Andrew Sullivan explains why he’s gay but still Catholic

Over at The Dish, Andrew Sullivan posted a video (below; for some reason it’s in semi-animation) explaining how he can be openly gay and still be a member of the Catholic Church.

Maybe it’s the animation, but he looks pretty tortured as he explains this: a visible sign of cognitive dissonance.  Here’s a bit of the last half:

I just believe that the church’s fixation on defining us by a sexual act—a nonprocreating sexual act—to be [an] absurdly myopic, viewed the wrong way down the telescope.  And I think it’s sustained, unfortunately, by a lot of emotionally crippled gay men who run the church. And they’ve done a great job in the last ten years of making sure that no one with an independent mind or spirit can really enter the seminaries.

. . . I’m not a Catholic because of issues like gayness. I’m a Catholic because of what I believe to be its revelation of the truth about everything.  And either it’s true or it isn’t.  And it’s possible for it to be true on some core levels, and yet mistaken, and misplaced, and misguided in other areas. And if you look at the history of the Church, it’s full of it. So I try and hang in there, and let God do the rest.

Whenever I get ticked off at Sullivan, I try to remember how tortured he must be (and it shows in the video) about trying to be a good gay Catholic. The problems are evident in just the two excerpts above.

First, the Catholic church’s policy is not just the product of a few twisted, “emotionally crippled gay men.” It is the official dogma of the Catholic church. Homosexuality is seen not only as “disordered,” but as a sin, one that, if acted upon, can send you to hell if you don’t confess it. By fobbing off church policy as the misguided notions of a few miscreants, he totally neglects the Biblical basis for the proscription of homosexual acts, one that would make it hard to ever change church policy.  He also absolves himself from hypocrisy when attending church by somehow denying that the official stance of that church decrees Sullivan as a sinner.

Second, how does Sullivan know that the Church’s view of homosexuality isn’t part of the “truth about everything”? After all, a lot of Catholics, including important people in the Church, think that it is.  Sullivan thinks that the revelation that homosexuality is a sin is simply a mistaken interpretation—of what seems pretty plain in scripture. So Sullivan re-interprets scripture as erroneous, cherry-picking the bits he likes and dumping the bits that make him a sinner.

He’s not a sinner, of course, because Catholic dogma is bunk.  But the fact that he’s tortured about all this, and has to engage in the dubious and intellectually insupportable tactic of deciding himself which bits of revelation are true and which aren’t, shows the whole misguided enterprise of his remaining a Catholic.  If he wants to have his own religion, one that makes gays acceptable, well, more power to him, but since he apparently accepts a lot of what the Bible says as true on “core levels,” his own faith will remain bunk.

I feel sorry for him.  Religion poisons everything, including Andrew Sullivan.

93 Comments

  1. Frank Lovell (Jr.)
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    “Religion poisons everything.” AMEN!!

    • Silas
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      so TRUE

  2. Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Ah, but you must understand there is a difference between the sinner and the sin!

    The old testament only condemns man-on-man action, it does not condemn those who WANT man-on-man action.

    I clearly remember a Catholic I knew some years back on the Internet who I used to talk to. Over the years he started to confide in me. He was explaining how it is okay with God that he wanted to have sex with little boys as long as he didn’t actually do it.

    He was applying to become a priest at the time.

    And no, I am not making this up.

    • vel
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      seems he forgot that part where JC says the thought is just as bad as the act. Bus as always theists are great at ignoring things that they don’t like.

    • Marella
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

      Well at least he knew he shouldn’t do it, most of them don’t seem to have got that far.

  3. Jolo
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Didn’t the church blame gays for all the pedophilic priests as well?

    I don’t understand how he can reconcile what he believes the church says with what they actually do say.

    • Stan Pak
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Usually the answer is: “They are/were not true Christians. The genuine ones would never do this”. This defense “works” with everything.

      • Jolo
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        Does the “No True Christian” rule work when the pedophiles are members of the clergy?

        I thought a god would cause the false ones to fail at becoming clergy

        • Andrew B.
          Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

          That would violate their free-will! Of course he couldn’t do that.

          • Stan Pak
            Posted October 26, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink

            Then suffer little children, because God wants pedophile clergy to learn that pedophilia and rape is bad things indeed. God is good indeed.

            • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
              Posted October 30, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

              The argument I’ve heard used is that there has to be bad things so that people appreciate the good ones. So if there were not bad priests we would not know that the good ones were good. Makes perfect sense is your indoctrinated.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted October 28, 2011 at 1:15 am | Permalink

          It’s important to remember that when Andrew Sullivan talks about “the church”, he’s not referring to the priests in the church, or the bishops, or the cardinals, or the pope, or 1700 years of Catholic tradition and history.

          What he actually is referring to I haven’t a clue.

  4. Dominic
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I think he had a bit in the Sunday Times a week ago about Mormons and how Romney was under threat from the evangelicals or something like that. I did not twig that it was the same Sullivan. Apparently he once dated a Mormon, who was rejected by his community for being gay.

  5. ManOutOfTime
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    There was a time I used to mix up Sullivan with Hitchens. They are very easy to tell apart now: Hitch is the one with cajones.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 26, 2011 at 12:18 am | Permalink

      Cojones. Cajones is a different Spanish word. [/pendant]

      • Posted October 26, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        It’s “pedant.” [/pedant]

        • Posted October 26, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

          [/pendant] is acceptable when the subject of conversation is dangly bits.

          • Diane G.
            Posted October 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

            ROFL!

            There, see, it was a Freudian slip. :D

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

          Oh, crap, I knew that! :blush:

    • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      cajones = drawers
      cojones = balls – of the male variety

  6. Jacob van Beverningk
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    .. its [the Church's] revelation of the truth about everything. And either it’s true or it isn’t. And it’s possible for it to be true on some core levels, and yet mistaken, and misplaced, and misguided in other areas.

    Cherry picking extraordinaire!

    The Church would definitely and strongly disagree with his observation: it maintains that its truths on everything are, by dogma and thus definition, true. No exceptions.
    So if Andrew wants to live a life as a ‘partial’ Catholic, then how does he know which ‘truths’ to adhere to, and which ones to discard?
    In essence: he’s making up his own faith.
    (Not that that is uncommon amongst the faithful)

    • Tim
      Posted October 26, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      Everything you wrote here is spot on. Catholicism is bascially an all-or-none proposition, and yes, the majority of Catholics out there do not realize and/or adhere to this principle. I was excoriated by someone I knew (a non-Catholic to boot) for daring to point this out. Andrew is well-meaning but misguided and ultimately, wrong. His quest is about identity, no doubt, but he is not being honest with himself about this particular identity.

      You can’t be a practicing homosexual and be a faithful Catholic, period. By Catholic rules, you are living in sin and destined for Hell, unless the grace of God saves you through no power of your own (in other words, God decides to be nice to you even though you are breaking his rules). You can be actively gay Christian, provided you can live with the mental gymnastics of explaining away the Bible’s homophobia (and perhaps one can do this through more scholarly methods, i.e. studying how those passages got there and revealing a wider, errant context), but Catholicism proclaims itself as infallible, so you can’t get away with this if you’re going to be straightforward about it.

  7. Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I don’t understand how anyone could be Catholic anymore, besides just the whole “god” thing. If they want to believe in all that crap, fine, but ditch the evil Joe Pesci in the funny hat!

  8. Rudi
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    The sensible conclusion is staring him in the face – actually it’s bashing him over the head – but still he can’t let go.

    Poor bloke – yet another casualty of childhood indoctrination, and victim of the catholic church’s primitive stance on human sexuality.

    • daveau
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      Yeah. The more we discuss this, the more sorry for him I feel. I don’t really mind harmless superstitions, but here we have one that is clearly causing harm. Let go, Andrew, you obviously don’t believe half your faith already.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 26, 2011 at 12:19 am | Permalink

      Precisely.

  9. gr8hands
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Catholic doctrine clearly states that in matters of faith, the pope is infallible, and is THE voice of God on earth.

    The pope has been clear that homosexuality is a sin. No misunderstanding possible. Not subject to “interpretation.”

    Any variance from that is in direct opposition to THE voice of God on earth.

    Andrew Sullivan is a self-loathing hypocrite and a liar. To have any shred of honesty, he should identify himself as someone who believes in SOME of what the Catholics believe, but not everything they believe.

    Andrew, put down your cross and follow us.

