Friday, October 29, 2010

The Something Sacred At Stake In This Moment

In the last few weeks we have seen millions of Americans rally around our LGBTQ youth-at-risk by reaching out, speaking up and standing up for equality for all. High profile voices ... from Ellen DeGeneres to the Bishop of New Hampshire to the Secretary of State to the President of the United States have recorded "It Gets Better" videos. Hundreds of clergy have signed the "Clergy Against Bullying" statement. Millions of grassroots supporters wore purple on Wednesday, October 20th as part of a "Spirit Day" witness spawned by a Facebook page.

In this national outpouring I hear the words of Rabbi Abraham reminding us that "in every moment, something sacred at stake" -- and I experience a shared recognition that the sacred at stake in this moment are the precious lives of LGBTQ youth who believe their lives are not worth living. And I rejoice in a shared commitment across theological, ideological and political lines to raise collective voices to offer hope to overcome homophobia.

And then there's this. A comment on my blog in response to the post a few days ago about our Presiding Bishop signing onto the Anti-Bullying statement:

Sadly, innocent jr. hi student, Lawrence King took his cues from the prevalent culture that encouraged him to 'be who you are, be proud of it!, there is nothing to hold you back, go for it If you want something, go after it, acting on your romantic life is accepted by all..."

The advice Lawrence was given by our Culture [you] was wrong, and put Lawrence King in grave danger. Shame on you
. [LGMarshall]
And then there's this. My response to her comment:

LG ... Makes perfect sense.

A child shot in cold blood by a classmate terrified by his expressions of attraction is the responsibility of those calling for equality for all -- not those continuing to fan the flames of homophobia by naming LGBT people as disordered; less-than; abnormal; unnatural; abomination; freak.

By that reasoning the responsibility for Martin Luther King's assassination lies not with the racist segregationists but with those in the "Culture" who dared to dream beyond the racism that contaminated it -- those who believed that liberty and justice for all really means ALL and that "Jesus loves me, this I know" didn't have an * that said "unless I'm black. Or gay. Or transgender."

We're going to win this one. And someday our children and children's children will look back on an exchange like this with the same horrified amazement as we do when we read the medieval arguments about whether women had souls. And the 18th century exchanges about whether Africans were human.

And those who stand for equality for LGBT people will be on the right side of history. And you won't. Shame on you.
Yes, I'm tired of this. Yes, today is supposed to be a "day off" and I'd rather be getting my nails done and checking out the sale at Crate & Barrel and having lunch at Julienne. But I'm blogging instead.

Because letting stand unaddressed, unconfronted and unchallenged this kind of incendiary ignorance is like watching kerosene being used to put out a campfire and then wondering where the wildfire came from.

Because the something sacred at stake in this moment is too important to do anything other than continue to speak up.

Because for too long religion has been responsible for planting seeds of self-loathing that can grow into self-destruction when fed & watered by the bullying, badgering and abuse of our LGBT youth – and it’s time for that to stop. When Jesus said “let the children come to me” he meant all the children – not just the straight ones. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor” – not “love your neighbor unless your neighbor is gay.”

And because the something sacred at stake in this moment is too sacred to do anything other than all we can.


rick allen said...

Everyone is horrified by teen suicide, and it's good that the issue, which has been around forever, is getting a lot of attention now.

But a problem associated with its new-found media prominence is its consequent rhetorical utility. If you claim that kids kill themselves as a direct result of an opponent's beliefs, of course sooner or later the opponents are going to claim that, no, kids kill themselves because of your beliefs. Neither argument strikes me as having any particular basis in empirical facts, and neither will of course change what anyone believes, but it does ratchet up the argument to allow one to label the other side callous enablers of teen deaths. I don't see that as much of an improvement.


And from my perspective, this is one of those "if the shoe fits" situations.

And I give thanks for the "consequent rhetorical utility" of being able to mobilize to confront and challenge what I continue to believe is nothing less than incendiary ignorance assaulting our LGBTQ young people.

As for why queer kids kill themselves, volunteer at at LGBT hotline -- spend a few years in parish ministry counseling kids who think their life isn't worth living if they can't "overcome" being gay as their family and church have told them they have to -- respond to a few hundred emails from young people who hear from a priest on Oprah that "being gay is a gift from God" and write in desperate hope that maybe, just maybe, there's some hope for them -- read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the statistics on LGBT youth bullying, badgering and suicide -- and then get back to me and let me know how "the emperical facts" strike you.

Because what strikes me is that something sacred is at stake. Now.

Patricia Brush said...

I was rummaging through a site of quotations, looking for something else and found this gem:

Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.
C. S. Lewis

There is a lot of this going on!

Patricia Brush said...

The quotation I was looking for was:

"If you can't translate stuff into the vernacular, you either don't understand it or you don't believe it"
C.S. Lewis

"Consequent rhetorical utility" is what sparked the search, but it also reminded me of how much I appreciate this blog's clarity of language and thought.

Matthew said...

I was also glad that the presiding bishop of the elca did an it gets better video. I think you can find it on the Advocate's web site. Let me know if you cannot locate it.

musculars said...

Glad to see you getting some flak for your intemperant language.
Seems a rather successful week of your vocation to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable and the cynical.