The Kids Are Alright

Jon Tevlin of the Star Tribune tells us about an attempt by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to rally young people around “traditional marriage” as a political cause.

I’m not sure what the archdiocese expected to happen at this mandatory assembly for seniors at DeLaSalle high school, but I’m sure they didn’t expect anything as awesome as what did happen.

DeLaSalle kids have a few words with archdiocese at marriage talk,” Tevlin reports:

“The first three-quarters of the presentation were really good,” said [senior Matt] Bliss. “They talked about what is marriage and how marriage helps us as a society. Then it started going downhill when they started talking about single parents and adopted kids. They didn’t directly say it, but they implied that kids who are adopted or live with single parents are less than kids with two parents of the opposite sex. They implied that a ‘normal’ family is the best family.”

“When they finally got to gay marriage, [students] were really upset,” said Bliss. “You could look around the room and feel the anger. My friend who is a lesbian started crying, and people were crying in the bathroom.”

Bliss was one of several students who stood up to argue with the representatives from the archdiocese. One girl held up a sign that said, “I love my moms.”

It’s not just that the students argued with the priest and the married couple there representing the archdiocese — it’s that the students won the argument.

And best of all — my favorite thing about this story — is that these kids had each others’ backs. The adopted kids stuck up for the LGBT kids. The LGBT kids stuck up for the kids from single-parent families. And the few kids whose families fit the archdiocesan emissaries’ definition of normal and normative stuck up for their friends in the “abnormal” majority.

“People were upset,” said student Lydia Hannah, “and we weren’t just going to sit there.”

And they didn’t. Good for them.

“I don’t think they expected the response they got from the students,” Matt Bliss said.

They were so upset that the priest and school officials abruptly ended the assembly. Students who were angry were allowed to stay there and talk with the archdiocese volunteers. It was more civil, for a while, but the more questions the presenters tried to answer, the worse it got.

“It was a really awful ending,” said Bliss. “It was anger, anger, anger, and then we were done and they left. This is really a bad idea.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

     Back when I was in college, we had a conservative speaker who was
    actually doing pretty well with the audience until she started showing
    her disdain for single mothers and mothers on welfare.

    This is why I have naked burning contempt for the Forced Birth movement (I will never dignify them by accepting the preposterous lie that they are “pro-life”). They want to abolish abortion and at the very same time want to abolish all support for mothers struggling to raise children that weren’t planned for. I genuinely believe that most members of this movement don’t give a damn about “the children” and are doing it all to punish women (including married women) who take pleasure from sex.

  • WingedBeast

    “It follows that in that world adoptive families need more support and love to make up the difference. To instead decide in that world to give adoptive families more censure and difficulty and abuse is utterly unsupportable.”

    You’d think.  But, throughout history, how often has the idea of being kind and loving really caught on?

    When we punish people for doing the wrong thing (such as being in the wrong kind of family) we feel powerful, we feel strong.  Instinctively, we don’t measure power in accomplishments, but in relation to what we can do to other people.  Hense the applause of the sheer number of people put to death in one year… that wasn’t a group of people somberly coming to the conclusion that this was regretable but necessary.  That was the joy of a people who felt “yes, I am powerful for I was a part of the entity that killed these people that I don’t sympathize with!”

    Kindness is difficult, with many setbacks, and often makes us feel weak for that which we cannot accomplish.  Cruelty is easy and makes us feel strong for what we can do to other people.

    This is such a small, yet pervasive part of our lives, that we don’t notice it.  We see “adoption < natural parents" and the "feel powerful" programming to say "punish the abberations", because that's an easier place to go than "what can we do for these people".  One is a tiny piece of definately accomplishable cruelty, the other is a large piece of completely uncertain kindness.

  • Anonymous

    I saw this yesterday, but didn’t have time to comment on it since I’m caught up in the midst of prepping and sermon writing for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Vigil and Easter Day (yeah . . . just a little busy).  But I wanted to comment on the bit about adoption:

    Hannah, who is adopted, said one of the presenters said that adopted kids were “sociologically unstable.”

    While many commenters here have rightly focused on how that viewpoint is wrong since so many people are adopted, or that it makes no logical sense to be anti-abortion and anti-adoption, there’s a huge theological point that needs to be made with regards to this viewpoint being spouted by the Catholic Church.

