Friday, May 24, 2019

Gay or SSA - they're both queer.

Truth be told.

Everyone who knows me or reads me know I say 'gay'.  The Pope says gay.  It's common parlance.  Can you imagine me telling my gay married friends and relatives, "You are not gay - you suffer from same sex attraction?"  I've struggled with the terminology myself, and I find it an unproductive struggle.  Outsiders, that is, straight people think it's a crazy distinction as well, unless they are in the business of conversion therapy or use the battle for normalcy as another way to shame and alienate gay people.

I'm known for claiming same sex attraction as a good thing.  That is the basis for same sex friendships.  Normal friendship is normally chaste friendship.  In junior high, sometimes same sex friends do things together, but they usually move on from that behavior.  It's not a sexual friendship.  Believe me, people are attracted to people because they are attractive - physically, morally, intellectually, or emotionally.  When they are of the same sex, it is same sex attraction.  Nothing wrong with that.

Ron Belgau of Spiritual Friendship wrote a good essay on this very subject.  Belgau and companions have received a lot of negative feed back for their scholarship in exploring the homosexual condition and the necessity for spiritual friendship.  They've been criticized for their differences with the Courage format, or way of life for those who wish to live in accord with Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage.  I was more or less conditioned by a certain type of parochialism to be suspicious of the Spiritual Friendship movement as well.  Thank God for Pope Francis whose example has opened hearts to be respectful of one another's differences.

Ron Belgau takes a fresh look at the debate on why some people no longer call themselves gay.  Once again, as in man cases with documents and statement coming from Rome, Ron notes a problem in translation.
Part of the problem is an issue with the English translation of the 1986 Letter. An important section of the paragraph (which Fr. Harvey partially omits) would have been better translated: 
'Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person only as a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual” and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.'
Adding “only” to the translation agrees with the Latin original, as well as the German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese translations. Only the French translation agrees with the English in omitting “only” from the paragraph above. In terms of authority, the Latin text is the official text promulgated by the Church. German is the native language of Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the time the Letter was drafted and promulgated. And Italian is the most commonly used working language in the Vatican. So the agreement of these three languages is strong evidence that the revised translation better reflects the intended meaning of the document. 
Had the English version of the Letter been clear—as the Latin, German, Spanish, and Portuguese versions were—that the Church does not consider the person only as a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual,” it might have been clearer that this paragraph should not be taken as a prohibition on referring to “homosexual persons,” but only to doing so in a reductive way. - A Note on Courage and Language
I made a comment on his FB post, thanking him for the article.  Repeating once again how the  insistence on prohibiting the word 'gay' has always annoyed me and strikes me as disengenuous, as well as a bit tainted by self-righteous BS, especially when the chaste SSA guy keeps his foot in the lgbtq milieu - in an 'in and out' way.  Even if there is no acting out sexually, there is frequently something which keeps the connection alive.  There are numerous examples one could cite, but I don't want people to think I'm picking on them.  I've also written about this enough in the past, so no need to repeat myself.  The 'homosexual network' has many levels of social interactions as well as distinct units or classifications.  Language sometimes just creates another closet.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

St. Rita

Today is the feast of the great Italian wife, mother and nun, St. Rita of Cascia (Margherita). Patron saint of impossible cases. She, St. Anthony and St. Joseph, Jude and others are wonder workers who can undo the most impossible situations - especially when it come to reconcilling one to the Church and the Sacraments. If you are like me, life is a mess - and Rita can fix it. Saints like Rita show us that 'nothing is impossible for God.' Nothing. Then of course, when things get really messed up, we have recourse to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. I go to her everyday because every day I screw up. Yay! It's all good! Go out and make a mess! (I know a guy in Rome who says that!)

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Cardinal Burke is not helping.

What Burke said now.
Opposition to "large-scale Muslim immigration is a responsible exercise of one's patriotism," Cdl. Raymond Burke told an international conference in Rome Friday. 
Responding to a question on the morality of resisting Islamic mass migration at the Rome Life Forum, Burke warned the West of "immigrants who are opportunists, in particular in the case of Islam, which by its definition believes itself to be destined to rule the world, coming in large numbers to countries."
I read his statements yesterday and found them very disturbing and immediately open to the worst interpretation, playing into the hands of the 'alt-right'. This is not his first public statement which contradicts the Church - he is on record stating that Catholics and Muslims do not worship the same God. As far as I know, that contradicts Vatican II.

“To say that we worship the same God as stated in Nostra Aetate, which is not a dogmatic document, I think is highly questionable … How can the God that we know, a God fundamentally of love, St. John says `God is love,’ be the same God that commands and demands of Muslims to slaughter infidels and to establish their rule by violence.” - Source

Undoubtedly some conservatives will regard the Cardinal as a sort of prophet, but many more will view his rhetoric in contradiction to Catholic teaching on religious liberty, which feeds into the sort of ideology Henry Karlson identifies with alt-right nationalism.  

