Monday, January 28, 2013

Kings and Christians

A slightly different version of this post was published yesterday at American Thinker under the title  'A King Among Christians.'
At some point, it seems only fair to return Martin Luther King Jr's identity to its rightful owner--Martin Luther King, Jr. himself. Since King's birthday was first celebrated as a national holiday in 1986, MLK Jr's persona has been neutralized, sanitized and homogenized to the point that he is now celebrated as everyone's hero for anything. Providing, that is, one doesn't bother much about the fact that King was a Christian minister.

Every year, my kids dutifully learned that King was a great man, a man of peace. Every year the media informs that he was a great American who changed history. Peaceniks adopt him as theirs because of his dedication to non-violent political action, and since 9/11 friends have sworn to me that King would never have supported Bush's Iraq War. Other friends are sure that King would have been the ultimate Pro-Lifer along with his niece, Alveda. For the likes of Reverend Al and Jesse Jackson, King is a social justice guru and the consummate community organizer. For the Chinese sculptor who created the King memorial, the Civil Rights leader is a glowering giant emerging from a rock.

As he did in 2009, Barack Obama again gently melded his presidential inauguration with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and asked us to honor King's legacy by participating in a National Day of Service this past Saturday, January 19th ( King's birthday as a day of service dates back to 1994). Various websites tell how to "transform Dr. King's life and teachings into community service" and get involved. Clean a park, volunteer in a soup kitchen. This year, even Governor Cuomo managed to exploit MLK Jr's memory as the reason we need gun control.

Neither Cuomo, the Reverend Al or a National Day of Service do justice to King's legacy. He did not spend his formative years preparing to be a good person who helps the poor and crusades for gun control. The son of a middle-class, Baptist minister, King not only earned an undergraduate degree at Morehouse College, but was a graduate of Crozer Theological Seminary and later Boston University where he completed a doctoral degree in theology. Little is made of King's entry into public life as the head pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church or, later, his role as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Though he eventually became the leader of a political movement, King's chosen profession was to be a man of the cloth, a Christian and a minister

Letting King speak for himself is one way to honor his legacy. We usually hear excerpts from his stirring oration at the 1963 March on Washington, but there's also King's Letter from Birmingham Jail written in April of 1963, a few months before the March. The letter, written on bits of newsprint and smuggled out of the jail in pieces, is a response to white clergymen who were critical of the upcoming demonstrations in Birmingham and critical of King's role in them.

In the letter, King likens himself to the apostle Paul in carrying the "gospel of freedom" to those places where segregation prevents black Americans from enjoying their "constitutional and God-given rights." He cites St. Augustine in his discussion of civil disobedience and just vs. unjust laws, the former being anchored in "eternal and natural law." King notes that legal does not mean just and cites the blows to religious freedom in Communist countries where laws 'legally' suppress the right to worship. (King adds that he would "openly advocate dis-obeying these anti-religious laws.") King likens himself and his freedom fighters to Socrates and the Hebrew and Christian martyrs all of whom, like King and his fellow freedom fighters are seekers of truth. He expresses impatience with those he calls white moderates, and he takes comfort in the view of himself as an extremist pointing out that he keeps company with the prophet Amos, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Jesus Christ.

The letter from King's Birmingham jail cell is hardly the stuff of the bland do-gooder my kids learned about year after year in school. He's a man steeped in and conversant with Western civilization and its Judeo-Christian heritage. Apparently, he believes in its rightness as well. Martin Luther King, Jr. writes as a scholar, an activist, a theologian and a Christian minister.

King did not become great because he was born with black skin and advocated non-violence. He did something to become who he was. Instead of the colorless generalities trotted out each year, teachers could instead talk about King's firm, deeply-held beliefs shaped by family and education. They might mention his skill as a communicator, his ability to extemporize at will and his familiarity with the great ideas of Western civilization. The media might mention his resolute and confident character which allowed him to act on history rather than be swept along by it. The Reverend Als might mention King's strong father figure, his intact family, his Christian faith. The Jesse Jacksons might mention that King rose to the forefront of the Civil Rights movement not because he had been an organizer in the community, but because he was a Baptist minister in the community. The peaceniks might note that King credited the "Negro church" and God for the non-violent approach of the Civil Rights movement. And, instead of tepid requests for service and broad allusions to freedom, a Barack Obama might remind us that King served and died because he believed that personal freedom comes from God and when governments violate that freedom with unjust laws, those laws must be challenged.

