Is It a Sin to Enjoy This?

Nah. Guilty pleasure, maybe. Vicious delight, no.

Let’s face it, the “culture war” is in the main between psuedo-Christians, i.e., heretics who really do “pick and choose” (though the charge is irrelevant here, since homosex is also condemned in the NT) and pagans (most likely lapsed Catholics in the main, esp. in Hollywood) who are actually smarter than the pseudo-Christians. Jesus waving goodbye to both sides and saying “See ya later, sinners?” Nice. Calling out fundamentalism as an intellectual house of cards? Nicer. Not to mention that in this country it really does come down to money (it has to, really; that’s the house we built), so the final cynicism is really quite justified. Plus, as a musical “(a)morality play,” it’s rather well put together — as well as something like this can be.

So what’s not to like? Only that the pagans are illiterate (not saying there’s no vincible ignorance here…but then, how much ignorance really is vincible? There’s so much damage out there…). So let’s belly up to the gay bar, Catholic artists, and have a few drinks (maybe after working on a few sets) with the sodomites and those who heart them; who knows what words we might get in edgewise, especially when we’re not actually preaching the Gospel, i.e., with chapter and verse.

That said, it has to be acknowledged that there’s a new blacklist shaping up in Hollywood. Things look like they’re about to get a little un-lovey. Not to mention unprofessional. If Hollywood ever was professional. Meaning that if we really are on the edge of the apocalypse, conversions may be very few and far between from here to the end.

POSTSCRIPT: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there’s something inspired about this little ditty…not only because it depicts (even if beside-the-point-edly) the inadequacy of the “right” side of the culture war, but because it also tells on the other side.

Todd Haynes’ Safe (1995) is a film that Haynes is on record describing as an allegory for how people with AIDS are treated like pariahs. But not only was Safe manifestly about the isolation of abstracted modern man, the most manifestly abstract character in that film was the film’s gay “guru,” who exiled the tragically horrific faceless outcast pictured above for what amounted to his refusal to think positively. In short, Safe was art, because it told the truth, the director’s stated intentions notwithstanding.

Now consider that the finale of “Prop 8: The Musical” trades on the anticipation of a flood of gay divorces (and the accompanying demand for “tattoo removing”). It wouldn’t be funny if it weren’t true, right? I mean, that gay relationships tend to be a bit unstable (yes, even more so than today’s hetero relationships, which have queered their sex through contraception)? Just as gays tend to be a little over-the-top (e.g., tattoos, the four white horses, the musical number itself)? Will and Grace traded in such verities, didn’t it? And yet the truth that works is also a truth that hurts! Did you notice that Doogie literally “ducks”/”dodges” (i.e., diverts attention from) the self-inflicted gay-divorce barb? I’ve even seen defenders of gay “unions” try to claim that male homosexual couples don’t really practice sodomy all that much…maybe precisely because it’s just as ridiculous/unseemly as it’s “depicted” in the musical number!

In short, the vid is as damning to gays as it is to bible-thumpers…most especially when it comes to the divorce problem, which no homosexual with a romantic bone in his/her body wants to defend at the very same time s/he’s arguing for the god(dess)-given right to marry…even as s/he’d be darned if s/he let anybody tell her/im s/he couldn’t get divorced if s/he wanted to! Which makes the following video not only astonishingly consistent in its argument, but appallingly hypocritical in its strategy:

Here endeth the postscript. I’ll make the next one a post.


  1. j. christian says

    You give Hollywood too much credit. Maybe *you* can make the distinction between a fundie and an oh-so-literate Catholic, but I tell you that those “pagans” are laughing at you, not with you. A Christian is a Christian to them. You might as well be a Creationist for all they care.

    Sorry, I think this stuff is shit.

  2. Mark Thomas says

    If they don’t know me, they can’t be laughing at me. Besides, insofar as I and my pagan friend both find “Christians” ridiculous, we have something in common. Many friendships begin through common emnities. I’ve surprised more than a few friends this way. And the friendships survived. Love is the ultimate Trojan Horse. But you’re free to find it shit. Clever shit, I’d submit, but yeah, finally, shit.

