Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September 13, 2009. Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost. Proper 19

© 2009 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections

The Collect

O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Proverbs 1:20-33

This narrative stretch is unusual for Proverbs. Usually the insights are stacked a few verses at a time.

Imagine the Environment as a specific context for Wisdom’s soliloquy here. How dumb and simple do you want to be, Wisdom asks us. Have you not seen the results when you have contaminated your own space with waste? Do you seriously think the whole planet operates under different rules? Have you learned nothing from you own time here? From what sources will the ice caps renew themselves? From your personal refrigerators?! Just where will we find dinosaurs and vegetation enough and have time enough to renew the fossil fuels which you so greedily consume?

Is it your children, or your children’s children’s children who will pay for your prodigality? For how many generations ahead are you willing to care -- to care enough to change your own behavior?

Why do you have good brains if so willfully your are unwilling to use them?

There is no such thing as global warming, your last president told you, and you paid your taxes . There is no real danger; we have many other alternative sources of energy: trust us!, the Whitehouse told you, and you reelected him.

How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
Give heed to my reproof;
I will pour out my thoughts to you;
I will make my words known to you.
Because I have called and you refused,
have stretched out my hand and no one heeded,
and because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when panic strikes you,
when panic strikes you like a storm,
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently, but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the LORD,
would have none of my counsel,
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way
and be sated with their own devices.
For waywardness kills the simple,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
but those who listen to me will be secure
and will live at ease, without dread of disaster."

Poem Found on Cinder No. 3--2000 A.D.

The tree, the sky, and the water were ours,
we presumed, for us to use as we pleased,
as if we had a Visacard or Mastercharge account
in God's name with no payment to make in our generation.
This is a recording is a recording is a recording
is a recordingisa recordingisarec....

--Louie Crew

Has appeared:

Negative Capability 3.1 (1982): 58
Northland Quarterly 2:3 (1990): 36. Used my Chinese pseudonym Li Min Hua
Poetically Speaking as part of 'Guest Poet' series for a month from May 8, 2002
Pennine Ink Magazine 29 (2008): 7

Psalm 19

I find it hard to read Psalm 19 without Haydn taking over my head.

I vividly remember an evening in my sophomore year when I went to bed awash with suicidal thoughts, unhappy to be gay, weary that my sexual longings would not depart in spite of sustained prayer and fasting. From my sleep very early in the morning I was awakened by the radio. Apparently I had forgotten to turn it off. “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament showeth forth His handiwork,” the chorus rang out. Bright sun had taken over my small room. It was an epiphany, and for a moment, it banished my depression.

One day tells its tale to another, *
and one night imparts knowledge to another.

Although they have no words or language, *
and their voices are not heard…

The love of God is inescapable, I rejoiced. Then, my damnation struck again, with a vengeance:

The law of the LORD is perfect
and revives the soul; *
the testimony of the LORD is sure
and gives wisdom to the innocent.

“Condemned! Guilty as charged. I love men!” -- I said to myself, and I knew what the law said about that. I had read Leviticus. “Suffer not such an one to live.”

James 3:1-12

How convenient for sinners that the Church so rarely speaks out against an unbridled tongue.

How much easier to focus on the sins of others, especially those unlike ourselves, whose sinful behaviors do not even tempt us.

Mark 8:27-38

Jesus himself had an identity problem. Jesus himself asked what other people thought about him.

“Some say you are ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets,’” his disciples reported.

“What do you say?” he asked.

“You are the messiah,” they said, naming the subversive truth in the room. He told them not to tell anyone, at least yet.

Nor did they really want to hear the truth when the truth brought with it grim consequences for themselves. When Jesus told Peter that he would be killed and after three days rise again, Peter wanted none of it, and rebuked Jesus for making such awful predictions.

Jesus in turn rebuked Peter, turning so that the other disciples would surely hear him do so. Peter you are speaking on human terms; I am speaking on divine terms.

Jesus had to lose his life to gain it. So must we.

What tape was set out for your life by your family and your community when you were a child and when you were a young adult? How has Christianity subverted that?

I wasted a major part of the first 28 years of my life trying to be someone who I was not, namely a heterosexual. No preacher, no psychologist, no dear personal friend, no family member…--all of whom I approached--had any efficacy in valiant efforts to help me change. Nor did Jesus. In many ways Jesus was the least helpful of all, as he showed no inclination to make my change a condition of his love for me.

I had to lose the straight life to which I felt destined. Until I lost it, I could not have discovered my wholeness, and thereby my inclusion in the Kingdom of God and in the faithful company of God’s people.

What a shame to have felt sorry for myself for being gay! How fortunate I was to be gay! How else would I have challenged the narrow Baptist culture which nurtured me? How then would I have ever been prompted to challenge the racism and sexism which privileged me?

Many with whom I grew up work 11 months a year to earn enough for a vacation on which they go to New York or London or Paris .... to see plays or movies about lives like the life that I have been blessed to share with Ernest, my husband of 35 years.

For every friend I lost in coming out, at least 100 more have come along, each more mature and freer to rejoice in the richness of diversity in creation.

People who value me value me as who I am, not as a persona that I have constructed to make my life easier for them to tolerate.

In 2006, General Convention passed the notorious Resolution B033, which proclaimed moratoria on consents to the Episcopal elections of lgbt persons and on blessing lgbt unions. It cautioned against supporting people “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the rest of the Communion.” (That is Anglo-Speak for “Don’t mess around with the queers except to condemn or convert them.”)

General Convention this summer, 2009, made history out of B033 by passing two more welcoming resolutions which supersede B033.

If your life is not a challenge to the rest of the Communion, what evidence is there that you are a Christian?

What life have you lost to gain eternal life in Christ?

See also

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