The Broken Book Bible Podcast

God as Living Liminality: A Queer Nonbinary Theology - Episode 34

August 06, 2018 Episode 34
The Broken Book Bible Podcast
God as Living Liminality: A Queer Nonbinary Theology - Episode 34
Chapters
The Broken Book Bible Podcast
God as Living Liminality: A Queer Nonbinary Theology - Episode 34
Aug 06, 2018 Episode 34
Sam and Adriaan Dippenaar
Show Notes Transcript
Adriaan Dippenaar, director of the Seattle Nonbinary Coalition joins in to discuss how queer identity, queer tension, and queer magic helps them imagine God. God is absurd, and that's okay! The divine does not fit into any clear, clean label. This is what gives God the power to create and the power to live. This power leads us to struggle with the marginalized.
Sam:
0:00
Okay, so today we're gonna be talking about the plurality of God, how God exists, in tension
Adriaan:
0:08
We're going to be unpacking the ways in which the defines complexity, mares, queer, people's experiences of self are are very complex, often fragmented experiences of self that revealed truths about the divine that all of us, whether we're queer, not can learn from.
Sam:
0:25
Okay, so this is my good friend Adriaan Dippenaar. Hello old friend from college and back back in the day we were part of a really awesome Bible study where a bunch of Weirdos and non believers and heretics and queer people of all stripes got together and discussed scripture and God really deep into theology and it was very exciting times on a conservative Christian campus.
Adriaan:
0:51
Honestly, the weirdest fucking group kids I've ever seen in a group together and especially in a Christian college, I think about that time all the time.
Sam:
1:02
Adriaan was the first person that ever suggested that I record a podcast. Actually help me record my first recording so there would be no broken book found. Adriaan and this has been a great experience, so thank you so much for that encouragement. More pertinently persistently, I suppose. Adriaan is the executive director of the Seattle nonbinary collective.
Adriaan:
1:25
Seattle nonbinary collected as a group. I started that kind of branched out of the meetup group that I decided to convene my junior year of college and we host events meetups workshops for the nonbinary community. Really as a as a way of just bringing each other together because we're often so isolated in the queer community, so nonbinary people that are people that don't identify as men or women exclusively, so even if maybe we have parts of ourself that relates to manhood or womanhood or girlhood or boy head, we don't see each other or ourselves in that binary so often instead of referring to each other as he and she, we will refer to each other as they or some people will use new pronouns that are like z. see you went to the store and got their favorite batch of cookies or they have a great haircut today.
Sam:
2:19
How does your experiences a nonbinary person relate to your religious self? Understanding?
Adriaan:
2:25
Yeah, so part of what inspired me to bring up the idea for this podcast with you and started this conversation is that I, I've been real board by the way that conversations about queerness and Christianity are exclusively preoccupied so much of the time with our experiences of oppression, but really straightforward depression. Just the process of coming out and transitioning and whether we're not, we're going to be accepted by our communities of origin and honestly that's just depressing to me. It's retraumatizing traumatizing to remember over and over again the most of Christianity is so decrepit at being Christianity that it's question whether or not we would be accepted in our communities of faith. That's just depressing to me and for me, my experience of queerness is such a gateway into understanding and exploring divinity, that it's a site of divinity in and of itself. It's not just a barrier to me existing in my communities. Right. As with any marginal experience, coming to know myself as a queer person more deeply helps me understand God more deeply and so I want to talk on a bit of a broader level than I've seen before. Perhaps I'm just missing lots of stuff, but I'm really interested in having a broader conversation, especially from a nonbinary experience about the ways in which God's complexity and internal diversity. It reflects our own career experience.
Intro Sequence:
3:52
I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of God's wrath. I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind, and therefore, I have hope. Welcome to the broken book podcast. We're your hosts, Amanda and Sam, and we're ready again this week to appreciate, dissect, criticize, defended, generally nerd out about the Bible,
Sam:
4:30
Christian culture. Even Progressive Christian culture spends a lot of time talking about how Christianity Hurts Queer people and I'd like to kind of flipped it up a bit here and talk about how queer people can help Christianity
Adriaan:
4:43
very similarly to the way that I as a white and relatively able bodied neurotypical person enter into conversations with people from communities of color that our faith communities and disabled people of faith, right? Understanding People's various authentic experiences of self in relation to the divine. We often find really incredible stories of liberation and perseverance and wisdom that we might not be able to adopt wholesale, but can lean into and learn from and follow towards liberation and for straight and CIS people of faith. Often queerness is just seen as something to accept and tolerate instead of something to learn from and to enter into as also an experience to follow toward liberation,
Sam:
5:35
so the church, let's queer people into its universe, but just as equally importantly, the church invites everyone into spaces where the true diverse power of God can be displayed from so many different spectrums and functions in ways of life, and this reveals something about scripture which is both aggravating and really special, which is the sheer bizarre, diverse nature of what it actually preaches. You have all of these different conceptions of God and all of them are born out of the lived experience.
