Thursday, December 29, 2011


A much-cited text in the New Testament has frequently been misinterpreted in a pernicious way. In Matthew 5:48, Jesus is reported as saying: "You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect." The passage is sometimes interpreted as demanding a kind of moral perfection that is impossible for humans to achieve. Gays and lesbians are particularly susceptible to being caught up in the pursuit of an unobtainable perfection as a way of compensating for their difference.

But the Greek word used in the original text, teleios, does not imply moral perfection. The term, as used by Aristotle and other Greek philosophers, derives from biology and describes an organism that has come to its full potential; for example, an oak tree that has reached maturity is the teleios of an acorn.

What we are being told then, is that we must become what God intended us to be. We must become self-realized, as God is. Paul uses the same word when he exhorts us to come to the same fullness of mature humanity which was to be found in Jesus. The healthy implication of this text for gay people is that God wants them to become precisely what they are: healthy, mature lesbian women and gay men.
-John J. McNeill, Taking a Chance on God

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

Little Drummer Boy, by Jars of Clay

Truth be told, I wasn't a fan of this song until Jars released their version in 1995. As a kid, I was that six-year-old who got hung up on the logical improbability of a boy with a drum showing up at the birth of Christ - and of an infant (and his mother) appreciating said boy's loud banging noises, however rhythmic.

But the message conveyed by the song is a positive one, artistic licenses aside...

Sunday, December 18, 2011


These days, it seems like there's a new scandal involving a social conservative nearly every week. From Ted Haggard and Larry Craig to George Rekers and Herman Cain, to the most recent revelations in Mississippi and Minnesota, it's got to be an embarrassing time to be a member of the religious right.

It's hard not to feel a certain amount of vindication when stories like this break, but a far more appropriate emotion is sadness. At the very least, sadness for the families of these public figures, for the spouses and children and other relatives whose lives are turned upside down due to the double lives being lived by these public figures. Sadness for the individuals in question isn't out of place, either; behind the hypocrisy and dishonesty lies a wounded human being who, at the very least, is a victim of the mind job that fear-based, legalistic religion does on its adherents.

For the rest of us who still identify as followers of Christ, there's also sadness for the damage that such spectacles do to the reputation of the faith that in so many ways defines our own lives. Granted, the ugliness that the religious right displays on a daily basis has already tarnished that reputation even without all the scandals, but the blatant displays of hypocrisy only drive the dagger further in.

Still, whatever emotions we may feel when these incidents come to light, one can still appreciate the irony. For a group of people that spends so much time proclaiming the imminence of God's judgment with a solemn glee, the religious right seems quite blind to the possibility that these scandals are, in fact, proof that the judgment they seek has indeed arrived - just not on the 'sinners' they believe to be the ones deserving of punishment.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Life Soundtrack 28

Mysterious Ways, by Kim Hill

One of my favorite songs back in the mid-90s, and a reminder that even in my days as a card-carrying evangelical I allowed myself the luxury of admitting that I didn't have it all figured out. Only on certain topics, of course, and even then I ran the risk of getting funny looks from some of my peers - but intellectual honesty and conservative religion don't always have to be mutually exclusive...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Complicated Life

I haven't commented on movies as often as I could, but watching J. Edgar last weekend moved me to rectify that. Whatever else you may think of the movie (and the man in question), it's one that sticks in your mind for a while afterward.

Whatever else the filmmakers got right or wrong about Hoover, who's simultaneously one of the most significant and most controversial figures of 20th century American history, they did us the service of offering a nuanced take on his life. While he doesn't deserve the pedestal that some conservatives have placed him on, in my opinion, neither was he the slavering demon that the left often casts him as. As with most things in this life, the truth lies somewhere in between.

Social conservatives no doubt hate the movie for running with the longstanding rumor that Hoover and his right-hand man, Clyde Tolson, were closeted gay men and something more than friends. On the other end, there may be some who think their relationship as portrayed in the movie was unrealistically chaste. I personally found it very believable, knowing from my own experience what it's like to be that deeply repressed, and also far more powerful than simply giving them a secret sex life.

