Monday, December 22, 2008

Don't Look Now, But It's Raining Gays: The Pope and the Gay Threat to the Human Rain Forest

And in other news: sometimes in the world of religion, there’s no sublime to preface the fall to the ridiculous.

Various blog and news sites are reporting today on the Pope’s Christmas speech to the Curia today, in which he claims—I kid you not—that gay people represent a threat to the ecology of humanity akin to that posed by exploitation of nature to the rain forests. One of the sharpest summaries of this frankly religious statement that I’ve seen is on the Whispers in the Loggia site, which also deserves attention for its “Ratzingerino: Restore the Rail” posting, with a picture of an eye-popping cappa magna wearing a prelate, and the inscription, “They wrapped the prefect in swaddling cappas and placed him in a throne-chair..." (

Honestly. Gays undermining the ecology of the human rain forest? And cappa magnas ten feet long? To prove, what, that the dignitary sporting the spiffy red cape is even more exalted than he’d be in five feet of red silk? And is therefore more entitled to lambaste the gay threat to all the wonderful fruits of the tropics?

The more Rick Warren’s right-wing Catholic allies have to stretch to ridiculous lengths to make their point that gays are bad, bad, bad for the human race, or that red silk capes are good, good, good for clerical dignity, the more they call into question that central tenet on which the foundations of American democracy rest, if we believe the religious right: open the door to the gays, and Things Will Fall Apart.

Open that door, and who knows what chaos will fly through, swathed in red silk or sporting scarlet slippers. Or beaming across a screen the size of a football field, to parse for us the meaning of the tiny babe born in a manger when all doors slammed to his mother heavy with child, and his father of the shabby workworn clothes.

Sublime or ridiculous: for Christians, the answer to that question depends, I imagine, in large part on whether we really read the holy stories that constitute our scriptures. And which begin with the story of that baby, that mother heavy with child, that father with the workworn clothes, and the doors slammed in their face.

And the doors that open from heaven for those against whom human communities and all their powers and dignitaries and beaming preachers slam fast the door.