Tuesday, December 23, 2008


...late last night, a phone call from the BBC, following reports of the H. Father's comments about the significance of being male and female, and why it is wrong to attempt to claim that these are merely artificial constructs...

...and so, v. early this morning, off to the Today Programme to discuss this, along with Cristian Odone. I felt we had a fair and useful discussion. Actually, this whole issue - why there are two sexes, and the human and spiritual meaning in this - is surely a most significant one for today and tomorrow. There are rich insights that have a message about God, and the Bride/Bridegroom relationship between Christ and the Church...

...and finding myself in London I went to Westminster Cathedral, and went to confession for Advent...there was a pleasing air of getting-ready-for-Christmas about the place, with the Crib awaiting the Christ-child in a side chapel, adorned with greenery...

...a quick pause with a newspaper and some coffee, and then shopping for final-groceries-for-Christmas and on home...where there was another phone call, this time for a TV news channel. Off again to another studio. This didn't go so well. I am sure I looked and sounded cross and disagreeable, and it is very difficult not to look a bit surprised when the interviewer says "but what has having children go to do with sexuality?" I gulped...er...surely there's a very intimate connection? I mean, that's how babies are created? I found myself saying "Didn't your mother explain things to you?" and then wished I hadn't said it, as she looked very steely indeed.

Home, and a rush of getting things done. We raised a good lot of money carol-singing again last night, this time at Victoria Station. It's going to worthwhile charities here that care especially for mothers facing problem pregnancies.


Justin Watkins said...

Dear Joanna Bogle -

I found your comments on the Today Programme insulting, naive and, well, offensive.

I am completely, fully male, and I'm different from a woman. I'm also homosexual. This isn't something I chose: it's part of my nature and it's completely natural. It's a part of the biological truth of my existence. Many, many aspects of the natural world involve more than male and female: diversity and complexity is good and healthy.

I'm culturally and socially and sexually active and aware, and I'm happy. Please don't attempt to downgrade my existence as part of the death of society with your Catholic bigotry.

I'm very much alive and I thank my lucky stars I'm not Catholic.

Justin Watkins

Anonymous said...

Wow...millions of gay priests!

That's about five times the number of catholic priests in the entire world!

Anonymous said...

I am sure your interview was fine. I had to laugh at your off the cuff comment. Right on the money.
Fr. Jim

Anonymous said...

Dear Auntie Joanna

I thought your comments in both interviews were absolutely spot on. I am afraid that you made poor Christina Odone look almost as stupid as Fr Burke did when they were both on Newsnight at the time of the Holy Father's election.

Regards, as ever,
Deacon Stephen Morgan

Anonymous said...

Dear Joanna,
Thank you for your defense of the Holy Father's End of Year Address.
God Bless you,
Happy Christmas,
Fro Tony and Thelma, a Catholic Couple, nearly 50 years married with three adopted children.

Jimmy the Orange said...

I heard your radio interview on the Today Programme this morning and you said the following:
"We’re learning more and more and more about the biological reality of what we are, and the maleness and femaleness is much more important than we thought."

This is indeed true, but the studies don't seem to support your thesis, especially with regard to the intersex spectrum (the biological study of gender variation beyond chromosomatic XY / XX distinctions). I am not referring here to any sort of wishywashy ‘cultural studies’ blurring of gender, but of the scientific studies of biological variation that has informed aspects of gender theory, especially those by Simon Baron-Cohen (not to mention Moir, Jessel, Kikumara and many others) on male and female brains. Some males have distinctly female brains and vice versa and this has an obvious effect on behaviour and sexuality.

I don't mean to be combative or facetious (I am heterosexual) but would be curious to know which of the biological studies on gender differences support your thesis that the distinction is quite so black and white.

In addition you mentioned we ought to be ‘listening to the voice of nature’ and wondered if you aware that homosexuality is rife in the animal kingdom (and might therefore be considered natural) with no detrimental effects on population.

Anonymous said...

Justin -

Do yourself a favour, mate. Grow up a bit, stop being an anti-Catholic bigot and learn to tolerate other people's views, even if you don't like them or disagree with them. You might find it quite liberating. You might also learn that love and life are rather more than just what you do with your sexual organs.


Anonymous said...

Dear Justin Watkins -

I find your comments on this blog insulting, naive and, well, offensive.

You begin by saying that you are "completely, fully male" and then say that you are more diverse and complex than male or female. Well, which is it? Or are you just schizophrenic?

