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Three assessments
of religious
The Robert
Spike story

Jennie Boyd Bull:

Our Theological Task for
the 80's

. G~All[Y,


A letter from the editor before God always given in the human
experience .... A process analysis ...
exposes, all the more clearly, the
objective of the [New Testament]
IN THIS ISSUE'S Letters section, there's and no salvation. Let me continue the witness: the experience of grace,
more on the curren t christological discussion conversation. the act of trust, the deed of mercy.
in UFMCC-as well as some feedback on Within the Christian faith-tradition, That God was in Christ reconciling
our last issue. I think a summary state- surely, are many who would argue thus; the world does not require the literal
ment of the central concern I find in the who would hold out for the statement that appropriation of every affirmation made
letters that express dissatisfaction with Jesus is God, and that's that. In recent about Jesus in the biblical literature or
some of the views we've published about issues, readers have been asked to consider in history. What lies beyond these specific,
Jesus' relationship to deity is this, from another understanding of the Christ- diverse, and sometimes antithetical claims
one of them: Without the unique ... full event, and it underlies much of what is is this: Jesus did in fact open to them a
divinity of Jesus Christ, there is no Savior now being said in UFMCC and in the new experience of God that reshaped their
theological world. I'd like to get at it by self-understanding and their understanding
quoting a contemporary Process-theologian, of God and of human existence, and the
Russell Pregeant, in his Christology Beyond force of that rebirth is dramatized by the
Dogma (Fortress, 1978, from pp. 158- affirmations they made. The affirmations
168). He argues from the standpoint of must be understood in their historical and
a universalistic undercurrent throughout existential context.
the New Testament and especially in To some, those exclamations-turned-
Matthew's parables: to-doctrine still mean something. I'm now
What emerges from a process analysis content to leave old words and old ideas to
logical journal of the Universal of the christological formulations of old times, respected, known, built on,
Fellowship of Metropolitan Com- the New Testament is a christo logy but left in their place and time. I prefer
munity Churches. Its purpose is to beyond dogma-one that might aptly to find new words of my own to express
build community among people of be termed "paradigmatic" or "cata- how Jesus challenges me, to describe the
faith who happen also to be gay, ly tic" christo logy. The New Testa- rebirth and healing and wonder Jesus opens
women, or members of other sexual ment focuses upon the image of to me. As the great preacher Harry Emerson
minorities by providing a theolog- Jesus as the Christ. It does so, how- Fosdick once said, in their attempt to
ical soundingboard and relevant ever, not really in order to elicit a
ecumenical news. TGC writers dispose of Jesus' challenge to their living,
doctrinal affirmation about Jesus as first, they tried crucifying him. When that
speak for themselves; their view-
the exclusive irruption of grace into didn't work, they tried worshipping him.
points do no necessarily represent
any official policy, position, or human history, but rather ultimately Much of my life was spent a part of a church-
doctrine of UFMCC. to lure its readers into an encounter ly institution that has comfortably sup-
with that reality which comes to ported slavery, suppressed women and life
Material in this magazine is original expression through him . .. And and sexuality, and driven gay and lesbian
unless otherwise noted. Please credit insofar as the call to faith in a uni-
THE GAY CHRISTIAN when quoting people to their deaths, and has otherwise
from us. Contents are copyrighted and versally active God is conceived in proven widely irrelevant to life in this
may not be reproduced or extensively terms of a proclamation of Jesus as world while crying Lord, Lord in the most
quoted without permission.
the Christ, this Jesus is acknowledged orthodox of terms. I can't any longer
F. Jay Deacon, Editor as a kind of catalytic agent=i.e., as dispose of Jesus and his challenge by
one who at a particular moment in simply deifying him. Now I've got to push
Editrrrial Offices: history brings to full and definite the frontiers of my living, beginning to
615 West Wellington Avenue expression a possibility of existence abandon myself to the Spirit of God that
Chicago 60657
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Contributing Editors: New York: Karen Enclosed please find my donation in the amount of $ . Please send me
Ziegler, Steve Carson. Boston: Edward
T. Hougen. Washington: Larry J. Uhrig.
the next four issues of The Gay Christian magazine, 5300 Santa Monica Blvd.,
Detroit: Jean Gralley. Los Angeles: Suite 304, Los Angeles, CA 90029, Attn: Subscription Manager.
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Address _
Valerie Bouchard. St. Louis: Roy
Tee: 2
moved him in its own freedom and power.
That, I think, is what our last issue's
writers are driving at. History proves, does
it not, that worshipping Jesus isn't the
point and can be diversionary from the
radical grace, challenge, and possibility
of the Gospel.
This issue, more reflections on that
grace, challenge, and possibility. Jennie
Boyd Bull, Roy Birchard, and I have
different stories to tell-and for Jennie
and Roy, response to the challenge of
Jesus involves a more traditional under-
standing of the story about Jesus. There's
the story of Robert Spike's discipleship
and martyrdom. I hope it will move you
as it has moved me. And there's Steve
Carson's review of Elaine Pagels' important
study of how the Christians called Gnostic
responded to Jesus. Stimulating reading,
we think, and we hope it provides some
useful roadmarks on your way.
With this issue, JENNIE BOYD BULL
joins the TGC team as a Contributing
Editor. A 1981 graduate of Wesley Theo-
logical Seminary in Washington, DC, she
is a minister on staff at MCCDG.
Jennie Boyd Bull
FED' ?" 9
Roy Birchard

F. Jay Deacon I AM ON a "New Year's retreat" by myself Rev. Karen Ziegler's recent article "Jesus
in the Western Maryland mountains, and According to a Lesbian," (The Gay Chris-
GA Y CHRISTIAN for these past three days I have been hiking tian, 3rd quarter, 1980), in which she says
ROBER T SPIKE in the snow, making fires in the Franklin "our spiritual survival may depend upon
stove, watching red-crested woodpeckers our rejection of traditional theology." (p.
The Editor
peck for insects in tree trunks and getting 8) The other is The Rev. Richard Weather-
REVIEWS: into some meditative reading neglected in ly's recent statement in a letter to the Task
the flurry of academics that is called a Force on Inclusive Language: "I believe
Steve Carson
on Pagels'The seminary education. one of our central strengths is the fact that
Gnostic Gospels 17 And on this third day, late in the our only 'scandal' is our openness to all
afternoon, I finally settle down to one of people, especially gay women and men. If
The Editor on my reasons for being here-to set down in we are labelled simply another non-ortho-
Christianity, Social words the bubblings of my mind and heart dox "new revelation," we are easily (and
Tolerance, and over this Fellowship I love and live with quite properly) dismissed. Our orthodoxy
Homosexuality 21 and am committed to serving in for the rest is a primary tool in our work. I fear we
of my life. Who are we and where are we will lose it if we are not very careful. One
NEWS 23 is either 'In the Mainstream of Christianity'
headed? Two recent events have helped
LETTERS 24 me to focus on this question: One is the or one is not."

Tee: 3
I believe both of these statements are slavery: loss of social cohesion and self- retaining this uniqueness is authenticity,
partial truths. * Both err in identifying identity. being true to our personal experiences of
contemporary U.S. forms of Christianity as The question of visibility is also brokenness and of wholeness, and speaking
synonymous with "the mainstream of similar: There are similarities in the from that truth, not from the definitions
Christianity." A broader historical, social "shuffling" required of blacks and the of others. How does the Word dwell
and doctrinal perspective is needed. This is "closeted" behavior of gays-in neither among us, the gay community? What is its
a rather sweeping generalization, perhaps case is the person being authentic. In both grace and truth in our particular lives (John
only the kind a new minister still in semi- cases the acceptable behavior is defined by I: 14)?
nary would dare to make, but let me be white, heterosexual culture, and in both This general statement about MCCas a
more specific. cases the basis for that oppressed behavior Church contradicts the concept that the
In my view, MCCis currently primarily is survival. This question of authentic Church must either accept the status quo
a sectarian church group, formed in reaction behavior was at the root of the original or "blow it apart." Instead, I understand
to the dominant culture and, as was the need for a separate black church and of the that the Church must always partake of
early Church until the time of Constantine, need for MCC today. In particular, the both prophetic and nurturing functions,
reacting against that culture in a prophetic origins of MCC congregations and minis- both using the structures and institutions
role that is also critical of the dominant try-both from those within the invisible, of the dominant culture and critiquing
religious institutions. I firmly believe that underground community and from those them and witnessing to their deceit when
one of the reasons God has raised up MCC within other denominations who have left called by God to do so. To to ally reject
is to be a prophetic witness to bring healing or been forced out-is quite similar to the all culture as oppressive is to take an
about sexuality within ail of Christianity, origins of the black church as both under- extreme dualist stance that is alien to
by our very existence raising up the reality ground church and those who left white God's creation. The Church must always
of the separation, avoidance and denial of churches. live in the world as sign of the new realm
sexuality that has characterized much of There are also strong parallels in the of God in Christ; its life is that of sacra-
the Christian tradition. treatment of women in our culture. The ment, the Body of Christ broken for the
The social role of MCC in the gay nuclear family as it exists in contemporary life of the world. The Church must seek to
community is not unlike that of the black industrial society separates women from follow wherever God is acting in the world,
church in the years immediately following each other, makes them economically there to speak prophetic truth, to respond
Emancipation, when it served as the social dependent on men, and defines them in in service in that place, and to praise
focus for community, social-definition, relation to men. Women are either wife of, the Good News of God's redemptive love
dignity, definition of moral values, pro- mother of, secretary of, etc. That is one in Christ Jesus.
phetic witness both in the Church and in reason lesbians are so threatening-we are Where does all of this generalization
the political sphere, and as healer, educator, independent of any intimate relations leave me personally? Well, let me tell you
advocate and social center for the broken, controlled by men. The economic aspect is a story. About six years ago I was on a
fearful and estranged lives of the people it reflected in the disparity of income between spiritual retreat with other MCCers. The
served. As by far the oldest, largest and the lesbian and gay male communities. leader told us to close our eyes and imagine
most stable institution within the gay Women's assuming their husband's name in ourselves in a boat with the disciples (Matt.
community worldwide, MCC must provide marriage and other questions of invisibility 14:22-33). Jesus comes walking toward
the-community needs and stability sought in language also promote this loss of me on the water, and asks me to come to
by its members, as well as fulfill its pro- identity and self-image. The inauthentic him. I shrank down into the bottom of the
phetic role of witness. And that witness is behavior expected of women, such as boat, curled up into a ball and muttered,
most often not a matter of specific political helplessness, is similar to closeted behavior "No man is going to tell me what to do."
action (although this is certainly also called of gays and shuffling of blacks. These In reaction to that experience, I cried
on regularly), but is rather our very exis- adaptations have been necessary for hysterically in the pain of understanding
tence. survival in situations of powerlessness, but my lack of faith and the block that Jesus'
A particularly instructive comparison they eat at the root of our authenticity and maleness was to that faith. Recognition of
between the black community and the gay integrity. The Christian gospel must be that pain was the first step toward healing.
community is the manner of inculcation of about empowerment to fuller personhood I was under conviction.
self-hatred by the dominant society. Slaves in community, and that is what inclusivity A couple of years-and many strug-
were brainwashed into accepting their is all about. gles-later, I realized that it was not Jesus'
inhumanity through separation from their And yet MCC's social role is also that maleness at all that was the .sturnbling
past culture and in particular through of creating community, a stable institution block; rather it was my own self-hatred as a
destroying much of the family structure. for spiritual leadership within the gay woman, my refusal to believe God loved
Thus, many black people were deprived of community that has many similarities to and accepted me as a woman. Again, I
basic social and economic institutions as the role of the black church in the black experienced an intense time of repentance
well as a source of identity and strength. community. As MCCgrows as an insti- and conversion, as I accepted the wonder
In this same sense, society has systematically tution, we must be careful that in our of God's love for me as the woman I am.
denied to gays the right to any form attempts to build community, to minister In the process, I came to know and love
of legal relationship and through economic to needs, we do not become .so like the God's dwelling with me in female images.
and social discrimination does not recognize institutional churches of the dominant Later that year, I again envisioned Jesus
the existence of same-sex couple relation- culture that we cease to fulfill our prophetic calling to me across the water. This time, I
ships. The result is similar to that of role as "creative minority." The key to said "yes," -and we danced (English

Tee: 4
country folk dancing, to be exact). In a 1. There is no more difficult theo- third world socialist, gay and straight,
moment of liberation, wholeness, salvation, logical issue for lesbians than lesbians and gay men, etc. All of these
I accepted Jesus as friend-a dance partner Christology . There is also no dualisms are of themselves limiting of
whose sex was irrelevant-and as Lord-the more threatening issue for those self-definition. While they may speak
one with authority. After all, only God who are already threatened by sociological and cultural truths, in defining
can walk on water and uplift me to do the women in the church. myself first as a lesbian I am limiting my
same. Jesus is truly Lord of the dance! I agree, but another way of saying this understanding of myself as a full human
Accepting the Lordship of Jesus Christ same thing is to confess that Christology being. It is God who first defines me,
thus included for me a joy of self-ac- is central to all Christian doctrine and to before any earthly reality.
ceptance, of loving myself as a woman, and each person's faith stance. It is rightfully
as a lesbian. the central place for theological struggle. I cannot call Jesus my "Master"
I had long identified myself as a 2. We need to start at the opposite or my "Lord" because the very
feminist, a woman-identified-woman, a place !from Christianity j with point of my being as a lesbian is
lesbian, yet it was only in saying "yes" that what it means to be a lesbian. We that no man is my master and no
I found my fullest self as God-identified. are primarily accountable to the man is my lord.
And as a God-identified woman I grow in lesbian community, to our sisters,
grace as a human being who is before all not to the church. In response to Karen's statement, I confess:
else a member of Christ (dancing partner, if This is where I disagree most strongly with "Yes, no man is my lord, but God is, and
you will), and because a member of Christ, Karen. I am primarily accountable to God, only God and ultimately God." The
claiming my inheritance as child of God, and then to my neighbor. The statement acceptance of the Lordship of God in
created in God's image to walk/dance seems to equate the Church totally with Christ Jesus freed me-and you-from all
in the new life of the Holy Spirit. the fallible and often oppressive institution earthly authorities, all male domination.
By the way, in all of this the question that is New Right evangelical Christianity As human being Jesus is my friend and
of inclusive language was a "battling in the U. S. today, and the result is an dance partner, and as divine being Jesus is
ground," but ultimately not the decisive absence of any doctrine of the Church as my lord, the one with authority, who
issue. Language helps to create negative more than the institution. How is God empowers me to walk in the new life of the
and positive self-images and frees or related to the Church? Christian churches, Spirit (Rom. 6:4). And they are one in the
restricts our God images, and I support the including MCC, seriously need to explore Lord of the Dance; otherwise how can we
Fellowship's continued growth in use of ecclesiology , dance on water in the midst of the pain of
inclusive language. But I believe human Another tendency in this statement this world?
loving, relating, modelling, e tc., is ultimately and in evangelical Christianity is a focus on I ask each of us in MCC to ask ourselves:
more crucial to our identity and spiritual the individual. Both of these tendencies Do we truly believe there are fundamental
growth. In other words, I see experience as make any exclusive focus on the incarnation differences in human nature? Am I white
preceding both language and doctrine, as of Christ skewed because not adequately before I am human? Woman before I am
has been true in the very founding and related to other aspects of Christian human? Gay before human?
growth of this Fellowship, although it is doctrine, especially to a doctrine of God's Current psychological and sociological
always true that our experience is shaped atoning work in Christ. The resurrection studies seem to underscore the basic
by our language and beliefs. of Jesus Christ is the primary Christian Christian message that we are one in Christ
And yet the element of personal doctrine, and without it any doctrine Jesus, members of Christ and children of
experience as a way of knowing God's of incarnation is hopeless, and any doctrines God before we are anything else. This
truth for me must always be informed by of the Holy Spirit or of the Church are oneness in Christ negates the male/female
scripture and tradition. It is particularly nonexistent in any power. dualism inherent in much of Christian
tempting in the gay community for us to Actually, by starting first with her tradition and theology. The gender identity
focus exclusively on present experience lesbian experience in dealing with the research of John Money at Johns Hopkins
because of lack of historical roots, separa- incarnation, Karen and many other Chris- University in Baltimore emphasizes that
tion from traditional family structures, few tians today are in reality dealing with the human embryo is not differentiated
children, etc. But the promise of the an thropology , not Christology , Ever since sexually until the third or fourth month,
Christian Gospel is deeply rooted in Schleiermacher, with his individualistic and that an infant's gender identity is
history, a history of past promises and understanding of the atonement as at-one- determined more by the sex of assignment
future visions. Our statement of faith is ness with God, the doctrine of the incar- (whether treated as male or female by
that "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ nation has taken precedence in much parental figures) than by genitals. Many of
will come again." Thus, it is necessary to liberal Christian theology. This reflects the you know lots more about this than I do,
place this personal faith journey and scientific Enlightenment's emphasis on but this says to me that who we are as male
struggle toward growth that we all share in seeking to understand human nature or female is largely socially and culturally
a historical and doctrinal context. through sociology, biology, psychology, determined and is not biologically central
Karen Ziegler opens her article with etc. Many people today no longer hold to to our being as a person. As Genesis says,
four observations, on which she bases the a single conception of what it means to be we are created in God's image, and only
rest of her thoughts. I find these helpful in human. Rather than a single ontology of after that are we male and female. (Gen.
focusing my own thoughts, and will use human nature, we speak of opposing, I :26). And current scientific research
them as a framework for what follows. dualist ontologies of male and female, underlines the androgynous as the ideal for
black and white, capitalist European and humanity and minimizes the differences

