We have heard this from Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown of NOM, and from virtually every other media opponent of same-sex marriage. In fact, it has become one of the major talking-points of the opposition. Just last week we heard it in Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion on the DOMA case, where, unaware of the irony of his remarks, he made the very same complaints that we have heard from homosexuals for years, i.e., we are being condemned, demeaned, and humiliated; we do not wish to be adjudged “hostes humani generis” (enemies of the human race). This is the language of the victim and of the powerless, and I do not believe Justice Scalia was shamming for the sake of effect. There was emotion in his words, and that emotion was fear mixed with anger and resentment.

I sensed that same trepidation in Mr. Bailie’s opening sentence for the post in question: “A few critics seem to think that opinions expressed on this Facebook page are so alien to common decency as to be intrinsically odious.”

US-JUSTICE-GAY-MARRIAGEThe DOMA and Prop 8 decisions, added to the state legislative victories of recent months and years and the same-sex marriage legalizations happening in Europe and Latin America, have rattled the political right. There can be no mistaking that. Cultural crises are always about paradigm shifts and usually entail redistributions of power. But the long arc of equality and justice in our consitutional democracies should ensure that no one has anything to fear when these changes occur.

There’s much more in Mr. Bailie’s post to chew on, and I will continue doing so tomorrow.

Critics Take Gil Bailie to Task (Part 1)

SlanderThe following is a transcription of a discussion that occurred beginning 6/16/13 on Gil Bailie’s The Cornerstone Forum Facebook Page:

The Cornerstone Forum (Gil Bailie)

A friend alerted me to this. It apparently comes from Bill O’Reilly’s message board. It’s about the last presidential election, and the figures appear to be accurate.

As each state reported their final election details, the evidence of voter fraud is astounding. Massive voter fraud has been reported in areas of OH and FL, with PA, WI and VA, all are deploying personnel to investigate election results.

Here are just a few examples of what has surfaced with much more to come.

  • In 59 voting districts in the Philadelphia region, Obama received 100% of the votes with not even a single vote recorded for Romney. (A mathematical and statistical impossibility).
  • In 21 districts in Wood County Ohio, Obama received 100% of the votes where GOP inspectors were illegally removed from their polling locations – and not one single vote was recorded for Romney. (Another statistical impossibility).
  • In Wood County Ohio, 106,258 voted in a county with only 98,213 eligible voters.
  • In St. Lucie County, FL, there were 175,574 registered eligible voters but 247,713 votes were cast.
  • The National SEAL Museum, a polling location in St. Lucie County, FL had a 158% voter turnout.
  • Palm Beach County, FL had a 141% voter turnout.
  • In Ohio County, Obama won by 108% of the total number of eligible voters.

NOTE: Obama won in every state that did not require a Photo ID and lost in every state that did require a Photo ID in order to vote.

Jim Daly responds:

I love and respect you, Gil, but it really makes you look bad when you post scurrilous rumors. It tends to discredit the many other true and helpful things you post. I have no idea why you say that the figures are accurate. In fact, just a little fact checking shows them to be false. Here is a link to the snopes.com page that refutes these claims.

The Cornerstone Forum: 

statue1Jim, thanks for passing this along. Everyone is welcome to take a look and come to a decision. If I had more confidence in this administration, I would have been less
credulous. I remain skeptical. But, everyone is welcome to take a look and come to his or her on conclusion.

Sophie Sommers:

Gil, one way to avoid propagating scurrilous rumors is to do some careful fact checking before you post anything of this sort. Stories like the one above do unjustified damage to people’s reputations, and that is wrong by any moral standard. Your distrust of Obama and your faith in people like Bill O’Reilly could lead you down some dangerous paths. Please give everyone the benefit of the doubt and speak no evil of anyone without really solid evidence of wrongdoing. You know as well as I do that the Internet is full of false reporting about everything that’s going on in government and society. There are a number of fact-checking resources. Jim Daly mentioned Snopes.com. There are others, all mostly reliable. (Just avoid the ones that are funded by groups with ideological agendas.)

Jim Daly:

Trust meGil, when you say that you remain “skeptical,” do you mean that you doubt Snopes.com’s debunking of these ludicrous claims? Could you explain why? Is it simply because your dislike of so many of the Obama administration’s policies inclines you to believe the worst about the President? That’s understandable. But recognizing your biases should give you the incentive to be extra diligent about verifying the things you post, so you don’t end up committing the sin of slandering your neighbor and discrediting the many true and helpful things you post.

The Cornerstone Forum:

My skepticism of the present administration and the Chicago politics it represents is such that I find stories like the one my friend highlighted believable. Whatever the validity of the article in question, my skepticism remains.

Jim Swenson:

scandal2There are clearly a lot of people in this country who will believe anything about Obama and his policies as long as it is bad. This is very unhealthy for our democracy, because we are seeing unprecedented infusions of misinformation into the media to satisfy these people’s need for scandal. Willfully passing along false and libelous information is, according to the Catholic catechism, a very serious sin for which penance is required. It’s so serious, in fact, that it is mentioned in the Ten Commandments.

To make responsible decisions, citizens need accurate information. Responsible citizens will do their part to ensure that the media don’t contaminate and distort the political process. When we put up Facebook pages and blog sites, the “Media ‘R’ Us.” Let’s keep it clean!

Jim Daly:

TruthPerhaps you found it “believable,” in the sense of being at least plausible, but that doesn’t make it true. And since we as Christians have an overriding responsibility to the truth, especially when what’s at stake is the reputation of our neighbors who may be innocent of the accusations brought against them, don’t we have a responsibility to check our facts before we post something that turns out to be a scurrilous fabrication? You’ve rightly complained about the decline of journalistic integrity, as journalists sacrifice their traditional commitment to the truth and allow themselves to be used as mouthpieces to promote an ideological agenda. But your credibility on this and many other points vanishes if you do the very same thing you complain about when it’s done by others. That’s what your concerned friends on this thread are trying to help you see.

