Posted tagged ‘Christian’

Theologian Miroslav Volf makes a surprising case for one candidate

October 7, 2016


I want to get to these issues. But first, make your best case for the candidate you think Christians should vote for.

The best case to be made for Hillary Clinton is that on balance she better represents the convictions and character that should concern Christian citizens. No candidate is perfect. There are certainly areas where Secretary Clinton’s policies and record might give Christians pause. But she takes the threat posed by climate change seriously. Her policies, such as paid family leave, would actually strengthen American families. She is committed to a just and welcoming approach to immigration that does not unduly compromise the legitimate good of security. She supports major reforms to America’s overly retributive and racially biased criminal justice system. And, perhaps most importantly, she has demonstrated much deeper commitment to supporting the disadvantaged and the vulnerable than her opponent has, his grandiose rhetoric notwithstanding.

The second best case for voting for Secretary Clinton is Donald Trump. Mr. Trump is an exceedingly poor candidate whose public life has not demonstrated a single one of the moral virtues that are important for a political leader to have. Braggadocio is not the same thing as courage. His policy proposals, such as they are, range from half-baked to obviously incompatible with deep Christian convictions, such as the importance of welcoming the needy stranger, care for the nonhuman creation and pursuing peace.

Source: Theologian Miroslav Volf makes a surprising case for one candidate


God Made Me Queer

August 10, 2011

I grew up in church. I’m of that post-WWII Baby Boomer era when just about everyone went to church. My parents didn’t, but they thought that we kids should, so one of them took us to church and dropped us off and then picked us up afterwards. They — especially Mom — said that it was optional (but we knew that it pretty much wasn’t). We went to the Presbyterian church because the lady up the street invited us to go there, and she had taken us for awhile until they moved away. My family was pretty much poor, but she drove a beautiful gray 1953 Cadillac that I loved riding in. I guess that’s the foundation of my theology.

I took church and religion and God and Jesus seriously as a kid. The pastor invited me to use his office — his “study” — and I got to sit alone in this wonderful book-smelling semi-dark room and explore his library. I don’t remember when this was, because I always went to Sunday school and I always went to worship. It’s just one of those vague memories without a particular framing. But I got to read and look at his religious art books and feel the Spirit.

How’s that for growing up queer?

Then life happened. Yeah, high school and all that in the late 1960’s. War, foment, assassinations. No wonder we took drugs. And all the while a feeling that I was …different — a feeling without a name.

My plan was to go to college, then seminary, and then to become a minister. I’d never met a minister who was woman at that time, but that didn’t matter: I felt God’s strong call.

But first, a break. I left high school to go on the road for awhile. I hitchhiked around and worked here-and-there and saw the country and looked for myself, trying to figure out that …difference. I went off to college having not figured it out, my plan delayed but still intact. As a matter of fact, I went to Sonoma State, only about 30 miles from San Francisco Theological Seminary.

And then… I fell in love. I’d dated a little, but it was always pretty much like going out with a friend or even a brother, with no special attraction or sexual feeling. But when I fell in love — and it was with a woman — all of a sudden, there was that zing! and I knew what that …difference had been about all along.

Sonoma State in the early 1970s was a relatively easy place to be queer — at least for lesbians. But when I came out to my parents, it wasn’t so easy. My mom — who hadn’t been a churchgoer through my childhood — went to the pastor of the church. I now believe that it was his ignorance due to they times, but in essence he tried to counsel me to be straight. Not in that evil, go-to-ex-gay-therapy kind of way, but in that heterosexual assumption kind of way. But despite my new queerness, I knew that I had finally found myself, so I knew that his suggestion was absurd.

I didn’t see my parents for the next three years. I didn’t see the inside of a church for the next twenty years.

[Fast forward…]

Well, needless to say, I didn’t go to seminary. After almost nine years in my coming out relationship, I was single again. I moved to San Francisco. This was in the early 1980s. I had a well-paying, dress-up corporate job by day; I was a wild party dyke riding a motorcycle by nights and weekends. And my best friend was a gay man. There was lots that was great about life at that time, but there was a newly-emerging reality: AIDS (even though it was an unnamed mystery disease at that time). We watched as it began to decimate the community around us. We saw it move into the circle of our friends. At that time AIDS was quick and it was deadly. So I got involved in meal delivery and hand-holding projects. But it wasn’t enough.

My best friend had also gone to church as a kid. He also hadn’t been in a church in many years. He too felt the void. So we decided that we would go to church together. After all, MCC San Francisco was only a few blocks from where I lived. But just thinking of it dredged up the old pain. So we talked about it but didn’t go. Finally, we decided this was the week. He came by and we walked up the street, only to find a sign on the door: “We’ve all gone to Sacramento. Come back next week!” So instead we went to brunch — a queer religious ritual in itself. The next week, when we approached the church, I read the sign out front: this time it said: “Preaching this week is Janie Spahr.”

For me this was a coming home. Janie was a Presbyterian minister. She had been on the staff of MCC-SF, but was then the director of Ministry of Light, an LGBT ministry in Marin.

I attended MCC for awhile, but it was never quite right. But what I loved about being there is the way that MCC does communion. First of all, it’s every week. Also, it isn’t just a little mumbo-jumbo say-the-magic-words and pass-the-plates ritual. Communion at MCC is a deep sacrament, a holy experience, which includes prayer and reconciliation. It’s a queer experiencing of connecting with the Christ.

