Tag Archive | LGBT

How Plato ruined everything

All right, maybe “everything” is a bit of an exaggeration.  Still, I’m convinced that Platonic notions color so much of our culture (not just Christian religion) that it’s hard to know where to start.

I suppose a word of explanation as to why I’m thinking about this is in order.  I haven’t blogged much this fall; there are several reasons why not that I won’t go into here.  One of the reasons, though, has to do with online politics and the constant pressure to get it right.  It was a crisis of correctness, I suppose, that led to my on-and-off writing over the last three months.  I blame Plato for that, too.

In an ideal world, life would work like this: No one would ever be distracted by the appearance of another person; every act of justice would take into account every possible situation and person; and no one would ever get off on picturing themselves licking whipped cream off a naked celebrity.

We don’t live in that world.

The problem with that world is that it doesn’t exist anywhere except in the heads of would-be online philosophers.  In all things, there’s some imaginary line that Must Not Be Crossed when it comes to behavior.  It might not have overtly religious overtones, but there’s still the same message:  If you don’t do things right, you are flawed.  Broken.  Damaged.

Instead of learning respect and consideration, we end up with the same fears often instilled by our religious communities–that we are not good enough and must seek to work towards this imaginary standard to which no human can measure up.  How many seconds is too long to stare at someone’s half-undressed body?  Which fantasies are okay to have when masturbating?  How carefully do we have to phrase things to make sure someone disagrees with our views and not our word choice or tone?

There’s no answer to that outside the heads of a few people who have styled themselves the Gatekeepers of Blogging.

My husband and I had an interesting conversation the other night.  He’s been taking a philosophy class–don’t ask me the details; I’ve never had much interest in that sort of thing.  I didn’t entirely follow everything he said, but the gist of it was that some people live in the realm of ideas and some people live in the realm of practicality.  About eighty percent of people are in the latter group.  The difficulty I see is that (at least on the Internet), the other twenty percent often see themselves as being at the top, and the rest of us should conform our practical existence to fit into the theories they’ve developed.

Well, screw that.  I can’t live that way.  When I started writing, it was because I was in a religious context in which I felt that there were specific people being marginalized (namely, LGBT people) and that the church had it dead wrong in how to care for them.  I remained anonymous for about a year and a half.  When some of my Christian LGBT offline friends began sharing my writing (not knowing it was me), I told them.  At that point, I decided hiding was a disservice to people I love in my non-bloggy life.  If they were out, why shouldn’t I be public too?

Note that I never said I blogged because I had some Magic Words of Wisdom on the church and LGBT people or any other issue regarding church teachings (which I also covered).  Honestly, I just wanted those I love to know that, and I wanted anyone like me who might be an ally in enemy camp to know they were not alone.  Practical purposes, people.  Nothing philosophical.

I recently stopped blogging as much because I had started to feel the same sense of “not good enough” that I’d had for over twenty years in the church.  I couldn’t blog about LGBT issues and the church because I didn’t know enough about intersectionality.  And other people who needed my support.  And not tagging every post on social justice issues as triggering (because, realistically, every post could trigger someone for something).  And not actually being LGB or T myself.  And not criticizing progressive Christians correctly.  The list goes on.

That, right there, is Platonism at its finest: There’s a right way to blog about these issues, and you’re not doing it.  There’s often a sense that the critic doesn’t actually know what the right way is, just that one must exist.  Well, no.  There is no hypothetical idealized advocacy.  There are some things that get it decidedly wrong (go research Human Rights Campaign, for example;p see also the Good Men Project).  Most of the time, though, it’s a matter of different people wanting or needing different things.

Another serious problem with forcing advocacy into a Platonic ideal is that the vast majority of the time, the people pushing it at the rest of us genuinely believe they have it right and we have it wrong.  There’s no sense that they might also be falling short of an unnamed ideal or that their particular philosophy might not be the best version because it still leaves some people vulnerable.  It’s an unfortunate reality that there are people out there who simply do not care about hurting people they think are in the wrong.  I’ve seen things get pretty ugly when one person gently explains why they need a particular type of ally and another person says the equivalent of, “That’s the wrong thing to want” rather than, “Tell me more.”

I spent several years deconstructing my faith.  I’m now in process of reconstruction, and there are some great people I can trust along the way.  Deconstructing social justice advocacy feels pretty similar.  I’m disappointed with the online community in a lot of the same ways I was disappointed in the church.  Before someone gets all heated about it, I’m not saying that social justice movements are abusive.  But are there abusive, powerful people within them who want to control the rest of us at any cost?  You bet. (“No! I don’t want to control you!  I just want you to get it right, dammit!” is, in fact, controlling–particularly when the person saying it does not belong to the group for which they are advocating.)  Those are the people I’m trying to steer clear of.

There’s no way to know where this will end up.  I don’t want to stop writing, but some days, I think I have no choice, at least when it comes to blogging.  I do know that it won’t change anything in my everyday life; my loved ones will still know they can count on me.  As for the online advocacy police?  There’s no reason I should care about their Platonic ideals.

