Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Stay A While to Share My Grief series is on hold for another day or two. I'm not doing all that well, so I'm going to ask readers for prayers. I need to grow a thicker skin. A much thicker skin. Seriously. I don't know what made me think that it was a good idea to put myself this far out in the open, on-line, where anyone can come along and tear off a piece of my flesh at will. Anyways, Robert Sungenis has written a response to my "Looking To Desire" post. I'm not going to link to Sungenis' post. Please let me put in a very strong caveat lector for my same-sex attracted readers: don't hunt it down on-line and read it. It probably won't be as bad for you as it was for me, because the slanders, detractions and rash judgements will not be peppered with your name, but we all know that he's never actually met me, and that he's really just saying what he believes to be true of all of us. I thought that I would be okay, that I could take it like a man, and not let it get under my skin. I was wrong. My husband warned me that I probably didn't want to know, but I didn't believe him...I've still got that Stoic hangover and it often causes me to feel that I can be much more emotionally bullet-proof than I actually can.

The big problem is that I suffer really badly from what I call "the Kafka Effect," that is to say, the effect described in Kafka's "The Trial" and "The Judgement," where people come to feel that they really are guilty just because they're accused of things. (It's actually true: that really does happen. Darren Brown did a really interesting episode of The Experiment where he tried to see if a person could be made to confess to a murder they didn't commit just by tapping into their reserves of free-floating guilt, by accusing them and making them doubt themselves. It worked a charm. In less than twenty-four hours, this guy was down at the police station putting his hands up to a crime that had never actually even occurred. Apparently it happens in real life as well: in a significant percentage of DNA exoneration cases, the accused confessed to the crimes that they were later exonerated for. Consider that your official social justice factoid for the day.) In any case, I've been mightily assured by people who actually know me that my initial shocked disbelief was the right reaction, that the accusations are unfounded, and that Sungenis does not have a secret Eye of Sauron that allows him to see into some dark recess of my heart where even I am afraid to look.

So pray for me. Like I said, I'm taking it badly and my confidence is pretty severely shaken. It doesn't matter that it's not founded on anything more than presumption and prejudice, it still stings like a son-of-a-bitch. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll have pulled myself together, and I'll be up to posting part 7.

Love you all, Melinda


  1. Keep up the writing! Your recent series is among my favorites ever written on this subject so I eagerly anticipate its continuation. Praying for your strength and wisdom!

  2. Praying for you. This series is very interesting for me in understanding the same sex attractions.

  3. I hope you keep going. I have been reading each piece and am waiting for more. Pray for those who persecute you, and keep on writing!

  4. Despite your warning, I looked up the Sungenis article which he linked in his comment. I'm angry that he misrepresents what you say. Maybe he is incapable of understanding what you wrote or maybe he thinks that "straw man" tactics are something other than dishonest. But however he came to write what he did, he is arguing, not against what you actually said, but against a caricature of his own fabrication.

    So don't let him get you down.

  5. I haven't commented yet but have had you on Google Reader for a while. When I see a new post from you, I almost always read. Homosexuality has never been a big issue in my life either because of my own feelings or those of anyone close to me, but it seems to be becoming an issue for anyone in American society who tries to think with the Church about it. It seems clear to me that you are trying to do that. At the same time, I think the way you wrestle openly with getting a deeper understanding of what your experience means might be needed/valuable for people who don't understand how taking that position can amount to anything but hate or self-hatred, but who are willing to consider it. Anyway, thank you for sharing, as trite as it sounds. If one of my children ever finds himself or herself wondering if he/she is or certain that he/she is same-sex attracted, I will want to have an understanding beyond the relatively neat-and-tidy one a faithful "self-help" publication or brochure might have to offer. And even though I have a, "Robert Sungenis? Anyone cares what he says? reaction overall I completely understand how the words of non-credible sources can still sting, a lot!

  6. Yes, I will pray.

    I don't know you--just discovered your blog recently--but read the piece attacking yours and was appalled even from a generally straight perspective. (Especially since I'd loved your piece.) Your own depiction of your dealings with attraction reminds me of the approach a gracious priest once counseled me against temptation: that is, not hard-core eradication of all emotional responses, but a right ordering of them, a submission of them to the Timothy-esque perspective of viewing the younger men as brothers, the older as fathers, the women as mothers and sisters "in all purity". It seems so much more human (and possible), so much less filled with overwhelming guilt and mental torment, than attempting to stamp down all tenderness, admiration, etc. toward another merely because sexual interest or the possibility of it is present.

    As mentioned before, I'm loving this series; it's encouraging and has taught me a lot already. I look forward to the rest of it when you're able to continue.

