Sunday, July 03, 2011

Lilies, ecumenism & the ex-gay heresy

The Easter lilies are blooming --- just in time for the 4th of July. They came home from church last year after blossoms faded, made it through an Iowa winter and now are doing what comes naturally when left to their own devices, not forced to abide by a liturgical calendar. I’m surprised they’ve done so well.


The Interchurch Council’s Independence Day ecumenical service is scheduled for 10 this morning, hopefully on the courthouse lawn (the sun is trying to shine despite a predicted 50 percent chance of thunderstorms).

The threat of rain forced us into Johnson Auditorium last year, fine for holding the several hundred people who generally show up but lacking in atmosphere --- kind of like being trapped in one of those big-blind-box, could-be-anywhere churches where the light of day is never seen.

Besides, the great outdoors dissipates the horror of a “praise band” performing without volume control and makes contemporary Christian music a little more bearable. Maybe this will be the year for a simple keyboard and old favorites.

I like these services, although it’s hard to say why. It’s fun to people-watch --- Episcopalians rarely wave their hands in the air or yell, “praise the Lord.” And it’s interesting to hear what preachers from other denominations have to say.

With any luck at all there will be an altar call --- although I believe that such things are discouraged in the interests of ecumenism. I enjoy a good altar call, however, especially when it’s accompanied by “Just as I am.” So we’ll see how it goes.


The Register is starting a two-day series today by reporter Reid Forgrave, which is here for the time being, that seems to be focused on the Christian ex-gay movement. Forgrave is using the trendy “story-telling” style for his report --- and the point of that style is to make the reader work to figure out what’s going on rather than making it evident at the outset.

Story-telling can work, but in order to do so a highly-skilled writer and highly-compelling subjects are required --- and something’s slightly amiss here, I’ve just not put my finger on what it is.

But the ex-gay movement is an interesting topic for a Sunday morning. It’s based on the premise that God made a horrible mistake when creating LGBT people, especially gay men, and it’s up to Christians to set us straight, encourage us to find good women (lesbians need not apply) and produce a couple of kids. In other words, make life miserable for several other people while sorting out personal conflicts.

Practitioners generally are moving away from the theory that God has any particular interest in zapping a guy straight and are focusing instead on teaching us to behave as if we are, thereby acknowledging that sexual orientation really is a done deal --- just one of the Creator’s little “oops” moments. Heck, gay folks have known for millennia that it’s fairly easy to pretend.

Mental health professionals and other sensible people recognize the silliness in all of this, but it continues to be a tool many Christians use to torture their children. So it’ll be interesting to see where day two of Forgrave’s series takes us.

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