The Cornerstone Forum:

For what it’s worth, I find Bill O’Reilly to be insufferable. The things I quoted from his message board seemed to me plausible, for reasons that most people might recognize. I’m done with this post. Carry on if it seems worth your while.

Ben Boyce:

So that proves it! Not only is Obama not a citizen, but five million votes were manufactured to install the Anti-Christ as president. (That’s the problem with the right-wing Republicans; they not only have their own opinions but they make their own facts). It has come to this. It must be hard to breathe in that bubble, what with all the noxious fumes being emitted.

Jim Daly:

Shame2I do understand why you found the figures to be plausible, despite their untrustworthy source. But plausible doesn’t mean true and, when what’s at stake is the possibility of unjustly sullying the reputations of so many dedicated poll workers, it’s morally imperative to verify your claims to avoid promulgating the sort of falsehoods found in your post. Earlier today, you posted a beautiful sentiment about how heavenly it would be to have the opportunity to seek forgiveness from all those whom we have wronged. But, of course, before we can seek forgiveness, there must first be an admission of wrongdoing. That may actually be the hardest part, because our desire to get right with God and our neighbor meets all kinds of resistance from that proud part of ourselves that is loath to admit our mistakes. That’s why the person who can admit error is so deserving of our respect. It would be wonderful if you could stop hiding behind the excuse that it’s alright to spread calumny as long as it strikes our biased ears as initially “plausible.” There is no shame in admitting a mistake. To the contrary! The shame lies in refusing to do so.

Critics Take Gil Bailie to Task (Part 2)

Image6/18/13: Gil Bailie of The Cornerstone Forum posts the following:

THE NEW MORAL CAUSE: Freedom from Moral Constraints

What does the average man of today expect when he cries out for freedom and liberation? Approximately what Marx gave as a vision of full freedom: ‘hunting in the morning, fishing in the afternoon … and criticizing as suits my pleasure after dinner.’ By ‘freedom’ one generally understands today the possibility of doing everything one wants and of doing only what one would like. Thus understood, freedom is arbitrariness. … According to this vision, freedom would be complete if there were no longer any rule or any obligation to other persons or things, but only the unlimited arbitrariness of each individual who has everything he wants at his disposal and who can do everything he likes. In this view, liberation consists in throwing off all obligations. Every obligation appears as a fetter that restricts freedom; every obligation one eliminates means progress in freedom.— Joseph Ratzinger

Alas, however, where does one who has fallen for this trivialized anthropology look for help in freeing his shoulders from unwanted obligations? He looks to the state. If enough of his contemporaries can be coaxed into adopting his liberationist anthropology—for this purpose, the ideological takeover of educational institutions will be necessary—many of the obligations once associated with family, faith, church and community can be transferred to the state, even as the state can be made the arbiter of new lifestyle rights, and the enforcer these rights, when necessary, at the expense of rights traditionally understood—religious freedom, conscience, and so on. Thus the adolescent interpretation of freedom eventually requires the paternalistic, authoritarian state as its enabler and champion. Perpetual childhood in a walled prison.

Timothy Brock responds:

Certainly, “throwing off all obligations” can only lead to toxic levels of “liberation.” At such levels, we find only sociopaths.

People who are considered “healthy” in their outlook and habits usually know how to manage their obligations. This means not taking on too many, or too few, but it also means selecting them carefully. “Liberation,” then, might just mean having the freedom to manage one’s own obligations to an optimal degree under given sets of circumstances.

Why shouldn’t we look to the state for help in doing this? I don’t regard the “state” as something completely alien to myself. Ideally, it empowers me to join with others in deciding what our mutual obligations are, and it is an arena of negotiation. Where else would you want to conduct these negotiations? Sectarian institutions are too narrow, and they lack the power to make and enforce binding laws. Family is sometimes too constrictive, imposing obligations that we may properly deem unreasonable. Faith may deprive us of the autonomy that we need for the work of managing our obligations.

Family, faith, church, and community are important, even essential, in getting our balance right. But anthropologically, they are at the level of the tribe, which has long since been superseded by the nation state, and—now—the community of nations. We don’t abandon the tribe just because the tribe has been folded into the state, but we get strength and meaning from each of them. There’s no going back to life in the little duchy bounded by mountains and lakes, impervious to events outside its borders. We are all connected, and no tribe is ever going to expand to fill the space occupied by the secular state. It’s just not going to happen, at least not here.

Authoritarianism is a separate issue. There’s no reason why the secular state should be authoritarian. It may be democratic and constitutional. On the other hand, church, community, and family may be highly authoritarian. The Catholic hierarchy is not exactly a democracy, you know…

Ben Boyce:

Well said, Timothy! There is an unsettling insurrectionist tone in American conservatives, now that they do not control all the branches of government. The Southern accent that is the tone of the Republican Party tells me that the Civil War never really ended. That, coupled with the worship of the gun in their sub-culture, is cause for concern.

Criticism isThe Cornerstone Forum:

Ben and Timothy, you may want to get into email communication. This page will not long be a posting board for rants against the Church, etc.

Sophie Sommers:

Easy, Gil. This is an interesting discussion. You got it started. Now just listen.

Implicit in the idea of a “transfer” to the state of “obligations once associated with family, faith, church, and community” is the notion that the state is somehow antithetical to family, faith, etc. But is it really? Or must it be? Maybe the state is—or can be—an expression and an extension of community values.

If the state is the “arbiter” of rights, perhaps it is well suited for that role. What other entity can match the impartiality of the state or its accountability to all stakeholders? What other entity can balance competing claims of religious liberty and conscience?

The state’s enforcement of rights should not be confused with authoritarianism. The rights of Americans have been elaborated over the past two centuries through legislation and judicial decision. This is the antithesis of authoritarianism, which establishes rights and obligations through edict.

