Before I get to the point, I spent greater than half my life up to this point more or less hiding and simultaneously wrestling with a very major component of what makes me who I am. It’s neither the single biggest nor the foremost component, true, but to pretend it’s not firmly in the top ten at least would, in my view, be to continue being dishonest, both to myself and to the people I love. With that in mind, my frequent discussion of the topic of late is hopefully a bit more understandable. Also, compared to the challenges one faces after the fact, coming out is the easy part. Anyone can publish an online letter or use social media to announce their previously hidden sexuality, but the real question for those who do is, “Are you prepared to handle what comes next?” It’s important to answer that question honestly, otherwise a man might very quickly find himself in a situation he’s not quite ready to tackle.
Independence Day. The Fourth of July. The date every year when the United States celebrates its independence from England. And according to some, also liberals, Socialists, Mexicans, China, tea parties, taxes, Indians, tree-huggers, Muslims, the Pope, the Irish, Bolsheviks, and whoever or whatever else has been the subject of American nationalistic vilification at some point over the past two centuries. It must’ve been a really productive day.
July 4, 1776, despite the grand annual picture we paint, was itself fairly anticlimactic: on that day, the text of the Declaration of Independence was merely finalized, adopted by the Continental Congress, and sent to the printers; that only matters historically because the rebel Colonists managed to outlast the Brits in the ensuing war. Nevertheless, over time it became the day when Americans celebrated the birth of their nation with barbecue pulled-pork sandwiches, copious potato salad, trite country music, miniature bombs, and gaudy parades. At the same time, it has also been a day on which nationalists tried to find ways of lumping their ideological opponents into the category of “oppressors,” “enemies,” or generally just people from whom we “need independence.” It’s really quite efficient: capture the poetic spirit of resistance and rebellion and then re-appropriate it to current ideological squabbles. Predictably, the downside is that it really doesn’t work that way. Continue reading
I don’t recall the exact moment when I realized I disagreed with the mission of the Gideons. I do remember wondering what that realization made me. A dick? A “religious person”? That was a worrying thought, mostly because I wasn’t sure why I didn’t approve of them. Something just didn’t sit right about the whole approach: give people a Bible in order to “save” them and ultimately turn them into little evangelists who then give other people Bibles and create other little evangelists. The whole operation looks and sounds remarkably (and uncomfortably) similar to some sort of grand spiritual pyramid scheme.
My experience with the Gideons is limited: a New Testament at the end of baccalaureate when I graduated from public high school or a leather-bound copy in a hotel’s bedside table drawer once in a while. My reaction in those situations was never, “Oh, how nice and thoughtful;” it was more along the lines of, “Why?” As I’ve thought about it more, it seems that the problem with the whole enterprise is a misunderstanding of the Bible itself and how it should be used. Yes, there is a right way to do it. Continue reading