The New Gnosticism of the Homosexual Movement

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It happens a lot. I see something I have never seen before and then an essay or book crosses my path that helps flesh out the idea. Last week I was embroiled in a debate about natural marriage (see Monomakhos). (I’ve quit using the term “traditional marriage” since it implies that such a thing as “non-traditional marriage” actually exists.) My argument began with the assertion that natural marriage is found in nature: It takes one man and one woman to create a child. It would end with the assertion that much homosexualist ideology functions as a new gnosticism.

Critics took me to task for the definition but any clear eyed and sober reflection on nature proves it true. No other relationship, no other union, creates a child and thus a family. Homosexual couplings are by nature sterile. A man-man or woman-woman sexual coupling cannot create a child. In fact, even if one partner donates the sperm or egg, the child that is created can never have the genetic makeup of both partners.

That one man and one woman create a child and thus constitute a natural family is indisputable. Nevertheless some people dispute it, or at least try to diminish the natural reality to define non-natural couplings as somehow natural. The focus of my discussion was on the Church since I think the debate is largely lost in the culture and only when the detritus of these new arrangements become evident will sober thinking begin anew. In particular I discussed the Dunn Error and what I now term Aridian Gnosticism.

David Dunn is a self-styled “Orthodox theologian” who argues that because marriage in the Church takes on a sacramental character, Orthodox Christians should have no problem supporting homosexual couplings as a legal marriage. In doing so, he splits the natural from the sacramental to conclude the natural lies in the realm of the State and the sacramental in the realm of the Church.

He reasons poorly and the argument is easily refuted. A sacrament, properly understood, elevates the natural without diminishing the natural or divorcing itself from it. There is no bifurcation between the natural and sacramental in Orthodox theology. The move to legally sanction homosexual couplings is of great concern to Orthodox Christians and all culturally minded Christians, as it should be.

Fr. Robert Arida, a leading voice among the Orthodox Episcopalians, is more subtle and more dangerous. His writing is turgid and his references oblique (critics call it “studied ambiguity“) but there is no doubting his purpose. Rather than bifurcate the natural from the sacramental in the way that Dunn does, Arida seeks to retool the tradition to embrace the unnatural by appeals to virtue that carry the ring of moral authority because they use the language of the tradition. Yet, in the end, the attempt to naturalize the unnatural remains the same although Arida also tries to sacramentalize it.

For this reason I termed Arida’s approach “Aridian Gnosticism.” Arida takes the language of the moral tradition and privatizes it; imposing his private idea of the good as a universal good on the Church. Robert Riley defines this kind of New Gnosticism below:

Gnosticism does not accept the evidence of reality. It is not a matter of what Gnostics do not know, but of what they refuse to acknowledge. Composer Igor Stravinsky wrote that “the old original sin was one of knowledge, the new original sin is one of non-acknowledgment.” It is the refusal to acknowledge anything outside the operation of the human will—most especially “the good” toward which the soul is ordered. The Gnostic is not interested in conforming his mind to reality but in conforming reality to his wishes. Joseph Pieper defined self-deception as an unobjective perception of reality dictated by the will. It is the sheer willfulness of the homosexual movement that is notable. What are its consequences? Charles DeKonick said: “By a disordered love of one’s private good one rejects…the common good as something alien and judges it to be incompatible with one’s individual status…one freely abdicates the dignity proper to the rational creature in order to establish oneself as a radically independent whole.”iii The common good is the casualty.

The essay below is good although I still have to understand the implications fully. Homosexualism as a New Gnosticism rings more true every day.

Source: The Catholic World Report

The New Gnosticism of the Homosexual Movement

Success for the homosexual dream requires the obliteration of the real and the removal of those who insist on the existence of reality.

Ideas that are not true are dangerous to our souls and to our polities, whether we like it or not.” — Rev. James V. Schall, SJ

If Eric Voegelin (1901-85) were alive today, I think that he would see the homosexual movement as a form of Gnosticism—a spiritually pathological, magical reconstruction of reality, or of a “second reality.” Voegelin wrote that, “All gnostic movements are involved in the project of abolishing the constitution of being, with its origin in divine, transcendent being…”i Does this seem too extreme a charge to bring against the homosexual movement? As I will attempt to show, this is not about some sexual peccadillo that we can wink at and push off into a corner—it is a lie about humanity itself. Lesbian advocate Paula Ettelbrick proclaimed that, “transforming the very fabric of society… [and] radically reordering society’s view of reality” is the goal of the homosexual movement. This is typical Gnostic rhetoric about constructing a substitute reality.

