PIC Varia “”Not you! The other ‘varia, a literary term meaning a miscellany or collection!””

1.  This may not be as funny as I think it is, but I am this year’s Runner Up Smartest Blog in the Sheenazing Awards! I have been so swamped, I completely forgot to tell you to vote for me, but it’s hard to imagine a better result. I think “runner up smartest” is stretching things a bit, but I’m grateful for the award.  Lots of good blogs recognized there, maybe some you’re not familiar with.  Thanks, Bonnie, and anyone who voted for me!


2.  Most bizarre thing I’ve read all year:  Pregnancy No Proof of Motherhood:  Woman Was Her Own Twin, and the Twin Was the Mother of Her Children.  That headline is a little wobbly, of course.  A woman accidentally discovered that her biological children do not have her DNA — instead, they have the DNA of a twin she absorbed while she was still in the womb herself.  But she is her children’s mother, of course.

This story is yet another reminder that DNA is not the be all and end all of what we can know about ourselves.  Something to keep in mind when DNA evidence is what sends someone to death row.  Sometimes DNA lies.

Also, how messed up is it that people in Washington state are required to be DNA tested before getting assistance? Requiring applicants to show ID is one thing; assuming they’re child kidnappers until proven otherwise is revolting.  Poor people ought to be able to keep their own damn blood.


3.  In balanced and articulate terms, Scott Eric Alt spells out why people like me get so aggravated with people like Taylor Marshall, when they go all fundamentalist, culturally.  (If you missed the fun, I had myself a little rant about the Beatles and art in general yesterday.) Check out Alt’s Seven Reasons to Reject Catholic Fundamentalism About the Arts.  (If you find the double column format hard to read, click on “print” at the end; it will convert the formatting to a single column.)  Favorite reasons:


[A fundamentlist approach] is anti-art. What it likes in art is not its com­plex­ity, or its orig­i­nal­ity, or it genius, or its abil­ity to incite thought and reflec­tion, or its aes­thetic value, but solely what pro­motes ideas already believed. It treats art as noth­ing more than an exer­cise in bland self-validation. But Kafka was right: The point of a work of art is to be an ice pick to dis­turb and unsettle.


It gives us no stan­dard by which to tell the dif­fer­ence between Michelangelo’s David and a porn photo. It can­not tell us whyThe Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia is not a pro­mo­tion of witch­craft. (Some have argued that it is. They are the same folks who say that one should read noth­ing but the King James Bible.) It can­not tell us why Flan­nery O’Connor was not on the Misfit’s side. But the fact that John Paul II had to rebuke the prud­ish souls who cov­ered up Michaelangelo’s David is a strong indi­ca­tion that Catholic crit­ics must do a bet­ter job at explain­ing the dif­fer­ence between the artis­tic explo­ration of a topic, and pro­mo­tion of sin or idol­a­try of the body. The fun­da­men­tal­ist approach does not per­mit us to do that.


4.  Eve Tushnet, leading purveyer of Gay Catholic Whatnot, maps out some of the fascinating changes we’re seeing as Gay Christians become more vocal about their struggles and insights.  Sheesh, that sounds bland and vague. But it’s Eve Tushnet, so it’s neither.  Check out Coming Out Christian:  How faithful homosexuals are transforming our churches.


This is step two of our dog’s patented system for getting off the couch.  Step one is he turns into a boneless dog avalanche until the cushion tips forward and spills him onto the floor.  Step two (pictured) is where he is dead for several minutes.  In step three, he gathers his strength, clambers to his feet, and shambles off to find someone he hasn’t sniffed in a while.

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  • Thank you for the shout-out.

  • Sara McD

    #3 is probably why, in spite of theological differences, I find most Catholics more culturally sane than most of my Protestant IRL friends. (Which also means I am discouraged when I see that you guys have some of the same wackos that we do.)

  • Melissa Hunter-Kilmer

    When our mastiff lies down like that, we say he is doing his side-of-beef imitation.