Alt-right nationalism which confuses patriotism for nationalism denies true patriotism, for it only supports and promotes a select group within America, rejecting and denigrating everyone else, while patriotism works to build up the common good. - Source

Something seems to be wrong with Burke. Something seems to be off in his association with Bannon and the right-wing Catholic Dignitatis Humanae Institute.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leading Vatican conservative who is president of the Institute’s board of advisers, said Bannon would be playing a leading role there. 
Burke told Reuters he looked forward to working with Harnwell and Bannon “to promote a number of projects that should make a decisive contribution to the defense of what used to be called Christendom”. - Source

Something is wrong with his his resistance to the Pope, citing errors committed by the Holy Father while he himself contradicts Nostra Aetate.  I find him to be unsettling.  I'm just an ignorant layman, but Cardinal Burke clarifies nothing for me and he so not the pope.  The cardinal has made errors of judgment in his past, and he is not infallible now.

Cardinal Burke claims 
many Muslim migrants are opportunists. 
He seems to be afraid because 
"Christians are not reproducing themselves." 
Does he know what this sounds like?

"Muslims have said that they are able today to accomplish what they were not able to accomplish in the past with armaments because Christians no longer are ready to defend their faith, what they believe; they are no longer ready to defend the moral law," the cardinal said.
Another reason for the demographic shift, the cardinal said, is that "Christians are not reproducing themselves," referring to the widespread use of contraceptives. - Source

While there is an element of truth in these statements, I think it feeds into a climate of fear and a resurgent racist antisemitism.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Stigma of Disorder

Mental or Moral.

Gay people do not want to have their sexuality identified as objectively disordered.  That's a moral judgment.  Truth be told, a man doesn't want to admit to any disorder - be it moral or mental.  Before getting into this subject, I needed to make that connection, because in my case it has always been very much related, and maybe my commentary will make that clear. 

Today, I came across an article on Facebook from Men's Health magazine titled, Not Talking About Mental Health is Literally Killing Men.  The magazine will be devoting future articles on the subject.

Men who are vocal about any kind of mental issues can be dismissed as weak. As inferior. As flawed, broken guys who are more likely to be ostracized for their honesty, instead of rewarded for their bravery. Instead of affording a fellow man compassion, we mock, belittle, and turn a blind eye. We freely spit the phrase, “Man up,” as though your gender alone should suffice to guide you through your darkest times.
What’s real is the fact that 9 percent of men experience depression on a daily basis. That’s more than 6 million men. Even if we understand what depression feels like, we rarely admit that’s the culprit. We lie and say we’re tired or just cranky. More than 3 million men struggle with anxiety daily. Of the 3.5 million people diagnosed as schizophrenic by the age of 30, more than 90 percent are men. An estimated 10 million men in the U.S. will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. (Our own Style and Grooming Editor Louis Baragona eloquently and touchingly shared his battle with bulimia.) We retreat from friends and instead drown sorrows in numbing substances. One out of every five men will develop an alcohol dependency during his life. - Men's Health

Sometimes articles like these are enough for guys.  Sometimes not.

This issue has been my own most closely guarded secret.  In the 1980's I went through therapy - no one knew about it.  I didn't seek insurance coverage, but paid for it myself.  I didn't want employers or friends to know I struggled with depression and panic attacks.  The therapist was amazed when I told him what it was like and he immediately offered me medication - which I declined because I felt I was able to handle panic episodes.  (I blamed it on existential anxiety.)  When asked what I did during panic attacks, I said I just faced them.  If I was sure I was dying, I'd pray an act of contrition and go through it.

I also desired to get over sexual issues - so I considered 'conversion therapy' - which wasn't for me.  The therapist I had told me my main problem was being Catholic.  So, as I mentioned before, I found an excellent spiritual director, who helped me.  I recognized at the time that sexually acting out was my way to assuage the panic and pain of depression.

It's okay not to have it together or try to fix it.

All of my life I have coped with my problems and family problems which affected me, and more or less alienated me.  In fact, keeping a distance seemed to keep me sane.  Looking back, I'm not sure my 'silence' and 'solitude' was especially helpful.  I lied a lot.  Cancelled social events, family get togethers, and so on.  I called in sick a lot.  Avoided close relationships.  I claimed it was my 'contemplative life', a hermit life I needed to safeguard, and as an artist I needed my 'time'.  On some level, that was my life - it is what it is - a strange, eccentric eremetical life.  (Not at all holy, mind you.)  Even in the monastery, I hid my obsession with weight and suffered a great deal of pain from not eating any more than what would stay on the serving spoon, as we served ourselves at dinner.  I realized later I was anorexic.

I'm not always sure about 'medications' made available to those who have depression.  I have taken them for years, unknown to even close friends, which I suppose helped me to cope.  Lately SSRIs have come under suspicion as being responsible for suicides and violence - a possible culprit in school shootings, and so on.  I haven't read a great deal about that, but from my own experience I have encountered some difficulties which may have been related to SSRI use.  It involved my employment experience.  When I resigned a position, I simply left.  I just up and left.

Kind of nuts.

I usually had no explanation per se, and blamed the employer.  Later I went through waves of guilt and recrimination for being so irresponsible.  It was completely precipitous.  I look back upon the experiences as possibly related to SSRI use, although I never spoke to a doctor about it.

Anyway.  I thought I should share my up-until-now personal and private experience, just in case anyone reading this may have similar issues.  The biggest problem I have had with SSRI use is that there is no real monitoring of the usage.  It is prescribed by my doctor and then one is on their own.  Unfortunately, long term use makes it extremely difficult to stop taking it - therefore one is usually on it for life.  I'm not sure the professionals know what to do about that, or what the long term effects may be.

That's all.

(I might remove this post tomorrow.)