10 Reasons I believe in the Sacrament of Marriage

Radical Discipleship

weddingBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann,
(first published on Converge’s website a couple years ago)

Lately, I have found myself in conversations with friends about relationships and commitment. I’ve been hearing them say, “We will be together as long as it works and if it stops working, then it will end.” There seems to be a distrust and even suspicion of the act of marriage. These are friends who have relationships I admire and who are clearly in it for the long haul. I trust their decision making and discernment, but it has made me pause to reflect on why we choose marriage.

1. Community

A marriage is rooted within a community. We prayed that our relationship would be a gift to the larger community and asking for the help of accountability and support when things are difficult.

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We are Pride!!!

also posted at:  https://laluchamipulpito.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/we-are-pride/

Towards the end of the Spring Semester I was asked to share a reflection at a vigil in celebration of Pride. In honor of Pride Month I wanted to share my ramblings—you, me, us, we are pride!

— 

We are Pride

A queerfelt muchas gracias to you all for your presence tonight.

Tonight we are pride! Tonight we celebrate all of who we are! Tonight we lift up our queerness, our rainbows, our LGBTQliciousness…we lift up our pride in who we are, who we have been, and who we will become.

I often get asked, is being a LGBT choice? Many have responded to this question with, why would anyone choose this life? Choose the hardship? Choose the discrimination? However, most recently I’ve decided to rant to the world…Why NOT choose being queer? I am not ashamed and there is nothing wrong or less than for being me, or being you, or being us.

We need to take pride in our isness and should not, cannot, will not feel shame or have folks through misguided shade. I honestly don’t think LGBT identities are choices, however, if I could choose I would choose queer everyday.   This is not to undermine the experiences of hardship that we have experienced…discrimination, rejection, isolation, violence, confusion. But I also have done some incredible things like getting arrested for civil disobedience, getting to hang out with folks who teach me everyday about beingness, getting to join my voice to the countless others advocating for all are welcome to truly mean all are welcome at OHIO and beyond its fun being a colorful thorn in the side of some of our student, faculty, staff, and administrative leaders on campus.

I don’t want us to feel bad about ourselves or for others to take pity…hell the fuck no to pity, I want people to be proud of us and for us to pridefully chant…we are here, we are queer, and we aren’t going anywhere!

Tonight, this week, and other moments of Pride are not at the expense of the challenges and tragedies we have endured as a community…

  • The murders of trans women in the United States and around the world
  • The microaggressions that students experience everyday in the classroom and other spaces on our campus and all OHIO campuses
  • The reality that yes we can get married but we can be fired in 30 states and executed in 7 countries.
  • Folks who are being targeted for being LGBT, with little or no recourse from our community
  • The white washing and heterowashing of the radicalness of LGBTQ folks and our contributions
  • The kids who are kicked out of their homes for living and loving beyond the norm
  • The countless and often unknown victims of sexualized violence who identify as trans or gender variant or queer
  • The misrepresentation and otherization of our vibrant and diverse community in the media and other social networks

Claiming and reclaiming that we are pride is a re-energizer to continue to counter violence. We are pride and honor with pride

  • Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson, and all those who refused to be bullied and silenced at Stone Wall
  • The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in 2010 and June 26, 2015 when marriage equality became the law of the land.
  • Though we may have our critiques of her, Caitlyn Jenner has opened the door for conversations around trans identities throughout the United States.
  • Laverne Cox was on the cover of Time Magazine
  • Abby Wambach has a freakin’ Barbie made in her image
  • A Mya Taylor, a trans woman of color, was the center of a campaign for an Oscar Nomination for Tangerine.
  • Nike created a sneaker in honor of Pride Month
  • The Legend of Korra celebrated bisexuality
  • OHIO has and is and will be taking steps to fully live into diversity and inclusion…we have an LGBT Center, Gender Neutral Housing, LGBTQ Studies Certificate, Name and Pronoun Policy, trans healthcare for students, and we are moving forward with a new LGBT Living Experience and Gender Inclusive Restrooms.

