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my ordination

17 Jun

legacyordinationA few minutes ago I was ordained. Yes, sitting here in the kitchen with a kitty at my feet and my gmail, facebook and bank  tabs open, I followed in the footsteps of my father and pointed and clicked my way to ordination in the Universal Life Church.

I’ll never forget when he did it. I was knee deep in church culture, and was on a first name basis with lots of so called “movers and shakers” in the church. I would go on about this bishop and that author and he would pretend to be impressed, but I knew he was just trying to make me feel as important as I thought I should feel. One day over lunch he told me “you know you don’t have to go through all that bullshit to be ordained and important in the church honey. Joe Soucheray mentioned you can get ordained online on the radio today and I just did it.” It felt like a playful, sarcastic smack on my church-ey, holy hocus-pocus, apostolic succession havin’, Jesus-lovin’ nerd-pants. No, I am not proud of my self-important, show off ways and a lot has changed since then.

What has changed? Well, me.

First, my dad died. A lot changes in the way your brain and memory works when someone is gone. I know this because after being gone for 14 plus years my mother is officially being petitioned for sainthood in my dreams. The further I get from her being here on earth, the more I can only recall her heavenly qualities. And trust me, not all of her qualities were heavenly. Likewise, the distance of loss that grief offers helps me see and experience my father in a whole new light. Instead of bucking his authority, I now seek his wisdom. He had a lot to teach while he was here, and like most of my first periods of senior year, I am late to his master class.

Second, I am no longer immersed in church culture. It took a massive depressive breakdown to realize that I can love God and love God’s people, but I don’t have to prove my love or worth to either of them. God knows my heart, and God’s people, they are going to love me, hurt me, lie and steal from me, show me grace and kindness whether I am emergent, episcopalian, holistically Jesus centered, missional or not. In short, I’ve said fuck it and just started to love God and love people.

Most importantly I’ve noticed the older I get the more I settle into the soft spaces of me. I have begun to practice (and practice and practice) self compassion. I’ve begun whittling away the log in my own eye, my need to know and worse, my need to be right and traded it in for a clean pair of eyes. Love has taken over most of the spaces of my life, and where love isn’t, grace is.

A few months ago a friend from Solomon’s Porch asked if I would be interested in performing a wedding for some friends of his. I was one of the only people he could think of that might really “get” his friends needs. The friends are a lovely lesbian couple who just moved to Minnesota. And in case you hadn’t heard, starting August 1, these ladies can actually legally wed. So can I (more on that later).

Today I was ordained and I will make a promise to myself and all of you. I will follow in the footsteps of my father, following his golden rule: all things in moderation, except love.

if you don’t know me by now

2 Oct

It was the end of boot camp: Ft. Dix New Jersey, 1990. Drill Sergeant Armstead stepped on to the bus that would take all of us off base for the last time, sending us on to our next step in being a new soldier. I don’t know if he did this for every class; I can’t imagine that he did. As he was saying goodbye, and in his short, bulldog-ish gruff way, began to sing a familiar song: “IF    you-don’t-know     me      by     now …”  he barked as if in cadence. On the bus that day, with his drill hat tipped low across his face, I could swear I saw a tear roll down his face when he “sang” it to us that last time.

This past week I’ve had two facebook friends let me know that they will be voting YES on the proposed amendment that will read as follows on the ballot:

     Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples.
     “Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman.”
o YES         o NO

I’ve aired my hurt feelings in the same place these people let me know their intentions, facebook. I’ve asked for wisdom and taken some time to really sit with the words offered. Here is what I want to say to them, to myself, and to you.

First, facebook for me IS real life. I spend a great deal of time checking in and seeing what my friends both far and near are up to. It has challenged and enhanced my friendships, it has kept me connected to some people who I have met only once, and some—like my beloved—I see nearly every day. The relationships I have on facebook are real and they hold value—the kind I can and have and will cash in on—in my life. My personal page is cluttered with quotes and pictures from things that interrupt my daily sight-lines. These bits and scraps are a real part of me and I share them with you all because I want you to know me, laugh with me, challenge and inspire me. If you are my facebook friend, you are so with my permission and because I hope for a mutual relationship with you.

