Saturday Symposium: Seeking Rest Amidst the Culture Wars

Good afternoon, folks. Hard to believe it’s November already! It’s a bit dreary and chilly where we are, so we’re spending the afternoon indoors with a late breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes. We hope you’re able to find quiet and rest this Saturday if you’re feeling as exhausted as we are after the past week.

Let’s get on with our weekly Saturday Symposium question:

How this works: It’s very simple. We ask a multi-part question related to a topic we’ve blogged about during the past week or are considering blogging about in the near future, and you, our readers, share your responses in the comments section. Feel free to be open, reflective, and vulnerable…and to challenge us. But as always, be mindful of the comment policy that ends each of our posts. Usually, we respond fairly quickly to each comment, but in order to give you time to think, come back, add more later if you want, and discuss with other readers, we will wait until after Monday to respond to comments on Saturday Symposium questions.

This week’s Saturday Symposium question: You’ve probably noticed that our writing has been a bit more angst the past couple of weeks because of situations that have arisen both at church and in our personal lives. It’s never fun to feel so much angst inside, and we really don’t enjoy writing with such frustration. After finding ourselves unwittingly caught in some intense culture war battles recently, we’re looking for space to experience rest in the coming week. We’re wondering: what do you do to seek peace and rest when you’re absolutely worn out from interacting with the culture wars on a regular basis? Where do you find calm amidst the storm when it seems that there’s a battle waiting for you around ever corner? These questions are just as relevant for allies as for LGBT people, so we’re interested in hearing from anyone who has thoughts.

We look forward to reading your responses. If you’re concerned about having your comment publicly associated with your name, please consider using the Contact Us page to submit your comment. We can post it under a pseudonym (i.e. John says, “your comment”) or summarize your comment in our own words (i.e. One person observed…). Participating in this kind of public dialogue can be risky, and we want to do what we can to protect you even if that means we preserve your anonymity. Have a wonderful weekend!

Blessings,

Sarah and Lindsey

Comment Policy: Please remember that we, and all others commenting on this blog, are people. Practice kindness. Practice generosity. Practice asking questions. Practice showing love. Practice being human. If your comment is rude, it will be deleted. If you are constantly negative, argumentative, or bullish, you will not be able to comment anymore. We are the sole moderators of the combox.

10 thoughts on “Saturday Symposium: Seeking Rest Amidst the Culture Wars

  1. Chocolate chip pancakes!!! That sounds like a great start.

    Commenting anonymously to avoid shaming friends and relatives:

    One of the things I hate most about the culture wars is how invasive they are into families. If I’m upset about how my LGBTQ friends are being treated in church, there is literally nobody in my local family that I have yet been able to talk to without strain and conflict. Friends from church do a little better, but I see their faces drop, the moment my vehemence starts to show, and I don’t want to push people further into their defenses. I feel like the only thing standing between me and alienation from family is my current silence on the issue, which of course means that alienation is already there; it’s just not overt, and the extent of it is presently unknown.

    So when that’s the situation at home … let’s just say that this ally is getting to taste something of the LGBTQ experience. And I am honestly grateful for the chance to feel this. It’s painful and terrifying at the soul level, and it’s threatening at the interpersonal level, but when I decided I wanted to know what it was like to be gay around church, I wanted to know.

    So, for healing, I go in for anything that affirms the heart in pretty much any way: comfort food, art, music (I especially recommend sacred music, if it doesn’t come with connections to the pain, and if there’s some Sarah can hear easily), creative pursuits, being with safe and positive friends and relatives, ritual prayer (i.e. where the words are already prepared … I find that especially helpful when freeform prayers won’t come freely or are emotionally loaded), the outdoors when possible, and good distracting novels. Outright escapism in novel form is one of my best go-to distractions when my brain and heart are too overwrought even for music and prayer. I also have a couple of internet friends who put up with my ranting by email and help me think through things in safety. Really, I’m lucky there.

    Best wishes and prayers for a time of rest and healing for you both.

    • Thanks so much for your comment. We can understand the desire to avoid publicly identifying oneself.

      The culture war mentality can prevent people from seeing humanity. We’ve also experienced how some Christians can be so afraid of “condoning sin” that they will not come to the aid of an LGBT person being constantly derided. It’s incredibly difficult. We’re sad when new allies tell us that they have a newfound appreciation for that LGBT people experience because of how other Christians treat these new allies.

