Friday, May 30, 2014

Postscript to Discussion of Catholics Excluded from Jobs Over Gay Issues: On the Failure of American Catholic Conversation to Be Catholic

Another tiny (postscript) thought about why the parochial intramural conversation about gay people and gay issues has failed to make a dent in the culture's thinking about those people and issues (and in the thinking of many Catholics):

It has never been inclusive in the least. For a long time, it has deliberately excluded gay voices, even as the lives of gay people have been parsed, dissected, analyzed, and dismissed in this conversation.

When it has finally chosen to include a handful of selected gay voices, these are carefully chosen voices. They represent perspectives that are, for one reason or another (educational background, affiliation, social and geographical location, connection to particular Catholic communities, even the greater tolerance for lesbians than gay men in our culture*), less threatening to the Catholic institution and its movers and shakers than many other gay Catholic voices.

The managerial gay Catholic organizations — those that help manage the intramural Catholic discussion of gay people and gay issues while openly affirming gay folks — have played a significant role in the powerbrokering process that anoints some gay Catholic voices as "real" gay Catholic voices, and dismisses others as inadequately Catholic voices.

The exclusion of gay voices in general from the Catholic conversation about gay people and gay issues, and then the determination to anoint only selected gay Catholic voices as "real" Catholic voices, has radically impoverished this conversation, and made it entirely ineffectual in the culture at large. Nor do I see much hope for change in this regard within American Catholicism, because, as a church, we — and our intellectual and media elites, in particular — have long had a high threshold of tolerance when it comes to excluding all sorts of unacceptable folks from our Catholic conversations and our Catholic lives. 

Our Catholic imagination in the U.S. is very largely determined — particularly among our intellectual and media elites — by presuppositions derived from the capitalist ideology that imbues everything in our culture. Including our Catholic culture . . . . 

That ideology demands winners and losers. And it rests very easy with the exclusion of those tagged as losers by the various cruel lotteries that choose who will count and who is to be discarded as human garbage within our institutions, including our Catholic institutions.

*I've asked on this blog before if readers know of any mainstream U.S. Catholic publications that have an openly gay man writing for them. I know of at least one (National Catholic Reporter — and I applaud NCR for this) that has openly gay women writing for it. But if there are mainstream U.S. Catholic publications with openly gay men writing for them, I haven't heard about them from readers of this blog.

If there are openly gay women writing for mainstream Catholic publications in the U.S. but not openly gay men, I'd like to ask why that's the case. (And I may, of course, be woefully ill-informed about these matters, as I often am in embarrassing instances on this blog — but I ask myself what's the point of living out loud on this blog, if I don't live out loud mistakes and all, since important conversations in the human community always require the risk to be wrong as one speaks out loud to others.)

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