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False Assertions Worthy of Response (?)

I'm debating whether to write to the Providence Journal in response to a letter that the paper ran today by Roger Beaudreault:

Dr. MacAndrew says, "Kennedy is a badly educated Catholic from a badly educated family." Perhaps Dr. MacAndrew is unaware that church scholars have known for some time that a rite for blessing same-sex unions once existed in the early Christian church. It had disappeared by the early Middle Ages. As the church consolidated its political power and amassed great wealth, the pope introduced policies that sadly encouraged our modern-day homophobia.

Unfortunately, Mr. Beaudreault doesn't tell us who the "church scholars" to whom he refers might be. Having come across this assertion before (from Andrew Sullivan, I believe), I suspect that the late Yale history professor John Boswell's findings are involved in the analysis somewhere. Boswell's research is merely a representative of the modern academic way of thinking that forces its perspective into any historical or literary niche that can be misinterpreted to allow it. Another example would be academics who pivot on class to make history fit a simplistic racial model (e.g., whereby the Irish were once "black"). In Boswell's case, it is a matter of "reading" homosexuality into all close same gender relationships... ever. The practice doesn't turn out to be but so difficult, as Anton Marco shows, considering that such research removes inconvenient subtext and sublimates all specific considerations to the fact of a close relationship between men (or women). If anything, Boswell illustrates that homosexuality is sexualizing, and thus destroying, the ancient idea of friendship.

Seeking to give them the most feasible credit for accuracy, Boswell and Beaudreault can claim at best that some representatives of the Church might have unduly conformed to the ethos of particularly decadent eras (and localities). If turning away from those practices represented, in Beaudreault's words, "damage done to 'good' gay Catholics," then anybody inclined to claim that the Church has done damage to "good Catholic anti-Semites" would seem to have logically similar grounds for complaint.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 11:32 AM EST

1 Comment

This type of argument has been used before by the Mormons, Seven Day Adventists and countless others.

To both claim tradition and at the same time deny tradition you must say that the historical church became corrupt at some unspecified point of time and also claim that whatever practice you support was suppressed by the Church. It is an intellectual void as a rational without any historical proof, but it is convincing to those who want it to be so.

Jeff Miller @ 08/30/2003 09:14 PM EST