This Blog is no more

moving

 

While I have loved writing freely (literally) I have decided that it is time for me to buy up some internet real estate and purchase my own domain. No longer will I blog from this account.

From now on I will be blogging at www.registeredrunaway.com

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

If you are a SUBSCRIBER, my posts will no longer reach your inbox…. UNLESS you resubscribe at my new site, there is a “follow” tab on the bottom right corner of the page.

 

I am looking forward to all that this change may bring to the blog, and will, hopefully, have some new content up in the next couple days. Thanks for your continued support!

RR

The List and The Name

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Tucked away in the corner of my favorite coffee shop, I sit in my chair and I mull over a Name. Pressed atop my thigh is the sketchbook that I sometimes use to make lists. Daily responsibilities, wandering thoughts captured, and some very big dreams.

In no certain order is a set of names. I squint at it and think about adding more. Pen taps the page as my mind moves elsewhere. What makes one trustworthy? Would I make it on that list?

I glance back at the page and there’s a tear at the top. And I too am torn. I’m torn because I don’t know if this is a list of-to-dos or a power grab. I wonder if He somehow had mapped out my meddling and weaved it into his own idea.

I’ve made marks by those that know- Some have a check and others are crossed off, but none of them share the same color ink- a reminder of how long this hike has been.

I’m in the in-between. The place where I’m free to walk out with certain company, but go back inside around others. It’s wearing and tearing, but necessary, I think.

My list isn’t arbitrary. The names are faces and they all take up ink on my social skin. With each one comes new sets of loaded lists. One of scenarios, one of bubble wrapped words, and most importantly, one about trust. Trust that they’ll keep this. Trust that they will wait until I can check or cross every other name off.

And it’s not easy for them. My those that know mingle with my those that don’t and they find themselves gagged. Held back from friends they have never had to before. All of them are loved by me, but some are not trusted. Can you say you love someone if you don’t trust them? I should start a list of questions.

Left to right I read each name and I know what I am suppose to do. Pray and pray harder.

And for whatever reason, there is one name I cannot stop seeing. It’s like the ink is moving and trying to steal my attention. Every time I open to this page, that name wakes up and I cannot stop seeing it.

So like a heat-seeking missile, my eyes zero in on the target until everything around it blurs and dims darker. Prayers whispered whirl down like a tornado to its touchdown. All I’m hoping for is a nudge. A chance meeting. Trying so hard to be courageous.

I leave the coffee shop and go home.

The next morning I look at the list and then at my phone. The name on the list called my phone. He’s just saying hey wondering what I’ve been up to. I look back at the list and give a nod- but I need more to go on than that.

But something was so different about today. Didn’t matter whether I wanted to or not, it was just going to happen. And I’m suddenly surprised by my lack of control. It was just a different kind of morning.

So I called one of the first names crossed off on the list and told her what was to happen today. I explained that it was unexplainable, just a feeling, a nudge, an inevitability. She told me she’d pray for the both of us.

I texted the Name and said we should hang out tonight

But as the day wore on and courage filtered through doubt, I decided against tonight. I felt the reins returning to my hands and I loved that I could choose again. I was aware that this red light-green light game started to resemble the pattern of a slow dieter. I’ll enjoy my distance today, but tomorrow, that’s when I’ll start being honest.

I called the Name and cancelled. Too much was going on, I said. I’m staying in.

But I didn’t stay in. The only place I wanted to be, that place I felt peace, was tucked in that chair in that corner of my favorite coffee shop. The baristas all know me here and when I walk through the door they say hello. Usually I walk on by waving, set my things down in my chair and then go back for my cup.

Turning the corner to the other side of the fireplace, a realization dawns on me and I am stopped dead in my tracks. I crossed a line. I ignored that voice in my head for far too long telling me to tell this person and that person, and to finish the damn list already. Fate would find me, it always does. Sitting in my chair is the name on my list and my mind.

He was sitting in my Naming chair. The place I would pick and choose who to bring in and who to leave out. All he thinks is going on is that I am caught in that earlier lie. He thought I was staying in. The Name looked more surprised than I did, but definitely didn’t feel it as much.

