Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Catholics of the Right Respond to Sarah Bailey Pulliam on Gay Rights vs. Religious Rights: "Arrow and Hole Is Natural. And Hole/Hole Not"

"[A]rrow and hole is natural.
And hole/hole not.
"Hole/hole is 'we decide'. And arrow/arrow is going against the design."
Arrows and holes. Natural and unnatural. The design and going against the design: the gospel according to one Edward Hu (and see also here). The naturalness of arrow into hole is, Mr. Hu informs National Catholic Reporter readers of Sarah Pulliam Bailey's recent article about gay rights vs. religious rights, self-evident in "Scriptures, Tradition, the overwhelming evidence of biology, logic..and common sense."

And so the primary human obligation in response to the overwhelming offer of free grace that God extends to the entire cosmos through Christ is to obey the dictates of biology--above all and, truth be told, to obey the dictates of biology exclusively in the area of gender and sexuality, since arrow-hole Catholics haven't yet, to my knowledge, mounted a campaign against inoculations preventing communicable illness, or against the modification of nature via construction of dams and airplanes and so forth.

No, their gospel of obedience to biological imperatives (which is obedience to a God furiously concerned about enforcing these biological imperatives) is narrowly constructed around arrows and holes: arrow fits hole; arrow/arrow is going against the design; hole/hole is not natural.

For this, Christ suffered and died on the cross: to teach his followers about arrows and holes, and to demonstrate to his followers the supreme importance of the arrow and the hole--and how one fits into the other, and no other combination they might be tempted by sinful human nature to imagine is remotely pleasing to the divine will. Since the divine will is positively bent towards distinguishing arrow from hole, and assuring that arrow goes into hole, while that unimaginable business of arrow/arrow or hole/hole is firmly declared off-limits.

It bears emphasizing: Mr. Hu is telling you not what he happens to believe about these matters: he's informing you what God believes and declares. And what God has inscribed in the bible, Catholic tradition, biology, logic, and common sense. Or, as his friend and ours, one Purgatrix Ineptiae puts the point in the same discussion thread,

The universe God created is physical. Humans sanctify or defile it with their physical acts.

With such authority ranged on Mr. Hu's God's side, what sort of lunatic would ever propose that arrow might dally with arrow or hole may contemplate the possibility of intriguing with hole? The gospel of arrows and holes--of arrows for holes--is, for God's sake, "hard wired" into our very physical constitution, according to Mr. Hu (whose absolute assurance about how nature behaves seems curiously devoid of any real experience with or actual observation of  nature in the wild) and "same sex intercourse is a very rare event except [among?] inhumans, and even then it's rare."

Who ever met a cross-dressing worm, he demands to know?

You remember Mr. Hu? Sure you do: he's the fellow who assured us a few weeks ago that Jesus likes to watch, that when Mr. Hu's arrow meets Mrs. Hu's hole (I apologize for the grossness of the imagery, but it's what Hu himself has given us to work with, after all), there dwells the Holy Trinity, all enrapt in the  mystical meeting of Hu arrow with Mrs. Hu hole. Having a Presence of God in the bedroom is so easy, he tells us, and it can be brought about so quickly and simply (" me to love your daughter like no one has been loved before"....or "thank you for the gift of your dear me to help her know that she is loved like no other".) In a breath...a mini trinity is made present...selfishness abates...laughter abounds.

Yes, that Mr. Hu.The Mr. Edward Hu who is so convinced of God's intent interest in watching arrows go into holes that he reads the biblical story of Abraham and Sarah as a moral lesson about arrows and holes, about their right fit even when there is no possibility of conception due to Sarah's advanced post-menopausal age--so take that, you arrow-arrow and hole-hole advocates, who ask how we Catholics can justly forbid you marriage on grounds that you can't conceive, while the church blesses the union of heterosexual couples who can't possibly bear a child:

No, arrow to hole works, even the barren ones, given the example in Holy Scripture.

As I say, this is the gospel. It's the good news of God's amazing love for the cosmos demonstrated through Christ's suffering and death. It's what Christ came into the world to teach us and to impose on us as a moral imperative: arrow fits hole, and if you dare suggest otherwise, you defile the physical universe that the Creator has made to revolve around arrows and holes and their self-evident consorting one with the other.

There are very many ways that one might engage the puzzling theology of arrow fitting into hole that has captivated the imagination not only of Edward Hu and Purgatrix Ineptiae at this point in Catholic history, but of countless numbers of their fellow Catholics who are absolutely certain that God is more intently interested in keeping arrows oriented to holes than in any other moral problem of the contemporary world.* There's, first of all, the curious argument that, since we're (or so Mr. Hu wants us to think) "hard-wired" to put arrow into hole, to move in any way at all against the hard-wiring of our biology is to rebel against the creator who has so hard-wired us via creation.

