What We Do
The Open Tabernacle is website dedicated to Catholic Christianity as a journey of exploration and not a map to a particular final destination. Everyone is welcome to help with the journey. There are no tolls, one-way highways, or preferred vehicles. There are no speed limits, license requirements, or assurances. There will be back roads, seldom used byways, and plenty of bumpy rutty roads. At times a shovel may be necessary and more often a personal compass, but hopefully Open Tabernacle will be a challenging journey worth the effort.
May you cross our paths frequently.
Who We Are
Michael Bayly (The Wild Reed)
I was born and raised in rural Australia, but am now living in the US where I serve as the executive coordinator of the Minneapolis-based Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM). I’m also the editor of The Progressive Catholic Voice, co-chair of the Minnesota-based Catholic Coalition for Church Reform, and author of Creating Safe Environments for LGBT Students: A Catholic Schools Perspective (Harrington Park Press, 2007). I established my blog The Wild Reed in 2006, as a sign of solidarity with all who are dedicated to living lives of integration and wholeness – though, in particular, with gay people seeking to be true to both the gift of their sexuality and their Catholic faith.
I’m often asked why, as a gay man, I remain in the Roman Catholic Church. I stay because I feel called to bear humble yet firm witness to God’s loving and transforming presence in my life and relationships as a human being – a human being who happens to be gay. I also feel called to bear witness to what I experience of God in the lives and relationships of other LGBT people.
I believe that the trustful seeking of God’s presence in human life must always come before unquestioning adherence to traditions and doctrines – many of which are uninformed by an awareness of the sacred in the diversity of human relationships. I also believe that the honest sharing of who we are is not only needed for the continued shaping of our theology, our collective way of talking about God, but for our healing from centuries of fear and ignorance, and from the terrible things, the violent and debilitating things, that such fear and ignorance have inflicted upon all of us. Homophobia and sexism do not only harm gay people and women but, in many ways, heterosexuals and men as well. We all need healing.
I have no doubt that along with educating and offering constructive critique, The Open Tabernacle will also facilitate this much needed healing. Accordingly, I’m happy and honored to play some small part in this online collaborative venture.
Jayden Cameron (Gay Mystic)
A long time resident of Thailand, now residing in Prague in the Czech Republic, I’m a former Jesuit seminarian with a Master’s Degree in Divinity from the Jesuits at Berkeley. The Jesuits gave me such an outstanding theological formation (the finest education I ever received) that it essentially freed me from the institutional church and almost sent me right out the door, not with despair but with joy and hope in the future. The experience was that freeing, removing so many misconceptions and myths about Catholic tradition, and opening me to the mystery and grace of other faith communities. Cardinal Raztinger’s notorious Halloween Letter on Homosexuality (1986) coincided with my theological studies and was a turning point in my own life, bringing to an end my aspirations for the formal priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church. Fortunately, I was surrounded by so many outstanding nuns and priests of wisdom and insight in Berkeley at this time that I weathered the storm and saw my way through to another form of priesthood, living on the margins as a gay spiritual Christian man. This is where I have been living with joy every since, identified with the marginal and crucified Master from the Galilean hill town of Nazareth (populated today predominantly by the marginalized community of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel).
Living in Thailand for so many years, I also established close ties to Buddhism, especially the great Forest tradition of wandering, ascetic monks who formed the spiritual foundation of Buddhism in Thailand, despite the fact they were marginal figures themselves and much distrusted by the central ecclesiastical authorities in the Buddhist Sangha in Bangkok. I feel connected to both spiritual traditions, the Catholic Christian and the Buddhist Forest Wat tradition, both of which seem to meet and fuse within me at that point in our being where spirit meets Spirit. As a result, I am very much a religious pluralist and being gay as well as open to other spiritual currents on the margins defines my sense of vocation and calling. I see myself principally as a novelist and playwright (works in progress), with a commitment to writing spiritual works accessible to young gay teenagers searching for their spiritual and sexual identity.
Obie Holmen (Spirit of a Liberal)
Born and raised in the Scandinavian Lutheranism of Minnesota, I’m a small “c” catholic voice on this blog. As a happily married heterosexual (nearly 40 years), I’m a straight “gay ally”.