Adriaan:
6:11
There are so many understandings of God and the Bible that fit with our lived experience.
Sam:
6:16
Uh, for example, you have the preexisting prophetic God who is constantly reacting to human activity, discard, cannot stand for injustice and discard will always reward righteousness.
Adriaan:
6:31
Then there's the version of God that we see in Jesus. The people relate to you because he's one of us is the incarnate God. He's an historical being that we can read about and become close to like he's a friend.
Sam:
6:41
You have the God of the first chapter, the book of Genesis, a God who is a seven day master plan ordering and structuring all of the world. This is a proactive, got a mastermind creator.
Adriaan:
6:56
You also have a god that is perhaps as big as that God, but much more personal, much softer. Who is the guy that we see in Philippians and collections that we live to? The glory of through our actions, in our community and and experience through our relationships with other people.
Sam:
7:15
These experiences are all true real human beings. Real authors of the Bible had relationships, had encounters with this, these various conceptions of God, but there's a little bit of a problem. All of these conceptions are contradictory and incompatible with each other. All over the Internet and all through so many protests and political movements. You find the social justice warrior Christians, the Christians who will not stand for societal injustice, who don't want to accept a God, will passively let the world just happened, and I think that experience, that desire for social justice is so close, so akin to that spiritual urge towards prophetic anger and prophetic joy that you see in books like Amos and Micah. That's one kind of authentic Christian experience and then you'll move into Christmas time and we see the Jesus, the human baby, even hopeless Jesus who encounter and love and it's so deeply personal, almost private, the you know, whole the infancy,
Adriaan:
8:38
but I am always hated silent night as an attempt to showcase his personality. It's. It all has always just seemed like a way to placate the meaning of divine incarnation. I don't know. I have always seen the person Jesus described in the scripture so much as a stirrup of trouble and a defiant voice against the hegemonic power that be right. Whether it's actually tipping the tables or it's just leaning on the Sabbath. The person Jesus is relatable and understandable and inspiring because we can follow that person toward liberation and justice.
Sam:
9:27
In other words, God acts like a real baby who cries for help and
Adriaan:
9:35
I mean that's why he's relatable. That's part of it is relatable that it's both in the humanity and the I don't know. I suppose it's the tender and mild part. I don't know what baby you've ever known that is silent and tender and mild that night was not silent, and then there's this other conception of God that we described as the magnificent mastermind creator, God from genesis that you see in in songs from the evangelical tradition very frequently, especially the how great is our God description of the divine, where you're just overwhelmed by a kind of mountain top experience of how incredible God's creation is and how Almighty and powerful God is and how you can barely imagine God's hugeness that you can't even relate to God. I'm the passage from his eagle. It says that he sees the glory of the likeness, of the wonder of the. What was it,
Sam:
10:33
Gloria? The likeness of the wonder of the mirror, of the amazingness of the entity, niceness of the twitter feed of God. You can't talk about them. You've got to add on adjective, adjective removing the human experience from the divine experiences because you can only experience the shadow, the metaphor of the God, God's that big,
Adriaan:
10:54
and then there's that last version of God that we mentioned, the a devotional guide that we relate to closely that I saw in books like blue, like jazz, that I read and loved when I was a youth that you talked to God. I always remember the story that was in blue, like jazz. I haven't regretted it since I was young, but it stuck with me so much. The idea that you would call got up like God was a friend of yours on the phone and how preposterous that is because simultaneously and if Angelica culture, we're so exposed to the idea of of this great, magnificent, powerful, wonderful God, but the idea that then you would maybe text message of God. I think God is that intimate and personal and that's different from the historical Jesus or the Justice God, that the, the prophetic God in that God is very close to God. It's not necessarily just the historical being and God is certainly not unrelatable, right? God is with you and personal and lives with you in your, in your relationships, in your experiences and leads
:
11:54
you and loves you and is very close. So there, there was a time in my life where I. I really took this to heart and I would write letters to God. I really did see the Bible as God's personal love letter to me because that's what was taught to me as a middle schooler or high schooler, right? So I entered into my relationship with God is this space of of holiness and intimacy and did live every, every minute of my life as a gift to God. And how that manifested was long letters and very personal prayers and carrying this personality. God with me everywhere I went as an intimate friend.
