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1 – Excuse #1

I didn’t write anything last week because I spent most of the day at [a high school] in Rhode Island, a Catholic all-boys’ school where I was invited as a guest speaker to four theology classes, all composed of juniors and seniors. It was great fun to put my teaching hat back on — teaching, I maintain, is a branch of performance art — and I was impressed by the spirit I saw in the students. There were lots of good questions, too. I’d love to have another chance like that.

2 – Excuse #2

I’m not writing anything this week because I’m sitting in a coffee shop and reading Evangelii Gaudium, and it’s nearly Christmas, and I’m tired, and I’ve got writer’s block, which as usual is not because I’ve got too little to say but too much. I don’t know how I’ll ever get it all out, and I can’t find a channel for it at the moment. All of my normal ones seem to be blocked up. Maybe I need more fiber. Mean time, I’m trying to redesign this site, too; details to follow, eventually.

3 – No News

I don’t have much to say about the Duck Dynasty guy. I don’t think he spoke out of bigotry, just out of ignorance. What he said doesn’t strike me as nearly as poisonous or bigoted as the response he got from A&E. So somebody said something ignorant about gay people. (1) This is news? (2) Why should we care? Most of the people I know have crazier opinions than his, but it’s not national news.

4 – By Attraction

I’ve been thinking a lot about evangelization and why I suck at it. My gut reaction, when I consider trying to evangelize a secular friend, is somewhere between discomfort and fear. I’d rather just let him be. Why is that?

Is it because proselytizing is one of the greatest 21st Century Sins? Is it because I’m afraid, Grand-Inquisitor-like, that teaching him about the Gospel will also be teaching him about sin, and sin means guilt? Is it because my own faith is too intellectual, and I’m afraid he doesn’t have the requisite 30 years it’ll take to transform all of his opinions into orthodox ones — even though that isn’t the point? I blame Pope Francis for making me think about these things.

5 – Two Masters

I’m going through Clean Of Heart. Again. This time I mean it. At one point the program requires you to compile a list of the typical lies that you tend to hear and believe re: sins of impurity. Things like It’s only natural (so is rubella) and It’s inevitable (so is death) and It’s not the end of the world (neither is herpes). The lie du jour seems to be something like: “God and sin can both live in your heart. Just make a lot of room for God and little room for sin.” But unfortunately there is Matthew 6:24 to contend with.

6 – Human Heresies

Here’s a half-baked thought for you. Some forms of religion are horrible and stupid because they are anti-human: because they abandon our best instincts and invent new, nonsensical ones instead. Like Puritanism, which is essentially anti-joy; or like Fundamentalism,1 which is essentially anti-reason. Both joy and reason are fundamentally human and fundamentally good, but somebody got it in their head that they had to be treated like Lies Of the Devil. Result? Miserable people.

7 – Diamond In the Flesh

Lorde

Has anybody else been listening to Lorde? This is a very strange and world-weary way to be for somebody who is seventeen. Where did she come from? Does she dress so frumpily and dance so twitchily because she is countercultural or because she is, in fact, uncool?

She is really good at skewering the club scene (“I’m kind of over being told to throw my hands up in the air”) and clearly thinks it isn’t worth her time, but what is worth her time? Is it, The XX-style, just the usual adolescent romanticism but with a moodier aesthetic, or are those waters as deep as they sound?

I dunno, but Pure Heroine is a super solid album, deserving of at least a week’s obsession. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

1 By “Fundamentalism”, I mean the idea that we must take Scripture at absolute face value, without consideration of cultural or textual context; as though subjecting the Word of God to the tools of reason were somehow impious.

35 thoughts on “Seven Quick Takes, Vol. 7: Procrastination Edition

  1. Sheila

    “I’m not writing anything this week…” You could have fooled me! I’m not commenting more than this because I have to finish a paper on Sabbath…and maybe then go rest. :-)

    Reply
  2. Sarah

    she dances like that because some teenage girls fly in the spirit tailwind of Bjork and Hildegaard von Bingen. I did not read the whole interview with the DD fellow. So I am curious, what do you mean by ignorance? the classic definition, of not being possessed of all the pertinent information, or do you mean being bumbling and crude because of this lack, or both? I didn’t think he was talking about the totality of what it is to be gay. From the little
    i read, he was describing how the act of or desiring anal sex was as incomprehensible and twisted as other sins mentioned in the Scripture passage he quoted. And then he said something kind and Christian about not judging but loving. What about his expression of bewilderment do you find ignorant? I’m curious.