Secondly, above any other tenant of belief that I hold,  beyond any other thing I know to be real and true, I know that LOVE is at the center of my faith. Love God, love neighbor, love self. You know what happens if you believe this? Love manifests itself in the most unusual places: in broken families and republicans, smelly hippies, pussy riots and Fox news, in old ladies who lunch, closeted queers, and people who you can only understand through flailing body language and broken spanglish. Love is sneaky like that. And you know what else it is? It’s fierce. It can break a heart and rip a crack in your preconceived ideas faster than you can scream: “FUCK!”

Well, it can—that is—if you let it.

A dear friend and priest asked:  do you want to be prophetic (to them) or pastoral (to yourself)? Good question. And you know what, I want both. I have been both; it’s not like I just realized I had these friends. No, I’ve known about some since the last election cycle, some since the Chick-fil-A debacle, and still some I am learning about with each day that passes. I have been salt and light. I have invited you to my wedding, been a part of your life celebrations and you have been at mine. I don’t know what else I can do—my life and love is an open book; come, sit with me, read and listen. But one thing that can’t change—that won’t change, is our gender. We are two women. [cue] If you don’t know me by now, you will never never know me, ooooooooo.

This was what someone said to me:
“Rachel, I think it’s pretty simple to sum up. [His] beliefs are that the term “marriage” is meant between a man and a woman, period. I don’t think he has any “issues” w/the term civil union. You won’t ever change that and it doesn’t make him right or wrong, nor does it make anyone who wants the amendment passed “right” or “wrong”. It is his belief, which he is entitled to, just as you and others are entitled to your belief. Just because he doesn’t feel the same way as you do does not mean that he doesn’t love or care for you (and I’m pretty sure you know that – I am sorry, but shame on you).”

[cue] All the things that we’ve been through, you should understand me, like I understand you…

If you want to hang your hat on a set of beliefs that exclude and draw lines, that dictate your superiority to mine, that is fine by me. But please do not expect for one single minute that you have the right to call me friend on facebook, not even for one more minute. If you would like to take this up face to face—even over email, I would welcome that conversation. I have thought long and hard on this. I have asked for counsel and prayed. My friend Shirley said it best, and so I say: “…bless and release them, for they know not what they do.”

goosed

5 Jul

peace be with you, photo by Amy CliffordMy contribution to the #WGF11 synchroblog. Check out the rest through #WGF11 and here.

The North Carolina summer heat was an unfamiliar country before I arrived at Wild Goose. And southern heat was the lens through which I experienced the festival.  Dramatic, perhaps, but the heat—the humid, sticky, uncomfortable heat—pushed me in strange and beautiful ways.

I came to the Wild Goose Festival because of friends. Friends also asked me to volunteer and get involved, which is my preferred way to experience any event. Unfortunately, my new job (that I love so much) prevented me from going all in—and this colored my whole festival experience (the dark side of my two-ness). I’m already planning how I can get involved next year.

The whole thing was a gamble: an unknown event with an unpublished schedule, in a sweaty locale, out of my element as a participant with only small involvement. But I had hopes and expectations:

  • I hoped to spend time with friends: some meeting face-to-face for the first time or adding flesh to the disembodied voices to whom I’d been talking. Some were chosen family from far-flung places (Nadia, Paul, Mike, ACliff, Jim & Stuart, Seth, Hilary, and more).
  • I looked forward to meeting a few new people. I wanted to go deep but not too wide in my meeting and spending time with others. Events in the past have left me breathless, overwhelmed, and sheepishly trying to remember names.
  • I wanted to hear some specific speakers like Richard Twiss and Richard Rohr, as well as support my friends who were presenting.
  • I hoped my little bit* on Becky Knight’s panel discussion wouldn’t suck.

As for the rest, I had no hope or agenda. I trusted my want to be there, but had no idea what to expect.