Voegelin said that, “Gnosticism… has produced something like the counterprinciples to the principles of existence; and, insofar as these principles determine an image of reality for the masses of the faithful, it has created a dream world that itself is a social force of the first importance in motivating attitudes and actions…”ii Such counter principles are active and evident in every aspect of the promotion of the homosexual cause. And we have seen the power of its social force as it moved against the religious freedom protection law in Indiana. As a society we have moved from the point where the rationalization for homosexual misbehavior has been accepted as normative to the point where that rationalization will now be imposed and enforced, legally and by social forces at large, on everyone. If you speak out about this, you most likely will lose your job or your business and, most certainly, your social standing. You may be sued. You will become an embarrassment. These have become new forms of censorship, with a strong dose of self-censorship already at play. “This movement,” libertarian journalist John Stossel said, “has moved from tolerance to totalitarianism.”

Voegelin analyzed the Nazi movement as a form of Gnosticism. I do not think it is a stretch to point to Nazi Germany in 1935 as an analogy to current events and their similarly Gnostic nature. That is when the Nuremberg Laws were passed, stripping Jews of their German citizenship and forbidding marriage between non-Jews and Jews. No doubt, there were still many fine and upstanding people in Germany at the time, including many Catholics, but from then on they had to keep their mouths shut about the Nazi racial superiority teachings because they were state law. I am sure there were many people opposed to the race theory of history who said to themselves, as people do today regarding homosexual “marriage,” ‘well, this is a losing issue. Let’s leave it alone and move on.’ They were probably too frightened to consider what they were moving on to, just as people today avoid thinking about the consequences of the complete denial of reality involved in homosexual “marriage.” Anyone who thinks that we are involved in a denial of reality any less profound than that of 1935 Germany is kidding themselves. Success for the homosexual dream requires the obliteration of the real and the removal of those who insist on the existence of reality.

Gnosticism does not accept the evidence of reality. It is not a matter of what Gnostics do not know, but of what they refuse to acknowledge. Composer Igor Stravinsky wrote that “the old original sin was one of knowledge, the new original sin is one of non-acknowledgment.” It is the refusal to acknowledge anything outside the operation of the human will—most especially “the good” toward which the soul is ordered. The Gnostic is not interested in conforming his mind to reality but in conforming reality to his wishes. Joseph Pieper defined self-deception as an unobjective perception of reality dictated by the will. It is the sheer willfulness of the homosexual movement that is notable. What are its consequences? Charles DeKonick said: “By a disordered love of one’s private good one rejects…the common good as something alien and judges it to be incompatible with one’s individual status…one freely abdicates the dignity proper to the rational creature in order to establish oneself as a radically independent whole.”iii The common good is the casualty.

In saying that the homosexual ideology is an unobjective perception of reality, one should note at the same time that the active homosexual does not intend to perform a purely subjective act. He wants to say and believe that his actions are ordered objectively. This is what requires the reconstitution of reality so that it will conform to his will and transform his subjective acts into ones ordered to objective good. To succeed in this endeavor, the homosexual ideologue relocates the source of good from what is to his will. Only then can he successfully rationalize his moral misbehavior.

This ideological operation is especially evident in the campaign for homosexual marriage. Because the use of the word “marriage” is a misrepresentation of the homosexual relationship which it professes to describe, the meaning of “marriage” must be changed and brought into accord with the homosexual relationship. To do this, homosexuals give marriage a purpose that is not congruent with its ends. The heterosexual couple wants, or has as its purpose, the fulfillment of the unitive and procreative ends of marriage. The homosexual couple does not have this purpose, and could not fulfill it. It has a purpose for marriage that is against its ends. The problem is that acting against the ends of marriage will tend to destroy it. This is the nihilism inherent in the homosexual movement.