In a move of pure passive aggressiveness, I settle in somewhere else, telling him I have some “business” to attend to. I found a different chair. It was unfamiliar and had a big lump in the cushion and the whole time I saw and seethed over the boundaries fate had betrayed. Into my corner and into my chair. It had taken me out of my safe space and I kept my lips locked. You don’t get to choose, I boiled.

Closing time came fast and the Name meandered over to my makeshift study. Unsure of how to keep my cards close, so he wouldn’t know something was up, I agreed that I had nothing else to do and that we should go hang with some friends.

I drove behind him and I felt the wind at my back moving me faster. Any further, any more distance, any more silence and I would self-destruct. I had to let go. I had to exhale. I had to give in to where the wind was taking me. I had to have faith in fate. I had to, even if I didn’t want to. Gritting my teeth, I took out my phone and told the Name to pull over.

We sat in my the car and I told him my story. Beginning to end. All those times something seemed wrong and he knew there was, but I never told him. Why me and some others would sneak off to talk. What we were talking about and why he wasn’t invited. I told him that his name was written on my list and on my mind and my heart. It had been written so long ago. I always trusted him, but I always battled doubt.

And he listened and let me talk. His face didn’t fall out of place, it was calm and his eyes kept contact. Throughout my ramble he nodded and smiled and showed sympathy through the lines on his brow. Then he spoke and he called me courageous. He thanked me, THANKED me, for trusting in his confidence. Nothing would ever change because our relationship is built on a rock that can’t be shaken. Not by something like this.

And I saw how honest words can restore what regret took.

~~~

Trust is more ruthless and risky than all other exchanges. It asks us to be human and be liberal with this life. Let those that you care about in and never measure their love by the yardstick you use for yourself.

I think a lot about how fate and trust share the same sheets. I am Jonah, and I believe I have a safehouse. But fate always finds me. He finds me and throws me in front of my peas and says, “eat,”why?“Because it’s good for you.” And I cross my arms and scrunch up my mouth, and He sighs and replies , “got all day bud.”

Maybe my list and maybe my steps are all predestined anyway. Perhaps Papa God really held the pen to the page. Maybe its a partnership; another facet of faith. Another foot down the dim stairway. It could be true that my relationship with the list and the faces behind them are reflective of my trust in the Father.

Something else to think about as I sit back in my chair and stare again at the list. There are only checks and crosses. Not a single is scribbled or burnt off the page. Not a single face has fled me.

And this hike doesn’t feel so wearisome anymore.

It is a picture of how far I have come.

And all the country I have left to cross.

RR

I am a Scandal in the Evangelical Conscience

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This post, and maybe one follow up, is inspired by the familiar writings of growing up evangelical on Addie Zierman’s blog. It was also inspired by Rachel Held Evans’ latest: The Scandal of the Evangelical Heart

~~~

There I am, alone in my study, with a shoe box of days gone by. In my hands I hold that old Polaroid picture. Its faded and still tinted with orange. Me in my cut off jeans and Jesus Freak tee. My arms around friends, with WWJD dangling and bouncing off our wrists. I was brace-faced and brave, standing before a crowd of freaks like me. This was my pilgrimage to my Mecca- this was… the Sonshine Music festival.

