Monthly Archives: January 2013

Christ and the homosexual

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This book was published in 1960 by the Rev. Robert Wood, a Congregationalist minister.  Wood, a gay man, was upset at how Christians condemned homosexuals without attempting to understand them.  After an unsatisfactory search for material dealing with ministering to homosexuals, he decided he would write his own book on the subject. Continue reading

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Geoffrey & Mika: Till marriage do us part

In light of the recent demonstrations in France against same sex marriage, demonstrations mounted by Catholics and Muslims by and large, I offer comments on religious opposition to same sex marriage and why marriage rights are so important to gay couples.

Posted by Geoffrey

“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” — Oscar Wilde

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There is no such thing as bad publicity it is often said. Is this so? Personally, I think there is such a thing as bad publicity. Let me recount a recent incident by way of an illustration. A student at Carleton University, where I am employed, Arun Smith is his name, has generated a great deal of publicity for himself in pulling a truly stupid, petulant stunt on campus, basically an act of petty vandalism. A campus group, Carleton Students for Liberty, set up an installation in the University Centre, calling it the “Free Speech Wall” on Monday January 21st. Passersby were free to jot down their thoughts. Mr. Smith, a student politician seeking election to the Carleton University Students’ Association, took exception to the installation and destroyed it over night. He proudly confessed to doing so on his facebook page claiming free speech ““illusory concept” and that “not every opinion is valid, nor deserving of expression.” This has since been picked up by the press and blogosphere giving the previously obscure Mr. Smith considerable public attention. The bulk of this attention has been less than flattering to say the least, but this does not concern the erudite, ahem, (he has been studying as an undergraduate student seven years now), Mr. Smith. Presumably he thinks he stands to gain from his new found ignominy. He may well have increased his standing among the politically correct elements on the Carleton campus, but across the wider society both on and off the campus, judging by the comments left on the restored installation, he is seen as a fool.

Posted by Geoffrey

Latter days

Late last year I became acquainted with a young gay man on Youtube who is documenting his exit from the Mormon Church. He was raised in a devout Mormon family in Utah and is sharing his experience growing up Mormon. I am quite interested in his story. I am familiar with Mormonism from the courses in religious studies I took as an undergrad at university, but the only interaction I have had with Mormons over the years is when missionaries knock on my door. I found them to be nice enough people. They were not offended when I politely declined their offer to discuss their Church with me. The official position of the Mormon Church toward gay people is not especially charitable. Homosexual sex acts are condemned as sinful. However, at the end of 2012, the Mormon leadership, in a surprising announcement, launched a new website http://www.mormonsandgays.org/ in which it calls upon Church members to be more caring and compassionate toward persons who have same sex attraction. It goes so far to accede that a homosexual orientation is not a choice! The following excerpt from the website sums up the tone of the initiative:

The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

At face value this change in thinking is encouraging. Could it be that the Mormon Church is seeking to come to terms with modernity? My young friend is not convinced and I see his point. The Mormon leadership may be trying to revisit Church doctrine as it was interpreted by previous generations of Mormon thinkers, but the culture of honour and shame remains deeply entrenched among the rank and file of Mormonism. It must be very difficult growing up gay in a devout Mormon family. My young friend has published several videos on Youtube documenting his exit from the Mormon Church. Here is the introductory video in his series. I recommend viewing the rest of the series. His is a story worth hearing.

Posted by Geoffrey

Mass appeal.

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Newman House and the seat of Saint Thomas More Parish where I was welcomed as a young gay man and confirmed as a Roman Catholic in 1986.

A chapter of a Roman Catholic organization called Courage has turned up at the University of Toronto Newman Centre in Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish. Courage is an organization that counsels chastity for homosexual persons. While this teaching is in keeping with Church doctrine, it is really quite unreasonable and unrealistic to expect gay people to choose either a life of solitude or a relationship without intimacy. This teaching is disputed by many Roman Catholics, gay and straight. Dignity, for example, is a Roman Catholic organization with chapters across the world that works for acceptance of gay people in the Church. Here is a link to Dignity Canada: http://www.dignitycanada.org/. Continue reading

But for the grace of God…

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“There but for the grace of God go I” a famous quote attributed to John Bradford (1510-1555) as a prisoner in the Tower of London upon seeing a fellow prisoner en route to his execution. This quote seems appropriate in introducing a recent acquisition to our library collection. 88 men and 2 women is the memoir of Clinton T. Duffy (1898-1982) during the 12 years (1940-1952) he served as warden at San Quentin State Prison in California. In those 12 years he presided at the executions of 90 condemned prisoners, 88 men and 2 women. Interestingly enough, Duffy opposed capital punishment and campaigned against it after leaving the job. In addition, during his tenure as warden he introduced broad reforms in the treatment of prisoners making conditions in the prison far more humane, but could not stop the executions. Commenting on this he said the following:

“I could get rid of the instruments of torture, but I couldn’t get rid of the instruments of death. San Quentin had its gallows when I was born, and it still has its gas chamber, which claims an average an average of about nine lives a year. Gallows, gas chamber, electric chair, firing squad, or whatever other ‘humane’ method of execution may be devised in the future, they all add up to the same thing. After months or years of horrible mental anguish, a person dies in a medieval torture-chamber setting often in a Roman holiday atmosphere while society, although trying to turn its head away and not look, condones it.”

This memoir is an interesting look into the life and conscience of an executioner who became acquainted with prisoners on death row, seeing them to their execution in the gas chamber at San Quentin State Prison. It must take great strength of character to be able to carry out the job of the executioner viewing it as a job to be done and to go on with life as an ordinary citizen. Like Mr. Duffy, I oppose capital punishment and unlike him, I could not take on the job of executioner. Capital punishment was abolished in Canada in 1976, though the last hangings were carried out in 1962. Despite Mr. Duffy’s efforts to see capital punishment abolished in US society, it persists in the 21st century. I hope before too long this will become a thing of the past.

Posted by Geoffrey