Friday, December 31, 2010

The Wild Reed's Year in Review

Part 4: October – December 2010

Following is a final selection of 2010 Wild Reed posts that I particularly enjoyed putting together and sharing. Many of these posts have also generated the most comments from readers.

If you’ve yet to read these posts then I hope you'll take the time to do so. I also hope that the experiences and insights they convey will, in some way, resonate with you and encourage and inspire you on your journey.


October 2010

Catholic Church Can Overcome Fear of LGBT People

Francis of Assisi: The Antithesis of Clericalism and Monarchism

Honoring (and Learning from) the Passion of Saints Sergius and Bacchus

Europe 2005 (Part 5)

The Raising of Lazarus and the Gay Experience of Coming Out

Shifting the Focus to the Real Issues . . . Live on Fox News

Dark Matters

The Beauty of Autumn in Minnesota

Daniel Maguire on the Progressive Core of Catholicism

Daniel Maguire on Catholicism's "Long History of Demeaning Sexuality"

Daniel Maguire on Sex as Liturgy

Daniel Maguire on the Wedding of Sexuality and Spirituality

Daniel Maguire in Minneapolis

Journeying Into the Truth . . . Valiantly, of Course!

A Birthday Weekend

The Church and Dance

Lucinda Naylor's "The Wave"

November 2010

At the Cathedral of St. Paul, Rainbow Sashes and a Circle of Love

An Old Catholic Perspective on the Roman Hierarchy's "Dumbing Down" of the Catholic Church

The Potential of Art and the Limits of Rigid Orthodoxy to Connect Us to the Sacred

A Catholic Statement of Support for Same-Sex Marriage

Daniel Maguire: "Heterosexism, Not Homosexuality, is the Problem

What Do Heath Ledger, Susan Boyle, and Catholics for Marriage Equality Have in Common?

The Two Editorials that Benilde-St. Margaret's Catholic High School Doesn't Want You to Read

Two Very Different Perspectives on the Military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy

The Pope’s Latest Condom Remarks

CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (Part 4)

Pope Embraces an Acceptable Form of Relativism

Part 5 of The Wild Reed post celebrating the city of Istanbul

The Trouble with the Male Dancer (Part 1)

December 2010

Kristen McQueary: "Yes to Civil Unions and Yes to My Catholic Faith"

Australia Bound

Thoughts on Transformation (Part 1)

Sydney Sojourn

Thoughts on Transformation (Part 2)

Francis DeBarnardo: "The Church is Better Because of the Presence of LGBT People"

The Trouble with the Male Dancer (Part 2)

Thoughts on Transformation (Part 3)

Censored Gay Catholic High School Student Honored by Peers

John Dear on Celebrating the Birth of the Nonviolent Jesus

Christmas in Australia

An Afternoon at Flynns Beach

Terence Weldon on the "Disciple Jesus Loved" as a Role Model for LGBT Christians

The Trouble with the Male Dancer (Part 3)

Summer Vocation

CPCSM's Year in Review

See also the previous post:
The Wild Reed's Year in Review: January – March 2010
The Wild Reed's Year in Review: April – June 2010
The Wild Reed's Year in Review: July – September 2010

Image: "Reeds" by Robert Morris (2003).

CPCSM's Year in Review

Following are excerpts from the November "special appeal" letter from David McCaffrey, co-founder and president of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM), the 30-year-old organization that I’ve had the honor of serving as executive coordinator since 2003.

Many of the events mentioned in this letter have been highlighted, in one way or another, at The Wild Reed. Accordingly, many of the links within the following version of the letter will take you to previous Wild Reed posts.


Dear friends,

It has never been easy to be a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individual within the Roman Catholic Church – or a straight person, for that matter, who accepts and celebrates the gift of their LGBT loved ones and desires those in positions of leadership to do likewise.

For 30 years CPCSM has worked within the local Church of St. Paul-Minneapolis creating environments of respect, justice, and safety for LGBT persons and their families. At first our educational and ministry work experienced tacit support from our local clerical leadership. In recent years, however, we have witnessed and experienced a Church leadership – both locally and globally – that has shown a staggering degree of ignorance, disregard, and active hostility toward LGBT people.

This negative reaction by the hierarchy to LGBT persons has included their spiritual journeys, their lives and relationships of authenticity, and a range of equal rights that they either have gained or are close to gaining in the civil arena. Far from embodying the inclusive love of the Gospel, such attitudes and actions by the Church’s clerical leadership convey and champion divisive triumphalism; abstract tenets that are divorced from both human experience and the insights of science; and what seems to be a fear-based rigidity to the idea (and reality) of development and change.

