Sorry for the delay on this one. I have been without a solid Internet connection for two days. Let me note what has already been mentioned in comments, which is a commentary on “Brokeback Mountain” by Rod “friend of this blog” Dreher (who I had lunch with yesterday in Dallas, before flying on to Atlanta with my family in this long, long Christmas tour).
Dreher is a very orthodox, traditional Christian and does not hide that. However, his nuanced evaluation of this movie and the whirlpool around it is getting him some interesting mail over at the Dallas Morning News opinion-page weblog. This is one of those situations that journalists tend to cherish. Rod is managing to tick off people on both sides of the love-hate spectrum on this movie.
The key is that Dreher says this is a good, not great, movie that makes a sincere attempt to capture the art in a gripping short story — a story that is much more honest about this tragic affair (and its roots) than the movie that is being hailed as a political landmark. Thus, Dreher writes:
It is impossible to watch this movie and think that all would be well with Jack and Ennis if only we’d legalize gay marriage. It is also impossible to watch this movie and not grieve for them in their suffering, even while raging over the suffering that these poor country kids who grew up unloved cause for their families. As the film grapples with Ennis’ pain, confusion and cruelty, different levels of meaning unspool — social, moral, spiritual and erotic. In the end, Brokeback Mountain is not about the need to normalize homosexuality, or “about” anything other than the tragic human condition.
In other words, I think Dreher is trying to say that the movie — like any artistic work that deserves to be called a “tragedy” — is, in large part, about sin and “The Fall.” This kind of art is not tidy. Thus, Dreher quotes Flannery O’Connor: “Fiction is about everything human and we are made out of dust, and if you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn’t try to write fiction.”
Among the more gripping emails in response was a post by a man that Dreher simply identifies as a gay Catholic friend of his. His post points toward a possible story in all of this. How are gay conservatives, especially those who are seeking to honor traditional Christian beliefs, going to react to this film? What are the discussions like, these days, at Courage meetings?
Consider this passage from the online comment by the gay Catholic, with its reference to God — the Other Who — and the riptide of beliefs involved in all of this:
No man with homosexual attractions forgets the first time he ever had a serious love-crush on a male friend in a disapproving environment — disapproval being either internal (morality) or external (society). There’s a strange mix of terror and lust, and a need for SOME sort of same-sex approval that I cannot imagine having absolutely any equivalent in the straight world. It’s a whirlpool of attraction and revulsion. You know that what you most want, what your body is telling you (and male bodies can’t be fooled), is wrong and/or that acting according to it would ruin you in the eyes of the other, the one you love (in some sense). And in the eyes of the Other Who loves you. And in some sense yourself. If you know/believe (rightly or wrongly) that homosexual acts are wrong, there is simply no secular way out. Only the acceptance of tragedy, the embracing of the Cross, and seeking to die to self.
Like I keep saying, there are many points of view out there on this issue and this movie that are not making it into the MSM coverage. Journalists need to find the voices in between Hollywood and, well, the 700 Club.