Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Are We There Yet?

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  • Tess Rooney,

    Why can children not have access to a spiritual life without the church/place of worship thing? Just asking.

    Not sure if you read it, but I did try that and I personally found it unfulfilling. I'm not saying other do, but I did.

    I was very drawn to Hinduism, but it's hard to be Hindu if you aren't Indian, unless you go for the Krshna Conscienceness Movement, which was tempting.

    And crikey, they are even tougher on sexual acts, they are _only_ allowed if you are trying to make a baby.

    Since May 2009 • 267 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Hi Jackie, I'v been thinking of you since my "lawfully wedded wife" has been doing the early childhood education degree. She is planing to do like you.

    Oh good! We need more good 'uns. Keep encouraging her - it can be a bit of a mind fuck at times. It takes a while to get your head around what the job is , and why it's so valuable.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I'm going to have to remove myself from this conversation, to the relief of many. Let's see if I can summarise how I feel on my way out. Tess, if you don't see how this

    Remember it's Catholic children who got abused, so your average pew sitter is NOT happy.

    is insulting, then I can't really help you. Then again, I'm not really interested in helping you, but rather in protecting us from people like you. You politely (and glibly) appeal to the Christian roots of our society as a justification for the opposition of gay marriage, defend the rights of a catholic adotpion agency to refuse to serve gays on the basis of belief, say the most extraordinarily hypocritical and byzantine thing about the nature of the sexual act and contraception. And you keep talking about child abuse as a case of bad apples. It is not, it is the very core of the religion, the morbid hatred of sex, the enforced celibacy, the betrayal of who you are to please the old man in the sky - *that* is unnatural, and leads these men to forget themselves, lose their humanity.

    How else do I explain to myself why both of my parents were molested by priests? How can I believe in bad apples, in isolated cases? A group of crusty old man who don't know what love, what sex is tell millions around the world that use condoms will send you to hell, as if they had made a pact with AIDS. They tell us we can't get divorced, we can't have civil unions, if you are a woman, that your body belongs to God, even if you don't believe. Throughout the centuries they've killed millions of people for not believing in God, or believing in the wrong God, or believing in an unacceptable variation of their own God. Plus all those that they tortured and burned at the stake. Giordano Bruno, for daring to say that the universe was infinite. Jean d'Arc, for having visions. And those who had to lie to save themeselves, like Galileo, who was pardoned - pardoned! - in 1984 for daring to suggest in 1600 that the earth was not the centre of the universe. And then, of course, more recently, they were instrumental to the rise of Fascism, turned a blind eye towards Nazism, then helped the criminals escape. They laundered money for the mafia, had bankers and public servants killed.

    These are the people who would moralise us, help us tell right from wrong, and who tell the gays that who they are is a sin against nature. Have they, have you no shame?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    What I'm saying Tess is this - why could you not raise your children with a firm set of moral guidelines and connected to their spirituality without resorting to a church? Once again, just asking. I've always been curious about this argument. I have friends who have become religious only after having children - because they want what you wanted for your kids. I just don't get it.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Tess Rooney,

    What I'm saying Tess is this - why could you not raise your children with a firm set of moral guidelines and connected to their spirituality without resorting to a church?

    The moral guideline part I understand. But how could I raise my children connected to spirituality? Part of experienceing the numinous is responding to it. I believed that there was a God. I need to act on that and worship, not alone, but in a collective.

    Since May 2009 • 267 posts Report Reply

  • Tess Rooney,

    Giovanni... You obviously hate the Catholic Church. I do not.

    If it was priestly celibacy that caused the sexual abuse, why is the Anglican Church dealing with the same issue? I've given a link to one case, but there are more.

    A warning for anyone who may get upset by reading about sexual abuse:
    http://themcj.com/?p=4612

    One of my mother's friend of a friend's husband was a minister who sexually abused children, his church covered it up and moved him on. It's happened in the Salvation Army, teachers have abused students. My friend's father raped her, he was married.

    It isn't a Catholic thing. It isn't a celibacy thing. It's not a religious thing. It's more than just a sexual thing. It's a _power_ thing. And any organisation is prone to abusing power.

    Since May 2009 • 267 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=6233&var_recherche=sexual+abuse
    http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=6165&var_recherche=sexual+abuse
    http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=5967&var_recherche=sexual+abuse

    Interesting book reviews Tess, seeing as they're from a world that I'm not too familiar with. Coughlin's a clever writer, but again, primarily an apologist for the recent papacy. It's hard not to see his repeated blaming of institutional abuse on already disgraced bishops as a rather calculated action in damage control, while the Vatican hierarchy is largely treated as being beyond criticism.

