Thursday, June 26, 2008

121. Psalms

If you’ve been following along, (which I doubt), you are no doubt wondering if I went to the affirming church last Sunday, and if so, how it went… but to be honest, I don’t feel like talking about that right now. I’ll talk about that later, maybe… for now I’ll just say it was rather uneventful, and move on to what’s really on my mind.

The Psalms really comfort me. I’m sure I’m not the only one. David’s honesty is just so human. I’m working through a bit of rage right now. Something profoundly horrible happened to someone I love and, well… I’m angry. I’m having trouble sleeping, and when I do, I dream of decapitations and eviscerations. I’ve come up with some very creative ways to kill a man. I know that as a Christian love and forgiveness are key… but so is honesty. And, as I said, I’m comforted by the Psalms, which were written by David – a man “after God’s own heart”.

Psalm 58:6-11

Break the teeth in their mouths, O God;
tear out, O LORD, the fangs of the lions!

Let them vanish like water that flows away;
when they draw the bow, let their arrows be blunted.

Like a slug melting away as it moves along,
like a stillborn child, may they not see the sun.

Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—
whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away.

The righteous will be glad when they are avenged,
when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.

Then men will say,
"Surely the righteous still are rewarded;
surely there is a God who judges the earth."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

120. I hate Walmart

I hate Walmart. It’s just so big, and full of people and stuff. I mean, seriously, why is there so much stuff? I went because I was looking for something specific that I couldn’t find anywhere else – and they didn’t even have it. I sifted through all their mounds of stuff and it wasn’t even there.

So, for my recovery from my traumatic Walmart experience, I came home and watched Canadian Idol, and was very relieved to see one of my early favourites has gotten through to the voting portion of the show, so no one had better call me next Monday between 9 and 11, because I’ll likely be voting over and over again like a complete loser. I’m telling you, I get totally sucked in by this show.

In other blog-related news, I’m thinking about visiting another church on Sunday. I’d done a search for gay friendly churches in my city a few years back and only found the one I ended up going to, which, while very friendly, is not at all my type of church. This time, I found a website with a list of about 8 different churches in the area, so I’m thinking I’m going to give one of them (that happens to be about 8 minutes drive from me) a shot on Sunday. I’m a little nervous about it, because I mentioned the name of the church to a friend today and her response was “Oh, yeah… that’s one of the liberal churches”, which was disappointing, because the church has the word “evangelical” right in its name. And it’s not like I have anything against the word ‘liberal’, it’s just that when my friend said that, I knew what she meant was “oh, yeah, that’s not a Bible-believing church”. I know it shouldn’t matter what she thinks, I just would have liked it to not be so easily classified in her brain – you know, “of course they’re gay friendly, they don’t really believe the Bible”.

My book club met on Sunday night, and my pastor’s wife is in my book club. She had recently returned from some sort of district conference or something like that… actually, I don’t think it could have been a district thing because she was in Florida, but it was an official Wesleyan thingy… where they were discussing official Wesleyan doctrine. The thing we got talking about (that had nothing to do with the book we did this month, which was a graphic novel called Watchmen by Alan Moore) was the issue of alcohol. My pastor’s wife, along with pretty much everyone from my church, is part of a group that is trying to get the official doctrine of the Wesleyan church changed so that Wesleyans are allowed to drink. This might not seem like a big deal, or even that important an issue, but it actually does affect things at our church. Being in a city with lots of people from different cultures, especially French Canadians, for whom drinking wine with dinner is a matter of tradition, it means that there are many people who love our church, who attend regularly and are involved who would like to be in areas of leadership or ministry, but in order to do so they would have to give up part of their culture. And while it is really not that big a deal, I mean, it’s just wine, it’s also really silly to say that you can’t have a glass of wine with dinner if you want to be on the board at our church. Anyway, back to the discussion (which I swear is blog relevant, just wait, I’m getting to a point), she talked about how frustrating it was because the people who were arguing against her were taking the position that they were the “Bible believers” and she and her faction were the ‘liberals’. The language they used, the tone of their voices, the way they interacted with them… it all said “we believe that we have the truth, and that you are wrong, and you are attempting to dilute our truth, and we feel threatened.”. She was so frustrated by the dismissive way she and her opinions were treated that I’m surprised to hear she didn’t start an incident down there (I love my pastor’s wife – she is not a demure and self-effacing woman like so many pastor’s wives are, she’s quite feisty).

So, I sat there, listening to her express her frustration, and I couldn’t help but think about what I’d written before, about the dismissive way most Christians look at the Side A arguments… they assume, even before they’ve heard them, that they are perversions of Scripture, they refuse to engage the arguments on their actual merits, they assume a defensive posture of “You’re wrong. I don’t really care what you say, you’re just wrong.” It makes any attempt at conversation in this arena very near impossible. I’m still trying to figure this out.

Anyway, in light of this whole thought process, and in light of my possible visit to a gay friendly church, I thought I’d share a video I found by lesbian singer, Sara Em… it’s her song to the church.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

119. Pride

So, I'm blogging again, so quickly after my last post. Strange, I know. But I just wanted to show off a bit, and this is the best venue I could find for that.

