Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Speaking of Big Gay Weddings

Fran and Dr. Monkey are blog friends with these super people who had a big commitment ceremony over the weekend. I mean huge. Over 500 people. And the media! It was at Penn State and State College Mayor, Bill Welch, presided over the deal.

Of course it wouldn't be a big, fun, gay wedding if the Christians weren't around.




It inspired the Pennsylvania Family Values Coalition, a conservative Christian group, to hold a counter rally afterward.






The only opposition came from Orthodox Christian Fellowship, a Penn State student group that lined the HUB entrance, sang softly,



and held plaques depicting Jesus.


















A few dozen people celebrated family values and traditional marriage in front of the Old Main steps....“This isn’t a protest,” said Gordon Hampton, a Faith Baptist member videotaping the rally.





“It’s really to stand up for God.”










Despite the true Christian spirit of those well-wishers, the commitment ceremony for the two gay and two lesbian couples concluded with a standing ovation.




Congrats Delia and Kat!







39 comments:

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I could not be prouder of those two crazy kids.

John Shuck said...

You know some top class people, Monkey. What gives?

Grace said...

It's disturbing to me if the only visible Christians showing up here were these anti-gay protestors.

It's a tragedy that homophobia have become linked with Christian orthodoxy, and any proclamation of the gospel.

Harry said...

Rev. Shuck:

Those plaques, despite your ribald and blasphemous suggestion, were in fact holy icons, which play a central role in Orthodox worship.

"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7)

John Shuck said...

Where might the blasphemy lie, Harry?

I think it is blasphemous to use these holy and sacred icons as tools for prejudice.

I am sure I could find a bible quote somewhere to support that if the truth of my statement didn't stand on its own merit.

Harry said...

I think looking at your icon (and icon it is, though not holy) is prima facie evidence of irreverence and impiety toward One whom many consider sacred. The definition of blasphemy.

Would you use your icon in your church to spiritually inspire your parishoners?

Does your image inspire people to lead a better life? Or does it rather inspire derisive laughter?

Didn't you get a frisson of impish delight poking fun at a sacred cow when you posted it?

Doesn't your icon inspire prejudiced much more directly and forcefully through mockery?

Jodie said...

Don't "holy icons" break the Ten Commandments?

Grace, I agree. Its the worst mistake Christian Orthodoxy has made in my lifetime. It has undermined its own existence right down to the founding stone.

John Shuck said...

I am sure out of the bunch there were Christians who were supportive. That does tell us something doesn't it?

When I met with our local PFLAG group at my previous location, this conversation or a form of it happened at every meeting.

Remember PFLAG is a secular organization. Yet the religious discussion would happen again and again. A high school student, or a 20s or 30s something person would tell a little about his or her story.

Someone would ask, "How are your parents doing with this?"

The individual would reply, "Well, you know, they are Christian."

And everyone would groan. They all knew exactly what that meant, bigotry. Perhaps it meant being kicked out the house; each story was different on the specific incarnation of bigotry in each household.

I believe that the Christian religion, at least in America, is the leading cause of injustice toward gays.

I lay the blame at the feet of Christianity. Not just some Christians, all Christians.

I say this as a Christian minister.
It is as much my fault as it is the god hates fags people.

Why? Because the Christian umbrella allows sanctuary to bigotry.

If Christians who think differently do not speak out and act for justice, we are not following Christ.

We are not even being neutral.

We are not a moderate voice in the controversy. We are not free from responsibility because of our "politically correct" thoughts that we keep to ourselves.

We are the problem.

It isn't that some Christians are bad. It is Christianity that is bad.

Is that an overstatement? Yes and no. No in the sense that obviously, some see the Christian faith as enabling justice and act on it as such.

Yes, in the sense, that overall, when seen from outside the church doors, the church is the most oppressive institution on Earth to glbts.