Jim Daly:

I’m also interested in hearing the discussion, Gil. I think it’s an important topic. And, as far as I can tell, no one is engaging in a rant against the Church. Ben said nothing about the Church and Timothy merely noted that the Church hierarchy is not democratic, which is an indisputable fact. I think you would agree that the Church ought not to be a democratic institution. In this respect, it’s unlike the state, which needs to be democratic in order to ensure that the interests and rights of everyone are protected, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack of same. The Church has a different responsibility: to safeguard and promulgate the deposit of faith. To fulfill this obligation, the Church counts on the continued protection of its rights by the liberal state. Viewed in this way, rights and obligations aren’t at odds with each other. They’re mutually supportive.

Ben Boyce:

Just to be clear, I’m not “ranting.” Nor am I taking the Catholic Church to task. What I am reacting to is the conflation of the Catholic Church with right-wing American politics. This is not an academic issue, because I experience it in parish life. I find it alarming that anyone who is associated with progressive politics is openly questioned as a “real Catholic.” This was demonstrated vividly for me when a member of my parish told a friend that he had a hard time “hearing the Word of God from a socialist,” after my turn as a lector, apparently in reference to a monthly column I write for the Sonoma Sun, entitled “Progressive Majority Coalition”, which makes the case for what I believe to be a social justice perspective that seems more compatible with the Gospel concern with lifting up the poor and fashioning a society that asks for mutual responsibility from all classes, including the wealthy and powerful. I never use theological justifications for my positions, because that would seem presumptuous, even though I do believe that my Christian social democratic views are closer to the spirit of Christ than the mean spirited social darwinism that is the core of contemporary American conservatism.

Sophie Sommers:

Jim, a lot of the anti-statism that we’re hearing is from entities that would like to override and supplant the powers of the democratic state. These entities are mostly corporations and religious institutions that want unfettered power for themselves. Anti-statist religious groups have made provisional alliances that would not survive long after the disappearance of the state, if that were ever to happen. Then it would again be Catholics against Protestants, Jews against Christians, Christians against Muslims, Baptists against Methodists, and so on down the line. The state holds all these forces in tension and, far from starving it, as Grover Norquist would like to do, I think we need to cultivate it.

Ben Boyce:

Dead-EndAdditionally, the reason that you are provoking these kinds of responses is that you keep throwing out highly politicized positions that reflect the views of the American Religious Right as if they represented the Magisterium of the Church. I feel as though I have the right to comment on this page based on my having listened to every tape and CD you produced from the beginning of your career until around 2008. I have been dismayed to see how you have thrown in your lot with the intellectually and morally bankrupt enterprise of the right-wing forces, who seem so seized with their own conviction, based on a very narrow bandwidth of moral issues, that they really do believe that God is on their side and any other orientation is not just a political difference but an affront to God and the Church. The lesson for me is to avoid the logic of orthodoxy, which can lead even intelligent and educated people like yourself into an intellectual dead-end which squeezes out mercy and charity for the sake of rigid conformity to a hard-line doctrine. The attempt to impose hard and fast categories on the messy fluidity of the human experience is yet another road to tyranny, as history can attest. We can be grounded in the absolute revealed truth of Christ and still retain a sense of humility about our limits as flawed humans. I don’t object to you expressing your personal views on culture and politics (since I do it all the time myself!) but I do resist your implicit assertion that your views are cloaked in the majesty of the teachings of the Church.

Ben Boyce:

Finally, since this will be my last chance to address this concern in a public forum, I would ask you to rethink how you use your Facebook page as a means of communicating your mission. You can choose to continue along the same trajectory and ruthlessly edit out unflattering comments by banning individual users and quickly removing content that does not reflect well on your message, or you can re-evaluate whether the mission of the Forum is served by taking so many nakedly partisan positions on political issues. I am not interested in having one-to-one e-mail exchanges on your public positions, because that does not accomplish the goal of getting your audience to look at alternative perspectives. I don’t think that I have been a pernicious poster, although I have started to mock some of the more outrageous claims as a way of waking you up to just how it sounds to folks outside of the conservative media bubble. I do hope that you will examine the role that you have adopted in the last few years, because it is distracting from a very deep core message that should be heard by the culture. OK, fini!

Sophie Sommers

The Emperor's New ClothesIn memoriam: Dorothy Jospin, Thomas Hostomsky, Frank Lozera, Ernest Karam, George Dunn, and several others whose names I cannot recall. [Editor’s Note: These are the names of the “fallen,” i.e., those who have been thrown off The Cornerstone Forum Facebook Page for taking issue with Gil Bailie’s positions.]

Jim Daly:

Reading Gil Bailie’s book, Violence Unveiled, was a turning point in my spiritual and intellectual development. Since then, I’ve listened to many of Gil’s recorded lectures (I hope it’s okay for me to use your first name, Gil), which have been a rich resource for me in reflecting on the meaning of the gospel. In short, I hold Gil Bailie in very high esteem. This is why I’m also disappointed and concerned about how Gil has been letting his partisan loyalties get in the way of what is of truly enduring value, his brilliant interpretation of the revelation given to us in Jesus Christ. It seems that these partisan loyalties are even preventing Gil from dealing in a truly ethical and Christian way, that is, both charitably and fairly, with those with whom he disagrees. A particularly troubling case in point is his repost of false information about the election, taken from Bill Reilly’s website, though there are other examples I could give.

Just so there’s no misunderstanding, let me explain that politically, I’m neither a doctrinaire liberal nor a doctrinaire conservative. I hold views that are strongly pro-life, but I’m also concerned about the poor and other social justices issues more traditionally associated with the left. My social justice concerns, however, don’t mean that I necessarily support every initiative put forward by those calling themselves “progressives.” Sadly, many programs intended to help the least well off have backfired or generated new, unanticipated problems. What we need is both wisdom and compassion, a combination rarely encountered these days anywhere on the political spectrum.

I only bring up my own politics so no one will think that my criticisms of Gil stem from a doctrinaire allegiance to the political positions he sometimes excoriates. I’d like to think that my politics are informed by my understanding of the gospel and, as I’ve already said, I owe much of that understanding to the brilliant insights of Gil Bailie. That’s why it saddens me so to see Gil deal with others in ways that seem to me to be so antithetical to the spirit of Christ.