It is forty-five years since King's assassination and we have managed to remake him in as many images as there are those who wish to adopt King as their mascot. Certainly the 50th anniversary of his death in 2018 will raise the rafters as the schools, the media and politicians boost him once again as the American superhero. King was a great American but his story is far more interesting than the tired cliches we manufacture about him. We have five years between then and now to get it right or at least come a little closer.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Having Two Mothers

This account of growing up as the son of two lesbians takes an unexpected turn or two.  Usually one expects to read either that the son is excessively normal and had a home life just like everyone else or that the son is a basket case whose life was ruined by not having a father.

Mr. Lopez says neither, but does say that he is weird, different, an outsider who fits none of the gender stereotypes or categories. He would seem to be a heterosexual since he is now married to a woman and has a child, however, Mr. Lopez calls himself bisexual.

He thanks Mark Regnerus for Regnerus's controversial study and seems to be saying that the very reason for which the Regnerus study was criticized--he compared children in stable heterosexual marriages to children of parents who may have had both heterosexual and homosexual relationships after having children--is the reason it is accurate and valuable. Lopez asks:
Where do children of LGBT parents come from? If the parents are 100-percent gay or lesbian, then the chances are that the children were conceived through surrogacy or insemination, or else adopted. Those cases are such a tiny percentage of LGBT parents, however, that it would be virtually impossible to find more than a half-dozen in a random sampling of tens of thousands of adults.
Most LGBT parents are, like me, and technically like my mother, “bisexual”—the forgotten B. We conceived our children because we engaged in heterosexual intercourse. Social complications naturally arise if you conceive a child with the opposite sex but still have attractions to the same sex. Sherkat [a critic of the Regnerus study] calls these complications disqualifiable, as they are corrupting the purity of a homosexual model of parenting.
I would have thought the Mr. Lopezes would be the exception when it comes to children of same sex parents and that the former category--children of what he calls 100% same sex parents would be the more prevalent type.  Lopez seems to be saying otherwise and praises the Regnerus study, I guess because it looks at the more common (and more difficult?) case of children raised by bisexual parents.  Lopez says this about "100 %" homosexuals vs. bisexuals: 
Those who are 100-percent gay may view bisexuals with a mix of disgust and envy. Bisexual parents threaten the core of the LGBT parenting narrative—we do have a choice to live as gay or straight, and we do have to decide the gender configuration of the household in which our children will grow up. 
Yes, but so do the "100-percent gay" parents.  They could decide that the gender configuration in their household would be unnatural with two men or two women raising children and decide not to have children.   
Mr. Lopez also writes about the opposition to same sex marriage in France and the homosexual men who oppose it.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Heroic Statesmen

And here's another back issue of Imprimis which I happened upon (as opposed to this one mentioned earlier) that seems worth noting.  Historian Paul Johnson gives his 5 'heroic virtues' of a statesman-hero.  They are:

1.  Ideas and Beliefs
2.  Willpower
3.  Pertinacity
4.  Ability to Communicate
5.  Greatness of Soul

The article is readable and thought-provoking.  Statesmen Johnson mentions are Reagan, Churchill and Thatcher.

West Point "Wedding"'s Honor

Brenda Sue Fulton's nuptials at the United States Military Academy at West Point made the news in grand style.

At last reading in July of 2011, Brenda Fulton was appointed by President Obama to USMA's Board of Visitors and she describes herself as having many "informal allies" at West Point. She is also a self-described homosexual (and lesbian and trans-gender) activist and she has major roles in the organizations Knights Out and OutServe. The same-sex ceremony held a week or so earlier at West Point involved friends of Fulton. 

Consequently, these ceremonies look less like a case of West Point grads who just wanted to be married at their alma mater and more like a political ploy on the part of homosexual activists who used West Point's prestige and prominence as the backdrop for showing us how the military will behave in Obama's second term. 

