raise up a child to grieve

On Facebook today, one of my acquaintances—a former friend from my churched days of yore—posted a status about her son, who is a very young teenager. She commented how she was proud of him becoming his own man, not bending to popular opinion.

She wrote that he was “pretty upset” by schoolyard conversations, and he asked her why Democrats “wanted to keep trying to legalize things that are forbidden in the Bible.” She was proud of him for being deeply upset, a “man after God’s heart,” and commented how he was mostly conflicted because these Democrats whom he had met on Capitol Hill were so nice, so caring—how his own family’s friends were Democrats who endorsed these abominable things, and how he was deeply grieved that they were so sincere about their political positions. He’s very sad.

And he’s “made a correlation” between those kids at school who swear, misbehave, and hold agnostic/atheistic beliefs and support for Obama.

She’s terribly proud of him for being so terribly upset.

And I’m terribly ashamed for her.

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on the cliff’s ragged face

I’m back. Or maybe I should better say, I’m still here. I’ve been here, of course, the whole time, and my journey has been long and arduous. Too painful to write about. Abandonment usually is. But I intend to begin climbing the rock face of Mount Doom again, perhaps to toss this ring of religious hypocrisy, hatred, and hurtful actions into the fires whence they were forged.

when joyful news is anything but

Dear Mom,

Blog photo 1I know it seems pretty odd to receive a letter from me, especially as we not so very long ago had the shared habit of talking on the phone at least twice a week. I miss those times, and I am sure you are somewhat perplexed as to why they have gone by the wayside. The purpose of this letter is, in part, to explain that to you.

I know you have often said that we shouldn’t write things down, since to do so is to make a permanent record. But what I have here to say is so important that I don’t want it to be lost in the distractions of an oral context. I hope this is something you will maybe read more than once, if that is needed.

The foremost thing I need you to know is that I love you. I love you so much, I cannot ever imagine, nor do I ever want to consider, life without you.

But I am scared of losing you. And I have avoided telling you what is going on in my life because I am quite afraid of you disowning me. And I can’t bear even the possibility of that happening. So I guess I opted to push myself away, minimizing our relationship, instead of risking an irrevocable loss. But I can’t do this any longer, both because I miss you so much, and because I can’t continue to hide what’s going with me. I want you to be a part of my life. And since my silence has made a de facto barrier between us, it is up to me to give you the opportunity either to finalize the break or to show me how unwarranted my fears have been.

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I received an email from a very close friend “Little Shoes” (LS) today, which read, in part, as follows:

I … would really love love love to discuss with you in some fashion what you’ve come to as to spiritual ‘doctrines’. I know you’ve said it’s been a journey, and that it’s a bit of a departure from the Calvary teachings [e.g., those of the church LS currently attends and I attended for 16 years]. I don’t personally consider that a bad thing at all — we’ve really done quite a bit of journeying ourselves too … starting … shortly after we were married. It really made me aware there was much about the history of the Church that I was unfamiliar with. So, when you’ve mentioned possibly going into the ministry, I’ve really wanted to hear more about what your beliefs are at this point. I know you’ve mentioned it, but I can’t remember the specific denomination that you’re a member of … but since I don’t consider deominations to be the full definition of a person’s beliefs, I would love to hear more from you.

Unsurprisingly, my reply was so long-winded that Facebook (the venue wherein LS sent the email) didn’t allow it. I had to break it up into thirds. Here, somewhat edited, are the second and third parts of my reply to my friend. 

    *   *   *

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advocacy for gay marriage from straight spouses

On the AP today:

Of all the constituency groups that advocate allowing gay couples to wed, none is perhaps more counterintuitive than the heterosexual spouses of gay men and lesbians.

Yet as the issue plays out in the nation’s courtrooms and statehouses, some of the wives and husbands who learned that their partner was attracted to other women or men are making their voices known in the often-polarized debate.

“We are the unacknowledged victims of the victims of homophobia,” said Amity Pierce Buxton, the founder of the Straight Spouse Network, a New Jersey-based support and advocacy group with 52 U.S. chapters. “When gays and lesbians feel they have to get married to be accepted and to have kids, that hurts not only gays and lesbians, but straight spouses and kids.”

Read the whole article here.