Gil Bailie responds to all:

There are, and will always be, disagreements between and among those who share our basic premises, and we welcome an opportunity to learn from people who share our basic principles, but who may have a different understanding of their implications. But there are visitors to our Page who have fundamental disagreements with us on first principles and on many of the cultural, theological, and moral issues of our time. Our clear and unapologetic intention is to be useful as we can be to those who share our fidelity to the Church and to the moral realism rooted in the Catholic anthropology. There are countless people who disagree with us on these and other matters. We wish them well, but we will not let the comments box of this Page be turned into a soapbox for carping about the Catholic Church or the moral tradition it represents. Unfortunately, I have neither the time nor the patience required to respond to those with whom an incessant exchange of opinion would accomplish precisely nothing except to turn this Page into both a full-time job and a shouting match.

There are literally millions of venues for the airing of views antithetical to the ones for which we stand, but this Facebook Page isn’t one of them. This Page is not a bulletin board or a blog or campus kiosk for the posting of angry disquisitions at odds with the three simple principles mentioned above. With no ill feeling, we encourage those who want to champion causes incompatible with our own to find other venues for doing so.

Rick Boone:

Your position is elegantly and graciously stated. Anyone who has a problem with it (and I wasn’t aware there might be those about who did) reveals himself morally and intellectually unworthy to participate in the Forum.

Jim Daly:

Gil, I honestly think you’re misinterpreting many of the responses on this page. I haven’t read anything that would constitute carping, angry or otherwise, against the Catholic Church. You also seem to have deliberately chosen words that denigrate the contributions of those who express views with which you may not agree. Impugning Christian brothers and sisters in this way is neither fair nor charitable.

Mind made upFar from “carping” against the Church, several participants in this forum who share your commitment to the Christian faith have expressed concerns about whether you may be letting your partisan political loyalties get in the way of effectively representing and advancing the mission of the Cornerstone Forum. An example of this is your readiness to post scurrilous attacks on poll workers that two minutes of research would have shown to be malicious fabrications. That someone as bright and well-intentioned as you could fall prey to such a sin only underscores how important it is for even the best of us to have friends who will alert us when we go astray and help us to overcome our powerful predilections for self-deception. It is through your writings and those of Girard that I have come to understand how robust and insidious the human capacity for self-deception really is.

Again, to voice these concerns isn’t the same as criticizing the Church or its moral traditions. To the contrary, they are a reminder of how prone we all are to confuse fidelity to the gospel with blind allegiance to some partisan political cause of the moment. We all need to guard against this tendency, lest it lead us inadvertently to betray the gospel in both our words and our deeds.

Jim Swenson:

Mr. Bailie (as I now know you prefer to be called), I just caught up with these discussions, or should I say “shock waves,” starting with the flap over your handling of the Bill O’Reilly slanders and rippling through a couple of other posts. Frankly, I am just aghast, but I also feel privileged to have witnessed what has happened here, because it is so emblematic of the crisis in the Church. This crisis amounts to a schism of historic proportions, one that will probably continue unfolding for many years to come. In intellectual history, or “anthropologically speaking,” as you would be fond of saying, everything that is said or written in these pages holds clues that can lead us to the truth.

Mr. Bailie, you are in some sense the face of modern hard-line conservative Catholicism, which brooks no criticism and makes no apologies for its bad behavior. It is so persuaded of its rightness, its absolute God-given mission, and its unassailable moral rectitude that it has no remaining scruples about silencing critics, trampling inquiry, and expelling anyone who dares, however meekly, to raise an objection.

How can you possibly denounce authoritarianism? You are authoritarian to the core. How can you possibly critique scapegoating when you have so thoroughly mastered and deployed its techniques? And how can you throw around the word “anthropology,” when you haven’t a clue how scientists think?

You are a fraud and a phony who would like nothing better than to attract a loyal following of sycophants who hang on your every word. You don’t want to worship God. You want to BE worshipped, and so you have become the false prophet “par excellence.”

Your shabby behavior when you were confronted with your slanders is key to understanding your character. Instead of admitting your error, you looked for some little infraction of your rules that would justify warning everyone to be silent. To shut up. And then you pretended that Ben Boyce’s exposure of you had nothing to do with your fit of pique.

Just so you know, the Cornerstone Forum has a shadow site, operated by one of those unfortunate individuals who made the mistake of thinking you were some kind of intellectual force, only to be thrown off for actually trying to converse with you without at the same time genuflecting. The shadow site is called “The Cornerstone Forum Samizdat,” and it is at https://thecornerstoneforumsamizdat.wordpress.com/.

Cheers, and farewell.

Chestertown Tea Party Festival

Chestertown Tea Party Festival

Sophie Sommers:

Uh, oh, time for another purge. This time, I’m putting my bets on Jim Swenson, Ben Boyce, Jim Daly, Tim Brock, and, of course, myself. But I will pass the flame onto someone else.

Editor:

Within a couple of hours of Sophie’s final comment, three of the individuals she listed had “disappeared” from The Cornerstone Forum Facebook page. Only Jim Daly and Tim Brock remained.

Requiescant in pace.

An Inconvenient Truth at the Heart of Catholic Teaching About Abortion

Abstinence-only ed

by Dean Hansen

6/20/13: Gil Bailie of The Cornerstone Forum quotes part of a recent letter to Nancy Pelosi from Father Frank Pavone:

You speak here of Catholic faith as if it is supposed to hide us from reality instead of lead us to face reality, as if it is supposed to confuse basic moral truths instead of clarify them, and as if it is supposed to help us escape the hard moral questions of life rather than help us confront them,” Father Frank Pavone continues in the letter. “Whatever Catholic faith you claim to respect and practice, it is not the faith that the Catholic Church teaches. And I speak for countless Catholics when I say that it’s time for you to stop speaking as if it were.