But first I must confess something. I watch the Idol shows... and I like them. Oh, I think Randy's a idiot and Paula's a drunk... and Simon... well, he's Simon. But I enjoy watching people sing, and I do get caught up in the whole 'realizing your dream' thing. I'm a sucker, I know.

Now, most of my readers are American, so you may not know this, but up here in Canada we have Canadian Idol. I actually have a friend who made it fairly far in the audition rounds... not quite to the voting stage, but almost. It's the same format, same theme song... it's basically the same show with different (better, more coherent) judges -- most notably our version of Randy Jackson who is able to convey his opinions week after week without a single fist pump, "dawg" or "keeping it real". I want to hug him every week for that alone.

So, yeah, it's basically the same, but with a uniquely Canadian flavour. There is not nearly as much making fun of people, and when it happens, it pretty much always seems that the people being made fun of are in on the joke. The judges are honest, but kind (usually), and those who don't make it are almost universally polite about it. It's much more enjoyable to watch.

But never was the difference between the two shows more apparent to me than on Tuesday night. A young, high school student who is in the process of transitioning from male to female came in to audition, and the show dealt with it with such respect, I actually teared up in my living room. The amount of times I've seen people who don't fit into our gender norms go in to audition for American Idol and basically be made into a punchline... it makes me angry every single time. But here, on our version of the show, they actually made her a hero. They didn't pretend that the issue didn't exist, in fact, they highlighted it. I was so proud... proud of Ryan Mawla for having the courage to audition, proud of Canadian Idol for treating her with respect, proud of CTV for airing it... yeah... proud. You can watch it for yourself... I can't find a clip of just her audition, but she starts about 2 minutes into this clip.

Since I'm posting clips from Canadian Idol, I might as well put up another favourite, just so I have these clips in one place. Here's Kalan Porter -- the winner of Season 1 -- singing one of the few "Christian pop hits" I actually like in the finals.

Anyway, I was just proud, and thought I'd tell y'all about it.

118. She's Alive!

So, I’ve been out of the world for a while. (Oh, and I just recently rewatched my Firefly and Serenity DVDs, hence the phrase “out of the world”… Browncoats will get it. The rest of you will not understand any of what I just typed out. Sorry. But it’s your own damn fault for not watching one of the best shows to ever be on television. Maybe if you had it would still be on the air. Anyway, back to my point…) I know I’ve been neglectful, and perhaps I should have given some notice when I realized I needed to take a break, but that would have required signing on and well… I needed a break. And actually, I think I’m still taking one, but for some reason I felt like writing today. I think I’ll just explain what’s been going on.

So… I took a break. Not intentionally, but I did. And I don’t just mean I took a break from this blog. I mean I took a BREAK. I just sort of stopped. Oh, I went to work, and shopped and ate and exercised. But mostly, I stopped. I stopped calling people, I stopped going to church, I just stopped. I think my brain was just tired. I wasn’t depressed, which was some people’s worry, I’ve been depressed before and this felt nothing like that. I just couldn’t see my way to doing anything that required any sort of brain power -- and for me, church is one of those things, and as a natural introvert (with honed extroverted skills) so do people. Let me tell you how disengaged I got. When I finally started coming out of my cave (again, not depressed, I promise you), it turned out that a lot of people had just assumed I’d left the country again. I had people asking me how Korea was, and if I was home for a holiday. Ridiculous. Me, I mean, not them. But I’m making my way slowly but surely back into the world. I went to church the past few weeks (well, not this past Sunday, I slept in), and I’ve started making an effort to call people and be more out and about. So I think my brain is revving back up, which is good.

It’s been a good break though. It’s not like I wasn’t seeing people. I was working practically every day (which is pretty good considering I supply at a preschool with a staff of 3 people… it’s kind of incredible how many hours they give me) and the kids are great and bring me so much joy… plus I get along awesomely with the other teachers, which makes for a fun work day. Seriously, think about it… I get paid to play with preschoolers and cool people. That’s pretty darn amazing. Add to that mix the 2 hot moms that I get to chat with/flirt with on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and you’ve got a happy girl. Oh, don’t worry, I know that they’re straight, and I’ve got not hopes or designs, it’s just a little adult sized fun in a child sized world. My coworkers like to tease me about them, which is just fine.

So, what made this break necessary? Well, I’m not sure, considering it just snuck up on me. I was over at one of my best friend’s place a few weeks ago talking about this, and she was asking me that question and my answer was to shrug my shoulders and go “…dunno..”, which scared her a lot because, as she put it, I’m “all about the thinking about the why of things” which is totally true, but part of my break was not thinking about anything even remotely serious, and whys are serious.

But, as I said, the old thinker is revving back up and so I’ve got some guesses now. The first is simple. Exhaustion. Mostly with, yes, the concept behind this blog. The gay Christian thing. I’ve been thinking about it all so hard for so long and I think it just got to be too much.

