A whiff of scandal always helps grab the interest:
Williams is a vulnerable messenger for such a critique: He was a priest of a secretive and influential religious order, the Legionaries of Christ, a longtime favorite of the Catholic right, which the Vatican has been trying to overhaul after revelations of lurid sex and money scandals.
He later left the priesthood to marry a woman — the daughter of Mary Ann Glendon, a conservative Catholic law professor and ambassador to the Holy See under President Bush — with whom he’d secretly had a child while he was still a cleric.
Okay, that’s not the real scandal, except it probably should be, and there is no actual, real scandal.
So here’s how it goes. Among those invited to a very large reception for Pope Francis are some gay Catholics, gay advocates, and even a gay Episcopal bishop. Oh, and a nun who apparently doesn’t know how to keep her mouth shut, or something, because we’re all supposed to be really, really upset about the lot of them, or something like that.
In a strange way, the caricatures driving rebellion in metal-laden explorations of conscience do not seem so exaggerated today. Once upon a time, we argued about listening to the music. And it feels both strange and familiar, perhaps the one for the other. That is to say, the shape of these arguments going on today, about boys wearing skirts and girls having babies really does feel like nothing more than the heavy metal wars all over again, and this time for higher stakes. It isn’t fair, I don’t think, to say that we got it, understood the mere fact of caricaturization, but they didn’t. Still, that’s how it feels. We built monstrous, shadowy legends to represent the hatred we feared. They really do seem to be dressing up in it. Or, at least, that’s how it feels.
Regression! Progressive downfall! Grabbing what’s there and still wanting it all! On words they fall. Obsession! Religioius belief! Worshipped on Sunday, forgotten all week! One foot in Hell. Taking the truth from “The Book” and then twisting it, feeling they’re touched by the Lord. Loving their neighbor, yet tasting the flavor of sin but seeing no wrong. Cramming the wisdom that righteously flows in them, walking the crooked straight line. Closing of minds to these innocent crimes, now they’re deaf, dumb, and blind! One foot in Hell! Wretches! This pitiful man, preaching and teaching with Cross in hand. On words he falls. Into his final mistake; this fool was fooled, it was all give and take. One foot in hell. I look to the Heavens and call the Lord’s name. Praying on my knees, with much faith, and little doubt. I have a yearning for the answers to my calling in life. Am I wasting away on spirits of myth? Am I questioning the Lord’s prayer? Is this unholy temptation or my final realization? Please, God, if you’re there for me, give me wisdom for faith. Help me, Lord! God help me! Show me the way; point to the light. Is there a Heaven after I die? What is a truth, where does it lie? Give me the answer! Bare my soul, naked and cold! End confusion, shed my last tear! Take me, Lord! Open your Gates! End my deep sorrow! One foot in Hell. Who’s answering the bell?
Rachel Maddow’s nearly giddy segment on msnbc last night noted that when the full effect of yesterday’s Supreme Court rejection of appeals against marriage equality reaches the states, the roster will equal thirty states. And she looked forward to decisions expected from the Sixth and Ninth.
I haven’t read the Ninth Circuit opinion yet. I have to teach now, so it would be nice if the courts would stop issuing gay-marriage decisions for an hour or so.
The estimable Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog explains what happened in the Ninth:
The Ninth Circuit’s ruling was made up of three parts.
First, all three judges on the panel joined in an opinion by Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt finding that the Idaho and Nevada bans violate the constitutional guarantee of same-sex couples to be treated the same legally as opposite-sex couples. Second, Judge Reinhardt issued a separate opinion, for himself only, saying he would also strike down those bans under the Constitution’s Due Process Clause, arguing that the right to marry is a fundamental guarantee and that gays and lesbians have a right to share in that right. Third, Circuit Judge Marsha S. Berzon, in a separate opinion only for herself, said she would have also struck down the bans on the premise that they discriminate on the basis of gender.
The third member, Circuit Judge Ronald M. Gould, joined only the main opinion on the equal protection principle.
This ruling was perhaps the least surprising among four federal courts of appeals decisions striking down state prohibitions on same-sex couples marrying, and already-married couples gaining official state recognition of those unions, performed elsewhere.
Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill yesterday that supporters say will assure unfettered practice of religion without government interference but that opponents worry could lead to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The bill, called the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, will become law July 1. It also will add “In God We Trust” to the state seal.