• RSS Queering the Church

    • “No Longer Aliens…… but Part of God’s Househousehold” (Ephesians 2:19-22) October 28, 2014
      Historically, LGBT Christians have been treated as aliens in the Church, unwelcome and often positively rejected. That is now changing in all denominations, as some adjust their rules on ordination and marriage, others are embarking on serious study and listening processes,…Read more →
      Terence Weldon
    • Pope Francis’ Catholicism: Are Those Rainbow Pigments? October 26, 2014
      During the question and answer session with the Schoenstatt pilgrims held in the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall on Saturday, Pope Francis spoke particularly about the problems facing marriage in the modern world. For LGBT Catholics, it’s important once again…Read more →
      Terence Weldon
  • RSS Spirit of a Liberal

    • Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand September 15, 2014
      Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand: A Vietnam Soldier's Story has just been released. The title comes from a stanza of the gospel traditional, Down by the Riverside, with its refrain--"Ain't gonna study war no more." Golden Sand is a bold, dark, and intense retelling of the Vietnam experience through the eyes of an army scout that is […]
      Obie Holmen
    • Gay Games Symposium July 21, 2014
      I am pleased and honored that the UCC has asked me to moderate a symposium during the games entitled Queer Christians: Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future. [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
      Obie Holmen
  • RSS There Will be Bread

    • Where Are You? October 26, 2011
      Greetings to all others who grace these pages! Thank you for stopping by. If you still have a reader pointed here, this blog no longer publishes in this location, but can be found at this new link. Please subscribe to the new feed, get the new blog via email or read us by liking us on Facebook or by following me on Twitter.If you want more, please feel free […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Fran)
  • RSS The Wild Reed

    • Aunt Peg Tells It Like It Is October 30, 2014
      I share this evening a clip from the Australian TV comedy series Please Like Me. It shows Aunt Peg (played by Judi Farr) standing up for her gay grandson Josh (Josh Thomas) during Mass. In describing this scene, Frank Minero writes at Addicting Info:In the ABC Australia situation comedy, Please Like Me, Aunt Peg finds out someone very dear to her is homosexu […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • The Art of Dancing as the Supreme Symbol of the Spiritual Life October 29, 2014
      The Wild Reed's series on dance continues with an excerpt from Havelock Ellis' 1923 book The Dance of Life. I found this particular excerpt in the 1992 anthology Ballet and Modern Dance: A Concise History, edited by Jack Anderson.Dancing and building are the two primary and essential arts. The art of dancing stands at the source of all the arts tha […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
  • RSS Bilgrimage

    • Mary Hunt on Synod on the Family: "No Substitute for Straightforward Acknowledgement of a New Reality" October 29, 2014
      As with everything theologian Mary Hunt writes, her take on the recent synod on the family is excellent. As she says, she understands why so many people both inside and outside the Catholic church had hoped that this event might show a willingness of the leaders of the church to be dragged "kicking and screaming into the 21st century."  But:As it t […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
    • More News: Updates to Stories about Archbishop Nienstedt, Rev. Frank Schaefer, David Gushee, and LDS Church October 28, 2014
      And finally this morning, some odds and ends providing updates on stories we've discussed here in the past: For Minnesota NPR, Madeleine Baran reports that, for the second time since he testified this past April in abuse trials, the testimony of St. Paul-Minneapolis archbishop John Nienstedt has been called into question:Archbishop John Nienstedt gave a […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
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  • RSS Far From Rome

    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
      noreply@blogger.com (PrickliestPear)
  • RSS The Gay Mystic

    • Faith, Doubt and Sexual Abuse in Film and Fiction = Amended Reviews October 19, 2014
      This is an amendation and extension of my previous posting.In this posting, I deal with three cinematic and fictional treatments of practicing Catholic priests whose faith is profoundly challenged by the revelations of the sex abuse scandal in the Church. I haven't forgotten the Synod on the Family, just finished in Rome. I continue to believe the vacil […]
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    • Synecdotal Ruminations and Reviews October 16, 2014
      The Road Through the WildernessIt's been a month since my last posting at this blog, and I've been busy immersing myself in Czech culture on a deeper level, especially its past religiosity and its present seemingly atheistic present. I've been plowing through some classic films of the Czech New Wave and some more recent ones that deal with our […]
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  • RSS The Jesus Manifesto