Here’s what it WAS for me:

  • There were a lot of people talking about “the queers.” Some speakers were themselves queer, some many were not. It was the dark horse conversation that spilled into every space. This was surprising. I haven’t really experienced a Christian festival/conference/space/conversation that was so obviously hungry for this conversation. It was frustrating because I watched a bunch of posturing, smarty pants talk. Because the conversations were a bit unexpected, I experienced a lack of intentional and generative facilitated conversation, and witnessed several very my-side/your-side, ungracious conversations. Exhilarating: What? we might be able talk about sexuality and NOT relegate it to the LGBTQI community? Right. On. And needed: this conversation will not go away, can not be shoved in a closet, forced on straight people, and is important to the WHOLE of us. My hope is that Wild Goose gave flight to a larger conversation about sexuality—one that belongs to all of us—and like my friend Seth offered, perhaps the queer community can be a gift and blessing to the wider Body of Christ, facilitating healthy dialog about our collective sexual selves. Think less “queers on parade” and more Body of Christ getting down and into our fleshy, tired, hungry, awkward, sexy, orgasm-having selves. ALL OF US. Holy, broken, beautiful.
  • This was the first ever of what hopefully will be an annual event. Whoohoo and well done, organizers! Hopefully, this first event covered all that was EVER necessary of the insider, self-congratulating, hooray-we-finally-got-this-Goose-off-the-ground nonsense. Hopefully we all now know who and whose the Wild Goose Festival is: it is us, and we all belong. I’m sure much was learned about how the second event can outdo the first (and if you need tips, contact me. I’m full of them).
  • Arriving home, I found many folks who didn’t make the gamble of the Goose because they couldn’t figure out what it was, who was welcome, or how it would go. To you: please come, we missed you. Maybe it feels a little like this for you, but that might be the beauty of it?

I survived the heat, spent time with great friends, made news ones, and learned new things–about the conversation being held at the Goose, and about myself. Many moments were sweaty and uncomfortable for me. I struggled with topics and friends and myself. I struggle now to categorize my experience and write about it here. But I remember seeking the small spots of shade with everyone else and the surprising cool breezes that would blow in from time to time, like the smiles and waves of good friends across a field, the embraces of new ones, and settle into the memory of the Goose and her first flight: grateful and glad.

_____________________________________________

* the text of my offering to the panel on sexuality and spirituality

I remember my first kiss; perhaps you do too? Mine was with my childhood next-door neighbor. We were two young girls wondering what kissing would be like—you know—with the older boys. We thought we’d better practice, so we didn’t seem like babies when that first time came along. My first kiss was—I bet—a lot like yours: awkward, maybe a bit toothy and sweet.
I grew up in small town in Minnesota; my mom and dad divorced when I was 6. I had two homes, with two very different styles of parenting. My father was a hippy artist; his religion was nature, sex, and harmless acts of disobedience. He colored outside of the lines, and taught his children that there were no “lines” only guideposts and markers where others have been before.

My mom was a teacher, that kind you remember and dedicate your awards to. She grew up in a crazy family, and as a young girl was raped by a man of the cloth. The only “religion” I got from her was filled with rage and her strange attachment to the 23rd Psalm.

These were my first and primary teachers of spirituality, and though they had no discernible faith, and their first attempt at marriage failed, my parents were together and individually focused on one thing – LOVE. Specifically, their love and hope for me. They told me that I could be anything; do anything. There simply were no limits on the possibility of me.

At the ripe old age of 11, I gave my life to Jesus. With my new boyfriend JC by my side I would continue down the road that my parents set me on, the path of love. He would teach me about love for neighbor, love for the other, love without lines of who deserves it and who doesn’t. He told me following him would be filled with color and risk and heartache, but it would be worth it. I said sure, I went all in.

Love. This is the foundation of my identity, rooted in God and my parents, bound up in the possibility of who I could become—these were the messages I grew up with.

Perhaps you can tell, I am a sucker for LOVE. My first love was a boy, Mark: a sweet, adoring, chunky kid with a wicked sense of humor. After Mark there was Chris, Augie, Ian and Michael. Oh Michael, my first fiancé. Yes, I did say first, he was the first of 5 marriage proposals. My beloved Ratchet says its not the third but fifth time that is a charm. Anyway—you get the picture—I was active in dating and love as a young person.

In 1994 I fell in love again. But this time he was a she, and she was my best friend. I had just moved home from living in the US Virgin Islands. She still lived there, and now I was at home, in Minnesota. My heart ached being apart from her, like it ached when a boy broke up with me. What on earth was this feeling—cripes—I had never even kissed her! But I knew it was her heart, not her gender that mattered to me.

