Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Docta ignorantia

An anonymous reader announced his departure yesterday, in the wake of my posted "nugget" blurting out the basic truth about Catholicism and homosexuality as I see it. He said it was really no surprise --and suggested I might be hell-bound-- because I write "some pretty ignorant things."

The last thing a Five wants to hear...

"Ignorant" has at least two meanings, though. The first is the literal one, whereby one lacks information. That I try to avoid. And since no corrective info or argument was supplied in this case, I assume it is not the meaning meant. The other is a cultural insult, merely asserting that one is offended by the supposedly inferior attitudes or beliefs of one's inferior interlocutor. That one I don't care about.

Another reader, of longstanding and voluminous commentary, jpnill, threw out a phrase in the midst of his email reply to the post, noting Ex Cathedra's "Cartesian rectitude" in the matter of Catholicism and homosexuality. I think, from the context, he was referencing my inability to maintain a simultaneous practice as a Catholic (despite my obvious attachment) and as an actively homosexual man. Which is true. I tried and it does not work for me.

I am utterly unable to connect the teaching with my experience of myself.  I could not, with any kind of conviction at all, go to confession and tell a priest that I had made love with a man and that I was sorry and that I would make "a firm purpose of amendment" never to do it again. That would be a lie, spoken by a man I cannot recognize as myself.

Accepting the teaching as a Catholic, my sense of my human worth was poisoned. Living my life as a homosexual man and a Catholic, I felt like a fraud and a liar. The differences were irreconcilable.

Analogies are, by nature, imperfect comparisons, not equivalences, but here's one off the top of my head. And I offer apologies if it seems more than usually inflated and narcissistic. If Auguste Rodin had been born a Muslim, he would have been told that his drive to create sculpted images of human beings was a direct affront to God Almighty and his prophet, that this disordered inclination, if enacted, would lead to gross idolatry and damnation. He must restrict his artistic activity to the approved Sunni path of calligraphy and geometrics. After all, the so-called prophet Muhammad said  “Among the people receiving the harshest punishment on the Day of Resurrection will be carvers or sculptors.”

What should he do?

I am not saying that I am the Rodin of male/male love. This is not about quality but about the constitutive and identity-making character of his drive. About what it would have done to the great sculptor to judge what felt to him like a gift as a foul sin instead and to suppress and quash and regret it in himself for the sake of being a good aniconic Muslim?

I do know people of a differing decision, of course. Some decide to buckle under and stay with their mother religion. Others live a gay life as Catholics and (if they are Italian) just ignore or minimize the teaching. Or accept its judgment and live cycles of shame and regret. Or  (if they are sincere Northern types) create future scenarios where it will all be ok.

I could do none of these. But my "Cartesian rectitude" is actually less about cool ratiocination and more about raw emotion and even, if I may dare to suggest it, conscience.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...