Monday, February 19, 2018

The Churchmen - a film review

Center: Clément Manuel as Guillaume, surrounded by (from
bottom left) Julien Bouanich, as Yann; David Baiot as
Emmanuel; Thierry Gimenez as Fr. Bosco; Jean-Luc Bideau
as Fr. Fromenger, Clément Roussier as Raphaël; Samuel Jouy
as José
One of the challenges I have in my life is a variation on the Catholic maxim, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” Only in my case, it’s “hate the Catholic Church, love the Catholic.”  And right away, I see the need to ask myself why it is I need to type the word “hate” in connection with that church, instead of immediately backing up and typing a euphemism. “Be suspicious of,” maybe. “Be aware of.” “Limit the damage of.” The answer is, if I’m honest, I have to admit that I’m dealing with a profound loathing for the Roman Catholic Church as an institution, and will likely be doing so for the rest of my life.

I was not raised a Catholic, but I was raised in a culture where authoritarian forms of religion held sway, the two chief forms being the clerical form of Roman Catholicism and the fundamentalist literalist version of Evangelicalism among the Protestants of the world. So early on I had to learn to separate out blind followers from sincere seekers, those who use the church to satisfy their need to bully from those simply trying to make sense of life. In time I adjusted to the split and recognized that it’s not “the church” that evokes such feelings, but the authoritarianism that bothers me.  And right away, that divides organized religion into two camps – those lacking in humility who insist they know the mind of god, and those using their cultural traditions to create meaning out of the chaos and uncertainty of existence, and to center that meaning around a notion of what we all recognize as virtues: truth, love, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, kindness and I’m tempted to add a good sense of humor.

I mention this only in passing as a way of making plain the lens I’m looking through in writing a review of a religious film in which the heroes are practicing Catholics, and the villains are the clericalists who reflect the authoritarian side of the official church. Even though I cannot share the values and the goals of the heroes, I can live with them, even love some of them, all the same. 

I just finished binge-watching a very long made-for-TV series produced by Zadiq Productions and Arte France called Ainsi soient-ils in French (So be it), and The Churchmen in English – three seasons of eight hour-long episodes each. It is about a freshman group of seminarians at the Capuchin Seminary in Paris, with particular emphasis on five young men, several of their teachers, and a young nun. The series has been around for a while, having run between October 2012 and October 2015 in France, and simultaneously in Quebec and Belgium, as well. Also in Italy, under the title Uomini di Fede (Men of Faith). Upon receiving critical acclaim, a third season began in October of 2015. This review comes as a result of all three seasons being made available through Netflix in the United States.

The story revolves around the moral dilemmas the seminarians and their mentors find themselves in, the struggle between their vows and their consciences. Leading figure is Father Étienne Fromenger, whose heart, despite his role as seminary head, is with the poor and others on the perifery of life. Fromenger fiddles with the books and takes money from rich realtors to keep the seminary afloat and is discovered by the righteous Father Dominique Bosco. Bosco subsequently comes down with cancer and then has an encounter with a woman whose spirituality lies outside the church and whose healing hands shake his faith both physically and emotionally. Counterpoints to these saintly men are the ambitious Monseigneur Joseph Roman, president of France’s Bishops’ Conference in Season 1 and his successor, Monseigneur Poileaux, a more “papabile” official, who moves to the center of subsequent Vatican infighting and intrigue in Seasons 2 and 3.

But it’s the five novice seminarians, Yann, Emmanuel, Guillaume, Raphaël, and José, whose character development is what makes the series, in my view. It’s not often, in an ensemble piece, that virtually all of the main characters draw you in as surely as these guys do and make you care so much what happens to them. Their challenges become your challenges. Other, by no means minor, characters, Sister Antonietta, Father Fromenger’s assistant and Father Honoré Cheminade, play extremely sympathetic roles, as well.

To list the plot devices around the moral dilemmas would make this series sound like a soap opera. It deserves better. A couple of serious ones are the relationship between Guillaume and Emmanuel, who fall in love with each other, and the discovery, by Yann, once he has left the seminary in Season 3 and gone out into the world, that his superior is a child molester. I’ll stop there. One should not spoil a great binge-watch. You could take it slow, of course, but if you’re like me, you won’t be able to resist the cliffhangers.

