wSep 22, 2005

Almost!Death, Gay Priests, and John Brown

I know this entry is longer than usual. However, I feel that it's also more important than usual. It'll probably take you less time to read it than it took me to compile it, ;) Also, please comment. It's been a while since we started a good discussion on this blog!

So, last night when Steph got home around 2:00, I was asleep. Apparently, all of my limbs were hanging off the side of the bed and my body was still on thanks to the bar and Hello Kitty pillow. Steph woke me up and told me to move my ass so that I wouldn't fall off. CRISIS AVERTED.

I watched a piece on ABC News tonight about how apparently the Catholic Church is strongly considering (as in, the Pope is getting ready to sign) a law saying that gay men cannot be priests. Whether you agree with it or not, Catholic priests are celibate. At least, they're supposed to be celibate, and the vast majority of them are. There's a lot of theology behind this, and it's been this way for hundreds of years. Again - whether you agree with it or not. So I don't understand how barring homosexual men from joining seminaries is going to solve anything. If the men are supposed to be celibate, then it shouldn't matter which gender is tempting to them.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that it is a sin to be homosexual. The Bible/Catholicism (again, whether you agree with it or not) say that sex that does not allow for the possibility of creating life is wrong - so obviously, engaging in sex with a member of the same sex is wrong. Still, it is no sin to be homosexual.
As priests take celibacy vows, they should not be engaging in sex of any kind, and if they do, then they should be punished accordingly (especially if it's molestation or something equally horrifying). But being discriminatory in a way that is not even relevant is simply wrong. If there are so many problems occurring, then the problem lies with men's capacity to be celibate, instead of with his sexual orientation.

The other thing that I wanted to write about was John Brown. I had to read a couple of passages about him in my Comparative Ethnic Studies class (which studies many "minority" groups that are part of the United States). I tried talking about it to Kristy, and was met with, "Wait....Who is John Brown?" I gaped at her. "Kristy, you took all of the same history classes that I did - how can you not know John Brown?! Do you remember Harper's Ferry?" (blank look) Later, I tried with Chad - "...thing that I read for class about John Brown." "Who?" "CHAD! Not you too! You've taken more history courses than anybody I know!" Therefore, I have decided to educate you all about John Brown, because I think you should know who he is.

I should first mention that when we got the assignment, I thought, "Oh, that crazy guy who was an abolitionist around the Civil War time." Indeed, a book we're reading for class called Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by Loewen addresses this very issue:
The treatment of Brown, like the treatment of slavery and Reconstruction, has changed in American history textbooks. From 1890 to about 1970, John Brown was insane. Before 1890 he was perfectly sane, and after 1970 he regained his sanity. Since Brown himself did not change after his death, his sanity provides an inadvertent index of the level of white racism in our society...In all, seven of the twelve textbooks take this neutral approach to John Brown. Their bland paragraphs don't imply that Brown was crazy, but neither do they tell enough about him to explain why he became a hero to so many blacks and nonslaveholding whites.
Three textbooks still linger in a former era. "John Brown was almost certainly insane," opines American History. The American Way tells a whopper: "[L]ater Brown was proved to be mentally ill." The American Pageant
(that'd be the text we used in AP History, and apparently the source of my misjudgment) characterizes Brown as "deranged," "gaunt," "grim," "terrible," and "crackbrained," "probably of unsound mind," and says that "thirteen of his near relatives were regarded as insane, including his mother and grandmother....No textbook has any sympathy for the man or takes any pleasure in his ideals and actions.

So, who exactly was John Brown?

"John Brown was born at Torrington, Connecticut, on 9th May, 1800. ...John's father was staunchly anti-slavery and was a voluntary agent for the Underground Railroad.
...Married twice, he was the father of twenty children. In 1849 Brown and his family settled in a black community founded in North Elba on land donated by the Anti-Slavery campaigner, Gerrit Smith.

While at North Elba, Brown developed strong opinions about the evils of slavery and gradually became convinced that it would be necessary to use force to overthrow this system. After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, Brown recruited forty-four men into the United States League of Gileadites, an organization founded to resist slave-catchers.