While I continue to collect stories of accomplished, amazing women who are proud of what they have done, I’m going to write about other things.  (And if you haven’t read yesterday’s post or the comments, please do.  Good stuff is happening there.)

Today, I finally had the chance to catch up with some blogs that I’ve been neglecting.  Over at Registered Runaway’s blog, I read this post (and the ones preceding it; be sure to read all 4 parts).  It made me sad.  Then it made me angry.  I still don’t understand why the way Aibird, the writer, was treated is allowed to continue.

I’ve had Christian friends try to tell me that no one still acts that way–or at least, Christians don’t.  I’ve heard the arguments that anyone threatening “curative rape” isn’t a real Christian anyway.  And yet, here is a woman telling her story, including receiving death threats from people professing to be Christians.

We can’t ignore the parts of the Church (worldwide) that hold hateful attitudes.  They are as much a part of us as any other Christian.  But that’s not actually the thing that bothers me most.  It’s the fact that we’ve chosen–as the rest of the Body–not to fight them.  I can’t help thinking that it’s because deep down, many Christians agree with the underlying beliefs, even if they don’t agree that picketing and threatening and even attempts at curing are the right answer.

It’s not enough anymore.  I have never been of the mind that it’s okay to live somewhere halfway between being an ally and being an enemy.  I’m not entirely a black-and-white thinker.  I’m open to having lots of grey and wrestling with that tension.  I’m willing to talk about what it means to have a healthy sexual ethic or whether it’s okay for Christians to watch violent movies or if tattoos and swearing are acceptable.  We may never agree on any of those things, and that’s okay.

What I’m not okay with is fence-sitting when it comes to personhood and equality.

Too many people have come to the conclusion that they can rest comfortably with the belief that they may not “agree with the homosexual lifestyle” though they would never insist on anyone trying to be “cured.”  There are far too many places where we’ve done what we seem to think is a kinder, gentler version of non-acceptance.  The thing is, though, it’s still exactly that: non-acceptance.  No more “But I have gay friends, and they know where I stand, and they are okay with that!”  Are you sure?  Because when I read stories like the one above, I get the impression that an awful lot of people aren’t actually okay with you disapproving of them, they just hide it well or have learned that it’s an off-limits topic if they don’t want to hear again about their sin.  You personally may not be holding up a “God hates fags” sign, and you may not have threatened anyone with rape or death.  You may not even have given anyone the phone number to a place where they can be “changed.”  But if underneath it you still think they’re in sin, you hold the same beliefs as the people of ex-gay organizations and Westboro Baptist.

If you do call yourself both a Christian and an ally, then why not directly speak up against people who are doing active harm?  I honestly can’t remember where I read it (or I’d link to it; maybe someone else can help me out here), but I recall reading about someone meeting with some people from Westboro Baptist and talking about how “nice” they were.  Not that I want to paint anyone as evil and remove that person’s humanity, but I fail to see how “But they’re so nice!” is in any way helpful.  I also don’t believe for a millisecond that there’s any use in simply leaving people to their own devices because everyone knows how hateful they are.  If you really think these things are wrong, why not speak up about it?  Not merely to your LGBTQ friends–who probably already know–but to the rest of the Christian community.

Things aren’t going to change.  LGBTQ people are not going away, and they’re not going back into their closets.  People who are Christians–whole denominations, in fact–have already become not just accepting but affirming.  Laws are changing.  Meanwhile, people are still being pressured and harmed.  There’s no way to be somewhere in the middle anymore.  That might have worked at one time, but that time has long since passed.

I already cast my vote.  I know that to some people, I’m irredeemable.  I’ve already been told–more than once–that I can’t call myself a Christian.  I’ve been informed that I’m leading people in the wrong direction.  Well, so what?  I don’t consider that a big deal, and I think it’s worth it.  (And let’s be honest, there are people I’m happy are out of my life because they can’t handle the fact that I’m an ally.  Think of all the wonderful LGBTQ friends I’m sparing from having any interaction with them.)

I think I understand being genuinely unsure.  I know there’s a transition between what we might have learned growing up or in some churches and a place of being an ally.  I get that.  But don’t sit there forever, and certainly don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth.  Don’t fake being in agreement with either side (or both).  It isn’t fair to anyone, even yourselves.  Take time, but make a choice–then do something about it.

If you want to know why I feel this sense of urgency (besides the immediate concern for individuals such as the woman whose story I linked above), then read this post.  It’s not just about us, about our nation, anymore.  And, like Registered Runaway says at the end of the post (though I disagree that no one is fighting here anymore),

And I’m beginning to think that instead of having a conversation, a culture war truce, with Fundamentalists and right wing Evangelicals, our work would be better focused on protecting the world from the wrath of these people. Despite the lament from many progressive evangelicals, the right wing is hardly fighting here anymore. They’ve moved on. They’re going after the rest of the world. 

How do we stop this?

How, indeed?


My Gag Reflex Is None of Your Business

Warning: This post is a response to an irresponsible, gross, and damaging article over at The Gospel Coalition in which there is “graphic” mention of gay sex and abusive language towards gay people and their allies.  (There is no specific mention of trans people, as usual in these kinds of diatribes against “LGBT” people.)

