Culture Wars… now and forever!

Okay, let’s concede a point to Planet Janet, Bolta and the rest of the defeated culture warriors – we still need your voices in our national conversation! John Quiggin suggests:

With no share of political power anywhere in the country, the culture warriors can’t do any actual harm, except to the conservative side of politics. So, there’s an argument that they should be encouraged, rather than persuaded to give up the struggle.

In a long post about the culture warriors, Quiggin correctly argues that there’s no constituency for most of the moralising mendacity of the punditariat:

As regards the policies themselves, the idea that Australians are brimming with conservative fervour, or any kind of fervour, on these topics is silly in most cases. Most people are vaguely in favour of a republic, but aren’t in any hurry. As regards legal recognition of gay relationships, only a handful of people are aware of the fine distinctions between civil unions and registered relationships, and even fewer care.

Precisely. Which is why, aside from the comedy value, I’d be quite happy for Christopher Pearson and his ilk to go on with their “battlers hate teh gay!” denialism about the fact that the fast eroding economic credentials of the Coalition and WorkChoices were the key factors in swinging the “Howard battlers” away from the Dear Leader. If they’d prefer to believe that sanctimonious posturing about family values is going to be the bbq stopper that reinvigorates the Libs and hurtles them towards electability, so be it. And if the Libs buy it, we’ll be laughing all the way to the next election, fellas…

Ps: Of course, the culture warriors claim they’re vital because they vigorously fight the battle of ideas. Taking the civil unions will be an electoral liability for Labor “argument” as a case study, the problem with that thesis (as enunciated by John Heard) is, that as Andrew Norton demonstrates, their arguments aren’t arguments and don’t make any sense.

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214 comments on “Culture Wars… now and forever!
  1. DREADNOUGHT says:

    Hi Kim.

    Just quickly, I wrote:

    “Rather than a referendum on John Howard’s leadership and a chance to register anger at the ill-conceived Work Choices legislation, it’s now [wrongly, as it happens] claimed the voters had some other more pressing gripe.”

    and then I went on to attack the very ‘denialism’ you accuse me of:

    “Indeed, if Howard had listened to social conservatives in his own party room, including the sometimes helpless gaffes of Tony Abbott, he might have come to some reckoning of how far Work Choices had stretched his government’s credibility with the very people who formerly supplied its electoral dominance.”

    We actually agree on some of the reasons (the main ones) for Howard’s defeat.

    Whose arguments aren’t arguments, therefore, and don’t make any sense mate?

    – JH

  2. kimberella says:

    Oops, my bad, John, I was too quick to rope you in with Christopher Pearson. Sorry about that! So I’ve amended the post accordingly. Your version of the argument, though, completely fails to demonstrate that having deserted the Coalition on economic issues, any putative outrage about civil unions would send the battlers running away from Rudd, if we make the assumption that he will look after the economy to their satisfaction. So I still think Andrew Norton’s points hold.

  3. DREADNOUGHT says:

    Thanks Kim.

    My original title was ‘It’s the Family, Stupid’.

    I guess we’ll see about outrage and elections, etc. but the PM’s ‘re-commitment to Christian voters’ was up before I was this morning.

    Someone found the general arguments credible.

    – JH

  4. anthony says:

    The shifting sands. Walk, don’t run to Mungo MacCallum on Perspective on the wireless today:
    “John Winston Howard was Australia’s second longest-serving Prime Minister, presiding almost unchallenged over the political landscape for well over a decade. His time in government can not be dismissed lightly. However it can be dismissed heavily, so here goes….”

  5. paul walter says:

    Orrrr, WHAT “intellectuals”!?
    A bunch of conceited pathologues whose major intellectual acheivement is to remember to say it’s a “socialist plot” and muddy the waters in the interests of who or what they know not, regardless of what has actually happened. How intelletual is it to wilfully blind yourself to the actual condition of the world, as they did with ecology, science and climate change, when any who raised doubts about the mode of production was automatically slandered as a greenie leftist anarchist.
    As for their “family values” tripe; what’s that all about?
    The meaningless life of the Man in the Grey Flannel suit? Sex through gritted teeth on Saturday night in a spirit of enobling self-sacrifice for wifey?
    The organic society, as in “vegetable”, where true to teh “Republic”, every one knows their place, which is all they need to or should know apart from their jobs, while the status quo for wealth and power remains unyeilding to even serious changes in the condition of a real world such a starched, unyeilding social order is embedded within.

  6. Sam Ward says:

    Claiming there’s no constituency is retarded. The libs got close to half of the vote in the last election and a great deal of people who voted Labor did so because it was “time for a change”. Howard had been in power too long already.

    Acting like the left somehow won the war of ideas is a little presumptuous.

  7. David Rubie says:

    JH wrote:

    I guess we’ll see about outrage and elections, etc. but the PM’s ‘re-commitment to Christian voters’ was up before I was this morning.

    Funniest thing I’ve read this month.

    John Heard, for some bizarre reason, thinks that Kevin07’s christian values will be exactly the same as his own (i.e. ghey is bad, ghey marriage leads to inevitable breakdown of hetero marriage, you can catch teh ghey from touching a toilet seat sat on by a ghey etc.)

    Obviously irrelevance isn’t a comfortable place for these people.

  8. Guido says:

    I can’t see the problem for Labor. The register for same gender unions has been introduced by Bracks in Victoria and there hasn’t been a ‘battler revolt’.

    And isn’t this a state right issue anyway? I know that the ACT comes under the Territories responsiblities of the Federal Government, but if the citizens of the Capital aren’t happy with this legislation they will vote the ACT government at the next election.

  9. Katz says:

    John Heard’s continued hankering for fighting the Culture Wars and the standard that he wishes conservatives to rally around are embedded in his language:

    One of Rudd’s first acts as the PM for working families, then, will be to betray working families on the family. By supporting gay marriage by another name, he will be treating mainstream beliefs with contempt for the sake of the radical fringe. For it is neither conservative nor progressive, rather simply humane and right, to take up the cause of protecting, strengthening and expanding Australian families. Such efforts must attract bipartisan support.

    1. “Mainstream” is often conflated by the right wing culture warrior with “traditional”. In fact, all of the polling I’ve seen on the issue of gay unions is that the respondants are overwhelming (approx 70/30) in favour of it. “Mainstream” is itself a Howardesque neologism of 1996 vintage. It described a temporary emotion of contempt for Paul Keating rather than a long-term return to “traditional values”. Like in a powerful river, the mainstream is a fast-moving, dynamic thing. It is not a stagnant pond of dead tradition.

    2. “Families” don’t vote. Individuals over the age of 18 vote. Very often, individual members of the same household vote in different ways. The “family” vote is uncountable because it does not exist.

    3. The spurious implication that to recognise gay civil unions is to withdraw recognition from heterosexual marriage. This is nonsense. Just because we recognise France doesn’t mean that we don’t recognise Germany. The only case I know of this kind of argument is by Communist China. The Chinese government forbids the world from recognising Taiwan. On the issue of gay unions social conservatives are behaving like Chinese Communists.

    Once Heard’s dogwhistles are (well) heard, their logical content evaporates.

  10. Greg says:

    The culture wars will be with us always, as they have been, well before Bush/Howard. Reading the opposite side’s diatribes and snark are important, so those more open to change can always know what we’re up against.

  11. mbahnisch says:

    Indeed, Katz. I suggest Mr Heard go back and read what Rudd had to say about Christian values in The Monthly.

    Claiming there’s no constituency is retarded. The libs got close to half of the vote in the last election and a great deal of people who voted Labor did so because it was “time for a change”. Howard had been in power too long already.

    Acting like the left somehow won the war of ideas is a little presumptuous.

    That’s odd, Sam, because whenever I used to point out pre-election that Labor got 47% of the vote, I was told that this was irrelevant, the voice of the people had spoken in their endorsement of the Dear Leader, people like me were inner city elites, etc.

    The truth is, as Katz points out, that all the evidence is that Australians overwhelmingly couldn’t give a toss if people choose to couple off with others of the same sex. There may be a tiny constituency of religious zealots who’ll change their vote on these sorts of issues, but I’d suggest Messrs Pearson, Heard, Ward, etc. compare the census figures for Buddhist and Pentecostal affiliation (hint – it’s the first that’s bigger). Even then, there’s no particular evidence that the manly Brigadier is capable of swinging any votes.

    It’s difficult to say whether the “culture wars” have been won because the notion is so incoherent – as Quiggin points out with admirable clarity in the post which is linked from this one.

  12. John Quiggin says:

    Sam, do you really think the 47 per cent who supported Howard are all authoritarians like yourself? Howard’s support rested much more on his claims to superior economic management than on his opposition to gay marriage. As Katz notes, there’s ample evidence, beyond election results in every Australian jurisdiction, that you’re on the losing side here. PDF link.

  13. mbahnisch says:

    The Family First vote is a good indicator of how electorally salient issues like civil unions really are. They barely topped 2% in their best states and fell below 1% in some. They’re just very noisy.

  14. Liam Hogan says:

    Mark, when you’re assessing the Christian Right parties across the country, you’ve got to account for the CDP/Fred Nile Group in New South Wales, which soaks up a lot of votes that would otherwise go to FF. They’re not identical, but they appeal to an equivalent constituency.
    It is indeed a shrinking one, as one of their State MLCs acknowledges.

    We have moved too far to the right in conservative terms. We have become an extremist group. …
    We are appealing to a fundamentalist group that no longer exists.

  15. Bingo Bango Boingo says:

    This is the first time that Yobbo has been called an ‘authoritarian’, surely. And for getting the Libs’ constituency a little wrong!

    BBB

  16. Ambigulous says:

    Kimberella says to Janet A and Andrew B, “we still need your voices…”

    What a magnificent concession to the values of free speech. Sir Henry may well approve.

    Would that such tolerance be extended to those who blog hereabouts, rather than labelling someone a ‘misogynist’ on scanty evidence and saying he might get turfed out. (It was not me.) That heated exchange I found perplexing.

    cheerio

  17. Rogs says:

    labor 83-96 led the charge to decriminalise homosexuality at federal and state level, tackled AIDS as successfully as any country in the world, let gay servicemen and women serve their country honestly with no ill effects, introduced a raft of antidiscrimination measures

    none of these things hurt labor electorally and they did not lose in 96 because of ‘teh gay’

    and there was no mass rush by the general population to take up homosexuality, the sky didn’t fall in, god didn’t strike gays or labor dead, in fact if anything the deity – assuming it exists, and is an interventionist deity – ended the drought in ’83 and looks like doing so again.

    john heard, and all the others, are just trying to amplify the fading echoes of the howard era.

  18. mbahnisch says:

    Liam, yep the CDP compete for the tiny vote of the same constituency. Hence in NSW, the CDP got 1.97% of the Senate vote while FF got 0.60%.

    http://www.abc.net.au/elections/federal/2007/results/senate/nsw.htm

  19. The culture wars will be with us always, as they have been, well before Bush/Howard. Reading the opposite side’s diatribes and snark are important, so those more open to change can always know what we’re up against.

    Nope. I don’t agree with you. If the opposite side’s diatribes are either repetitious or wrong (or more or more often both), then it is a waste of time to read in full detail what they have to say. Take an cherrypicked example from the United States, where the Culture Wars are still raging: Liberal Fascism. (“Liberal” as in centre-left, not as in Menzies.) If that is the best Culture Warriors come up with, it’s better to ignore them.

  20. John Quiggin says:

    Yobbo was over at my site defending refugee detention camps not long ago, then trying to weasel out of it with a non-denial denial. And as part of the 47 per cent 2PP support for Howard, if he was on the other side in the culture wars, he’s contradicting himself in his own comment.

  21. John Greenfield says:

    Paul Walter

    Man in the Grey Flannel Suit? That’s not a culture war! How petit bourgeois! Let’s have a REAL culture war. I’ll see your flannel are raise a Man in a POLYSTER suit anyday! ;)

  22. John Greenfield says:

    We see you’re not for turning.

    2. “Families” don’t vote. Individuals over the age of 18 vote. Very often, individual members of the same household vote in different ways. The “family” vote is uncountable because it does not exist.

    No such thing as families now? Jesus, we lost “society” with The Lady, now you’ve vapourised families, leaving us with “individuals.”

    Who surely ARE all Thatcherites now. ;)

  23. Stephen Hill says:

    I remember watching an election debate in New Zealand for the last election, it included Helen Clark, the Nationals, NZ First, ACT, whatever the Christian party is called over there, and the Progressive party.

    Winston Peter’s made a big speech about social engineering and gay marriage and the worm plummeted right to the bottom, which I think reflected how little protest there was in the air following Labor introducing civil unions in NZL. What I got from this was that the TV viewers couldn’t give two hoots about the legislation and wanted Peters to talk about something more pressing. And I remembering seeing on the news the volumist protests from the church groups the days after the legislation was enacted, but which after all the bluster fell into a whimper once the election was called. It’s just not a hot-button issue, it basically affects a couple of percent of gay people, and it annoys a couple of percent of the population who are not particularly tolerant of gay people.

  24. mbahnisch says:

    No such thing as families now? Jesus, we lost “society” with The Lady, now you’ve vapourised families, leaving us with “individuals.”

    Way to over-interpret, dude. Katz is making a statement of fact. It’s also not uncommon for members of the same family to vote differently…

  25. mbahnisch says:

    a Man in a POLYSTER suit anyday!

    Do they hang out with those feminists in “Presybterian boilersuits” you’re always telling us about?

  26. John Greenfield says:

    Only if they are Patti Smith. ;)

  27. Paul Burns says:

    Rogs @ 17,
    I’ve been telling people for years that the drought was a sign that Howard had lost the Mandate of Heaven. Didn’t realise that about the drought breakingin 83. Interesting.

  28. mbahnisch says:

    The weather is always better under Labor governments, Paul! ;)

  29. Stephen Hill says:

    “The weather is always better under Labor governments”

    John Howard in a speech during the election claimed divorces would be higher under a Labor government, it might be something in the rain to quote those errant philosophers Milli Vanilli

  30. Paul Burns says:

    Stephen Hill,
    Its all those Liberal voters getting divorced because they can’t cope with Labor’s generosity of spirit.
    More seriously, how disgusting of Howard, wishing more divorces on marriages just so he could win.

  31. Katz says:

    Oh Greensleeves.

    You are a silly sausage!

  32. Jane says:

    I’m still amazed that anyone gives a toss about who marries who, although I’d probably draw the line at inter-species-anyone who wants to marry a sheep is seriously disturbed, although I guess when you tired of the spouse you could always eat it. Hmmm. And allowing gay marriage or civil union has had absolutely no effect on my marriage, or anyone else I know and likely quite a lot of people I don’t know. Is there anything in the bible that prohibits same-sex marriage, I wonder?

  33. Katz says:

    No, but there are rules against eating sheep, unless they are killed in the right way.

    So, it appears that it is easier to marry an ovine bedmate than to terminate gastronomically the relationship.

  34. Paul Burns says:

    Thought there was something in the Bible about burning gays alive? And that JC was pretty heavy about it too? But plesase,LP-ers, don’t go quoting Bible verses to prove I’m right, or wrong.
    As I commented on another post on cultural warriors, we are too secularised a society for this even to begi8n becoming a political issue.The mad right are simply living out their hellfire fantasies.

  35. David Rubie says:

    Jane wrote:

    Is there anything in the bible that prohibits same-sex marriage, I wonder?