We reflect and we remember our heroes and sheroes and “insert-gender-neutral-pronoun-roes”…

  • Gloria Anzaldua
  • Albus Dumbledore
  • Bayard Rustin
  • Ellen Paige
  • Frank Ocean
  • Carmen Carrera
  • Langston Hughes
  • Harvey Milk
  • Alice Walker
  • Neil Patrick Harris
  • Zachary Quinto
  • RuPaul
  • Tom Daly
  • Laverne Cox
  • Margaret Cho

Trail blazers past and present, who spark and kindle our commitment to embodying #bobcatrainbowwarriorfierceness. We take pride in our journeys of living and expressing who we are…we honor all of who we are, our bloopers and our triumphs as individuals and as familia…we take pride in our efforts to embody being a rainbow in the clouds of others…we take pride in our goods, our bads, and our freaking awesomeness!

We are pride! All of us without exception IS fabulous, fierce, glitterful, amazing, unicornlicious…

We are pride…we are here…we are queer…we have always been here and we will always be here.

Cheers and queers!  Muchas gracias!

 

delfin bautista is a native of Miami, FL, delfin is of both Cuban and Salvadoran heritage.   delfin is a social worker and activist theologian who is passionate about engaging the intersections of religion, gender, sexuality, race, and justice.   delfin is a former member of CTA’s Vision Council, Board of Directors, Anti-Racism Team, and 20/30 Leadership Team.  delfin is coauthor of religion and spirituality chapter in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves and also serves on their Board of Directors.  delfin currently serves as the Director of the LGBT Center at Ohio University as well as serving as adjunct faculty in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  delfin is also a contributor to Believe Out Loud’s blog and “preaches” on their blog “La Lucha, Mi Pulpito.”

Staying Active in the Holy Spirit

493px-peace_dove-svgWe learn in high school English class the significance of the birth metaphor: something important has taken place, our hero has crossed the threshold to a new level, and they will never again be the person that they used to be. The feast of Pentecost is full of birth imagery. It’s no accident that it’s referred to as the birthday of the church, for it represents the moment when Jesus’s disciples were transformed from scared followers asking “now what” to bold preachers willing to spread the good news at all costs. The description of Pentecost in John (“After saying this, Jesus breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy spirit.’” 20:22, The Inclusive Bible) echoes the second creation story, the birth of humanity, where “YHWH fashioned an earth creature out of the clay of the earth, and blew into its nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7, The Inclusive Bible). Recall, too, the presence of the Holy Spirit at Jesus’s baptism, his spiritual rebirth: “the Holy Spirit descended on the Anointed One in visible form, like a dove” (Luke 3:22, The Inclusive Bible).

The birth metaphor, with its images of life and breath, reveals another fact about the Holy Spirit: she is associated with action and movement. The appearance of the Holy Spirit in the Acts reading for Pentecost is accompanied by “what sounded like a violent, rushing wind” (Acts 2:2, The Inclusive Bible). The disciples present act on the spirit’s urgings by preaching in a multitude of different languages. The breath mentioned in the John passage above is an image of movement, too – we can feel the rush of air! In modern English, I only have to use the phrase “spirited debate” for your brain to be filled with images of animated people gesturing wildly and perhaps moving about the room in order to make their point. The word spirit carries energy.

Unfortunately, the feast of Pentecost shares a fatal flaw with the other major appearance of the Holy Spirit: the Sacrament of Confirmation. With both celebrations, the story too often ends right then and there. For some, the Sacrament of Confirmation marks the end of regular visits to Church for the foreseeable future.  In the case of Pentecost, it can feel like the last stop before our brains kick into summer mode. (This is culturally reinforced: school lets out, vacations begin, and the church choir is on hiatus.) We may still be there physically for the summer months, but our spiritual development stagnates.

