Adversarial Advent: Love

Sunday, 23 December 2018

This is the fourth Sunday in Advent. We’re back to a purple candle and the theme is Love.

I’ve heard a lot of challenge this year from those who are opposed to trans people, BQALG people, women, and people of color about how we aren’t showing the proper Love to our oppressors. That if we really were the so-called “tolerant left” we’d understand that those who hate us and are literally calling for our destruction are human, too. They say to us that they Love us sinners but hate our sins.

Yeah, right.

But, we on the so-called “tolerant left” are full of Love. We are learning to Love ourselves and reject the vitriol that is levied against us. And so, we can love the sinners who are our oppressors while hating their sins of our oppression.

Yeah. I went there.

Amen, and Blessed Be.

Adversarial Advent: Joy

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Sunday, 16 December 2018

This is the third Sunday in Advent. The candle is pink—for Mary—and the theme is Joy.

I was asked to read the story in Luke 1:26-38, wherein Gabriel visit Mary to tell her she will be the mother of Christ. While I certainly felt Joy at being asked to read, I couldn’t help but wonder what Mary’s initial reaction would have been. I’m guessing it wasn’t Joy. In fact, I’m guessing that whole first year for her after the Annunciation was one where Joy might have seemed far away.

Growing up Roman Catholic, I remember learning one of Mary’s titles was the Mother of Sorrows. In keeping the Catholic tradition of Divine Mysteries, this title was explained as a good thing because adversity brings us closer to G!D. I might be an adversarial theologian, but I don’t believe in the concept that suffering is the path to Joy. Among other things, adversarial theology means find the unpopular opinions in theology and showing to society. Often, I find it difficult and even inappropriate to take these ancient scriptures written by and for a very different culture and try to make them apply to ours. But, there’s something in the lesson from Luke that applies today quite easily.

Mary was facing being shunned by her culture for being pregnant before she was married. This shaming—often called “slut shaming” today—is alive and well in our current society, especially is the mother is a teen as Mary would have been. Teen mothers find themselves in impossible situations. If they abort, they’re called killers. If they give their babies up for adoption, they’re accused of abdicating their parental responsibility. But if they keep their children and try to raise them, they’re still treated horribly by society because they never should have allowed themselves to be in the position to have to choose life in the first place.

This stealing of Joy from these young women is part of the War on Christmas. You can’t worship the child of an unwed mother while condemning those same types of families in the world around you.

I was a teen parent, and the years I spend raising my kids were among the most Joyful of my life. A society that speaks about wanting to protect children needs to actually do that work. Young and unwed mothers must be supported.

That’s how you defeat the War on Christmas: by bringing Joy to people in need.

Amen, and Blessed Be.

Adversarial Advent: Peace

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

I’m a little behind this week, but 9 Sunday 2018 was the second Sunday of Advent, and the theme is Peace.

Peace. What does that word even mean in a word where it seems borders are growing stronger, are closing more tightly? Where is the Peace when the military of one nation fires tear gas canisters over the border into another nation to stop the flow of refugees? Oh, and the nation being fired into isn’t officially an enemy nation?

Refugees. The Gospel of Matthew includes a story or Mary and Joseph fleeing their homeland and seeking refuge in Egypt. Why did they do this? Because of violence carried out by the minions of King Herod, the puppet dictator put in place by the Empire. Why are refugees seeking asylum in the US? Because of violence caused by puppet dictators put in place by the US government. The parallels can’t be denied, to me.

If anyone was looking for the so-called “War on Christmas,” this is it. A so-called Christian nation firing upon refugees seeking asylum and respite from violence. The US is Rome, and this Empire must fall if there is to be Peace.

Amen, and blessed be.

Adversarial Advent: Hope

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Today is the first Sunday in Advent, and the theme is Hope.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was a mere 12 days ago, and it seemed there was (again) a record number of deaths reported. Yesterday was World AIDS Day. George H. W. Bush died the day before that, and people were telling us to not remind the world of Bush’s legacy regarding HIV/AIDS. Refugees are being attacked on foreign soil by US troops. Climate change seems irreversible.

And the theme for this first week of Advent is Hope.

I am an adversarial theologian. Not because I think it’s cool and edgy to poke holes in tradition, but because mystical traditions don’t necessarily provided what’s needed for the here and now. Adversarial theology, for me, is practical theology. But, this is where I struggle as a priest.

I’m nearly out of Hope, you see.

What Hope can I offer? I won’t offer the Hope of mysticism. Instead, the Hope I will try to offer is the Hope that I be as compassionate as I can to those who need it the most. There are times when that seems so small in the face of all the very real threats that exist in the world. Add to that the threats that might not be real but my anxiety and psychosis warns me of anyway, and that Hope seems even smaller.

I will continue to try. To paraphrase the words of my teachers, “I offer compassion, because nothing else truly helps.”

Amen, and Blessed Be.