Photo courtesy of Fairlight Hubbard and Amy M Phillips of EYE
Most of us -- those who are answering the questions of who we are, who am I, take a lifetime to be able to get to, and I think a lot of patience and a lot of courage to do individually, as well as an extraordinary amount of courage, to be able to express to other people around you. And I think that's -- if there's any criticism I think I have of the line of questioning that the conservatives right has put up, is that the questions are a little bit short-sided. For a good, solid year, for example, the question was, basically, "How do you justify your sexuality and holding to your faith?" And people still ask that question, and to me, I think it's more of learning how to reframe where I think that question is meant to lead, which is, ultimately, "Explain to me how you hold on to your faith. What does faith mean to you and why is it important?" "And what allows you to continue on that path? What encourages you to go on that path? "Those are, to me, the questions, when I meet someone else, that I'm really interested in hearing. I think we all get very bored, very quickly, when somebody begins to justify their behavior; to say, "I am like this, and I hold this disagreement way or a prejudice behavior or a poor behavior that is clearly affecting you." You're communicating to me that I'm doing something that you don't like. Well, when I justify my behavior, it basically says, "Well, I don't care how it affects you." And I don't think it's an appropriate language to get into. I think what we need to understand is the human experiences. And so, I think that, at this point down the road, whenever I get questions like that, that are a little bit behind the speed of where our intellects actually -- our intellect, our spiritual understanding is capable of going. That's usually more of what I'm trying to do these days; to kind of elevate the conversation.
One of the questions you were asked was “do you go to church?” How would you answer that now?
I go to church from time to time. I love liturgy; I really do. I actually love high church, to be quite honest. Praise, the whole modern mega-church praise and worship, that never appealed to me. But I just -- I think we forget, and this is going to sound really cheesy, but I feel like I have church at least two or three times a day. It just depends on who I'm talking with, in what enriched type of relationship that I'm willing to engage in, and what I think what the gospel is, which is coming together as a community, serving one another in love and being in those places where you acknowledge something greater than yourself and being willing to be the person who speaks of it.
That happens to me every day, whether I like it or not. So I just -- it gets really hard. I can spend an hour telling you that most -- the person who -- when you answer that question and I answer it the way that I do, which is "No. I don't have a -- I'm not doing worship at a particular church," then that sends off a red flag for somebody that says, "Oh, well, then you're not doing the thing that you're supposed to be doing," and that's not the point of what we should -- to me, that's the more legalistic conversation that you'll never getwith me. At that point, I'm already alienated from them anyway; if they don't want to have any conversation with me whatsoever.
Well, here's the heady, intellectual part of me. I think the question comes from a good place. I think nine times out of ten, when somebody asks you that question, they want to know where it is -- what well it's going to… and that's a valid question. I think the part where we discredit ourselves, it's sort of like a relationship with a partner. The longer that you're together, that you've developed your own shorthand language, and nobody else knows what you’re talking about. The two of you are missing out so many words in between because you’re doing shorthand, that you understand. And I think that sometimes happens in faith communities, where we use the shorthand, like a question like that, and we actually don't realize how much of a potential dialogue that we’re missing, instead of taking the time and saying, “Listen, I’m actually really curious about how you stay encouraged. I’m really encouraged about how you connect with God. How do you connect with the community that enlightens God? Do you find it necessary to be in a community?” Because, let us face it; not everyone’s an extrovert. Some people are introverted. Some people are looked to lock themselves in the cloister for their entire lives, and they’re profoundly spiritual people that affect the world from the periphery. So those are the conversations that, ultimately, excite me and, I think, at the same time, the ones that I really enjoy participating in; because I feel like I get to know -- I get to not only share something about myself, but I usually get know something about the person sitting across the table from me as well.