Thursday, June 26, 2008

The dilemma of naturalness

(A response to a friend's discussion of the biological basis of one-night stands)

There is a scene in "The King and I" where the King of Siam declares that men are to be like honeybees, travelling from flower [woman] to flower. The converse, of course, is not true, and he holds that female polyamory is analogously unnatural. On one level, on a level of evolutionary biology, he is quite correct. Men indeed appear to be programmed to spread our seed far and wide, in a way that women (obviously) are not. For whatever reason, this holds true even for those of us whose sexual orientation is inverted.

The naturalistic fallacy and the "is-ought" problem definitely come into play here. Because many of us, if left to our own devices, would conduct our sexual lives in such a way as to have a clear disregard for our partners. It is often stated that men will "say anything" to "get some." And I think, on a purely natural level, there is a certain truth in this. I recently escorted someone to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at which the speaker defined alcoholism as the condition wherein the obtaining of alcohol becomes a priority - even over the feelings of others. Men certainly have a tendency to behave this way in regard to sex.

Locating myself as I do within a particular theological tradition, but like any ethically-minded person, I am obligated to avoid making decisions based purely on what is "natural." Virtue is unnatural. Altruism and selflessness are unnatural. But all of us, not only those of us who "believe in a power greater than ourselves" can ever seek to behave in a manner that is loving and ethical, with a healthy disregard, when needed, for that which is purely, amorally "natural."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cathedral of the Annunciation

On Sunday I was in Ottawa reviewing the Sung Mass at the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a parish of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada. The ACCC is a part of the "Traditional Anglican Communion." Founded in the 1970s, it rejects:

*the ordination of women
*the Book of Alternative Services
*the remarriage of divorcees
*the blessing of same-sex unions

So, while I disagree with its entire raison d'être, I figured it would be interesting to check out. I was right. They put on a lovely Sung Mass, using Willan's Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena and the Missa de Angelis. The cathedral is an intimate little space, but the ceremonial was handled well and the incense made it an even warmer, cozier setting. The ACCC's suffragan bishop for Central Canada assisted pontifically in choro. And the people were ridiculously friendly.

I chose to receive Holy Communion, according to the bishop's announcement that those who are "baptized and ready and desirous to be confirmed" may do so. Although confirmed by a woman, I figured I could access the sacrament on the basis of this rubric.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Best. Movie. Ever!

"There is more here than meets the eye, isn't there? Lots of dirty little secrets!"

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The New Avengers

Why isn't this show, or its predecessor, on anymore?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


A post I made on the Ship of Fools in a discussion of the Episcopal Church USA's acceptance of non-episcopal rites of "mature adult profession of faith" as valid substitutes for the sacrament of confirmation:

The problem, of course, is that confirmation isn't by nature a "mature adult profession of faith." You can have confirmation without adulthood or conscious faith and a profession of faith without the sacrament of confirmation.

The 1979 BCP's shrill insistence that it can declare baptism to be the fullness of Christian initiation by fiat is rather bemusing, not to mention unfortunate. Since baptism is one half the early Church's rite of initiation, it clearly is by definition not its "fullness."

Haugen Alert

Courtesy of Max - I'm unreasonably fond of this. It's about the only thing we agree on! (It's on the high end of what he likes, and the low end of what I like).