Friday, January 05, 2007

The press goes Wilde!

The Vatican goes Wilde - Belfast Telegraph

What is going on? After all, this is the Church that brands as an "intrinsic moral evil" the homosexual acts for which Wilde's catamite, Lord Alfred Douglas, coined the phrase "the love that dare not speak its name". Wilde was, after all, a byword for the decadence upon which the Victorian values of the age showered ignominy.

Yet it is only the latest such rapprochement. Six years ago, on the centenary of Wilde's death, the Vatican-backed Jesuit quarterly La Civilta Cattolica praised the homosexualist author of such cynical aphorisms such as "there is no sin except stupidity", and "a thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it".

Wilde's writings, said Fr Antonio Spadaro, in the years that followed his two-year sentence of hard labour in Reading jail for "acts of gross indecency with other male persons", demonstrated spiritual values and an "understanding of God's love" that revealed he had seen into the depths of his own soul after a lifetime of "degradation, vanity and frivolity".

Vatican comes out of the closet and embraces Oscar - Times Online

Vatican embraces gay icon -

Oscar Wilde, long claimed by the gay community as the ultimate bitchy queen, has been embraced by one of Pope Benedict’s closest advisers.

The book is designed to "stimulate a reawakening in certain Catholic circles," Fr Sapienza told Italian paper La Repubblica.

"Our role [as Christians] is to be a thorn in the flesh, to move people’s consciences and to tackle what today is the number one enemy of religion — indifference."

While no-one would argue that the present Pontiff has indeed been a thorn in the flesh of liberal-minded Christians across the world, the inclusion of Wilde in a Catholic-endorsed book has puzzled many Vatican watchers. [Why? Just because he was gay? Tsk.]

Included in the inspirational book are some of Wilde’s best known sayings.

Although his remarks were designed to appear spontaneous, Wilde in fact spend many hours honing his bon mots, in much the same way that today’s homosexuals spend time at the gym perfecting a 'natural' physique.

While Wilde has been claimed as a gay icon, the famous playwright would never have recognised himself as such, being married with children.

He did, however, coin the phrase, "the love that dare not speak its name" in his meditation on desire and punishment, The Ballad of Reading Gaol.

Father Sapienza claims that Wilde will be remembered not for his fall from grace, convicted and imprisoned for gross indecency in 1895 and sentenced to two years hard labour, but rather for his powerful body of work.

Wilde himself flirted with Catholicism during his lifetime, but once said, "To go over to Rome would be to sacrifice and give up my two great Gods: money and ambition."

In the end Wilde opted for that most convenient way to hedge one’s bets - a deathbed conversion.

As I said yesterday, there is no reason why this book should be a shock. Unless the good Father's book is full of indecent and lewd comments (which I'm assuming it's not), then I don't get it. Clever, thoughtful sayings are to be engaged and thought about, not ignored. By engaging them on their own level and considering them and what they mean, Christians can better engage the world at large that has embraced such words that lend so much credence to our instant gratification society.


Embajador en el Infierno said...

Want to know the "real" Oscar Wilde?. Do read this excellent article by Andrew Mccracken. I am sure it will all then come into context.

Jacob said...

That is a great link, thank you. I just find it amusing that in the popular press, the fact that he was gay somehow makes him persona non grata as a topic of interest for Catholic priests.

Of course, his fascination with the Catholic Church only merits allegedly funny quips about deathbed confessions and hedging one's bets...