It's been an exciting couple of days: an unexpected chance to see some of country radio's big names in concert, and a film about the Bible and homosexuality.
Sunday night, we went to see Brooks & Dunn AND Alan Jackson in concert. Every song was a top hit with lots of radio play--it was hours of sing-along fun. I love sentimental songs whose choruses include finding Jesus, drinking beer and wrecking cars. All in 2 lines. Really, it was fun--Boot Scootin' Boogie-ing, Chattahoochie-ing good times.
It helps that these 2 acts have the post-9/11 patriotic anthems I can most go along with. (And, we all know that a good country music concert has to feature 'em. Sometimes they make my stomach hurt bad.) Unfortunately, their staging and order reinforced what my good friend, Christian Left, was saying just the other day. In an encore that started with a gospel invitation to believe in something more than what we can see (and with a shout-out to red letter Christians), they followed this moving gospel number with (you guessed it) patriotism. And they used a song about USAmerica as a land of opportunity (a swell idea) as stage for a visual tribute to the Marines. As if the only thing better than believing in Jesus is America. And the real America is military America.
My Dear Husband, though he shared much of my complaints about the staging, said they had to do it so they could end on a rockin' number. Maybe Jesus could be last if his songs rocked more.
Tonight, my adventures in Jesus and America continued. Differently. I went to see "For the Bible Tells Me So," a documentary about the Bible and how it's used to form our beliefs about homosexuality in USAmerica. It is playing here in SD this week. I went with some courageous and beautiful people who are trying to build a community of support for LGBT folks at a conservative Christian college in town.
It's always hard to watch reminders of the spiritual and physical violence done to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people in the name of the Bible. It's been far too much, and far too destructive.
What made me cry, though, is the bold witness of families and parents who are being "church" much more daringly then most of our churches are. And the folks in the film certainly aren't the only ones: so many others are putting themselves out into the world as witnesses to a Gospel call to love.
I'm just worried, tonight, about how horrible the whole things looks from the outside.
We've gotten so easily deceived into believing that homophobia is a holy obligation--that it's the Christian expectation. Which makes we wonder how we're going to get beyond this. For a culture that finds religion more and more optional, and that may never have the kind of rich and formative experiences of being raised in a nurturing church community, I wonder what reason for joining a church community one would see.
I want to be a part of church communities that proclaim by demonstration a love that comes to everyone and changes the world.
The choice isn't whether or not there are going to be gay and lesbian people in the world. (There are.) We need to choose whether the church is going to be open to all children of God. And, eventually, we need to choose if we're going to be relevant to a world that loves its gay and lesbian sons/daughters/mothers/parents/brothers/neighbors/co-workers/teachers.
Or just look afraid, ignorant and hypocritical.
At least, that's what I'm thinking tonight.