Sunday, September 20, 2009


I have not posted here in some time, so I'm not sure if anyone is out there reading this. Still, I apologize for my absence. I have no excuse but to say that summer was busy, that with time it seems comes more responsibilities and distractions.

I am writing this evening because I am aware of a heavy sense of discouragement in myself.

You see, some time ago, my wife became upset with the Catholic church's teachings on women and decided to seek out a more progressive institution. She eventually found a relatively small ELCA church with a kindly pastor and decided that it was (from all we could tell) the most progressive church in town.

As most of you are most assuredly aware, the ELCA recently had a national meeting wherein matters relating to gay pastors serving openly were discussed. As I understand it, this national meeting passed a historic vote, allowing congregations to accept openly gay pastors if they chose to do so. I remember my wife and I cheering the news.

Now, mind you, I cannot say that I have been an active member of her church. I haven't formally left the Catholic church, and I haven't attended church of any kind regularly in some time now. Still, I felt a deep sense of discouragement when my wife attended a meeting of the congregation that ridiculed the ELCA's actions as unfaithful, that planned a likely separation from the ELCA, that threatened to withhold funds from the ELCA.

By my wife's report, there were about 50 people at that meeting and 47 spoke. All who spoke were in favor of denouncing the ELCA.

I guess my discouragement is in part that there simply is no church in our area that practices a faith I could find compelling.

But more of my discouragement comes from...look, I happen to personally know at least four of the people who were at the meeting (in addition to my wife). These are people that I like and respect. I am discouraged by their prejudice, by their fear, by their clinging to their fears and prejudice and pretending that it is the Word of God that tells them they must do so.

I am discouraged because at this moment, Christianity itself seems mostly to be about confirming pre-existing prejudices rather than confronting them. It seems to be about moving back the clock, about a search for certainty rather than an openness to Truth in all it's complexities and ambiguities. (And I know that this isn't true, or at least isn't what Christianity should be about at it's core.)

I am discouraged because at this moment humanity seems so small, petty, even vindictive.

I hope to wake up tomorrow and recognize my shared humanity with those I find so discouraging this evening. I hope to see how others may find me at times to be petty, small, or vindictive. I hope to grow in compassion through this exercise, to open my heart and to be less judgmental of them. I am aware that in some ways my feelings of judgment are perhaps an indication of my own flaws.

Still...tonight I find myself thinking of those I know who are gay, lesbian, or transgendered. I think of their stories, of the emotional damage done to them by churches, by society, by people (dare I even say people of good will?) who perpetuated beliefs that they were sinful for who they love.

I had been hoping that society was starting to move beyond such beliefs. Tonight, for this moment, I am discouraged.