Monday, August 22, 2016

Choking on Credal Arguments

Joanna Macy - A Wild Love for the World, an On Being interview with Krista Tippett, stopped me in my tracks yesterday. I stood in the kitchen, frying my mother's zucchini from a too-abundant crop, when I heard Joanna Macy describe becoming devotedly Christian at 16 and how, four years later, everything changed.

"When I went into studies of Biblical history and theology, I began to choke," she said. "I found there was something that I balked at terrifically, which were credal arguments about items of belief, but also any hint of exclusivity, that there were people who were 'beyond the pale.'"

After 13 years of Catholic school (K-12), I left the church by my second year of college. Since that time, I've struggled in my arguments against the Church because I didn't know everything. In Macy's words, I recognized that fallacy. I need not know everything about a religion in order to decide that it doesn't serve my journey.

Senior year of high school, my best male friend, in the moment when I thought he was going to confess his love to me (how many of us have been in that boat), instead came out to me, and made me promise not to tell a soul. We went to the same Catholic school.

Three years later, I learned that a girl I'd known and loved since Kindergarten had had an abortion that same year of high school. Catholic credal arguments against homosexuality and abortion would never trump the innocent struggles of young people I loved, whose high school traumas were linked inextricably to the church calling them sinners in their moments of greatest strife.

According to Catholics, my friends were "beyond the pale." If an institution as powerful as the Catholic church could not offer comfort and support to its own children, honestly trying to navigate the world into which they were born, I didn't want any parts of it.

I've softened in my distaste for the church, the more I've become exposed to its evil stepchild, Evangelism. Where Catholics twist themselves in knots to provide sound reasoning on their credal arguments, Evangelists cater to the same lowest denominator as Fox News. It's all pomp, circumstance and emotionality; they don't even try to develop sound arguments.

My sexuality is intertwined with my spirituality. Both come from love, and from my sense of purpose. About twelve minutes into the interview, Macy talks about falling in love with the Tibetan people because their joie de vivre shone through their hardship so clearly. They are what drew her to Buddhism.

The ever-wise Tippett pointed out how Macy was drawn to the lived experience of the faith before learning more about its tenets.

I want to live my sexuality and life with Sonia in a way that reveals my own joie de vivre, clearly and emphatically, to anyone who is paying attention. It will require more grit and unabashed optimism than I generally wear publicly, but that struggle feels purposeful.

The next step is a picture postcard to the extended family. We'll get a shot on vacation and send it to the extended families and friends, a sort of "We've moved in!" announcement despite the homophobia expressed by several of them.

With the postcard, we'll know officially who's on our team, and the rest of them be damned. At least some part of finding joy in life must be curating the people you choose to have in it.

Vacation begins Saturday!

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