As the local clerical leadership has become more reactionary and activist, CPCSM has done what it can to calmly and respectfully counter and challenge. We have, as a result, been denounced as being “not really Catholic.” Implied in such a denouncement is the erroneous belief that “good” Catholics obey without question. We do not agree with this definition of what it means to be Catholic. Instead, we believe that as Catholics we are called to seek, discern, and respond to God’s loving presence wherever we experience it. We believe that the Church’s teaching on homosexuality needs to be open to and informed by this sacred presence in the lives and relationships of LGBT people. We will continue to advocate for and embody such openness. We will also continue educating ourselves and others about the reality of LGBT lives and will remain dedicated to countering the erroneous stereotypes and hurtful fallacies that continue to be perpetuated by the Church’s clerical leadership.

Some examples of how we have engaged in such work since last November [2009] include:

Our educational forum last November that challenged the pseudo-science of the National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality (NARTH). The “findings” of NARTH (including those supportive of “reparative therapy”) are embraced by the Courage Apostolate – a ministry of the Church (endorsed by the local archdiocese) that we have consistently critiqued and challenged for its limited and psycho-sexually unhealthy ways of viewing and speaking about homosexually.

Also last fall CPCSM’s executive coordinator Michael Bayly was part of a group of local religious leaders that gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol to speak out in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples. More recently, Michael submitted on behalf of CPCSM a letter of support for a number of marriage equality bills currently before both the Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate. The content and spirit of this letter stands in stark contrast to the reactionary efforts of Archbishop Nienstedt to secure a “marriage amendment” to the Minnesota Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage.

In March of this year, Michael was invited to counter Catholic League president Bill Donahue on Rick Sanchez’s CNN show The List. At the time, Donahue was garnering national media attention for his assertion that the Church’s clergy sex abuse crisis was really a “homosexual crisis.”

In April, CPCSM collaborated with OutFront Minnesota and other local groups to protest the high profile anti-marriage equality activists, Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization of Marriage (NOM) and Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, CA, credited as the “father of Proposition 8.” Both were invited to the Twin Cities by Archbishop Nienstedt and the Office of Marriage, Family and Life to address the Archdiocese’s “Relcaiming the Culture of Marriage and Life” spring conference at the University of St. Thomas. The event we helped organize saw over 300 people – many of them students from St. Thomas – gather in a rousing show of support for marriage equality. CPCSM executive coordinator Michael Bayly spoke at this event, offering an alternative Catholic perspective on homosexuality and same-sex marriage than that promulgated by the clerical leadership.

For the past year-and-a-half, CPCSM, and in particular key leadership folks like Mary Beckfeld and Michael Bayly, have played an important role in the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR) and its 2010 Synod of the Baptized: “Claiming Our Place at the Table.” Michael facilitated CCCR’s work/study group on sexual orientation and gender identity. At the September 18 Synod, this particular work/study group – along with nine others that focused on numerous areas of disconnect between Church practice and the Gospel message of love (including Church authority and governance, Catholic identity, and mandatory celibacy & clericalism) presented recommended practices and actions for Church reform. A special Action Coordinating Team was commissioned at the Synod to take the various recommended actions out to the parishes of the Archdiocese.

In October, CPCSM played a leadership role in establishing Catholics for Marriage Equality MN, a grassroots initiative of lay Catholic individuals and groups launched in response to the efforts of the Church’s clerical leadership to deny civil marriage rights to LGBT people. The initiative seeks to support, educate, and mobilize Catholics in the advancement of freedom and equality for LGBT people at the federal, state, and local levels.

The initiative has issued a statement that outlines various reasons for supporting civil marriage equality for same-sex couples. These reasons relate to points of ethics, constitutional law, social justice, Catholic moral teaching, and separation of church and state. We recognize marriage equality as a social justice issue, as a matter of fairness, and as a contributor to individual flourishing, the stabilization of relationships, and the common good of society.

On October 7, CPCSM executive coordinator Michael Bayly appeared on Fox 9 News, sharing an informed critique of Archbishop Nienstedt’s recent denial of communion to students at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict in Collegeville, MN. The students were wearing buttons with messages supportive of LGBT people. Michael also took this opportunity to discuss and critique the clerical leadership’s limited way of understanding and speaking about the complexity of human sexuality.

On October 21 we hosted an educational forum entitled “Why You Can Be Catholic and Support Gay Marriage.” This forum featured author and moral theologian Daniel Maguire from Marquette University who highlighted the support for same-sex marriage that can be found in all the world religions, including Roman Catholicism.

