Sed Contra


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Monday, October 13, 2003

Making The Leap
My five readers may be pleased or dismayed to learn that I have made the Typepad. Henceforth Sed Contra may be found at this address. I will pop in here a while more to check on comments and old posts, but I doubt I shall post here again.
On The Front Lines
The problem Mr. Culbreath ran into, unfortunately, stems from a perennial confusion, but remains one which he can and should remedy.

I doubt, highly, that Mr. Culbreath discriminated against self-identified gays and lesbians on the basis of their merely being same sex attracted. For example, if a self-identified gays and lesbians were involved in a business that offered products or services completely unrelated to same sex attraction, accounting, or landscaping or decorating or financial advising, would they still have refused to print the card?

I think its completely legitimate to decline to print messages which one disagrees with morally, and Mr. Culbreath could and should make the case that he would not have printed the cards of anyone involved in, say, offering a swingers club or or other "service." By appearing to agree that the basis of his not printing the card lay with the person who presented the business, rather than the behavior the business sought to promote, I am afraid Mr. Culbreath fell into a familiar trap.
Some Thoughts On Rush
Now that some of the fuss has died down, I wanted to offer a couple of brief thoughts on Rush Limbaugh's announcement that he is entering treatment for an apparently long-standing addiction to prescription pain killers.

I want to make it clear that I don't wish Mr. Limbaugh anything but the best and success with his treatment. I cannot imagine the pain that might have led him into this addiction, and the pain he will have to endure shaking it. I agree entirely with Mark Shea on the matter.

But with that said, I wanted to ask some questions. What, for example, will be the disposition of the State and Federal prosecutors toward Rush's case? I don't wish to call down any of the legal dogs on Mr. Limbaugh, but his case does highlight some things about the current criminal justice situation vis a vis the War on Drugs that deserve notice.

According to a 1992 report prepared for The Sentencing Project:

Fifty-eight percent of drug prisoners – an estimated 124,885 inmates – have no history of violence or high level drug activity. Three-quarters of the drug offenders in state prisons have only been convicted of drug and/or non-violent offenses; one-third of the total have only been convicted of drug crimes. Four of every five drug prisoners are African-American (56%) and Hispanic(23%),well above their respective rates (13% and 9%) of overall drug use.

Now, to reiterate, I am not calling for the prosecution of Mr. Limbaugh on drug charges, but I am asking what makes Mr. Limbaugh's situation different from the thousands of other men and women in federal and state prison on purely drug use charges, charges without any violent component? The level of his wealth and connections? The color of his skin? Maybe one of the silver linings that might arise from his travail, pain and suffering might be a reevaluation of a criminal justice policy which, in two many cases, criminalizes what, as Mr. Limbaugh is discovering, is a primarily medical problem.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Purgatory For Spammers!
In this case If only God told them on death that when they were purged and ready to enter the company of the saints that He would send them an email to notify them of this. Each day (or whatever goes for time in purgatory) they would receive thousands of emails to sort through and that they would have to go through each one to try to find the one that notifies them of their perfection and promotion to Heaven.

They would get trick subject lines like "Welcome to Heaven", "From God", "Your purgation is over!", yet when they opened them up they would see something like.

How large is your faith life? If you desire perfection then order for a significant discount spiritual viagra because "For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life"

Anonymous Comments
Any comments posts to my comments boxes that do not have some name attached (I don't care whether or not it is the commenters real name) will be deleted. My aim is for this blog to foster discussion on different topics and anonymous one or two line postings feel too much like cowardly vandalism (no matter whether they agree with me or not.)

Anyone who wants to stay and post a note is more than welcome. Anyone who doesn't feel they can do that with a name attached and still burns to comment should start their own web log.
If I lived in Denver...I Would Definitely Check Them Out
Founded in 1974 by a Frenchman who was formerly a Protestant pastor, the group is one of few Catholic communities that includes both clergy and lay people.

The idea is to enrich members' lives by exposing them to people with starkly different callings. A nun doesn't have to live apart from children. A single person can live down the hall from a priest.

The movement grew out of the Catholic charismatic renewal, which stresses experiential worship - clapping, hands in the air and speaking in tongues.

In 1999, Christian and Christine Meert, a French couple who'd been living in a Beatitude monastery in Europe, founded the Denver community, one of 95 houses with 1,700 members in 30-plus countries.

The Beatitudes are centered on monasticism and contemplative prayer, with a deep devotion to Mary.

But they also borrow from Judaism and Orthodoxy to honor Catholicism's historic ties to those traditions.

The Denver community holds Shabbat dinner on Fridays and stages Jewish dance on Saturday nights in the convent basement. The white walls of its chapel are lined with the icons of saints, an Orthodox tradition.

Community members dress only in brown, symbolizing the earth, and white, for the Resurrection. They live simply, sharing a Toyota Corolla with 248,000 miles and a broken taillight. Their modest budget relies on donations, marriage preparation classes run by the Meerts, and the two priests' diocesan salaries.

Several times a day, the members gather to pray together. They study the Bible and Vatican II documents. They share meals. They pray more - alone. Night prayer at 8:30 is followed by the "great silence," when members tend to chores without a word. Bedtime is 9:30.

