Tag Archive for advent

Adversarial Advent: Rejoice!

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Today is Christmas: the culmination of our Advent preparations.

My Advent posts have been, again, rather political. This makes perfect sense, as Christianity is a very political religion. It started that way, and it needs to be. But just because Christianity was intended to be a political religion, it was never intended to be the religion of the Empire. That was Constantine’s doing, not Christ’s, when he made Christianity the official religion of the Empire. This political approach to religion is part of what adversarial theology means for me. I don’t look for easy or mystical answers. There is much strife in the world today, just as there was at the time of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the one whom we call the Christ.

How does an adversarial theologian welcome the rebirth of the embodiment Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love? This might be one of the few times when at least part of the answer, to me, seems easy.

We, the Church, are the Body of Christ. Christ is the embodiment Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. So, we are the reborn embodiments of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. That’s the end of the easy part of the answer.

The hard part is actually bringing the Gifts of Advent into the world every of the rest of the year. There will be times when we forget. There will be times when we’re too exhausted—physically, mentally, spiritually. There will be times when we encounter people whom we don’t want to offer these Gifts to. These are all valid responses, as we are human and humans are imperfect. Sometimes, “I will try again tomorrow,” is the best prayer we have to offer.

And ya know what? G!D is okay with that.

Amen, Blessed Be, and Merry Christmas!

image © James C. Lewis (http://www.noire3000studios.com/)

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


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.

A Jesist in Advent: Peace

Today is Sunday, 24 December 2017. It’s the fourth and final Sunday in Advent and the theme is Peace. Again, this is a bit odd to me as I’m used to Peace being the second Sunday and Love being the fourth. Anyway…

I have the tendency to think of the liturgical season of Lent as being about confronting our inner demons. Well, it seems this Advent I’ve been confronted by the demons of others. Anti-LGBTQIA+ hatred, harassment, and violence seems to be at a level I’ve not seen in a long time. Maybe it is at an all-time high, or maybe it’s just that I’m noticing it more. But considering what’s happened in the US after the disaster that was the November 2016 election when the populace elected one candidate and the electoral college chose another, bigots have become emboldened.

If Lent is a time to reflect on what our inner demons tempt us to do, then perhaps Advent is a time to reflect on what our inner angels are guiding us to bring out into the world. I’ve long since accepted that I cannot rely on my society in general to give me Peace. Yet, there have been those individuals and particular groups in society that have brought some measure of Peace to me.

Advent is about bringing Gifts out into the world. As I have received the Gift of Peace from others, I should strive to bring Peace to others. I will not fix society. That’s too big for me. But if I can make existing in society a little easier for others who don’t often enough experience Peace, then that’s something I should do.

Amen, and Blessed Be.

A Jesist in Advent: Joy

Today is Sunday, 17 December 2017. It’s the third Sunday in Advent and the theme is Joy.

My Advent season this year started with a huge influx of Joy on Saturday, 2 December, the day before Advent 2017 actually started. It was on this day when I was at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco to bear witness to the ordination of three wonderful queer women to the priesthood. Two of them I met at seminary, the third is someone I met at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Berkeley, which has become my current church home. To be present when the bishop declared them fully ordained priests was a moment of tremendous Joy for me.

In fact, the Joy of bearing witness to their ordinations carried me through some difficult encounters the following days and weeks. This is an amazing thing, to me. The Joy in witnessing the achievements of others was healing to me.

And then, last Thursday was another Joyous time. I had a productive session with my therapist after work and later went onto karaoke with my coworkers. Circling back to today was the first time I sang with the choir at Good Shepherd. While I make more of a Joyful noise than an aesthetically pleasing one, singing is always a gift of Joy to myself.

There is much to be concerned about. But, find and spread Joy where and when you can.

Amen, and Blessed Be.

A Jesist in Advent: Love

Today is Sunday, 10 December 2017. It’s the second Sunday in Advent and the theme is Love. This was a bit odd to me, as I’m used to Peace being the second week. But, I digress…

I’m beginning to wonder if using Facebook is detrimental to my ability to Love. This is the second Sunday in a row that I’ve encountered heterosexist/homophobic and cissexist/transphobic comments on a friend’s post. I know there are a great many people out there who hate persons like me, even without ever having met me. It’s always so shocking, though, to encounter their sentiments. If somebody tries to post things like that on my page, their comments get deleted and they get blocked. If their comments violate the Facebook terms and conditions, they get reported, too. While I would greatly appreciate it if my friends would do the same to people who comment on their posts, I understand that it’s their FB pages. They can handle them as they see fit. I’d like to say more on this, but that might not be construed as very Loving on my part.