Why is this so dangerous? Because the nihilism inherent in the homosexual movement necessarily extends to all of reality. It leaves nothing untouched in its unhinging of nature. Recognition of nature means recognition of constraints. Charles McCoy gives us some idea of what happens when that recognition is withdrawn:

We have noted Aristotle’s observation that human nature… may be said to be in a condition of bondage. This bondage produces in man a tendency to revolt and escape from his condition. But this type of emancipation—from the human condition itself—can lead only to the supremacy of force. Hence, true freedom, the “political” freedom of man’s very nature, is protected by an insistence on the primacy of theoretic (speculative) truth concerning man’s nature and end.iv

McCoy wrote this many years before the arrival of the homosexual movement on the scene, but it applies exactly. The success of the homosexual movement can only be achieved by dethroning the primacy of truth concerning man’s nature and end. By substituting the primacy of will for the primacy of reason, we may be sure that the supremacy of force will follow. Most likely this is what the late Francis Cardinal George had in mind in 2012,when he said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

What is the standard we should use to measure things regarding man’s nature and end, and how do we discern what is in accord with it or against it? Aristotle states that “in order to find what is natural we must look among those things which according to nature are in a sound condition, not among those that are corrupt.” In the Politics (1.5 .1254a36—39), he says, “Thus the human being to be studied is one whose state is best, both in body and soul—in him this is clear.” Francis Slade remarked that it is “clear because the end realized as form is present in its complete actuality”—meaning it has reached its perfection.

Thus, because we know what a human being is in the fullest, we can understand what a privation is. For example, we can know with certainty that 20/20 vison is the best for the eye and blindness the worst. With 20/20 vison, the eye has reached its complete actuality. It is perfect as an eye. It possesses no potential to see better than it does. In respect to a man’s sexual powers, which are unitive and generative by nature, the one whose state is best would be a man as husband and father, just as for a woman it would be as wife and mother. This is how we know that homosexual inclinations are privations and that homosexual acts are disorders. It is not a matter of “who says.” Homosexual behavior cannot actualize sexual potential because homosexual acts can be neither unitive nor procreative. Like a withered limb, congenital deafness, blindness, or a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, homosexual inclinations are not part of what a human being is in his essence. These are accidental, not essential properties. In each case, there is something missing that out to be there. For instance, the limb ought to be able to move in its full strength, the ear ought to be able to hear, and the eye to see. The further a thing is from its perfection, the more defective or “corrupt” it is—just as blindness is the furthest defect of the eye. A privation of the good cannot itself be good. In fact, as St. Augustine said, evil is a privation of the good.

When Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, announced, “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me,” he substituted a privation of the good for the good itself. This is a metaphysical travesty. I wonder if an alcoholic, as he ambled into a bar, would say, ‘I’m proud to be an alcoholic and I consider alcoholism among the greatest gifts God has given me.’ Of course, if he is a reformed alcoholic and his struggle has led him to a deep spiritual life, he could consider the privation from which he suffered a kind of good in the same way that Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, “bless you, prison” about his horrible experiences in the Soviet Gulag.

However, I do not think this is what Cook had in mind. His kind of inversion is typical of the homosexual rationalization, and was used by Cook in his subsequent attack on the Indiana religious freedom law. Cook averred that a law protecting religious believers from discrimination for their belief that sodomy cannot morally be the basis of marriage was itself a form of discrimination since it did not conform to the homosexual belief that homosexual acts are morally good. Soon it may be a condition of doing business in the United States that one accepts the moral legitimacy of the views expressed by Tim Cook—that a privation of the good is at least equivalent to the good of which it is a privation. This, of course, is an offense against the principle of non-contradiction, which is why Voegelin describes Gnosticism as insane. Unless blindness is the same as sight, one cannot say that the use of sexual organs in ways unfit for either generation or union is the same as their use for generation and/or union.

Recall that Voegelin said,

In the Gnostic dream world . . . nonrecognition of reality is the first principle. As a consequence, types of action which in the real world would be considered as morally insane because of the real effects which they have will be considered moral in the dream world because they intended an entirely different effect. The gap between intended and real effect will be imputed not to the Gnostic immorality of ignoring the structure of reality but to the immorality of some other person or society that does not behave as it should behave according to the dream conception of cause and effect. The interpretation of moral insanity as morality, and of the virtues of sophia and prudentia as immorality, is a confusion difficult to unravel.”v

It was certainly difficult to unravel in the debate about the Indiana and Arkansas laws because of the successful substitution of the dream world for reality.

The imputation of blame not to Gnostic immorality, but to the immorality of some other person or society as a whole is typical of homosexual apologetics. Here is a small sample from The Washington Post review (Jan 31, 2014) of the book Body Counts by Larry Kramer. From the homosexual author comes the priceless line, made at a New York dinner party on the Upper West Side where a guest had said that infected gays get what they deserve: “one of these days you’ll open the New York Times and read that I died of AIDS. When that happens, I want you to know it is people like you who killed me!” If someone had been speaking of the connection between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer, would Mr. Kramer have said that if he were to die of lung cancer, it would be their fault?