    • 借入しすぎを防ぎたい February 26, 2014
      自分でこれ以上借りないと思っていても、ついつい借りてしまう浪費癖が治らないそれならいっそのこと、借りれなくしてしまえばいいのです。日本貸金業協会の貸付自粛制度とは貸付自粛制度とは、資金需要者が、自らに浪費の習癖があることその他の理由により、自らを自粛対象者とする旨又は親族のうち一定の範囲の者が、金銭貸付による債務者を自粛対象者とする旨を日本貸金業協会に対して申告することにより、日本貸金業協会が、これに対応する情報を個人信用情報機関に登録し、一定期間、当該個人信用情報機関の会員に対して提供する制度です。登録手数料等の費用はかかりません。貸付自粛情報の登録内容氏名 性別 生年月日 住所 自宅電話番号(または携帯電話番号) 勤務先名 勤務先電話番号 貸付自粛情報の登録内容 氏名 性別 生年月日 住所 自宅電話番号(ま […]
  • RSS John McNeill: Spiritual Transformations

  • RSS Perspective

    • Ross Douthat, Paul on communion, and getting God wrong October 30, 2014
      UPDATE: John O'Malley SJ, who write What Happened at Vatican II, has a reply to Douthat's article - Is a Precipice Yawning? John W. O'Malley, S.J., Responds to Ross DouthatThere's been a lot in the Catholic news about an article by Ross Douthat - The Pope and the Precipice - in which he goes on about the conservative Catholics whose devot […]
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

Joy in Adversity: Petr’s Vocation as Minister to Gays

(Photo is of Jan Hus, Catholic reformer burned at the stake by the Inquisition in 1414 for teaching the fundamental equality of laypersons and priests, insisting that both should receive communion under both species. He is frequently and mistakenly described as a “Protestant Reformer,” but at the time of his death he considered himself a full member of the  Catholic Church, despite its ban of excommunication against him. His witness and death gave inspiration to the Czech Hussite Reform Churches, including the Czech Brotherhood. Nearly six centuries after his death, Pope John Paul II expressed “deep regret for the cruel death inflicted upon Jan Hus.”)


Just had dinner tonight with my young gay Christian friend, Petr (pronounced Petra), who is studying for his Master’s in Divinity with the seminary of the Czech Brotherhood Reform Church, of which he is a member. His seminary shares many of the same professors as the Catholic Faculty of Theology of St. Charles University. Petr has a strong sense of calling to be an openly gay minister in his Church, even though ‘officially’ the Czech Brotherhood is not at all open  to acknowledging gay people and their relationships. In fact, Petr was eligible for ordination two years ago, but was denied this privilege because his Church elders are quite suspicious of what he might do with his ministry. So he is being monitored closely and his Master’s thesis is also being carefully scrutinized. He is being required to read a great many books (in English!) on reparative therapy, designed to ‘turn’ homosexuals into decent, healthy, well-adjusted heteros. I felt a certain chill go through me as he showed me his extensive library on the subject, but Petr is such a sensitive, fair-minded, tolerant soul that he gently protested that, in fact the books, have some worth, and many of the authors are genuinely sympathetic to gay persons and only suggesting that, perhaps, they might be happier and more well adjusted if they could turn their sexual orientation around. Furthermore, many of the gays they deal with are coming from profoundly addictive lifestyles and the therapy does have some benefit in healing them of their addictions, which then allows them to see themselves with greater clarity and objectivity. Many of them discover that they are in fact bisexual, and therefore capable of harmonious and fulfilling sexual relationships with the opposite sex. Many, as well, discover after the therapy that they truly are same sex orientated, for which the therapy is a blessing for making that clear. Petr says he stays clear of the more aggressive and intolerant forms of reparative therapy in his studies. He also said it was very good for his thesis to be able to understand and evaluate both sides of the argument, and that his professors were not insisting that he endorse reparative therapy, only that he give evidence of having fairly considered it. In the face of Petr’s gentle charity and  wise tolerance, I felt somewhat chastened in my own resentment and anger towards such treatments, though I remained concerned that Petr not be too ‘brainwashed’ by these studies he is compelled to make. However, in his library he also has extensive literature on the spiritual values and gifts of being gay and being gay partnered. There is no question of Petr’s own very strong sense of calling as a gay Christian man, who is open to normal same sexual relations with other gay persons (at 26 Petr is not yet partnered, but open).

