Monday, December 15, 2008

Salt Lake City 12.3.04 and 12.8.04: Dry Bread and Majestic Mountains

Yesterday, as we got off the plane in Salt Lake City and I went into the airport bathroom, I thought, “The ugly treatment of gays by the church has seemed wrong to me because it violates all canons of compassion.”

But now I see that it equally robs the church of poetry and mystery. It robs the church of God. This ill-treatment is possible only in a world that has all the answers, a world where everything is tightly ordered and controlled.

Such a world has no need of God. And as I write that, I think, “My words are dry, lifeless bread crumbled in my parched mouth. They seem to touch no core of spirit, nor to come from such a core.” This is what oppression accomplishes.

My heart is sore. Steve said as we traveled that it’s as if a mean and hostile spirit is released in the land. One feels it on a plane full of folks headed to the Mormon holy city. People are using the election, the anti-gay marriage amendments, the “values” vote, to bring hatred and discrimination out of the closet. ABC and CBS announced yesterday that they will not accept ads by the United Church of Christ decrying church discrimination against gays.

The psalm I read today—109—seems to echo this social context. The pious one is surrounded by taunters who are willing to lie about him. Look at the concerted effort now to smear the reputation of Matthew Shepard and imply that he somehow earned his murder. Or, as I have learned, the attempt to paint that cold-blooded murder of a black teenaged boy in my hometown when I was in high school as drug-related.

Who hears the voice of those murdered in hate crimes disguised as “rational” acts of violence against scum?

The psalmist says, “Let them know that it is your hand, that you, O Lord, have done it. They may curse, but you will bless . . . .”

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The beauty of the mountains ringing the city this winter morning: gray, slate blue, astonishingly white, particularly where the sun picks out mountaintops or dales.

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