    There’s a few ambiguous passages about not lying with a man as with a woman, Leviticus is reasonably definitive (“it is disgusting” in some versions of the bible, up there with rooting your sister) but who knows how to interpret the new covenenant in that context.

    Adultery is right out (although using prostitutes inside marriage is apparently OK according to Proverbs). However, Jesus modified it a bit and suggests you pull out your eye if you look lustfully at a woman who isn’t your wife (although, again, didn’t mention whether that just applied to married men). Not sure what women who look lustfully at men should do, or men who look lustfully at men.

    It seems reasonable that the biggest no-no is adultery (albeit usually defined as having sex with another mans wife). Given that, you’d think the nutball anti-gay-marriage christians would be jumping all over themselves to allow gay marriage, since it removes a metric butt-load of adultery from the relationship. Then again, interpreting the bible is something only the brave or foolish do with any certainty.

  36. John Greenfield says:

    Civil unions with attendant equalisation of financial rights and responsibilities for gays is a must. Marriage is nonsense as are rights to adopt non-biologically-related children, and all the rest of the Breeder-copying crap some of them go on with.

  37. John Greenfield says:

    Who gives a tinker’s cuss about fricking Leviticus? I’ll see your Old Testament and raise you a St. Augustine. ;)

  38. Greg says:

    DOSG @ 19, while I find the op-ed musings of Piers et al. to be poorly reasoned and badly written (which isn’t to say I’m not finding similar problems on the other side of the editorial divide), they represent the mind-set of a substantial portion of the electorate and wield some measure of influence. It may give me a stroke someday, but I’ll continue to read even the Terrorgraph with substantial frequency.

  39. John Greenfield says:

    Greg

    I am no fan of Hackerman, but Andrew Bolt is clearly the best columnist in Australia.

  40. paul walter says:

    Well done Jane, for rescuing the thread. A bit of common sense and encourages a flow of sensible comments in its wake.
    Gay, bestiality and ( much )incest simply doesn’t appeal and never will for most folk- sound biological and cultural reasons for it. Pheremones play a part and are an evolutionary factor that has alowed the species to survive. Gays apparently fit into the evolutionary model, as to social cohesion ( otherwise we wouldn’t be here now ).
    Adultery, both heterosexual or gay, is self-explanatory as to breach of trust, although probably often inevitable given the failure of partners as to fulfillment in other aspects of the contract, such as love and unselfishness.
    Overall, am reminded of an old desert proverb once told me:
    ” For children, a woman,
    for pleasure, a lad”
    For paradise, a goat! “.
    Now watch the posts start rolling in.
    ( no, am one of these odd people who doesn’t prefer livestock or lads; but perfumed sanctuary locked within the arms of the “better half” ).

  41. What none of you LP exiles seems to have noted is that Rudd doesn’t underestimate Jim Wallace’s Battalions (as Stalin foolishly did the Pope’s). On Sunday Rudd told a Brisbane press conference that Fed Labor had no plans to recognise gay unions. He clearly resiled from his previous non-intervention stance on Stanhope’s Bill and was congratulated by a Christian Lobby spokesman on Monday (Aust p.6). None of you seems to think doing otherwise would have had significant electoral consequences in newly marginal seats where there’s an unusually high Christian vote : Bass, Braddon etc.Call me a battle-hardened old culture warrior,if you like, but it seems plain to me that Rudd’s electoral arithmetic is more accurate than yours.

  42. David Rubie says:

    Christopher Pearson wrote:

    On Sunday Rudd told a Brisbane press conference that Fed Labor had no plans to recognise gay unions.

    So what? Rudd also said (december 6th):

    Mr Rudd said it was Labor policy not to interfere with state and territory legislation.

    i.e. he won’t be intervening like the ex-Rodent did.

    It’s over Christopher. You can quit hiding in the jungle and come out now, hand in your rifle and go home.

  43. Gaz says:

    “Call me a battle-hardened old culture warrior,if you like, but it seems plain to me that Rudd’s electoral arithmetic is more accurate than yours.”

    Amen to that! The comments here like the comments ref Aurukun,should leave no one in any doubt that the left is lost on matters of the “cultural warrior”.

    All those boring middle class farts out in the burbs don’t give a flying fuck about rape,pillage,plunder, and gays getting wed.Yea like fuck they don’t.

    And Rudd knows it.He is well aware the thought processes of the politically correct left, which = political defeat.

  44. Bingo Bango Boingo says:

    David, a quick one: what about recognising gay unions for the purposes of Commonwealth law? That’s a serious question; I haven’t been following this debate, but surely the same issues arise in relation to Commonwealth policy? What does Rudd propose there, if anything? I mean, heralding the fact that an apparently (to some) left PM won’t seek to prevent State governments from continuing to discriminate against homosexual couples is setting the bar a little low, isn’t it?

    BBB

  45. paul walter says:

    One would underestimate any reactionary at one’s peril. With nothing to offer more themselves, their last ploy would inevitably a anxious attempt to drag down the culture wars voices of reason with themselves. Quite right,Christopher. Rudd should Wallace, as one watches an adder.

  46. joe2 says:

    “Bargaining with Stanhope – a stubborn, vain and ideologically driven man who wants to make history – may not work, no matter how large the inducements on offer.”

    Christopher Pearson as a giant in the judgement stakes, that one part of your namesake, always seemed to condemn, consider this. In between your hyphens, there is a chance for introspection, because people always just talk about themselves.

  47. j_p_z says:

    Aw, damn, Katz, did you go and get y’self a gravatar? I thought you’d still be one of the kool old-timey hold-outs. Now who will I sneak cigarettes with around the corner by the pizzeria, when I cut class? “Oh! Un rhinoceros!”

    “The “family” vote is uncountable because it does not exist.”

    This is merely playing with language; you must know perfectly well that that is not what the “family” vote means (unless there’s something I’ve massively misread in Australian political kultcha, which can always be the case), whether you agree with the notion or not. If you must play games like this, well why do it out on the street? Here, I’ve got a perfectly good wide-screen hi-def surround-sound system hooked up in me living room. Come on over, and have a drink and the waste of an hour or four.

    “The spurious implication that to recognise gay civil unions is to withdraw recognition from heterosexual marriage. This is nonsense. Just because we recognise France doesn’t mean that we don’t recognise Germany.”

    Och. Whatever else one might think about gay civil unions (and I confess to not having given it much thought, or much care), this is, intellectually speaking, nonsense of the ripest kind. It doesn’t follow that an anti-gay-marriage conclusion must be reached, merely that this is a childish line of thought. I leave it to you to figure out why; if you can’t, I’ll explain it over cocktails when you come to my place to play “DestruKKKtion!!! 5″ on tha krazy plasma video thingy in the front room, that I can barely understand. Speaking of which, has anybody else seen the trailer for “Cloverfied” on YouTube?

  48. mbahnisch says:

    The analogy might be tongue in cheek but there is simply no intellectually respectable argument to oppose gay civil unions (or marriages for that matter – except the intellectually respectable argument that the state should get out of relationships altogether – het or homo). So as Andrew Norton demonstrates, and numerous commenters on this thread elaborate, all we get is emotive blather, or as in the new Pearson/Heard line, dire warnings of electoral retribution.

    Though how CP squares his comment here with his column I have no idea.

  49. j_p_z says:

    Mark: “but there is simply no intellectually respectable argument to oppose gay civil unions…”

    Dunno bout that. I think there are plenty such arguments that are, as it were, intellectually “respectable.” I don’t mean to say that it follows that these arguments should be confirmed, merely that they can be entertained with a straight face. (I have no firm opinion on the issue, as I can see persuasive arguments on all sides, but I do lean a little towards making a distinction between “civil union” and “marriage” which would encompass full gay participation from a legal point of view.) It’s an interesting question, intellectually speaking (and I really don’t mean to slight any gay persons for whom this is an important concrete issue).

    But still, all the different sides of the issue do matter, so I don’t see why it can’t be at least discussed in earnest without dismissals of people’s sincerity.

  50. mbahnisch says:

    I’m not dismissing people’s sincerity, I’m just suggesting that opposition to it is emotive rather than rational. There is no evidence that two people of the same sex getting married or united or whatever diminishes or otherwise impacts on the “institution of marriage” or leads to its “breakdown”. None. It doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.

  51. Zarquon says:

    I’d like to know in which alternative universe Stalin was imperiled by the Pope’s battalions because it sure wasn’t this one.

  52. joe2 says:

    “…and I really don’t mean to slight any gay persons for whom this is an important concrete issue).”

    jpz, the family vote expectation has been tried bigtime in OZ and has been proved a spectacular failure. This import has failed to capture the popular imagination unlike McDonalds.

    Might I just mention that when people say things like “I am not racist, but”…the eyebrow tends to go up.

  53. David Rubie tells me that I can check in my rifle and prepare to be de-mobbed because the war is over.Not so fast. If he looks at Monday’s Australian, p.6, he’ll see that Rudd has in fact backed down… or at least that’s what he’s saying now and that’s what the Christian Lobby is congratulating him on. His previous commitment not to block Stanhope’s civil unions legislation is now inoperative, as they say.
    LP readers would do well to try and understand the motivations of participants on the other side of the culture wars a bit better. For those of us opposed to gay marriage,for example, it’s not a proxy war about advancing the interests of the Coalition. It’s a concern that civil unions are a Mickey Mouse arrangement, terminable at no cost by either party by saying so in writing to the registrar general. As such, they debase the coinage of lifelong commitment and openness to having kids –along with the emotional freight of the distinctive symbols — which are part and parcel of marriage.Gene Robinson, the American Episcopalian bishop who divorced his wife and lives openly with a male patner epitomised the problem, the other day, talking about his forthcoming marriage, when he said “I’ve always wanted to be a June bride”. I’m no stranger to the attractions of a certain kind of camp wit (see Susan Sontag) but in this case my instincts are with the married people who find such remarks gut-churning and a profanation of things they hold sacred and for the sake of which they’ve often sacrificed a great deal.
    Most of the culture warriors I known tend to the view that marriage is also a rather embattled institution and that, because it’s the best way known to socialise the young, it deserves institutional support by the enabling state rather than Stanhope-esque subversion.

  54. Liam Hogan says:

    I’m not sure the example of Gene Robinson displays what you think it does, Christopher.
    Is the institution of heterosexual marriage strengthened in any way by closetted gays and lesbians hiding behind it?

  55. j_p_z says:

    Mark: “There is no evidence that two people of the same sex getting married or united or whatever diminishes or otherwise impacts on the “institution of marriage” or leads to its “breakdown”. None. It doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.”

    That’s a perfectly valid point of view; but one, I’d add, that springs from a distinctly social-scientific background (“there is no evidence…”). All well and good, except that in the Western democratic political tradition, people don’t tend to come to broad-reaching socio-political decisions based on the charts and graphs of social science, just as they also don’t reach these agreements based on the findings of dentistry, or falconry. Some other quality is important here, a sort of “well, when it really comes down to it, who the hell ARE we?” kind of quality, that is in play in these cases; just as in primitive times a war council might conceivably take a decision based on existential principles rather than strictly utilitarian ones. Those other qualities, if they can be shown to exist in the given instance, should be given full voice and opportunity to be fairly debated; otherwise the public’s ultimate decision will always be quietly derided in private, which leads to a general weakening of confidence in the public (wow, here’s an old-fashioned word for ya) weal.

    There are very good civic arguments that support the idea of gay civil unions, just as there are good civic arguments contra; all I’m saying is that the question should ideally be heard and argued fully and fairly within the civil arena, so that when a final decision is rendered, everyone on all sides can acquiesce to it with a straight face.

  56. Christopher Pearson,

    You have an admirably economic way with the English language – so many fallacies and errors of argument packed into so few words. To do them all justice I’d have to write a comment almost as long as Kim’s post, if not longer.

    The basis of your case seems to be that the ACL has a lot of members, who will prove to be as doughty as the Swiss Guard in defending – with the help of a volunteer militia largely drawn from the Curia – the Vatican against Stalin’s tanks and those katyusha thing in the much overlooked Vatican Siege of – when was it? Some time towards the end of the Second World War, obviously. And that these ACL members live in various key electorates the ALP needed to pick up to win the last election, that the ALP needs to keep them onside to win those electorates and that therefore the ALP better be jolly nice to these people if they want to win the next election.

    Piffle. First fallacy – the assumption that because there are a lot of voters in Bass – or wherever – who oppose gay marriage it follows that any concessions to the gay community that look like gay marriage will outrage so many of them that en bloc they’ll switch their vote to Family First 1, Liberal Party 2. You can assume that Rudd’s winning margin in Bass was composed entirely, or mostly of ACL members if you wish, but it’s a demonstrably stupid assumption when you consider the total number of voters in any electorate, and all the possible permutations of which individual voters voted for whom.

    Second fallacy – that this assumed situation will remain stable over the next three years. None of these ACL members will die, or move to other electorates, no new voters will come onto the rolls etc. None of these anti-gay marriage voters will have a change of mind, or heart between now and 2010 – they’re rusted on moral conservatives or something. There won’t be any other issues – economic or political – that might come along in the next three years to shift significant blocs of other voters towards the ALP.

    Third fallacy – that because (you think) these people havbe significant electoral influence, and because you agree with their imputed view on gay marriage and gay civil unions as being “anti-family” you’re prepared to ignore that any concession to their views is merely pragmatic policies. You’ve gone in a neet circle round Hume’s is-ought fallacy – these people have the power now, so we’d better do what they think is right because it is right because that’s what they want. How cogent. But it’s goiung to leave you in an awkward position, when your fallacious assumptions crash. As they will.

    (Damn, I really will have to work on developing a more persuasive, less antagonistic, style of argument).

  57. John Greenfield says:

    Christopher Pearson

    I find the whole notion of a self-described poof who doesn’t root because he reckons a bloke born to a sheilah who also didn’t root to be presumptuous, macabre, obscene, and just too ridiculous for words. You have absolutelty no credibility on issues of sex, sexuality, let alone marriage. In fact, you would do well to get a jolly good seeing to. How News Ltd. can waste space with such psycho garbage is beyond me.

  58. That previous comment from me was in reply to CP’s comment 41.

    Don’t know if I can be bothered with the more recent one.

  59. Liam Hogan says:

    work on developing a more persuasive, less antagonistic, style of argument

    Don’t know if I can be bothered with the more recent one.

    All class, Gummo.

  60. CK says:

    Well said Gummo, dear chap. Anyone who feels their marriage threatened because a few pairs of gay boys want a piece of paper recognising their relationship clearly have, ahem, issues.

    As does La Pearson. WTF does he know about heterosexual marriage? He doesn’t even like girls.

  61. Enemy Combatant says:

    Good Heavens! Look what the cat’s dragged in. Probably didn’t recognise him without the beard.

  62. j_p_z says:

    Gummo Trotsky: “as doughty as the Swiss Guard in defending – with the help of a volunteer militia largely drawn from the Curia – the Vatican against Stalin’s tanks…”

    The Swiss Guard and the Curia’s, um, militia(?!) ultimately proved unnecessary, as did NORAD’s arsenal*, for the defense of genuine Christian righteousness against Stalin’s godless tanks, as history has, um, shown. (Remember history? It’s a song about history. And the restaurant.) Maybe the Pope had better battalions than you counted on, but just not in the traditional style. Ah, that asymmetric warfare, so beloved of lefties, except of course when it’s waged against lefties…

    * — not perhaps entirely needful long-term; but certainly making matters a whole lot easier in the short term. :-D

  63. joe2 says:

    Christopher , just get over it, the conjugals are not under threat to anyone who is not a complete bastard. Since, as yet, teh war on marriage, has not even been declared, officially.

