Sunday, September 18, 2011

Centrist Catholics Wonder What to Call the Homosexuals: I Wonder How to Avoid Being Underwhelmed

Reading the responses to Lisa Fullam's good posting at the Commonweal blog about the conference re: sexual diversity at Fordham right now, I feel as I imagine people of color might have felt reading discussions of "them" in "nice, "good," and "moderate" (white-owned, white-controlled, white-dominated, more or less white-exclusive) magazines of the period.

It's an astonishing experience to drop in on the conversations of "good" and "moderate" centrist folks who wonder what they should call "them"--as in call you.  What they should call you in your very nature and being . . . !

As if you don't have a voice of your own and an opinion of your own about how to define yourself.

The conversation in the best of Catholic circles continues to be about whether the "homosexuals" should really be offended to be defined as "disordered," and whether there's a nicer way to talk about the poor things than via the language and definition of disorder.  

Sort of the way the "nice," "good," and "moderate" white folks in the 1950s and 1960s worried themselves sick over whether the term Negro was offensive, and whether "we" could come up with any term to describe and identify "them" that was nicer, better, and more moderate.

Never dreaming that "they" might wish a say in the conversation and have much to tell "us."  If we'd only disposed ourselves to listen and to relinquish our claim to represent reality and stand at the center of the truth universe.

And now, today, as gay and lesbian human beings have long since moved light years beyond all this letting ourselves be discussed and defined as if we're not even in the room, the very best of Catholic publications continue behaving as if they're publications of nice white folks discussing how to talk about the Negroes in the '50s and '60s.

I suppose this may be the best we can expect from those who choose to remain closely connected to the church in this period of reforming the reform, when the church becomes an ever tinier elite club disconnected from mainstream culture--a shell of itself.  While its centrist defenders breathlessly debate distinctions and terms that have long since been laid to rest in the culture at large, as it moves towards greater inclusion, understanding, and tolerance.

Things one would expect as a given from anyone calling himself or herself catholic . . . .

For a continuation of this conversation, see this posting from the next day, 19 September 2011.

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