Judgmental Moral Certainty and Perverse Religious Morality

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Protesters held up placards of the names of babies buried at Tuam during the Pope’s visit to Ireland in August 2018. (Niall Carson/PA via AP)

The Irish government just released a report detailing a century of horrific abuse of single mothers and their babies. Shocking infant mortality and abuse of women sprang from Roman Catholic teachings of sexual shame and scapegoating. The Irish people have largely abandoned the Catholic Church over its theologies, including its sexual shaming and condemnation of LGBTQ people. But in parts of the world where the Church remains powerful, it still flexes the same political muscles that led to the atrocities in Ireland. The time for fundamental change is now.

A judicial commission in Ireland just released shocking details of almost a century of cruelty that condemned thousands of unmarried mothers and their babies to extreme abuse in institutions run by the Catholic Church and funded in part by the Irish state. …

Only action can counter homophobia

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Justin Thomas after winning the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow. Photo by PGA of America. (CC BY 4.0)

I don’t remember the first time somebody called me a faggot

I was used to it by the time I was in 6th grade, which for you non-Americans means 11 years old. I’m 58 now, but I’ve never forgotten what it’s like to be branded that way. I stopped playing baseball, a sport I loved in school, because taunts of “faggot” destroyed the pleasure I took in the game.

I’ve never muttered “faggot” to myself to express frustration. Not once in my life. Why?

As a gay man, I directly experience the slur’s explosive emotional power. …

Prism & Pen stories — January 10, 2021

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by James Finn

The New Year brings fresh voices to Prism & Pen as we offer a nurturing space for queer artists.

Mary-Ellen Maynard offers a gorgeous piece of science fiction, Gaby Spadaro gives us a look at internalized homophobia in femme lesbians, Elena Joy Thurston urges queer elders to share their stories and look out for Gen Z, and Mina Krane shares her discovery of asexuality. Queer Australian Christian advocate Jason Masters anchors the week with his memories of an annus horribilis.

Our regulars are back, of course, theoaknotes featuring as they roar independence from the chains of binary gender and the Othering history of philosophy. …

Racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism rule DC even now

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January 6, 2021: Pro-Trump insurrectionist carries Christian cross moments before the mob breaks into the US Capitol. Photo: Shutterstock

Trump administration formalizes discrimination, targeting LGBTQ people, Jews, and others

As the nation’s gaze focuses with horror on President Donald Trump’s attempts to incite insurrection and attack U.S. democracy, the machinery of Trump’s administration grinds on — as it grinds down members of marginalized minorities.

On Thursday as Twitter considered de-platforming Trump, as Vice President Mike Pence thought about the 25th Amendment and as Congress pondered impeachment, the Department of Health and Human Services quietly finalized a rule that enshrines and legitimizes homophobia and anti-Semitism.

It’s not just about LGBTQ. Neither Jews, Catholics, Muslims, nor atheists need apply.

Conservative Christians, mostly Evangelicals and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, have pushed hard for the new HHS rule for more than a year. It allows federal contractors and grant recipients — notably adoption and fostering agencies — to turn away LGBTQ people and people whose religion is different from the religion of the people who staff the agencies. …

As he pandered to Christian hatred

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1/6/21 insurrectionist with Christian flag waving in background. Photo tweeted by J. M. Giordano

Yesterday, a mob of thousands of people, incited by the outgoing president, descended on Washington DC in a shocking attempt at violent insurrection. I wasn’t going to write about the events because I have no particular political expertise. I’ve changed my mind because I just learned something that is not yet being widely shared, but needs to be.

The president’s son whipped up the mob yesterday with an anti-transgender rant so mean-spirited and violent that even Fox News cut him off mid-speech.

Donald Trump Junior appeared at a “Stop the Steal” rally in DC yesterday, addressing the crowd not long before it broke into the capitol building, resulting in 4 deaths and over 50 arrests so far.

He whipped the crowd up with the following…

German Church calls for genuine respect and sensitivity

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Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, head of the German Bishops Conference, in a YouTube video welcoming a new bishop to Augsburg.

The Roman Catholic Church in Germany is rumbling in discontent, lay worshippers and senior clergy speaking up forcefully for meaningful Church reform unprecedented since perhaps the time of Martin Luther.

Pope Francis and his Vatican hierarchy have so far batted down all demands to discuss genuine reform of sexist, homophobic teachings and practices, but the German Church isn’t backing down, insisting theological reform is not only possible but critically and fundamentally necessary.

The Catholic Church is rife with discrimination against LGBTQ people. But the clergy say such discrimination is not “unjust.”

Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, a self-described conservative, has been voicing the displeasure of the German church since he was appointed head of the German Bishops Conference last April. He joins a number of other senior clergy, including his immediate predecessor, who say they are increasingly frustrated with Church policies and teachings they say are out of step with modern theology and destructive to the spirituality of Catholic people and the institutional health of the Catholic Church. …

A Prism & Pen Writing Prompt

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Photo by form PxHere

Writers, time to roar!

It’s prompt time, and I’m thinking about BFoundAPen’s fierce story last week set in the Roaring Twenties. I’m tired of this pandemic — tired of fear, melancholy, and isolation. I’m even tired of patience.

How about you?

I’m ready to roar with joy! Let’s set pen to paper with fierce abandon as we look ahead to better days.

Let’s Roar With Fierce Joy!

P&P’s new two-week prompt starts today

The new prompt is “Roar With Fierce Joy.” Fiction, nonfiction, poetry — you name it. Let’s see your inner lion or your hidden kitten. …

Prism & Pen stories — January 3, 2021

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by James Finn

Prism & Pen felt a bit melancholy last week as the pandemic leaked into writers’ reflections on the queer experience. But Esther Spurrill-Jones and The Transgender Therapist fight back with beauty from the world of music and film, theoaknotes throws us queer style with minimalist flair, and BFoundAPen creates a vivid world of Roaring Twenties trans love.

I happen to know Brian wasn’t thinking of that glamorous decade as a reaction to the 1918 pandemic, but as I changed the Digest date to 2021 for the first time, I couldn’t help root for our own Roaring Twenties. …

Assumptions by LGBTQ people and allies notwithstanding

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Photo by Oleh Phoenix licensed from Adobe Stock

It ain’t easy being a gay white man, whatever you might have heard to the contrary

Please don’t stop reading, because I’m not even TRYING to dismiss other experiences. If you’re trans, bisexual, a person of color, or just a cool cis/straight white person who empathizes with fellow humans, I’ve got your back.

I care about your struggles, and you matter to me.

Nobody cares about gay anymore. It’s so not a big deal.

But over the last few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of queer equality, something I’ve fought hard for all my life as a street activist and advocate. …

A Prism & Pen editor’s tutorial

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Fiery Eye by al-xx on DeviantArt (CC BY 2.0)

Oh, my god, I’ve sold out! I’m writing an article about writing on Medium. What the hell? I HATE those kind of articles, so why am I writing one?

I’m actually not.

I’m writing for the benefit of Prism & Pen writers — to give you some powerful tips and information, and to lighten my burden of individually advising/mentoring new writers. (Not that I plan to stop doing that!)

If you write for Prism & Pen, I’m here to say you’re an awesome writer who deserves more readers. I’m tagging you here to help grow your readership and our publication. If you DON’T write for Prism & Pen, what the heck — none of this is a secret. …


James Finn

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

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