The second guess is not quite so simple, but it is something that I know is true, and I’ve got reason to suspect that it was the reason for the sudden shutting down of my brain. One of my biggest frustrations in all of this is that I feel really alone. Oh, believe me, this blog helps, your comments help, your blogs help, and websites like help… knowing that there are people out there like me who are trying to figure things out makes it all so much more manageable. We really are communal creatures. But as much as these things help, they are not the same as real life, flesh and blood, friends. And that’s where I feel alone. Oh, I’ve got friends. Awesome friends, whom I cherish and who I believe value me too. I don’t mean this to be a slight on them. I mean this in a very specific way. I feel alone on this particular journey, I feel like I’m trying to figure this out alone. No one is doing this with me, no one is trying to figure this out with me. I’ve got my conservative Christian friends (and again, I’m using the word conservative in the most specific of ways, I’m meaning my friends who are Christians who are Side B, who believe I should be celibate), my one Side A straight Christian friend (well, the only one I know about, anyway), and my non Christian friends… and they all have their opinions, they all have already made up their minds. No one is willing or able to go back to the beginning and start thinking about this issue and be open to the possibility that they might, in fact, be wrong. And I quite honestly mean that on both sides, not just the pro-celibacy side. My non-Christian friends seem to be just waiting for me to get over my “hang-ups” and get on with the process of dating. I actually kind of ended a friendship a while back after one of these people sort of attacked me for remaining celibate, I spent an hour trying to defend a position I’m not sure of plus defend my personal choices and that was enough for me.

But to be perfectly honest, I don’t really expect that much from my non-Christian friends, at least in this area. I can’t really expect someone who doesn’t view the Bible as the Word of God to understand why what the Bible says is important to me, nor do I expect that they would comprehend how important my relationship with a Being they may or may not even believe in is. So, this is something I mostly find myself looking to my Christian friends for, and this is where I feel it the most. Because, for the most part – and let me be clear, this is just my perception, and it is only in this one specific area – I feel like they are kind of dismissive. They begin from a standpoint of “all homosexual behaviour is wrong”, and when I have tried to engage them in a discussion about some Side A arguments they sort of dismiss them out of hand. I remember one discussion with a particular person after bringing up a particular Side A point where my friend said “Well, that’s something I’d never thought of… that’s a really good argument. Of course, I disagree with it.” And when I asked why, the answer was “Well, because I believe homosexual behaviour is wrong.” I couldn’t get any other answer out of her, she had no reply to the specific point that was brought up, but she came in to the discussion with her opinion and that was that. I don’t think they would couch it in these terms, but they refuse to be moved from their conservative position, so any attempt to engage them in real conversation on this issue is kind of pointless. And that is so frustrating, because I do believe that life is meant to be lived in community, and I think that is more true about the Christian life, and I feel like I’m alone in this. I can’t talk to my liberal non-Christian friends about it because they can’t really engage me on the “Christian” part of the debate, (heh, one of my dearest non-Christian friends, many years ago when I was newly out and only talking to non-Christian friends about it because they were the only people I felt safe with, actually told me at one point that I needed to find Christians to talk to because she had ‘taken me as far as she could go’, she could only go so far with an academic understanding of my faith… that was kind of a turning point for me) and I can’t talk to my conservative Christian friends about it because they won’t engage me on the “gay” part of the debate.

I don’t blame them. I mean, I can’t expect this issue to be important to someone who’s not actually affected by it. They have their lives, their husbands, their wives, their kids, their schools, their jobs… this is hardly an important issue if you aren’t gay and Christian, I can’t expect them to actually devote the time and energy to starting from scratch with the reading and the research and the wrestling it out and being open to new possibilities and perspectives… that’s a lot to ask. But I can’t help but want it.

Now on to the crux of the matter. I think it was the Bible Study… which was awesome and fun, and I’m really proud of it and glad I did it. But I think it pushed me over the edge. Because, there I was, discussing this issue with people who were sincerely asking questions, and who were engaging both ends of this debate – the gay side and the Christian side, and it was awesome… and exactly what I have been wanting for such a long time. And then it was over. They went back to their lives and that was it. Actually, apparently the next Bible study was also on homosexuality – they listened to one of the Tony Campolo CDs I’d made. But, the thing is they could be done with it, they could put it aside having not come to any conclusions and be fine with it because it’s just not that important to them. It’s interesting, and they care, but they have their lives to lead and this is not a part of their lives. And it kind of hurt. Oh, I wasn’t crying or angry or anything. It’s just that feeling for a short time that feeling of wrestling this issue out in community with other believers who were willing to start from scratch… it felt so good, and when it was gone, I think I just crashed. Mentally, not emotionally. Well, maybe a little emotionally, but not in a depressed way. I just sort of lived off of the joy I got from the kids at work (and yes, the hot moms) and my coworkers, and let everything else (including this blog) just sort of fall away for a while. But I’m coming back slowly but surely. I probably won’t be very regular in my posting for a while. But I’m alive and well. And to anyone who’s still reading, thanks. It’s good to know you’re there.