Last week, spurred by the whole mess in Charlotte, Bill Lindsey published a series of heartrending and intellectually piercing posts regarding his dismissal from his post as the chair of the theology department at a Catholic college in that city in the 1990s. Lindsey wrote the then-bishop of the diocese, William Curlin, in the hopes of obtaining a meeting that never materialized. Lindsey shared that correspondence last week at his blog, Bilgrimage, and powerfully connected his questions in those letters to the current situation in the Queen City. His posts, in order:
“May God Send You Many Outspoken Truth-Tellers and Holy Trouble-Makers”
“More Excerpts from My Letters to Charlotte Bishop William J. Curlin in Latter Half of 1990s”
“When the Church Treats People as Things … It Undermines the Very Meaning of the Eucharist”
“I Began to Realize That the Abuse Crisis Was Rooted in a Profound, Widespread, Deep, and Systemic Betrayal of Pastoral Office in the Catholic Church”
Why’s, Wherefores, and In Conclusion
If you paid attention to the Brendan Eich affair (and you’re probably better off if you didn’t), you know that it caused quite a bit of controversy among gay marriage activists. People who supported the public pressure on Mozilla to remove/chasten Eich felt (with some justification) like they were being called fascists and intolerant. People who opposed that pressure felt (with some justification) that they were being called Uncle Toms.
Rob Tisinai wrote a self-searching post that not only diagnosed the differences between the two groups but also offered a measure of reconciliation. Tisinai wrote:
In recent days, we’ve seen two admirable sets of values collide. First,
A free and open society works best when all positions are argued clearly and explicitly, along with their rebuttals. This climate of open debate, whatever its bumps and pitfalls, is the best way to try and secure a culture free of ignorance and superstition. It’s important to do as little as possible to discourage such debate because when an orthodoxy is imposed through legal or social pressure, it opens the door to tyranny and corrodes the human spirit.
A free and open society can only work when it recognizes the humanity, the dignity, and the equality of all its citizens. Movements that stigmatize entire swaths of the population, that declare them to be inferior, that try to rob them of their rights, have no place in such a society. They open the door to oppression and tyranny, and corrode the human spirit.
It’s hard, for me at least, to oppose either of those positions. Gay people have suffered in the past when either one was discarded. They overlap, they reinforce each other, but they can also contradict each other. And when that happens, long-time allies flare at each other and demand to know, How can someone I’ve respected hold such a view?
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I link to Tisinai and the other writers at Box Turtle Bulletin all the time. And I use their writing in the trenches, too, whenever I get involved in debates with folks on the religious right. They do great work, in other words, work that I think is especially persuasive. So it bothered me to see them characterized as anti-gay apologists. One commenter even wrote, “soon nom will be inviting [andrew] sullivan, tisani [sic], [jim] burroway, and [john] corvino as key-note speakers to their hate march in june.”
But the intellectual honesty of Box Turtle Bulletin is one reason I think it’s so effective, and this post is a great example of that.