Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Whither Emerge Ye, Friends?

Sometimes I'm just so glad I'm Catholic.

In this particular instance, it's kind of a long story. After I posted earlier about Jennifer Knapp coming out as a lesbian while maintaining she is not living a lifestyle of sin, I became more and more interested (okay, a little obsessed) with the subject. I posted a mini-rant on someone's status update about the reasoning against gay marriage (from a secular point of view, as this person is not a believer); then tonight I noticed some friends commenting on someone else's Facebook page about an interview Knapp did on Larry King Live. These friends are all part of an "emerging church" group, which, if you're unfamiliar with the term, refers to a nontraditional gathering of believers who may meet anywhere with a structure of their choosing and, according to this article in Christianity Today, generally adhere to practices like serving others, welcoming strangers, and living in community. I was mortified to see these Christians praising Knapp for "holding her own" in the interview. I thought, "Holding her own??? As in, you think she's justified with her defense of being a practicing gay Christian?" Which led to me do a little internet research on the Emerging Church's position on homosexuality. Now, of course, I realize that trying to ascertain any "Emerging Church position" is kind of like trying to catch a greased weasel. The Emerging Church seems to dislike taking a stance on...well, most anything you might consider doctrine. And since emergent groups aren't necessarily associated with each other, it's even more slippery. Their overall response to the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage, however, seems to be a slide toward condoning homosexual practice. Tony Jones, an Emergent theologian, has stated on his blog that "I now believe that GLBTQ can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state." Brian MacLaren, another spokesperson for the Emergent movement, had this to say when asked for his position on gay marriage: "You know what, the thing that breaks my heart is that there's no way I can answer it without hurting someone on either side."(As reported here from a 2005 issue of Time magazine.) Hmm....opens up some big questions. Like, does biblical Truth hurt? I rather think it should sometimes. Because the hurt of conviction now is going to be a whole lot better than the hurt of a lifetime spent in sin, not to mention its potential eternal ramifications. What about this humdinger: was Jesus concerned about offending people? Or was He concerned with saving their souls? The Scripture fairy is dropping this verse into my mind: "I come not to bring peace, but a sword" (Mt. 10:34). And I NEVER thought I would quote Wikipedia in this post, but it really eloquently interprets that statement from Christ: "Though the ultimate end of the gospel is peace with God and with those who love Him, the immediate result of the gospel is frequently ideological and moral conflict with the world." Wiki-wiki-wha...?

I genuinely respect the Emerging Church's commitment to love and serve unbelievers around them. I think that's 100% biblical and totally laudable. I believe they're doing a lot of good in the world. But when I look at the life of Christ, it seems to me that He didn't stop there. He washed the disciple's feet and then He told them how to cleanse their souls, too. How can a Christ-follower take such a soft stance on something that in 2,000 years of Church history has always been a no-bones-about-it sin?

So anyway, this is why sometimes I am just so glad--relieved, even--to be Catholic. Because in my rooting around on the Internet, I saw so many different individual voices crying to be heard above the rest. Pastors, thinkers, bloggers, joe schmoes, and no small number of stark raving lunatics. Everyone laying claim to Scripture or personal experience, presenting their defenses. But in the end, who's to say who's right or got the upper hand? It's a vast, choppy ocean of thought out there and everyone's clutching at whatever will float--sometimes to cling to so they keep their heads above water, sometimes to clobber the other guy with. But I have a Church that traces its origin all the way back to Christ, and that Church has a sane, compassionate, loving, biblical, no-nonsense position on this tempestuous, hot-button issue. And here it is, straight from the Catechism:

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,140 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."141 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hair We Go Again

It happens every time. I make a hair appointment, prepare the best I can by bringing in a photo of the haircut I want, talk it over to the best of my ability with the stylist, and then steel myself for something between disappointment and devastation.

WHY do I always, ALWAYS, no matter what haircut I describe or picture I bring in, end up looking like a combination between Gossamer, the red hairy monster from Looney Tunes,

and The Rachel a la Jennifer Aniston on Friends circa 1995?

Oh, the humanity! Is there an instructional video circulating through beauty schools that contains subliminal images of Gossamer, Rachel, and yours truly? Do I have a tattoo on the back of my scalp that says, "Just kidding about the awesome Tina Fey photo I brought"?

