My latest post is up at the United Church of Christ's blog:
One of my daughter’s favorite shows at the moment is “Thomas the Tank Engine.” I haven’t yet figured out what she likes most about it, whether the stories or out of a growing fascination with trains. I suspect that it’s the latter.
A constant theme of this show is “usefulness.” Thomas is always trying to be useful, hoping that he can accomplish his tasks in a timely and efficient manner. He savors the praise of the island mayor when he is told he is a “very useful engine.”
I think this message from a seemingly benign children’s program reflects a common aspiration that many have.
Queerness transgresses boundaries and allows us to simply be, without label or category, specifically around gender and sexuality, Queer is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant. It is particular and expansive. It's less definitive; it does not point to you or me and say, "You are queer,," but instead makes a wide-open space for all people to find footing in relation to one another and their own lives. - Mihee Kim-Kort, Outside the Lines
Like many who perhaps are of a certain generation and older, "queer" was not something that you wanted to be called. It was used as a playground insult at my elementary school; an insult rooted in homophobia meant to sting the person at whom it was hurled. Whether one actually identified as LGBTQ or not, kids (particularly boys) tried their best to avoid being called queer.
As a derogatory term, of course, the word has been used in much more harmful ways at those who do identify in non-hetero terms. It is a labe…
A few years ago, my pastoral colleagues passed around a picture on social media of a person crying with the caption, “When I was a kid, I thought everyone in the church got along.” Identifying the source of the conflict in a church can be tricky, because what people are really upset about isn’t necessarily what they say they’re upset about. Have you ever witnessed or been a part of a church argument that, after the fact, seemed strange? Fights over not having enough tablecloths to use during a dinner. What the pastor wears on Sunday morning. A stain on the youth room carpet. Seemingly small conflicts have real potential to divide a congregation, but may also not really be what the people involved are upset about. One of my favorite sayings in ministry is, “this is not about that.” That is, whatever the presenting issue is (such as a complaint about tablecloths), is really about something else that won’t be as apparent (worries over finances that have resulted in no tablecloths). People deci…