April 5, 2014

Connecting the Dots for Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has garnered a good deal of well-deserved flack for his radio interview that ungraciously "links gay marriage with African killings" as the Church Times puts it.

I think the secondary problem I have with Archbishop Welby's off-the-cuff and off-the-rails comments (the primary being the implicit emotional blackmail and ethical obtuseness) is that while citing forms of violence allegedly caused by reaction to American actions, as well as mentioning homophobic assaults and indignities, he does not appear to see that it is fear of homosexuality — homophobia — that is at the root of both. The purported violence against the African Christians for being co-religionists with gay-friendly Americans or Canadians is just an expansion of the violence against Africans who are gay or lesbian, and stems from the same fears as the homophobia and violence that occurs in England and America, too. And he does not appear to be aware of the extent to which the African antipathy towards gay and lesbian persons has been nourished by American preachers — a tragic new form of neo-colonialism, an export industry whose primary product is hatred, fear, and loathing.

But rather than connecting the dots, Welby simply places two things side by side, saying there is a need to "listen carefully" while apparently not hearing the painfully obvious connection in his own words. He seems to describe these as two separate problems instead of one; he is like a doctor who lists two symptoms without realizing there is an underlying disease at work — and the answer or treatment (which he doesn't find himself able to approve) is the continued movement towards normalizing same-sex relationships, including marriage. Only the deconstruction of fear can root out the causes of violence.

King's Letter from Birmingham Jail has been cited in all of this. Sometimes the only way to end violence is to pass through it. We do not turn back from Calvary, but go forward, bearing the suffering, and in the knowledge that others are suffering too, in solidarity with us.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

UPDATE: I'm reminded by a friend, Jay Johnson, of the link between homophobia and the male fear of feminization. Gender issues are very much tied up with homophobic feelings. Ire directed towards a man "acting like a woman" or -- heaven forbid -- of a man being treated like a woman go all the way back to Leviticus 18! Heaven forbid indeed, as the male fear of the female gets projected onto God.

TSH

additional thoughts here.

6 comments:

JCF said...

ITA.

THE Problem is VIOLENCE, Period!

Christ spoke *directly* about this problem ("turn the other cheek" "live by sword/die by sword" "do not repay evil w/ evil"). He didn't say *bupkus* about homosexuality---but WHICH of the two issues does the ABC cite?

Kyrie eleison!

John-Julian Swanson, OJN said...

And it should also be remembered that the entire homophobic stance of African Christians has absolutely no African cultural roots—historically there were “man-wives” and “boy-love” all across African culture—but it derives from the 19th century evangelical Church Missionary Society’s twisted idea of morality (the same morality which put beautiful, bare-breasted African women into ridiculous Mother Hubbard dresses).
The Reverend Scott Lively and company already had a body-hating, sex-despising evangelical basis in Africa on which to build. It is 19th century British and 20th century American Evangelicals who are now slaughtering young gay men (like David Kato) in Africa—and that should never be forgotten. Their blood—and so much else—lies squarely at the feet of the Evangelical Taliban.

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks, JC. Fr John-Julian, thanks as well. Murray and Roscoe's Boy Wives and Female Husbands is a great survey of some of the African homosexualities that were prevalent, and shocked, the evangelists; much as Two Spirit folks shocked the conquistadors and their chaplains.

Jay Johnson said...

Really insightful, Tobias. Thank you for your clearing thinking and careful articulation of this. (And by the way, how do I follow your blog? I don't see a link. I don't want to miss your next moment of helpfulness....)

JCF said...

Tobias, you just reminded me of Randy Newman's terrific satirical song "Great Nations of Europe": http://youtu.be/d_IA3stJRoE [Warning: in this vid there's a brief still pic of wolves who appear to be eating a fresh (animal) kill, for those sensitive to that kind of image]

The (esp) relevant lyrics:

"Balboa found the pacific
And on the trail one day
He met some friendly Indians
Whom he was told were gay
So he had them torn apart by dogs on religious grounds they say
The great nations of Europe were quite holy in their way"

Scott Lively is just the most recent "Great Nation(al) of Europe(anized America)" to "come through".

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks, Jay. I think to "follow" you have already done what needs to be done... selecting the Google+ button. Thanks for joining the group!

JC, I wasn't familiar with that song... right on!