Maybe there's a law of attraction thing going on here... Like because I believe I'm going to get a bad haircut, I do? Like I have invisible universe magnets that attract bad hair vibes? Maybe between now and my next appointment, I will visualize fantastic hair...Tina Fey hair...Kate Beckinsale hair...OMMMazing hair....

Or maybe next time, I should just bring in this celebrity hair photo:

That should keep it pretty simple!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Ballad of Jennifer Knapp

During my college years at Wheaton, we had some pretty amazing bands stop by to play concerts. I can remember being deeply disappointed when I had to miss the Jars of Clay show that featured Jennifer Knapp. Though I only ever owned one of her albums, I always resonated with her vulnerability and appreciated her honesty about her own sin. Lyrics like "There are ghosts in my past who have owned more of my soul than I thought I had given away / They linger in closets and under my bed and in pictures less proudly displayed" aren't exactly your usual K-LOVE fare. But then a few years ago when I tried to look her up to see if she had come out with anything new, I found that her website had been taken down and her Wikipedia entry said something cryptic about her veritable disappearance. Apparently, she had been sucked into the CCM Bermuda Triangle along with Sixpence None the Richer and First Call.

Amelia, it was just a false alarm.

I was genuinely shocked upon reading this interview in Christianity Today (thanks to Jenny K. for the heads-up) to read that Jennifer Knapp is not only coming out with a new album after nine years; she is also coming out. That's right. She's a lesbian. In this (I thought) quite objective interview, Knapp alludes to her latest project but mostly fields questions about this revelation about her sexuality. I'm sure this is the last thing she really wants to talk about--she essentially says as much, maintaining that she is a very private person--but as a former CCM artist and present-day Christian, these are the questions her listeners as well as her brothers and sisters in Christ want answers to. And so do I.

Though I definitely find it a stretch to compare the Bible's take on homosexuality to its stance on eating shellfish or wearing clothes made of mixed fibers (as Knapp does in the interview), I realize there's no point in me trying to evaluate her "Christian-ness." She still loves Jesus and trusts in His sacrifice. From there, only God can say where she stands before Him. We are all sinners and every Christian I've ever known has continued to sin even after entering into that saving relationship with Christ.

So here's my primary question: how does the Church deal with gay Christians who do not acknowledge acting upon homosexuality as sin? Do we Matthew 18 that puppy--confront the person about the sin and then "if he refuses to listen, even to the church, then treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector"? And for that matter, how do we treat the pagan and the tax collector? With love and respect, I hope--but as an outsider? So many churchgoing Christians engage in habitual, lifestyle sins. Is this the sin that breaks the camel's back?

And will you listen to Knapp's new album? How about if you don't have to buy it and support her lady-lovin' lifestyle? I wonder what she has to say, and I don't think her being gay means she can't have any relevant lyrics...but my filters will definitely be up.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Poem

Something I wrote today after walking through the cemetery with my kids:

Yea Though We Walk

We take our daily walks

through Queen of Heaven

and I find myself inured—

forgetting or not minding the decay

six feet beneath my own.

The horror that would rouse

Any other place

Is here removed, germane—

Put to sleep beneath silk flowers.

As days go by my excuses thin

For why he cannot play in the lush grass

(as if he could disturb the dead!

If any part of them is there,

I think his shouts of joy

Would be a welcome noise.)

I mull the ways I could explain

This place to three years’ ears—

“a park for dead people”

clunks around in my brain—

is that the best I’ve got?

And so for now we walk.

I point out the statue of Jesus’ Mommy

In her blue coat

And we try to catch some mist

From where the sprinklers bless

The vacant earth.

Someday that space will all be filled,

But that day is not yet.

Woohoo! A blog!

Wow, this must be what it's like to be human...or a stay-at-home mom. I've joined the ranks--I've started a blog!

I've decided to bite the bullet because Facebook just isn't narcissistic enough for me anymore. Okay, that's mostly sarcastic...but not entirely. Basically, this blog will be a forum for me to post poems, reviews, thoughts, and the occasional tirade/manifesto/royal proclamation. Mostly poems and reviews, though. I promise.

If you have by an incredible accident of the cosmos found yourself reading this, welcome! I hope this blog will provide some food for your thought, meat for your soul, and papaya-scented massage oil for your body. I would LOVE to have your comments and thoughts!

To infinity....and THE BLOG!