    • Smitallica
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      I’m with you on all points, except I don’t think Sullivan is self-loathing. I’d say he’s rather fond of himself. But I do think he’s afraid. Afraid to leave the church that he was raised in (despite the fact that it openly loathes him).

    • Posted October 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know about “self-loathing” but other that I very much agree with what you’ve said.

      All the time I see human beings creating suffering for others and for themselves. While there are a multitude of reasons why we do this, it is clear that the poisonous effects of religious dogma feature high on the list.

      It seems to me that Andrew Sullivan has more than enough education, intelligence and freedom to look clearly at the facts and end his slavish relationship to Catholicism. If he did this, instead of attacking atheism, he could be mocking the vile homophobia-as-virtue tenets of Catholicism.

      Andrew Sullivan says, “I’m a Catholic because of what I believe to be its revelation of the truth about everything.” However I don’t see that he values the truth at all. What I see is hypocrisy. He has the freedom to be true to his sexuality. What about all those who don’t because of the institution that he supports.

      For these reasons, while there are an awful lot of people I feel sorry for (especially, in this context, those gay people who don’t have the freedom to escape the church),I don’t feel sorry for Andrew Sullivan.

      • Posted October 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        First sentence should read: “other THAN that, I very much agree with what you’ve said.”

    • Marella
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

      I would have said he must hate himself but having seen that video I think his problem is sheer bloody-mindedness. This guy just likes to be a rebel. If he wasn’t gay he’d be making trouble for the church in some other capacity. It is a pity he doesn’t put all that energy to a more constructive use. Spending your life trying to make the Catholic church see sense is a terrible waste.

    • Hope H.
      Posted October 26, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      The pope is never infallible. Sometimes, on matters of faith which he claims have been received through divine revelation, he can speak with the force of infallibility, that is, “ex cathedra.” I can’t recall the last time a pope did that; I’d have to look it up.

      • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

        It’s a common misunderstanding of the Catholic position, even among Catholics!

  10. Smitallica
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    “My church taught me to tell the truth.”

    Yes, Andrew, but your church also taught you that you are a disordered sinner who will go to Hell.
    Your church sees no distinction between telling the truth that you are a homosexual and telling the truth that you are a murderer.

  11. Deborah
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    “And if you look at the history of the Church, it’s full of it.

    Truly.

    • sasqwatch
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Beat me to it. I really have to agree with Sullivan there.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 26, 2011 at 12:26 am | Permalink

      Phew, I’m relieved of having to make that joke myself.

  12. vel
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    that’s really sad to see. It’s terrible to watch a grown man try to cherry pick his own religion being so desperate to remain part of the herd he evidently has sold his self-worth to.

  13. coconnor1017
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    It is really disturbing to witness religious people further dishonesty by proclaiming their relative truth.

  14. eric
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I’m a Catholic because of what I believe to be its revelation of the truth about everything. And either it’s true or it isn’t. And it’s possible for it to be true on some core levels, and yet mistaken, and misplaced, and misguided in other areas.

    The cognitive dissonance is quite amazing. Mr. Sullivan, if the Church is mistaken, misplaced, and misguided in areas, then its not a revelation about everything, is it?

  15. Posted October 25, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    How can he possibly speak of the revelation of truth about everything, and then go on to say that it’s full of errors? How on earth does he tell them apart? It’s like everyone else. Pick and choose — there’s a core of truth here somewhere, and hopefully I’ve chosen the true bit. It’s so stultifyingly silly. It’s either the truth about everything, including gayness, or it’s not. Sullivan really does have to make up his mind. Something that is really a revelation from the kind of god that catholics believe in doesn’t — indeed, can’t plausibly — make mistakes.

    • Andy Dufresne
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Well that’s precisely it. How does he *know* that God really is OK with gay hanky panky after all? Because being gay is his natural inclination and not a choice? Aren’t there natural urges God prefers us to resist? Plus, we could ask Sully the “What if you’re wrong” question atheists are always getting. Maybe God made gayness as a test, and he’s failing. (Absurd notions, of course, but based on what his beliefs seem to be these become good questions.)

  16. NoAstronomer
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    “they’ve done a great job in the last ten years of making sure that no one with an independent mind or spirit can really enter the seminaries.”

    Well, duh!

    • Badger3k
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      Only ten years? Try centuries.

    • Marella
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      Obviously independent and Catholic are mutually exclusive, the whole idea is that you believe what you’re told, not go thinking for yourself.

