After the President Speaks
Jun 2, 2006
1. Prepub sale discounts ends soon. 10% discount in effect until Senate votes on Federal Marriage Amendment.
2. A-Page-Day starts in the next few days. The rush to get the manuscript to the printer has set A-Page-A-Day back just a few days. Thanks for your patience.
Tuesday morning, June 6, 2006. Post-presidential affirmation of the Federal Marriage Amendment. My emotions churn. I assume the same for millions of others. This seems to be the intention. I fight my inclinations to "come back swinging," remembering that I wrote Straight Into Gay America for a time just like this.
Away from home these last four days I had plenty of time to think about publication. Publishing is fraught with uncertainties. Publishing makes Vegas gambling seem like prudent work. Maybe like the gambler who keeps having faith in rolling high doubles, I hang on to stories. Just tell the stories. Keep believing that the little stories hold the big truths, and maybe even the keys to stepping beyond the killing fears.
This morning I'm reminded of last summer's visit to the Reverend Jerry Falwell's church. Here's a story from Straight Into Gay America. Mel here is Mel White, the executive director of Soulforce, at whose home I stayed during my visit to Lynchburg, Virginia.
I'll close with an email I received the other day. One of those blessings from the road, another connection to another amazing life.
As Mel has already told me, the specifics keep shifting. Mel will openly say Jerry lies. Communism. Abortion. Homosexuality. AIDS. Syncretism. Terrorists. Liberal Politicians. Liberal Christians. Mel calls these the moving targets of condemnation. The river of words flow so fast that few inside the system ever stop to question. Of those who oppose fundamentalism, few can keep pace with the barrage long enough to get at the roots. Few ever realize the onslaught of fearmongering is meant for exactly this purpose—"keep fear close to the surface."
Fear, says Mel, is the only thing that maintains the rulesbased reality on which all of fundamentalism rests. These lovers of Jesus are fearful of the one great thing Jesus discovered in the wilderness: Rules and predictability don't succeed even after baptism brings a dove down on your shoulder and God rumbles from heaven, "You are my beloved child, with you I am well pleased." Only the shift to compassion can hold up to the confusions of the wilderness world we live in. This, above all things, seems to be what fundamentalism fears. Fear and control is the flip side of sweet "Grandpa Jerry."
Sitting in Thomas Road Baptist Church this morning felt cozy enough for a person to almost believe it held a place for everyone. I know from experience that wonders of faith happen in places like Thomas Road. But I know, too, that much of this Sunday morning is a front for the diatribe of fear, power, and control. My ride feels puny now, running broadside into this ageold conflict that far predates Jesus—do we stand on rules above all else, or do we rely on compassion? Is there any communication across this divide?
Knowing I'd be here on this tour, I've had Jerry in my mind for weeks, wondering after each conversation, each overnight visit along this journey,
"Jerry, If you could see the things I've seen, would you still say
the words you say?"
Or does there come a time when we shut off experience, dismiss the evidence, and proclaim whatever calms our own fears, paves our power, and cements our control?
"What would you say Jerry, if you could have traveled alongside
my unicycle this past month, and slept on the same couches and beds and
floors in the homes that opened so graciously to me?"
I finish the Falwell Confidential (www.falwell.org) and turn off the computer. Gary calls from the kitchen that lunch is ready, and I come to take my place at the table. Two lesbians, three gay men, and me.
"What would you say Jerry, if you sat in the presence of this kind hospitality? Might you really hear these stories, feel these lives?" Is this possible?
I try to keep the light mood of my companions today, but it fades as I think about the young man who stands in the shadows of these condemnations, singing the choir songs about sweet Jesus. Nothing is really so easy as "Grandpa Jerry" makes it out, nothing so sugared as the melodies of the choir, swaying in their light-blue robes this morning. Falwell closed his online article wondering how "leftist theologians can read this dramatic passage and continue to be lost in their abortion-rights quagmire."
There's a quagmire alright. The rules don't work the way these fundamentalists argue them.
A note from a reader:
I had no idea you would reply to my email!! Your response has strengthened me in my loss of [my partner (killed in a car accident last year)]. It is hard to wipe away the 29 year's you lived with someone and loved them as yourself in Christ Jesus. Yes, we were a gay couple, but had to hide that fact for so many year's because of the social attitude's of where we lived. Praise God HE moved us to Key West for 5 year's where we were respected in the gay community as well as the straight community.
Thanks for sharing the journey,
Looking forward to the day when no matter where a person lives in America, we can be honored by the gay community, the straight community, by all communities.