Friday, February 02, 2007

Why my heart's in this. . .

Being a raised a Kansan, I'm about as Midwestern as they come. As the old saying goes, you can take me out of the Midwest, but you can't take the Midwest out of me.

Which is why I was absolutely floored by this video I caught on PBS tonight:

The first part, "I am Emily" is a profound witness to what our children continue to have to face.

Emily is a faithful Christian. Emily prayed for five years for God to make her no longer gay. Emily is 15.

This is a powerful piece on what happened when she came out to her family, friends, school, community, and church in a rural town in Iowa.

As a Christian priest and pastor, I ask you to watch the conversation she has with her minister. It's a study worthy of a thousand posts and a million comments.

This is it, folks. This is why my heart is in this.

I pray for Emily and every youth who struggles as she does with exile, even in her church that she wants to call home.

An antidote: Christopher over at Bending the Rule has a truly marvelous essay that offers an inspired, Spirit-filled alternative to the theology expressed in this video.


Raspberry Rabbit said...

In all honesty I had to stop the video when the conversation with the pastor began. It was too much - this manifest inability to deal lovingly with what is. I'll look at it later I guess.

R said...

Raspberry Rabbit,

I guess I have a stronger threshold of tolerance only for a number of accidental reasons, one of which is because I grew up in a setting like the one Emily did.

But I certainly understand your reaction, and please pardon me for posting something so powerfully demonstrative of the surreal reality so many of our LGBT brothers and sisters face.

When the Bible becomes the be all and end all of faith (I dare say, when it becomes an object of idolatry), it obliterates Christ's face in the real, struggling humanity right in front of our eyes.

What I find most disturbing is the way the pastor can smile as he engages in leading this communal violence against a vulnerable minor, in the name of God no less. And his opening gambit is something to the effect of, "Oh, this isn't about me. . ."

If I may be so bold: the quickest way to abuse power is to pretend you don't have it.

What is utterly remarkable is that he was obviously willing to re-engage this conversation in front of cameras. He clearly is sincere in what he is saying.

It's a classic study in how bigotry and heterosexism operate in community settings: how they take over sacred texts, acts, and even leadership in subtle and overt ways. And, to me, it's a classic study in a theology that distorts the incarnational life we are called to by Jesus Christ.

If our faith cannot, as you say so beautifully, "deal lovingly with what is," then I want no part of it.


Powerful and heartbreaking.

Anonymous said...

Sad that it takes a video to get through to you (collectively, not personally) what Gay people have been saying every single day since June 1969.

Josh Thomas

KJ said...

Thanks for posting this, Richard.

Growing up evangelical, crying and trembling while coming out to parents, Evangelical Free Church, involved in leading "worship" -- Emily and I have much in common. However, I went through the coming out process at the age of 40, and cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like at the age of 15 and to be the only openly out homosexual in town.

When I encounter church nonsense regarding the matter of sexual orientation, I can become angry and head to places that are not healthy when I take offense at the wrong done toward me. However, when I remember the nonsense I (we) experience now means those that follow will not have to have the same experience, them I'm at peace with whatever heads my way.

Emily has given a huge gift to many that follow. Peace of Christ to her and her family.

Anonymous said...

It is sad to see that little has changed in small town life and attitudes, or for that matter, suburban and urban attitudes.

Further on in the program, the story of the House of Latex founder is inspirational.


Anonymous said...

I watched "The Principles of Youth" several times. Powerful. I then returned to "Voices of Witness" where this statement by Rev. Malcom Boyd jumped out at me:

“Coming out…it’s whether one can be an authentic human being or not. And how could one be an authentic human being if one can’t be oneself, can’t define oneself and can’t share oneself. So we’re really talking simply about authenticity, the incarnation, and being created in the image of God.”