  7. I'm sorry to hear that you're suffering and I will pray for you.

    As for Sungenis, he also advocates geocentrism and borderline anti-Semitism. I don't think you need to worry that he has any kind of insight into your heart.

  8. *hug* Praying for you. You're doing excellent work. :-)

  9. I am a lurker who has been reading each installment too and have found the pieces so helpful and enlightening. So another vote here to keep going. :)

  10. I'vew had you on my reading list for a couple of months now, and have been tremendously inspired by your courage and willingness to grapple with issues that can't be tied up in a nice little package and put aside. Please keep up the good work. I'll be praying for you, and I'll grit my teeth and pray for Sungenis too.

  11. I guess that in the world we live in, the way to tell if you are doing the Lord's work is by the fact people are being hateful about you. I'm praying for you.

  12. When you're a hammer, like Sungenis, everything looks like a nail. That man doesn't know a thing about being pastoral, nor does he have valid premises from which to argue. He reminds me of the way Rush Limbaugh uses straw-man and ad-hominem arguments to debate both sides of the issue, while carefully crafting it so as to easily knock down a simplistic caricature.
    He is an apologist, which means that he lives to defeat others. There is little pastoral consideration to charity and building bridges of understanding. I don't think much of the man's character, based on the way I see how he brow-beats others.

  13. I am sending up such a pissed off prayer right now. Melinda, your writing is beautiful and vulnerable and has been such an encouragement to me. Some people on the internet are jerks and the fact that they would threaten a point of light such as yours is angering. I don't think I'm alone in wishing I could pee on Mr. Sungenis's modem right now. Grace and peace to you, and please forgive my crassness.

  14. Grace and peace be with you, Melinda. You are doing excellent work. I've just been assuming the crazies will come out of the woodwork. Not without its own problems, but at least it's been fairly sane-keeping.

    Love in Christ,

  15. To add one other thought. I enjoy reading your posts. Some things I agree with, some I don’t. I think that the point is to share your thoughts, and your reflections about what it means to be Catholic, to have SSA, and the struggle to seek perfection in the Lord (the calling that we all have).

    Reflecting upon our experiences is what doing theology is. After all, that is what the scriptures are. The Hebrew Scriptures are a reflection of God’s people as they experienced God, how they responded to the circumstances of their life, how they made sense of the world around them, and how they found meaning in afflictions and trials. We believe that those reflections were written down under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to transmit a story of God and His people.

    That’s what theological reflection is all about. That is what WE are called to do, subjectively, in our lives. We are to take our circumstances, our history/past, our relationships, our troubles and successes and see how God was there in the midst of it, and how we should respond in kind. One becomes whole when one confronts their life, both good and bad, and accepts it as real, seeks God in the midst of it, and moves forward towards further conversion. Shame on Sungenis because he has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. He has no idea about that process, and it is evidenced in his posts on his blog that he is only interested in using the Catholic faith as a blunt weapon. His is little interested in the integration of the whole person into the pursuit of holiness, but instead acts from a very fundamentalist and judgemental perspective which actually does damage to the wholeness of the person. Maybe he needs a remedial course in the term, catholic, which means, of the whole, or wholeness. I’m tired of loose cannons on the web who think that just because they have a web site, that they know anything about anything.

    Keep sharing with us. Your blog is a ministry of faith sharing that helps us understand more.

  16. no name cause of shameJune 6, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    I love your work. This is an important series and it has meant so much to me. This guy is clueless. I did go and read his post and he reveals that he has not “listened” to what you wrote and he won’t. His post is also very ugly and not Catholic. I know it is tuff but these sorts will pop up now and again to loudly cry that they cannot accept the mere existence of us. But I have hope. I hope because the truth will win out and because there are other SSA Catholics joining you and writing, speaking and crying out in the desert, pointing to the Way.
    Lots of prayers for you. Prayers for Sungenis.

    Gosh, I hope that was not too gay :)

  17. Please don't let such as S. (I don't even want to type his name)get you down.

    "Prejudice" might be his motto, for it is the model of all his ravings, and especially of this piece (I did hunt it down, and feel as though I need a bath). Prejudice, judging before one has evidence, is about all I see going on there. Not one of his attacks is an answer to anything you actually said, but rather is often a deliberate distortion to make you say just the opposite of your clear words In fact, he makes his intent quite clear in consistently and patronizingly calling you by your first name while just as consistently referring to himself by surname, as if he were so obviously your superior. What self-serving baloney! And having established that, he feels perfectly free to declare your moral character as if he could see with the eye of God. He's approaching blasphemy.