(I am not getting into any argument about who is worse, Christians or Muslims, as if the less oppressive should get a medal of honor. The Muslims are horribly oppressive).

I am not a Muslim, and probably neither are you. How about dealing with our own dirt?

Lgbt people owe Christians nothing. Christians, however, have a huge debt to pay to our sisters and brothers. Payment is due.

John Shuck said...

It pisses you off, doesn't it, Harry?

It makes you mad when someone mocks your deity. It makes you angry when people take what you believe in and use it an in unholy way.

I am glad you feel it like I do.

Harry said...

Honestly, it doesn't make me angry. Anger is another useless passion which separates us from God.

I certainly used to get angry at things like this, but it did me no good, and didn't change anything else either. People are the way they are. Anger, denunciations, mockery: these are just attempts to use violence to suppress your enemies.

It ends up harming the angry man or woman more than helping victims of their wrath.

Let's let Alexander Solzhenitsyn have the last word:

"It has granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of my youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only wen I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first strivings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either-but right through every human heart-and then all human hearts… And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains… an unuprooted small corner of evil."

Flycandler said...

Laughter = violence.


That's a new one.

Even sounds like it could come out of the types that threw ol' Aleksandr Isayevich in the Gulag.

Snad said...

"Anger is another useless passion which separates us from God."

What a load of stink! I can't tell if it's the BS I am smelling or the eau-du-Holier-than-thou. Either way ... phew!

Jodie said...

Harry,

Are you saying that when the State threw Alexander Solzhenitsyn in the Gulag it allowed him to repent and see the error of his ways, and that was a good thing?

The name "Israel" means "struggles with God".

John,

I think homophobia is a human attribute, not a Christian one. And it is a human attribute to seek a religious endorsement to one's own prejudices. And it is easy to accept such endorsements if one accepts the prejudices. When most people accept a set of prejudices, it is just a matter of the might of the majority enforcing them. Might makes right.

But in American Christianity we have also invented being-the-victim makes right.

The failure of Christianity is that it has become lazy. It has relied too long on crutches like might makes right or victim makes right. 1500 years of being the religion of Empire has taken its toll, and it is not easy to re-define ourselves outside of the Empire.

On the one hand we could loose ourselves outside the city walls, on the other we might just decide it is easier to bring back the Empire.

I admire you for struggling through and trying to find a path.

Sometimes you make me cringe.

Flycandler said...

While I don't disagree that homophobia (we need a better word) isn't necessarily a Christian phenomenon, it has certainly morphed into a religious one. As more secular societies have finally started to relax laws (usually passed in religious fervor) that discriminate against gay people and discovered that the sky will not fall, bestiality will not become rampant, and Nazis will not once again ride dinosaurs, the last firewall is religion. It's couched in terms of preserving the "traditional" family as the ideal established in Genesis 2 (though skip the bits about fratricide and incest). The opposition comes entirely from religious circles.

This is something that Christianity has to come to terms with. I vote we start with our particular corner. We were ultimately right about black folks and women, even though it was unpopular at the time. We should be right about this, no matter how the neighbors may howl. Fifty years from now, most of them will catch up.

Grace said...

Alright, John,

I know you mean the best by using these images, and don't mean at all to mock God. You are trying to get a message across. But...hear me out, friend. Does this show the best wisdom?


Have you considered how this approach may impact your ability to share your witness about GLBT inclusion in the church, and for civil rights with those who need to hear it the most, such as Harry here.

They will write you off, and may even assume that an inclusive position is associated with heresy, and a mocking spirit toward the faith.

The cause that you care for the most might actually be harmed. We need to share truth, but all need God's love and wisdom in our choice of words and images. We need to watch our own motives, and spirit.

Plus, I think it's so true that we are broken, and fallen. None of us have all the answers, or have it all together. Everyone of us need the grace and mercy of the Lord. So, it's in this context that I think we should approach other Christians, people in general, about some of these issues.