Tee: 5
between the sexes. A recent review of past of God have been defined by white, male carpenter's son. Only if we believe the
research on gender differences states: heterosexual (or asexual because celibate) resurrection can we then believe that God's
theologians. As a result, black, female, act in that one person is universally true
The only well-established differences sexual images have been repressed . for all persons, no matter what our con-
. . . were that girls have greater verbal Dr. James S. Tinney, in "The Feminist dition. The Apostle's Creed includes "he
ability than boys and that boys excel Impulse in Black Pentecostalism," makes descended into hell." The farthest reaches
in visual-spatial and mathematical this same claim from a Black perspective: of Gehenna, of our own alienation and
skills and are more aggressive than loneliness as "sexual outcasts" are available
girls ... Any skill improves with to God's saving love-and it can be no less
practice, and how well a 'person's Black Pentecostalism is, in fact, possibly true for lesbians. The problem is not the
the best example within modern culture
genetic potential for a given ability maleness of Jesus, but rather accepting our
of the feminist principle in religion reasser t-
is realized depends on practic. (David full humanity and allowing God to reveal
ing itself. Both cultural anthropologists
Goleman, "Special Abilities of the and philosophical theologians have historic- the fullness of God's divinity in all of our
Sexes," Psychology Today (Nov. 1978) ally noted the dualism of characteristics life and in all of our particular flesh.
pp.49,55). which have come to be identified as mascu-
line and feminine, but which in actuality 3. We are struggling very hard for our
We are truly created as humans for relation- express the androgynous or wholistic lives. Lesbians simply do not 'belong'
ship with the other, but that "other" nature of life itself. Particularly in the in a patriarchal culture.
cannot be defined by sexual differentiation; Judaeo-Christian stream, a concerted effort
the whole of the person must be considered. has been made to define and describe main- 4. We have no history of the survival
stream religion by these so-called masculine
After summarizing the dehumanizing role of our fore-sisters.
traits. The masculine character of main-
stereotypes assigned to each sex, John
stream white Christianity includes emphases
McNeill reflects: These two presuppositions speak of an
such as consciousness or rationality, clarity
or logical apologetics, light or whiteness alienation and isolation that can only come
An even more serious consequence as the purest and highest good, pursuit from a present cultural identification.
follows if we assume that these hetero- of God and knowledge of "him," order Most of the people of this world must
sexual identity images constitute the or formal liturgy with an emphasis on struggle for their lives, and even poor white
total mature content of the human silence and programming, and discrimination male U.S. citizens do not belong in the
personality. For this results in the or exclusivist tendencies .... Pentecostalism dominant culture of multinational cor-
tendency to understand the human (the white American and European branches porate capitalism that rules the world's
of the movement have tended, since their
individual as essentially partial and economy and threatens global destruction.
separation from the Black origins of the
incomplete ... True Christian love, In a game of divide-and-conquer, each
movement, to stray from these feminine
even married love, can only exist characteristics and conform more-and-more group is given limited privileges to separate
between persons who see themselves to masculine and mainstream Christian them from others.
as somehow total and equal. Christian forms) has traditionally emphasized the And as for history, again, most of the
love must be love out of fullness and value of unconsciousness, ecstasy, and peoples of this world have no written
not out of need ... The homosexual trance; mysteries "in the Spirit," including history: Not only all women, but most
community has, perhaps, a special unknown tongues; darkness, or the impor- Blacks, all poor peoples, etc. Where are
role to play in liberating the hetero- tance of Black and non-white races in the our roots? I agree that all minorities must
sexual community to a fuller under- divine scheme, rather than a heart "whiter seek to know their histories, but as people
than snow" and other symbolic elevations
standing of themselves as persons by who are God-defined, as Christians, we
of whiteness and light; receptivity or pos-
being an organic challenge within must first turn to God's history in the Old
sessions of the human body by God, so that
society to the partial and dehuman- God overcomes worshippers rather than and New Testaments to understand our
izing aspects of these sexual identity worshippers being "seekers;" chaos, loud- past. Yes, the scriptures are patriarchal,
images. (The Church and the Homo- ness, and noise in drumming, dancing and but that is not all they are. They are the
sexual, 142f). spontaneous moves of the Spirit rather written record of the history of a small,
than formal order; and inclusiveness, toler- oppressed tribe and God's saving, claiming
Our anthropology must fi.rst begin ance of differences, and tendencies toward action among them. Can God do any less
with theology. I am first of all a member universalism rather than discrimination. with us?
of Christ and child of God, which overcomes Another area to be explored is the
all separation, and if I don't start there, This oneness of humanity is essential history of doctrine itself. Some would say
then I define myself in particular human not only for a full doctrine of the incar- that the current Christological debates are
terms that can only end up separating me nation but also for a full doctrine of the new-unheard of in the history of Chris-
from others. atonement. It is a normative Christian tianity. I say they are one more version of
Now the problem comes in when the principle that what Christ did not assume the tensions of Christology since the
dominant culture defines God and human was not saved, and as long as we narrowly earliest centuries. Incarnation and atone-
nature in ways that exclude many of us. define ourselves, we exclude ourselves from ment are central mysteries of the Christian
Instead, all of God's people need to con- both incarnation and salvation. It is called faith, and as such can never be adequately
tribute theologically to a wholistic con- the "scandal of particularity:" that God's defined by reason. The Council of Chal-
ception of God that reflects our varied saving act is in the life, death and resur- cedon defined normative Christology in
experiences. For too long the basic images rection of an Aramaic-speaking, Jewish static Greek terms of two persons in one

TGC: 6
nature, resolving the Docetic and Ebionite for human sin, as intercessor before the does not mean accepting the status quo of
heresies. Until today, Christians have throne of God. This view of the atonement the Christian Church as it exists today in
tended to err either on the Docetic side of is clearly part of the biblical and traditional the U.S. or elsewhere, but to reach into the
emphasizing the divinity of Christ to an Christian theology, and its focus is on the fullness of Christian history and tradition,
exclusion of his full humanity, or on the crucifixion. But it is not the only scriptural and the fullness of Christian experience
Ebionite side, emphasizing Jesus' humanity basis for atonement, and I ask that my worldwide among all people, and the
but denying full divinity. brothers and sisters who hold this under- fullness of the varied scriptural images and
In contemporary Christianity, I see a standing open themselves to the other themes available to us.
tendency toward docetism in mainstream biblical images that have been claimed by I suggest that, in seeking unity on a
evangelicalChristo logy. The pale, "pretty," the Christian Church throughout the broad basis, we look to current ecumenical
Jesus on Sunday School walls is devoid of centuries. statements, such as those publishedby the
sexuality or human emotion. Jesus is Christ is also the high priest and the World Council of Churches. "One Baptism,
personalized and individualized "in my sacrifice, the lamb slain and victorious. One Eucharist, and a Mutually Recognized
heart," thus downplaying the prophetic, This Christus Victor, or classical atonement Ministry" is one such, or the recent "In
social aspect of the Jesus who proclaimed: theory, sees Christ as victorious over sin Quest of a Church Uniting: An Emerging
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at and death. All imagery at the heart of the Theological Consensus, Ministry" published
hand" (Matt. 4:17) and who brings re- mystery of Christianity is radically in- in 1980 by the Consultation on Church
demption for all creation through the congruous-the lamb conquers. The images Union. I suggest also that we study the
crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus is Lord, of victory in battle are used to describe the Apostle's and Nicene Creeds and current
not only of my heart, but of all of history, uplifting of the powerless and weak; the commentaries on them, such as those by
and I can either accept or deny that reality victim as Lord, as one with authority. The Karl Barth, Thielicke and Pannenberg, to
(Eph. 1: 15-23). I am especially amazed at locus of this doctrine is the resurrection. understand the history of their inter-
those who further emphasize this docetic There is no image of greater hope for the pretation and their origins. It is not
Christ by neglecting the Old Testament. oppressed community and for me personally enough simply to accept traditional doc-
In particular, this docetism has resulted than that of the cross as victory, of weak- trines unquestioningly. God gave us minds
in the suppression of sexuality by the ness as strength, of death as life. This to struggle and seek, and current situations
Church, in a false dualism of spirit and understanding of atonement also empha- to give rise to new questions. It is my faith
body. MCC has consistently critiqued and sizes the communal, cosmic context of that the earliest credal confession, "Jesus
witnessed to the truth of the full incarnation salvation (Phil. 2:5-11). The victory is Christ is Lord ," a trinitarian understanding
of Jesus Christ in full embodiment, in- won, and is ours for the claiming: "It is of God, and the Apostles' and Nicene
cluding sexuality, and this is as it should finished," as the Gaithers sing. As a Creeds are as true for us today as they
be. However, in reaction to this dominant confirmed pacifist, I especially appreciate were when first used, and that we can grow
dccetisrn of the culture, the Ebionite view this image, because it takes war as the as a Church in studying them and seeking
has over-reacted, in a typical excess of the ultimate in human violence and redeems it, their truth in the reality of our own lives.
suppressed view. Those who emphasize the turns it upside down, proclaims the lamb as But that truth must include the full naming
full humanity of Christ and criticize victor. of our present reality, being true to our
excessive emphasis on maleness to the There is a third atonement theory; the present experience and being open to the
exclusion of a fuller understanding of Jesus moral renewal theory of Abelard, with a universal naming of God's truth in our
as a human being in his cultural setting do subjective, more individual focus, seeing experience.
us a favor, and we need to heed that God's act in Christ as freeing humans from Finally, I would suggest several areas
perspective and grow in accepting "light fear of death. I see Karen Ziegler as of study that would help us greatly to grow
from dark corners" of neglected under- coming from this understanding, in which toward a theology that speaks from our
standings. However, it is still an error to so humans are empowered to be Christlike experience as UFMCC:
emphasize the humanity of Jesus that his through the example of Christ's life and
divinity is denied. One error does not passion. The locus here is on the incar- 1. Continued exploration of a theology of
excuse its opposite. The goal is a fuller nation. This doctrine is clearly within the sexuality, both through doctrines of
understanding of both the humanity mainstream of Christian tradition. Its incarnation and of atonement. Sexuality
and divinity of Jesus Christ, in the humility strength is that it speaks directly to human and the fear of death?
that such a mystery is beyond all human subjective experience and emotions of fear 2. We need to be clear about our under-
understanding, and that knowing Christ of death, alienation, meaninglessness. This standing of the resurrection. The current
Jesus is an act of faith before it is a doc- personal identification must always be doctrinal statement does not mention the
trinal proposition. included in any understanding of God's resurrection until the section on holy-
But all of this talk of incarnation work in Christ, and is certainly founded in communion; a clearer statement is needed
becomes skewed and out of proportion scripture, but the danger is that by itself it much earlier, such as in the Christo logical
unless it is accompanied by talk of the puts human experience before God's statement of III.A.3.
atonement, of the power of the resurrection. action. In regard to a theology of sexuality, I
Here again, "mainstream" evangelical Chris- If the Christian Church has had room am especially interested in input from our
tianity in the U.S. emphasizes the sub- for all three of these doctrines of the pastoral experience in counseling or in
stitutionary or vicarious doctrine of the atonement, in all their variations and claiming our own sexuality. I find it helps
atonement, using biblical images of God as combinations, so surely must UFMCC. FOI people coming out to pray when they
judge with Jesus Christ bearing the verdict to move in "the mainstream of Christianity" masturbate; it is especially helpful for

rcc 7
lesbians to image God as female in their munity , And yet we fear the Spirit because subjected it in hope; because the
prayer life. How does this experience we cannot have control, and often MCC creation itself will be set free from
relate theologically? For one thing, it quenches the Spirit, especially when we let its bondage to decay and obtain the
makes GOD the divine lover, not Jesus. issues of doctrine and polity divide us, for glorious liberty of the children of
3. Ecclesiology . The doctrine of the ablve all the Spirit upbuilds us in love and God. We know that the whole creation
church is nonexistent in our faith statement works to knit us together as one body. has been groaning in travail together
and many people see this as one of the Without specifying specific doctrines of until now; and now not only the
greatest weaknesses of evangelical Chris- various charismatic gifts of the Spirit, can creation, but we ourselves, who have
tianity. Protestantism in the U.S. is based we not arrive at some basic understanding the first fruits of the Spirit, groan
in a voluntaristic denominationalism that of its unity for us? inwardly as we wait for adoption as
either participates in a civil religion such as I see the above proposed work resulting [children], the redemption of our
the Christian Right espouses or in an in a revised doctrinal statement, not bodies. For in this hope we were
individualized concept of salvation that coming out of the standard bylaws revision saved. Now hope that is seen is not
leads to privatized religion separate from process (or out of the proposed Inclusive hope. For who hopes for what [they j
any secular involvement. It results in Language Task Force revisions), but rather see? But if we hope for what we do
attitudes and lives that say, "As long as I'm out of a grass roots study such as that not see, we wait for it with patience. "
saved, the world can go to hell," or "my which developed the "Six Questions," (Rom. 8: 18-25).
particular doctrinal stance is the only true which continue to shine as a beginning
way to salvation and all others are lost light in our self-understanding of our ***
sinners." Jesus Christ's very life shows that theological task. It is time for the Faith,
God often works outside established Fellowship and Order Commission to once It is now 8: 15 p.m. I have written
religious structures, so Christians can never again take up its task, and enable discussion steadily since 2 :30 - 21 pages of scribbled
claim to have the sole grasp on truth; of these concerns in a constructive way, words, and three pens out of ink. A supper
rather we must seek to walk in the world, with the goal to arrive at broad-based unity gulped down, a terrific backache and
following Christ's lordship, in service as the with room for varying beliefs within that neckache. It is dark outside now, and time
People of God, the Body of Christ and the unity. I personally am comfortable with a for me to light the fire in the wood stove
Temple of the Spirit. There are many wide range of theological opinion in and curl up with music and a "simple"
biblical images to draw from and each UFMCC, and I believe our current state- book.
creates its own emphases, with corres- ment of faith has served us well in our What was all this for anyway-a
ponding strengths and weaknesses. We beginning years, but now is a time for pouring out of my guts for this Fellowship
have much work to do in developing greater clarity (not necessarily greater to see? Some will call me heretical because
an ecclesiology from our own experience. detail), including integration of "light from not properly evangelical; some will call me
I personally see the Church as Sacrament, dark corners" of neglected aspects of male-dominated, identified and token;
the Body of Christ, broken for the life of Christian experience and tradition. The some will simply call me confused, ignorant
the world. "mainstream of Christianity" includes the and presumptuous. That is the risk you
4. Pneumatology. Again, our doctrinal fullness of human sexuality, race, gender, take, I take, we all take. I ask each of
statement speaks little of the Holy Spirit, emotion, nationality. We have more in you-it is only in taking the risk of pouring
and yet the Spirit creates and builds our common in our "otherness" than we are out our faith in our lives, and in our
Church itself. Exploration of the Holy willing to claim much of the time. And it words, that this Fellowship will grow in
Spirit is especially important for UFMCC is this separation that is overcome in faith. Willyou take the same risk, and can
because of our prophetic task and because Christ Jesus. we disagree in love? I give thanks for
the Spirit is fruitful ground for dealing January 1, 1981; a day spent in retreat, in
with the neglected qualities of Christianity, HI consider the sufferings of this pain, in victory. Would the red-crested
wualities traditionally associated with present time are not worth comparing woodpeckers understand their human
women's experience, such as emotion, with the glory that is to be revealed friend, pecking away at words on paper as
ecstasy, mystery, the irrational. Again,the to us. For the creation waits with they peck away at tree trunks? Both of us
Holy Spirit is clearly present wherever eager longing for the revealing of the peck to be fed, to survive. In faith, I claim
barriers are overcome, and I personally [children] of God; for the creation was that those who seek are fed. And that
attest to the power of the Spirit in UFMCC subjected to futility, not of its own pecking is part of the Dance.
and in the worshipping life of our com- will but by the will of jGodj who

CONTINUED FROM P. 26 am not one; and that we should withdraw from struggle still to love. Sometimes it ain't easy,
foundly affected by Jesus of Nazareth; but we this church. I have to struggle, then, with what I and we value your spiritual support in facing the
may just choose new words out of our own have been taught by Jesus: that Love is the challenge. We pray that for readers who struggle
experience to describe what has happened in our greatest power in the universe; that it is the with the variety of views in this issue of TGC, we
lives, and what continues to happen. I am nature of God. It is that Love, we believe, that haven't made that loving difficult, because it is
tempted toward real hostility toward those who energizes both this effort and UFMCC. I am the principal mark of the one who would follow
say that they have defined "Christian" and that I constrained to set straight the record .- and to Jesus.