In 1855 Brown and five of his sons moved to Kansas Territory to help anti-slavery forces obtain control of this region. His home in Osawatomie was burned in 1856 and one of his sons was killed. With the support of Gerrit Smith, Samuel G. Howe, and other prominent Abolitionists, Brown moved to Virginia where he established a refuge for runaway slaves." (Link)

"John Brown was a man of action -- a man who would not be deterred from his mission of abolishing slavery. On October 16, 1859, he led 21 men on a raid of the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. His plan to arm slaves with the weapons he and his men seized from the arsenal was thwarted, however, by local farmers, militiamen, and Marines led by Robert E. Lee. Within 36 hours of the attack, most of Brown's men had been killed or captured." (Link)

"John Brown was tried and convicted of insurrection, treason and murder. He was executed on 2nd December, 1859. Six other men involved in the raid were also hanged. The song, John Brown's Body, commemorating the Harper's Ferry raid, was a highly popular marching song with Republican soldiers during the American Civil War." (Link)

Okay, so why did people start thinking that he was crazy? Here is a piece written by Henry David Thoreau:
But I object not so much to what they have omitted as to what they have inserted. Even the Liberator called it "a misguided, wild, and apparently insane-effort." As for the herd of newspapers and magazines, I do not chance to know an editor in the country who will deliberately print anything which he knows will ultimately and permanently reduce the number of his subscribers. ... I wish I could say that Brown was the representative of the North. He was a superior man. He did not value his bodily life in comparison with ideal things. He did not recognize unjust human laws, but resisted them as he was bid. For once we are lifted out of the trivialness and dust of politics into the region of truth and manhood. No man in America has ever stood up so persistently and effectively for the dignity of human nature, knowing himself for a man, and the equal of any and all governments. In that sense he was the most American of us all. He needed no babbling lawyer, making false issues, to defend him. He was more than a match for all the judges that American voters, or office-holders of whatever grade, can create. He could not have been tried by a jury of his peers, because his peers did not exist. (Link)

Frederick Douglass said: The true question is, Did John Brown draw his sword against slavery and thereby lose his life in vain? And to this I answer ten thousand times, No! No man fails, or can fail, who so grandly gives himself and all he has to a righteous cause. No man, who in his hour of extremest need, when on his way to meet an ignominious death, could so forget himself as to stop and kiss a little child, one of the hated race for whom he was about to die, could by any possibility fail...."When John Brown stretched forth his arm the sky was cleared. The time for compromises was gone – the armed hosts of freedom stood face to face over the chasm of a broken Union – and the clash of arms was at hand. The South staked all upon getting possession of the Federal Government, and failing to do that, drew the sword of rebellion and thus made her own, and not Brown's, the lost cause of the century. (Link)

Why do we silence the parts of history in which white people (or any people, for that matter) actually stood up to racism and did something about it? Why are we not proud of that?

Current Music: My Hit and Run - Third Eye Blind
scribbled mystickeeper at 7:06 PM

Anything that God frowns on and tells you not to do is a sin. There is nothing wrong with priests being homosexual so long as they recognize it as a sin to be repented and work constantly to get past it. Just because something is not specifically listed in the Ten Commandments, doesn't mean that you can't go to hell for doing it. God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because the people there were wicked and practiced homosexuality. (Genesis 18-19)

By Blogger DJ and Steph, at 11:36 PM, September 22, 2005  

God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because the people there were wicked and practiced homosexuality.

Yeah, okay. Practice means you're acting on it - you're actively having homosexual sex. And if you read my post, you'd know that that's not what I was talking about. The whole point was that it shouldn’t matter whether priests are homosexual or not because they are celibate.

But since we’re apparently ignoring that and instead taking issue with homosexuality in general, then fine.

I am, actually, fully aware that the Bible contains laws not expressly written in the Ten Commandments (did I somewhere imply that I did not believe this?). If you read the parts in Genesis and other parts in the Bible (Romans, I believe, or perhaps Corinthians) in which homosexuality is mentioned, you will notice that the people punished or threatened to be punished by God are those who engage in homosexual acts (see: SEX). Nowhere does God say: “Lo, unto thee I will burn you for being attracted to one sex or the other.” No – it is the issue of sex that doesn’t allow for reproduction that the Bible takes issue with.

Even if the Bible did condemn it....telling someone that a part of who they are is something that they need to “work through” or “get past” is simply insulting, and really not your place to say anything.

