|This T Shirt celebrates the more traditional campus hook up culture.|
One of the stories I haven't posted on, but was really interested in was the talk given by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson to the New Ways Ministry National Symposium recently held in Baltimore. In his speech to the Conference Robinson broached the approach to sexual morality that I have advocated for decades. It's the relational approach which places 'thee' before 'me'. The NCR just posted an editorial endorsing this approach. The following are two excerpts which I found most important in the editorial:
Rather than trying to discern good or bad in objective acts -- was this act unitive and open to procreation? -- look at how the intentions and circumstances surrounding what a person does or doesn’t do lead toward or away from loving deeply. “Sexual acts are pleasing to God when they help to build persons and relationships, displeasing to God when they harm persons and relationships,” he writes.
Rather than narrowly focused attention on a few explicit Bible verses devoted to sexual morality, use the best of scripture scholarship to understand the Bible as the unfolding story of a journey, the spiritual journey of the people of God. No single verse or collection of verses can be seen as the final word of God on a subject, Robinson writes.
Then there is this towards the end of the editorial:
Unlike sex centered on “me,” our new Christian sexuality, centered on the other, would respond to the deepest longings of the human heart, promote commitment between people, cherish the long process of relationship-building and foster community.
In the end, Robinson is making a profoundly traditional suggestion about sexuality, because what he proposes is rooted in genuine personal responsibility. He writes: “Many would object that what I have proposed would not give a clear and simple rule to people. But God never promised us that everything in the moral life would be clear and simple. Morality is not just about doing right things; it is also about struggling to know what is the right thing to do. ... It is about taking a genuine personal responsibility for everything I do.”
I have to tell a short story here. I was teaching sexual morality in CCD a decade or so ago, right as the Boston Globe was exposing the clerical sexual abuse scandal, and blew my class away by taking this approach. The boys were snickering and carrying on and the girls giving coy looks and toying with their books when I stopped teaching the traditional approach and took up the relational approach. I started by asking them if they had heard of the studies which described which teenagers were most apt to be engaging in sex. They hadn't. So I informed them that we have learned the boys with the highest levels of self esteem were the most sexually active, followed by girls with the lowest self esteem. I said that drew a picture, not of sexuality as an equal expression, but of sexuality based on a power differential that was abusive and selfish. The snickering stopped. One young man raised his hand and made my intended point. He said, "you are stating that most teen age sex is abusive in the same way about what's going on in Boston". I replied that I was not making that comparison, the statistics drew that comparison and they were replicated over and over again.
This began a long discussion about how sexuality either affirmed a relationship or confirmed one's individual level of self esteem. Not once did these teenagers ask about the procreative aspect of sexuality because that idea was the furthest thing from their minds. For them sex was not about making babies, that was what their parents did, it was about other things entirely. It was an eye opening experience for both the boys and the girls. Unfortunately, the next week, when we were supposed to continue this discussion, was preempted by a cup cake and pop party because the rest of this topic would be covered by a group brought in from the outside who would teach the diocesan approved 'abstinence only' approach. I got the message loud and clear.
Not coincidentally, the NCR is also running a series of articles on the hook up culture at Notre Dame. First off let me state unequivocally that this is not a problem unique to Notre Dame. I was just as blown away with this same phenomenon when my daughter was attending my own Catholic alma mater. Back in my day we drank a lot of beer and because the drinking age was 19, a lot of that beer was drank at college approved and supervised parties. Dating was still the 'hook up' of choice. In my daughter's day the drinking age was back up to 21, the drink of choice was Vodka and Ever Clear and spontaneous cell phone texting parties took place completely unknown to the student services staff. Some of these parties were huge and many of them resulted in sexual hook ups. The date rape culture was alive and well. My daughter served on the campus disciplinary committee and the stories she told me were just mind boggling. My boringly repetitive question was 'why aren't these incidents reported to the police?. Her repetitive eyes rolling answer was the women won't press legal charges. Which meant she and her committee were judge and jury for felony rape cases. The attitude seemed to be, 'I got drunk, I got raped, I move on. He has another notch on his belt.' Did I mention something about self esteem issues?