I’ll never forget telling my mom, she was my best friend and person I told all of my secrets to. Unflappable, she told me it was either a phase, or I was queer: a lesbian or bisexual maybe. Then I remember how she held me while we cried, and not because I was different, but because I was heartbroken. She never skipped a beat, never struggled with what was my first “coming out” moment.

I told my friend that I thought I loved her; it didn’t go well, freaked her out actually. I didn’t understand her reaction. She was angry and ended our friendship. I was devastated BUT knew that something had shifted in me.

I was hurt, but open.

When inviting us to this panel, Becky asked us to answer the question “If I could say only one thing about sexuality and spirituality, it would be … dot dot dot.” Well it is a long way to get here, but this is what I want to share:

I believe that God is in fact love, and that love is what we are here to participate in, share and give away, lavishly and unbound.

I believe that God is a genderless God, one that has aspects of he and she, but is in no way limited to these constructs of gender.

I am a follower God in the way of love, who is best reflected to me in and through the life of Jesus.

I have a gift, bisexuality. I do not experience the limitations of gender when the topic of love, more specifically sex, arises. I believe it is a gift because it has given me eyes to see a much needed way of viewing the world, church and people—not in binaries, black or white, but in full color.

My parents and Jesus taught me to be not afraid and now this is MY message. Be not afraid of your love, your bodies, your sex and your imagination for what love is “supposed” to look like. Where else do you see “supposed to’s” and “should be’s” living up to their promises anyway?

I have had moments of certainty in my faith. I am super Christian, hear me roar. And then, out of nowhere, I am knocked flat on my ass—a parents death, a love lost—and I am left with nothing but grief and questions.

I have lost my faith, in God and life. Still … here I am.

I have had moments in trying to figure out my identity that have offered the same type of certainty. I would proclaim to my eye rolling friends “I am a lesbian!” and then weeks later end up retracting my bold proclamation, citing my new love Tim or Ken or whatever his name was.

I have learned that these moments of certainty are not at all certain, and cannot be taken individually, nor do they define the whole. They are just that, moments. Each meant to be lived faithfully, with grace and openness.

Now, the only “I AM” I proclaim in any sort of certainty is that of the capital I AM. I believe in God, and in God’s unrelenting love for me and the world.

You’ve no doubt heard the Woody Allen quote “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Well my friends, when it comes to sexuality and spirituality, perhaps we would all benefit from stopping our bold proclamations and assertions, about what definitely is and what isn’t, and just settle into love, the kind that passes all understanding.

_________
The rest of the amazing and beautiful Wild Goose Festival posts are as follows:

words have power: pro-gay?

21 Jan

Words have power. The “are the gays ok?’ debate rages on (hey, I’m starting to have some rage, really are we STILL talking about this?!?). People have been using this term and I wanted to throw it out there for you to weigh in.

words are not just words: language matters

The word: Pro-gay

Like in this letter from the Executive Director of the GCN (Gay Christian Network) about their upcoming gathering. The letter starts out:

Since we announced that bestselling Christian author Philip Yancey would be addressing the GCN conference in 2011, questions have been flying, online and offline. “Is Philip Yancey pro-gay?” some have asked. “What are his views on homosexuality?” “Why would he agree to speak to this conference?” “Why would GCN invite him in the first place?”

And in a comment thread recently discussing Cathleen Falsani’s article in the HuffPost about Evangelical Christianity having a great “Gay Awakening” someone commented:

…I think that as evangelical leaders come out as pro-gay, they will be pushed out of the primary circles of evangelical influence…

Look, I don’t mean to be a negative nelly, I am all about your love and support of “the gays” but here is my position (which apparently I am in the minority here): Language matters. Words have power. When I hear someone be described as “pro-gay” I hear the same connotation as someone being pro-life, like there is some sort of stake in the ground and (GD) their position is firm and immoveable. So there. (stick tounge out)

The term seems ripe with hostility, division and sided-ness. What is the opposite of pro-gay—anti-gay? I asked someone that question, asked if that was really possible, and a number of people answered with a resounding YES (and several “likes”). Really?