Does J. Edgar deserve an Oscar? I'm not enough of a film connoisseur to offer a convincing argument either way. But the movie kept me engaged for two and a half hours, which has got to count for something.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Book Is Here

John Shore's new book, Wings on a Pig, is now available in electronic form (a print version is promised in the near future). This is the book project I mentioned a couple months back; it contains the stories of 30 gay Christians (mine made the cut - it starts on page 122) as well as some of Shore's own essays. It's well worth the $10 price tag, and I'd say that even if I weren't a contributor...

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

-attributed to Albert Einstein

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Wow, how easily a month and a half can go by when life gets busy. I hadn't planned to take such an extended break from blogging, but I suppose this is how many a blog fades away - a week turns into a month, and soon one is so out of the habit of blogging that it ceases to be a priority.

And with all the stress surrounding the start of a new job - one that also happens to be a lot busier than my previous job - I simply didn't have the energy to worry about posting anything here. But the good news is that I am employed again; a lot of people have been out of work for far longer, and given how terrible I am at making first impressions (a fact nearly anyone who knows me will attest to if they're being honest) I attribute it to the grace of God that I got this one. It's a great fit for me in terms of my experience and skill sets, but I know I didn't get it on the strength of my less-than-mad interviewing skills.

But I digress. I don't intend to let this blog die, though the break was probably a good thing for me in any case. In recent months I could tell that I'd said just about everything I had to say, and that I was repeating myself enough that even I was getting bored with some of my posts. That's not to say that I have nothing at all left to say, just that the ground needs to lie fallow every now and then to remain productive.

In the meantime, if you live in or near the Denver area, be sure you don't miss your chance to hear Wendy Gritter and Chely Wright at Highlands Church's annual symposium on the Evangelical Church and Homosexuality. It promises to be a memorable weekend...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Married, divorced or single here, it's one family that mingles here.
Conservative or liberal here, we’ve all gotta give a little here.
Big or small here, there’s room for us all here.
Doubt or believe here, we all can receive here.
Gay or straight here, there’s no hate here
Woman or man here, everyone can here.
Whatever your race here, for all of us grace here.
In imitation of the ridiculous love Almighty God has for each of us and all of us,
Let us live and love without labels.

-The ethos statement of Highlands Church, which celebrated its two-year anniversary last weekend.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Afterlife V

For those who may have missed the previous post's comment section, John shared this link to a very helpful overview of the different views on hell that Christians have advocated over the centuries. It's a timely reminder that what we often consider the "traditional" view - of endless, conscious torment for all nonbelievers - wasn't widely held prior to medieval times, and even since then has been disputed by many theologians.

What little the biblical authors do have to say about hell is vague enough that N.T. Wright's caution against dogmatism ought to be our strongest statement on the topic. For my own part I find myself leaning increasingly toward a stance of "hopeful universalism" - we have no guarantee that everyone will spend eternity with God, and the existence of free will demands that we be given the choice to reject God, but it's still possible that even the most stubborn rebel will eventually seek (and be granted) reconciliation. I cannot know that for sure, however. All I can be certain of is that God is merciful and loving and just, and that I don't have to live my life in fear.

To those who still hold that infinite punishment is a biblical doctrine due to Jesus' references to hell, I encourage them not to forget who is depicted as being sentenced to hell in each of those cases. It's never those the church typically brands as "sinners," or those who fail to pay lip service to the correct doctrinal statement. Instead, it's always the inhospitable: those who fail to care for the poor, the widow and the orphan; those who lord their self-proclaimed righteousness over others; those who shun the outcast and offer no welcome to the traveler. Somehow that part of the story always gets glossed over - and yet how can we understand the point without it?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Afterlife IV

Here's another interesting take on heaven and hell, one that makes more sense than the "traditional" Christian view. Of course, none of us really knows with absolute certainty what lies beyond this life, and the Bible is vague enough on that point to leave open any number of interpretations. But it does seem like it's past time to retire the originally pre-Christian (and decidedly non-Jewish) notion that a just and loving God would inflict infinite torture as punishment for a finite number of sins.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Not So Different

Today I came across this article from the Economist that puts the recent London riots into perspective. It's a valuable reminder of how important it is to understand history. It seems that every generation since ancient times thinks that the generation rising after them is worse than they were, and that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

One certainly sees that in the rhetoric of conservative Christian groups, who still pine for the idyllic middle-class paradise of the 1950s, notwithstanding that the conservatives of the 1950s just as loudly decried the decline of Western civilization in their own time as they yearned for some earlier utopia.

