I returned to campus last month and ran into an old friend who had recently gotten engaged to his boyfriend. The two of them asked about my job and, understanding the public commitments of this journal, asked in a winsomely direct and gentle manner what I thought couples like them should do. We were headed in different directions, and I admitted that I was probably incapable of offering a satisfying answer on the spot.
I am not optimistic about doing so here, either, but let me try. A week after my admission to my friend, I was sitting at a wedding Mass listening to the reading of a prayer written by the bride and groom. It asked that “all called to the generosity of the single or celibate … might inspire [name of bride and groom] by their conformity to Christ, and always find in them fiercely devoted friends, and in their house a second home.”
The prayer moved me, in part because I’d been going through my own period of loneliness, but also because it reminded me that the movement for gay marriage is absolutely right to demand that the institution be made more inclusive. Where it goes wrong is in supposing this can be done by asserting a free-floating right to marriage, rather than by insisting on the duty of every marriage to become a place of welcome. We can’t and shouldn’t redesign marriage under the illusion that it can directly include everyone. We need more than one form of solidarity.Matthew Schmitz, “How I Evolved on Gay Marriage” (via wesleyhill)
[According to Gray, “secular believers… are in the grip of unexamined dogmas.”] This will already have occurred to anyone who has spent five minutes browsing, say, the comments sections of Dawkins’ website. Though, as it happens, the most affecting response to this sort of arrogance I’ve encountered is also there, courtesy of an Orthodox believer calling herself Saint Cecilia. (I don’t know her real name, but she certainly has the patience of a saint.) On a comment thread devoted to misunderstanding Hart’s arguments, she gently corrects a few of the usual fallacies. The “pitch” of Christianity, she points out, has “nothing to do with the Big Bang or evolution or anything like that at all.” Nor is the existence of God a scientific proposition: “Christians aren’t talking about a math problem, they’re talking about a Person. And in the vast experience of people who claim to have had a genuine encounter with the Personality called Christ, there are certain things that are involved, such as willingness [and] humility.” The modest atheists respond with their customary persiflage: “Can you spell g-u-l-l-i-b-l-e?” Cecilia isn’t ruffled: “I spell gullible exactly as you did. Well done.” She continues:
This spirit of invitation and inquiry is far from gullible, a calumny better directed at the evangelical-atheist faithful who thoughtlessly parrot what Emerson called “the tune of the time.” Again, the point is not whether God does or does not exist, but that, as Cecilia writes elsewhere in the thread, “Everyone is talking past each other and no one seems to be elevating the conversation to where it could and should be.” Michael Robbins, “Know Nothing” (via wesleyhill)If someone is really interested in whether or not God exists, I’d say the best way is to have a little humility and experiment, with an open mind and heart, with the paths that Christians have claimed take you directly to him, in the ways that have worked. If someone isn’t willing to do such a thing, and insists that a discussion about painting be one about mathematics, then the conversation isn’t going to go anywhere.