Those of us who, like Paul Tillich describes, are "aliens" within our own churches (his summation of the existential predicament of theologians) are pretty used to hearing this occasionally from CofC people who are tired of putting up with us and our tiresome oddity and annoying vocality. Certainly I've heard it enough, as this blog's archive testifies. If you decide to dwell within the CofC as alien anyhow, you learn how to screen this out--or at least, armor yourself against the hurtfulness of it. I imagine that the HU students & alumni who comprise the HU Queer Press anticipated this kind of reaction from the pious faithful. In fact--the overall message of The State of the Gay seems to be a response to this question, an answer to that reactionary attitude: Why don't we just leave? Because we're part of you--and we always have been. And because we're invested in making this community that we're all a part of a better one, for everybody.
In case there were any doubt about this, the latest statement from HUQP ought to clear it up. Demanding that hate mail to the HU administration cease, HUQP writes:
We are frustrated that others would pervert our message of compassion and open dialogue by speaking with hate and violence. We wish to create a better campus for all, queer and straight. This cannot be achieved by alienating or attacking those with whom we disagree. Anyone who uses or advocates violence, in word or in action, has completely misunderstood our zine's message.And they end the statement with this:
"The violence we preach is not the violence of the sword, the violence of hatred. It is the violence of love, of unity, the violence that wills to beat weapons into sickles for work"It is the same message I tried to express after a couple years of wrestling with the emotional aftermath of a truly awful experience in a CofC, in which I felt personally targeted and deliberately ambushed--despite having said and done nothing to express any of my heretical theological views within that church community. You can read the full blog post here. But here's an excerpt:
- Archbishop Oscar Romero
I've wondered if I really should just give up, and go away. I can't count how many people over these intervening years have asked why I don't--students, friends, family, colleagues. My answer used to be that this church is my home; how do you leave your home? But that Sunday I wondered for the first time if maybe my home might leave me, instead. Later, in defiance, my answer was, why should I? This is my home, too. Then I wondered if it was true that my presence was divisive and harmful to the church, an act of self-gratification and arrogance. I began to be afraid that I really was the kind of person described in your sermon.
For a long time, that was my fear: that my sincere wish to remain a part of the body of Christ into which I was baptized and raised in the faith would be divisive and contentious no matter what I did or didn't do, because of what I do (or don't) believe on this (or that, or that other thing).
But now, I know what I will do next time I'm in the neighborhood. I will be walking through those church doors. I will take a seat in a pew and I will sing, and pray, and listen, and contemplate scripture. I will praise God with you. Because I am certain now that it is not divisive for me to remain. It is a conscious act of unity.