To quote the lovely Rosamundi, who when I get around to updating my blogroll, I will definitely add, I am not a Catholic blogger, but a Catholic who blogs. As one of these pesky people, I have quite fixed views on things. That doesn’t mean that I don’t empathise with people, nothing could be further from the truth, but at the end of the day, my morality means that I do hold certain viewpoints which, along with everyone else, I have the right to articulate.
Yesterday I made a comment about Elton John’s adoption of a baby, which I believe to be morally very questionable for a variety of factors, mainly his age, his lifestyle, meaning in this case his extravagencies and penchant for faddish collections, his well-documented battles with drink and drug addiction and the fact that the child will be brought up excluded from any sort of normal upbringing and probably with minimal privacy or chance to develop his own identity. More on this in a later post.
Many people took my comments of what constitutes an ideal family situation as a direct slur upon their own situation. That was not the intention, but in common with stating any preference it stirs up strong emotions because if someone else’s choice is not the same as yours that implies indirect criticism. To use a trite example, even a statement such as “eating fish and chips out of newspaper is the only way to eat them” has potential to offend. “I only eat them on a plate, newspaper is unhygenic, are you questioning my palate, how dare you?!”
Questioning whether or not and indeed stating that I didn’t feel at all comfortable with the media and celebrity cooing over Elton’s new arrival, whether or not it was a good idea for an old man to effectively buy a baby, that ideally children should have the opportunity to develop loving relationships with both biological parents, was taken as an insult or slur upon those who are in difficult circumstances. Having previously publicly expressed disquiet about same-sex couple adoption as well as the forced closure of the Catholic adoption agencies, meant that my misgivings in Elton’s case were automatically fuelled by that favoured and overused insult of so-called liberals, “homophobia”. I’ve previously posted on this topic, however I was subject to a barrage of tweets stating “I don’t agree with Elton John’s adoption. Oh wait I do. My brain hasn’t been taken over by Catholic homophobia”, which degenerated into insults calling me “thick” and stating that resorting to a dictionary definition of homophobia (see former post) was “weak”. Ultimately I am a homophobe, a hypocrite and a bigot, because I don’t agree that a 63 year old man should be able to buy his own child and circumvent UK adoption law. Incidentally I don’t believe that Elton would have been approved for adoption in the UK, for a variety of factors amongst which gender and sexuality wouldn’t figure. But again stating that recreational drug use isn’t an ideal attribute for a parent, is an unacceptable thing to say. So is questioning whether or not two people have the right to procure a baby, take it away from its birth mother, in order to satisfy their belated longing for a child. More on that in another post.
What has saddened me hugely, is that one of my oldest and most beloved friends has taken the decision to block me from Facebook, although she did the courtesy of emailing me first, because she finds my views too difficult to take. I completely understand the decision and think its a sensible one, after all, I deliberately don’t read things that I am going to find distressing or that will rile me. Whilst I remain open-minded and read material from both the Marxist end of the spectrum to very pro-Capitalism polemics, at times I try to avoid those such as Peter Tatchell, Keith Porteous-Wood, Polly Toynbee, Dawkins and their ilk, who have as much theological literacy as my dog and simply end up infuriating me. So though I am extremely upset and saddened, I respect the decision and think it is probably the right one, and I hope I will not lose an important friendship over it.
It should be fairly obvious that I have defined views on topics such as abortion. This is my blog, it’s my rules and I dictate the topics that I wish to discuss. I would suggest to anyone who finds my views so “disgusting, vile and abhorrent” to use words flung at me yesterday, who thinks that I am “full of bile and vitriol” to go and read blogs more suited to their tastes. However when I am implored to ” back off and STOP”, and told “you are embarrassing and humiliating yourself” either when blogging or on twitter, this is something of a counterproductive approach and gives the impression of bullying. I am neither embarrassed or humiliated, but I am certainly intimidated by the insults and sheer hatred.
I have thought long and hard whether or not to shut down this blog or move away from social media, it is horrible to lose friendships and worse to face an inbox chock full of hate mail. At present I have 364 emails containing nothing but hate, expressing sentiments such as “I hope you die a horrible death at the hands of a backstreet abortionists rusty scissors”. My husband is certainly concerned to see his wife visibly upset, distressed and shaken. By highlighting this, no doubt I will invariably be accused of playing the victim status or that perhaps my views warrant such abuse, it serves me right for publicly stating such strong views, it is par for the course.
I am currently experiencing a spot of the old cognitive dissonance. When I was a child my father used to say “if you want to be liked, you’ve got to be likable”, whilst at the same time stating “it doesn’t matter what other people think, you shouldn’t care what other people have to say”. It seems to me, that in order to be acceptable, to engage in effective evangelism and apologetics, one has to win hearts and minds. The only way this seems possible is by watering down beliefs to make them more palatable. The problem is, that on certain issues, this is something of an impossibility. I cannot say “well abortion is alright, I don’t agree with it as a choice for myself but it’s fine for others”. That is totally illogical. Nor can I say “well it’s acceptable in this circumstance and that circumstance but not in this one”. It’s an issue of moral absolutes for me.
There is a whole welter of issues that I do take an absolutist approach over. That is not to be confused with a “judgemental” approach. Stating that I grieve for the lives of the lost unborn, is not the same as condemnation of women who have taken those decisions. Wishing that we lived in a society that generally placed a higher value upon a life is not a personal slur. Believing that acts of homosexual sex constitute a sin, an act that separates us from God, is not the same as hatred, fear or contempt of a personal with homosexual inclination. In terms of “judgement” I am in no position to sit on judgement upon anyone’s soul at all and nor can I or should I speculate as to the contents of people’s hearts. I can however comment upon questionable moral actions, particularly the ones carried out by people in the public domain and which reflect upon our society. I have a right, along with everyone else, to enter into a discourse about the type of society that I would like to live in.
There is currently a debate as to whether or not Christians are subject to a degree of persecution in the UK. Though I am no Christian martyr, when expressing a commonly held Christian view, one not exclusive to Catholics, I am implored to “stop”. When I receive emails calling for my horrific and painful death or stating that I should be subject to acts of deplorable sexual violence, because of an imagined hatred of gay people and women, enough to make me want to cease blogging and cease any public Christian witness, this does nothing for the causes of tolerance and diversity. To be honest I am writing this with a huge degree of trepidation, terrified of inciting yet more scorn, hatred and contempt.
I may well take a break, for a while but the stubborn side of me is rebelling. Why should I be cowed into silence and submission by bullies whose logic and rhetoric has totally failed? Besides I want to talk about Elton John!
For those who do want to see me die at the hands of a backstreet abortionist, I am sorry that my words have incited such hatred and violence in you. I am sure that this is simply rhetoric and not a genuine emotion. All I can suggest is that you cease to read and I will endeavour to hold you in prayer.