Some days and evenings, community members stage retreats or prayer services at other parishes.

"In a world with a lot of material needs, we can be a little light," said the Rev. Jose Sanchez, 43, a native of Argentina who arrived two months ago to shepherd the community.

Homily From the Abbot of the Monestary of Christ In The Desert
For this week's readings:

My sisters and brothers in Christ,
Does Jesus reject all wealthy people? That does not seem likely and the Gospel does no support such a view. Does Jesus ask everyone to follow Him? Yes, that seems to be His invitation to us. That “discipleship” makes various demands on various people.

If we start with the first reading, from the Book of Wisdom, we find a standard approach to material wealth: it does not compare at all with wisdom. This should immediately challenge each of us to ask a question: if I had to choose one or the other, either wealth or wisdom, which would I choose? We need to know ourselves well enough to be honest about our answers.

Then we can ask ourselves: if I had to choose between Jesus and wealth, which would I choose?

We do not have to presume, however, that wealth is opposed by itself to following Jesus. The whole concept of wise stewardship has arisen to try to describe people who truly follow Christ and use their wealth for the good of others.

So when we come to the Gospel, we must hear Jesus challenging the rich man to sell everything not as a demand, but as an invitation to follow Him more closely. This invitation must resound in our hearts as well. We must look truthfully at our own lives and ask if we are willing to give up everything in order to follow Jesus. Everything may not be asked of us, but we must be ready.

Surely Jesus, who had the reputation as a wine-bibber and a glutton (see Luke 7:34), is not a man who is insisting that everyone be austere and totally bereft of material goods. Rather, we have this invitation to follow Him. The second reading, from the Letter to the Hebrews, speaks clearly about the demands of the Word of God. It is this Word of God that invites us over and over to follow the Lord.

Our challenge is not giving up wealth and material goods, our challenge is to follow Jesus and come to know the living God.

Christianity Today on Anglican Split
My old friend Doug Leblanc has a good story about the Anglican turmoil that goes a good bit deeper than most mainstream stories I have read have gone.
Priest Pulled From Parish After Criticizing Active Homosexuality
Father John J. Pasquini, a priest at St. Juliana Church in West Palm Beach has been asked to leave his parish, where he has been for three months, after he wrote critically about active homosexuality and the Episcopal Church's affirmation of a self-defined gay man as bishop.

When the priest asked what was going on, the Vicar General of the Diocese replied that Pasquini's homilies were poor, he didn't show enough devotion to Mass, he was not equipped to be a priest and would never be a pastor in the diocese.

So Pasquini is being packed off to a hospital where, with all his alleged pastoral inabilities, he is bound to be a hit among folks ill and dying and their relatives and friends.

Needless to say, I doubt that any of these allegations of fault are true. The Father has served two other parishes before and without complaint. I think he is in hot water because he dared to speak what the Church teaches in public and I hope another diocese that might remember that it is still Catholic might pick him up.

And you folks sometimes write me to ask why you don't hear more homilies about sexual sin, particularly about active homosexuality.

NY Times on Anglican Fissure
Article in the New York Times this morning about the split among Anglicans over approving homosex.

It includes some gems:

But now conservative Anglicans are saying that the era of collegial coexistence is over. They are threatening to divide the worldwide Anglican communion over the issue of homosexuality.

Let's see, one one side of the house announces that it is going to break the lease and follow after whatever the prevailing trends of ideology are loose on the streets and, yet, somehow, it's the other side of the house being blamed for preparing to move out?

These church leaders say that the real issue is honesty: There are gay Anglican priests, bishops and churchgoers in many countries, and the American church has merely allowed them to come out of the closet.

No, if there is one thing this is is not about, it's honesty. Honesty would mean that the folks pushing this agenda would have to admit it's about codifying misbehavior and sin. It's no great secret that Christians fail in their attempts to follow Christ, have to repent and get up and walk again. Kids in the natural world don't get it right the first times they try either.

But its quite another thing for a body which claims then name of Christ to declare that a behavior which has been seen as sinful for 2000 years is just not sinful any more.

The first might be personal failure and even hypocrisy, the tribute vice pays to virtue. But the second is an attempt to, by some sort of spiritual alchemy, turn vice into virtue. But no matter how many layers of gold paint are applied, the leaden weight of sin remains the leaden weight of sin. One thousand liberal Anglican prelates could meet in convocation for 1000 years and every day appear to solemnly declare the homesex is ok, and it still would not be ok.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Where, oh Where, Right Wing Film Geek?
I know he is out there because I keep seeing his comments in comment boxes. Come on Victor, pull the new computer out of the box and get going. It's a Mac, how hard can it be?
Why Women Do Not Wish The Suffrage
One hundred years ago women did not have the vote and there is a common believe now that all of them wanted to have it. Except for the ones who wrote essays in the Atlantic Monthly about why they didn't.

And how cool is it to have a publication whose archives goes back 100 years and which is willing to make some of the old stuff available online?