Mr. Bailie, our seemingly interminable argument about abortion has been so wracked by blame-fixing and moral one-upmanship that it has become nothing but a great waste of time. To properly address the issue, we must cut straight to an obvious and unavoidable question: How can people be forced to stop engaging in sexual activity? This is not a silly question. It lies at the heart of the dilemma for those intent on controlling our sex lives out of a misguided quest for moral “purity”—a quest that is neither dignified, honorable, nor compassionate.

Unless you can prevent premarital, marital, extramarital, and even postmarital sex from happening, people will continue to seek abortions when they fail—through ignorance, distraction, or avoidance—to take the necessary and available precautions to avoid unwanted pregnancies. But the Church tells us, “To avoid pregnancy, don’t have sex.” To which I can only respond that if you expect people to listen to you, much less to trust you, you’ll have learn how to be less clueless and more emotionally available. An entire segment of the population has already proven you wrong. They never get pregnant though they have sex all the time. Needless to say, you’ve discounted them as “intrinsically disordered.”

Since the Church condemns contraception and the vast majority of its members disregard its proscriptions on sex and birth control, abortion will unfortunately continue apace. This sad state of affairs will continue until the Church opens itself to a truly modern discussion about sexuality and contraception and begins fully honoring its congregants’ humanity and sexuality. What has been lacking is mercy, common sense, and genuine compassion for those who face tough decisions about unwanted pregnancies. The Church must stop treating these persons as criminals and murderers. It must stop setting up false thresholds of life and personhood. It must extend love and forgiveness to those who have chosen abortion. Caring about abortion’s effects must begin with caring for those who have survived it.

All the horror stories about evil, sadistic abortion doctors running filthy, medically unsafe clinics and destroying the lives of women who seek their help will not dissuade women in the slightest when it comes to making the decisions for themselves, hopefully minus the inhuman monsters who sometimes prey on them. The more untenable you make safe abortions by driving them underground, the more horror stories you’ll have to back up your flawed arguments, and the more complicit you’ll become to the worst of those vile scenarios. People are sexually active in large numbers. This is an ineluctable fact of life. As a result, many women get pregnant when they don’t want to, and many of them kill babies they don’t want. The surest way to prevent these two unpleasant outcomes is to teach them about responsible birth control and make it fully accessible to them.

The disgrace of abortions is one for which you and the so-called church fathers are largely responsible. All your moral badgering and and mind-gagging ethical anguish will only make people even more determined than they already are not to allow you or the church anywhere near their bodies or their souls. Since people are not going to stop fucking, you have two options: Either promote legal abortion or change the Church’s teaching about contraception. Legal and accessible abortion ensures that people who are too overwhelmed or distracted by desire to guard against pregnancy in the first place will have a reasonable alternative to being bound together in a merely physical relationship against their will. Changing the Church’s policy toward contraception will give those who act as though they care what the church thinks the more reasonable option of avoiding pregnancy, therefore making abortion unnecessary.  Those are and will forever remain, the only options.

But of course, your deep concern and moral anguish is disingenuous rubbish, because you’re not telling the truth. You love the Church so much you’ll let it sink into hell rather than be an agent of real change and reform so that it can better the lives of those you claim to be concerned with. The truth is, you don’t want there to be fewer abortions because you’re creepy enough to believe that disastrous consequences have a way of reforming people and making them despise their own sexuality. But the Church has a sad history of pouring kerosene on the flames, whether it’s discouraging condom use amongst those stricken with AIDS, promoting abstinence, encouraging teenagers to take chastity vows and wear purity rings, or just sticking your noses in people’s crotches as an excuse for introducing them to Jesus. In fact, it’s safe to say, you don’t even know what the problem is.

Hopefully, Catholicism under Pope Francis is beginning to steer the church away from some of its past errors. His acknowledgement (fiercely and immediately contradicted by his underlings who claim deference to him unless they disagree with what he has to say) that God loves and saves atheists as well as everyone else is as good a start on the road to real grace and freedom as anything could be. When Catholicism finally includes homosexuals as something other than  fodder for renewed scapegoating, invites women to participate in the church in real positions of authority, and learns to treat all women with respect and compassion when they are forced into painful choices they shouldn’t be required to make, then you may have to abandon your role as son of the church and embrace the double jeopardy of being an orphan of two fathers. The only way you can countenance this very real possibility is to engage in a thorough re-evaluation of what you hold dear. The Church already recognizes that it’s in crisis. If it is ever to repair the damage wrought by its rejection of science and modernity, it will have to shake off the anachronisms of thought and piety that have eroded its moral force for centuries. What is needed is a détente with the real world through what the current Pope is calling the culture of encounter. You don’t encounter the culture by turning tail and running from it. Will you be among those in his service when he declares that all are redeemed, or just absent without leave?

Catholicism and Secular Liberalism: Who’s off the Reservation?

Martyrs of Uganda Catholic Church in Detroit

Martyrs of Uganda Catholic Church in Detroit

by Doughlas Remy

In a post from last Thursday (5/23), Gil Bailie opines about the challenges conservative Catholics face as they attempt to move freely about in a society that is “thoroughly suffused with and monitored by secular liberalism’s worldview and presuppositions.” 

This is a telling admission about the dilemma of modern Catholicism. Bailie himself seems pained by the idea that the Catholic worldview has been marginalized to the point that most educated people find it foreign, unintelligible, and at times shocking: “… liberal opinions are expressed breezily, as though those who might dissent from such views live far, far away—maybe in Kansas, wherever that is.” When one voices views informed by Catholic teaching, he writes, “one is immediately thought beyond the pale of decency.”

As if this is almost too much to contemplate, Bailie briefly engages in wishful thinking. It is the secular liberals who are marginalized: “Many secular liberals have lived most or all of their lives on these intellectual and moral reservations,” he writes. But let’s get real. Bailie is not visiting the reservations; he’s visiting from the reservation. 

Émile Durkheim correctly saw that God is the community. Monotheism’s requirement that there be a single community and a single law accounts for its expansionist and universalizing tendencies, as expressed in the Catholic teaching that there is no salvation outside the Church. Retrenchment of the sort we’re seeing in modern Catholicism creates just the kinds of dilemmas that Bailie experiences in his own dealings with the world. Catholic ideology is no longer universal, widely understood, or necessarily considered legitimate. The “default” worldview has long since become unmoored from Catholic teaching. Quel chagrin!