    Reply
    1. Joey Prever (Steve Gershom) Post author

      I definitely agree with what he says about the sex act itself — it’s intrinsically illogical, and also disgusting. What I found ignorant was the implication (“come on, dudes!”) that that particular illogic should be clear to every gay guy — that the only reason gay people remain gay is that we’re stubborn. I know he didn’t say any of that, but I thought it came through in the tone. So the reason I’d call that “ignorant” is because it is an attitude that I could imagine having if I had never talked to a gay person about what it is like to be gay.

      That being said, I wasn’t particularly offended by any of it. I think I believe the same things as he does about gay sex. I just believe them…in a different key.

      Reply
      1. Aspie Girl

        Joey, you said “I think I believe the same things as he does about gay sex. I just believe them…in a different key.”
        I was going to comment to tell you that, but you beat me to it!

        Reply
  3. Sarah

    got it. if the only reason anyone persisted in any kind of sickness, delusion, innocent error, or was born with a defect of any kind, or in short if the only reason the world remains fallen was stubborness…i don’t know. it would be a simpler world.

    Reply
      1. P.J.

        Joey, I think some sins *are* uncomplicated.

        “Do not swindle a senior citizen out of his/her life savings.” — that’s pretty uncomplicated.

        “Do not murder your boss, no matter how much of a jerk he/she is.” — that’s pretty uncomplicated, too.

        Not to justify sins related to homosexual attractions, but I think they tend to be the complicated ones. Why? Because:

        1) There’s a potent biological component involved (the sex drive) which needs to be harnessed and tamed;

        2) Humans — straight or “gay” — do not typically control the act of falling in love with another human being;

        3) Humans have a desire to care and be cared for;

        4) Humans have a desire to form significant bonds;

        5) There is a sizable psychological pain and sense of isolation associated with being “different”; of knowing that you don’t fully belong with 90% of the population (if Kinsey was right).

        It bothers me when the stance of well-intentioned straight people is, “Come on, gay people, just don’t have sex, alright?”

        Is that the correct message? I guess so. Is it one that I personally have followed? Yes. But is that addressing the totality of the gay person’s plight and needs? In my opinion, no.

        I’ve never been one for the concept of one-night stands, nameless encounters, etc; I have, however, fallen in love — but either way, the end result is the same: squelch your feelings because they are vile and loathsome.

        I’m at a point in life where I feel like I either need to go on antidepressants or pray for a shortened lifespan, because I cannot bear the thought of another 40 years on this planet the way the previous have been spent: broken-hearted, lonely, and feeling disconnected from and out of place with 90% of the population.

        Anyhow, sorry for the rant, but I hope I’ve demonstrated the private inner whirlpool of unhappiness found within the psyche and soul of a same-sex attracted sinner.

        I dare to say it differs vastly from the greedy SOB who just wants to swindle a senior citizen out of his/her life savings.

        Reply
        1. Mike

          Well, much of the time when anyone falls in love, the feelings must be squelched. There is no guarantee that such feelings will be reciprocated.

          I think others can greatly help loneliness of SSA individuals by providing warmth and love. Even small gestures such as inviting them to dinner occasionally can be quite helpful.

          I also think redirecting the sexual energy into helping others is another good strategy.

          I am a 26 year old male who is predominantly SSA. I am finding that my efforts to transform myself into inner chastity (such as by eliminating impure fantasies of men) is making me a much more relaxed person and especially has decreased my tension in relating to men.

          We have to remember that god’s love (which we will feel fully in heaven) is much better than sexual love ever could be. That seems to be lost on those who write posts like this.

          Reply
          1. P.J.

            Sexual love?

            I indicated very clearly in my post that I have not been sexually active — something fairly admirable, I’d say, for a man who is 40. How many unmarried STRAIGHT 40 year-old men can say they’ve been as obedient to church teaching as this? Ah, but therein lies the double-standard:

            If a straight unmarried 40 year-old man has had a few dalliances with women over the years, then he gets a pass. Why? Because “he’s a red-blooded male with a powerful sex drive which cannot always be expected to submit to his will — and besides, the sex he’s had was at least *normal* (sex with a woman).”

            The man in the above scenario gets to walk through life with his head held high because — even though he’s sinned in the eyes of the Church — he’s at least considered “normal”. If a SSA man were substituted in that same scenario, he’s automatically shameful, disgusting, and should be tortured by guilt.

            Why are SSA men and women held to a higher standard, I wonder?

            Here’s a story:

            I was close to a Catholic, testosterone-rich family (a husband and wife with 4 straight sons — all of whom were of dating age and had girlfriends). One particular Thanksgiving I spent with them, I had to hear at least 3 or 4 derogatory references to “fags” during my visit. Meanwhile, all 4 of these young men were sexually active with their girlfriends — outside of wedlock, just to be clear — but not for a moment did any of them feel shame or guilt for their actions, or realize that they were, by church standards, in a state of mortal sin. No, it was only about casting stones at the “fags” from this upstanding (by outward appearances) family.