    Through our baptism, we are adopted into God’s family and the life of the Church.  In Galatians 4:1-5, Paul writes about being heirs of the kingdom, being adopted as God’s children.  Augustine says that Paul used adoption in order to understand that we are sons [and daughters] through God’s generosity, as opposed to Jesus who was God’s son by nature.  And Ambrosiaster (an early Christian who authored a commentary on Paul’s epistles) says that Jesus was sent by God “so that he might provide a way by which sinners . . . might be adopted as God’s sons . . .”

    The theological conclusion here is that all baptized Christians have been adopted as sons and daughters into the household of God.  Therefore, according to the presenters’ statement, all baptized Christians are sociologically unstable.

    There’s a lot I could say about that, but I’ve wasted enough time avoiding putting together my Easter Day sermon.  Instead, I’ll just say that it really sucks when you’re talking to the mirror.

  • Anonymous

    You would think, wouldn’t you, that the Catholic Church hierarchy would maintain a period of modest silence where questions of childcare are concerned. But I suppose that despite getting the whole issue of children abused by its clergy so continually and catastrophically wrong the Church’s teachings are still “infallible”.

  • Rakka

    Am I the only one who dislikes the pope being called a Nazi because of the Hitler Jugend thing? That was obligatory for all of the good Aryan kids. He may hold disgusting views and have a creepy similarity to Palpatine, but I really don’t like people who aren’t/weren’t Nazis being called as such. It cuts too close to blaming ALL the kids who were in HJ for the evils they couldn’t have had any say about.

  • Emcee, cubed

    Since (some) Catholics apparently believe being a QUILTBAG person is
    just as morally offensive as being a pedophile, why not call them on the
    obvious hypocrisy of sheltering pedophiles at the same time as they
    vociferously attack QUILTBAG people?

    I’m not disagreeing with calling out the hypocrisy, but by specifying homosexuality, you make it sound like you are saying that homosexuality is a component of molesting children. It can be taken to mean either “How can you be against lemons when you are for lemonade?” or it can be taken to mean “Why are you against these perfectly good lemons when you are for rotten eggs?” And with all too many people who want to hear the lemons/lemonade version, I just don’t think it’s a good idea to bring it up that way. I think it would be better to go with a more general statement of “Why should anyone accept your moral judgement on anything when you think harboring pedophiles is okay?” or in this case even “How can you condemn our families when your organization protects child molesters?”

    I guess what I want to say is that it needs to be clear that you are comparing harm or “morality” (for want of a better term), and not the specific things. In this space, it’s not a big deal, because I think we all understand the intention. But at this assembly? I think certain people would see it as a tacit admission that homosexuals are child molesters (and since the Vatican has already tried to blame the whole scandal on gay priests, I don’t think this is an unfounded assumption.)

    Note: I hope this explanation makes sense outside of my own head. I’m not always good at transferring concepts to words.

  • Guest

     That’s exactly what came to my mind as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     I get what you’re saying, but I think the original poster was saying, “Some Catholics equate homosexuality with pedophilia — they imply that they’re either the same thing or that both are equally evil — but they are comfortable sheltering and enabling pedophiles while condemning and persecuting homosexuals. If they really think that the two are the same, they shouldn’t privilege one over the other since, according to that mindset, the two are morally equivalent”.

    It doesn’t mean that homosexuality is an aspect of or related to pedophilia in actuality, only that, for those who do make the argument that the two are equally evil then it makes little sense to condemn one but enable and coddle the other.

    That is, their argument falls apart even if you accept the idea that homosexual people and other QUILTBAG people are bad, which just makes the whole thing even more appalling, actually, since it suggests that some Catholics believe that two people of the same sex getting married is actually worse than the rape and torture of children, since they are able to tolerate the latter but fear and revile the former.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    I think it’s a little unnecessary too. It’s so easy to go after him for the things he’s said and done completely voluntarily today — it’s really not necessary to demonize 12-year olds because they failed to stand up to the Nazi regime.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I know I would have spoken up, and I know a lot of my classmates would have as well. We didn’t know that there were QUILTBAG people among us (or, rather, didn’t admit it), and I can’t think of anyone in my class who was in a single-parent family until my own parents divorced when I was 16, but there were plenty of kids with stepparents in our high school. And my sweet, brilliant little cousin was adopted. (That she’s now an adult and looks like a particularly gorgeous movie star is something I cannot wrap my brain around.) I would have been utterly outraged, and shown it — in some ways, I was braver when I was a teenager than I am now. Teenage immortality, I guess.