Tee: 8
"I'M NOT BEING spiritually fed." "I just from mine and what s/he thinks is impor- complaint about "spiritual food," for to
don't get anything out of going to church tant I think is silly. .. "If I found the ignore a prophecy can be fatal! First, I
anymore." "The pastor doesn't 'do previous minister to be an understanding want to indicate some areas of religious
anything' for me. I like him/her fine as a personal counsellor, but this one doesn't vulnerability peculiar to UFMCC, and
friend, but there's no spiritual food there." seem to pay attention when I'm trying to secondly, I want to point out a couple of
-- These criticisms, and others like them, talk out my problem ... I can say, 'I'm not models for addressing the problem.
tempt ministers to react defensively. It's being spiritually fed,' i.e., 'This minister is One vulnerability is that in UFMCC
the ultimate put-down of someone's a turkey and I wish s/he would flyaway!" there is frequently only one congregation
spiritual leadership. If somebody says, It is not very far from the beginning of in any given metropolitan area. Unlike
"I'm not being spiritually fed," there is no such mutterings to the point where a Baptists or Catholics in the United States
way you can spiritually force-feed them. church body becomes divided between who may have many congregations to
That much we should have learned from those who feel themselves "spiritually fed" choose from, for many MCCers it's this
Christian history. After all, no one but the and those who don't, with destructive particular congregation or none at all -
individual speaking can immediately report bitterness and church conflict resulting. perhaps it's even this particular congregation
on what is spiritual Granola. If it tastes Some of this criticism, as I indicated, or no Christian involvement at all. That
like Pablum, maybe it is. Pastors and has private meaning which can be brought situation creates its own set of highly
ministers can talk about educational and out and resolved through congregational explosive potential conflicts, so that
religious programs ad infinitum, but as we group discussion. After all, most private church members may come to feel them-
know from the business and political therapists and counsellors will caution a selves spiritual rats in a hostile sea clinging
realms, many programs trumpeted with potential counselee to take two or three to a single, sinking lifeboat.
the most well-equipped of public relations initial sessions to see if personal chemistry Hopefully, with the passage of time
apparatuses may yet fail to clothe a bank- will be favorable to their productively and the multiplication of congregations,
rupt regime. The comment of a young working together. If I am a woman whose this situation will be somewhat alleviated,
Soviet citizen to The New York Times that new therapist physically resembles the as it already has been in a metropolitan
Marxist-Leninist ideology is "dry bread" is uncle who raped me at age eleven, it may area like Los Angeles. When we have
as dangerous to that government as any of be impossible for us to deal with traumatic people coming from so many different
the hazards of international power politics childhood material, and there is no fault or Christian backgrounds, there need to be
or defense strategy. judgment to be made about my would-be varieties of options, so that no single
So it is with Christian churches. The counsellor's ability. But the problem is congregation needs to be both "high" and
advantage that Christian churches have still serious and real. In the academic "low," "evangelical" and "liberal" - to say
over the Marxists is that as joint heirs with world, we all had favorite professors and nothing of big and small. I have heard
the resurrected Christ we are subject to un favorite ones, and professors have pet small MCC congregations referred to as
unpredictable spiritual renewals. students and others from whom they seem "personality cults" focusing on their pastor
This is not to say that everyone who curiously distant. and big ones called "circuses." But in
says, "I'm not being spiritually fed" is Sometimes, lack of "spiritual food" truth, I, a church-goer, may like a huge
speaking the truth of prophetic criticism. results from such irrational, but real, congregation because I delight in crowds
It is the ultimate put-down of a minister or factors or from the sometimes-illegitimate and don't want to get personally involved
teacher. "If in a foul mood, the pastor personal agendas referred to above, and in in congregational responsibilities. Then,
snapped at me and hurt my feelings ... an atmosphere of love and trust, congre- again, I may want to exercise leadership
"If I was an intimate friend of the previous gational discussion may yield a group and be involved, and a small MCC group
pastor but this one treats me just like compromise that is at least tolerable may allow me opportunities a large, more
another member of the congregation ... for a majority. In America, church mem- organizationally-rigid one could not. As a
"If this pastor's background is different bers for whom it is intolerable frequently church member, I may find myself growing
move on to other churches and find spiritually through great preaching and
Roy Birchard is a graduate student in spiritual leaders more personally congenial mass evangelism, or I may achieve such
counseling at Christ Seminary-Seminex, St. tv them. But not all such criticism is growth through my own experiences in the
Louis. He founded this journal while irrational and illegitimate, and I would like push and tug of small groups. Every
pastoring The Metropolitan Community to address the ways in which a word of Christian's spiritual pilgrimage is unique to
Church of New York and now serves as a prophecy may be spoken to us through the that individual who senses intuitively what
Contributing Editor. constitutes "growth" and what represents

TGC: 9
- 1

only stagnation. The paradox for the minister is that personally, or told me I was an incurable
Another vulnerability is that young some of the most committed and faithful sinner. It was something that might have
organizations grow fast and change their church members may be the ones caught in happened to people I knew and worked
contours like plants shooting up overnight. this quandry of spiritual stagnation. How with -but it hadn't happened to me. I was
And -for UFMCC -- what worked in 1968 can there be growth? unscarred by the fires that had burned
or 1973 isn't necessarily going to "work" First, we must admit the problem is others. Religious positions that were the
now. To be sure, a lot of it does: Our real. Not all who complain are invariably end-result of painful struggle for others
churches hold regular Sunday worship soreheads and troublemakers. Sometimes were handed to me. In the short term, that
services. We offer communion, generally they are, of course. For some, the com- was a great initial advantage to my work,
by intincture with private prayer as at an plaint may be an opportunity to be de- for I had the self-confidence that came
altar call. We preach that God loves structive and hateful and blame someone from the support and endorsement ~f these
and accepts lesbians and gay men like all else for their inability to face the contra- impressive Christian agencies and person-
other human beings. We interpret the dictions of their own lives. But not always. alities.
Scriptures for those troubled by non- Sometimes, the problem is real. Once we When MCC sent Howard Wells as its
salvific interpretations. We work in com- admit it, we can try to deal with it. missionary to New York and I went to
mon with other lesbian and gay organ- At the risk of speaking too personally, meet him, I already knew what a con-
izations for the advancement of our I want to testify as to some of what I, Roy gregation was, what made it up, and how it
community, toward the end of legal Birchard, have seen these past ten years in might be organized in that city. Beyond
repression and the gaining of visible respect this ministry and what it portends for the New York church, from my work at
and acceptance by the wider community. further spiritual growth. I am a great Presbyterian headquarters I knew what a
Our ministers and lay leaders are often believer in the spiral view of history: thesis denomination looked like, some of the
highly-visible on local media, may write and antithesis and synthesis - with each broad outlines of how it might be organized,
and publish and argue theology with other new synthesis an advance over the one and what agencies and instrumentalities
local church leaders. We bury and baptize before. Ten years ago I came out of a it needed to do its work. In the last ten
and unite in holy union. We provide liberal Protestant background, the United years, I have seen UFMCC acquire many of
church buildings for other worthy groups Church of Christ, and began to work in these ministries and Fellowship agencies --
to meet in, we support crisis intervention ministry in the gay community in New from ST!, to a literate and attractive In
hotlines, we hold church suppers and York - a city which then had quite a few Unity, to the capacity of its institutional
dances and coffee houses to provide social people of Protestant background, often ministries department to expand to handle
alternatives to the bars. We do all these white Southerners, who had run away from a Cuban refugee crisis referred to us by the
things and more. Surely, isn't that enough? harsh, fundamentalist cultures to be gay in U.S. State Department.
New York City. If New York was Sodom But I am talking, you see, about
No, nor should it be. Like the making
and Gomorrah on the Hudson in the eyes institutional growth of a Christian de-
of books, of the making of church programs
of their families and communities, well, nomination and its congregations - con-
there is no end, and many meetings are a
that was just where they wanted to be. I gregations that do the kinds of things I
weariness of the flesh. But all of this does
remember one New York church member, indicated earlier and denominations ac-
not necessarily add up to spiritual growth,
a white poet from Mississippi who told me ceptable for membership in the National
and an honest churchmember may labor
once after he had been with us a while, "If Council of Churches. Yet a denomination,
long in all these areas and still come up
I had walked in that door and had heard like a congregation, may have programs
feeling bored, unchallenged, unfulfilled -
you speak in a Southern accent, I never and the outer marks of establishment, and
even in the midst of other excited people
would have come back again" (I am a yet be spiritually decadent. The very
for whom all these church works are a
native of Vermont). denominations in which I was schooled, in
great personal revelation. I remember one
My identity and church background fact, have been withering and dwindling
genuine Christian searcher who came
gave me certain advantages which I tried to these past ten years, overtaken by newer,
through a congregation I pastored and
wandered away, having honestly tried. put to good use in the early days of MCC more charismatic and evangelical Sunbelt
Before leaving, he said, "Gay, gay, gay! in the Northeast United States. In many denominations, overtaken for good reasons
That's all I ever hear around here. I accept ways, my church background and training and bad, numbers and the popularity of
myself. I believe God loves me. I need already gave me the tools of Scriptural "solemn assemblies" being no particular
more than that!" interpretation that allowed me to believe indicator of spiritual health either. But
Another may say, "I'm not being that salvation was something I had access what I learned from the churches I went to
spiritually fed - not by meetings and to. My own denomination even had a school in and sought to convey for the
discussion groups and sermons that tell me social justice department that had gone on growth of UFMCC has been conveyed - by
God loves me just as I am. Maybe I don't record, even then, in defense of my rights me and others like me.
want to be just as I am. Maybe there are and those of people like me; church I was a founding member of MCC New
some parts of my life, even accepted and officials were very free in giving me en- York and its second pastor, the founding
couragement to minister to gay people, if editor of this magazine, first elder from the
gay as I am, where I see the reign of sin,
where I feel myself making the same not so free with money. r had a good northeast United States and first director
education from a prestigious seminary and of the Washington Office of the Fellowship.
mistakes over and over, areas of my life
was then employed as an editor/writer for First this ... and first that. Founding
where I feel out of touch with God -
another mainline Protestant denomination pastor of MCC of Tidewater, Virginia, too.
places, frankly, that need spiritual growth.
where I was openly gay and accepted. No But the bag of tricks is empty now.
Where will I find it?"
church ever expelled me, degraded me Bring "first" doesn't interest or challenge

TGC: 10
me any more. I find no "spiritual growth" mass every Sunday, and I like it the way the circuit of study groups administered by
in it. There. I have said it too, you see. we do it. My church background doesn't MCC Illiamo in Quincy, Illinois. Illiamo is a
There are other things in the Christian life do that. And I like the overt sharing and small group compared to many of our
besides founding things - glad and grateful testifying about the work of the Holy One churches, with only 45 members or so.
though I am to be able to know that I was among us that I experience in the "evan- But it has parented three other groups.
involved in the building of God's Church. gelical" UFMCC, and my church back- Why? Some of it is due to the excellent
But it's over, and I too, continue to need ground doesn't do that the way we do it leadership and skills of its board and Reid
spiritual growth. What do I do with either. You see, I've been hooked! So Christensen, its pastor. Some of it is due
the rest of my Christian life? going backward, for me, is not the answer. to the accidents of history. But the
For me personally, a solution has So how can I go forward? inescapable key, I think, to it happening
taken shape whose contours involve a Maybe to sit and listen to others has been the consistent Christ-centered
lightened ministerial responsibility, a re- whose time has now come. To Rosalind commitment and "good vibes" Illiamo
turn to another, different seminary for a Rinker. To those for whom the 1982 has given off these past five years.
time of study and reflection, an admission General Conference theme means some- The Sunday before Christmas this past
to myself that certain private personal thing it may not mean to me. To admit year, several members of MCC Columbia,
issues in my life must be dealt with before that if once upon a time my theological Missouri, and I went up to Quincy to enjoy
I can be effective as a minister in this new and ecclesiastical background had some- a church supper and hear the Illiamo
Fellowship the past decade has created. I thing important to contribute to UFMCC, Christmas cantata. We happened also to be
feel good about this personal agenda, that now somebody else's may be feeding there for their gift exchange, and when we
and encourage others to write their own. importantly in. If the center of the church lingered in the hall to watch them, we were
But part of it involves my under- veers too far in a new direction and there invited to come sit in extra chairs in the
standing that the gifts I and others of my are overemphases and distortions, the center of the room. And so we sat there
MCC "generation" brought UFMCC have theological spiral - thesis and antithesis - surrounded by the Illiamo members as they
become an integral part of its life and that, will pull it back again in time. In time for exchanged the Christmas gifts they had
important as I felt them to be, they are not me? Why can't I leave that to God? purchased for each other by names drawn
the be-all, end-all of this church. There are Whose time is it anyway? My time or from a hat. Reid Christensen, who had not
other gifts UFMCC -and I - need. What God's? Spiritual growth may come from expected guests from the other groups,
do I mean? listening and sitting still for a while, not apologized for having no gifts for us, but
How else do you explain the wide and moving on to the next town to play one's he need not have. As we sat there, four of
deep furrow Rosalind Rinker plowed old tape for a new crowd. us, in the center of that room, beside a
among us since the last General Conference? For the lay member, this may mean glittering Christmas tree, literally sur-
The woman got heard! I saw in others and not serving on boards and committees, not rounded by warmth and light, by the
experienced in myself hunger for what she covering the crisis phone. Maybe even Illiamoans and at least five sets of their
was teaching. I bought six of her books (horrors!) not always coming to church parents who were comfortably and naturally
and read them all as fast as I could. And every Sunday. There are ways to indicate present, the "vibes" became more than gift
what was she teaching? Prayer. A spiritual your primary church commitment without enough. They joked, and they teased, and
exercise. Something that high and low being in pew nine, aisle side, every Sunday they made unintelligible group sounds as
Christians do, a spiritual exercise common forever. Or then again, maybe for a lay they exchanged gifts, and each one had to
to evangelical and liberal, done in both person it would mean moving to another hold his or her gift up and show everyone,
traditional and inclusive language - but town and becoming a lay worship co- to register its appropriateness or imag-
done! We all pray, and she taught many ordinator for a new MCC. Or anyone of a inativeness for the whole group's approval.
among us through her itinerations at thousand other possibilities. To read, to Like a well-knit family, you could feel
district conferences and churches even as study, to go to charismatic prayer meetings them stop and ponder and nod and smile.
she has in other denominations. We need of other church groups, to take up music, The love was hip deep in that room.
more such wandering teachers. You won't to get involved in politics and the struggle Beside me, I could feel the Columbia
get Rosalind Rinker at your local gay for God's justice, to renovate a house with people grow still, and I thought, "This is
Democratic club. With the help of Holy your spouse and watch God at work in the what MCC is supposed to be, and it's right
Spirit, we must find and identify gifted garden, to set goals to develop one's prayer here all around me." At the end, we
teachers - not just preachers of which we life. For my deadly routine may be your visitors looked at each other with dampened
have an increasingly well-trained supply. spiritual growth, and vice versa. But to eyes and turning to Reid I said, "This was
Let there be healers among us too, and take the space to admit it needs to happen real magical."
workers of miracles more rare than those and embrace it and help your church It is the absolutely indispensable thing,
already wrought. Let us pray for and embrace your doing it, not to fear that and without it there can be no church life,
identify all the gifts of Holy Spirit needed they are "losing" you. nor health, nor growth. In such an at-
among us. Finally, tone is all-important. For mosphere, there can be spiritual growth. If
H I sometimes feel (as I do) that I have spiritual growth to happen in church there you, or your church, doesn't have it or is in
come to a dead end in my ministerial has to be a tone there of love and accept- danger oflosing it, stop. Don't go on. For
career, the answer is not to retreat back to ance. This is something I knew before but you cannot go on without it, and don't try.
the United Church of Christ. Now they are have had reason to learn again. A loving Wait for it, if need be. It will come, for it
a perfectly fine denomination, but since atmosphere is easily polluted, but when it has been promised, along with so much
I've been in MCC I've gotten spoiled. I like is there, it smells so sweet! Recently, I else. They also serve who only sit and
the discipline of the ancient communion/ have been working as a "circuit rider" on wait. Amen.