It seems intuitively obvious to me that there are some glaring problems with this "hard-wiring" philosophy of the natural world and the theology deriving from it, not the least of which is that it has been persistently argued for centuries now that human beings are hard-wired to do violence to each other (as Cain did to Abel), to behave to one another as wolves are thought to behave, to compete, maim, and slaughter in a world whose resources are often seen as limited, hence the competition, maiming, and slaughter.

Humans are, some prevailing philosophical traditions have long argued, inclined to replicate the wolf in their dealings one with another, creating an experience of human community that is lamentably nasty, poor, brutish, and short, due to that lupine tendency that is hard-wired into the human race--and perhaps into nature itself, if poets who find nature red in tooth and claw read nature correctly.

These understandings of the "hard-wiring" of nature appear to me to move directly against the conclusion that the primary moral obligation of human beings is to obey biological dictates, just as the willingness of many animals to betray their "hard-wiring" under certain conditions--often gloriously and transcendently so, as when a she-wolf suckles and raises a human foundling--seems to imply that contravening the hard-wiring of natural dictates may well often be a good and praiseworthy thing, not the "defiling" of nature that right-wing Catholics want to see in non-procreative sexual behavior (but, come to think of it, they don't really speak of such defiling of nature when heterosexual couples practice non-procreative sex by contracepting, do they? And what's that about, I wonder, the sudden discovery that nature is being defiled by non-procreative sexuality only when gay and lesbian human beings claim human rights at this point in history?)

As I say, there are many ways to approach the strange fixation of Edward Hu, Purgatrix Ineptiae, and many other Catholics at this point in history with arrows and holes and "hard-wiring" and Jesus watching in the bedroom. Here's one way that seems increasingly and glaringly obvious to me: this doesn't preach.

It's not the gospel. It's not the good news that Hu, Ineptiae, and others want to tell us it is. It's a philosophy of reward-punishment and of prison-keeping that runs in the most fundamental way possible directly counter to the good news announced to the world through Christ.

What Edward Hu, Purgatrix Ineptiae, and the many Catholics who stand with them in demanding that arrow/arrow and hole/hole be denied human rights (and that's the bottom line of their argument: read their responses to Sarah Pulliam Bailey's thesis about how gay rights oppose religious rights) want to offer us in the name of preaching the gospel is an ideology of imprisonment for people whose behavior, whose very nature, they themselves find unacceptable--though the gospels contain not a single passage about homosexuality or arrows or holes or Jesus loving to watch in the bedroom.

In the name of preaching the gospel, anti-gay Christians have substituted a counter-gospel for the good news of Jesus Christ, as they direct their attention to their fellow human beings who are gay. Every jot and tittle of the real gospels, the authentic good news of Christ, is all about overflowing, unexpected mercy available to everyone, and to those declared by the righteous unworthy and beyond the pale first and foremost.

The gospels are the antithesis of a call to obey (and be circumscribed) by carefully tailored readings of biological imperatives that serve the social interests of controlling elites. The good news announced by Christ to the world is about breaking bonds rather than tying them tighter around the wrists of despised minority groups.

For me and my kind, it has been clear for a long time now that Edward Hu, Purgatrix Ineptiae, and their fellow Catholics of the arrow-hole school of thinking intend no good at all to us. They have no welcome for us. They do not wish to include us in their version of Catholicism.

They intend, instead, to tell us loudly and clearly to go away from them, insofar as we do not bend our wills and submit our lives to their strange, unbiblical, a-theological reading of the good news of Jesus Christ. Insofar as we do not intend to live in a prison they construct for us, and of which they are the keepers of the keys, we have no part in the Catholic community, they wish to inform us.

And that's not good news in the least. It's the opposite of good news. Both for us and for them, since there are, to the best of my recollection, no prison keepers in the kingdom of God, but only people intent on opening prison doors and letting prisoners free . . . .

For that matter, I don't recall Jesus showing any interest at all in arrows and holes, do you? Or talking about them at any point in the gospels. While some of his followers today, who claim to preach the gospel in the purest form imaginable, have built their entire theological systems and entire worldviews around this rhetoric.

*On those many other Catholics who stand with Hu and Ineptiae, see Frank at Letters to the Catholic Right on Emily Stimpson's summary of the theology of the body:

Like JPII before her, she writes wonderfully about the “language” and “expressiveness” of the body, but then she shrinks the whole of that language down to two signs: 
For Stimpson, the body is no more articulate about sex than the wall outside of a gas station restroom.Which is why she can say (in another recent post) that Chelsea Manning is called to be a "a husband, father, brother, and son, loving his bride, his children, his siblings, and his parents." Manning has a penis. Male sign. The body has spoken.


(Please see this subsequent footnote summarizing the preceding argument.)

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