Thursday, January 30, 2014

In search of the beloved community, a call for the transgender, queer persons to reclaim their divinity

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

                                                                                                          Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

Historically there has been a mindset that the social order in the United States is synonymous with the divine order, this social order being heteronormative in fashion, that Christ Jesus is embodied in that order.  This order seemingly experiences itself as the light.  This becomes the root of a grand deception that seeks to deny the very presence of God in anyone or anything that is extraordinary to that witness. 


Coming out as a black transgender woman who identifies as queer I am faced with this reality, that the people I meet on the street live by a different light.  The light they follow illumines and makes legitimate violence, racism, war, poverty, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of hatred, too many to mention here.  This light they follow becomes a mode towards a profit of the flesh and thus any authenticity that does not reflect this light is considered a deception of grand import.  This light presents itself as the light for all, banishing any narrative that is extraordinary to its desire.   For a person such I who lives in communion with a different light I, like many of my transgender, queer sisters and brothers are faced with unemployment,  prison and suicide, all because we follow a different light.  

I suggest here that the transgender person doesn't just follow a different light but embodies that different light.  It is a light as bright as the sun and as such becomes harmful to the lesser false light, engendering in this lesser light a particular fear necessarily causing that light to become dim, dark and at times violent.  The transgender person embodies the light of the divine without pretense.  This becomes the blessing and the challenge that more than any other concern the transgender person embodies the great divine without pretense. And so, the transgender person, at least in the Christian context, becomes the light of Christ.  For those who read this post and think it too much, to be clear the transgender person does not have a spiritual or religious monopoly on Christ yet we know according to sacred text that Jesus was critically different, his very presence critiquing the societal and culture structures of the Jewish community and the Roman empire.  Jesus Christ, received as the ultimate critical difference, and one that queered the limitations of human imagination was the inbreaking of God.  And so it is for the transgender person, that they are also the inbreaking of God in the order of the Christ and a queer presence.

As I read about the epidemic of attempted suicides, unemployment, homelessness, the abuse even the poverty in the transgender community I reflect on a community that, like Christ, reveals the fallacy and deception of the lesser light and similar to the Christ they bare the burden of that deception.  This may be a hard teaching yet I suggest that when we look at Jesus we are actually looking at a similar journey.  Now critical difference interpreted as the Christ is the greatest gospel and the greatest revelation of God in the world.  Yet critical difference is not just for difference sake but for the salvation of our communities.  I guess in some sense critical difference and by this I mean authenticity leads to liberation and sameness, which is the image of the lesser light, leads, at least in my estimation, to colonization and enslavement and a life predicated on that lesser light.

I think at some point the one who identifies as transgender, queer or of critical difference must reclaim their divinity.  They must realize that, simply put, they are not of this world.  They must walk as Christ in a world that lives by a different light.  As the transgender, queer person reclaims their divinity I suggest here that the beloved community shall emerge as of Christ.  Why, you ask.  Because those of critical difference are actually the salvation and the healing of their community and even the world.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sustainability, A Sacred Conversation

“The fullness of divine import is experienced as the “I” embraces that which sustains its sacred holy presence.”

-          Anonymous

Through my years in Christendom communion has become a discourse on sustainability.  A mystical symbol of Jesus’ love for me, it is a most intimate encounter which sustains me as I move through the joys, hopes, sorrows and challenges of the day.  Communion is transcendent, unveiling God’s longing for the oppressed and the oppressor.  It holds the infinite, and the finite, it is everlasting and this without sway.  Living a life of communion, I address those deeper issues, concerns and questions of sustainability.  Questions such as, “how do I sustain myself, my community and those relationships significant to me on this journey?  How do I live an authentic life yet somehow balance that authenticity with the grace and mercy for others and myself without finding myself in a space of the inauthentic? 

These questions emerge as a primary consequence of my experience of identity.  This has been an intensely personal unfolding, and I might add a public witness of sacred import as relationships in community, culture, society and the political reveal themselves and their limits to me, each becoming a discourse on the challenges of inclusivity, sustainability, and strategies to life, agency and power.   Identity, i.e. gender, sexuality, race, economics, immigration and the environment then must be viewed as concerns and challenges of human sustainability and in this sense a call to return to earth embodiment.  

These words present a call for a different hope, one not shaped by the present political theology and its advocacy of a profit based economics sustained by a particular pathology of violence upon non-heteronormative identities and a coddling of the simple minded but a hope which embodies a queer hospitality grounded in infinity with a goal of sustainability, in this I am mindful of Hannah Arendt and her treatment of political legitimacy and its implications toward revolutionary intent.    Based on her words sustainability becomes a conversation on civil disobedience.  

This may sound odd but in a world of the heteronormative, the materialistic and the associated idolatry an authenticity which doesn’t reflect this reality can be detrimental to life, liberty and just plain survival.  In this light a conversation on sustainability continues the courageous work of justice as a sacred discourse within the Civil Rights Movement.  Issues of identity, i.e. race, poverty, education, gender and sexuality are all sacred historical conversations of justice in this I suggest sustainability.  Pushing this conversation farther, I suggest here that sustainability becomes a conversation of the “I” and its holiness.  It becomes a sacred challenge to established systems of community which shape desires of the religious, economy and the political. 