    Let gay marriage rip, in the spirit of competition, if you must.
    We can show those buggers what “forever” means!

  64. Zarquon says:

    genuine Christian righteousness

    bwa ha ha ha ha

    You might want to look at who saved more Nazis, Stalin or the Pope

    (Bishop) Hudal used this position to aid the escape of wanted Nazi war criminals, including Franz Stangl, commanding officer of Treblinka, Gustav Wagner, commanding officer of Sobibor, Alois Brunner, responsible for the Drancy internment camp near Paris and in charge of deportations in Slovakia to German concentration camps, and Adolf Eichmann [2] — a fact about which he was later unashamedly open

  65. Zarquon says:

    Hey Godwin’s Law! It really works.

  66. j_p_z says:

    Zarquon — well, OK. But this is from the gospel of our lord, though I can’t really remember the chapter and verse (I’m not that sort of a Christian)…

    “A man had two sons. He said to them both, Go out today, and work in my vineyards. The first son angrily said, I will not!, but later he thought better of it, and so he went to work. The second son said, Yes father, I will do exactly as you ask!, but later on he became distracted and wandered away from the vineyards.

    Now: which of the two sons did his father’s will?”

  67. mbahnisch says:

    And this is relevant to what point? Did I miss something?

  68. mbahnisch says:

    Hmm, perhaps JG is seeking to disprove John Quiggin wrong and taking an unexpected tack in the culture wars at 57?

    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2007/12/17/the-culture-war-time-to-mop-up/#comment-203251

  69. David Rubie says:

    Christopher Pearson wrote:

    Most of the culture warriors I known tend to the view that marriage is also a rather embattled institution and that, because it’s the best way known to socialise the young, it deserves institutional support by the enabling state rather than Stanhope-esque subversion.

    Well, lets examine that one in the context of gay marriage:

    How does gay marriage detract from the “embattled” state of het marriage? Are there a limited number of licenses or something? Does the availability of being gay and married make the het and married population smaller somehow? How many people leave het marriages to have a gay relationship vs. leave het marriages to have another hetero relationship? Are there people in society unaware of “gay” until somebody gets married, then suddenly leave their hetero partner? It’s codswallop.

    The simple facts are these: those marriages that don’t end in divorce end in the death of one partner. It’s death you need to fight against Christopher. Take it up with whoever is responsible for death, he’s ending 100% of the marriages that don’t end in divorce, and that is an awful lot.

  70. GregM says:

    “The truth is, as Katz points out, that all the evidence is that Australians overwhelmingly couldn’t give a toss if people choose to couple off with others of the same sex.”

    I think that this is true Mark. And I think it was true in the 1950s when, despite John Howard’s “white picket fence” view of history, Australians began to show a very decent and laid back view about their gay neighbours who were also often their family and their friends. They are a pretty decent people, though not without imperfections.

    However they are very conservative. It wasn’t until in the nineteen-nineties that they were prepared to recognise equal economic rights (eg in property and superannuation) for gay people, often their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, when they came to realise, after the decriminalisation of homosexual sex, when gays could come out, that gays are their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters uncle and aunts and just people like them but, with a different orientation, a different set of life choices and with that a different life destiny.

    I think however the concept of gay marriage may be a bridge too far at this time. But in ten years perhaps it will be entirely uncontroversial to them.

    I could be wrong though.

  71. The only comments I think really warrant a reply are Gummo Trotsky’s and j_p_z’s.
    Gummo,I said on Saturday that there’d be a whole lot of other issues swaying electors in those marginal seats in the next three years, but that this one was totemic. Now whether you like it or not Rudd seems — by his actions in resiling from his previous position –to be subscribing to my analysis of the electoral realities. In fairness, there’s quite a high likelihood that he’s also cheerfully making concessions to a culturally conservative bunch of electors because he shares some, if not all, of their presuppositions.It’s also often forgotten how deeply Catholic in its culture the NSW Labor Right (his preferred faction, when all’s said and done) is. Not to mention how much more culturally conservative than LP exiles most of the denizens of the western suburbs of our major cities are.
    j_p_z, it’s good to see that some of the people on this blog, unlike Zarquon, understand asymmetrical power. Catholic Poland responded to Pope JPII’s invitation to get behind Lech and get rid of Communism, which was the beginning of the end of the Eastern Bloc. General Jaruszelsky took the Pope’s legions very seriously indeed.

  72. David Rubie says:

    Christopher Pearson wrote:

    The only comments I think really warrant a reply are Gummo Trotsky’s and j_p_z’s.

    Yes, run away brave sir robin.

    From your execrable article in the Australian:

    By the late 1960s the lavender mafia was on hand, looking for new recruits and dispensing a one-size-fits-all, ready-made gay identity to anyone remotely interested. Who knows how many of the denizens of Sydney’s Oxford Street really belong there and how many were encouraged to reach premature conclusions about their nature and their needs?

    It’s offensively stupid. Luckily, you offer a wonderful panacea just in case of accidental catching of gay: a cup of tea. I always wondered why I didn’t turn gay after listening to Alan Jones, it was the cup of tea afterwards that set me right. Better not have an Iced VoVo though, they are pink.

    Count yourself amongst the damned Pearson: your own tiny closed mind is a prison, with no hope of a pair of shoelaces to bring sweet release. Rot in it.

  73. Liam Hogan also asks the reasonable question, re Gene Robinson, of whether the fact of there being closet gays can really advance the cause of heterosexual marriage. My take on GR divorcing his wife and living openly with a man is that it was a betrayal of everything his oath as an Episcopalian priest and bishop committed him to uphold. Whether he was open then or now about his orientation is a secondary consideration, since his predisposition (as opposed to his acts)ought properly to be no-one else’s business and the question of orientation would never have arisen if he’d been a monastic or a celibate batchelor.
    When I talk to married friends about the “June bride” joke, they say that he couldn’t even be bothered hiding his contempt — and weird envy — for values he’s supposed to have spent a lifetime passing on to his flock and instead is determined to mock and trivialize.

  74. gummotrotsky says:

    Well at least we now know where those Catholic battalions who defeated Stalin were and when the defeat occurred – in Poland with the rise of Solidarity, long after Stalin was dead.

    Still, I suppose it was fitting retribution for Stalin’s demolition of the church of St Sofia, to create Lubyanka Square. A fine ecumenical gesture from the Catholic Poles to the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Now whether you like it or not Rudd seems — by his actions in resiling from his previous position –to be subscribing to my analysis of the electoral realities.

    That is, I wrote a column advancing my views, Rudd took the sort of position I’d expect him to take if he agreed with my analysis – ergo Rudd agrees with my analysis. You really do have a talent for sloppy reasoning, old son.

  75. Passions certainly run high on this blog. While I was posting, David Rubie worked himself into a lather about the mind-forged manacles of man and my supposedly damned state. But I guess most observant adults must have come across people in the gay metier who have pretty obviously been persuaded to make premature judgements about their nature and their needs — decisions they openly regret — and who would have been happier if they’d made different decisions. Why are their life choices sacrosanct and immune to critique? Should their suffering be discreetly veiled, for ideological reasons? Why should the lavender Mafia escape the blame for messing in self-interested or manipulative ways with people’s heads and their lives? Just wose interests does that serve?

  76. Liam Hogan says:

    Cheers for the response Christopher.
    That doesn’t really address the question I was trying to raise: that if monogamous marriage is such an important institution, why is it being kept from people who are serious about it—gay and lesbian long-term couples—and preserved as some kind of institution for people like Robinson, who, as you say, can’t have been very serious about it?
    Like you, I think sexuality ought to be entirely a secondary consideration in marriage, and nobody’s business but the couple’s.
    Also, re: your comment #71, I work with and know the NSW Labor Right fairly well. They’re a lot less capital C and far more small c Catholic than they used to be even ten years ago, and it’s only a smallish minority who take any notice of Rome, the Bible, or any other set text. When the PM’s office eventually come out [ahem] in favour of civil unions, they’ll jump on the issue as if they’d never opposed them.

  77. John Quiggin says:

    I’m still waiting for someone to explain why electors who voted for a national policy of registered relationships are going to switch if a territory where they don’t even live (obviously Labor isn’t going to lose the ACT seats) allows civil unions instead.

  78. mbahnisch says:

    I think however the concept of gay marriage may be a bridge too far at this time. But in ten years perhaps it will be entirely uncontroversial to them.

    I could be wrong though.

    GregM, you may be right – but then, no one is advocating same sex marriage, as far as I’m aware. I think Stephen Hill’s point about the phlegmatic response of New Zealanders to civil unions is probably right, and I also haven’t noticed much carrying on in the UK or Canada, if we’re to confine ourselves mainly to English speaking countries for comparison.

    I’ve reread CP’s column and I note that the objections to ceremonies and celebrants are ascribed not to him but to “conservative-minded Christians”. Although it then seems to slip into his own opinions (I’m not sure that “conservative-minded Christians” spend all their time decrying “the latte Left” or “the lavender Mafia”). But Andrew Norton is still right. There are no serious objections which would support any argument that civil unions would somehow damage matrimony. The bizarre argument that young people whose sexuality is “fluid” would decide that “their lifestyle is officially recognised as being as normal as any other” is just that.

    So if the only objection is that a tiny minority of Christians would be offended, I can’t see any just reason why a liberal state should take that into account.

  79. David Rubie says:

    I’m glad Pearson took my advice and started wallowing in his own intellectual bog of imagined conspiracies. The Lavender Mafia, no less. Just because I feel sorry for him, I will fix his ridiculous paragraph:

    By the late 1960s the conservative mafia was on hand, looking for new recruits and dispensing a one-size-fits-all, ready-made reactionary identity to anyone remotely interested. Who knows how many of the denizens of Sydney’s Uglies really belong there and how many were encouraged to reach premature conclusions about their nature and their needs?

    Free Alex Hawke! Can we get a t-shirt campaign going? Surely under that subverted, nasty exterior there is a sensitive young man who needs re-awakening?

  80. kimberella says:

    The bizarre argument that young people whose sexuality is “fluid” would decide that “their lifestyle is officially recognised as being as normal as any other” is just that.

    There’s a serious flaw in this claim.

    It seems to assume that the normative force that heterosexual marriage has would be paralleled by a similar normative force if civil unions were to be approved. That’s most unlikely. Heterosexual marriage hardly needs any encouragement – it’s still held up culturally and socially as the summit of everyone’s aspirations – particularly those of girls, with all the “princess” imagery of the bridal industry mafia whose existence is far better documented than that of the alleged lavender mafia! In fact, it’s not something that’s proposed to young people as a norm, it just is a norm, and it’s those with “fluid sexuality” who are often trying to escape its clutches. Unless, as Liam says, they should make loveless and hypocritical marriages of convenience or just go hide in a closet somewhere lest some lavender waft their way from Oxford Street (which was looking very whitebread last time I went for a stroll there, but then I wasn’t born when apparently the Sopranos of the Swinging Sixties colonised it…).

    The spectre of young people with “fluid sexuality” suddenly deciding to enter into civil unions at say age 19 or whatever is risible. It’s likely to be a long time coming, as contra CP, it takes a lot of courage and work on the self to adopt a non mainstream sexual identity. It’s far more likely that straight folk who marry at an age when their characters aren’t fully formed are likely to make a mistake in doing so.

    Nor, I’d suggest, is there any compulsory “one-size-fits-all, ready-made gay identity” around these days, if I’m correct in my observations. CP should get out more.

  81. Nabakov says:

    “But I guess most observant adults must have come across people in the gay metier who have pretty obviously been persuaded to make premature judgments about their nature and their needs — decisions they openly regret — and who would have been happier if they’d made different decisions.”

    Yes I have, and the persuaders were overwhelmingly conservative straights urging if not threatening people in the gay metier to deny or hide their sexuality.

    “Why are their life choices sacrosanct and immune to critique? Should their suffering be discreetly veiled, for ideological reasons? Why should the lavender Mafia escape the blame for messing in self-interested or manipulative ways with people’s heads and their lives? Just wose interests does that serve?”

    Yes indeed, why? But what has that go to do with making available the option of state recognition for same sex unions?

    Frankly Chris, it sounds like you’re more interested in working out a few personal issues with this “lavender mafia” than you are in mounting an ideologically and logically coherent argument against formally recognising sex same unions.

    Also if marriage as we know it now is so threatened now by the possibility that less than 0.1 of population might get a Government certificate for shacking up in one of the many ways not approved by the Bible, then it must be a pretty feeble institution. In fact it, and the classic nuclear family it’s supposed to nurture, seems far more under threat for economic reasons in a climate now where being middle class takes two incomes and massive bites out of relationship and family time.

  82. Liam : it’s a definitional thing…not chop logic but a case of an institution that seems to correspond to abiding, universal human values. Marriage is the characteristic model for heterosexual union. That’s obviously not in any sense to dismiss enduring gay relationships as unimportant but to recognise the distinctive character and procreative possibilities inherent in the former and conclude that apples and pineapples are, as the proverb has it, categorically different. As to NSW Right, don’t underestimate the influence of Cardinal Pell,the Shoppies, JohnMcCarthy QC and Tony Burke.
    John Q. (a courteous interlocutor who’s noted my arguments about unemployment targets over the years) : Voters will switch if the ACL kicks up a fuss over a broken promise made precisely in the context of Stanhope threatening to wait for a Rudd Govt and then reintroducing the bill. Rudd’s undertaking was to oppose such legislation and ACL’s support base would take a very dim view of that undertaking being broken. As well, the danger is that Stanhope’s model would go much further than registration and in effect become the national paradigm, because all the other jurisdictions would first have to legislate to varying degrees to recognise ACT unions. The collapse of the dam wall.
    Mark B. : Forgive me for saying so, but I think you run rather too legislative a line in your blog. “There can be no serious objections civil unions could somehow damage matrimony”. I’ve mounted some — from the well established precept (even in sociology, cf Peter Berger) that the law is a great teacher and changes young people’s perceptions of what marriage is, for example. You don’t respond, as if only the empirically quantifiable mattered. Speaking of the empirical, you need to kiss goodbye to the idea of “a tiny minority of Christians”. By any reckoning it’s a significant minority of us who’ve just sung the Gaudete introit (with or without rose-coloured vestments) or its Protestant Advent equivalent, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’. Jim Wallace says potentially more than half a million and I don’t imagine he’s lying. Do you?

  83. David Rubie says:

    Christopher Pearson wrote:

    That’s obviously not in any sense to dismiss enduring gay relationships as unimportant but to recognise the distinctive character and procreative possibilities inherent in the former and conclude that apples and pineapples are, as the proverb has it, categorically different.

    Why aren’t you opposed to infertile couples getting married then? Is that not some kind of equal abomination? Every argument you’ve forwarded here is incoherent.

  84. mbahnisch says:

    David, there’s a lot of other Christian theological tradition which recognises other purposes for marriage, of course, which is why infertile couples can contract valid marriages in the Catholic church. This “only for procreation” thing is very recent and something of a mid twentieth century distortion. I’m sure Pope Benedict has a richer view of the sacrament of marriage than CP.