Yet there is no perfect era. Each generation makes its own mistakes, improving in some ways on its predecessors while falling short in others. Western civilization may someday pass away, as all civilizations do - but in the end its collapse will be a far more complex affair than anyone on any side of whatever political divides exist at the time will be likely to acknowledge. That event will no more lie at the feet of the youth of the day than Rome's fall was caused by the evil gays or the dirty Christians.

It's easy to focus only on the negatives (or the positives) of a particular situation. But the problems we do face will never be solved as long as we cling to such a simplistic view of the world.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


Apologies for my longer-than-expected absence from the blogosphere. Between the job search and my recent trip (to attend GenCon, thanks in part to the generosity of a good friend) I haven't been feeling particularly inspired lately. So here are a few links to items that may be of interest...

1. It's nice to see that more evangelicals are beginning to challenge the historicity of the early chapters of Genesis. In my experience, the Bible only truly begins to come alive when you free it from the demand that it function as an encyclopedia and rulebook.

2. A friend pointed me to this story, which resonates with my own experience. From his boyhood crush on C. Thomas Howell to his concern that he may be incapable of a romantic relationship at this point in his life, I can relate.

3. Speaking of stories, there's still a little time to submit yours to John Shore for his upcoming book project on gay Christians. I've sent mine in - which is part of the reason I haven't had as much to say here in recent weeks.

4. Finally, a dissenting opinion on the latest book in George Martin's Game of Thrones series. I still plan to read the book for myself, but it's actually a little reassuring to know I'm not the only fantasy reader who isn't completely enamored with the series. It's a great and groundbreaking epic in many ways, but even the best books have their flaws.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Life Soundtrack 27

You Belong With Me, originally by Taylor Swift

I personally think this song works perfectly as the story of a gay teenager pining after his best friend. At the very least, it's a common enough scenario...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bullying for God?

Mark Driscoll's recent non-apology for his "flippant comment" is, sadly, not terribly surprising based on his past behavior. While his gospel of machismo thankfully doesn't have as much support as it once did, there are still too many Christians who lack empathy and confuse combativeness for compassion. It brings to mind this now-classic scene from Saved...

Thursday, July 07, 2011


One of the most eye-opening (and disillusioning) discoveries that prompted me to more seriously and thoroughly reevaluate my beliefs was a gradual awakening to the ugly (and decidedly un-Christlike) face that the religious right had placed on the Christian faith it claimed to speak for. For those who get most or all of their news from conservative and/or evangelical sources, organizations like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association appear to be bastions of truth and righteousness in a dark and chaotic world.

Unfortunately that veneer quickly peels away when subjected to even moderate scrutiny. Underneath all of these groups' stern, authoritative-sounding proclamations lies a barely concealed commitment to winning the argument at any cost. When the Gospel is redefined as a political agenda, the Kingdom of Heaven quickly becomes indistinguishable from any earthly kingdom.

In politics, winning is everything. As a result, any means are ultimately justified in achieving one's ends, and champions of "biblical morality" are thus free to demonize, distort, deceive and even ignore inconvenient laws in the pursuit of their "godly" agenda. Helping people may ostensibly be the goal of this push for power, but under this militant gospel compassion can only be shown through the forcible imposition of "God's will" on others for their own good.

Such a mindset is hardly unique to the religious right, of course, or even to fundamentalist religions. But to claim that their crusade is biblical requires a far more selective use of the Bible than any doctrine promoted by the "liberals" they despise so much.

It's a tragic irony that those who are quickest to name Satan as the author of anything they oppose (or even generally dislike) are so blind to the negative fruits of their labors against those "works of the devil". But perhaps it's no coincidence at all; throughout history, nothing has done more to discredit the church than its lust for political power. What better way, then, to corrupt and destroy it than by seducing it with promises of heaven brought to earth through the benevolent use of worldly power?

Monday, June 27, 2011


Progress sometimes moves slowly, but we've come a long way in a relatively short period of time, as the victory for marriage equality in New York demonstrates. Here are a few more positive indicators:

-The growing number of conservative Republicans who recognize that the advancement of gay rights is not, in fact, a harbinger of doom. Commentator David Frum is the most recent convert.