  17. Posted October 25, 2011 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Excellent insights. This reminds me of my parents divorce in the 60’s and my father’s attitude that the Catholic Church is just plain wrong about it. He remarried and was ex-communicated but he insisted that he was right and the Catholic Church was wrong. When I grew up I tried to explain to him how a hierarchy worked and that the hoi polloi don’t have the ability to decide what is right or wrong in such a system.

    Sullivan is similar in using his brain when he is commanded by his Pope to refrain. The benefit of being Catholic is that you are not required to think for yourself… Sullivan should embrace it and stop trying to rationalize his “sinful” behavior.

    For the record, my mother never remarried and remained a faithful Catholic til she died, which made my heretical behavior all the more stark. I’m not a Catholic anymore and I find it interesting that a secular Jew (JAC) better understands my previous faith than Sullivan.

    • Posted October 25, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      ..and I admire JAC’s empathy for Sullivan, who does indeed appear to be tortured.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 26, 2011 at 12:37 am | Permalink

      I was gonna cut him a bit of slack thinking he might remember the era I do, but then I see by Wikipedia that he was born in ’63…

      You say “the hoi polloi don’t have the ability to decide what is right or wrong in such a system,” which is not entirely true. The RCC has undergone quite a bit of shifting over time, and there was a window in the US when it was far more liberal on social issues (and far more active in the anti-war movement). American Catholics chose to disregard church teachings on divorce and birth control, and mother church did precious little. Priests were often quite politically liberal. Mass went from Latin to English, and fish-Fridays became optional.

      It would be slightly understandable if someone who’d experienced that time of almost progressivism in the church held out hope for another liberal swing.

      • Posted October 26, 2011 at 1:10 am | Permalink

        “American Catholics chose to disregard church teachings on divorce and birth control, and mother church did precious little.”

        Well, okay, they don’t strap folks to the rack anymore, but the RCC is hardly a congregational sect. Birth control, divorce, homosexual acts, abortion for any reason… according to the Church these remain sins punishable by God. The mandates are set by the Pope, perhaps via the magisterium, but NEVER are faith and morals decided by parish priests or lay people. Allowing meatball sandwiches on Friday is a few standard deviations away from Andrew sleeping with his boyfriend, but even the meatball sandwich edict had to come from Rome.

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 26, 2011 at 1:30 am | Permalink

          True, and in the same vein I’d suggest the “look the other way, don’t emphasize it” reaction to the social issues I mentioned also came from Rome. Rather like police forces in certain areas choosing to give pot possession “the lowest possible priority.”

  18. Posted October 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I knew a good man, a professor of religious studies and philosophy, who was gay and Catholic for a long time as well. He was tormented by it until he finally decided to leave quite late in life and joined some liberal, super-inclusive protestant church. Sure, I didn’t agree with that either, but I’m just glad he found some peace and a respite from useless guilt before he passed away.

    Grew up Catholic myself … and it was easy enough to lose it once I found out everyone else’s religion was supposedly the “revelation of the truth about everything.”

  19. yam
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    And either it’s true or it isn’t. And it’s possible for it to be true on some core levels, and yet mistaken, and misplaced, and misguided in other areas

    So, it has to be true OR not true, unless it’s true AND not true.

    Good thing he’s not a computer programmer…

    • Posted October 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      So, it has to be true OR not true, unless it’s true AND not true.

      He must be practicing Quantum Catholicism.

      • yam
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps it’s like Schroedinger’s cat, but it’s the truth instead…

        • Posted October 25, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

          You could call it Schroedinger’s Catechism.

          • Still learning
            Posted October 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

            +1

          • Chris Booth
            Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

            Two thumbs up for Schroedinger’s Catechism.

          • Diane G.
            Posted October 26, 2011 at 12:39 am | Permalink

            LOL!

          • Posted October 26, 2011 at 4:41 am | Permalink

            Cross-commenting.

            Maybe the quantum approach could be used to explain the Trinity.

            • Posted October 26, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

              Or transubstantiation for that matter. Crackers exhibit dual properties of both flesh and bread. So, I’m one quantum leap from becoming the gingerbread man! Eat your heart out Choprah!

