Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Axioms

The Laws of Conservation of Awesome:
  1. For every awesome Christmas song there is an equal and opposite awful Christmas song.

  2. For every awesome Christmas tree ornament there is an equal and opposite hideous Christmas tree ornament (on the back of the tree).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Say Anything

My buddy DJ posted a link on his Facebook today to this sweet video of a recent wedding in Minnesota (warning: 15 minutes long; I cleaned up the kitchen while letting it play on my laptop).

Then I made the possible mistake of skimming through the 100+ comment war that follows the video.

Sigh. It reminded me of the zillions of books I've read on this topic, the zillions of conversations I've had on this topic, the zillions of conferences/seminars/sermons I've attended on this topic, and the one conclusion I have drawn from it:

You can make the Bible say absolutely anything.

All that seems to matter is how many people agree with your hermeneutic (or how powerful the people are who agree with your hermeneutic) at a given time.

Referring to "what the Bible says" will never solve a single argument.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Adorable Follow-Up to a Frustrating Story

To my husband's occasional chagrin, I am a politics junkie. I've been DVR'ing the Republican presidential debates (and holy crap there have been a lot of them lately) and watching them when we've had downtime.

If you were watching during the FoxNews/Google debate back in September, you might have seen a video question sent from army captain Stephen Hill who was serving in Iraq. Captain Hill (who has amazing arms, if you hadn't noticed) explained that he is gay and asked the candidates if they intended to circumvent the recent repeal of the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy. Hill's question made national news when several members of the Republican audience loudly booed him.

The Associated Press recently interviewed Hill and two days ago ran an article about him. I enjoyed learning about his life with his husband, Joshua Snyder, in Ohio. The couple were married in May of this year in Washington DC, and they selected the location for their vows to be the gravesite of Leonard Matlovich, a gay veteran with an immaculate service record who became the first gay serviceman to challenge the military ban. Hill and Snyder shared stories with the AP of how they had struggled under DADT to keep their relationship secret, saying goodbye before Hill's deployments while hiding under airport escalators, hiding Snyder's photograph when army buddies were coming over to play video games, and introducing Snyder as his roommate or brother--things they no longer have to endure since the repeal of DADT... and since Hill came out to the country on national television.

But my favorite part of the article is the pictures :-) I'm a total sap when it comes to relationships--gay or straight. And these guys have some particularly adorable photos together.

Congratulations to Steve and Josh on their recent marriage, and a big thanks to Captain Hill for coming out and posing his question during the Republican presidential debate.

on Giving

Today NPR ran an article on the epidemic of homelessness among LGBT teens. Apparently between 30-40% of homeless youths in major American cities identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

I've been thinking about this all day.

Last year, C and I began donating to the Ali Forney Center, which provides shelter, health care, and social services to homeless LGBT youth in New York City. The Center's director was interviewed as a part of the NPR piece. Ironically, C and I had just donated again to the Ali Forney Center earlier this week. But hearing the NPR piece didn't make me feel a pat on the back for our donation; it made me wonder.

Could we give more? Could we do more?

C and I went for a walk today and talked about it. When I was a part of an evangelical church, I used to donate 10% of my pretax income to my local church. That wasn't a sizeable amount of money back in my college days, but now that C and I are drawing professional salaries, 10% isn't a small chunk of change. It is definitely a lot more than we are presently donating. We talked about upping our game--not only to places like Ali Forney, but to our other favorite organizations like the Acorn Equality Fund in downstate Illinois (no--there is no relation to the infamous and now defunct ACORN organization).

We didn't come to a decision on our walk, but we did decide to reconsider our giving in our upcoming discussion of our family finances.

We also kicked around another idea. Could we be foster parents or provide transitional housing for a homeless LGBT person? It's just the seed of an idea, but it's gotten me thinking. C suggested we could attend a seminar or info session on foster parenting. This could be interesting...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Brother is a Megachurch Pastor

Today I learned that one of my brothers has been hired as a pastor at a church in Dallas. I am sincerely excited for my brother as he transitions into this new role, as he has long had a dream of being a pastor. While my brother and I have different faiths, I am happy to know that he is realizing one of his dreams.

I had a text conversation with my husband today about this news. The church whose pastoral staff my brother will be joining has more than 9,000 members. Using the most recent statistics, we estimate that upwards of 300 members of my brother's new congregation are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Some of them are children--kids just beginning to realize they aren't like most of the other kids at church, kids who are hungry to know what God thinks of them and what they should think of themselves.

I wonder what messages they will be hearing from the pulpit--a pulpit that will sometimes be filled by my brother? I remember the messages my brother and I heard from the pulpits of our parents' churches when we were kids: "all gay people are promiscuous", "all gay people are child molesters", "all gay people get AIDS and die by age 40", "all gay people choose to be gay", and orientation "change is possible" and oh-so-simple to do. Will my brother say similar things?

Somehow, I doubt my brother could in good faith make any of the same claims.

My brother knows real life gay people. My husband and I are not the only LGBT people he knows, but I hazard to guess we are the ones he knows best. I am grateful to have been out to my brother for more than a decade. My brother was in the know as I fought to change my orientation with all the bravado that ex-gay ministries could whip up; he was in the know when I was spiraled out of control into depression and self-mutilation; he was in the know when I began rebuilding my life, reexamining the faith of our parents, and discovering God did not feel about me as I once thought he did; and he was in the know when C and I began dating, got engaged, and were married.

I am happy to know that when my brother preaches or counsels his congregation on the topic of homosexuality, he won't be talking about hypothetical people. He'll be talking about people he knows. People like us.

It is my great hope that the gay kids growing up in my brother's church will hear much different, much more realistic messages about people like them. I'm sure my brother won't tell them that God made them gay and specifically designed them to fall in love with a special person of the same gender--but I'll bet he also won't tell them that being gay is a choice, that Exodus can change them simply or quickly, or that they'll be miserable and dead before middle age.

I hope.

P.S. Yep, the picture at the top of this post is the actual map of my brother's new church. 9 elevators, 7 information stations, and a 3-level underground parking garage. The place is amazing!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Memories of Excommunication

I came across the above letter of excommunication from a church in Carbondale, Illinois to one of its members. It first reminded me of when my husband and I were excommunicated from our church in Urbana, Illinois four years ago.

However, as I read through the letter, it reminded me less and less of the corporate process we went through with our church and more and more of the interpersonal process we went through with my brother, T. These lines specifically brought T to mind:
In obedience to his command, we are handing you over to Satan and his kingdom of darkness, in hopes that you will come to your senses, repent, and return. By this excommunication, we are declaring that you are no longer a Christian, and that you are no longer part of the company of the saved.
I remember T saying the words "handing you over to Satan" when he described his decision to never speak to me or be in the same room as me as long as I was a gay Christian.

Painful memories.