            Meanwhile, THIS “fag” was sitting among them still holding onto his virginity at 40(!), but still thoroughly contemptible in their eyes due to, well, his being a “fag” — something which he cannot even help.

            So, there you go. There’s nothing worse, in my opinion, than encountering an avowed Catholic (or Christian) who shamelessly displays hypocrisy, insensitivity and bigotry (the latter being an absence of love).

            And I’m sorry, Mike, if you believe something is “lost” on people who write posts such as mine. This may enlighten you, however, since in your mind you automatically leapt to “sexual love”:

            I was in love with a man for 16 years and it never involved sexual fantasies on my part. Both of us were too proud/confused/I-don’t-know-what to admit our feelings to one another, but 13 years into our friendship, we finally did. He felt the same for me, but wanted a sexual relationship; I, though I loved him, did not want sex — so we parted ways.

            So please do not judge me. What I was writing about in my previous post was not about the pursuit of “sexual love”; to think it was is to completely miss the point.

        2. Mary

          ” There’s nothing worse, in my opinion, than encountering an avowed Catholic (or Christian) who shamelessly displays hypocrisy, insensitivity and bigotry (the latter being an absence of love).”

          I agree with you, and I am a straight, married, Catholic woman. You must be very strong. I have no idea how to speak to my gay friends about their lives. My best friend’s brother and his partner are often part of our lives, and I feel I have no right to explain to them that their choices are “wrong”. But we do have them over in a big group for dinner etc, because I can see how their lives without children, and out of the mainstream are difficult. Whenever they are at dinners at my friend’s house, the talk becomes very bawdy and silly and everyone drinks too much; joking about sex is the norm (even though it makes me very uncomfortable). I can see that they need love and community, and they enjoy the multi-generational get-togethers. They are kind and loving people. I don’t know…is it fair for me to tell them their relationship is disordered? I think the act is revolting, but is it really so evil? Here I am, a woman who still practices with barrier methods because of fear and laziness (rather than NFP) and because of my husband.

          I have three children, and regret not starting much earlier…my life was very sinful for years though…and I wish someone loving and rational had effectively pointed that out. Unfortunately, the only ones who were pointing it out were older aunts, my beloved mother and the Church. Given my rebellious nature and the crowd I ran with, I was only pushed further into sin by my prideful disdain for their words. So how could my words have any effect at all on two gay men? I just feel it is crazy for me to tell them their physical affection is wrong.

          Reply
  4. Dolores

    Great to see your latest blog. Finally got myself to the Sacrament of Reconciliation after eight months and reading your blog greatly assisted in getting me there.

    Reply
  5. Aspie Girl

    P.J., I enjoyed reading your comments. (As a woman, I really really wish that more straight men held themselves to standards of chastity. Then I wouldn’t have had to deal with the disrespect from so many creeps)
    The only person I fell in love with was opposite sex to me. (I might be bi-, not sure). He found someone else and that was the source of much pain for me. But then he became my best-and only-friend.
    I’m ASD (autism spectrum disorder/aspergers) and socially, things consistently go badly. (It was amazing that, by the Will of God, I ended up with a friend.) So regardless of my sexual orientation, I find it easy to identify with the loneliness expressed and shared by readers on this blog.

    Reply
    1. P.J.

      I’m glad you found such a quality friend in life, Aspie Girl. It sounds like God turned what was once painful for you into a real blessing.

      Reply
  6. Yanmega

    P.J. — wow…. On one hand, I really commend your strength. What you’ve done is something that I hope I’ll have the courage, faith, will power, and strength to do. I’d like to think that I could have said “no, I love you, but I don’t want sex” if I was in a situation like you found yourself in,” but honestly, I’m not sure. If it was me at a weak moment, I probably would have jumped on the chance to the moral standards that I have for physical comfort.

    You do make some interesting points; I have become incredibly bitter and angry at people (particularly family members) who screw around out of wedlock, particularly when it’s painfully obvious (i.e. when some illegitimate children are the result). Everyone is tolerant of it, and even happy or accepting with it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy they kept the kids, but I don’t think the out-of-wedlock sexual activity is something that should even have been a factor if they were holding themselves to the same moral standard that they were holding the “fags” to. It’s frustrating, I agree.

    I’m praying for you, sir, and I sincerely hope that you can find some peace and happiness in the very near future. Thank you for sharing your story — I can’t really explain how much it helps me to know that other people are dealing with the same problems that I am.

    Reply
    1. P.J.