    As for John Paul II's naivety/innocence in refusing to comprehend the scale and seriousness of the abuse taking place in the church, something's seriously wrong with an organisation that elects someone so spectacularly incompetent to its leadership. If he were the CEO of a multinational that had been found to be systematically abusing children in the course of its operations one could hardly raise the defence of naivety.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Mrs Skin,

    Do you accept people having any form of sincere belief in the Divine?

    Yes. I think it's weird but I accept that it's genuine. But that's a very different thing than having a sincere belief in a religion. Also I have trouble with sincere belief in Vatican dogma from an apparently otherwise bright and reasoning person.

    So there was a specific religious dimension because there was no idea of separation of religion and state.

    And as you say, you're with in your rights to lobby for your beliefs - beliefs which would see that separation removed in certain instances.

    The Church teaches that "The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose."
    ...
    I think marriage is also about putting a penis in a vagina to occasionally make a baby, which when you consider it, is the bloody function of the things.

    Considering the clitoris is the only organ whose sole function is pleasure, it starts to make being a woman look like teh suck, doesn't it. Or does it mean that because it has no reproductive function, women can masturbate and men can't?

    ...you can call rocks "fish", or call trees "sky", but it doesn't make it so.

    Which is exactly our point, really.

    This abuse was done by people that we were supposed to trust, and then we were betrayed by our Bishops who protected the abusers and not the abused children. Of course Catholics are angry.

    I've been having an ongoing discussion – for about 12 years – with various friends about behaviour and at what point it stops being 'behaviour' and starts being perceived as an integral part of someone's persona. I think that discussion scales upwards to the Catholic church as well. At what point does the individual behaviour become institutional behaviour?

    It isn't a Catholic thing. It isn't a celibacy thing. It's not a religious thing. It's more than just a sexual thing. It's a _power_ thing.

    I think it's important here to separate rape, which is a power thing, with paedophilia which apparently isn't. Some years ago I read academic research papers on paedophilia. The papers were working from the position that it's a sexual orientation, but one with harmful consequences as one party to the sexual activity is necessarily a victim. Frankly it must suck to have that kind of sexual orientation, though all my sympathy evaporates the second the orientation is acted on.

    And any organisation is prone to abusing power.

    The thing is, most of them aren't taking the high moral ground.

    Tess I hope you'll forgive me for making a personal observation at this point, but it seems from the combination of things you've said that your beliefs are considerably at odds with those of the Catholic church. You probably won't take that as a compliment, but I mean it as one.

    the warmest room in the h… • Since Feb 2009 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Just as it is unfair to taint all clergy by the actions of a few, the same goes for gay activists:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1178354/Gay-rights-campaigner-led-double-life-leader-paedophile-ring-carried-catalogue-child-abuse.html</quote>

    Yeah, that's the same. That's exactly the same. See the way his organisation covered up for him, and actively concealed and enabled his abuse? See how their instinct was to protect 'gay activism' over the children in there care?

    No? So, not really an appropriate comparison, is it? Unless its point was to prove how much more morally LGBT Youth Scotland has behaved than the Catholic Church.

    It's not the abuse per se, it's the cold-blooded cover-up. And no, it's not over, not until prominent people in the Catholic church stop saying things like

    Happily, I think most of Australia was enjoying delighting in the beauty and goodness of these young people… rather than, than dwelling crankily, as a few people are doing, on old wounds

    Bishop Anthony Fisher is still an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney, yes?

    It's not over while people are still making excuses for abuse. It was just a few bad apples. All the other churches were doing it. We didn't know. It's all in the past now. We're victims too you know. Excuses. Excuses for the inexcusable.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Ah, preview button. Must use preview button. Let me do that again so it's readable.

    Just as it is unfair to taint all clergy by the actions of a few, the same goes for gay activists:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1178354/Gay-rights-campaigner-led-double-life-leader-paedophile-ring-carried-catalogue-child-abuse.html

    Yeah, that's the same. That's exactly the same. See the way his organisation covered up for him, and actively concealed and enabled his abuse? See how their instinct was to protect 'gay activism' over the children in there care?

    No? So, not really an appropriate comparison, is it? Unless its point was to prove how much more morally LGBT Youth Scotland has behaved than the Catholic Church.

    It's not the abuse per se, it's the cold-blooded cover-up. And no, it's not over, not until prominent people in the Catholic church stop saying things like

    Happily, I think most of Australia was enjoying delighting in the beauty and goodness of these young people… rather than, than dwelling crankily, as a few people are doing, on old wounds

    Bishop Anthony Fisher is still an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney, yes?

    It's not over while people are still making excuses for abuse. It was just a few bad apples. All the other churches were doing it. We didn't know. It's all in the past now. We're victims too you know. Excuses. Excuses for the inexcusable.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    An abuse too far by the Catholic church - Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian - Comment is Free

    There needs to be a far more probing analysis of the structure of authority within the Catholic church, and the culture of deference and obedience expected of lay people towards priests. These bred a preoccupation with maintaining the prestige and authority of church institutions; any threat to that priority – regardless of the cost to the welfare of individuals - had to be stifled. These are the characteristics which have made the Catholic church morally bankrupt.