Sam:
12:32
So these were all very real field experience of God. The social justice God, the Human Jesus. God. The powerful mountaintop, God, the personal devotional God, these are all entities we think about when we think about God, but these are logically incompatible properties
:
12:53
and so many people in the traditions that I grew up in would describe that as paradox. They would describe all of these things like I said, the kind of mountain top experience of the Creator God, where the largeness of God is is overwhelming and the smallest of God and Jesus and the baby, those would be held in tension with each other, but the incompatibilities would just be described, kind of waved away as paradox that you needed to be overwhelmed by how unable you were to understand the compatibility of these ideas and you were just told to accept that those things were in fact both to simultaneously and to hold that in paradox and I just, I don't accept that that's paradox. I see the logical inconsistencies between these things, right? That God is omnipotent and that God is limited, that God is omniscient and that God simply does not know and is curious, right? These are fundamental differences about the ways that we talk about and interact with God, just stating that as paradox fundamentally misunderstands the nature of this tension and not only that, but it misses a huge possibility for an engagement with a type of complexity that exists in God that cannot be waived away as paradox.
Sam:
14:09
Do you have this kind of tradition? CNBC, God is so confusing that we just have to be an all the confusing this of God which does not relate well to scripture at all because God is constantly revealing God's self both through creation and through scripture and through Jesus and through the Holy Spirit and through our interactions. God doesn't like to stay hidden, and yet we've made the hiddenness of God, the sheer paradoxical unknowability of God, such a central doctrine.
:
14:42
You find this really intensive session and a lot of communities with an orthodoxy that says that there's, there's one version of God, but simultaneously we're going to about and understand
Adriaan:
14:52
and study the vast complexity of five, the Julian versions of God and those are all either complete divine revelation, perfect right from the mouth of the divine itself, or they're incomplete moments in time that we don't understand and will be revealed in eternity
Sam:
15:16
and scripture is supposed to be infallible in classical theism and yet it's also bb doc where God speaks down to us using personal terms that don't really described the true nature of God, which is self is a logically inconsistent statement. Basically God doesn't work on logic. For example, the justice prophetic. God is a reactive God. You know a human does something or a group of humans do something and think God response. Whereas the mastermind creation, God is a proactive God. God has a plan for creation in humans. Follow that plan.
Adriaan:
15:56
If God's counted every hair on your head. Of course God knows what your premeditated thoughts for genocide are, that mastermind creator God would simply not. If you know that God and you understand and relate to that God, that God simply would not allow the genocide of God's people, right, and we can again see the god works in mysterious ways and it's very complicated and that God has a meaning for everything and that sometimes God's glory is revealed through tragedy and therefore God is sometimes appears to be reactive, but that weekends are our ability to relate to any overarching picture, understanding of God because God seems to be inconsistent.
Sam:
16:39
So what a lot of progressive and liberal Christians do in response to this is try to make everything a metaphor. So you talked deeply, but how much God cares about justice or how incarnational God is. There a lot of theologians, you spend tons of time talking about how incarnational God is, but don't actually believe in the incarnation. Um, lots of people who talk about God is love but doesn't necessarily mean that God is loving. The God is somehow metaphorically loving by connecting us, or God is kind of a person, but it's really more of a spirit. Whatever that means. You kind of have one year, one metaphor next to another metaphor, next to another metaphor which are all trying to describe something, but at some point I'm not sure what's been described
Adriaan:
17:30
and these metaphors are all beautiful too, right? We have the really literalistic understanding of of these doctrines in scriptures that people relate to and we have the metaphorical descriptions that people relate to and find beautiful, but the contradictions and tensions between these understandings of God is just and loving. Don't become more infuriating.
:
17:51
When you have strapped them in and create them into metaphors, we still end up with the tensions that cannot be resolved because life is messy. It's not just God, right? God is a personality that we, that we live with and walk with through all of life, and so God is going to be just as messy as life is going to be just as messy as we are. Probably more so because God has seen right saying this metaphorically. Perhaps God has seen all of history. God has seen all of creation and why would we expect God to be any, any less contradictory?
Sam:
18:26
Also, when we see something is just a metaphor, we forget how important, how powerful, how true metaphors are. We define ourselves by our relationships, so if someone says God is like a mountain, God has become more mountainous because of that comparison, the same ways, and whenever someone tells me something about myself, that becomes something I had to do with. Maybe it's a concept I embrace or concepts that I stepped back from. For example, someone once called me the collector of narratives and there was just a random statement. It was kind of just a metaphor
:
19:03
and then it became part of your theology
Sam:
19:07
because someone told me that I started paying more attention to the stories I received and start thinking of myself as more of a collector in that metaphor. Is he part of what it means for Sam to be Sam?