The reality seems to be that you are an insulting bully, a narrow-minded bigot and an arrogant religious vilifier.

There is nothing "natural" or "right" about vilifying a person on account of their religion.

It is bigoted, narrow-minded, arrogant, insensitive, childish and illegal.

If you really believed in diversity and complexity, as you claim you would not be so intolerant of Catholics and others who do not share your views. You really are only willing to tolerate those who agree with you, all the while hypocritically talking about "diversity".

Please don't try to downgrade the existence of others as part of your blinkered, reactionary, anti-Catholic bigotry.

Whether you like it or not, other people are entitled to say that there is nothing natural about sodomy.

Many people consider that, as an activity, it is no more a good, natural and healthy part of the natural world than is intercourse with animals.

The biological truth is that the lower digestive tract is not a sexual organ: its natural use is to expel waste.

Furthermore, whether you like it or not, humanity comes from the love and sexual relations between a man and a woman and not between two people of the same sex.

This is a part of the biological truth of everyone, including you, since you, yourself, came from the relationship between two people of different sex, your mother and your father, and not from two mothers or two fathers.

You would not be here if it were not so. So, please stop pretending that you do not know this elementary truth.

And try to get your lucky stars to teach you how to be more tolerant of other people instead of expecting everyone to share your promiscuous sexual outlook and anti-Catholic bigotry and arrogance.

Grow up a bit, Justin.

Justin Watkins said...

Dear James Bogle -

I'm disappointed that Joanna hasn't responded in person, but thanks for your response on her behalf.

I'm not anti-Catholic in the slightest but I suspect that my life as a gay man would have been a lot harder if I were a Catholic.

Yes indeed there is a lot more to life and love than what one does with one's sexual organs.

However, leaving all that wonderfulness of life aside for just a moment, I assume that you are attracted to people, and indeed were moved to marry one person, with female sexual organs and not male ones. Well, I'm attracted to people with the other set: the same male set that you and I have, as it happens. According to Joanna's comments, this is unnatural, but I don't feel it is. What's your view?

I can assure you I'm quite grown up.

Justin Watkins

Giles Pinnock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gregory of Langres said...

Spot on. Well done.

Maurice said...

You were great! Well done.

Happy Christmas.

Jimmy the Orange said...

Dear Ras Celas,

I don't mean to fight Mr Watkins' battles for him, he seems quite capable himself.

I do take issue with your own ignorance, however. Sodomy is entirely natural, Lions do it, so do Giraffes and closer to home (unless your a creationist) 90% of primate species do it. Indeed urangutans can retract their penises to create a cavity which their male partners penetrate. Forgive me for being graphic, but this is, I am afraid, part of the wonderful diversity of the natural world. It reveals the important non-procreative function of sex for the purposes of bonding an reciprocity.

Lastly, schizophrenia, contrary to ignorant popular belief, has nothing to do with Janus faced, split personality. It is a debilitating mental illness and its early symptoms including lengthy tirades and ranting, the making of incongruous connections with no evidence and a belief in an unseen power conspiring to control the individual. I trust you can spot the irony.

There are a great many heterosexuals, like myself, who are quite staggered at the weakness of the arguments put forward by the Bogles and indeed the Pope. Mrs Bogle's attempt to back her argument up with science this morning by talking about biology and nature were flawed in the extreme. I notice she has failed to respond with any studies I asked her to cite. I have read the studies with great interest, and none of them concur with her or you.

Anonymous said...

Ras Celas suggested that Justin 'grow up'. It seems that Justin has grown up much better than the Catholic Church.

If I remember correctly, the story of Sodom and Gommorah, the men of Sodom asked Lot to send out his men that they may know them. Lot refused and instead offered to send out his virgin daughters to do with them as they saw fit. Yes, Lot offered up his young daughters to be raped, to protect the men in his party. Is this the sort of behaviour that Ms Bogle would encourage?

In Ezekiel 16, the problem with Sodom is described as 'pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness ... in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.' Surely this is the real point of the Sodom and Gommorah story? It has nothing to do with consensual relationships between people of the same sex.

Can the Holy Father not focus on encourage people to emulate these qualities, rather than dragging up tenuous evidence to back up an ill-thought out and unnatural prejudice against a sizeable community which throughout the world still today, despite progressive legislation in many countries, suffers from unacceptable amounts of discrimination, repression and hate crime.

