Casting Stones at the LGBT …continued
A few days ago I started to write a comment on facebook about a national newspaper cover story describing the attack of a flag bearer on Kadooment Day, reportedly due to his sexual orientation. Word by word that comment morphed into a blog post which has since been shared and liked over 600 times. Such exposure has left me both shaking in my boots and extremely glad to see such positive feedback in general. If I’ve played any role in challenging the acceptance of gay bashing and getting someone to reconsider the words they use and they way they treat sexual minorities, then I’m supremely grateful for every share and comment.
But this isn’t really about me.
This is about our uncles and aunts and brothers and sisters, friends and coworkers - decent people just trying to make it through life like any of us are. Because here’s a reality check - that’s who LGBT people are. People. Not an ‘issue’, or an ‘agenda’. Not a caricature to laugh at. Not a way for newspapers to sell more copies. Most definitely not THINGS as this comment on the article would have us accept.
In the few days since the first report of this incident countless articles, comments and debates have erupted, as anyone could have predicted. Thankfully, many people have decried what was reported to have happened.
Further “information” has also come to light indicating that this incident may not have been specifically fueled by Justin’s sexual orientation and that the cover story was the result of poor reporting and sensationalism to fuel sales. In fact, it is said that Justin himself was never contacted or consulted by the reporters about the incident, nor about the publication of his full name and his assumed sexual orientation all alongside his photo for the entire nation to pour over.
Absolutely appalling. (If indeed it is true which, to be honest, wouldn’t surprise me.)
Can you imagine yourself in his shoes for a moment?
Some people have used these details as a way to dismiss the issue entirely. If there was no homophobically fuelled violence, then there’s no issue right? No homophobia? We should all return to silence and let things be. All is well with the nation.
Except it’s not.
If the rumours are true about the details of the incident and the Cover Story, then Justin as a person was reduced to his sexuality for the purpose of selling newspapers. Is this really right?
While it has been heartening to see an outpouring of disapproval against the idea of violence towards sexual minorities this incident has served to reveal the nasty attitudes that are still very rampant towards LGBT people in Barbados.
And it’s not just because people are ‘ignorant’ and don’t know better. Here’s a response from someone of my own generation, someone I went to school with at Queen’s College.
And these types of comments get ‘likes’, support and approval.
It’s enough to leave you speechless. Sad and angry rolled into one.
This is what we want to teach our children? THIS?
And in case we dare think this is just idle talk on the internet, the newspaper, glad for controversy I am sure, proudly publishes opinion articles explaining to us that AIDs is God’s punishment on gays, that being raised by gay parents will make children gay and that accepting gay people spells the end of human civilization. Authors have jumped on the opportunity to explain to us the abnormality of anal sex and the exegesis of why they believe/know biblical texts condemn it.
It takes just one incident, or a story of an incident, to peek beneath the carpet and reveal the hateful, ignorant and unloving sentiments that are swept there every day. We say these things online, we say these things at school, at work, at home in front of our children…
Perhaps it is so, but that’s not what I’ve been seeing.
Of course poor Steve always gets drawn into these debates. His existential despair at not even existing because he is gay is rarely considered. If God didn’t create him then who did?
Honestly, reading all these insensitive, if not hateful articles and comments leaves me in a difficult position. On the one hand I’ve exhorted that we not simplify those we disagree with down to 2 dimensional caricatures. Enemies that was can vilify and see as “less” than ourselves.
“…when people view those different to themselves as the ‘other’, ‘less than’, ‘not as good as us’ it leads to human beings becoming dehumanized. “They” become less important than “us” and so we callously say ugly things about “them”…”
I honestly believe this is root of much evil. Yet when I read and hear certain things, this is precisely my gut reaction. I want to categorize the ‘haters’. I want to disregard them as people. I want to judge their entire character and worth as individuals based on their blind hatred or lack of grace. And when I do, I start to become that little bit more like the very thing I hate in them.
So, despite my angry gut, I won’t wish these people to hell. I won’t dismiss them as bigots and animals. I won’t say they don’t matter. Because hate is hate…
But I won’t keep quiet either. I will call people out on their their hateful comments and prejudices.
I will call out lies for lies. I will ask the questions that might leave people thinking. I will challenge people to see those different to themselves as complex real people.
