"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer."--Dorothy Day

9.24.2006

The Whelming Flood.

I cry every time I talk about God. It’s been this way for years, but it was never a problem. Until now. Since I’ve been in New York and have started going to CCfB, I actually have to stand up (really, sit down) and speak about all of it. I tie it up in my personal experiences, and my revolutions, and my calls to action, but really it’s all about God. It frustrates me, so I try to plan ahead—far, far ahead—so that I won’t be nervous, because maybe that’s why I cry. I was reading a book last week, Blue Like Jazz, and it became clear to me why I cry. In this book there is a story about a pastor who is asked to explain his devotion to God and he bursts into tears, as he cannot express how amazing this love is. But in another part of the book, the author and his friends set up a confessional in the middle of a college campus, and instead of receiving confessions, they confess the sins of Christians across time.

When I read this, I felt like I understood myself better. I didn’t believe in God until I was probably 20 years old. That seems young, but I had spent the most difficult years of my life up until then pretending and trying so hard to make it true. When it finally hit me, it was like nothing I had ever experienced, and my life has never been the same. But there is also a part of me that remembers life outside. That remembers the terrible things that Christians have done through history, killing people to further a religion, enslaving people to maintain dominance, demonizing people because we know nothing of their lives. So when I talk about God I am overwhelmed by it all. I think of how wonderful my life has been with God in it, the amazing experience of living in a community of believers and knowing that something better awaits me. And I think of all the people that have been denied this by a religious community that has at times been blind to the damage we do when we keep people out of our midst, simply because we do not agree with something in their lives, and we do not have the compassion to know that this is more important than any of that could ever be.


I have witnessed it over and over again, in both my personal and professional lives, people whose lives have been destroyed by the prejudice and bigotry and intolerance. In my recent surfing around the blogosphere, I came upon the blog of a man who is dying of AIDS. He is begging to die. He has been excommunicated from his church because he is gay, and now feels that, because these people treated him with such brutality, God has damned him and has given him this disease as a punishment for his misdeeds. And I am again overwhelmed. I am angry, so, so angry, that a church would do this to a person. That a family would allow this to happen. That someone would be left alone at the end of their life, dying of such a terrible illness, simply because society has demonized people for something they have absolutely no control over. I pray that someone will find him and tell him that we are not all like that. That God loves him and seeks him, and wants him to know that he is not alone.

4 comments:

Kaley said...

Casey,
You are right - no one should ever have to do that.

I am so glad that you are reading Blue Like Jazz. I knew you would love it. It's one of my favorite books. The confession booth is one of the best things I have ever read/heard of. I loved reading about it!

Kaley

Carrie said...

Hey, I ran across your blog through the Manhattan Church's young professional blog. My friend and I came up to NYC last Thanksgiving and were looking for a church of Christ to go to while we were there and happened upon that one. Unfortunately it was Thanksgiving eve and no one was there really. But, I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed your blog very much! Keep up the good work!

~Carrie

JTB said...

I think we're all afraid to comment on the substance here. Or aware that there's nothing left to say. What can we do, as people only virtually connected to this man, than repent on behalf of the Christian community that has betrayed him, and pray that when the day comes, he will find, with joy, how wrong everyone was and how great God is.

Homesick Texan said...

Churches are ran by humans, and therefore are subject to human qualities such as prejudice. And that's a shame, and it's not right but it's reality. My family's very religious and my mom's even an Episcopalian priest, so I'm not anti-Christian, but I think that religion needs a lot of work. Don't get me started! But, in short, there's no reason why a religious institution should deny an ill man, no matter what his lifestyle choices have been. That's not what Jesus would do.