Saturday, April 30, 2011

Drive-by Notes

  • Brothers-in-law and nephew departed. What a week! Enjoyed their company though. I appreciate spending time with those born of the same people as was my husband. I like taking notes of similarities as well as individual quirks among them, especially when it's all boys. 
  • Getting ready for an artsy fundraiser/cocktail party/artist-as-monkey-at-circus show tonight, wherein ten of us fellow painters will set up booth to paint live in the presence of/entertain the local philanthropists. The event is being put on by the organization who employs and lets me make a near-modest living. 
  • Before the party, though, I'm headed to Confession, either that or I'm not receiving Communion on Sunday. No argument about that. It's Mercy Saturday, baby, and the late pope John Paul II will be called "Blessed" by this time on Mercy Sunday. I'm bent on taking advantage of the occasion by cleaning out trash in my head.
  • Stole in a brief discussion with one of the brothers-in-law, amongst the utter chaos of a large, noisy family gathering last night. The topic was his son, my nephew by way of KDM, who had come out about a year ago and confessed to my brother-in-law that he was gay. It came as no surprise to my brother neither me, but was the first verbal confirmation of what everybody had suspected. In fact, about five years back when the nephew came to visit us during summer break, he and I had a long talk over his confusion about his sexual orientation. He is confused no more, that's what I heard the dad say, but neither he nor I knew that for sure. 
  • Then, this morning, as I logged on to the Anchoress, the "vicar" blogger, Max Lindenman, posted a discussion on Gays, Lesbians and the Church. It's interesting, check it out. Since I became Catholic, treating touchy issues half-heartedly is no longer an option, I've given the gay issue more serious thought, and grown more compassionate (not sensitive, mind you; neither am I fond of the word "compassion" but that's just what it is) toward gays. The seriousness goes right along with my awakened understanding about the human person. Now, just to be clear, I have very patchy, incomplete understanding of the concept of the human person, which, outside Catholicism, I've heard nobody talk about. But what little I do grasp about the human person, seems to tell me that it's lopsided to identify a human person by his sexual orientation, gay or straight. It would be wrong for me to look at a person, and see him in a nutshell of his being gay or straight. As Christian I must look at each fellow human person through the lens of our common Creator, who sees Himself in the person; for the same reason, it would be wrong for the gay person to be offended when the Church calls homosexual act sinful. The Church attacks the sin, not the person. Just as a rape victim is not defined by her victimhood, neither a person is his sin. He is not even his virtues which would not have been necessary if it wasn't for our fallen nature. The problem, as I see it, is that while the Church sees sexual orientation as extraneous to the personhood, many gays do seem to identify themselves by their life-style. I'm not saying that the Church expects us to live like angels, but she does teach that the only true END of our being, is to be face-to-face with our Creator, in a realm where we will be all "like angels" without the need for sexuality. This explains why there are men and women who embrace celibacy in this life, in order to live the core human person for which they are created thus hasten the coming of that beatific realm.
  • Allow me another point on what's intrinsic and extraneous of the human person. By now you might be familiar with the Tiger Mother controversy, and I have given up trying to point out what I thought it was all about. So far, all the commentaries I've seen, on both the Yea or Nay sides, seem to belong to that exquisite art called "missing the point," that is, the point of the Chinese Tiger Mother. Take for example, Amy Chua, the author of the Tiger mom book, recalls being called "garbage" by her father, because she had been extremely disrespectful to her mother. The word "garbage" would have caused someone marinated in our contemporary culture of sensitivity to check into a mental hospital, at least taken to a foster care provided by the Department of Human Service, yet Miss Chua wasn't offended, not to mention traumatized. Instead, she was ashamed, for she knew that her father did not attack her human person, calling it garbage; he was, unambiguously, attacking her attitude, in Catholic vocabulary, her sin of selfishness and disrespect to her parent. 
  • That sorta begs the questions: why didn't she think her father was insulting her personhood by calling her "garbage"? Is it valid, then, in a common sense way, to regard the word as deeply insulting? Of course it is! The difference here, if you paid attention to the context she laid out, is that her father loves her, and she knows it. His love is perhaps more constant and solid than the performance which we call "sensitivity" or "tolerance," perhaps verified by a life-time self-sacrifice and intellectual affirmation. Any child with an ounce of gratitude or willingness to acknowledge the privilege of another's love, could not have missed it. I think, that is why, Miss Chua was ashamed by her own conduct. 
  • I swear, that I didn't intend to write that much above. Happy Devine Mercy Weekend! 


  1. Nice, meaty post, my dear friend!

    It would be wrong for me to look at a person, and see him in a nutshell of his being gay or straight.

    The ticky part here comes when one realizes the fact that this is how they wish to be seen and identified. It's not about "just leave me alone to pursue this different sort of relationship" - it's "accept it and give me everything you have as though we are equal."

    Well, in the eyes of God we are indeed all equal - we are all His children and that's a fact. But there comes a point at which a line must be drawn, and sexual deviation from the procreative within a relationship of two consenting adults seems to me a good place to draw it.

    Is there a Chinese equivalent to "give them an inch and they'll take a mile?"

    I try to keep emotion out of the debate because emotion is a bad way to decide anything - it's too easy to take sides either way rather.

    I think we are traveling the same path towards understanding and "compassion," as you say.

  2. Thanks, sister!

    Yes, there's a Chinese equivalent to "give them an inch and they'll take a mile." However, coming from a cautious people it's "give them an inch they'll take a foot."

    "The ticky part here comes when one realizes the fact that this is how they wish to be seen and identified."

    -Agree. Although there ARE those who silently bear their cross and fight to live chaste and holy lives, as those involved in the Courage group. But you never hear about/from them, do you? And God forbids you should invoke that guideline lest you do it to feel like a "pearl" in front of "swines." (I admit being afraid to mention the option of celibacy to the said nephew, I could just imagine the indignations blowing up in my face and being called a despicable "pearl.")

    The thing about defining yourself by whatever your "orientation," is that it's all you see in yourself your "orientation" is under attack, you feel that your person is under attack. And if you're content with that self definition, you stop looking for your full and true self/human person, the version in which God created you, therefore God is excluded in the debate, not to mention obedience. It's all about what "I" want, how "I" see myself. Of course we're talking about the issue within the Catholic context. People outside the Church share no common first principles with us. It seems to me that if you are gay AND Catholic then what God wants of you ought to be primary consideration over and above all personal tendencies. No one ever says Christianity is easy, living a holy life is no less difficult and demanding to "straight" people. No one can do it without failing, falling, screwing up from time to time, but it's not in ourselves, but in God that we always hope.

  3. I wish there's an "edit" button on published comment. Alternatively, I should slap my hand every time before I hit the "post comment" button.

    Mentally insert a period, followed by "When" before "your "orientation...".

    Me bad.


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