Problem Picture

Over on the Book of Face, a friend posted this:

My reply:

The irony being that it is loudest and most public and aggressive Christians who are cheering on the use of police and militarist violence in order to impose their fascist parody of the Faith, often on peaceful protesters. As when this godless antichrist teargassed innocent people so he could hold an upside down Bible he doesn’t read in front of a church he doesn’t attend to exploit a gospel he doesn’t believe and insult a God he doesn’t worship–all to the delight of Real Christians[TM].

A reader replied:

I, for one, can’t wait until every discussion about politics doesn’t begin and end with DJT.

My reply:

That will be impossible as long as MAGA continue to present the gravest domestic threat to the United States since the Civil War–and all in the name of Jesus.

Another reader wrote:

To me, one of the hardest parts of this is how “my body my choice ” is used to support abortions which actually effects someone else’s body/ life but refuse to see how it applies when it is literally just that person’s body effected by that choice.

My reply:

You get that we are talking about a highly communicable pandemic disease that will soon have killed more Americans than the Civil War in half the time and that it is therefore rubbish to say vaccination affects “just that person’s body”, right?

To which my friend replied:

I haven’t thought it through fully, so perhaps I shouldn’t say anything, but I’m starting to think that I reject both sides’ claims to “my body, my choice”. There’s no such thing as a private sin. Which is to say – I agree with both Mark and [the reader above], at least as to personal moral responsibility.

My reply:

Here’s the thing: Those to whom much is given, much will be required. The servant who does not know his master’s will and does not do it will be beaten with few blows. The servant who knows his master’s will and does not do it will be beaten with many blows.

Expecting unbelievers to hold a view of abortion that is dependent on a Christian metaphysic is unreasonable. So “my body my choice” is intellectually consistent for people who do not hold that metaphysic.

Expecting Christians to abide by their own claims is not unreasonable. They are held to a higher standard since, as they say, “All lives matter”. Watching Christians use “my body my choice” in order to inflict sickness and death on people they claim they believe to be made in the image and likeness of God, but choose to harm out of MAGA culture war spite, is not merely unreasonable, but insane. And then, listening to them expect pro-choice people to somehow see in their insane selfish spite some kind of reason to embrace Christianity is downright hellish.

And that is the irony of the Chesterton quote, with which I agree. The trouble is that it is conservative Christians who have almost entirely given up on the power of the gospel to change hearts. They want a fascist empire of fear and MAGA power to crush their enemies and force a sort of whittled-down right wing sexual ethic on America. They seek an America where Donald Trump is free to grab ’em by the pussy, worship Mammon, hit his enemies back 10 times harder, sexually assault women and use the power of his office to silence and humiliate them, pay for the abortions of GOP mistresses, punish post-abortive women (with death if some GOP lawmakers got their way), put enormous economic pressure on poor women to abort, take no responsibility for that, and inflict vigilante punishments on the families of post-abortive women. They want a “moral” society based on exactly what St. Paul said could never make a person righteous: law, force, and fear.

It is only with respect to their own gods and idols–namely, Mammon, power, and guns–that the MAGA cult want to abolish the power of the state. Yet it is here, above all, that Paul tells us the state is appointed by God himself to insure the common good.

MAGA don’t actually care about the unborn. If they did, they would be working to attack demand, not increase and sharpen it. They only care about using the unborn as human shields for their real goals: protecting their own greed, violence, and lust. None of this is Christian. It is the worship of a false trinity of Mars, Mammon, and Venus, decorated with smells and bells.

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9 Responses

  1. DJT can go away and you will eventually see the problem is the people. That is basically what GK Chesterton said. If Trump is not there, there will be someone else. There is a lot of societal narcissism. It would be nice if it was one person, but it isn’t. We have deacons, priests and parishioners that won’t take a vaccine or wear a mask to help their country. The sexual abuse crisis is rooted in narcissism. I can see it on the progressive side. There is no respect for authority. If there is an antichrist, it lives in these people. They can’t get along, they want their way. If they don’t get it they put and act petulant and move to segregated christian communities. Remember the puritans who murdered their own because God loved them best. God didn’t love the poor or the unwell. That was the puriyltan idea of predestination.