I know there are people I will never be able to reason with. I have blood relatives who were rabidly anti queer and anti trans before I came out. And, I have at least two cousins who are older than me who are gay. So, it’s not like I’m the first LGBTQIA+ person in the extended family. But it wasn’t until I went from second son to first daughter did some of the bigotry end. What bigotry ended? The jokes. That’s about it. These relatives still vote for candidates and politicians who work to make my life illegal, restricting or rescinding my rights. I’ve tried bringing the Advent Gift of Love to them to no avail, and they won’t bring Love to me either, not while they vote the way they do. And since I can’t transition race, I know I’ll never get through to them on issues of racism no matter how hard I try and have tried in the past. If they won’t change to defend me, their kin, what makes me or anybody else think I can change their minds about racism?

Every day of my life, I am confronted by those who seek to destroy trans persons. The only “Love” they offer is telling me how damned I am. I know from experience that I can count of men and women of all races, orientations, and classes to hurl hate in the direction of my community. I could offer them Love, but to what purpose? It will be rejected out of hand. I know they won’t extend to me the Love I desire and require. And when so much of this hatred comes from people who identify as Christians, saying they are justified by GOD, it should come as no surprise I call myself a Jesist.

So, I bring the Advent Gift of Love to others like me. If I can offer them some measure of comfort, I will do so. To my allies, I will offer gratitude. I would not be alive without them. And since I use Facebook to connect with my allies and the members of my community, I won’t be giving it up any time soon. For those who seek the destruction of the trans and gender-expansive communities, may the Light-bringer hold them and keep them, now and for ever.

Amen, and Blessed Be.

A Jesist in Advent: Hope

CONTENT WARNING: transphobia, cissexism, homophobia, heterosexism, ableism, T-slur

Today is Sunday, 3 December 2017. It’s the first Sunday in Advent and the theme is Hope.

A friend and ordained minister (I’ll call him RR) posted on Facebook his displeasure about a letter describing the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church in Northern California’s official discriminatory stance on LGBT persons, including disciplining pastors who allow persons like me to join their congregations. The father of a gay man himself, he has very strong feelings about a church claiming to be aligned with the teachings of Christ making such statements and taking such positions. I posted my appreciation of RR’s assertion that folx like me have a place in the Body of Christ. And, I should’ve known better.

Several commenters made attempts to take me to task for being a tranny, saying I was just as mentally ill as a “schitzo,” saying people like me dressed like freaks, and were just like people who wanted to have sex with animals.

Did I mention it’s the first Sunday of Advent, when Christians would be reflecting on Hope?

I posted of the ordination I attended at Grace Cathedral the day before. Of the three women ordained priests in the Episcopal church, one is lesbian (SW) and one is transgender (IS). I do not know the gender identity and orientation of the third woman, and it’s irrelevant anyway unless she chooses to share that information with me. It is important to the ministries of SW and IS that they be known as there are so many in the world who would find them unfit to minister. And, that’s among those who do believe it’s acceptable to ordain women. Many denominations still won’t ordain women at all, even if they’re cisgender and heterosexual.

It’s statements like those of the SDA and its defenders that make me hesitate to call myself Christian. They are part of the reason I describe myself as a Jesist: I attend to the message of Jesus as it’s recorded in the Gospels, and not so much to the message of Christianity which can be more heavily derivative from the message of St. Paul than of Jesus. I had been warned that the Bible wasn’t meant to be popular. Yet what Paul did was to take the Gospel of Christ and make it more palatable to the Gentiles.

What does all of this have to do with Hope?

As I mentioned above, I was at an ordination of three absolutely wonderful women yesterday. They give me Hope. The Episcopal Church gives me Hope. The AIDS Interfaith Memorial Chapel in Grace Cathedral, in spite the horror it is a testament to, gives me Hope. That my own faith community and order continue to see me as one worthy of the title of high priest and teacher in spite of my flaws gives me Hope.

Oh! And to the comment that trannys (sic) and crossdressers look like freaks in church, this is what I was wearing at the ordination yesterday:

These things continue to give me Hope in the face of “such reckless hate.”

Amen, and Blessed Be.