Keeping eye contact with that thirteen year old kid, I bring it close to my face and softly whisper, “Oh buddy… so much I have to tell you, so much to… warn you, but yet… (sigh) I cannot.” The picture slips through my fingertips, cleansing my hands and conscience as it floats down to its shoe box burial. And back into the blanket I fall, shamelessly sipping from a glass of Cabernet. The dimly lit room by the fire, making this my oasis and refuge. Oh, the memoirs of a Billy Graham groupie.

~~~

When I take trips down memory lane, I don’t stop and linger here. I tend to cover my eyes and pretend I don’t hear myself reciting old clichés. Those mementos along the trail from where we were to where we are today are both comical and wretched. Like your naked baby albums and your mom’s pride and your brand new friends over.

We can all look back now and mock our tween selves with our Jesus Freak cut offs and our wrist acronyms. We can blush and snicker and say, wow! Weren’t we brave? And split-our-sides when we remember the excitement of a celeb wearing a cross. When Heaven became so Hip and we’d think, You and me, Kirk Cameron… we… we are going to be best friends after this apocalypse thing is over with. (which we always thought was one bad president away).

I was the quintessential evangelical boy.

On the frontlines of faith, I was your sword-wielding soldier. I was the saint leading your prayer circle on See You At The Pole Day. I was that witness with flyers for your next Young Life gathering. I was the small forward for your Church Basketball team. I was your Republican. I was your Wednesday night regular. I was in two Bible studies at once. I was there every Sunday.

And I was a fraud

and I was afraid.

But I tried to be brave, because If God is for me, who can be against me?

I regretfully reply to that boy in the Polaroid,

“Honestly, a lot.”

The term “evangelical” is rooted in the word “gospel” which means “good news”, but this “good news” had bad news for me. I wasn’t invited. I was an interloper. A refugee behind enemy lines. A wannabe. Too much of a freak for the Jesus Freaks. I was a lackey and they were sons and daughters. I was gay and I was Christian and they said it wasn’t possible, because Christ didn’t die for people like that.

But I tried to convince Him anyway.

With every bracelet, baptism, church revival, witness, and prayer… I wished to crawl under their rope lines unseen. I just thought, if I looked the part, if I stood at the very front of the altar calls, sang loud enough at Sonshine and spread the good news to as many as would hear, maybe the gospel would make an exception for an outcast like me. Maybe I could earn it. Maybe this God graded more on effort.

But as the chorus of my peers grew louder against gays, my courage crashed and burned. Bravery bent before such steep odds. Somewhere between James Dobson radio and Youth Pastor bullying- It became crystal clear that God wanted nothing to do with me. Message Received.

And after a lot of years of being brave.

Courage didn’t cut it anymore…

For me, being an evangelical meant masking. Impressing. Playing dress up. Putting on a show. Showing up on Sunday. It felt sharp. I was Hiding. Hurting all over. Ashamed. Paranoid. Hating myself for a choice I must’ve made, but for the life of me couldn’t remember. It was a social step ladder that was actually a treadmill. It was a promise of rewards for good deeds always dangling in front of me. It was a guarantee that I would be a “new creation” and my life would be better and I would be accepted. It was James Dobson in my ear and Youth Pastors in my face, and the smile and nod I had to force all the time.

Evangelicalism was exhausting.

That’s why I ran.

I ran away from the waiting room and the stage. I hopped fences and broke through borders to find a place where I could just catch my breath. I outran their politics and prejudices. I ran until my feet felt grass and not gravel. I ran until I was safe from the saints.

I ran until I was finished.

And He met me there. It took an escape from the city walls and the stained glass God to touch the beating heart of a Christ in love. The one that wrapped me in His arms and hushed my cries, all while whispering,

“I’m not like them, I’m not like them, I’m not like them.”

And he wasn’t like them- he wasn’t anything like I thought he was. He was kind and his hands were warm. He didn’t ask anything of me but my love. He told me to keep running, but to let him come with. Toward things I didn’t know I wanted, but someday I would.

Leaving evangelicalism led me to Love. I spent so much time trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, so much time trying to be instead of just being. And I never found him there because I couldn’t see past the pain. I couldn’t see past the wrath and the madness. I couldn’t see past my pastor or past James Dobson. There was too much shadow. But maybe that’s why I see him so clearly now.

Like going from darkness to brilliant sunlight, I had to see all the bad and the wrong and the cracks before I was could fully receive the earth shattering news that I was made on purpose and loved to no end. Eyes are still adjusting and I’m still learning, but my heart beats with a new pulse of promise.

