The offense inherent in staking a claim

If you like this sort of thing, I’m engaged in an interesting dialogue on this thread with donniedarko, an orthodox Roman Catholic.  One of the questions it is raising for me is, to what extent do I bear the responsibility for my words which offend others?

On the one hand, on this post the other day, I initially referred to Glenn Beck as a “misty-eyed, Mormon moron.”  I subsequently removed the word “Mormon” because upon rereading it, I thought it could read as an attack on the Church of Latter Day Saints, and I don’t want to do that.  The potential for causing accidental offense seemed like a valid enough reason to change my initial rant post.

On the other hand, one of the things that donniedarko is upset about is that I am invoking the name of Jesus to defend gay people.  donniedarko also takes grave exception to my use of the word “McEucharist” (in a not-specifically Catholic context, but the offense is felt no matter what, simply because of the sacredness of the Eucharist).  Now, I don’t want to needlessly cause donniedarko offense, but at the same time, I am not about to censor my blog according to the sensibilities of Roman Catholicism.

In the meantime, what’s a peacemaker like me to do?

3 Responses to “The offense inherent in staking a claim”

  1. donniedarko Says:

    This post warrants my respect, and I may have pegged you wrong. I don’t know you and it is hard to decipher intention from the written word alone. I think your heart is in the right place, but your theological understanding of the New Testament may be slightly distorted. If you are interested in charitable dialogue I again endorse the catholic answers website. There are people there who are more qualified to answer your objections, and who have more patience than I do; a vice of my own.

    I’m glad you removed the word “Mormon” from your other post…but mainly because the alliteration was overdone and too clunky sounding. I do think that calling anyone a “moron” is uncharitable and disrespects the fact that every human being has a soul, but people need to vent sometimes. I do not necessarily follow/listen to glenn beck nor know too much about him.

    Regular reception (weekly) of the Eucharist is needed to enter into the beatific vision; aka eternal paradise. This is what I believe. Jesus states, “Whoever does not eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood has no life in him.” Comparing the food of God that God is present in, in a Catholic context, or a tradition specifically ordered and required by God (“do this in memory of me”), in a protestant context, to McDonalds fast food, one of the reasons that America leads the world in obesity and the source of innumerable heart attacks/health failures was insulting to me and I’m sure many Christians who observe some form of the Eucharist because one is the food of life, while the other, the food of death.

    On the other hand, you shouldn’t be too upset about offending me. Offending a Catholic usually results in very minor, harmless, consequences–you are usually just forgiven and then offered the opportunity for respectful dialogue. It could be worse. Be glad that you haven’t offended a Muslim and are a certain cartoonist in europe. I don’t recommend changing your blog because it offends people. It is your blog after all. My advice if its worth anything to you is that there are more effective ways to express disagreement rather than cynical, hyperbolic/sarcastic language or ad hominem attack that can actually prove to be more constructive.

    As for homosexuality, I’d rather not open this can of worms as it is a very emotionally charged topic. I think it is very easy, and I see it all too often when engaging in this issue, to fall into the false dichotomy of “homophobic hateful bigot” and “Champion of gay rights, humanism, freedom, and supreme social liberator of the oppressed gays in America”. I think both are equally ridiculous and it is possible to be both a religious Roman Catholic and neither of the above. I am not “against gay people” I just don’t think their sexual behavior is moral. This isn’t prejudiced because I also believe that same heterosexual behavior outside the context of marriage is also immoral, and most of what goes on in most peoples marriages also.

    I will say that I think that “homosexuality” is a very complex issue that requires deep care and understanding. It is by no means black and white. There is a Catholic service for gay Catholics called “courage” which I know has helped many people with SSA who wish to be religious. There has been no single gene that has been identified as causing homosexuality…yet. On the other hand it could be polygenic, which means it would be much more difficult to identify as a phenomenon over which the individual has no control. Because no evidence is forthcoming, I adhere to Romans 1:26. I will say that quite a very of the gay males I know were victims of rape at a young age, which makes the situation much more delicate and the words of scripture that much more disheartening, but all have a cross to carry, and the rewards in heaven are beyond any pleasures of this world. Matthew Sheppard, who is referenced so frequently as the “gay martyr” or cited in cases of gay rights, also happened to be a rape victim…whether or not this influenced his orientation is something I have always wondered about. He is in my prayers.

    Thank you for considering an opposite view. In my own experience, it has helped me to grow as a person. I am neither conservative nor liberal, but I will say I am a humanist who occasionally volunteers at a Catholic soup kitchen that serves countless working poor and a small percentage are actually homeless. It would be a shame if such an institution were to be forced to shut down/lose its tax exempt status. I share some of the same ideals of “liberals” in the context of social justice, I am just non-negotiable on…yup you guessed it, gay marriage and abortion. My conscience and my faith do not allow it. Please don’t judge me for it.

  2. MsKathleen Says:

    I have a problem with offending any person of any faith especially in the name of politics. I applaud you for taking out the “Mormon”. I agree, Glenn Beck is a moron. I don’t understand anyone of any faith objecting to social justice. It makes no sense. Unless you are a Scientologist perhaps – they are for personal gain and “enlightenment”. Whatever that means.

    As for others, such a homosexuality… I think the Bible says that Jesus/God sees the heart of each person and judges them individually… 🙂

  3. Tom Ryberg Says:

    Thanks for dropping by, MsKathleen. I appreciate your thoughts, and completely agree with you about the sovereignty of God on these (and so many other) matters.

    donniedarko, a couple of quick thoughts… (And yes, I know I still owe you responses to your questions! They are forthcoming. Forgive me, I’m not a professional blogger and must be judicious about how I use my internet time.)

    …for me the term “McEucharist” is not a critique of Eucharist in general, but rather this one, very specific form of it: in which wafer and cup are both sealed together in a plastic-wrapped container that can be distributed quickly, cleanly, and easily. I don’t even think there’s anything really wrong with that from a theological standpoint — I think God works it out — but from a worship standpoint, I think there’s something much stronger in sharing common elements, and I don’t put a lot of stock in “convenience” or “efficiency” when it comes to how our rituals should be conducted — but that is simply a personal preference. At any rate, the last thing I intend to do with the term “McEucharist” is disparage the meaning of the Eucharist itself, and I do apologize for the vagueness of my words before which left this meaning ambiguous.

    The other thing I wanted to suggest to you is that perhaps it is the case that neither Romans 1:26, nor 1 Corinthians 6:9, nor any of the other popular ‘proof-texts’ necessarily amount to being God’s final edict on the subject of homosexuality. Even a face-value reading of Romans 1 reveals that what is being discussed is sexual behavior in the context of divine wrath and punishment, not sexual behavior in the scenario which you raised (someone is abused and is subsequently gay) nor in that which I would raise (people who are, for any number of reasons or no particular reason, attracted to members of the same sex). Just as biblical condemnation of certain forms of heterosexual behavior does not equate to categorical condemnation of all heterosexual behavior, I believe the same holds true for homosexual behavior. The question then becomes, what are the ethics involved for Godly sexual behavior? And that, to me, is a different and more compelling question than “what are the genital circumstances required for Godly sexual behavior.”


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