Friday, October 20, 2006

Violating the Privacy of the Mind And the Body

This just makes me ill. It's like a primer on Pathologically Not Getting It:

Oh yeah, they swam nude and the priest fondled him when he was 12 years old but it wasn't "rape or penetration or anything like that," so "let bygones be bygones." "Remember the good times we had" and get over it already. And the neighbor, what a BRILLIANT insight: "He couldn't have done this because he was so quiet." Let's make her our new poster girl for community denial.

It goes on and on and on. Generation after generation. This is why we have to have rules and laws that legislate morality -- because so many men still don't get that you don't treat children in a sexualized way, period. You don't fondle, you don't rape, you don't penetrate, you don't exploit them for your pleasure. Why is this so hard to understand? Why is this still considered a grey area for so many men, and even priests, who should be more deeply in touch with the inherent dignity and privacy of the developing child than the average guy?

We blame a lot of Catholic sexual abuse on the hierarchical structure of the Church. There's good reason for that blame, but I am beginning to think that this is more than an ecclesiological corruption. I am beginning to see a correlation between violating a child's private inner life in the form of catechisms and doctrines that permit no freedom to privately discern important existential truths, and the tacit institutional permission to similiarly violate the privacy of the child's body. I'm not trying to be a theologian here, just an angry woman who would like children to be able to come of age unmolested by adults.

If it's part of the Catholic tradition to penetrate children's minds at a young age and demolish their privacy regarding theological reflection and decision-making, can it really be so shocking that penetration and violation of the privacy of their bodies is not far behind?

We must protect children's freedom of religious imagination just as surely as we protect them from physical molesters and exploiters. They are two pieces of the same cloth.

[This post has generated HOT STUFF with some readers. Wally Nut posts his own thoughts here and here's Sallie Ellis responding in the "nay" at PB]


Blogger Steve Caldwell said...

Peacebang wrote:
"This is why we have to have rules and laws that legislate morality -- because so many men still don't get that you don't treat children in a sexualized way, period."

Unfortunately, it's not men not getting this. Women don't get it as well. And female-on-male abuse isn't taken as seriously (this week's South Park episode makes this point).

Here are some demographics statistics from web site provided by Rev. Debra Haffner about which demographic groups are mostly likely to molest girls and boys:

"Girls are primarily touched by men, while the boys are touched more often by women but also by men. The risk to girls is greatest from adult men (63%), followed by adolescent males (28%). The risk to boys is greatest from adolescent women (45%), followed by adolescent men (25%) and then older men (38%)."

Since boys are at greatest risk from adolescent women, perhaps we should look at common congregational practices like using teen volunteers to babysit children during congregational meetings and other functions.

Blogger Sun Warrior said...

Though it doesn't matter if you got religion or not to do this 'soul murder,' there is a distinct Catholic flavor to their crimes, from my impression.

I often get the feeling from priests of the generic nature of all the souls in their herd. Their imperious position combined with doing the mass five times a day gives an aristocratic drollness and sense of entitlement. Plus, when sins can be abolished with simple confession, how seriously can one take the depth of wounds?

Just a sense I get from the Catholic version of this heinous crime.

What's everyone else's feeling?

Blogger The Emerson Avenger said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Blogger David said...

I fail to see the correlation between passing on apostolic truth and anal penetration.

Blogger The Emerson Avenger said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Blogger PeaceBang said...

I'm discussing theological connections between Catholic doctrine and Catholic child molestation here. That's the topic, that's what I stayed with.
However,I think it would be interesting for someone to respond with reflections on how Universalist theological tradition could contribute to UU clergy misconduct. There is certainly a worthy column there, but I'm not choosing to write it. If you do, feel free to link it here.

The trick to not getting your comments deleted is to make them directly and specifically relevant to the subject at hand (as in a conversation, not an off-topic tirade), don't attack individuals by name, and just acccept that all comments on this blog are subject to the editorial trashcan.

Blogger PeaceBang said...

whoops! make that "UNITARIAN AND UNIVERSALIST theological tradition might contribute to abusive sexual relations."

(The "Unitarian" got accidentally deleted!)

Blogger The Emerson Avenger said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Blogger The Emerson Avenger said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Blogger The Emerson Avenger said...

Well that act of U*U church censorship just made you *the* poster girl for U*U "community denial" to say nothing of your own individual denial. . .

Blogger PeaceBang said...

Avenger, I really and truly hope you write about UU sexual abuse and misconduct on your own blog. As I said, I will happily link to it. I'm sure you have worthwhile insights, and I like to think my post on how Catholic theology might lead to priestly misconduct could lead us all -- starting with you if you choose to begin that thread -- to think about how Unitarian and Universalist theology can similarly -- although for different theological reasons -- lead to UU sexual misconduct. I am not denying the reality of UU sexual misconduct. It has been a terrible reality in our congregations as well as in the Catholic world.

If I wasn't clear, let me try again: when you name people's names and link to your own articles of grievances against them, you're using this blog as a host for your own, or as I think of it as "free advertising" for your own cause. I don't allow this for anyone. If someone came on this blog and turned most of my posts into an opportunity to link to something they were promoting, I would also say, "Knock it off. Don't parasite off my blog."

If you had said, "Hey, don't throw stones, because UUs sure have their own history of sexual abuse," I would have seen that and said, "so true." Are you generating conversation or just promoting your own links? I think the latter.

I look forward to your thread on how Unitarian and/or Universalist theological tradition may or may have contributed to sexual violations past and present. Someone should take up the thread, if not you. Maybe I will start it later if I have the time. For now, I have a Sunday service to prepare and I can't yield to the temptation.

So readers, now that we've looked at the Catholic issue, in what ways might *liberal theology* be used as a foundation or justification for sexual misconduct and violation of the body?

Blogger The Emerson Avenger said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Blogger PeaceBang said...

[Readers, this appeared on a different posting because of my having closed comments here for some time because of a troll. It was contributed by Jeff Wilson]

This is going here, not because it belongs here, but because comments are turned off in the "Violation" thread (and apparently with good reason). I just thought I'd add a quick follow-up to the call for perspectives on how U or U theology might allow misbehavior/abuse. For many years Universalists were not allowed to provide testimony in court cases, even in their own defense, because it was assumed they had antinomian tendencies and therefore could not be trusted under oath. Specifically, because they did not believe in eternal punishment for sin, it was felt they would happily violate whatever commandment they felt like with impunity. Beyond the perjury argument, this was a common theme in anti-Universalist rhetoric: because Universalists thought they were saved, it was widely believed that they necessarily MUST be engaging in all sorts of sinful actions, carnal and otherwise.

I do not know of any specific cases of Universalists (in particular, ministers) who committed abuses with the theological justification that it was no bar to salvation. Generally, this was a specious attack by the opposition. But, that doesn't mean there isn't a certain twisted logic to it, such that I wonder if indeed some Universalists might have committed abusive actions with a clean conscience. In Japan, universalist Buddhist groups did sometimes include members who justified their infractions by saying that committing evil showed their faith in universal salvation. Few authorities, including within their own sects, looked kindly on such twisting of doctrine.


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