Monday, November 8, 2010

NCR Places Urban Monk Shane Claiborne in Limelight Again: Questions Continue about His Views re: the "Gay Problem"

And--somehow related to what I've just posted about the spectacle Catholicism is intent on making of itself these days--I wonder about a number of things as I read the latest fulsome recommendation of urban monk Shane Claiborne at the National Catholic Reporter site:

1. I wonder if the editors of NCR who keep placing Mr. Claiborne in the limelight have ever wondered what might message they would perhaps give the church, if, just once, they put a young gay layperson modeling holiness for the church today in the limelight like this, with repeated adulatory articles?  Or a woman?

2. I wonder if they (or Mr. Claiborne himself) have ever given any thought to how much male heterosexual power and privilege enables some people to walk into the limelight, and how lack of such power and privilege bars others from ever walking onto center stage?

3. I wonder if NCR and its editors have also thought about the message they are giving us re: their real (as opposed to rhetorical) values, when they constantly place a young heterosexual male lay Catholic* who has reservations about the "gay problem" on center stage in American Catholicism today?  Who not only has reservations about the "gay problem," but who has stated that, if he were ordained, he would not marry a same-sex couple, but would find them a pastor who approves of same-sex marriage and regards gay relationships as equal to heterosexual ones?

4. I wonder if NCR and its editors have given any thought to how this constant promotion of a young heterosexual male Catholic who regards gay relationships as inferior to straight ones undercuts everything the journal publishes about the equality of gay and lesbian human beings and the need for the church to include its gay and lesbian members fully, and stop the discrimination?
5. I wonder if NCR and its editors also ever think about how the vision of the church we need to promote today might need to be radically discontinuous with precisely those systems of unmerited power and privilege that have given some folks in the church such an edge over others--and how we need to reimagine Catholicism today in a truly inclusive, truly countercultural way that critiques those systems of unmerited power and privilege, even when the critique touches on our own cliques and our own assumptions?

I applaud Mr. Claiborne and I find hope in his community of urban monks.  I wish him well.  I have no animus at all against him.

At the same time, I find it amazing that NCR continues to push this one particular lay Catholic into the limelight, when necessary and valid questions are being raised about his views re: his gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.  And when other young lay Catholics who do not fit the model of male heterosexual power and privilege do not receive such illustrious treatment, even as this Catholic journal professes to be committed to a radically inclusive, authentically catholic vision of church.

*P.S. (Later the same day): Note Michael J. Iafrate's important correction in the comments section following this posting.  Though I knew that Shane Claiborne was raised evangelical and is a disciple of Tony Campolo, I had somehow been under the (quite mistaken, it turns out) impression he had become Catholic.  I'm glad for Michael's correction, and embarrassed to have made such a mistake.

Even so, since he and his form of evangelical monasticism are being held up as a model by Catholic journals and Catholic movements today, I still think it's critically important to engage his stance on LGBT issues--from a Catholic standpoint, as well as an ecumenical one.

No comments: