Monday, October 5, 2015

Some Bullet Point Observations As Synod on Family Opens in Light of Kim Davis-Pope Francis Story: Continuing Claim That Symbol Counts for Substance in Catholic Community

• Well, at least the debacle of Kim Davis and the Pope has gotten the mainstream media finally to say clearly, unambiguously what the rest of us have long known, but the media refused to say: that Liberty Counsel is an anti-gay hate group. I suppose that's a good thing.

Claire Galofaro's AP article noting that Liberty Counsel is a hate group, which came out this weekend, is now all over news sites on the Internet, including CBS News. It's echoed by Brandon Ambrosino today at Daily Beast, who claims to have connections inside the Vatican (who knew?).

• From the start of the Francis papacy, the claim has constantly been made in the media and by papal apologists that Catholicism is all about symbol as opposed to substance. Symbol trumps substance, and what Francis is doing symbolizes reform of the church even when he cannot and will not make that reform substantial.

• And so we now have the Vatican responding to Mat Staver and Kim Davis by pointing to a grand symbolic scene — Francis embraces gay friend and his partner! — as a demonstration of what the Catholic church symbolizes to LGBT people, if not what it actually is to LGBT people.

• Because that photo has not returned and will not return a job to a single LGBT person fired by a Catholic institution . . . . I doubt seriously it will stop the firing of a single LGBT person.

• It allows the church to have its symbolic cake and eat it, too, while doing nothing at all to change the substance of its quite ugly attacks on LGBT human beings.

• It allows the church and its apologists to pretend a love and concern for LGBT people that is not represented in the church's actions — not at all.

• It allows the church and its apologists to pretend that moral teaching about homosexuality (a word that was not even coined until the latter half of the 19th century) is forever, has been going on forever, consistent forever, is unchangeable and essential to the very foundations of the church itself.

• It allows the church and its apologists to obscure — to draw attention away from — the fact that married heterosexual people using contraceptives, who violate the very same moral norm used to condemn homosexual acts and relationships, are never treated with the indignity LGBT people receive, in Catholic institutions.

• So that the treatment of LGBT people, which we're told is grounded in unchangeable moral teachings foundational to the church, obviously arises out of sheer prejudice — out of homophobia — when such a glaring double standard exists regarding how the church's leaders treat the infractions of heterosexual people, and how they treat the infractions of homosexual people.

• The symbol-as-opposed-to-substance approach to these matters will be, I predict, central to the rhetoric of the synod on the family. We'll be told that the church loves LGBT people — look at Francis embracing his friends! — but that nothing can possibly change in how the church deals with LGBT people.

• We'll be told this while LGBT people continue to be treated as pawns on a playing board, voiceless, passive, never allowed to speak in their own voices or to provide testimony about their own lives and relationships — moved about as symbols without their consent and against their will.

• By men — the synod is, as some commenters are now saying at Catholic blog sites, absolutely a him-nod in which only males are gathered, allowed to speak; and a large percentage of those males in this exclusive him-nod are, as we all know, closeted homosexual men . . . .

• Hidden behind the symbolic use of LGBT human beings in these battles about religious truth and religious identity is what those organizing such him-nods never want us to see or talk about: they do the talking and defining, and the rest of us do the listening and allow ourselves to be defined.

• As with the historically conditioned and entirely mutable teachings about sexual morality, how the church does the business of governing itself can, indeed, change, and it must change, if the church is to survive and thrive in the new millennium.

• Women can and must be drawn into the business of the him-nods — ordained, given governing power and voice in the Catholic church — if it expects to thrive in the new millennium.

• LGBT human beings can and must be treated with human dignity; the church can and must stop treating their human lives as ciphers to be moved about on playing boards, firing them for being who they are, removing from them livelihoods, vocations, medical coverage, while claiming that the Catholic church is all about love — Look at Francis hugging his gay friend!

• But none of this is going to happen — the church is not going to transmute its symbol into any substantive change that implicates the church itself, how it is governed, who has a voice.

• In fact, the symbols are being flashed across our screens precisely so that the church can avoid having to deal with the pesky questions about changing its corrupt, non-representative, entrenched but historically developed and historically mutable system of governance, which excludes from governing power everyone but ordained ostensibly celibate males.

• Francis loves his gay friend! — the symbolic enactment and re-enactment of the scene with his friend from the U.S. papal tour — is an enactment that, as its subtext, flashes to all of us the loud, clear, message that the church cannot and will not change how it does business, how it proclaims the gospel, how it formulates its teachings. But see how he loves his gay friend!

• It is rather pathetic, isn't it, how many LGBT people and those who care about LGBT people are convinced that Francis hugging his gay friend means that the symbol has actually been transmuted into substance, that this institution governed exclusively by males, many of them closeted, which has spent countless money in recent years attacking LGBT human beings and their rights, loves the people it's attacking?

I find the graphic at at a number of blog sites, but I find no indicator of its origin at any of these sites.

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