LGBTQ

Complexity of Divisive Topics in Church

Thanks Katie for your post “’the homosexual lifestyle’ – a rhetoric of bigotry”. It is a perspective that needs to be heard and continues to challenge my use of language surrounding the LGBT community. Your article prompted me to think through some of the complexities of this issue and other divisive issues that tend to polarize the church while attempting, as you wrote, to avoid harmful stereotypes. This post is hopefully less of a commentary about homosexuality, but rather an attempt to use this topic to examine how the church addresses these divisive issues. (more…)

“the homosexual lifestyle” – a rhetoric of bigotry

The term “the homosexual lifestyle” has appeared a number of times on this blog in the last few months. I continue to be perplexed every time I see it and hear it in the church or society. Along with all those other terms that are used against the lgbt community, it is a term that somehow carries enormous weight and meaning in our society despite the fact that it really should not be considered a valid term. My problem is that I don’t often hear this term (or other similar language) challenged for what it is – bigotry. I’d really love it if this ridiculous language would stop, both on the blog, and in church and society.

The Homosexual Lifestyle. The Homosexual Agenda. Against Family Values. Against God. Unnatural. I’m sure you can think of some yourself. Wasn’t the same of rhetoric used against other hated people in the past? Jews? Communists? Multiracial couples? Check out this comparison between the Anti-Semitic language and propaganda used by the Nazis and Anti-Gay language and propaganda seen today. (more…)

How do we get the straight white men to shut up?

Before anyone gets offended, that’s hyperbole. Bet it got your attention, though. What I’m really asking is how do we achieve diversity on YAR? I have noticed something these past few weeks on YAR. The regulars who tend to dominate the discussions on race, gender and inclusion are… men. (Or I presume so based on their screen names.) I recall several saying they are straight and white. In no way am I saying I don’t enjoy reading what they have to say. I’ve certainly been challenged by them in many ways. It just seems to me there’s something anachronistic about a core group of males who are probably also straight and white being the primary discussors of these matters in this venue.

I remember a recent race and church discussion here in which someone said straight white males should step down from church leadership to give women and minorities* back some of the power. How much does YAR function as a pulpit? We know more people are reading than simply those who post and comment. We’re even going to give periodic summaries of our discussions to an Anabaptist publication.

My fear is that with several straight white males being so adept at sharing their (thoughtful and insightful) views on the subject, the women and minorities* who would like to speak up will see YAR as ultimately no different than any other straight-white-male-dominated venue. I’m not one to just shut my trap on here, heh, but not everyone is like me. Hopefully those who know far more than I ever could will find this a safe place, too.

Maybe I made some of you mad. Good! If I’m wrong, tell me so. Come up with a better solution. Tell me which are the right questions to ask.

*I’m including GLBTQ in “minorities.” Hopefully that’s not a problem.

Men Challenging Patriarchy in the Church?

Maybe I should explain where I’m coming from. For a while now I’ve been struggling personally with how to deal with patriarchy in the church – most specifically male language for God, the male images of God I can’t seem to get rid of, and views about sexuality from the church and the Bible that seem to vastly over-represent the experience of men. I’ve been reading Sue Monk Kidd’s Dance of the Dissent Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from the Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine, which has very beneficial in helping me see things like the workings of male dominance and how one woman responds. But as Monk Kidd notes in the book, it seems that for those who have grown up male, the process of challenging patriarchy in our spiritual lives is distinctly different than for those who have grown up female. There may, of course be some overlap, but Monk Kidd suggests that perhaps the journey for the latter category is toward recovering the self, and the former toward humility. So I’m looking for some role models, men who’ve thought deeply and tried to act and live in new ways – because I think men fighting patriarchy has to have a different slant to it than when women do.

For comparison, reading Tim Wise’s eye-opening and personal insights in White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, gave me an idea of what it can look like act as a conscientious white person attempting to be anti-racist. And in that vein, I’m wondering if other folks are aware of well-grounded stories of men writing about what it’s like to confront patriarchy in the church and their personal spiritual lives (preferably confronting heterosexism too, but such texts might be few and far between). I’m interested in male feminist theologians too, but the details of day-to-day life and church seem more pressing to me at the moment. So, recommendations?

In a different spirit

I wrote this yesterday before I read Angie’s post. Her thoughts on Dorothy Day and the church reflect very well my own thoughts. While Angie’s post is thoughtful, mine is angry. Maybe in a few days, I can manage thoughtful but for now, this is what I’ve got:

A Little Stunned

A couple days ago, as I was skimming through the Mennonite Weekly Review. I noticed this item on the front page. My immediate response was to roll my eyes and think, “well, they would wouldn’t they?” and I went on with my day. Now, the more I think about it, the saltier I get. Carol Oberholtzer, the chair of the conference’s Women in Leadership Subcommittee, said she “was a little stunned.” Well, I guess so. I mean, this is 2007, and they are having a vote on whether women can be ordained? LGBT people don’t have a chance there. Here’s what I have to say to all those “credentialed leaders” who took that vote: “well done, the church will be better for it.” No, I’m not just blaming the minority that voted against women and justice but all of them, and the rest of the Mennonite Church with them. (more…)