:
19:20
There are different types of tooth, right? So there's the logical. This is objectively what exists Schueth, and there's experiential, relational truth. God may not actually be scientific and logical and exist objectively in reality, in the ways that science might like to prove right
Sam:
19:41
and neither do we because what is a person we could give a biological definition of what a human is, but that definition will not capture everything that we could be. Yes, a human is a biological entity, but human is also something that creates ideas that then goes on the Internet and then expands on those ideas that human can choose to be loving or hateful. A human can choose to interact the world in so many different ways that you can't provide a clean, clear definition of who you are because it's ever changing.
:
20:24
You can't even give a good definition of, well, we are right. We can say that we are our cultural social entities. The the ways that we know each other in society where we can say that we are our bodies, that we are the flesh and the blood and the muscle. You can say that we are the brain, but this is a long, long debate that has been had for many centuries. What is a person? Where do we actually live? What is the substance of our being? No one knows. Is it an extension beyond our physical bodies? Is Our facebook profile a part of us? Is that part of our body, part of our mind, part of who we are in the universe. Clearly it's part of who we are, but it's a part of ourselves
Sam:
21:09
and I think that the reason why people ask this question is because they've made a fundamental mistake is they're trying to find illogical category to define human with, define a person with. Because a person isn't just any of those factors. The person is the complex interaction of all of those factors and complex interactions aren't logical because complex interactions can self contradict the involve as interacting with parts of our being that don't make sense together.
Adriaan:
21:43
There was once a clinical study in which a group of patients needed a really serious brain surgery in which the two halves of their brains were separate from each other by literally making an incision through the Corpus Callosum, dividing their brain into two parts and the surgeons involved and the doctors and the and the social workers involved were very concerned because they weren't sure this was going to be a successful surgery. In fact, that just dividing the brain into two halves. It never been done before, but they performed the surgery because it was the only hope for carrying the issue going on for these patients, and strangely the patients came out fine. The only trouble was that their personalities had altered very radically in the months that followed. As the patients recovered, they started noticing really fascinating behavioral changes where their preferences, their style, everything about their personality shifted somewhat and all their personalities would start expressing themselves by writing with the other hand, the nondominant hand, all kinds of strange behavioral shifts like that.
:
22:53
I guess what I'm trying to say, we store personality in parts of our bodies that we don't necessarily think we store them in and we stored different pieces of our personality and different parts so we might reduce our personality to the part of our brain that is the prefrontal cortex has been talked about on this podcast before, but we are not actually just our prefrontal Cortex, Nora, we just our arms, Nora, we just our legs, nor are we just started brain. Most people will think that the personality resides in the brain, but what would we be without the memories stored in our bodies? What would we be without our our, our traumas and our stress and our tension and our fatigue? Those things live in our bodies simultaneously. We are all of these different, often contradictory things. Our body can be tired and our brain can be wired.
:
23:42
Our brain can think one thing in one part, and the other part of our brain might contradict that, and that is the essence of human personality. There are certain human personalities that might showcase that more than others, right? There's some of us that live in the world as more blatant contradictions than others of us, but all of us to some degree harbor that kind of tension harbor, that kind of complexity, and we see that nowhere as clearly as we do in theology, God, the personality is just as complex as we are. Just to self contradictory.
Sam:
24:18
When you were describing all the things were made out of all the Traumas, I keep thinking back to the scripture itself and how I'm so drawn to books like limitations sometimes or descriptions of the exile or even the moments of the crucifixion and the Gospels. Those are traumas. They are problematic. The aren't clean, the aren't resolvable and dimmick theology more confusing. It makes it harder to solve the problem of evil, makes it hard to just say God is good, but I loved those passages.
:
24:52
We can't solve trauma, right? God has experienced bodily trauma. If you believe that God has a body in the form of Jesus or in the in the form of the body of Christ, the church, if you believe that God's people are extensions of God's body in physical reality, God has experienced bodily trauma and that fuck shit up. That means that God has experienced the craziness that comes from being a traumatized person and feeling that in the body the same way that we in our body is experienced in storage. Trauma that perhaps our brains have dissociated from her flood, from sometimes are very heady. God will dissociate itself in our experiences from its bodily trauma and it's our experience. It's, it's our duty to get back in touch with, with the body, with this experiences of self that perhaps aren't tidy, are messy and are uncomfortable and bring us to a more whole sense of self.
