Friday, June 08, 2012

"Disinterested" Cruising and Carressing and ...



"For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.”
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Disinterested Friendship...

One of the issues I've found myself concerned about in recent years, when I come across pop-TOB as it is sometimes loosely interpreted for same-sex disinterested friendships, is that emphasis is frequently placed upon what I term same-sex inordinate affections, as well as vain rejoicing in the natural goods of another.   This is a trend  discussed by so-called chaste-gay-Christians who cultivate or preserve a 'queer' identity.  Likewise, some of these folks seem to be intent upon developing a gay-spirituality of same-sex friendship, reinterpreting the works and lives of the saints to fit their experience.  Especially as it concerns the question: How long can I ponder the beauty in 'men's' faces?  Lovely in limbs?  How far can I go physically in loving my friend? Can I hold hands? Can I admire his/her body? Can I cuddle? Massage? Kiss? Can I caress his hair?  I may be wrong, but I think such questions betray what St. John of the Cross would say is a vain rejoicing in sensory and natural goods, not to mention a lack of detachment and a weak spirit.
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I had a spiritual director once who counselled me regarding my 'scruples' about such temptations to similar intimacies in a same-sex friendship.  Father, obviously thinking of the Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem, encouraged me to "See the face of Christ reflected upon the face of your beloved. See the outline of Christ's body upon the limbs of the one you love. By his resurrection he has made all things new..." Needless to say, I ignored the priest's counsel.  (This priest was a monk who taught at a prestigious university out East.  Just because one has a spiritual director doesn't mean he is right about everything.)

Vain rejoicing in sensual and natural goods and the need for detachment in every relationship.
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I'm no expert but it is obvious to me that type of spirituality is in error. As St. John of the Cross, commenting upon St. Paul affirms, "The sensual man is the one who occupies his will with sensory things, the animal man who is unperceptive of the things of God; while the other who raises his will to God, he calls the spiritual man, and he is the one who penetrates and judges all things, even the deep things of God. [1 Cor. 2:14, 10]
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St. John continues: "Until a man is so habituated to the purgation of sensible joy that at the first movement of this joy he procures the benefit spoken of - that these goods turn him immediately to God - he must necessarily deny his joy and satisfaction in sensible goods in order to draw his soul away from the sensory life. Since he is not spiritual, he should be fearful lest through the use of these goods he may perhaps get more satisfaction and strength for the senses than the spirit. Because of their predominance in his activity, the sensory forces increase sensuality, and sustain and nourish it.
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And this we should ponder considerably, for it is really true. No one who has not yet mortified his pleasure in sensory things should dare to look for notable benefit from the vigor and activity of his senses regarding these goods in the belief they are a help to the spirit." - Ascent of Mt. Carmel, Bk. III, Ch. 26.

 “This is the way of the adulterous woman. She eats and wipes her mouth and says ‘I have done no evil.'” - Proverbs 30:20

Art: Ganymede and Jupiter's Eagle. John Woodrow Kelley   Myth described Ganymede as the most beautiful of mortals.  It was said he had been seduced, raped-abducted by Zeus, who became enchanted by the youth's natural beauty and grace.  Zeus, in the form of an eagle, snatched him away to Olympus.

26 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:49 PM

    Terry, I'll bet money that the priest gave you that advice during (or had been formed during)the era of "The Sexual Celibate". It was a hugely popular book among religious and I will guarantee you, was responsible for a great deal of exploitation and manipulation.

    "It's all a part of friendship...."

    Lisa

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  2. Aside from the "gay sprituality" thing, which I agree with, I really do not understand the puritanism of the mystics.

    So, I get it, learn to feel bad and hate and never desire anything that is sensually pleasing. And yet people wonder how I can ever get the idea that the Church hates the senses, especially the physical and emotional experiences of man and wife, and that I should feel bad about liking things that are not praying, whether it be art, music, movies, games, or just enjoying the company of friends.

    And if I am supposed to despise and deny every single sensual pleasure that does not make me immediately ad consciously think of God, why on earth is it "okay" for me to look forward to the day I can validly marry a woman who truly loves me, and everything that entails?

    Hate, hate, hate, for the physical world - never enjoy anything unless it immediately makes you think of spiritual things. Don't like anything without a specific religious motive. Hate, hate, hate everything that is not prayer.

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    1. Hey Mercury,

      I've found that a lot of people have no business reading some of the saints. Mysticism in any religious tradition is "hidden knowledge," an invisible undercurrent that flows through the tradition and enhances it- FOR SOME. For MOST, a religion's mystical experiences aren't accessible.