  2. “Watching Christians use “my body my choice” in order to inflict sickness and death on people they claim they believe to be made in the image and likeness of God, but choose to harm out of MAGA culture war spite is not merely unreasonable, but insane. And then, listening to them expect pro-choice people to somehow see in their insane selfish spite some kind of reason to embrace Christianity is downright hellish.

    And that is the irony of the Chesterton quote, with which I agree. The trouble is that it is conservative Christians who have almost entirely given up on the power of the gospel to change hearts. They want a fascist empire of fear and MAGA power to crush their enemies and force a sort of whittled-down right wing sexual ethic on America.”

    As a gay man and an activist, I have been saying this since I wrote my first published letter to the editor nearly 50 years ago. I listened to what you are complaining about as they CELEBRATED and CHEERED and JUST DESSERTS and WAGES OF SIN the deaths of countless beautiful, young gay men, positively relishing the pain and suffering of some of the finest men I have known in my life. The silence from the “normal” religious was deafening. Oh, they were happy to help us out of their world and into the arms of Jesus, but actually taking responsibility for what was going on, and the world the religious have created for people like me, was simply not happening.

    So, all I can say now is “welcome to my world!” I have been warning, over and over and over again, that my battle to love and live my life freely, fully, and authentically AS I AM MADE is not just about gay rights, but about straight rights and religious freedom as well. Certain people have told me that if their theology is forced upon me by civil law, well, that’s really OK because blah blah blah blah blah God God God Jesus Jesus.

    No, it’s not OK. It’s NEVER OK, not for the victims. And really, as you, Mark, have written repeatedly the past couple of years, it is NOT OK for the people whose ox was not getting gored, or Goering’d, as it were. But now, they are a threat not just to me and mine, but to you and yours as well. All of what you fear being directed at “normals”— as if anyone actually is— and non-rabid Christians has been directed at us for decades. (And centuries and milennia, but who is counting?) And when I have complained about it, on these very pages sometimes, I am told to be a good little f*g and shut up, stop attacking the church, Get going and get god, and not to presume to tell my religious betters about my problems, or what to do.

    I don’t know if we will be able to solve the problem. But seeing the problem is the first step.

    1. Ben,
      Last Saturday my husband and I were reflecting upon our regret that we’d been forced to report our parish priest to his archbishop. We were speculating upon what went wrong in his formation –what had made him such a vain man. “You know what’s crazy?” I told my husband (he was raised in an atheistic household, so he has only been going to mass since he met me.) “Until Covid, I’ve been going to mass every Sunday for over fifty years, –and in all of that time, I can count on *one* hand–the priests that were bad shepherds!” Not one of those bad shepherds said anything bad about gay people.

      It was the *lay* people and a *small* subset of them that ran around badmouthing gay people, (immigrants and women). All of the rest of those priests taught me to confront hate and to welcome the outsider–in fact even the proud monster we had to report once gave a scathing sermon about supporting gay unions, and our obligation to attend their ceremonies. (He knew how to preach about inclusiveness without being able to practice it.)

      It was a priest in confession who once stopped me dead in my tracks, correcting me for calling someone an unflattering name about her attire. He said “No! you are wrong! She is beautiful!” In that moment I not only *knew* that he was right, –and was ashamed of myself — but I also felt freed from the bonds that others were imposing upon me– ALL from those judgemental *self appointed* gatekeepers of morality.

      I will go to my grave making reparations for not standing up and confronting all of the vile things that have been said in my presence about gay people. But let it be known that I’ve *never* heard a single word uttered from the altar about gay people. Every once in a while we get a rare sermon about sexual sin, but it has *never* been about the particular sins of any group in particular.

  3. @ taco

    I have heard it coming from the pulpit. I don’t go to active church anymore, because I’m retired, but we did a wedding about 15 years ago at a small Catholic Church down on the peninsula. I really don’t remember where it was or who it was. But during his homily the priest went out of his way to mention proposition eight and how the “gay attack on marriage” was being refuted in his very presence by the couple getting married.

    Thank you for being the good person that you are.

    1. @ taco

      I left this out.

      We may not be getting attacked on a regular basis from the pulpit, but the attacks have continued.