    CP, if you read the rest of this blog, you’d note that I’ve just sung the Gaudete introit myself!

    http://larvatusprodeo.wordpress.com/2007/12/16/lazy-gaudete-sunday/

    Most Catholics might not agree with me but the great majority aren’t going to change their votes because of what happens in the ACT. And I’d associate myself with Kim’s argument about the normative significance of the law. But in any case, as to a “legislative line”, not being a conservative, I don’t see the role of the law as being to inculcate moral norms as such (note the qualifier – if we had a big discussion about the role of law, things would get more complex). As a liberal social democrat, I think that the state has no business whatsoever interfering in people’s choices, if they don’t harm others. I don’t believe that harm extends to the giving of unintended offence. If it did, you’d be very hard pressed to make an argument for free speech.

  85. mbahnisch says:

    As well, the danger is that Stanhope’s model would go much further than registration and in effect become the national paradigm, because all the other jurisdictions would first have to legislate to varying degrees to recognise ACT unions.

    And just on a pragmatic level, I don’t think this objection has any particular merit. Unless civil unions in the ACT created additional duties or rights to those of relationships registered in other states (and it’s hard to see how they could), there’d be no problem. This sort of “slippery slope” argument appears to be imported from the US where – in a very different constitutional context – courts in some states recognised marriage as able to extend to same sex couples, which would then mean other states had to recognise their validity. Since no one is arguing for same sex marriage in Australia, and in any case the Marriage Act has already been amended to exclude any extension, this doesn’t arise, and it’s another sign that the talking points being employed in the antipodean version of this culture war, as John Quiggin argues, are just imported from America regardless of relevance or cultural fit here.

  86. Andyc says:

    mbahnisch (78): “The bizarre argument that young people whose sexuality is “fluid” would decide that “their lifestyle is officially recognised as being as normal as any other” is just that.”

    Even beyond kimberella’s excellent critique (80) of said bizarreness, there lies the implicit axiom that there exist lots of impressionable young people with fluid sexualities, who can be conditioned into becoming Teh Evil. Frankly, this sounds like a projected fantasy. In real life, only a tiny minority really don’t know who they really fancy.

    But to return to David Rubie’s quote at (69) of CP at (53): “Most of the culture warriors I known tend to the view that marriage is also a rather embattled institution and that, because it’s the best way known to socialise the young, it deserves institutional support by the enabling state rather than Stanhope-esque subversion.”

    Talk about muddled thinking.

    1. Legally, marriage is a contract. If people want to enter into it, they should be able to do so. “Embattledness” is not a relevant concept.If there are few takers, so what?

    2. Whether or not some folks believe that marriage is also a sacrament is entirely irrelevant to the majority who do not believe this, so if this is a hidden assumption, it should be exposed and discarded.

    3. What on Earth is meant by “socialisation” here? To me, it means the communication and social behavioural skills that enable productive participation in society, and which should have been inculcated by family and school at an early age. I suspect that CP is using it euphemistically to mean something involving either formal transfer of ownership of the female from father to husband, or legitimisation of behaviour which is otherwise considered to be Teh Evil,ie, marriage as a (hetero) shagging licence.

    All of this is obsolete bollocks, and if there are such nutty hidden assumptions, they should again be exposed and discarded.

    4. I still fail to see how straight marriage is in any way subverted by official recognition of gay coupledom (cf. Mark B at (50)). The people who believe that it is should really think very hard about what exactly they mean by “marriage”, and how exactly the private arrangements of one couple of people are supposed to destabilise the private arrangements of others. The non-totalitarian public are owed convincing explanations, not woolly assertions.

    More generally:

    5. The country does not deserve to be held hostage by perception of a need to pander to a few antediluvian nuts in marginals. Leadership can entail telling such people when to pull their heads in and leave everyone else alone.

    6. Official recognition of stable, happy relationships, including whatever mix of contracted next-of-kinship, hospital access, super access, finance sharing, etc is desired, is good. Whether CP, culture warriors, wingnuts or deadmeats think the couple should be together or not is absolutely none of their business.

    7. The same goes for big ceremonies and parties to celebrate said relationships.

    8. There is evidently a need to promulgate the message that it is not acceptable in a free society to inflict totalitarian antediluvian worldviews on others who are doing no harm.

  87. Liam Hogan says:

    It’s obvious nobody’s going to convince you about the concept of a liberal State or of the negligible electoral presence of the ACL, Christopher.
    I can’t help but rise to the bait over the NSW Right, though:

    Cardinal Pell,the Shoppies, JohnMcCarthy QC and Tony Burke

    Heh. Of the four, only the last has any serious commitment to the Labor cause, the two non-Parliamentarians are open Tories, and the trade union would sell its own birthright for a sweetheart shopfloor deal with a percentage kickback.
    Cardinal Pell a serious influence on the NSW Right? Not after trying to pull spurious rank on Catholic members of Parliament this year over stem cells.

  88. kimberella says:

    Yep, and what sort of electoral retribution did the RU486 vote bring in the marginals? Nada. Russell Broadbent, one of the Libs who voted against Abbott and his crew, was a rare Lib to increase his vote.

    The serious incoherence of the Pearson/Heard argument comes in that it implicitly privileges social engineering as the normal job of the state – to inculcate these “normal” values because we couldn’t have us queer people thinking our “lifestyle” is normal. Like all conservative views, it rests not on reason but on emotion and assertion and some sort of assumption that those in power know what’s best. Sorry, dude, we had something called the Enlightenment. And then something called liberal democracy. You know, what you claim we’re fighting for against the terrsts. It’s a mark of the standard of public debate in the Howard era (from which all this stuff is a hangover) that the proponents of conservatism don’t even seem to understand that we live in a liberal democracy, not a guided theocratic democracy.

  89. David Rubie says:

    Oh no. I just saw Molly Meldrum, notorious Capo of the Lavender Mafia on the TV. Quick, bring me a cup of tea!

  90. kimberella says:

    Is Molly gay? ;)

    And is it just me who’s thinking that the punditariat got the catchphrase “fluid sexuality” from one… Missy Higgins?

  91. Nabakov says:

    And what’s wrong with fluid sexuality anyway? Certainly sounds a lot more comfortable than dry unlubricated sexuality.

  92. Mark B. : 1)Like the main Churches, I’ve never argued that marriage was “for procreation only” and agree with you about BXVI’s richer, more traditional view of the sacrament.

    2) My reference to Gaudete was intended as an allusion to your previous post.

    3) I beg to differ when you say no-one’s proposing to legislate for gay marriage in Australia. Stanhope is attempting to pay lipservice to the Fed. Marriage Act while proposing what in law is constructively a new connubial category. Hence all the fuss.

  93. silkworm says:

    Since when do gay people choose to be gay? Gay people are born gay.

  94. mbahnisch says:

    Stanhope is attempting to pay lipservice to the Fed. Marriage Act while proposing what in law is constructively a new connubial category. Hence all the fuss.

    It seems like a bit of terminological angst to me, Christopher. In any case, if it’s not called “marriage” I’m sure the priests and pastors will be able to distinguish it adequately from marriage as such if that’s what they want to do in the privacy of their churches!

  95. paul walter says:

    ” Since when do gay people choose to be gay? Gay people are born gay”- Silkworm.
    OK, can we get this small matter at least, sorted before the rest of the muddle becomes too thick.
    Gay is cultural, biological or some mix of the two?
    Mark, Kimberella, Rubie, CP so forth- any help?
    If gayness is biological in origin or so deeply culturally inscribed as to create the same situation, what’s wrong with gays reacting to other gays in the way hetero people react to each other?
    Do we have “fluidity” as to this proposition?
    Or is their some well-thought-out refutation for above.
    C’mon, you’re supposed to be intehlectuals! Reduce above to comprehensibility for us witch drowning cornpones.
    You in particular, CP. And without snideness, even though you may not be happy with some of the harsh comments directed your way here.
    There’s got to be a better reason for suss of gay than the hostility of the church: WHY is the church opposed to these forms of behaviour?
    Because it is merely another form of self-indulgence or selfishness? ALL sex is a bit selfish, surely. Otherwise we’d all gay or straight, just get up with a yawn and walk away bored within 4 seconds of climax, rather than “finishing off”, yeah?
    Or is it simply because it’s a bit “iccky” for the blokey successors to St.Paul.
    Perhaps it’s a normal thing for many heteros to react to Gay with a certain distaste? I don’t know.
    I’m not a skinhead with nothing better to do than lurk around public dunnies waiting to bash someone I don’t know or understand. But yes, overt gay behaviour has made the writer slightly uncomfortable once or twice. The thing is, with hopefully improving enlightenment, I’d have enough “consciousness” to have something better to do than outwork subjective feelings in such a crude manner.
    Live and let live?

  96. Mark, I’m disappointed in you. Terminological angst, indeed…Either it’s an open and shut case of a new connubial category or it isn’t. Can you imagine what St Thomas More would have had to say in reply to such an argument? And what do you have to say by way of considered response to what the sociology of knowledge tells us about the law, plausibility structures, universes of discourse and perceptions of the normative? I’m assuming that Berger & Luckmann’s Social Construction of Reality was on your syllabus as a student. And Mary Douglas?

  97. Paul Walter, thanks for the invitation to respond. Christianity has some structural features which militate against an attitude of wholehearted accomodation with gayness, especially in its distinctively modern form as an ideology rather than just one sexual tendency among others, to be prudently managed. Consider an all-male Trinity for starters, and God the Son begotten by His Father Before All Worlds Were Made and the Paraclete as the infinite love that binds them. Mary may well be considered “our fallen nature’s proudest boast” and the Theotokos, the earthly Mother of Christ who is both man and God, but there’s no getting away from the fact we are talking about a patriarchal conception of the Divinity.I hasten to add that that’s not to say it’s a mistaken notion and I accept its truth.But you can see why the Early Fathers might have wanted to discourage Gnostic human attempts to imitate the relationships of the divine persons of a triune God, in favour of Adam and Abraham and fruitful unions.
    I suspect that the Church has always understood what Norman Mailer meant when he said that no-one deserved to be described as gay if he’d resisted the urge to behave that way. In other words, it’s not by whatever fluid or vagrant fancies cross their minds but by what acts people emblematically choose to define themselves that they must be judged.
    Another consideration in understanding the attitude of the major denominations is the figure of St John, often described as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” and who rested his head on Christ’s breast at the Last Supper. It’s not that the Church didn’t approve of loving affective relationships between men, but that it believed in the need to patrol the boundaries relentlessly for fear that Platonic ideals of disinterested affection might degenerate into something else.

  98. mbahnisch says:

    I’m not at all sure that’s the message that one should be drawing about the beloved disciple! Most of the sexual boundary policing came in with St Paul and other redactors of the Gospel message – and if you want someone who’s actively anti-family values, it was old St Paul – marriage was a reluctant concession to human weakness but it was better for people to stay chaste in anticipation of the approaching eschaton. Jesus also seemed to think that families were far less sacred than some other things!

    And strictly speaking God has no gender so I don’t know what “an all-male Trinity” means – though obviously thinking that way is a consequence of a “partiarchal conception of the Divinity” which is by no means the only one that can be legitimately taken from tradition. There are others who’ve written much more eloquently than I am on the whole topic of same sex love and Christianity, but suffice it to say things are, ahem, a little more complex than you suggest, CP.

    As the very many gay and lesbian folk worshipping in Catholic and Anglican churches in Brisbane this weekend might tell you… who was it who said early in the thread that Kevin Rudd’s conception of Christian values might be different to John Heard’s? His articles in The Monthly certainly suggest that, and I’m sure his views have been appropriately formed in the Christian fellowship over the river at Bulimba!

    As to nature or nurture, Paul, I think it’s a false dichotomy. I haven’t kept up with whether there’s now thought to be some genetic basis for same sex attraction (the concept of a “gay gene” having been discredited by what’s now known about human DNA), but it doesn’t matter, in my view. Humans don’t exist and can’t exist in isolation from culture and anything that might be described as natural (for instance sex! … but it may as well be eating) can only be expressed through cultural forms. Sociobiology and other forms of reductionism appear to be popular at the moment, but they lack explanatory value, and it’s very difficult to identify any anthropological universals with respect to sexual and coupling behaviour. The institution of marriage has radically shifted its meaning over time, as has the cultural meaning and the influence on personality of same sex attraction.

    But strictly speaking, all are irrelevant from the point of view of a liberal state – as is Christopher’s Durkheimian sociology, or at least the Durkheimian habit of worrying endlessly about the dissolution of social order in the face of modernity and dissonance over values. Kim is quite right to suggest – in effect – that heterosexual marriage is a social fact in Durkheim’s terms. I’ve had the rather unhappy experience of trying to suggest to someone close to me that they might be making a mistake by getting married – on pragmatic not ideological grounds, I hasten to add – and it was a very interesting object lesson in how strong the mystique and force of the invocation of marriage is. In fact it’s quite easy for people with a bit of objectivity to see which marriages just aren’t going to last – and these choices I’ve witnessed are by mature people in their 30s and 40s, and while I don’t wish for obvious reasons to discuss them, I think that many decisions to marry are in fact less well considered tban they might ideally be because they’re shaped within a mythos about romantic love and indissolubility as an aim and all the rest, while ignoring quite practical things that might mean that it can reasonably be predicted they will fail. Now, it may well be that same sex couples might be more aware for a number of reasons of the gravity of these decisions (and I think that’s much more likely to be the case than some sort of civil union craze among the sexually fluid yoof), but it really isn’t for anyone but the parties concerned to judge. That’s the point of a liberal regime where individuals are trusted to make their own judgements about their own good, and restrained by the state only insofar as others are harmed by their choices. As I’ve already suggested, the fact that others may disapprove morally does not constitute a direct or a sufficient harm to prohibit such choices being made.

    It would be much better to consider what Weber had to say about the impossibility of reconciling the warring Gods of values, and how a liberal politics can and should step out of the ring and proceed according to substantive as opposed to value rationality (which is not quite the same thing as public reason as understood in the post-Enlightenment sense, but therein lies another diversion…)

  99. kimberella says:

    Paul, back in 2005, when we used to do a lot more theological disputation at LP than we do now, there was an interesting discussion on the Vatican’s policy on gay priests which is – for all intents and purposes, “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2005/07/18/dont-ask-dont-tell/

  100. kimberella says:

    Jesus also seemed to think that families were far less sacred than some other things!

    Yep! See the Gospel of Luke:

    25
    Great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and addressed them,
    26
    “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
    27
    Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

    http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/luke/luke14.htm

    Theologienne has an interesting reflection on this passage:

    http://theologienne.blogspot.com/2006/02/on-jesus-call-to-hate-your-family.html

    It doesn’t take much reflection on the Gospel to conclude that some 50s happy patriarchal family model – which is the “normal lifestyle” being championed by the culture warriors – is very very far from being what Christianity is actually about.

  101. kimberella says:

    But you can see why the Early Fathers might have wanted to discourage Gnostic human attempts to imitate the relationships of the divine persons of a triune God, in favour of Adam and Abraham and fruitful unions.

    I can’t quite work out what that means. Abraham’s two wives, Sarah and Rebecca, were both unable to conceive without divine intervention, and Sarah’s conception of Isaac is in fact prophesied by a couple of incognito angels who receive hospitality in his tent on their way to Sodom, which they also mention doesn’t have a happy future. So it’s a most odd example to choose in this context, particularly since according to Jewish tradition the “fruitful union” apparently led to Sarah dying of a broken heart shortly after Abraham decided to sacrifice their son Isaac.