A new kind of Bravery.

And I’m running with it,

RR

A Language Lost

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Last year at the University of Minnesota, PBS hosted a conversation between David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rauch.

Rauch and Blankenhorn are friends and nobody is sure why.

Rauch has long been a major player in the fight for marriage equality and Blankenhorn has been the thorn in his side, advocating for the traditional family and the mother-father parental model.

For years, these two have traversed the country while tearing into one another over their opposing beliefs. Rauch has called Blankenhorn a bigot.  Blankenhorn has called Rauch a radical.  The two were camped in polarizing places, maintaining a gridlock that would make congress blush.

 

But then something happened.

 

They grabbed coffee.

 

Through the honest hours of humanity that they spent together, a friendship was born.  Shortly after, Rauch wrote the preface for Blankenhorn’s book- a book against gay marriage. Rauch called it the best argument he’s heard yet.

The bond that blossomed between these two didn’t derive out of a change in belief (although, Blankenhorn eventually did). It came from changing the language. At the height of their mutual hostility, they experienced a crinkle of the conscience, one that begged them to be better. This epiphany awoke a newfound desire to disagree with dignity again. They had grown tired of demonizing one another, so they started an organization and co-wrote literature and connected over the ordinary in their lives.

Looking through the lens of how the real world works, this relationship is rare, if not impossible. But have we ever truly tried? Have we ever wondered whether we were simply situating ourselves in the tribes society told us to?

Let’s imagine for a second that there’s this Church function.

In attendance is George and Evelyn, an elderly couple from the rural parts of Pennsylvania. With a little grit and grace, they raised eight children on a paycheck-to-paycheck budget. They also happen to be Franklin Graham diehards and down ballot Republicans.

Across at their table sits a newlywed lesbian couple, just on the cusp of parenthood.

Through a little nudge and a proper introduction, a lay out of lives begins. The two catch a glimpse of anxiety and fret filling the young ladies faces- looks they know all too well.. And like the proud parents they are, they lean in and offer a few tricks up their sleeve. But then things get a little of hand. An hour passes and coffee is spat out of mouths during another hilarious trip down memory lane. Exhausting the stories the couples somberly reflect on how life is never what we expect it to be.

Is it possible that inside those intimate exchanges, nostalgia and naive dreams could collide and cross over… into closeness?

Call me an idealist or a dreamer, but I don’t think this is farfetched for us. Rauch and Blankenhorn did it because they reclaimed that redemptive lost language. The one that speaks to the soul, not the soldier.

The lost language beneath the wreckage of wrong worldview and cultural caricature is found in our shared humanity. Too often, instead of excavating what bonds us, what truly matters, our sharp tongues reflexively strike, injecting toxic turns that wither away whatever was growing.

But our stories disarm. In our familiarities we find ourselves unfilled and wanting more. Our differences don’t dissolve, but they become quieter and petty, unwanted interruptions of something valuable we have stumbled upon. Empathy is found in people we do not expect to find it from. Through stories of different characters, but similar sentiments a brave bond can be formed.  This is the language of lives lived.

Somewhere between Stonewall and Proposition Eight we lost sight of the stories beneath the banners. It was all about winning for us. We stroked our pride by pledging allegiance to the propaganda of our cause. Crimes were committed, to be sure, but the brush we painted the other with was too broad, too simple and completely dehumanizing. And as a consequence, we buried the language that bonds us.

If we could resurrect those refrains of common courage and struggle and hope and faith, maybe we could unearth what has been lost. Maybe we would hang on tighter to the words of Mother Teresa who said

“if we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

Could what divides be overcome with what bonds us?

The Kingdom tells us yes.

RR

The Thursday Threads: a new thing

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Starting something a little new here… at least for me. One of my resolutions this year has been to be a better reader. Like going to the batting cages for baseball, there’s no way you can deliver more quality storytelling without reading as much as you write.