Sam:
25:56
If we think about the darkest moments of our life or maybe the most meaningful moments of our life, we're really just in most of our life that changed everything. Try telling that story and then tell that story again in five years than in 10 years or tell that story when you're really happier, when you're really sad, you will always be meaningful. You will always impact you and will always described something about who you are, but it's also going to be changing radically. There are events in my life did I used to think were some of the best moments of my life. Then later became some of the worst moments in my life. There were times when I thought I was helping people when I was actually hurting people. Those moments are sacred to me, the defined who I am, but they're also extremely flexible and I think a lot of this actually to doctrine. Weirdly enough, there's something that's always going to be sacred about that cross that cross is so deeply entrenched in God's psyche. There's always going to be somewhere in Christianity, but the entire history of theology of Christian theology has never resolved what that story is truly meant to define that because trauma can't be resolved because doctrines are developing. God is still discovering new ways to handle that experience. Of being crucified
:
27:19
and I, I want to just throw in here that might not be resolved cleanly, but we work through trauma and those of us that have survived trauma, notice that our lives might be heavy laden with flashbacks and we might experience challenges working through it, but we do. He'll. He might not solve it. You might not wash it away, but we do resurrect ourselves and we do keep moving,
Sam:
27:44
so we live in an extremely bizarre world. This universe where some things operate by logic like math. I like physics, like Newtonian physics, like bodies of water. You can predict how they will respond to certain events and then the world is also dominated by these social constructions, by entities that are created by their diversity, by they're mixed of lived experiences
:
28:14
and by the tension between their mixed experiences.
Sam:
28:18
Entities like ideas or humans or gods and a huge mistake made in much of theology. I think equally by both conservatives and liberals, is to try to make God be one of the logical entities rather than let God be one of the personal entities. And that's actually a mistake. The Bible itself does not make, the Bible allows God to be multiple different things at different times, and the philosophy of religion has not always given God that freedom.
:
28:52
Yeah. This, this reality that are stated selves in our experience selves and how we are seen and how we see ourselves are not necessarily consistent queer and Trans folks, especially nonbinary people. We live that reality in our flesh every day in our bodies, in our minds, every, every moment we put our bodies into the world. We experienced that tension and we use social constructs to attempt to ground ourselves in reality of some sort. I and a lot of non binary people speaking about the community that I'm part of. We talk about ways in which we use power clashing as a fashion statement. Yeah. Have you heard about the sound?
Sam:
29:39
How were clashing? No.
:
29:41
My community has heard of nonbinary. Community broadly seems to have decided collectively the power of clashing is the quintessential queer fashion statement where you take really intense, overwhelming patterns, patterns, materials, and then dress them up together so that you end up with this confusing world of different contradicting patterns. Polka dots and plaid and pinstripes all kind of mushed together this tie dye world that you don't really understand, but it's somehow complimentary. That's so biblical, isn't it? Every we do this with social constructs as well, right? Because we aren't, we have so few social constructs in America that can relate to a nonbinary experience, right? We even as far as binary gendered queer experience goes gayness and Lesbian Nis is barely accepted, but we will use that as a form of nonconformity and simultaneously attempt to embody a personality as a gay man and a personality as a lesbian.
:
30:45
Right? And neither of those things is true if you're non binary necessarily. Um, some people might identify as one or the other, um, in part, but many of us will try to sit in both of those places at once or rapid cycle from one to the next. So you have both the lived experience of being a gay guy and being a lesbian woman in a sense, right? When I go out with my partners, sometimes I read as a gay man and sometimes I read as a lesbian and sometimes I read as a straight man and sometimes I'm ready to read as a straight woman and sometimes I'm read as a weird person and no one knows what we are sometimes were read as Trans Women and sometimes we're red is trans men, but people don't really have an understanding of nonbinary people existing in the world.
:
31:31
Even as much as Trans People broadly start gaining acceptance rate. I have some people that are close to me that will get read as trans women when they are not male assigned. People not necessarily experiencing their world is as transwoman broadly, but someone will read them that way. Right in my day job as a case manager, some clients will read me as a man and some people will read me as a woman and that impacts the way that I interact with them. So I. I live in a constant tension between various different ways that people understand me and the weight of all of those cultural traditions and expectations that come along with it. Men will try to compete with me in their handshakes, you know, the way that June Stewart, they stick out your hand and like grip, squeeze it like third, uh, some kind of wrestling competition.
:
32:20
Um, and then there will be women that will call me sisters in Christ. I've had both of those experiences in rapid succession and so I'll, I'll have to live in that tension and neither of those things are true and both of them are true because they're part of my social reality, right? I'm not a woman in Christ and not that person to in, in some objective way. Um, but what does it mean that someone saw me that way and we interacted that way for a minute that says something about how I construct my personhood and how I relate to people in the world. I'm being socialized that way.
Sam:
32:58
Do you want to have a logical, concrete category of gender that you easily fit into
:
33:06
question? I mean, on one hand, yes, being able to be understood by your culture and your society grants, you have so much access and privilege. Just the fact that I've had supervisors that know how to use my pronouns and know how to understand my situation in the world, who know how to understand my personality, that means that I have the capacity to be part of a group as vaguely myself and that has had a massively positive impact on my mental health and my general levels of comfort and stress moving through the world. It's incredibly stressful not to really exist in society and so the pieces of society that I do have where I can be understood as an entity, as inhabiting a social position that's believing. That's why I created Seattle nonbinary collective and the reason that I love being in nonbinary community is because we need each other.
