The Perfume of Petrol

I didn’t follow the first “perfumed traditionalist” thread at PrayTell very closely. I see author and theologian David Berger has returned to the scene. Don’t get me wrong on what I’m about to opine: I believe in the truth and in its telling. This new post can only be described as lobbing full containers of gasoline into a bonfire. Entertaining, sure, in its own way. And for the catharsis of a homophobic Church and a navel-gazing segment of traditionalists, probably necessary.

I had two staff members approach me some time ago. “You’re not perceived,” one said, “as friendly to LGBT parishioners.” That struck me as curious, because I was one of four staff members who had done university training in LGBT awareness. I have an “ally” visual on display in my office. I’ve written publicly that I don’t have a problem with many LGBT issues, including civil unions or adoption, not to mention ordination.

I shared that insight with another colleague. I told her, “I don’t even know any gay or lesbian parishioners.” She laughed. “Of course you do.” she said. You just don’t know them as L, G, B, T, Q, or whatever.

And it’s true. They play an instrument or sing. They serve at liturgy, sit on one of my committees, or have an occasional beer or coffee with me. We have discussions about liturgy, the Church, the community, or the weather and stuff. That they might be gay or lesbian, old or young, male or female, liberal or conservative is pretty much irrelevant to me.

I have two young people who play their instruments in the Saturday music ministry at my parish. Some people note, “Oh, it’s great you get the teens involved.” Teens? Well, yeah, I knew that. They’re also darn fine musicians who contribute musically and spiritually to the group and the parish.

Back to the bonfire …

I don’t know that Professor Berger is the one to crack open the traditionalist/homophobic pathology. I think an ally who turns coat on the groupthink will be more villified than the heretic standing on the far Tiber shore.

How’s that suggestion number seven working for you these days, my conservative friends?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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3 Responses to The Perfume of Petrol

  1. Jimmy Mac says:

    If it wasn’t for the presence of gays/lesbians and other women in all aspects of parish life – there would be damned little parish life.

    We are EVERYWHERE and involved in EVERYTHING.

    • DM Reed says:

      If it wasn’t for the presence of gays/lesbians and other women in all aspects of parish life – there would be damned little parish life.

      We are EVERYWHERE and involved in EVERYTHING.

      All we need is to look to the Homosexual Abuse Scandal throughout the Church for proof your statement is 100% true. The Lavender Mafia must be finished off…

  2. Liam says:

    Well, there are many areas of the US where the local culture is such that it is considered socially aggressive for anyone to mention anything personal that might make the listener uncomfortable.

    Niceness can be nice, but it can also be a problem.

    I’ve encountered this in my travels. Especially Arizona (where my sister lives, and where snowbirds and emigres from snowbird country typically cannot abide anyone who points out things that might require someone to do something or even just acknowledge reality – my closest friend (from Virginia, of Newfie-American parentage) recently relocated to Phoenix and has encountered this same dynamic in her workings with professional and non-profit clients. Typically, if you’re from the Northeast, and make the mistake of naming things, you will be branded as Not Nice.

    Todd, you’re from Rochester, which is in the transition zone from Northeast to Midewestern social culture. You might be hard for locals to read, given your travels. Even in a diverse university community like yours, there is still a local culture to which many eventually assimilate.

    I don’t mean to suggest *you* have a problem, but just illustrate a context in which non-communication problems can often arise, and get misinterpreted.

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