Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Michael Coren's latest plea for attention

In his most recent, and obviously hurriedly composed book (Epiphany), social commentator and former Catholic Michael Coren recounts once again the case for the social normalization of homosexual relationships and the re-definition of marriage. There is nothing new or perceptive here. 

Amidst half-truths about the Catholic Church, like the claim that the annulment of a marriage is really just Catholic divorce, Coren puts on full display his animus towards those who have taken his rejection of the Catholic faith seriously.

A long litany of the mean words written and spoken about him makes up the first third, at least, of the book. Coren seems to have forgotten the maxim that the least convincing defender of one’s actions is oneself. The actual issue of homosexual marriage seems to be something of a backdrop to the recounting of the wounds inflicted upon Coren who displays himself as a conscience-driven martyr to the cause.

Between the lines, however, one might read that Coren's career, his speaking engagements, etc., has not been going so well since he jumped ship.  There are plenty of “gay” advocates out there and they are in the ascendency at the moment.  An aging former archconservative (and a pretty vituperative one at that) who has “seen the light,” or at least something of the romantic evening glow, is not so much in demand on radio, T.V. and the lecture circuit. Surprised?

Perhaps Coren’s least convincing special pleading is seen in his attempt in this book to resurrect the canard about the close friendship between Blessed John Henry Newman and Fr. Ambrose St. John.  He ignores the distinguished scholarship of Ian Ker in his definitive biography John Henry Newman: A Biography as well as the conclusions of others including the often Catho-phobic John Cornwell.  The scholars have dealt with the evidence and concluded that the Newman/ St. John friendship was just that: friendship; Coren presumes to know better. 

Overlooking the Victorian context of close male friendships and without advancing any new evidence Coren simply asserts that since Newman and St. John were close friends in a celibate community they must have been in some kind of perhaps repressed sexual relationship. This comes after Coren has just spent pages complaining that the conjectures of others are unfair when they have presumed to speculate about his own sexual history. 

What this attack on Newman could possibly have to do with the sacrament of marriage leaves Catholics querulous and Coren looking like an increasingly desperate debater looking for a hook to hang his ideas on.

The Newman case along with Coren's use of gay jargon in recounting the stories of several disaffected and laicized priests offers nothing new. It's the same old narcissistic argument: I should be able to do what I want to do and society should conform to my choice. 

Coren argues his case for the redefinition of marriage in the same way in which he used to throw around right-wing cant.  There is nothing new and little of interest apart from self-interest coming from a journalist who has rejected what he recently claimed in one of his books: “Why Catholics are Right.”

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