Thursday, December 3, 2009

Anything but Jesus

There was a workshop on shamanism. There was a workshop on Hawaiian spirituality. There was a workshop on making a medicine wheel.

It was pretty typical at this past weekend’s gathering of a men’s group that I’m involved in. Over the past eight years that I have been attending these weekend gatherings with other gay men, there have been workshops on any number of spiritual issues - yoga, meditation, mandalas, totems, magic, labyrinths, sweat lodges, atheism...

Anything but Jesus.

I saw the same thing in the Radical Faeries, and I see it in the queer community at large. There are workshops, classes and groups for all these issues plus others - tantra, solstice, witchcraft...
These are all cool, but where is Jesus?

Let me be perfectly clear about three things. First, I’m down with all these practices. Like I said, they are all cool. Secondly, Jesus shouldn’t be forced on anyone. I’m not out to convert Jews, Buddhists, Muslims.... Yes, I go around with Jesus plastered on my chest, but I’m no evangelist - at least in the classic converting sense. And, yes, I do know about GLBT-friendly Christian churches, the Metropolitan Community Church, etc.

What is also achingly evident to me is that queer people are hungry - no, starving, famished - for a spiritual life. Equally clear is that they don’t want it to involve Jesus. They want anything but Jesus.

To me, this is one more tragic sign of how many in the queer community have been hurt by Jesus. As I have written before, Jesus has been taken by right-wing fundamentalists and used to bash gays. I suspect that many of the guys at the gatherings grew up in Christian churches and then fled when they came out, getting as far away as possible.

Now they are searching, desperate for something - anything - that’s not Jesus.

At the gathering this summer, I was thrilled that there was a workshop on Jesus. Finally! A small number of us showed up - me in my Jesus bibs, of course! - but we were passionate.
As we agreed, the sad, sad thing about this is that Jesus was all about love. He never drew lines regarding who should or should not love each other. What’s more, Jesus made a point about loving - indeed, reaching out with love to - the stranger, the other, yes, the enemy.

And now he is used to hate and to hurt.

We also agreed that it is important to not be quiet and shy, to speak up about Jesus and his message of radical inclusion. I try to do my part, but it is a challenge. It is so much easier to hide and let a snide comment slide, not be sneered at and ridiculed. I often feel like Prior in ANGELS IN AMERICA - a weak, disabled, gay man asked - commanded! - to spread the message. Why me?

Why not me?


  1. I'm with you there, John. I go over to the radical faeries at Short Mt. once a month. They hold hands and have a silence before their meetings. I was bowled overr when, during a meeting with one or two people disagreeing, they were asked if they would "stand aside" so the group could go forward. There is a great hunger for spiritual life there, as you say. I'm hoping we can get a couple of people to come to our small Friends Meeting in Cookeville. It used to bother me that our Meeting wasn't more Jesus-centered, but I content myself with saying the letter killeth and the spirit giveth life. It is more important how one lives, that how one expresses one's spirituality. Hector Black

  2. That last sentence isn't very clear. substitute "It is more important how one lives, than the words one uses to express one's spirituality. Hector

  3. Hey John... maybe someday you and I can work on doing a Jesus workshop together.... maybe even a humorous one at that...