Take up thy crossWhat to do? Retreat? (hard for a schmoozer like Bailie) Play along? (and deny Christ?) Evangelize? (And be thought beyond the pale of decency?) These are difficult choices when one is, after all, unsure whether one really intends to take up one’s cross and follow Jesus. 

Below, I’ve included Gil Bailie’s post, followed by Timothy Brock’s response, and then by Dean Hansen’s:

Gil Bailie writes:

Many of us live and move and have our precarious being inside a social network thoroughly suffused with and monitored by secular liberalism’s worldview and presuppositions. Many secular liberals have lived most or all of their lives on these intellectual and moral reservations, whose unexamined presuppositions they share. Among the pre-conscious but widely held assumptions is that everyone who is intelligent and educated is a secular liberal. If an intelligent and educated person happens to have a religious hobby or two that is not particularly held against him or her, as long as this religious interest is attenuated enough and is deferential to secular liberalism’s various sacred cows.

When one meets people in such settings, it is so confidently assumed that intelligence and education correlate positively with the degree of one’s liberal outlook, that liberal opinions are expressed breezily, as though those who might dissent from such views live far, far away —maybe in Kansas, wherever that is.

laughin_henry_gibsonOne is then faced with either playing along, just to be polite, or voicing one’s views, which—in these settings—are so shocking to the locals that friendships may well not survive the shock. One is immediately thought beyond the pale of decency. And the very worst part is that—in the interest of salvaging the moment and possibly a friendship—one feels the need to insert little liberal sentiments into the ensuing conversation in order to reassure one’s interrogators that one is not, in fact, a Nazi or a George Wallace admirer. It’s a strange, self-enclosed world, and self-reinforced world. 

One does one’s best.

Timothy Brock responds:

Gil, what you’ve written offers a truly fascinating perspective into a conservative Catholic’s experience of a society from which he feels increasingly alienated. I gather from what you’ve revealed about yourself that you move about in the world. You give lectures, you go to conferences, and you meet a lot of people. You’re hardly reclusive or introverted, and the cloistered life would not appeal to you. Retreat is not an option. Obviously, however, your outer-directedness and your sense of calling are increasingly at odds with the world in which you move. It is becoming harder for you to get traction in the world of secular liberalism. Certain values are “assumed,” especially on the West Coast where you live, and they are a strong current to swim against. 

A real and urgent civilizational crisis

A real and urgent civilizational crisis

Our modern world is in many ways in “crisis,” as you say, but perhaps not for the reasons that you think. Even more obvious to me, however, is that the Catholic Church is in crisis, and your musings about your difficulties finding traction in secular settings is one of the symptoms of that crisis.

You are aware of the widening gap between secular society and the teachings of the Church. Sometime in the late 19th century, the Church emphatically rejected modernism. Unfortunately, that entailed a rejection of much that is good about modernism, especially the efflorescence of scientific inquiry. Today, the Church is going its own way, drifting ever farther from the mainstream. In fact, “mainstream” has become a dirty word. It is ridiculed as the “fashion du jour” when in fact outcomes sometimes show that it is coursing in the right direction.

I believe the Church’s blanket repudiation of modernism has contributed mightily to the growing alienation that conservative Catholics feel with regard to their ambient culture. 

Where there is alienation, there is little or no engagement. And yet you have committed yourself to engage with the culture and change it. I think you’ve got an uphill struggle in front of you—and a very frustrating one. Your faith will no doubt give you courage for the task.

Dean Hansen responds with his own translation of Gil Bailie’s post:

Translation:

Not-pleasantJesus (who loves everyone) has nevertheless told me to be wary of people that he loves because they are probably “secular liberals,” and we know that Jesus has no truck with sek’lar libruls. Of course, they’re not quite as bad as ni**ers, kikes, faggots and abortion doctors, but Lordy, Lordy, they’re bad enough!  I know this because I know that Jesus is angry at them since they think for themselves and arrive at conclusions based on rational sense about how the world works. In short, they refuse to live in the same hermetically-sealed, biblically-sterilized world that I do. Now, ironically, I’m tempted to agree with them from time to time, because they make a lot of sense, and I really have to fight the impulse to join with them, which is overpowering at times. I became aware of this tendency on those rare occasions when I doubted my own convictions, when I would be confronted with a profound sense of fatigue, and a corresponding feeling of emptiness. But fortunately, I was able to interpret these feelings correctly: Loss of essence.  Of course, secular liberals sense my power, and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid liberals, dear friends in Jesus, but I do deny them my essence.  Since I don’t want Jesus to hate me, which he would probably do if I were like them, I have spent my entire life resisting the impulse to be human and share myself with those who would otherwise be my friends.  Bastards!

Peter Sellars and Sterling HaydenThe Bible has provided me with a template which has to be spray painted on everything to test it for reliability. If the conclusions reached by others fall outside the lines of that template, they must be rejected along with the people who hold them, because God is a stickler for accuracy and perfection. Since I am obsessed with doing things correctly and never making mistakes which would result if I actually thought for myself, I will allow myself to be completely blinded by my own presuppositions, because otherwise, I would fall under the sway of my own judgment, and then I would explode. I will do my best therefore to make it sound as though others have rejected me, because I enjoy the illusion of difference that identifies me as being distinct from everyone else. How else can God be on my side unless he’s against everyone else? Being a contrarian about everything is hard, because it goes against the better angels of my nature, but I don’t want to be cast out forever, so I’ll make life hell for myself now and will then be better equipped to enjoy the beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly while being permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell as the special reward granted to the conservative libertarians of God.

