Helter Shelter

The homeless shelter re-opened for the cold months a few days ago. We have already lost two staffers. I dunno why. Maybe they had schedule conflicts or maybe the reality of working overnight at a homeless shelter was too much reality. In any case, we’re scrambling and I’m the dumbass who’s willing and able to work extras, so I’m doing a double – right now. I’m a few hours into a double, 6pm to 7am. It’s been a shitshow. We’re still figuring out where everything is and I’m training a newb even though I only sorta know how our systems work – our computer systems, I mean. I know exactly what to do when somebody who clearly ingested a shitpile of drugs today wanders off into the dark during smokebreak, which happened. Oh yeah, we’re currently operating out of a building at a church summer camp, so wandering off into the dark means wandering off into the woods, twenty miles from town, and we can’t have that. Homeless people on drugs stumbling around, lost in the woods, fumbling up in some farmer’s backyard is not gonna be good for our funding.

Last time, I reintroduced meself. This time I’ma recap some of my thoughts on Christianity and my place in it – nothing outrageous or even original. I’m 100% on board with the ELCA positions on all things that the ELCA has a position on, and have only three points that I consider central to whatever form my ministry will take when I someday have a ministry, which are these here:

  • Everything works out better when God is involved.
  • God wants individual relationships with individuals.
  • Help the poor.

I’ll expand a bit, but not in that order because the one I put in the middle seems like the one that wonts more expanding and therefore oughta be last.

Everything works out better when God is involved. Obviously, God can’t be excluded from anything against God’s will, but God frequently allows people to fuck shit up if they’re determined to so do. The Old Testament provides plenty of examples. On t’other hand, inviting God to be involved in any anything pretty much ensures that it’ll work out better. This does not mean that asking God to be involved in a convenience store robbery will result in a sack of cash and a clean getaway, because that is only “better” in the view of the robbers, who aren’t really inviting God to be involved so much as stupidly attempting to manipulate the Creator and Life-Force of the Universe. If you’ve invited God to be involved in your life, you ain’t likely robbing convenience stores. I say “ain’t likely” in the full awareness that the Holy Spirit lists where the Holy Spirit wilt. I am not ruling out any possibility. Inviting God to be involved in your life changes your life. Usually, it isn’t an instant change, but it could be. In any event, inviting God to be involved is a good idea.

Help the poor. Skeptics enjoy pointing out the inconsistencies in the Bible, a collection of writings which span approximately 2,500 years. Apparently, they think that anything should be consistent over that period of time and that the contradictions are indicative of God’s nonexistence, which is pure piffle. There are inconsistencies, but there are some things that are consistent from beginning to end and the admonishment to care for the poor and needy is one of ’em. If you ever find yo’seff wondering what God’s will is for you, go help some poor slob. That is always God’s will.

God wants individual relationships with individuals. People like to think that God loves people best of all His creatures. I’m not convinced. I tend to agree with some First Nation peoples – other creatures have their own relationships with God that we don’t know about because it ain’t our business. If squirrels and bone-eating bearded vultures don’t have rituals, it might be because they’re living closer to how God intended and don’t need ’em. P’raps we’re the only creatures God has an active interaction with because we’re the only creature that consistently and royally fucks everything up and needs instruction.

At any rate, we do seem to have greater diversity within our species than any other creatures. Squirrels tend to behave like other squirrels; squids like other squids. It’s only within our species that we can observe outrageous diversity. I submit that this is okay with God. I also submit that another thing that is consistent through the entirety of the Bible is God’s desire to have a relationship with people. No matter how bad people fuck shit up, God continues to want to have a relationship with us. God’s desire starts off with the House of Israel, then expands to include Gentiles. Through the history of Christianity, the relationship God desires has increasingly become understood to be a personal one. At this writing, all branches of Christianity emphasize this personal relationship with God.

It must then follow that all these personal relationships will be as different as the persons in them. God is the same, but the relationships She forms with individuals are different. The relationship God has with the Pastor at the church I would attend if we were having in-person church is different from the relationship She has with me. And the relationship God, who is beyond gender, has with a transgender person of color will be different from both.

God, I am quite certain, does want to have a relationship with transgendered people, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and all the rest of the rainbow flag. And all of those relationships must needs be different. In the Gospels, Jesus gives different instructions to different people. We should assume He knew what He was doing – and we should assume that He is still giving different instructions to different people. (People often use “God” to refer to the “Father”; “Jesus” to refer to the “Son”. I’m conflating the two here because I’m referring to the “One” aspect of the “One-in three-Parts” of the Trinity. The Deity’s desire to have relationship with people is consistent in all of the Deity’s aspects.)

My Pastor was called to be a Pastor. I was called to be a Deacon. Different individuals, different instructions.

Who is willing to say that they know better than the Holy Spirit? Who is convinced that they know how their LGBTQ neighbor should live and they are better equipped to deliver the message than the third Person of the Trinity?

“Not I”, said the opossum who was raised by wolves.

I heard some podcast a year or so ago, interviews with women who were in very traditional religious traditions. One was a woman who was raised Roman Catholic. In college, she realized that she was a lesbian. For a few years, she was actively dating women. Then she hit a wall – she realized that being a lesbian was contradictory to her understanding of being a Roman Catholic. Knowing she couldn’t change her lesbiandom, she became celibate.

I have a couple friends, a pair of soft butch lesbians who are in love. They’re married. They’re both members of the ELCA. One of them, the short one, is beginning the discernment process with the intention of becoming a Pastor.

As far as I know, all them lesbians are following the instructions of the Holy Spirit. I have no problem at all with the idea that one lesbian might be celibate and another not and both be doing God’s will for them. And if any of thems grow into a different understanding over time, I won’t be surprised. Shizzle, my own understanding of God’s will for me has changed and changed again and again over the years. Why would anybody else’s not?

Speaking of lesbians, I am one. It’s pretty normal for women to find fault with their own bodies. Some undergo drastic measures to change their bodies. Others just say “Well, I guess I’ll just accept it.” I’m in the second group – I’m not entirely happy with the body I have, but I can live with it. The fact that I know myself to be a woman who is attracted to women and who lives in a male body is one of the details in my side of my relationship with God.

There are those who feel they are appointed to tell their neighbors what God’s will is for all people. I disagree with them, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

So – whatever ministry I have will include those points.


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