By now, you’ve probably read Thabiti Anyabwile’s vile, disgusting piece of shit article at The Gospel Coalition.  If you haven’t, and you’re in the mood for vomiting and/or raging (or, God forbid, you actually agree with Anyabwile), please feel free to read it here.

There have been a number of responses, including by people who otherwise still hold the belief that the Bible condemns homosexuality in some way.  I don’t hold that belief myself, and I’d like to see us move past arguing about it, but at least even people more or less on the same side of the argument recognize Anyabwile’s post for the dung heap it is.

To all my friends, regardless of who your partners/spouses are:  I don’t care what you get up to in bed together.  Since you also don’t seem to be in a hurry to ask me about what my husband and I do, I think we’re good.  Reducing people to sex acts and “gag reflexes” is disgusting and dehumanizing.

While I would love to pick Anyabwile’s words apart one at a time and address every steaming, stinking turd contained in that ugly rant, I don’t have the time or energy. Instead, I have a few words about one specific part of Anyabwile’s post.  He says this:

Reject the unbiblical definition of love. I said, though it was very unpopular, homosexual marriage could not properly be called “love.” You could choke on the room’s tension. “How could I say such a thing?” I pointed out that the Bible teaches plainly that “love does not rejoice in wrongdoing” (1 Cor. 13). That the Bible also teaches that homosexual behavior was wrongdoing or sin. Consequently, though strong emotions and affections are involved, we cannot properly call it “love.” Love does no harm, and homosexuality clearly harms everyone involved.

Well, then.  I guess the Great and Powerful Oz has spoken.  Hear that, people?  Thabiti Anyabwile has declared that he knows for absolute certain what “real” love is!  I admit, I’m really excited about that, because there was some confusion there.  See, I thought that real love kinda looked like this:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

love covers over a multitude of sins.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.

Silly me!  Who am I to know what love is but a random blogger with a good Internet connection and access to Google and Bible Gateway?

I’m grateful that Thabiti Anyabwile could clear things up so that we’re all on the same page, knowing that gay people don’t really love each other and that deep down–way, way, deep down; so deep, in fact, that I wasn’t even aware of it–we all know the truth:

What we’re really talking about when we talk about “homosexuality” is not just sex gone wrong but wrong sexual behavior. Deep down we all–Christian and non-Christian, heterosexual and homosexual–know it’s wrong.

Without Anyabwile to point it out, I might have gone on for years believing that I don’t actually think it’s wrong.  What was I thinking?  I have obviously been ignoring my gag reflex all this time.  Clearly, I’ve been deluded.  I mean, what about the children???

Well, damn.  I’ve been convicted.  I must not be exhibiting real love whenever I rejoice that my gay friends have gotten married or started families.  The only obvious course is for me to change tracks and make sure that every gay person I encounter knows that they are wrong, wrong, wrong.

Oh.  Wait.   I already tried that once.

I guess the one thing I can praise here is that it’s at least honest.  Thabiti Anyabwile is just taking the advice I gave in a previous post to examine whether our issues with homosexuality are based on squicky sex or squicky sex roles.  Anyabwile seems to have chosen the former.

Now, can we get this much honesty from the lawmakers in charge of allowing same-sex marriage?

What safe space?

Remember last week when I (probably somewhat rudely, I’ll admit) said, “Fuck living in the tension”?  I just want to take some time to clarify that.  Many thanks to the Christians expressing their “grief” over the SCOTUS decision yesterday for helping me to figure out what was bothering me that led to my statement.

First, I want to make it absolutely, perfectly, 100% clear that I was NOT talking to any of my LGBTQI friends or family or strangers on the Internet.  That remark was solely intended for my fence-sitting straight Christian brothers and sisters.  It’s important that I emphasize that, because dialogue about LGBTQI issues and faith can never, ever begin with me–which is actually why I abhor “living in the tension” so much.  That phrase is aimed at straight people and meant to imply something like, “How the heck do I love gay people when I really think they’re outside God’s will?”  It’s a really bad place to begin any kind of conversation; you can’t go into something with the idea that another person needs to convince you of the validity of their identity and how that looks to them.

What sparked my fury and my desire to try again to explain to the nice straight people what we’re all doing wrong was this post at A Deeper Story.  See, my issue is absolutely not with any LGBTQI people who are learning what it means to honor their identity and be a person of faith.  That’s a respectable journey, and no one–NO ONE–needs my, or anyone else’s, permission to take it.

The problem is that straight people all seem to think we’re entitled to an opinion on someone else’s identity.  That conversation at A Deeper Story?  All about straight angst because we have feels about homosexuality.  This goes for both sides of the “debate,” by the way.  You know that thing people do when you tell your story and the first thing they do is derail and start talking about themselves?  Yeah, same thing.

Here’s a newsflash:  It’s not about you.  Whatever your personal opinion–even if you’re sure it’s “biblical”–about LGBTQI people, that’s all it is; it’s your opinion.  You do not need special times and places to write about it, because there are people all over, on both sides, who share it.  You do not need “safe space” to be sad about marriage equality.  You are not entitled to determine someone else’s humanity or their faith.