I think it's way past time our youth were given this relational approach to sexuality if only because it might empower our young women to say, and mean NO, and our young men to hear it. When asked, they all say the same thing, the best sex I've ever had was when I was sober and when I was in love. That attitude is not gender specific. It's true for both men and women. It's time we started teaching truth, and the truth about healthy sexuality is that it's expressed between two people who are each motivated to put the other first.
To get a very inclusive understanding of others being another self, all should read Martin Burber's classical philosophical book entitled, I and Thou. I once gave an entire seminar to a freshman group of young college women about this book. It is indeed very detailed and enlightening work and should be incorporated into theology of Christianity. One of my final questions to this group of Catholic Women on the final exam was. Do the Jews need Jesus?ReplyDelete
I read that as a text in a class called the Development of Christian Thought. I also got parts of it repeated in grad school in a class in personality dynamics. It is a very detailed and enlightening work.ReplyDelete
Maybe a simplistic question: How does being a sexual abuser in the sexuality based on a power differential that was abusive and selfish paradigm bring about higher levels of self-esteem? The connection isn't obvious to me.ReplyDelete
Colleen, something I've been thinking about for years is this: if we as a Church are truly serious about respect for life then we have to say out loud to our young and not so young men that having an erection does not entitle you to anything. This has to be said consistently and often.ReplyDelete
That is remarkably sexist, and ageist come to that. You need to have a look at yourself.
Invictus, if you can not handle Molly's ideas, perhaps you should not feel guilty to handle your own erections.ReplyDelete
Dennis, is this comment intended to be a pun? If it wasn't I apologize for my outburst of laughter.Delete
I hesitate to ask, but how is my penis relevant to this discussion?Delete
You got it, it was pretty puny. That is what it was meant to be but, it does say to Mr. Inviticus a similar thing that Molly said only it came from a man to a man. Is that sexist??ReplyDelete
I'm convinced that what Robinson is saying publicly, is what many other bishops, and an even greater proportion of moral theologians / sexual ethicists, are saying or thinking privately, and the rest of us already know from direct experience of loving, sexual relationships. He's the first to say it publicly, but he certainly won't be the last. My guess is that there'll soon be many more.ReplyDelete
When Cardinal Shonborn of Vienna said two years ago that on homosexuality, it was time to move beyond the traditional obsession with genital acts, to the quality of the relationships, an astute observer noted that the test for that observation would be just how long it would take before he was rebuked by other bishops or Vatican bureucrats. I immediately set up a Gooogle Alert, so that I could identify the moment when that reprimand came. Two years on, I'm still waiting. Instead, there have been a fair number of other bishops who have said much the same thing in support.
Robinson has essentially just expanded Schonborn's off the cuff remark into a more formal, reasoned argument, and shown why it must apply to all relationships, same-sex or opposite - sex. I have set up the same Google Alert I did previously, to spot the moment when he is reprimanded for undermining Catholic orthodoxy. My guess is that it won't come.
