Category Archives: Around The Blogosphere

An interesting article about a retreat for LGBT Muslims

As a white, middle class gay man from a Christian background1, it’s easy to forget what other LGBT people who face further problems due to other bases for marginalization they may face.  It was with this in mind that I read a Washington Post article about the experiences of people attending a Pennsylvania retreat for LGBT Muslims.

The article brought home the whole concept of intersectionality and why it’s important when they quoted one attended:

“On the one hand, I was bullied at school for being a Muslim,” said Alam. “On the other, I was worried my parents and other Muslims wouldn’t accept me for being gay.”

When there are multiple prejudice-based reasons for people to hate or mistreat you, the number of people who will accept you for all of who you are shrinks even more.  That’s something that’s easy to forget for some of us.  (We mustn’t forget, no matter how easy it is.)

Of course, it’s also easy for many of us who have fought with the dominant religious culture in our society — Christianity — over our worth as human beings who happen to be part of a sexual minority to forget that there are those LGBT people among us who are having those same exact fights within their own minority religions.  How well do we support them in that fight, I wonder.  (Not very well, I suspect.)

I highly encourage everyone to go read the Post article.  It gives a brief description of what the retreat meant to and has done for a handful of those who attended.  I really have nothing else to say, other than, “Listen to them.”

(Related:  I also highly recommend watching A Jihad for Love, a documentary about the lives and struggles of LGBT Muslims worldwide.)


1While it’s true that I’m now part of a religious minority, I think that the fact that I started life and spend over two decades as a part of the mainstream family of religions her in the U.S. still grants me a certain amount of privilege.

Great deconstruction

I’ve been fascinated by Fred Clark’s deconstruction of the Left Behind series since I first came into contact with it.  It’s one of the reasons I’ve been reviewing Alisa Harris’s book chapter by chapter.  I have also been considering tackling a more thorough reconstruction of another book.  The book that kept coming back to me was Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness, which I originally read while I was in late elementary school (approximately fifth or sixth grade).

While This Present Darkness is nearly three decades old, I think it’s still relevant in that it has shaped and still expresses many of the ideas central to those Christians who are members of the spiritual warfare movement.  As I spent time involved in that movement, attacking this book made a lot of sense.

Yesterday, however, I discovered that a fellow Slacktivite, a woman who goes by the name of yamikuronue on her blog, began deconstructing Peretti’s book back in September.  I read through the entirety of her deconstruction so far (thankfully, she’s only fifty pages into it) and found it to be fascinating and remarkable.

From what I’ve gathered reading yamikuronue’s blog, she was never a member of the spiritual warfare movement herself.  In many ways, I think this is proving to be an asset to her deconstruction.  I’ve looked at a lot of things that she covers and realized that I probably would have taken them for granted and glossed over them.  To give you an example of that, consider the following excerpt from her post dated 22 October:

The man has serious issues with anger management and victim-blaming;
why complacency as his major sin? Complacency goes with despair
certainly – “I can’t fix anything, so why bother” – but that means the
entire bit of irrational anger was all his own doing, with absolutely no
infernal aid. Marshall is an abusive man without the demonic
intervention; all the demon was doing was encouraging him to stop trying
to be less abusive. And this is meant to be our hero?

Understanding how spiritual warfare types often see anger, I would have glossed over this excellent point, whereas yamikuronue focuses on it quite well.  As such, I think she is doing a far better job at deconstructing the books than I would have.

So instead of doing my own deconstruction, I’m going to follow along with hers and offer my comments.  I still have a lot to offer, such as how the things she is deconstructing ties into the greater spiritual warfare mindset and the community that subscribes to it.  I would encourage my readers to follow along as  well.

And I’ll find another book to tackle when the time comes.

New Blog for the Walk

sneakers.jpg
I’ve decided to create a new blog to post my experiences Walking to Cure Diabetes this year.  In keeping with the “Musings” tradition I’ve started, I named that blog The Musings of a JDRF Supporter.

There are two main reasons I decided to create a blog specifically for the walk.  The first reason is that I want to use my new Palm Pre Plus to live-blog pictures and brief comments during the walk itself.  Unfortunately, the current selection of blogging applications for the Pre are rather few in number, and I shudder at the thought of trying to use the Movable Type client on the Pre’s web browser.  (The browser is good, but I’m not convinced that it’s that good!)  As such, I determined that my best bet for live-blogging the walk was to create a WordPress blog.

The other reason I’m doing this is because I’m trying to convince JDRF — either on the national or local level — that the blogosphere is an as-yet untapped resource for them in terms of raising awareness of both their organization in general and the walk in particular.  When I contacted them about putting my fund-raising thermometer on my blog (which they don’t support) or getting images to use (the national organization ended up referring to my local chapter), I realized this didn’t appear to be a common request, which I find odd.

