Thursday, July 03, 2008

Taking Kersten to Task

Columnist Katherine Kersten, the Star Tribune’s token right-wing ideologue, recently railed not only against St. Joan of Arc parish and members of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (myself included) for last Wednesday’s LGBT Pride Prayer Service, but also against the very idea of Gay Pride. After all, Kersten reminds us, pride is a sin.

In her June 30 column, Kersten claimed to be presenting “the real story behind the gay pride issue at St. Joan’s.” Yet she displayed her ignorance of the event by implying (in the second paragraph) that it was the organizers of the quashed St. Joan of Arc Pride prayer service who “moved the celebration outside the church.” Wrong. There was no Pride prayer service organized by members of St. Joan of Arc either inside or outside the church. The Pride prayer service that did take place outside the church last Wednesday evening was organized by the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities. (For the reasons for CPCSM’s prayer service and why it was held outside of St. Joan of Arc, click here.)

I’m not sure if it’s laziness on Kersten’s part or a deliberate attempt to mislead the pubic that accounts for her shoddy work. Regardless, her writings are a total embarrassment – so much so that I have a hard time taking them seriously. In my view, one online comment on the Star Tribune website says it all: “Katherine, you’re a hoot and a holler . . .” I’m grateful, however, for those folks who do take the time to respond to her via the letters-to-the-editor section of the paper.

Following are some of the letters that have been published in the past few days in response to Kersten’s take on the “real story” behind last Wednesday’s Pride prayer service.


Her certitude

Wearing her theologian’s hat and her patronizing attitude, Katherine Kersten informs us that it’s the “pride,” not the “gay,” that the Catholic Church objects to. Presumably, then, a prayer service held as part of a gay humiliation festival would be perfectly acceptable.

Somehow, “pride is sin” rings false coming from an institution that claims that its own immutable doctrine is the sole answer to all the complexities of humankind.

Nan Booth

Proud to be American?

So Kersten thinks that “gay pride” is “out of place in church” and considers it a sin. I wonder if this ideology also applies to national pride. Is Kersten proud to be an American?

As usual, her biases sever her from reality and integrity.

Nathan Kaslelnak

Healthy self-respect

Pride is a tricky word, and it should not be used to twist a viewpoint about the gay community. Katherine Kersten asserts that “Christianity views pride as a sin,” and therefore “ ‘gay pride’ is out of place in church.”

The word “pride” can mean a sense of being puffed up, an inordinate conceit. But it can also mean simply a sense of reasonable self-respect, the opposite of “shame.” For so long, much of society has wagged the finger of shame at folks who discover themselves to be gay, that a term like “gay pride” has surfaced in order to reclaim that healthy sense of self-respect. It does not mean the sinful type of pride that Kersten so viciously attaches to it.

And regarding the tenets of the church, this Christian believes that the love that Jesus taught us to display is clothed in the full feeling of self-worth that each individual finds in an honest and loving relationship, with another human, and with God. If Kersten’s interpretation of Christianity is limited to the sinful elements of humanity, then she has some other study to do as well.

Gary Clements
St. Paul

A historical view

The problem with Katherine Kersten’s column on St. Joan of Arc Church and gay pride is that it is all based on the underlying assumption that being gay is a sin. The truth is, it’s genetic, so you might just as well make having green eyes or being 7 feet tall a sin.

Of course, people are still arguing about that, but evidence is mounting. It took the Catholic Church 400 years to acknowledge that Galileo was right: The sun does not revolve around the earth. I suspect it will be at least that long, if ever, before the church changes its position on being gay.

In the meantime, I think the problem surrounding St. Joan’s hurts the church far more than it affects gay people.

David M. Perlman
New Hope

Here’s the Church, and here are the people

The Star Tribune and archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath got it wrong when it was said that Catholic treasures were stolen from the archbishop’s residence (front page, July 1).

Catholic treasures aren’t crosses too big for rappers to wear and gaudy rings. Catholic treasures are folks like the faithful nuns at the Carondolet Center; the parishioners of St. Joan of Arc who welcome all to worship every Sunday; and the musicians, liturgists, receptionists, priests and volunteers who lead worship and grow the church every day.

Beth-Ann Bloom

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Star Tribune’s Coverage of Catholic LGBT Pride Prayer Service
250+ People Attend Catholic LGBT Pride Prayer Service
The Catholic LGBT Pride Prayer Service That Is and Isn’t Happening
More Media Coverage of the Upcoming Catholic LGBT Pride Prayer Service
What is a “Lifestyle”?
Thoughts on Archbishop Nienstedt
Celebrating and Embodying Divine Hospitality
300+ People Vigil at the Cathedral in Solidarity with LGBT Catholics
Archbishop Nienstedt’s “Learning Curve”: A Suggested Trajectory
A Catholic Understanding of Faithful Dissent
The Many Manifestations of God’s Loving Embrace
Coming Out: An Act of Holiness


Anonymous said...

1. In recent years, however, a different vision of sexuality has grown fashionable. In this view, sex of all kinds -- whether straight, gay or otherwise -- is best understood as a vehicle for pleasure and self-expression.

Kersten has a point here which can't be dismissed as misuse of the word pride. And her point is about time-immemorial human behavior, not only gay or straight behavior. Its not that simple.

2. When the gay rights movement emerged several decades ago, its leaders asked only for tolerance -- a live-and-let-live attitude on the part of the larger society.

I kind-off agree with Kersten here, but if tolerance sets the lower-bound of acceptable behavior, it has to be more refraining from physical violence and overt intimidation. A quick look at your local newspaper demonstrates daily that some people, regretably, can't refrain from violence or intimidation. Violence against GLBT people is sadly and seriously under-reported. So is violence against people - GLBT or not. Again, this is not just a gay or straight issue, but a human issue. A critical look at the causes of violence in our present situation is continuously needed.

3. Today, the [gay rights] movement increasingly demands both approval of and conformity to its creed. More and more, it labels all dissent -- even that based on religious conviction -- as "hateful."

Kersten has a point here, thought I doubt she'd borrow ideas from Foucalt to make that point. Creating labels, defining labels and applying labels can be seen as acts of power. The Church does it and that's "bad." "Faithful dissenters" engage in the same behavior and suddenly that's "good." Why? Aren't self-described "faithful dissenters" simply adopting and adapting the behavior of the so-called "institutional Church" to their own ends?

Frank Partisan said...

Being attacked by Kersten like she did, is a badge of honor.

You must have done something right.

Anonymous said...

My friend who runs a knitting circle on Mondays told me that all the ladies were dissing Katherine Kersten.

When the Norwegian Lutheran knitting ladies are for you, you know the world is tipping your way.

Anonymous said...

Is Kersten reaffirming "pride is the occasion to sin?" All very biblical. Aquinas considers "pride" one of the cardinal vices. Psychologist Albert Ellis, Ph.D., and sexologist who claims to have cured homophilia, thought pride and self-esteem myths.

Having only witnessed a couple of individuals without any sense of pride, I've also witnessed only a couple of total losers. They don't know they are losers, because they don't have any pride or self-esteem. They also have no conscience. Too metaphysical? Nope. Too demanding.