And I know despite my best efforts…despite all our best efforts, sometimes it won’t make any difference whatsoever.
There will always be people full of hate.
But there are also people who just haven’t haven’t had the penny drop yet. They repeat what they have been taught. Their parents and their friends told them to find bigger rocks, and that’s what they know. They were told lies, and that’s what they believe. They spoke without stopping to listen. They read the newspaper articles and the comments and they went along with it - until someone challenged them on it and made them really stop and think.
Because thinking is a dangerous thing.
Think about what it means to love your neighbour…
Think about what it means to love your enemy too…
"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
- Dr. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR
Please don’t stop thinking and daring other to as well!!
Casting stones at the LGBTQ in Barbados…
Just a week ago this country celebrated Emancipation day - the day millions of human beings were no longer counted as property, as less than human but as the flesh and blood, heart and soul people they were.
Slavery was (and is) truly evil. A painful reminder that when people view those different to themselves as the ‘other’, ‘less than’, ‘not as good as us’ it leads to human beings becoming dehumanized. “They” become less important than “us” and so we callously say ugly things about “them”, restrict, belittle, vilify “them” to protect “us”. Bit by bit attitudes lead to actions and violence is justified. Slavery is one manifestation of this but so is all manner of discrimination. Separate water fountains and genocide are less far apart than you think. Every Holocaust starts with slurs muttered under the breath of regular, ‘good’ people. Every action starts with attitude.
While it’s mostly become a season of perpetual party, Crop Over is still a Barbadian celebration of culture and history nestled in a time marked off on the calendar as the "Season of Emancipation". There is then a painful sort of irony when Grand Kadooment sees the verbal and physical assault of a young participant because of his sexual orientation. Because he is different, and unwilling to hide his orientation people felt it necessary to show their disapproval by literally throwing stones at Justin.
Stone throwing… I imagine the perpetrators felt righteously justified, biblical even.
People will always find reasons to justify persecuting “others”. Be it bible verses, appeals to science, nature, history or brute strength. They’ve all been used to justify one group putting down another. Gang wars or world wars, school bullies or genocidal dictators, discrimination based on race or orientation…No matter what reasoning is used they all start when one person, one group starts to believe - “I am better than he is. We are more important than them.”
The instant those stones hung in the air propelled by hatred towards “that so-and-so” was not an isolated moment in time. They were fuelled by every insult and snide under the breath comment we make as a gay couple holding hands passes by. As a society, Barbadians constantly affirm the lie that straight people are more important and more valuable than gay people by the way we talk about and treat the LGBTQ community.
It’s all very well and good to tell yourself that you would never stone someone just because you don’t approve of their orientation but every time we speak about gay people in ways which debase their humanity, individuality and worth we are contributing to a society that believes one group is better and more important than another. A society that eventually picks up stones.
As someone who warily and wearily calls myself a Christian I am painfully aware that very often it’s the church leading the charge against the LGBTQ community. Not so much with stones, we have a literal teaching from the man himself about not casting stones thankfully, but our words and attitudes show less restraint. Insults, slurs and lies of all shapes and sizes are woven together with bible verses to form this great ugly tapestry that’s suppose to inspire ‘righteousness and family values’ but all too often leads us back to the lie that ‘we’ are better than ‘them’ and that “they” are less than “us”.
Less worthy of being loved.
Less human, because of who they find sexually attractive.
Here is where a lot of people will interupt me and explain it’s because the church loves gay people that they speak the way they do. “Love the sinner, hate the sin… Tough love… Go and sin no more!” Right?
But you know what? Right here, right now as LGBTQ Barbadians grapple with the public attack of one of their own, while closeted teenagers at school listen with their heart in their throat to their classmates discuss who would have thrown more stones at that ‘nasty so-and-so’, when this segment of society is once again being treated as less valuable and less important than the rest of us I don’t think it’s the time or place for that.
I’m not interested in laying out an argument for or against the rightness or wrongness of homosexual sex in light of the bible right now. (I’ll defer that to more qualified people.) There are various complicated opinions on that and some of us will have to agree to disagree I know.
An argument is not what anyone needs right now.
What is needed is some compassion. Some acknowledgement. Some solidarity.
Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Founder of the United Gays and Lesbians against AIDS Barbados (UGLAB) Darcy Dear, told the MIDWEEK NATION that it was time for the church to open their eyes to the fact that gays are targeted.
“The church…don’t take it seriously…people do go out of their way to harm people that they think are different.”
The church in Barbados is failing in this area.
We are caught up on our declarations of who is sinning, who is right and who is wrong, going so far as to declare that we would rather die than marry “them”. In the midst of all the judgement - where is any compassion? Where is the love?
You shall know them by their love…
Love without a ‘yes but…’
Love with no strings attached.
Can the church in Barbados love the LGBTQ community enough to stand up and declare that the hatred and violence expressed towards this young man is unacceptable? Can we do so without usurping the moment to preach? (Trust me, they know the church’s general opinion about it all too well.)
Does the church love the LGBTQ community enough to not speak about them in degrading and belittling ways even when they disagree? Does the church love them enough to not over-simplify their experience or spread falsehoods about them?
Sometimes I feel as though the only way the church knows how to express love is by defining other people’s sin. Somehow every conversation about loving and serving LGBTQ people turns into an inquisition. I’m tired of it - I imagine they must be too.
Can we quit preaching AT them for a moment and bite our tongues. Walk a mile in their shoes, spend a while examining their experience, see it from their point of view. Stop and listen, really, really, really listen.
Statistics say more than 95 percent of the population of Barbados is considered Christian. People are complicated and there will be people who believe and those who struggle to believe, those who go to church religiously and those who might maybe visit at Christmas. Some go to Mass some go to bible class.
On a train or on a plane… Some people are completely certain and others really really don’t know at all. Life is complicated. The mysteries of God and existence and love and loneliness and right living and dying - they are complicated and sensitive and personal and communal.
Barbadian society is no doubt influenced and shaped by Christianity but you don’t even have to agree with the church to see the merit in one of it’s absolutely core teachings. It is said many ways..
Love your neighbour as yourself.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Love does no harm to a neighbour.
In my opinion, it’s time for Barbadians to stop preaching at the LGBTQ community. They know the bible verses.
It’s about time to actually show love in the way we speak and act.
Retired Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu once said,
"Opposing apartheid was a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination against women is a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a matter of justice.
It is also a matter of love. Every human being is precious. We are all - all of us - part of God’s family. We all must be allowed to love each other with honour. Yet all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are persecuted. We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God. This must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy.”
Barbados, please can we start speaking kindly about our brothers and sisters, to their face and behind their backs. Can we be patient when we don’t understand them? Can we stand alongside them and fight against injustice, prejudice, discrimination?
At the very least I desperately hope that we can find the humility to remember we are all human, all imperfect… in different ways perhaps.
Who are any of us to cast stones?
Wow, everyone! Thanks for reception. This is by far the most shared article I’ve ever written which goes to show there is a need for healthy discussion surrounding this topic! Love is the movement.
For those who are interested in the issue of LGBT people and the bible/church I can’t recommend this book more highly. Seriously if you care at all about LGBT issues and are a Christian - read it. :)
(or even if you aren’t)
The truth about the truth…
“What is truth?” - Pilate
"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” - Jesus
Sometimes I wonder if people want truth at all. Really…
‘Cause honestly, the truth usual sucks.
It’s just there.
Staring us down whether we like it or not.
Numbers on a scale, digits in a bank account, a flat tire, a screaming child.
If truth is the reality of what actually is, sometimes we simply don’t like it. In fact, we don’t like it so much we ignore it, deny it, and hope by pretending it’s not real, that it’s not the truth. That’s one of the many ways we treat the truth.
The other funny thing about truth is that everyone claims to love it, to know it and to own it. The realities of our lives that are tangible and undeniable? Those inconvenient truths are swept under the carpet. But big ideas about what is true? Concepts? Theories? Philosophies? Those things we own proudly and loudly.
We relish having the right ideas about things. We are not just willing but eager to fight about who has the right idea about things. We put on our armour of rhetoric and clever quips and wage bloody war against the offenders of truth. Our truth. Wait no, that can’t be right, I mean THE truth. There is only one truth afterall. And of all people I must have it. Of all religions, mine must have it. Of all denominations, mine must have it. Of all churches, mine. Of all people, me. And you too of course. You believe all the same things I do…. right? What’s that? I can feel a fight coming on…
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that there is truth. One very real truth. But like a true postmodern I suppose, I also think I’m limited in my ability to fully grasp that truth. I think we all are. Like a
postmodernist first century thinker I think we only know in part, and any big truths we do grasp we hold in fragile chipped clay jars. I think there is great diversity of ideas because of this, and we have to have humility and wisdom as we each try our turn at guessing the bigger picture.
