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A Mighty Wokeness Is Their God

A reader spotted this petition on a bulletin board at Yale Divinity School, home of the Democratic Party at catechesis:

 

Which words do you not see in this petition?

God.

Jesus.

Typical.

Moving alone, an Episcopalian reader flags this touching meditation from lesbian psychotherapist and artist Laurie Gudim [1], in her weekly column published at Episcopal Cafe. She’s talking about the story in Acts 8 when Philip baptizes the Ethiopian eunuch. Excerpt:

change_me

I imagine the Ethiopian eunuch as a delightfully androgynous soul – dark of skin, flamboyant, dressed in bright silks, bejeweled, his lips colored and his eyes lined with kohl.  He is sitting under a parasol in a large chariot, and around him are mounted soldiers and attendants. A wagon carries tents and food so that he can camp in luxury on the journey home.

Does Philip, devout Jew that he is, hesitate to climb up into the strange, little. traveling world of this foreign pilgrim and accept his hospitality?  If he does, we don’t hear about it. Instead we hear how he opens scripture to his host. Then, successful in sharing the Good News, he baptizes this precious soul, welcoming him into the family of Christ.

This story soothes my heart in these deeply troubling times.  From the very earliest days of the church comes a gesture of profound acceptance and heart-felt welcome to a gender-fluid person.  One of our very first deacons is seized by the Holy Spirit and driven to the loving acceptance of this queer man, this eunuch, embracing him not as someone who must change, but just as he is.

:::facepalm:::

A “gender-fluid person,” the eunuch? Why is he “queer”? “Not as someone who must change” — as if his baptism would cause him to grow a new set of balls! There is no reason to assume that eunuchs in New Testament times were gay. Eunuchs were males who were castrated to perform specific social functions.  [2] Gudim thinks Jerusalem in the early years of the Christian era was the Folsom Street Fair.

Don’t none of y’all tell her about the “street called Straight” [3] (Acts 9:11)!

36 Comments (Open | Close)

36 Comments To "A Mighty Wokeness Is Their God"

#1 Comment By Matt in VA On October 11, 2018 @ 5:01 pm

This poem is basically sixth- or seventh-grade-level writing and it’s on the bulletin board at Yale. I mean, that doesn’t surprise me, but the degree to which the US has already rotted out is really something. The same way Trump punched right through the Republican Party as if it was made of pasteboard — someone’s going to do that to the whole country soon enough.

#2 Comment By Adam Sanders On October 11, 2018 @ 5:04 pm

At least the prayer eschews any pretense that it’s directed to God, and makes grammatically clear that the recipient is the self (“us”/”you”).

#3 Comment By Xenie On October 11, 2018 @ 5:14 pm

“Let us hear the smallest cry”–oh good, they’ve turned pro-life!

“Children separated from their parents”–and they’re finally calling out the predatory surrogacy industry!

Sigh.

#4 Comment By Annie On October 11, 2018 @ 5:28 pm

Trump may have punched through the Republican party, but 8 years of worshipping Obama devoured and destroyed the integrity of the Democratic party. Yes, there were and are consistent progressive critics of Trump and Obama, but they are few. The poet in question here likely would have nothing to say about the state of affairs if there was a Democrat in the Oval Office, and believe me, not much was different a few years ago. War in the Middle East? Check. Mass incarceration? Check. Separation of families at the border? Check. Expansion of the police state? Check.

This is all about having their egos stroked, their “right” to rule (and making sure they express shock and amazement that anyone could question history’s Righteous Arc), and the sexual revolution. That’s it. Everything they mention is just a prop that 90% of Democrats overlooked for 8 years without a problem.

#5 Comment By Antonio On October 11, 2018 @ 5:59 pm

If that’s all there is to that “church,” I’m not surprised intelligent students would say ah, well, the hell with it.

#6 Comment By Blooky On October 11, 2018 @ 6:10 pm

Eunuchs were neither gay nor genderfluid. They were men, mostly slaves, who were physically mutilated, by force, and then used to fulfill certain social functions. It was a barbaric practice, and it belongs on the ash-heap of history, alongside slavery.

Our current obsessions have nothing to do with that horrible practice, and it demeans those who were mutilated to project that onto them.

#7 Comment By Antonio On October 11, 2018 @ 6:11 pm

The word “God” does appear, if obliquely. What’s missing is anything that even remotely suggests humility and contemplation.