On Sunday, October 31 CPCSM in collaboration with Catholics for Marriage Equality MN and the Rainbow Sash Alliance invited LGBT Catholics and their allies to the Cathedral of St. Paul to demonstrate inclusiveness and celebrate our diversity in the face of the MN bishops’ ongoing campaign of intolerance and discrimination against the LGBT citizens of Minnesota.

We continue our ongoing media project The Progressive Catholic Voice, ranked by Online Christian Colleges as the Number 2 “Best Catholic Blogsite.” Edited by Michael Bayly, the PCV provides a much needed forum for reflection, dialogue, and the exchange of ideas within the Catholic community of Minnesota and beyond. In addition to the PCV there is our own comprehensive website,

As you can see, CPCSM has been very much at the forefront of efforts to counter the anti-gay and anti-equality activism of our local clerical leadership. And our work continues with two upcoming events. As the convening and facilitating component of the Catholics for Marriage Equality MN initiative, we invite you to the following two events:

Friends, we hope you can join us at the two events outlined above, and we want to thank you for your ongoing support of our ministry and let you know that we aim to continue our work into 2011 and beyond. But we need your help!

We are currently desperately short of funds. A generous contribution by an anonymous donor has played a large role in seeing us through thus far, but by the end of November we will not be able to continue paying Michael Bayly his modest stipend as executive coordinator. Already we have had to cease paying for his health insurance. He is now receiving coverage through Minnesota Care. He hopes to secure work beyond CPCSM, starting in the spring of 2011, but until this is the case, we would like to continue paying him. Currently, his salary is $1,200 a month. In terms of other funding sources, we are in communication with two foundations and continue to receive some funds from Community Shares MN, for which we are extremely grateful.

We are fully aware that the current economic situation is hard on all of us. On top of this, many Catholics have simply given up on the Church and thus on organizations like ours that are attempting to reform it. The specific focus of our ministry also limits the funding opportunities that are available to us. If you can help us in any way financially, it would be greatly appreciated. Also, if you know of individuals or foundations that would be willing to support our work, please let us know. We want to continue doing what we are doing, and we believe there is a place within the Church for our voice and ministry.

Donation checks can be made out to “CPCSM” and mailed to: CPCSM, c/o The House of the Beloved Disciple, 4001 38th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55406.

Finally, it may be helpful to know that the Minnesota Tax Code now provides a 50% tax deduction for charitable contributions over $500.

Thank you for your prayers and support. We look forward to seeing you at one or more of the events outlined in this mailing.

– David J. McCaffrey
President and Co-Founder, CPCSM

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
CPCSM's Year in Review - 2009
CPCSM's Year in Review - 2008
CPCSM's Year in Review - 2007
CPCSM's Year in Review - 2006

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Summer Vocation!

I must admit that at first I somewhat resented having to write the following letter to the editor of The Port Macquarie Independent. After all, I am here in Australia on holiday . . . or vacation, as they say back in the States!

But, truth be told, I long ago concluded that my "work" as a gay Catholic advocate, activist and educator is actually a vocation. And as Jonah of old discovered, one doesn't easily get away from that kind of calling. Not even while on vacation.

And so soon after my arrival in Australia a couple of weeks ago, I found myself compelled to research and write a response to gay marriage opponent John Martin's December 9 letter to the editor. My response was published in this week's edition of The Port Macquarie Independent and is reprinted below with added links.


Discredited Statistics

In denouncing same-sex marriage, John Martin (Port Macquarie Independent, Dec. 9, 2010) contends that there is a significant decrease in life expectancy for sexually active gay men and lesbians. He quotes figures from Denmark but fails to cite any specific study. A quick search of the Internet shows that these statistics are the work of discredited “researcher” Paul Cameron. [See Footnotes 2-4 of this online article.]

Cameron first claimed in 1993 that homosexuality reduces life expectancy by 30 years. The methods used to make this claim, however, have been widely condemned [see, for example, here], and the only groups that highlight his “findings” are reactionary organizations such as the American Family Association (recently designated a “hate group” by a major human rights organization in the U.S).

Cameron has also come under fire for misrepresenting the research findings of others. In 2001 a group of doctors published an open letter protesting that their findings had been distorted by “homophobic groups more interested in restricting the human rights of gays and bisexuals than promoting their health and well being.”

More credible studies than Cameron’s include those conducted by the University of Minnesota, the results of which were published in the September 2008 issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Homosexuality. This particular study found that it is the degree of internalized homo-negative feelings and not the degree of homosexuality that predicts poor mental and sexual health. Positive attitudes towards homosexuality, conversely, are associated with better mental and sexual health. [For's report on these findings, see here.]

These findings support individual and societal efforts to reduce homo-negativity and affirm gay people for who they are. The legalization of same-sex marriage is one such effort deserving of support.