I understand that their focus is mainly on supporting MySpace and Facebook, which seems to be a common practice these days.  But in many ways, I still think blogs offer a level and depth of promotion that social networking sites don’t always offer.  Blogs offer the opportunity for synchroblogs (also called blogswarms and blog carnivals).  They offer the opportunity to post a lot of informative information about type 1 diabetes and the research being done to improve treatment and even find cures.  In effect, it’s a way to generate more interest and support by being informative.  I think there’s a bit of value in that.

So I’ve created my blog to showcase some of the things that can be done.  Hopefully, some folks at JDRF will see it and be interested in getting more bloggers involved in future years.

Project Pagan Enough

ProjectPaganEnough.jpgWhile checking up on Pax’s blog today, I discovered Project Pagan Enough, a new movement started by Pagan blogger Fire Lyte.  Fire Lyte offers the following explanation for his reasons for launching this movement:

It has become quite obvious over the past few years that the pagan
community likes to talk the big game of being tolerant and inclusive of
all peoples, but seems to lack that tolerance when the person in
question dresses well or is attractive or is otherwise garbed in a cloak
of ‘mainstream.’ This intolerance seems to be derived from a standpoint
that we, as the pagan community, believe we are ridiculed or ostracized
by the mainstream, thus people that look mainstream must be our enemy.

While I certainly agree with Fire Lyte’s observations, I’d note that I’ve seen the reverse in many instances too.  I’ve seen more than one “mainstream” Pagan criticize others for being “too goth” or “too SCA” or “too” many other things.  Unfortunately, one of the universal truths is that no matter what we look like or how we choose to act, we humans tend to be critical and of judgmental towards those who look and behave differently.  And while it would be nice to believe that those of us who have felt the sting of criticism and judgment wouldn’t dream of inflicting those experiences on others, my own experiences and observations have taught me that this is a pleasant fiction that does not match with our unpleasant reality.

With that in mind, I choose to align my blog with principles of the Pagan Enough Project:

  • You are pagan enough, despite how you look, act, smell,
    dress, believe, or are.
  • You recognize that others are pagan enough despite their
    appearance, smell, manner of dress, belief, practice, or other aspect.
  • You recognize that you can have an academic debate on the finer
    points of belief or practice, but that it does not take away from
    someone else’s level of being pagan.
  • You welcome, befriend, and encourage others in the pagan community
    despite their appearance, dress, or other physical or superficial
    characteristic.
  • You promise to treat members of other faiths, despite the faith,
    with honest-to-goodness fairness, equality, and grace, not judging them
    or their faith based on the actions of fringe members of their same
    faith.

I hereby declare that my priority is in following the path laid out for me by my own gods rather than attempting to direct others in the path they are meant to follow.  Finding the path others are to follow is for those people and their gods (if applicable) to work out.  While I may offer insight and advice, I shall offer no more than that.  And I choose to bless those who choose other healthy and beautiful (recognizing that beauty is in the eye of the beholder) ways of expressing their spirituality rather than trying to force them to meet my standards.

Upcoming Synchroblog: Bridging the Gap

profile pic.jpgFor the past month or two, I’ve been following the Bridging the Gap
blog.  I’ve also been publicly commenting there and privately
conversing with Wendy Gritter, the woman primarily behind the blog. 
Wendy is a wonderful woman and I’ve been blessed with her friendship.

A while back, Wendy told me about a synchroblog that New Direction and the BTG Project are sponsoring on June 24.  The press release for the event describes the event as follows:

New
Direction has been seeking to foster safe and generous space for
authentic conversation about faith and sexuality. We have committed
ourselves to building bridges. But we cannot do it alone. We need other
Christ-followers: gay and straight and everything in between, to speak
up and join the conversation, to share the heart of the gospel in the
midst of this conflict. We need those beyond the walls of the church:
gay and straight and everything in between, to speak up and join the
conversation, to share their thoughts on how the church can reach
across the divide and build bridges.

In light of her desire to get people of all walks of life
to join in the conversation, Wendy has asked me to participate in this
synchroblog.  As a friend and someone who believes that this dialogue
is an important one, I have graciously (at least I hope I’ve been
gracious about it) accepted her invitation.  I would like to invite any
of my other readers — regardless of sexual orientation or religious
persuasion — to also participate in this event.  It’s only through the
addition of a multitude of voices that a real dialogue — or rather a
harmony of related dialogues — can emerge.

Some may wonder why
I would choose to participate in such a dialogue or encourage others to
do so.  After all, they reason, it’s clear why Christians would wish to
engage in this dialogue in order to gain converts — though I
personally do not believe that’s the only reason Christians choose to
enter into this dialogue.  But what possible reason could a
non-Christian — especially one who has been hurt by Christians in the
past — have for entering into such a dialogue?  What do I hope to gain
from it?

Surprisingly,
the question contains its own answer.  I choose to participate in this
conversation because I’ve been hurt by Christians in the past.  To me,
reconciliation is an important part of the healing process.  Conversing
with Christians — even Christians who theology and sexual ethics
differ greatly for my own — gives me another opportunity to make peace
with my past.  It gives me the chance to realize that while I’ve been
hurt in the past, other Christians really are decent and loving.  It
also allows me to regain the love and dignity that was stolen from me
by those past experiences.

