Friday, October 25, 2013

Reading as a Loser

A long while back, when I first became interested in postmodernism, I read a collection of essays by philosopher Mark Kingwell entitled Better Living. One of the essays, “Reading as a Loser,” became one of the most transformative pieces of philosophical prose that I've ever read. It changed the way that I interact with text, and in doing so changed the way that I interact and relate with other human beings.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Out There

Just finished watching Stephen Fry's “Out There,” a two-part BBC documentary. What it's about, exactly, varies situationally. Sometimes Fry says that it's about “being gay around the world,” and it is kind of about that. Sometimes he says it's about trying to understand homophobia. It's not really about that.
I'm sure that my reactions to this documentary are far from typical. The average viewer would probably find a lot of information here that they weren't already familiar with. It's presented in a way that is emotionally impactful, and I was quite happy to find that it almost never made me cringe. Unfortunately, its identity-crisis regarding what, exactly, it's trying to do prevents it from being able to really achieve either of its goals.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

On the Public Square

I just finished reading Elizabeth Scalia's On the Square article about Facebook and social media. She argues that FB is a "self-referential church of me" and she quotes Francis' comments on spiritual narcissism as a means of bolstering the argument.

Usually I really like Scalia's stuff, but this one I feel misses the mark. It's not that I'm inclined to defend Facebook. I closed down my FB account years ago, largely motivated by the kinds of concerns that Scalia raises in this article. It was too much of a temptation to waste time fretting about filling out boring questionnaires about myself, waiting, hoping for some sort of social affirmation in the form of a wall-post or a friend request. I just didn't have the energy to engage in that kind of virtual social anxiety. I think, though, that to see this as a manifestation of narcissism and worldliness is to judge too harshly.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Doing it Right

I wanted to write a follow up to Ron Belgau's piece on LifeSite's interview of Joseph Sciambra.

 Joe's story is one of the those pieces of data that needs to be taken into account if we're going to adequately provide for the pastoral needs of LGBTQ people, but it is a story that needs to be taken into account in the right way. LifeSite, not surprisingly, presents Sciambra as if he were a typical gay man and thus presents his story as the gritty, diabolical reality that underlies the sanitized images of gaydom that one finds in the mainstream media.

Sciambra's story is perfect for this. It's horrific. Literally. I write horror. I like The Shining, Lost Highway, Hour of the Wolf, and zombie movies. But by the time that I was halfway through Joe's memoir I had overcome my capacity to handle the content. It's also real, and although it would be politically convenient for me to sweep it under the carpet as if it were a very isolated and bizarre account, that would be just as irresponsible on my part as it is for LifeSite to present the story as if it were the norm. Grappling with Sciambra's experience responsibly involves recognizing that the sadomasochistic porn scene really is a part of the gay community, and that although sexual excess in the gay scene is sometimes overstated by Christians it is also real. How do we address that reality? How do we provide responsible warnings for those who might be at risk of encountering the kind of horrific and predatory community that Sciambra found, while at the same time avoiding alarmism?