What has long bothered me, though I didn’t quite have the words for it, was this idea of inviting people to the table to talk about how we should handle relationship with LGBTQI people.  It bothers me because it’s still the people with privilege sitting in our positions of power making decisions about who is welcome and in what capacity.  That’s not how it should work.

You really want to have this conversation?  Then I suggest starting with actual LGBTQI people who are working out their identities and their faith stories.  You want links?  Come back tomorrow and check out my Friday links round-up, where I’ll connect you with a whole bunch of people.  After that, try doing a Google search for things like “LGBT Christians” and “Queer Theology.”  Whether you agree or not isn’t important; what’s important is that you see what Christians identifying as LGBTQI are saying about themselves.

Before I get hate mail or protests along the lines of, “But I know a gay person!  And that person appreciates my honesty that I don’t approve of the lifestyle!” please take a moment to think about that.  When was the last time you “appreciated” it when someone chose some vital part of your life and disapproved but said “I love you anyway”?  I honestly don’t care whether you approve of my friends and family or not.  Either way, it’s not terribly helpful or loving to remind them all the time what you think, and it’s not your job to have an opinion about someone who has reconciled his or her faith and identity.

I just don’t understand why there’s this need for such anxiety, unless deep down you’re worried that if you don’t help people get this whole gay thing under control, they’ll wind up in hell.  Seriously?  Stop with the hair-pulling already.  Here’s some suggestions for Things You Can Do with Your Christian LGBTQI Friends:

  • Have a nice cup of tea or coffee
  • Exchange conversation about the blessings in your life
  • Talk about ways you’re hurting and listen to theirs
  • Make a play date for your kids
  • Go see a live band
  • Ask them how they see their faith/identity/sexuality, without explaining what you think of any of those things

I stand by what I said: “Fuck living in the tension.”  But it applies to straight people who use it to have discussions about whether we should include them in our worship.  Until we upend the conversation and start viewing it the other way around, we will never be able to come to the table together.

“But we’re not all like that!”

Straight Ally Flag

Not gonna lie, I’m sure I’ve said those exact words.  Or, more specifically, I’ve muttered them at my computer screen, whispered them to God late at night in bed, and thought them angrily in my head while listening to people preach.  Up until a couple of years ago, I didn’t dare speak them out loud, because to do so would mean to lose the people I hoped to help move toward change.

I admit, I’m not a huge fan of Dan Savage, but I credit him with saying something that made me take notice.  He said Christians should stop hiding behind “not all like that” (I’m paraphrasing here).  He specifically meant in regard to support of LGBTQI people, but I think it applies just about everywhere that -isms reside.  We can’t just sit silently or straddle fences; if we’re against oppression, then we need to do something about that.  (Honestly, I could just shorten that to “Fuck living in the tension.” If I never hear that phrase again, I will die happy.  It strikes me as a way of trying to have one’s cake and eat it, too.  Just be honest, dammit–if you’re truly anyone’s ally, spell it out; otherwise, keep your yap shut.)

Anyway, that’s not my point, really.  What I want to write about is the people who wear their “Not All Like That” gold star as a way of silencing people.  I’ve actually found, over the years I’ve been at this blogging thing, that Not All Like That is really code for, “I don’t approve, but I’m going to be nice anyway.”  These are not hidden allies who are scared to speak up; they’re people who still believe they have the right to treat people as issues to fight over.  More often than not, it’s people who are still stuck in an endless loop of “love the sinner, hate the sin” and “it’s the same as any other sin, like being a drunk” (heard that one more times than I can count at this point).  My personal favorite is, “Well, I’m wired to want to cheat on my wife; you’re wired to like people of the same sex–let’s both work on our issues.”  Yech.

An exchange between friends this morning prompted me to think about the ways in which some Christians continue to deny that there’s anything wrong because they aren’t participating in the worst of it.  There were some words traded back and forth about whether or not the Church has chosen to fixate on the wrong problems in the world.  I had a distinct impression of excusing religiously-based heterosexism because it’s not as bad as hate speech.

This is just an alternate form of “not all like that.”  I’m not sure where the idea comes from that the Church bears no responsibility for quite a lot of anti-gay obsession.  A number of prominent organizations and preachers have had pretty vile things to say about LGBTQI people, mostly in public.  There are still places one can go to be “cured” of the “homosexual lifestyle.”  Friends have expressed grief that they’ve been shamed–sometimes publicly–both for being LGBTQI and for being an ally.  It’s easy to see where the Church has gotten a reputation for spending more time and energy on fighting gay marriage than on resolving world hunger (or hell, even hunger in our own country).

At the same time, there’s this new wave of “moderate” Christians who want to distance themselves from what they perceive as the truly evil, while still maintaining a position in which they refuse to acknowledge people’s humanity.  A fellow blogger has pushed every. single. one of my buttons by continuing to act as some kind of spokesperson for the Church of Not All Like That.  She’s written on such cheery methods of “reconciliation” as hugging a gay person (at random? one we know personally? not sure here) and attending a gay pride parade for the purpose of observing the people there.  (Just a bit of advice: Please don’t do that.  Put that way, it dehumanizes people by making them sound like wild animals you’re visiting in their native habitat.)  I’ve seen similar sorts of things across my Twitter and Facebook feeds, and it drives me up the wall.