Last year also saw the release of an HBO film, “The Normal Heart,” a movie version of Kramer’s play about the beginning of the HIV-AIDS epidemic. According to Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, the film indicts President Ronald Reagan and New York Mayor Ed Koch for ignoring “a public health menace that needed immediate attention.” Then comes the kicker: “the tendency then and somewhat still today was to blame gay men for their plight. The proposed remedy was to deprive them of their sex life—a remedy some felt was worse than the disease.” This is part of the homosexual martyrology that it is easy to see the absurdity of, or what Voegelin called its “moral insanity,” when it is transposed to other health problems.

How does this sound: the tendency is to blame smokers for their lung cancer, and to propose a remedy—giving up cigarettes—that is worse than the disease; or, the tendency is to blame alcoholics for their liver disease and to propose a remedy—giving up alcohol—that is worse than the disease. According to this logic, the urgent public health remedy would be to find a remedy for AIDS that would allow active homosexuals to continue to behave promiscuously. However, the purpose of medicine is to restore an organ to health, not to allow its continued abuse.

On every pack of cigarettes, there is a warning that smoking causes cancer, and there are warnings on every bottle of alcohol that it may be injurious to your health. Why are there no warning signs regarding the sodomitical and other sexual behavior? It is likely far more dangerous for a homosexual to engage in sodomy than it is for him to smoke or drink. The Centers for Disease Control provide the grim statistics. These figures confirm Joseph Costanzo’s statement that, “The soundness of human nature is vindicated by the unhappiness and the disorders that ensue when society denies to it the true objects of love.”vi This comes at a high price even in terms of one’s physical nature. The US Department of Health and Human Services reflects the most current data from Centers for Disease Control, as of March 2012 (“MSM” means men who have sex with men):

  • MSM accounted for 61 percent of all new HIV infections in the United States in 2009, as well as nearly half (49 percent) of people living with HIV in 2008 (the most recent year national prevalence data is available).
  • CDC estimates that MSM account for just 2 percent of the US male population aged 13 and older, but accounted for more than 50 percent of all new HIV infections annually from 2006 to 2009. In 2010, MSM accounted for 61 percent of HIV diagnoses.

Might not these diseases be nature’s way of tapping us on the shoulder to let us know that these activities are misuses of our bodies? Isn’t it good news that, thanks to medical science, we now know which of our activities help engender these diseases, so that we can change our behavior? We seem to have gotten that message in regard to tobacco and alcohol, but not yet in terms of homosexual behavior. Putting a generative organ into an excretory organ is hygienically compromised and spreads disease. That is not the fault of Edward Koch or Ronald Reagan. It is the way we are made. It is what is. We may resent it. We may try to rebel against it. But we will suffer the consequences and, when we do, we will probably, as Voegelin predicted, blame others for it.

(This essay is taken from a talk given on April 10, 2015 at a conference, “Challenging the Secular Culture: A Call to Christians”, sponsored by the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville.)

ENDNOTES:

i Eric Voegelin, Science, Politics, and Gnosticism: Two Essays (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1968), 99-100.

ii Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics, Chapter VI: The End of Modernity, (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1952.)

iii Cited in Charles N. R. McCoy, The Structure of Political Thought:A Study in the History of Political Ideas (New York, McGraw-Hill book Company, 1963) 201.

iv Ibid, 47—48.

v Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952), 169-70.

vi Joseph Costanzo, “Catholic Politeia,” Fordham Law Review, volume 21, issue 2: 117.

Robert R. Reilly was Senior Advisor for Information Strategy (2002-2006) for the US Secretary of Defense, after which he taught at National Defense University. He was the director of the Voice of America (2001-2002) and served in the White House as a Special Assistant to the President (1983-1985). A graduate of Georgetown University and the Claremont Graduate University, his books include The Closing of the Muslim Mind and Making Gay Okay.

Comments

  1. M. Stankovich :

    The truth is that you were not “embroiled in a debate about natural marriage,” nor did “critics” – plural – take you to task over the definition. The only “critic” – singular – was me, and I never disputed the fact that marriage is according “to natural law” in as much as it conforms to the morality inherent in the Creation. The “broiler,” such as it was, was your inability to demonstrate any precedent within our Holy Tradition – though I commend you for providing a substantive argument with support from the heterodox & heretics. Thankfully, you have provided a link to your entire martyrdom, making it unnecessary to pursue further. But you have, however, opened the door to cheap fodder.

