Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dan Savage is Right



... once again.





I've never written to or spoken to Dan Savage. I have spent an awful lot of time arguing with all those dreary troglodytes in the comment threads on Thinking Anglicans and on other Anglican/Episcopal sites.  The more I read their sour dismissive tone and their tangled legal and doctrinal arguments trying to defend the indefensible, the more I'm inclined to agree with HL Mencken's definition of puritanism as the haunting fear that someone somewhere is happy.  I may be a universalist heretic, but the idea of salvation by doctrinal soundness caused far more harm than good down through history.  Just ask Giordano Bruno or John of the Cross, or my Quaker ancestors who got run out of Massachusetts.

I think a major weakness on the part of liberal Christians (and liberals in general) is the inbred imperative to be "nice," and confusing that with the necessary imperative to be fair.  As Hendrick Hertzberg pointed out, "niceness is the enemy of fairness."  It doesn't help that our enemies are so thin-skinned, that they can dish it out, but they can't take it.  Especially for those of us who are gay, they can beat the mother-fucking shit out of us and demand that we face the death penalty, life in prison, and any number of legal penalties (Hello Scott Lively and friends), but if we turn around and kick 'em hard in the shins and call them out on their shit, then they fall down in the street and scream bloody murder.  We do have to be fair.  We do not have to be nice.

As that very wise and learned Episcopal priest in the Bronx Tobias Haller pointed out, Jesus commanded us to love our enemies.  He never said that we shouldn't have any.






10 comments:

Leonard Clark said...

Then we agree.

Grandmère Mimi said...

So how would you and Len and me go about being less puny?

Counterlight said...

Dan Savage never met you, me, or Len.

it's margaret said...

I'm in.

it's margaret said...

--and I'm not at all puny.

MarkBrunson said...

You have to have the courage to be the bad guy to someone, or you are just words, your convictions mere intellectual assent. I struggle constantly with a me that would solve the problem in a very terminal way for my own spiritual well-being. However . . . niceness is a lack of will and conviction, and non-violence is useless if it takes no responsibility for defending others. If I'm not willing to sacrifice even my spiritual well-being to do what is right and just, then I am just words. Jesus became a hated criminal, disappointed His disciples, sacrificed much of the religious "wisdom" of His time to do what was right.

MarkBrunson said...

I struggle every day for my spiritual well-being with a me that would solve the problem in a terminal way.

JCF said...

[Pardon, I'm going off-topic, simply because Mark has raised a compelling question. And I'm really not a fan of Savage's bog-standard anti-theism these days (though congrats, of course, on his & Terry's marriage!)]

"non-violence is useless if it takes no responsibility for defending others"

That's always been the dilemma (or perhaps better, the crux of the matter).

You have two competing Goods: non-violence, and (weaker) Other-defense. The solution some have found to this issue, is the (*voluntary*) human shield. But it can be highly impractical---especially compared w/ pushing a button and launching a drone strike!

I've been thinking about Christian non-violence actively for over 30 years now. I don't have many answers, but I'll keep raising the questions. As a member of the "Christian Left", it's the least I can do. WWJD?

MarkBrunson said...

WWJD?

The point is Jesus would do, which liberals don't because I'm not sure they believe in what they profess. If they did, they would act, even if it were in conflict with the need to feel good about themselves.

Counterlight said...

Dan Savage may be an "anti-theist," but he does want to be fair to us and to keep our friendship. And let's face it, among gay and lesbian folk, his is the majority point of view on matters of religion.