Archive for the ‘evangelicals’ Category
So I know many people have been anxiously waiting to hear from me about what has been happening as I travel for justice. There’s just been so much going on that I haven’t been able to write down my thoughts about everything that’s happening.
Baltimore, Feb. 25th-Mar.3rd
The train took me from Syracuse to New York City and then on to Baltimore, with me being one of the last arrivals Thursday evening. And because doing absolutely nothing all day is most draining of activities I had to go to sleep immediately. Can’t start this wonderful 2 month journey with a sleep deficit can I? Lots happened over that week, but the one thing that I wanted to describe was an exercise that Mel White did with us. As part of our nonviolence exercises we were required to step into the shoes of the most hateful extremist and then interact with another of the Riders in that role. We were required to spew all of those things that we’ve heard in the past at our friends. We got in each others faces. We made each other cry. We made ourselves cry. I actually found it to be more difficult to vocalize that hatred, than it was to take it. Essentially, we’ve grown accustomed to hearing these things, but how can anybody ever spew such hateful things at another human being? If they think that this is Love, then I must conclude that they have never known the touch of Love in their lives. And that is something to mourn.
Valley Forge Christian College, Mar.4th-Mar.7th
VFCC is an Assemblies of God institution near Philadelphia and was our first campus stop on the Ride this year. And what a way to start out. The administration from the very beginning of hearing that we would be visiting insisted that we not show up. They were not interested in having any sort of discussion, and they were insistent that their students not have any discussions with us. Because of the threat of expulsion from the school simply based on talking with us, we unfortunately did not have any face to face conversations with current students. But we could see that students were watching from the buildings and as we left for the day we could see them waving to us. Even if we were not able to talk directly to students, we know that somebody that needed to hear us did so, and hopefully that spark that we created will contribute to the fanning of the flames of this conversation for this community. While we held vigil outside this campus, we also spent the day trying to deal with a group called Repent America. Similar to Westboro Baptist Church, this group travels to many queer related happenings in Pennsylvania and uses their bullhorns and signs to proclaim their hate message. When the members of our group attempted to engage in conversation with them and offered their hands, the response was a refusal to shake and a complete twisting of our words.
Fortunately, our entire time in Philadelphia was not spent around such hostility. Members of the local Metropolitan Community Churches joined us at the College, and then welcomed us into their churches. They fed us, talked with us, and filled up our love tanks, knowing that our experiences in this community would not be the only ones that were less than welcoming. We worshiped at Imago Dei MCC on Sunday morning, which was actually my first time worshiping in an MCC setting. And it was moving. Hearing the word of God from a such a queer perspective and participating in Communion with a primarily queer group was life-giving in a way that I have not experienced in quite some time. And while the MCC is not my home, I greatly appreciated their ministry to me while I was in their midst.
Houghton College, Mar.7th-Mar.10th
After leaving Philadelphia, we headed up to Houghton College in upstate New York, which is my home turf. This stop had the potential to be very triggering for me personally, as I was a student at Houghton for five semesters, a time that I spent deeply in the closet. While I was at Houghton, I struggled greatly with my sexuality, primarily because their was an enormous silence around the issue. Was there really anybody that I would be able to talk to about this secret of mine. Because of my history with the College, our conversations with the administration had been “interesting.” So having been in charge of planning everything my stress level was a bit high going into this visit. But regardless of my expectations for this visit, the reality of that day on campus far surpassed anything I could have imagined. Despite the limited interactions that we were given to have with students, the students came out in force, wanting to hear what we had to say, wanting to hear our stories. Houghton College is fertile ground. We had straight students coming out as allies, we had queer students identify themselves as such to various Riders. After hearing the statistic that 1 in 4 Houghton students “struggles with same-sex attraction” I personally wish that more of those students would have identified, but I know that each of us must go through that in their own time. And even if they haven’t publicly identified themselves yet, I know that our shattering of the silence on this campus has enabled them to move one step closer to living their lives as their authentic G0d-created selves. Whether it was coming out to themselves, coming out to a close friend, or coming out to a Rider, any of these movements is welcome to me, and the smallest shift to them accepting themselves makes the entire experience worth it.
We created a safe space while on the campus of Houghton College, and from the energy that I saw amongst the students there, I am confident that this safe space will remain. Some students have even started discussing the formation of a Queer-Straight Alliance, which would be an enormous step to making this campus safer and more inclusive. While none of us are fooling ourselves into thinking that this will be a college-recognized organization, we must accept the small ripples that we are making. We may never see the change that we want to see, but the only way to get to that point is to make the small changes, and someday somebody will be able to reap the full benefits of our actions. And as long as that happens someday, all the work is worth it.
Knoxville, Tenessee, Mar.11th-Mar.12th
After our time in New York, we made a LOONNGGG journey down to Knoxville, TN where we visited with several Unitarian Universalist churches that welcomed us and once again we had our love-tanks filled up. They fed us with delicious food as we sat and talked with them about the work that we’re doing, and sharing our life stories. After our brief stop we then left for Huntsville, Alabama where I sit writing this. Hopefully as the Ride progresses I’ll be more diligent on recording my experiences, so you’ll get updates much more often and in much more detail.
Shalom my dearest Friends,
Most of you have heard me rambling about the Equality Ride for the last few months, and now with the beginning of my training in Austin, Tejas, this week you can be sure to hear about it even more. While the weather down here isn’t quite as warm as I expected, the awesome people that have come into my life have more than made up for that. We all come from many different places but come to common ground forming a beautiful rainbow of humanity.
