Saturday, November 5, 2011

More Commentary on Daniel Avila Story: Weekend News Roundup

So much interesting news in the last day or so relating to Catholic issues that it's hard to keep up with it all.  For readers following any of these stories, I thought I might assist by providing a miscellany of links grouped by topic.  I may break this end-of-week news summary into more than one posting, due to the number of links I've gathered and have to share.

First, the Daniel Avila story: with his resignation, commentary continues to roll out.  Here's a listing of articles or blog postings I've spotted in the last day.  As you'll see, some predate Avila's resignation; I've found these earlier pieces only as the discussion developed after the controversy about Avila's gays + devil article broke open (and these complement the ones I shared in my first Avila posting yesterday):

Catholic News Service, "Adviser Resigns Following Column Linking Same-Sex Attraction with Devil," National Catholic Reporter

Chuck Colbert, "Another Catholic Columnist Rankles the Faithful," Rainbow Times News

Tim, "The Fundamental Disconnect," Following the Voice Within 

Timothy Kincaid, "And Who Made You Gay? Hmmmm?  Could It Be Satan!?!" Box Turtle Bulletin

Michael O'Loughlin, "The Loud Few and the Loving Many," America

As the second of the links to Peter Montgomery notes, his initial posting (the first of the two above) about Avila, published on 31 October, was perhaps the first public notice to appear online alerting folks to what Avila had said about gays and the devil in his article in Boston's Catholic archdiocesan paper The Pilot.  And isn't that interesting: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which would like to present itself as a moderate organization lobbying for peace, justice, and human rights in the American public square, is now on the radar screen of groups monitoring the right-wing fringe in American politics?

The U.S. Catholic bishops now find themselves right up there with dangerous loonies like Lou Engle, who, as this recent article by Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch points out, is threatening the African-American community of Detroit with demonic possession if they don't listen obediently to his right-wing ravings designed to shove them into the Republican voting column.

How the mighty have fallen: the USCCB has now moved from a position of moral and intellectual credibility in the American public eye to being lumped together with the right-wing buffoons and charlatans with whom the bishops have been so very intent to get into bed in recent years.  I can't say I have a lot of sympathy for them.  If the bed in which they now lie is hard, it's they themselves who made that bed.  

And as a footnote to the Avila discussion, for readers who might be inclined to look for bona fide scientific information rather than pseudo-theological claptrap to explain how people acquire their sexual orientations, Cara Santa Maria's recent "Talk Nerdy to Me: The Gay Brain" column and video at Huffington Post is a clear, accessible run-down of the considerable and constantly growing body of scientific evidence that sexual orientation is innate or fixed very early in the course of human development.  

Neither Santa Maria nor any other credible scientist or scientific researcher is going to budge the considerable number of right-wing believers, both fundamentalist Protestant and Catholic, who absolutely refuse to accept these scientific findings, and who continue (I see this claim all the time on Catholic blogs) to argue that there's not a scrap of evidence that sexual orientation is inborn or established soon after birth.  One of the favorite Catholic-fringe arguments in this regard is to assert that scientists have searched for "the" gay gene and have failed to find it--as if sexual orientation is established solely by a single gene, and not a multiple combination of biological and environmental factors that include genetic ones, but are not limited to a "gay gene."

You can't argue with stupidity.  And a church that was once mainstream but which now spawns influential public leaders who can write about demons wresting control of fetuses in their mother's wombs is increasingly likely to harbor a big batch of stupid.  It would take many, many courses in biology and psychology (and theology and history and plain old readin' and writin') to remedy the stupidity that the religious right--with the active collusion of the Catholic bishops of the United States--has deliberately inculcated in large sectors of the American public right now.  And I, for one, don't have the time or inclination to teach all those courses!

Happy feast of Saints Fibitius and Dominator , y'all.

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