  3. Matthew Lickona says


    Lots of problems here, methinks. First: why does Obama’s victory make it a great time to be gay? He’s on record as being opposed to gay marriage. Second: “Look, no one’s watching/Time to spread some hate.” FAIL. Everyone was watching. Prop 8 got huge press, and everybody knew it was going to be close. The fact that the No on 8 showbiz types didn’t manage to make this video until after they lost makes them look petulant. Also: enough with hate, please. Even if the Yes on 8 people are wrong, they’re not hating. Third: the whole “they’ll teach our kids about sodomy” thing was not a lie, even if the threat was exaggerated. Plenty of ink regarding the California Educational Code was spilled on this point. Fourth, as the much funnier Funny or Die video regarding the outlawing of divorce points out, the chief arguments made by the Yes on 8 crowd, who were themselves largely evangelical, were not based on any sort of Biblical prohibitions. When they cited Scripture, they cited God’s intention for man in Genesis. Oh, it goes on. Back to work. I’ll come back to this later.

  4. Mark Thomas says

    All these points granted. And like I said, the “pick and choose” charge is really irrelevant here. But I think what the vid represents about the relative worthlessness/ineffectiveness of those on the “right” side of the culture war (relative to, say, what we Catholics could accomplish, esp. “undercover”). It’s a question of how do you convert those pagans, anyway. In other words, it’s a nature/grace matter. Have at that, then.

  5. Matthew Lickona says

    The Yes on 8 people weren’t trying to convert anybody. They were trying to protect something. Whether they were right to do so can be debated, but what they were about was pretty clear. As they saw it, marriage as they understood it was about to be taken from them and twisted into something else. They didn’t want that to happen. Since the state has some legal interest in marriage, they sought to enshrine their understanding of it via the law.

  6. j. christian says

    Mark, would you have voted no on 8? I’m not clear on this.

  7. notrelatedtoted says

    I think I agree with J – its more likely that they will laugh at you, and not with you. They may not laugh at you on a personal level (nod to Mark), but they will continue to mock the basis for your beliefs.

  8. Mark Thomas says

    Matt: I’m really not talking about Prop 8 here (except incidentally); that certainly wasn’t a converting/ teaching moment. Law is a teacher, but a coarse rather than an artful one. NoTTed: I’m not worried when pagans mock what they don’t understand, which has almost always been the case with my pagan friends. And the tension between not being able to laugh at me and wanting very much to remain comfortably and derisively dismissive of what I believe has in the past proven a fruitful tension indeed. And J…if I’m talking about converting the pagans, why would I have voted with them?

  9. Matthew Lickona says

    Fair enough.

  10. Mark,

    The problem is this: the USA is a Prot. country. The only Prots still sticking to their guns are those ugly evangies. This makes them a very large and easy target for the secularists. Not so easy to go after a faith (hard as they try) which actually has some intellectual wallop. But our battle is the same battle as the Prots, distasteful as it is to have them in the same foxhole…

    You (and I) as a Catholic have to meet the pagans in the streets, in the barber shops, and in the organic food coops. But we CANNOT meet them on the political battlefield. Our political principles (as Catholics) are far more radical than anything the Prots can muster. And for that reason, the hatred for Catholics is far more radical. (No one goes after the Prots – even the hardcore Baptists – for their stand on homosex, etc.). But more importantly, ultimatley, the cards are against us – the principles of the Constitution favor more the liberal than the Catholic political view.

    That said, I’ll get back to the film: (I borrow my remarks from an earlier review of the film delivered to the proprietor of this place):

    I wasn’t sickened, so much as embarrassed by the lack of real rhetorical umph to the film’s argument. Do they really think this is a biblical issue? Gosh, quick, someone tell the Caesars, who also saw homosexuality as counterproductive. Or the, gasp, Athenians (believe it or not). How Judeo-Christocentric of Hollywood to think this way…. That somehow the redefining of marriage a fortiori might not impact the common good. That somehow those against it are a bunch of frigid, uptight, do-goody Jesus freaks…

    On the other hand, before they begin indulging their lust for indulging lust, they probablly ought to know what history has borne out again and again: fuck with the family as the basic unit of society, and you are fucking with civilization.