Giles Pinnock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ally said...

As we know, the Holy Father is looking at humanity in relation to creation in the bigger picture, much further down the timeline.

I was disappointed , to say the least, at Ms Odone's lack of support of the Holy Father.

Thanks Joanna!

Justin Watkins said...

I posted a reply last night to Ras Celas but it has gone astray. Oh well. I've learnt something about lions and giraffes at any rate.
Happy Christmas all.

Giles Pinnock said...

Joanna's contribution to the Today programme in defence of Ms Odone's rather ill-considered criticisms of the Holy Father hit the nail soundly and squarely on the head. Thank you to her for it.

Am I a 'gay-basher'; do I want to see them lynched? No.

But does that mean I am obliged to accept that their apparent condition of life is in accordance with God's will, to be celebrated and held in equal standing with Christian marriage and family. Most definitely, no.

(this is a corrected version of an earlier comment)

Anonymous said...

Justin, you choose to engage in sexual acts, or not, as the case may be. Whichever option you take, this has an effect on your personality and future feelings. (The effect isn't limited to sex by any means).

Anonymous said...

This is not just a "Catholic" issue.
Evangelical Christians along with the Muslim population take a HUGE issue with homosexuality just to name a few.
The person who wrote about Lions and Giraffes...are you kidding me???
Dogs eat there own vomit ...so what are you suggesting??
When we start looking to the zoo for help on how we live our lives I think that might be a pretty good indicator we are headed the wrong direction.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy -

It's generally a waste of time debating with someone who apparently cannot distinguish between animals and men - but here goes anyway.

You complain of ignorance but ignore your own elementary howlers: it seems to have escaped your attention that humans are not giraffes, lions or even orangutans. Zero for observation, Jimmy.

Noticeably, however, you completely fail to address the biological truth that the lower digestive tract is not a sexual organ: its natural use is to expel waste.

You simply ignore this obvious but - for your case - inconvenient fact.

You also ignore other inconvenient facts.

Whether you like it or not, humanity comes from the love and sexual relations between a man and a woman and not between two people of the same sex.

This is simply an inescapable biological truth pertaining to everyone, including Justin, since he, too, came from such a relationship. You, too, would not be here if it were not so.

Sodomy does not result in the reproduction of new humanity.

You may find the truth "staggering", "flawed" or "weak" but it remains the truth. If you are unable or unwilling even to consider the truth then the intellectual weakness plainly lies in yourself and with your own arguments, not those with whom you disagree.

As to your self-directed rant about schizophrenia you are so clearly talking about yourself that I need add nothing further.

Perhaps we may live in hope that you might be able to advance an argument worthy of the name. You have certainly not do so thus far.

SzukmV said...

The BBC seems to have done with this item what it did with the Regensburg lecture - misrepresenting the Pope's comments with the effect of inciting some people against the Catholic church.

The piece started with: "The Pope has suggested that protecting humanity from homosexual or transexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rain forest." It then went on to qualify that statement, but the damage had been done.

The interviewer later slipped in: "... do you think he has gone further than he has gone before in speaking out against homosexuality with this?". Credit to Christina for not falling into that trap.

I stopped listening to the Today programe years ago because of this dishonesty and shallowness. Credit to Joanna for witnessing in the lions den.

Even allowing for Justin being incited by the BBC's spin, I don't see how he found Joanna's comments insulting and offensive. She did not refer to homosexuality let alone make any insulting comments about it. However, it serves as a warning that free speech and tolerance of differening views are still in danger.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's helpful to look to the animal kingdom to prove the 'naturalness' of human homosexuality.

Animals mate for procreation as they are not interested unless the female is in heat. Where male animals, such as walruses, compete for females at mating time, the unsuccesful males will attempt to mate with each other from frustration at not having females. I suspect that pack animals like lions are similar - the dominant male takes on the pride and the unsuccessful males occasionally turn to each other because there are no available females.

I have no desire to see homosexuals lynched or abused, but equally I don't like the aggressive propagandists for the gay lifestyle who refuse to engage in reasoned debate but scream about hate crimes.

Ras Celas is correct that the lower intestinal tract is not a sexual organ; repeated use of it as such results in weakening of the muscle. I don't want to go into details since the repercussions of this are widely-known. However, surely it's also obvious that this is not equivalent in nature to male/female lovemaking.

Maureen A Jeffs said...

