Monday, July 31, 2006

Going to Heaven... The Rev. Gene Robinson...

This book is a page turner, and this reading from last night just struck me in the heart that I had to share it with you.

Reference: John Fortunato Embracing the Exile: Healing Journeys for Gay Christians, written in 1982.

From Going to Heaven Pg. 53 - 55

Fortunato's book speaks of "exile" as the place where so many gay Christians find themselves. To be both gay and Christian, accepting and rejoicing in both one's homosexuality and Christianity as gifts from God. "is to place ourselves on the outskirts of the community we most care about," he wrote. He said that "embracing the exile" demands not only the belief that living on the fringes of the spiritual comunity can be endured by gay Christians, but that "being banished can be viewed as an incredible spiritual opportunity" to learn to 'love anyway':

For gay Christians to be able to love, give, and find meaning in a world that rejects and isolates them, the cruel gash separating their sexuality from their spirituality must be healed. Their freedom to love and give in a hostile world hinges upon their coming to believe in their wholeness and in their having a rightful place in God's universe."

"Here" Gene said, finding the section he had been looking for. "Let me read this to you." He read, and I listened, with growing emotion. The passage was John Fortunato's description of his own, intensely powerful nystical vision of a conversation with God: the moment when he finally realized that, as a gay man, he was acceptible to the God he loved and whose love he desperately wanted to know, feel, and believe in.

In this vision, Fortunato expresses to God his doubts and fears that the Christians who call homosexuality an abomination might be right. God gently answers, "How can love be wrong? It all comes from Me," and goes on to dispel Fortunato's fears about his own wholeness and worthiness as a person capable of giving and receiving love. Fortunato is overwhelmed, and asks, "but what am I supposed to do about 'them' -- the people who hate and vilify me?"

And God answers, "I have given you my gifts, I've given you my light; love them anyway."

Gene then turned the book's epilogue, titled "into the Lions Den," in which Fortunato revisits this vision and asks, "How? How do I 'love them anyway'?"

"You begin by just being who you are." God said, "a loving, caring, whole person, created in my image, whose special light of love happens to shine on men, as I intended for you."

"Is that all?" I asked, fearfully.

God shook his head. "No, You must also speak your pain and affirm the wholeness I have made you to be when they assail it. You must protest when you are treated as less than a child of mine."

"Is there more?" I asked.

"Yes," God said gently. "And this is the hardest part of all. You must go out and teach them. Help them to know of their dependence on me for all that they really are, and of their helplessness without me. Teach them that their ways are not my ways, and that the world of their imagining is not the world I have made. Help them to see all that Creation is One, as I am One, and that all I create, I redeem. And assure them by word, and work, and example, that my love is boundless, and that I am with them always."

Fortunato protests, saying "They won't listen to me, they'll laugh at me and persecute me." And God's "radiant face" becomes very sad, and he answers, "I know. How well I know."

That was the breakthrough. Fortunato writes:

Now I knew. Now I understood. And it was as though large chunks of who I had been, began falling away, tumbling through time and space and eternity. I just let them fall. No fear now, no resistance, so sense of loss. All that was dropping away. It was unnecessary now, extraneous. I began to feel light and warm. Energy began to durge through my whole being, and widen me as though I were a rusty old turbine that had been charged up and was starting to hum.

Then two strong, motherly arms reached out and drew me close to the bosom of all that is, and I was just there, just being, enveloped in being.

And we wept.

For joy.

When Gene finished reading, I wiped my eyes, and looked at him in silence. He nodded, solemnly. "That was it; this was the pivotal point in my journey," he said. "That unlocked the rest of my life. Pure and simple. Literally, my life changed upon finishing that book.

Up until that point, Gene had wanted to believe the Good News - that he was actually loved by God, just as he was - but after reading the book, he actually did believe it. He finally had the courage and faith to accept his orientation, to reconcile it with his spirituality, and move forward with those two truths at the center of his identity.

There is nothing else to say...


Blogger Beverly said...

so much to ponder, Jeremiah..

I love you!

8:53 AM  

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