    Just ask the Greeks and Romans….

    Oh, wait, they’re not around anymore, are they? Wonder why… (Because the Greeks became more barbarian than the barbarians in the end; and Rome out-Carthaged Carthage in its perversions? Maybe…)



  11. JOB: Excellent. And quite right about the impossibility of political/legal compromise. Again, Prop 8 was about defending society, not about reaching souls. But of course that’s what needs to be done, finally. What I’ve been springboarding to here is the inability of Prots to effect conversion, either individually or culturally, compared to what Catholics can do, precisely we have a different view of saved and damned, nature and grace, faith and reason, etc. (I mean, what can a Prot really say to the “separation of church and state” argument, which they invented for crying out loud? Nothing, because of their faith/reason dualism, which leaves them no recourse to natural law.) And not to be biased, but who has a better inroad into the heart of the pagan aesthete than the Catholic artis (provided the inflaming of prejudices can be sidestepped)? Is it too inflammatory to say that, insofar as an artist is an artist, he or she is not Protestant but rather Catholic?

  12. j. christian says

    Color me skeptical of the evangelizing advantage. Not that those differences aren’t real; the perception certainly is. The screenwriter I talk to at my son’s pre-school doesn’t know that I’ve got Fides et Ratio and the Other Christians don’t. All she knows is that we both believe some guy rose from the dead after three days, and that’s enough “superstition” for her taste.

    Maybe that’s why I don’t find it as “distasteful” to be in the same foxhole with these folks as I used to before I became a Catholic. I think I would’ve sneered at both of “you guys” before that time.

    Finally: In all charity, should we really be calling these folks “Prots” and “evangies?” (I’ll leave “pagan” open to question…)

  13. Mark Thomas says

    I agree that there’s not much advantage to being Catholic or Protestant when talking about the Resurrection with a pagan. But that’s not the kind of “evangelical advantage” I’m talking about. I’m talking about the advantage that comes from practicing the kind of evangelization that Protestants can’t, namely, the kind that doesn’t mention the Gospel. At least not by name.

    For example, there’s Resurrection, and there’s hope. The former is of course the basis for the latter, but everyone, Christian or not, knows what the latter is, implicitly, no matter what they make think it is. But then what is hope? What does it mean to hope? What do we hope for…hope in? Will just any answer to these questions suffice, really? Care to walk with me down that path, said the Christian to his pagan friend, as he refreshed their glasses? (“Don’t we need to know what hope is before we can write this story/song we’re working on if we want it be something other than cliched sentimental crap?” asked the quietly Christian artist of his pagan colleague…)

  14. J. Christian,

    I used the terms with tongue firmly in cheek. But now that you mention it, good epithets, like good fences, make good neighbors. But I’ll behave now.


    I see your point especially about artists (which when they fail – not as artists but in their art (I’ll leave the distintion open for the moment) and for some reason Hawthorne comes to mind – it’s because they can’t get the whole grace/nature and faith/reason thing together).

    But politics, as an art, also must have these as underlying principles.

    A sign that the Catholics are living in a parallel political world: I wholeheartedly agreed with the anti-divorce sentiments being expressed – howeverso imperfectly (Divorce does not “destroy the sanctity of marriage” -if by sanctity we mean the holy bond which formed through Christ’s grace, etc.). While I know the video is being snarky and all too pleased with itself, I’d vote to outlaw divorce in a second. Before there was free and legal access to abortion; before there was free and legal access to contraception; there was legalized (if not free, as far as lawyers are concerned) divorce – and that’s no accident…


  15. j. christian says


    I agree! Even to my untrained, pre-churched eye, I could tell the difference. My Protestant friends were always trying to get me to go to a Harvest Crusade or something, but the Catholics… Well, apart from going to church in their shorts and having big families, they were the ones who had the old cathedrals, the paintings, the hospitals, the schools, the Popes and saints and Everything Else. They *never* asked me to go to any of those silly “concerts.”

