Reclaim the pulpit – with “living, laughing and loving beyond the norm”

A site I’ve been wanting to write about for weeks, and have sadly neglected, is “la lucha, ma pulpito“, run by delfin waldemar bautista. which I enjoy for its completely fresh, lively appearance and tone – and a delicious sense of humour.

delfin-bautista-sitting

 

 

There is solid learning and thought here – but also playful wit. For instance, take a look at the page for “Q-Sources”. Any scholarly treatment of scripture would use the phrase to refer to

a hypothetical collection of sayings of Jesus, assumed to be one of two written sources behind the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. Q (short for the German Quelle, or “source”) is defined as the “common” material found in Matthew and Luke but not in their other written source, the Gospel of Mark. This ancient text was supposedly based on the Oral Tradition of the Early Church and contained logia or “sayings” of Jesus.

Wikipedoa

but here it refers to “Queer Resources for La Lucha” – and a healthy selection they are, including separate columns for each of  Gender Identity, Bisexuality, Queer and Trans Youth, Race and Ethnicity, Activism/Witness, Family and Faith/Liturgy. The listings do not yet have links to them, but that’s understandable for a relatively new site. Delfin writes that they will be added in time, “as the Spirit inspires”. Meanwhile, it should not be too difficult for anyone seriously interested, and equipped with moderate web search skills, to track down the links for themselves.

Individual bloggers do not feature on this Q – suorce page, which comprises only more formal websites groups and organizations.  Personal blogs appear elsewhere, on the front page, as a conventional blogroll – but again, with a different name. The word “la lucha” may be translated as “struggle”, 9r “fight”, and so individual  bloggers are described as “other luchadores in the faith“. I;m honoured to be included among those “luchadores” (fighters, combatants).

This sense of commitment to struggle, but also his scholarly credentials, are clear also from Bautista’s description of himself and his concerns:

a native of miami, and of cuban and salvadoran heritage. i am a social worker and queer theologian who is passionate about engaging the intersections of religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, and justice—specifically around lgbtq issues. i have a master in divinity as well as a master of social work. as an activist scholar of faith, i am interested in creating spaces where individuals and communities are safe and challenged to explore identity, expression, gender, and orientation in their complexities.

But it’s by no means all serious. I’ve already described his whimsical use of the term “Q source”. This is also evident in the title (la lucha, ma pulpito) and strapline for the blog – which begin seriously, affirming his belief in the pulpit as a site of struggle – but balances it, by affirming also its commitment to play, in life, laughter and love.

a catholic lucha to redefine and reclaim the pulpit……… a queerly sacred space for living, laughing and loving beyond the norm

 For a taste of his actual writing in these two different veins, I offer the introduction to two of his recent posts. The first is a serious, thoughtful reflection (delivered as a sermon) on a familiar Bibilical verse, but with a thoughtfulness of interpretation that makes its relevance much richer than the familiar:

… many have argued that these words of Paul  reflect the makings of an emerging Christian tribe … who like us, were coming together in hopes of sorting out their identity as individuals and as a community in the midst of changes in government, religious and cultural persecution of their beliefs that differed from the norm, and infighting among their leaders over who could and couldn’t be a Christian.

However, rather than engaging this surface understanding, I want us to go deeper and query Paul’s idea and use of “or”, venturing that Paul was a theologian of la frontera. His message to the Galatians is that there is neither blank or blank, because they are a both/and people—a people who dwell in the borderland.  Like the Galatians, we too dwell in the borderland…we are individuals who embody both Greek and Jew, male and female, black and white … its a messy inner co-existance, but the early Christian communities were onto something profoundly radical…the refusal to limit people to one label and with that limitation impose a number of expectations that limit and stump.

In my journey of trying to make sense of GOD’s calling…I have often found inspiration in biblical figures who embodied intersecting identities…Individuals like Mary of Nazareth who was woman, prophet, disciple and mother…Paul, himself, who was Greek, Jew, Roman, soldier, follower of Christ, persecutor, persecuted…Like them, I too am a mosaic of identities…a person of the borderlands.  I am not one identity, though a label is often imposed on me by society, the church, and the media. I am limited to just being queer or a person of faith or Latino or a social worker, rather then having my whole self embraced, affirmed, and celebrated.

– continue reading at la frontiera – dwelling in the borderland

and in initially lighter vein, but (as always) leading to a serious point, we have this reflection, prompted by attending a Catholic infant baptism:

 I went to the baptism of a friend’s daughter today, part of me was happy to welcome this little girl into the holy dysfunction of the church–part of me wanted to get up and scream “run while you still can…or I guess in your case, crawl…I’ll join you.”   It is an ongoing love-hate relationship that some days is easier to embrace, some days you just want to give up–but you don’t because you know that Goddess is working Her magic (while hopefully laughing with you rather than at you).

– continue reading at finding umph in Catholic cicheness

Lepers, Social Outcasts – and the Church

In today’s Gospel, we read “There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha”. Who are the lepers in the Church of today? My parish pew leaflet this morning has the important observation:

The message of Jesus is inclusive, it is Good News for everyone, Jews and lepers alike. His townspeople didn’t like this; it was too much for them, and so they set out to kill him.

Would you react any differently to the people of Nazareth if you were told that God welcomes immigrants, people of a different colour, and background, the social outcasts of today? In the eyes of God, all are welcome, everyone is equal.

And we could adapt the question above, to

Would you react any differently to the people of Nazareth if you were told that God welcomes people of a different affectional orientation, or gender minority –  those who are far too often, the social outcasts inside the church of today?

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At Gospel for Gays, Jeremiah Bartram has an extended reflection on this Gospel passage:

  Finding the gay Jesus  

gfg_iconThen he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.  They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”  He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’  And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’”  And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.  But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon.  There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”  When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage.  They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff.  But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

– Luke 4, 21-30; reading for Sunday, January 31.

Commentators

NRSV:  Jesus gives examples showing that “foreigners sometimes experienced God’s aid when Israel did not.”  V. 28:  “The hostile reaction comes in response to Jesus’ references to Gentiles, not to his apparent messianic claims (v.21).

Hardy makes the interesting observation that “there is no obvious reason why these people would have thought of casting this well-known proverb in Jesus’ teeth” – but that the taunt was thrown at him later, during his crucifixion (Mt. 27,42).  He thinks that Luke is using this scene as a “trailer” for the treatment Jesus was to receive elsewhere.  Likewise, he notes that the two Old Testament examples cited by Jesus – which so enrage the crowd – are more relevant to his later activity than to the present situation.

Those two examples:  Elijah, the widow of Zarephath and her son survive a famine because God miraculously extends her meager supply of flour and oil to feed them all (1Kings 17); and Naaman, a Gentile military commander, is healed of his leprosy when he follows Elisha’s instructions and bathes seven times in the Jordan (2Kings 5).

– continue reading at Gospel For Gays.