Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mass Chat: Fr. Jim Martin and his critics ...

And where do I fit in?

I don't.  His book isn't written for me.  What a relief.  That said, poor Fr. Jim has many critics condemning him - viciously in some comboxes.  Friendly fire takes aim because he doesn't talk about sex - homo-sex.  He talks about persons and people and how they define themselves and are rejected for that.  Pretty much.  (I just glanced outside and two sparrows are copulating.  Sex, sex, sex.  It's all about sex.)  Just to give Fr. Jim another break, I think he assumes the reader knows homosexuality is about sex - forbidden love, and all that entails, no pun intended.  I also think he assumed that the reader would know exactly what the Church teaches on homosexuality and that the Church doesn't approve of homosexual acts.  Just saying.  I can't read his mind like his critics seem to be able to do, but I think it reasonable.

Like I said, his book is not for me.  My interest in gay today is more about wondering why people are like that, and more to the point, why they are content with that - or not.  I'm very happy with Catholic teaching and I firmly believe all that the Church teaches, and I know that it can't be changed because it is truth.  The Church is my ark, my salvation, Christ is truly present, the sacraments ... it is and always has been enough for salvation.  Christ crucified is the only bridge I cling to.  I repeat that often.

It's even more interesting to me in view of the controversy which has brewed since Fr. Martin's book went out to reviewers, and by way of response (denunciation) to his promotional videos, lectures and signings.  I'm fascinated when reading the exceedingly judgmental comments, in addition to the usual hostile condemnations of Fr. Martin the priest, not just his book, but his POV, the Jesuits, with all of it dumped back on the laps of the wickedly gay friendly Vatican gay lobbyists, or whatever group one links to them.  It never gets old for the conspiracy theorists.  Everyone reacts and jumps to conclusions and get themselves all Church Militant about it.  Yeah, that's not for me either.

Over the years that I've been blogging I'm often surprised over the diversity of opinion on the homosexual condition and contemporary culture's acceptance and approval of it, and how all of that affects Catholics.  I thought I was the only one willing to give things up to be Catholic, then people came along to say otherwise, that I haven't given up enough, and the others insisting you can't even say gay, and that those who do can't be trusted, and so on.  The upshot has been - for me - that I can't really trust any single voice on the subject, and especially those who are gay - because they always seem to be changing their stance or allegiance to this author or that.  I'll return to that later.

"An overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral or even good.” (CDF 1992 Letter)

There are some decent critiques on Fr. Jim's book BTW - good reviews on the whole, but the writers disagree with Fr. Jim on a couple points he 'left out'.  I mentioned it at the beginning of the post - sex.  Fr. Longenecker sums it up here:
Martin is right that people with same sex attraction should be met with compassion, respect and sensitivity, but it is surprising that he doesn’t mention the difficult call to celibacy that Catholicism expects. Eve Tushnet, herself a gay person, points this out in a sensitive and thoughtful review of Martin’s book. - Crux
I'm not going to list all the positive reviews which also criticize Fr. Martin's oversight, except to say that at one time poor Eve Tushnet was ostracized or nearly condemned because she says gay, she says queer - and seems to like that special world.  I'm over simplifying that - but those who know who she is, as well as those acquainted with the Spiritual Friendship group and their writings, know what I'm talking about.  They were given the name the New Homophiles.  Perhaps Eve's critique of Fr.'s book will now endear her to those who have spent a fair amount of time and ink criticizing her.  Homophiles aren't particularly focused upon the origins of homosexual inclination, which, as the catechism says; 'Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained.'  They have no need to know.

Now that I don't understand, except for the fact that to study the question necessarily connects one to the language the Church uses to explain why homosexual acts cannot be approved.  Language is the obstacle and the point of contention in every discussion on the subject - pro or con.  Once again, I want to affirm, the language in the Catechism is not offensive to me, nor do I understand how it can be to others - if and when they are used correctly.  I don't know that it's a sin to be uncomfortable with the language, and I never heard it was a sin to use terms like gay or queer.  It is my understanding the Church simply calls people to live chastely.  Again, open your catechism and read what the Church teaches:
Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. - CCC

Taking risks: "Moving forward on this road is somewhat risky, but it is the only road to maturity, to leave behind the times in which we are not mature." - P. Francis

Then there is Dr. Janet Smith.  She's been criticized as being 'too soft' on gays as well.  Remember Joseph Prever's talk and her support of him?  Maybe you don't.  She was challenged and though not exactly condemned, very much criticized - and she's a 'good guy'.  One can be tossed around online depending on the which way the wind blows, which makes the gay vs. ssa debate so tiresome and downright creepy at times.  I have often said one can't trust gay people, because of their changeability and more pointedly, because their loyalties tend to vary.  Especially if they are religious and try very hard to live up to the expectations of others.  My experience with gay friends has been disappointing at best.  As for 'gay-Catholic' friends, I'm not sure I have any.

I found something really fascinating today on Facebook - Janet Smith linked to an essay by Joseph Sciambra commenting on Brideshead Revisited.  At one time Sciambra was kind of weird to many online, his story is rather bizarre and far from the experience of most gay people I've ever known.  (BTW - Sciambra criticized and pretty much has taken down Tushnet, Janet Smith, Joe Prever, et alia over the years.)  Nevertheless, Joseph Sciambra is an excellent writer - I always say to myself when reading him, 'is this the same guy who wrote about demons flying out of his butt?'  He amazes me, he really is a profound thinker and excellent writer.