    Maybe I need to pray for great Catholic art more than ever?


    Aw, I was being an ass. Never mind what I said.

    About the divorce video: Where, exactly, was it supposed to make their case??? Guess I’m not a Prot after all.

  16. Mark Thomas says

    It seems very much that the makers of the divorce vid imagine that there are defenders of traditional marriage out there who are also (secretly/privately?) supporters of the right/freedom to divorce. Meaning that if they’re in favor of divorce, they’re actually not in favor of marriage, meaning that Prop 8 was actually about random, malicious discrimination? While the major premise might be true in a certain sense, not only does the conclusion leap from nowhere, but the argument could not possibly be the crushing reductio they’re hoping for, as no stalwart defender of traditional marriage, while he might be willing to tolerate divorce, is ever going to champion it (“OOOOOOPS! Looks like I’m affirming both A and -A!! Ya got me!!”). Whereas that’s precisely what the pagan might do (for what else is there for the pagan to champion but libertas, i.e., licentia)? Which is why I say they’re hypocritical.

  17. Mark Thomas says

    And yes, pray. Without ceasing.

  18. notrelatedtoted says

    Interesting discussion……but I’m not sure what we’re getting at here. Let’s get back to the original question.

    Isn’t the hallmark of modern comedy to make fun of everyone, so long as you aren’t really against everything Hollywood stands for? A show of hands – who here thinks that Jack Black et al are against gay marriage?

    It seems to me that the video isn’t making fun of the proponents of gay marriage in the same way that its making fun of its opponents. That’s what makes it so clever. Homosexuals are portrayed as quirky yet lovable, otherwise unobjectionable. In reality, the homosexual lobby has poured a ton of effort and resources into just such “image rehabilitation” – Will and Grace is a good example. The image presented to the masses can be quirky and silly and flamboyant, but it can’t be creepy.

    As an aside, the video really isn’t giving “equal time” in making fun of both sides. It’s mostly aimed at the opposition. And note that one of the “congregation” makes the sign of the Cross….

    So, at the end of it, I don’t see it as a sin to enjoy it, but I do see more of the same. Unless you’re on board with the homosexual agenda, you are an ignorant, bigoted, borderline deluded religious zealot. And I think they’re painting with a broad brush – there is certainly no intent (that I can see) to exempt Catholics. Those reasons make it pretty difficult for me to enjoy it.

    That said, the fact that the government and the courts have been thrust into a role of defining marriage makes me pretty damn uncomfortable on all counts.

  19. j. christian says


    Even though gov’t shouldn’t be defining marriage, gov’t has an interest in marriage as the basic unit of civilization (see JOB’s comment). In that sense, Prop 8 was necessary. But I agreed with the No on 8 crowd when they said we shouldn’t be voting on this. Damn right — it never should’ve come to this at all! One doesn’t vote on natural law. Sadly, the courts got into the “rights business” yet again.

  20. notrelatedtoted says

    J –

    Yes, gov’t has an interest in marriage, and exactly for the reason you cite. But marriage and family come before government – they have to. Government defining marriage is, well, fascist.

  21. Mark Thomas says

    Tilde-Ted: You’re right that Catholics come in for it here…as condemnatory bible-thumping moralists. In other words, as Protestants. It’s a confusion that’s not entirely undeserved. You’re right too that the video isn’t targeting both sides…but for reasons I’ve stated, I think both sides end up getting lampooned.

  22. When “pagan” is referred here, what definition is behind it? I ask because there is no one universal meaning.

  23. Johnny Vino says

    I’ve also been struck by the left’s fixaton on this being a social structure rooted in ign’rnt Chris’chns. I suppose the Chinese are a minority culture on this planet. Newsweek can be forgiven the oversight.

  24. Mark Thomas says

    Fair question; “pagan” here refers to the unchurched (i.e., those who stand outside the Church and hate what they think they see or imagine is on the inside…this is the reason why John XXIII of blessed memory called for an opening of the windows, to let the treasures of the Church out). With pansexual connotations, I suppose (cult of Baal and all that).