- Michael J. Bayly
Executive Director
Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
(Currently holidaying with my parents in Port Macquarie!)

See also the previous Wild Reed post:
Knowing What to Do, Knowing Why to Stay

Image: "Jonah and the Whale" (detail) by Keith Tucker.

John Harvey, Founder of the Courage Apostolate, 1918-2010

Father John Harvey was a man whose
"intents were compassionate and who sought neither
political power, prestige, or personal advancement
through his ex-gay endeavors," writes Timothy Kincaid.

I appreciate the following reflection by Timothy Kincaid on the life and legacy of Catholic priest John Harvey, founder of the Courage apostolate. Harvey died December 27, aged 92.


I have a certain amount of sympathy for those individuals who decide that their religious convictions preclude them from engaging in any form of sexuality that is not within the confines of heterosexual marriage. Each of us must be allowed the space to determine for ourselves what gives us meaning and happiness, and some may choose to prioritize their spirituality over their sexuality.

So I am not opposed to ex-gay individuals or groups, per se, provided that they do not insist that others live according to their values, advocate for discrimination, or propagate lies. Sadly, most ex-gay groups have difficulty with strict honesty – probably because many of them are operating from a realm of “faith” in which empirical evidence can be ignored and hope can be given the imprimatur of TRUTH. But there are a few ex-gay groups that have managed to avoid overt political advocacy and who place less emphasis on miraculous reorientation and instead provide support and community for their same-sex attracted adherents.

One such group is Courage, the Catholic ex-gay organization.

While the Vatican and the bishops have taken it upon themselves to use coercion, threat of eternal damnation, and machine politics to try and force the nations of the world to adopt their dogma on issues like gay marriage, Courage has been mostly apolitical. And while they do not discourage those who hope for eventual heterosexuality, their emphasis is on chastity as a life goal. Courage has given me very little about which to object.

In 1980, New York’s Archbishop Cooke invited Father John Harvey to develop a ministry to Catholics with same-sex attractions. And while I disagree with much that Harvey espoused over the years, I do think that he was a man whose intents were compassionate and who sought neither political power, prestige, or personal advancement through his ex-gay endeavors.

This week Father John Harvey died. (PilotCatholicNews)

Oblate Father John F. Harvey, who founded an organization for celibate Catholic homosexuals that now has more than 100 chapters worldwide, died Dec. 27 at Union Hospital in Elkton. He was 92.

His funeral Mass was scheduled for Dec. 31 at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, Del., followed by interment in the Oblate Cemetery in Elkton.

An Oblate of St. Francis de Sales for 73 years, Father Harvey founded Courage, a spiritual support group for homosexual men and women, in 1980 at the request of Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York and served as its national director until his death.

Today, Courage has chapters in the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Poland, Mexico, Slovakia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Philippines and New Zealand.

“Father Harvey’s commitment to pastoral care in the church was tireless,” said Oblate Father James J. Greenfield, provincial of the Oblates’ Wilmington-Philadelphia province, in a statement. “Even in his later years, his travel would take him all over the country and world to offer a voice of compassion.”

I hope some day that the Catholic Church will find a path to full acceptance and equality for gay and lesbian Catholics (perhaps when they finally accept women as equal). But I do appreciate that in recent decades the Church has made the distinction between “inclination” and behavior (though the current Pope seems to conflate the two) as a small step in the right direction and I believe that Harvey may have played some role in that move.

– Timothy Kincaid
Box Turtle Bulletin
December 30, 2010

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Beyond Courage
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Courage
Notes from the "Laughable but Tragic" World of Courage
John Townsend Responds to His Critics
Holding the Courage Apostolate Accountable
The Cowardice of Courage
The Many Forms of Courage (Part I)
The Many Forms of Courage (Part II)
The Many Forms of Courage (part 3)
The Real Meaning of Courage
Debunking NARTH (Part I)
Debunking NARTH (Part II)

Image: Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.

The Trouble with the Male Dancer (Part 3)

The Wild Reed series “The Dancer and the Dance” continues with a third and final excerpt from Ramsey Burt’s book The Male Dancer: Bodies, Spectacle, Sexualities (2007). All three excerpts have been taken from chapter one, “The Trouble with the Male Dancer,” and explore how the spectacle of men dancing can challenge, undermine and/or redefine notions of masculinity.

This final excerpt focuses on homosexuality and the male dancer, i.e., “the dance that does not speak its name.” I find it interesting that much of what Burt says about homosexuality and the dance world can be applied to homosexuality and the Roman Catholic priesthood. For instance, both the dance world and the priesthood attract a disproportionate number of gay men. And despite the fact that in our day and age we know that it’s not homosexuality that’s the problem but the lingering remnants of societal fear and prejudice, both the dance world and the Catholic priesthood continue to perpetuate (and, in the church’s case, attempt to legitimize theologically) institutional homophobia.