Today has been jampacked with all sorts of stuff that while overwhelming at times is also energizing. From going over the Ride’s route to reviewing the themes of justice in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, one can see the Spirit at work. I feel strongly identified with the words of the Prophet Isaiah that Jesus quoted in Nazareth, “The Spirit…has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” That is the work that we will be engaged in for this Ride. So many queer-folk are imprisoned and oppressed, and we all have an obligation to work for the change that Jesus proclaimed.
The route was shared with us today which includes schools in Baptist, Methodist, Adventist, and many more faith traditions. Included amongst this list is Houghton College, the school that I attended for several years. From my experiences I know that this campus is in desperate need of message of Equality. Cisgenderism and heterosexism have no place on a campus professing the Christian Gospel. However, I do recognize that the presence of these attitudes are merely due to the fact that many just have never experienced these minorities, and that with acquaintance will eventually come acceptance and affirmation. This is what gives me hope, and I know that Houghton and the many other colleges on our journey can change if we give them opportunity to.
In the coming months, I hope to share much more with you about the wonderful work that I will be doing. My blog, https://thewayfarerscreed.wordpress.com, will hopefully be a place that I can share with you, and I hope to communicate in other ways as well.
And finally, I must make the plug for financial support. All projects require money as we all know, and the Equality Ride is no different. For every Rider, we must raise $3500. While this may seem a bit intimidating and a bit like one cannot make a dent in that, the reality is that every little bit counts. Even if you can only contribute a single dollar, that dollar will send ripples through the lives of countless individuals. To help out in this way I’d ask you to go to http://www.soulforce.org/andrew to find out how to contribute. And if you decide that you are not able to contribute in this way, I’d like to also let you know that there will most likely be opportunities for you to physically stand with us at Houghton.
Thank you for all the support that you have already given to me, and I thank you for all the prayers and support that I know you will continue to give me in the coming months.
Peace & Rainbows 🙂
For lyrics, go here.
Zondervan and the Committee on Bible Translation have made an announcement that greatly saddens me. The translation that I use most often, Today’s New International Version, is being discontinued. For reasons that are beyond me with my current worldview, this version was attacked as deviant. And it appears that the people behind it have succumbed to these attacks, though they will never admit it. To replace the TNIV they will be releasing an updated version of the New International Version. Go to www.nivbible2011.com to voice your views on this. Let your voice be heard that things such as unnecessarily male-gendered language are not appropriate in a modern English translation of the Bible.
Look out for this movie, Prayers for Bobby, over the next few days on Lifetime. It promises to be a very good one, at least I know that it’s a very well told story in book form, tragic and moving as it is. For the queer community it gives a glimpse of hope that even most hardened individual can come around to acceptance, while for those closed to acceptance can see the very real consequences of rejecting the ones they love for something they can’t change. Hopefully, I myself will be able to watch it. They’re showing it tonight at 9pm and 11pm, then on Sunday at 8pm and then on Tuesday at 9pm.
I really want this song at my wedding in some form, if I ever find the right guy (did I ever come out on this blog? well, now I did). The words are just beautiful and everything a marriage is about.
Love Changes Everything
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Love, love changes everything: hands and faces, earth and sky.
Love, love changes everything: how you live and how you die.
Love can make the summer fly, or a night seem like a lifetime.
Yes, love, love changes everything, now I tremble at your name.
Nothing in the world will ever be the same.
Love, love changes everything: days are longer, words mean more.
Love, love changes everything: pain is deeper than before.
Love will turn your world around, and that world will last forever.
Yes, love, love changes everything, brings you glory, brings you shame.
Nothing in the world will ever be the same.
Off into the world we go, planning futures, shaping years.
Love bursts in and suddenly all our wisdom disappears.
Love makes fools of everyone: all the rules we make are broken.
Yes, love, love changes everything: live or perish, in its flame.
Love will never ever let you be the same.
Love will never ever let you be the same.
And on another note, I’m really proud of Rich Cizik, of the National Association of Evangelicals, for his recent statements on same-sex civil unions. It is a shame that his viewpoint got him canned. But it is really nice to see such a prominent Evangelical breaking away from the unwarranted legal discrimination of heterosexual privilege.
When reading someone’s writings on an issue as divisive as this often is, I wanted to make sure I have laid down as much as I can, so that people can better understand where I am coming from. But first of all, I want to make clear my intentions and meaning behind the word “queer” in the title of this post, because for some this is a derogatory term. In no way whatsoever is my usage in that manner. Instead it is used in the redeemed manner of the word to basically refer to the LGBT community, eliminating the cumbersome and potentially narrow nature of the acronym. Or perhaps in the manner of “queer theory.”
Coming from the Evangelical/Wesleyan tradition, how I was always told to intrepret Scriptures was that homosexuality was a sin. Though it was not talked about as often as in some circles of conservative Christianity, this “lifestyle” was always talked about with derision. And for most of my life I heard nothing different.
At this point, however, I can honestly say that I have no opinion on the matter. I now see it as a very complex matter that I cannot answer without much research. But because of my background, I am more likely to fall back on that position as a default. This is for no more reason than I have not figured it out myself yet. But as I am someone who has to figure things out for himself, I am not leaving the matter at that and have decided that if there is injustice in the Church because of an incorrect interpretation, then I cannot just ignore it and move on. I must struggle with the issue. And to be honest, I would very much like to be persuaded from the sin idea. As part of my Christian love, I ought not to wish for condemnation of others, but pray that there might be no offense against God at all. And let us all approach this with grace, the Shalom that God has given us.