One exchange:

After her husband moved out, “I asked him, ‘When did you know'”‘ He said, ‘When I was a teenager.’ I said, ‘Why did you marry me?’ And he said, ‘Because I didn’t want to be (gay),'” she said.

I can so relate, as can many lesbian and gay people. I, for one, never married anyone because I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I desperately wanted to be straight, did all the “ex gay” routines, and yet couldn’t eradicate who I was created to be. But I know so many (including my girlfriend) who followed the only path to family open to them. And the soul-devouring pain this causes all involved is horrifying.

I am very happy and grateful to see this perspective, from the spouses and former spouses of frustrated and closeted gays, articulated so well here.

in which the character of the (anti-)hero is measured and found wanting

Put downs are so popular. It was cool to have a witty jab back in the 70s, in the 80s, in the 90s. But the counterculture was still counter culture, not mainstream. What has become of us? The issue has been nagging me a lot, lately, especially as I’m inheriting two teenagers who both revel in fast tongues and rapier wit. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got a quick wit. I’m good at the come back. Wittiness will get you everywhere with me. Check out my favorite quotations on Facebook. But demeaning, belittling, denigrating, cruelty—these are unconscionable.

When I was in junior high and high school, we found it acceptable to tell “Polack” jokes, to mock “retards,” to use the word “gay” as a pejorative or a synonym with “stupid” or “tacky.” We judged each other. We did our level best to appear “in the know” even if terribly naive, not wanting to appear stupid or ridiculous (i.e., worthy of ridicule). There are countless times I chose to laugh heartily with so-called “friends” at dirty jokes I didn’t get, so as to avoid being seen as less than my peers. It was almost an instinctual reaction.

So I understand the need for kids to fit in. I understand the hierarchical mindset that dictates youth culture. But, unfortunately, this isn’t just youth culture I’m addressing.

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soundbite theology: perfection & forgiveness

Recently, I posted a status on Facebook, requesting friends to give me any well-worn Christianese sayings, sayings popular as bumper stickers, aphorisms, or catch-all encouragement expressions. I was looking, in short, for soundbites that seem, unfortunately, to form the ‘foundation’ of certain groups’ theology.

It was a fun thread, and a number of friends, of very diverse political and theological backgrounds—from the very liberal to the very conservative—participated in good humor and great memory.

But the fun was dampered quite suddenly when one friend wrote simply, “I feel attacked.” It wasn’t even an hour later and she had unfriended me. I was shocked and hurt, since this friend was a dear discovery, a found ally from decades ago, with whom I had many shared trials and victories, a friend I treasured. That a simple list of aphorisms, outside of any usage context, could make one feel attacked in one’s faith, pulled me up short. What is it that this portends?

My concern is that an increasing number of Christians rely not on scripture and its ambiguities, not on the ineffability and mystery of a God who is greater than we can think or imagine, but on the certainties such soundbites promise. And when these soundbites are merely listed together as a set of aphorisms, they somehow fail to stand up with such vigor as do other lists of aphorisms, like, for example, the Proverbs. The soundbites, when looked at for what they are as aphorisms, even before we consider content, seem paltry and trite. But such a subconscious suggestion challenges one’s faith, if one stands on these, and not on the complexities and paradoxes expressed in scripture and those faith traditions that have endured for centuries.

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the woman at the well: a meditation

There once long ago was a woman who had no good fortune with relationships. She lived in a world where the best thing anyone like her could ever have was a good marriage, a strong son, and a solid community reputation. As a girl, she’d dreamed about what her future husband might be like. He’d be respectable, strong, intelligent, romantic, awe-inspiring. She’d dreamed of her future sons, who would, of course, be supportive and devout, growing up to the stature of community pillars, as all the town would look to her as a great woman whom God had smiled upon, and who, because of her virtue, had been blessed with honor and comfort.

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death, destruction, and other ninja powers

I should be working diligently away at my dissertation. I have a lot of reading to do before I crack out the keyboard on the next section in this chapter on the interrelationships between reasoning, valuing, and meaning. But this has been eating at me for awhile, and besides, Unseen Disciple is starting to look more like a video blog or scrapbook than a log of my own thoughts.

So how about a little bit of a ridiculously-researched rant? Don’t mind if I do.

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