Archive for the ‘religion’ 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.
I just discovered a really good site today. Called World Prayers, its aim is to collect prayers from all the world’s traditions and non-traditions. Whether Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or Pagan, the many prayers found here are words that inspire and direct mind and spirit outward and upward. I will definitely be using this resource and have posted a link in the sidebar of this site for easy access. An example below for your inspiration:
I arise today
Through a mighty strength:
God’s power to guide me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s eyes to watch over me;
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to give me speech,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to shelter me,
God’s host to secure me.
irish – first millenium – bridgid of gael
Over the next month or two (or three….) I plan I writing on the closest thing the Mennonites have to a creed, the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective. I’ll try to explain what each article means for me, maybe discuss what it means for others, what it intentionally does or does not say, etc.
Not sure who actually came up with this, since Bokonon is the fictional religion developed by Kurt Vonnegut, but I have to say that I really like the image. The road and the journey are often symbols of spiritual life, ones that I often invoke. But I feel that the journey is just as important as the destination. Much of popular contemporary Christianity is devoted to being saved. In other words, the only thing that matters is the eternal life guaranteed to us at the end of the journey. I haven’t believed this though for quite some time now. And I feel like this wise image might be a better way to express what life is, not a journey but a garden.
Note from your Blog Host: Apparently I wrote this post over a year ago in June 2007 and for some reason I never published it. I don’t see any reason to keep this off the Web so here it is.
So Hearty invited everybody to take a quiz on what heresy your viewpoints fit best with. Here are my results:
- Chalcedon compliant-83%
So since my particular heresy is Pelagianism, I thought I would try to spell out what exactly leads to this conclusion in a silly little quiz, because it did actually draw out the idea that I have some unorthodox viewpoints on the key matter of Pelagian thought, original sin. Pelagius taught that there is in fact no original sin. There is no taint on our human natures that is derived from the sin of Adam (and Eve), and thus it is possible for an individual to live without sin due to their own initiative. I’ll state here right out, I don’t believe that. But what do I believe? Well, let’s see if I can adequately explain.
I think that a good place to start on this would be what initially caused me to question the idea of Original Sin. If all of humanity has inherited sin as part of their human nature, how is it that Jesus of Nazareth, being fully human, was without sin. Asking this question I often get told “but he was fully God, as well.” I think that is completely skirting the question. Our doctrines, as we currently teach them, state that all humans have sinned. Jesus was human, with a full royal lineage spelled out in the Scriptures all the way back to our father and mother in the Garden. If I have inherited sin as a descendant of Adam and Eve, Jesus Christ must have as well. But if one accepts the validity of the Deity of Christ, that is just not possible to accept. God cannot be sinful. I hereby deny the doctrine of Original Sin.
I do not, however, deny the fact that all other humans have sinned. Jesus Christ was the only human being to ever live his entire life without sin. All others have, and all others will.
So as tomorrow is Election Day in the United States, my decision first of all must be whether I will vote or not. For some people this is just a matter of laziness. For others not voting is actually a matter of principle. My faith tradition has argued over this matter in the past and is still arguing about it. How much should we involve ourselves in the kingdom of the Sword? If we vote for one of the major party candidates we know that we are voting for someone who will authorize the use of violence for the “good” of the nation. True one is more reluctant, but is there really such a thing as the lesser of two evils. Of course, there is always the choice of another candidate. Many of our minor-party candidates in this country are much closer to an ideal politics than what we have right now. But if we truly involve ourselves in these parties in order to actually make them effective in our system, do we put too much of ourselves into them as Christians. In the end though, even if my views on the matter aren’t very solid, I will vote. So then the question is Obama or McCain or someone else entirely? All of the previous thoughts have led to say that I prefer Barack Obama over John McCain for the presidency. I will however be voting for Cynthia McKinney because I do believe that the Green Party has the vision to make things better, even if not perfect. And while she most likely will not win the election, a vote for the Greens will help build the party at the local, state, and national levels, and will thus help other Greens, who can make a difference, get into office.