The Cornerstone Forum Opposes Obama Administration’s International Efforts on Behalf of GLBTs

Georgian church clergymen and activists unite to protest against a gay pride rally in Tbilisi, Georgia, Friday, May 17, 2013. Thousands of anti-gay protesters, led by Orthodox priests, occupied a central street in Georgia's capital Friday, with some threatening to lash with nettles any participant in a gay pride parade which was to take place there. Police in Tbilisi guarded several dozen gay activists and bused them out of the city center shortly after they arrived at the gathering.  Three officers and nine GLBT demonstrators were hospitalized. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)

Georgian church clergymen and activists unite to protest against a gay pride rally in Tbilisi, Georgia, Friday, May 17, 2013. Thousands of anti-gay protesters, led by Orthodox priests, occupied a central street in Georgia’s capital Friday, with some threatening to lash with nettles any participant in a gay pride parade which was to take place there. Police in Tbilisi guarded several dozen gay activists and bused them out of the city center shortly after they arrived at the gathering. Three officers and nine GLBT demonstrators were hospitalized. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)

What follows is a copy of the blog thread following Gil Bailie’s posting of 5/15/13 opposing the Obama Administration’s international efforts on behalf of GLBTs. A copy of Mr. Bailie’s post follows the comments from Jim Swenson, Dean Hansen, and Timothy Brock.

Jim Swenson:

Gil, you and Robert Reilly appear to be endorsing anti-homosexual laws of the most backward and undemocratic countries in the world: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, Gambia, Somalia. Is this a complete rejection of democracy and modernism?

Since 1979, Iran has executed more than 4000 people charged with homosexual acts.

Saudi Arabia also has very severe punishments for homosexual acts: whipping, fines, imprisonment.

Jamaica imposes a ten-year jail sentence for homosexual acts.

These are just a few examples of “state” violence against homosexuals.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned laws that make homosexual relations between consenting adults a crime.

The UN Human Rights Committee has also ruled that such laws violate the right to privacy that is guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

And then there is criminal assault, which is rife in the countries I listed, in most of Latin America, and in the most backward parts of the US.

It doesn’t matter that criminal assault is “already” against the law in these countries. This is what you and Reilly don’t “get.” There are basically two ways of reducing the levels of criminal assault. One is to strengthen the police state (the Leviathan), and the other is to change people’s attitudes. Changing people’s attitudes is extremely difficult when they are simultaneously being told (by their churches) that homosexuality is against natural law and that it is “disordered.” Yup, they get the message, and after you’ve delivered it, it does absolutely no good to say, “But be compassionate toward them!” The bullies do NOT understand the language of compassion. They are just looking for a green light to beat people up.

I’m really proud of the Obama Administration for trying to reduce the levels of anti-gay violence in many of these Middle Eastern and African hell-holes. More power to them!

Jim Swenson:

The face of homophobia in France. Wilfred de Bruijn was brutalized by homophobic thugs in Paris in early April 2013.

The face of homophobia in France. Wilfred de Bruijn was brutalized by homophobic thugs in Paris in early April 2013.

Gil, even in NYC, one of the most progressive of U.S. cities, gay men continue to be assaulted for merely holding hands in public or just for “looking gay.” There were three incidents just last week, when six men were brutalized. So you can imagine what life must be like for gays in Latin American and Middle-Eastern countries.

What measures or policies do you think we could adopt to help stop the bullying and brutalization of homosexuals in these places? If the Church doesn’t lead on this issue, then it is up to the secular State. And then you wonder why the State is now more trusted than the Church and the Church is rapidly losing credibility? The Church is proposing precisely nothing to alleviate these problems but is instead contributing to them with its pseudo-scientific language of “disordered behavior.” The scientific establishment—including all the major health organizations—are attempting to bring us to our senses about this and to prevent more violence. They will eventually prevail, and the Church will once again have disgraced itself.

This is about violence prevention, and it is a very pragmatic issue. Is there some way you can get “on board” with that? Please tell us what you would propose.

Gil Bailie:

To call something “intrinsically disordered” is to speak the truth. One has only to imagine the act of sodomy or the act of abortion. I hardly expect everyone to agree about that these things are intrinsically disordered, but I agree with the Church about that. I also agree with the Church that people suffering from same-sex attraction deserve understanding and must never be the object of mistreatment. But when their plight is used to turn unnatural acts into human rights to which other rights must sacrificed—which is happening all across the Western cultural landscape – there is a problem. The plight of homosexuals in many places is being used to turn unnatural acts into privileged rights, as we have done with abortion, etc. Human rights, the inherent dignity of each and every human being, and the protection of each person from persecution by the powerful is the bedrock principle. Let’s stick with that. No special categories for homosexuals or the lame or the hearing impaired or those who want to marry their siblings.

Dean Hansen:

You’re not calling some nameless something intrinsically disordered, you’re calling a whole class of people intrinsically disordered. In short, the “something” you’re speaking your obnoxious “truth” to is nothing other than your fellow human beings, who dream, bleed, breathe, love, hurt, and feel just as you do, and expect quite legitimately to be accorded the same privileges and dignity you demand for yourself. A God who dies for humanity as an act of love and self-sacrifice dies for all humanity—not just for an imagined perfection in some hoped-for future but for a flawed, real, and imperfect present. But I’m going to follow your example this time and spare you that dignity, because you are not entitled to it. Your endless proclamations about evil in others is no longer just wearisome and endlessly repetitious. You’ve reduced yourself to a petty little crank who trolls for the Catholic hierarchy. You possess a kind of rabid and willful cluelessness that makes Rush Limbaugh look good. He at least is working from an intellectual deficit as wide as his bigotry and as thick as his waist. My apologies to the overweight. You have no such excuse. Your absolute refusal to confront your own bigotry is a disgrace, not a badge of piety or honor. But then, you’re merely imitating what you’ve been told, which is precisely what you hope to generate in others: blind, unswerving, unquestioning obedience to authority. Nothing you ever say or do can eclipse the poisonous attitudes that keep you in complicit awe with the church’s ongoing failings.