-That growth is taking place among evangelicals as well, as demonstrated by Christian leaders like John Shore and Wendy Gritter. Wendy's recent Pastor's Conversation is now available online.

-A bit less obviously, the growing emphasis on social justice among younger evangelicals is a hopeful sign that the church may set aside its thirst for power in favor of the love and compassion that fueled its original growth spurt two thousand years ago.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


A few items of interest from around the blogosphere:

1. Jim Burroway's detailed investigation into one of reparative therapy's most famous case studies. Unsurprisingly (and tragically), the reality behind the experiment is far different than the myth that NARTH and its allies continue to peddle.

2. A plug for Nakedpastor, whose site I need to add to my blogroll one of these days. His cartoons frequently echo my own thoughts and reservations about the church.

3. Another plug, this one for Jon Rowe's blog. Rowe's writings are a valuable resource for anyone looking for hard evidence to refute the "Christian nation" advocates who are still popular in many evangelical circles.

4. Kathy Baldock's tireless advocacy is always worth a mention. Her latest post is an open letter to the church.

5. On a lighter note, there's now a blog where people can share the story of their first gay crush. For the record, mine was C. Thomas Howell (laugh if you must; I make no apologies).

Saturday, June 04, 2011


In an unusually clear-cut case of "be careful what you wish for," the next leg of my journey has just opened up in front of me. I have no idea what lies down this new path, but with the loss of my job I have no choice but to begin exploring it.

I was laid off from my job shortly before Memorial Day. I'd been uncertain about my future there since our new VP came on board last year, so the real blow was receiving a minimal severance package on top of the fact that my former employer doesn't pay unemployment insurance due to its incorporation as a church (which, in reality, it's not). I have savings and some small investments to live off of for the time being, at least.

On the positive side, this does force me out of the professional rut I've been in for the last several years. And it means I no longer have to partition my work life away from the rest of my life. I'm still deciding what that will look like (there are some relatives and old friends I still don't feel any need to come out to), but there's no longer a financial risk associated with living more openly.

In terms of this blog, it means I can share that I live in Denver and am an active member of Highlands Church, where I've attended since their first weekly service nearly two years ago. The name of my ex-employer will remain unstated, both for the sake of maintaining some anonymity and because I have no reason to speak ill of the organization beyond what I've already said here.

Also, I do have a Gmail account you can contact me through if you've ever felt inclined. The portion before the "at" sign is eugene followed by the number 256 (no space in between). I reserve the right to ignore messages that come across as trollish, but will make an effort to respond to those interested in a real conversation.

For now, this time off is an opportunity to rest and de-stress. I don't know what lies ahead, but as I stated in the subtitle of my blog, sometimes the journey takes you places you never dreamed existed...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


"I can never know beforehand how God's image should appear in others. That image always manifests a completely new and unique form that come solely from God's free and sovereign creation. To me the sight may seem strange, even ungodly. But God creates every man in the likeness of His Son, the Crucified. After all, even that image certainly looked strange and ungodly to me before I grasped it."

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sow and Reap

Like many, I've been following the situation in Uganda since the "kill the gays" bill was first introduced there over a year ago. While that bill thankfully appears to have been shelved for the time being, it's still a fact that life is very difficult for sexual minorities in nearly all parts of Africa

In light of the massive amount of money and effort that American evangelicals have poured into Uganda, the very existence of this bill reflects directly (and negatively) on their efforts. I don't say that by any means to invalidate everything that sincere and caring Christians have done with the intent of helping the people of Africa, but it's a stark reminder that our actions don't always produce the results we intended.

Growing up I heard and read many stories of missionary work in Africa. It was exciting to see how rapidly the Christian church was growing throughout the sub-Saharan portions of the continent. In my own mind (as in the minds of many evangelicals), the eventuality of a Christian majority in numerous countries across Africa could only produce a brighter future for all the people there. Once Christians acquired the reins of government and instituted rule based on biblical principles, they would eventually transform their nations into free and prosperous lands.

Or so the line of thinking went. If anything, Africa is poorer than ever and its governments no less corrupt on the whole. That's not to say that the African church has accomplished nothing - merely that there, as here, Christians who enter politics tend to be corrupted by the system rather than becoming the agents of change that they dreamed of being. The compassion modeled by Christ becomes something altogether different when administered by the iron fist of government power.