  25. Mark Thomas says

    Oh heck, “unchurched” probably more accurately refers to any heathen, not all of whom are pagan. I suppose “pagan” actually refers to those who make anything not-God their god. Like mammon. Or sex. (Sex as absolute = pansexuality?)

  26. Ok, so when you call someone a pagan, you are saying that they are a greedy bi-sexual who is not a montheist. Interesting… BTW, Prop 8 was meant to change the California Constitution to regulate marriage to only heterosexuals. There is on the books in CA a California Domestic Partnership law which nearly equals rights for all “unions”. Unfortuantely the Federal government does not recongnize this union, thus couples cannot file joint returns or recieve Social Security death benefits. It was basically heterosexual v homosexual, whether pagan or not. It was very nasty from both sides. Though it is just a matter of time before marriage will be available to both.

  27. Matthew Lickona says

    Easy there, anon, with both the obtuse characterization of Mark’s account and the unsubstantiated charges of nastiness. (Not saying you’re wrong on that second point, only that you ought to provide evidence.) Mark’s definition of pagan, for good or ill, was anyone who makes something their god that is not God. Then he gave two possible examples: mammon or sex. That is not to say that anyone who fits the definition makes mammon and/or sex their god.

  28. First point; The pagan definition is still not clear to me… sorry. The second point? Easy. Pro-Prop; some saying Gays marring is on the same level as animals marrying, that Gays are disgusting people, that being gay is purely a choice and represents abnornmal behavior, etc. If you read the editorials of many of CA’s newspapers every day these comments are there. Con-Prop; did you see the protest in Palm Springs where Con-Prop people attacked an elderly woman who supported Prop 8? They also took the cross she was holding, ripping it out of her hands and stomping on it. As in 1967, Loving v Virginia forever changed the way America looked at marriage. America had been forbidding marriage to those of different races, in some cases quoting the Bible for saying that the races were meant to be seperated. The U.S. Supreme Court stated that marriage is a right for all peoples. We are also very close to a similar change.

  29. Matthew Lickona says


    There may indeed be people who say these things about gays and gay marriage, but I don’t recall seeing any such charges being made in California newspaper editorials. (Perhaps you mean the comments sections of those editorials as they appeared online? Or letters to the editor? There, you may be right.)

    I did some coverage of the Pro-Prop 8 political-religious effort, and from what I saw, great efforts were made to affirm the human dignity of homosexuals and to avoid these sorts of inflammatory allegations. (There are many, I’m sure, who would argue that simply objecting to gay marriage is an affront to the human dignity of homosexuals, but that’s another question.)

    I did see the video of the Palm Springs protest.

    I tend to agree with you about being close to a change on the issue. I would not be surprised to see the question go to the Supreme Court.

    Re: pagan. I think Mark’s definition could be shortened to: anybody who worships something that is not truly God. Could be money, could be sex, could be fame, could be power.

  30. Whew, I’m not a pagan! I’m also not a Christian. But I’m of the opinion, that, based on your revised definition, “pagan” was overused here.

  31. Mark Thomas says

    The thing is, my post was intended to exhort Catholics to love and work/talk/have drinks with the people they consider to be on the wrong side of this issue.

    I second Matt’s seconding. Though maybe I’d sub “exalt” for “worship.” Like people exalt their freedom to choose.

    Is this going to be the occasion for the above-described seeking-truth-together-in-friendship? Who’s pouring?

  32. Mark Thomas says

    Perhaps. As I suggested above, “heathen” would have been more precise.

  33. Cheers!

  34. Mark Thomas says

    Salut! Where shall we begin, then? Shall we start with the meaning of freedom?

  35. Mark Thomas says

    BTW, I’m drinking Ballantine’s. Bland stuff, yes, but it’s all I’ve got to hand…

  36. Mark Thomas says

    We could also start with an analysis of Loving…meaning the court case…

  37. I’m sure that when you bring up Loving v Virginia you either want to bring up why Virginia’s position brought up the Bible, or what the Supreme Court meant when they said that marriage was the right of all people?