  20. Stan Pak
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Sullivan said:
    “And they[Catholic Church]’ve done a great job in the last ten years of making sure that no one with an independent mind or spirit can really enter the seminaries.”
    I am not sure how he know that, but nevertheless, it shows that even Sullivan sees the virtue of having a Church which do not contain any person of “independent mind and spirit”. I am not sure what he exactly means by that expression but it sounds sufficiently bad anyway. He perhaps says that the Church is not for all or at least those who may diverge with thinking from the “hard core party line”. “No thinking allowed” should be hanged above the doors of every house of prayer. Indeed, this is what Sullivan sees as very good thing. How miserable is this?

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 26, 2011 at 12:40 am | Permalink

      In Michael Moore’s new book, which is essentially an autobiography, he describes being kicked out of seminary for asking too many questions.

  21. Atheist in a Foxhole
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Apologies up front – I’m long winded.

    In Andrew’s defense, I believe that he is a highly intelligent and good person. I agree with him on many social and political issues, but not all. In fact I discovered WEIT via a link in one of his blog postings so he obviously has good taste in blogs that aren’t blogs.

    But I usually can’t stand to read his posts on defense of religion. I just don’t understand how an otherwise highly intelligent man can be so stupid as to believe in ancient myths.

    But then I remember my childhood and I begin to understand. I grew up in a small town in central Texas, smack dab in the center of the belt buckle of the bible belt. I’m lucky that my parents were heathens (non churchgoers). I would occasionally go to catholic, lutheran, pentacostal, or baptist services with my friends when they had a fun activity for the kids following the service. Religion wasn’t important to me growing up, but it occasionally provided something fun to do. In fact, I even went to Sunday school for an entire summer because all they did was play games and give away prizes of candy and toys. Of course all the games were religious quizzes, rote memorization and recitation of scripture, etc.

    In my mid teens I concluded that that’s how they suckered you in, got you to believe their message. They begin indoctrination at an early age. That’s what the catholics, lutherans, pentacostals, baptists did when I went to their churches as a kid. That’s what I learned the madrassas of the wahabbis and taliban do when preparing for deployment Iraq (I studied the Mideast region online, via books and asked my Egyptian-American friends). That’s what all religions do. I guess they all operate on the assumption that if you are told something often enough and taught to never question it you will believe it. From what I’ve read in Scientific American, Discover, and other science mags, the brain loses a great deal of its ‘plasticity’ or ability to learn and form new ways of thinking after the first 7-10 years. If you learn ‘em early, it’s hard to unlearn ‘em. Add to that the ‘shunning’ directed at heathens; we are social animals and the need to belong to a group is a powerful motivator; and you have a pretty strong incentive to find ‘gawd’.

    From Andrew’s analysis of politics and social issues, I have to conclude that he’s very intelligent. But he’s stuck on religion because his brain has locked in on that setting as a child. I also think he is subconsciously afraid of thoroughly examining his ‘faith’ because it helped him get through difficult personal issues. If it helped him find the will to live despite having what was originally thought of as a terminal disease, it must be ‘true’. ‘Gawd’ is his ‘wooby’ and he won’t let it go mostly out of sentiment.

    Recently, I read somewhere on the internet that making kids go to church/temple/mosque/synagogue should be considered child abuse because it is brainwashing. The poster wasn’t of the opinion that religion should be banned, but that children should be brought up in a religious free environment and then could choose when they are adults. Originally I was appalled by this due to its infringement on freedom of speech and freedom of religion in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. But I’m slowly coming round.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 26, 2011 at 12:50 am | Permalink

      Absolutely. It’s possible Dawkins himself started this “meme.” :D

      As parents I think we can explain our philosophies to children when they’re old enough to handle such conversations but that it’s also incumbent on us to explain that many other people think quite differently, and that it will be the children’s responsibility to look into the matter and decide for themselves when they are old enough.

      The same goes for politics–which is really just applied philosophy.

    • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      The problem with that approach (not teaching kids religion) is that most theists believe that children are damned unless they believe or are baptised. With that thinking these adults cannot afford to have their child’s eternal life at risk in case they die before they have a chance to “choose” the “right” thing to believe.

  22. MadScientist
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    “… revelation of the truth about everything. And either it’s true or it isn’t.”

    Well, Sullivan, it just isn’t true. None of it is. No Jesus, no hell, no god, no virgin birth, no Mary. Ah, now I feel like playing “It Ain’t Necessarily So”.

