Sunday, November 11, 2007

Movie and panel

The movie "For the Bible Tells Me So" is showing at a local independent theater. At the first showing today, the theater was full. It is a well done documentary. The stories of the families featured in the film are compelling not so much in their uniqueness, but more in their ordinariness. The film does an excellent job of showing the difficult struggle gay and lesbian people and their families have in coming to grips with the Christianity's failure to embrace their gay and lesbian members. If it comes to your area, I urge you to see it. I plan to buy a copy to share with my mom.

After the first showing, the local LGBT center hosted a panel discussion, of which I was a member. Though I didn't really think about it until later this evening, this is the first time I've told my story in a public setting. I'm pleased with how things went, and amazed at the crowd that came out on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon to watch the movie and listen to the discussion. This really is a great place to live, not perfect, but definitely the right place for me.


PPB said...

The movie rocked, but nowhere near as much as you rock! Can you even believe how different your life is now?

Viveka said...

Yes, that's a very good documentary, Linda, and I bet your participation on the panel made the event that much more meaningful for the audience.

The film does an excellent job of showing the difficult struggle gay and lesbian people and their families have in coming to grips with the Christianity's failure to embrace their gay and lesbian members.

Just one correction, though: It's not in any way "Christianity's" failure, but people's failure, and the failure of all the churches and institutions that people try to pass off as "Christian" (i.e., virtually every one of them).

It is we who comprise our churches, we who make up our "religious" rules of inclusion and exclusion, and we who apply all sorts of preposterous interpretations to ancient scriptures in the name of "Christianity" (and "Judaism," "Buddhism," "Hinduism," "Islam," "Taoism," etc.). Apparently we humans love to start clubs, and we humans love to keep people out of our clubs. It's really that simple.

But please, let's not mistake clubs for authentic spiritual communion. If there is any religious organization anywhere in the world today that is not committing the crime of fraud in the inducement by claiming affiliation with one or more ancient scriptural teachings, I sure haven't run across it in my 45 years of scholarship and research (much less practice).

Indeed, if living "Christianity" exists anywhere, it's in the hearts of a few anonymous Christians whom the vast majority of us will never encounter. These Christians don't attend our churches, don't have websites, and don't participate in seminars and lectures and "intensives" and "retreats" and book tours. So the most we can hope for is to cross paths with some good humans who in some aspects, some of the time, remind us of a "Christian" ideal...kinda. And in that regard, many of us have been pretty lucky in our various circles of friends and associates, both online and off.

In the meantime, the Kingdom of Heaven is within, and the more we struggle to remain there, the greater the likelihood that someday we, too, may begin to resemble something reminiscent of a Christian.

The rest is....

Katherine E. said...

Oh, I'm with ppb: Linda, you rock!

Songbird said...

Linda, you are a rock star!

Yankee T said...

What a change for you! I'm so happy.

Linda said...

PPB- I can't believe how different it is. It's very surreal at times. But then there are times when I think all that's new is so central to who I am that it's hard to believe it hasn't always been this way. It's an interesting place to be in live.

Viveka- I appreciate your thoughts. And welcome to the Brick Wall. I don't remember you commenting before. I'm glad to have you reading.

I think I can appreciate what you're trying to say about penning the failure on people and institutions and not on the particular faith itself. It seems like that's an important step for you to be able to point to what you deem to be genuine expressions of the faith, but I have a couple of objections.

One, I don't know how it is possible to separate the religious tradition from those who practice it. While it may be an error on my part to make sweeping generalizations about a religious tradition in the comment I made (though I don't think I did), historically, it is extremely difficult to find expressions of the faith that have not oppressed or neglected its GLBT members. To not name it as Christianity's failure is to too easily exonerate the institution which has long protected its identity at the expense of those who exist on its margins. Which brings me to my second objection or difficulty with accepting what you say. I think it is troublesome to leave the genuine expression of Christianity to individuals and not acknowledge that at its heart, Christianity is a communal faith. This is not a fault of the faith tradition. It can and should be its strength. Even the desert fathers and mothers of early Christianity, who withdrew from society in objection to the institutionalization of Christianity after Constantine's push to make it the religion of the state, understood the communal aspect of the faith, that at its core, Christianity is about living faithfully in relationships (see Roberta Bondi's To Pray and to Love for a good exposition of this idea).

The bottom line is I believe that those who have excluded GLBT Christians have done so because they believe(d) firmly that it was a necessary requirement of their faith. As hard as it is to admit, and however misguided it may have been, I don't believe it was a simple act of establishing a club and determining who was in and who was out. I believe that diminishes the honest anguish with which some have chosen to exclude.

That said, I do believe it is the institutional aspect of the faith that has led to the exclusion, and for me, it stems from a power struggle, one that has led those in leadership to divorce followers from their internal sense of morality and justice by insisting that it be replaced with a moral code defined by culture/tradition/whatever you want to call it, and reinforced with fear through a claim of ultimate authority by purporting to speak on behalf of God. When the community is truly egalitarian, allowing each of its members a voice, the possibility of overturning the power of oppression exists. Perhaps that is idealistic, but I cannot imagine that we will overcome any oppression in this world unless we continue to strive for such existence.

Katherine, Songbird, and YT- Thanks!!!!

PPB said...

Listen to you being all scholarly, too. Dang, girl. You rock my face off.

Marie said...

I'm so glad you're in the right place for you! I love hearing about your life these days!!

Sue said...

Linda - you completely rock!!