  • Tori

    I probably shouldn’t be, but I am just shocked by how many commenters misunderstood Eve’s article :/

  • donttouchme

    I might be one of the commenters who misunderstood Eve’s article since I tried to comment but wasnt approved. My question is why is this particular form of disordered sexuality a good thing to have in the Church, while other forms are apparently not good? Logic tells me that if chaste homosexuals are a blessing for the Church, why not chaste pedophiles? I once read its extremely difficult if not impossible for pedophiles to change their sexual orientation, same as with homosexuals. So why the special treatment? Of course chaste pedophiles should also be welcome in the Church, but they are exactly parallel to homosexuals. They are equally disordered, so why the celebration and happiness about homosexuals “coming out” and talking as if they have something special to contribute specifically because they are afflicted with a pernicious deviancy? I’m not saying they shouldn’t be welcomed in the Church like anyone else, but they should be whispering in the confessional not proudly discussing shameful desires any more than people should proudly discuss attraction to animals or prostitutes or pornography.

    • simchafisher

      I wouldn’t attach too much significance to a comment not appearing. Disqus is ridiculous. Half the time, comments I post to my own blog don’t appear. I get more angry letters from people who are outraged at being censored, and I don’t even know who they are.

      It makes sense that we would hear more from chaste homosexuals lately because there is so much talk about homosexual marriage. One of the points that Eve made is that, if churches are going to be able to make a good defense against homosexual “marriage,” they need to think hard, maybe for the first time, about what heterosexual marriage means.

      You’re wrong that homosexual tendencies and pedophile tendencies are on the same level. Acting on both is a sin; but pedophiles by definition also prey upon someone who cannot consent; so there is another, deeper layer of sin there. Homosexual relationships are very often between people who are looking for love, but a relationship between an adult and a child is, by definition, unequal and predatory.

      That being said, I would welcome the words of ANY sinner who has learned how to control his disordered desires. People who have learned how to turn away from temptation learn something, and have something to share.

      For instance, if a commenter who was known for responding with disgust and condescension to the words of female bloggers learned how to treat women justly and respectfully, I would welcome an account of what he learned and how he got that way.

      • donttouchme

        We also hear fairly often from former porn users these days, but it doesn’t have the same celebratory, embracing-who-I-am, what-can-I-contribute-as-a-chaste-lover-of-porn, kind of tone. The sin must be graver for pedophiles because of the predatory aspect you mention, but the attraction is equally disordered. I think my text-book misogyny is part of me, like a sexual orientation.

        • simchafisher

          So your basic complaint is not that chaste homosexuals get too much respect, but that former porn users don’t get enough respect? Or that there isn’t a special word for people who want to use porn, but don’t? You’re confusing me.

          I’ve read a good many articles by former porn addicts, and the appealing thing about them is that (a) they humbly acknowledge the people they’ve hurt and (b) they offer advice for people still struggling. They acknowledge that their orientation is toward sin, which is true for everyone.

          • donttouchme

            No, my observation is that the homosexual orientation is presented for some reason as a neutral or good thing, which it isn’t. In contrast with, for example, pornography or the pedophile orientation, which are rightly and uniformly presented as bad things.

            I’m conflicted about my misogyny, but I shouldn’t hurt people. I could say intellectually I wish I never did.

  • neveraname

    Thank you thank you thank you Simcha for commenting on the usually esteemed Dr Marshall’s veering off into crazy convert land over the Beatles. I am no combox warrior but when people start saying things like “oh everyone knows he sold his soul to the devil in 1960 for 20 years of fame and that’s why he died a violent death in 1980” I kind of feel like I’ve entered the land of the intellectually flatlined. I mean really. I finally unsubscribed BC of that nonsense. My family was torn to bits over Vatican 2 and it was BC my parents were converts. I’m all for conversion and new blood and the new evangelism–yea for the Pope–but my stomach churns when I see the faces of the denim-jumpered nine year old girls who have never listened to the Beatles because rock and roll is the devil etc. Years ago I had a homeschooled protestant teenager babysitting occasionally but my kids told me that in conversation it came out that they thought California was in Mexico (and other evidence of stunning ignorance soon followed). Her family went to a “bible church”. Mazel tov– your ignorant kid is too dumb to watch my stunningly clever children who are wizards with illegal fireworks strapped to skateboards….). Taylor Marshall’s warning (50 years late) about the devil’s music caused guffaws around our house–oldest son said “I want to hold your hand” oh yeah going to to hell now!” Younger son said, “Nope– the evidence is “She’s got the Devil in her Heart”! Good boys. I am very proud of them because recognizing what is commonly called Bull**** is an important thing to cultivate in kids, because without it they end up in fundamentalist cult churches. My kids have a nose for nuttiness. They’ll be okay despite having the Beatles played in the car on long trips. Thank you God for some sanity.
    I wouldn’t trust Dr. Marshall’s kids to babysit mine. Now that’s a litmus test!