Listen.  I know you Not All Like That folks mean well; I really do.  But please trust me when I tell you that LGBTQI people and their allies do, in fact, know the difference between patronizing them and actually loving them.  Sometimes, when you have an established relationship, you can make this work.  God bless and more power to ya.  But when you are a random stranger on the Internet?  Don’t.  Just–don’t.  The words, “But I love you anyway” should not come out of your mouth or your keyboard.

It’s easy to say you’re going to love a LGBTQI person (or hug them or stare at them at Pride or write precious things about how you care for them even though you “disagree” with who they are).  I recommend against saying it, though.  It’s a lot more important that you do it.  Your LGBTQI friends and family don’t actually require your approval to be who they are, so telling them that you “love them anyway” is not likely to further that relationship.  That isn’t acknowledging anyone’s personhood, it’s making you feel better for trying hard not to be a jerk.

I’m kinda done with the whole fence-sitting thing; I have been for a long time.  I don’t bother trying to engage people in conversation so I can convince them to change their position.  I used to be willing to go there, but not anymore.  Honestly (and I apologize for this), I was making humans into issues.  There was a point at which I truly wanted everyone to stand on what I believed to be the “right” side.  What I want now is for people to just be honest.  I’m not interested in making space for anyone at my table–I want a whole new table where people don’t need to ask for space.  If don’t want to do that, then own it.  Don’t pretend you’re honoring the full humanity of others while still refusing them a seat.

Notable News: Week of March 16-22, 2013

It’s been quite a week.  The big things have been the Steubenville case in the news and Spiritual Abuse Awareness Week on the blogs.  There’s been lots of other good stuff as well.  Here are some highlights:

1. On Steubenville

I don’t think I need to rehash the verdict.  What had me ready to reach through my computer screen and throttle people was the horrifying response.  First, the judge warned the teens about the use of social media.  Really? Social media is at fault here?  And also, nothing about “how you treat women who can’t consent to sex with you” was apparently not something he felt he needed to address; too busy admonishing them for their use of social media, I suppose.

When he sentenced the boys, Judge Thomas Lipps urged all those who had followed the case “to have discussions about how you talk to your friends, how you record things on the social media so prevalent today and how you conduct yourself when drinking is put upon you by your friends.”

Meanwhile, news outlets were also active in their campaign for worst response.  Fox, MSNBC, and CNN all ran the name of the victim.  I think CNN wins this round, though, for lamenting that the rapists’ lives were ruined by the guilty verdict:

“What’s the lasting effect though on two young men being found guilty juvenile court of rape essentially?” Crowley wondered.

“There’s always that moment of just — lives are destroyed,” Callan remarked. “But in terms of what happens now, the most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders. That label is now placed on them by Ohio law.”

“That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”

As well it should, Candy Crowley.  As well it should.

Be sure to check out this excellent response from Christianity Today on rape and human dignity.

2. On spiritual abuse

The Spiritual Abuse Awareness Week link-up has been going on this week.  You can read everyone’s stories at the following pages:

Day 1: Hosted by Hannah Chellase at Wine and Marble

Day 2: Hosted by Joy Bennett at Joy in this Journey

Day 3: Hosted by Shaney Irene at Faith-Filled Thoughts from the Front Porch

If you can only read one of these, make it Shaney’s from today.  The topic is why we need to care about spiritual abuse.

Simultaneously, Elora Nicole has been posting about abuse all week, and Rachel Held Evans has been hosting a week-long series of guest posts and interviews about different kinds of abuse (and frequently the way they intersect).

If you have been spiritually abused and need a safe place to find hope and healing, I urge you to check out this web site.

3. On homophobia and progressive Christianity

One of the reasons that I identify as a progressive Christian but refuse to identify with the progressive Christian movement is that I don’t always find myself in alignment with other “progressives” in areas of importance to me–chiefly, feminism and LGBT issues–and how churches need to grow on those points.  (For example, I don’t think it’s right for old, white, heterosexual cis-men to sit around thinking up ways to “make room” at their table for people who are not old, white, heterosexual cis-men.)  I also find that progressives have this strange attitude that refusing to tolerate bigotry is somehow not in line with the goal of tolerance.

Anyway, for all of those reasons I was very interested in what Kristin Rawls, a fellow writer I follow on Twitter, had to say about her interview with folk singer Michelle Shocked.  It’s quite a read; I suggest you click the links in the article for some background on the situation.

Since the news of her antigay rant went viral, Shocked has issued a public mea culpa of sorts. It’s probably significant to note that 10 of 11 of the shows on her tour have been cancelled since. I read it as an unprincipled attempt to placate LGBT people -– note that she says she supports tolerance, not acceptance, and that she’s calling for LGBT people to tolerate the people who trample on our rights. Anyone acquainted with post-evangelical faux-progressive Christianity
has heard it all before.

4. On having fun with my words

A couple of weeks ago, I was tweeting about an evangelical novel I was reading that had some…interesting views on spiritual warfare.  One of my followers made an off-hand comment about the “royal family of Hell,” and it sparked something in me.  This week’s fiction on my other blog was inspired by that tweet.