A first century writer once described faith as confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. And as hard as it is, I have faith. Yet in many ways I feel like it would be easier not to. I do what no happy person ought ever to do too much of, and I think. I think about what might be truth. “Truth…What is truth?” said Pilate. I have dipped my toes in the pools of atheism and agnosticism and sometimes sat there for a while. Believe me - I have tried to run away from Christianity and leave it’s mystery and tensions and confusion behind me. But the love I see in a God that looks like Jesus haunts me, and heals me. And inevitably I can’t outrun it. And so, sometimes reluctantly, I have faith. Confidence in what I hope to be true. Assurance about something I cannot prove. I see the blurry edges of a big truth and I hold on.
For dear life.
And this truth really does matter to me.
I have ideas about what I think the details of this truth are. Ideas that grow, and shift and change as I ask questions, and learn, and read and pray. I am caught in the taunt balance of having confidence in something big and powerful that I hope to be true, and knowing like Socrates, that the one thing I actually know - is that I know nothing.
It is a balancing act like no other. And I need a lot more humility than actually have to walk it.
And so thinking about ‘truth’ is hard all on it’s own, yet there is something that makes all of this much harder…
In my honest search for life’s big truths, I sometimes feel like I am forced to hide the truth about what I think about the truth. (Let see how many times we can overuse a word, am I right?)
Sounds strange doesn’t it? No one is holding a gun to my head telling me to lie or keep silent. No one has threatened me… really…
But here’s the thing. Because I find hope and see truth in Jesus as God and his life, death and resurrection - I am a Christian, as un-hipster as the label is. And because I’m a Christian, I talk with, discuss, spend time around and am generally in relationship with other Christians. I’m part of the universal group of people who believe in this thing. These people are the Church.
The thing about the church is - it can be a scary place to hang out. Now it’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a group of people known for a ridiculous love for everyone. People who show selfless love and open wide our arms to welcome the rejects of society, the poor and the tired, the hopeless, the bullied, the bruised, the stressed out. The church is supposed to be a bunch of people that look like Jesus. And sometimes the church is great at those things, while other times it’s not. I’m not faulting the church for not being perfect, mostly because I know that I’m not perfect. And if I want to see those things more in the church, I need to do those things more in my own life. I really do. I hope with time I will learn and am learning to grow more in loving others.
It’s hard work, and that’s why I need others who want to do that same thing. My family, the church. But again, the church is a scary place…
Why so scary?
Because, honestly, sometimes I don’t feel welcomed there.
There. I’ve said it. This is my confession.
I feel unwelcome. I feel like an inconvenient truth. The type people want to sweep under the carpet and try to pretend isn’t real.
I feel this way because Christians can get pretty defensive about the truth. I get it - Jesus was all about truth. He claimed to embody truth, an awesome truth that sets people free. It’s a big deal. And when you really believe something is true, especially something great and good and amazing, you get defensive about it. I get defensive about it. I get it. Love delights in the truth. I’m not advocating dishonesty. I’m all for speaking the truth.
And the truth is, sometimes the church makes me feel unwelcome. Sometimes the church makes me feel like I need to hide who I am and what I really think because those things are not welcomed. And that saddens me, because as someone who has been in the church my whole life, I love the church. The church is my mother. And if as a child of the church I feel unwelcome, how much more so someone who isn’t?
No one tells me I’m not welcome. And I know that a lot of my hangups are probably all in my own insecure head. On the contrary, people welcome and say they want me among them. Especially as a young adult - an age range notoriously absent from the church. People come to me and ask me, where are the young adults? Why are they gone? And sometimes the tired cynic in my head replies, “Why am I here?”
