I have written so many posts this week. Parts of each might eventually find their way onto my blog, but none in its entirety. This is what remains. It has not come easily. I had a dream the night before I first began therapy many years ago. I dreamed I was in a hospital bed, giving birth. There were a few faceless people around, but mostly I was alone. The pain was great. The dream has stayed with me for 30 years, more like a memory than a dream, really. Writing this post has felt like that dream.
Last week, after the election, I traveled to Newark to speak to the Gender East Conference, a gathering of transgender children, their families and caregivers. I spoke on Friday to physicians, therapists and clergy. Saturday was for families. On the way to my Saturday morning workshop I peeked through an open door into a large room of hundreds of children, playing with abandon. These were normal boys and girls who just happen to be transgender.
I entered the venue for my workshop and was greeted by the anxious parents of those love-drenched children. Their eyes were brimming with tears. Anxiety was etched on their White, African-American and Asian faces. I was in tears before I began. These caring parents had been blindsided by the gender identity of their children. Four days earlier they had been blindsided again by an electoral majority that made a decision that puts the lives of those same children at risk. The images of both rooms will be etched on my mind for the remainder of my days.
From Tuesday evening through Friday morning I was frightened for my own life. The rejection and prejudice I have experienced all came back to me. But Saturday morning I got out of my box of self-pity and entered the world of the truly wounded, people without the resources available to me. Since then I cannot focus on any bigger picture. All I can see are those frightened parents and their precious children. Of course, they are the bigger picture.
I am frightened for our nation. I do not understand the decision of the 81 percent of Evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump so they could protect the lives of unborn children, while ignoring the dreadfully real needs of children who have already been born.
How could this have happened? Was it the right-wing social media and its conspiracy theories? Was it the refusal of the left to see those rural White Americans who have been left behind? Was it the millions who didn’t care enough to vote? Was it the lack of charisma of a qualified candidate? I am sure all those were factors. The historians will some day sort it out, maybe as they write the epitaph for what was once a great nation. I hope that is not the case, but I am no longer confident about America’s future.
For me, the needs are more urgent. I am part of a vibrant congregation, Highlands Church, http://highlandschurchdenver.org and a dynamic network of churches http://theopennetworkus.org that are angry and potent. Today I cast the full force of my being behind those churches and the changes they will bring. I leave behind my evangelical life, because I cannot bear the weight of the irrational fears, hateful rhetoric and lack of compassion exhibited by many within the tribe.
I know many of you, my dear evangelical readers, have kept the door cracked open as you try to understand my transition. I am grateful for your efforts. But there is too much healing to be brought to the broken-hearted for me to stick around on the fringes of a world that, as time goes on, feels more and more foreign to me. There is too much love that needs to be spread over the lost and rejected, too much anger that must be channeled into the kind of change that will bring hope to the precious souls I met in New Jersey.
I wanted to stand in the gap between evangelicals and progressive evangelicals. I realize now that gap is too wide for even my long legs. I’ve tried, but I believe it is time to focus my energy elsewhere. There is work to be done. The coming night will be long, cold and dark. But I am confident we can move all the way through to dawn if we will trust love, pursue justice, act with mercy and walk humbly with God.
And so it goes.
13 thoughts on “Moving On”
If I remember correctly it took you some 60 years to reach your decision. So everyone else needs to get “this” in less than 3 years. In a conversation with Gene Wiggington, he said we need to lean into the future not leap. I took that as good advice 20 years ago. I am currently reading “Through the Door of Life”. Some of us are really trying to understand — and I can’t see how to get there from here right now.
Buddy, I am not talking about acceptance of me. I understand that for many it will take far longer than a few years. I am talking about placing my energies with a tribe with which I no longer feel in alignment. And I am so grateful you have been working to understand. It means a lot to me.