My thoughts, now emerging from a cultural and historical perspective, I long for the abstract, even the complex, not to be the enemy of the accessible since it is the abstract and the complex which more intimately embraces the authenticity, even the truth of the human condition and this becomes my argument, my push for sustainability.    Identity is intimately engaged in the project of sustainability and as such becomes a discourse on eschatology and in this sense it is that primary transformational presence moving culture and society towards new horizons of hope.

New horizons of hope rest in an uncommon faith which emerges out of our intimate relationship with the divine.  It is a faith that yields a courage grounded in the garden of Gethsemane and expressed on the Cross.  It is compelling and unrelenting, moving the sojourner through space and time, through struggle and joy to affect the divine cosmic human interaction.   Sustainability, emerging as an activity of this uncommon faith becomes an orientation to the limitless love of God.   Sustainability then becomes a provocative act of heart and soul, becoming the hope of the poor, the lame, the ill, the veteran and the impoverished.   It is the nourishment for the soul and a sacred act of love.




Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Coming Day of Pentecost or The New Cultural Politics of Diffrence. Thank you Professor Cornel West

As a person of faith living on the margins of Church and society I find a Church seeking more to be a credible witness of capitalist oriented frameworks and their limits than of Jesus of Nazareth.   This post suggests that the followers of Jesus’ teachings must continue to address the oppressive, lifeless institutions of cultural and societal enslavement, for some, this may include aspects of the Church at least here in the United States.  It is also a response to the writings of Cornel West, "The New Cultural Politics of Difference" in which he and other scholars call for a different framework, one I call a day of Pentecost.

As millions upon millions of people yearn for a different hope, I suggest here that as the Church wrestles with various forms and frameworks of identity, that the Church is being prepared for a day of Pentecost, a day of the Lord, if you will, that will re-imagine the Church and what she believes in. That said, I believe that those of us who pray must pray with Pentecost in our hearts, minds and souls and this with intention.   Pentecost as experienced in Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31 will be an awakening to a new, albeit a radical consciousness in a world where limitations have the credibility and the sway.  The Church of the 21st century must embrace a different call, and break from the staid traditional institutional norms that have blinded the church to the callings and teachings of Jesus.  I am calling for the spirit to fall fresh on the Church once again.  I am also calling for a  Church that hears the radically inclusive love of God.  And isn't this what Jesus, the founder of the Church was about, a radical inclusive community.  The Church must once again compel the question, "what manner of love is this."

Yes, "what manner of love is this" should denote a Church yielded to Jesus of Nazareth and his radical love that led him to the Cross.  Shall the Church forget the teachings of its founder, shall it skew these teachings for the sake of political, economic, or even societal and cultural gain at the altar of human boundaries and limitations?   As I write this blog post I reflect on the Cross and the credibility provided by the Cross, becoming evermore cognizant that you, I and the Church can't know real love without reaching beyond our self imposed boundaries and limitations.  The rationality of boundaries and limitations can become a barrier to a courageous beloved community.  That said we must daily visit Jesus and the Cross to walk this journey.

The Church of the 21st century must release herself from an institutional theology and ethics that enslaves her to a love even a passion for limitation.  The Church must embrace a theology of the infinite, even this of grace so that she will once again be that present and persistent hope, the grace and mercy so longed for by people the world over.  It is the infinite that the Church must hold and this without sway, it must be her covenant, if it is to be the Church of Jesus in the 21st century.   Now reflecting on the work of J├╝rgen Moltmann, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Emmanuel Levinas, I am mindful that hope, particularly in the life of a Church yielded to God, moves as the voice of the everlasting and this a call from within the infinite.  This is a hard teaching yet it is a reality the Church must strive for if it is to be that present and persistent hope.   

Beloved what I write here is not easy yet Jesus never said it was.  The Church, if it is to be credible witness of Jesus in the world, must strive to hold the infinite with salvation as her witness.  I invite all who read this blog to begin the hard work of a transforming theology which is grounded in the infinite mercy of the Cross and in this to continue the work of Jesus of Nazareth.

Rev Monica Joy Cross copyright January 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hands that hold the world or thoughts on white supremacy, our schools and the evermore emerging police state as evidenced by Edward Snowden, its all connected

You know my friend white supremacy is infused in every facet of relationship and life experience.                                                                       

                                                                                                  Conversations at a Restaurant

So, I was on the web one day looking for a photo or picture with black hands holding the earth, you know, a ball in two hands cupped like in the picture. Well, I looked and looked but no luck. Later in the evening I went out with my good friend and mentor and told of my frustration and we had a good laugh. Would you believe it not one photo of black hands holding the earth?  I guess I'll have to take my own picture. Please let me know if you find a picture such as this. As of now the only hands I see holding the earth are white, yes, white and typically male. Hmm how does that work.  This experience becomes the ground of this blog post.