:
34:01
We need a space where we can exist fully as ourselves as a specific identity, as nonbinary, which has a multitude of identities. We need some sense of self and it cannot be reduced to one identity. Like I said, there is no one non binary identity. It is a non binary. There is no specific thing that all of us are outside of either male or female, and so it's a difficult question to answer because some to some extent is it how much do you want to assimilate and the question is can we exist without losing the tension between all of the things we are in or not and I think we can do what I want to reduce who and what we are and only one thing. No, we can't. We are not one thing, and to try to reduce us to just one thing means the loss of this complexity between what we are and are not what we hope for, what we dream for, what we're seeing as how we experience ourselves. I'm not under the impression that we will ever be in a society that entirely understands us exactly the way we are.
Sam:
35:08
Yeah.
:
35:10
The complexity of queer experience. I often describe as queer magic that in that complexity and the confusion and the way that that confusion often leaves us feeling isolated and lonely and distant from ourselves. There's a magic that's born out of that, out of dark and confusing and lonely places. I think many of us experienced that in out of darkness, out of confusion. It's, it's that quintessential experience of faith where were in the isolation you find love in, in the pain. You find joy. There's tension between normativity and strangeness that Creates Illuminati at an inbetween. This that leads to possibility that leads to creativity and growth. We become incredibly resilient to two knocks against our self perception in many ways as nonbinary people and the creativity of, of forging ourselves out of random scrapbook pieces creates magic. A queer magic that is birthed out of tension between normativity and strangeness and in our experiences as strange as both lesbian and gay at the same time or as both feminine and masculine at the same time in our experiences as as Weirdos as often mentally ill or depressed or marginalized in other ways we experience magic birthed in our bodies because we have to forge the creativity to understand ourselves and to become ourselves.
:
36:50
We don't have that given to us, so we we create the tools to be human. To be personalities and out of that grows this nurturing and chanting exciting thing that kind of appears out of nowhere and that queer magic is something I would never want to raise.
Sam:
37:09
I'm often a little personally uncomfortable with how to relate myself to myself because of depression or anxiety or autism and I think my heroes, my role models in this have been my career, especially nonbinary friends who find this way to sometimes delight. It had this huge joy in just being themselves sometimes.
:
37:37
Yeah. There's a lot of ridiculousness about this in a binary culture. Like I find that a lot of time nonbinary cultures, sense of humor ends up in ridiculousness. We will state loudly that are gender is galaxy like so many people have latched on to this idea that people will just come entirely presenting as space, decked out in weird galaxy, print leggings with blue hair and glitter all over their faces and people have interrupted conversations that are at our community events, gatherings with impromptu questions about how Sentara is have sex because this is the very most relevant thing to nonbinary bodily experience. Apparently I'm there. I think non binary people, especially prevalent absurdity, kind of going back to what I was saying about the cloud power clashing, we like to present ourselves in ways that highlight the internal tension that we all feel about who and what we are. I feel like God's magic and power is also in that type of tension between our two experiences of God, both historical in personal or contemporary and our ideas of what God should be or what we imagined, that God that we want God to be, and we absolutely could just never boil that down to one compatible ised dogma.
Sam:
39:11
Really, the central ceremony of Christianity is celebrating the fact that Jesus has a piece of bread and some alcohol that feels like something that would fit really well into the kind of parties you're distracting.
:
39:25
Every time I described the Weirdo ways that I relate to Christianity and Christian symbols that I'm by no people around me get really excited because we're so used to people relating in very homogenous specific ways too. Dogmatic Truth and for non binary people. Dogmatic chief doesn't exist in the universe in general very much at all right. Our experiences not teach us to expect consistency of personality and so most understandings of God described in western Christianity just make no sense,
Sam:
40:01
so in scripture, Jesus self identify as a lot of things and we can't always know whether it's historical Jesus or the Gospel authors talking about Jesus and that's really just an even more ads to Jesus mystique. Jesus is King Jesus, his servant Jesus bread. Wind has a body that's resurrected body and the church and just capture something I think a little bit greater about the nature of God and the nature of humanity because it gives us freedom. That is in some ways the freedom of grace, the freedom to really be a person have freewill, to not be trapped and slade because we have contradictory natures. We can authentically and naturally choose between many different options and many different identities. Neither God nor human can fit into any strict clear definition because we choose how to identify ourselves. We are beyond objectification
:
41:03
and we can relate really clearly to those different choices that we could make about who are what we are, who are what we could choose because we are those things. We are different options. We embody those things. It's the tension that allows for free will.