I especially liked what he wrote about Brideshead, and Sebastian Flyte.  His insight to Sebastian's character and defects, and even the genesis of his homosexuality, is brilliant.  His commentary on the fickleness of the homosexual temperament is something I have always tried to put into words in my writing.  Joseph nails it.  It's some of the best stuff I've ever read on Waugh's novel.  I'll reprint an excerpt:

"When we realize that we have once again been duped ...
In many ways, I have often thought of myself, and many of those who once believed in the false succor of homosexuality, as a kind of Sebastian Flyte. It’s as if hunger and thirst, and our wandering in the desert, heightened our sense of smell and we could then sniff out the presence of buried water. We had vainly sucked at the dry tit of men and our incessant screams for nourishment brought with it an essential appreciation for the full bellied satisfaction we receive from the hearty words of truth. Without it, we know that we are once again reduced to scrambling for crumbs. Hence, we tend to huddle about certain priests, religious, parishes, chapels, and shrines where the fare is bountiful.
However, in many of us, there is an incessant draw back towards the empty promises of homosexuality. It’s the well offering water that leaves us thirsty, but we keep returning to it. For some, this setback from chastity takes place when we seek out the enveloping warmth of another man’s arms. In others, it’s the temporary intoxicating effects of gay pornography. When we inevitably return to partial sobriety, we come to our senses and begin to stumble back towards Christ. As Cordelia predicted would become a cycle in the life of her brother, we collapse at the gate of the monastery and ring the bell hoping the porter will hear us; sometimes we are laying unconscious, yet our bodies are discovered and dragged inside to the infirmary. Every time, the doors is always opened to us. Often, I have experienced this unwillingness to stay within the cloister garden of God. Although, my wounds are tended to and healing, from the monastery window I can see the expansive desert beyond the wall and for a few moments the blistering undulating heat-waves of a mirage bend into the image of an oasis. And I go there. We stay for awhile, blissfully splashing in the imaginary pool. Then, we dip our hands into the crystalline blue water only to taste hot sand upon our lips. The flesh begins to burn, our tongue swells and we long for the comforting refreshment of home.
Sometimes for a few days, sometimes for many years, we hear a whispering voice tumbled upon the wind and dust slightly pushing up against the outside walls of our sanctuary. Unable to resist, we open the doors and proceed to follow it; wherever that may go. When we realize that we have once again been duped, we rush to bath ourselves and rinse the dirt of shame from our body. We beg forgiveness and begin again. It seems as if we are trapped, between two worlds.
When Christ saved me from the near inevitability of death, He found my abandoned corpse on the wayside. He threw me over His shoulder and carried my near lifeless body to a place of healing and safety. Less than a year later, I was staying at a Benedictine Monastery in France. - A Twitch Upon a Thread
Aloysius with Sebastian and Charles.
Aloysius thought Charles was an opportunist.
He was quite jealous of Charles. 


Isn't that wonderful writing from Joseph Sciambra?  His insight is so profound here, I'm really amazed.  I am not flattering him nor seeking any kind of affirmation from him or others for myself - but it is a worthwhile consideration, and I hope people will read this essay.  I never studied Brideshead in school, I'm simply acquainted with the films and the novel, so maybe all of this has been researched before?  I don't know.

For me, I like trying to understand myself and others.  Where did I come from, why am I here, where am I going?  That stuff.  I tend to be very trusting, which is ironic since I'm always disappointed in others, and I in turn always tell people to be careful who they trust.  But I know from experience we can never put our trust in men, as the Scriptures tell us repeatedly.  Men are easily seduced by flattery and praise and become blind to their own faults, and when down and out, they will listen to anyone who is kind to them - or agrees with them.

In conclusion, I want to repeat something I posted a day or so ago, concerning our zeal in trying to persuade others to come into the Church, to accept Catholic teaching, or to use threats to correct others:

“Do not ask God to save such and such a person, or to help this one or that, but ask him that you may love him, and that his will may be done. You must talk with him familiarly, and explain to him that you want to love him well, but that you can’t do it, that many things seem obscure and illogical to you, and that you would like to understand them a little better … and do not hesitate, all day long, to invoke heaven.” Jacques Fesch

Today is the feast of Matt Talbot.  He worked out his salvation reliant on Christ.  He's a great example for those of us who are alone and afflicted and have no one but God.

A single man.
Chaste and celibate
and sober.


  1. Thanks Terry for this well written and thoughtful post. It was very good.

  2. What a wonderful post. Thank you.

  3. A good post. My biggest problem with Fr. Jimmy Martin is that he is not a man of integrity. He clearly, if you read his Twitter feed, doesn't believe the Church's teaching and wants to see it changed. BUT he still plays the game of "being Catholic." If he had integrity he would declare once and for all what his beliefs are, and then leave the Church for a community that agrees with him. Staying in the Church and pretending to have Catholic Faith when he doesn't is a sign that he has no integrity.

  4. But the Church requires nothing of homosexuals that it doesn't require of all. Why do they think they're singled out?

  5. Interesting post, Terry. I agree that Joseph Sciambra is an excellent writer.

    As for Fr. Martin - he regularly supports those who dissent from Church teachings like the radical feminist nuns. And he is clearly supportive of gay groups that promote homosexual activity and are advocates of same-sex marriage. A friend of mine said once that her mother told her that the way you could tell the difference between good priests and bad priests was that the good priests followed Church teaching. There are plenty of examples of Fr. Martin praising those who dissent from the faith while condemning those who adhere to it.


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