I find Joanna Bogle to be sanctimonius and arrogant. In interviews she talks down anyone putting a different viewpoint - on this occasion the more measured, Christina Odone. Sorry Ms Bogle, you win no points by verbal bullying, you merely irritate. It also suggests that you fear another point of view being expressed.
As the mother of a lesbian daughter, I find the Pope's comments insulting and hurtful. Moreover, like Ms Bogle, he shows his ignorance of some scientific studies which suggest we are all on a continuum from heterosexual at one end to homosexual at the other.
Although my daughter laughed when we met and talked about the Pope's comments, I know that, like me, she found his remarks insulting and hurtful; small wonder she wants little to do with religion. How dare this man suggest those who are gay are as great a danger to our planet as global warming. Does he not realise that such ignorant remarks can lead to some members of society abusing and vilifying those who are different?
As God's so-called Messenger on Earth one would have hoped for a more loving attitude from the Pope. Hopefully, God himself - or herself - is more caring. We are told that God is the creator of everything so, therefore, he created my daughter as a lesbian.
She is a warm and caring human being, and I adore her.
Fortunately, most people disregard the views of the Pope and Ms Bogle. So, as the old saying goes, stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
Maureen A Jeffs
(P.S. Justin Watkins appears to be a very warm and pleasant human being)

David Lindsay said...

Until the very last sentence, you need hold no supernatural belief to accept that the story of the Wise Men happened exactly as recorded by Saint Matthew.

They first follow the natural world (the Star), which leads them to the Bible (the Prophets referred to by Herod’s advisors), which leads in turn to the Christ Child.

And so to the Pope. The gender theory lot are half right. Sex is not just what is between your legs. But nor is it just what is between your ears, either.

Rather, it is written into every cell of the body. You can cut up the tissue any way you like. The chromosomes themselves cannot change. People seeking this surgery obviously do need help. But that surgery itself cannot be the help that they really need.

That is the Pope’s point. He is right. Most people know that he is right. They look at the world and see it: they follow the Star. Well, the Star leads to the Prophets, and the Prophets lead to the Christ Child.

And what of the Pope and homosexuality? What was he attacking? The idea that it is people, rather than acts, that are homosexual.

That idea is not yet forty years old. It post-dates by several years our own humane and necessary decriminalisation of male homosexual acts between consenting adults in private. It is historically and cross-culturally illiterate, as well as totally unscientific.

And it was invented by and for pederasts (many also engaged in “transgender” activities) in a network of bars – such as the Stonewall Inn, a major centre of the abuse of boys – in the urban, coastal America of the early 1970s.

Weakened by the liberal hijacking of the name of Vatican II, we all know what happened next in the Catholic Church. She is only just beginning to recover. But the Pope has made it very obvious that She is recovering. Deo gratias.

Justin Watkins said...

Dear Joanna Bogle -
I posted another reply to Ras Celas on 26th which you haven't made public. Here's the body of my reply, in case you choose to post it this time, which I hope you will. Thanks, JW

Dear Ras Celas –

I wrote a reply to your first posting here, which went missing, as has done another reply to one of the (arguably!) anti-gay postings here. But I’m going to reply to your second posting, and may bring up some of the points I made in the missing reply.

I’ll leave you to work out for yourself where you’ve misread my original posting.

Discrimination against people on account of their sexual orientation is as illegal (in the UK) as is discrimination on ground of religion. You may recall a small matter of Catholic adoption agencies and the law a while back. You and I had both better watch our bigotry or the cops will be knocking at the door.

I’m pretty sure that you were the first person in the blog to mention sodomy, by which I assume you mean anal sex. Anal sex is certainly not something which only same sex male (or female) couples enjoy. It’s more widespread that you’d think among heterosexual couples. You imply that I’m promiscuous – though I’m not sure how you can make this claim as you know as much about my sex life as I do about yours. It’s entirely private.

I was indeed produced by a man and a woman, my parents (and at no point pretended that this was not the case). Perhaps the point to make here is that much (most?) sexual activity is not purely for reproduction. Obviously same sex couples can’t produce children by having sex with one another, but of course they can, and do, have and raise children.

Your point about the lower digestive tract rests entirely on your own definition of ‘natural’ which obviously differs from mine and Jimmy’s. Whether you like it or not, a lot of people have anal intercourse and find it pleasurable. So we could say that it has a sexual function as much as your lips or hands, which are both used to have sex. And let’s not forget that the penis is used for the expulsion of urine as much as it is for penetrative intercourse (anal or otherwise). This fact may be inconvenient for you?