    You, on the other hand, present your case quietly and rationally. It certainly is in place to question your conclusions and to ague for others - but it is never appropriate to attack one's character in this fashion - it is, in my humble estimation, a serious sin to do so.

    I woll pray for you and for S.

  18. I wanted to thank all of you for your wonderful outpouring of prayers and support. Wes Hill ("Washed and Waiting" -- an excellent book for those of you who haven't read it yet) talks about how important it is to experience the love of Christ in a practical way through the community of the Church. You've been that community for me today, and I really needed it.
    It's been a good day and I'm feeling a lot better. I spent some time with my kids, sat on the swing in my front yard, saved my chickens from a hail storm (I have chickens. 20 of them. They're black and they came to live with us at the end of May. Super cool) and butchered my husband's hair. I'm hoping to get back in the saddle tomorrow :)

  19. Melinda, I pray to the Almighty God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that he give you all the graces you need at this time. I read your blog often and you are a voice of truth that I trust. Please receive my support and good will.

  20. Hi Melinda,

    I think you are doing "ground-breaking" work. I know only a little bit about this type of work but I'll share my opinion on it. The soil appears hard and shallow. You are not sure what kind of harvest it will produce and maybe the growing and harvesting will be done by other people. But you feel that it is work that only you can do.

    I have experienced this and experienced misunderstanding from all sorts of people as I go about doing this type of work. But when the harvest comes they don't know where it came from.

    God knows. Just like He knows every hair on your head.

    My prayers are with you.

  21. For those willing to get past caricatures of and ad hominem attacks against Robert Sungenis and actually take a look at his response, the link for same is

    James Phillips

  22. It's devastating, isn't it. I'm sorry people are attacking you - I haven't read what anyone has written about you. I've been reading each of your posts with interest and admiration, gaining more insight with each entry. I pray for you and will do so even more. I'm genuinely sorry you are suffering. God bless you and shelter and protect you.

  23. @ James —

    I had looked at that before I made my comments. Robert Sungenis misrepresents what Melinda says and engages in illogical argumentation. I'm sorry you don't recognize it.

  24. James, I counted at least 8 ad hominems and false premises in the first paragragh of Sungenis alone. His claim of what the Church teaches is deluded. I'm not going to list his ad hominems and false premises here, because it's not worth giving an intellectual inferior, as he is, any cred. where none is due.
    (and for the record, i am a conservative Catholic by all measures. I just happen to have experience and formation in pastoral ministry. Sungenis would never serve in a parish in any official capacity based on the way he conducts himself on his website)

  25. James,
    I read S's article carefully before responding, and, as I said above, came from it feeling I needed a shower. Talk about caricatures and ad hominem arguments! He has apparently never troubled to find what the Church actually teaches, nor did he trouble to hear just what Melissa was saying. I see nothing in that article anger, narrow-mindedness, and a willingness to pursue character assassination to support his own distorted notions. I've never read anything else by him, but this one instance is enough to leavre me preferring not to do so.

  26. Sad, but certainly not all that surprising. Many of the comments by Melinda's cheering section serve to confirm the very assertions made in Sungenis article. Go figure!

  27. ed pacht — Sungenis' bishop forbade him to use the name Catholic as part of the title of his enterprise or to write on Judaism. I think that tells any faithful Catholic that Sungenis' other writings are no better than that article — certainly nothing any Catholic should take as presumptively orthodox. Beyond that, according to Wikipedia, he is a geocentrist and published a book titled "Galileo Was Wrong." Sane people can derive their own conclusions.

  28. Midwest Courage guyJune 8, 2012 at 1:21 AM

    Just a thought that popped into my head--get rid of the "Sungenis" tag on your blog. He's not worth having a separate tag. So sorry he wrote what he did.

  29. I have read your book and make it to your blog from time to time. Please keep doing what you are doing. I think it is important for the Church and the world to have your witness.

    What made you write these posts and become vulnerable to these attacks? Probably the Holy Spirit. And God doesn't give us a mind to take on something and then not also supply us the grace we need to do it. So I think He will continue to give you the strength and grace you need to follow Him. I will pray for that for you.

    I am very sorry that this man personally attacked you. I wish that had not happened. But, as I was reading his site, I realized that in re-posting your words he has spread your message to an audience that otherwise may never have encountered it. Maybe some will use this unfortunate chance encounter to investigate your writings and your witness, and this will help them with questions/struggles they may be having or deepen their understanding of the Catholic faith and human sexuality. That's my hope.

    Thank you for what you are doing. God Bless!


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