Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Shack and Gay Tourette's

I just finished reading The Shack by William P. Young. It had a profound effect on me. My challenge will be to pay it forward.

Much of it's theology was refreshing to this lay person. Presented in simple terms to which I could relate, but with profound undertones. The author's treatment of judgment, universal salvation, various religions and a Trinitarian God took me deeper into reflection on views which I already held but could not so eloquently address. And he gave me new perspectives on terrible acts done in the name of religion.

And then I hit the wall.

When I read a book or watch a movie it is hard to do so without bringing my sexuality to it, whether that is fair or not, it is what it is. I need to say up front that the book is not gay friendly. Neither is it gay unfriendly, except to the degree that it is heterosexist. The author presumes, as do so many straight Christian authors, a relationship of male and female with kids that are the biological product of that union as the family. That creates a formidable barrier through which I must break.

A straight person, or a more well adjusted gay person than I, may find this hard to understand, even given that fact that I was raised in hetero-presumptive world. Kyle would refer to me as suffering from "gay Tourette's syndrome." This, Kyle would say, is viewing everything through a gay lens. Every other word is "gay." Most commonly, he would say, in the "new gay," the recently out, formerly married, lesbian or gay man. It stems from need to constantly be establishing oneself as a gay person in every aspect of life.

Considering myself a "gay activist" certainly contributes to the lens through which I view everything.

So why is it that most straight people do not consider themselves "straight activists?" It is because they don't need to be. Most of the world, and indeed theology is ordered in a way to which they can relate. The stories that move our hearts from ancient times to the the present were predominantly based on the presumption that the reader was straight. Hetero-presumpative. Heterosexist. While we can dig for subtexts knowing that some, if not many, of the great writers were gay, the overwhelming number of great works of literature do not include overt gay love stories.

To be sure there are "straight activists." Jerry Falwell, James Dobson are. But one must question their motives an need to be activists in a world that is still largely straight. Most straight people don't feel the need because they are secure in their sexuaility and not threatened by anyone else. I know this lays me open to the question, "are you then, unsure of your sexuality." I am. You might question my sexuality if I were fighting for gay rights in Homo-normative world. The staright activists suffer from "gay Tourette's" as well. Though because "gay" is hard for them to say, every other word is "homosexual." It is nice to know that we ar so important to them.

The Bible is among the works that I mention above as being hetro-presumptive. Even if one argues that it was divinely inspired, it's authors were straight, or could not directly express their gay perspective. It would not have been heard by the masses. It would not have "sold."

Listening to the inner voice from God is always a challenge. Sifting it from great works of thought and human understanding through an experience where it is presented in a familiar and yet totally foreign context is a hurdle for Lesbian and Gay people.

The author of The Shack does a wonderful job of tackling the Church and organized religion. So many horrors have been wrought in the name of God and She is not pleased. From my perspective this includes the exclusion of LGBT people. The good news form the book is that God does not give up.

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