    I have known Fr. Robert Arida for more than forty years – he was one of my first roommates at seminary – and I can assure you that, while his is a brilliant mind, his is not the calculating mind of which you accuse. Personally, I am angry and disappointed that he has written in vague terms and refuses to respond or expand to his critics, but you have developed an impression and the accompanying jingoism of which those on the Right are so fond on the flimsiest of actual statements. I would note that you have previously mocked those who “quote the bigshots” like Fr. Georges Florovsky, but I have not seen you critique Fr. Florovsky’s statements in regard to “Living Tradition,” which he so beautifully delineates and crafts in at least five separate articles in English of which I am aware. And only one of these articles was ever criticized, I believe (my computer is being repaired and I can’t plug the thunderbolt cable into my older laptop to check) by ArchBp. Averky of Jordanville, originally titled “Thoughts About the Limits of the Church,” which Fr. Georges amended before publishing. The point being that Fr. Florovsky took the concept of “Living Tradition” much further than Robert Arida, yet you do not group him among the “Gnostics.” The reason? You are fixated on a “theology contra-homosexuality.” That was my argument with you on Monomakhos, that you would turn the mystery of Christian Marriage into the “antidote” for homosexuality. The only difference between the arguments of Fr. George Florovsky and Fr. Robert Arida are exactly two words: “human sexuality.” The remainder of your argument is complete conjecture. If you are comfortable and confident referring to Robert Arida as a “Gnostic” based only on what he has actually written, than you have no choice but to also refer as well to Georges Florovsky.

    So, I must ask you, would you marry a man to a woman who has been found to have the genetic mutation of the CFTR gene that both results in Cystic Fibrosis and congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens which carries sperm from the testes, rendering him incapable of reproduction? Or a woman to a man who, as a child had been treated for cancer with an alkylating agent such as procarbazine – which breaks DNA strands – rendering her sterile? Am I to presume that not possessing the “fulfillment of the unitive and procreative ends of marriage,” by uniting these two couples in Christian Marriage, “acting against the ends of marriage will tend to destroy it?” My thought to you – as I have said so many times – is this: if you would devote a quarter of the time you devote to the heterodox & the heretics to the Holy Fathers and the fathers of our generation, you would be relevant.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      Many, many words but let me focus on this:

      Personally, I am angry and disappointed that he has written in vague terms and refuses to respond or expand to his critics, but you have developed an impression and the accompanying jingoism of which those on the Right are so fond on the flimsiest of actual statements.

      So what do you think Fr. Arida is saying? What is his thesis? And why did he write in such “vague terms?”

      As to your question, of course I would marry the couple. The physical afflictions don’t cross the sexual divide. The relationship still comports to nature. (That’s why the example makes sense, actually. You assume it implicitly.)

      You could also be arguing I guess that because some heterosexual couples suffer from infertility or even sterility, that the universal sterility of all same-sex couplings should be ignored, ie: natural sterility should be factored out of the discussion. But if you did that, your question would be meaningless or at best merely polemical.

      • M. Stankovich :

        I believe you can read his “thesis” as well as I can: the church, in the context of the “public square,” must address the issues “related to human sexuality, the configuration of the family, the beginning and ending of human life, the economy and the care and utilization of the environment including the care, dignity and quality of all human life.” It seems fairly obvious to me that by not doing so, by not providing a voice of moral authority, we are complicit with the indifference that has allowed the courts of this country to determine these issues for us. Now, had I written these same words, I do not believe you would have any comment whatsoever. But Fr. Arida had 1) previously written a short commentary regarding homosexuality and the passage of same-sex marriage legislation in his home state, and 2) Fr. Arida is not Fr. Georges Florovsky. It is only when people like you pounced on the two words that distinguish the two author’s (and I might add Met. Kallistos (Ware), as well) thoughts on “Living Tradition” – human sexualitythen in my mind, his essay becomes “vague.” And I am very disappointed & angry that he has not addressed and clarified the issue directly (and addressed Fr. Alexander Webster, whom I have commended for taking the high road in attempting to contact him directly). I believe no one in a position of educating the faithful has the right to cloud the “public square” with vague “theolegumena.”

        You could also be arguing I guess that because some heterosexual couples suffer from infertility or even sterility, that the universal sterility of all same-sex couplings should be ignored, ie: natural sterility should be factored out of the discussion.

        Here you are absolutely correct. It will become “merely polemic” the moment you demonstrate for me an authority from the Holy Fathers or our Holy Tradition factoring them in to the discussion.

        • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

          I find Fr. Arida’s essay too vague to be of any practical benefit apart from the concrete reference to sexuality. It’s not so much ‘jumping on sexuality’ as you put it. Rather, it’s the only place he lays anchor.

          You reference Fr. Florovsky as an authority, but Fr. Florovsky was writing to specific historical and cultural questions (the place of Orthodoxy in a non-Orthodox culture for example), relevant in his day but not so much anymore. Fr. Arida borrows some ideas and language from Fr. Florovsky, but the historical/cultural context cannot be carried forward. The questions and challenges today are vastly different and some strike at the heart of Christian self-understanding (same-sex marriage and anthropology for example).

          I think the same is true of Fr. Schememann’s work. I remember as a young man how influential his work was on me. One reason was that they they gave authority to my own philosophical misgivings that I only intuited at the time but ones for which he offered a vocabulary to grapple with and resolve. But those questions recall a different era. The thought world of younger people is vastly different than it was when I was their age and the answers Fr. Schmemann gave me don’t work for them.

          All this is to say that recourse to Fr. Florovsky, Schmemann and the other great luminaries of the Paris exile also demands of your listener that he enters the spirit of the culture as it existed when they wrote. But that culture doesn’t exist anymore. Anyone who was born after the 1980s has no idea of what life in 1950s New York was like. They have no reference point. It’s like us looking at scenes of Bangkok.

          I know you have deep ties to these men because they formed you. I am not disparaging that in the least. However, as engaging as their conversation was with their cultural peers, it is not weathering well long term. I don’t think it can.

          That’s the milieu in which Fr. Arida still lives I think and one that you defend. Again, no disparagement, contempt, criticism – whatever, intended or implied. But it is also one that renders so many of those formed in the school of the Parisian exiles blind to how radically culture has changed in the last three decades and the threat to Christianity those changes portend. Culture cannot be engaged in the same ways Fr. Florovsky, Schmemman and the others did during their era. Responding using their models can actually weaken the Church.

          Nominal Christianity allowed them to speak without penalty, which made their engagements with the broader culture reasonable. The culture that is coming (and I argue already here) will be aggressively hostile to Christianity. Our discernment has to sharpen. The prophetic dimension of the Gospel needs to be recovered.

          Who to read today? Well, here’s one I just started a few days ago. Fr. Florensky is looking beyond the collapse I see coming.

          • M. Stankovich :

            If there is a better assessment of our current American Orthodox dilemma than what is found in Alexander Schmemann’s The Problems of Orthodoxy in America: The Canonical, The Liturgical, and The Spiritual, including the solution; as well as his recommended social commentary that I believe is prophetic, The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations (on the NY Times Bestseller list in 1978) by Dr. Christopher Lasch [and I will add its corollary, Haven in a Heartless World: The Family Besieged] and The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students, than you have absolutely no clue as to the mind of Alexander Schmemann. None. And let me clarify to you: I speak of Alexander Schmemann as I do not because he was a great man – I have said on many occasions, I found him to be a very abrasive, distant, and a frequently insensitive man that I found very difficult to personally like. But he was one of the most stunning and brilliant human beings to whom I have ever been exposed. To imagine Alexander Schmemann would be so shortsighted as to view theology, culture, and history simply in the myopic context of his own era (for heaven’s sake, he assigned two volumes of the noted Romanian theologian & anthropoligist/sociologist Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion and The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History for every class he taught – though I doubt many read them) is foolish indeed. You need to seriously study and rethink this response. And I have not even mentioned John Meyendorff…

            • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

              Actually, apart from “Haven in a Heartless World,” I’ve read all the books, many of them several decades ago.

              The critique I have made of Fr. Schmemann is not personal so to say he was myopic misstates it. I don’t think he saw how unstable the foundations had become (most people didn’t, except perhaps Lasch). His writing is still valuable but more from a historian’s perspective. It does not possess enough explanatory power to help us comprehend our present predicament in the ways that we need to.

              Bloom had it right and as cultural history it is arguably one of the best written. But the American mind has closed. People born in the 1980s and later would not have a clue about what he was talking about if they read it today.

  2. James Bradshaw :

    I have taken a number of more radical gay activists to task for shifting the responsibility of the HIV epidemic to others. Much of it is carelessness and lack of foresight, but in some instances, it is intentional recklessness and even malice. I’ve lost one friend to the disease after his partner had an affair and was unaware he contracted it. I have one other friend right now who contracted the virus from a person who knew he had it and neglected to tell him. The only word to describe this mindset is criminal, if not evil.