So every Thursday, I am going to post some of my favorite pieces from the past week or so because… A) it forces me to read and think critically about everything that is put in front of me, b) it allows me to promote my fellow blogger friends who I feel have A LOT to offer the community at large and finally, c) I enjoy reading other people’s lists so much. Penny to the tray thing.

Not completely sure if each Thursday will always look like this (sometimes I may just throw down lists without my favorite quotes). There are a few books I am into right now that I wouldn’t mind introducing on here.

Who knows.

But I think I’m going to love this too much.

~The Story Tellers~

Spiritual Journey: The Cold Season

By Addie Zierman of How to talk Evangelical

We haven’t had a measurable snowfall since that magical December blizzard, and the whole world feels raw, exposed without its thick blanket of white.

The trees are stripped bare, and the homemade hockey rink on our pond is empty, and we have to pile on the layers and run fast from the warm car to the warm grocery store because the air all around is break-you-open cold.

Warmth and Light are Not the Same

By Stephanie Spencer of Everyday Awe

“I was walking to my car, bundled up tight with hat, scarf, and mittens, when I realized that I didn’t have my sunglasses. I hadn’t realized how blinding it was outside until I actually opened the door. As I turned around to go back and get them, my husband told me a simple fact, “The sun is always brighter when it is this cold outside.” (He has a meteorology degree, and likes to share tidbits like that with me on occasion. I guess it has something to do with the extremely low dew points that come with super cold temperatures.)”

The God of the Sea and the sea monster

Jonathan Martin

“The waves were especially rough there, but I foolishly will attempt to swim in anything. As I waded out, over and over again the waves would take my 6”5 frame and fling me to the ocean floor like a rag doll. After taking a few beatings, I finally landed back on the shore with my swim trunks on my head. This part of the island has had numerous deaths by drowning over the years. I finally was starting to appreciate not just the beauty but the wildness of the sea.”

~Provocative… and Redemptive~

Deeper Problems in “emergence” Christianity

By Amy Mitchell at Unchained Faith

“There was no problem with Julie’s thoughtful remarks about the confusion over Phyllis’ speech. There was no problem with the continued discussion on Twitter, in which many women chimed in to suggest that there might be some issues within the movement, including a failure to examine privilege. But for whatever reason, the conversation turned unpleasant when the women involved were accused of “attacking” the movement and being “passive-aggressive.” In other words, it was the Emergence Christianity version of calling women “shrill.””

‘There’s Nothing Mutual About It’: White evangelicals, privileged distress and grievance envy

Slacktivist, Fred Clark

“Again, I think this is what we’re seeing now from many white evangelicals in response to LGBT people and their increasingly bold demands for legal equality, marriage equality, equal protection in the workplace and equal standing in the church. We’re seeing grievance envy. The cruel reality and awful legitimacy of LGBT people’s complaint is beginning to sink in, and evangelicals have begun to apprehend, however partially, that this gives the argument for equality a compelling moral force. Evangelicals are beginning to grasp that this is why they are losing the argument, and maybe even that this is why they cannot win.

And so they instinctively do what nearly all of us humans do when first surprised by and confronted with the grievances of others: They start asserting their own list of grievances as though it was Festivus Day.”

 

~Speaking of Sexual Minorities…~

dear pastor

Jordan at gaysubtlety

“And do you remember how, when the pastoral staff responded less-than-favorably to my testimony, you began to conclude most of your emails with “I’m for you”? And how you kept inspiring me, kept affirming me, kept speaking wisdom to me, kept being there for me even as I started to lose confidence that I would ever be welcome in the church again, and reminded me that this wasn’t “us” vs. “them” but just “us,” the church, striving in a fallen world to preach the gospel amidst disagreement? And how you never stopped asking me hard questions, either, because you desired to know truth and to encourage me to live in that truth? Thank you.”

Defusing the Transgender-Christian Debate

Dr. Trista Carr at Iam…

“God did not create humanity to live in conflict and turmoil—internal or external. He created us to live in harmony and loving relationship with the Godhead, three-in-one, and with each other. So, this side of the fall, we have to figure out how to get back to the created order as best as we can in our broken states. But the only way that that idea is even possible is through the redemptive power, atoning sacrifice, and healing presence of Jesus Christ. And this is true for EVERYTHING we encounter in life. If we indeed want to glorify God with our entire beings, we have to make sacrifices, we have to make choices that other people do not like, we have to make changes in our lives, and we have to press into God through the Word, our intimate times of prayer, and through Godly counsel.”