How do we face spiritual stagnation head on? At the MCC church, one way we do this is to declare the season after Pentecost to be Pridetide: in this time of gay pride parades and festivals, we take time to reflect on our place in the celebration and show up, claiming our own place among the groups. In this active spirit of Pentecost and Pridetide, my summer goal is to continue my spiritual growth. During Lent, I developed the habit of asking, “What do you want me to hear?” Now I’m asking, “What do you want me to do?” If I am successful, Advent will not only mean beginning again; it will be a new beginning.

About the author: Francis Beaumier is on the leadership team for the Dignity Young Adult Caucus and an active member of the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Family as well as Angels of Hope Metropolitan Community Church. He currently works for Brown County Library as an IT Specialist and is pursuing a Master’s in Liberal Studies at St. Norbert College.

The Story of Resurrection is a Story of Transition

Reflection also available on Believe Out Loud’s website!

Easter Sunday. A day of many questions and confusion within a hope-filled community.

We still don’t know exactly what happened that night and moment. We can’t begin to imagination what folks were experiencing and feeling. As we reflected together this year over the snippets shared in the gospels, we immersed ourselves in imagining the fear and excitement of that moment.

Jesus’ followers did not know what was going to happen next or what to do next or what to say next.

After many doubts, they began to celebrate the resurrection not only of the Risen Christ, but the resurrection that erupted within them as individuals and as an emerging tribe what would be known by their love.

Though the future was not clear and would never be clear, they began to understand the transfiguration of the moment and the calling to live into wholeness, adopt and reclaim language, and ultimately to embody the resurrection of their being-ness.

As a trans and queer person of color, as a person of faith and spirit, as a person who struggles with the hallenges of living in a world enmeshed and divided by binaries, the story of resurrection speaks to me on many different levels.

The story of resurrection is a story of transition.

The Resurrection is the beginning of a journey of living into wholeness, a journey of affirming who one always was, and a journey of discovering and/or rediscovering new aspects of who we are—a journey similar to the many ways we transition as trans-identified folks.

Transition is not about medical procedures, changing one’s name, adapting the ways a person dresses, or wrestling with the dynamics of what it means to “pass” or whether one wants to even pass. These are just some of the aspects of transition.

But transition is ultimately about living into you. And that kind of living means different things to different people—it is filled with fear and questions, determination and doubts, hope and wholeness, risks and affirmation.

As people wrestling with different understandings and embodiments of gender, we stare into the tombs of our pasts, we come to recognize that who we were, who we were forced to be, who the world expected us to be is no longer there and perhaps was never there.

Who we are was hidden, and it took the passion of struggle to reveal ourselves to the world.

The bandages that covered wounds of societal and even self-inflicted violence are discarded with humble fierceness to reveal us in our fullness and in our dazzling light.

Resurrection is not about changing who we are. Like transition, it is about affirming who we are, who we have always been, and who we will always be. Just as Jesus revealed (and re-revealed and re-re-revealed) to the emerging Christian tribe, we as trans folk, genderqueer folk, gender creative folk, gender non-conforming folk, agender folk, Two Spirit folk, and the “various-expressions-of-gender-diversity” folk reveal who we are to our tribes, communities, families, and the world.

The Resurrection did not change Jesus into something new but simply affirmed who he always was. Jesus came out of the closet that was the tomb. We as trans people do the same—we affirm who we are, sometimes privately and sometimes publically and sometimes both, coming out of the tombs of closets, binaries, and imposed expectations.

After our journeys of crucifixion, mindful that each journey is different, we emerge as wholeful and resilient selves and souls.

Much like the apostles who ran into an empty tomb, we wrestle with many questions and doubts and disbeliefs imposed on a body they expect to be there, the body they predetermined should be there, but instead encounter a body that is sacred through its scars and a body that is whole despite several attempts by others to break it.

But, also like the apostles, we too have Mary Magdalenes in our lives who advocate with us to share our voices, often not being acknowledged or listened to—trans accomplices who continue to rant with us as we share who we are, both to and with the world in our sacred and sassy mystery of us.