The real reason for Lucifer’s disquiet was the fact that his daughter refused to tell him which demon she had ensnared. She had remained silent, and no amount of demanding, pleading, or wheedling would draw it out of her. It was both maddening and worrisome.

He suspected she had gotten herself involved with a junior demon far below her station as Princess of Hell and was appropriately ashamed to admit it.

Have a great weekend, folks!


Notable News: Week of March 1-8, 2013

It’s International Women’s Day!  How are you celebrating?

Here are some of the articles and posts I enjoyed this week.  Read them with your favorite woman.

1. On the importance of girls

This post is from more than a year ago, but Princess Free Zone shared it again today on Twitter.  It means just as much now as it did then.

Sadly, around the world, girls are undervalued, underestimated, uneducated, used, abused, and ignored. Research shows that the plight of girls is directly linked to many of the world’s problems like hunger, economic disparity, and disease. Inevitably, helping girls and women in various ways can have a tremendously positive impact; one way to do this is through efforts to improve education.

2. On body image

I linked to this post by Jennifer Luitwieler in my own post yesterday, but here it is again in case you missed it.

When we hang so many hopes on one thing, one arbitrary, deeply powerful thing, expecting untold happiness from attaining the holy grail of physical perfection, we will be disappointed. Our bodies may look different, we may feel like we look amazing. But it won’t change our circumstances. It won’t make someone love us better or our families not be weird. Being skinny will not make us also rich or flawless.

Being skinny is not everything.

3. On the Jesus bridge

Reading this fantastic post by Addie Zierman, I found myself nodding in agreement.  I, too, have had negative experiences with Christian “counselors” who offer pat answers about just needing Jesus.  I, too, have listened to the testimonies of people who leave the impression that their lives did a rapid 180 rather than the truth of a slower turn.

Instead of looking into my eyes and seeing that I was fighting to hang on, she assumed that my doubt and pain and struggle was symptomatic . She assumed it pointed to a faith that had never been there, and so she sent me back to the beginning to take a first step toward God.

But the truth was that it wasn’t a broken faith at all. Just the normal middle of things.

4. On being an angry feminist

I love this excellent response from Sam Ambreen to yet another shameful post over at Good Men Project.  Not surprising that GMP has included a woman stroking the egos of the “nice guys,” unfortunately.

I have every right to hold patriarchy responsible for the ways in which it controls women. Unfortunately the patriarchy is mostly made up of men. I am angry but there is love in my life. It surrounds me and supports me. Anger at the patriarchy is one of my redeemable features and shock horror; there are men that get why! And totally dig it.

5. On “good” racists

I constantly have to check myself because I know that as a person with privilege, I’m in danger of ignoring that privilege.  I don’t want to be the “good racist” in this post who refuses to believe that such things exist.

The idea that racism lives in the heart of particularly evil individuals, as opposed to the heart of a democratic society, is reinforcing to anyone who might, from time to time, find their tongue sprinting ahead of their discretion. We can forgive Whitaker’s assailant. Much harder to forgive is all that makes Whitaker stand out in the first place. New York is a city, like most in America, that bears the scars of redlining, blockbusting and urban renewal. The ghost of those policies haunts us in a wealth gap between blacks and whites that has actually gotten worse over the past 20 years.

6. On making Satan proud

This is an incredibly heartbreaking story that should remind us just how important it is to make sure that we are holding churches, pastors, and leaders accountable not only for their own abuse of congregants but for their failure to take action when it’s warranted.  Of course we want churches to be places filled with grace; but not at the expense of terrified 14-year-old girls.  John Shore explains why he posted this:

I’m running this comment as a post for two reasons. The first is because if I have learned anything in this world, it’s that people—particularly if they’re trying to communicate an injustice visited upon themselves or anyone else—need to be heard. When you’ve been traumatized an affirmation of your trauma by others can spell the difference between salvation and desolation. I have no idea who has or hasn’t read this girl’s story. But having read it myself robbed me of any excuse for not making at least some effort to ensure that more people read it.

7. On speaking about spirtual abuse

Dianna Anderson writes a great response to Matt Appling (of The Church of No People) regarding his series of posts on spiritual abuse.  As she rightly points out, co-opting the term is inappropriate and diminishes the suffering of those who have been abused by people in spiritual authority.

Appling suffers from a common malady that afflicts a lot of white male evangelicals – not bothering to research the actual definition of the terms they’re using, and predicating entire ideas on a misunderstood definition.

8. On God-centered shame

Elora Nicole’s post on how words mean things delves into the worrisome teaching that shame is godly because it leads to repentance.  When we make words mean what they don’t mean, even ancient words in foreign languages, we risk presenting a false gospel that isn’t filled with grace.

“I still don’t see how they relate.” I said. “Grief is not shame. Sorrow is not shame. When I feel shame, I believe lies. Grief and sorrow are healthy emotions. Shame is not. Shame is negative. Shame speaks lies.”

