Saturday, March 24, 2012

But Some of My Best Friends are Left-Handed. . . And I Have Family . . .

painting of left hand reaching to grab for something

"There is a distinction between left-handedness and the act of writing left-handedly. For most of us the distinction remains exactly that, and has no moral consequences.

We would understand that a left-handed person forced to write right-handedly owing, say, to having their left arm in a plaster cast, or a right-handed person forced to write left-handedly for analogous reasons, would, with some difficulty, be able to learn to do so.

These people would in some sense be acting contra natura. But the use of the hand appropriate to their handedness would be entirely unremarkable.

Now, imagine that, involved in a Catholic discussion, you find yourself addressing a left-handed person.

You say: "Any left-handed writing you do is intrinsically wrong; and in fact the inclination we call left-handedness must be considered objectively disordered."

The only justification for using the distinctions in this way is if you have received, from quite other sources, the sure knowledge that right-handedness is normative to the human condition, anything else being some sort of defect from that norm, and yet you don’t want entirely to condemn the person who has a strong tendency to left-handed writing.

No, it seems to me quite patent that here we have an unwieldy bid to fit a reality into an acceptable framework, rather than learning from reality how to adjust a now unreliable framework.

Any left-handed person, faced with the above logic, would know that the one addressing them really does regard them as a defective right-handed person, rather than a normal left-handed person.

Any insistence on the part of the one who is addressing them that they are not calling them "disordered" as a person would be seen to be the humbug that it is."

- Gay theologian Fr. James Alison.

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