What do you think,John? Can you see any of my concerns, here?

Harry said...

flycandler:

Laughter can certainly be violence. Is the laughter of school children taunting a gay classmate good and harmless fun?

snad:

A load of stink? Perhaps. Jesus must have had it wrong when he advised us to forgive our enemies, rather than get angry at them. Must be one of those Q3 quotes.

Jodie:

The Gulag was certainly evil, but good came out of this evil in that paradoxical way that Christianity teaches. I was looking for quotes to illustrate the Christian approach to suffering, and oddly enough found a good one on a UU site:

Salvation is not a final state to be achieved, but instead an ever-present possibility. The power of salvation is not to lift us out of the world, out of life, but to plunge us more deeply into it. Salvation does not save us from pain but through pain. We cannot escape suffering without escaping life itself.

(emphasis in original).

http://www.uucava.org/sermons/Big_Answer_Christianity_121502.htm

Drew said...

"They will write you off, and may even assume that an inclusive position is associated with heresy, and a mocking spirit toward the faith."

As soon as I say, I love gay people and fully affirm their sexuality, I would also be instantly written off and have. It's an impenetrable wall for some and consistent and almost aggressive proclamation of this love is what will shatter it some day. Heresy is a social construction of what is acceptable and unacceptable. Heresy is the other side of the sublime which disrupts our sense of right. Clearly in cases like this where vans of Christians are going to push their social comforts off on others and demand assent among people in State College, a little bit of heresy and a lot of aggressive love are needed to do some shattering of those walls.

It also exposes people. If we could look deeply and carefully at why things offend us, we would go a long way to loving our neighbor more effectively. It disturbs the comfort zone. The comfort zone can become a source of subtle idolatry and often is. Love and heresy are powerful sources to disrupt this - Just as Jesus did.

Grace said...

John, I want to jump back in, and say that I think your work with PFLAG is awesome, and so much a needed witness.

John Shuck said...

My beloveds,

Doth one go to McDonald's for Lobster Bisque? Shalt one hear the opera at Nappy's Bar?

Shuck and Jive is but a juvenile profane circus. And thou art the clowns.

To what shall I compare Shuck and Jive?

Ah, 'tis a fart...
in the midst of a silent prayer.

Alan said...

Nothing wrong with a little righteous anger. Such righteous anger certainly didn't separate Jesus from God.

I agree that homophobia is not a Christian phenomenon. One must separate the underlying bigotry from the excuse people give for that bigotry in order to try to persuade themselves they're not actually bigots. "Oh", they say, "I'm just going by what God says..." I'd wager if they weren't Christian they'd simply find another excuse.

Nothing wrong with getting angry about people co-opting religion in order to excuse their bigotry. Seems to me that Jesus had a problem with people co-opting religion in order to use it for un-Godly reasons too. Of course, these days we're not driving them out of the church with whips. ;)

Alan said...

"They will write you off, and may even assume that an inclusive position is associated with heresy, and a mocking spirit toward the faith.""

If they want to find an excuse not to listen, they'll find any excuse they can. You seem to be assuming that if one were presenting one's view in a rational, orthodox way, they'd be persuaded. Sorry, but I'm here to tell you that one can, in fact, present completely rational, orthodox & Biblical reasons for one's views and still be written off anyway.

Anyway, I thought it was we "liberals" who were supposed to be too sensitive. When did conservatives become so fragile that they can't handle a little satire?

FranIAm said...

I take a few short hours off from blogging (to go do church work no less!) and look at what I miss.

GREAT post and thanks for the shout out and love to our girls D and Kat.

And yes- it is Dr Monkey that has brought all of us together John Shuck!

Well ok, I met Delia at another blog but still!!

I long for the world in which we truly live the message of love in action that I take as the Gospel message.

It was Nicodemus, mister rule-bound sneaking in at night and still not quite getting it (can you guess where we are in John in our lectionary?)