    While I hope a cure is found, the disease could quickly be eradicated with a little sense of restraint. So no argument here on that.

    Beyond that, there are two problems with this essay:
    1. The State frequently enables and validates legal arrangements that have no real “natural” component. We have powers-of-attorney, wills and the like. Single persons can legally acquire or adopt children that are not their own and raise them. The State has no ideological interest in these arrangements other than ensuring that those involved are doing so willingly.

    2. The essay seems to imply that who one marries is incidental to why one is marrying (or why they’re even involved with another person). While I’m sure there may be some people who are completely disinterested in human relationships and marry purely out of a sense of obligation to faith or clan, I think this is the exception, not the rule. One’s sense of values and beliefs will shape how that relationship plays out, of course, but I don’t see an intention behind the existence of the relationship beyond the basic need for companionship that most of us have. With a few exceptions, human bonds aren’t a “statement” of anything, I don’t think.

    • M. Stankovich :

      Mr. Bradshaw,

      While I commend you for “taking a number of more radical gay activists to task,” I must (since you are available) note my objection to your less-radical compatriots (who are legion) for raising my insurance rates and boring the living hell out me with the “drug rep lunches” (i.e. a pharmaceutical company rep provides lunch to my clinic in order to encourage director to force staff to listen to a medication presentation) regarding Truvada (Emtricitabine, Tenofovir, and Disoproxil), which is an FDA approved “pre-exposure prophylaxis” (PrEP) combination antiretroviral medication specifically for “men who have sex with men (MSM) at high risk for HIV-1 infection and in heterosexual serodiscordant couples.” It is also used to treat HIV disease.

      The issue? We have known since the mid-1980’s that a condom effectively prevents the transmission HIV at a negligible cost (if you’re nice, you probably can find some agency who’ll give you a handful for free). Truvada, like all antiretrovirals, has a side-effects list as long as your arm, making the “drop-out” rate for the “PrEP” users as high as 50%, and it is grossly expensive. Insurance companies, quite obviously, do not want to pay for another expensive antiretroviral, so potential PrEP consumers are lobbying hard – with all the “entitled” rhetroic – for inclusion in insurance formularies and reasonable co-payments. While the prescribing literature cautiously describes the “intended” patient, it is basically being prescribed to mid and upper-income white males with excellent insurance. And why, Mr. Bradshaw (as if I have to tell you)? So they don’t have to put on a $.25 condom! Don’t be disingenuous and preach “gay sensibility.”

      • James Bradshaw :

        Mr Stankovich, while I have no interest in trying to justify the actions of others, I must wonder how the cost of medicine is determined, particularly HIV medication. Some are what .. $100+ a pill? This same medication is provided to other people outside the US at much lower cost, I believe.

        But yes, we all pay for the weaknesses of others. Diabetes and heart problems are aggravated by the obesity epidemic, and these costs are passed on to those of us who strive to keep in shape.

        Fair? Not really. Some companies are offering incentives to avoid risky behavior. I’m not sure how they’d approach this without offering contraceptive devices, and we know some don’t want to do that either.

        • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

          For the record. American made drugs are price controlled in almost every country except the USA. This means all development and liability costs are shifted back to the American consumer. The lower prices in other markets don’t reflect the real costs.

          • Christopher :

            On the other side of the coin, those “development costs” are almost entirely an artifact of our governments insane regulation. The number of new drugs actually “in development” is approaching zero now – it’s all research into how to “re-package” (not sure of the technical medical/chemistry terms are here) old drugs so that the drug companies can renew patents.

            I don’t like to admit it, but Americans are getting the drugs and quality of medicine they deserve – for they are voting for these guys. Thank God, He usually sees to it that we don’t “get what we deserve”, but in this case, he is providentially allowing us to take our own medicine…

            • Pdn Brian Patrick Mitchell :

              On the other side of the coin, those “development costs” are almost entirely an artifact of our governments insane regulation.

              “Almost entirely”? I’ll have to see the numbers. But even if true, it doesn’t change the fact that foreign governments keep drug prices low at home by trusting the U.S. to make sure drugs are safe before they are brought to market.

        • M. Stankovich :

          As someone who inadvertently let my credential for research management expire – a requirement for FDA site management- and forced to re-take some of the essential core courses again (despite desperate pleas for wavers), I could tell you tales of the pettiness of some of our system, thought it continues to remain the safest in the world. All this aside, you have made my original point completely tangential: the fastest way to extend your pharmaceutical patent in the US is to petition the FDA for a new indication for an already approved medication (and many argue that the FDA is significantly less stringent for “secondary” indications). In this case, Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of Truvada – already certified to treat HIV disease – was able to demonstrate to the FDA that it had some prophylactic properties for certain individuals who met specific criteria, was and approved for “pre-exposure prophylaxis” (PrEP) as I noted above.