At the end of the day, I’m just trying to be honest. I call myself a Christian, even though I am ashamed of so much of what is done in the name of Christianity, but I do so because I’m being honest about what I believe about Jesus. So I don’t disown the name. And I ask questions and I have opinions about God and the bible and theology because I’m just trying to honestly discover what God is like if there is a god. To find out what honestly makes sense to me. In life I just try to be honest about what I think is true… But I know I get it wrong. And I know other people have different opinions than I do about a lot of the details of what Truth is. And I am completely ok with that. Let’s figure it out together, let’s both please admit we don’t really know what the truth is at all we’re only kids trying to figure out a big puzzle and you might have one piece of the puzzle and I another and we might both be trying to put them in the wrong place. I’m happy to play with you. Honestly. But am I welcome? Really?
As a teenager I held to most ‘conservative evangelical/pentecostal’ views. And I felt welcome. But as I’ve grown I’ve changed, as we all do. And my honest search for what seems true to me has led me away from many of the ideas I used to hold. So am I still welcome? Because when you say that people can’t be a Christian and believe in evolution…I feel unwelcome, because I do. It’s not a belief or understanding I came to easily, and to have my relationship with God attacked over it hurts. When you talk about “liberals” as if they the enemy and feminists as if they are evil…I feel unwelcome. When you say that to vote for Marriage Equality is to vote against God. I feel unwelcome, because I think the church needs to radically rethink its view on homosexuality. I think so precisely because I care about how God wants us to treat people. (And I don’t deny that many who disagree with me do also!). When you call authors and teachers that share ideas you may disagree with heretics, you are calling me a heretic, because quite often I share the same thoughts and questions they do.
I understand you have a truth to protect. But how big does the truth you protect stretch, and are you certain of it’s edges? Historically Christians have disagreed about a lot a lot of things. And we have done so badly. Can we do better?
When Christians crack jokes about atheists as fools and idiots in their workplaces or on facebook, it makes me feel unwelcome. Because I sit alongside my agnostic friends who have to quietly keep their views to themselves for fear of the fight. For fear of the ridicule. It makes me feel unwelcome because I understand the feeling of just trying to search for truth and trying figure out what you honestly believe but feeling like you have to hide the conclusions you come to.
The feeling of being ‘in the closet’, afraid to come out. Tired of being so careful about who you will be honest with. Of hiding the truth for fear of a fight.
Is it ok to be honest? Will we still be welcomed? Is Jesus really enough?
If I say I think the church might be wrong about homosexuality…Is Jesus enough for me still to be welcomed? To feel welcomed?
Can I come out of the closet?
I don’t believe that a God of love would torment sinners for an eternity for a life of finite brokenness.
I don’t believe in “Penal Substitutionary Atonement” anymore. It doesn’t make sense to me. I think Jesus’ death was to appease our bloodthirsty ways and prove them wrong, not to appease a bloodthirsty God. God was on the cross in Jesus, and we were the killers. Not vice versa.
I don’t believe that the Bible is the perfect word of God. I believe that Jesus is the perfect word of God whom all of the bible points to. Jesus showed us what God is like perfectly.
I believe in progressive revelation, not infallibility.
I believe that love fulfills the law.
Is better than the law.
It is the spirit of the law.
And love gives life.
And it’s possible far more than we are willing to believe.
I believe that love is not just a characteristic of God but the core identity of God.
I believe love and fear don’t mix and messages of fear and intimidation aren’t from God.
I don’t believe God has favorite countries. Or people.
I believe people are inherently good - in our core being. Made in the ‘image of God’, made to love and be loved. But we are broken. Sometimes very broken. Total depravity is not our natural state. Jesus showed us what it meant to be truly human.
I believe God is big and cannot be boxed in or understood fully. Our best guesses are just guesses. I believe he is present in churches, and gardens and temples and living rooms and mosques and wherever people who are really looking for him are.
And there’s a lot more…
But like Socrates,I really know one thing: that I know nothing. Like Paul, I know nothing but Jesus and his death.
None of these are new ideas, and I’m not alone in believing them. I know people will disagree with many of them…
So is Jesus enough?
Because I’m tired of hiding what I believe. But I’m also tired of defending what I believe. I don’t mind talking about it. I do talk happily about it with people who want to talk - other kids with pieces of the puzzle and a curiosity about the bigger picture. But if you’ve got the complete picture already sorted out, and I’m just messing it up… If I “can’t be a Christian and believe x” around you, if I am a heretic or false teacher, I’m sorry. I’m a messy puzzle player, I can’t help it. I don’t see the finished picture you see. I just can’t hide the truth anymore. And I don’t want to fight or defend anymore. If I am not welcome, I will go.