Heres the deal: I am really struggling with the idea of someone being pro-gay. I think someone could come out in support of LGBTQ people, or in support of any of the variety of issues or laws that discriminate against them. But here’s the thing—being “gay” or “queer” is more than one issue, and the language of “pro” feels like it rolls it all up into one neat package and puts some sort of seal of heterosexual approval on it, and I find that to be short-sighted and even offensive.

So friends of all backgrounds and persuasions, will you please weigh in?

come out come out: so, in conclusion?

26 Oct

Dear friend(s):

Gosh, who would have guessed the conversation could be so civil, so productive, huh? I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. I’m grateful that you have allowed the conversation to be out in the open, and huge thanks to everyone who has joined us for the discussion.

I think a few points have bubbled to the top for me, and I thought I would just throw them up against the wall like spaghetti and see if they stick.

What is the role of the “church” vs. the role of the the individual when talking about coming out? What does a hard and fast (or even soft and cuddly) statement of faith do for and to a community, other than exclude or include depending on where you self identify—right or left, conservative or liberal, black or white? I love the way Peter Rollins talks about it when he says:

The apostle Paul once famously remarked that in Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.  He does not say that there are both Jews and Greeks, both slaves and free, both men and woman. Rather this new identity with Christ involves the laying down of such political, biological and cultural identities. This is not an expression of ‘both/and’ but rather ‘neither/nor’. Today this idea can seem almost offensive to our ears. In many churches we find flags proudly hanging in acknowledgment of our nationality and we seek to express our political and religious ideas as a vital and irreducible part of who we are. But what if the church is called to provide a space where, just for a moment, we encounter one another as neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free? And what if Paul didn’t just mean these three categories, as if all the others remained intact? What if he was implying that there is neither black nor white in Christ, neither rich nor poor, neither powerful nor powerless? What if we could go even further and say that the space Paul wrote of was one in which there would be neither republican nor democrat, liberal nor conservative, orthodox nor heretic?

What if the role of the church was to be that suspended space, set apart from the rest of the world, or perhaps to even practice how we live that sort of neither/nor beyond the confines of the community gathered? Also, I love that Kati was the one to call SP a “queer-friendly” church. But even her saying that made me feel funny.

Alison asks some really challenging questions: what role does SP have in changing the larger world? Then essentially she asks: WWJD? (“Would Jesus want churches to have a role in working for change in the larger world?”) Now, without falling into the trap of one person speaking on behalf of the whole community (which was really well put in your comment Croghan) I think it is the one place we are really good about saying what we as a community of faith are about and how we imagine ourselves working for change in the world—in both word and practice. While it isn’t an exhaustive list, I like “Our Dreams.”  Vague, yes, perhaps. But I know I can see myself in many of those bulletpoints. And I bet the way that I see myself looks different than somone else in the community.

If the community of Solomon’s Porch were to make a public and worded statement about LGBTQI people, I have to wonder, what would change? Not just externally, but within the community that exists? There is a point where I find it really hard to ask someone/something to do something, if I myself am not willing or able to walk along side and offer my support to the change. This I think is the stuff I am wrestling with. I hear the desire to have every single church take a stand—but is taking a stand what God asks of us? I am just not sure about that anymore.

I have been a part of MANY communities of faith in the Twin Cities. Did whether they said they welcomed me make a difference in my walking in the door? Yes, sometimes. Did I send emails asking explicitly if I was welcome? Yes, and sometimes they said yes, but really meant/practiced as a big fat NO. I am not sure about you, but for a long time I’ve become quite good at being able to read between the lines when a church’s statement of faith/purpose/belief/______ reads “your kind ain’t welcome here” or on the flip side “look you bigoted jerk, we love everyone, deal with it.” At the porch I didn’t ask, I just showed up. And I kept showing up. And by showing up I have been not only invited but told to add my voice, which changes the dynamics of the community, which changes the landscape of who SP is. If I had asked and “they” (who is they–Doug? The band who writes our music as a form of expression and language? Is it the artists whose work surrounds the gathering space?) said they were affirming, and I had expectations around that—what would those expectations mean or look like for the community? How are they or aren’t they being met? How much am I responsible for those expectations?