TGC: 11
Thund~r©rru if[fu@? (fffU©WJrnriJ@Orru/

FJAYDrACON remember, was the Canaanite fertility god,

whose prophets Elijah had challenged. So
she's a descendent of those poor prophets
Read: 1 Kings 18:20-40; Matthew 15:21-28 of Baal, and she has a deranged daughter,
and she's heard that Jesus is a healer.
JUST BEFORE the last election, on the weren't born-again enough, the pervs and Now this Canaanite woman was very
McNeil-Lehrer Report on Public Television, homos and all the rest. They put on a likely not the least bit interested in the
there appeared the founder of a group good show, but none of them ever could creeds and doctrines that seemed always so
called The Moral Majority, the Virginia- duplicate the fire-on-the-mountain number. important to those flashy evangelists I used
based evangelist Jerry Falwell. He is a And I always wondered about that .. to listen to carrying on about Elijah's great
flashy charismatic type ... charismatic not After all, didn't it stand to reason? If miracle, or on this very story about Jesus.
in the religious sense, but in the sense of it was just as much the truth when these She wasn't even a Christian! ... That's
loudmouthed and able to persuade masses flashy 20th-century evangelists said it as nothing. Jesus wasn't either!
of people to do his thing. He could not when Elijah said it, then why weren't there He was a prophet of Israel, as Elijah
conceal his glee as he mowed down the any fireworks for me to see? In fact, I was: but his message was far more sweeping
other guest, a priest whom, I am sure, he used to preach their kind of message and I than Elijah's, and it was causing quite a stir
considers one of those prophets of Baal, always knew better than to set up a contest down there in Judea, and yes, she's heard
the former Congressperson from Mass- like Elijah's, because the few times I'd ever of him. She acknowledges his important
ahusetts, Robert Drinan. Which is just as tried anything like that, not a spark. relationship to the faith of Israel, but this
well, because Drinan wasn't any good Nothing happened and I'd be embar- Gentile Canaanite would not have been
anyway. The once-bold advocate of rassed. So, whatever Elijah's followers, interested in the doctrines of another
progressive causes seemed defensive and who composed that story, say happened at prophet of Israel. She knew of him as a
apologetic, and couldn't even do any better Mount Carmel, I've never known God to healer ... as someone who was grounded
than to agree with Falwell that homo- work like that. My experience is different. and centered in a powerful and healing
sexuals are perverted. It's more like the experience Jesus had in interior relationship with God, the giver of
Falwell has mowed down a lot of false that second story from Matthew's Gospel. life and healing. That is, he had a very
prophets, false by his definition, and was carefully nurtured union with something or
trying hard to restore what he considers a *** someone she was not sure she understood,
godly king to the throne in America. He but whom Jesus understood to be the
and Ronald Reagan had that past weekend Now the basic message in the first creator and giver of all life, the power he
endorsed each other. story is that there's one truth and one characterized as Love and demonstrated
revelation of God and it's ours, the one with remarkable cures. And to me, the
*** we've always known, and it's a once-and- power to restore life and health is far more
for-all truth that never changes, and we'd_ persuasive evidence that God is present
Now you understand, I'm pretty fond better stick to it, or if we've wavered from than fireworks and the mass slaying of the
of the prophet Elijah. But there were days it somehow, we'd better get back to it or competition.
when he acted more like that evangelist God will be real mad and there won't be Now the way Matthew tells it, it
from Virginia. He's a flashy charismatic any crops. And any evidence that doesn't almost sounds like the story of just another
personality, too. Just look at what he did seem to fit what we already believe must Canaanite who'd come around to the
at Mount Carmel. be bent to fit or disregarded because acknowledgement of the true king of the
What you've got here is no more of an there's no new truth and nobody else could true Israel, the church ... but if we can lay
ecumenical-spirited gathering than Friday's ever get a real revelation. You don't listen aside our own Judeo-Christian chauvinism,
McNeil-Lehrer Show was. How he engin- to people who tell new stories. You take we may have the opportunity to see new
eered that meteorological marvel whereby them down by the river Kishon and get rid truth, to gain a new vision, to find healing
the lightning or whatever ignites all that of them. where Jesus found it. I just don't believe
soggy material on his altar, I have no idea. I was taught something like that. this Canaanite woman was nearly as
When Baal's prophets can't perform the Maybe you were. So was Jesus. The story interested in doctrinal points as the author
feat, he razzes and harasses them publicly. Matthew tells is more startling than we of the Gospel of Matthew was.
Then, having proved his point, he kills all realize. He's come to her town, and she goes
450 of his religious competitors. Jesus has wandered way up north, out to see him. And she looks at him, and
I used to hear a lot of sermons about away from the crowds that usually beseige decides to go the risk of being a fool and
this incident. These flashy charismatic him, and gone up there into exurbia where trusting. But wait. First, the disciples try
evangelists thrived on the story. They'd you think nobody ever reads the paper and to get rid of her. And then, Jesus seems
roar up and down the aisles, get the con- you can find some solace. It was Gentile just as uncomfortable with her as they do.
gregation on their feet, get them all worked country, where nobody would have heard He ignores her. She is a Canaanite and she
up to go out and figuratively slay all the of him, but somebody has. is a woman. You do not take these people
false prophets, the people whose ideas A Canaanite woman. Baal, you'll seriously. To get healed you had to have

TGC: 12
faith. Canaanites don't have faith. Not what others are afraid to believe, but he All that's very interesting, but here's
real faith, anyway. Everybody knew that. is not afraid to believe it - that God is God the real point. All of human history bears
Or, I should say, everybody learned that. of all; that there was nothing in this witness to this:
In this moment;we see Jesus' humanity Canaanite woman, nothing at all, that was People have always had experiences of
clearly. He didn't land on earth from outer alien to the nature of God. He experienced something beyond the ordinary everyday
space, a god walking about the earth unlike a God fuller than our narrowness of vision world, experiences that lift them out of the
the poor humans around him. He was born - not .some parochial exclusive God who ordinary and give a more dramatic and
and raised a first-century Palestinian male, would acknowledge no relationship with sweeping vision of life than they ordinarily
taught the things other children were some Canaanite woman, pretending not to see. Experiences that produce a never-
taught, facing the same conflicts, becoming know her, refusing to take her seriously. to-be-forgotten sense of reality. Exper-
accustomed to the same fears and preju- He acknowledged her experience of God as iences when you know you've been on
dices, feeling the same pain, growing, real. More real than the orthodox faith of holy ground, when you know the awe that
changing, becoming. the Pharisees, because her faith was about something holy is near, when you sense
When he responds to her the first time, to heal someone. a kind of deliverance or salvation, a new
he says what he has learned to say; feels quality of wholeness. Our experiences are
what he has learned to feel. He calls her a *** personal and our ways of describing them
dog grabbing for crumbs under the table. are human. I know that the people of the
It was easy for him to say that. She Why do we fear to hear new truth, to Bible had experiences of God. I do not
was a Canaanite. He knew the story of see another vision, to gain an unexpected know exactly what those experiences were
Elijah on Mount Carmel, facing the pro- experience? like, because no description can fully
phets of the Canaanite religion. You may Peter Berger, that sociologist of match the experience, and because their
religion, says it's because we only know descriptions are human. They had a
remember what happened to Canaanites, or
others whose presence has represented the one way to think about faith. If we have particular bias in describing their exper-
an experience of the divine, we think it's iences. They experienced God. And so do
threat of hearing new truth, seeing another
the only experience there is or ever was. If you.
vision, gaining an unexpected experience.
our own people have a history of exper- You may not be the kind of religious
He had learned not to highly esteem a
iences of the divine, we think there is no virtuoso who keeps having ecstatic exper-
Canaanite, not to regard them as having
experience of God outside of our tradition. iences and prophetic visions, but you have
any real faith. And she was a woman, and
he had not taken any courses in feminism. We're afraid there can be no other exper- experiences of God. God does not consist
So he could easily call her a pet dog ience, so we cling desperately to what of doctrines, but is beyond the doctrines,
grabbing for crumbs under the dining table we have. the One we experience. You ought to trust
of real people, and consider that a mild And so the experience or the tradition your experience. You must know it is not
remark, and get away with it, given the that ought to make us rich only impov- the only experience. You must not let any
commonly accepted attitudes of his times. erishes us and makes us narrow and ex- experience, especially somebody else's,
clusive, because we fear that there is no become absolute authority for you.
He hears himself say it. He has heard
other experience. But if God is the creator We know very little, most of us, about
his own words, and now he hears his own
of all, then God's activity must go far the experiences of others beyond our own
soul and his own soul knows a truth more
beyond what we know. God must have tradition. Sometimes we don't even know
true to the nature of God he knows so
been active among the Canaanite people, much about our own experience because
intimately, a truth more powerful than
too. God must have been active among we don't trust it. But if we are not afraid
what he has heard himself say just now.
those African people our missionaries to hear new truth, to see another vision, to
And Jesus has heard his own words,
always wanted to convert. God must have gain an unexpected experience, we may
and he does not feel obligated to defend
been active among those native Americans gain, with it, new wholeness, fuller life.
the position he has just taken the way
Elijah defended his position in the face of whose earth-grounded religions most of us You and I and Elijah could gain a
know so little about. And God must have fuller life if we could learn from the kind
the ancient Canaanites.
been active among the people of the Indian
Right here, you see, Jesus could dig his of experience that is grounded in the earth
subcontinent, which produced the prophet
heels in and become more entrenched in and in the depths of ourselves, as were the
Mohandus K. Gandhi. God must have been
his position and intransigent in his attitude. native American, the Canaanite, and the
active in the historic struggle of women,
He won't, though. He is not afraid to religions of the subcontinent of India. To
and there's some evidence of that as more us, God is too often someone out there, up
recognize a new truth, to see another
and more women turn increasingly toward
vision, to gain another experience. He there in the sky, wholly other, not really a
specifically women's spirituality and away part of this earthly round, not really a part
abandons his first position. He reaches out
from the traditions they grew up into. Did of us. We could learn to cherish the earth
to her. He sees in her eyes and hears in her
not God speak as clearly at Mount Fuji and to quit raping it. The Moral Majority
voice something familiar. There is a
and Mount Kenya as at Mount Sinai? Can is not interested in the immorality of
common faith; a trust beyond the creeds
we learn to replace that word "orily" with America's corporate giants as they poison
and doctrines, and there is a chemistry that
the word "also?" the earth and the air and the rivers and the
can heal her daughter. And now he knows
rGC: 13
seas. Its members are too afraid of a God and lightning at Mount Carmel lately, but different kinds of Christians getting together
who thunders from a mountaintop to hear you've heard the soft whisper from deep in to understand each other, all of whom
God's voice whispered softly within your own soul saying "I will be your assume that Christian faith is the only
themselves. resting place." faith!
Doesn't all this imply a value judgment? You and I could learn from Judaism, But if we dare to hear new truth, to
You bet. which our fundamentalism misrepresents see another vision, to experience what we
You've got to pick and choose, when and over which it claims superiority. In didn't expect, we'll begin to touch the
you select the components of your own the context of Christian churches, Jews are boundaries of our own lives, to really live
personal faith-vision. And I know of no even expected to call themselves "com- our experience, to truly see with our own
better criterion than the experience of pleted Jews." But you know, there's a eyes and sense in the deep places of our
Jesus and the Canaanite woman. It made kind of wholistic vision of life in the own spirits the presence of God the way
someone more whole. It made someone Hebrew Bible not matched by the New Jesus did. And life will be more full, and
more free. It increased mutuality, esteem, Testament. our faith will have the power to make us
and love between persons and peoples. And you know, you and I could learn whole.
You and I and Elijah could gain a from our brother Jesus, if we can really see
fuller life if we would learn from the kind him as he was ... not as a set of doctrines, In a world like ours, the old thunder
of experience oppressed peoples have had, but as a bold prophet of Israel far more on the familiar mountain may not resound
and now, especially, we could learn from radical than Elijah, not the founder of a set as clearly as it once did to reassure us,
women's spirituality. It could help us of Christian doctrines but a lover and Sometimes it will be in a far country, on
reverse the oppressive cycle of domination healer who never showed much interest in the frontiers of our experience, where
and submission that marks so much of the parochial and nitpicking dogma. the miracles will happen for us.
way people experience life in this world. We resist this openness. When we say
Maybe you haven't heard much thunder "ecumenical," we almost always mean Amen.