[Fast forward again]

Another girl in my church youth group also felt …different. When I fell in love I came out to her. She was then married to a man and living in Ohio. Ten years after I came out, she came out; and, coming out and falling in love, she wanted me to meet her partner. They came up to San Francisco to visit me. I would see her, and them, and sometimes just her partner over the next number of years. It was a nice friendship.

And then my friend died. She went into rehab for alcoholism, but when they did the medical intake they transferred her to the hospital — and it was too late. I came to Southern California for her memorial service. During the process of mourning her death, her partner who had also become my friend and I fell in love. I returned to San Francisco, but it was only three months until we knew that we wanted to be together forever.

Melinda wanted to go to church. The church where I had grown up was close by; this was where her partner’s memorial service had been held. The pastor had told Melinda that it was a More Light church (Presbyterian for open and affirming, LGBT inclusive). After a couple of weeks we had the pastor over for tea and cookies, and then we joined the church.

In 2008 when we had the opportunity, Melinda and I got married. We’d never had a public ceremony of any kind, but we knew that we wanted to share this occasion with our family and friends, our neighbors and co-workers. We knew that it was more than a legality, but a Christian marriage as well — and we wanted it to be in our church. Our then-pastor officiated at the service, and we had around 30 ordained clergy and numerous elders attend. We had witnesses, and we were a witness.

So what is all this? It’s my crazy hodgepodge of a story. It wasn’t the post that I’d intended to write, but the one that ended up writing itself. Words. God. Words describing my life, a queer life inseparable from my experience of God. Me telling my own story for myself. No apologies.

And as we sang in my youth group all those years ago:

God likes me just the way I am.
I turned out just right.
But I’ll sing it again in case I forget,
And strange as it seems, I might.


Queer Theology Synchroblog info and links to other posts can be found here.

Here I Stand (a cross-post)

February 22, 2010

This post is not mine. It is from a friend on Twitter (@hughlh), posted here with his permission. His blog is The Personal Weblog of Hugh Hollowell. I encourage you to read this, and to go to his site to comment. Thanks.

Here I Stand

Some people have recently said some things that lead me to think there is confusion about me and what I do – so I want to take a minute to clear things up.

I lead a group of people who minister to and love the very poor and homeless. And as long as that is all I talk about, then most folks have no problem with me or my work. But when I talk about gay issues, or gender issues or imply the church ever did anything wrong, folk become very concerned. And tell me that if I stray off homeless issues, they won’t support me. Or even be associated with me. In fact, some have actively tried to stop me. One guy called churches that I work with and told them I was a false prophet and heretic. (As we say in the South, “bless his heart”.)

Let me be loud and clear about something. The same thing I see in Jesus that leads me to have concern and love for the very poor and homeless puts me squarely on the side of anyone who is on the margins.

Let me be even more clear:

I have only one desire, one mission, one calling. It is to reach out to those-

who are broken
who are hurting
who are marginalized
who feel forgotten
who are passed-over
who are weeping
who are unloved
who have been so hurt they are afraid to love
who have been told they are outside of God’s love
who have been hurt in the name of God
who are not sure there is a god
who want to give up
who are so lonely they ache
who have only seen God used as a weapon
who have serious questions they are afraid to voice
who are afraid to hope anymore
who have been told their sexuality or gender separates them from God
who  have been been made to feel less than fully human –

and to tell those people that God is on their side.

Jesus called them the poor in spirit. And he called them blessed.

And said they get the Kingdom of Heaven.

If you have this God thing figured out, if you’re convinced that you do all the right things that make your God happy, if you have no questions, no doubts, no fear – you aren’t poor in spirit – you’re rich in spirit.

And Jesus doesn’t have much of anything to say to you.

Sorry. I know that isn’t what you wanted to hear.

But that is what I am here to say… and shout… and live out.

If you are on the margins – God is on your side.

If you’re on the margins, this is good news indeed. The early followers of Jesus called it Gospel (which is just a Greek way of saying “good news”). If, however, you’re the one putting people on the margins – with your actions, your attitudes, your privilege, your assumptions, your power – that is anti-gospel… or anti-Christ. And you should repent (which is just a religious way of saying reconsider your position) – because you’re working against the stream. Against the way the world now works. Against the very will of God.

I’m an extrovert and I like to be liked. I want to not offend people, and I want people to agree with me and I want people to continue to support the work I do so I can feed my family. I want all of that.

But at some point, I had to accept that either Jesus is Lord – or he isn’t. Either he was telling the truth, or he wasn’t. And if he is, and if he was, well, then that requires certain sacrifices on my part. Like giving up being liked by everyone. Or being popular. Or being financially secure.

No matter how scary that is. But secure in the knowledge that being scared and unsure brings me closer to the very heart of God.

If you are offended by the way I reach out to the marginalized, if I don’t use the right code words to let you know I belong to your club or I spend what you think is too much time on the issues of people you would rather I not focus on – in short, if my carrying out my faith has offended you – well, I am sorry, but I cannot in good conscience do otherwise.

And if this causes you to think I am a false prophet, or mistaken, or deluded or heretical or beyond orthodoxy or whatever – well, I understand. And if this means you don’t want to be my friend or you don’t want to be associated with me or support my organization or you want to tell the whole world what an evil person I am and how I am leading folks to hell – well, you do what your faith leads you to do.

And I will go where mine leads me.

After all, we all sacrifice ourselves to one God or another.