The results of such institutional homophobia are truly tragic. At one point Burt quotes writer Graham Jackson who says that homophobic prejudice can “paralyze talented dancers from developing a personal dancing style reflective of their characters [and] limit the range of male dancing severely.” I think a case can be made for homophobic prejudice also emotionally and psycho-sexually crippling many within Roman Catholicism’s clerical caste.

One final part of the excerpt I share below that’s worth highlighting: “There is a difference between thinking of homosexuality as a psychopathology, and seeing any neurosis suffered by a homosexual as a result of internalizing society’s negative image of homosexuality,” writes Burt. In the Roman Catholic community today we clearly see that a major rift has developed between the clerical caste and its insistence that homosexuality be viewed as, in the words of Burt, a “psychopatholgy” or, in the rhetoric of the Vatican, an “intrinsic disorder,” and Catholics “in the pews” who are increasingly recognizing that it’s not homosexuality that’s the problem but the clerical caste’s homophobic (and thus life-denying) rhetoric and actions.


There is a widespread reluctance to talk about dance and homosexuality. Surely making it the dance that does not speak its name. The reference here is Oscar Wilde who, during his trial in 1895 for homosexual offenses, made a celebrated speech in defense of love that dared not speak its name in his century. Over the years since then, a homosexual culture or subcultures have develop with diverse, shifting memberships and significant inputs from artists and intellectuals. In recent years, partly as a result of the gay rights movement, theoretical work has been done on the way homosexuality has been and is represented in the arts and mass media, and research has been done into the work of gay and lesbian artists.

While Melanie Weeks (1987), Christy Adair (1992), and Valerie Briginshaw (2001) have written about lesbianism and dance, until recently surprisingly little attention has been given to gay men and dance. One of the first scholarly books that considered homosexuality and dance was Judith Lynne Hanna’s Dance, Sex and Gender (1988). Although the selections on gay men reflect the large amount of material Hanna researched for the book, they show little sympathy, or understanding, of the situation in which gay people live in our society and Hanna seems unaware of the underlying sexual politics. She saw homosexuality as a problem for gay people, which of course it is; but she didn’t consider what sort of problem. There is a difference between thinking of homosexuality as a psychopathology, and seeing any neurosis suffered by a homosexual as a result of internalizing society’s negative image of homosexuality. The latter way of defining the problem opens up a fruitful avenue for examining gay art, but one which Hanna did not explore. Instead her concern was with “why male homosexuals are disproportionally attracted to dance” (1988: 130), and she suggested ways in which, for gay people, an involvement in the dance world can alleviate or be an escape from their “problem.” The problem, however, is not just the result of internalizing society’s negative image of homosexuality, but the fact that Western society is, and has been for hundreds of years, profoundly homophobic.

The source of much of Hanna’s material on gay men in ballet was the essay “Toeing the Line: In Search of the Gay Male Image in Classical Ballet” written in 1976 by the Canadian writer Graham Jackson. This considered the institutional structures and pressures that influence and limit the production of ballets that deal with gay themes or subject matter and some of the ways in which a gay sensibility is expressed in or can be read into ballet. This essay has, until recently, stood out as one of the very few pieces to consider this subject. Written in the mid 1970s it had a very optimistic tone – coming out seemed for Jackson the solution for most gay men’s problems. Thus his central concern was with the fact that although a large proportion of gay men are dancers, choreographers, or hold administrative positions in the dance world, and there is a large gay audience for dance, ballet companies rarely if ever produce work that directly addresses the experiences and sensibilities of gay people. They don’t rock the boat.

There are obvious reasons why there has been a silence on the subject of gay male dancers and choreographers. Arnold Haskell writing in 1934 is doubtless protecting individuals when he states: “of the outstanding male dancers that I know, and I know them all, not one is effeminate in manner, and very few indeed are not thoroughly normal” (1934: 299). But he is surely also protecting the institution of ballet itself. With the liberalization of laws about homosexuality and substantial changes in social attitudes, the continuation of the taboo on discussions of dance and homosexuality is surely both unnecessary and unhelpful.

One possible reason why the taboo still persists is the need for dance and ballet companies to raise funding and attract sponsorship from private individuals and businesses. If this is the case, it is not a very good one, whereas the arguments for greater openness are surely compelling. Not talking about something doesn’t make it go away, and may, insidiously, make it take on greater significance than it really deserves. All male dancers are placed under suspicion with the result that, as is widely recognized, far fewer boys and men are involved in the dance world than girls and women. Moreover, homophobic prejudice can, as Jackson observes: “paralyze talented dancers from developing a personal dancing style reflective of their characters [and] limit the range of male dancing severely”(Jackson 1978: 41).