9. On environmental impact on sexuality

I get fairly sick of hearing about how one’s childhood experiences must have “turned them gay.”  I’ve found that the people who say that must not know a lot of gay people.  Or a lot of people in general, actually.  I don’t really know if I think that this particular cartoon by Naked Pastor is necessarily logical, but it did make me smile and wish I could say this to anyone who thinks they can explain why someone is gay.

I’m okay with theories. If they work. When they no longer work it’s time to dispense with them. The number of theories out there attempting to explain away the vast array of orientations out there are just that: an attempt to invalidate them.

10. On my fiction blog

This week’s story is about unresolved sexual tension.  Kind of.

Whatever it was, Kay found nearly everything about Devon maddening. She disliked his booming laugh, his boastful reenactments of his weekend activities, and his assertions that the team would fall apart without him. She even disliked his obnoxious printed ties—even if she did have to admit they suited him. Kay’s least favorite thing about Devon was the fact that he always looked good, no matter how horrid his ties.

Have a great weekend, everyone.  Go celebrate a woman you love!

Notable News: Week of January 5-11, 2013

Howdy, all!  Here is my first Notable News of 2013.  Lots of good stuff this week.  Enjoy!

1. The best post I’ve read all week

Dani Kelley writes with aching honesty about herself and her body image.  This is a must-read for absolutely every person who has ever struggled.  Okay, this one is actually from last week.  But since I didn’t do a Notable News, I get a pass on not highlighting it until now.  You all, on the other hand, have no excuse for not going and reading it this very minute.

2. Beauty and Hate

Seth Haines also delivers a big dose of honesty in his post about riding the bus, the beauty of kindness, and the ugliness of hate.

3. Meghan O’Keefe on victim blaming

In the ongoing discussion surrounding the rape of an Ohio teen, Ms. O’Keefe gives an articulate summary of what is wrong when people engage en masse in shaming the victim of assault.  The best line from this post is,

Men and women alike can not excuse rapists behavior because the victim was “asking for it” because being raped literally means the victim was not asking for it.

It’s too bad we have the need for people like Ms. O’Keefe to write these words.

4. While we’re on the subject of victim blaming…

It starts early, this trend of blaming victims for what happens to them.  This dreadful “study” that reveals that bullied kids have social issues is probably one of the worst pieces of crap and victim blaming on a non-rape subject.  The recommendation seems to be to get bullied kids to act “normal” rather than making sure that the bullies learn how not to victimize kids that seem different to them.  I don’t know, I kinda think that if we made sure that “socially awkward” kids felt safe, they might not need special lessons on their behavior.

5. John Piper comes across as an ass

Sigh.  Just when I thought we might be making some progress, Piper has to open his mouth again in a bizarre and misguided attempt to clarify something stupid he said 4 years ago.  Unsurprisingly, he didn’t make it better.  But don’t take my word for it.  Read this piece by Dianna Anderson and this one by Sarah Moon (who includes a link to the video).

6. Two excellent pieces on transphobia

I will admit my privilege here: I didn’t know that Suzanne Moore had made these remarks.  Obviously, not only are these two posts informative, they remind me that I need to make sure that I’m aware of both the way I use language myself and the ways that often-ignored people have language used against them.

7. A great response to what horrifies us

In the wake of the tragic gang rape and death of the woman in India, this post is an excellent outpouring of the rage and grief we feel over human suffering.

8. A step forward in reconciliation

If it were up to me, there wouldn’t even be a debate anymore.  LGBT people would be fully included in the life of every church, without any expectation that they would either remain celibate or change their orientation.  I know that’s a long way off, though, so whenever I see movement in the right direction, I am hopeful.  If you haven’t read it, take a look at this honest, generous post by Sammy Adebiyi.  Then go read this one by Registered Runaway.  I dare you to make it through without coming face-to-face with what grace really is.

9. Another honest story

For another perspective related to the above, read this beautiful piece by My Silent Half.  If we could listen to each other, we might be able to move beyond debate and into grace.  It’s going to take a lot of this kind of personal reflection for us to really hear what’s being said.  Are you open?

That’s it, folks.  Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on the other side.

Notable News: Week of November 10-16, 2012

Here we are, the end of another week.  We’ve had our ups and downs here, but we’ve made it to the weekend!  Tomorrow, I get to play my violin with some of the best people around—not to mention getting to play some great music!  It’s our pops concert, and the theme is movie music.  We’ll be playing selections from Superman, The Magnificent Seven, Sense and Sensibility, Catch Me if You Can, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and (of course) Star Wars.  If you’re in my area and you want to come out, please do!  I’d love to see you there at 7:30 Saturday night (you can buy tickets at the door for $9 or call the RWC box office).

Now for this weeks great blog posts:

1. No confirmation for you!

In this week’s edition of Does This Really Surprise Anyone, we learn that Minnesota teen Lennon Cihak won’t be confirmed by the Catholic Church for his support of marriage equality.  It’s actually not entirely clear if this is the case, as the priest in question has denied the allegation.  Honestly, I wish people would stop acting like it’s only the Catholic Church that does this sort of thing.  I mean, I’m not naming any names, but I know plenty of Catholics who support marriage equality and at least a few gay Catholics.  I’m aware of more than one local parish that embraces LGBT people.  Conservative evangelical protestants, on the other hand…well.  You all saw my post last week after the election, right?  Maybe I’ll start that online form to pray for my soul after all.

