Thursday, December 24, 2009

Visions of Sugarplums, and Obligations to Give Thanks: Christmas Eve Reflections

Christmas eve, and before visions of sugarplums begin to dance through my head and distract me from blogging, I want to remember to post a formal note of thanks to a reader who has shown humbling support for this blog in the past year.

I mentioned this reader (and friend) in a posting some time ago. I noted that he had sent me a check, a very generous one, which I was determined not to accept. The check came with a note thanking me for the work my friend believes I do on the blog.

This is a persistent friend, and despite my determination to return his check, I eventually found myself depositing it, especially when I received a warning that I could return or tear it up as often as I wished—it would still bounce back to me.

I’m humbled by this gift. I don’t think I deserve it. And as Christmas nears, I’m remembering it and want to post a note of thanks to a friend who has been kind to Steve and me beyond all ken—one of those exemplary Christians whose life really does shine with virtue.

Though he wouldn’t set foot in most churches now, given what they do to LGBT human beings . . . .

I’m also grateful to readers who have emailed me in the past several days to thank me for this blog and to encourage me with it. I’ll be responding to each of those emails very soon. Meanwhile, I don’t want Christmas to arrive without making a statement of sincere gratitude to all of you (and several readers who have posted similar comments). Your support means much to me.

And as I close this Christmas eve posting, I also want to note that Andrew Sullivan posted a piece yesterday on the “new” natural law in Catholic theology, which parallels what I said in my own posting about male-female complementarity and natural law arguments in the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict. As my posting does, Andrew Sullivan notes the novelty of the arguments now being promoted by defenders of the magisterium to put gay folks in our places—hence his title, the “new” natural law.

He also notes, as I did, how the “new” natural law arguments prescind from the facts, even as they claim to be empirically-based readings of nature. They ignore a great deal that nature tells us about conception and sexuality, in order to arrive at an ideological interpretation of nature that imposes on the data what those promoting the “new” natural law wish to see in the data.

I like in particular Andrew Sullivan’s insistence that the “new” natural law argument depends on an exceptionalism that applies to gay people norms and standards not applied to those who are heterosexual. As he notes, this exceptionalism exposes the “core prejudice” that lies at the heart of much of the “new” natural law reasoning and is its raison d’etre.

Andrew Sullivan focuses his article on one of the primary American proponents of the innovative natural law arguments floating around in Catholic circles now, Robert P. George, one of the driving forces behind the Manhattan Declaration, who was featured in the New York Times magazine last Sunday. George certainly deserves critical attention, and Andrew Sullivan’s analysis of his thinking is brilliant. Though he was definitely in my mind as I wrote my own posting about these issues yesterday, I chose not to focus that posting on any particular proponent of the “new” natural law theories.