    Getting back to the Trinity, the Spirit is often identified with Sophia, the Wisdom of God, from the Jewish Bible. She’s in Job and Proverbs. Now, you can get all gnostic about that identification, but it’s there, and even if you chose for whatever reason to ignore it, you’d be drawing a very long bow to ascribe masculine gender to the Spirit.

    I suspect that the Church has always understood what Norman Mailer meant when he said that no-one deserved to be described as gay if he’d resisted the urge to behave that way. In other words, it’s not by whatever fluid or vagrant fancies cross their minds but by what acts people emblematically choose to define themselves that they must be judged.

    That, I think, defines far more about what Christopher Pearson thinks than anyone else. No, we’re not allowed to love – it’s all just some devilish temptation. Why anyone would agree that this sort of thinking should underlie the law of the land is beyond me.

    We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it, sweetheart. As we used to say back in the early 90s.

  102. kimberella says:

    And I’m really intrigued by how often this word “fluid” is popping up in Mr Pearson’s writing about this issue. Just sayin… ;)

  103. paul walter says:

    Thank you gentlemen, both.
    Am aware at least of Plato using Socrates to set limits as to older blokes and young lads; of feeling deeply concerned about the problem of exploitation against a more conventional idea of mentoring friendship.
    Gay, of course, is not the same thing as paedophilia; at least with gay is consenting adults. For the rest, I loosely understand the conceptual frameworks used by Christopher Pearson to explain a background to his beliefs are normal academic mechanisms for considering history, philosophy and metaphysics, veering to theology.
    Obviously CP must have brainpower in reserve if he has gone through some of the material involved. For my part, I’ll just say the last book I read concerning these issues was a paperback by John Carroll, concerning what he felt to be the demise of the Enlightenment project; fascinating in parts, rancorous in others ( as with his emotive wholesale dismissal of Marx ).
    Mark’s reply, also easy in tone, was a beaut corollary. Reminded me of the epistemological and
    ontological difficulties involved beyond a certain point in making definitive pronouncements about things difficult to prove.
    Off for another try at Kant’s “immanence” and “transcendence”. Aquinas, Luther, Descartes and Spinoza through to Neitzsche and Heidegger.
    Last time I was in this neighbourhood was when trying to nut out the salient difference between Newton/Clarke and Leibniz as to the Universe. All seems to go back to Plato and Aristotle, any way unless you want to include the presocratics, for contrast. Gave up, in the end (as to Universe). Enough for now.

  104. paul walter says:

    post scriptum.
    Whilst otherise occupied Kimberella added a number of thoughtful contributions to balance out the conversation and its conclusions.
    Enjoyed “Theologienne’s” take on offer; an alternative reading to one K herself was suggesting in dismay, concerning misogyny, cultism and cultural inscription. I’ve always read that tract, though, as meaning what Theologienne is suggesting and it’s an interesting comment in itself as to demonstrating the relationship between good faith and “consciousness”. It’s a neat example of K’s elaboration concerning Sophia and Wisdom- quite beautiful, in the sense that “Symposium” is beautiful. Wisdom is the correct use of knowledge mediated through love.
    BTW, think I grasp the “mountain man ” connotation CP is making concerning fluid” exchanges and gnostics. If so its a dark one, but mellow, as is K’s contrib.

  105. paul walter says:

    Just a quick glance at LP, 2005. Certainly blundered into a fruity one here, haven’t I?

  106. DREADNOUGHT says:

    This is an interesting tangent:

    “There are others who’ve written much more eloquently than I am on the whole topic of same sex love and Christianity, but suffice it to say things are, ahem, a little more complex than you suggest, CP.”

    Certainly, Christopher and me as same sex attracted men (among, I imagine, few others here) might know a little more about the way the thing operates than other self-appointed experts. We might not always be eloquent (although I think Christopher has given it a good stab, and weathered some fairly awful name-calling at the same time) but we are at least approximating authenticity. I wonder how many white LPers would feel comfortable lecturing Koori writers on what it is ‘really’ like to be black.

    It’s always like this with ‘gay marriage’. The only people who seem to want the thing are those (straight) people who can’t get one.

    And then this:

    “As the very many gay and lesbian folk worshipping in Catholic and Anglican churches in Brisbane this weekend might tell you… who was it who said early in the thread that Kevin Rudd’s conception of Christian values might be different to John Heard’s?”

    I can tell you, given the masses of feedback I receive from all over the world, most of the same sex attracted men in churches in Brisbane and most other places adhere, if they are still attending, to a view of human sexuality and the value of the family more in line with the Papa Ratzinger’s than with Shelby Spong’s.

    I cannot speak for the PM, but it wouldn’t make sense to me to listen to heterodox Christians on ‘Christian values’, because they – by definition – get their values somewhere else and don’t vote by Christian values anyway.

    – JH

  107. FDB says:

    Interesting discussion.

    Here in the Castro, the results of an unfettered Lavender Mafia are plain to see. Teh Gay slaps me in the face like a tumescent organ wherever I look.

    A few things puzzle me though. It seems not to have been razed to the ground. People seem pleasant and well adjusted. My hetero sister, her husband and two kids have not yet been lynched.

    What gives, Christopher?

  108. Katz says:

    Christopher Pearson:

    For those of us opposed to gay marriage,for example, it’s not a proxy war about advancing the interests of the Coalition. It’s a concern that civil unions are a Mickey Mouse arrangement, terminable at no cost by either party by saying so in writing to the registrar general. As such, they debase the coinage of lifelong commitment and openness to having kids –along with the emotional freight of the distinctive symbols — which are part and parcel of marriage.

    This is a valid concern.

    However, persons on CP’s side of the Culture Wars need to be much more full and frank about what they mean by “debasement”. For example, was passage of the Family Law Act in 1975 a “debasement” of marriage? Which combattants in the Culture Wars would like to see the end of no-fault divorces? Which combattants in the Culture Wars would like to see divorce abolished altogether as a legal termination of marriage bonds?

    Many of us have lived through all of these changes in marriage arrangements in the course of our ever-lengthening lives. At every stage along the way proto-typical culture warriors have clanked to the fore in the armour of their faith and proclaimed solemnly that “the coinage of lifelong commitment” is being debased.

    But what is this “coinage” of which CP speaks? As you can see, it’s not a coin at all. No, it is a dog-tag. In the days before divorce it was held in place with indestructable fetters. It could be removed only by death. People don’t trade in dogtags. Dog-tags aren’t coins. Dog-tags signify ownership. In the case of marriage these dog-tags signify that the state owns the relationship. The relationship cannot be dissolved without the consent of the state.

    But most of us know that a loving, mutually sustaining, relationship can exist without dog-tags of any kind. Indeed dog-tags themselves do little to nourish a relationship.

    So CP isn’t defending the nourishing aspects of marriage. No, he is defending the power of the state. And at the same time he is bemoaning the weakening of that power in relation to marriage.

    Paradoxically, proponents of gay civil unions are asking the state to take some dominion over gay relationships. Quite apart from the celebratory aspects of making public one’s commitment to another, this quest is a pragmatic recognition of the power of the state in rewarding stable relationships and in punishing transient relationships.

    It is up to CP to come clean on how heavy and unmovable he wants marriage’s dog-tag to be.

  109. David Rubie says:

    paul walter wrote:

    Gay is cultural, biological or some mix of the two?
    Mark, Kimberella, Rubie, CP so forth- any help?

    Nobody knows and it’s basically irrelevent. These things are only of interest to those who think they can “cure” it or suppress it. As Heard and Pearson have ably demonstrated, self hatred about your sexual orientation is far more destructive than acceptance. They spend most of their time projecting their self loathing onto the rest of the population, and they wear it like some strange badge of honour amongst a set of culture warriors. They’re like a pair of prized poodles, shown at Crufts as successful examples that “gay” is a lifestyle choice and nothing more. You can’t be honest to anybody else until you start being honest with yourself boys.

    Perhaps it’s a normal thing for many heteros to react to Gay with a certain distaste?

    Paul, react any way you please, but don’t ascribe your reaction universally.

  110. John Greenfield says:

    Mark

    My dear, on THIS particular subject I AM an expert! ;) While choir-boy Pearson may have some eloquent and perspicacious positions on other Culture War battles, on this one he is embarrassing – actually ridiculous – and irrelevant. He would do well to confine his effusions to more vanilla positions. ;)

  111. John Greenfield says:

    Kimberella

    Do you have Missy Higgins’ email address? I think she should adjudicate this debate! ;)

  112. John Greenfield says:

    Oh, and one more thing: We should tell the Catholics to Get Stuffed! It is none of their bloody business. Marriage predates Jesus Christ by millennia and has always been practiced in all societies. The Catholics have their own regulations and rituals related to their concept of marriage. How the state deals with marriage has no impact on the Catholics, and if god is upset, let him deal with the offenders on Judgement Day.

  113. adrian says:

    My god, JluvvieG talking sense! What is the world coming to?
    I blame the Rudd government.

  114. Bingo Bango Boingo says:

    “As such, they debase the coinage of lifelong commitment…”

    Frankly, it’s time for a little (or perhaps a lot) of debasement on this one. Lifelong commitment is fantastic, if you can achieve it. But commitment that is less than lifelong is not inherently inferior. As Katz implies, marriage can be liberating or it can be a prison. Whatever ‘coinage’ you are referring to, it ain’t minted at the wedding ceremony. And anyway why are you banging on about ‘marriage’? The issue is simple legal recognition of commitments between members of the same sex. Hence all the talk about ‘civil unions’, etc. The idea that the state would choose to favour (through exclusive recognition) one type of relationship over another is, to my mind, abhorrent and immoral. Still, if I were a God-botherer I guess I’d be worried about this particularly thin edge of a paricularly wide wedge.

    BBB

  115. John Greenfield says:

    BBB

    Also, in the olden days, “life-long commitment” was not very long, as life expectancies were very low compared to today.

  116. gummotrotsky says:

    Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale anyone?

  117. Bingo Bango Boingo says:

    Gummo, to be honest I prefer ‘Love is a Battlefield’ by Pat Benetar. Then again she wasn’t a four-time widower and went on about being ‘young’. So let’s defer to the Wife of Bath…

    BBB

  118. Re 98.1) Mark, You say strictly speaking God has no gender. Theology teaches us that God’s nature is beyond our grasp but that the only begotten Son’s prayer is addressed to Our Father. The Nicene Creed calls the Paraclete “Lord and Giver of Life”.
    2)The sociology of knowldge is bigger than Durkheim and far from irrelevant to the proper concerns of the liberal state, because the state cannot embrace high orders of anomie if it wants to survive (see Fukuyama’s The Great Disruption).
    Re 101 Kimberella 1) first simple point was that they were patriachal models, albeit imperfect.
    2)On Sophia see 1 above…Dominum et Vivificantum.
    3) Rather than Mailer, I might equally well have quoted M. Foucault on the C13th emergence of confessors’ manuals developing male-male homosexual acts as a separate category of sin and those acts coming to be seen as constitutive of identity.
    Re 107 Thanks to DREADNOUGHT for solidarity. You’re also spot on about heterodoxy and BXVI.
    Re 109 Katz, it’s no secret that I support the option of strictly voluntary covenant marriage as well as current formal and de facto alternatives…that is, people should be able to choose the extent by which they’re constrained in “friendships recognised by the police”. I also deplore some of the (largely) unintended consequences of 1975-style “no fault” divorce.

  119. Katz says:

    Katz, it’s no secret that I support the option of strictly voluntary covenant marriage as well as current formal and de facto alternatives…that is, people should be able to choose the extent by which they’re constrained in “friendships recognised by the police”. I also deplore some of the (largely) unintended consequences of 1975-style “no fault” divorce.

    If so, CP, then why are you against the state recognising more formally these manifold forms of marriage, including a lighter option that might suit both gays and heteros?

    And I notice that you have not addressed critiques of your formulation “debase the coinage of lifelong commitment”.

    In what sense is it “coinage”?

    If it is “coinage” then what is the acid test that should be used to determine the extent of its “debasement”?

  120. gummotrotsky says:

    Why “friendships recognised by the police”? Why not “friendships recognised by the law”, specifically, the civil law – that part of the law which deals with equity, contract and tort. Which is where marriage and divorce (or union and consequent disunion) should properly be considered.

    Marriage (as I’ve said on previous occasions) provides the parties involved with a “one size fits all” form of legal contract, where both parties know that if the relationship goes pear-shaped, they will have recourse to an independent arbiter who will resolve the inevitable disputes in a disinterested manner. Whether that will result in both parties thinking they’ve had fair treatment is another matter.

    Just how far you go in providing social arbitrators for personal disputes is open to debate, but I’d be hard put to fond an example of a society that dispensed with them altogether. Individual contracts/covenants sound fine in theory until you consider that all you’re doing is creating a new economic niche for solicitors – as specialists in drawing up covenants for couples – and the burden it would throw onto the civil courts.

    And what if – hypothetically – a woman decides that she wants to repudiate a private covenant stating that in the event of a divorce, custody arrangements will be decided by Sharia Law (or any other code of religious and ecclesiastical law) because she’s no longer that traditionalist a Muslim, and doesn’t like the idea of her son growing up as traditional Muslims. What if her son agrees with her?

    Hmm – think I’ve just blown a “Casuistry Challenge” opportunity.

  121. Katz,in answer to Q1 I’ve made an argument in qualified support of state-based relationships registers, and wouldn’t want recognition any more formal than that, to avoid the (to my mind) problematical mimickry of marriage.
    In what sense is it “coinage”? In a metaphorical sense, which enables further similes along the lines of ” lifelong heterosexual marriage is the gold standard”.

  122. paul walter says:

    What a grumpy lot you are today. JG is rare magic song and hope this vein continues to yield riches. BBB in similar form, oddly enough for once the cras directness seems to cut through much of what seems superfluous. Have to say I find myself responding positively at gut level despite reluctance, to his assertion the the Catholic church ought to finally “butt out”. Prejudice is a funny thing.
    But it won’t, because it has concerned itself for many centuries on cultural issues as “bread and butter”, represents a cetain constituency and will be heard, in tandem with the concerns of that constutency. Hostility to the ensuing discussions is also largely “irrelevent”- these are a fact of life because they deal withwider issues of human nature and identity.
    Thanks for thoughts David, felt out of touch with debate. Wanted a few background issues framed in order to allow for a better comprehension of what’s in play at this thread. I suppose on whether you take the thread as specifically dealing with gay issues, specifically marriage and children as it seems to turn out,at one pole; or culture wars in general, as I thought on first reading the post, anything that can throw up a better understanding of life and people is infinitely valuable to me. As it happens the debate operates well between the two poles of gy and culture wars, and thus has didactic value for me.
    Your last citing of me;
    ” perhaps its normal…”,
    related to an effort to gain responses beyond partisan sniping to more relevent discussions that could actually shed some light on the sort of stuff you seem a little touchy about, including concerning nature and origins issues. So much ambigulous language has (understandably) been employed discussing aspects of the thred ( including more specific stuff concerning marriage and fertility ), it needs decoding at times, as it traverses the the line between specific practical issues and more abstract philosophical stuff.
    For myself, I was brought up a certain way and of course my conditioning required a certain mediation on my part. I did say I had exponentially better things to do with my time than indulge in the infantile and futile pastime of gay bashing. But it’s difficult at times to communicate with smaller, marginalised social sets, when members seem to find dificulty in communicating freely with others they feel may be outsiders.
    Am human, am well-acquainted with self loathing, this is not applicable exclusively to gay folk.