Sam:
41:21
Freewill itself implies a certain kind of multiplicity because it shows that we have so many different possibilities that we could freely choose.
:
41:31
You may have one dominant narrative of the same way that we might have an overarching narrative or understanding of God theology, but we can never be just that one truth.
Sam:
41:43
We have the ability to recognize that we are constructions, that we have the power to be something else. We can reinterpret reimagined or narrative. We can't throw weird narrative. We can't pretend that our construction doesn't exist. We still need to relate to it, but we're aware of our liminality and in some ways this is a more abstract. We're thinking about golf. In some ways. I think God becomes a liminal space. The overarching mount of possibilities that gives us the freedom to create the universe.
:
42:18
That's a whole new perspective on being made in the image of God and I. I relate to that deeply, that we we become the cocreators, that by becoming the body of God, the Mirror, God's power in Liminality, in our internal conflict, we create possibility. That's how I. that's specifically how I see queerness as a mirror of divine power in our liminality, in our internal conflict. We create possibility. We're forgers of choice and have potential, and when we hold those things, intention, we feel that as magic,
Sam:
42:58
there's a word that Jesus used a lot in the root is heaven and when Jesus talks about heaven, he's not just talking about space and he's not just talking about earth. He's not just talking about the afterlife and he's not just talking about the will of God, but in some ways is talking about all of those subjects. At the same time, kind of mixing and matching. Combining heaven is something that happens right now and is a goal to push towards heaven is the already and not yet. It is a liminal space because heaven literally means the sky, but Jesus is talking about what's happening on earth. Jesus tells us to live in heaven, not on earth. I don't think when he or Paul talk about inhabiting the God world. Now I don't think it's an antibody experience or an anti material world experience is that we don't accept the world justice. We're told it is the world that tells me that I'm lazy because I'm autistic or tells you that I'm a special snowflake because I'm queer. A world which tries to make everything logical by locating truth in heaven. Jesus is inviting us to live as luminal beings, as spirit beings, and I think it certainly sets maybe what salvation is,
:
44:19
seeing heaven already incarnate, but still being formed in our bodies, in our world, that it may not be complete, but that when we see and experience divinity in ourselves, in our community, in interactions with others, that that helps us push through the pieces of heaven that cannot yet calm, that have not yet come. Helps us develop the fire to fight for more heaven on earth
Sam:
44:44
and when necessary to experience heaven on earth even if we can't always be there. Sometimes that's really direct and practical. Use things like churches or this podcast or the non binary collective where you have institutions or groups or services that can let you experience heaven directly as heaven, as community, as people constructing each other towards greater possibility, and sometimes in our darkest, most lonely moments. God can just be there for you, reminding you that there is a Heaven Deacon, rest even when you're having an anxiety attack just a little bit. I don't think God is all powerful, but I do think that God can sneak in little bits of liberation even in extremely dark times.
:
45:34
God reminds us that there is still power and that there's deliberation. When we lose sight of that ourselves,
Sam:
45:40
power clash in the context of plural, contradictory ideas. How do we find the kernel of God to relate to, to be like we're talking about God, so vague, abstract. It seems like God can be anything but we don't experience people and we don't experience ideas and we don't experience truths as just being everything we reached, experienced them as having some kind of central core
:
46:10
and power of my relationship to God as youth was absolutely in part because I had a very strong specific idea of who God was. I was able to pray to and sing to and love God because God was a liberating. God was an advocate. God was a friend and God was a listener and I had an understanding of who God was that I could relate to even if those things perhaps for intention. I had an idea of who god was and so how can we reconstruct that for those of us who've often lost and understanding of who God is because we have so retreated into a sense that we cannot know or perhaps God is not sufficiently real to be able to save with certainty that God is this how we find something central about God to relate to. How Do we construct a theology that we can relate to? Despite all of these very diverse ideas, existing intention and experience,
Sam:
47:13
when her and I were talking through this through several conversations we've been having, we found two grounding truths that helps deep lies what it means for God to be God. What is the core, the essence, the seed of God. We kind of made it a little trinitarian because we're theology nerds and these customs and traditions of scripture really do mean something. They really do point a big truths. So one, the core is the essence of reality is that our constructions should be working with science, should be working with the universe, should be working with what actually is there. We're using our imagination, but we're using our imagination with God, the father, God, the parent, God the reality. We're working with the universe to credit build something better. The second grounding is well, at some level I just am in love with Jesus Christ. The upside down, man, the king who a servant, who a king who's a server, who's the first and last and first and last, the person who lives as turning everything on its side, Jesus who dwells equally on Earth and heaven. Jesus both as a historical, real, real living, being and as a legacy through the Gospel represents something which I care so much about, which is the idea that God is with us. Emmanuel,
