To the Tune of a Welcoming God: Lyrical reflections on sexuality, spirituality and the wideness of God’s welcome – David Weiss

TTTOAWG(Not discussed by the group but written in a personal capacity.)

I was disappointed with this book because it didn’t cover any new ground, though the author is a straight man allying himself with LGBTs, which offers a bit of difference (as does his being a LAY theologian).  It’s quite repetitive but that’s because it is a collection of his sermons and addresses to different audiences.

One of my favourite pieces was a poem he wrote about Fred Phelps of the infamous Westboro Baptist church’ (God hates fags). He envisages a Damascus Road like conversion where Christ appears to Fred and asks him why he is persecuting him in the form of His LGBT brothers and sisters.

He applies verses from scripture, far beyond the anti-texts,  as being relevant: for homosexuals, to be claimed by God is to hear Hosea’s words—really to live his words—in a way we can only faintly remember most of the time, when Hosea (2:23) declares on behalf of God, “And I will have pity on Not pitied, and I will say to Not my people, ‘You are my people; and they shall answer, ‘Thou art my God’.”

All the mainline churches have produced reports on homosexuality. An exception is the united reformed church, whose study begins with real, live people. The others start with abstract theology. When the author’s Lutheran Church issued a report for discussion, he urges people to: and look for every opportunity to tell a story rather than talk about an abstract idea….. (because the report) nowhere implores, adjures, or requires that churches explicitly invite and listen to the present day experience of homosexual ELCA members. Their voices are absolutely, utterly, unequivocally essential to the integrity of any conversation about their place in the church.

The report claims to be ‘balanced’ yet when the majority of voices in the churches are homophobic, LGBTs have the odds stacked against them. There is an imbalance of power. The views of those who are straight and conservative are not equal to those who are pressed by them: an illusion of “balance” when the vast majority of negative views about homosexuality are held by non-homosexu­als. This is not a conversation about whether heterosexual activity is right in the eyes of God. There are no gay or lesbian  voices asking whether straight people can have their unions blessed or can be both married and ordained. So the stakes of this question bear entirely upon the lives, the loves, and the vocations of gay and lesbian persons. And to claim a “fair” balance by giving equal time to all perspectives without being clear about whose life, love, and vocation is at stake is simply dishonest…. I recognize that conservative Lutherans do have things at stake here. Like their view of the Bible, their sense of morality, their faith in the church, or even their faith—period. But against the imperiled lives, the unblessed loves, and the ruptured calls of other human beings, these things pale in importance. I am not disdainful toward these fears, but I will not pretend they are equal in weight.

We have become used to hearing the term ‘six bullet points’. He strengthens the metaphor: So few passages altogether compared to the entire text of the Bible that we might easily overlook them . . . except that drip with blood. Surely most Christians who feel compelled to condemn ho­mosexuality on the basis of these texts do not endorse violence against GLBT persons. Yet it is undeniable that the violence that does get perpetrated against this community almost always understands itself as legitimated in some way by these texts. They drip with blood whether they were meant to or not. And like a vicious pet dog that has a habit of getting out and terrorizing the neighborhood, because these texts belong to us—to the church—we do bear a share of responsibility for the havoc they create when they get loose in our neighborhoods.

Regarding one of them, I don’t think I have ever noticed before that: Sodom and Gomorrah were marked for divine destruction prior to the incident at Lot’s doorstep. Whatever they were condemned for happened before the angelic messengers arrived in town.

Most importantly: The biblical text is not sacred because it has captured and frozen the whole of God within its pages. …we read these texts, these words so often wielded as weapons against us, we read them alongside this Living Word who simply says, “Come. Sit with me. Share my table. For I have called you by name, and you are mine.”…not simply because we are wrestling with the sacredness of this text, but because we are wrestling with the sacredness of our sex….; While sin is intrinsically about the breaking of relationships, sexuality is our embodied drive to unite with other persons. It is that deep longing to be naked not just in our skin but also in our soul, and to be thus in the pres­ence of another, and to feel ourselves unconditionally welcomed and named worthy by them. Sexuality, in its best expression, is a tactile echo of the tender intimacy with which God knows each of us. And because of that capacity to be a human ground of grace, it becomes a place where sin tempts us to most vigorously divide ourselves and to deny grace to others.

One really good poem:

The God who watches over sparrows
Before we tally up
every partnered gay man or lesbian
wanting desperately to answer God’s call, let’s
remember that God tallies up
every sparrow that flies

Or
falls.

Maybe then we’d be
inclined to really
listen to their words
lest we discover to our
sorrow (or worse)
that God has tallied up as well
our denials, now
numbered like the hairs on our head,
.each instance we set a
stumbling block to God’s call.

Just as is the case with the Anglican Communion, unity was chosen over truth. (‘The Assembly voted overwhelmingly to continue in a “unity” that is increasingly violent toward and toxic to many gay and lesbian persons. Like a dysfunctional family that denies the abuse that distorts it, we voted to stay together for more of the same.’) With all the suicides: As long as the injustice of our church exacts such a devastating toll on our people, our confidence will be at once jubilant and tireless. It has never been “only a matter of time.” It has always been and remains even now—a matter of life and death. And we must doily imagine and then make choices that preserve and promote the fullness of life as swiftly as we can.

At the end of the book are some hymns he has written. Unfortunately, he is more concerned to get various points across than to get proper scansion.

I got confused looking at his blog. He speaks about his ‘ex wife’ and I wondered whether they split up after this book was written. He tends too give us way too much information about how good their sex life was and I wonder if she got fed up with their personal lives being paraded. He also mentions flirting with another man, so exactly how straight is he?

Is he a single-issue theologian? He doesn’t appear to have written any books other than on this subject.

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