We decided to do a “soapbox sermon” because someone wrote an email to Doug asking if SP was a “gay friendly” church. He passed it on to us to answer (modeling that he is not the chief in charge know it all/has all the answers pastor). We answered the email. That person did show up, once. I have followed up with her, stayed connected on facebook, and generally checked in/lurked on her page to see how she is. She has not come back, I am not sure if she will. Sometimes, that is the way it goes. She is on her journey, just as we all are. I trust that somewhere in the Kingdom/KIN-dom, she will find her place in a community that works for her. I am glad we got to be a small sliver of a place along the way, that could meet her where she was at and say, come, check us out, I’ll sit next to you so you can feel safe.

I’ve got a bunch more stuff rambling around in my head, but I can’t pull it together in a cohesive thought. So I think I’ll just hit the post button and come back for more later.

(Also: Tony Jones posted today what I think looks to be a fascinating conversation, perhaps somewhat related. Check it out.)

come out come out: WWSS (what would sweetie say)

21 Oct

This post is a part of an ongoing set of posts that is an email exchange between a friend and me. See here and here and here and here (in that order) for previous posts and comments (or just scroll down to earlier posts, but don’t miss the comments). Thank you SO much for lending your voice to the conversation.

So, have you wondered to yourself: WWSS (what would sweetie say) about all of this? Well, wonder no more. This is what she has to say, offering her 2 cents, to this conversation.

Thanks everyone for this great and challenging conversation.

Reading through all this made me go back and actually look at our soapbox sermon where this all started. A couple of things strike me:

My main point in my part of the sermon was to give back the gift that the Porch has given to me. I noted that our sermon stemmed from Doug’s request to answer an email about the Porch, “because he thought it would be better to have an answer from people within the community rather than his answer.”

I like that you, Doug, walk your talk. I know what I will get from you. You don’t claim to be chief-in-charge and you are consistent in your words and actions. You have opinions and you say what you would or will do. And you often encourage me to have my opinions and do what I would and will. I think the set-up of the Porch as a holistic community and the style of Doug’s leadership (as well as other structures at the Porch) are critical pieces for this conversation. If SP was a church that was organized hierarchically or more traditionally, with an “I’m the leader” leader at the helm, I might want more of that from Doug. But that’s not what I was told I’d get, it isn’t what I find, and so it is not what I expect. When considering the Porch, I think it’s important not to compare with general notions of “church.” Things—big, important things—get lost there. It’s hard for me to hear “churches should …” and lump the Porch community into that. It just doesn’t work for me—and that’s a faith challenge that I need and one that is helping me to grow in new ways.

I am struggling with things said here about the responsibility and call to all Christians to advocate for and act on behalf of the oppressed. That seems right-on to me, but I can’t translate that into a need for the Porch to generate a public statement of LBGTQI affirmation. I wouldn’t be upset if a public affirmation happened, but it feels like a plasticized version of something already going on at the Porch … hmm, I’m not sure I can explain this thought-feeling. It’s what I was trying to say in our sermon here:

“The porch community seems like the most real expression we’ve ever had of real people struggling with real issues, celebrating real joys, and actively practicing Christianity in a real way–in spite of and along with whoever each of us are.”

In my re-reading of our sermon, I also noted that our whole email (and sermon about it) was predicated on the fact that we couldn’t—or wouldn’t—answer the question posed: “if the porch was gay and lesbian friendly and accepting” in a simple way. Rachel said, “I hope its okay, but the best way for me to answer is a sort of a round about way.” Here is another place where big important things about the Porch community would be lost had we simply said, “yes: the Porch is gay and lesbian friendly and accepting.” Our roundabout story is more authentic, more compelling, and contains both the happiness and love we feel and the warning: if you need a public statement, you won’t find it. But the people are awesome and that’s worth coming to see for yourself.

I love what Adam C. says. Right on, Adam.

I find these conversations to be much like trying to convince people who don’t like Brussels sprouts that they are really good. No amount of butter, bacon, and cheese in the world is going make someone like them if their taste buds say otherwise. We all need things from our communities—some we can choose to go without, some we can rationalize away, and some we won’t live without. Rachel’s conversation partner says, “I am no longer willing to be in communion with people who won’t take a stand for the oppressed.” Awesome to know and articulate what you must have. We should probably all spend more time figuring that out and going places where we find what we need.