This holds true for gay and heterosexual dancers. The initial reasons for keeping quiet about gay male dancers are surely no longer valid, and silences now do more harm than good. Perhaps there are now more choreographers dealing with homosexual themes than there were when Jackson wrote: “Toeing the Line,” but only in the marginalized, underfunded, experimental fringes. In the mainstream, fear, prejudice, and the old boy network still ensure the status quo. The case of Matthew Bourne’s 1995 version of Swan Lake . . . exemplifies this.* It is a truism that fear and prejudice breed on ignorance. Homophobic mechanisms channel and block our understanding and appreciation of representations of masculinity that are made by both gay and straight dance artists. It is through understanding the ways in which these mechanisms work that their effectiveness is undermined, and the possibility of positive change is brought about.

* In chapter 7 of The Male Dancer Burt discusses at length Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake and concludes that, "ultimately, [it] reinforced a negative, disempowering conception of homosexuality that, in effect, reinforced dominant gender norms."

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Trouble with the Male Dancer (Part 1)
The Trouble with the Male Dancer (Part 2)
The Dancer and the Dance
The Premise of All Forms of Dance
The Church and Dance
Recovering the Queer Artistic Heritage
Istanbul (Part 4)
Scaling the Heights
Dark Matters
Oh! What’s This, Then?
Whimsical and Edgy
Love, Equality and the Rumba
An Evening with the Yuval Ron Ensemble
Oh, Yeah!
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake Returns to New York
The Potential of Art & the Limits of Rigid Orthodoxy to Connect Us to the Sacred

Image 1: Taken from Men in Motion: The Art and Passion of the Male Dancer by François Rousseau.
Image 2: Chris Nash.
Image 3: Alan Alberto (photographer unknown).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Terence Weldon on the "Disciple Jesus Loved" as a Role Model for LGBT Christians

This past Tuesday, December 27, was the feast day of St. John the Evangelist, the “beloved disciple.”

In marking this day Terence Weldon has posted a thoughtful
reflection on his blog, Queering the Church. Following is an excerpt.


[In his book The Man Jesus Loved, biblical scholar Theodore] Jennings makes it clear that he believes [Jesus’] relationship with the “Beloved Disciple” was at the very least emotionally intimate, and probably erotic – but he is not convinced that [the disciple] John and the Beloved were the same person. This does not change the importance of St John the Evangelist and of the “Beloved Disciple” for queer Christians today, simply on the basis that the beloved disciple exists – and that beloved, in fact, is each of us. For gay men in particular, combining this thought in our prayer with a recognition of Jesus’ full bodily humanity can be a powerful entry into building that important personal relationship with him in our spiritual lives.

Personally, I agree that Jesus was certainly “queer”, in the sense that he was plainly a sexual non-conformist who did not conform to the social expectations of the time. It must be true that, as “fully human”, he must have experienced sexual feelings. Even in Jewish society, if he had indeed given expression to these with another man, this would not have been exceptional: as long as he did not contravene that Leviticus prohibition on lying with a man “as with a woman” – i.e. with anal penetration. I also take it is true that he was clearly gay – friendly, as is clear from the story of the centurion, his words abut Eunuchs, and (possibly) his friendship with Martha Mary and Lazarus. So, to say Jesus and John were possibly sexually intimate lovers is to me not shocking, indeed possible – but also irrelevant.

The significance for us of John as “the disciple Jesus loved,” goes way beyond the possibility of genital activity. Love is primarily an emotional relationship, not a physical one. The English language does us a disservice in using “lovemaking” as a euphemism for the physical act, even without any deep emotional significance. “Loving”, in its full sense is more important than mere “lovemaking” as a physical act. In this sense, we know without any possible doubt that the words “whom Jesus loved” are true. How do we know it? Because they are true for all the disciples, as they are for each of us, and for all others.

One of the reasons I believe it is helpful to reflect on the saints is to see them as role models, that is, to try to imagine ourselves in their place, to try to follow their example. If we do this, actively imagining ourselves in the place of John, the beloved disciple, we may more easily see ourselves as we really are – beloved ourselves.

This is important for all followers of Christ, but is even more important for us as lesbigaytrans Catholics and other Christians, who so often find ourselves under attack by those in the churches who really should know better. When we find ourselves under attack, on the receiving end of hate it is important to remember that this comes from human institutions, not from Christ himself – for whom we are all “the disciple(s) whom he loved.”

