“We know that suffering produces patience, patience produces character, character produces hope.”

That’s out of the opening of Romans 5.

I’m not patient. And suffering has made me more impatient than ever. I don’t mean to call Paul out for this, but I will observe that reality is not matching scripture in this case. I’ll let you draw conclusions.

We also ask that the presider be ordained or authorized to celebrate communion according to the polity of her or his own denomination.

That’s from the Marquand Chapel Guidelines, the governing rules of ecumenical worship here at YDS. So we have the confluence of three things, invested with great cultural significance, each with their own problematic issues.

Yale, Communion, Coming Out Day.

As I’ve written before, Yale operates by definitional authority. It assigns itself as being progressive and correct, over and against antiquated conservatism. Coming Out Day exists under the aegis of moderate “GBLT” political movements. Communion is the point of highest contention over theological and political issues in the community worship of YDS.

So of course, as we select a minister for coming out day service, we are to select any officiant we like to represent us, so long as they are ordained.

What? Ordination is not a neutral term, and its use by Yale is a choice, a claim as to what is progressive. Which is why I get so damn unreasonable about it. I’m not ignorant to the fact that we have two weeks until the service, or that some folks think that this is coming out of nowhere. But I think that these things are not accidental. Concerns about structure are almost by nature afterthoughts. Nobody told Peter Daou before hand that it was going to be seen as highly problematic to have a whites-only blogger meeting with Clinton in the middle of Harlem. Now, we argue that nobody should have to point this out, but the function of structural power is to make it’s choices invisible. It’s always been this way. Of course it’s common sense. This is how it’s done.

So yeah, I’m whining at the last minute. But I shouldn’t have to be. Queer voices were present when these rules were drafted, so I gotta ask: Whose idea was it that we went under the bus of Ecumenical Worship? And why do we think those tires are going to feel better than the other ones we’ve been thrown under? Yes, it would cause a lot of people issues to be at a service where someone who was denied ordination served communion. But when is it not a problem for us? And I say “us” deliberately. I’m going to fight for who “we” are, and what “our” opinion is. When did I consent to affirm such a statement that deliberately neutralizes the term “ordained” as to be useful to an ecumenical discussion that elides queer issues in the church?

So we have what reads to me as a mainstreamed and toothless celebration of coming out. Coming out to what? If we openly identify as queer, but refuse to guard our particular interests, I guess I don’t see the point. It doesn’t make you any less queer to take an anti-queer stance. But it does raise some interesting issues about how you chose to express you political identity. Yes, I want to be confrontational. But we would be remiss not to think that the status quo was and remains confrontational. Like all social negotiations, it is an intrinsically dynamic process in which competing and conflicting interests vie for social recognition by authority. Let’s get in there and fight, then. Everybody else is, and we put down our resistances at our own peril.

I’m hurt, I’m angry, I’m confused, I’m sad, and I feel betrayed. Is this personal? Of course. It’s personal for anyone whose ministry and service to the church has been affected by homophobia. And I’m tired of it all. As someone very wise said to me, there’s a whole bunch of this pain that isn’t redemptive in the least. It’s just crap. It just hurts, senselessly, and without purpose. Maybe I’m real sore about ordination stuff right now, because I’ve had to come to terms with my own situation. Maybe I’m real sore about ordination stuff right now, but I don’t much feel like apologizing for that fact.

Paul writes that hope will not deceive us. Will it?

-sly

Postscript. WordPress did in fact save the previous draft of this piece that I wrote yesterday, and published briefly until I took it down. It’s not a retraction, per se, but I do feel that I make myself better understood in this draft. So yeah.

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