Archive for the ‘religious right’ 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.
This past weekend was one that gave me great hope, great courage, great knowledge, and great people. Where was I that this happened? At Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster for the Institute for Welcoming Resources‘ training “Building an Inclusive Church.” Led by Anita Bradshaw of IWR and by Carol Wise of the Brethren Mennonite Council, I was among 15 people of Mennonite, Brethren, Baptist, Catholic, and UCC background, learning what we as individuals and as congregations could do to make our congregations and our denominations welcoming and affirming for queer-folk. Amongst the participants, we had a wide spectrum of where our home congregations are on this matter. So a few things I learned, or was reminded of, perhaps? Read the rest of this entry »
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.
So I’m reading Head and Heart by Gary Willis and discovered something I hadn’t know about previously. Though upon thinking about it, I really shouldn’t be surprised. So, apparently the Southern Baptist Convention was formed due to Southern Christians insistence that there was nothing wrong with the institution of slavery. The Southern Baptist Convention at its very roots was a racist organization. Not so surprising though considering their homophobic and sexist rhetoric.
So, I just finished reading a book about a man named Zvi Weichert. Zvi was a Jew of Polish origin, who managed to escape to the Levant where he participated in the establishment of Eretz Yisrael. This is all good, but what’s the deal with nicely forgetting that the Jews hadn’t lived in this region for centuries, and that there were others that had. And then to top it off, the people who just wanted to remain in their homes are labeled terrorists? This book was published by the Christian Zionist organization, the Friends of Israel. So can someone explain to me what the problem is with these people.
Now don’t get me wrong. The Jews have had a rough history, and I find nothing wrong with the fact that they want to have their own place, where they have no problem with being Jews. But for being a persecuted people, they have pretty quickly forgotten what its like and have now embraced the role of oppressor. I just wish that right wing Christians would realize this and stop ignoring it. And I wish they would realized that the Palestinian people have just as much right to the land as the Israelis.
A few weeks ago in church, Kathy a member of CPT was asking for our prayers with one of Israel’s recent atrocities. That day the plan was to evict the children from a West Bank orphanage and demolish it. This was all these children had, and they had nowhere to go. How can anybody stand this nonsense? How can the Christian church stand by and let the Chosen People commit these atrocities. Fortunately, the eviction has not happened, but the thought that it could even be considered is an outrage to my sensibilities, and I hope to yours.
Well, at least that what this blog is supposed to be. Though for various reasons, some of which you know, the blog hasn’t been manifesting my thoughts much recently. This is definitely not due to lack of thought. I almost wish I could say that it was. Maybe that’s the problem, I might have too much on my plate and I’m overloading. I do hope to write some things in the next few days, however, so look out for my brain vomit. What do I have on my mind? The God, the Church and LGBTs; documentaries such as Hell House and Jesus Camp; my personal experience and reading on the Mennonites.
…Church institutes recitation of Pledge of Allegiance in its church services.
UGGGGGH. I don’t care what the occasion is. The Pledge of Allegiance does not belong in any church’s services. We are Christians and our allegiance is to God, not to Caesar. I have seriously got to find a church to call myself a part of. This place that my parents have started to go to just will not work for me. Unfortunately I don’t know where to go. I live in a a rural county in between Rochester and Buffalo. To find anybody of similar beliefs I’d have to go to these cities, but being a part of a community that far away from my home would be extremely difficult if not impossible. So what do I do? I guess just keep praying.