      For example: someone who prays, goes to Mass, raises their kids, and behaves as well as they can- they're good Christians. Their way will get them to Heaven. It's a great way! But it isn't necessarily a way that requires or will even mesh well with the mysticism of some of the saints.

      I guess my point is: mysticism is deep sea diving, and most of us can barely snorkel. To move from snorkeling to deep sea diving is possible, but not without a lot of time, training, and practice.

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    2. Thanks, Thom. I think I actually KNOW that, but I feel like in Catholicism, the high-level stuff is the "real" Christianity, and all those folks who are married, who own property, etc., are not "full" Christians. I know this is false, but it's really what I gather from the Saints - from the Church Fathers all the way to St. Therese.

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    3. Jesus' way was pretty simple. So was the Apostles'. And the early Church. Think "Justin Martyr." Remember that always. Try not to stress so much. Bear in mind always that "my yoke is easy; my burden is light."

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  3. I get NO satisfaction from the spirit, NO satisfaction from prayer. Zero, zip.

    I certainly get more satisfaction from the senses, or at least I do from things in this life, than I do from spiritual things. Any time I even try to get deep in prayer, my mind wanders all over.

    We are told that Christianity does not entail a Gnostic hatred of the senses and the world in favor of the spirit, but I have never read a saint who did not indicate as such.

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  4. "And this we should ponder considerably, for it is really true. No one who has not yet mortified his pleasure in sensory things should dare to look for notable benefit from the vigor and activity of his senses regarding these goods in the belief they are a help to the spirit."

    So I guess all that talk of the joy of marital relations serving a positive spiritual end is all BS, then.

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    1. Merc - you are not supposed to be reading these things or posts wherein I cite John of the Cross - this is just for lesbians and gays who think they can have their cake and eat it too.

      After the annulment and after you meet the princess bride and get married, you can have your cake and eat as much as you want. ;)

      Remember what Cher said in "Moonstruck"...

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    2. I apologize; I shouldn't have chimed in.

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    3. Yes you should've. I like it when you chime.

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    4. Thom, I appreciated it.

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    5. Merc - maybe I shouldn't have chimed in. Maybe I shouldn't have posted this. Maybe I shouldn't blog. Maybe I should...

      I have to go to the store.

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    6. I need some things. I'll send you my list?

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  5. Mercury,

    As I think you know, I share some of your concerns and struggles.

    I'm just going to respond to the fact that you haven't read of a saint who did not hate the senses and the world in favor of the spirit. St. Ignatius was one such saint. For him, I believe anyway, there was no such dichotomy, rightly understood. He looked for the glory of God in all things. In particular, he loved the stars. And his prayer tended to be imaginative, sensory; he would try to imagine Gospel scenes and 'participate' in them through his senses so as to engage them. He did not shy away from friendship or human affection, rightly understood.

    I'm not trying to answer your questions because I don't have the answers. In fact, I think there are many questions all of this raises.

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    1. "In fact, I think there are many questions all of this raises."

      Patrick - you are correct of course, but I'm trying to work out some of the stuff I'm reading elsewhere which also raise questions regarding the occasion of sin and concupiscience. My apologies if what I write here isn't expressed with academic precision.

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    2. Patrick and Terry, thank you both.

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  6. Also, have you considered prayer to and meditation on St. Joseph?

    There seem to be some good books out there on him by contemporary writers and I wonder how some focus on him may inform your understanding of sanctity, what constitutes holiness.

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  7. "Until a man is so habituated to the purgation of sensible joy that at the first movement of this joy he procures the benefit spoken of - that these goods turn him immediately to God - he must necessarily deny his joy and satisfaction in sensible goods in order to draw his soul away from the sensory life."

    *sigh* i'm so far from that. a priest to whom i went for confession once told me that in order to valiantly surmount my difficulties in sexual sin, i should work on also curbing my other sensual appetites, like eating & drinking. when i reflected on it, he was right. most of the sex-obsessed people i've known are also alcoholics & gluttons and very vain. me too.

    m.o.d.e.r.a.t.i.o.n. in all things, i tell myself. i suck at that. work in progress. note to self: dust off the rule of st. benedict.

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    1. I agree, and that comes with time and practice - not overnight.

      After work do you wanna go get drunk? Haha! Kidding.

