@larogan: That’s the thing about walking a fine line, isn’t it? Sooner or later you’re going to fall off. It’s only a matter of which side you’ll land on. Which side will these particular linewalkers end up on, in your opinion?
You want to know my guess? They’ll land on our side when all is said and done. And do you know why? Because if they don’t, their church will slowly crumble.
Take a look at the world today. Church attendances are down, students aren’t training for the clergy as often, memberships are shrinking, income is shrinking, and when churches ask themselves why this is, they invariably offer variations on one basic theme: they’re out of step with the times.
So maybe some of them try using “rock” music in their services. Numbers drop.
Perhaps their leaders work pop culture references into their sermons. Numbers drop.
They hire a young clergyperson with green hair and an eyebrwo piercing. Numbers drop.
Why do their efforts come to nothing? Why do they continue to fail, even when they appear to be doing things right?
Because the changes they make are the easiest ones to stomach…cosmetic ones. You can take a lump of dog shit, wrap it in pretty gold foil with a red ribbon tied around it, set it on a silver platter and serve it at a banquet table to the accompaniment of a trumpet fanfare, but that doesn’t change what it is. A lump of dog shit.
Churches of all stripes fail because their message becomes more irrelevant with every passing year. Note that I say “churches” and not “spiritualities.” I want to make sure I’m not misunderstood here, because a lot of the religious types who mosey down our block tend to get a bit huffy when they think their beliefs are being attacked. I don’t give two shits what anyone worships or how they choose to worship it, so long as they’re not hurting anyone else by doing it.
As I was saying, the message grows increasingly irrelevant. Let’s be honest here; there isn’t a church anywhere in spacetime, anywhere on the political spectrum, that doesn’t cherrypick the particular tenets and aspects of its religion that it chooses to push. Why do you think there are 500,000 different christian denominations when they all claim to follow the same book?
For instance, hot topics in the modern era are homosexuality and abortion. In the past, maybe it was hair length, or whether dancing was permissible, or biblical literalism. Likewise, there are certain biblical tales that have stood the test of time, such as Noah’s ark, Jonah and the whale, and of course, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. But there are plenty of stories in the bible that most christians turn a blind eye to, because they’re a little hard to reconcile. I could tell you that Jesus was a horse thief and you’d probably get pissed, but it’s in there. I could point out the parts where rape and murder were approved by god itself. Let’s not even get into Psalm 137:9.
The point being, things change. Ideas change. People change. And most importantly, what people are willing to put up with changes.
These days, most people are less inclined to tolerate a church that chooses to persecute their friends, families, and neighbours. We live in an era where love, true love, is becoming more and more rare. Conversely, we also live in an era where other folks’ business is more and more becoming public business. Witness the rise of MySpace and Youtube if you need proof. Everyone thinks they know everyone else intimately, but in actuality they know nearly nothing. They know the wrapping that people present to the world. They know nothing about the (metaphorical) shit inside them.
As the world shrinks, the gulfs between humans expand. It’s a lot easier to hate someone (or, in the case of assorted churches, “love” someone, which is often the same thing) when they’re an abstract concept rather than a flesh-and-blood person. These line-walkers…why do you think they’re on that line in the first place? What do you think compels them to engage in heinous acts of oppression? What compels them to disseminate outright falsehoods and blatant distortions in order to further this cause of theirs? Why this cause anyway?
Here in America, it would appear to be a simple lack of patriotism. But there’s more to it. Here, and around the world, it’s simply a callous disregard for humanity, and life in general.
Humans like to be organized, grouped, and labeled. It’s our genetic heritage, stemming back to the days of the cavemen. Numbers are safe. Numbers are content. Numbers…they’re powerful. We were born to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals, just like we were born to seek out an “other” to hate. It’s how civilization works. This intellectual imperative we are hardwired for is also responsible for the creation and evolution of religions.
Ideas, belief systems, memes, these are living things. They grow and evolve and engulf and devour and wither and die. Some do it quickly, and some do it slowly. The churches who, today, have chosen to demonize the GLBT people of the world are not fighting progress because it’s the right thing to do. They may think it is, though as gleefully smug as most of them are I think it’s got little to do with what’s right. They are fighting progress because they know that they are heading on a one-way path toward obsolescence, and rather than growing with the times, they prefer to shrink into the past. Things were safer then, simpler…people were easier to control, and a dollar went a whole lot farther.
The truly sad thing is that these primitives actually think they’re heroic. They think they’re the embodiment of that classically American “rugged individualism,” steadfastly refusing to follow the river downstream, instead swimming against the current with all of their might. And you know, for a while, they actually make some backward progress. But inevitably, the rain comes, the stream swells, the current grows stronger, the flesh grows weaker. They tire, they falter, they gasp, and they are swept downstream into the future. This is doubly sad, because before they even get to glimpse the wonders the future holds, they’ve killed themselves trying to get away from it. Simple fear leads to premature death.
These churches, and the followers they house, fear the future.
They also fear love.
They fear love that is not like that they have imagined. They fear love that is not like that they would choose. They fear love that they were not wired to give or receive. I don’t speak of gay love. I speak of unconditional love.
There is one love they don’t fear, though. That’s the love of power. Make no mistake about it; there isn’t a church around that wouldn’t love to be part of a theocracy, provided said theocracy was based on their particular interpretation of whatever text they use. The mormons are no different. They have aspirations to be the new catholics, and the first step in that is to infiltrate and subvert secular governments and secular societies. They find their “others” and work tirelessly to demonize them in order to rally the troops. They oppress and suppress, as much as they are able, anyone who has a different vision of the possibilities of human society.
So the queers are the new bogeymen for these churches. Fine. Everybody is somebody’s enemy. But it would save a lot of time, money, energy, blood, sweat, tears…and lives, if they would all wake up and realize that not only are they fighting a losing battle, but they’re killing themselves to do it. Desperation is never a flattering ensemble.
So should we pity them? Of course. They’re pitiable, pathetic. But should be show them mercy? Absolutely not. They show no mercy themselves, so why would they warrant receiving any? The churches (and their followers) who are opposed to true equality for all people, with no conditions, no demands, just unconditional love, are dead weight, and they hold back the evolution of society into its higher, more perfect form. I say that anyone who is interested in moving forward needs to do their part to cut the ropes tying them to us, and force them to sink or swim based on their own abilities. A secular society cannot abide being lashed to these stones unless it wants to sink with them.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to drown just yet. I’ll keep talking, keep fighting, and keep getting angry. I will throw stones whenever I can in hopes of knocking some of these troglodytes off that line. I don’t fear the future, and I don’t fear love. I’m evolving, happily. I wish I could say the same for everyone on this rock we call home.