Sunday, November 1, 2009

November 1, 2009

It’s Thanksgiving time, Poppets. Turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, all that good stuff. Technically, it’s supposed to be about more than that. You know it. I know it. And yet…sometimes it can be hard to find things to give thanks for. The politics around the origins of this holiday are iffy at best. Neither the time it celebrates – the first feast with the indigenous peoples who helped us survive before we wiped them out – nor the time it was inaugurated – the 1950s and those glory years in our country’s history – are particularly worth our pride or our thanks, let’s be honest here.

Currently, our community is under heavy fire from the conservative Christian right wing and it often feels that for every step forward we take, we get shoved two backwards. What the hell is there to be thankful for?

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and expressing my sadness and disgust over the rising tide of conservatism that is sweeping the nation in the name of Christianity. Now, as my Betty Pages readers know, I’m not Christian but I was raised Christian by extremely liberal Christians. I’ve read the Bible. I know my theology. And you know what? The hate that is being preached doesn’t line up with what I was taught in Sunday school.

As I was expressing my sadness and disgust, my friend reminded me that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) recently voted to allow LGBT pastors to be open and in relationships. Along with that, she pointed me to a man named Lee Miller. He is a young pastor in the Lutheran church. Apparently, Pastor Miller reads the same Bible I used to. In other words, Lee Miller gets it – and he is willing to stand up and preach it.

This past summer, at the convention where this debate and the final vote was taking place, he stood in his collar and spoke out in support of LGBT pastors. He spoke of God’s love. He spoke of God’s acceptance of everyone. My favorite quote was that he “is not saved because (he’s) heterosexual but because of God’s love.” He could’ve stayed quiet and simply cast his vote. He could’ve paid lip service to that which was safe and then cast his conscious. He didn’t. The cynic in me had to know why, so I asked. Here’s what he told me:

When I was a teenager I met a friend at a national church gathering. People thought we were twins; we were instant, fast, friends. K.C. knew his Bible better than I did. When I was depressed over school, or a break up, or life; he would send a letter including a verse from scripture to encourage me.
K.C. came to know himself as being gay. He wrestled with the Bible that he knew so well, and the church who he loved so much. In his sophomore year of college K.C. took his own life. He could never reconcile his faith with his sexuality.
K.C. had the gifts for ministry. Many of my gay colleagues have
excellent gifts for ministry. I can't allow another person to take their own life (or live in an indoctrinated state of shame) because of the way God has created them; and the way the institution has treated them.

I wanted to stand up for K.C. I had to tell his story.

And you know what else? He’s had a hard time since. People have actually called him a false prophet and the antichrist. The Antichrist. He’s “saddened” by this. Which automatically makes him a better person than I am because I’m just pissed off about it. He’s also not backing down. And he’s not backing down because he believes ~ and wants us to know ~ That Christians are not carried by one voice. That there are Christians (for me, especially the Lutherans) who will speak a word of God's Grace (love) for all people regardless of who they are, where they come from, where they have been, and where they are going. I believe all people are created in the image of God; and what God wants for us in community is loving, caring, faithful relationships. I want the LGBT (and the straight) community to know salvation does not come through sexuality, it comes through God, who chooses all of us - to give us life - and God has a place for Everyone at the table.

So…talk to me about Thanksgiving again. Ask me what I’m giving thanks for this year. I have an answer. This particular Pagan is giving thanks for an ass-kicking, conscience-speaking Lutheran pastor, Lee Miller, who reminds me that not every voice that speaks, speaks against me, my husband, my friends and family. Who reminds me that while the country and Christianity may be becoming more conservative, there are indeed still people standing with us. Who reminds me I don’t always have to be the cynic. And that’s worth being thankful for.

Until next month, Poppets, take care of you.

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