Writing on the recent Catholic Church reaction to the gay marriage referendum in Ireland, Matthew Parris parodies Exodus 32, the chapter in which Moses descends from Sinai with the original tablets only to find the Hebrews worshiping a golden calf:
‘And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the Irish referendum’s huge majority for gay marriage, and the dancing: and Moses’ alarm was palpable…
‘And he took a copy of the Pink Paper and, flourishing it, said, “We have to stop and have a reality check, not move into denial of the realities.
‘”I appreciate how these naked revellers feel on this day. That they feel this is something that is enriching the way they live. I think it is a social revolution.
‘”We need to find a new language to connect with a whole generation of young people,” the prophet concluded; then, casting off his garments, Moses said, “Hey, lead me to the coolest gay bar in the camp.”’
Don’t laugh. With a couple of adjustments for updated circumstances, I am quoting the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, almost verbatim. The archbishop was responding last Sunday to Irish people’s endorsement of gay marriage by a margin of almost two to one.
This self-proclaimed gay atheist expresses an opinion not that far off from Camille Paglia’s own reflections on the church and religious life. Where are the morals? The standards? Why are religious institutions constantly bending to the whim of public opinion? His most insightful remark:
Can’t these Christians see that the moral basis of their faith cannot be sought in the pollsters’ arithmetic? … can a preponderance of public opinion reverse the polarity between virtue and vice? Would it have occurred for a moment to Moses (let alone God) that he’d better defer to Moloch-worship because that’s what most of the Israelites wanted to do?
In the end Parris winds up questioning the current batch of Church fathers. The same questions could be asked of many a rabbi who has busied themselves rewriting, reconstructing and reforming their faith to one extreme or the other, let alone abusing it for their own perverted whims. Are they truly arbiters of God, or are they merely an oligarchy of their own making who realize they’d better go with the flow lest they lose their earthly power?
Perhaps that is the gift of these atheists who are unintimidated by the glare of organized religion. Contrary to the faithful, they have not been blinded by the light. They do, in fact, recognize a dichotomy where there is one, because they fully acknowledge that they are one. If only the self-proclaimed righteous among us could be so brutally honest.