Thus we see, once again, how rule by religious moralists tends toward tyranny as surely as the more blatant oppression of an overt dictator. There's always an evil to be stamped out (by violence if necessary), whether today's devil comes in the form of heresy, witchcraft, alcohol, wealth or homosexuality. The Ugandan government only takes such thinking to its logical conclusion when its leaders propose execution for anyone convicted of being gay.

Where the example of Christ teaches us that the ends of the Gospel are achieved through voluntary, self-sacrificial acts of compassion, the ends of any political agenda can only be achieved through some form of coercion. And while the existence of government is a necessary evil in the world we inhabit, the power it represents is a heady intoxicant that seduces those who wield it with the notion that they can solve the world's problems by employing that power against those perceived to be part of the problem.

Thus did the religious right abandon the way of Christ for utopian notions of turning the United States back into the "Christian nation" it never really was, and they enthusiastically exported that idea to the receptive churches of Africa. But where they hoped to see 2 Chronicles 7:14 put into action as Christians assumed the reins of power, they have instead ended up with a living example of Matthew 23:15:

You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

A bit belated, but the video should be just as entertaining a day or two late...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Life Soundtrack 26

Nothing Left to Lose, by Mat Kearney

For me, this song evokes feelings of a fresh start, of embarking on a new journey. Leaving behind the familiar and facing the uncertainty of a universe of previously unseen possibilities can be both daunting and exhilarating. I don't know when I'll next be forced out of my comfort zone to begin a new leg of my own journey, but part of me secretly yearns for it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Kathy Baldock has generously contributed a considerable amount of her time to read and review the latest book by a Christian purporting to offer a "compassionate" response to the issue of homosexuality. Among other things Kathy observes that, while the author (Michael Brown) appears to sincerely believe he's being compassionate, she found nothing in the content of the book that any outside observer would be likely to interpret as compassion.

Based on my own experiences growing up in fundamentalistic churches, I don't find that surprising. While believers in such churches are routinely exhorted to harbor warm thoughts toward others in the name of love, compassion is inevitably divorced from empathy (and thereby reduced to an abstraction) since the idea that anyone could genuinely view and interpret the world differently than they do borders on heresy. Such differences of perspective must be denounced as either willful rebellion against "the Truth" or satanic deception. Any factual or experiential evidence that contradicts what they have defined as Truth is likewise beneath consideration.

In the twisted version of the Golden Rule that emerges from such conditioning, fundamentalists are taught to "do unto others" by first projecting their own feelings and opinions onto everyone around them and then demanding absolute conformity to that narrow vision. That they are conflating God's will with their own never occurs to them, since they have been armed with a list of Bible verses that appear to support their arguments.

While individuals trapped in this mode of thinking are not irredeemable by any means, it's not always feasible to remain in relationship with somebody who considers you to be a hell-bound apostate. But at the very least we can temper our reactions with an understanding of where they are coming from, extending the same grace we would hope to receive were our positions reversed.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

What Matters Most

If I'm to pass some sort of exam on what it "means to be a Christian," theology and belief aren't relevant to the test. What is relevant is what Genie and my children can tell you about what I'm like to live with, and whether my years spent on a sacramental path have made me less of a self-centered idiot. That is what faith in God is about, just as that is what being a moral atheist is about.

-Frank Schaeffer, Patience With God (page 44)

Put another way:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor. 13:1-3)

Saturday, April 02, 2011


As anyone who knows me in real life most likely knows (and as I mentioned here some years back), I'm a big fan of the Amazing Race. Although I doubt I could physically handle being a contestant on the show myself, I still enjoy seeing the world through the eyes of those who do get the opportunity to compete.

One of my favorite teams on the show's current season is Zev & Justin, two guys I could imagine hanging out with in my own circle of friends. Zev has Asperger Syndrome, a condition that, among other things, makes it a challenge to form close friendships with others. Justin is the friend who looked past those surface difficulties and embraced the valuable person he saw underneath.

In that respect, Justin has acted as a follower of Christ more truly than many who call themselves Christians. (I don't know anything about Justin's beliefs, but Matt. 25:31-46 and other passages suggest that our actions are more important than our words.) In my own life I'm deeply grateful for the Justins that have come along and accepted me as I am, sometimes at times when it wasn't easy to see that I had anything worthwhile to offer in return.

