Apologies for the lack of recent output, I’ve been suffering from the all-too common bloggers’ block. Plus I’m a little on the tetchy side. I’m allowed to be. I’m 33 weeks pregnant, enormous, sick, uncomfortable and consumed by lethargy.
For the last few days, I’ve been consumed by a rather ridiculous war of attrition on a baby forum. This has had something of a positive effect however, given that its helped me to form one of my Lenten resolutions. More of that shortly.
In the meantime, I’m going to link to this rather marvellous piece of advice, about how to behave when someone is wrong on the internet, courtesy of the National Catholic Register – h/t Peter Williams. I have to confess to not always putting this into practice.
Forgive the self-indulgence, but I am going to post some choice nuggets, rather than link to the entire thread in order to respect anonymity of posters, but I hope fellow ‘extremist’ Catholics and Christians might share both my amusement and frustration. The subject of the thread that caused such acrimony was a book that has been written which allegedly claims to “cure homosexuality”. My stance? Haven’t read the book, but generally I’m dubious as to whether or not these therapies may prove helpful. With that in mind, I have no issue with somebody who seeks to obtain psychological help or support in living a chaste lifestyle. So far so good. Problem arose when the inevitable “Catholic homophobia” was mentioned. I give you: (my words are in purple, I’ve allocated different colours to different contributers)
“God made man in his own image and I assume that meant his back end and his physical sexual urges too.”
“Being made in God’s image is not about our physical bodies, it is to do with a particular form of love, agape not eros and it’s about our capacity to reflect God’s love and his rationality. God is not a sexual being.” I don’t think you are in a position to honestly be able to say that actually! LOL!
“Natural law? Oh not this tripe again!?”
“Do you follow every aspect of the bible Caro? Letter for letter? Are there any parts you choose to ignore or interpret differently because it suits you? I don’t expect for one minute you have the guts to answer truthfully to this one but if there are parts you chose to ignore I would question why.”
You can’t even prove Jesus himself wasn’t gay/bi lets face it….
“How can you decide whether God is a sexual being? I mean who the hell are you to make a decision like that? He may be the essense of every orgasm for all you know.”
“Have you studied any theology or philosophy?” That’s irrelevent to what I am saying actually LOL!
“I don’t see why me having studied Patrology would be necessary. Its like reading a trashy paper…..it may be full of inaccuracies and ludicrous comparisions, contradictions and propaganda BUT that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an ounce of truth within its pages.”
“I see the natural law argument as hiding behind religion. Using it as a get out for obvious homophobia.”
Would you say this to an orthodox Muslim or Jew? Would you imply this of the Prophet? Is it alright because I’m Christian/Catholic and you think you know enough about it to pass comment. Would you dare to attempt to define the Torah to a Jew or the Koran to a Muslim and tell them they’ve got it all wrong? “How dare you not allow me to believe Jesus could have been bi-sexual or gay. Why is your interpretation of the bible any more valid than mine? Because you have a big shiny badge that says Catholic on it? What have Muslims or Jews got to do with this debate? I hold something you don’t. A deep rooted belief system coupled with an open mind and that is worth more than a million blessings from the Vatican. Shame you won’t qualify how you know for sure Jesus was a breast man and not into men or a bit of both as I was genuinely interested.”
“Much of ‘Heat’ magazine is eye-witness. Still doesn’t mean it’s true/correct.”
“I think thats the problem Caro. You place weight on the scriptures and I don’t. No I am not calling any religion (Jew, Muslim, Catholic) homophobic nor am I saying they are not. I am talking about YOUR views alone. I think thats pretty obvious too. I remain open to any possibility about God/Gods/Energies/Spirits/all matters spiritual. I can’t and never will say one set of beliefs is nonsense or start demanding people back up what they are saying because people devote their life to doing that and still don’t manage it so what hope has a busy mum of 3 got on an Internet forum? Besides I don’t think I can in the same way I don’t feel you have proved anything more to me by this debate. There is more to religion than scripture and following the herd.”
Cue lots of out of context C&Ping from the Catechism, in an attempt to prove how “homophobic”, terrible and generally out of date it all is. Culminating in the following personal attack, based on the teaching around divorce, that someone fished out. I actually missed this post at the time, which is probably just as well, not having the emotional energy to respond.
“So you sinned during your first marriage then? Not trying to get personal here but it is very difficult when you proudly proclaim you live by these values (and you have listed some pretty life enveloping ideals to conform to lets not pretend otherwise) and then have a marriage annulled rather than face a divorce so you can save moral face. The sad thing is in doing so you have also made your child illegitimate. I totally understand why you may choose to ignore this paragraph but you have to see that from where I am sitting I find it difficult not to question your moral integrity when you offer yourself open to exactly that.”