So, while I don’t want or need to be cynical about the whole matter I must at least present my point regarding this image.  My point, based on my interpretation of the above image is that white supremacy utilizes various tools to normalize a police state necessarily sequestering any imagination that is beyond or counter to its imagination.   As a matter of clarification my point is not that the rest of us don't have an imagination but that the imagination we do have is shaped by white supremacy necessarily compelling us to focus our imaginations in and on places that have been created and developed for us by the normalizing agents/partners of white supremacy, i.e. Google, Apple, and Facebook just to name a few, ensuring the continued domination of white supremacy.

In the context of this blog Normalizing Agents/Partners are strategies of white supremacy. They are the relationships, tools, systems, and narratives that maintain materialist notions of desire.  In this sense, desire for material becomes an important oppressive aspect of white supremacy, for me, as evidenced by the rampant consumerism in the United States.   Any imagination beyond these agents developed by/partnered with white supremacy becomes problematic and must be eradicated in the name of making the world safe for white supremacy or the “Global War on Terror”.  Those normalizing agents which I suggest here are wars and rumors of wars, i.e., the military industrial complex, economic melt downs, prison industrial complex, poverty, religion, entertainment/consumerism, nationalism parading as “faith” and the like, they are the embodiment of of white supremacy.  In this I think Marcus Garvey, Michael Eric Dyson, Cornel West, Gabriella Lettini, Ibrahim Farajaje, Tim Wise, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr. and even Ella Baker might agree.

Reading Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, published by New Press, 2010, I am reminded of the strategies employed by white supremacy and its normalizing agents/partners to maintain power over people who don’t represent or agree with the agenda of white supremacy, as I am reminded by news reports that the largest budget in my beloved state of California is the one for prisons when programs which are focused on children should have the largest budget.  I think the obvious question on this matter is, “who or what is the criminal here and what are their priorities?”  It is a question that each of us must seriously engage, to be honest about the whole matter.  I say this as I read an article in the Huffington Post (Feb 20, 2013 edition) about the school to jailhouse pipeline system.  The article tells how the school systems now employ the police, and the criminal justice system, i.e. agents/partners of white supremacy to discipline children for stuff, formerly issues handled at the teacher/principal level such as temper tantrums, etc., now handled by the local police necessarily making the school a quasi police state, this according to the Huffington Post article. 

Living in the flat lands of Richmond CA. I experience the effects of white supremacy, i.e. poverty, food deserts, housing crisis, slum lords, money lending/laundering companies that play on the impoverished like vultures in the desert and schools with seemingly as many police as there are students, in this sense ensuring the normalization of a police state with generational implications.  In this context as I think on these hands this image becomes more and more sinister.   Now I want to suggest here that the quasi police state, the flatlands of Richmond, CA, the sequester of the any imagination over and beyond white supremacy and the actions of Edward Snowden in regard to the NSA leaks are ultimately and intimately connected as white supremacy, in its efforts to maintain power over, has become the real criminal, the enemy, the real evil as it oppresses an American public that appears to be asleep at the proverbial wheel of this republic being directed toward "cultural issues of juvenile import" that are not the real argument at all.  What do votes mean when the voter is actually asleep at the wheel clueless of the real underlying issues.  Of course this is the goal of white supremacy.

I must admit that I am of the mind to pardon Mr. Snowden mainly because his actions reveal a vast police state that maintains ever more control over a population enslaved to desires for materiality.   That said, those of us who have awakened must begin to see ourselves as the "awakened ones", developing strategies to sustain ourselves over and beyond white supremacy.  My hat is off to Mr. Snowden and other activist that stand against all forms of white supremacy.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Thoughts on the Passing of a Dear Friend or Points of light, Points of Grace, the incarnation

I sit here at the local coffeeshop reflecting on life and her movement within my journey.  The twists and turns, the joys, the happy times, times of sadness, the sorrows and disappointments, the stuff of a well rounded life.   I also think upon a good friend whose light has departed from this world.  This is the origin of this post.

The joy of a new year and the passing of a dear friend provides a space to ponder the meaning of transition.  Just what does it mean, how do I make sense of it all in the midst of a constantly moving and dynamic life.  As there are many types of transitions, i.e., physical, emotional, spiritual, religious, a mulititude, I am mindful that transitions are movements, a mystical transformation if you will, of the incarnation.  Each one of these movements compelling me to look up, over, and beyond my own footprints within that incarnation.

As I think upon the passing of this dear friend I reflect upon this movement, this compelling event of the incarnation.  Through this passing I see that light of grace embodied in my dear friend making the incarnation that sacred space of divine import.  So life, at least in my limited estimation, that embodiment of love, is infused with the many brilliant lights of God of which you and I are one.

And while this act becomes the sorrow of my soul, that the light of my friend is gone from this world, I know their light shines bright over the horizon and I too will make that journey and see them again someday.