The Resurrection is a transition—a transition that will never end as living into our being-ness is a never-ending transition. One does not complete transition, one does not finish resurrecting—both are ongoing adventures of struggle and resilience, of ups and downs, of tears of pain and tears of celebration.

The Resurrection that is transition is Biblically sparked and continues to spark the emergence and revealing of imperfectly fierce believers who affirm the good news of who they are in their messy wholeness.

Much like the Christian tribe grappling with the possibilities of the future, as trans people of faith and spirit we don’t always know what will come next.

But we are ready to take on the world with our scars as living badges of honor and resilience. 

Emergence, affirmation, creation, resurrection, and transition are journeys of is-ness and not was-ness, journeys of both/and-ness mixed with either/or-ness and also neither-ness. Who we are—not only as trans people, but simply and revolutionarily as people—is dynamic and messy, deconstructive and reconstructive, struggle-filled and celebration-ful, confusing and inspiring.

Amen, blessed be.

featured image from: http://jesusinlove.blogspot.com/2013/07/resurrection-added-to-lgbt-stations-of.html

delfin bautista is a native of Miami, FL, delfin is of both Cuban and Salvadoran heritage.   delfin is a social worker and activist theologian who is passionate about engaging the intersections of religion, gender, sexuality, race, and justice.   delfin is a former member of CTA’s Vision Council, Board of Directors, Anti-Racism Team, and 20/30 Leadership Team.  delfin is coauthor of religion and spirituality chapter in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves and also serves on their Board of Directors.  delfin currently serves as the Director of the LGBT Center at Ohio University.  delfin is a contributor to Believe Out Loud’s blog and “preaches” on their blog “La Lucha, Mi Pulpito.”

“We like it here”

I’ve always had an interest in architectural oddities, so when news of the Metrodome roof collapse hit the airwaves in 2010, I became obsessed with finding out all about this unusual building.  One of the articles that I stumbled across, part of an old ESPN review of every stadium in baseball, mentioned a sign that used to hang there that said “METRODOME – Minneapolis ‘We like it here.'”  The article goes on to express the true meaning:

Yeah, you people from New York, California and Florida might think our weather is cold and miserable and that our stadium sucks, but we don’t care — WE like it and that’s all that matters. And is it loud enough in here for you, then?

metrodome_with_new_roofIn thinking about why I stay Catholic, I think some of the same logic applies.  Those who have left the church or who are proud of their own faith tradition will see the “cold and miserable weather” that we’ve gone through as Catholics (the sexual abuse scandal, bishops and Cardinals getting in the news for being unwilling to welcome LGBTQ Catholics, etc.) and ask us, “why stay Catholic?”  And the best answer I can give them is that “we like it here.”  If that’s the case, I thought, I’d better seek to understand why I like it here.  This lead me to decide that what I should “give up” for Lent this year was negativity.  In other words, I sought to focus on the positive this Lent.  And it turned out that my pastor was right there with me — part of his prescription for Lent was to spend ten minutes a day counting our blessings.

I consider myself to be a fairly positive person, but I found that the goal of “giving up” negativity demanded effort.  It is easy to get sucked in with others when they talk about shortcomings of religious leaders or the undeniable mess that is politics in the United States.  I kept coming back to the question of “What good can I say?”  What good can I say of Pope Francis when my progressive Catholic friends point out that he doesn’t seem to be acknowledging LGBT Catholics as much as we had hoped?  What good can I say of President Obama when I am confronted with a list of things that he has failed to accomplish?

Fr. Tim’s wish that I count my blessings didn’t prove as easy as I would have thought, either.  My thought process often went something like family, good weather … gotta finish that report at work, gotta talk to my boyfriend about Easter plans … people that love me ….  I couldn’t even list 10 things without being distracted by everything I “needed” to get done.

