10.28.2009

The Essence of the Thing

It's of no special import to hear another Catholic (or any Christian) decrying the unholiness and selfishness of homosexuality. The arguments against it and gay marriage are as common as they are wrong, and don't need to be recounted here. Most of those who spew these ideas are equally unremarkable in their unthinking, anti-life views, and most also lead lives of terribly mixed premises. They may live in a somewhat self-interested mode implicitly (at least most Americans of this stripe), but when confronted with obvious questions of morality, espouse the altruism that has been spoonfed them since birth. These are the people you see every day.

However, some of them have really thought about it and try to apply the principles of altruism consistently, intellectually, like Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron. And occasionally, such a man will in the process expose the true heart of Christianity.

In what appears to be a position paper in response to a proposed domestic partnership law in Guam, Apuron said:
The culture of homosexuality is a culture of self-absorption because it does not value self-sacrifice. It is a glaring example of what John Paul II has called the culture of death. Islamic fundamentalists clearly understand the damage that homosexual behavior inflicts on a culture. That is why they repress such behavior by death. Their culture is anything but one of self-absorption. It may be brutal at times, but any culture that is able to produce wave after wave of suicide bombers (women as well as men) is a culture that at least knows how to value self-sacrifice.
Let that sink in for a bit. And note the universality of what he said. Take out the references to homosexuality and replace them with "rational self-interest" or "individualism," because he is smart enough to see that the core of his argument is altruism vs. selfishness, not vs. homosexuality.

When you do this, you see that he understands the good-against-evil nature of the battle, and consistent with Christian teachings and altruism itself, in the name of what he upholds as the good, he sides with evil. As a refresher, let's look at the objective meaning of evil, from Ayn Rand's Virtue of Selfishness:
The standard of value of the Objectivist ethics—the standard by which one judges what is good or evil—is man’s life, or: that which is required for man’s survival qua man.

Since reason is man’s basic means of survival, that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; that which negates, opposes or destroys it is the evil.
As if to make sure we don't miss it, Apuron applauds the efforts of Islamists and suicide bombers in their fight against self-interested behaviors.

He then assures us that he doesn't support brutal repression per se, but that the self-interested actions of Americans really do make us deserving of the title "The Great Satan."
Terrorism as a way to oppose the degeneration of the culture is to be rejected completely since such violence is itself another form of degeneracy. One, however, does not have to agree with the gruesome ways that the fundamentalists use to curb the forces that undermine their culture to admit that the Islamic fundamentalist charge that Western Civilization in general and the U.S.A, in particular is the 'Great Satan' is not without an element of truth. It makes no sense for the U. S. Government to send our boys to fight Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, while at the same time it embraces the social policies embodied in Bill 185 (as President Obama has done). Such policies only furnish further arguments for the fundamentalists in their efforts to gain more recruits for the war against the "Great Satan."
There is no room for compromise here. If you hold self-sacrifice as the good, it is you who are upholding a "culture of death." And like Apuron, if you wholly accept this view of man's life and morality, and apply it consistently, it won't be long before you're approving of violent deaths of those who disagree. "Crush the individual, for the good of God or the collective, but crush him nonetheless." There's your rallying cry.

Any proponent of altruism in whatever form -- be it social/collective or religious -- is this man's brother-in-spirit. Mr. Mixed Premises, when you meet him on the street, might recoil from the "extreme" views of our esteemed archibishop, but he would be wrong to do so. Apuron openly advocates the essence of the altruist ethics, and perhaps unwittingly makes the logical leap to the inevitable results of the code of self-sacrifice: death. His death eventually, but mine and any other proud, rational individual's death right now, violently, righteously. To not follow that reasoning is to willfully evade the true nature of altruism, which is all that is necessary for it to continue on its bloody course. As Ayn Rand said:
The truly and deliberately evil men are a very small minority; it is the appeaser who unleashes them on mankind; it is the appeaser’s intellectual abdication that invites them to take over. When a culture’s dominant trend is geared to irrationality, the thugs win over the appeasers. When intellectual leaders fail to foster the best in the mixed, unformed, vacillating character of people at large, the thugs are sure to bring out the worst. When the ablest men turn into cowards, the average men turn into brutes.

