Protest (Jonah 4:9-11)

God said to Jonah, “What gives you the right to be upset about the castor oil plant?”

He replied, “I have every right to be angry, to the point of death!”

Adonai replied, “You feel sorrow because of the castor oil plant that cost you no labor, that you did not make grow, that sprouted in a night, and that perished in a night. Is it not right, then, for me to feel sorrow for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than 120,000 people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, to say nothing of all the animals?”

-Jonah 4:9-11

San Diego Gay Protest Sign
@ http://takeastandagainstliberals.blogspot.com/2008/11/no-on-prop-8-rally-san-diego-november.html

The ability to protest is an existential leap into self-being. Culture is accustomed to pronouncing its judgments and investing in the building of legal and social controls to buttress the so called self-evident truths of the status quo. To raise a protest in such times is to invite the slings and arrows of an angry society. Yet, it is also to establish a self beyond the repressive forces of rank-and-file thinking. It is the movement from life with the herd into the authentic life of the self as defined from the inside out.

The voice of protest is the arrow strung on the tension of injustice, released to fly against the battlement of indifference. This solitary arrow finding its mark creates the chink by which the edifice of prejudice is weakened and falls under the weight of its own pretenses.

The voice of protest in the book of Jonah is the voice of the Sacred. The object of the protest is the Divine’s own prophet.

-continue reading at The Bible In Drag – Queering Scripture

 

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

Peacocking (Amos 7:10-12)

Amaziah the priest of Bethel then sent this message to Jeroboam ruler of Israel: “Amos is plotting against you in the midst of the House of Israel. The country can no longer tolerate what he keeps saying. For this is what he says, ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel is going into exile from its land.’”

                Amaziah told Amos, “Go away, seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there. Do your prophesying there. We want no more prophesying in Bethel. This is the royal sanctuary, the national Temple!”
Amos 7:10-12
The clashing of authority with free thinkers is as old as religious expression. Here we come across the prophet Amos being reproved by Amaziah the high priest of the royal chapel at Bethel.
Amaziah wants Amos to go away and to take with him his obstinate witness against the king and nobles of Israel. Apparently Amos is oppressing the power structure with his dreary call for justice.
Amos’ reply to Amaziah is incredibly subversive. The complaint is that Amos has flaunted or peacocked his alternative prophetic views at the center of propriety – the king’s chapel. Amos simply replies that he is not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet (the product of a prophetic school), but rather a simple tree dresser.
How true this is of queer folk. We are not straight people “acting out.” Nor are we the product of a gay agenda that has brained washed us. Simply, we are persons blessed by God with a different desire and way of responding to the God-given call of the erotic.
-continue reading at The Bible in Drag
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Bashed: Queer Martyrdom (Philippians 1:12-14)

I’m glad to announce to you, sisters and brothers, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the Good News. Consequently it has become clear throughout the Praetorium and everywhere else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of our sisters and brothers in Christ have been encouraged to speak the word of God more fearlessly.
                It’s true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others do so with the right intention. These latter act out of love, aware that I am here in the defense of the Good News. The others, who proclaim Christ for selfish or jealous motives, don’t care if they make my chains heavier to bear.
                All that matters is that in any and every way, whether from specious or genuine motives, Christ is being proclaimed!
                   Philippians 1:12-1
Paul writes from jail. His crime? Being born a christian, or at least being born again a christian. Paul was jailed because he lived out of his center. Being true to his own self-identity Paul couldn’t help but feel and live as he did. Born again in Christ, it was not a choice but a compelling inner compass that led Paul into a life contrary to national laws and natural schemes (resurrections are not a part of the natural order of things). Paul paid the price – imprisonment and ultimately death.
Paul considered his jail time an honor as it resulted in the love of God being spread even more vigorously than before. It did not matter if people were speaking maliciously and malevolently. What mattered was that a way into the heart of the Sacred was being articulated and shared with those who were unaware.
We call Paul and others like him martyrs as they paid the ultimate price in giving their lives for their beliefs. Martyrs are esteemed by all expressions of faith for their blood cemented the various paths into the heart of the Sacred. As a person of faith I join the ranks of those giving homage to martyrs.
Continue reading at The Bible in Drag
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Bible in Drag: “Dyking Sin” (James 5:19-20)

My sisters and brothers, if you should wander from the truth and another should bring you back, remember that whoever turns sinners from the error of their ways saves them from death and cancels a multitude of sins.

James 5:19-20

James is a tough book to read. It enjoys its present position toward the end of the Greek Scriptures due to the great reformer Martin Luther who considered it a “right strawy epistle.” Although in Luther’s defense, it appears he missed the major emphasis of this book: faith formation as the key element in communal living.

I can also commensurate with James – it takes hard, hard work to build the beautiful community. That is the community where justice and righteousness or harmony and balance mark all relationships.

James (in theory the brother of Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem) is interested in the question of power. Particularly the question of how power plays out in a community of equality. James exhorts us to be stringent in the disciplines of the faith. These disciplines call on us to relinquish our hold on control, turn to those in need, and let go of carefully crafted priorities so they may be replaced by priorities of the crucified and resurrected One.

-full reflection at The Bible in Drag