And as I sat on the carpet in his small upstairs study, with the books scattered all around us on the floor, with gentle flute music from the mountains of Northern Thailand playing in the background, I was conscious of Petr’s own special gift as a charismatic gay man chosen ‘in the Spirit’ to remain within a suspicious religious congregation and to seek to change it from within. For some reason, I was reminded of the fourth vow of stability Trappist monks take, promising to remain in their monastery for life. This vow is a gift as well as a promise, one which  the monk cannot make without the assistance of the Holy Spirit. So, too, Petr seems to have received a similar gift of perseverance, which gives him his inner strength and his radiant serenity within a trying situation. Many of his church members, he tells me, are closeted gays, too afraid to come out, yet unwilling to leave the church which they love and which feels like their spiritual home. They come to Petr for advice as to  how they, too, may persevere in their faith and within an unwelcoming community. Yet, as Petr described his elders to me and their relationships to him, it sounds like his gentle, compassionate, understanding self is gently wearing away the walls of intolerance and suspicion. They are, after all, allowing him to complete a Master’s thesis on the topic of Gay Christianity, and to take a primarily positive approach, but they are not quite ready yet to allow him access to full ministry in the Church. However, I’m confident this will come in time.

Feeling Petr’s inner serenity and grace – which is as palpable in the room as the fragrance of  incense – I had to marvel at the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, calling us each to our own special place in our own  special time. Some gay Christians are being given the grace to move beyond their intolerant communities and to find more welcoming, life affirming sources of spiritual support. Others are being given the grace of heroic perseverance, to remain where they are, giving a firm, but gentle, persistent,  and loving non-violent witness to the holiness of being a fully sexualized gay human being. I had to marvel at the signs of the Spirit at work everywhere in a wide variety of religious communities in such a similar fashion. Petr’s grace and serenity, wisdom and compassion testify to the life giving fruits of his own religious community, which is the locus of God’s grace for him, despite its present intolerance towards gay persons. Such a witness makes relative any claims to exclusivity or superiority on the part of any religious community. Many gifts, one Spirit, working her own wondrous miracles of openness and tolerance, but doing so through the life giving, long suffering passion of  devoted Christians such as Petr.

As a further sign of the Spirit’s synchronicity,  I casually opened one of Petr’s books resting on the carpet,  Donald Bloesch’ Spirituality Old and New, and I came across this remarkable passage which I felt encapsulated our entire evening with its spiritual colloquy.

The Church Within:

One of the hallmarks of mystical spirituality is to uphold the invisible church over the visible church. The true church is the company of the committed who reside in all denominations and sometimes outside of any particular religious fellowship. According to Gerad Heaard, the true church is comprised of holy souls in all religions. The real people of God are those who are making progress toward sainthood. They are those who have put to death the animal nature within them and have become fully or purely spiritual.

Christian mystics, in contrast to generic mystics, continue to affirm the role of sacraments and rituals in the life of faith; yet they consider these things expendable or at least not absolutely essential. Meister Eckhart regarded the sacraments and even the “human shape of our Lord Jesus Christ” as obstacles to spiritual grown. The important thing is to get beyond visible signs to invisible reality. According to Geert Grote, founder of the mystical Brethren of the Common Life, the valiant soul will leave “the scriptures and external signs behind” as he or she makes progress in the Christian life toward the perfection of faith.

As a type of religious association, the mystical society is a fellowship of kindred souls, not a mission station to convert the world. The mystical society will often take the form of a parachurch fellowship that is generally supportive of the church as a social institution. Yet mysticism in its celebration of religious experience unwittingly loosens the tie to the institutional church. …

As I have noted earlier, institutional Catholicism has always mistrusted mysticism, though it has sought to use the mystical witness to consolidate its hold over the faithful. Christian mysticism at its best calls us to rise above parochial loyalties to a genuinely catholic vision of the truth.

2 Responses

  1. [...] Joy in Adversity: Petr’s Vocation as Minister to Gays (opentabernacle.wordpress.com) [...]

  2. Your words convey Petr’s quiet inner strength and I could almost hear the “gentle flute music from the mountains of Northern Thailand”.

    I’m sure that God is preparing him for a life through which much Grace will flow.

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