The Churchmen has plenty of flaws. Things often happen too fast, and there isn’t sufficient thought sometimes behind the resolution of a particular challenge. The music is lovely, but the context to the singing is unrealistic. Particularly absurd is the way in which a group of tone-deaf kids are transformed into a choir that would rival the Vienna Choir Boys. But one forgives these foibles for the love of art and the charity which shines through so many scenes.

A particular fascination for me was the way in which the series remained watchable despite a very heavy dose of religious affirmation. Belief testimonials have a way of making my eyes glaze over. I mentioned earlier that I see the Roman Catholic Church as two separate churches, one focused on spirituality and pastoral care, the other on the trappings of power and wealth. The Churchmen comes directly out of the former, what progressive Catholics would like to call the authentic church. Sins are readily forgiven, the church is viewed as a big tent organization, and doing the right thing involves bending the rules for the sake of compassion.

There is, of course, the other side. The series came in for some hefty criticism from the clericalists. This criticism by Jean-Marie Guénois, religious commentator for Le Figarowill serve to present the view from a traditionalist's perspective: 
Non seulement cette série travestit une réalité mais elle est une antithèse du christianisme puisque son ressort n'est pas l'amour pour le Christ mais la volonté humaine. Ces jeunes hommes ne sont pas des apprentis chrétiens mais des apprentis stoïciens qui, par leur propre volonté, vont tenter d'atteindre un idéal. Pas étonnant donc que la plupart échouent face aux tentations de la vie....  (L)e moteur de la série reste le « scandale » et la « caricature à l’extrême », qu’il reconnaît comme « l’ingrédient de toute fiction, causée selon lui par « une imposture : mettre à la place du christianisme ce qui n’est pas le christianisme. 
Not only does this series disguise a reality, but it is an antithesis of Christianity since its source is not the love of Christ but the human will. These young men are not Christian apprentices but Stoic apprentices who, by their own will, are reaching for an ideal. No wonder then that most fail when encountering the temptations of life…. The engine of the series remains "scandals" and "caricatures in the extreme", which he sees as "the ingredient of any fiction.” This, says Guénois, is "a fraud put in the place of a Christianity which is not Christianity. (translation mine)
Jean-Marie Guénois, « Ainsi soient-ils : une imposture [archive] », in Le Figaro, jeudi 11 octobre 2012, page 41. (Footnote 43, cited here) 

No critique of the spirituality-centered branch of the church could say it better: “You’re not the real church," say the keepers of the keys.  "We (the clergy-centered) are the real church. You want to make it into something modern, something that will let you have your cake and eat it too. But we know that can’t be done. We are here to tell you that the truths of the magisterium are unchanging. The church cannot err. What was, is now, and always will be."

Translated: Give up your expectation that women will have standing in the church, that homosexuality will ever be “normalized,” that birth control and abortion will ever be accepted, that celibacy for religious will be abandoned.

Many years ago now, I went to see a psychotherapist and in the course of our conversations, I mentioned that I had once held religious views but had given them up. The therapist responded, “You’ve only given up the idol. The mold it was made in will probably remain in you forever.”

To my husband, religion is a silly thing to get involved with. A thing of the past, a human foible, something that belongs on the ash heap of history. If you share this view, The Churchmen will not be your cup of tea.

On the other hand, if you see what's left of the world of priests in training with affection, or if you see religiosity as just one of those things that sometimes makes people interesting, there are far worse ways to spend twenty-four hours.

photo credit

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Not a heart attack - just gum disease

Marlene Dietrich, from The Blue Angel
I blogged the other day about Babylon Berlin, the sixteen-hour made-for-TV series about Berlin in the latter days of the Weimar Republic, that noble attempt at democracy Germany made between the end of WWI and the Hitler takeover in 1933.  I mentioned that I was so taken with the parallels between the failure of the Weimar democracy and what’s going on around me that I kind of took it for granted that I understood something about the filmmakers’ motivation in making the film – the fact that the failure of democracy during the Weimar period would speak to the fears of people today that democracy is on the run. It has failed in Victor Orban’s Hungary, is going down in Poland, and people are panicking that it’s going down in Trump’s America. 

Just take a look at some of what is on the best seller list these days. I don’t mean just:

1. Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the White House.