For me it is about the woman at the well- talking to Jesus straight on, at the well at midday and kind of actually taking him to task for speaking to her.

It is about that kind of out there risk and love for me.

Amen!

Flycandler said...

I've quoted it before, and I won't haul out my quotable Molly Ivins. Rather, I'll paraphrase. She was writing about Rush Limbaugh (an attack by whom she likened to "being gummed by a newt") and his infamous labelling of Chelsea Clinton as "the White House dog" by noting that satire (especially political satire) is a profoundly powerful weapon used by the powerless against the powerful. When it is used against the powerless (such as [at the time] little girls), it is not only wrong, it's profoundly vulgar.

Laughing at the bullying of the queer kid is an example of attacking the powerless.

Christianity as an institution is far, FAR from powerless, especially in America. Out of 535 members of Congress, there are 43 Jews, 1 Muslim and 1 secular humanist.

dguzman said...

Sheesh, all this hubbub just for me and my gal? *blush*

Thank you, John, for your support--both in this post and through your work with PFLAG etc. You're a good egg. And thanks to all you commenters for your views!

One thing, though: I can honestly say that the chic in the Confederate flag bikini was NOT, thankfully, at the rally.

Harry said...

fly:

The fact that satire and mockery are powerful weapons was never in dispute.

By calling it a weapon, you acknowledge that it is violent. Its intent is to hurt the opponent.

If you think your end justifies your means, for it. Just remember that Christianity teaches that cruelty is never justified, and is in fact counterproductive.

Flycandler said...

Okay, I think "cruelty" is a bit much, Harry. As Alan points out, conservatives turn out to be very fragile. Was John's yarn about canned milk a "brutal assault" on cows?

Christianity is old enough and big enough to take a joke, even if certain of its adherents can't.

Alan said...

"By calling it a weapon, you acknowledge that it is violent. Its intent is to hurt the opponent."

I'd say satire is meant to inform and embarrass one's opponent, when done well. There's certainly nothing "violent" about embarrassing one's opponent.

Snad said...

"By calling it a weapon, you acknowledge that it is violent. Its intent is to hurt the opponent."

Love is a weapon against hate. Joy is a weapon against cynicism.
Compassion is a weapon against indifference.

According to Harry, all are violent. All are meant to hurt.

Whatever.

John Shuck said...

Hey Dguzman (Delia)!

"Sheesh, all this hubbub just for me and my gal? *blush*"

I was feeling a little nervous about posting all this. This really is your big day. Some day there won't be hubbub and thanks to you for that.

I was honored to preside at a commitment ceremony for two guys at my previous church. There was hubbub about that all right. It was in the paper, too, but not anywhere near the scale at Penn State.

We (the two men and I) knew there would be hubbub. We had to keep consoling and encouraging each other. We knew that no matter what happened it was worth it. Barriers were broken. We all agreed we could back out whenever we wanted.

You and Kat participated in some major barrier breaking this weekend. Hopefully it becomes less of a deal each time until one day people will be as bored at a gay wedding as they are at a straight wedding.

And that is the big "homosexual agenda" isn't it? To be as boring as everyone else. : )

I heard that somewhere.

So, sorry for making your celebration part of the Shuck and Jive hubbub, but thank you for letting me make a hubbub about it.

Thanks for stopping by!

You are both beautiful and I so appreciate what you have done for humanity, and I really mean that.

Peace,
john

Hey, those Confederate bikinis...never know--could be the spice your relationship will need someday!

Harry said...

It is never pleasant to be the butt of a joke, and it can be cruel.

And how does your mockery affect you. Does it make you a more loving person when you poke fun at your neighbors?

Is this the way you want your community to interact?

BTW, Alan, can you tell me how Rev. Shuck's little cartoon is informative, or why it is appropriate to embarrass Christians in this particular way?

Harry said...

snad:

And you find Rev. Shuck's cartoon to be loving and joyful?????


