Thursday, August 9, 2012

More Signposts for Exiled Believers, More Reflections on the Mike and Cathy Club

More signposts for me from people who speak to my soul as I flounder in the wilderness, crying out to God, asking how to sustain a spiritual life--any kind of spiritual life at all--when the church that has been foundational to my spiritual life betrays its originating vision (and its founder) in its ugly, unrelenting attacks on gay and lesbian human beings (on me) at this point in history:

Franciscan priest Richard Rohr by way of Phil Ewing's Blue Eyed Ennis blog:

When we start making the Eucharistic meal something to define membership instead of to proclaim grace and gift, we always get in trouble; that’s been the temptation of every denomination that has the Eucharist.  Too often we use Eucharist to separate who’s in from who’s out, who’s worthy from who’s unworthy, instead of to declare that all of us are radically unworthy, and that worthiness is not even the issue.

At his Hepzibah site, Alan McCornick asks the same question I asked yesterday about the Mike and Cathy club of chicken sandwich-for-Jesus Catholics as he wonders what a San Francisco Catholic diocese that really honors Rohr's patron saint, Francis of Assisi, might look like: 

Why are there so many “enablers” like Angela Alioto still convinced that devotion to their Savior requires devotion to the patriarchal structure of this decaying institution? . . .  Angela is not the only Roman Catholic to come out clearly on the side of the hierarchy.  Whether she enjoys being a member of the ruling circle, whether it’s a question of esthetics, whether it’s longing for a father figure, only she can tell us.  But this all-out endorsement of this nasty piece of work called Cordileone is disturbing.

At Enlightened Catholicism, Colleen Baker reads the appointment of Cordileone to the archbishopric of San Francisco (and the unrelenting attack of the Catholic hierarchy on LGBT human beings) as a deliberate strategy to shore up patriarchy and traditional gender roles, with female subordination and male domination center-stage:

It sure does look to me that the Roman Catholic Church is doubling down on presenting itself as all about male power and male control and the maintenance of same by exploiting the biology of women.  Given this, it's not surprising that Cordileone never mentions love, not once, not ever, in defending traditional marriage. The real threat in gay marriage is precisely the fact that it is being argued in terms of the equality of the love between partners,  and not the so called 'complementarity' of biological roles.  Male virility, as demonstrated by quiver fulls of children raised by exhausted mothers, is not part of the gay marriage equation.  Nor are traditional gender roles.  The culture Cordileone is worried about collapsing, is not the one that understands the need to procreate, it's the one that places men at the head of everything and raises male entitlement to a divine mandate.  

At Talk to Action, Fred Clarkson helps answer Alan McCornick's question about why Catholics in the Mike and Cathy club gleefully go along with the attacks on their gay brothers and sisters while they pretend to support every progressive cause other than freeing LGBT human beings from oppression: as Fred reminds us, Mike and Cathy and other "liberal" Catholic apologists for the religious right including Ray Flynn of Boston have their bread buttered by powerful conservative groups and the media that kotows to those powerful groups:

By the 2004 election he [i.e., Ray Flynn] had become the head of another Religious Right agency, Your Catholic Voice, that like the Catholic Alliance, had been formed by longtime Pat Robertson ally Keith Fournier.  Unsurprisingly, among the leaders and advisors of this outfit were such Religious Right leaders as the late Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation, Michael Schwartz of Concerned Women for America, and of course, Frank Pavone.

At Slacktivist, Fred Clark holds a mirror up to evangelical Christians who have made being homophobic a touchstone of being Christian and asks them to take a long, sobering look into the mirror:

Please let that sink in. Please contemplate what that means for the witness of evangelical Christians in America in 2012. Please consider what that means for the reputation of the church. 
That’s three “pleases” there, because I am begging — I am begging my brothers and sisters, my fellow evangelicals here in America, to step back and think about how we got to this sorry state of affairs.

And at Huffington Post, Michael Rowe looks at the snake oil that Dan Cathy and his "liberal" enablers like Catholics of the Mike and Cathy club seek to peddle when they equate Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day with support of free speech, and ignore the toxic homophobia they're really peddling:

It seems unlikely that Mr. Cathy's "free speech" would be something Michele Bachmann, or Sarah Palin, or Rick Santorum, or Mike Huckabee would have cared to weigh in on if Chick-fil-A had an overtly racist message, or contributed to anti-Semitic causes. Surely those would theoretically also have been cases of "free speech," but not popular cases, not ones that would curry political favor with their base voters. 
But since LGBT Americans are always expendable to these people, any attacks on their legal or social dignity is fodder for "free speech" posturing.

[S]ince LGBT Americans are always expendable to these people, any attacks on their legal or social dignity is fodder for "free speech" posturing: as Rowe reminds us, there's a human bottom line to the thrill of cheap grace Mike and Cathy enjoy when they get to kick the gays in the teeth while pretending to be all about support of religious freedom and free speech.  Real people are really being hurt by real Christians wolfing down chicken sandwiches to tell the world who counts and who doesn't as they enjoy their fast food for Jesus.

Rowe is absolutely correct: Catholics like Mike and Cathy would never, of course, line up to chow down on fried chicken sandwiches to support the free speech and religious freedom of racists or anti-Semites.  Though both of those groups long claimed solid warrant in Christian tradition for their toxic attitudes towards targeted minority groups.

And though Mike and Cathy might well have lined up to eat chicken sandwiches to support the free speech of these bible-based groups when their free speech was a live issue back in the 1950s or 1960s, when the thrill of cheap grace obtained by choosing the Christian side that appeared to be winning then was as gratifying as is the thrill of being on the winning "Christian" side right now . . . .  And when costly grace demanded standing with embattled minorities seeking basic human rights against great odds . . . . 

Those of who are gay and Christian, and who have had to sit patiently through a new round of lectures of our co-religionists who flocked to Chick-fil-A last week to defend religious freedom (while coincidentally kicking us in the teeth) won't soon forget the message the Mikes and Cathys of the world have just given us, and all over again (their counting us out of the conversation is nothing new): we're expendable.

We don't count.  And Mike and Cathy aren't ashamed in the least to go on talking about what Catholic identity means as they define--all over again--a whole set of their fellow Christians out of the conversation that fashions Catholic identity in the U.S.  And out of humanity itself, since defining a group of fellow human beings as subhuman is precisely a way of robbing them of humanity.

They won't be ashamed to continue nattering on about what it means to be Catholic when they behave in the most eminently uncatholic way possible--shoving fellow human beings from the table of life--because the hierarchy with which they enjoy such a cozy relationship does precisely the same thing, after all.  They, too, talk endlessly about the human rights of every group on the planet except gays and lesbians, leaving the impression that it's a holy and noble thing to define the humanity of LGBT persons out of all calculuses measuring human rights.

And who ever heard of the leaders of the Catholic church or any other church being wrong?

The graphic is from Radical Ed at the Philadelphiaspeaks blog.

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