:
48:39
I like a lot of people in queer spaces have had a really rocky journey with an understanding of what Jesus is right? We are pushed into a place where we have to question the validity and the authority of scripture is true thing. The objectivity of it all, and so many of us come down to this is just absurd, which it is, but right people don't describe it as such, and the person of Jesus was always described as magic, but in contradiction to physical reality and coming back to the understanding that Jesus is magic. That Jesus grounds us in the possibility for growth and freedom and liberation that many of us already didn't experience when we believed. All of these things to be literally true, that Jesus turned water into wine, in that God, through Jesus heals the ill and that we can accomplish things beyond what we consider to be our current limitations. There's a profound social justice simplification in a theology grounded in the person, the historical real person of Jesus, Jesus who shows us God manifest incarnate
Sam:
49:55
Jesus who stands with the oppressed and with the marginalized fighting towards heaven. Jesus who liberates us, not a Jesus who has power dominion over us, but Jesus who is actively with us towards the end of liberation, God is with us. God always liberates. So this morning I learned that James Cone, the really grandfather of modern African American Liberation Theology is passed away and he, he might be the great, the greatest American theologian of the 20th century. She taught the world, didn't pour. Lesson is that we shouldn't be defining God by how powerful God is by Orthodox God is because God, since the very beginning has been defined as liberated as the one who stands against depression and that anything, anything done in God's name that isn't liberating, isn't really God and cone saw that power of deliberating God manifest in the historical Jesus Christ. You know, living person,
:
51:05
Jesus motivates speeding toward active, passionate commitment toward lift justice in very similar ways that queerness does. Queerness would be absurd without a commitment to liberation, it would be devoid of history and an awareness of self. It would be ignorant of Marsha p Johnson, throwing bricks at cops. Queerness is born in resistance, and the intrinsic liminality of queer identity creates in queerness a divine imperative to solidarity with others in marginal social, political, legal spaces for people outside of the categories and identities that are affirmed by society. Without a commitment to black liberation, to immigrant solidarity, to worker's rights, queerness and Christianity both become very weak and absurd and self-contradictory.
Sam:
52:01
Christianne do you loses its authenticity. It's cords grounding. When it moves past liberation, that's when Christianity stops being Christ. It's almost like God operate them, found a soul.
:
52:15
So the third way we came up to ground our understanding of God in reality, to kind of hang a piece of our understanding on was in our personal relationship to God in our relationships, to the ideas that we have about God. We come to an understanding of how it feels like to be in relationship with divinity.
Sam:
52:36
These relationships are personal, but they're not individualistic. The relationships that we share for other people and other people can then share them with others and the relationship expands its relationship with people and if ideas and objects and for plants and with systems of nature
:
52:56
and just as my relationships with people are messy and contradictory. Often my relationship with God is contradictory and messy and it must be that way. That's not a sign of doubt were a sign of you're crumbling theology to sign that God is a social creative human entity. Immersion from human brains and human culture and that our relationships with God are thoroughly human, passionately developed in the core of our being. Our relationships, God should be messy, should be expected to be messy because we are messy. I might in one moment relate to God as omniscient, prayed that I might go to God assuming the God knows me and knows my life and I can sit with God and God can see me and I will know that God sees me and that God sees the world and sees what is happening and I feel power there and I feel grounding and I feel so nice and I feel safety and at the same time I can feel curiosity from God about what is not yet and what is not known and I could feel frustration from God about what isn't known or what cannot be known, and sometimes I experience God is limited in that way and both of those things are true.
:
54:12
They're not objective Lee too, because this is a relationship. It's relational. He True
Sam:
54:17
God isn't logical and that's why God can be a person. Something crazy about Jesus is that he doesn't just ask us to be your friend or just ask us to listen to him. He asked us to become a part of him becoming his body, to take up his mission, to carry his cross, to be a part of his heaven. It's not just an invitation into his religion. It's an invitation into his life. Jesus asked us to join into his incarnation,
:
54:46
understood from this perspective, the way we become Christ's hands and feet is by leaning into our strangeness and our complexity and celebrating our marginal identities by standing with acting, with learning, with listening to responding to barriers experienced by others, have marginal identity.
Outro Sequence:
55:11
I am the manager soon affliction by the Rod of God's wrath. I remember my lunch and my soul is down this time because not they are new every morning. Great. Why should they be punished for just lift up our hearts and our hands to God and heaven and say, you've sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven you covered yourself. Put yourself out there to meet me opened own separate streams. That tears flow from my eyes because my eyes, my eyes so flow, uncertain until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees.