Fear (and then Methodists vs. Gays)

Fear is a toxin and our society is intoxicated. The headlines blare like klazon horns – racism! climate change! wildfires! immigrants! crime! danger! seamonsters! No matter who you are or what you believe, there’s an algorithm working overtime to channel your personal fears directly to your eyes, interspersed with ads for products, experiences and candidates that promise to provide relief from the terror for a price. Whether these promises are true – well, you’ll have to wait and see. But you pay up front.

There are a lotta things happening that are scary – no denying that. And that’s always been true. None of the fears are new – they’ve just been updated. The neighboring tribes don’t attack us anymore – now our neighbors and co-workers flip out and start shooting. We don’t have to worry about water kelpies or cannibal ogres taking our children because those fanciful beasts have been replaced by people. Real life is like a zombie apocalypse – the biggest dangers are always other people. Somebody wants to take what you have or hurt you – that’s the message that the world is shouting all the time. You get the fear for free – the relief will cost you.

Fuck that shit. I am truly fortunate to have grown up poor, lonely and exposed to violence on a regular basis, to have lived addicted, insane and on the edge of starvation, to have wallowed in sin and degradation and recognized my hopelessness. I have been given the blessing of coming through the other side of all that, alive, mostly intact and fully conscious of the obvious fact that it was not because I deserve it. I really don’t – it ain’t like I was some kinda noble Job when I was down. Far from it, I was a right bastard and certainly undeserving of a hand up, but I got it anyhow.

I wrote the above thinking that I was gonna go off into a big ol’ rant about the false premises of fear and how truly boneheaded it is to attach oneself to a petty little group – one’s own race, gender, form of sexual expression, nationality, religion, whatever – and then act like some kinda embattled warrior/martyr just because some coffee chain didn’t affirm one’s own identity with their holiday cup or some shit, but that seemed like a really big topic and I don’t know how to say it in any way that matters. It’s really easy to spit out something like “We’re all children of the same loving God”, but much harder, if not impossible, to cause anybody to comprehend that.

I been watching a series on Netflix about the Irish Rebellion in the 19-teens which is very blatantly on the Irish side – ain’t nobody yet made a flick promoting the English perspective on that lil’ kerfuffle – and the us/them dynamics are right clear. The simple issue of Irish rule for the Irish people got muddied and bloodied real fast by the Catholic/Protestant argument and then people were killing their neighbors because they had different thoughts on the Blessedness of the Virgin Mary, which is cuckoo, but which is also purty furkin’ normal. In my own family, people refuse to speak to each other because this one thinks that background checks for gun purchases are alright and that one thinks that there should be no impediments to anyone who wants a Glock right now. I shit you not. And these two morons will start yelling at each other at the Christmas dinner table and ya know they’re both packing heat and three sheets out, so ya gotta watch that shit. Notta droppa Irish blood in any of us, but I can easily see my immediate kin firebombing a neighborhood tavern because there were some British squadies at the bar.

Then, last night, my mom told me that the Methodists are “banning LBGTs and Qs”, by which she meant that the United Methodist Church has voted to maintain their stance on same-sex marriage, which is they don’t do it or recognize it. Her own church – the Brethren Church – has taken the same position, but her local church, while not opposing the governing body, welcomes LGBTQ people. One of the preachers there actually officiated a same-sex marriage and was defrocked – or whatever the Brethren call it. He still serves as a minister at the church, though without official sanction. Mom says a lot of old people have left her church because of the LGBTQ issue. And I read that the Methodists were largely swayed to their position by the older people in the flock. The question of whether pandering to the geriatrics is the best way of attracting young people came up, though whether it should or not be a factor is debatable.

What isn’t debatable, at least among Christians, is that everyone is a sinner and that Jesus Christ is our Savior. And that must mean that I am a sinner, whoever the “I” is. Jesus made His thoughts on the subject of sinners judging each other pretty plain. Following His teaching, I don’t get to enjoy judging anyone. Period. That means that I can participate in a violent rebellion because I oppose the government, but I can’t shoot my neighbors for going to a different building on Sunday mornings. Or something like that. When it comes to the relationship we have with God, I’m on the exact same level as the twink who was up all night horkin’ blow and exchanging sodomies with strangers in the bathroom at the gay bar. There is no difference. We are equally sinful. We are exactly the same amount of unworthy and God’s grace is poured out for us in the same measure. So, if that hypothetical poofter wants to show up at my Church, I am s’posed to welcome him in. That’s all there is to that.

The whole marriage thing is ridiculous. Ya wanna get married, go for it. It don’t matter to me. I got married once and that didn’t work out – and that ain’t none of yer business so step off. I certainly prefer that same-sex couples refrain from making out in church – but there again, I don’t wanna see straight couples makin’ out so there’s no difference.

I find it somewhat annoying that this issue continues to be part of public discourse. How petty does a person have to be to care whether someone else is homosexual? What an insignificant thing that is. The fact that I, as a Christian, should be expected to take a stance on same-sex marriage pesters me. Returning to what was the subject in the first coupla paragraphs, I am not afraid of homos, so I don’t need to care. I’m not afraid of homophobes either – they’re dying out.

The Methodists are betting that they’ll be able to draw in enough young people to keep their thing going – maybe they will – but they’re banking on the oldsters in the short-term. That’s a good idea in the short-term. Old people show up to church more often and put more scrilla in the plate, so pandering to them keeps the rent paid. Whether the Methodists can keep going the distance remains to be seen. They’ll prob’ly manage.

I’m glad I’m a Lutheran. We’ve been ordaining women and queers for a few years now. I’m pretty down with the whole Lutheran thing – I like the rituals and decor and I really like genuflecting for some reason – but the real kicker for me, the reason I officially joined the Lutheran Church – that happened this past Sunday, by the by – is that I am in total agreement with the Lutheran position on everything, including tolerance of LTGBs and Qs and even the ordination of chicks. I am 100% sure that there is no distinction whatsoever betwixt meself and whatever queer you care to name – RuPaul, k.d.lang, that figureskater with the big hair who’s on that cooking show my mom likes – as far as sinfulness is concerned. Martin Luther went on at more length than necessary about some of his disagreements with Pope Leo X, but I agree with him. Lutheran – Evangelical Lutheran Church of America-style – is right for me.

I’m also not scared of terrorists or mass shooters. Ain’t none of ’em in the room that I know of. Not scared of Mexicans, gangbangers, ebola, economic insecurity or racists. I’m not afraid of poverty, disease or death. I just don’t need to be. There’s no sense in it. So I don’t have to fight anybody, which is nice. And anybody who is bothered by the UMC’s decision to act like a buncha weak-kneed crybabies is welcome to check out the Lutherans.

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