Time to reclaim memory

Pages for a

book of martyrs Spike went to Chicago from New York, where he

was first the revolutionary pastor of
Judson Memorial Church, then General
Paul Spike. Photographs of My
homosexual, or bisexual, or something, and Secretary for program for the Board of
Father. New York: Knopf, 1973
suggest, further, that he was murdered by a Homeland Ministries of the United Church
(out of print). trick -- then probably he'll be forgotten. of Christ, and then Executive Director of
To the tortured relief of those colleagues, the Commission on Religion and Race of
"THERE WAS A MURDER in there," the friends, and church agencies who've been the NationalCouncil of Churches. Before
chaplain says. "Somebody named Spike." associated with him. his brilliant career in New York (actually a
No, he didn't know who Spike was or what Now, the New Right at the nation's national career, taking him back and forth
it was all about. But then, he didn't work helm, the "intelligence community" enjoy- between Mississippi and the White House),
there in '66. ing new freedom from restraint and not a he pastored a Baptist church near Columbus,
Others knew, had read the book. A few familiar faces of repression and bigotry Ohio, where he spent his college days.
secretary who was there at the time re- back in the centers of power, it could just After seminary at Colgate Rochester, he
membered. But outside the United Chris- be that the murder and subsequent amnesia earned a doctorate in education at Colum-
tian Center staff, nobody I talked to in perpetrated against one who stood as a bia. When he died, he was fighting to
Columbus recognized the name "Robert giant in our history -- might have singular save an educational program for poor black
Spike" at all. and timely significance. youths throughout Mississippi - a program
What becomes of the memory of So, The Gay Christian set out to see. the Johnson Administration wanted to axe.
perhapsthe brightest, most powerful and We do it by way of a review of a book But that's getting ahead of the story.
most creative among those white clergy that's been out for eight years, which we'll Paul Spike loved his father, and felt
who led the civil rights movement in the discuss in view of information TGC has the nurture and strength of his father's
churches in the sixties? It all depends. If learned. Photographs of My Father is the love. He'd lived in New Jersey since he was
the police, the domestic surveillance work of Paul Spike. His father was Robert eight - ever since his father left Judson and
people, and the movers and shakers who Warren Spike. the family had left The Village. He tells of
want to curb an antipoverty program for When he died, Robert Spike was the the joys and traumas of adolescence in a
southern black kids so they can get support first Director of the first Doctor of Ministry "liberal," permissive home where a mini-
from southern politicians for an undeclared program anywhere - at the Divinity mum of coersion existed. He tells of the
war -- can establish the fact that he is a School, the University of Chicago. He love of a father who seems to be making up

TGe: 14
for the chill of his own childhood and an is "a revolution beginning in the country of and father and son have an honest talk. It
abusive, moralistic father. vast and perhaps, terrible proportions." is true. Robert Spike feels the real support
He tells of a father who had grown far The 1964 Democratic Convention has of his son. The relationship grows, and
beyond the Baptist theology of his child- Spike working for a stronger civil rights Paul reads about homosexuality. He will
hood into a "pragmatic Christian exis- stand in the platform and a challenge to not betray his father.
tentialism" and who didn't demand a more the segregated Mississippi delegation. He Now to support an undeclared war,
dogmatically defined faith of his two sons. lobbies Hubert Humphrey, who winds up the President has to have the support of
In Greenwich Village, Bob Spike making a deal with Johnson: he'll be Southern politicians. The Child Develop-
sought to move the church into "the Johnson's running mate if he'll remain ment Group of Mississippi is to be the
middle of the street" by vigorously addres- silent on the black challenge. price. It's Spike's network of locally-run
sing the teenage gangs, and the bohemians Still, Johnson's staff calls Spike "freedom sohools." The CDGM has shaken
and artists and writers, who inhabited the reportedly to the White House to help up Senator Stennis, who wants it axed.
place. Among the latter were not a few draft the President's speech and proposal Stennis is on both the Senate Armed
homosexuals. Long hours of conversations about the voting rights bill he's going to ServicesCommittee and the Appropriations
in coffeehouses led to important friend- introduce. One Monday evening in the Committee. It's the single largest and
ships. The friendships continued after the Spring of 1965, Johnson tells the nation: most successful part of Johnson's anti-
move to the Jersey suburbs. poverty efforts, since it's funded by the
In the UCC post, Spike participated in "A t times history and fate mee tat Office of Economic Opportunity under
a very long meeting at the Harlem YMCA. a single time in a single place to Head Start. And Senator Stennis wants it
The group, largely gathered around Spike's shape a turning point in man's axed, and now Sargent Shriver is telling
friend James Baldwin, had told Attorney [sic] unending search for freedom. Spike to get off it, quit fighting to save his
General Robert Kennedy that, in Spike's So it was at Lexington and program. Shriver says, "The FBI knows
words, "if the government of the United Concord. So it was a century ago about you, Reverend Spike."
States would not protect them in Missis- at Appomattox. So it was last Spike visits Paul in New York. Tells
sippi, then they had no intention of ever week in Selma, Alabama. him this is the dirtiest fight he's ever been
trying to protect the government of the we shall overcome. " involved in. "There are a lot of terrible
United States in Cuba or anywhere." things going on in this country these days
Hundreds had just been jailed in Birming- Paul is on the "waiting list" for which people don't know about," he says.
ham, Alabama. The National Council of Harvard, so he accepts admission to Co- Shriver is "one of the nastiest men I have
Churches was profoundly disturbed by lumbia. Columbia is a block from Robert ever met."
what it saw and asked Spike to direct a Spike's office at the Interchurch Center. It is true. The FBI does know about
special commission with power for direct Paul begins seeing the same analyst his him. They've been following him around
action toward justice and reconciliation: father used to see. 1966 arrives, and the country. That's what the FBI tells the
the Commission on Religion and Race. It Robert Spike accepts the position at lawyer the NCC has retained in the days
was 1963. Three days later, Medgar Evers the University of Chicago. The war in following the murder. No one needed to
was shot, and Spike went to Mississippi. Vietnam is heating up. tell the Spikes that their phones had been
His son went to prep school, a repressive A friend of Robert, and of Paul, Spike tapped for years.
and oh-so-polite Baptist institution. The comes to see Paul. It's late and the friend Spike learns that the government has
contrast was not lost on Paul Spike, who is somewhere near drunk. He's interesting found another way to fight. It will co-opt
hoped to get into Harvard. The Summer - a minister, with a lot of contacts inside his colleagues. It will compromise anyone
before prep school, Paul joins his father in Washington. They talk about Napalm in it can. Spike meets with a group of people
Washington, where his father's Commission Vietnam. They stop by the minister's involved in the CDGM and they agree that
has helped plan a march. His father place for another drink. It's 4 a.m. and the the OEO is out to destroy CDGM. They
has a suite with officials crowding inside minister is interweaving talk about Robert will write a report and expose what they
and phones ringing. His picture appears on Spike with talk about getting laid, then know. They will disclose the fact that the
the front page of the Washington Post, talk about homosexuality. There seems to National Student Foundation, an important
with Paul Newman and Marion Anderson. be a point to this. It is clear that the part of the effort in Mississippi, has fallen
Martin Luther King and a quarter minister is staring at him. "Are you under the control of the CIA, which has
million others are there, too - and Robert implying something?" Then, "Is my father been secretly funding it. They will meet
Spike's efforts are responsible for the homosexual?" The minister says yes, he is. back in Washington after the weekend.
pressure of 40,000 of them. Then, the Paul objects to the idea that his father is When they meet again, most of them back
assassination of Kennedy, and Spike queer. "Sure. I'm a queer," says the down. They have "changed their minds."
detects an egomaniac in the White House. minister, "and he's a queer, and so are Something or somebody has compromised
Spike is commuting between New York, you." Then, "You ought to go to bed with them. Spike is furious, and will fight.
Washington, and Mississippi. He has several someone who loves you. I love you, Paul."
close calls when "night riders" try to kill Paul leaves the apartment in a rage and ***
him on back roads in Mississippi, where the confusion.
Governor is not sympathetic. He is organ- He remembers the clues. He remem- The secretary told me that a janitor
izing a summer project, with a thousand bers the nights his father couldn't sleep, found. the bludgeoned body at 1:30 p.m.
volunteers to run remedial "freedom" but tossed on the sofa, torn by a secret on October 17, 1966. The police told her
schools there. He's come into his own. agony. He wonders how many times he's it was still warm. She's been working there
Paul Spike observes, "Enormous stores of mocked, in his father's pained presence, since 9 a.m. and had thought he was on a
energy open inside him." He believes there "faggots" and "queers." He calls home, plane heading for Chicago. He was being

TGC: 15
murdered in the apartment on the same porn. the intent of MississippiAction for Progress
floor as the offices, but she's heard nothing. The Columbus Police were famous for (MAP), an apparent replacement for
Robert Spike had flown into Columbus racism. Together with the Chicago Police, CDGM with administration support and a
to dedicate the United Christian Center at they cooperated closely with the FBI and white board (whose members included
Ohio State University. He preached about the CIA in repressive policies. Dispute that Hodding Carter)? When CDGM was
love: "the willingness to be vulnerable to if you will. The carpenters still had keys. threatened, Spike's allies set up Citizen's
open ourselves even to the point of death - Some say that the carpenter's union is the Crusade Against Poverty to see that CDGM
that is what love is all about," the sermon most reactionary, illiberal union in America.was re-funded. Walter and Victor Ruether
said. Before there was a liberation theology, Dispute that if you will. No clues were joined Spike as prime movers. Whatever
he was formulating one, and that was a found. Robert Spike's head had been happened to Walter Ruether? How were
second part of his sermon. The third part smashed open with a hammer. There was other voices of protest silenced?
was about work: no real investigation. But the police feed Why did not the National Council of
the press the homosexual angle. As if a Churches, or any other church agency,
Let us spend a few minutes on the maniac trick did it, one so brilliant as to have the endurance to wait in the face of
question, "Where to work?" What leave not a trace of evidence. the storm, to launch a thorough investi-
I refer to here is not at all the The "evidence" about homosexuality gation, and to confront the smokescreen of
narrow question, "How am I is out and the churches are scared. A innuendo and dirt and so preserve the good
going to earn my living?", although group of Ohio ministers urge that the name of a warrior for justice who was
that's an important one. I am building that Robert Spike had dedicated possessed of singular integrity? Why the
talking about the much broader be "re-dedicated." Christian silence?
questions: "What is there that Friends and associates of Spike are What kind of human being or politician
cries out from the midst of the getting phone calls. The police are calling does it take to kill? How do human beings
world that demands that I work all the names in his personal address book and politicians kill, through what instru-
at that job? What are the com- and asking, "Did you know that Rev. Spike mentalities? How are sexual dynamics
pelling prime needs of our time was homosexual?" used to kill us?
that will determine where I in- The. murder will never be solved. Who killed the prophets of justice in
vest my energies, to what I Questions remain. America during the sixties? Who killed
give my life with passion?" As Robert Spike?
we look across the face of the Irritated by his program's dependence The New Right now controls the
world there are many ways in on the conservative money of the National Senate Intelligence Committee. What
which we could summarize what Council of Churches, Spike has found a surveillance, what manipulation, what
it is that is tearing the world monied friend in Steven Currier, who was perils might we expect? The New Right
apart, churning it up, bringing head of the Taconic Foundation, which now controls the Judiciary Committee, the
people to battle fields, to places dispensed money from the fortune of Appropriations Committee, and all the
of ultimate decision. But I Andrew Mellon. He had poured millions rest, because it controls the Senate. It
think the easiest way of sum- into the movement during the early sixties. controls the White House. Not just gutless
ming it up is to say that this world, Now, Spike and Currier would put together "liberals" trying to accommodate the
every part of it, is in struggle "Urban America," a more independent Right. The Right itself. What does this
for freedom. organization which would tackle the mean?
trickier racial problems of the North and And what will be our response? To
Spike hadn't been sure of whether or all sorts of hitherto untouched economic hide in our pretend, as though it isn't so?
not to stay overnight, given his schedule, issues. Currier disappeared on a flight in To roll over and die of despair? Or to
but the unfinished Center had an apartment. the Bahamas. Not a scrap of wreckage ever recover a saint and to be infused with the
There was nothing to do in Columbus on found. Why? grace of his endurance, his courage, his
Sunday nights: the bars weren't open. He The UPI was set to break an important integrity, his vision?
was found with a list of "suspect" bars in story after two reporters had worked on It may be of some comfort to what-
Columbus. Funny. If they weren't open Spike's murder and found information ever there be that remains of Robert Spike
anyway ... and who needs a list of gay giving the murder an entirely new context. that beginning on ovember 2, 1980, the
bars in a town you know as well as Spike It never appeared. The story about CIA Metropolitan Community Church of
knew Columbus? He'd visited it frequently funding of the NSA did appear. At the Columbus, Ohio worships freely in the
since he'd lived there. But the Columbus NSA office one day, CIA operatives appear place his death made holy. Not the FBI,
Police and the Federal authorities carefully to have been putting the screws on its not the CIA, not the police, need track its
pointed out that he'd been found with national leaders. Heard outside the inner comings and goings to discover, for the
a list of gay bars. And nothing on but a office was a warning. The NSA leaders purpose of manipulating it and discrediting
raincoat. Paul Spike had travelled with his should be careful: "You saw what hap- it, its secret. They, and the world, know
father enough to know that his father used pened to Robert Spike." what is not secret. The word "gay," and
his raincoat for a bathrobe when he travel- What happened when the Child the word "lesbian," are out. The secret
led, but that was not a fact that served the Development Group of Mississippi re- agony continues for those who cannot say
government's characterization of a queer. applied for OEO funding in 1966? What the words out loud. And against those
He was found also, they said, with "porno- price did the Johnson Administration agree who can, there is still enough hate and fear
graphic magazines." Which can only be to pay Southern racists to keep Mississippi to continue the cruelty. But in honor of
considered the truth if you consider Health solidly within the Democratic Party and the dead and for the sake of the living, the
and Sunshine, a bodybuilding magazine, supportive of the administration? What was irony is wonderful.
TGC: 16
Beyond the Bible:

