Friday, February 03, 2006

New Crisis Article on "Doomsday Document" Online

The new February-March issue of Crisis Magazine features an article by yours truly on the recent Vatican Instruction on Homosexuality and Seminaries. The article is titled "Homosexuality and the Seminaries: How to Read the New Vatican Instruction". I try to provide some context and analysis of the document, and the issues surrounding its implementation.

I also explain the theological foundation of the Instruction, such as in this passage:
Because of the complementary and spousal nature of human sexuality, “the masculine identity is ordered to paternity,” said [Bishop Allen] Vigneron. Men are meant by God to be husbands and fathers, and this is “built in” to our nature. “Masculinity is by nature heterosexual,” Gotcher added, because men are ordered to fruitful love by heterosexual attraction to and relationship with the opposite sex. Anything that misdirects or deflects that capacity to love the opposite sex is disordered, because it frustrates God’s plan for human beings to mirror His creative love.

That homosexual tendencies would constitute a deflection or misdirection of this divine intention for paternity is obvious enough. Homosexual desires and acts don’t have the same life-creating capacity as heterosexual ones. Because of the sterile quality of homosexuality, it cannot participate in God’s plan for fruitful human love. A man, as the document says, who either practices homosexuality or has deep-seated homosexual tendencies isn’t suitable for Holy Orders because his masculinity has been disordered to such an extent that he cannot participate in complementary, fruitful, spousal love.

Please go over to the Crisis site and read it! And while you're there, if you don't already, go ahead and subscribe to Crisis!

Fr. Rob Down On The Farm (or the Ranch)

I was on vacation recently, and spent some time with my Dad down in Texas. When my Dad retired, he bought some property in the Texas "Hill Country", northwest of San Antonio.

He's got a fair bit of land, right on the Medina River close to where it enters Lake Medina. It's beautiful country, in its own stark way.

When I go to see him, I usually get roped into some project(s) of his, and this trip was no different. He's gotten into the ranch mode in a big way, including purchasing a pretty substantial tractor for the work he wants to do on the land. This is no glorified lawn tractor, it's a diesel-powered hydraulic transmission serious farm implement, only one step down from a full sized farm tractor.

So we spent a day hauling stuff and clearing brush, and pulling stumps with it. Most of the time he rode the tractor while I did the grunt work. Here's a picture of my Dad on the tractor:

But he did let me use the tractor now and then:

Heck of a vacation, eh? We did do some fun stuff, though. But we couldn't go fishing, as the river level was so low it stranded my dad's boat ramp and pier completely out of the water. Maybe next time.

Hetero-Flexible Metro-Queer Emptiness

The Boomer generation's narcissism and self-indulgent moral squalor has borne its rotten fruit, and that fruit can be seen in its children, in this article in New York Magazine, "The Cuddle Puddle of Stuyvesant High". The article examines the sexual mores of students at one of New York's elite magnet schools, Stuyvesant High, and discovers the "Cuddle Puddle", which becomes, I think, a metaphor for the sump into which our culture is draining. The article follows a junior, Alair, and her friends:
Alair is headed for the section of the second-floor hallway where her friends gather every day during their free tenth period for the “cuddle puddle,” as she calls it. There are girls petting girls and girls petting guys and guys petting guys. She dives into the undulating heap of backpacks and blue jeans and emerges between her two best friends, Jane and Elle, whose names have been changed at their request. They are all 16, juniors at Stuyvesant. Alair slips into Jane’s lap, and Elle reclines next to them, watching, cat-eyed. All three have hooked up with each other. All three have hooked up with boys—sometimes the same boys. But it’s not that they’re gay or bisexual, not exactly. Not always.

Their friend Nathan, a senior with John Lennon hair and glasses, is there with his guitar, strumming softly under the conversation. “So many of the girls here are lesbian or have experimented or are confused,” he says.

Ilia, another senior boy, frowns at Nathan’s use of labels. “It’s not lesbian or bisexual. It’s just, whatever . . . ”

"Whatever"... The gift and mystery of the human person and the power of sexuality reduced to "whatever". There is, is seems to me, an undercurrent of despair running through this article, and it surfaces here.

The kids cavort and openly engage in sexual behavior:
Since the school day is winding down, things in the hallway are starting to get rowdy. Jane disappears for a while and comes back carrying a pint-size girl over her shoulder. “Now I take her off and we have gay sex!” she says gleefully, as she parades back and forth in front of the cuddle puddle. “And it’s awesome!” The hijacked girl hangs limply, a smile creeping to her lips. Ilia has stuffed papers up the front of his shirt and prances around on tiptoe, batting his eyes and sticking out his chest. Elle is watching, enthralled, as two boys lock lips across the hall. “Oh, my,” she murmurs. “Homoerotica. There’s nothing more exciting than watching two men make out.” And everyone is talking to another girl in the puddle who just “came out,” meaning she announced that she’s now open to sexual overtures from both boys and girls, which makes her a minor celebrity, for a little while.

Quite apart from the homosexual nature of these encounters, what I want to know is "Where are the teachers and administrators?" When I was in high school, which wasn't that long ago, engaging in "Public Display of Affection" could get you suspended.

The kids have fully embraced the "if it feels good do it" mentality:
Now you find a group of vaguely progressive but generally mainstream kids for whom same-sex intimacy is standard operating procedure. “It’s not like, Oh, I’m going to hit on her now. It’s just kind of like, you come up to a friend, you grab their ass,” Alair explains. “It’s just, like, our way of saying hello.” These teenagers don’t feel as though their sexuality has to define them, or that they have to define it, which has led some psychologists and child-development specialists to label them the “post-gay” generation. But kids like Alair and her friends are in the process of working up their own language to describe their behavior. Along with gay, straight, and bisexual, they’ll drop in new words, some of which they’ve coined themselves: polysexual, ambisexual, pansexual, pansensual, polyfide, bi-curious, bi-queer, fluid, metroflexible, heteroflexible, heterosexual with lesbian tendencies—or, as Alair puts it, “just sexual.” The terms are designed less to achieve specificity than to leave all options open.

"Leave all options open..." That is, after all, what sex is about. It's not about meaning. It's about exercising "options" for manipulating body parts for pleasure. They have turned each other into a variety of interchangeable masturbatory objects.

And if you're wondering how these kids turned out this way, look no further than Mom & Dad:
“My mom’s like, ‘Alair, I don’t understand you. I want to be a parent to you but I have no control at all . . . As a person you’re awesome. You’re hilarious, you entertain me, you’re so cool. I would totally be your friend. But as your mother, I’m worried.’ ”

“I can’t say I was pleased,” her mother tells me about first learning of Alair’s bisexual experimentation. “But I can’t say I was upset either. I like that she’s forthright about what she wants, that she values her freedom, that she takes care of herself. But I have all the trepidations a parent has when they learn their child is becoming sexually active.”

"She values her freedom". "She takes care of herself." Therein lies the problem. The girl herself acknowledges that her mother "has no control at all".

And in the face of her daughter's moral collapse, in the face of her daughter embracing empty sexual objectification, the most that Mom can muster is some "trepidation".

Before I went to seminary, I taught in a public school. Thank God, not as bad as this one in New York. But what I learned there was that the biggest problem in sending your kids to a public school wasn't the teachers or administrators, but the other kids.

And their parents.

Read the whole article. And weep for what we are doing to our children.