462/485 05 Jan 90 21:30:00
From: Ted Powell
To: Mike Arst
Subj: Re: "Saint" Augustine
>> "Saint" Augustine is *NOT* one of *my* favorite people.
>> The Pagels I've been reading lately has convinced me
>> even more that he practically single-handedly corrupted
>> Christianity and turned it against women.
> He couldn't have done it if his feelings about women
> hadn't found a receptive audience, however. He gave
> voice to something a lot of people also felt - or else
> he would not have been as influential as he seems to
> have been.
Acording to Dan Maguire, a professor of theology at Marquette University, the
rot set in somewhat earlier, around the year 309 (Augustine was born around
354). The following quotes are from his essay "The Shadow Side of the
Homosexuality Debate" in:
Homosexuality, the priesthood, and the religious life
Jeannine Gramick, ed.
The Crossroad Publishing Co, 370 Lexington Av NY NY 10017
"Jesus was part of a reform movement in Judaism from which the Christian
religion evolved. Neither that movement nor the Hebrew Scriptures nor the
Christian Scriptures contained a systematic ethics of sexuality. Sex was not a
central concern of the early Christian church. Thus, efforts to teach sexual or
reproductive ethics on the alleged basis of `what the Church has always taught'
in these areas are historically naive.
"What can be said is that at a certain point the church did evince a marked
tendency to define itself and its orthodoxy in terms of what I have called
`pelvic theology.' This curious obsessional turn is with us yet and profoundly
affects church discussion of homosexuality along with the whole of sexual and
reproductive ethics. The formal beginnings of this unwholesome trend can be
traced to the year 309 at the Synod of Elvira. This council was held in
southern Spain in a basilica in what is today the Andalusian town of Granada.
The bishops and presbyters at this event had a lot to worry about. Priests of
the imperial religion were converting to Christianity and bringing many of
their old ways with them. ... The elitist assumptions of well-off Christians
were blunting the prophetic edges of Christian spirituality. ... Clearly the
synod had its work cut out for it. So what did the synod do in this crisis? It
concentrated on sex! Almost half of its canons were on sex, and the subject was
treated with extraordinary severity. Why?
"Samuel Laeuchli (1972) in his book Power and Sexuality: The Emergence of
Canon Law at the Synod of Elvira [Philadephia: Temple University Press], argues
that the real issue at Elvira was power. The church was no longer primarily
defined by its resistance to the claims of the imperial cult. Clerical power in
the church could no longer be ensured by this project at the dawning of the
Constantinian age. ... The Christian elite sought to carve out a clerical
image of the church, and sexual control was a tool in that project. ...
"The church was moving from prophetic to establishment status. In so doing
it turned to sex to define orthodoxy and authority. I have called this `the
Elvira syndrome,' and it is with us yet.
"Contrary to popular myth, Constantine did not convert to Christianity.
Christianity converted to Constantine, and Elvira signals the first symptoms of
this perversion. The canons of Elvira are windows to the soul of fourth-century
Christianity. What they reveal is not edifying. The objections to soldiering
are softened. There is what Laeuchli calls `astonishing callousness about the
lives of human beings who happened to be of a low social order'. There is
shocking anti-Semitism. The synod was also distinctly negative to women. And
with all of this, sex became a prime zone for orthodoxy testing.
"We see the Elvira syndrome operating today. ... Sex is so central that the
entire Second Vatican Council was allowed to touch any topic _except
contraception_. ... "
And so on.
--- ConfMail V3.31
* Origin: PSG Vancouver (1:153/4)