I’ve been clean and sober for over half my sixty plus years, and the ennobling experience of the radical acceptance of a graceful God brought me back to the church that I had rejected as literalistic, judgmental, and unthinking. While preparing to teach adult, Christian education, I discovered an appreciation for critical study of the canon, especially as one who thinks like a historian. While working at my day job as a trial attorney, I spent a couple of years doing part time graduate studies with the Benedictine monks and theologians of St. John’s School of theology in Collegeville, Mn.
On the occasion of the birth of the ELCA in 1988, my congregation was embroiled in the same religious culture wars that dominate today—abortion, human sexuality and the church, feminism, and multi-culturalism. Underlying all debate were the differing understandings of Scriptural interpretation, tradition, reason, and experience as contributors to moral discernment. I become involved in ELCA church politics then and have continued as a lefty to the present, most recently as a Goodsoil volunteer (LGBT advocacy group) at the 2009 ELCA assembly and as a blogger at Spirit of a Liberal blog.
I have been retired from the practice of law and private business for a few years, and I have used the time to pen a novel, A Wretched Man, a novel of Paul the Apostle, which will soon reach the bookstores. The main storyline is the conflict between Paul and his Gentile ekklesias and the Jerusalem based, Jewish church of Peter and James. Paul’s character is developed as a self-loathing gay man.
William Lindsey (Bilgrimage)
I’m a theologian who was born and lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. I write about the interplay of belief and culture. I’m interested in spirituality and its connection to social activism and in creating dialogue with anyone who wants to build a more humane world. My work also critiques the claim of the religious right to own God and calls the churches to accountability for injustice to LGBT persons.
Because I am an openly gay Catholic theologian who has lived for almost four decades in a committed relationship with another openly gay Catholic theologian, Steve Schafer, I have found myself pushed to the margins of the church. And so I am a Catholic living on the margins, who continues (with my partner Steve) to live in hope and to remain on pilgrimage…. As our journey unfolds, we celebrate the amazing grace we find in our journey and our shared love, despite our rejection by the institutional church.
Terence Weldon ( “Queering the Church”)
I was born a cradle Catholic in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I lived for after 50 years before moving to the United Kingdom. With the rise and fall of apartheid ever present as a backdrop, my education in Catholic schools, and strong involvement in University Student Catholic Societies, followed later by active participation in the Church Justice & Peace groups, left me with a strong belief in the Church as an agent for justice. In my early years, I took it as axiomatic that one was required to follow church teaching in all matters, so I naturally attempted to do so also in all matters of sexual ethics. The central irony of my life is that this attempt resulted in my case in an early, entirely inappropriate marriage, two children while I was still fairly young – and I found myself drifting away from the Church and from faith.
After the inevitable breakdown of my marriage, I had the courage to face honestly what I could not have done earlier: that I was in fact gay. After coming out, and eventually settling down in a long-term relationship, it was my partner who led me back into the Church, where I develop a new and stronger, more mature faith. Since coming to the UK, I have been worshipping regularly at the LGBT-oriented Mass in London’s Soho. I have found that the more I embrace the truth of my sexuality, the more deeply I have been led to explore the Catholic faith: its history, formal teaching, and spirituality, as well as Scripture. A year ago, I began my personal blog, “Queering the Church”, where I attempt to share some of my discoveries and reflections on sexual justice in the church.
How You May Contribute
We work collaboratively as a team in maintaining this site and post material on a regular basis. Our policy is to have team members edit articles before they are posted.
We welcome contributions from non-team members. If you’re interested, feel free to contact us to propose a posting. Please contact Bill Lindsey at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will respond to queries about posting in a timely matter, following group discussion of the proposed posting. For those invited to post on the site through the preceding process, we will provide posting guidelines.
We also occasionally select reader comments from threads in response to postings on the blog, and post these as free-standing postings entitled “Readers Respond.”
How to Post Comments
We welcome free discussion on Open Tabernacle. We also expect that comments avoid personal attacks and abusive language. Comments should engage the points made by a posting and not use the posting as a platform to make arguments unrelated to the posting to which they respond. We reserve the right to edit lengthy comments.