    The CICA Report - Ophelia Benson - Butterflies and Wheels

    This is the Catholic church, don't forget, which is always making a parade of its extreme compassion and sympathy and tenderness toward the fetus. These are real, thinking, feeling children who were starved, frozen, beaten, terrorized, taken away from their mothers, prevented from ever seeing their mothers, called horrible names, denied an education, made to work at slave labour, denied even the small wages they had theoretically earned - this is the compassion and tenderness of the Catholic church.

    Courage - Ophelia Benson - Butterflies and Wheels

    It's repulsively understandable, what the archbishop said. He was thinking about people like him - colleagues - fellow clerics. He was sympathizing with their situation. But that's just what's so repulsive. They're not the victims here, just as Himmler and Eichmann were not the victims in Nazi Germany. The archbishop shouldn't be worrying about people like him, because he should be so frantic with grief and shame at what was done to some thirty thousand children that he can't think about anything else. But he's not - he's not the least bit frantic with grief and shame - he has the presence of mind and the placid quotidian selfishness to think about the people he's familiar with.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • p forrester jarvie,

    the word 'power' is being used to refer to way too many things at once, surely!
    on the one hand, the Church has not even the power to control so much as a single priest in the field
    and on another Hand an individual has not the 'power' to exercise control over so much as her own sexual orientation>>>>
    but simultaneously may manage to bring this 'power' to bear over another individual whose wicked resources may radically fall short of his own!

    i think i am bold enough to say that i can only imagine such a conjunction - between myself and another human supposed to be but the pure helpless victim/result of my voluptuous presence in his midst
    as, as some sort of miracle!

    almost like, like, "spiritualaity' without religion!

    Since Feb 2009 • 84 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    Thank you Tess for your openness and sharing.

    I disagree with you, but really appreciate your detailed explanations of your beliefs and how you apply them.

    (Though I cannot comprehend why any intelligent person would choose to align themselves with the Catholic Church...).

    Thanks,
    Brent.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    @Deborah

    Yes... but I can't help but think that people spouting bigotry and hatred rely on our good manners not to call them out on it. As long as everyone is polite and civilised and above all nice in their manner, you can say quite vicious and nasty things.

    .
    But hasn't Tess simply been restating, in a thoughtful way, the tenets of a church to which you at one point subscribed? This isn't to diminish your rotten experience with the Catholic church, but it's going to be hard to have a discussion if the harsh words get thrown around all the time.

    I think the problem from my point of view, all along, is that that where you saw someone being nice and polite, I saw someone hiding the misogyny, homophobia and self-protecting nature of the Catholic church behind a veil of polite words. I was alerted to it by the way that Tess would say that "The Catholic church says x, but of course lots of ordinary individual Catholics say / think / do y." That's a way of lulling people into thinking that the writer knows that the Church says silly things, but of course, the writer herself or himself would never say such things. But we never heard what Tess herself thought until she was pressed on it. I had to ask twice before she said:

    I accept the Church's teachings.

    Lets be clear about what that means. That means she regards homosexual sex as a sin. That means she regards the conception of my children as a sin. It means that there should be no abortion, no contraception, no divorce, unless the church gets to clip the ticket. There should be no marriage unless the marriage is between a man and a woman. The Catholic church is a very, very intolerant institution, and when pressed, Tess said that she subscribed to its teachings. So all that talk about the people in the pews, the ordinary Catholics, was a massive fudge.

    And there's some other bizarre argumentative techniques, like throwing big philosophy words around to try to bedazzle people. Like this:

    Idiot analyses religion from a utilitarian perspective - what does belief achieve?

    Well, no. I/S was analysing religion from a teleological point of view i.e. what is the purpose of religion. Utilitarianism is a particular ethical theory, in which each person counts for one and only one, and what matters in terms of counting is the consequences of an action.

    and this:

    From my perspective same-sex marriage is an ontological impossibility.

    In other words, because marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman, it is logically impossible to have a same sex marriage. So why not just say that, in the straightforward everyday language that we all use, instead of dressing it up in big words. (This is something that I tell my philosophy students - never use one big word where five small words will do.)

    And then Tess trotted out some of the rather awful defences that have been tried in respect of the Catholic priests who raped children, and the other Catholic religious (priests, brothers, nuns) who systematically abused vulnerable children.

    That's why I really don't care that Tess has been nice and polite. Give me Craig's vitriol any day. At least it's honest.

    I reread my way through all of this thread before writing this (please, please, compliment me on my sincerity, and my effort, because, really, those things ought to count), and having done so, this comment seemed odd to me:

    We got our civil marriage solemnised in the Church because of that.

