Five Quick Takes

Five Quick Takes April 26, 2022

I.

Photograph of Taoyateduta, also known as Little Crow, a leader in the Dakota War of 1862.

I recently bought a copy of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a history of the wars of the American Frontier. It’s a rough read. Though written by a white author, it’s told principally from the perspective of the Native American nations that were displaced or massacred by the advancing tide of United States control; theft after theft, broken treaty after broken treaty, betrayal after betrayal. Even if the trans-Atlantic slave trade had never existed, or had been extinguished without bloodshed, the imperial conquest of North America by Europeans—”from sea to shining sea”—would be one of the bitterest and most shameful chapters in history. But it’s one I think white Americans have a special duty to face. This is our country. These were our ancestors. We have to come to terms with this history. Not that we’re guilty for what our ancestors did; unless we try to ignore or rationalize it. Then, we do dip our hands in blood.

II.

It’s been kind of a rough Easter. To my chagrin, I never finished my Lenten reading; worse, I overslept so badly on Easter Sunday that I actually missed Mass—yes, I missed Mass on Easter—and then did the same thing again this past Sunday! (At least this week I was in a position to attend an evening Mass at another parish. I did manage to get to Confession yesterday, so that’s taken care of too.) Not sure why things have been so off for me, but prayers are welcome.

III.

I’ve been continuing work on a book on gay issues for Christians—in many respects, a summary of the years I’ve spent blogging. I am, however, beginning to worry, in light of the recent disgusting proliferation of “groomer” rhetoric from the Republican Party, that the stuff I’ve been writing may not really be up to date enough.

As LGBTQ rights advanced, as the ex-gay movement’s fraud became more and more obvious, as Side B authors started showing a different way to handle queerness in a Christian context than ignoring or expunging it—I thought things were getting better. I still assumed the progress would be slow, but I wasn’t expecting a reversal. I guess that was foolish of me; backlash is a common enough phenomenon in history, and so is people pointedly refusing to learn from history. But however common it is, it’s still scary. How many people (especially but not only trans people) are going to get hurt, even killed, as a direct result of soulless politicians fomenting rage and panic in order to gain an electoral advantage?

Poster from 1987, promoting AIDS activism. This is one of the earliest uses of the pink triangle, derived from its use in the Holocaust to mark LGBTQ prisoners in concentration camps, but here inverted as an emblem of solidarity, survival, and resistance.

IV.

I’m talking to a priest whom I might ask to become my new spiritual director. Prayers welcome for this too! He seems like a smart, decent guy, but after … the last thirty years, I’m more than a little wary of trusting priests.

V.

I’ve been a Catholic for more than fourteen years now, and I feel like I’m grappling with exactly the same problems I’ve been wrestling with ever since I was a teenager. Loneliness; feeling directionless; bouts of discouragement or depression. A lot of them come back to, or feel like they come back to, a deep-seated bewilderment about why the Church’s teaching about homosexuality is what it is. I don’t find the natural law explanation here particularly satisfying (which is not an invitation to debate me about it in the comments, to be clear), but my beliefs about the Church’s authority and my observation of her history don’t leave me room to dissent from that teaching without violating my conscience. Leaving me, well, a bit stumped. And “a bit stumped” wouldn’t be so bad in itself, if not for its direct and very painful practical implications.

Twenty-odd years is a long time to beat your head against the same unresponding wall. Even if it’s the wall of the New Jerusalem, that’s the sort of thing to give anybody a headache.


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