Notre Dame Marriage Panel (video) Posted by Ron Belgau 3 The video of the Notre Dame panel discussion on marriage is now available. For previous discussion of this panel, see here and here. Share this:FacebookTwitterTumblrEmailLike this:Like Loading... Related
This is a very interesting panel. It gives the appropriate words to my own thoughts.
Thank you Ron for posting.
I want to reiterate my gratefulness to everyone here at Spiritual Friendship. You are making a difference in my life and I will continue to pray for you and for all the Church in these very important issue of chastity.
I finally had the opportunity to listen to most of this video yesterday. At the outset, I must confess that I did not finish listening. The final speaker was really difficult for me to listen to, and for my own sake, I turned the video off at that point. So, I can only comment on the presentations, not the discussion at the end. All of that said, I would like to make a few comments:
(1.) One of the reasons I avidly follow the Spiritual Friendship blog is because it steers away from overly political discussions. When it does discuss politics, it jettisons the polemical for the grace-filled position that allows room for the other. That doesn’t mean that people don’t have strong opinions one way or the other, but they allow the possibility that one can follow Christ and hold different political convictions.
Indeed, this blog “was created…out of frustration with the prevailing narratives about homosexuality in orthodox Christian circles, which focus either on political issues, or on reparative therapy…Neither of these approaches… [according to Belgau/Hill] represents an adequate pastoral response to LGBT Christians”
Despite this, we see here a panel preoccupied with marriage as a political issue. That in-and-of-itself is not bad. However, the panel didn’t seek to break free from rather old and tired tropes that traditional marriage advocates trot out every time there is a political discussion. I understand that posting something does not necessarily mean agreement. In addition, I acknowledge that Ron Belgau’s presentation did not necessarily fall into this category. Nevertheless, engaging the discussion simply as a listener was exhausting because it seemed to reify the political bifurcation and ardent polemicizing that I view this blog as a refuge from.
(2.) I was rather disappointed with the makeup of this panel.
The composition of this panel overwhelmingly fell into a very *particular* Catholic view of marriage and the political debate. Belgau himself acknowledged that people listening in the audience may be very skeptical of the point of view being presented. It seems to me that a robust intellectual community such as Notre Dame should have made sure that different Catholic points-of-view were represented on the panel.
As just one example, the discussion of natural law didn’t even engage with critiques of a natural law argument for marriage (e.g. If marriage is primarily for procreation, what do we do with couples unable to have children?) Surely a presentation of natural law needs to at least engage with the critiques (critiques by other Catholics!), even if the critics are not represented? Otherwise, the presentation becomes a rallying cry for those who agree and an object of scorn for those who disagree. It doesn’t move a conversation forward, it keeps it stuck in a ditch.
(3.) The fourth speaker (from an organization named for Ruth?) did not seem interested in having a conversation; she seemed interested in rallying her base for a political battle. (One may note that she invited people to sign up for the group’s mailing list and had footnoted copies of her presentation for the press.) 1950’s life, in her book, was good. Sexual revolution? Bad. But surely it isn’t that simple, is it? (I say this as someone who isn’t so keen on many parts of the sexual revolution.)
(4.) Finally, as someone who is (a.) gay; (b.) tends to have an orthodox view of marriage; and (c.) is attempting, (however horribly!) to follow Jesus and traditional church teaching on sexuality, I was hurt by parts of this presentation. In the past, I have really struggled with the fact that I don’t always have traits of traditional “masculine,” “American” males. When I hear really essentializing definitions of masculinity in the form of the “father-figures” that the third speaker spoke about, I returned once again to the question, “What about me?” I don’t fit these traits. Beyond the marriage debate, these definitions disenfranchise me from being “male”. And I have a right to have my form of “masculinity” represented just as much as the father who wrestles with his kids on the living room floor when he comes home from work.
I understand that Spiritual Friendship is a place for people from all different walks of life to come and speak. I also understand that I don’t need to read everything posted on here, and that posting does not mean assent. But apart from content, I believe that style of this presentation (composition of the panel; intellectual rigor of the discussion; tone of the speakers) is something that doesn’t fit this blog very well. (Of course form and content are not so easily disentangled!)
Just to be clear, Spiritual Friendship played no role in choosing the form of the panel. I agreed to participate in order to give voice to the concerns I raised. I did not choose the other speakers or a shape the overall focus of the panel.
I think your concerns are valid and will share then with the organizers. At the same time, reshaping the conversation takes time, and involves getting involved with conversations that haven’t been reshaped as much as we’d like.