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.
The tide started to turn, perhaps, when my editor was reading a piece for my previous blog, “Sacred Tension”, about being gay and Christian. She looked up at me and said, “Stephen, I can’t let you publish this.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because people would feel attacked, belittled, dehumanized,” she said, “I won’t let you publish this piece, not in its current form.”
It was a year ago when I first came to the 12 Steps. Like so many others who find themselves sitting around that folding table, in cold metal chairs, and drinking bad coffee, I came broken. My life was rapidly spinning out of control, and for the previous 2 years I had kept it just barely – barely – within my grasp. But, by the time I finally stepped through those doors, smelling of cigarette smoke and terrified of what I might find, my interior world had reached a fever pitch of pain.
There are two primary accusations brought against Christians today: hatred and hypocrisy. Over the past year, though, I’ve come to see the apparent hypocrisy and hatred (or bigotry, as many people put it) as occasional symptoms of a much deeper problem, a disease that is rotting out the heart of modern Christianity: codependency.
I have been writing and conversing about homosexuality and faith for well over 5 years now, and over the years I have noticed some trends. Some are very good: when most Christians are confronted with the raw humanity of the LGBT issue, regardless of their theological convictions, they are moved to greater compassion. Many genuinely strive to show greater love and engagement, and this is good.