      Thank you for your prayers and kind words, Yanmega.

      Whenever I encounter kind, empathic people like you on the internet, I always think, “Why can’t we all be from the same neighborhood so we can all be friends?!” Having quality, like-minded people in our lives sure would make life easier.

      In any event, you are not alone in the cross you carry. The problem is that so often we feel as though we are.

      Reply
  7. Yanmega

    I wish I had more people in my (real) life that understood what this was like, as well. Having someone to talk (or vent) to makes things easier usually. I am thankful for the Internet in that regard, though, since we can at least be connected through that small, somewhat anonymous kind of way. It does lessen the whole “I’m so alone” thing that is so easy to fall into.

    Without being too cliche, though, if we play our cards correctly on earth, we should be able to meet/interact/know each other in the next life. That kind of thing makes it easier for me, as well. It’s kind of incentive to keep doing what I’m doing in terms of following the Church and rejecting the mainstream perception of who we should be that is so often shoved in our faces.

    Reply
  8. Mike

    PJ, I apologize. I greatly respect you now that I know more of your story.

    It is indeed extremely cruel the insults you have experienced and the double standards you discuss are indeed extremely unfair. I pray that god will bless you with loving friends.

    Unfortunately, reading your story scares me. I am 26 with predominant SSA, and see lifelong celibacy in my future. I am trying to think of what I can do to live happily and reading your posts does not make me hopeful.

    Reply
    1. P.J.

      Sorry, Mike, if my posts caused you to feel less hopeful for the future. Perhaps I shouldn’t have posted, as I certainly don’t want to be a contributor to anyone’s discouragement.

      My problem has been the emotional component involved in same-sex attractions — not so much the sexual component. Having made the mistake of falling in love twice (not that I could have necessarily controlled such a thing), the sadness/loneliness/broken-heartedness of remaining single has been tremendously amplified for me.

      Perhaps you have not and/or will not ever experience this emotional investment in another person; if so, a life of celibacy will surely be easier without this element to wrestle with.

      I just wrote and deleted a huge paragraph here. It won’t bring you any peace of mind, so it’s best that it get deleted. And it’s probably pointless anyway, in the big scheme of things.

      In any event, know that you’re not alone, Mike. We’re all in this together and we’re all moving forward one day at a time. Prayer and hope have the power to propel us onward.

      Reply
      1. Mike

        PJ,

        You did not make a mistake by posting. I will redirect any energy I might have expended in feeling hopeless into praying for you to experience healing.

        Reply
        1. P.J.

          Thank you, Mike — I need prayers more than you could know, as I have no one in my life who is praying for me. I am currently experiencing what I believe to be the “dark night of the soul”. It’s taken me a while to realize this, but I’ve come to the conclusion that that is what this most likely is. It’s scary, and I’ve never spoken with anyone who’s actually gone through this and come out the other end.

          So thank you again, Mike, and I will pray for you also.

          Reply
          1. Christine

            P.J., you have my prayers as well.

            In one of your earlier comments, you mentioned the possibility of going on antidepressants. If you are feeling like the hurt is too much to bear, or nearly so, I recommend at least trying them. I thought I was going through something like the dark night of the soul, but my spiritual director suggested that there might be a biochemical component to what I was experiencing, and he was right. It took almost a year of trying before my doctor and I found a medication that worked, but it was so worth it! Being on antidepressants didn’t medicate my problems away, but rather got me stable enough to start dealing in a healthy way with the very real hurts I had experienced throughout my life. What works for me may not be the solution for you, but it might be worth a try, especially since it sounds like you’ve already been considering them.

  9. MaMurph

    Merry Christmas, Joe and all who are paying attention to this gracefilled blog! Maybe the situation is the same for all of us…”our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.”

    Reply
  10. Rob

    PJ, thank you for your witness to Christ. I am beyond tired of the double-standard you articulated so well, and I am ashamed to say that I hear it at my seminary regularly. Active same-sex sexual sin is pounced on, but heterosexual sexual sin is sometimes pooo-pooed (unless it’s a woman committing it, then out come the stones again). In my priestly formation, I hope to hold myself to a more equitable standard. Pray for me and for all men in priestly formation that we be holy, humble, faithful, truthful and charitable shepherds. I will pray for you too.

    Reply
    1. P.J.

      Thank you, Rob, for your prayers — and I will pray for you, too!

      I commend you for your dedication to becoming, as you stated, a holy, humble, faithful, truthful and charitable shepherd.

      May God bless you abundantly.

      Reply
  11. mariecarolk

    So do you recommend “Clean of Heart?” Or are you going through it to point out what’s wrong with it? Sorry, kind of confused!

    Reply

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