Terence, you have an optimism not shared by me. I agree with you when it comes to moral theologians and the leadership in some of the religious orders, these people are good people that do not show sociopathic tendencies. However, when it comes to the Bishops, I do not share your optimism. There are, of course, some Bishops that understand the horrible direction that the Catholic Church has gone under the autocratic leaderships of Wojtyla and Ratzinger, but Wojtyla, had a litmus test for appointments of Bishops and most of his appointments were to men that are psychologically ill. As a Psychoanalyst and a Psychologist, I really mean that. These men are not schizophrenics but they have antisocial, schizoid or borderline personality disorders. This is the case in the vast MAJORITY of these appointments. Prior to Wojtyla, there was a culture of the clergy that was not realistic. They had already defined themselves as a class of MEN that were above everyone else. This was something that the participants at Vatican II often understood and tried to change as we got the expression "people of God" and more idea's of lay parish boards and less autocracy of the Episcopacy, but there were those in the curia and elsewhere, Opus Dei, etc. that would not and could not accept those ideas in Vatican II.ReplyDelete
As a person suffering from a progressive but chronic cancer, I am semi retired and often have a chance to read the latest books about the Vatican and the RCC. It is not at all encouraging. The evidence points to not one but possibly three murders of Popes in my life time. I was not even suspicious of the death of JP I at the time but I did wonder why there was no autopsy and thought the Church to be in the middle ages when one was not preformed.. Recently, I learned that within days after Luciani's death a large moving van pulled up to his former residence in Milan and removed all his papers, all official records in this diocese and his former diocese were removed. His nine copies of his will were either stolen from his lawyers office or "lost" at the Vatican. A will is required of each Pope and the contents of such wills are official directorates to the church and are thus important documents. His body was placed deep in the bowls of ST. Peters and he is the only pope entombed in a layer of concrete, covered by lead, then covered again by concrete. If you read more you will find that the events of his death show many inconsistencies that are indicative of foul play.
I was in the first half of my medical carrier an academic neuro anesthesiologist. The conditions of Paul's death make one think of mercury poisoning, a favorite type of poisoning of the mafia's of Southern Europe and the same is true of John XXIII. All of this conjecture could have been stopped with forensic examinations but some in the church insisted it was against cannon law particularly in the cases of Paul and JP II. Many cannon lawyers have denied that there is anything at all in canon law that forbids post mortem examinations.
With so many assignations and attempted assignations of leadership during the 6o's and 70's and in the past history of the world, it does not seem far fetched that not only JP I was murdered but that Paul and possible John XXIII was murdered as well. There were several other "unexpected" deaths of more liberal cardinal's falling off balconies, or getting hit by cars or dying slow unexplained deaths as did Paul. If you are interested you might want to read the extremely well documented book by Lucien Gregoire, "Murder in the Vatican." He makes extremely good cases for the murders of Paul and jP I as well as 25 other very suspicious events of murder or attempted murder durning these times. He further discusses the life time and thoughts of Luciani who he had some occasion through a clerical classmate to meet. Gregoire spent his life working as an industrialist and is not from a clerical background, but he was introduced to Luciani by his friend to someday write about him. Although the cover on the book is a little too much for me, the contents are convincing that there is so much wrong in the leadership structure of the RCC that it can not be fixed by these men.
There is precedent in the Church not to live in the Roman authoritarian stucture and I see the only hope for Catholicism to throw under the buss the Roman leadership began by Constantine. The priesthood of Baptism is indeed the only important priesthood. Yes, a church as any institution will need more leadership, but the one we have now is ruinous and can not be changed from inside. It is however in the process of imploding. There may be a few Bishops that can pick up some pieces but most of these men were chosen because for there autocratic mind sets and will be useless in picking up the pieces. I product that the Germans will soon refuse to pay tax monies back to the Churches. The Italian president, at this moment, is opposing a tax of charitable institutions but there will be powerful opposition by the Italian Bishops. However, Italy is much like Greece and frankly needs the money. I think that eventually the politicians of this country will see that the ideas and demands of the Catholic Bishops are counter productive to obtaining votes.
The RCC will be left with plenty of real-estate and their are plenty of mafiaorum to help them run it and keep Bishops living lives of luxury but they continue to loose the hearts and minds of the people in the first world. As they decommission many churches in the US and elsewhere, perhaps parishes will purchase back their own institutions or perhaps they will find protestant churches to hold masses until they can obtain their own churches.
I am sorry I tried to make too long a presentation and only part came through and for some reason part 1 was replaced by part 2. I don't know if I can fix it.Delete
Sorry for the delay Dennis. I found your first part in the SPAM folder and it's now posted in the correct order. I don't get to this blog much at all when I'm working because I just flat run out of mental gas.Delete
Thanks, Colleen. I know what it is to run out of "mental gas." Although sometimes I have presented too much verbal gas!! Sorry about those times. dennisReplyDelete