Silenced voices of the early church

Elaine Pagels. The Gnostic Gospels, admitted into the New Testament canon. The context of these early Christian
In fact, copies found by church authorities communities, and the issues they faced, are
New York: Random House, 1979,
were most likely burned (probably along not unlike those of today, even within
Illustrated. 182 pp. Hardcover $10. with their owners). These were the writings MCC.
Random House Vintage Books paper of early Christians who valued the ex-
edition, 1981, $2.95. perience of what they called "gnosis," ... diverse forms of Christianity
meaning "wisdom" or "knowledge." These flourished in the early years of the
early Christians are today called "gnostics." Christian movement. Hundreds of
THE LONGER I journey in my life with
So the writings of these gnostic rival teachers all claimed to teach
this Fellowship, the more I realize that the
Christians were often hidden- sometimes the 'true doctrine of Christ' and
question facing us is the question of
put in earthen jars and sealed away in the denounced one another as frauds.
revelation: Where is God to be found?
dry caves of the desert. Christians in churches scattered from
This is the question that by other
Thirty five years ago, near the small Asia Minor to Greece, Jerusalem and
names is the question of authority or, if we
town of Nag Hammadi in Egypt, an Arab Rome split into factions, arguing
look at Jesus, christo logy . It is a question
farmer was digging up soft dirt for his over church leadership. All claimed
that appears in another form less addressed
garden. He found a huge earthen jar to represent 'the authentic tradition '.
in this church-the role of the Bible. How
which, it turned out, contained 52 papyrus (p. 7).
are we to read that collection of stories and
letters that make up what we call the texts-dating from the beginning of the
Christian era. After a complicated route The issue of authority-and revelation
Bible? What has that to do with the
through Cairo bazaars, the texts finally and christology-came home in the inter-
revelation of God?
made it into the hands of scholars at the pretation of the resurrection. Pagels notes
Most of us recognize that the Bible did
British Museum, where they have been that the orthodox leadership taught that
not drop one day out of the sky fully
studied for years. They have recently been Jesus rose physically from the dead and
written, table of contents and all. It
compiled, translated and published as The after forty days ascended into heaven.
represents a not-too-neat selection of
Nag Hammadi: Library, edited by J.M. They likewise taught that it is after death
certain writings over others. We are
Robinson. that the Christian will also share in the
familiar with the Gospel of Matthew, or
Elaine Pagels, who is chair of the resurrection. The gnostics, on the other
John, but few of us have read the Gospel
department of religion at Barnard College, hand, believed in the continuing presence
of Thomas, or Philip, or Mary ... or have
Columbia University, worked with these of Christ and in Christ's continuing reve-
heard of books called "The Testimony of
scholars in the editing of these documents. lation within the experience of the believer.
Truth," or "The Dialogue of the Savior,"
or "Thunder, Perfect Mind." In The Gnostic Gospels, she has written the
first scholarly account of these texts for Those who say they will die first and
Yet these are texts that were written
the general reader. What these documents then rise are in error. (Instead they
at the same time as the other New Testa-
reveal should be of interest to all who care must) receive the resurrection while
ment books. They were held by certain
about the Bible, who recognize the in- they live. The Gospel of Philip (p. 12)
Christian communities to be accurate
records of the life and teachings of Jesus. tricacies of political theology (or theological
But these texts were successfully suppressed politics), or who seek a fuller understanding The gnostics valued individual ex-
I by the orthodox church. They were not of God. perience. They believed that it is in
one's experience that one knows God.
TGe: 17
... examine yourself so that you may inner Vlszon can claim that his or preside in God's place. (p. 35).
understand who you are ... For her own authority equals, or sur-
whoever has not known oneself has passes, that of the Twelve-and of It is interesting that gnostic writings
known nothing, but whoever has their successors [p. 13-14). tend to balance out overly male imagery
known oneself has simultaneously for God. In addition to God the Father,
achieved knowledge about the depth Attendant with the theological statement God is described by the gnostics as "Grace
of all things. The Book of Thomas is its political counterpart. The gnostics ... Silence ... the Womb" (p. 50). An
the Contender (p. 19). knew it. The orthodox knew it. The important gnostic text is the Gospel of
attacks and counter-attacks come out in Mary Magdalene. In it the risen Christ
Jesus said, 'If you bring forth what the wrrings. reveals wisdom to Mary, who became an
is within you, what you bring forth apostle and leader in her own right. Why
will save you. If you do not bring (The gnostics) argued that only one's were these images suppressed?
forth what is within you, what you do own experience offers the ultimate Pagels sees the answer to that question
not bring forth will destroy you. criterion of truth taking precedence in the "practical, social consequences (the
The Gospel of Thomas (p. xv). over all secondhand testimony and all gnostics derived) from their concepts of
tradition-even gnostic tradition ... God and of humanity" (p. 59). We must
Of course, such theology was not (in "The Apocalypse of Peter"), look at how female imagery for God
without its critics. Iranaeus, the orthodox the risen Christ explains to Peter that affected early Christian communities.
bishop of Lyons, complains that those who 'name themselves bishop, Bishop Iranaeus noted "with dismay that
and also deacon, as if they had received women especially are attracted to heretical
every one of them generates something their authority from God: are, in groups" (p. 59). Apparently there is a
new every day . . . They are to be reality, 'waterless canals' (p. 25). connection between the power of the
blamed for ... describing human female in God and the power of women in
feelings, and passions, and mental *** communities. It is those gnostic com-
tendencies ... and ascribing the munities who describe God as mother as
things that happen to human beings Pagels investigates how the early well as father, or who give authority to
and whatever they recognize them- Christian doctrines of God reflected and women apostles, in which women par-
selves as experiencing, to the divine sustained political relations and relations ticipate and share leadership. This to the
Word. (p.19). between men and women. The gnostics horror of the orthodox (male) leadership.
rejected the limited orthodox conception Wrote Tertullian somewhere near the
The orthodox were insistent that after of God. year 190:
forty days Christ ascended, leaving all
teaching and authority with the Twelve. They insisted on discriminating be- These heretical women-how auda-
Pagels probes behind these statements tween the popular image of God- cious they are! They have no modesty;
of doctrine to discern why they became as master, king, lord, creator, and they are bold enough to teach, to
so important. judge-and what that image rep- engage in argument, to enact exorcisms,
resented-God understood as the ulti- to undertake cures, and, it may be,
All Christians agreed in principle that mate source of all being (p. 32). even to baptize! (p. 60).
only Christ himself-or God-can be
the ultimate source of spiritual author- Some gnostics began to believe in two ***
ity. But the immediate question, gods: an inferior god who created-the
of course, was the practical one: world with all its faults, and a wiser, more The crucifixion presented Christians
Who, in the present, administers hidden god known only to initiates. But with a problem: how could God die,
that authority? (p. 25). many gnostics simply insisted on not especially such an ignominious death as
confusing how God is described with all on a cross? Many interpretations of
Pagels reasons that the orthodox doctrine that God is. The orthodox found it easier Jesus' death circulated among Christian
of the resurrection and ascension, in to attack the gnostics for believing in more groups. Some believed that it somehow
political terms, concludes the revelation of than one god. They chose to affirm wasn't Jesus who died on the cross. Such
Jesus after the forty days on earth and traditional ways of describing God. Pagels belief was prevalent among gnostic Chris-
leaves the revelation in the hands of the searches out the political implications of tians.
apostles, who, Paul reminds us, needed to this position and finds Ignatius, orthodox
be actual witnesses of the resurrection. All bishop of Antioch, warning the laity to The Saviour said to me, 'He whom you
the power of the orthodox church, es- revere, honor, and obey the bishop 'as saw being glad and laughing above the
pecially with its doctrine of apostolic if he were God' (p. 35). She points out cross is the Living Jesus. But he into
succession, is based on this deposit of whose hands and feet they are driving
authority with the apostles after the As God reigns in heaven as master, the nails is his fleshy part, which is
resurrection. lord, commander, judge, and king, so the substitute. The Apocalypse of
on earth he delegates his rule to Peter (p. 72).
These gnostics recognized that their mem bers of the church hierarchy, who
theory, like the orthodox one, bore serve as generals who command an Such belief was rejected by the ortho-
political implications. It suggests army of subordinates, kings who dox church. Why did the gnostics tend to
that whoever 'sees the Lord' through rule over 'the people', judges who support it? Pagels reminds us that these

TGC: 18
ens were written in a time of persecution. achieves "gnosis" becomes "no longer a
Christians, whether gnostic or orthodox *** Christian, but a Christ" (p. 134). They
outinely faced a life or death decision of found ultimate authority only in the self.
faith. Pagels points out that often ortho- The question "Whose church is the
dox leadership connected the torture of 'true church'? was answered differently Knock upon yourself as upon a door
Christ with the way all Christians could by the orthodox and by the gnostics. The and walk upon yourself as upon a
fulfill their faith. Bishop Ignatius was orthodox set objective criteria for church road. For if you walk on the road, it
condemned to Rome to be killed by wild membership. is impossible for you to go astray ...
beasts in the public amphitheater. In Open the door for yourself that you
his letters to the Christians in Rome he Whoever confessed the creed, accepted may know what is ... Whatever you
wrote the ritual of baptism. participated in will open for yourself. you will open.
worship. and obeyed the clergy was - Teachings of Silvanus (p. 127).
A llow me to be eaten by the beasts, accepted as a fellow Christian (p. 104).
through whom I can attain to God. I ***
am God's wheat, and I am ground The gnostics saw this kind of faith as
by the teeth of wild beasts, so that shallow, even naive or magical. Pagels' book is a fair account. It is fair
I may become pure bread of Christ ... to the diversity of the texts and of the
Let there come upon me fire, and the The gnostic understand Christ's mes- communities that produced and read them.
cross, and struggle with the wild sage not as offering a set of answers. Gnosticism was never a monolithic move-
beasts, cutting and tearing apart, but as encouragement to engage in ment. It is category used today to name a
racking of bones, mangling of limbs, a process of searching (p. 112). similar system of belief and thought.
crushing of my whole body ... may Pagels is true to this diversity. For example,
I but attain to Jesus Christ! (p. 82). Pagels offers a balanced judgement of she explains the many ways male and
these two viewpoints. The orthodox female images for God were described in
This is the context in which the position offered a rejection of elitism. It various gnostic communities, sometimes
crucifixion debate occurred. Christians was open to all; whereas the gnostics slipping into complicated sexual ontologies
were being dragged off to be killed, and the tended toward an elitism of "wisdom" of male and female gods.
orthodox leadership was saying that this or "vision." But, Pagels points out, ortho- Pagels is also fair in her judgements of
fulfills what it means to follow Christ. In doxy was open to all "who would submit Gnosticism. While she obviously admires
examining "The Apocalypse of Peter," to their system of organization" (p. 118). much they were attempting to say, she is
Pagels writes That system was based on a rigid view of clear about negative aspects of their
doctrine, ritual, and clerical hierarchy. systems of thought. She consistently
What the gnostic writer dislikes most It was based on the domination of the examines what orthodoxy saved.
about these Christians is that they clergy over the laity and on the exclusion For example, the orthodox interpre-
coerce innocent fellow believers 'to of all "other" experience. tation of the passion and resurrection
the executioner'r-apparently the forces
that if they 'hold fast to the name of TO SAY TO COMMUNITIES TODAY WRESTLING WITH ISSUES OF
a dead man', confessing the crucified
Christ, 'they will become pure '. The
author says 'These are the ones who A CHURCH IS, OF SACRIFICE, INCLUSIVITY, OF JESUS AS THE
oppress their brothers and sisters, REVELATION OF GOD? THE CONTEXT OF EARLY CHRISTIAN
saying to them, 'Through this (martyr- COMMUNITIES, DOCUMENTED IN THESE TEXTS, WAS ONE OF A
salvation comes to us through this ICAL, NOT UNLIKE OUR OWN CONTEXT. IF THERE WAS A CHURCH
In the end, the gnostic rejection of ASIA MINOR IN THE FIRST CENTURY, WOULD IT HAVE BEEN
the physical death of Jesus was rejected "ORTHODOX" OR "GNOSTIC"?
by the church. Orthodoxy declared that
it was Jesus who died-physically and *** affirms that "Human life is inseparable
completely-on the cross. Pagels describes from bodily experience ... gnostics ...
The gnostics believed that God would
favorably the importance of this judgement. be found through individual experience or frequently devalued the body" (p. 26).
vision. (This is true of other traditions that Gnosticism also tended to be a-historical,
... orthodox tradition implicitly exist within Christianity, such as the creating a spiritual time-frame outside of
affirms bodily experience as the central Quaker and Baptist traditions.) The suffering, death, and the events of history.
fact of human life ... the orthodox gnostics "resisted accepting the authority The specificity of Christian revelation
insisted that (Jesus), like the rest of of the clergy, the creed, and the New validates history. It really happens. It is
humanity, was born, lived with a Testament canon" (p. 121). Because of not an illusion. Lastly, Pagels points out
family. became hungry and tired. this, gnostics (and others) have traditionally that Gnosticism was not an effective mass
ate and drank wine, suffered and been hated. religion. It catered to an intellectual and
died (p.101). The gnostics believed that whoever spiritual elite. It proved hard to organize.

roc 19
Orthodoxy succeeded in establishing Chris- that long ago we felt distant from ourselves, God is present in the tradition. God is
tianity as a permanent world religion. from others, and from God. We know how present in the Bible. However, God is not
The author's scholarship is evident. that is all somehow connected. Our frozen there. Methodist tradition identifies
Her first-hand experience with the texts coming out has been our journey of faith: four cornerstones of authority: scripture,
and her many subsequent publications to ourselves, to others, and to God. Coming tradition, experience, and reason. All of
allow her to write comprehensively about out has established for us very clearly what these must be brought to bear on our
these texts. Her insights into the interplay God is not. We know that God is richer understanding of God. This wider recog-
of the political and the theological are and deeper and smaller and grander than nition of authority may help us as a
carefully thought out. Pagels has written the easy statements of faith we often grew Fellowship as we search out the questions
an accessible, readable book-available in up with. Coming out has established of inclusivity, christology, and even our
many bookstores in paperback for $2.95. us as a people of faith. understanding of trinitarianism.
"Bibliolatry" is a form of idolatry in The promise of MCC is becoming
*** which the sentences of the Bible are in increasingly urgent. Religion in America is
effect worshipped over the Living God. It experiencing a growing split ... similar to
The Gnostic Gospels is a book that is a form of blindness. (Jesus warned that faced in the 1920's or in Europe after
makes the characters of the New Testament against blindness repeatedly.) As lesbian the Enlightenment, when people were
suddenly more real. The conflicts, differing and gay people of faith, we should know pushing boldly into new areas and most
views, the many interpretations of Christ better. We know the so-called anti-gay people were threatened and scared. The
all seem more feasible than the neatness passages of scripture were not meant to question in those times of change became
the church has made from its canon. The separate us from God. Most of us reject more and more the question of where to
reader's imagination comes alive and the the "authoritativeness" of scripture that find authority. Now, as then, the church
search for God becomes even more in- condones slavery or the submission of is becoming divided more and more into
triguing. women. We recognize that political the camps of "liberal" and "funda-
The same cast of characters (Peter, realities shape theology ... and that evena mentalist." The fundamentalists, in greater
Mary, Philip) gives a whole new impression. book called "Holy" is not immune. We and greater number and with increasing
In the New Testament God is portrayed as need to bring our experience of the living visibility, bring a message of hatred for
"Other"; the gnostics found that self- word of God to bear on the Bible-all of it. gays, women, and people of color. They
knowledge was knowledge of God. The We cannot neatly forget about the anti- are authoritarian in their politics, their sex
Jesus of the canon teaches sin and re- homosexuality parts and then treat the rest roles, and in their biblical theology. Their
pentence. The Jesus of the gnostic texts as if it were carved in stone. attitude toward the Bible is inseparable
teaches illusion and insight. The orthodox The journey of faith is so often the from their politics. It is a phenomenon
Jesus is seen as ascended and in heaven. sorting out of lies. So much we were told very close to fascism. On the other hand,
The gnostic Jesus is the experience of that simply isn't true. The journey of faith we have the liberals: a smaller band,
the believer. is an attitude of openness to the ever- increasingly intimidated, increasingly silent.
present question: where is God? And we They have not in the past proven an
*** find that search so much more difficult and effective block to the rise of fascism.
wonderful once we look up from the Bible. This is why the promose of MCCis so
Elaine Pagels has written a book that is Where is God? Perhaps 'not in a set of urgent. We are such a strange combination
important for the church today, and for answers, but in the encouragement to of fundamentalist and liberal! We need to
our Fellowship. We see today "the flourish- search.' These forgotten gnostic com- draw from our more fundamental back-
ing of diverse forms of Christianity ... munities, as much as the orthodox, bear ground our sense of openness to the spirit
rival teachers all claiming the 'true doctrine witness to God. of God at work in our lives. We need to
of Christ' ... communities resisting the An interesting question occurs reading draw from our identification as a liberal
authority of the clergy, the creed, and the about the gnostics and then looking at the home for lesbians and gay men, a church
New Testament canon.' church today: did the gnostics in effect where inclusivity matters. The liberals are
What does the experience of gnostic "win"? Christianity so often presents a so often dead to the spirit ... and the
communities have to say to communities disembodied spiritual Christ, and the fundamentalist have no good news for gay
today wrestling with issues of authority reality of suffering and of history is given people or women. MCC is for many of us
and experience, of clergy and laity, of what up to an otherworldly "Beulah land." The the hope of something new, of becoming
a church is, of sacrifice, inclusivity, of very things the orthodox tradition fought a truly living expression of the word of
Jesus as the revelation of God? The so hard to eradicate has apparently become God: in spirit and in freedom, grounded in
context of early Christian communities, the belief of the church. Upon closer scripture and tradition, and in experience
documented in these texts, was one of a examination, it is a little more complex- and reason, continually open to the word
dramatic interplay of the political and the and disheartening. It seems that the of God. We claim the orthodox tradition
theological, not unlike our own context. modern church has taken much of "gnostic of biblically based community, tempered
If there was a church that was open to content," yet has kept the rigid authority by the "gnostic" tradition of claiming
lesbians and gay men somewhere in Asia patterns of traditional orthodoxy. Jesus experience in our lives.
Minor in the first century, would it have and God are immune to change, limited in The Gnostic Gospels warns us against
been "orthodox" or "gnostic"? large degree to the pages of scripture, and bibliolatry. It calls us to be faithful to our
Self-knowledge as knowledge of God mediated by the powers of the church. experience of God in our lives. There is
should not come as a new thing to lesbian much to be learned from voices that have
and gay people. For many of us, it was not been silenced.
roc. 20
Boswell:a new standard of excellence