  123. gummotrotsky says:

    n what sense is it “coinage”? In a metaphorical sense, which enables further similes along the lines of ” lifelong heterosexual marriage is the gold standard”.

    Pretty debased metaphor, if you ask me. An interesting reflection of the way our growing obsession with economics and economic values has influenced the way we conduct debate on social and political issues. We’re rapidly turning ourselves into the kind of fools who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  124. John Greenfield says:

    Katz/Mark

    Way to over-interpret, dude. Katz is making a statement of fact.

    Oh Greensleeves.

    You are a silly sausage!

    Well perhaps Humpty Dumpty might like to tell us in advance when he uses a word ‘just what he chooses it to mean. Neither more nor less.’

  125. Jack Robertson says:

    “You are a fat, ugly, and hypocritical individual whose physical being reflects the large toad sitting atop your shoulders impersonating a brain.”

    CK @ #103 , that’s so far out of line that since – apparently – no-one (moderators?) here at LP is going to object, I will. It’s a lousy thing to say. You should withdraw and apologise. BTW, in meta-terms Christopher Pearson has a fair bit to lose and not much to gain by outing his byline here, in order to engage with us all in full and open debate. And…it’s a cracker of a thread, too, thanks in no small part to his continued good-humoured presence. Really interesting, really juicy, really impressive.

    FWIW CP, contra CK’s appalling sneer, personally I’ve always found the kind of intellectual vim, grace under pressure and outright local-contrarian bollocks you’re displaying here in this thread very sexy. Kudos, dude. As a married (with son) believer in God I like other hereabouts tend to look to the great Missy Lipsniger for guidance on the (mere earthly) matter of sexuality, regarding mine (and everyone else’s, presumably – one doesn’t like to be nosey)) as a splendidly fluid notion, too…discretely, subtlely, blessedly, thrillingly, soaringly, oh-may-no-dreary-sexual-straightener-(Alt. or ‘Norm’)-ever-ever-ever-try-to-slap-their-dull-bloody-ismic-labels-on-my-todger…fluid. But I do think you’re very wrong on this issue, from a Faith perspective. Where’s the Christian compassion which ought in the end over-ride any theological-intellectual matter like this? When in doubt, CP….surely, love, love, love? Love the other like you would want them to love you…no rigour, no theory, no watertight rules of Faith ought be allowed to gazzump that, ever. KISS, CP – love, love, love, love. No?

    Still…goodness, you’re wrong with flair and elan. Some of those arguing against you need to brush a few small lavender chips off their shoulders, methinks. Now I’ll be in trouble too, I suppose.

    *Sighs, runs awaaaaaaaaaay….*

  126. mbahnisch says:

    Jack, I wasn’t around, and I assume no one else was which often happens. I’ve deleted that complaint from CK which was completely uncalled for and out of bounds in terms of the LP comments policy. Please take note everyone – it’s a topic on which emotions run high, but it ought to be possible to discuss it civilly.

  127. Klaus K says:

    Seems to be gone now, Jack.

  128. John Greenfield says:

    JR and CP need to get a room? Stoooooppppp it. I must say, I have never met or seen JR, but he didn’t really strike me as CP’s type. ;) Oh well, it takes all types to make the world go around, opposites attract, and all that.

  129. Klaus K says:

    Comments crossed.

  130. Nabakov says:

    “Certainly, Christopher and me as same sex attracted men (among, I imagine, few others here) might know a little more about the way the thing operates than other self-appointed experts.”

    On the other hand though, you’ve never been married so by your standards, you’re not really in a position to comment on gay marriage are you John?

    Also I second Jack above. Regardless of what you think of Chris’s position, he is arguing it with good grace (if not good logic) in face of some uncalled for provocation. If you’re gonna have a go at him, at least show some style and wit in return.

  131. mbahnisch says:

    I can tell you, given the masses of feedback I receive from all over the world, most of the same sex attracted men in churches in Brisbane and most other places adhere, if they are still attending, to a view of human sexuality and the value of the family more in line with the Papa Ratzinger’s than with Shelby Spong’s.

    Always with the polar opposites, John! There are other positions than those of Shelby Spong’s! For what it’s worth, you’ve misread the point of my comment. My comment was intended to suggest that gay people and gay couples worship in a number of Brisbane churches I’m familiar with, and indeed several are actively involved as lectors, servers, etc. No one is unaware of their sexual orientation – and no one seems to complain. There are also some well known gay priests – both Anglican and Catholic – around the shop (see Kim’s earlier reference to Benedict’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy). I’m not talking about the openly hetero(dox) congregation at St Mary’s in South Brisbane. My point is that congregations like this are very unlikely to be made up of the footsoldiers for the Brigadier that CP seems to think they might be. You can’t make the equation that he appears to be making between the number of people attending Church on a Sunday and a voting bloc of any kind, let alone a constituency which is going to change its vote on this one issue.

  132. CK says:

    Withdrawn

  133. Liam Hogan says:

    coinage

    Yes, I agree. Where’s Currency?

  134. mbahnisch says:

    Debased?

  135. John Greenfield says:

    Inflated? Overshot?

  136. Liam Hogan says:

    Good call Mark.
    I suspect it’s time to point out that Karl Popper would have opposed any relationship that was in any way Platonic.

  137. mbahnisch says:

    Now, as to the Foucauldian point that Christopher raised. It’s quite plausible to suggest that sexual acts between people of the same sex were regarded as individual sins which didn’t necessarily imply any predisposition, and certainly not the settled “sexual identity” of being (for instance) a gay man. However, Foucault wasn’t the most careful of historians, and his conclusions have been widely disputed. While I think we can agree that sexual identity as a touchstone of personality has its particular late modern inflection, there’s enough evidence around that “heterosexuality” as we understand it is also something of a construct – which, I think rather counter-intuitively, appears to be the ground for the objection CP is making to same sex marriage. The fact that heterosexuality – as currently understood, lived and practiced – is not necessarily an anthropological universal does not imply that it’s fragile or in need of state support through the normative example of the law. As I suggested above, it’s an incredibly powerful “social fact” in Durkheim’s terms. As Kim suggested, it is the norm, not something that is proposed at Sunday School or wherever as the norm.

  138. mbahnisch says:

    Heh! And maybe Popper would have had a point – I’m sure he wouldn’t have approved of conservative social engineering!

  139. mbahnisch says:

    And on the manly Christian Trinity, consider the Odes of Solomon, an early Christian text which is likely to have been used in the liturgy. Ode 19:

    1. A cup of milk was offered to me, and I drank it in the sweetness of the Lord’s kindness.
    2. The Son is the cup, and the Father is He who was milked; and the Holy Spirit is She who milked Him;
    3. Because His breasts were full, and it was undesirable that His milk should be ineffectually released.
    4. The Holy Spirit opened Her bosom, and mixed the milk of the two breasts of the Father.
    5. Then She gave the mixture to the generation without their knowing, and those who have received it are in the perfection of the right hand.
    6. The womb of the Virgin took it, and she received conception and gave birth.
    7. So the Virgin became a mother with great mercies.
    8. And she labored and bore the Son but without pain, because it did not occur without purpose.
    9. And she did not require a midwife, because He caused her to give life.
    10. She brought forth like a strong man with desire, and she bore according to the manifestation, and she acquired according to the Great Power.
    11. And she loved with redemption, and guarded with kindness, and declared with grandeur.
    Hallelujah.

    http://users.misericordia.edu//davies/thomas/odes.htm

  140. John Greenfield says:

    Mark

    It looks like your cup runneth over.

  141. mbahnisch says:

    Maybe!

    Returning to my point about Foucault, it’s very difficult to adequately describe or divine the nature of intimate relationships between people of the same sex in history, a point very well made by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick in her cracker of a book – The Epistemology of the Closet. How would we understand the romantic friendships that 19th century worthies of both sexes engaged in? If you read Disraeli’s letters, for instance, you can see just how romantic they were. It doesn’t make much sense to say “Disraeli was gay” because he wouldn’t have thought of himself in those terms and the friendships he had were inserted within an economy of relationships that now makes no sense to us. Going further back in time, we don’t even have epistolary evidence for how Edward II regarded his great favourite Gaveston, though in Marlowe it’s pretty clear that the Queen’s jealousy is the driving force of the action of the play. And then consider (ahem) Plato – and the characters in the Socratic dialogues who are regarded as quite odd because they don’t find boys attractive and only like to sleep with women.

    And then you can have a think about what the late Yale historian John Boswell documented as Adelphopoiesis – “brother taking” ceremonies conducted liturgically in the Greek and Roman churches. Were these intended to bless a union between a man and a man? Were they recognitions of the power and strength of a same sex friendship? Obviously Boswell had something of a political point to make, but the truth is we don’t really know what their significance was either to the participants or to the Church and its ministers. What we do know is that our current conceptions of sexual identity and the forms of friendship and relationship are time bound. But you’d be most unwise to infer, as CP seemingly does, that this makes them fragile.

    On Boswell and Adelphopoiesis, see:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelphopoiesis

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/pwh/bosrevdisc-kennedy1.html

    I should add as well that the companionate romantic marriage is a fairly recent invention.

  142. David Rubie says:

    paul walter wrote:

    ” perhaps its normal…”,
    related to an effort to gain responses beyond partisan sniping to more relevent discussions that could actually shed some light on the sort of stuff you seem a little touchy about, including concerning nature and origins issues.

    Not touchy paul, read the response again. I said it was irrelevent to the discussion. John Heard touches on a few of these issues from his point of view over at his blog here. The problem is, the whole blog is basically a shrine to his own misery, something he’s elevated to an essential part of a strange public persona. As a slightly more elaborate version of the guy on youtube crying about Britney Spears, it has it’s moments.

  143. John Greenfield says:

    Foucault most certainly was not the most careful of historians. The whole History of Sexuality was nonsense from an historiographical perspective. BUT it was very provactive and posed extremely valid questions. However, Foucault’s work was humanity’s most transparent projection of a mind totally colonised by dark sado-masochist addictions and heavy drug abuse. His own.

  144. Paul Burns says:

    Mark,
    Surely the Odes are allegorical, and not to be taken literally?
    My memory fasils me – is this Biblical, or some Jewish Apocrypha?

  145. mbahnisch says:

    No, Paul, they’re not to be taken literally, but they certainly go to the question of whether, as CP argues, there has always been a “patriarchal conception of the Divinity” which I beg leave to doubt. As I said, they’re a text which is of unknown authorship (which is not uncommon for first century texts) and certainly not Jewish – evidence suggests they’re likely to have been used in Christian liturgy.

  146. Re 125.Thanks very much for that, Jack… Alas, I don’t think compassion trumps theology. Christianity is not in the end a warm and fuzzy faith. At the risk of sounding like a fundamentalist, rather than a classical Latin Rite traditionalist, Hell can’t be made to disappear conveniently, just because it seems too pre-modern for words and neither can the Judgement. Its teachings aren’t fungible or up for re-negotiation.
    Re 131. Mark, I was quoting Jim Wallace and the figure does not represent ALL churchgoers but a sub-group, his particular constituency. I find his confidence about their discipline as a bloc vote fairly convincing, on the basis of personal observation, and think you have to give him some, if not limitless, credit for knowing their world-views and priorities.
    Re 137. I’m less concerned about the fragility of heterosexuality as a construct (and however conceived) although it’s a problem for some who suffer from galloping anomie. My worry is mainly over the fragility of marriage as a lifelong enterprise. Last tme I checked the failure rate first time around was alarmingly high.
    Re 144. Gnostic texts of the period say all sorts of wierd things. The real question is how representative of Patristic thought they were, as the early church encountered various waves of heresy and was obliged to confront hard definitional challenges such as Arius, formulating the doctrine of Christ’s dual nature and the homousion question. In this case surely not representative and, as a consequence, non-canonical.

  147. mbahnisch says:

    There are non-canonical texts which aren’t gnostic, Christopher, and many were still read in the Middle Ages – and in fact much of what is defined as “tradition” (another source of revelation, as you’d know), aside from its liturgical expression, is contained in such texts. I’d suggest you have a look at the way God’s gender was understood prior to the Reformation. Unfortunately, I haven’t the time this afternoon to go into more detail.

  148. mbahnisch says:

    Oh, and the good Brigadier might like to produce some evidence that his constituency are amenable to his guidance on how to vote. As I suggested very early in the thread, the combined vote of parties such as FF, the CDP and the DLP suggests that the “religious vote” is a massive beatup. If you look at the rigorous studies of voting and issue salience, such as the AES, there’s very little evidence that religion is a factor in voting intention for more than a tiny minority. A really tiny minority.

  149. Darlene says:

    For someone who grew up in a non-believing family, all this theological talk is quite interesting. Thanks for it.

    “Re 125.Thanks very much for that, Jack… Alas, I don’t think compassion trumps theology. Christianity is not in the end a warm and fuzzy faith. At the risk of sounding like a fundamentalist, rather than a classical Latin Rite traditionalist, Hell can’t be made to disappear conveniently, just because it seems too pre-modern for words and neither can the Judgement. Its teachings aren’t fungible or up for re-negotiation.”

    This is a good point (and one that makes one thankful for non-believing backgrounds).

    There’s a guy on YouTube crying about Britney? Well, someone has got to do it.

  150. CK says:

    “Its teachings aren’t fungible or up for re-negotiation.”

    I pity all those poor sods who ended up in Hell for eating meat on Fridays.

  151. mbahnisch says:

    At the risk of sounding like a fundamentalist, rather than a classical Latin Rite traditionalist, Hell can’t be made to disappear conveniently, just because it seems too pre-modern for words and neither can the Judgement. Its teachings aren’t fungible or up for re-negotiation.

    Let’s quote a higher authority than Christopher Pearson – Joseph Ratzinger, who writing with Johann Auer in the theological text Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life (The Catholic University of America Press, Washington DC, 1988) says (pp 217-218):

    Thus in the history of holiness which hagiology offers us, and notably in the course of recent centuries, in John of the Cross, in Carmelite piety in general, and in that of Therese of Lisieux in particular, “Hell” has taken on a completely new meaning and form. For the saints, “Hell” is not so much a threat to be hurled at other people but a challenge to oneself. It is a challenge to suffer in the dark night of faith, to experience communion with Christ in solidarity with his descent into the Night. One draw near to the Lord’s radiance by sharing his darkness.

    Ratzinger and Auer go on to emphasise that no limits should be placed on the Divine mercy.

    I have to go out now, but I’ve made a careful study of Ratzinger’s theology, and he has stated that the theological hypothesis that hell is in fact empty, and God’s mercy is (eventually – and this is the point of purgation in the Catholic tradition) universal, is a valid one. The dogmatic fact of hell’s existence is not “fungible or up for re-negotiation” but there are much more charitable understandings of the bare bones of the dogma from authorities such as Papa Ratzinger which are just a little “warm and fuzzy”, I’m happy to be able to inform CP.