Granted, many consider that a hatchet job, poorly documented, exaggerated and slanted in places.

I went looking for David Frum’s latest book, Trumpocracy, so I typed it into Amazon’s search. Look what popped up:

Not just

2. David Frum’s Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic.

But also:

3. David Cay Johnston’s It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America

4. Steve Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt’s How Democracies Die

5. Paul McGuire and Troy Anderson’s Trumpocalypse: The End-Times President, a Battle Against the Globalist Elite, and the Countdown to Armageddon

6. Michael Isikoff and David Corn’s Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump

7. Luke Harding’s Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win

8. James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership

9. Charles J. Sykes’ How the Right Lost Its Mind

10. Bob Riemen’s To Fight Against This Age: On Fascism and Humanism

11. Brian Klaas and David Talbot’s The Despot’s Apprentice: Donald Trump’s Attack on Democracy

12. Donna Brazile’s Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House

I could stop with an even dozen, but there are more:

13. David Martin’s Donny’s First Year – granted, Martin is a satirist rather than a serious critic, but like all the evening satire shows,  Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher and others, his humor has an unusual sharpness to it that goes beyond normal chiding satire. Martin says, for example, “with such daily craziness, it’s often difficult to stay ahead of the satirical curve.”

Then there is:

14. Michael Mathiesen, who seems to have gotten to the term before Frum:

Trumpocracy: A Demonstration Democracy

That’s enough to suggest maybe the burden of proof is on the Trump camp to demonstrate that he is not actually subverting democracy.

Still looking for more on the topic, I came across an interesting panel discussion at the Brookings Institute.

First on the panel is David Frum, who got this ball rolling for me, the Republican conservative and onetime speechwriter for George W. Bush, often credited for the origin of the term “axis of evil”. Like many who supported the Iraq war at the beginning and became disillusioned, he admitted that he was unduly persuaded by the conservatives he hung around with who turned out to be wrong. Frum is clearly a thinking man, an honest intellectual who has been unafraid to drift into new territory and today is one of the more ardent of Trump’s opponents.  The kind that saw it all coming: he voted for Hillary.

Also on the panel is Elaine Kamarck, an expert in American electoral politics and senior fellow at Brookings, lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and member of the DNC. Has a PhD from Berkeley in political science and worked in the Clinton White House.

The third panel member is Benjamin Wittes, also at Brookings. He is a journalist with a background in law; he is co-director of the Harvard Law School project on Law and Security.  He has described the Trump’s policy on refugees and visas as "malevolence tempered by incompetence."

Moderator is Jonathan Rauch, also of Brookings and, like Frum, an editor of The Atlantic.

The discussion is worth listening to. In a nutshell, the two men, Frum and Wittes, worry there is a serious threat to democracy, while Kamarck insists that American institutions are strong enough to resist what’s coming down. And when we say institutions, it’s the media and the judiciary most at risk. Both, Kamarck insists will not only survive, but the challenge is actually doing them good.

While Frum makes some of the most cogent arguments, it is the contrast between Kamarck and Wittes that most interested me. It’s the old story – what doesn’t destroy you only makes you stronger. It’s just a question of whether the test is too severe. Wittes worries about what will happen in post-Trump America, when the rules of gentlemanly behavior once associated with the White House have been shattered.  Will the memory of how easy it was to break things down encourage another Trump down the road? In fact, Kamarck is working on a research project to search out potential future Trumps and head them off.

Will it only be easier from now on to take advantage of America’s weaknesses? I hope Wittes is wrong, but I also believe he’s got a point – once the toothpaste is out of the tube, Americans will not know how to put it back, I fear.

There is also this thing called the law of entropy, the second law of thermodynamics, which I have always understood as “Everything eventually turns to shit.”  OK, so physics is not my strong suit. But I have observed that it’s harder, for example, for decency to survive against indecency since the former plays by rules which the latter feels free to break. The guy who plays dirty has the upper hand. And in the current battle for control of government, it’s the liars who seem to be getting away with murder. Short of wholesale outrage at deception, there is no way to fight the deceivers. And whether the enlarged Ego at the center of things is manipulating those who want to help the rich get richer – or whether they are manipulating him is a less interesting question to me than whether we can survive in the devastated America he leaves behind once he’s either kicked out of office or goes quietly at the end of his term.