Everything is politicized as a fight. These are the zealots shouting in the marketplace and screaming for swords.

#8 Comment By Pogonip On October 11, 2018 @ 6:12 pm

Rich white American women seem to be in search of something, anything, to fear. They don’t seem to be happy unless they’re terrified. Thus, for example, if you peruse liberal sites, you’ll find them working themselves into a fearful frenzy over a “rapist” on the Supreme Court, or genuinely frightened to venture south of the Mason-Dixon line, or living in fear of the white guy in the next cubicle who once said something micro-aggressive like “Smile! It’s not that bad.” You see this in liberal men too—I think Rod wrote about the guy who was afraid of the plumber—but it’s not as pervasive as in the female.

Now, I spent 2 years in a wretched situation where I had good cause to be afraid, so I don’t get the appeal of constant fear, but if that’s what makes you happy, I would say, knock yourself out—EXCEPT that I am increasingly concerned that, like any addiction, an addiction to fear may require stronger and stronger doses to generate the desired buzz, and that if the fear addicts continue to gain influence they may end up ginning up something really scary, like a war.

Also, I must differ with Matt. I wrote a lot better than that in the 7th grade.

#9 Comment By Ben H On October 11, 2018 @ 6:15 pm

Please no one email that thing to Pope Francis thanks

#10 Comment By Elijah On October 11, 2018 @ 6:16 pm

@ Annie – I couldn’t agree more. Reading this from a bunch of spoiled entities little sh*ts at Yale makes me retch.

#11 Comment By Elijah On October 11, 2018 @ 6:17 pm

I would also point out that the ‘prayer’ is basically a self-help plea: “let us” is the only refrain. God is secondary if present at all.

#12 Comment By Nate J On October 11, 2018 @ 6:21 pm

Adam Sanders makes the definitive comment on this.

“Let us pray.”

To whom? The God of the Self. The God of the Individual Will. The God of Human Power.

We didn’t entirely lose the transcendent, the good and permanent order of all things. We simply chopped it into pieces and swallowed it up.

#13 Comment By catbird On October 11, 2018 @ 6:28 pm

Actually, the eunuch/trans-gender connection is not entirely nuts. Eunuchs were viewed as unclean in Judaism, unable to participate in worship because they were not clearly male or female. I don’t know specifically about Judaism, but in cultures where eunuchs were common, they were indeed seen and viewed as people who were good to fantasize with a gender ambiguous people, and for that very reason loathed by the guardians of gender order. So to say that Phillip would have felt, climbing up into the chariot of the Ethiopian eunuch something like you or I would feel going up to a drag queen and sharing the gospel is not that far-fetched, actually.

#14 Comment By Dave Griffey On October 11, 2018 @ 6:31 pm

Technically God is in the sentence ‘God’s green earth.’ The green earth, of course, is the center of attention, but at least the G-word gets there. Don’t expect Jesus. That’s just silly.

#15 Comment By Bob On October 11, 2018 @ 6:34 pm

Too bad smallest cry does not mean children separated from their mothers by planned and executed death…

#16 Comment By Edward Hamilton On October 11, 2018 @ 6:53 pm

“…loving acceptance of this queer man, this eunuch, embracing him not as someone who must change, but just as he is.”

vs.

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized. Acts 2:40-41

I feel like there’s some important distinction to be drawn between these two gospels, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Update: This Episcopalian website is full of amazing exegesis! For example, did you know that when Jesus appears to condemn divorce in Mark’s gospel, [4] is criticizing the religious authorities for not letting women leave marriages that are “adulterous” because they aren’t feeling happy and self-fulfilled? And that this passage is also all about how Kavanaugh is a horrible person, because of course it is?

#17 Comment By Damien Woods On October 11, 2018 @ 6:54 pm

I just know that somewhere I’ve read something similar.

Maybe it was this:

Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.
Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky.
[Come, let us] make a name for ourselves.

#18 Comment By Mapache On October 11, 2018 @ 7:37 pm

This Anglican begins his prayers by addressing God and ends them in the name of Jesus or the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the prayers usually include one or more of the following: an expression of thanks, petitions for myself and others, confession of sins, and a request for forgiveness.

The so called prayer posted on the YDS bulletin board is something, but it is not a prayer, at least not in my book. The bulletin board would be better used with notices of nearby happy hours.

#19 Comment By Ira On October 11, 2018 @ 7:38 pm

But… you do see the word ‘God’ in that prayer?

It’s clearly there?