  152. Mark,I agree that there are non-canonical texts which aren’t gnostic, but this isn’t one of them. Sacred tradition was pretty good at weeding out openly heretical characterisations of the Trinity.Pre-Reformation imagery of a non-masculinist kind surrounding the Second and Third Persons was tolerated, I concede, but in Catholicism it’s credal statements and the Angelic Doctor that count for most.
    I don’t think anyone takes the combined vote of FF, CDP and DLP as a realistic indication of the total size of the potential ” religious vote”. The first is largely Assemblies of God, the second FOL and the third a Catholic rump. The real test will be next time what I’ve called a totemic issue emerges and the major parties are clearly divided on policy. When you talk about religion as an explicit factor in voting, you disaggregate those who say their denominational allegiance is not a factor but who might well cast their vote on the basis of what they see as a cognate moral issue.I think you underestimate their numbers. So, insofar as we can judge from his policy u-turn on Sunday, does Rudd…which is where I came in…

  153. kimberella says:

    The real test will be next time what I’ve called a totemic issue emerges and the major parties are clearly divided on policy.

    And when, pray tell, Christopher, has this ever happened?

    I made the point earlier about the RU486 vote. There’s been no discernible “retribution” and one Liberal who voted against Abbott’s position, increased his vote against the trend. Liam referred to the stem cells issue in NSW (and there was recently a similar vote in Qld which attracted bugger all controversy). There are few “social issues” in Australia which divide the major parties in the same way (with some blurring around the edges) as abortion does in the States. Where there is a conscience vote, you find different positions taken within the parties, which also have to accommodate that dissensus on issues such as the one we’re talking about. I can’t help thinking that all this is some sort of warning directed at Nelson rather than at Rudd. But if Nelson, as I said in the post, chooses to marginalise the Libs in the same way as the British Tories marginalised themselves by running heavily on issues where they were out of touch with majority community sentiment, then they’ll be ensuring their own purgatory lasts quite a long time.

  154. Mark, again I beg to differ on the matter of BXVI’s theology. It was von Balthasar who posed the famous question “Dare we hope?of an existing but empty Hell. BXVI thought it a legitimate matter for theologians to speculate about but he is not a universal salvationist himself and for that reason insisted in an instruction to Card.Arinze on the Mass consecration formula being changed back from “for all” to the orthodox and precise translation of “pro multis”, “for many”. If you want to check out his current thinking, try his latest encyclical’s treatment of the Four Last Things.

  155. Klaus K says:

    “For someone who grew up in a non-believing family, all this theological talk is quite interesting. Thanks for it.”

    Agreed Darlene. This thread is going to have to go on my list of great, informative threads that are thrown up periodically here.

  156. Liz says:

    Thi is the first time I’ve posted her, so be nice to me.

    All this theology is very interesting in theory, but, it seems to me almost irrelevant to 21st century Australia. I still can’t see any cogent argument put forward as to why gay people should not have the benefit of a civil union, if they so choose. I’m not so much concerned with theologians arguing as I am about those people who feel frustrated and miserable because some weird right wingers have a problem with their relationships having some sort of legal basis. If that’s all it takes to damage marriage, than marriage is a sad and weak institution. I also don’t believe the vast majority of Australians (even the religious ones) could care less about the subject. It’s another example of the right wing cultural warriors being totally disengaged from contemporary thinking.

  157. Darlene says:

    It’s true Klaus K.

    And to be non-informative, Britney’s 16-year-old sister is pregnant, and she met her boyfriend/father of the baby in church.

    The message being….

    Now, the real discussion can continue.

  158. Zarquon says:

    Yes Liz, if one’s arguments against gay marriage devolve into the precise occupancy of Hell and whether the translation of “pro multis” means “all” or “many” then CP and his ilk have definitely lost the culture war in Australia.

  159. Kimberella,When ever? Well, one possible example was the Communist Party Dissolution debate over atheistic Marxism’s place in Australian politics in the fifties. On another reading of matters, the WWI Conscription referenda, which were totemic in a Catholics vs Protestants sectarian sense. I think the issue of civil unions has an unparalleled capacity in contemporary debate to polarise the polity and has more downside for the ALP.

  160. Liam Hogan says:

    When you talk about religion as an explicit factor in voting, you disaggregate those who say their denominational allegiance is not a factor but who might well cast their vote on the basis of what they see as a cognate moral issue

    Ah now here we get to the nub of it, Christopher. I don’t think this kind of wild speculation about how people vote takes into account Australia’s voting system. In countries with non-compulsory voting, first-past-the-post ballots and a low turnout (I’m thinking of the United States as the obvious example), it’s easy to mobilise relatively small numbers of people who vote on the basis of ‘cognate moral issues’, whether it’s abortion, gay marriage, the war in Iraq, or anything.
    Australia is not America. The thing I love best about the Australian system is that the votes of people like you and me who genuinely care deeply about their franchise have to swim in a sea of the ballots of the insincere, the uncaring, the greedy, the selfish, the ignorant, the flippant and everyone else who just wants to vote and get on with their relatively ungoverned lives.
    In short, you’re assuming a morally concerned electorate. Good luck with that.

    Liz, well said on the overstated fragility of marriage. If only it were so fragile, it wouldn’t make so much money for so many people in the white-dress-and-bucks’-nights economy.

  161. Nabakov says:

    It’s moments like this when you can see why Frank O’Hara called Catholicism an oversolemn introduction to cosmic entertainment.

  162. Liz says:

    I think there’s also an assumption that marriage always involves a serious, life-long commitment. Maybe it should, but that has never been the case. People have always gotten married for any number of reasons. Love, money, sex, boredom, status, the attractions of the Elvis Presley Chapel in Las Vegas. What gay people do, or don’t do, has no bearing on the attitudes which straight individuals bring to their marriage vows.

  163. David Rubie says:

    Love, money, sex, boredom, status, the attractions of the Elvis Presley Chapel in Las Vegas.

    Bah. It’s Little White Chapel you want. That’s where I was married. The wedding video contains a hilarious little bit where the celebrant gets attacked by a bug half way through the ceremony. My wife wouldn’t let me get dressed up as Elvis though.

  164. mbahnisch says:

    BXVI thought it a legitimate matter for theologians to speculate about but he is not a universal salvationist himself

    Sure, but it doesn’t stop me and many other Catholics being one and being perfectly orthodox for all that! As B16 would gladly acknowledge.

  165. joe2 says:

    “I think the issue of civil unions has an unparalleled capacity in contemporary debate to polarise the polity and has more downside for the ALP.”

    Oh Christopher, the extreme god botherers are so small in number. You hang out with them and think you are living in the real world. Very few Ausralians would give a damn about gay rights unless the issue swept up, next to their doormat, with the daily.

    Pretty much everybody would accept their childs/neighbours/friends choice to have a gay marriage, if it were available, despite a relentless attack on “the fair go”, over the Howard years…

    Right wing cultural warriors with an eye to some ill considered connection with American religous fundamentalists have tried to plant a seed here. Crop failure. The majority has proved to be far more decent.

    All you are doing now is trying on a rearguard fear/doubt action agin the new government, that is delightful, in the sense of being out there and walking every morning, but only of interest to an ever smaller band of jesuits.

  166. [...] put this post in the “levity” category, however, I note Kimberella’s Culture Wars…now and forever! was also placed in “levity”, so perhaps this post should be in “so bloody [...]

  167. mbahnisch says:

    Actually joe2, if you think about people like Frank Brennan, most of the Jesuit Fathers I know (and I’ve had a close association with them for a couple of decades now!) wouldn’t get their knickers in a twist (or their stoles tangled) over any sort of culture war issue.

    Anyway, I’m taking my end of year blogging break as of now, so I’ll leave the rest of youse to your disputations!

    http://larvatusprodeo.wordpress.com/2007/12/19/holidays/

  168. joe2 says:

    Actually Mark, from my close experience, albeit not so recently, the slight number of the goody jesuits are always outnumbered by the creepys. They hide in the background. And I am hoping that Frank will return from exile soon.

    Regardless, have a good break and same to all, including Christopher of the pear shaped argument.

  169. Michael Carden says:

    CP: “Mark,I agree that there are non-canonical texts which aren’t gnostic, but this isn’t one of them. Sacred tradition was pretty good at weeding out openly heretical characterisations of the Trinity.Pre-Reformation imagery of a non-masculinist kind surrounding the Second and Third Persons was tolerated, I concede, but in Catholicism it’s credal statements and the Angelic Doctor that count for most.”

    I would have to disagree re the Odes of Solomon. There’s abolutely nothing “Gnostic” about them. On the contrary they experess profound trinitarian and incarnational theology deeply embedded in (pre-Rabbinic) Jewish thought and symbolism but also strongly eucharistic at the same time (hence arguments that the Odes represent an ancient church hymnal of 1st/2nd centuries – I would like to see the Odes restored to liturgical use and even added as an appendix at least – like 1 Esdras and Epistle to the Laodiceans – to the biblical canon). If you want Gnostic texts I would recommend the Hypostasis of the Archons, Thunder, the Perfect Mind, the Gospel of Phillip, the Paraphrase of Shem, or the newly published Gospel of Judas

    In fact, many Gnostic texts strike me as far more “hetero” and gender-fixed than ancient Christian texts. Kim earlier referred to links between Sophia and the Holy Spirit ( the Spirit is much more likely to be envisaged as feminine in a Semitic world where the word spirit is gendered feminine than in a Latin world where the word spirit is gendered masculine). But there is an even st ronger and more biblical association of Sophia/Wisdom with Jesus (the Son/Logos). Especially Luke and John make the connections so strongly that one could ask is Jesus a goddess trapped in a male body? John’s prologue draws midrashically on both Genesis 1 and the Wisdom material in Proverbs 8 to develop the Logos theology

    Now when it comes to mariage and family and Christianity. Someone on this thread said that mariage existed long before Jesus which is quite correct. And marriage then was almost always to do with progeny, familial alliance and property. Love had little or nothing to do with it. In fact one could argue that early Christianity was not a family friendly relgion. It had a preferential option for celibacy (which continued right through to the 20th century in the Catholic church). The early Church saw itself as an alternative (to the) family. A community not based on patriarchal (paterfamilias) power and phallic subjugation. In the link Kim provided, Theologienne alluded to this important fact of the early church. Indeed when one studies the early martyrologies, the most common pattern for female martyrs is marriage resistance and rsistance to fatherly prerogative. St Thecla remains the outstanding archetype. When Christinaity was appropriated into the societal mainstream (and itself appropriated that mainstream) the result was a pretty conflicted and incoherent understanding of marriage and marital life. Marriage was always second best to the celibate life of monk and nun. The ideal marriage was itself a celibate one as modelled in the West by the perptual virgins Mary and Joseph (in the East, Mary is ever-Virgin but not Joseph whose marriage to Mary is considered his second). Sex was for procreation and hedged around with restrictions based on the liturgical calendar. Furthermore it was considered sinful for a person to initiate sex with their marital partner.

    To complicate things further, full marriage as a liturgical sacramental event was only something for the elite. For most people it was a matter it was a matter of posting the banns and maybe followed by a blessing at the church door. This only began to change in the late medieval and then Reformation periods. The Reformers in particular were ardent advocates of marriage and family for all and as someone has said companionate marriage is something that only really starts at the Reformation and even then it doesn’t become the norm until the 19th century (some would say the 20th century)

    Mark has raised the fact of Christian rituals of adelphopoesis, rites of spiritual brotherhood (and by analogy sisterhood) They disappeared in the West by the late medieval period but continued in the East into the late 19th century (last celebrated by both Orthodox and Catholic Albanians).

    What adelphopoiesis highlights for me is the observation by I think Alan Bray that medieval people lived in a network of formal relationships both biologial and non-biological. These relationships were seen as forms of kinship even the non-biological, of which marriage was but one. Many of these relationships involved rites of formal recognition/celebration and contract (as in adelphopoiesis) The Reformation stress on marriage swept away this network of kinship/relationship. From then on marriage was for all and most important relationships were biological family (eventually nuclear).

    I think this represents an impoverishment of our society and that’s one of the reason why I support civil unions and relationship registers. We live in a tyranny of marriage and do not recognise, let alone celebrate complex human relationality be it biological or nonbiological, erotic or non-erotic, secular or sacred

  170. DREADNOUGHT says:

    Hey Mark:

    “My comment was intended to suggest that gay people and gay couples worship in a number of Brisbane churches I’m familiar with, and indeed several are actively involved as lectors, servers, etc. No one is unaware of their sexual orientation – and no one seems to complain.”

    So what? Many at St Mary’s and St Pat’s (whether Melb or 5th Ave) know I am SSA and it has never been an issue.

    Surely, however, that’s because I strive to be faithful.

    Your ‘suggested…gay people’ and ‘gay couples’ are, if they’re attending Catholic churches and any of the remaining, solid Anglican ones, unlikely to be Rainbow Sash types.

    Polars opposites are useful for delineating the boundaries in a complex debate, but I don’t want to argue that Ratzinger is to the Right as Spong is to the Left. Rather, Ratzinger is orthodox (and catholic) whereas Spong is deficient on both counts.

    As for these Boswell-esque interjections, I would have thought that – pace James Davidson – Alan Bray put that nonsense to bed:

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v27/n11/davi02_.html

    He’s also good on the modern (specious) idea of an immutable, probably genetically predetermined homosexual orientation:

    http://www.columbia.edu/cu/cup/catalog/data/023110/0231102887.HTM

    This has been a fun thread. Well done Kim.

    – JH

  171. paul walter says:

    David Rubie, you are right: a virtual error in that post. I was going to edit “touchy” out because it missed so comprehensively what I was really trying to get at.
    You seem a fair bloke and after a day out seeing quacks and paying bills, so no further fromme just now, have lost track of the whole thing any way.
    Suffice to say I enjoy the vast majority of your constructive posts and wish you and the other folk at this site the absolute best for Krissie.

  172. DREADNOUGHT says:

    I should say *probably specious. There is room, even in Catholic thinking, for a potential genetic genesis:

    http://johnheard.blogspot.com/2007/03/dreadchildren-gay-baby-r-albert-mohler.html

    – JH

  173. j_p_z says:

    Not wading back into this one, it’s just a decent excuse to post a bit of good poetry. This is by Her Royal Slyness, Miss Marianne Moore…

    MARRIAGE

    This institution,
    perhaps one should say enterprise
    out of respect for which
    one says one need not change one’s mind
    about a thing one has believed in,
    requiring public promises
    of one’s intention
    to fulfill a private obligation;
    I wonder what Adam and Eve
    think of it by this time,
    this fire-gilt steel
    alive with goldenness;
    how bright it shows —
    “of circular traditions and impostures
    committing many spoils,”
    requiring all one’s criminal ingenuity
    to avoid!
    Psychology which explains everything
    explains nothing,
    and we are still in doubt.

    …She goes on for a good while longer, but sadly the rest isn’t quite as good as that.

  174. silkworm says:

    All theology is rubbish. All talk about God, heaven, hell, or paracletes, is meaningless and circular. And to use it to justify your attitude toward gays, who are gay through no choice of their own, is reprehensible.

    Of course compassion trumps theology. Compassion is the only justification that Christianity has.

  175. CK says:

    So, please explain, John Heard, why you and Christopher Pear-Shaped are not a pair of self-hating Catholics?

  176. Nabakov says:

    “I should say *probably specious. There is room, even in Catholic thinking, for a potential genetic genesis:”

    Wait till you diehard mackeral snappers discover been going on in the 21st century.

  177. Nabakov says:

    “Of course compassion trumps theology. Compassion is the only justification that Christianity has.”

    Well put mulberry boy.

