Green Frog Cafe

"Living in nature, listening to the rain, Green Frog Cafe, that's where I want to be. The hemlocks are green, the creek is tricklin, there's geese on the pond, the forest sighs. Green Frog Cafe that's where I want to be, home of my soul, spirit of the mountains." Ruminations of Rhona McMahan

Monday, November 08, 2004

Speaking From The Christian Left

At this point in my life, at an age when many people are turning toward religion, I havebecome increasingly sceptical of all religions. The most I can say is that humans have a need for spiritual expression in their lives. There seems to be the potential for good in almost all religions, with good being defined by me as the encouragement of actions which maintain life giving balance for the cosmic eco-system, and particularly for the eco-system of earth.

Many of my friends have a pagan orientation, partially because queer people find affirmation within the ancient pagan belief systems. I am not sure, but I think that the famous world religions grew out of opposition to pagan spirituality, which explains their continued opposition to queer people. Many Jews and Moslems and Christians oppose queer people unthinkingly because they are simply accepting the dogma used by their early leaders to differentiate their belief system from the traditional pagan beliefs.

I recently took the little quiz included in the October 25, 2004, edition of Time Magazine which was meant to classify people with respect to spirituality. I came out to be "highly spiritual, even mystical" in my orientation. This did not surprise me because I have long known this, but it did surprise me that it would be reflected by my responses to 20 questions in Time Magazine.

My experience in organized religion over my lifetime has made me skeptical of it. My family has been Christian Calvinists for at least 300 years. I grew up with the nurture and admonition of the Presbyterian Church. Two of my uncles living in the small town where I grew up were Presbyterian ministers: Rev. Dr. Orlando H. Milligan, long-time corresponding secretary of the national United Presbyterian Church, and Rev. Dr. Chauncy Kirk McGeorge, a fire and brimstone preacher who was a leader in driving prostitution out of Steubenville, Ohio. With the church as a fundamental aspect of my family's life I developed a long history in organized religion, although I related mainly to the social action aspects of it.

I was a "youth leader" in the Presbyterian Church all the way through college. My first spouse majored in the "history and literature of religions" in college. After college we taught Sunday School together in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, and Lexington, Massachusetts. My second spouse and I were deeply involved in a left progressive Christian Church in Park Slope, Brooklyn for twenty years. I was the congregational historian and a Sunday School teacher during this time. Then I came out as a queer person, and to my surprise the mainstream Christian congregations were against me. Queer people were treated as second class people in the Presbyterian and Methodist congregations: no ordination, no marriage, keep it quiet, repent, and you may still be saved. I turned for a time to the Queer church, but the queers were too focused on sexuality for my taste. I did not want to be in a ghetto. I turned to the pagans, but they were too scattered and disorganized and weird to be exactly what I was looking for. Recently I have been attending a small Presbyterian Church which focuses on the plight of people caught in the prison system. It is not so bad, and stretches me to adopt concerns which are new to me.

Lately I have been feeling angry about the pre-emption of Christianity by the right wing. It is time to stop giving away "morality" to the limited definitions of the right. Christianity has always meant social action to me. Liberation Theology is attractive to me. It is time for the Christian left to stand up and express their views.

The important thing for the CHristian left to accept is that they will have to split their churches in this struggle. The Christian left has been ineffective because it will not stand up to the conservative right. They must be willing to say that social action and acceptance of all people, concern for the poor, concern for the disenfranchised are more important than holding together the church bureaucracy. The Christian left can never be effective unless they are willing to take a stand. If the national meetings of the congregations vote against stong social action, the left must be willing to say goodbye to the right. This has happened many times in the past. It is the way to achieve eventual healing. It is the way to return Christianity to its traditional path. Jesus was a firebrand for social action, not a patsy.


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