That simple act of unconditional acceptance is so much more powerful than we like to give it credit for. In the long run it's far more transformative than any number of well-intentioned efforts to force a person to change - and it ultimately earns us that platform that we so strongly covet to be an influence in the lives of those around us.

Conservative evangelicals have become our poster children for those who like to pick on other people's sins, but we've all done it at one time or another, either directly or through acts of rejection. For my own part I like to think that I've succeeded at least a few times in unconditionally accepting others (an act of self-sacrifice, to be sure), but I still have to face the fact that I've failed to do so many other times.

The world has plenty of moralists; what it really needs is more best friends.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Admittedly, following as many politically oriented blogs as I do, it's a challenge to avoid becoming permanently cynical. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts that have stood out to me recently...

Against logic there is no armor like ignorance.
-Laurence J. Peter

One of the greatest things about morality is how those who claim to act on its behalf are often the ones drinking from the emptiest cups.
-Jeff Pearlman

Evangelicalism continues to be infected by a "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality which immediately attempts to strangle, or stamp out, or raze any theological reflection which is deemed as beyond the bounds.
-Randal Rauser

He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination.
-Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Upside Down

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:9

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." - 1 Cor. 1:25

"Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools." - Romans 1:22

In these and many other passages, the biblical authors remind us of the limits of our own intellects and of our need for God in all things. Although these verses often use nonbelievers as object lessons, it would be a dire mistake for Christians to view them as cause to look down on those who don't share our beliefs (as Romans 2:1 vividly reminds us). If nothing else, the countless disputes that have occurred over the millennia over every conceivable point of doctrine should remind us how prone we still are toward error and short-sightedness.

How sad is it, then, when we conscript verses meant to call us to humility into the service of our pride by using them as weapons to silence those who disagree with us. How tragic the irony, when reminders of our own fallibilty are used instead to bolster our faith in the infallibility of our doctrinal positions. Instead of engaging in meaningful conversation with those who disagree with us and humbly considering evidence that may contradict our interpretations of God's will, we close our ears to all of those voices, attributing anything we don't want to hear to the machinations of the devil.

At the same time we demand submission from everyone around us, and cry "persecution!" when they refuse. Our self-inflicted isolation further reinforces our belief in the absolute rightness of our own dogmas, and distracts us from noticing our hearts growing cold as our own certainty replaces God as the focus of our devotion. In time we become the very nonbelievers we think we look down upon, all the while believing ourselves to be wise.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Life Soundtrack 25

Don't Dream It's Over, version by Sixpence None the Richer

A little encouragement for those days when the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Odds and Ends

A few items of interest:

-Ray Kurzweil on global warming. While his line of reasoning seems a bit simplistic, it is worth remembering the rapid advances being made in technology - and that moving forward is often a better solution than going backwards.

Are the current changes in climate a sign that modern society is unsustainable? There's certainly a lot we need to do to take better care of the planet we live on, but having grown up in the types of churches that keep the masses terrified by latching onto a new prophet of doom and destruction every couple of years, I've learned the hard way to be skeptical of anyone who claims the world is about to end.

-In the "not sure whether to laugh or cry" category, Tony Perkins' description of the Family Research Council's work: "speaking the truth in love about the most important issues facing our country." The saddest part is that he no doubt sincerely believes himself to be a loving and truthful individual, even though his "facts" about the lives of gay individuals bear no resemblance to reality and the next loving thing he says will be his first.

-On the topic of groups that claim to be speaking the truth in love, Kathy Baldock's take on Focus on the Family's so-called "Day of Dialogue" addresses the whole mess quite well. Sadly, the conservative side of the evangelical world is still far too self-absorbed to see how many people they are driving away from God with their creative definition of compassion.

-Finally, The Onion comes through again, this time foretelling the horrors sure to follow if the Defense of Marriage Act is repealed.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Weekend Reading

Fortunately other bloggers are feeling more prolific than I am at the moment. Here are a few items of interest that are well worth the effort.

1. Wendy Gritter on creating space within the church for disagreeing over whether God blesses same-sex unions. Part 1 can be found here.

I've long wondered whether a day could come when the church matured to the point of allowing this issue to be a matter of personal (or at least congregational) conscience rather than one that divides. It still seems like a pipe dream, but seeing others come along to champion the cause of unity gives me hope.