  23. lylebot
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    He didn’t say it’s the product of “a few” emotionally crippled homosexual men. He said “a lot”, and he described them as “run[ning] the church”. He thinks the official dogma is the decree of those homosexual men. I guess he thinks that if they self-actualized, the dogma would change. Or something. But maybe it’s the opposite, they can’t self-actualize because they cling to the dogma.

    • Kevin
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      So…he’s saying the pope is gay?

      That’s kinda the conclusion I reached.

  24. Michael D
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I honestly don’t know how ANYONE is catholic anymore.

  25. Marta
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I feel for him. Sort of. And then I don’t. Every stinkin’ one of us has to do the hard work of figuring out who we are.

    If, at the end of the extremely difficult struggle for authenticity, what you come up with is that you’re a gay member of an organization which hates you because of an inherent trait, you have failed.

    I don’t think Sullivan is lazy, or dumb. And that only leaves that he is afraid, and people who are too afraid to figure out who they are leave me utterly cold.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted October 28, 2011 at 1:23 am | Permalink

      +1

  26. Posted October 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Andrew, “You can’t have your cake and eat it to.” You are Catholic by choice and gay by nature. If you believe in God, then you must believe He made you gay. Any religion that doesn’t believe that does not deserve your loyalty. Pick another religion that deserves your loyalty if you can’t live without God. Best yet, be an atheist and follow science where ever it leads you. God is a crutch. If you feel you need a crutch, that’s fine. But, don’t let the church insult your intelligence and feed you lies.

  27. Thomas R
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I’ve liked Andrew for a long time, and I read The Dish. When I hear him talk about politics and religion in general, he’s completely comprehensible, whether you agree with him or not. When he talks about Catholicism, I see a great chasm between what he thinks the Church is and how the Church behaves. And when he talks about his own beliefs, he’s incomprehensible. Not that he makes invalid points, but that his points don’t make sense in any context. He always seems to regress to personal experience and revelation, which isn’t convincing to anyone, much less explanatory. Tortured to say the least.

    What I find distressing (even as someone who politically and socially agrees with much of what he believes) is that if he wasn’t a homosexual, I don’t think he would support gay rights or marriage equality. He seems to use his Catholicism and general belief in God as SUPPORT for gay rights. Has anyone else gotten that impression of him?

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 26, 2011 at 12:55 am | Permalink

      That’s a very good point. So often we find people who only notice conflict when an issue directly affects them.

  28. Posted October 25, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    If Andrew Sullivan allowed comments on his blog (if that’s what it is) I would try to explain to him that it’s clear that Christianity is a cynical invention of the Roman Flavian imperials. The first clue he should consider is that Jesus’ prophecy that the Son of Man would come and lay Jerusalem and its temple low was fulfilled to the letter just exactly 40 years after Jesus made the “prophecy,” by the Roman then-general Titus Flavius. In other words, while some then “present” would have still been living. Shouldn’t this be considered a major clue about the meaning of the Gospel?

    Then I would want him to know that anyone can determine from the (Flavian authorized) history of the First Jewish Rebellion, Josephus’ War of the Jews, that Jesus’ ministry in the Galillee mirrors in a comic fashion the military campaign of Titus Flavius there putting the rebellion down. This is all documented by Joseph Atwill in his book Caesar’s Messiah, but it is very easy to confirm all of Atwill’s claims by simply obtaining a copy of the writings of Josephus (also available inexpensively) and comparing the gospel events with those in Josephus. There are inexpensive translations of Josephus available.

    Atwill’s new edition of Caesar’s Messiah (available for cheap as an e-book) has a new collection of I think 26 close parallels between Josephus and G. Luke. Most of them are pretty obvious, and in the same order in both sources. There is no way that can be accidental.

    I think, people rightly see some hidden and possibly profound meaning in the Gospels, that makes them very inspiring. However, the real meaning is not that they are devinely inspired, but rather that they have a cynical and cruel purpose, that continues to play out according to the Flavian intent even to the present day.

    • Posted October 25, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      So, they syncretized Attis with a Rabbi named Jesus and viola: Christmas trees and Easter bunnies!

      • Posted October 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

        I’m not so sure about that, but the caesar’s of course had their cults which provided a resource to the Flavians for creating religions. Atwill claims to be able to link most or all of the known early Christian church locations to Ceasraian cult offices.

