Friday, June 26, 2009

The Passing of a Catalyst

The world obeserves the passing of Michael Jackson, a catalyst who reinvented pop culture and his own personal world and in the process connected millions of people around powerful messages and affected millions of lives in countless ways.

It must have been so lonely.

See lyrics below in this post . . . .

"Man In The Mirror"

I'm Gonna Make A Change, For Once In My Life
It's Gonna Feel Real Good, Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin' My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street, With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See Their Needs
A Summer's Disregard, A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man's Soul
They Follow Each Other On The Wind Ya' Know
'Cause They Got Nowhere To Go
That's Why I Want You To Know

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change
(Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na, Na Nah)

I've Been A Victim Of A Selfish Kind Of Love
It's Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With No Home, Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me, Pretending That They're Not Alone?

A Willow Deeply Scarred, Somebody's Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
They Follow The Pattern Of The Wind, Ya' See
Cause They Got No Place To Be
That's Why I'm Starting With Me

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself And Then Make A Change

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself And Then Make That . . .


I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror,
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself And Then Make The Change
You Gotta Get It Right, While You Got The Time
'Cause When You Close Your Heart
You Can't Close Your . . .Your Mind!

That Man, That Man, That Man, That Man
With That Man In The Mirror
That Man, That Man, That Man I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
You Know . . .That Man

No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself And Then Make A Change

Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na, Na Nah (Oh Yeah!)
Gonna Feel Real Good Now!
Yeah Yeah! Yeah Yeah! Yeah Yeah!
Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na, Na Nah (Ooooh . . .)
Oh No, No No . . .
I'm Gonna Make A Change
It's Gonna Feel Real Good!
Come On! (Change . . .)
Just Lift Yourself You Know
You've Got To Stop It. Yourself!
(Yeah!-Make That Change!)
I've Got To Make That Change, Today!
Hoo! (Man In The Mirror)
You Got To, You Got To Not Let Yourself . . .
Brother . . . Hoo! (Yeah!-Make That Change!)
You Know-I've Got To Get That Man, That Man . . . (Man In The Mirror)
You've Got To, You've Got To Move! Come On! Come On!
You Got To . . . Stand Up! Stand Up! Stand Up! (Yeah-Make That Change)
Stand Up And Lift Yourself, Now!
(Man In The Mirror) Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Aaow! (Yeah-Make That Change)
Gonna Make That Change . . . Come On! (Man In The Mirror)
You Know It! You Know It! You Know It! You Know . . . (Change . . .)
Make That Change.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bridging the Gap

Lately it's been difficult for me to want to maintain bridges (much less build them) between the worlds of faith and sexuality. Honestly, I feel like wounds just keep getting ripped back open and the scabs are barely hardening. Perhaps my heart, too?

My heart isn't hardening towards the Lord. Heck no, I love Him! He's cool. We're cool. It's church folk that I guess I've been growing weary of - both gay and straight. That's probably a whole other blog entry by itself. You may get a sense of where I'm coming from in February's post "The Monkey's Pet Fish" and also April's posts "Through My Eyes", "Outside the Village Walls" and "Disrespectful, But With a Smile".

But when it comes to the idea of bridge building within the Church between those who hold a traditional perspective and those who hold an inclusive perspective regarding being gay, I'll admit that my initiative has sharply declined the past several months. Our local bridge building efforts (see Oct, Nov, Dec posts here) seems to have been on pause - I guess we're all busy (that's the easy excuse).

I think what brought us to a screeching halt was when it began to become an unsafe place for me. I say that because I was helping to drive our efforts forward and so when I hit the breaks, no one else took the initiative. I felt personally attacked and undermined by one person and the result was me feeling unqualified to be part of such bridge building dreams. Before that, we had been experiencing some really exciting relational breakthroughs. He drove me back into the closet as he reminded me of my shame.

I do believe, however, that we can resume our bridge building efforts. The vision of the Coalition of Bridge Builders is to see the broader Church engage in a productive and safe dialogue regarding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals within our community. We started our efforts with churches and organizations. I wonder if we could resume with starting with individuals first. Our initial approach was to connect with the senior pastors but our efforts quickly became event driven, rather than relationship driven. Perhaps we can invest our energies with a coalition of individuals who are open to entering this dialogue - a productive and safe one. Individuals like Wendy Gritter at Bridging the Gap and everyone taking part in today's synchroblog event.

If we can catalyze individuals from the ground up, then the conversation will inevitably take place among the leaders. But if we only engage the leaders, then it may not filter down to the people. With productive and safe dialogue happening from both ends, then I believe we can see healthy movement.

How can we do this?

I've written before about these things which I'll share with you at the end of this. But first, here are some of my more recent thoughts from my gay Christian perspective and as a bridge builder:

1. A Sense of Safety is Paramount!

Regardless of the positions we take on issues, we have to be sensitive to people feeling safe. Remember that a gay Christian has experienced tremendous historical hurt by the Church. Asking a gay Christian person to engage in dialogue with a straight Christian person about the subject of being gay or the subject of homosexuality (those are two different things) is like asking an abused person to sit next to the person that abused them. I realize that you may not be the actual person that hurt them, but the feelings are still there and it can get pretty raw when it resurfaces. So if we want to keep everyone at the table, then we all need to be sensitive to that.

On the flip side, us gay Christians need to remember that this dialogue isn't therapy. The person next to us or across the table isn't really the person that hurt us. He or she may represent those who hurt us but it's not fair to them. We can't project our anger towards them by inflicting our baggage on to them. Let's remember that they are present - they are there willing to sit with us to have this very important dialogue. That should score points with us.

2. Take Initiative!

If you're a straight Christian person willing to be in this dialogue, it's a huge gesture for us to see you take the step forward into the gap. The reason is because from a gay person's perspective, we have routinely experienced people stepping away from us. We are all too familiar with rejection. So if you would take the initiative in reaching out toward us, then we're more likely to step forward to join you in the gap.

If you're a gay Christian person willing to be in this dialogue, we ultimately have to choose to step towards the other person as well. I know how we can be really bitter and not want to take any steps forward while expecting the person or group that wronged us to do all the work of making amends. Well, we have to be proactive about our forgiveness too.

3. Elevate the Conversation!

We have to find our common ground. There are numerous things that we might disagree about: tongues, tithing, communion, baptism, leadership roles and worship styles and structures and approaches, or even our interpretations of Scripture about the subject of homosexuality and being gay. But we may agree on the Deity of Christ, the Trinity, salvation by grace through faith, and a number of other core things. We need to elevate the conversation beyond the politics of our differences. We need to elevate the conversation to a broader vision - to see God's people love better. Our goal isn't to enter into debate about the things we disagree on. Our agenda cannot be to try to change the other person's mind. That was the old way and that clearly has served only to divide the Church further. But perhaps through relationship, we can change each others hearts towards one another. And God's Church can again begin to assemble to worship Him.

So with that, I invite you to continue this dialogue at - a gay and straight collaborative christian community.

Here are articles I've written to help serve this dialogue:

"Building Relationships that Matter: A Framework for Entering the Hot Zone"

"Journey Christians: Beyond the Side A/B/X Framework"

Be sure to check back at Bridging the Gap's blog to see what other bloggers are contributing to the synchroblog event!