Participating
in such a dialogue also gives me the opportunity to tell my story and
serve as a representative for all those others who still might be hurt
by some Christians.  It enables me to raise some Christians’ awareness
of just how little it takes to create great pain for young people
struggling with a sexual orientation that their friends, family, and
church says is bad.  If offering my story will help one Christian
better reach out to and support another gay person when they
desperately need it, then my participation in this dialogue is well
worth it.

btg cover.gifI also wish to participate in such a dialogue because
that gay person sitting in the pew may need to hear my voice and know
my story.  Sadly, far too many Christians have a very stereotypical
understanding of gay people.  Too often, being gay is equated with
having multiple sexual partners, abusing drugs and alcohol, and
engaging in several other destructive behaviors.  And while I do not
deny that some gay people do engage in these and other behaviors, it is
not as universal as some Christians might believe or pretend that it
is.  As a well-adjusted — in my opinion at least — gay man with
relatively healthy sexual ethics, my participation in dialogue with
Christians serves as an opportunity to demonstrate first-hand that gay
men like me exist.  Coming to the table provided by folks like Wendy
provides me with an opportunity to demonstrate to conflicted gay
Christians with evidence that they have more choices than the dismal
options that others have painted for them.  (And I admit that I admire
the integrity, confidence, and grace of people like Wendy who are
willing to give me that opportunity despite their own desire to see
people make a different choice than the one I have in regards to
sexuality.)

Finally, I choose to participate in
such a dialogue because in the end, it is in my best interests to do
so.  To be honest, there are many Christians — including Christians
who believe that people should not get involved in same-sex romantic
relationships — that are in my life.  These people are my friends, my
coworkers, and my family members.  They are not going to change their
beliefs any time soon, nor are they going to disappear from my life
anytime soon.  So I can either choose to live a life where we are
distant from one another and suspicious of each other.  Or I can choose
to enter into dialogue in an attempt to find mutual understanding and a
better sense of peace despite our differences.

To me, the choice is obvious.

(The images in this post were provided by Wendy Gritter and used with her express permission.)

Discovering Misty Sayoko Irons

As regular readers of my blog may know, I’m a huge fan of Seething Mom. So when she wrote a glowing review of the writings of Misty Sayoko Irons, I had to check it out for myself.

Particularly, I was curious to discover what caused Misty to start a site about homosexuality and the Bible. I suppose one might wonder why I’d look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth like that. After all, we queers can use all the pro-gay supporters we can find. However, I have to admit that I’m a naturally curious person when it comes to people’s backstories. Understanding how one’s past affect’s one’s present day choices is always someting that fascinates me. So I began looking for Ms. Irons’s story. I had just about given up and was getting ready to find a polite and friendly way to email her an inquiry when I finally noticed what I was looking for two thirds of the way down the navigation bar on her site. So I clicked on the link and read about her experiences with two neighbors, Gregg and Joel.

Let me just say that it is well worth the search, as her experiences with these two men and the painful self-realizations that those experiences caused her were touching. Indeed, I’d encourage anyone who reads the story (and I highly encourage everyone to do so) to make sure they have some tissues on hand.

What truly touches me about Ms. Irons’s story is the raw honesty of it. She unabashedly admits how little she knew about gay issues at the time, as well as how badly she misjudged the lives and personal choices of Gregg and Joel at the time. She doesn’t even try to rationalize these things or makes excuses for them. Indeed, by the end of the tale, I felt as though she was entirely being too hard on herself.

However, more important, this story and the rest of the site also tells of the kind of woman the author really is. This is a woman who is not only willing to admit when she’s been wrong, but she’s willing to do something about it. This is a woman who not only acknowledges her preconceived notions, but actively makes an effort to correct them when necessary. And for that, I applaud her. And for that, I’m thankful that I can consider her a supporter.

Of course, I also find myself admitting that she makes an excellent role model as well as a supporter. After all, evangelical Christians and straight people aren’t the only ones who have their preconceived notions. After all, I know more than one gay person (and I’ve been guilty of it myself) or supporter who has come to prejudge all evangelical Christians. When we meet one, we tend to expect certain reactions out of them and even mentally prepare ourselves for our own “stock responses” to them even before they actually happen. I even remember some of my evangelical friends from my past — people I had known for years — rightfully calling me on making assumptions about how they would treat me. And these weren’t people who I just met. These are true friends, people I should’ve known better than to make such assumptions about.

Now certainly, I can make excuses for myself as well as the rest of us. Certainly, I can argue that we’ve had plenty of bad experiences with evangelical Christians. I can rationalize that because of this, it’s perfectly natural for us to assume much the same treatment in similar situations. And there’s a certain logic to that which is undeniable. But that doesn’t make it any more right. So to Ms. Irons, I say thank you for setting the example. You made no excuses, and I will endeavor to follow in your footsteps.

Ms. Irons also has a blog, which I will be sure to add to both my blogroll and my news aggregator.