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Gender and Sexuality: Weekly Summary

Gender and Sexuality

Summary: Sunday, October 20—Friday, October 25, 2019

With all the changing ways of understanding gender and sexuality, most of us truly need contemplative eyes and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to “rupture simplistic binaries” and be compassionate and respectful of difference and diversity. (Sunday)

Jesus, like the cosmos itself, is about two things: diversity and communion. (Monday)

As a Christian, when confronted by a tension between a religious certainty which leads me to violate the law of love and a deep unknowing that still moves in the direction of “loving my neighbor as myself,” I am bound to choose the latter course. —Cynthia Bourgeault (Tuesday)

With the interpretive grid provided by a critique of domination, we are able to filter out the sexism, patriarchalism, violence, and homophobia that are very much a part of the Bible, thus liberating it to reveal to us in fresh ways the inbreaking, in our time, of God’s domination-free order. —Walter Wink (Wednesday)

You are not your gender, your nationality, your ethnicity, your skin color, or your social class. These are not qualities of the True Self in God. Why, oh why, do Christians allow temporary costumes, or what Thomas Merton called the “false self,” to pass for the substantial self, which is always “hidden with Christ in God”? (Thursday)

One of the easiest ways that progressive denominations could ignite interest in the binary-busting aspects of Christian theology would be to free up queer clergy to proclaim the Gospel from an explicitly queer perspective, boldly and honestly. —Elizabeth Edman (Friday)

 

Practice: Generosity

Giving brings happiness at every stage of its expression. We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous; we experience joy in the actual act of giving something; and we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given. — Siddhārtha Gautama, The Buddha [1]

Those who pray learn to favor and prefer God’s judgment over that of human beings. God always outdoes us in generosity and in receptivity. God is always more loving than the person who has loved us the most! God does not shame us but loves us even more deeply than we could ever know or love ourselves.

Douglas Abrams reflects on a conversation with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

In generosity, there is a wider perspective in which we see our connection to all others. . . . There is an acceptance of life, in which we do not force life to be other than what it is. . . . There is a gratitude for all that we have been given. Finally, we see others with a deep compassion and a desire to help those who are in need. And from this comes a generosity that is “wise selfish,” a generosity that recognizes helping others as helping ourselves. [2]

Writer, yoga teacher, and queer activist Jacoby Ballard notes that generosity is an important practice in LGBTQIA communities:

I see collective houses sharing, providing for one another. I see partners taking care of each other, friends showing up for childcare for queer families, . . .  community putting in incredible effort to create beautiful commitment ceremonies. I see our communities supporting the organizations that support us. This is so beautiful, and I think this is a human quality for survival. Every community that survives does it together—we can look to so many other communities to see this. Generosity is a response to injustice. We rely on one another out of necessity, but also because we know in our hearts that there is a different way to be, a different way to live. Our generosity with one another is indeed resistance to the greed and fear that oppresses us. We provide for one another out of love for each other and love for ourselves. When we give, we acknowledge that all beings want to be happy. [3]

Here is a contemplative practice to cultivate generosity from mindfulness teacher Amy Love:

Sit in a position that feels stable yet comfortable.

If it feels right for you, close your eyes. If it feels better to keep you[r] eyes open, gently gaze down in front of you. [Settle] into this moment by noticing your breath.

. . . Bring to mind a time when someone was generous toward you, a time when someone did something nice for you. Bring that time to mind in full color, reflecting on who was there, where you were. . . . How did it make you feel? Where does that feeling live in your body? Really feel into what this time was like for you.

If your mind begins to wander, that’s okay. Gently escort your attention back to feeling the time when someone did something nice for you.

Now . . . bring to mind a time when you were generous with someone, a time when you did something nice for someone else. Again, really [sink] into this memory by recalling who was there, where you were, and what was happening. How did it make you feel to be generous in this way? Where do you feel that in your body? What are the sensations of generosity like in your body?

[End] this short contemplation by resting back in your breath for a moment. [4]

I pray that recalling experiences of generosity, both given and received, will allow each of us to carry that spirit to all living things, especially those who challenge our overly-simplistic ideas of what it means to be a human being, made in the image and likeness of God.

References:
[1] As quoted in Surya Das, Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World (Broadway Books: 1997), 207.

[2] His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World (Avery: 2016), 275.

[3] Jacoby Ballard, “Queer Sangha, Fearlessness, and Generosity,” Decolonizing Yoga (December 19, 2013),  https://decolonizingyoga.com/queer-sangha-fearlessness-generosity/.

[4] Amy Love, “Generosity vs. Giving. What Does It Mean to Be Generous?” Mindful Schools (December 10, 2018), https://www.mindfulschools.org/personal-practice/what-does-it-mean-to-be-generous/.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Following the Mystics Through the Narrow Gate. . . Seeing God in All Things (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2010), CD, DVD, MP3 download.

For Further Study:
Elizabeth M. Edman, Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity (Beacon Press: 2016)

Richard Rohr, Just This (CAC Publishing: 2017)

Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of Conscience for the Churches, ed. Walter Wink (Fortress Press: 1999)

Image credit: Gene Davis Paintings 1960-1972 Exhibition Poster (detail), Gene Davis, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Florence Coulson Davis.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: It clearly seems that God is quite comfortable with immense diversity.  We have a much harder time with it, preferring uniformity and conformity instead. —Richard Rohr
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