But if I can count one big blessing, it’s that I feel that this Lent really has been different.  I have made progress in my Lenten goals, if imperfect.  And I have gotten to take advantage of three Sacraments: Eucharist, of course, but also Healing and Confession.  I didn’t get the opportunity to go to much of our parish mission in person, but I’m taking advantage of the YouTube recordings to slowly experience it on my own.

As you head into Holy week, I invite you to consider the blessing that this week and this season is for you.

About the author: Francis Beaumier is on the leadership team for the Dignity Young Adult Caucus and an active member of the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Family as well as Angels of Hope Metropolitan Community Church.  He currently works for Brown County Library as an IT Specialist and is pursuing a Master’s in Liberal Studies at St. Norbert College.

Mary and Elizabeth

This is a post by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann: a mother, writer, and activist in Detroit, MI. This post was originally published on www.radicaldiscipleship.net.

 

 

mary and elizabeth.jpg

Luke 1: 39-56

I wonder about the beginning of this reading. “Mary went with haste….” It seems like there are three possibilities for this. First is that she was so excited and filled with anticipation that she fled to a friend she loved. I think this is our most common interpretation. But I think it more likely the second or third possibility. Either she was sent away out of shame and embarrassment for three months. Or as I did more reading, it seems likely that being pregnant and not married with her status was actually cause for being stoned to death. She may have been fleeing for her life.

So, it is perhaps in that place or urgency and fear that this reading begins, but, after that it is nothing but delight. The reading is beautiful.

As I was sitting with this story, I realized how much I WISH that this was the Christmas story. That this was the birthing scene that we read together Christmas Eve. It is filled with the intimacy of friendship, the wisdom of women, longing, rejoicing, honoring one another, singing, and just a good long chunk of time to be with one another.

I love how it ends with “Mary stayed for 3 months before she went home.” Though that is cut from the lectionary. You can just imagine how they spent that time. Both pregnant. Two women- one old and one young. Resting, imagining, praying, cooking for another, massaging their bodies, and in the midst of it all talking about God and a radical new social order. Speaking dangerous politics. With those two women for mothers, no wonder Jesus and John turned out to be badasses.

It is just a beautiful scene. As I reflect at thirty-six weeks pregnancy today, this is what I hope for- circles of women, children leaping for joy, feeling that birth can be a shift in the status quo, and feeling honored and blessed by love and by God.

But that is not the scene we get this Christmas. While in so many ways, we have romanticized the Nativity story, it really is not a great birth story. It begins with them being ordered to leave their homes. Deported. To be counted. I imagine the relationships Mary had to leave behind. She would have known the midwives that would be at her birth. Perhaps she would have given birth the same place her mother did. Perhaps her mother and sisters would have been there. But instead, she is forced to leave, alone.

Then they have a long journey…on a donkey! This year, we have a strict NO Christmas travel policy in our family. Travel is hard work on these pregnant weary bodies. I remember how painful it was to be in labor traveling in a car on bumpy pavement. The idea of traveling by donkey on dirt roads while close or starting labor, sounds pretty horrible.

Then, she feels the contractions and is ready to have this kid and they have to try to find a bed! There is no room in the inn. I think I have always felt like “I cant believe they wouldn’t let her in! All would have been fine.” But an inn is no place to have a baby either. Alone. With no midwife. And instead she ends up in a barn. On the cold ground. With the smell of animals. Did she catch the baby by herself? Did Joseph catch the baby? I imagine that would have been culturally unusual. Was it a scary labor?

Then, after all that, according to the stories we hear, she is surrounded by NO ONE but MEN! Joseph, an Inn Keeper, shepherds, kings. Maybe there are some women angels? But even those that are named are men! I ache for Mary. I think of the reading of Mary and Elizabeth and the time they shared together. How different that feeling is. Intimate, sacred space for women is so important. In a time when women were not given space or honored, birth would have been one of those few places women had space together. It was systemically taken away from her.

