Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Droppings from the (Presbyterian-) Catholic Birdcage: "Manning . . . the Barricades Against Modernity"

Bill Tammeus is a first-rate religion reporter, one of the best in the nation.  National Catholic Reporter was canny to provide him with a column entitled "A Small c Catholic."  Tammeus writes from the vantage point of a well-informed Presbyterian elder who knows a great deal about, and is sympathetic to, the Catholic tradition.

His latest NCR piece asks whether the Catholic church will still be standing in a few generations.  Tammeus's prognostication, which he admits is as dicy as any prognostication: not very likely.  At least not in its current hierarchy-centered institutional expression.  As he observes, the Catholic hierarchy's brutally obtuse insistence that Galileo was wrong for thinking the earth revolves around the sun didn't conspicuously serve its claim to be holding onto and transmitting great salvific truths to the culture at large.

Not any more than does its current claim that gay and lesbian human beings are intrinsically disordered.

And then there's this--Tammeus notes the lost promise of Vatican II, the deliberately extinguished promise that has been snuffed out from the very center of the Catholic church; and he notes precisely who is effecting the snuffing out of the promise:

But something has almost extinguished the spirit of that liberating time of reform, and the church once more is manning (the male reference is intended) the barricades against modernity, postmodernity and anything that may follow.

Tammeus's prescription for the self-created malaise in which the Catholic church now finds itself, with the overweening intent of its all-male hierarchy to defend male domination of women and the domination of gay and lesbian persons by heterosexual ones: 

The church -- if it's to adapt and not disappear with the blacksmiths, manual typewriters and Kodachrome film -- will have to return to its center, Christ Jesus, and to its mission.

Tammeus notes that he's echoing Richard Giannone's book Hidden as he writes that prescription.  Giannone maintains that community is the heart of Christianity.

And (self-evidently so), real, effective community cannot exist when one half of the human race is deliberately excluded from the governance and power-making conversations of said "community."  And when a stigmatized minority is deliberately and brutally stigmatized in the name of God by the leaders of said "community."

When, in other words, the community calling itself catholic comes to be about anything but catholic inclusivity, but is all about manning the barricades against everyone who threatens the patriarchal ethic that requires women to submit to men in the name of God, and which also requires that human beings God made homosexual are to be judged as less than human while ones fashioned as heterosexual are judged the pinnacle of humanity.

In the name of God.

When Jesus himself never said anything of the sort, and when everything he did say radically militates against these judgments.

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