“Agreeing with the church” will not suffice when the church is wrong. To deny that fact is to ignore the historical reality that follows when men who assume perfect knowledge of God set themselves apart from those they are pledged to serve as equals—who could otherwise be an aide in that understanding—and insist through their own failings on instituting laws and restrictions that compromise or distort grace into forms of slavery both real and psychological.

You mentioned “protection of each person from persecution” as though it were a separate category instituted to nurse your own illusions. Apparently, your Christianity has morphed into the equivalent of an Indian caste system of untouchables based on the illusion of innate spiritual purity. You declare in mocking tones that you want “no special categories for homosexuals or the lame or the hearing impaired or those who want to marry their siblings.” Your slippery slope metaphors aren’t hyperbolic enough. How about some bestiality, coprophilia, necrophilia, or autoerotic asphyxiation to get the ball rolling? Or should I say the gag ball? They’re all just around the corner if we allow the definition of marriage to be inclusive. You may want to check with Balaam about how to proceed in the slippery slope wars. I’m sure the word “ass” is too laden with allusions of sodomy. You seem more than casually captive to extreme sexual fear and lame prognosis. A captive is someone who has no freedom to choose alternatives to avoid something. Your “freedom” is not compromised by captivity but by refusal to open the door you insist on closing behind you. Jesus began his ministry by proclaiming the very things you would deny:

“…The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

How do you propose to claim release from the heart of blindness when you refuse to see?  Like a typical Tennessee lawyer (which was your intended profession at one time) you parse things into oblivion or bury them beneath a blizzard of overly large words for the sake of “clarity,” and you end up missing everything Christ said and embracing everything he didn’t say. You call the resulting consequence oppression. It brings to mind Will Rogers’ adage, “I never doubted the ancestry of Tennessee folks until they tried to establish it by law.” But the law you honor is more oppressive than the justice bestowed by laws you fear. Your version of vigilantism is an inverse form of tolerance—tolerance for leaders who have lost their moral sense and vacated their moral authority in the name of doctrine, tradition and unquestioning obedience.

I think that will have to be our working definition of intrinsically evil: Something which is contained wholly within the church on which it acts. Maybe instead of gay reversion therapy, you could try “pray the predator away and save the prey camp.”

Jim Swenson:

The idea that either homosexuality or homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” is a purely religious notion that is flatly contradicted by consensus medical opinion. Sodomy (narrowly defined) may be unhealthy and dangerous, but it is practiced by minorities of both heterosexuals and homosexuals. It is no more “intrinsically disordered” than skate-boarding, poor dental hygiene, or over-indulgence in fast foods. No one should be imprisoned or executed for any of these behaviors. If all risky and unhealthy behaviors—let alone the sexual ones—were punishable by imprisonment, then few people would be left outside the prisons.

Execution and imprisonment are at one end of the spectrum of mistreatment that homosexuals are subjected to. In the middle range are school bullying and violent assaults. Then we get to kids thrown out of their homes and onto the streets, and finally there’s the more insidious steady drip of stigmatization, discrimination, and hate speech originating almost entirely in “Christian” churches.

This is the spectrum of mistreatment, and I’m very glad we can agree that homosexuals should never be mistreated. Let’s work to eliminate all these forms of mistreatment. We can do that by truly supporting “human rights, the inherent dignity of each and every human being, and the protection of each person from persecution by the powerful.” (your words)

I believe that is exactly what the Obama Administration is trying to do with regard to the widespread persecution of homosexuals in some of the most regressive and repressive countries of the world, and I applaud him for that.

You may fault Obama for not respecting the “rights” of embryos, but it is wrong to hold gays and lesbians hostage in that fight. It is wrong to fault him for trying to stem the tide of violence against gays and lesbians.

Timothy Brock:

My eye just caught Johan Lindahl’s comment on another post nearby. He wrote: “The truth of the scapegoat was right in front of him, but he did not recognize it.”

ScapegoatI want to borrow those very words for this comment. What could be more obvious than the scapegoating of homosexuals in our culture? But it’s only obvious to its victims and to those who care about them.

If LGBTs were not victims of scapegoating, then we would be having a national conversation about behaviors and not identities, and we would know how to avoid generalizations and stereotypes of the same sort that were once applied to Jews.

If you don’t approve of sodomy, then talk about sodomy, not about homosexuality, because sodomy is practiced by both straights and gays.

If you don’t approve of unsafe sex, then talk about unsafe sex, not homosexuality, because unsafe sex is practiced by both straights and gays.

If you don’t approve of promiscuity, then talk about promiscuity, not homosexuality, because many or most homosexuals are no more promiscuous than their heterosexual counterparts.

Discrimination against entire classes of people on the basis of what some of their members do is just wrong and bigoted. When that discrimination is selective—condemning in a disfavored class what is tolerated in a favored one—you have scapegoating in its starkest and ugliest form. What is happening in countries like Iran, Pakistan, Uganda, and Saudi Arabia is simply unconscionable by any moral measure. If we have any influence over these regimes, we must use it to help those who are oppressed by them.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t scapegoating one of the major themes of René Girard’s work? Maybe it’s time to revisit those chapters, as well as his entire book on the subject.

Gil Bailie’s post (5/15/13), to which the preceding comments are addressed:

Remember multiculturalism? I figured it was a swindle, but many swooned over every exotic culture, even though none of the exotic cultures believed in multiculturalism for a minute.

But that was way, way back in, say, 2005 or thereabouts. Now that the multiculturalists have their hands on the levers of power, they are determined to … get this … impose Western multiculturalism on those benighted cultures that Western multiculturalism found so quaint and charming and worthy of great deference just a few years ago.

SO . . .

I ask my friends who support gay “rights” to resist the urge to dismiss Robert Reilly’s argument and to read his article to the end. This is about a lot more than sexual orientation. Reilly is making a very important and very cogent philosophical argument about the political folly and international arrogance of scorning natural moral law in favor of “rights” assigned to behavior or lifestyle— “rights” that in effect undermine the very concept of human rights—leaving the weak—regardless of their sexual preferences—more, not less, vulnerable. The article concludes with moral reasoning of the first order.