Friday, May 15, 2009

Religious Dispatches

Photo of Linda E. Cambe, who understands sexuality better than most people I know. Photo taken by Ted Michael Morgan.

A reply to an article on Carrie Prejean by Paula Cooey:

This is not a direct reaction to the article because I do not quite understand the article. The mysteries are still mysteries that facile expressions, debates, icons, and theories do not quite define or cover.

One of the first books I bought when I was becoming a young Christian was a little tract from Association Press. It was Seward Hiltner’s “Sex and Christian Life.” The tract was helpful as has been much theology I read during the next 61 years.

I own a large private library on romantic love, sexuality, theology, biblical studies—all part of my effort to understand his core part of myself in theological terms. I recall with gratitude the ministry of the Rev. Roland Perdue and later of the Rev. Milner Ball at Westminster House at the University of Georgia as well as the ministry of the Rev. Robert Burns, late pastor of Peachtree Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. The Methodist Churches sponsored major studies in human sexuality that influenced Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and the Cross Road Interfaith Bookstore in Portland, Oregon provided excellent resources that I enjoyed and celebrated. To boot, my marriage counselors were a Baptist pastor and a former Catholic priest who had taught pastoral care at a seminary. However, in many ways, the Church has not always been a healthy arena for me to explore sexuality.

Ambiguities abound, at least they do for me. With all the help from churches, scholars, and theologians, I found that my Christian identify confounded my sexuality. To explain would be too autobiographical for brief comment.

A complaint about Carrie Prejean and so-called beauty contests seems to pertain to how we make young women (and men) fetish items. We tend to limit our range of sexual expression to those who fit these fetish images or models. I recall young feminists including my first lover protesting this process of making fetishes out of young women even as my former lover enjoyed the fruits of representing a fetish image.

We still talk double-talk about sexuality. We still seem embarrassed to be sexual beings. At least, we still seem confused about what being sexual means. That is not to say that Henry Miller, Anais Nin, and Lawrence Durrell were any better or more helpful.

Professor Cooey is an important commentator on theology, feminism, and sexuality. Like me, I think she remains in awe of the mystery of embodied love and the mysteries that define being a human being.

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In this my personal Christian blog, I hope to be discursive and now and then critical. What I write here is tentative and tensive. I post thoughts, feelings, and observations somewhat randomly and often in immediate response to current events and posts on other blogs.

"Serendipitous Creativity" from Gordon Kaufman

"I suggested that what we today should regard as God is the ongoing creativity in the universe - the bringing (or coming) into being of what is genuinely new, something transformative; …

"In some respects and some degrees this creativity is apparently happening continuously, in and through the processes or activities or events around us and within us(…) is a profound mystery to us humans(…) But on the whole, as we look back on the long and often painful developments that slowly brought human life and our complex human worlds into being, we cannot but regard this creativity as serendipitous …

"I want to stress that this serendipitous creativity - God! - to which we should be responsive is not the private possession of any of the many particular religious faiths or systems …

"This profound mystery of creativity is manifest in and through the overall human bio-historical evolution and development everywhere on the planet; and it continues to show itself throughout the entire human project, no matter what may be the particular religious and or cultural beliefs."

Gordon Kaufman, Mennonite Life, December 2005 vol. 60 no. 4

Melville is a rational man who

"Melville is a rational man who wants God to exist. He wants Him to exist for the same reasons we all do: to be our rescuer and appreciator, to act as a confidant in our moments of crisis and to give us reassurance that, over the horizon of our deaths, we will survive." (John Updike)

And that is a problem for me.

Fragmented Notions

Fragmented Notions
Copyright © 2007 Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University

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