John Boswell. Christianity, Social where for the first time in modern history, perors" (117-38), dotted the ancient
Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay gay/lesbian people appear as human beings. world-and the enormous appeal of their
People in Western Europe from the Yet small political gains may now be love shows up in fiction, poetry, coinage,
Beginning of the Christian Era to the reversed as civil rights in America become architecture, and art. But the decline of
Fourteenth Century. Chicago: The more annoyance than urgency. There is no the Empire and its great urban centers
telling where religious institutions may go would eventually dampen the expansive
University of Chicago Press, 1980.
with the issues of sexuality and homo- spirit of Rome.
Illustrated. 424 pp. $27.50. sexuality. Another inaccuracy set right: that
Maybe they'll read Boswell. If there is homosexuality had something to do with
I SUSPECT THAT IT was at just the right any progress now, it will be because of his the fall of Rome. Bishops seem especially
time When, this past Fall, John Boswell's unassailable scholarship. From now on, it to love this one, but Boswell demonstrates
towering work of scholarship finally will be hard for 'the bishops, the TV that instead, the deterioration of Rome's
emerged from many years' preparation-to evangelists, the reactionary politicians and vitality had something to do with fear and
face wide critical acclaim. those alleging learning to argue as they repression aimed at minorities.
The painstaking and scrupulous re- have with a straight face. Hostility to gay/lesbian people and
search that culminates in the publication of The historical reconstruction is begun homosexual behavior first arose on a
Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homo- with the announcement that this is a tough massive scale during the period of the
sexuality extended literally to the last job just begun with much more terrain to dissolution of the Roman state from the
detail. I used to call Boswell periodically be explored, and proceeds to the debunk- third to the sixth centuries, as urban
to inquire whether his book might soon ing of a few popular distortions about culture fell apart and repressive government
appear. Three years ago, he told me he was Roman history. Homosexual practices sought desperately to exert power by
nearly finished-given a little more work on were not illegal, he asserts, but easily curbing nonconformity, legislating moral-
indexing and footnotes. Both, incidentally, integrated into the life of the Republic. ity, and seeking scapegoats. But the revival
justify the delay: readers skipping the And in the Empire, the first legal actions of urban life restored gay culture, too. By
page-bottom footnotes will miss much of against homosexual behavior "can be dated the eleventh century there again appeared
the best material. precisely to the third century A.D., when a gay literature, a visible and substantial gay
Long before those final technical series of laws was enacted regulating minority, and prominent gay people in all
labors, there were two years poking around various aspects of homosexual relations, levels of church and society.
European archives, and prodigious trans- ranging from the statutory rape of minors Then, abruptly, a general increase in
lating of little-known texts available in to gay marriage" (70f). Not until the sixth intolerance .toward minorities and a rise in
American libraries-for Boswell, at Harvard, century were homosexual relations cate- coerced conformity resulted in a violent
where he studied, and at Yale, where, at gorically prohibited. shift in the status of gay people. For the
33, he teaches medieval history. Until the time of this legislation, causes of this change Boswell cannot fully
Which, as I have suggested, couldn't attempts were made to sway public opinion account. But the effects remain with us:
have been a more timely effort. The social, and policy against the easy acceptance gay until the present century, gay culture was
religious, and political fortunes of gay people found, but these were almost unable to reassert itself. Boswell sum-
people (that is what he calls them-a first universally unsuccessful. Gay emperors, marizes:
in,scholarly writing) are subject to precipi- bishops and monks, soldiers, common
tous change, as will be seen. Today, the citizens, and divinities flourished. In During the 200 years from 1150 to
jury is out. Gay/lesbian progress against matters of sexuality, the sex of one's 1350, homosexual behavior appears to
ancient prejudice is evident in religious partner was of monumental indifference. have changed, in the eyes of the
institutions, where it seems to have hit Statues of Antinous, lover of Hadrian, the public, from the personal preference
upon a limit; and in the public media, most outstanding of the "five good em- of a prosperous minority, satirized

TGC: 21
and celebrated in popular verse, to a homosexuality-never a topic of early and mysogyny is no adequate basis for a
dangerous, antisocial, and severely Christian anti-Muslim polemic. Now, modern ethic!
sinful aberration. Around 1100, the Muslims were widely characterized as Terms and concepts Boswell explores
efforts of prominent churchmen liked sexually degenerate and given to unre- in more or less depth include "nature,"
and respected by the pope could not strained homosexuality. The caricature "abomination," temple prostitute, effem-
prevent the election and consecration was more effective if homosexuality could inacy, "gay," and the linkage between
as bishop of a person well known to be made out to be shocking. homosexuality and heresy.
be leading a gay life-style, and much of Meanwhile, all minorities became Maybe the finest joy of these 424
popular literature of the day-often scapegoats. The Third Lateran Council pages of brilliance is Boswell's citing of gay
written by bishops and priests-dealt (1179) both became the first ecumenical literature, much of it never before pub-
with gay love, gay life-styles, and a council to rule against homosexual acts, lished-not, at least, accurately translated.
distinct gay subculture. By 1300, not and issues a series of statutes to curb There is the Roman myth of gay Ganymede,
only had overtly gay literature all Jewish economic and civil power. The and there are love poems. Like this one by
but vanished from the face of Europe, Fourth Lateran Council (1215) struck Jews Hilary the Englishman, addressed in the
but a single homosexual act was enough with sweeping prohibitions against social Twelfth Century to an English boy:
to prevent absolutely ordination to interaction and economic participation. In
any clerical rank, to render one liable this climate, religious and biblical arguments Beautiful boy, flower fair,
to prosecution by ecclesiastical courts against homosexuality were crafted. Glittering jewel, if only you knew
or=in many places-to merit the death These Boswell examines. He devotes That the loveliness of your face
penalty. an 18-page appendix to the lexicography of Was the torch of my love.
Paul. Here, we learn more about "malakoi"
The reference is to Ralph, Archbishop and "arsenokoitai," words that have The moment I saw you,
of Tours, who persuaded the king of bedeviled biblical interpreters for years Cupid struck me; but I hesitate,
France to install as. Bishop of Orleans (and with which interpreters have bedeviled For my Dido holds me,
Ralph's lover John. Despite appeals to gay people), that we have previously read And I fear her wrath.
Pope Urban II to block the appointment, in all popularly accessible sources available
John was consecrated on March 1, 1098 until now. "Boy" doesn't quite mean child: it's
and served with distinction for forty years. His 27-page chapter on the Scriptures applied affectionately to adults. Boswell's
Anti-homosexual voices were raised, is good enough, though not the strength of command of English, of Provencial, and
and Boswell tracks them, too, engaging the book. Here, Boswell falls into the Latin, and Hebrew, and Greek, and Arabic,
their theological arguments sometimes at gratuitous defense of the indefensible and French, and a multitude of other
length-e.g., Anselm and Aquinas. And, as position pioneered by Derrick Sherwin- languages, assures that the footnotes are
has been said, stormclouds appeared. Bailey and promoted by McNeill that the loaded with clues about the nuance of this
Finally, even kings were not safe from the verb "to know" (yadha) in the Gen. 19 or that word. He also provides samples of
gathering fury. There is the story of King Sodom narrative is no sexual reference. He anti-homosexual writings, some of which
Edward II of England, murdered by the unaccountably defies the basic hermeneutic feature curious arguments about Hyenas,
insertion into his anus of a red-hot poker; rule that the first clue to the meaning of a alleged to grow new anuses every year so as
and of his lover of thirteen years, Piers word is its immediate context, and the to engage in homosexual intercourse, or,
Gaveston, first exiled by Edward I and the, second its usage in a parallel pericope. In variously, to the effect that animals do not
after Edward II recalled him, exiled twice Gen. 19:8, just three verses after the engage in homosexual intercourse, so, of
more by Parliament, and finally tortured reference in question, the sexual meaning is course, such behavior among humans is
(his genitals cut off and publicly burned) unambiguous: two daughters who have "against nature." And there's commentary
and then decapitated-or so the best not "known" man. The obvious parallel is on the way things were, more or less
available description of Gaveston's end Jud. 19, where, in a remarkably similar neutrally offered. Like this, also from
goes. scenario, there appears this: "Bring out Hilary's pen:
Professor Boswell examines these the man who came into your house, that
developments against persuasive evidence we may know him" (v. 22), and "the man The pope's organ misses nothing:
that the earliest church had nothing to say seized his concubine, and put her out to boys and girls please the pope. Old
about homosexuality per se; that none of them: and they knew her" (v. 25), in the men and old women please the pope.
the most prominent or inflential Christian context of an invitation to "ravish" both
writers considered homosexual attraction her and the host's virgin daughter, so long The New York Times Book Review,
"unnatural;" that none of these writers as the male guest be left unmolested. Our whose editors list Christianity, Social
sought to marshal teachings of Jesus or his scholarly friends ought to quit the hopeless Tolerance, and Homosexuality among
early followers as objections to physical argument that yadha is not a sexual refer- their "eleven best books of the year,"
expression of homosexual feelings. It must ence and instead argue the obvious: in began its August 10 review thus: "John
be supposed that later biblical arguments Gen. 19, it's homosexual rape, just as it is Boswell restores one's faith in scholarship
against homosexuality are manufactured heterosexual rape in Jud. 19. In both cases ... I would not hesitate to call his book
ammunition for a hatred whose origins the issue is coercion. In both cases there's revolutionary, for it sets a standard of
must be sought elsewhere-or against some little concern about the sex of the rapee. excellence that one would have thought
enemy who must tactically be accused of More important, in both cases there is impossible in the treatment of an issue so
something shocking. contempt for women, even one's own large, uncharted and vexed."
The time of the Crusades illustrates: daughter, whereas absolute dignity is To which TGC gratefully says, Amen.
Islam had practiced a relative tolerance of afforded the male guest. Biblical sexism We are indebted.

TGC: 22
"Don't Let It Spread"


SAN FRANCISCO-A coalition of funda-
mentalists announced in February its February 13, 1981
intention to spend $3 million on a media
campaign to build anti-homosexual feeling Introduction
in the community, and gay and lesbian
religious leaders responded with a pledge to In recent days hate-filled voices have been raised urging the destruction of the
pray for their opponents' change of heart freedom and even the lives of the homosexual men and women of this city.
and to defend themselves from "so-called Some have announced their intention to "wage war" upon our community, to
religious people" who urge the "destruction break up our community, drive us into hiding and, apparently, then to hunt us
of the freedom and even the lives of down and put us to death. To our horror and shame these people call them-
homosexual men and women." selves followers of the Living God. As Christians and Jews, children of that
The fundamentalist announcement co- same God, we are bound by our consciences to issue this statement.
incided with a weeklong series of special
reports that headlined KRON-TV's evening To Legitimate Religious Leaders and Communities
news and featured interviews with leaders
of the Moral Majority, California For A We seek your immediate and total denunciation of these voices of fear and
Biblical Morality, and In God We Trust. hate. We urge the truly religious, whatever their views on homosexuality, to
During the broadcasts two ministers renounce the use of coercion, force, or violence against gay and lesbian people.
advocated the execution of gay people.
While others interviewed, including a group To the Lesbian and Gay Community
called Cops for Christ, shied away from
that severity of punishment, all agreed that We call upon every member of our community to use this so-called "moral war"
homosexuality is a sin comparable to as an opportunity to re-affirm our love for one another and to renew our dedi-
murder. cation to continuing all our efforts to free ourselves and our world from every
The media campaign was being con- oppression. We must realize now, in the face of our opponents' hatred, that it
ducted by In God We Trust, beginning with is not our comfort that is at stake. It is not our prosperity. It is not even just
a $100,000 radio blitz and a mailing our freedom. Our very lives are at stake.
targeted toward homophobes from whom
they hope eventually to solicit the $3 Further, as believers in the God of Love revealed in the scriptures, we confess
million for more, including TV com- our shame that once again gay men and lesbian women are under assault by
mercials. so-called religious people. We appeal to you not to turn from faith in God due
One of the TV ads was seen on the to the manifest corruption of some who dishonor that same God by their
KRON broadcasts. The 60-second spot words and acts.
begins with shots of both bizarre and
average looking participants in the Gay To Our Opponents
Pride parade and closes with the innocent-
looking face of a little girl superimposed We pledge to you three things:
with the caption, "Don't Let It Spread."
In God We Trust wants to undo the First, we pledge to you our prayers and supplications to God that your hearts
city's gay rights ordinance because gays of stone may be changed to hearts of flesh, that you may repent your hatred
and lesbians, according to founder Rev. and turn from your blasphemy of God's name.
Richard Zone, "are not a legitimate minor-
ity." That's because "their only link is Secondly, we pledge to respect Your rights to believe, to assemble, to teach and
immorality and sex abberation." Zone, 31, to persuade free from social or legal interference for those are your divinely
split from the Christian Voice lobbying given human rights.
group which he also founded to organize In
God We Trust. Among those calling for Lastly, we pledge to you our unmitigated opposition. Within any and all forums
the death penalty was Dean Wyckoff of this still free society, we will meet your hatred with our love, your fear with
of the Santa Clara Moral Majority, which our hope, your ignorance with God's wisdom.
last year succeeded in repealing gay rights
ordinances in San Jose and Santa Clara But hear us clearly. We shall not wait passively for others to destroy us. If your
County. He called San Francisco "the hatred and fear bring forth their vile results, if you do attempt to break our
Sodom and Gomorrah of the United States community, drive us into hiding, and hunt us down, then with God's help we
and the armpit of this perverted move- shall call upon our people to defend themselves.
Meanwhile, at the Metropolitan Com-
munity Church, a group of gay and lesbian