We’ve been “leaning into the future” more than 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation and yet racism is still rampant enough that all these years later, the progeny of slaves in this country still find their lives so undervalued that they created a movement with a slogan that, by this time in history, should be so utterly self-evident as to be pointless. People don’t carry signs in front of the capitol saying, “Many leaves fall from trees in the October.” yet they do carry signs saying, “Black lives matter.”
At least a million women are planning on marching in D.C. on January 20, not to protest the inauguration of a Republican president but that we elected a man who, though claiming to be an evangelical, described himself at an earlier point in his life as having the star power to “grab p*ssy” without a woman’s consent. Women have been “leaning into the future” of women’s suffrage for more than a century and this is what they get for all that leaning? We can’t keep leaning into history for a 100 years for each incidence of injustice because, as we’re seeing, it doesn’t really get us all that far.
My point is that 2,000 years ago Jesus spoke of a kingdom where the rule of God declares all of his beloved children equal as bearers of the Imago Dei. Whether race, gender or sexual identity, the “Church” does not have a reputable history of “leaning into the future” because, so often, they are the last ones even to budge if it means they may forfeit their place of privilege. Yet the “Church” is that spiritual organism whom the apostle Paul instructed “In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had”…who did not cling to his rights and prerogatives as God but emptied himself (surrendered all privilege) taking the very nature of a slave.” Phil 2:2
I don’t think we are invited to lean into this kingdom and its future but to leap. Sometimes my leaping has all the elegance of a cannonball in shallow water but the king of THIS kingdom has done even more ridiculous things, like forgiving his executioners.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you so much, Mark. So much!
I think elections are like what Tolstoy said about unhappy families–you know that line? “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Every election is its own peculiar set of mistakes and incorrect assumptions, and you can’t really predict the next one on the basis of the ones before.
And the upshot of the peculiarities of the 2016 election is that the pendulum appears to be at the top of its swing in a particular direction.
There’s been a groundswell of nationalistic ugliness over the last year, coalescing around the Trump campaign. Trump–who I did not support–was crafty enough, in a Machiavellian way, to take advantage of that ugliness and ride the wave to the White House. I do not think Trump shares their beliefs. I think Trump determined that these people were “useful idiots” and made use of them. And I think he’ll turn his back on them posthaste.
As an evangelical, I am pained for the people that I care about who feel like the world is ending. I’m pretty confident that it isn’t, that there’s no cause for widespread panic. And I pray my confidence isn’t mistaken. And when I’m back in the states, I’ll be vigilant in protecting people from rampant jackassery.
Thank you so much Perry. I agree with your assessment of Trump and his use of Evangelicals. I believe there is a fundamental difference this time. This is a full blown misogynistic, narcissistic bully. We’ve had our share of bad presidents, but I cannot remember one whose character was this frightening.
I do not disagree. Very early in the primary season, I declared myself NeverTrump, because he’s so despicable.
But he doesn’t govern on his own. The federal system works to slow down any President’s more extreme actions. (That’s why Obama’s executive action abuses so frightened me.)
I don’t think the majority of Trump voters have declared in favor of bigotry, and I believe Trump will govern more moderately than he campaigned. But I’m very worried about the unofficial (and maybe even unintentional) effects of his election, namely how his campaign has emboldened the alt-right, nationalist, neo-fascist fringe.
And that, Perry, is precisely my concern. Particularly with Bannon in the White House.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I have to spit between my fingers every time Bannon (ptew) or anything Breitbart is mentioned. Which is sad. Andrew Breitbart was a good guy, and he’d be appalled at what’s done in his name.
You make it clear why you have to move on. You have seen things that have broken your heart. I’m afraid something much larger and harder than the “worship wars” are coming. I so wish for peace. “The Lord bless you and keep you.”
Sent from my iPad
I will always love the Evangelical church, more specifically the Restoration Movement (yep, I still capitalize it.) But I can no longer focus so much of my time on trying to speak to that community I love so much. There is too much work to be done.
I read your post and cried. What can I say? I am with you.
Thank you Jennifer.