And I've never heard anyone call love and joy weapons before.

I would rather refer to them as antidotes.

Rastus said...

Far be it from me, Harry, to answer for Alan or John, but I will give you my answer to the question of “how Rev. Shuck's little cartoon is informative, or why it is appropriate to embarrass Christians in this particular way?”

The target is not all Christians. It is some Christians. Particularly, it is those Christians, who proudly declare themselves to be Christians, who carry symbols of Christianity to advertise their faith, and who brandish their faith and their symbols as weapons against others whom they are sure Christ does not love. The targets are those Christians who presume to speak for Christ to exclude other humans from being as deserving of God’s love as they. The informative nature of the cartoon is to say that that those who profess Christ most boldly and most sanctimoniously may be badly wrong about the nature of Christian love. The appropriateness lies in the fact that hypocrisy may be exposed through with mockery.

Christianity is a beautiful religion. Ineffiably fulfilling and healing in, and to the heart. However, it can be made ugly by the pious through exclusion.

I tend to agree with Grace that the underlying wisdom may be questionable, and it may backfire. But I understand the intent behind its use, I think.

John Shuck said...

I think Rastus pretty well summed it up, including:

"I tend to agree with Grace that the underlying wisdom may be questionable, and it may backfire. But I understand the intent behind its use, I think."

Sorry for offending.

Snad said...

Harry said "And you find Rev. Shuck's cartoon to be loving and joyful?????"

Harry, you are trying to make a trap and I'm not interested. Just because I said the words "love" and "joy" you ask me to defend everything on this blog as being loving and joyful. Not gonna happen!!! Besides, John's a big boy and doesn't need me to defend him or what he puts on his blog.

I'm not even sure which "cartoon" you find so offensive. I didn't see any cartoons. I saw a few pretty pointed pictures that were calculated to raise hackles on people whose hackles are frankly raised by the smallest of things. Big deal. He knew which buttons he was pushing, and push them he did. And honeslty, I find it funny (but perhaps in a sad way - sort of like the sailors who watched as Captain Queeg fell apart aboard the Caine). But since you don't get angry at such things, and always choose to employ your favorite antidote of forgiveness, I know it will all be okay in the end.

So it goes.

Grace said...

(((John))

Harry said...

snad:

Yes everything is fine.

John Shuck said...

OK kids, I changed the pics to more accurately paint my portrait...

Snad said...

Nice pics, John - and much easier to deal with for Harry and all, I'm sure!

I am guilty as well of derailing intent of your post by jumping into the harangue, but now I would like to get bck on track:

Congratulations, Delia and Kat! May your life together be filled with love and joy, adventure and quiet, peace and goodness.

Flycandler said...

Awwwwww... John! Whyd'ya have to cave?

I thought the "I gave myself to Jesus and now he won't return my calls" was a brilliant reposte to the often unintentional double entendres a lot of evangelicals use when talking about religion (though they may say that "Christianity's not a religion, it's a relationship"--get some damn couples counseling already, cuz you're not listening to him).

The South Park "Faith + 1" is an excellent example. For those unfamiliar, the episode is titled "Christian Rock Hard" and pokes fun at the Christian Rock branch of the music industry, and how an awful lot of songs sound like 70s pop songs with "Jesus" substituted for "baby".

"I love you, Jesus. I want you to walk with me.
I'll take good care of you baby.
Call you my baby, baby!

You died for my sins, and you know that I would die for you, right?

What's the matter, baby? You're tremblin' Jesus, baby!

Your love... is my life!
You know when I’m without you, there's a black hole in my life!

Oh, I wanna believe. It's all right,
'Cause I get lonely in the night
and it's up to you to save me!
Jeesuuuuuus, baaaaabyyyyy!"

There's also "once...twice...three times a Savior" and some that might offend (it's "South Park" after all).

Yes, I love sacred choral music, and Christian pop is no better than a zit on its ass.