2. Rob Tisinai has begun responding in depth to the latest arguments against same-sex marriage. Part 1 is here. His explanation of rationalism vs. empiricism in Part 2 is particularly useful; without understanding the lines of reasoning employed by the former approach, one can never understand fundamentalist thought.

3. On a different note, this is a beautiful story. And it's an outcome that I suspect is considerably less rare than ex-gay advocates would like it to be...

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Vicious Cycles

I was recently reminded, via a television show, of the fact that bullies are themselves usually deeply wounded individuals. Whether they're acting out in response to being bullied previously, to some other trauma in their past, or merely out of fear (which fundamentalist religion is saturated with), life is rarely as black and white as we'd like it to be.

What's true of kids in a schoolyard is just as true in the adult world. The main difference is that the Tony Perkinses and Bryan Fischers of the world can cause pain on a scale that no seventh grader could even dream of. Whatever old wounds and deep-seated fears motivate them to bully entire classes of people, even they may not fully understand.

The fact that they and their ilk are victims in their own right doesn't lessen the need for decent people to stand up to them and work to prevent the harm they would do, but it can at least temper the way we view them. The Golden Rule requires that we not lose sight of their humanity, even when they seek to dehumanize us - and as human beings they are still bearers of the image of God, however difficult they may make it for others to see in them.

The bullies in our world might not appreciate our efforts, but by keeping in view the humanity that underlies their angry and hate-filled tirades, we just might someday come up with a way of breaking the cycle of abuse that made them what they are.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


In all the busyness of the past month I've become somewhat neglectful where my blog is concerned. Part of that busyness came from attending the Gay Christian Network's annual conference in Denver two weeks ago. This was my sixth GCN conference, so it's an event that's become a significant part of my journey.

Back when I attended my first GCN conference in Orlando, I was still in the process of pulling away from the last ex-gay ministry I was a part of. I already knew a few GCNers from local gatherings and several trips I'd made the previous summer, and they were the first gay people I'd (knowingly) interacted with outside of ex-gay programs. That first conference (and the next) helped me quite a bit as I was learning how to be comfortable in my own skin, and introduced me to a lot of amazing people that, looking back, I couldn't imagine not being a part of my life.

Since then the conferences have, for me, centered around seeing those friends again and making new ones. Not that the programming isn't worthwhile (the conference has had some great speakers over the years, including Jay Bakker, Tony Campolo and Philip Yancey), but it's the relationships that keep me coming back.

Were I just now attending my first conference it's hard to say how the experience would be; 430 people are a lot more daunting to an introvert than 90. Even knowing as many GCNers as I do now, I can only spend so much time in that large a crowd without needing to retreat for a while. All the same, I wouldn't miss it for the world.

GCN certainly isn't for everyone - for many it's too conservative or too liberal, too supportive of either Side A or Side B, too religious or too inclusive. But regardless of where we best fit in, we all have one thing in common: a need for community.

A lot of people who have become disillusioned with the church have retained a belief in God while discarding all institutional forms of religion. I understand the sentiment and can't argue with the fact that the church tends to be a very dysfunctional place. But I don't see how one can hope to cultivate a truly healthy spiritual life without the assistance and encouragement of others who are headed in the same direction.

Hopefully the day will come when the church as a whole has grown to the point that havens like GCN are no longer needed. That day seems to be a long way off, but there are more encouraging signs of change every year. The Body of Christ needs all of its members - perhaps especially the more "unseemly" ones. And wholeness is a dream worth pursuing.

Monday, January 24, 2011


I've been meaning to post some thoughts on the Gay Christian Network's 2011 conference, but in the midst of a hectic month I've hardly found any time to sit down and blog. So in the meantime, here are posts from three other people who attended...

Wendy Gritter (who I'm pleased to be able to consider a personal friend)
Kathy Baldock (who I'm glad is on our side - she's a force to be reckoned with)
Heidi Miller (who I didn't get to meet, unfortunately)

Monday, January 10, 2011


"Love has a critical trust in the changeability of the enemy, and a permanent distrust of the certainty of its own position."

-quoted by Philip Yancey at the GCN conference

(I can't recall the source of the quote, unfortunately.)