The terrible killings in Orlando seem to have a number of complex dimensions and even the FBI have a great deal of work to do in establishing the background and dynamics - not helped by Trump and co. It is a little difficult therefore (unless one is Donald Trump) to be too dramatic in reflection on it. Yet, as we shared a moving vigil last night in my regional community of Toowoomba - organised through the gradually emerging local LGBTI community - I was also left wondering whether this horrendous event may yet be part of a watershed.
I am struck, for example, by the way in which several US Catholic bishops have responded in a sensitive and humbled manner to LGBTI people. Maybe such awful carnage may bring some to at least slow the sex and gender wars? Certainly in my community, amid the sorrow and solidarity, there was a sense in which such an event cannot roll back the past but rather it will empower us to a new level, finally nailing homophobia, for example, as what it is - a (self) destructive mental illness afflicting individuals, particular groups and society as a whole.
In my community, this was only the second time the local council had also affirmed the LGBTI community publicly - lighting up a new central (Victoria Street) bridge in rainbow colours (and a good deal more easier to get permission this time round than for IDAHOT recently) - and I was impressed by the brilliant mutual networking at such short knowledge and the articulate confidence of some of our young people attending: light in the darkness for sure
Last week I heard Susan Cottrell, a strong US Pflag and LGBTI ally, speak about the journey she has made with the LGBTI community. Someone asked if marriage equality had made a positive difference in the USA - yes, she said, but also no: it had driven some hardliners into deeper denial and anger about their 'defeat'. Perhaps the Pulse killings are a symptom of that negative aspect. I suspect however that they may also be impelling a fresh decisive stage in the growing watershed of more compassionate change.
I love the approach of Megan Defranza - an intelligent, beautiful and gently spoken evangelical theologian - and the light, rather than heat, she is trying to bring to intersex and gender discussion from a Christian perspective (particularly in relation to intersex people but with implications for much more). I also identify very much with her thinking of herself as 'a bridge builder rather than a culture warrior' and her story of the Vietnam Vet praying for her, "because I know that in war, bridges are the first targets to be taken out”!
From an orrthodox Christian perspective, as Megan says, we are not called to conform to (ideas of) Adam or Eve, but only to be who we are in Christ'.
read more here:
(including a video interview)
The theme for this year's Reconciliation Week has been particularly fruitful for those of us who are practising Christians. It has provided another positive link between our faith and the journey of healing and justice in our land. For each element of the threefold heading has meaning for both the Christian pathway and that of Australia's many peoples. Indeed it was a delight to preside at baptisms this week in this dual context. For 'Our History' calls us to reflect, and act, upon, the question 'where do we come from?' Neither an individual, nor a nation, can go far without acknowledging and being in proper touch with the bedrock of our lives, whether our historical memory or spiritual 'dreaming' and relationship to God. 'Our Story' similarly calls us to reflect, and act, upon, the question 'what do we belong to?'. This is vital for both individuals and communities. In the Christian case, this involves participation in the 'Jesus Christ', or biblical 'God' Story: in a sense, our Christian 'Dreaming'. Meanwhile, 'Our Future' calls us to reflect, and act, upon the question 'where are we going?' This is vital for purpose and meaning, new life and the realisation of our individual and shared gifts and potential. For Christians, this involves living further into the promise of shalom which God has for us and all his/her children. May all we have thus shared this week strengthen our ancient foundations, our walking together, and life in the Spirit of renewal.
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.