If I can’t believe X and be a Christian, I won’t. I don’t need to have the label. And I can’t pretend in order to fit in. It’s exhausting. I’ll love God and Jesus and keep doing my best. And if the church feels threatened by me, that’s ok. Church is not found in four walls but in friendships and dinners and laughter and conversations with people who don’t mind my messy ways.
So this is my confession of feeling tired and a bit unwelcome. A bit cynical and a bit scared. And it probably has a lot more to do with me and my hang ups and insecurities than it does with anyone else. But it’s how I feel…the reality of what actually is. The truth.
Mind your words…
It’s funny how specific stories from your childhood stick with you through the years. I often recall a conversation that happened as my mother was driving my younger brother and I home from school, slowly easing through afternoon traffic. I couldn’t have been older than 9 or so and my brother a couple of years younger. Ever inquisitive, my brother spotted some contraption along the way and needed to find out more;
“Mom, what’s that?”
“That thing, mom, what is it?”
“Je ne sais pas”, my mother casually replied.
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t know”, she responded.
Bewildered and frustrated my brother protested, “Whyyy would you saaay that if you don’t know what it means!?!”
It took a lot of stifled laughter and careful wording to explain to him that she did in fact know what it meant, and it meant, that she didn’t know. It never helped him figure out what the contraption was but his protest of frustration has stuck with me over the years.
“Why would you say that if you don’t know what it means?”
A new mantra…
Step back in time with me a moment, open this diary, brace yourself for some melodrama, and take a peek into a frame of mind i found frozen into few dozen lines.
"Here I am… This dark room with a chilling wind that cools not your body but your heart and soul…leaving them feeling exposed and frozen.There are no visible windows nor are there doors and yet I am able to see out, somehow.
I remember a time when I was not in this room but I do not remember how I came to be here and, because of this, I don’t know if I’ll ever get out. Sometimes I shut my eyes and dream, and become so certain that I’ve escaped this place and that it and its pain were only part of a hellish nightmare. I feel as though I can finally rest and that somehow, someway, all will be fine. But then I open my eyes and see the void, empty blackness of this room again…
I stumble around the room, tripping over things I cannot see…searching. I run my hands along the rough, jagged rock-face of the walls until they become raw and bleed and then become callused and numb. I keep up my frantic search not knowing exactly what my lost possession looks like, only knowing that I need it desperately. I grope and stumble around the room endlessly until I seem to have drained myself of all the energy that I once held deep within me. And, even then, I continue my search till I can barely stand. I have fought till I can no longer try and I lie defeated, staring into the void emptiness, for I have lost hope and I cannot find it.”
10 years ago I was a fourteen year old teenager, which makes me feel really young. (And conversely, that thought makes me feel old).
And already at that age, just past a child, but not nearly an adult I was tired of feeling hopeless. I processed depression, loneliness and hopelessness the way many an emotional teenager processes things, by writing every cringeworthy emotional, angsty thought - preferably as badly formed poetry.
Yet, apart from making me cringe on many levels, looking back on this quote makes me think. For many of my teenage years my mantra may have been “I have lost hope”, yet ten years later i feel like I’ve found a new mantra.
Around my neck I wear a small silver pendant, an impression of an antique wax seal, with an image of an anchor and a French inscription ”L’Espérance Me Soutient” - “hope sustains me.”
It’s not that I’m an entirely different person than I was I at 14. Of course in a millions ways I am, but part of what makes me cringe when I read the emo-babbles of my teenage self is that I recognize that person still. The struggles that grew in me as I grew out of childhood didn’t disappear, don’t disappear as I grow into adulthood. Struggles with faith and doubt, peace and direction, self worth and depression. And, to be honest, I don’t foresee a day when I will wake up and those things will suddenly disappear.
But what I do see, what I recognize, is that my mantra has changed. In those tens years I have found hope.
I have seen how hope seeps in through the cracks of life.
Through the beautiful and the ugly.