What are you even complaining about? It’s a prayer for justice, and for the will and energy to act. The specific concerns it names are legitimate, surely? Praying for prisoners, for ethnic minorities, for divided families, etc.?

Yes, it has an overall left-wing orientation to it, but the last I checked, left-wing Christians exist too, and left-wing Christians pray too. What the heck is the problem here?

There is quite enough to be outraged at before we start whingeing about… what, the fact that a prayer for things that we should all support is nonetheless implicitly anti-Trump? Lunacy.

#20 Comment By Lee (in KY) On October 11, 2018 @ 7:59 pm

Somewhere Joel Osteen is looking at this prayer and going:

“Yeah, I’m totally using that during Black History Month.”

#21 Comment By MikeS On October 11, 2018 @ 9:03 pm

I used to think that the aim of liberal or mainline Christianity was to reinterpret or restate the religion in light of modern biblical and historical scholarship; but no, it’s simply about all the usual leftwing political causes and cultural weirdness with a religious flavoring.

#22 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 11, 2018 @ 9:07 pm

There are churches in America that adhere to traditional Christian teachings. They are not hard to find. They will welcome strangers who are sincerely seeking a spiritual home. You just have to be willing to accept that these havens of Biblical consistency have been preserved by Americans of African descent.

#23 Comment By sketches by boze On October 11, 2018 @ 10:54 pm

Ira, I didn’t see anything wrong with the poem, either. It may not appeal to the sensibilities of some of the commenters on this blog, and it may be written in a language that makes some of us cringe, but that doesn’t mean its concerns are illegitimate. We ought to be concerned about prison reform and discrimination against people of color, which is a real and ongoing problem in this country.

#24 Comment By YDS Alum On October 11, 2018 @ 11:29 pm

As a recent alumnus of YDS, that prayer is actually pretty tame by the norms of the woke gods.

My “favorite” incident at YDS attempted to address bathroom inequality. Outside of the common room there were, and likely still are, two restrooms for individual use. A mixed gender one and one for women only. The reason for this, so I was told, was that a number of female employees who had offices close by didn’t like men urinating on the toilet seats and leaving it there like dogs marking their property (which is honestly a fair complaint), so they had a women’s only bathroom. However, a group of students ripped the women’s (yes, the women’s) bathroom sign off the wall because it was supposedly discriminating against gender non-conforming students. For the rest of that year only, both bathrooms were unisex.

The following year the women’s only bathroom returned as the woke gods focused their attention elsewhere.

#25 Comment By Seoulite On October 11, 2018 @ 11:52 pm

It’s a prayer for justice, and for the will and energy to act.

Even if we were to take this as a sincere attempt at a Christian prayer, the first six lines and the last seven are not a prayer, but a political call to action.

So a prayer slipped in between two political statements… I’m not sure if that’s better than saying it’s not a prayer at all.

#26 Comment By bob On October 12, 2018 @ 5:21 am

I guess it’s praying to one’s self, the most convenient thing to worship. It always agrees with you, always promises a lot but consistently under-performs, but is easily remade, always in one’s image and likeness. Very Episcopalian. Tell “god” what he needs to know and tell “him” (it, whatever) what he ought to do about it. No wonder they open so many churches and the ones they have are so full.
It’s hard to imagine spending the rather pricey tuition to get an “Mdiv” in that kind of place, but it has an audience.

#27 Comment By Dan Berger On October 12, 2018 @ 7:16 am

a delightfully androgynous soul – dark of skin, flamboyant, dressed in bright silks, bejeweled, his lips colored and his eyes lined with kohl. He is sitting under a parasol in a large chariot, and around him are mounted soldiers and attendants.

All of those things were pretty aggressively masculine in those days, or at least not gender-specific. Folks need to stop projecting current gender straightjackets onto the past.

I’d love to see this fool tell, say, a 16th-Century cavalier that his sartorial choices are signs that he’s gay.

#28 Comment By MichaelGC On October 12, 2018 @ 7:27 am

Along that line, the remains of Matthew Shepard will be moved to the National Cathedral and interred there in the manner of a martyred saint.

#29 Comment By grumpy realist On October 12, 2018 @ 7:59 am

Pogonip–I had a friend who kept telling me to “smile! It’s not all that bad!”

Until one day I finally lost my temper and flayed him, up down and sideways. That he had no right to tell me what to believe or do, that I wasn’t put here on this earth just to look perky for him no matter what my internal feelings were, and that, yes indeed, it WAS that bad and it wasn’t his judgment call.