    Most people have it in them to be better than they give themselves credit for. We can be stopped, temporarily, by “what if” and people in authority telling us to sit down and shut up, but as soon as one single person stands up, ally after ally joins them. 

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    In other words, if you spend 90% of an assembly telling kids “families are awesome” don’t be surprised when they reject the final 10% when you tell them ” but your family is awful.”

    Not to mention the kids like me who had a mom, dad, and a really awful family – one that become much better once Mom chose to be a single parent.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I doubt very much that *they* would interpret what they said as being “against adoption”. It’s important, if you want ot understand why the catholic church does the dumb-ass things it does, to understand that the idea of hierarchy *is intrinsic to how they think about the universe*.  I would bet they *didn’t* say that adoption was “bad”. I bet they said something like “is more difficult than” or “is not as aligned with what god wants” — or maybethey really were boneheaded enough to say “inferior”, but they didn’t actually *mean it that way*. That’s why the school’s apology seems so wrong-way-round: to their thinking, being a step lower on the hierarchy *doesn’t* mean adoption is “bad” or that adoptive parents are bad parents or anything like that, so to their minds, they “misspoke” in that they gave that impression — since they are trained to think in hierarchical terms, it would never occur to them that the students might *quite rightly* take “your same-sex parents are a rank below adoptive parents are a rank below single parents are a rank below married biological parents” to mean — well, the thing it actually does mean. To them it’s a statement that carries the same kind of moral judgment as “A private ranks below a corporal ranks below a sergeant.” The root of their problem is not that they think less of those kinds of families, but that they see nothing wrong in *ranking* the different kinds of families. Because their *entire universe* is hierarchical. All the way from the smallest lepton, up through all the various inanimate objects, then on to the simplest protist up through all the plants, and then through all the animals, then to humans, all organized in one long ranking system through the sinners, then the saints, with the centroid of men a bit higher than that of women, then up through nine ranks of angels, and on up to God.

    Which leave them with no way to make sense of what went wrong; as far as they’re concerned, of *course* one kind of family has to be better than another: you can only have one “best”

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    That makes a lot of sense. It’s a pre-Enlightenment way of thinking — the lord ranks higher than the serf, and is far more important than the serf, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything *wrong* with being a serf, so long as you aceept your lot and, above all, don’t try to change anything. 

    It’s a way of thinking I find repugnant when used in our own times, but it’s good to understand it.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    It doesn’t have to lead to that kind of thinking though.  It’s only if you insist on the hierarchy containing at least as many levels as there are things to put into it that it’s even possible to think of things that way.

    It’s like with nine ranks of angels, there are more than nine angels.  So you know that some angels need to be of the same rank.  (Pigeonhole principle, which well never be used to state the non-obvious.)  If you don’t subdivide the angels within a given rank then the angels in a rank are equal to the other angels in the rank but you’ve still got a hierarchy there.

    It should be possible to have some kind of grand hierarchy of the universe without dividing family types that way.  Family could be its own rung on the ladder (or share a rung with something else) and thus all considered equal, or one could divide them in ways that actually make sense (abusive families are worse than non-abusive ones) but there’s no reason that hierarchy in itself needs to result in thinking that different things can’t be equal.

    Hierarchical thinking means that not everything can be equal but that doesn’t mean that nothing can be equal.

  • Karen Cox

    Good points Chris, Ross, and llira.  My husband’s family of origin was Catholic; I’m Presbyterian.  (Steve doesn’t do religion anymore, which is not at all uncommon for adults who were raised in rigid Catholicism.)  My in-laws simply could not get their heads around the category “human” including everyone.  Men HAD to be better than women and the clergy HAD to be better than the laity.  They simply didn’t understand that anyone could think differently, even though I obviously did think differently.