To return to the Weimar comparison, my understanding of why the Weimar democracy failed is chiefly that the Germans had no experience with democracy. They were experimenting, making it up as they went along. Internally, the country was sharply divided between communists and nationalists. The former, remembering what it felt like to be at the bottom of society during the imperial years under the kaisers, wanted to bring the Russian Bolshevik revolution to Germany. The nationalists, on the other hand, wanted to bring the monarchy back.  To a great degree, it was a battle between the haves and the have-nots.

[Some comic relief here, if you're finding this all a bit dry: Have a listen to a march I first learned at Carnival (Fasching) in Munich back in 1960. “We want our old Kaiser Wilhelm back! – The guy with the beard – the long long beard.”    Back in the days “when grandma was able to drink the water directly out of the Elbe River – it was so clean.”]

There were parties in the middle – the socialists on the left and the liberals (what in America we call conservatives) on the right, as well as a (catholic) Center Party – but without a full commitment to democracy, a deep-seated understanding of the need to work together with others who held opposing views, there was a tendency for everybody to be pulled to the extremes. With loyalty going to the party one belonged to and not to the nation, the nation, in the end, could not stand.

Adding to this problem of polarization was the cultural element. In the big cities – Berlin, in particular, in addition to a large number of working class folks on the left, you had the artists and entertainers – the Hollywood types of the era. The glamour set of the “Roaring Twenties,” who exposed attitudes that offended the good country folk – too little clothing, too much vulgarity, homosexuality and gutsy (many would say “loose”) women. Babylon Berlin opens on a scene of the vice squad breaking into a porno ring. Law and order meets decadence.

Comparisons between Weimar and America become impossible to resist. We’ve got the ascendance of the evangelicals into the Trump administration and the demonization of “Hollywood types” by the Republican Party. We’ve got the extreme polarization and the quite evident proof that Republicans, who once were deficit hawks, for example, are now willing to go trillions more into debt to serve party interests: read: the furtherance of the financial interests of the 1%. We’ve got the direct attack on the judiciary and the press – examples galore on a daily basis. People who listen to Fox don’t listen to MSNBC and vice versa. Except, of course, to gather material to fan their outrage.

The Weimar period ended in 1933 with the legal election of Adolf Hitler. Many point out that the handover to Trump took place legally, as well. Never mind the gerrymandering and the abomination that is the electoral college. The election took place according to the rules in place at the time. It was perfectly legal. Never mind the arguments that he didn’t win the election so much as Hillary lost it.  Weimar rightists made much of the “blood and soil” meme, blood meaning “the people” not the outsider Jew/Mexican/immigrant, soil being the land, not the cities. Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann used to talk about the people in the middle as, “the real Americans.”

Trump is not Hitler. He doesn’t advocate the creation of a Gestapo to pull his enemies out of bed at night. Elaine Kamarck is right – our institutions are holding – and are a long way from collapsing as they did under National Socialism. But just as Germans in the Weimar period read Mein Kampf, where Hitler put into words his plan to exterminate the Jews, and elected him anyway, Americans listen on a daily basis to Trump demean women, urge violence – “I’ll pay your legal bills…”, and let it be known that he expects lawyers and judges, the FBI and anybody else in government to do his bidding, show personal loyalty to him as opposed to the traditional ethical standards of their profession, and his supporters let it all pass. In fact, such Trumpist actions only seem to increase their support for him.  The “Lock her up” chants he cheer led shows he’d really like to not just to defeat his political opponents, but imprison them. Like Hitler, who admired Mussolini and Stalin, Trump has repeatedly expressed an admiration for tyrants – Putin, Erdogan, Orban, Duterte, to name the ones that come immediately to mind. And now he wants a military band to march down the boulevard and salute him. The parallels with dictatorships continue to grow in number.

Trump is no Hitler, and this is not Weimar Germany. But the elements are in place. It’s not whether it can happen, but whether we can keep ourselves from becoming like the frog in the kettle, unaware that the water is heating up until it’s too late to jump out.

David Frum argues that the decay of democracy is not something that happens overnight. People have it all wrong, he says. It’s not like a heart attack. It’s more like gum disease.

