Sunday, December 2, 2018

I Have a Dream: As Pope Francis Announces that Gay Men Shouldn't Enter Priesthood, as Advent Begins — "Leave the LGBTQ Community the Hell Alone"

This is a meditation for the first Sunday of Advent. It has specific reference to what Pope Francis said (or is said to have said: let the Catholic games begin!) in a book released in Italy yesterday, which is being represented widely in headlines throughout the mainstream media like this one today from The Guardian in London: "Gay people should not join Catholic clergy, Pope Francis says." Given that we know that there already are gay men in the Catholic priesthood and hierarchy — galore — this statement will rightly strike people with functioning consciences and access to much information at all as downright silly. As malicious….

Why would the leader of a major world religion, particularly one claiming to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, engage in such malicious silliness, asserting what a large percentge of that leader's flock knows to be counter to reality, unconvincing, damaging in its implication of hateful stereotypes (e.g., Gay men are child molesters) and its assertion of unscientific information? Why would the leader of a major world religion claiming to walk in the footsteps of Jesus court the kind of ugly headlines now appearing in the media around the world, which assert that Pope Francis has instructed gay people not to join the Catholic clergy?

What kind of people are willing to listen to such malicious silliness any longer, to play the Catholic game of "Well, the pope may or may not have said, the pope may or may not have meant" any longer? Healthy people, it seems to me, don't give mind room to malicious silliness, and don't try to contort their healthy minds and consciences into tortured pretzels for religious reasons (on this point, see the "Deconstructing My Religion" program CBS has begun airing today, at the head of the posting). 

How silly, viewed from the vantage point of a bigger, saner, less tribalistic and anti-intellectual culture that welcomes respectful dialogue with science and other academic disciplines, and which has long since learned that gay people are not predisposed to be pedophiles — how silly the continuing attempt of many evangelical and Catholic Christians to scapegoat gay people. How maliciously silly the attempt to scapegaot gay priests in particular for the abuse crisis, an attempt premised on the long-since-outmoded notion that gay people are sexual predators. Most people with much education at all and with working consciences know better by now.

Why do Americans keep ranking the Catholic community as the religious community most hostile to queer people in one poll after another? Why do people, especially younger and educated people, keep walking away from the church as fast as their feet can carry them? 

This. This bizarre, toxic discussion/non-discussion of whether gay men can serve as priests — when the priesthood and hierarchy are chockful of them. Hence my meditation for the first Sunday of Advent: 

I have a dream.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent for Christian churches with liturgical calendars.

People in churches everywhere will pray today that their hearts be open and ready to receive the Lord. Christian people pray in Advent that the way be made ready inside them to receive the Lord, that the cluttered pathways inside them be cleared by repentance and purification so that they may receive Christ with glad hearts.

I have a dream.

As Christian people prepare during Advent, they don't pray that someone else repent and be purified. They pray that they repent and be purified.

I have a dream.

My dream is that this Advent, Christian people and their churches start praying in earnest for their own repentance and purification and stop praying for those others — the gays, liberals, Democrats, women claiming rights, immigrants — to repent and be purified.

We can't, after all, be serious about our own need to repent and be purified as long as we conveniently fabricate all those demonized others to bear the weight of our own sins, and as long as we pretend that all the sins in the world are found among those demonized others and not among ourselves.

I have a dream.

My dream is that this Advent, Christian people will start taking seriously what the message of Advent is all about and leave the demonized others the hell alone — stop preaching to gay folks that we need to repent, and start doing some repenting of your own. Of your hatred of and lies about and cruelty towards gay people, for instance….

One can dream, after all, and that's what Advent is all about, when all is said and done.

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