          Now, just in case you are missing my “complaint: Mr. Bradshaw continuously presents the “general,” non-radicalized, gay community as a moral parallel to the “straight” community, akin to Lake Wobegon, MN. Whereas my point is that the CDC indicates that the current increase in HIV infections appears to be attributable to facts such as “hook-up” phone apps like “Grindr” – where gay men connect simply for sexual liaisons with otherwise anonymous partners without worrying” – and the impetus for the demand for insurance formularies to provide Truvada, and at a reasonable deductibles. While the medical community fears that the ignorance of the instability of retroviruses and their tendency to alter genetically a step ahead of prophylaxis (and the reason we have no preventative vaccine) will result in the loss of the safe-sex practices in the gay community. And I very distinctly recall what I believe was the beginning of the rationalizations I saw in NYC in the late 1980’s in a pamphlet that read: “It’s not YOU, it’s not because you’re GAY, it’s a VIRUS!” And in this case, it is a billion dollar gain for Gilead Sciences, and we are paying for people who 1) are apparently willing to be exposed the known & unknown gross side-effects of anti-retroviral medications; 2) for the luxury of having unsafe/unprotected sex with whomever they wish; and 3) never have to wear condoms. It is a nice gig, I guess.

  3. Christopher :

    Homosexualism as a New Gnosticism rings more true every day.

    Fr. Hans,

    The ground of the religion of the radical SELF, which of of course the current homosexualist philosophy (both introverted and of course the political activism) goes deep, and is part of the whole modern project IMO. Labeling modernism “gnostic” is helpful, if not entirely accurate (though you are covering that with the more updated “New” or “Neo-Gnosticism. IMO, “neo-epicurean” is probably more accurate than “neo-gnostic” as a descriptive term for the religion of modernity…

  4. I think this is an excellent article, and that Vogelin’s remarks about Gnosticism apply beyond homosexuality to the whole fantasy driven fiction culture including supposed great works of music, fiction and so forth. Even art is dangerous as it can be a focus to induce a kind of trance.

    I think there is another argument against homosexualiy (including bisexuality) that is generally missed, and this is the result of St. Augustine’s Manichaean baggage influencing the Church both east to some extent (backed up by extremist tendencies like Tertullian’s) and west, and by an often unacknowledged cross fertilization, on Orthodoxy by Roman Catholicism.

    Yes sex is a means of procreation. No, that is not the only purpose of “marriage” or heterosexual pair (or in many species and some humans) multipartner bonding. Genesis says not one word about procreation being the purpose of marriage. The OT is almost silent except for Malachi saying God created marriage in order to get a godly seed, context, that seed needs a good relationship as a context to grow up in and not pagan women (or one could argue, abusive incestuous and whatever parents). NT says not one word on the subject. OT addresses “repro sex” (reproduction only motivated sex) denunciatory by implication, in showing this as the motive behind the actual incest (and date rape by drugging) of their father by Lot’s daughters, and the constructive incest (and rape by deception) by Tamar of her father in law Judah, all this in context of the levirate marriage brought into Judah’s family by his Canaanite wife and Canaanite daughter in law.

    In The Torah we see a form of it condemned, and later another form tolerated, on two conditions. the targeted man had the right to refuse, and had to be someone who was living with the couple at the husband’s death. (this was of course stretched to include total strangers more distantly related than brother, half brother, step brother or first cousin all of which could be “brother” hence the problem Boaz had to solve to be with Ruth.) This (ignored later) proviso limited the marriage to a couple who might have some friendship existing already.

    now, what’s the point of all this?

    The sexual attraction to be functioning correctly cannot include same sex or inappropriate age. That animals might do this is irrelevant, they also can be abnormal like a mother eating her cubs or something like that.

    Animals don’t know sex causes babies, they have sex because they feel like it and most species feel like it when the reproductive cycle starts up the right hormones. Humans and some animals breed year round. No one is born knowing sex causes babies. We learn that because someone figured it out eons ago. In the 1800s and early 1900s there were still a few primitive people who didn’t know it, and ascribed pregnancy to swimming in some pool in moonlight or something.

    Genesis focuses on the relationship the companionship angle. The rest grows out of that.

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