    I don't know whether that means that Tess and her partner got married in a civil ceremony, and subsequently had a separate Catholic wedding, or whether they had a Catholic wedding that happened to count as a civil ceremony too.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Deborah, given that it took me three days to catch up with this thread, you have my respect just for re-reading it, let alone making sense.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I reread my way through all of this thread before writing this (please, please, compliment me on my sincerity, and my effort, because, really, those things ought to count) ...

    As we used to say back in the day, maximum respect.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Hot dang, Deborah, you write like the enlightenment personified.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Mrs Skin,

    please, please, compliment me on my sincerity, and my effort, because, really, those things ought to count

    Goodness, yes!

    That goes for pretty much everyone who's posted here. And that includes Tess.

    I hear what you're saying Deborah, and I agree to a large extent. But I also appreciate being able to debate/converse/discuss in a civilised manner with people who disagree with my position. I prefer that to the interaction that results when people come in to PAS and fling pejorative terms around. That's generally the attitude I encounter about gay marriage and other matters relating to my sexual orientation, and it gets very tiring.

    Tess's beliefs may not include the same level of respect for us LGBT as for heterosexuals, but she engaged with all of us here in a respectful manner - and pretty much regardless of whether she got it in return. I hope, in spite of my utter lack of respect for the Catholic church, that I gave her the same back.

    With the diversity of human belief in this world I can only think that the attitude she's shown is vital to us all getting on.

    the warmest room in the h… • Since Feb 2009 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    But I also appreciate being able to debate/converse/discuss in a civilised manner with people who disagree with my position.

    Sure, Mrs. Skin, but as they say, there's a fine line between charm and smarm. While I appreciate that you may benefit from the intellectual exercise, I find it rather annoying to be expected to engage seriously with someone who obfuscates about their real convictions.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    please, please, compliment me on my sincerity, and my effort, because, really, those things ought to count

    Yes, bravo, Deborah. That crystallised a lot of half-formed thoughts that have been swirling around in my head for the last few days. Especially this bit.

    I accept the Church's teachings.

    Lets be clear about what that means. That means she regards homosexual sex as a sin. That means she regards the conception of my children as a sin. It means that there should be no abortion, no contraception, no divorce, unless the church gets to clip the ticket. There should be no marriage unless the marriage is between a man and a woman. The Catholic church is a very, very intolerant institution, and when pressed, Tess said that she subscribed to its teachings. So all that talk about the people in the pews, the ordinary Catholics, was a massive fudge.

    As we used to say back in the day, maximum respect.

    And I'd also like to give a, uh 'big shout out' (as I believe teh kidz say) to Gio's swan song a page or two ago.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    Hot dang, Deborah, you write like the enlightenment personified.

    This was post #666 - I'm sure there's a Dan Brown novel in that...

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    And I'd also like to give a, uh 'big shout out' (as I believe teh kidz say) to Gio's swan song a page or two ago.

    Yes indeed.

    One small thing - I'm really not comfortable with the term 'lapsed catholic', in the way it's been casually used here. While there are no doubt those who've 'drifted away' from the church, and may drift back for whatever reasons, if you've been captured by the church in infancy, breaking away in early adolescence can take a lot of courage.

    When you've taken all that stuff about hell and purgatory as seriously as it's been presented, defying the catholic god to strike you dead - as you've been assured by a succession of authority figures will surely happen if you take a hammer to your wretched rosary - takes a certain amount of bottle. While it wasn't quite that traumatic for me, I know it's happened. No more fretting about calling for the priest on your deathbed, no playing the get-out-of-hell-free perfect act of contrition card.

    When you've worked your way through that stuff, 'civilised' debate with a committed adherent to papal authority's all a bit abstract. If I feel the need to engage with a really interesting catholic mind I'll take Flannery O'Connor.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    The moribound swan reappears only to offer a pertinent link: last night my belle and I happened to be watching an old episode of the daily show(*) featuring an interview with Mike Huckabee. Here's part II, where they discuss gay marriage. Huckabee makes a series of annoying points that Emma addressed in her post, but Stewart scored big for me when he said - and I paraphrase - that one of the great indignities of our time is that we are forcing gays to make the case of why they deserve equal rights.

    (*) Admission of derangitude: we watch the daily show and the colbert report, but since we couldn't possibly spend that kind of time in front of the telly every week, instead of jumping ahead we just keep falling further and further behind. We're up to December 08 now. On the plus side, it was nice to get a repeat of election night.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    Why does Tess have to make a case for Jesus. Where the hell is Jesus? Why doesn't he shine his light a bit more or ever, except on Tess of course.

    Jesus is playing favourites.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Missing link to the Huckabee interview above, here.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

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