Once upon a time, I was known almost exclusively on the web for being a gay Christian. I wrote day in, day out, about the experience of homosexuality and faith, and I eventually developed a tidy following for my work. For almost all of my late teens and pretty much all of my twenties, I dedicated my life to sorting out the puzzle of my sexuality, and it consumed my every thought. It kept me up at night, I wept, I cut myself, I plunged into deep depression, I read and prayed and talked, I searched desperately for the love of God. And, all along the way, I wrote untold thousands of words in poetry, fiction, journal entries, and articles.
In 2014, Michael Coren – the conservative Catholic columnist, television personality and bestselling author – made international waves by coming out in support of gay marriage and leaving the Roman Catholic church. Earlier this year, he published Epiphany: A Christian’s Change of Heart and Mind Over Same-Sex Marriage.
I found his book heartfelt, beautiful, and compassionate. I am always moved when someone like Michael Coren – someone who represents the conservative Christian vangaurd – publically switches views and risks disgrace from his own camp. I reached out to Michael to discuss his book, his thoughts on the church and the LGBT issue, and (as he describes it delightfully in his book) his “conversion on the road to the rainbow.”
Every so often, I get asked a difficult question: how, after all I’ve been through as a gay person in the church, am I still a Christian? I’ve struggled with this question, and refrained from writing about it, because, “I don’t know” doesn’t seem like an appropriate answer.
The question just keeps coming up, though, and I think it might be time to start unpacking that “I don’t know.”
Call me old fashioned, but I am an unapologetic believer in the etiquette of discourse. The internet has turned into a barbarian hinterland of uncivilized dialogue, and I pride myself on being a member of the last vanguard who stand for polite conversation.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should all don our monocles and sip tea and never get to the heart of things. I only mean that we should get to the heart of things well. I believe that righteous anger burns most fiercely and cuts most ferociously when it is expressed effectively. When we are careless; when we fling mud and bludgeon people without provocation; when we do not know how to talk, and when we respond with all emotion and no reason, we waste our energy and create only noise. The raw emotions that motivate us – sadness, anger, joy, disgust, fear – are good and important, and need to be expressed. When we fail to express them effectively, however, they lose their edge, and their capacity for inciting transformation. We fail ourselves and our cause.
My previous post, I’m a Christian, and I Practic Yoga and Read Tarot, generated a lot of conversation among readers. I got several messages and tweets expressing interest in my method of reading Tarot, and other messages from readers saying they had never heard of a non-divinatory approach to the Tarot. (as a brief review, the Tarot community can roughly be divided into two groups: those who use it as a form of divination and fortune telling, and those who use it as a form of personal insight and meditation, without necessarily believing it is supernaturally led. I fall into the latter category.)
When I’m not having awkward conversations with Christians about homosexuality, I find myself having awkward conversations about another aspect of my life: I’m a Christian who practices and teaches yoga, and reads Tarot cards. For many Christians this exiles me to the far fringe of the fringe – to those “crazy Christians who worship Sophia and call themselves Episcopalians.”
Today, we are continuing our interview with James Brownson regarding his book “Bible, Gender, Sexuality”. Be sure to check out part one.
Last year, I read an extraordinary book by James Brownson called Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships. I found it personally cathartic in my own journey as a gay Christian, as it helped me sort through some major theological questions I had at the time, but I also found it to be one of the most lucid, comprehensive, and brilliant discussions of scripture and homosexuality I have ever read. Dr. Brownson manages to combine academic and scholarly brilliance with a patience and gentleness that is much needed in the church surrounding debates about homosexuality.
I’ve spent the past year recovering from, and coming to terms with, a depressive episode that happened at the beginning of last year. All depression alters you, but there are some encounters that reach so deeply into your core that they leave you permenantly, utterly changed. My breakdown of 2015 was such an episode, and I’ve spent the following months trying to come to grips with the experience, and the person I’ve become. I’ve spent the past year trying to fathom the experience – what it was, how to describe it, and what happened.
I have to be honest: I hate going to church. Lately, my sponsor has been encouraging me to pick up church attendance again, and I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about why I hate it so much: why I find it, at best, intolerable and boring, and at worst, painful and overwhelming.