• RSS Queering the Church

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS Spirit of a Liberal

    • To my Republican Friends July 6, 2020
      You voted for Trump even though you didn't like him. Doubted his character. Questioned his fitness for the job. Yet, your aversion to Hillary was even greater The post To my Republican Friends first appeared on Spirit of a Liberal.
      Obie Holmen
    • Wormwood and Gall a Midwest Book Award Finalist May 4, 2020
      The Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MIPA) recently named Wormwood and Gall as one of three finalists for a Midwest Book Award in the Religion/Philosophy category. The awards program, which is organized by MIPA, recognizes quality in independent publishing in the Midwest. The post Wormwood and Gall a Midwest Book Award Finalist first appeared on S […]
      Obie Holmen
  • RSS There Will be Bread

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS The Wild Reed

    • For Rita Coolidge, Love Is Everywhere January 25, 2023
      A mid-week “music night” this evening at The Wild Reed, just to mix things up a bit!It’s Rita Coolidge and Keb’ Mo’ with “Walking on Water,” one of a number of standout tracks from Rita’s sublime 2018 album Safe In the Arms of Time.I came across this album shortly before the pandemic while perusing the racks of CDs at Cheapo Discs in Blaine, MN, something I […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Photo of the Day January 20, 2023
      See also the previous Wild Reed posts:• Wintering• Brigit Anna McNeill on “Winter’s Way”• Brigit Anna McNeill on Hearing the Wild and Natural Call to Go Inwards• Winter Beauty• Winter Light• After Record-Breaking Snowfall, a Walk Through the Neighborhood• Saaxiib Qurux Badan – January 4, 2023• Photo of the Day – December 23, 2022• Winter . . . Within and Bey […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
  • RSS Bilgrimage

  • RSS Enlightened Catholicism

  • RSS Far From Rome

    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
      noreply@blogger.com (PrickliestPear)
  • RSS The Gay Mystic

    • A saint for the millenials: Carlo Acutis beatified today in Assisi. October 10, 2020
       A saint for the millenials: the young Italian teen, Carlo Acutis, who died in 2006 of galloping Leukemia, will be beatified today in Assisi by Pope Francis (last step before being officially declared a saint). Carlo came from a luke warm Catholic family, but at the age of 7, when he received his first 'Holy Communion', he displayed an astonishing […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Unknown)
    • Ronan Park and Jack Vidgen: The Travails of Gay Pop Stars October 28, 2019
      (Jack Vidgen)Quite by accident, through a comment from a performance arts colleague of mine, I stumbled across the recent bios of two boy teen singing sensations, both of whom made a big splash worldwide 8 years ago. The first, Jack Vidgen, won Australia's Got Talent Contest in 2011 at the age of 14, primarily for his powerful renditions of Whitney Hust […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Unknown)
  • RSS The Jesus Manifesto

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS John McNeill: Spiritual Transformations

  • RSS Perspective

    • I Can't Explain January 27, 2023
      I like this 1964 song written by Pete Townshend and performed by The Who, which came out when I was 13 and still fairly optimistic about life :)
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

The Spiritual Gifts of Gay Sexuality

Spiritual direction is one of the best -kept secrets of the Catholic Church.  This is unfortunate- the process needs to be better known and used.  This is how Jesuit theologian James L’Empereur describes it:

the process in which a Christian accompanies others for an extended period of time for the process of clarifying the psychological and religious issues in the directee so that they may move toward deeper union with God and contribute to ministry within the Christian community.

I have unexpectedly been able to borrow L’Empereur’s “Spiritual Direction and the Gay Person”, which I would now like to prescribe to all my readers as required reading, with a 3 hour examination at the end of the course.  I began reading last evening, and have been devouring it with enthusiasm.  I am now about half way through, and not yet ready to offer a full and balanced assessment.  (That will come later).  Still, every page has important insights that I want to share or explore further.  As an appetizer before the main course to follow, I offer some snippets today:

Here are the opening sentences:

Homosexuality is one of God’s most significant gifts to humanity.  To be gay or lesbian is to have received  a special blessing from God. to be gay or lesbian is to have received a special blessing from God.  All humans receive their own special graces from their creator, but god has chosen some to be gay and lesbian as a way of revealing something about Godself that heterosexuals do not.