Things don’t get much better after that either. An order is given to kill all boys under two. She births a son right into a world that wants to swallow up her son. It is similar to the other birthing stories we know in the bible. Moses who escapes death multiple times after Egypt demands all Hebrew baby boys killed. And the women in Revelation who birth right in the face of a dragon who plans to eat her son. Birth is not beautiful in the bible. It does not feel like Advent pregnant hope, but rather pregnancies filled with fear and the slim hopes for the chance of survival for their children.

So, knowing all that is to come, I delight in today’s reading. I give thanks that those friendships and spaces find their ways into Mary’s life despite all the barriers. I give thanks that it was powerful enough that amidst all the other stuff left out about women in the Gospels, this makes it in. It is certainly a story that models discipleship for me. That calls in us to be human, to rest, to sing, to hope, to speak justice, to find intimacy, and to leap for joy in the face of all that is happening and all that is to come.

The other thing that strikes me in Luke and Hebrews is the reality of bodies. So often in our faith we separate mind and bodies. We intellectualize the readings and our spiritualties. But here, God is choosing to be incarnate in a body. “You have prepared a body for me.” We feel Jesus and John jumping in the womb. Pregnancy and birth are real physical, bodily things. It isn’t pretty or neat. It is painful and bloody and earthly. In fact, I’ve never felt so much like an animal than when I was giving birth. It wasn’t my mind or my heart that birthed that child, it was the instincts in my body.

I remember a friend saying to me, “It wasn’t until I gave birth and I was breast feeding, that I really understood, “This is my body, broken, and given for you.”

I remember so clearly the moments before I started pushing Isaac out, when he is coming down between my hips, and it literally feels like my body is being split in two. And in a lot of ways it is. My hips come apart. And something that is flesh of my flesh is given into this world.

As we take communion today, my mind and heart will be preparing to break again. As we count down the days til he arrives, I offer my body again as gift- giving life to another human being.

Indeed, “this is my body, broken and given for you.”

Let’s pray.

I invite you to close your eyes
To be still.
To breathe.

Oh God,
We give thanks for the stories
That encourage our hearts

May we too be like Mary and Elizabeth
Who in the midst of darkness
Delight in their friendship
Feel the movements in their bodies
Speak of a radical hope for the future
Sing, rejoice
And rest.

May we carve out those spaces
Of sacred, intimacy
Despite the powers that be
Trying to swallow them up

Oh God, you call us into our bodies
Honoring the earthly, ordinary, and miraculous beings that we are
To feel their heaviness on the ground
And to let the earth carry us
We pray that our lives embody the Gospels
Giving them to the work of creation, love, and resistance.

For all of this and so much more on our hearts,
We lift it to you
Who holds us like a mother’s womb,
who became embodied in Mary’s womb,
and was birthed from the womb into this world.
Amen.

Holding On To Hope

unnamed-3

A photo of Maggie from queer photographer Sarah Deragon’s The Identity Project.

This is a post by Margaret Wagner: a writer, non-profit professional, cartoonist living in Austin, TX. She graduated from DePauw University in 2014 having majored in English Literature with double minors in Women’s Studies and Religious Studies. She currently works as a Communication Specialist for a non-profit organization in Austin dedicated to fostering peace and respect through interfaith dialogue. As a radical feminist queer Catholic, Margaret spends a great deal of time trying to reconcile all of her various identities with each other.

Ever since I moved away from home to try my hand at adulting in the real world I’ve noticed many major lifestyle changes, but one in particular stands out. Growing up, I was a regular church-goer, helping to fill the pews for mass each and every Sunday. But now that I’m all grown up, my church attendance has steadily dwindled down to a mere appearance at Christmas and sometimes Easter. In my family, we always referred to such individuals as “Chreasters”, jokingly shaming those who only found enough time to come to God’s house on the days they were most expected to. Now, as one of the Chreasters I so readily derided as a child, I cannot help but wonder what led me to avoid church more and more over the years. Continue reading