Split Youth in the Southern Cone

Bouncing directly from Angie’s latest post… always got to give a shout-out to Dorothy! But Last week the passion for exclusion came not from the institution, but from the people themselves, YOUNG people, and a student in seminary…

At the Southern Cone Mennonite Anabaptist meetings in Uruguay last week, there was a large division among the Chilean, Argentinean, Paraguan and Uruguayan youth about what was important about church and our lives as Christians. After a large time of dialogue together as young people, a small group of youth got together and wrote a letter (which was read in front of the whole assembly) about the fact that they were worried about a few themes (of the many that were mentioned in the youth meeting and throughout the conference). They took an anti-dialogue stance towards the mention of issues such as homosexuality, abortion, sex before marriage, and referring to God as Mother and Father/inclusive language. In the letter they invited everyone to do further study of the bible so that it is clear that all these practices are sin and they condemned anyone who practices or teaches these things. (more…)

living tribute

I learned of Martin Luther King, the hero of the Civil Rights Movement, in school.
I learned of Martin Luther King, the peacemaker, at church.

In both cases I learned about King as an icon. He was like an angel-man, superhuman. King became a real person when I moved to Atlanta.

It was a fall from a pedestal of sorts, when I learned about all of the trials, the fractures, the tribulations, the anguish, and the arguments that went on behind the scenes of the marches and the committee meetings. To listen to lectures by the veterans of the movement, (Former Ambassador Andrew Young, Rev. Joseph Lowery, R. D. Abernathy, Rev. James Orange) all still involved, but some bitter, some who have appropriated the movement…whew! I learned about the hundreds of sidelined and under-recognized women who laid the groundwork for so many of the church meetings, boycotts, and potlucks (Septima Clark, Montgomery Women’s Council, Ella Baker, Ruby Doris Smith Robinson). Most of all, when I saw the struggle of his immediate family to know how to live out the legacy of the father they lost when they were young children, it all became so tangible. (more…)

Polygamous Anabaptists

The Mennonite Weekly Review reported this week that the world’s largest Anabaptist Conference, the Meserete Kristos Church of Ethiopa, recently made two groundbreaking (maybe even radical) decisions. One is that women can now be fully active in leadership in the church. My only comment to that one is: well done, the church will be better for it. More interesting to me is the other decision. Polygamous converts can now be baptised into the church without divorcing all but one of their wives. The church is still saying monogamy is the way to go (their “teaching position”) and men shouldn’t marry any more wives once they are part of the church (also probably shouldn’t be leaders).

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straight to jesus

npr’s Fresh Air did a report today on Exodus and the ex-gay movement. I only heard the first part, but found it fascinating.

For those of you who have seen ‘but i’m a cheerleader‘ and thought it was over the top – think again. most interestingly, the men in the ‘ministry’ aren’t allowed to join health clubs (gay), share cigarettes (um… gay), use ironic/sarcastic humor (totally gay), or wear certain styles of clothing. gay styles. totally totally gay styles. oh my goodness those styles are gay.

For those of you who haven’t seen ‘but i’m a cheerleader’ – go watch it now. it’s great fun.

feel-good progressive evangelical leader getting old

I recently went to hear Jim Wallis speak near Minneapolis. I went because I had a question I wanted to ask him and because I wanted to see if my annoyance with him is more than me just being cranky. He was pimping the paperback version of his most recent book so I thought I would go. He talked for a long time and was “funny” and “charming” and didn’t really say any thing I haven’t heard from him before in radio interviews or writings for Sojourners. I haven’t even read his book and I’m tired of it.
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against tradition: a polemic

(this started as a comment and then grew)

personally, i’m rather fond of ignoring the 1200 years of church history between constantine and menno. well, ignore isn’t quite the right word, and menno and constantine aren’t where i would stop.

honestly, constantine was obsessed with making a state church (bad idea) and menno was a strong proponent of celestial flesh theology (yes, jesus passed through mary as ‘water through a pipe’, and no, that was not supported by the science of the times). i’m not saying the last 2000 years are worthless, but they don’t get to be worthwhile guides just because they happened.

i agree that mennonites have a pretention of newness. we’ve been new for nearly 500 years now. in fact newness itself could be called a pretention if you believe that everything has already been thought of or done (give or take the advance of technology and everything that comes with it (such as globalization of nearly everything from world-views to nestlee’s quick).

but what say we reconsider some things? let’s even ignore the howevermanybillion years before christ, because we can (it’s especially easy to ignore the parts no one wrote down). if by ignore we mean ‘not to practice or agree with’ rather than ‘to pretend it never happened’, i’m happy to ignore quite a few things in and out of the bible and church history.

i think the church is in a horrible mess for being 2000 years old. i don’t mean that an organization at 2000 should be better than this one is, but that quite possibly organizations should never be aloud to get that old. too much red tape, too much baggage, too much confusion of the mission statement. i’ve seen three years water down a mission statement.
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