Category Archives: ethical

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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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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Yes, Gay is Definitely OK

For Immediate Release, June 23, 2009
By Affirmation Co-spokesperson Tim Tennant-Jayne

As is the sexuality of all of God’s children who are lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, straight, or queer!

Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and  Queer Concerns supports and congratulates the Reverend Diana Holbert, for her courage and strength in preaching the truth about homosexuality. Rev. Holbert is the pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Dallas, TX. While other clergy seek to continue spreading distortions of God’s message, Rev. Holbert courageously preached the truth of God’s gift of homosexuality. Her congregation is blessed to have this strong person as their pastoral leader. The United Methodist Church is blessed to have her as one of their clergy persons.

In true David vs. Goliath fashion, the Rev. Holbert was willing to dispute the message coming out of a much larger congregation. As she prepared to do so the forces of ignorance rose up in fear. Her sermon was mocked even before she was able to preach it. Unable to stand the light of God’s truth and love, those who obtain power by demeaning us sought to cloud the issue by questioning her message. Rev. Holbert persevered with preaching God’s message to her congregation.

We applaud the Rev. Holbert for her courage to speak out. We hope her shining example will empower others within this denomination and in all faith traditions to recognize God’s love of this varied gift of sexuality. Love of another person is indeed a rich gift from God. Let us all celebrate it and proclaim its value.

As an independent voice of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people, Affirmation radically reclaims the compassionate and transforming gospel of Jesus Christ by relentlessly pursuing full inclusion in the Church as we journey with the Spirit in creating God’s beloved community.

Affirmation is an activist, all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization with no official ties to The United Methodist Church.

the wooing of the wanderer: a love story

Once there was a large park, in which a variety of gardens were lovingly tended by a master gardener. Each garden had a number of beds, in which any kind of plant, blooming and non-blooming, could be found. There were formal gardens, filled with carefully-planned and symmetric beds, and herb gardens, populated by the most fantastic variety of edible blooming plants. There were sculpture gardens, decorated with the loveliest of shrubs, and cottage gardens, which seemed almost a riot of blossoms in a fantastic variety of colors, textures, and scents. And each garden was a haven not only to the plants that the gardener had chosen to grow there, but also to the many beings who buzzed about the blooms or wandered meditatively through the well-worn, tree-lined stone pathways that beckoned welcome to any with a love for nature.

In one bed, there was a certain blooming plant who, though beautiful beyond description, was equally fragile and required much individualized attention from the master gardener. Some extra mulching was needed in autumn seasons, and a constant eye was kept on her during winter storms, to make certain she would not be overwhelmed by the cold and bitter winds. And so, in the care of the master, she grew and even flourished, despite the harsh climate in which the park lay. She was so beautiful, in fact, that one day, a wanderer who chanced upon the park, was stopped in her tracks. Such a lovely bloom! she thought. And since there was a stone bench under a spreading willow beside the bed, the wanderer sat down and gazed long on the beautiful, though fragile plant.

The wanderer, of course, could not long stay. But she also could not forget the tender beauty of that blossom, and she found that her wanderings often returned her to that bench, to that plant. And she found herself drawn particularly to this plant because she was so fragile, so exquisite. And she would pay special attention to this one plant, eventually becoming blind to all the other beauty around her in the master’s lush park. All she could see was that bloom. And she decided she must have her.

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Christian, more or less

There is this tendency in an increasingly dominant strain of Christian thought that holds, in effect, that the members of certain groups are “more” Christian than others in the Body of Christ because they look not only to the teachings of Christ but to the “whole” of scripture, with special emphasis on the writings of the prophets.

This is ironic, first because it holds that Christians outside these “in” groups do not study scripture beyond the teachings of Christ—which is itself patently and demonstrably false—and second because the very title “Christian” entails that one put special emphasis on Christ and his demonstrated understanding of scripture and tradition, hence, would imply that whatever makes one “more” or “less” a Christian would be directly corresponding to one’s reflection of the nature and spirit of Christ. Thus, holding oneself and one’s group as somehow “better” than others by appeal to a standard outside the spirit of Christ does nothing to prove oneself more Christ-like, more Christian. One’s grasp of the minutiae of each text’s nuances is, to say the least, irrelevant. The ultimate irony? —that few of those who think this way realize this inconsistency.

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speaking Christ to gay kids

Recently, somebody came upon The Unseen Disciple by searching for the phrase “what a Christian should tell a gay child.” That struck me. What should a Christian tell a gay child? Well, for starters, how about “you are loved?” or “you are created in God’s image?”

Perhaps this seems flip, but it isn’t intended thus. When I realized I was gay, I was crushed, since I’d been taught my whole life that gay was an abomination, dirty, and horrible beyond comprehension—and told this by Christians. One friend, however, had more impact on me than anyone else at the time. We were on the phone long distance, and I was so miserable I couldn’t eat or sleep. He asked me to sing “Jesus Loves Me.” And to believe it.

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