This is the negative reason why woman does not wish the ballot: she does not wish to engage in that conflict of wills which is the essence of politics; she does not wish to assume the responsibility for protecting person and property which is the essence of government. The affirmative reason is that she has other, and in some sense, more important work to do. It is more important than the work of government because it is the work for the protection of which governments are organized among men. Woman does not wish to turn aside from this higher work, which is itself the end of life, to devote herself to government, which exists only that this higher work may be done. Nor does she wish to divide her energies between the two. This higher work, which is itself the end of life, is Direct Ministry to Life.

A Thought On The Scottish Tempest
A lot of furor is being generated over the notion that Cardinal Designate Keith O'Brien might have had to make clear statements about his fidelity to the doctrines of the Church on contraception, celibacy, married clergy and homosexuality. Even if this were true, and I don't know that it is, why should it be news to expect a Prince of the Church to teach and hold what the Church teaches and holds?

Friday, October 10, 2003

More News On The Priest Alleged Involved With Sex Offender
Domenico Bettinelli has some more details on his blog. Turns out the priest involved was still a priest but not with a parish....
And Their Diocese Had No Place For Them, Of Course
My mind boggles when I think about the reception Saint Francis would get today.

The religious order they developed is formally called Holy Transfiguration Skete (monastery). It's a stone's throw from Lake Superior at Jacobs Falls, midway between Eagle Harbor and Eagle River, Mich. The cedar shingle-sided complex, with its soaring bell tower and three copper-sheathed domes, is styled after churches found on the steppes of the Ukraine. The monks also have taken on a Ukrainian church look, with heavy robes and full, untrimmed beards.

Despite their difference from the Upper Peninsula norm, the monks have been accepted.

Same Sex Marriage and Friendship
Eve Tushnet has been doing yoewoman's work in raising some terrific points in the ongoing debate about the nature of marriage and same sex marriage. I admit that I have not been paying as much attention to these discussions as I probably should, in part because much of the conversation has been above my head but also because I have to keep my snout too deeply buried in the day to day stuff of my life to be drawn into that discussion. Heck, I have trouble keep up this little web log!

But her recent posting on friendship and same sex marriage (thanks to Father Jim over at Dappled Things for pointing it out) lead me to ponder a little bit on how important friendship has been, and continues to be, in my own life.

It's no secret that the man with whom I used to be sexually involved have continued a deep and ongoing friendship even after we stopped sleeping together. We did so because, in the wake of the shock of chastity, we came to the conclusion that what we had as friends had always extended far beyond merely the bedroom and that there was no reason to stop being friends just because we stopped doing it.

This surprises and shocks some people, particularly Christians. I think the notion that maybe there might be some good in sexually active same sex relationships even though the sexual activity remained sinful stumps folks who really, really want to see the issue in more straightforward, black and white terms. But the truth remains. Lust and emotional neediness might have drawn us together, but ongoing growth and genuine love is what God drew out of such sordid beginnings.

I think our contemporary culture's understanding of friendship is extremely diminished, if not out and out impoverished. We confine our understanding of the loyalty of friendship, the love of friendship, the existence of genuine philia, to the realms of friendship and soldiering. The movie Stand By Me portrayed the sort of friendship that young boys can have, and it's commonly understood that being under fire with someone else forges a bond that is expected to be lifelong.

But the truth is that all significant, committed friendship can and should have the loyalty, trust, generosity and honor that those friendships have. Once upon a time this was understood. Gay and lesbian activists still occasionally embarrass themselves (in my opinion) by coming out with a declaration that this or that historical figure must have been gay on the grounds of some letters or something that showed deep commitment. Sorry, those folks weren't likely same sex attracted, they were probably conforming to a standard of friendship that we no longer revere.
The Issue is How One Lives
The headline of this story reads Suspension stuns parish, neighbors, but then the story has this quote:

I have no real issues with Nolin and Kelly if they had a relationship. They're adults. But with Nolin's record, I just really hope this will convince (Gov. Mitt) Romney to put some teeth in the sex-offender registry law, she said.

Sorry, lady, but the fact that the priest was acting out homosexually should have made you less shocked, not more, at allegations of what has been done and not done. I mean here is a man who has been ordained and who pastors a parish and who, allegedly, has still let himself get involved in a sexually active relationship with a convicted sex offender and boy rapist. And the fact that they are doing so would not bother you, even a little?

Folks, the point of living a Christian life, both on our own and as part of communities, is to seek the Kingdom of God and to grow into Saints. That a pastor of a community could have jumped the tracks so badly and not even brought up a conviction among his flock to pray harder for him suggests that parish might have some deeper problems than merely pastoral sin.

The focus on "gays in the priesthood" which continues to bubble along in several other places as well just keeps missing the point. The great danger is not from priests who might live with some degree of same sex attraction but who nonetheless remain faithful to Christ and to their ordinations. The danger is in priests who live with some degree of Same Sex Attraction and simply disregard or eschew their promises and commitments in order to indulge their lusts - and who are not called on the carpet for it.

Of course I cannot be positive, but I would not be surprised if a perusal of this priests personnel file didn't find previous complaints about sexually acting out with other men and reveal that those complaints were ignored.