– Terence Weldon
St. John the Evangelist, the “Beloved Disciple”: December 27
Queering the Church
December 27, 2010

See also the related Wild Reed posts:
The Sexuality of Jesus
Why Jesus is My Man
Jesus Was a Sissy
Jesus and the Centurion (Part 1)
Jesus and the Centurion (Part 2)
Jesus and Homosexuality
“More Lovely Than the Dawn”: God as Divine Lover
Lover Of Us All
Christ and Krishna
The Archangel Michael as Gay Icon
The Allure of St. Sebastian
"From Byzantine Daddy to Baroque Twink" – Charles Darwent on the Journey of St. Sebastian
Song of Songs: The Bible's Gay Love Poem

Image 1: LifeWay Church Resources.
Image 2: Artist unknown.
Image 3: Valentin de Boulogne.
Image 4: Lester Yocum.
Image 5:

An Afternoon at Flynns Beach

Earlier this afternoon I spent time with members of my family at Flynns Beach -- one of Port Macquarie's most popular summer destinations.

Above: My older brother Chris and two of my nephews, Mitch and Brendan.

Above: Sami, Ros, Brendan, Mitch and Chris.

Above: My youngest nephew, Brendan.

Above: My niece Sami (right) and her friend Danika.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Flynns Beach (January 2010)
Flynns Beach (November 2006)
Town Beach
Rocky Beach
Lighthouse Beach
Tacking Point Lighthouse
On the Rocks . . .
Sharing a Good Thing
The Empty Beach
Beach Cricket

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Wild Reed's Year in Review

Part 3: July – September 2010

Following is a further selection of 2010 Wild Reed posts that I particularly enjoyed putting together and sharing. Many of these posts have also generated the most comments from readers.

If you’ve yet to read these posts then I hope you'll take the time to do so. I also hope that the experiences and insights they convey will, in some way, resonate with you and encourage and inspire you on your journey.


July 2010

John Townsend Responds to His Critics

The Dancer and the Dance

E.M. Forster's " Elusive Ideal"

Clarity, Hope and Courage

Wisconsin Adventure (Part 1)

Taking It to the Streets

Wisconsin Adventure (Part 2)

Scaling the Heights

A Message for NOM (and the Catholic Hierarchy)

August 2010

CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (Part 3)

The Facts About the Prop 8 Repeal

Reactions to Prop 8 Defeat

Part 4 of The Wild Reed series celebrating the city of Istanbul

Wisconsin Adventure (Part 3)

Feeling Both Hopeful and Sad (Part 9 of The Wild Reed series The Journal of James Curtis)

Benedict and Georg

Rob Tisinai on the Facts We Need to Know About Hate Crime Laws

Informed and Helpful Perspectives on the "Ground Zero Mosque" Controversy

A Valiant First Effort, Wouldn't You Say?

Europe 2005 (Part 1)

September 2010

Europe 2005 (Part 2)

John Cornwell on the "Pontifical Hijacking" of John Newman

Europe 2005 (Part 3)

The Minnesota Bishops' Last Ditch Effort

Countdown to Synod 2010

Reflections on the Life and Legacy of John Henry Newman

It's a Scandal

Misplaced Priorities

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

A Hopeful and Encouraging Trend

Dave Navarro to LGBT Youth: "We Need Your Voice"

NEXT: Part 4: October - December 2010.

See also the previous post:
The Wild Reed's Year in Review: January – March 2010
The Wild Reed's Year in Review: April – June 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Photo of the Day

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

See also the previous Wild Reed post:
Christmas in Australia

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Quote of the Day

What would constitute “good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10) for the shepherds of Judea, circa 4 BCE? Maybe the announcement of a particular birth: the birth of a man who would, as an adult, go into the synagogue and say that God had anointed him to bring good news to the poor. And especially in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus had a lot of good news for the poor. He said they were blessed. He said the Kingdom of God was theirs. He ate with them and healed them and invited them to walk with him along the way. What an incredible experience that would have been, to be a marginal figure in society and suddenly to find oneself in relationship with a God-intoxicated prophet and teacher.

Why did Jesus do these things? Because he encountered God as utterly compassionate, welcoming and loving, and he brought this message of God’s nature to the people in his world, who tended to be, like him, on the lower end of the economic spectrum. In a sense, it doesn’t matter what season Jesus was born in, or whether there were actually shepherds there. The shepherds are part of the truth that transcends fact: If the holy is recklessly and wildly compassionate and inclusive, who better to get the good news first then a bunch of poor people?

– Amanda Udis-Kessler
"About Those Shepherds: A Christmas Mini-Sermon"
Tikkum Daily Blog
December 25, 2010

Recommended Off-Site Link:
A Christmas Story – Aun Lal (Side Walk, December 24, 2010).