--The Objectivist “Altruism as Appeasement,” The Objectivist, Jan. 1966, 6.
Apuron may or may not be one of the small minority of "truly and deliberately evil men," but those who sit in his pews on Sunday and evade the horrific implications of his ideas form a cluture only a few baby steps away from a "culture that is able to produce wave after wave of suicide bombers."

5 comments:

Doug Reich said...

excellent post! It is refreshing (in a way) to hear this level of intellectual honesty on terms of taking an abstraction and applying it's meaning as he does. Most religionists shrink from the logical implications of their premises. The upholding of Islamic culture as a model should be particularly striking since usually only objectivista make the connection between wEstern religion and Islam. Most catholics in the US would surely be shocked by his claims but they should not be. Well done bringing this out.

madmax said...

If you want to read undiluted hatred of homosexuality from a "Traditionalist" Christian perspective, then here are some posts from Larry Auster. Auster is the most frightening Christian Conservative commentator out there.

http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/000417.html

http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/004670.html

http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/005910.html

The first link is fascinating to read to see how religious conservatives with a strong streak of Platonism view the American founders, especially George Washington vs. Thomas Jefferson (The "Liberal").

Some quotes:

"For example, limited government and local and popular self-rule were more important. The latter require a moral people with stable loyalties and strong sense of personal responsibility who are able to look after themselves and rely on those around them when they need assistance. Liberty also requires that people obey the law not out of coercion but out of a voluntary sense that one belongs to an actually existing community with a shared sense of moral truth as reflected in its laws. In other words, liberty and self-government require a cohesive culture, which in turn requires strong family ties, which in turn require traditional sexual morality.

I'm not saying that the normalization of homosexuality is the single thing that wrecks society. But it's hard to see how normalization of homosexuality can be reconciled with a free self-governing society."

Get that, liberty requires "traditional sexual morality" and, of course, homosexuality undermines traditional morality and thus Western Civilization.

Oh, one more gem:

"An atheist can behave as a decent person, obey the laws, support his government, defend his country in time of war. In all those ways he can be a good citizen. But he cannot be a good citizen in the fullest sense, of being able to give an account of his country and its principles, because he himself disbelieves the fundamental principles on which his country is founded.

Similarly, a homosexual can behave as a decent person, obey the laws, support his government, defend his country in time of war. But because he is alienated or separated from heterosexuality and thus from marriage, which is the basis of human society, he is limited in his ability to explain and defend the principles on which society rests. Therefore he cannot be a good citizen in the fullest sense.

The analogy is not perfect, since an atheist actively disbelieves in God, while a homosexual, while not participating in marriage, could still have a sympathetic and supportive view of it and recognize its importance. However, it seems unlikely that this would add up to a full understanding of and readiness to defend the institution.

There are of course other kinds of human and moral imperfections that may prevent one from being a good citizen in the fullest sense. All of us fall short of virtue, wisdom, and completeness in various ways. But a society that normalizes and celebrates homosexuality, as modern Western society has done, is directly harming its ability to preserve its own existence."

I've rarely seen conservatives as explicitly primitive as Auster. He's a good person to track to get at the essence of true, undiluted Christian thought.

Madmax

Harold said...

"I'm not saying that the normalization of homosexuality is the single thing that wrecks society. But it's hard to see how normalization of homosexuality can be reconciled with a free self-governing society."

I've heard almost the exact same thing from Prager (he's Jewish).

C. August said...

Thanks for the comments, all. What strikes me about all of this is that, while people try to evade the fundamental nature of the religion they practice and try to sugarcoat the more "extreme" bits, this is what it really comes down to.

What I found most compelling about Apuron is that while he was condemning homosexuality, it was clear that he knew it was deeper than just that, and he was attacking individualism at its root.

Daniel said...

C. August:

Brilliant points. I found the same thing interesting--though I have to thank you for pointing it out!