Sunlight on the Lake Floor: On Refusing the Entry of Fear

Yesterday a breaking news story covered:

Kentucky Clerk Defies Federal Judge’s Order, Refuses To Issue Marriage License To Gay Couple

Read the article for yourself for the particulars.

On the same day, Herman Cain posted a piece by Dan Calabrese:

Kentucky tells prison chaplains: Sign pledge to never say homosexuality is a sin, or you’re out

It started popping up on my newsfeed, shared by friends who espouse a different theology than mine. Okay. Not the first time people have disagreed on theology as it relates to us in the 21rst century. Let’s have a look.

The written piece was untruthful and fearful, but what pushed me over the edge was the use of Nazi symbolism on a rainbow flag.

GayFascistDeniers

Unless a relevant discussion has specific ties to the Second World War or the Holocaust, invoking any straw man arguments using the Third Reich, the death camps, or the Shoah is at best poor form. It takes the demonized group (LGBTQ people) and compares them to Nazis — people who used facism to further domination and the Thousand Year Reign agenda; people who slaughtered Jews, Christians, Roma, disabled people, LGBTQ+ people (oh the sad irony), Czechs, Poles, Russians, and anyone who stood in their way. Since Nazism has become the gold standard of evil in our post-modern world, attaching any association with it to any group immediately creates comparisons of fear, terror, facism, hatred, and persecution.

Not only was this symbol in rotten taste (whatever point Calabrese was trying to make) it desecrated the real victims of the  real Holocaust; and the gay community was once again plastered as evil, and filled with some kind of left-wing agenda.

Hitler?

Gay people are akin to Hitler?

I felt my blood pressure rise. How could people actually believe crap like this? How could people APPROVE of crap like this? And yet… poor, little Christians are being slammed for sharing the truth (“truth” said tongue firmly planted in cheek). If anything, this single post demonstrated the lows to which some Christian communities have sunk to in order to show the world how holy they are. Without thought to the consequences of invoking Nazism, they embrace the strength and power that comes with a straw man argument and leave the demonized group to fend for itself. How… Christian.

The article complains about how if prison chaplains don’t tow the line in terms of addressing LGBTQ+ inmates respectfully, they’ll be handed their walking papers. If there’s any truth in this post, any prison chaplains believing their employers are unlawfully forcing them to commit acts against their consciences need to be addressed at the local level.

(One of…) My beef?

When my home province cut programs and supports for inmates back in the 1980s and 1990s, prison chaplaincy was near the top of the list. My father, a deputy prison warden, had to fight to have a half time Catholic priest and a half time Salvation Army officer come in and continue their ministries. Not only that, but finding “Christian” volunteers of any kind to reach out and sacrifice their own time to visit inmates? Good luck.

Inmates deserved what they got. Needed to be punished. Penalized.

Only the ones truly unjustly accused were worthy of a prison visit. So this Dan person’s perspective, while offensive, frustrates me on the level that it seems Christians now care about prison ministry when LGBTQ+ “agendas” are involved. Even inmates have to be protected against sexual sin, I guess.

Sure there are many reputable prison ministries, and I have the honour of knowing some terrific prison chaplains, ministers and volunteers. Most don’t hold to Dan’s perspective, but a few do. Not all chaplains are crying “FEAR!” by insisting that the LGBTQ community is preventing Christians from being Christians.

Rant OVER.

Clearly I needed a way to cool down. I didn’t want to talk to God. No way. Why does God allow such voices to speak such hurtful and cruel things to the world?

No, I didn’t want God to come close to this one. I wanted my anger to bubble over to the point where I couldn’t think anymore. I wanted the heartbreak to last so that… so that what?

Really, why did I need to push God aside? Maybe because I didn’t want to be associated with my brothers and sisters who were proudly sharing this article, who also claimed to believe in God and love God and live for God and be holy for God? (too much?)

It was food bank day yesterday, so I worked a bit later. But despite being tired at the end of it all, I pumped up Gryffin (my inflatable kayak) and pushed out on to Lac La Biche lake. It was over thirty degrees, but the breeze was cool (thank goodness). I worked my way around the David Thompson statue where the waters were a bit calmer, put on some Rich Mullins, and fell into a paddling rhythm

Sure, speaking out against an awful use of Nazi symbolism and a pride flag together is important. But I know and accept that there are folks who approve of such marriages. I don’t have to listen to the words. It was the picture that yanked at me. And it yanked hard.

But God is present with me as She’s present with the people posting such hate. And while the writer might not believe he’s writing in hate, the picture invokes attachments of hatred. And while he accuses the LGBTQ+ community of being deliberately facist every step of the way (a point on which I vehemently disagree), I wonder if he knows just how potent his choice of picture was? How deliberate in return towards those he’s accusing?

Paddle… paddle… paddle…

I passed many lily pad groves — some with beautiful tiny white flowers budding on them, moved through water alongside falcons and pelicans, and began to feel my breathing cleanse my thoughts, feelings and intentions.

“I Am here.”

“I Am here.”

“I Am here.”

“I Am…”

“I Am…”

“I Am…”

Presence.

Coming around the bay, I could see the sun move in ripples across the bottom in tandem with the waves. The waves would crest and a line would shimmer along the sand. It was incredible.

Sunlight on the bottom of Lac La Biche Lake
Sunlight on the bottom of Lac La Biche Lake

“I Am here.”

“I Am here.”

“I Am here.”

“I Am…”

“I Am…”

“I Am…”

Presence.

I began to release the anger, the sadness and the frustration this single post had evoked in me. People are going to say all sorts of unkind and unloving things in this world, many of them from fellow brothers and sisters. And yes, sometimes those things will pass over my lips into the air and perhaps create anger and frustration in the hearts and minds of others. On those days, I pray people would show me mercy and grace (even if I don’t deserve it…?). My own anger began to melt away into a perspective met with the presence of Christ at my side, simply gazing out at the lake and breathing in the peace He gives to us all.

I want the Nazi stuff to come down. There’s no need for it. I want Dan and all writers at Herman Cain to explore better ways of engaging current events and creating helpful dialogue. But I don’t have to lose sleep over someone else’s bad behaviour. God’s present with them; and God’s present with me.

Quiet bright ripples on the bottom of a lake.

Slow, steady strokes helping my breath to fall in step with the Spirit.

Fresh air cleansing my body and soul.

There are ways to love when love seems the most impossible thing to do. I can’t say what all of those ways are just yet. But if love is truly Infinite, then I’ll never know all of these ways. It’s impossible. But I can continually discover them. I don’t have to push God out when I’m angry or tired.

I need not be afraid that fundamentalism will dominate rhetoric forever (nothing will last forever but love). I can breathe. I can rest. I can be.

Enjoy this song from the underground. Ironically Mullins uses “rage” and “fury” and “soldiers” as word pictures to create his idea of how God’s love pursues us so relentlessly. May we all be so immersed.

Amen.

The Love of God — R.Mullins

“There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God

Now I’ve seen no band of angels
But I’ve heard the soldiers’ songs
Love hangs over them like a banner
Love within them leads them on
To the battle on the journey
And it’s never gonna stop
Ever widening their mercies
And the fury of His love

Oh the love of God
And oh the love of God
The love of God

Joy and sorrow are this ocean
And in their every ebb and flow
Now the Lord a door has opened
That all Hell could never close
Here I’m tested and made worthy
Tossed about but lifted up
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God”

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