This is a startling, unexpected beginning, but of course he goes on to explain and fully substantiate it, in a chapter that had me engrossed, and anxious to explore also all his references and sources (a task, I fear, which may be well beyond me.) Elsewhere, he makes another startling claim:  he calls the gay state a “charism”, exactly comparable to the charism of celibacy embraced by Catholic clergy. Both are charisms granted to just a few, from which the wider church can learn.  Here I was reminded of an observation in one of our Soho Mass homilies, that if “homosexuality” is an environmental threat because it cannot lead to procreation, so is celibacy.)  The key manner in which we who are gay or lesbian can teach the wider Church is in the manner of our sexuality, which is not exclusively about genital contact (in complete contradiction to the popular stereotypes), nor is it based in patriarchal patterns of domination and submission.

I should stress here that L’Empereur very carefully does not either endorse or condemn any specific form of sexual expression, whether in committed, faithful relationships, in recreational sex, or in voluntary celibacy: those decisions are to be reached by the person being directed, through the process, and not decided a priori.   However, he does argue strongly that for all people, gay or otherwise, the historic dichotomy between sex and spirituality has been destructive.  Instead of thinking of spirituality OR sexuality, we should be looking for spirituality THROUGH sexuality , possibly (but not necessarily) including genital sexuality.  Gay people, he says, may find this easier than heterosexuals, who are often startled during counselling before , when he asks whether they expect to use their sexual union as a form of prayer.

In this book L’Empereur presents with great clarity and authority a number of the themes I have been grasping at on these pages. Another is the view that authentic Catholic teaching fully supports, not condemns, the homosexual and his/her struggle. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.  We know from painful experience of course, that approached from the perspective of sexual ethics, standard Catholic teaching is deeply hostile.  L’Empereur reminds us that Catholic teaching is far broader than just sexual ethics.  Approached from social justice, which is at least as important to the totality of teaching, a completely different picture emerges, one which demands compassion and support for the marginalised and oppressed, and requires that we work towards justice.  This latter perspective has been profoundly influential in my own faith as it was formed under South African apartheid, and why I found Cardinal O’Connors instruction to the Soho Masses to present Catholic teaching on sexuality “in full, and without ambiguity”.  This is impossible:  “in full” implies from a range of approaches, which are self-contradictory.  When we think of the structure of Catholic teaching on homosexuality, far too often we see only the dominating monolith of the official Vatican teaching on sexual ethics, and especially the scaled down, reduced travesty that we find in the catechism.  Reading this book, I am reminded that the teaching “in full” more closely resembles a crowded, diverse city, with many strands coming from the Vatican centre – and also important subsidiary nodes, such as those presented by theologians like L’Empereur.  Historically, cities grew around single, strong centres.  During the twentieth century, the development of private transport led to dramatic changes in city morphology, with the major growth occurring on the suburban or exurban fringes and  in suburban business nodes.  In some cities, it has been suggested, the traditional centre has virtually disappeared.

We may be seeing the same thing in theology. Comparable to private transport, the emergence of lay theologians and secular schools of theology have privatised the construction of new ideas.  Instead of the ancient central monolith dominating the skyline, steadfastly preserving and protecting its traditional inheritance, suburban nodes are bubbling away, creating new forms and structures: liberation theology, feminist theology, gay and lesbian theology, queer theology;  theology by discerned experience, theology of spirituality through sexuality – and so many more I have not yet encountered.  With so much vitality at the suburban fringes, the “margins” lose conceptual significance.  Will Vatican City in time become irrelevant, as some physical central cities have done?

Jayden Cameron thinks so, at the Gay Mystic.  Read “Life Finds a Way“.

(I will have more on this important book later – probably repeatedly.)

See also:

The Intimate Dance of Sexuality and Spirituality

Finding God in Gay Lovemaking

Homoerotic Sexuality

Advertisement

Asceticism and the Call to Discipleship: A Gloss on the Discussion of Penitential Practices

Andrea Da Firenze, "Christ Bearing the Cross to Calvary"

Signposts, as I try to live the gospel in my own life, in the place in which I find myself now:

Signpost 1: this is a literal signpost.  It’s one I pass almost daily as I drive around my city running errands.  Prominently displayed in a yard of a house on a busy major artery out of the city, an artery from the inner city to its affluent, largely white suburbs, is a sign with a loud political (and ethical) slogan.

I haven’t copied the sign.  I’m quoting from memory, and summarizing as I do so.  It says something like, “Vic Snyder—DEMOCRAT.  Tried to destroy your good health insurance.  Are you happy?” Continue reading