Friday, February 19, 2010

Singing, Strange Land: Lenten Questions Circling Through the Soul

Circling through my soul these days: more mobs every day now in some parts of the world, calling for the blood of gay folks.  The Uganda bill remains on the table: possible capital punishment for people simply because of who they are, because they’re gay.

And in this country, a Catholic journalist guru defending—laughing about—torture.   And the bishops totally silent as this goes on.  While a strong segment of American Catholics—the same people who do everything in their power to demean and dehumanize their gay brothers and sisters—not only tolerate but defend this behavior.

So what’s circling through my soul are questions: if it came right down to it and gay people in the U.S. were carted off and locked up sometime down the road, who would stand up and speak out?  Would my neighbors shake their heads sadly and then close their doors behind them, as the police came for Steve and me?  My family?

My fellow Catholics?

Circling through my soul: what was it like to be a Jew in Nazi Germany as the iron gates began to slam down all around?  To whom could you turn?  Who was willing to help?

Did the hymns of joy continue in the churches as all this went on?  We know from history that they did.

Did the high-culture activities of the highly civilized Christian German nation continue?  Mahler concerts?  Beethoven?  Bach?  We know from historical sources that they did.

The death of a few innocent people—of a few million innocent people—doesn’t interrupt daily life.  Or history.  Not definitively.  Not in any way that helps the victims of mass murder, or their survivors.  Things grind on.

The death of millions of Haitians is already receding from our minds and hearts—from my mind and heart—even as those left behind after this cataclysm search for shelter, medicine, food, and comfort.  For meaning in a world that seems upside down.

The rape of thousands upon thousands of young people by Catholic religious authority figures, and the obscene cover-up (and facilitation of this) by the top officials of the Catholic church—by the man now sitting on Peter’s throne—has hardly made a dent in the thinking and behavior of most Catholics.

The nickels and dimes continue to ping into the collection baskets on Sunday.

As the hierarchy knew would happen, if they only waited things out.  If they only kept manipulating the media long enough, and relied on an ever-increasing bevy of skilled p-r agents in dioceses everywhere to do the dirty work. 

And on the big bucks of right-wing Catholics for whom the church will always be propped up as a bastion of (their) moral authority and (their) political rectitude against (everyone else's) democratic institutions, no matter how morally corrupt it is, and how empty its authority.

The massacre of millions of innocent people, solely because of who they happen to be, happens.  And things go on. 

People keep on singing those hymns of joy in their churches.

The rape of millions of young people by those leading the worship in the churches singing the hymns of joy happens.  And things go on.  The dollars keep flowing in.

Why would I be foolish enough to imagine that gay people could not, one day down the road, be locked up and sent to execution chambers in the United States?

And that something would happen in response.  That my family, neighbors, and family Catholics would resist, when the police came for me.

Or that the hymns of joy and triumph would be interrupted.