In the face of newborns,
And the eyes of their parents,
In the painful bond of too many funerals
And the shared joy at not enough parties
In Holy vows
Sealed with a kiss
in the tears of confessions,
And the healing of a hug,
and bottles and roasted breadfruit
In the sharing of shameful secrets
And the patient support of friends
In lots of laughter
Even when life doesn’t seem funny
In the pages of books
And blogs and bibles
And most of all
I’ve found hope in a love that inspires me and revives me. That flows through and between friends and family. A love I aspire to but fail at, yet accepts me all the same. A love that challenges me to love my friends, but also the unlovable, even when the unlovable is myself. A difficult love, but a powerful, healing, transformative love. A love I see lived out on a cross. On many crosses. A love I’m learning. That I am trying to learn.Hope in this love sustains me.
So even when everything seems like shit. When bank accounts dwindle and friends struggle… When doctors give bad news, marriages fail or maybe just the chemicals in my brain tell me that 14 year old me was right. Even then, hope sustains me.
They say God is love. And so I hope in this love. Honestly I don’t always feel it, or understand it, or know why. But I hope in love. Because I’ve been hopeless before, and I know where that leads. But I’ve also seen hope spring up in the strangest places, and there is nothing more beautiful.
And I’m going to place my bet on this…
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been taught or heard the phrase that "sin separates us from God" ?
Yeah me too.
Like many other things, I was also told how to understand this saying.
Hope Sustains me
Who am I?
Who are we?
Slaves to self. Slaves set free?
Sometimes weary, sometimes weak.
But hope sustains me.
Hope sustains me.
Hope in a love
that makes all things new,
that guides the way to what is true.
Hope in a love,
that’s hard to do.
Hope in love,
hope in you…
…But the dangers of believing in a God whom we cannot but regard as evil, and then, in mere terrified flattery calling Him ‘good’ and worshiping Him, is still greater danger. The ultimate question is whether the doctrine of the goodness of God or that of the inerrancy of Scriptures is to prevail when they conflict. I think the doctrine of the goodness of God is the more certain of the two. Indeed, only that doctrine renders this worship of Him obligatory or even permissible.
To this some will reply ‘ah, but we are fallen and don’t recognize good when we see it.’ But God Himself does not say that we are as fallen at all that. He constantly, in Scripture, appeals to our conscience: ‘Why do ye not of yourselves judge what is right?’ — ‘What fault hath my people found in me?’ And so on.
Socrates’ answer to Euthyphro is used in Christian form by Hooker. Things are not good because God commands them; God commands certain things because he sees them to be good. (In other words, the Divine Will is the obedient servant to the Divine Reason.) The opposite view (Ockham’s, Paley’s) leads to an absurdity. If ‘good’ means ‘what God wills’ then to say ‘God is good’ can mean only ‘God wills what he wills.’ Which is equally true of you or me or Judas or Satan.
C.S. Lewis’s in a letter to ‘Mr. Beversluis’
“Some things which seem bad to us may be good. But we must not corrupt our consciences by trying to feel a thing as good when it seems totally evil.”*
*from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: volume 3, 1436-37
The Cross – Wrath or Love?
In June my husband and I took our first trip across the atlantic to Scotland. I’ve begun to look at my photos properly on the computer (we uploaded many directly from our phone while on the go) and edit a few .
Here’s a couple so far from Lochgoilhead and the areas in the vicinity, our favourite spot on the trip.
"Rest and Be Thankful"
Our lack of compassion
Our lack of compassion, hardness of heart, and mercilessness towards orthers form an impenetrable curtain between ourselves and God. It is as if we had covered a plant with a black hood, and then complained because it died from lack of sunlight.
- Fr. Alexander Elchaninov
The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Avarice over-rates the difference between poverty and riches: ambition, that between a private and a public station: vain-glory, that between obscurity and extensive reputation. The person under the influence of any of those extravagant passions, is not only miserable in his actual situation, but is often disposed to disturb the peace of society, in order to arrive at that which he so foolishly admires. The slightest observation, however, might satisfy him, that, in all the ordinary situations of human life, a well-disposed mind may be equally calm, equally cheerful, and equally contented. Some of those situations may, no doubt, deserve to be preferred to others: but none of them can deserve to be pursued with that passionate ardour which drives us to violate the rules either of prudence or of justice; or to corrupt the future tranquillity of our minds, either by shame from the remembrance of our own folly, or by remorse from the horror of our own injustice.