  • Matri

    The one bright spot in this is that it’s heartwarming to see the students sticking together and standing up for each other. Some of their fellow students were being insulted and de-humanized by a supposed “moral authority”. Did it matter what their background or orientation was?

    Not one bit.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I think it depends on what use they make of their hierarchical worldview. The church definitely applies this hierarchical view in ways it shouldn’t, but there are ways they _could_ (and often _do_) apply it that could be beneficial (perhaps not the best way to achieve those ends, but _a_ way).

    For example, back when I took Pre-Cana (and I went into Pre-Cana expecting to hate the hell out of it, but I ended up being like the one person on the internet who actually found it valuable and helpful), there was a section in the course materials about interfaith marriages. And they basically said that interfaith marriages were permitted, but that maintaining a healthy interfaith marriage was a lot harder than a healthy same-faith marriage, and yo should maybe think twice and make sure you can’t find a nice catholic girl to marry instead — bascially the same kind of “These marriages outrank those marriages” thing — but the conclusion wasn’t “So therefore interfaith marriages should be oppressed/restricted/stopped” but “If you’re having an interfaith marriage, you’re starting out at a disadvantage. So make sure you get extra help and support,” along with a list of resources, and a note that you should take the Special Deluxe Pre-Cana class instead of the regular no-frills one. (They said something similar about remarriage and marriages between people who already have children: “It carries with it a lot of extra difficulties, so you shoudln’t take the basic Pre-cana class that’s going to teach you a bunch of stuff you probably already know; we’ve got a special advanced one for people inthat situation.”).

    So I thinkthat the church can (and in many instances does) leverage its hierarchical worldview not toward “So these people are better than those” but instead toward “So those people need more help and support than these”

  • Anonymous

    Which would supply most, it not all, of the necessary physical labor as well. Remember, no colors or music means no fine arts programs to worry about.

  • Aguilaoro88

    Oh, I’d love to be in a crowd that turned on a speaker…

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    At the moment, with marriage equality being hotly debated in Australia, a whole bunch of Catholic bishops are arguing against it because “kids deserve a mother and a father”.

    Not to mention that the head honchos in a couple of states issued an instruction to their priests to read out an anti-marriage equality statement at masses on Palm Sunday*. Didn’t go down so well with a big chunk of their parishioners. My bishop wasn’t one of those in on this but I mentioned to my priest the other day that we better not see this bullshit at our church, or there will be a scene. He’s a good guy but the assistant priest is quite the reactionary, so there’s always a risk he’ll show too much initiative…

    *A support/advocacy group for victims of clerical sexual abuse have since circulated their own letter condemning the shitty response of much of the church establishment to this actual terrible crime, asking for it to be read out in similar fashion. Good on them…but natch the aforementioned bishops are not impressed.

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    Just shut these pretend Catholics schools down.  Or next you will be paying for the sexual escapades of these ungodly students thanks to Obamacare!  Obviously these ‘Catholic’ students don’t want or deserve a Catholic education.

    Close the school. 

  • Anonymous

    I’m not seeing a logical connection between these thoughts.

  • Matri

    I am: right-wing.

    A brief, 1.5-second glance at linked twitter tells all.

  • Matri

    I am: right-wing.

    A brief, 1.5-second glance at linked twitter tells all.

  • Tricksterson

    At the moment, with marriage equality being hotly debated in Australia, a whole bunch of Catholic bishops are arguing against it because “kids deserve a mother and father”.

    I’ll concede this when they concede that a congregation need a spiritual mother and father, that is to say, a priest and priestess.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll concede this when they concede that a congregation need a spiritual
    mother and father, that is to say, a priest and priestess.

    Mother Church is the spiritual mother, though. Haven’t you been paying attention?

  • Grey Seer

     I… wait. You’re actually being serious here, aren’t you? See, that post right there contained so many buzzwords and illogical statements that I initially assumed it was a parody. Only… judging by the twitter account, you really believe it.

     So tell me. Where in the Church’s doctrine does it say that one is supposed to stand idly by and allow the persecution and discrimination against one’s brother to continue? Because I seem to recall that Jesus fellow making some fairly persuasive arguments about compassion and standing up for each other, regardless of what the social norms would decree…

  • Grey Seer

     I… wait. You’re actually being serious here, aren’t you? See, that post right there contained so many buzzwords and illogical statements that I initially assumed it was a parody. Only… judging by the twitter account, you really believe it.