Though the legal facts may be arguable if not downright abstruse, it appears that the United States Military Academy at West Point, which is on federal property, did not have to agree to host Brenda Fulton's lesbian ceremony had West Point chosen to honor DOMA which is still the law regarding marriage as approved by Congress.    Family Research Council (FRC) says,    According to Johnson, decisions about military facilities should be made on a "sexual-orientation neutral basis." And while the "wedding" may have been consistent with Johnson's memo, the DOD's general counsel is no substitute for the 427 elected members of Congress who voted to define marriage as the union of a man and woman for the government's purposes. That means it affects federal employees (which Fulton is) and federal property (where West Point resides). The President may vehemently disagree with the law--but until the Supreme Court overturns it or Congress rejects it, DOMA is still the law of the land.
Earlier in the article FRC characterizes West Point as moving away from the rule of law which seems accurate even though technically the so-called wedding may not have been illegal.  However, as pointed out here,  LGBT Think Progress reports that DOMA merely says that  as pertaining to any federal regulation,  the word 'marriage' refers to the union of one man and one woman.  The article says that it is an " incredible stretch to interpret this language such that a same-sex wedding is somehow illegal merely because the resulting union is not recognized by the federal government."
Not so it seems to me.  In fact, seems to me that's the crux of the matter for Fulton and those she represents--to have same sex "marriages" recognized to be on the exact same plane as traditional marriages defined as being between one man and one woman.  If the federal government doesn't recognize Fulton's union as a marriage, what did she actually accomplish at West Point's Cadet Chapel?
Duty, Honor, Country.  West Point graduates do not behave honorably when they opportunistically exploit their alma mater  as a way to force others to cave to their demands.

Same Sex Marriage, Compromise or Surrender

Going through a few back issues of Imprimis, I came across this one by Midge Decter on same-sex marriage, a talk she gave in 2004.   

After giving a brief history of how we've gotten to our present situation as regards same-sex marriage, she goes on to make still-timely observations.  She makes a distinction between 'gay' activists and those who share that lifestyle but are not activists, an important distinction to remember I think. 
It goes without saying that there are homosexuals who are not and have never been activists, who do not storm the streets, who do not frequent the bathhouses, and who keep their sex lives— as most of the rest of us do—to themselves. But in the current debate these homosexuals are, alas, irrelevant. They are neither the stuff of which movements and flamboyant public gestures are made, nor are they people whose ambition is to overturn the conditions of ordinary, everyday life. 
She makes the politically incorrect observation that, despite claims to the contrary, homosexual men tend to act much like heterosexual men with the same true of lesbian vs. heterosexual women. 
By the way, and not surprisingly, it seems that a number of the male couples admitted they had no intention of getting married—it was merely their having won the battle that they were there to celebrate—while every one of the female couples declared their intention to marry. I say not surprisingly because—some might think it impolite of me to point out—homosexual men are essentially no more like lesbians than heterosexual men are like the women whom they either merely pursue or marry. In short, men are men and women are women, whatever their sexual proclivities.  
That is why the right to marriage, fought for with every weapon at their command by homosexual men, would—or must I say will—be largely acted on by lesbians.Why, then, are these men fighting so hard for it?
But to the heart of the matter, Decter says that same sex marriage is about changing society, proclaiming radicalism as the norm and spitting in the eye of anyone who won't bow down to that.  In her words:
The answer is, the right to legal marriage that they are demanding is not about them—it is about the rest of us. It is, and is meant to be, a spit in the eye of the way we live. And whatever the variety of efforts to oppose it— another law or even a whole set of laws, let’s say, or a constitutional amendment—none of it will matter unless and until all the nice and decent people in America begin to understand that we are in a crisis, and it must be up to them to sustain, and with all good cheer defend, the way they lead their lives. 
That last refers to those of us who support traditional marriage.  It also refers to those who think that homosexual marriage, indeed the homosexual movement,  will have no effect on them---or their children.   Anyone who expects traditional marriage and the family to survive the same-sex marriage onslaught might be, with good cheer,  called gullible.