Then quotes from that great Doctor of the Church who was baptised Catholic, Lady Gaga. She proves that I am not like any other Catholic. How my views, which are simply that I endorse and agree with the Catechsim, are most certainly NOT mainstream Catholic. Lots of difficulty, understandably with the language used by the Catechism.
“Using the word “disorder” for homosexuality is profoundly offensive IMO – intolerance towards gay people is still homophobia however much it is dressed up in fancy words.”
“why not just say you are homophobic and don’t agree with homosexuality. It would be quicker and easier than using careful words and quoting the bible.”
“I have learnt something from this thread. I have had it confirmed to me that the Catholic Church is outdated, bigotted, unkind and elitist. It is in dire need of dragging into the modern day or it WILL be left behind and eventually die a death. I suppose all the Catholics I know must be non-extremists ones. Thank god (pardon the pun) is all I can say!”
“My children attend a Catholic school and it’s plain that the version of Catholicism practicised by most of the parents is very pragmatic (the average number of children per family is between 1 and 2 – say no more ). The proportion of unmarried/ divorced/ remarried parents is also very high.
What’s also interesting is that extremism in religion is also strongly associated with hypocrisy among leaders, who frequently fail to practice what they preach.”
And in regards to people calling you an extremist, I didn’t say that but I expect their definition of extremist would mean someone who put religion before all other things in their life, folllowing it so closely as to affect their personal choices and decisions and restrict their daily life even if it goes against the what is right for the individual or normal and healthy in the society in which they live. It also would probably include preaching about it strongly to people and believing it is the only right way to live.
So you get the general drift. Taking into account the advice from the National Catholic Register, I realised that it was pretty much time to stop, the fate of the Church does not rest on my shoulders alone and I was indeed getting very shaky. Some of the stuff was pretty nasty and personal, and one of my rules is that I endeavour not to enter into personal attacks, although I am guilty of sarcasm at times.
The entire encounter was unnecessarily vile and unpleasant, simply C&Ping it onto here reignited some of the hurt. Of course when one mentions hurt, one is instantly accused of “delicate flower acts” etc, but generally I think people only resort to personal attacks when they have lost the debate. Why have I re-hashed? Well, firstly, because I think it’s important to demonstrate some of the virilent and wilful anti-Catholic prejudice and misunderstanding that circulates amongst those who might consider themselves liberal. Secondly, it might help to arm or prepare those who do attempt to engage in apologetics and thirdly just to explain why I was in such a terrible mood.
The main reason is that it has inspired a Lenten resolution which is not to engage in any internet forum debating whatsoever. So the anti-Catholics on that site can have free reign to engage in whatever sectarian bias takes their fancy. I will not bite. What the thread has done is to inspire some topics for future blog entries, addressing many of the varied issues that were raised. Instead of wasting my life attempting to reason with the unreasonable, subjecting myself to personal abuse and at times unbelievable ignorance and narrow-mindedness (ironic given it was me being accused of this very thing) I am going to embark on a Lenten reading programme, and will blog any thoughts or insights instead, along with various topics raised. I often get chided for the length of my posts, which are necessarily detailed and explicit, going back to basics, however here, my gaff, my rules, I can indulge at will.
I am due to give birth on Good Friday, Holy Saturday, therefore appropriately enough for me, my Lent will end with an act of suffering and self-sacrifice together with a renewal of life. Given how increasingly busy life is inevitably going to get, my plan is to get as much spiritually out of the Lenten season as I can, take the time to read, reflect and above all pray, not waste my emotional energy upon those who do not want to hear. I also intend to play an active role in the 40 days for life campaign.
My only sadness really is that my apologetics perhaps were not adequate enough, being criticised both in terms of lexicon and length.
Still the whole encounter reminded me of that great evil vicar sketch from Mitchell & Webb which like all great comedy is based on more than a glimmer of observational humour. Though I’ve never looked at anyone eating biscuits from the vestry and thought “you b*tch”, I cannot help but have just a little sympathy with the vicar himself. He does actually have a very good point. If only he were just a bit nicer. .
“Spiritual? Aren’t you all entitled to your half-arsed musings on the divine. You’ve thought about eternity for 25 minutes and think you’ve come to some interesting conclusions? I stand with 2,000 years of darkness and bafflement and hunger behind me. I couldn’t give a hap’nney jizz for your internet-assembled philosophy”
When I found myself thinking these very thoughts, I knew it was time to walk away.