        One of my favorite bits of Caesar’s Messiah is Atwill’s elaboration of the Demoniac of Gadara. He argues that the demoniac represents one of the two principle rebel leaders of War of the Jews, John, out of whose head Josephus says sprang the ideas that corrupted many. Josephus also says that demons are none other than the spirits of the wicked (or something similar). Anyhow, the demoniac is said to have gone to the Decapolis to proclaim Jesus’ miracles after being shed of his demons, while John the rebel leader is captured but spared by the Flavians. Atwill proposes, he was taken to the Caesarian Cult office in the Decapolis, and made to write the gospel John.

        There are two demoniacs total in the gospels, they appear together in Luke, I think. The second one can then correspond to the other rebel leader of WOTJ, Simon, who is taken to Rome and killed in the triumph.

        The correspondence is incredibly rich, and often a lot more obvious. There is also much more to the demoniac parallel than what I can relate here, and from memory. And then there is Cannibal Mary of WOTJ, who roasts her baby then declares he will become a byword to the world and a bane to the seditious varlots. This is clearly propaganda, not history. And, her name is MARY! So when Andrew Sullivan takes the Eucharist, he might consider that he is actually commemorating the terrible suffering including canibalism that was caused by the Roman seige of Jerusalem in the late 60s CE.

        I hope you will consider looking into it. 8 bucks for the Kindle edition.

        • Posted October 25, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          Sounds like a good book, I’ll add it to my wish list. My comment on Attis was based on the fact that he was born of a virgin on December 25th. he was killed on March 22nd and resurrected on March 25th symbolizing the death of winter and the birth of the harvest. In Rome they would hang his effigy on a pine tree. This was a few hundred years BCE and the cult was baptized in bull blood on Vatican hill. I laugh at this every time I hear “He is the reason for the season!” Add a dash of Dionysus, a little Jewish prophecy, and some happy-talk on a mountainside and you’ve got Christianity!

  29. Kevin
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I still say that it’s all about the after-death.

    Andrew can’t come to grips with the clear and obvious fact that once you die, nothing happens. He wants a post-death apartment with the kitchen upgrade.

    No other explanation is reasonable. It’s what he considers “truth” — which is theist code for “completely made-up bullshit.”

    Andrew: No kidding, there is no afterlife. You’re not a sinner, because the state is one made up by people who are afraid you’re having more fun than them. Enjoy this life and stop worrying about being judged in the “next”. Because there is no “next” except blessed nothingness.

    • Marta
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      That explains his continued faith in God, but faith comes in a lot of varieties. It doesn’t explain why Sullivan picks the faith variety that thinks the way he was born is anathema.

      • Kevin
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        That’s easy — childhood indoctrination.

        Unlike other commenters here, I do not agree with the observation that Andrew is “intelligent”. He seems to have a great deal of trouble with higher-order thinking.

        You can be facile with language and not have a thing going for you in the brains department — Andrew is one of those. He’s all surface and no deep.

        Lots of people in the world like him. Some of them even write well. They don’t think well. If they were to start thinking well, they’d reject some of their most-cherished childhood presuppositions.

        • Marta
          Posted October 26, 2011 at 5:38 am | Permalink

          Right. That’s what I was getting at earlier, when I wrote about the individual struggle for authenticity.

          To think (or believe) what you do because that’s how you were taught as a child, and not because of the independent work you do to be an autonomous person–that is a low integrity position. Especially if you maintain that belief system even when it says you’re disordered.

  30. hank9000
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I’ve used the odd unkind word to describe Sully’s disconnect and dissonance in the past, but actually watching him try and dodge the bullets and walk around the mines in his own head has just made me feel sorry for the guy. I haven’t seen such anguish on a man’s face, well, ever.

    Essentially, here’s an intelligent, decent guy living in abject fear of a loving God who will damn him to Hell if he acts upon his true & honest feelings. Here’s a smart, respectable man reduced to battered-spouse syndrome by a church that hates & condemnds who he is but professes to love him unconditionally at the same time.

    Religion doesn’t just poison everything, it devalues, debases & dehumanises it too – as a coup de grace it then demonises it to the extend that the believer himself is his own hangning judge.