One reads history not just to understand how we got where we are. There are historical lessons out there we’d do well to take a closer look at, to see where we really don’t want to go.

 photo credit - the iconic image of Marlene Dietrich

trivia note: In the movie The Blue Angel, Marlene Dietrich plays Lola Lola a woman who ultimately seduces Immanuel Rath, played by Emil Jannings, a would-be embodiment of the essence of bourgeois propriety. Perhaps it's pure coincidence, but Volker Kutscher used the name Rath for the protagonist in his series of novels, the first of which the movie Babylon Berlin was based on. Pure coincidence, maybe, and Gereon Rath is not destroyed by a shady lady in the end, so the resemblence ends with the name. But when you're retired and have some extra time on your hands, you've got time to notice little things like this.


Friday, February 9, 2018

The price of a blessing

Two of Germany's movers and shakers. That's Mutti on the
left and Cardinal Reinhard Marx on the right
My heart breaks for those unfortunate lesbian and gay Catholics still holding out hope they might find their unions “blessed” by the hand of old Mother Church. Dream on, kids. You'd have better luck getting drug dealers to build a drug prevention center.

German Cardinal and head of the German Bishops’ Conference Reinhard Marx gave an interview this week in which he was asked if the church was ready to extend its blessing to lesbian and gay couples. Showing himself to be a smart diplomatic politician, he deflected the question. “You’re asking the wrong question,” he said in effect.  What is important here is that some things can be regulated and some things must be left up to people making on-the-spot decisions. The church’s stand on homosexuality is one thing. Blessing an individual couple is another, in other words.  

The cardinal likes to have his cake and eat it too.

As you might expect, Marx’s response satisfied no one. Hardliners huff that the cardinal has no business leaving open the question of church doctrine. It is clear. Homosexual behavior is a sin. Those inclined toward it have one option – celibacy. If they want to avoid sin, that is. They should not expect the church to change its mind on this.

At the other end of the spectrum are those who heard the cardinal’s clearly ambiguous answer and saw in it the prospect for change. Several German papers used the sneaky tactic of putting words into the cardinal’s mouth with attention-getting headlines. “Marx holds out the prospect of blessing,” say the Frankfurter Allgemeine of Frankfurt and the Rheinische Post, of Düsseldorf. When you read the articles themselves, though, you realize the headline is an ellipsis. The completion of the sentence runs, “but only in individual cases.” This only places the burden on the individual priest to remind himself that the price of a blessing for a gay person is celibacy. And for couples? Well, maybe if they just live together and never share any pleasure of their bodies...

It’s an old church trick. Some people think of it as the Italian way of doing things. Say one thing and do another. Do what you want. Just don’t mess with the principle. Keep up appearances.

Marx actually provides fuel in this interview to the fire in this battle by progressive forces such as We
Munich's Frauenkirche, cathedral church of the diocese
of Munich and Freising - and one of Munich's major
Are Church
and The Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), to include gay people as equals in the life of the church. Among the first questions Marx is asked are, “What changes have you seen since you have taken over this job (as head of the church in Munich and Freising)?” and “What is the biggest change you have seen?” To the latter question he responds, “The biggest change is actually a new awareness of change,” and urges his followers to be prepared to take on the challenges of a changing world.  One is reminded of the theological question debated recently of whether to change the wording of the Lord's Prayer.  Is God, the thinking goes, the type of guy who might actually “lead” one into temptation, and therefore must be begged not to? In the end the church decided to leave things as they are. not change the language, in other words. But let's not miss the point that this suggested what would have been a whopper of a change. One should get points for having the temerity to ask, right?

Which ties this question to the larger question of how the church comes to terms with its past. They have admitted that St. Peter’s in Rome, the church of all Catholic churches, was built with money from selling forgiveness for not-yet-committed sins, a corruption which not only led to the Protestant Reformation but begs the question of just what won’t the church do for money?  

On March 12, 2000 John Paul II surprised the world by apologizing for the sins of the church. Some of them. Addressing the Jews of the world, he said, "We are deeply saddened by the behaviour of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer." Nice. "Saddened" is not quite the same as "I'm really sorry; we were bad," but it was a start. And, to be fair, when he was done, Cardinal Edward Cassidy stepped up to acknowledge the "sufferings of the people of Israel" and ask divine pardon for the "sins committed by not a few [Catholics] against the people of the covenant". 