      Thanks for sharing your list of restorative strategies. We think we enacted a good number of them when we took off to the Ephrata Cloister. If you’re interested, you can read more about that experience here: http://aqueercalling.com/2014/11/14/from-hermitage-to-celibate-village-the-ephrata-cloister/

  2. First of all I’m so sorry that you two are going through all this. 🙁 I found your blog about a week ago and I am inspired and I admire y’all greatly. Reading Eve Tushnet’s Gay and Catholic and finding your blog convinced me that it was about time that I came out of the closet.

    As for healing in this time… I have no idea. If I had your address I would start sending funny little care packages with letters and candy and recipes and lots and lots of tea samples <3

    I am praying for you and I love you.

    • Thanks for your kind words. We’re always glad to hear when our work here makes a difference for other LGBT Christians. Care packages from friends are truly wonderful.

  3. Turn to the one, (ones) in your life in whom you trust and share love, peace, and joy. Express/share the frustration you are feeling, then go in conversation to better times.
    My wife and I try to make time for just us when ever possible, but almost always just before and after sleep. And we strongly encourage prayer together.

    • Hi Lloyd! Thanks for your comment. We appreciate the reminder that we must continually apply love, peace, and joy as an antidote. So many discussions in the culture war can be especially opposed to peace and joy.

  4. Probably this has been said before, probably many times you have tried to explain how unhelpful it is to be advised to forget about war and practice peace, but. . .

    it’s the best I have: you are fighting unnecessarily. There is no enemy, not even yourselves.

    It’s all about ideas. Who wants to fight abstractions? Nobody wins because everybody has already won in their heads. “Straight” has no meaning beyond our sexual organs. “LGBT” is a series of constructs. It seems as though we are impelled to choose up sides in the game of love-words.

    No one argues about how the human race multiplies, so why not leave it at that, let marriage be what it has always been and let individual attractions work themselves out in individual private ways. At that level, whose business is it except two individuals?

    No doubt some, maybe many, will say that this approach can’t work because one “system” (government) or another (church) or a large loose third (social groupings that derive from those two systems, or more likely from a weakness in human nature)–these things make it almost impossible. Experience has shown again and again that individuals who seek love outside of commonly held norms will be excluded, penalized, even persecuted. So we have to go on fighting about words because otherwise majorities become bullies and minorities undermine tradition, without which we have cultural anarchy. We have to protect our view of the world, which is based on a meaning we attach to the word “love.”

    Ironic, isn’t it, that the same word appears in the Bible, as a commandment but also as a characterization–not of our relationship with God so much as God’s with us. I can’t imagine that “straight” or “LGBT” influences either meaning in that context.

    But, some say, “they” won’t let us love. Others say, “they” desecrate love. What? Oh, I see. They are talking about their own meanings for “love,” not God’s. OK, let them keep on fighting if it means so much to them. But I dont have to. And you don’t either.

    Peace, Brothers. Peace, Sisters.

    (Ignore all of the above except the last line. I was venting, or dreaming.)

    • Hi Albert, thanks for sharing your vent and your dream. So many aspects of the culture war can be accredited to how hard it is for people to understand what God meant by claiming “God is love.” As much as we know that to be undeniably true, we know that God defines love in a manner that is far beyond any human grasp. Likewise, Christ prays that we experience peace that surpasses all understanding.

  5. I’m a little late to the party, but thought I’d leave my thoughts.

    When I am feeling fried and need a break, there are quite a number of things I will do. I’ll often delete social media apps from my phone for a day or two and turn off mail notifications. I get really easily overstimulated, so I keep lights low, light candles and incense, and make sure my home is calm and chill. Hot baths and hot tea are fantastic. Also, what helps you feel reconnected to yourselves and God? For me, it’s water and trees, so a hike in a park or a trip to a lake or beach on the weekend can really help. If you have a little extra money, spring for a yoga class or massage (doesn’t have to be fancy; I go to a little place near my house that does fifteen minute chair massages for pretty cheap).

    Also, never underestimate the power of sitting in your car with the windows rolled up and having a good scream. 🙂

    These are all habits I’ve built up, often to either cope with anxiety and depression or to replace other negative habits (smoking, drinking). I firmly believe in taking time to nurture and love yourself so that you can then nurture and love the world. Hope you two are having a better week.

    • Hi Andrea, thanks for your thoughts. We ourselves are a bit late to our own party. We appreciated how you lead off with unplugging from social media when you need a break from the culture wars. Social media often has some of the more polarized battles of these wars.

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