2. More awesome from Dianna Anderson

Man, I cannot wait until her book is published.  No pressure, Dianna!  I just have to say that in the realm of Christian feminism, she is in top form.  If you’re not subscribed to her blog, you should be.  Here are two good posts from this week: Friends with Kids, Love Stories, and Rape Culture and The Magical Mystery of Marriage.  For the first post, thanks, Dianna, for taking one for the team and watching that movie so I don’t have to.  Now I’m spreading the word so that my friends don’t waste their time and money either.  As for the second post, I’m glad someone is standing up and saying that marriage is not the answer to unhealthy sexuality, nor does it automatically make sex healthy.  I think what I like best about this post is that Dianna doesn’t offer pat answers; she calls for a conversation in which we lay aside labels.  Count me in!

3. Kill the Gays

Yeah, it passed.  That wasn’t a surprise.  Disappointing, but not shocking.  What saddens me is that some people will read this and shrug; others will be outright in support of it.  A few will probably misunderstand entirely.  I don’t have any words for this; all I can do is keep praying.

4. Twilight and Perpetual Girlhood

This is a great post about one of the things that bothered me as I read Twilight.  Now, I did enjoy the books as kind of light fare; however, I do recognize the problematic (I really hate that word, but it does apply here) elements.  Bella’s desire to remain ageless is one of them.  Sorry, folks, we normal people eventually get old.  My hair is already run through with a bit of gray.  But I don’t color it, because in my opinion, it’s natural.  What isn’t natural is to want to appear twenty for the rest of my life.  (I don’t lie about my age, either, even though some of my peers already do—and we’re hardly old!)  This article falls apart a bit at the end, but it’s still worth the read.

5. Addicted to (Controlling) Love

Thank you, Emily Maynard, for saying what I’ve been trying to say, but using fewer (and better) words.  Our bodies are not objects for male consumption, and we are not responsible for what men do.  This post, too, is a good explanation of men continuously imposing themselves on the way we dress—we must be either vixens or virgins, but not of our own free will.  I think we women need to apply these arguments to women’s health care, birth control, and abortion as well as clothing/modesty.

7. On being non-essential

I can’t express enough how much I love this post by Pam Hogeweide.  She puts it so well when she explains why we women can’t just leave the church if we’re unhappy with our position.  She also brings up something I’d never thought of: that women in leadership is usually reduced to the status of “non-essential” doctrine; that is, it has no direct bearing on our salvation.  Until reading this post, I had always felt that way myself—it doesn’t matter if a particular church rejects women as pastors, because it’s not really essential.  I can now understand the nagging feeling I always had about that, though.  Unlike the inanimate elements of communion or the inanimate practice of spiritual gifts, women are actual people; we are not “non-essentials.”  Well said, Pam!

8. Talk about “I have no idea what I feel about this”

So it turns out that Kevin Clash, voice of Elmo, is gay.  So what?  I’m sure some parents will be upset, but I’m not sure that makes much sense.  Bert and Ernie have more gay overtones than Elmo (yes, I know they’re only roommates; don’t get your panties in a bunch).  I don’t see Sesame Workshop developing any storylines where Elmo gets a gay crush or anything.  The real issue turns out to be whether or not Clash had a relationship with a minor.  Now, I’ve seen people arguing on both sides, and I’d like to tell you all to please let someone other than the media sort this one out.  Clash is on a break from Sesame Street, so chill out.  Also, could we stop seeing more “blame the victim” crap all over the place?  Yeah, the alleged victim recanted.  We don’t know why.  And his criminal record has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on whether or not Clash took advantage of him.  So no jumping to conclusions until the actual people involved get it sorted, okay?  Good.

What a week!  Lots of good stuff.  Hope you have a great weekend!  I’m off til Monday, picking back up with some more Fifty Shades goodness badness.  See you then!

Notable News, week of July 21-27, 2012

Lots of great stuff from around the web today.  Enjoy!

1. Rachel Held Evans and her husband, Dan

Ever wonder what love looks like?  Read this post and tell me you don’t just want to cheer.  (Although if you want to read something that is as disturbing as the original post is wonderful, try this from the comments on the post.)

2. Mal Green’s first post on Red Letter Christians

It saddens me that this post didn’t get more loving responses.  I think he’s hit the nail on the head.  Many thanks to Mal for standing up and speaking his mind, despite such negative feedback.  And props to RLC for publishing it, despite the negative feedback.

3. Dianna Anderson on douchebags

Dianna is one of my favorite writers.  She doesn’t just say, “This is wrong.”  She urges real change.  This time out is no exception.  She reminds us all to

stand up and say, “Hey . . . That was kind of douchey.”

4. Reading: Healing for the soul

Sarah Bessey is running a synchroblog on what is saving us right now.  In response, Caris Adel has written a piece that echoes what I often feel, that reading saves us from the chaos of everyday life.  Not only is she absolutely right, but I now have another book to add to my ever-expanding “to read” list.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!