I may be mistaken about this, but to my knowledge there was no mention of a misinterpretation of scripture or an admission that the theology behind the anti-semitism played any part in the commission of those sins. That would seem to be pushing it.  And lest this apology, if that's really what it was, get out of hand, the move seemed to be anticipated by the Vatican’s International Theological Commission. In December 1999 they published a document entitled, "Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the Faults of the Past."  And what's that about?   Please note, says the commission, we don't want you to take this apology wrong. With our apology we are issuing a “purification of memory” statement which should work to “liberat(e) personal and communal conscience from all forms of resentment and violence that are the legacy of past faults.” You gotta love these guys.

So much for fessing up for all that dark history, from the arrest of Galileo for maintaining that Copernicus was right, that the earth does go around the sun, to the sin of omission of not standing by the Jews at the time of the Holocaust and, for that matter, centuries of unmistakable anti-Semitism.

So what went down last week was the church being church: Cardinal Marx sending out signals that led a number of German sources besides those mentioned above, like Domradio, in Cologne and Die Presse, in Vienna to suggest that there is some “room to maneuver” (Spielraum) in Marx’s statements about blessings for gays. Perhaps it’s not fair to the cardinal to blame him for the misleading headlines like “Marx holds out the prospect of blessing.” But if you read the articles, they point to the fact that he is avoiding the issue and throwing responsibility onto individual pastors whether to call what they do “blessing” the couples. Talk about plausible deniability.

The church has definitely changed over the years. It no longer endorses slavery (or "perpetual servitude" if that distinction is meaningful to you), and no longer cooperates with fascists (well, in most places, at least). No modern-day pope would steal a child from a Jewish family on the excuse that its nanny had baptized him. It turns a blind eye to divorced couples and allows them to take communion, and it has pretty much cried uncle in the fight against the use of contraception, recognizing that when 98% of Catholics admit to using some form of it, they can't very well withhold blessings from that many people. But for some reason it continues to hold out on a couple of issues – not allowing women the same right as men to turn bread and wine into the body and blood of the son of their god, and not allowing gay people to be gay and keep their dignity as decent men and women who’d simply like to have a sex life and/or build a family along with a same-sex partner.

Go join the Episcopalians, I want to tell them. But I recognize that in practical terms there are two distinct Catholic Churches – the clericalists, the folk in the clutches of the authoritarians; and the “ecclesia” – a concept that loomed large at Vatican II – the body of believers as a collective. The first church is about power and being in control, the second about trying to make meaning out of a Middle Eastern creation story and mythical tradition to which one can attach a moral code. I want to lend my support to those in the second group, because I think they are basically good folk looking for an anchor in life, and do a lot of good when they put their minds to it. 

Unfortunately, this is a tough time for the sincerely righteous. Just as America is being held captive to greed and deceit at the moment, despite the best efforts of the not all that effective “Resistance,” the good Catholics of the “ecclesia” – the non-authoritarians, are in the clutches of the Vatican hustlers. Not all Republicans are indecent – many are well-meaning government-is-bad ideologues who become justifiers and enablers. And not all power-structure Catholics are indecent, either. Many – like Cardinal Marx, who foster the illusion that people can surrender their dignity and still have self-respect, are the Enablers who make the wheels of Vatican Central go round.

Marx was given an opportunity to answer that question about whether the church could bless gay couples with a clear yes. He could still harbor the thought that these people are living in sin but see the grace of God extended to all believers, sinners and folk of the straight-and-narrow alike, as well as everybody in between. Are sinners (if that's what they are) not worthy of blessings? But he chose instead to remain in the good standing with his authoritarian bosses instead of joining with the large-tent contingent. Fine. The Catholic Church in Germany has a long history of enabling authoritarians - I don't need to mention names. Marx will go down in history as just another one.

Maybe in a hundred years there will be a sea change and people will no longer need to believe God wants men on top, women on the bottom. And that hetero reproductive sex is the only permissible way to be erotic and passionate.  It's possible these notions will go the way of astrology and a belief in unicorns, and there will be more room for real love and compassion. In the meantime, lesbians and gays will no doubt go on fooling themselves into thinking they’re simply being forced to sit in the back seat when actually they are outside the car being dragged along the road on a rope.

photo credits: