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.