  38. I haven’t yet looked at the case. I thought we could approach the text together. Unless you’d like to brief it for me?

    What are you drinking?

  39. Mark Thomas says

    OK, I’ve looked at the case. Here’s the passage that seems most to the point:

    The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U. S. 535, 316 U. S. 541 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U. S. 190 (1888).

    The two cites above are quite provocative. On the one hand, Skinner builds its argument for the vital, basic, essential and fundamental character of marriage and the freedom to marry on the relation between marriage and procreation. On the other hand, Maynard forcefully asserts that marriage is under state regulation.

    So the question for an interpreter of constitutional law might be: Might Maynard be interpreted so as to give the state the authority to regulate what sorts of parties may marry, e.g., irrespective of their ability to engage in procreative acts? To answer this question, it seems we must first determine whether the articulation of the procreative character of marriage in Skinner is mere dicta, or whether it is essential to the holding that sterilization of certain sorts of offenders is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. If the latter, it seems that Skinner‘s treatment of marriage as procreative would be a controlling authority for the interpretation of Maynard. But I could be wrong here…?

    It’s a fascinating possible line of inquiry (and not being a legal scholar, I’m willing to be taken to school here)…but maybe this isn’t the sort of investigation that would be most satisfying here?

    I’ve just finished my third stinger of the night. Who needs to catch up to whom?

  40. cubeland mystic says

    I like pagans. Good herblore. Peaceful. Attuned to the rhythms of earth and sky. If there is any swordplay at a big party it’s always good to have a pagan on the team. A lot of them dig solitude. Overall, they tend to live in the mystery. Solid folk pagans.

    You know what’s really queer? The looming depression. You should do a post on how we’re going to survive and still be able to make the yuletide gay next year.

  41. The conflict with “marriage” is that it has never been consistent. Also here in the U.S. to be married it must be approved by the government. This is always the case with a marriage and not all marriages are alligned with religion. As in the case of Loving v Virginia, the will of the people of Virginia was overturned by the Supreme Court. This may again happen in California.

  42. Mark Thomas says

    CM: Again, I’ll acknowledge that “heathen” is the more apropos term here. Also wanted to make clear, in case it wasn’t clear from my post’s praise of non-Christian cleverness, that I’m not at all down on pagans. Even as I’m provoked to recall that the pagan’s communion with nature is a two-edged sword. That’s what so cool about being Christian; we can actually distinguish away the edge that would otherwise cut our heads off.

    Anon: There’s no doubt from Maynard that marriage is under state regulation. My post above had to do with the question of how far that regulation may extend under Supreme Court precedent, e.g., how to interpret Maynard in light of Skinner, and/or vice versa. Care to pursue this?

    And are we drinking here or what?

  43. You know what’s so cool about not being Christian? Total faith in God.

    … you stopped drinking?

  44. Besides the shellfish and mixing different kinds of fibers in clothes arguments are wrong. It is very clear that the Jewish dietary and ceremonial laws are suspended in the New Covenant, but the moral laws are not. And Paul’s statements are unambiguous.
    Of course there are also a lot of arguments from natural law and history which people have stated above. But the Bible alone people have sufficient arguments from the Bible to condemn homosexual actions.

    Now there is a problem in that they don’t know that the “sorcery” Paul condemns includes contraceptive potions. But I don’t like to see these folks made fun of and I think that maybe it is time for Matt to move out of California.

  45. Also, my husband’s church which I attend with him regularly, as well as fufilling my mass obligation, is an Evangelical Anglican church which just lost its beautiful 136 year old church because it left the Episcopal church over this and other issues. I am very glad to be “in the Foxhole” with these folks.
    And by the way, while it is Conklin Avenue Baptist which has given them (I almost said us…and I will be there) a place to worship next week, it is St. Andrew’s Catholic which has allowed the Anglican priest and his family of four small children to move into their vacant rectory, and the parish’s daily service of Morning Prayer will be there. Doesn’t this say something about who are our allies in the trenches?
    Susan Peterson

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