Monday, August 26, 2013

The Bottum line

Here's a roundup of some of the great pieces regarding that Jody Bottum call for heroic capitulation by the Church regarding gay marriage which were posted over the weekend:

Mark Shea says that Bottum is God's good servant, but the king's first

Matthew J. Franck at First Things speaks of exhaustion (and not just from reading that long-winded piece of calculated moral buffoonery)

Rod Dreher calls Bottum's flip-flop shocking

Pat Archbold calls Bottum a "Fool and Tool"

Deacon Kandra gives us "just the facts" as is his style, along with an excerpt from Bottum's NYT interview which is helpful for those of us who don't want to read the whole sickening thing.

I was going to write a lengthy post myself detailing exactly what's long with Bottum's thinking here, but it's probably not even necessary at this point.  Instead, let me give you the same brief list (slightly edited) of 12 points that I shared with a friend right after I read the Bottum piece:

What Joseph Bottum is saying, in a nutshell: 
1. My gay friends are nice to me.  Except about that "Catholic" part.  Then they don't like me anymore.
2. Maggie Gallagher yelled at me one time.  I'm still miffed about that.
3. We've already lost the culture on sex.
4. Gay marriage will make gay people monogamous. (Really, he says he thinks so.)
5. Civil marriage because of divorce isn't real marriage anyway.
6. The children?  Eh, they'll be fine, even when we pretend right along with their two moms that they have two moms.
7. The late Chuck Colson refused to take my awesome advice about the Manhattan Declaration.
8. Catholics might get persecuted if we fight gay marriage.  We can't have that.
9. Did I mention all the prominent gay people I know?
10. Thomas Aquinas would agree with me.  Take my word for it.
11. The Church looks too mean when she opposes gay marriage.
12. Richard Rich is my hero!  (Okay, so he didn't actually say that, but it's pretty well implied.)

That's really all that is going on, in that long-winded essay of his, except for a 13th point, which is that it's somehow un-American for Catholics to oppose an evil redefining of marriage that will further erode the natural family, put Christians and other believers under the unrelenting attacks of a growing secularist tyranny that is lurching toward dictatorship, and hurt our gay brothers and sisters by selling them the lie that they just can't be complete human beings unless everybody uncritically praises and celebrates their sex lives--because none of that is important compared to our opportunities to engage in preemptive wars and so on.

The Bottum line, ultimately, is that we should just ignore all of that because blah blah blah elite cocktail parties are fun, and so are endless neocon wars to spread the fertilizer of democracy, so let's agree to shut up about evil when it impedes the cocktail party/war consensus.  The real bottom line for Catholics, though, is that hoary old chestnut: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

UPDATE: I have to add this link to Rod Dreher's continued analysis of the Bottum essay, where Rod calls Bottum's thinking "alchemy."  Which is a nice way of saying that Bottum is mainly guilty of magical thinking masquerading as serious thought--and which I completely agree with.


Pat said...

Can someone explain to me why granting a civil license to 3% of the population gets everyone so worked up? It really hasn't been a problem for me and its been legal in my state for YEARS.

Red Cardigan said...

Pat, I'd suggest you might try some of the links in my main post for an explanation.

When marriage is redefined in such a way that the concept becomes pretty much meaningless, there are going to be consequences. Right now, civil marriage can be defined, "The temporary legal recognition given to two people who are each other's primary sex partners, for the purposes of tax breaks and inheritance rights." Now tell me: what is the compelling government interest in people's temporary primary sex partnerships?

Pater Ignotus said...

"...But for Wales?" ("...But for Commonweal?")

Red Cardigan said...

Gosh, Father, that puts it in perspective. I mean, Rich at least got Wales (or thought he would). Who would barter his soul for Commonweal?

Pat said...


With respect, your definition fails, since "sex partnership" is not a requirement for marriage, nor is the word "temporary".

Also, isn't your marriage more valuable to our society than merely that it gives you a tax break and an inheritance right? Isn't our society better as a whole because you and your husband have joined together in a partnership of mutual support and care? I certainly think that I benefit from your marriage commitment.

Pat said...


You asked me a direct question about the government's interest in marriage. My attempt at a thoughtful answer is below.

Stability. Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation. At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership. We encourage couples to marry because the commitments they make to one another provide benefits not only to themselves but also to their families and communities.

Unity. Marriage requires thinking beyond one's own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society.

Committment. Marriage promotes financial interdependence, shared living arrangements, and a commitment to mutual caring, all of which benefit society as a whole.

Responsibility. Marriage is good for society as a whole. In marrying, the couple makes a deeper commitment to one another and to society.That helps society. It provides a mechanism for emotional stability and economic security. Those are both good for society. Marriage places more responsibilities upon citizens, fosters social cohesion, emotional security, and economic prudence. Marriage also provides an anchor for a couple in the chaos of sex and relationships to which all people are prone.

Further reasons to expressly include GAY people into the institution of marriage:

The Alternative is Shameful. Gay people are a permanent minority and aren't likely to go away. We should encourage them to participate in the traditional values and institutions that have proven to work for society, like marriage. The alternative is bad public policy and bad for society: framing laws to encourage gay relationships to be unfaithful, undeveloped, and insecure helps nobody. Gays should be encouraged to form the kinds of lasting commitments that have proven so helpful to straight people.

It Reinforces Straight Marriage. Gay marriage is good for straight marriage in that including gays into this institution reinforces what we know to be a healthy social trend. Marriage is good.

A social, public institution. Lastly, civil marriage should not be left unregulated or left to the individual religions to regulate because unlike baptism or communion, or a seder meal or anointing of the sick it is a vibrant and dynamic social institution that every day involves the married couple vs. the world. It is a public institution, it involves the common good of all citizens and the state should do what it can to provide that institution, educate the public about that institution, and make easy access to the institution. Marriages happen in our society: couples come together, form committed partnerships, and bind themselves to each other. Government should help them in those endeavors.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I don't get the whole "My gay friends are awful to me because I'm Catholic thing."

I have friends who think I'm going to hell because I'm Catholic. I know that they're constantly praying for my conversion and fear that I'm damned because I believe in the real presence and the intercession of the saints.

I don;t care. I mean, I appreciate that they want me to go to heaven, but I don't find their disapproval offensive-- because I know they're wrong, and that they'll be pleasantly surprised when they find Catholics in heaven. (Not necessarily me... who knows what will happen between now and my death?)

So.... why do gays get so worked up over Catholics thinking their activities constitute a mortal sin? Can in be they're NOT really sure that they're right?

L. said...

Time once again to say that marriage is a sacrament, and the government has no business giving its seal of approval to a sacrament.

ALL legal "marriages," gay or straight, should be civil unions, and marriage should be left up to religions.

My partner and I enjoy many legal advantages for which we are grateful, so we think it's pretty great that society considers us "married," even though no church ever will.