Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thoughts on Last Night’s Gay Marriage Discussion

Although our discussion spanned a variety of topics and avenues of thought, I believe we stayed focused on the original question posed: Can we sustain a non-religious argument against homosexual marriage?*

First, I felt that we came to the conclusion, no, we cannot. Now, when we discussed whether this was the case primarily because of the state of marriage in the US, or the interpretation of sexuality or gender roles, or some other reason, there was an absence of unanimity.

Second, I think we came to a different conclusion by saying we still have the responsibility to oppose homosexual marriage (Ratzinger).** [Is omission of direct action acceptable?]

These two points lead me to question what I think was on Mr. Porch Rat’s mind throughout the evening: Is there a dilemma, paradox, or real issue at hand here?

For myself, the evening opened up a multitude of discussible doors. I am sure my list is not exhaustive: 1) the relationship between Church and State, in the US and in general; 2) gender roles; 3) sexuality (this is a personal interest of mine); 4) homosexuality as inherently wrong and why – i.e. Why it is NOT the same (according to the Church) when someone is born with an attraction to the opposite sex as a person is born with an attraction to the same sex – and if this is ever provable, or can be put in an argument that non-religious can agree with; 5) our action or omission in the US’s debate over homosexual marriage; and 6) marriage.

I guess we need to decide (and by “we” I mean someone who hasn’t already led a discussion) whether or not to take one of the above discussions (or something related to them), or if we should go in a different direction – maybe back to something more “purely” philosophic? Someone needs to confidently step up and get the next topic going!

*Of course, we need to be aware of the fact that this question may not necessarily mean we cannot oppose homosexual marriage in a democratic state, since we are not asked to consciously reject our religious beliefs in the voting booth.

**I am still struggling with Ratzinger’s imperative. I understand it on one level – i.e. It blatantly defies Church teaching about the human person and human relationships, and as such, it needs to be opposed – but on a different level, I question it. Should we also be opposing contraception? Would Ratzinger say that?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Certainty versus Authenticity

I, like others, want to be certain of everything: certain that what I believe in is correct, certain that I can prove what I stake my life on, certain that I am doing the correct thing with my life; the list goes on. But what I have come to realize over the past year or so (not by my own discovery, but rather through the wisdom of others) is that what is important is not the level of certainty I have in what I do, who I am, or what I believe in, but rather the level of authenticity I live the life I have chosen freely.

Not to get too philosophic, Nietzschean, or simply depressing, but we cannot be certain of too much in this life. [I understand I am using the word “certain” in a pretty specific sort of way.] We can take our “wrecking ball of doubt” like Descartes (thanks, Floyd) to everything. We can stand in the wake of the wreckage and feel a sense of emptiness; or we can realize that this certainty we were searching for was never supposed to be there. Its absence is only depressing insofar as we assumed it was present. Aware of this, we can assume the responsibility of living our lives authentically – authentically attached to the way of life we have freely chosen.

To use a simple example, imagine a man who is working administration at a small trucking company. He could constantly ask himself whether or not he is in the right profession, whether or not he was created to be doing something else. It is not as if he is not good at his job, but this man is a questioner. Despite this man’s ponderings, he can never be certain that this job of his is the best use of his abilities. He has two choices: seek different employment and test himself, or, be fine with his uncertainty and work at his present job authentically – working to the best of his ability.

I need often to stop myself from desiring certainty. I need to be more concerned with living my life authentically. PS: Sometimes I nostalgically think that the searching and concerned atheist or agnostic is somehow more honest than a doubting Christian. However, this is not true. This atheist or agnostic is AS certain of his tenants of life as the doubting Christian. If we are beginning with the premise that nothing can be known certainly [back to my earlier use of “certain”], perhaps the only difference between the concerned atheist and the doubting Christian is the level of authenticity with which they live their respective lives.