People telling other people to “Smile!” are ubiquitous and utterly enraging. Men do it to women, adults do it to kids, bosses do it to underlings, companies do it to employees. (Slave-owners probably did it to slaves.) The argument always goes “but you’ll feel better!” (Rather than what is really going on: I want you to look happy so that I’ll feel better. And I want you to show a happy face to me no matter what is going on inside you, so I don’t have to do anything. And I’m in a position of power, so I can get away with it.)

Stop asking other people to smile. They’re not your marionettes.

#30 Comment By DGarcia On October 12, 2018 @ 8:04 am

When one’s true religion is politics, a “prayer” like this is inevitable, I suppose.

#31 Comment By Elizabeth Anne On October 12, 2018 @ 9:02 am

Rod, you might want to look into the importance of the story of the Eunuch in the gospel. Even by a strict orthodox reading the eunuch was excluded from conservative Jewish religious practice. Eunuchs were excluded from the temple by Leviticus’s law and were probably excluded from Christian practice prior to this. And the reason for their exclusion was partly that self-castration was an act of worship in some cults but partly that their status as being neither women nor properly men made them unfit for the temple.

So the inclusion of the Ethiopian Eunuch was radical in multiple fronts. To read him as someone excluded for his gender is a bit anachronistic, yes, but not the outrage you see it as.

#32 Comment By Cavin On October 12, 2018 @ 9:27 am

The degree of ignorance concerning Christian theology here is astounding.

While one could quibble with the prayer’s progressive focus, it fits a pattern that is typical of the middle phase of an Anglican prayer cycle. In that particular phase, the congregation confesses sins of the second of the great commandments, namely, sins against the sins of loving our neighbors. That’s why there’s no mention of the Godhead.

Further, the meditation on the Ethiopian eunuch also fits reasonably well with confessional Protestant theology. Unlike Catholics, Protestants have historically believed that Christ’s coming fulfills the procreational mandate of Genesis, and someone like the eunuch can now be taken into the fellowship of God’s people. The biological family had eschatological significance under the old covenant; it has no such eschatological significance under the new covenant instituted by Christ,

This is an area where Roman Catholic theology has often departed from Protestant theology. Recall that Luther famously stated that marriage (and family) has no more eschatological significance than hair-cutting.

There are bound to be differences over how this eschatological shift applies to those who identify as queer today. Even so, it calls into question the theological merits of promoting heterosexuality and the nuclear family. Moreover, it suggests that Rod’s anthropological arguments against queerness have little place within Protestant orthodoxy. For many of us confessional Protestants, the “family values” movement represents an effort to slip a Catholic error back into Protestant theology over and against the efforts of the Reformers to purge the church of it. That said, I would hesitate to identify evangelicalism as Christian. As Harold Bloom noted, it’s really a modern-day variant of Gnosticism that makes liberal borrowing of Christian symbolism.

#33 Comment By Pogonip On October 12, 2018 @ 1:17 pm

Hi Grumpy Realist,

I’ve never in my life told anyone to smile unless I was holding a camera at the time. I was using it as an example of a “micro-aggression.”

And just for you, Grumpy, an exemption—glare into the camera, and—“FROWN!”

#34 Comment By Jay On October 12, 2018 @ 11:52 pm

Cavin says:
October 12, 2018 at 9:27 am

For many of us confessional Protestants, the “family values” movement represents an effort to slip a Catholic error back into Protestant theology over and against the efforts of the Reformers to purge the church of it.

‘Many’ is a vague descriptor. I’m not aware of any confessional Protestants who hold your views. I don’t know any confessional Protestant who believes marriage doesn’t have a procreative component or the promotion of the family and marriage is a Catholic error among your claims.

I’m afraid you’ve taken Luther out of context. It is completely foreign. Luther was promoting marriage and family and treated them with reverence when the Catholic Church was emphasizing celibacy.

#35 Comment By Rob G On October 13, 2018 @ 12:13 pm

“This is an area where Roman Catholic theology has often departed from Protestant theology.”

When was RC theology ever Protestant? Given history, it seems that it’s the latter that’s done the departin’.

#36 Comment By Patrick On October 13, 2018 @ 1:32 pm

@ grumpy realist:

“Rather than what is really going on: I want you to look happy so that I’ll feel better.”

I’ll bet you they’re also intimidated by you.