Image: Artist unknown.

Christmas in Australia

Friends, as many of you know I'm currently in Australia visiting family and friends. I share this evening a few photos taken over the past couple of days, including some of my family's celebration of Christmas at the home of my parents in Port Macquarie.

Above: We had a lovely Christmas Day lunch yesterday at my parents' home. In this photo I'm pictured with my younger brother Tim, sister-in-law Ros, nieces Layne and Sami, and Rory, my nieces' cousin on their mum's side of the family.

Right: My Mum and Dad on Town Beach – Christmas Day 2010. The night before, my parents and I attended a very spirited Christmas Eve Mass with the community of St. Agnes Catholic Church.

Left: With my younger brother Tim on Boxing Day.

My older brother and his family will be visiting Port Macquarie from Melbourne in the New Year.

Above: What Aussie Christmas celebration would be complete without pavlova for dessert! Thanks, Ros!

Above (from left): Sami, me, Dad, Mum, Layne and Tim.

Right: Sami.

Above: After Christmas Day lunch . . . a walk along the beach – Town Beach to be precise!

Above: Sami, Layne and Rory (with some cormorants behind them!).

Above: The view from my bedroom balcony at sunrise today, Boxing Day 2010.

I'll close with excerpts from The Sunday Telegraph's Barclay Crawford's summation of the Christmas messages delivered yesterday by various leaders important in the lives of Australians. My American friends in particular may find this of interest.

In the Commonwealth's 60th year, Queen Elizabeth II [in her annual televised Christmas address] encouraged members to continue discussing important issues facing the world today, saying: "It is important to keep discussing issues that concern us all. There can be no more valuable role for our family of nations.

[Australian Prime Minister] Julia Gillard, meanwhile, hoped Christmas 2010 would be a special one for Australian families, whether they were spending time in church, with family, on the beach, or helping others.

Ms Gillard called on the nation to spare a moment to acknowledge the sacrifices of 10 Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. . . . "They died for us and I know every Australian has a special thought for their partners and children, their families and their mates this Christmas. We don't forget," she said.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott also appealed to Australians to think of those less fortunate. He added: "I hope we will especially think of all of those people who make our country safer, stronger and more prosperous."

. . . In Sydney, [Roman Catholic] Cardinal George Pell used his Christmas message to express gratitude for the breaking of the drought and welcomed the canonisation of Mary MacKillop earlier this year. "Much, indeed most, of Australian life is good and those blessed with prosperity . . . should strive to spread good cheer to those who are battling."

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Bush Christmas (2009)
An Australian Christmas (2006)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

John Dear on Celebrating the Birth of the Nonviolent Jesus

I share today an excerpt from John Dear, SJ's latest column in the National Catholic Reporter and wish all my readers . . .

. . . a happy and peace-filled Christmas!

I’ve been thinking about Christmas as a time to celebrate the life of the nonviolent Jesus because his life is so remarkable, to say the least. Of course he is the God of peace present in our world of war, but I can barely wrap my mind around the mystery of the Incarnation.

So instead I consider Jesus’ whole life and discover there, in the cumulative effect, an entirely new way of life, something rarely seen, something rarely invoked in the mass media and the churches – the most perfect life of love, compassion, nonviolence, peacemaking and resistance to injustice and empire.

I see Jesus as a nonviolent revolutionary who sets in motion God’s peace movement for the disarmament of every heart, every nation and every age. His nonviolent revolution continues to this day and, as participants in it, we celebrate his birth and his revolutionary life.

Poverty, war, executions, global warming, drug killings, nuclear weapons – it’s hard to believe that Jesus’ life two thousand years ago has sparked the coming of new peace. That’s why as people of faith, Christmas invites us once again to dig deeper spiritual roots, to continue our own personal conversion to Christ, to believe in his Way and to carry on his Gospel witness.

When I look at his entire life, I’m challenged once again to renounce violence, let go of resentment, turn away from meanness, throw away despair, choose life, adopt his brave nonviolence, forgive everyone, offer compassion, practice universal love, and seek that Christmas gift of “peace on earth.” As we ponder his lifelong active nonviolence, we will rejoice because Jesus really offers us a Way out of madness.

– John Dear, SJ
"Celebrating the Birth of the Nonviolent Jesus"
National Catholic Reporter
December 21, 2010

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Bush Christmas (2009)
A Story of Searching and Discovery (Christmas 2008)
Clarity and Hope (Christmas 2007)
A Christmas Reflection by James Carroll
The Christmas Truce of 1914

Image: Artist unknown.