Slurs (Proverbs 12:18, James 3:1-12)

Sharp words cut like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 12:18, James 3:1-12

This proverb is a reversal of the old childhood mantra: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words…” Well, supposedly words will never hurt us, but they do. Not only the slurs flung our way, but the very words that jumble in us as in the word-art above. Those discerning their orientation – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning persons – are especially vulnerable to sharp words, receiving their thrust deep into the psyche.

The queer community for a number of years has been reclaiming words. In a very healthy way we have taken the swords meant to hack us and turned them into shields of honor. “Faggot,” “queer,” “gay,” “homo,” “sissy,” “butch,” “dyke” and others are now internalized as points of pride instead of points of shame.

The lesbian biblical scholar Mona West states it succinctly: “Oppressed peoples over the years have understood the power and importance of choosing their own words to name themselves rather than allowing the dominant culture to assign negative meaning to certain words that are used to demonize a group of people. Words are powerful tools used to describe experience and shape reality” (from the article Queer Spirituality).

-Read David Popham’s full reflection at “The Bible in Drag

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Queer Love (1 John 3:16-18)

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ died for us. And we, too, ought to lay down our lives for our sisters and brothers. If you have more than enough material possessions and see your neighbors in need yet close your hearts to them, how can the love of God be living in you? My children, our love must not be simply words or mere talk – it must be true love, which shows itself in action and truth.

 1 John 3:16-18

“Lila” by Philip Shadblot
@ http://www.philipshadbolt.co.uk/gallery/272108_lila.html

Love in this passage is portrayed in very down to earth terms. As Christ died for us so we ought to give our lives for others. Got more than enough to live on? Then share with those in need. Unlike those who only drone on about the virtues and beauty of loving we must love through our deeds.

While not perfect, and far from being a cohesive entity, queer love mirrors what the writer of 1 John aims at. By virtue of being outcasts our “forbidden” love is a love of deeds. Queer love stands in the face of hatred. Queer love teaches in the presence of ignorance. Queer love leads in the journey to liberation.

If there is a special “role” for the christian queer in the contemporary church, or queers of other faiths, this may be it. Who better to rekindle the flame of active love in an aging and increasingly unfeeling institution? Who better to quicken the spirit of inclusivity? Who better to buttress the ramparts to the onslaught of injustice? Who better to name the sins committed against the fringe and the weak?

-Read David Popham’s full reflection at “The Bible in Drag

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When God Snaps (Obadiah vv. 1c-4)

Thus says Adonai concerning Edom:
I will diminish you among the nations.
You will be utterly despised.
Your arrogant heart has lead you astray,
you who live in mountain clefts,
whose home is in the heights,
you say in your heart,
“Who is able to bring me down to the ground?”
Though you soared like the eagle,
and built your nest among the stars,
I will fling you down again –
it is Adonai who speaks

                                                             -Obadiah vv. 1c-4

“The Revenge” bronze and patina 27x35x34 inches
Cedric Loth @ www.lothart.com

 

Vengeful snapping is a sweet and tasty morsel in the mouth of those starved for equality. Here is a passage that speaks to God’s anger and God’s resolution to snap at Edom. “Though you soared like the eagle … I will fling you down…”

Edom must have done something heinous to bring the wrath of the Lord God Almighty upon her head. Yet, when we probe the other verses of this book it becomes clear that Edom’s great offense is what she did not do. While Judah her neighbor was being pillaged by Babylon, Edom stood by silent and inactive.

In defense of Edom I am not sure what she could have done against the military might of Babylon. No doubt she would have round up like Judah, plundered and exiled. No one dare brook the influence of Babylon. Yet, the Sacred is not concerned with whether or not Edom would have succeeded. The concern is that during a time which called for solidarity and mutual support, Edom chickened out. This did not go unnoticed by God and now revenge – that sweet tasty morsel – will be savored.

– read David Popham’s full reflection at “The Bible in Drag”

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The Idol of Heteronormativity (Daniel 3:16-18)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to Nebuchadnezzar, “Great Ruler, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If you throw us into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to overcome the blaze and rescue us from your hand. But even if God does not rescue us, we want you to know, Great Ruler, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold that you set up.”
Daniel 3:16-18

 

“Captian Moroni”
illustration from the Book of Mormon

My image of the Sacred does not fear sex and sensuality. The Holy does not consider it shameful to express a love that cries out to be celebrated. This sense of God and what God is about in creation, needless to say, gets me in trouble.

I consider myself steeped in the long and rich spiritual traditions of judeo-christianity. Yet, I freely admit that the god concepts that inform my relationship to the Sacred are different. Straight god images have only served to block access to the Holy as they are often used as instruments of spiritual bullying.

In one incident it was suggested that I should be immediately fired – not because I’m gay, but because I publicly joked about being a gay man married to a straight woman. On another occasion I was vehemently told that I was setting “the cause” back because a retreat team I was a part of named our event “QueerSpirit.”
– read the full reflection at “The Bible in Drag