     So tell me. Where in the Church’s doctrine does it say that one is supposed to stand idly by and allow the persecution and discrimination against one’s brother to continue? Because I seem to recall that Jesus fellow making some fairly persuasive arguments about compassion and standing up for each other, regardless of what the social norms would decree…

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    No place.  So I hope you don’t stand around allowing the abortion of unborn children….the greatest evil in our times. 

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    No place.  So I hope you don’t stand around allowing the abortion of unborn children….the greatest evil in our times. 

  • Lori

     

    I’m not seeing a logical connection between these thoughts. 

    It seems pretty straightforward to me. The school must not be a Real True Catholic school because it allows students to think things that are not Bishop-approved and accepts students from families that are not Real True Catholic. The Right wing answer to deviation is always desctruction. If the school is not Real True Catholic enough to produce the desired culture warriors, then it needs to cease to exist. After all, if the Church can’t keep everyone in line they might lose the war against being expected to follow the law when acting as a secular employer. Can’t have that.

  • Lori

     

    I’m not seeing a logical connection between these thoughts. 

    It seems pretty straightforward to me. The school must not be a Real True Catholic school because it allows students to think things that are not Bishop-approved and accepts students from families that are not Real True Catholic. The Right wing answer to deviation is always desctruction. If the school is not Real True Catholic enough to produce the desired culture warriors, then it needs to cease to exist. After all, if the Church can’t keep everyone in line they might lose the war against being expected to follow the law when acting as a secular employer. Can’t have that.

  • Anonymous

    Assuming for the sake of argument that abortion is evil: what are you doing to prevent it? Providing comprehensive sex education, so no one thinks she can’t get pregnant the first time she has sex or that a Diet Coke douche is an effective contraceptive, to minimize the number of unwanted pregnancies and thus the number of abortions? Providing free condoms and contraceptive pills, to minimize the number of unwanted pregnancies and thus the number of abortions? Providing free prenatal care, to minimize the number of fetal abnormalities and the risk to the mother and thus the number of abortions? Providing economic or financial assistance to mothers, to minimize the economic and financial pressure to end an unwanted pregnancy and thus the number of abortions?

    Or are you just making abortion that doesn’t risk the mother’s life and health and future fertility an increasingly difficult thing to get, and thus affecting the abortion rate not one bit?

  • Anonymous

    At my office, the elevators play content from a business-oriented, rather conservative (“Opinions that Matter”) network. Even they, recently and without comment, mentioned “David Hyde Pierce and his husband”. The LG portion of QUILTBAG, at least, really has gone mainstream.

    Also: You could totally look at Jesus’ story and say he had a stepfather.

  • Tricksterson

    One who raised him up to be a good man.  While his biodad let his priests nail him to a piece of wood.

  • Grey Seer

    Putting aside any argument over the accuracy of the term “greatest evil in our times”, I’ll admit that I come down on the pro-choice side of that debate. Though its somewhat irrelevent here, given that I’m not a Christian, and thus don’t much care what the doctrine of the Church says I’m meant to do.

     The children at this Catholic high school, however, are indeed Christian, at least theoretically. And in that light, I commend them for sticking to their religion’s principles of love and acceptence. Actually, I commend them for upholding the generally positive qualities of love and acceptence, and find it pleasant cooincidence that such behaviour also satisfies the dictates of their religion.

  • Grey Seer

    Putting aside any argument over the accuracy of the term “greatest evil in our times”, I’ll admit that I come down on the pro-choice side of that debate. Though its somewhat irrelevent here, given that I’m not a Christian, and thus don’t much care what the doctrine of the Church says I’m meant to do.

     The children at this Catholic high school, however, are indeed Christian, at least theoretically. And in that light, I commend them for sticking to their religion’s principles of love and acceptence. Actually, I commend them for upholding the generally positive qualities of love and acceptence, and find it pleasant cooincidence that such behaviour also satisfies the dictates of their religion.

  • steph

    This, along with “pro-life” catholics insisting that the woman must not even get an abortion to save her life, is why I’m not “pro-life” anymore.


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