    And why do we need so many layers of hierarchal hairsplitting driven by sexually-fucked up and misogynist Pauline doctrine endlessly reinterpreted by a bunch of self-appointed technically celibate blokes in drag inserted between us and our ultimate accounting with our maker?

    “So, please explain, John Heard, why you and Christopher Pear-Shaped are not a pair of self-hating Catholics?”

    More like self-appointed martyrs determined to choke their God-given urges at the source.

  178. Liam Hogan says:

    would you switch?

    For Missy Higgins, yeah. But not for Bob Brown.

  179. Nabakov says:

    Also Michael Carden, yes, yes, that’s all very well but do you actually have any well-researched, thoughtful, well-argued and provocative comments to make about how the institution of marriage evolved within and without the confines of Christianity?

    Seriously though, I’m nominating Mick C for most erudite thread derailment in 2007. And best religious doctrine deflation.

  180. Jack Robertson says:

    When researchers strengthened neural synapses in the brain, the male flies were attracted, rather than repulsed, by the smell of other male flies. “We put the males together, and they did to each other what they do when they’re interested in a female: They approach her, sing her a song, lick her … and mount her,” researcher David Featherstone told ABCNEWS.com…

    Strengthened neural synapses? Why not save R&D $$$’s by simply putting the target fruit flies in post-game rugby guernseys?

    Ta for the great thread all, btw.

  181. Nabakov says:

    “They approach her, sing her a song, lick her … and mount her,”

    As Pete Townsend said, 90% of blokes start or join bands to improve their sex lives. Worked for me.

  182. Katz says:

    In what sense is it “coinage”? In a metaphorical sense, which enables further similes along the lines of ” lifelong heterosexual marriage is the gold standard”.

    But Christopher Pearson. Gold remains gold no matter how much paper money is printed.

    You have not, therefore, explained satisfactorily from your own position how the analogy helps us to understand marriage. As it stands, the printing of debased currency in fact increases the value of gold.

    That leaves you with only one line of argument. That is you don’t like gay unions not because how they relate to heterosexual marriage, but because of something intrinsically and inherently wrong with homosexual relationships.

    What could that be?

  183. kimberella says:

    Because they’re teh gay, I imagine.

    Liam, I hate to confess this, but since I saw Missy on the Spicks n Specks Christmas special on Sunday night, I feel myself strangely drawn to her…

    As to you, Mr Nabs, Michael’s erudition was a valuable contribution and very much to the point. It’s important to contest the patriarchal characterisation of Catholic Christianity against both those who are its advocates like Messrs Heard and Pearson and also against the know nothing atheism of silkworm. Militant atheists should know that not all us Catholic types are teh evil, and it’s our church too, even if the Murdoch press don’t anoint us with a mini mitre on a regular basis.

  184. Nabakov says:

    “As to you, Mr Nabs, Michael’s erudition was a valuable contribution and very much to the point.”

    Yes, I agree. Reread my comment. Maybe I should have initiated sardonic Australian praise tags. :>]

  185. Paul Burns says:

    Latin -Rite traditionalists – aren’t they some kind of ultra-right wing heresy nowadays? I haven’t been up to date with this for years, because praying bores me and I’ve got better things to do with my Sundays than go to church, but doesn’t the Latin-rite contradict Vatican II? Or have I got that wron.
    Interesting discussion of the theology of hell: would’ve thought the place was reserved for people like Hitler, Stalin, Howard – you know, people who have done real evil and genuinely hurt people.
    Most of us, living our lives in quiet desperation, aren’t like that.
    Welcome new Lp-er,Liz.
    (We’re mostly nice to each other, anyway).

  186. CK says:

    Well, I have no idea what perverse beings these apparently self-hating Catholic homosexuals are.

    My reaction as an unmarried but happily committed hetero person with two children, the latest who has graduated among top of her school? Pretty good, really.

    In short, CP and Dreadnought each speak with forked younges.

    You want to rant about families?

    Here’s a a hint: Go get one.

    And you’re equally pathetic.

  187. Paul Burns says:

    Ck,
    Without them we wouldn’t be having this at times very interesting discussion. The gay bit I find boring but all the other permutations have been fascinating.

  188. Nabakov says:

    If yer looking for a coda CK, then how about this mashup of an old favourite.

    “Against gay civil unions? Then don’t have one.”

  189. Bingo Bango Boingo says:

    Nabakov, it’s a great line. What a pity we don’t follow through on its philosophical underpinnings in all facets of life…

    BBB

  190. kimberella says:

    Sorry, Nabs, sometimes have my irony detectors blocked by my Californian hat.

  191. DREADNOUGHT says:

    “It’s important to contest the patriarchal characterisation of Catholic Christianity against both those who are its advocates like Messrs Heard and Pearson…”

    Okay Kim. So have a go at Ms Tushnet:

    http://eve-tushnet.blogspot.com/

    http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/article.php3?id_article=1957 (Eve’s is the second article).

    If Catholicism is patriarchal, it’s because of the Patriarchs, not because of structures of oppression. ‘The truth shall set you free’, etc.

    – JH

  192. Rogs says:

    CP “the issue of civil unions has an unparalleled capacity in contemporary debate to polarise the polity and has more downside for the ALP”

    this is merely an echo of the ultraright howard era, which will fade away. howard was the most rightwing PM for generations, and therefore unusual.

    the avalanche of conservative commentators claiming ruddism is little howardism are haplessly whistling in the dark. in 96 labor voters could not have anticipated how regressive and repressive howard would be in office. he won his elections by cautiously mimicking labor in 96, especially by keeping medicare; a convulsive scare campaigns backed up by exploitation of events in 98 and 01, and because latham was a raw idiot in 04. the howard ascedancy was built on tactics, not fundamentals.

    the howardist / hansonist / rightwing christian edifice is a hollow creation

  193. John Greenfield says:

    Liz

    I think there’s also an assumption that marriage always involves a serious, life-long commitment. Maybe it should, but that has never been the case.

    I have read some tosh in my time, but this one really takes the biscuit!

    People have always gotten married for any number of reasons. Love, money, sex, boredom, status, the attractions of the Elvis Presley Chapel in Las Vegas.

    You would do well to rethink projecting your own ennui onto the rest of humanity, past and present.

  194. John Greenfield says:

    silkworm

    All theology is rubbish. All talk about God, heaven, hell, or paracletes, is meaningless and circular.

    I withdraw my award to Liz above and hand it to you. Christian theology is basically the sum-total of humanist thought. It is the legacy of the Greco-Roman world, pre-agricultural social psychology, underpins rationalist science, and is indispensable in navigating every ethical, moral, political, and legal debate in the contemporary world.

    Muhammad, Copernicus, Spinoza, Hobbes, Locke, newton, Mill, Marx, Stalin, Eric Hobsbawm, neomarxism, neoliberalism, and even Richard Dawkins, are all inexplicable if isolated from a grasp of christian theology.

    You would do well to hit the books if you wish to make a contribution.

  195. Klaus K says:

    “You would do well to rethink projecting your own ennui onto the rest of humanity, past and present.”

    I don’t see how you can mount a substantial argument against the idea that people marry for all different reasons, John Greenfield, although it may be difficult for Liz to argue in favour of it, too. Just out of curiosity: what were the actual reasons, past and present, that you think ALL married people chose and choose to marry?

    I agree entirely with your response to silkworm, however.

  196. John Greenfield says:

    Klaus

    Hmmm..you’re right, re Liz. My bad. She parsed her sentence correctly, I misread it. I now see she actually meant that never in history have ALL people married for life. I read it too mean, that never in history has ANYBODY married for life. ;)

    On your agreement with me on silkworm, all I can say is FMD! I will take that as early Xams present (when I recover from the shock! :)

  197. John Greenfield says:

    Liz

    p.s. My apologies.

  198. Klaus K says:

    Well, I’m happy to celebrate our agreement on that too. Anybody who has studied philosophy, especially of the ‘continental’ variety, quickly recognises the relevance of theology, but also the impossibility of separating theology and philosophy in a definitive way over certain central questions. The only word I might quibble over in your response is ‘indispensable’, because I think that people can navigate these questions in valuable ways without explicit reference to theology, but in the broadest sense I think this might be true.

  199. Paul Burns says:

    Should I remind people that for a long time – centuries in fact – marriage was a nasty little property deal within and between the aristocracy and the gentry. The lower orders (I’m talking about the period before class consciousness created the working class) rarely married, much to the distress of late 18c early 19c. Evangelicals. Indeed, the Hardwicke Marriage Law of 1757 was passed to stop ne’er do well aristocratic wastrels and libertines from marrying juvenile heiresses without their father’s permission to prevent family fortunes from falling into the hands of improvident or indebted rakes.
    The current alleged romantic view of marriage is an early 20c. construct and continues to fail a lot of the time because women, mostly, don’t want to stick around in painful relationships just because society expects they should.

  200. John Greenfield says:

    Paul Burns

    Oh PUHLEEZ. Spare us your idiotic Marxist drivel. Dude, aborigines were getting married tens of thousands of years ago, and Roman slaves two thousand years ago, and let’s not even begin on the orientals! Clearly, you are a white supremacist, obsessed with bourgeois white Europeans! I intend contacting HREOC immediately. No doubt they will send you a very cross letter and demand you front up for sensitivity training.

  201. adrian says:

    BTW, from where did the ugly, ungrammatical and illogical phrase ‘my bad’ come?
    It should be dispatched from whence it came, America I presume, post haste!

  202. John Greenfield says:

    adrian

    My dear, clearly not from the same place whence prefacing whence with the tautological ‘from’ comes.

    ‘My bad’ comes from the streets, dude.

  203. David Rubie says:

    ‘My bad’ comes from the streets, dude.

    Like, that’s totally bitchin’ Greenfield. Are you a ninja turtle of the teenage variety?

    Paul Burns is right about marriage, although I suspect it only started becoming important when governments wanted records of marriage for property settlements. Church based registers typically don’t contain much in the way of records of the great unwashed the further back you go, just the gentry.

  204. John Greenfield says:

    David Rubie

    No Paul Burns is not right about marriage. Read my reply to him.

  205. adrian says:

    Agree, David. Paul is correct about marriage in the context of our society and culture.

    Dude Greenfield, it don’t come from any of the streets from whence I come, hard shelled one. If you get ma drift, man.

  206. John Greenfield says:

    adrian

    Dude, like how old are you? My brother, you really need to get out more, and smell those multiculti roses.

  207. adrian says:

    My age is immaterial, man, and hey I get out anabout on the streets of Sydney every day, dude. Never hear that crazy lingo though. Must be the headphones.

  208. John Greenfield says:

    adrian

    Actually, I am also really too old to be saying it. I get it from American younguns tv and fillums. ;)

  209. Paul Burns says:

    JG,
    Where on earth do I start? I suppose with your aspersions on my supposed Marxist twaddle. Working class consciousness began in the late eighteenth century with the London Corresponding Society and agitators like Horn Took and Francis Place. Long before Marx.So that observation is some weird piece of ahistorical delusion.I’m not sure that Marx was even a twinkle in his father’s eye in the period I was referring to.
    Aborigines – The Australian Aborigine practised a very fluid temporary polygamy on the part of the males, if I read my First Fleet sources correctly.If you don’t believe me
    read Collins’ account of Aboriginal courtship and marriage.The behaviour of Bennelong and his wives is so serial it even contradicts Collins’ assertion that the women ‘seldom quit’ their husbands ‘for another.’
    Slaves in the classical period – I’m assuming here that Xenophon and Plutarch knew more about the mating habits of their slaves than we do. In his Memorabilia Xenephon observes that the lustfulness of slaves be kept under control through starvation. That doesn’t sound like devotion to me. Plutarch, in his Life of Cato notes that Cato was particularly concerned about slaves ‘being led into mischief more often on account of love affairs than for any other reason, and he made it a rule that men could sleep with the wom\en slaves of the establishment for a fixed price, but must have nothing to do with the others.’ Now that sounds more like prostitution may have been more common than marriage among slaves, and that their masters actively discouraged marriage, when it came to the reality if not the Ideal.
    I would have thought the discussion on this thread was dealing primarily with the European concept of marriage. I strongly object to you calling me a white supremacist, whether seriously or in jest. Apart from being in incredibly bad taste, its just plain wrong.For your information, apart from varieties of European history,I’ve spent probably a lot more time trhan you in the study of Aboriginal culture and history, as well as Japanese, Chinese and Korean history. Because my recollection of the latter is a bit hazy, I might get it wrong so I won’t comment on Oriental marriage practices. I’ve recently been concentrating on Afro-American and Native American history. Not bad for some-one you accuse of being a white supremacist, is it?

  210. Paul Burns says:

    Correction 210. devotion to marriage.
    My thanks to those of you who stuck up for me.
    JG – analysing history through the concept of class is not necessarily Marxist, though Marx, to an extent, pioneered it, but you can go back to implicit pre Marxist sources like Gregory King,Defoe,Arthur Young,Henry Fielding, F.M. Eden, Rev. D. Davies, and notably, Colquhoun during the 18 and early 19c all of whom in one way or another implicitly categorise people by class. And I haven’t even bothered to look at American or European thinkers to add to this comment.Just to make my point – class analysis does not, repeat, not necessarily equal Marx. In fact to use Marx as a template for class analysis for any period other than the so-called First Industrial Revolution (which is nowadays a questionable historiographical label), is quite ahistorical.

  211. Pavlov's Cat says:

    What Paul Burns said from #200 onwards, pretty much. Thanks to Kim for starting this amazingly interesting discussion and to Paul B, Mark, Liam and Christopher in particular for conducting it in such a civil and well-informed fashion. (Snaps to CP in particular for persistent good humour in the face of some truly breathtaking personal abuse. CK, should we ever meet at a grogblog, I shall expect you to be physically godlike and flawless, unlike the rest of us.)

    I was born and brought up godless and have stayed that way, but really have enjoyed this discussion very much. Most of it, anyway.

  212. David Rubie says:

    No-one is going to read this so it won’t matter much, but Pavlovs Cat bemoans “breathtaking personal abuse” against Christopher Pearson.

    Screw it Ms Cat. Pearson needs abuse, he loves it. He thrives on it. I wouldn’t be human if I denied a creature like that abuse. CK might have taken it a bit far, but I bet Pearson received it with a shiver of delight he won’t allow himself in normal human relations. We’re helping him.

  213. CK says:

    Well yes, I did take it a bit far.

    But having said that, I was surprised the moderator let my comment through and that CP was decent enough to engage (in an increasingly strange and weird debate)despite the random abuse.

    But medieval Catholics (and self-hating gays, apparently) who believe in the physical existence of Heaven and Hell, and that the Bible is “non-negotiable”?

    Well, let us not mention the mere trifle of the Protestant Reformation. Our relationship with God is “non-negotiable” indeed.

    Given CP’s fairly fundamentalist position on Catholicism, I would love to hear his views on Protestants, Jews, Eastern Orthodox, Buddhists, and Cronulla Yobs (the un-Catholic ones)for that matter.

    But no. We’re left with some strange obscurity surrounding civil unions in the ACT which will, apparently, bring down the walls of Rudd’s Jericho.

    So, Christopher Pearson, an elite unto himself scribbling his nonsense from the privileged position of a regular Saturday column in the National Organ pretty much seems to take his world view from the Council of Trent (1545-63 here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Trent)

    Don’t get me started on his misguided psephology.

    Fuck it. He deserves to be abused.

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