Confession #71

My Silent Half

Darkness is never just darkness. It’s distraction and interaction with our souls creates a burden we often feel we can’t bare yet are scared to come out from underneath. Because if you are inside darkness long enough the pain develops into a false security blanket; one who’s arm drapes over your shoulders like a friend who will never actually follow through.

 

~Favorite Response to Mark Driscoll~

From Matthew Paul Turner’s Facebook Page

“How should we respond? Should we say nothing because addressing/challenging his Tweets only adds fuel to his flaming ego? Should we bash him once again and call him out as wrong and arrogant and remind him that he isn’t God? Or should we simply suggest in a humble way that people need to pray for him because he’s obviously losing touch with reality? Honestly, I don’t know what the proper response should be. But I do know this: I don’t challenge Mark Driscoll in hopes that Mark Driscoll will change. I think Mark is a narcissist. Words will never change Mark or get him to “see the light”. I challenge Mark and Mark’s words and Mark’s brand in hopes that people will hear of his actions and resist becoming involved in the cult-like community that he has manufactured in Seattle. Yes, I know you know where I stand on most things related to “Mark Driscoll”. I’m sure I sound like a broken record. But so do the stories of pain and abuse that continue to come out of Mars Hill. And as long as that’s happening, I will not stop challenging this man’s evil. He will like never care or listen. But those who leave his fold broken and lost do listen. And they’re relieved to know that somebody knows the truth about Mark and is willing to listen to their truth about Mark.This is not just a Tweet from Mark. This Tweet is a part of a bigger brand. And that brand hurts people. That brand is dishonest. That brand continues to spiritually harm thousands. Sure, the brand is likely too big to stop. But that should not keep us from warning people in hopes that they won’t get sucked in by Mark’s brand and putting our arms around people and loving and caring for them when Mark’s brand spits them out.”

 

~Favorite Comment on the Blog this Week~

From Survivor Girl 007

Tremendous post!!! If we “sat in” others’ stories, then we’d truly SEE one another the way Jesus saw Zaccheus, or Mary Magdelene, or the woman at the well. The way He sees us still. To quote Shane Claiborne, “[Jesus'] message and his life are an interruption of death. He constantly interrupts whatever is destroying the life and dignity of other people – and invites us to do the same.” We straight, churched folks have forever been “destroying the life and dignity” of our gay brothers and sisters, and IT IS TIME TO STOP. So we MUST sit in others’ stories if we claim to follow Christ.

Thanks for your continued good work, RR.

Hugs and love!

 

RR

 

 

Flaunting Sexuality

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I remember the date I attended that service, because it was 3 months before I came out. The message was a continuation of a series on sex and gender roles and what each means for the committed Christian. It actually wasn’t that conservative of a conversation. Open minds were presented and the words submission and purity weren’t drawn on like arrows to a bow.

But during the Q & A, a certain question came up; one that everyone was thinking because this was CHURCH and we were talking about SEX.

What about homosexuality?

“Well… um. hmmmmmm… ha.

The Christian Sex Expert conceded the floor to our pastor who had a not-so-thorough but nonetheless, gracious and nuanced response.

“Exactly” chimed in the Expert, “exactly and, like, I don’t walk up to strangers saying, ‘Hey, my name is Jane and I’m a heterosexual.’ That’s just not how we introduce ourselves!” She stepped back, folded her arms and beamed around as if she had just steered us somewhere satisfactory. And all I thought was, wait… where exactly?

It’s an age old tradition for the Church crowd to level complaints against others that are…. ill-fitting.

Like when they’d say, Women are just so shrill and simple and emotional”

Or, Black folk are always out take what is mine”

More recently, “Them illegal’s are trying to take away English from our country”

Right now, “Those gays are so in-your-face about their sexuality”

Its safe to say this Expert was operating under the old assumption that gay people put way too much of an emphasis on their sexual orientation. That somehow our sexual identity supersedes the spiritual one. And in a perfectly uncomplicated world, I could sympathize with her. That being said, her answer reflects a common misunderstanding about who LGBT people are… something I would hope a Sex Expert would have some knowledge of.