Your response to Jimmy’s posting is disingenuous. It strikes me that Jimmy knows a lot more about animals than either of us, so we might usefully listen to what he has to say. The point he was making about lions and giraffes addressed the question of how one defines ‘natural’. I think his point was well made.

I find your jab at schizophrenia upsetting. It’s a horrible, horrible condition, and if you knew anyone with it you wouldn’t make light of it.

Many thanks, Mr Celas, for such a stimulating pair of postings. It’s a pleasure to exchange views with you. That said, I think you score an own goal with your rant about the importance of tolerance.

Justin Watkins

Colleen said...

I must have missed something in the culture wars. Now we're claiming that homosexuality is all over the animal kingdom? WWDS: What would Darwin say? He'd say that it's an aberration, since it does nothing to promote the continuation of the human species (or any other species).

On the other hand, what with the PROOF of hormonal contraceptive runoffs in the waterways, and the "confused" fish that result in this ecological catastrophe, perhaps more and more in the animal kingdom are being born with these proclivities. So, maybe you're born that way; but a frog being born with five legs doesn't make five-legged frogs a natural, normal thing!

So, I'm willing to concede that nature might play a part with this attraction to the same sex. But only because of environmental exposures to estrogens in the water or the phytoestrogens in the omnipresent soybean. Or, as recent studies have shown, contracepting females are not attractive to males. And let us not forget the areas of the world where there is an overabundance of males because girl babies are being aborted away.

Because if we look to the rest of the animal kingdom as a guide for our behavior, we'll also find a whole bunch of odd characteristics we'd rather not repeat: yes, eating vomit, eating excrement, killing one's mate after reproduction, etc., etc.

I'm quite sure the Pope doesn't mind being hated for stating the Truth. But, Catholic-bashing aside, homosexuality goes against SCIENCE!!!! It doesn't make sense, scientifically. Unless explained in the context I stated above. And it's an aberration.

The civil rights of homosexuals are not being violated. You can live where you want, work where you want, shop where you want. You can call yourself gay, whether I think it is "gay" or not.

However, MY civil rights are being violated if I am not allowed to tell my children that it's not natual. And that science supports religion on this one, as it does in so many other things, as well. I do not see any "conscientious objector" clauses in all the legislation being crammed down our throats on both sides of the Atlantic!

Dru Marland said...

Homosexuality 'goes against science'? -that's an interesting take. If it is natural and an integral part of one's being, which it certainly appears to be (and it's been around a lot longer than oestrogens in the water supply) then it is what you would presumably describe as God-given.

Actually, I take a greater personal interest in how transsexuals got mixed up in this hoo-ha. Far from considering maleness and femaleness to be artificial constructs, the experience of transsexual people appears to confirm the innate nature of sex and, if you like, gender. Which is why they have been attacked by essentialist feminists too. So at least you're in good (or possibly bad) company there, Joanna.

Anonymous said...

Homosexuality is a bit like alcoholism. You cannot become an alcoholic without exposure to drink, and you can't become a homosexual without exposure to sexual activity with the same sex.

However some people won't become alcoholics despite fairly heavy drinking, whilst other will be addicted after only moderate exposure. Similarly some people are more disposed than others to act on homosexual stimuli. A lot of people engage in a bit of homosexual behaviour, say at boarding school, then drop it once they get access to the opposite sex, whilst for others the early sexual experiences set the pattern for later. In both alcoholism and homosexuality once the bahaviour is established it can become difficult to break, with steadily more extreme actions / higher does required to obtain the same effect. Actions and images that once repelled become desired. (This is also true of pornography, it is not unique to homosexuals by any means).

When someone says "I have a homosexual orientation" what he really means is "I am addicted". However that aspect of our psychology is God-given, if you like. It was He who chose that addiction should exist.

Dru Marland said...

Presumably, then, the same is true for heterosexuality too? -this strikes me as a depressingly narrow (not to say jaundiced) interpretation of sexuality of any shade.

Anonymous said...

Justin writes "but I don't feel it is". Fortunately, as a Catholic, I'm taught to deal in objective truth rather than subjective feelings. And buggery is about as natural as trying to feed oneself by poking food in one's ear. If you feel that's natural - fine - but it aint.