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    2. doughboy said, "most of the sex-obsessed people i've known are also alcoholics & gluttons and very vain. me too."

      That pretty sums up alot of the homouniversum. It suddenly occurred to me years ago that I really didn't know anyone who was living in the gay lifestyle but didn't either have drug, alcohol or promiscuity issues and most of them had all three. I need to do more praying for people.

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  8. dottie hinkle - you whore! lol

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  9. Mercury, how about St. Josemaria Escriva who reminded us that there's holiness in normal lives? Or Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio who reminded us that this is not our true home?

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  10. Terry,

    No worries. I wasn't thinking of your post necessarily, nor about academic precision, but rather some of the implications of what St. John of the Cross said as well as Mercury's wonder about "the high-level stuff" as the "real" Christianity. I'm trying to reconcile what different saints teach mostly as I share some of Mercury's questions and struggles, especially in light of questions about marriage and higher vocations and all. This is important stuff that gets at the heart of one's own identity, purpose and relationship with God.

    I think Robert Sungenis was right in the post you linked to. It was interesting to me that he brought up Mark Shea's Perry Lorenzo article and argued against Shea's view. Is that something you agree with Sungenis on too or is that one of his points you disagree with? I thought you agreed with Shea initially.

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    1. Thanks Patrick - I understand - I was almost thinking of writing sort of a play by play on how I came through a lot of the issues you and Merc discuss because I sort of went through similar conflicts. Nevertheless, it's good to go through the conflict because it is part of our purification and maturation process.

      That said, I knew someone might notice or at least bring up my agreement w/Mark on poor Mr. Lorenzo's lifestyle. I initially agreed that Lorenzo's lifestyle could/might be exemplary, but I did not know - or take notice - that there were evidently implications in the obit that he and his partner were kinda-like married. Unfortunately, that is problematic for sainthood. Although, I didn't think Mark was seriously trying to canonize the fellow - he simply admired his fidelity.

      However, if their relationship was chaste and their friendship or fraternity wholesome, there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion. Two men can decide to live chastely as celibate friends, supporting one another in the faith and good works.

      However, when they publicize that it's a 'love thang'it gives the wrong impression to other Catholics - and can easily be interpretted as an accommodation for same sex union/marriage. Thus their arrangement cannot be considered exemplary for others who may be confused about ssa and ss friendship.

      To me, same sex friendship needs to be the same for people no matter what their sexual proclivities. Two men can be friends and live together. That's it. When you try to make that a marriage or describe their relationship as two monks in love - that's just weird. If they live like brothers in community - that is different.

      I didn't read the part in Sungenis' post on Mark because I know the two of them fight and I don't want to keep that going.

      In these discussions, very often people will find themselves saying things in an effort to be understanding of something they just can't understand, never having gone through the experience. Likewise, we all want to show the possibility for people who struggle with sin and temptation that the Church is a hospital for sinners, wherein they can work out their salvation. Nevertheless, even when it is presented coldly, academically, straight forwardly, the truth is the only reality - it needs be presented in charity, as B16 teaches.

      So - poor Perry Lorenzo is not the best example of sanctity, based upon how his partner described their relationship after he died. I pray for the men, but I think it is best to let the dead bury their dead on this one. God bless Mark Shea - his heart is in the right place though - and I really respect him.

      Did I explain this well? Or am I in trouble again? I'll shut my eyes and post.

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  11. Thank you, Terry.

    I agree that it's good to go through the conflicts Mercury and I do because it is part of our purification and maturation process. I’m seeing that more and more.

    I also agree with your take on Perry Lorenzo and Mark’s treatment of his situation. I thought Mark’s take was problematic from the start on the points that you mention—the desire to be understanding and praise a friend won out over truth and prudence, in my opinion.

    I’m in agreement too about two men living together chastely and supporting one another.

    (Were you in trouble before? Do you think I try to pick on you with my questions or what I share? I hope not as I’m not trying to, even when I disagree. I honestly find much of what’s posted here very thought-provoking and consistently appreciate what you write about and how you do so. I’m looking for the truth just like I think you are.)

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    1. Patrick - just kidding about being in trouble - I meant it in a general sense considering how no matter what one says, there seems to be someone contradicting what is said. Although it is good to be contradicted or reproved in the sense of the psalm, 'if a good man reproves me it is kindness.'

      I appreciate your comments and the others who comment here - it helsp us focus and come to a better understanding, don't you think? Your conversations with Mercury and Thom and others are always helpful.

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