|French Gen. Robert Nivelle|
If Joseph Bottum’s 6,000-word Commonweal ramble, “The Things We Share,” doesn’t read or feel like a structured argument for Catholic acceptance of same-sex marriages, that’s because it’s not — the subtitle (“A Catholic Case for Same-Sex Marriage”) notwithstanding. Rather, it’s the erstwhile First Things editor’s story of how and why he came to strike the flag of opposition. Some of his statements of fact are so wrong, you can’t help but howl with either rage or laughter. But you can’t fault as an argument that which never pretended to be an argument.
In fact, if there were just one fault (there are more, I promise), it’s precisely that it is Bottum’s personal conversion story, as it were, and not a real case against further resistance. For by the time he actually gets down to the meat of his contentions, he’s lost half his audience through lack of interest. In the combox for Matthew J. Franck’s rather impatient takedown in First Things, “Joseph Bottum, Weary and Wearisome,” at least two or three people admit they couldn’t get all the way through it.
Sorry, Jody, either your life or the way you wrote about it is just not that gripping. Next time, cut to the chase.
Moreover, throughout Bottum’s essay you can pick up strains that tell us he isn’t comfortable with the idea of surrender. For instance, in discussing David Blankenhorn’s New York Times flip-flop, Bottum muses that it’s “not enough for a Catholic to say that legal fairness and social niceness compel us.” And of the anti-Christian element who use SSM as a stick to bash the Church with, he snarls, “if that’s what the same-sex marriage movement is really about … then to hell with it.”