First and foremost, women, racial minorities and religious identities are never asked to silence their stories of struggle or to cover up the marks that make them different. We tried being colorblind, but that almost erased the progress we made towards healing old crimes. We tried to not see gender, but then things got complicated because women wanted equality not worship. We tried to not see religion but with that came a compromise of conscience for those of us that hold our relationships with a higher power to be the most significant aspect of our lives.

At some point down the road we realized that it would be wrong to become blind to the beautiful blemishes that make us rare to the regular. To do so would be a betrayal to the “come as you are” culture we have sought to emulate.

We should also consider who the typical talkers are when it comes to this. Not necessarily at the pulpit, but in faith culture and the public for sure.

After all, it is typically conservative Christians who insert LGBT issues into constitutional ballots and it is usually conservative Christians who show up to protest the Pride parade. When Christians go to vote, abortion and gay marriage tend to be the two issues that their decision hangs upon. Now that I think of it… Christians may chat about this more than we do. And it’s okay.

But when my gay brethren bring up their love life it’s suddenly in your face?

Spare me.

Maybe the reason this kind of thinking exists is because perception from a distance makes misconceptions feel like observations. Basically, you havent sat in our stories.

And if you did that, with ears and hearts wide open, you might get a morsel of understanding. When you grow up in a hetero-normative culture that calls you a contradiction and an abomination, this important piece of who you are becomes magnified over endless years of closet living. It’s all we thought about and hated about and finally accepted and appreciated about ourselves.

And then when you’re out… (snap) just like that, everybody talks about it, and soon, you become someone’s “gay” friend to pull out at parties (like an accessory).

But when we, the experts of our own unique experiences, talk openly about them, we are crassly throwing it in your face.

We are making too much of ourselves.

Just because we’re not cut from the same Wonder Bread doesn’t mean we are without sustenance.

So give us our dues and let us share our stories. We aren’t pushing an “agenda” any more than the Sisters giving sermons are propagating feminism. We aren’t crashing a party any more than the black folks in the pews are disrupting white homogeneity. We are not obsessed with our sexuality, but we get that we’re different. A significant and inseparable part of a body built on diversity.

RR

The Church is a Whore

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I know firsthand how cruel Christians can be.

After all, it was Christians that told my Dad that he made me gay. It was Christians that asked me to recite a creed—out loud, that said that it was the devil and not God who gave me my attractions. And just last spring, it was a Christian that said all the gays should be killed while another called for fathers to beat their effeminate sons.

Shouldn’t forget yesterday, when the Christian media machine screamed “for shame!” over a speech in which a man told me I mattered.

And, obviously, this sucks. There are many moments when abandoning the faith completely is only a breath away.

But then I remember my brother—an employee of a church here in Minneapolis, saying something to me that at the time, changed everything:

“The Church is a whore, but she is my mother.”

These words from Saint Augustine carry the reminder of a debt owed. For all of her thistles and weeds and bullying and whoring, she kept the gospel from flat lining. She kept its’ essentials fresh.

And I love her too much to let her destroy herself. I love her for who she truly is- the body that is e pluribus unum. The one that is organic and diverse and skeptical, just like all of us.

But does this mean we simply, live and let live? Leave one another alone? Let the space between us grow larger?

Hell no. There is a far better way.

And it’s found in my story.

And yours.

And theirs.

Stories are so sacred. They put flesh and bones beside unchallenged beliefs so we have to deal with this life directly. We exchange our jagged caricatures for real faces and names and narratives.

As a consequence… the Kingdom expands a few acres.

Every one of us has a story, and until we share them, our projections of the other will dominate the dialogue. Stories bridge our souls over what once kept us apart; letting those things flow away like the water beneath us. We all share this space, this hallowed ground, where different lives meet on the floor of grace.

Here, we pay attention to one another and we affirm one another even when we diametrically disagree with one another. Here, we understand that Christ’s call for Kingdom Come wasn’t a command for top down conformity. Here we know that picking and choosing the conscience of our convenience is not the echo of a pursuit for truth. Here we listen and we learn and we walk together towards wherever God is leading us on this.

We share this space because it’s God’s.

And God isn’t the guest list type.

RR