The one thing I believe will change the world on LBGTQI issues is young people: kids and youth. And they aren’t reading the Web site or the church sign. They are watching and asking questions. Young people—like all of us—are taught to hate and taught to believe.

I’d much rather have all the folks at Solomon’s Porch commit to monitoring and directing the media intake of children (theirs and any with whom they have influence), reading to them, telling them about the world with open minds and hearts, and answering their questions, rather than forming and publicizing statements of affirmation. I hope that Sweetie and I are doing our part to create a better world by holding hands at the Porch and giving joyous sermons. I hope some kid notices.

Random reflections of Ratchet. [editors note: that’s what we call her at SP and in the company of good friends] Thanks again everyone for this good thinkin’. I’m pretty sure Jesus would like it—all of it—and that the Holy Spirit is moving here.

come out come out: then they said …

20 Oct

This post is a part of an ongoing set of posts that is an email exchange between a friend and me. See here and here and here (in that order) for previous posts and comments (or just scroll down to earlier posts, but don’t miss the comments). I am intentionally not jumping into the conversation in the comments (just yet), but am glad to have my friend in the mix, and I am deeply listening to what each of you has offered. Thank you SO much for lending your voice to the conversation.

My friend replied (with a caveat of a head cold in case of fuzzy headedness):

i’m struck by your comment: “I think you are right—saying nothing is/can be dangerous. But so is saying something. Definitive statements draw circles, who is in, who is out. I just can’t be the one drawing those circles for the whole Body of Christ.” i think in some ways you’re right: conversations about doctrine or practices can make an in and out crowd. i totally get that. but i think there is also a point where one needs to say “NO” this is not acceptable. this is not what we are about. No, we do not condone spousal abuse. No, we do not condone racism. Does that leave some people outside of the circle? maybe. but there comes a point where, while praying and working for their reunification and healing you have to also say your presence or stance or attitude is harmful to our community.

i, too, want people to work things out in their own way and their own time. I get that there needs to be time and space for that to happen. and I’m okay with that. hell, it took me years to come to terms with my own life. i understand people have issues to work out. i’m okay with them being silent. but for those who have worked out the issues and who are afraid/refuse to take a stand because they will lose sway within whatever larger evangelical world in which they live, that i have a problem with. and i think that is what is happening with some of the spokespeople for solomon’s porch. and it’s toward them that my anger and frustration is directed.

and i TOTALLY HEAR YOU on not wanting to be “that” voice every time. and that’s why i want some of the straight folks to take a stand. i don’t want to be seen as “the trans guy”. i don’t want to have to be a walking educational flyer for people. i don’t want my other gifts and hobbies to be so overshadowed by this “queer” thing that that’s all people see when they look at me. which is why i need other people to be good allies. to do their homework and to advocate. and quite frankly when i was in my own discernment process about queer issues i really needed to hear from straight christians that queerness was okay. that would have meant the world to me.

and when i say that solomon’s porch needs to take a stand it’s coming from that place. it’s not that i need everyone to be at the same place in their journey, but i need for the folks who ARE at a place of acceptance to be gently nudging the others along. i need doug to not just say to me, “well, there are queer people here and we’re friendly” in my response to asking if solomon’s porch is queer friendly. he needs to be able to answer that question better. because what his words do is say, this is not a safe place for you. we’ll be nice to you, but we won’t support your “lifestyle”. that’s what i hear in his statement and that’s what i find so damaging.

and in light of all of the recent queer youth suicides the line that keeps echoing through my head (as a conviction to me) is “your silence will not save you.” i struggle with my own complicity because while i speak out for queer folks all the time, i also have the privilege of being invisible as a queer person. which doesn’t really relate directly to our conversation but i thought i would share it. i am just convicted in that when people DON’T take a stand, in effect they are taking a stand. if i don’t speak up when someone says something shitty because i don’t want to be seen as queer then i am at fault. if someone doesn’t stand up and speak out against bullying they are in effect saying that bullying is okay.

and again, none of this is to gang up on you or even solomon’s porch. instead i’m trying to speak to a larger issue that i see within the emergent church conversation.

i don’t want you to have to be or do anything you don’t feel called to. you deserve a place to simply be yourself and to worship.

anyway, hope this all makes sense. i am loving being able to have this respectful conversation with you.

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