Friday, August 2, 2013

Catholic Institutions and Expulsion of Gay-Affirming Members: The Consequences of Cultivating Stupidity

The story I mentioned yesterday--St. Lucy's Priory high school in Glendora, California, fired teacher Ken Bencomo after he married his partner Christopher Persky--is now gaining international attention. I saw it this morning when I logged onto the Yahoo site, in the Yahoo feeder of top news for the morning. And Huffington Post has been featuring a report on this story by Kathleen Miles today, too.

Remember that essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates I highlighted several days ago, about what grows stupidity in a social group or institution? Coates maintains that if a social group or institution wants to stop with the stupid, it has to admit into its conversations those who are different, who see the world differently, who experience the world differently.

Rubbing shoulders with those different from ourselves, whom we're forced by the rules of normative, defining conversations to treat with respect as fully human like ourselves: this expands our mental, moral, and spiritual horizons. Huddling in tightly controlled spaces with others just like ourselves: this cultivates stupidity.

The old nursery rhyme asked contrary Mary how her garden grew. When we cultivate only the same old like-minded plants in our gardens, we can assure ourselves that the crop we grow will be a crop of good, old-fashioned stupidity.

When a church--take the Catholic church in the U.S. right now--over and over again fires or refuses to hire teachers, music ministers, and others who are openly gay and/or who support those who are openly gay, and when it hounds out of parishes families who refuse to abuse those who are gay, denying sacraments to these families--it cultivates a crop of stupidity for itself. And the result may very well be that in the generations coming down the pike, the only young folks who choose to remain with the church of stupid will be those who prefer stupidity to, well, its opposite.

Institutions that savage and purge their poets, artists, dreamers, thinkers, question-raisers and troublemakers--their many "others"--do not paint bright futures for themselves. Especially when it's clear to anyone with a head on her shoulders that the institution is behaving this way to safeguard the rights of privileged elites whose tiny slice of experience is treated as a reading of the human condition of everyone.

And especially when those institutions teach that every human being has human rights. And when the name they call themselves means, Here comes everybody.

The photo from the wedding of Ken Bencomo and Christopher Persky is by Rachel Luna of the Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram.

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