While we’re discussing the Bible, here are some of my favorites:

Jesus said: Don't judge others, and God won't judge you. Don't be hard on others and God won't be hard on you. Forgive others, and God will forgive you. ~Luke 6:37

You can see the speck in your friend's eye. But you don't notice the log in your own eye. How can you say, "My friend, let me take the speck out of your eye," when you don't see the log in your own eye? You show-offs! First, get the log out of your own eye. Then you can see how to take the speck out of your friend's eye.

"Whoever is free of sin shall cast the stone."

There is no one just, not one
there is no one who understands,
there is no one who seeks God.
All have gone astray, all alike are worthless;
There is not one who does good,
[there is not] even one. ~ Romans 3:10-12

Why then do you judge your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. ~Romans 14:10

By Blogger Jackie, at 1:00 AM, September 24, 2005  

I'll take the merry little dyke side of this argument and point out that your beloved Sodom and Gomorrah tale actually seems to condemn violence and rape by the townsfolk against the visiting angels. Since angels are sexless, is this really an issue of homosexuality or of sexual abuse for power? Also, Lot was perfectly willing to send his virginal daughter out to appease the mob just so they'd leave his guests alone. I think I'd have to question a guy whose first instinct is to allow his innocent daughter to be brutally raped.

However, I do support Jackie's response to the first ocmment. You rock.

By Blogger Gretchen, at 2:37 PM, September 24, 2005  

Y'know, your commentary on gay priests really brings about a good point, Jackie. I never really thought of it before. Mainly it never crossed my mind because, personally, if I were homosexual with the making of a religious leader, I think I would probably seek out a more forgiving denomination with a similar doctrine instead of trying to struggle through Catholicism and the backwardness that saturates part of its innards.

However, if someone is valient enough to combat the (often unfounded) religious persecution (more power to them) you lay out a good foundation for the argument of acceptance. What is and what isn't sin aside: all priests are celibate, so homosexuality isn't even a characteristic for differentiation. I think that's cool. Even the stubborn anti-gay church officials can't really argue with that one, considering that obviously if a man is attempting to become a priest, then he is working against the physical temptation, no matter who it is coming from. That would be exactly what those kinds of church officials would want. It seems that if this law-signing business would be true, it would be more a public comment of discrimination rather than a public accomplishment of...well...anything at all.

Personally, right or wrong- I'm no theologian, I always kind of saw the Soddom and Gomorrah thing as a general lesson against the evils of ill-will, selfishness, lust, brutality, and sexual conquest against ANY being (male, female, or angel). I'd like to think that if the townsfolk pounded on Lot's door demanding a female entity, God would strike them down also.

As far as Lot's offer, I suppose I can appreciate the whole thing about putting the Godliness of an angel before the physical worldliness of his daughter (I'd like to think the daughter had some say and chose the self-sacrificing way as well), but I'd be lying if I said that action didn't horrify me anyway. I probably wouldn't have done it. The most angry sickos could get out of me would be a sheep...maybe. I guess I'm just not the type to deal out sex on behalf of others.

By Blogger Steph, at 5:02 PM, September 27, 2005  

If you talk to people who used to be homosexuals, you will believe as I do that homosexuality is not "just who you are". I don't believe it is something you are born with. I believe that anything that can be considered a sin (like homosexuality) is part of the evilness of humans. Babies are born perfect and free of sin, so to say that they were born homosexual is a fallacy. When the rapture occurs, when Jesus comes again and takes those on earth who are Christian, all the babies on earth will disappear because they are still perfect.
Regarding priests being ordained as self-proclaimed homosexuals: as I said in the first posting, that is not an issue to me, as long as they recognize homosexuality as being a sin before they are ordained. Obviously you can't tell priests to be perfect before they can be ordained. But being a Christian, it is your duty to recognize the sins in your life, repent of them, and try to live a sinless life. (Again, that is impossible due to the evil nature of humans, but you should always try.)
I am not judging homosexuals, and I do not condemn them. I also am not blinded by the logs in my own eyes. I just want the religious leaders of this world to be as righteous as a human can be. When judgement day comes, the religious leaders are held to a higher standard than the rest of us because they are supposed to lead us to the right way of living. (Not just by preaching, but by example.) Even if a priest is completely celibate, by telling others they are homosexual and saying it's just who they are, they confuse those whose faith is not yet completely grounded in the Bible.
I feel like maybe my first posting confused people to what I believe. I don't know. I'm not a very good writer, and can't explain things the way I would like! Father in Heaven, I did try!

By Blogger DJ and Steph, at 6:09 PM, September 27, 2005  

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