Monday, August 1, 2011

Hip ≠ Right

A lot of great stuff came out of the Wild Goose Festival, including some amazing stories about the inclusion of LGBT people of faith. Kristin Rawls of Religion Dispatches has a piece up about the LGBT community's involvement in the festival. While there is much there to agree with, such as her statement that, "[i]n the future, festival organizers should invite a range of LGBT people to lead conversation from the main stage on their own terms rather than Campolo’s or Marin’s," I also found some of what was said disturbing. Yes, the festival should look to give a larger platform to actual gay Christians, rather than straight Christians who are known for talking about gay Christians. But statements such as, "the effort [to create a welcoming space for LGBT people] was marred by the inclusion of non-affirming contributors," bother me. Are we really calling for the exclusion of those who disagree with us? Having been the excluded group for so long are we willing now to turn around and exclude even the most well meaning of the 'homosexuality is a sin' crowd (such as Tony Campolo)? What kind of message does this send about the strength of our convictions, or our willingness to witness to the hope we have within us as gay Christians?

It can be difficult to straddle that fine line between affirming that our love is equal to heterosexuals love and any attempt to diminish that truth is heterosexism at it it's worse on the one had, and respecting the beliefs and opinions of those who sincerely and humbly disagree with us on the other. I understand the desire to shut out the other side to be honest, but unfortunately that can lead to just the kind of group think that leads people to say things like,
I felt the center of gravity of the mostly young, cool, hipster social justice-supporting attendees was overwhelmingly pro-queer. I thought Campolo and his cohorts were on a bit of an intellectual island… Pro-queer statements got cheered at panels; antigay statements were generally met with silence.
Um as someone who has grown up in the generation that gave birth to the, "young, cool, hipster[s]," I can say without a doubt that I want nothing to do with them. The idea that people ought to agree with us because that's what all the cool kids believe is ridiculous. Even worse that kind of attitude does a great injustice to the actual strength of our case. How can we expect anyone to take us seriously with such a childish attitude?

The biggest problem with this kind of group-think is the way it unleashes in us that which we so dislike in our adversaries. Nadia Bolz-Weber referred to those like Devin Murphy, whom the author describes as "a young member of the evangelical Calvinist tradition" as "young warriors." And in case you're confused, in the setting of a socially progressive, emergent church revival "young warriors" is rather unlikely to be a compliment. Bolz-Weber described such "warriors" as those “traditional conservatives who are not rethinking their theology," but rather, "dressing it up in designer jeans and hair gel, emulating the suburban ideal of what it means to be hip and urban.”

I'm sorry, when did hip come to mean true? Accusing those like Murphy of falsely "emulating the suburban ideal of what it means to be hip and urban" implies that such urbanity is the ultimate goal does it not? And why exactly is that the case? That kind of sentiment is incredibly elitist.

This kind of attitude is poison. I don't want Christians to support their LGBT brothers and sisters because it's "urban", "hip" or "cool". Such support is superficial and will evaporate as soon as popular sentiment turns against us. Rather I wan't Christians to support us because it's right, I want them to do it because it is what Jesus would have done, whether it is "hip" or not.

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