Should I go, or should I not go?
This past weekend, I went to a semi-annual men’s gathering. This is a group of primarily gay men that I’ve been involved with for nearly 10 years and that I mentioned in a post in late November or early December ("Anything but Jesus"). For several days, I considered attending a workshop there on Sunday morning - was the timing intentional? - that was a discussion for atheists, agnostics and "other non-believers."
Although the workshop description said that "curious believers" were welcome, I was thinking about not going. After all, I go around sporting a picture of Jesus on the bib of my overalls, and I am known to spout off about him when given the chance. (Again, see the previous post and others.) My presence may be seen as inappropriate, intrusive or even hostile.
At the last minute, I thought "what the Hell?" and went. (It helped that I know the facilitator and that he’s cool.) I’m glad I did.
There were about 15 guys, including two or three other "curious believers," and the conversation was stimulating, substantial, heartfelt and utterly civil. There was talk about how the earth began, how the early church made up stories and rules to protect its position and riches and about workers in a government office displaying religious symbols and ending phone conversations with "God bless."
One comment really struck me, though - for an unfortunate reason. A guy said that when he was signing up for the workshop, he was given a bit of a hard time by other guys making defensive comments.
I thought of when, at a similar gathering in March, I facilitated a workshop on - of course - Jesus and how he can be reclaimed from those who has used him to suppress and oppress various people, including those who are gay. One man mentioned that he had been questioned and harassed when he indicated that he was attending this workshop. "Why would you want to go to THAT?"
And I thought of how I almost didn’t go here.
I think this is really sad - even tragic. It is not unlike coming out and how daunting, scary and even dangerous that can be. But if we can’t say who we are and what we are about, how can we have a discourse and hopefully understand and live with each other in peace?