    Look no further than Andy as the poster-boy for Catholicism’s trinitarian trump card: shame, fear and self-loathing.

    • hank9000
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      BTW I’m also known as Mandrellian – guess my work PC auto-logged me with the other ID!

      Also, I’m aware of my awful proofreading. [mumbles something about an Edit button]

  31. jose
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Shorter every catholic on earth:

    “The Church and God’s revelation are right about the bits I agree with and they are wrong on the bits I disagree with.”

    • Kevin
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      The Christmas presents and Easter baskets.

      The feeling of altruism when they volunteer at the CYO or drop a penny in the poor box to light a candle.

      The not-so-vague feeling of superiority they feel every time they take communion (god loves me Me ME!).

      The completely overt and blatant feeling of superiority over everyone else on the planet with regard to their assumed preferred place in the after-death.

      That’s what they agree with. And there’s some admittedly powerful stuff in there.

      The cost, of course, is quite high.

      • Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        True, true and true…but then you cannot go home after taking the Eucharist or pondering your wonderful afterlife with Jeebus and have gay sex. The rules are crystal clear, and I don’t get why guys like Sullivan don’t get it.

        • jose
          Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

          That’s the trick. “Bah, the church got this one wrong. It’s been wrong before, just look at the Inquisition.” They cherrypick the parts they like and are religious only about those.

          The moment they actually confront the fact that the catholic God hates their guts, they abandon religion and become “cultural catholics”.

      • hank9000
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        - The Christmas presents and Easter baskets.

        I wonder – would anything change for these people if they were to learn that most of what we call “Christmas” and “Easter” traditions (including the dates, for FSM’s sake!) were nicked from Roman paganism and had Jeebus decals pasted over them?

        – The feeling of altruism when they volunteer at the CYO or drop a penny in the poor box to light a candle.

        If someone needs Jeebus to make them feel good after doing something good, they’re doing it wrong. If they need Jeebus to *make* them do something good, they’re also doing it wrong.

        – The not-so-vague feeling of superiority they feel every time they take communion (god loves me Me ME!).

        I’m sure that more than accounts for their paralysing terror of Hell and their horrendous shame when thinking things they’ve been told they shouldn’t think.

        – The completely overt and blatant feeling of superiority over everyone else on the planet with regard to their assumed preferred place in the after-death.

        Ah, yes, the exact same feeling that Protestants and Muslims and Orthodox Jews and uppity Western mystical Buddhists and accomodationists have.

        – That’s what they agree with. And there’s some admittedly powerful stuff in there.

        True! Who would disagree with being Numero Uno in the eyes of the Great Pixie?

        – The cost, of course, is quite high.

        Yes. As we’ve seen with Sully, being taught to loathe who you are (and had no choice in becoming) is a core Catholic doctrine. But I’m sure Sully & co. *know* that once they get to Heaven they’ll be forgiven for being born worthless, ghastly sinners through no fault of their own and be given delicious cake and pie and pudding until the end of time as their unsaved friends and loved ones writhe in torment. Surely a post-mortem eternity of free desserts is worth a few decades of hating yourself. Sign me up. It’s good enough for Tony Blair!

        • RR
          Posted October 26, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink

          …completely overt and blatant feeling of superiority…

          …born worthless, ghastly sinners…

          This I think is the evil genius of Christianity: the Christian is simultaneously valuable and worthless. The positive message is reinforcing, motivating and supports the in-group, the negative message creates guilt and fosters obedience to authority. Together the two messages cause a cognitive dissonance that compels the believer to seek relief from the authority. The cognitive dissonance also helps to discourage independent thinking. This tends to cause psychological train-wrecks, as in Sullivan’s case, but that’s not a concern for the priesthood as long as there is order and obedience.

  32. Geneva R.
    Posted October 26, 2011 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Andrew is telling us he believes in God, communion, spirituality and feels a sense of belonging.

    God Bless!

    • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Try reading things before you comment on them. And don’t end your comments with religious swearing – it’s not respectful.

  33. Bryan Elliott
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    If a claim is both true and not true, it’s been stated ambiguously. Restate each version unambiguously and determine the truth of each.


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  1. [...] Sullivan is a Catholic who is also gay. Thus his complaint seems to be that the Roman Catholic Church should not take the conservative position on sexuality, but rather, give its full attention to the liberal position on broader social issues. [...]

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