  4. @Ben, Thank you. You are also kind, and have helped me along my way.

    My kids DO accuse me of having a selective memory…but I’m not exaggerating. I’m sorry to concur with you that the culture warrior priests must be still at it. It’s intolerable and has no place anywhere.

    That era of prop 8 was so badly handled. I remember being alarmed by the people who were crowing from the rooftops that our churches would be shut down and Catholics would be accused of hate crimes if they didn’t hand over the reins to gay activists. (It was all so “Pachamama”) It is very possible that the priest whom you heard at the Catholic wedding you were photographing, now realizes his mistake. The bogeyman never materialized and a lot of good people were given the rights they should have enjoyed *to begin with*, in a secular state. It was Archbishop Niederauer who clarified the issue for me. He wrote something calm and clear headed that made me realize how wrong I was. Can you imagine being on the wrong side of history when it came to suffrage or slavery? What an embarrassment–and more proof that those that control the tone of the narrative must be questioned. The last 15 years have been incredibly eye-opening for a lot of Catholics. There is a lot to be encouraged about. This is what I was trying to convey when I asked you a few weeks ago if you thought people are getting better. Today at school, one of the second graders asked me to read to him how a certain traitor was put to death in the middle ages. I dutifully obliged, but it became so disgusting and bloody, that I laughed inappropriately, and apologized to him for the people of those times. (They finished him off with hot pinchers in which his flesh was pulled from his body, inch by inch. The young lad didn’t flinch and seemed strangely gratified so I remain on the fence about the state of humanity.)

    Anyway, thankfully, the vast majority of priests in my life have shied away from the culture wars. I have known so many good priests that were trying to be good and are to be commended for their faithful desire to serve. They have been an extraordinary net positive in my life, and a calm voice of reason in the culture wars when the Trads were trying to control everybody and everything, behaving like the bullies they are.

  5. @ taco

    I had to read this post in a couple of times. I was actually shocked about the story of the second grader. Not sure that I would have read this to a second grader. Maybe my age is showing.

    We watched the hot new Netflix series, the squid game. At first, it was so violent that we consider just turning it off, but we wanted to see what the buzz was. We ended up watching it, but I will not watch any subsequent seasons. This was confirmed by a discussion we had last night about how the squid game is showing up in school children in Germany. It’s basically the same thing, except that instead of being murdered by the game masters, losing kids are slapped by the game masters. People in Germany are really concerned about it. Das Husband was wondering how this could happen.

    My comment was twofold. On the one hand, what is wrong with these parents that they are allowing their children to watch some thing as pointlessly violent as this badly acted gorefest. The second part is that it is probably the older kids that are telling the younger kids all about it. But I have exactly the same question: what is wrong with these parents that they are not paying any attention at all to what their kids are watching and doing?

    It seems to me that more and more, parents are turning over the job of parenting to electronic devices.

  6. Where to begin. Yes, I too was shocked about the second grader. The book was in comic book form so I assumed that : a. it was for kids, and b. it was vetted by an adult. What can I say. I was in over my head before I had an actual vote on the matter. The question remains: Why do males love that stuff?

    We also watched the squid thing because of the hype. My kids were disgusted with us for watching the dubbed version. My daughters thought it was boring and stopped watching. I literally fell asleep during the crucial last scene of the series.

    After all is said ‘n done it was cheesy and not even close to the league Parasite was in. I love watching foreign films because I can’t stop being an observer of human nature… We have been watching “You” on Netflix. My daughter lives in that world in NY (she just got a promotion and is moving back.). In a small way, it reminds me of how her life must be (without the psychopaths.)

    I don’t even know where to start with what parents should or shouldn’t do. My youngest dressed as a murderous jilted bride today (you can get an authentic bridal gown for $19 on Amazon these days), My oldest daughter was invited to a posh VIP drag-queen-fashion-show-halloween bash in Manhattan. Her drop dead gorgeous boyfriend dressed like a Peacock (swear) and I would imagine that he made a few hearts beside my daughter go bumpity bump. My new mantra is: “thank God a crystal ball doesn’t come out with the placenta.” Sounds gross. I apologize.

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