A Strange Thing Happened on the Way to Notre Dame

So there was a conference down in South Bend last weekend called “Gay In Christ.” I went because anything to do with homosexuality and the Catholic Church is of interest to me. I’ve gotten to know some of the presenters in person, and I’m familiar with their writing and thoughts. With a conference taking place so close to home I needed to try and go.

Something strange since has happened, however. I asked a question of one of the presenters, Ron Belgau of Spiritual Friendship. A reporter who was there apparently tweeted that “things got awkward” as a result of my question, and then implied in a report he filed about the conference that I had attended the conference merely to hear Belgau’s talk. Which is just silliness.

You can read the full report here.

Here’s the pertinent portion:

Courage, a familiar Catholic organization that claims to help people with same-sex attraction or “homosexual desire,” was not officially involved with the conference. Some tension arose when a member of Courage—who seemed to only attend the very first night specifically for Ron Belgau’s presentation—vocally pushed back at the idea that Courage’s twelve step program to help overcome homosexual desires was not effective or even “Catholic enough.” The group encourages members to avoid identifying as gay or lesbian, which is perhaps why they weren’t involved in the conference. Yet the shift in language was necessary in order for the conference to discuss LGBT people as more than just sexual acts.

Now, that’s a case of bad journalism. I planned to go for both days, and I made it for John Cavadini’s opening remarks, heard Ron Belgau’s talk, then heard Wesley Hill’s talk. I’ve heard Wesley Hill speak several times and I always enjoy what he has to say. I’m probably most familiar with Belgau’s thinking of anyone at the conference and was far more interested in the second day’s talks. I had hoped to stick around to hear portions of the third talk of the day by Chris Roberts, since I’ve heard great things about him, but I was keeping an eye on the weather. Anyone who was in South Bend that day knew that it felt like the middle of winter.  The problem for me is that I had to perform in the pit for a production of Carmen that night, and with good weather, the trip home is a bit over two hours’ drive. I decided I needed to hit the road before the third talk began to make sure I made it home for the downbeat at 7:30.


I went straight home after my production, and then set the alarm for 5:45. I got up, showered, and while it was still dark I headed south towards South Bend.

I was exhausted however, and about half way to South Bend, I decided to turn around and head back home. I didn’t even make it all the way home before having to pull over and sleep in a rest area before I finally rolled back home and crashed for a few hours.

Dawn Eden who attended the conference with me was as surprised as I was to see the quote about things getting tense, and the bad journalism on the part of Eliel Cruz, the reporter for the event.

She wrote a piece today for the blog “GetReligion” which you can read in full here. Dawn quotes from an email I wrote here about the article by Cruz:

I was most interested in the second day’s talks, to be honest, and was disappointed that I wasn’t able to make it back down to South Bend because of my work schedule.

Pretty straight forward, it seems to me. But then someone in the com-box wrote a rather snarky comment to Dawn:

What’s more, the fact is that your friend, Mr. Mattson, by his own admission, did travel to South Bend specifically to hear the presentation in question, and then left. So, the RNS blogger was right.

Facts are stubborn things, Ms. Eden, though you may try to twist them to meet your ends. I would expect a self-described conservative, of all people, to understand that. Or, maybe I just don’t understand hypocrisy as well as I should.

Facts are indeed stubborn things. Especially if you don’t know them yet.

It’s all rather strange to me, and I don’t understand why the fact a question was asked was “news,” or that someone “pushed back” during a Q&A period is worth reporting about.

I sure wish I could have been there Saturday, but instead I got a well needed nap.


7 thoughts on “A Strange Thing Happened on the Way to Notre Dame

  1. Yeah, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it, so to speak. And your intentions, be they public or private, are your intentions. Why should they give a shit? Even if you were there for one talk and even if you “pushed” back on misrepresentations of Courage, so what? Things got tense? Big deal. You represented Courage truly and rightly? Then members of Courage owe you thanks. (And I don’t know why it pleases me that you are friends with Dawn Eden, but it does.) Ms. Eden’s column has it right: it’s not objective journalism, but advocacy “journalism.” And again, that is fine as long as they disclose that – which they don’t – but I should add, it doesn’t take one too long to figure that out tooling around said Twitter account and RNS column. But I didn’t find the snarky comment – maybe the commenter wisely removed it after realizing that “facts are facts” – if so, then I commend them for coming to their senses.

    I know it’s hard to be publicly misrepresented (shit, it’s horrible enough to be privately misrepresented), but by their fruits ye shall know them. You know your heart, and we know you, Dan, and trust you through your work. I appreciate what you are doing and pray for you (and us) daily.

    • Thanks for the kind words. It was just very odd and strange–and you’re right. It doesn’t matter really. I suppose I wanted to write this because it was critical of Dawn Eden, who has become a very dear friend indeed.

      I think the comment was deleted, thankfully. God bless, and thanks!

  2. At the end of the Bread of Life Sermon Jesus states: “It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail.”

    Mother Teresa said (paraphrasing) The Gospel was meant to be simple, it is man that complicates it…….

    After looking into the “Spiritual Friendships” site I noticed the line ……”Rehabilitating the Church’s concept of eros”……….Why?

    Why doesn’t this group tap into the deeper well of Agape ? It would be a heck ‘ a lot more fruitful.

    Why settle for less when the Heavenly Banquet is available ?

    God Bless You Mr. Matson, you stand on solid truth, solid rock, I place myself in your corner if any of this would become a boxing ring of “Truth vs The Lie”

  3. Sorry that happened to you Dan – this is why I could never do what you do – I wouldn’t be able to remain the gentleman you always seem to be. Dawn is to be commended as well, ever since she published her first book she has been hounded by critics ready to discredit her as well.

    Take it as a sign you are really doing the Lord’s work.

    Prayers and best wishes for you both!

  4. November 9, 2014……Is there anyone in our generation that can forget the Spiritual significance of this day?

    25 Years ago an “Era of Peace” entered our world…..this is not so much a Christian song, although I wish there was a Christian song that adequately expressed the collective Spiritual sentiment of that era………but, this song and it’s imagery are Spiritually powerful.

    God Bless your work on “Truth” Dan…….I am certain many “walls” will fall as you continue to share and express your love of Veritas


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