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community clergy denounced the campaign occurring, but focussed on the self-giving Human Rights to help members and clergy
and appealed to San Francisco religious nature of ministry. But Hovde seemed in the process of reconciling personal
leaders to do the same. A portion of their eager to soothe some controversy: "When religious experience and biblical faith with
statement, read by MCC pastor Rev. Jim N. you lose a good battle, you ought to lose activistic support for avant garde liberation
Dykes, was carried on the CBS Evening theologies aimed at ending "racism, sexism,
gracefully and go on." Then, almost
classism, and heterosexism (or homo-
News. (The text of the statement follows.] specific, he reminded worshippers of "the
Joining Dykes were Rev. Jane Spahr of rejection some of you have felt in the A first priority of the coalition is "to
Presbyterians for Lesbianand GayConcerns, church for many years" and spoke of a less locate those hundreds of thousands of
Rabbi Allen Bennett of Congregation turbulent future: "I charge you all to Pentecostals who are struggling to assert
Sha'ar Zabav, and Rev. Ken Kammann, remember that the pain ... that has arisen and maintain their special identities within
co-chair of Dignity Bay Area. in the church will someday be gone, our churches."
San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein perhaps after we are all gone." Tinney laments the fact that the
also responded to Zone's plans saying she The elaborate ordination ritual fol- movement is viewed as a white male
was sure her "wonderful and tolerant city" lowed as Bishop Prino, enthroned, was religion although "it was founded by a
would "withstand any onslaught from black minister, it has more black adherents
presented with each of the candidates.
than white, and it is predominantly made
suburbia." She added, "San Francisco Then a eucharistic celebration that turned
up of women."
usually welcomes strangers but not bigots out to be more relaxed and featured "Since there are nearly 10 million
or zealots. I suggest they cancel their participation by the four. Pentecostals in the U.S. alone, the very
threatened blitz of hate mail and media, Maybe the best clue to the significance lowest estimate suggests that there may be
save their money, and contemplate the of the day appeared during an afternoon as many as one million lesbian and gay
teaching of the Bible to 'love thy neigh- rehearsal before there were crowds, cameras, Pentecostas, as well," he added.
bor.'" or press to witness it: a tender moment The Pentecostal Coalition for Human
when, for Carol Amadio, Janice Gordon, Rights opposes art depicting Christ as
Chilton Knudsen, and Janice Lee, the white, language using masculine references
WOMEN ORDAINED IN EPISCOPAL run-through was halted for a moment of to God, and restrictions against ordaining
PAPER CHASE tears, embraces, and laughter. women and practicing homosexuals.
For more information write P.C.H.R.,
Box 386, Howard University, Washington,
CHICAGO--Without a program, you would
DC 20059.
not have known it-except for the stand-
ing-room only crowd and the TV cameras--
but it was to be both a historic and a ORGANIZATION
telling moment in the history of the
Episcopal Church. Oh so gently, here at WASHINGTON -- The newest religious task
St. James' Cathedral, an ordination- force combatting "racism, sexism, and
of women. All without the sanction of the homophobia" has been formed within
diocese standing committee. Pentecostalism, often considered to be
Bishop James Montgomery, who ap- among the most fundamentalist of Ameri-
can faiths. WASHINGTON
parently favors strongly the ordination of
The new organization, known as the
gays, would sit this chill February evening
Pentecostal Coalition for Human Rights Editor, TGC:
out elsewhere. He opposes the ordination (PCHR), originated in response to the
of women. But recognizing that times "almost total identification of our churches As a contributing editor to The Gay Chris-
change, he had no intention of preventing with such extremist groups as the Moral tian I wish to respond to the tone and "direction"
it. He'd arranged for a "paper chase" Majority, Christian Voice, and Religious expressed in the most recent issue. I have been
whereby Suffragan Bishop Quenton Primo, Roundtable, in the public's eye, if not in troubled for some time about the fact that TGC
who is Black, would ordain the four' fact," explained Dr. James S. Tinney, does not seem to reflect the theological opinion
women on behalf of the Dioceses of director of the coalition. Tinney, who of the Universal Fellowship, but rather the
Newark, Indianapolis, and Central New teaches Journalism at Howard University, opinion of one perspective which is both narrow
York--dioceses with whom the candidates has been scheduled to address UFMCC's and geographically bound. The broad and diverse
General Conference in Houston in early experience and expression of the faith which is
had no apparent connecfion, but which
August. the UFMCC is not found in your pages.
happen to support the ordination of
"We take as our task the education of Let me express as clearly as I can what I
women. Pentecostals and Charismatics regarding the find in the writing of the Rev. Karen Ziegler
There was circumstance and incense, fascist character of such alliances between article, "Jesus According to a Lesbian," in the
trumpets and all. There was liturgy-as- right-wing politics and conservative re- third quarter 1980 issue. While I affirm and
usual, with thanksgiving to Father, Son, ligion," Tinney said, "as well as the task of rejoice in The Rev. Ziegler's contribution to our
and Holy Ghost whose grace variously consciousness-raising about the Pentecostal knowledge and experience of Jesus in the fullness
toward "all men" and "mankind" had movement's own structural sins against of his humanity, I continue to be disturbed by
made all this possible. There were no racial and sexual minorities." the lack of any concept of the reality of the
demonstrators, and when Bishop Primo The coalition specifically encourages resurrection of Jesus. We are left in our in-
local churches to accept what it calls the complete places, abandoned in despair and
inquired as to whether anyone present
"legitimate claims" of feminist, gay rights, oppression. How is it that a journal which voices
wished to state any reason why the can-
and Black and Hispanic liberation move- Christian faith omits the unique and essential
didates were not fit, no speeches. The ments. proclamation of hope and victory over all op-
sermon, offered by Dr. Christian A. Hovde, A prepared statement of purpose pression, despair, evil and death. The glaring lack
made no direct mention of what was commits the Pentecostal Coalition for of this proclamation of the resurrection has the

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effect of rendering the rest 0 f Rev. Ziegler's SAN FRANCISCO true whether the cause is Christian involvement
theology as useless as a hammer head without a in feminism, racial justice or anything else.
handle. What good is it if it does not lead to life Editor, TGC: If we learn anything from the mistakes of
but wallows in death and despair? those who have come before us in the Christian
It is my continuing experience that liberation We find the tone and content of the third Church, it must be that guilt and condemnation
theology is grossly inadequate in its dealing with quarter, 1980 issue of The Gay Christian disturb- and exclusivism-are the very techniques by the
the "problem of evil" and an understanding of ing. Weare aware of the risk we take in expressing use of which we find ourselves in the oppression
the nature of sin and redemption. this feeling. It seems that a certain factor of which now exists. The existence of those forces
My other great concern with the focus of card-stacking in the articles may prejudge any in these writings can hardly serve to lift us out of
Rev. Ziegler's article is that she seems to be response from white males as sexist and racist, that morass.
trapped into making the realing of being a lesbian whatever its merits. Since we are no more willing The most troubling feature of this ex-
woman the central focus of her life. This lack of to be discounted for our race and gender than are pression of anger and rejection is the Rev. Ziegler's
perspective concerns me, for the gay community our sister authors, we plunge ahead more or less startling departure from the central teaching of
often chooses to see the world only through the fearlessly. the Christian faith. To assert that we share the
eyes of one's sexuality. Neither Rev. Ziegler's The issues of sexism and racism as they have divinity of Jesus is either to deny the divinity of
lesbian identity nor my gay male identity must distorted the Church's witness are undeniable. Jesus Christ or to elevate ourselves to godhood.
be the focus of life, but rather the wholeness of The fact that they continue to do so is equally Neither of these alternatives is even sightly
God's spirit as revealed in Jesus Christ. God undeniable. Nevertheless, it seems possible to compatible with the Christian Cause. Neither is
offers us great possibilities which are not bound express this injustice without claiming that no _- compatible with our belief in Jesus Christ as God,
by anyone's sexuality but are offered to our one has ever suffered in the way the writers' of one substance with God, and God's own
human condition. We must choose to give up our minorities have suffered. It seems more pro- Begotten. Without the unique full humanity and
preoccupation with oppression and walk into the ductive to address this injustice with more than a full divinity of Jesus Christ, there is no Savior
"light" of Christ. I sometimes think that we litany of past wrongs and a ventilation of rage and no salvation. Christianity becomes nothing
rather enjoy the role of being oppressed and and pain. Rage and pain are real and need more than a humanist, pantheist oneness with the
would rather sit in it than receive the wonder of expression, and gay men know this as part of an cosmos.
God's gift of greatness. oppressed minority, just as do women and third At the same time the Rev. Ziegler seriously
Now it is time for us to expect great pos- world persons. It is a sad fact that being part of questions the basis of Christianity, she also
sibilities for our lives. I firmly believe that one's one oppressed minority doesn't seem to keep provides us with a view of Christology which is
ability to have the promises of God's abundant people from oppressing still other minorities. essential to our faith. In affirming the humanity
new life as reality in one's own experience is Some gay men do that, certainly, to women and of Jesus Christ and not the maleness she begins to
available to all persons regardless of their social, third world people. But these articles move in the return us to the centrality of our faith. But that
economic, political, or sexual state. We must direction of returning that oppression by dis- essential humanness is irrelevant if the divinity is
begin to affirm that every person is 1) already set counting all of us. denied.
free in Jesus Christ, and 2) can choose to embrace This anger and pain seem to produce a This issue of TGC reflects a lack of balance
and live that freedom. I do not believe that this self-righteous tone and a theological expression which seems to be increasingly characteristic.
is naive, but the essential truth of the Christian which stand in opposition to basic statements of Our Fellowship hardly needs more polarization in
Church. our Fellowship, statements which are the heritage its publications than is already beginning to
Our continued implication that we must of the Christian faith, bu t which do not seem to appear. This is not to say that TGC needs
struggle to win a battle is further denial of the bear directly on the question of inclusiveness and homogenizing. But as the UFMCC journal of
truth that the battle is over and the victory won. Jesus Christ. theological reflection it needs to reflect a broad
Perhaps the cause of lesbian feminist theology The three writers fail to acknowledge sin cross-section of thought and expression. An issue
seeks another Messiah; there is no other save and oppression as the common possession of almost totally the product of one city and one
Jesus Christ whom history calls Lord and Savior. humanity. Evil seems to be assigned to "they" educational background is hardly a cross-section,
If we week another savior, one more to our and "them." Our faith teaches that there is only even of the more liberal side of our denomination.
liking, we have long since departed the household "us." Oppression, pain and destruction are real The issue in question abounds, as does TGC
of faith. in our lives. It would be a basic and serious in general recently, in cdondemnation and vitia-
Lastly, I must say, if we continue to focus omission to allow to stand the assumption that tion. Consciousness-raising is crucial for us. A
upon our own personal pain we will also continue we do not all share in that evil as we share in our call to repentance for our sins is basic to equipping
to redirect our energy away from the proclamation humanity. We miss from these articles the us to move forward as Christ's Church. But this
of the Good News. The millions of gay men and acknowledgement that these authors, too, and is not a case in which some of us are righteous by
lesbian women of this country await our telling the minorities for whom they speak, know of virtue of our oppression and others are not. We
the Good News: What shall we do? what they speak because they share the common struggle daily to return the expression of our
sinfulness of humanity in themselves. There is a faith to its just and righteous center, to eradicate
LARRY J. UHRIG naivete about evil in the writing which seems oppression and evil whereever we find them. We
almost arrogant. Our foundation lies in the know this is our attainable goal because we
instruction of Jesus Christ first to remove the approach it only when our own strength is
logs from our own eyes before seeking to remove bolstered and enabled by the presence of Jesus
HOUSTON the splinters from those of our sisters and brothers. Christ in our lives. Our faith is to be a source of
To deny the presence of our own disjointed joy and peace, even if some expressions of the
Editor, TGC: Church have been sad and divisive.
nature, our own incompleteness, our own sin is
to risk being irrelevant to the evil of the world The tone of the writing in this TGC was
In response to the article by Renee McCoy filled with bitterness and despair, and while those
and setting it free to wreak even greater havoc.
in the Third Quarter issue where she attacks the are states which must be accepted and healed,
It is this kind of self-righteousness which
response of UFMCC to the Cuban Refugees
marks the history of the Christian Church like they are not the expression of freedom from
because they are "fairer skinned foreigners":
cancerous growths from the Medieval Crusades oppression or an impetus to free others. Life
twenty -fivepercent of the refugees in the Houston
through modern "Christian" terrorism. A cannot be built upon pain and evil, bitterness and
MCCCuban Refugee Relief Program were black. despair. To be mired in these is to choose death
righteous "us" against a sinful "them" outlook is
neither accurate, Godly nor redemptive. This is and not life. Roberta Flack, in her song "Go Up,

Tee: 25
Moses," exhorts us to letPharoah go. Otherwise, "enemies" of his upbringing ... who listened to THE EDITOR REPLIES:
even if we force Pharoah to release us, we shall be their voices and heard truth, was not afraid of
no more able to walk ou t of our oppression than hearing truth from those he had been raised to Name withheld has for some time been
were some of those in Auschwitz who, upon their fear or ignore. printing editorials about us in a newsletter he
liberation, walked out into the sun and then In the tradition of Jesus' experience, TGC's co-edits: to date, six pages of attack on TGC,
fled back into their prisons in fear and confusion. 1980 Third Quarter Issue gives me a chance to me, the congregation I serve, and several TGC
If we are to reform our Church, it cannot be hear new voices, gain new perspectives, experience contributors. Last Summer, after a two-page
by destroying the faith on which we are founded. new truth ... truth I need, truth I can embrace. broadside, he and his co-editor declined to print
If we are to free ourselves from oppression, it my 10-point reply to what I consider to be
cannot be by the bitter, angry, desperate marks SHERRIE ZIMBELMAN factual distortions and unfair attacks -- because,
of that same oppression. We must be called to said they, the matter was now closed. Having
repentance. We must also call to repentance. declared theirs to be both the first and last word,
And all of us must share in both. they went on to print yet another, four-page
attack in an issue that seems to have appeared in
MICHAEL E. ENGLAND ADDRESS WITHHELD January. We weren't sent a copy. The central
A. RICHARD WEATHERLY arguments are the same:
a] "TGC is a propaganda sheet for the
The writers are ministers on the staff of the I strongly support the stated purpose of The most radical unchristian elements" in UFMCC,
Metropolitan Community Church of San Fran- Gay Christian "to build community . . . . "'- according to the newsletter, and some of us "are
cisco. England is a contributing Editor of this however, I deplore the attempts to do so under not theological Christians. . .. They know they
journal. the "Christian" label by those who reject the do not fit in UFMCC" because they hold "un-
unique deity of Jesus Christ - especially when o christian doctrines. "
the rejection of Jesus as Lord and the Bible as b) "The rejection of Jesus as Lord and the
au thoritative is the only theological viewpoint Bible as authoritative is the only theological
LOS ANGELES represented in the "theological journal of the viewpoint presented .... ," he says, above.
UFMCC." c) TGC "exists on the denominational
Editor, TGC: I would defend the rights of Ms. Hamilton, funding." As he argues above, such funding
Ms. Ziegler, and Mr. Deacon, et al., to say most should cease, every cent, right now.
I am writing to thank you for printing the anything, no matter how heretical or angry they
article by Renee McCoy in the last issue of The might wish to be seen; however, it seems to me a ***
Gay Christian. As a Black lesbian and a member point of integrity that they should refrain from
of this Fellowship, I found the article precise in using the identity of Christian and withdraw into The writer seems consistently to disregard
articulating my own feelings. I,too, am clinging a religious community in which their views would the facts, and he's wrong on that last point. TGC
to UFMCC with a belief and a hope for change. be consonant with their co-believers/ disbelievers. more than pays its own way through subscriptions.
The article also helped me toward a better The extensive sounding board afforded anti- The same cannot be said for IN UNITY, which is
self-understanding. orthodoxy through TGC is not commensurate dependent on denominational money, and copy
It is my belief that The Gay Christian, and, with the relative handful of MCCers whose views for which must pass a panel of three pentecostals
in fact, any publication that is handled through are regularly presented. of fundamentalist or "evangelical" persuasion. It
the Fellowship offices should always represent I do not believe that TGC should receive will be recalled that the two magazines were split
the fact that our Fellowship is open to all and one cent of denominational funding; if people as a kind of response to the fact of pluralism
that as growing Christians our minds should be really want it, it should pay for itself. In my within UFMCC and the accompanying fact that
always open to looking at and reflecting upon estimation, this magazine in no way exemplifies some theological conservatives objected to being
varied points of view. The Gay Christianis an the wide theological diversity in UFMCC. As far reminded of that fact via a single denominational
excellent challenge to both my day to day as I can tell there seems to be little of the recon- magazine.
thinking and my theological views. I am grateful ciling spirit of the one whose name Christians As for his second point, we say, Phooey.
for the challenge. Thank you. own. There's not been any apparent attempt to Neither this issue nor five years of my steward-
Prayerfully supporting and encouraging you hear, understand, and build community with the ship as editor substantiates his charge, which I
and all who contribute articles to the magazine, thousands of Evangelical MCCers by editors of take to mean the exclusive presentation of
TGC but I have heard a lot of rage, anger, bitter- far-left views. Look for yourself.
In Jesus, the Liberator, ness, frustration, and repudiation toward us. And his first point: Ya know, we're pretty
Editors, if you truly want to be inclusive, why tired of an increasing flow of propaganda and
RUTH GOUGH not show it? However, if inclusion into your poison-pen newsletters that fall regularly out of
community means that I must repudiate the our mailbox announcing that we aren't really
literal death, burial, resurrection, and ascension Christians. Maybe if there's a Last Judgment,
of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior then you can God will empanel some of these newsletter-
CHICAGO keep your community without me! But please, writers as judges so She can take a break. Many
don't call it a Christian community; it's not! of us just aren't interested in the writer's def-
Editor, TGC: When I first joined UFMCC in 1971 I inition of "Christian," which seems to have to do
understood that I was joining a "Christian with a set of dogmatic opinions based on literal
I am not black. I am not lesbian. I need Church." Recently some in control of UFMCC interpretations of the tradition about the life and
The Gay Christian. TGC gives me a chance to media are forcing me to question whether that teachings of Jesus and, presumably, of the whole
hear voices that I need to hear. has changed - or is it perhaps just that some of Bible and the historic creeds' interpretation
This is Jesus According To Me: Someone those who write don't belong? thereof, too. Only the literalist is actually "Chris-
I who learned from a Canaanite woman, somebody tian." But others of us, too, work with and
who sat with a Samaritan at the well, one who NAME WITHHELD interpret the same tradition; our lives are pro-
defended and befriended a prostitute. Jesus, who
embraced the racial, sexual, and religious *** CONTINUED ON P. 8

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of this

absolutely, positively
does not

In your

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