If you're just joining this program, already in progress, you may want to start with the two previous posts. The brief catch-up is that, from a rather grumpy disposition, I'm deconstructing a video that you can see by clicking here.
7. "Church is for wimpy girly men."
Thomas says, with Scotty glowering beside him, "You want to say that again?"
tag: . . .
Where to start with this? There's so much that rubs me the wrong way here.
How about: "Real men" obviously are threatening, however good-naturedly or humorously the threat may be delivered. That the threat is the only text to answer the excuse tells us something: we expect men to be violent if their great god, "masculinity," is threatened.
Or maybe I should start with: Does this mean that wimpu, girly men are NOT welcome?
I realize I consort with a minority population. I'm part of that minority population. As a gay man, I cringed at this section. I cringed at the thought of transgendered friends seeing it. It is, quite possibly, the most UNwelcoming piece of the video.
And seriously, what is wrong with straight men that the need this sort of constant reassurance? "Don't worry, going to church won't make you less of a man! See? We have a couple of burly men who could smash you to pulp right here!" Why would I, as a gay man who (I've been told) exhibits a range of gender expression, be enough of a threat to keep straight men away, anyway?
I've tried to imagine a similar section directed at women, but they all come out so offensive that I can't publishe them on my blog. Which would sort of make the point about how offensive I find this particular excuse/response.
By the way, notice how there is no tag line at the end? It's as if the producers of the video couldn't find a polite way to say, "church isn't just for fags!" So we just have a final shot of the manly men with their names. That should say it all, right?
And perhaps what troubles me most---since I'm going on about realistic expectations in these posts---is that this may be the most honest section in the video. The church does lack men, men do tend to see "mother church" as feminizing (as if "feminine" were a bad thing), and men do tend to get threatening if they're accused of being less than "real men." Whatever those are.
What do I want a video like this to say? "All gender expressions are embraced as aspects of the Image of God" would be a lie (never mind creating unrealistic expectations) in the vast majority of churches.
So this section sipmly hits me on all the tender spots. It farily truthfully expresses what most congregations want and makes me realize all over again how far the church is from being a safe place for LGBT folk.
8. "If you knew me and what I've done, you wouldn't want me."
Retired pilot Mike answers: "If you knew me and what I've done, you wouldn't be worried."
This would be more powerful if didn't immediately assume that what these people had done was maybe had an affair or some other sin not punishable by civil law. As awful as that is, I think that's where churches are with this kind of forgiveness. I think if Mike had told us he'd committed heinous war crimes in Viet Nam or Iraq, we would be relieved that was all that was bothering him when he came to us for for confession and a word of grace.
It would also have been more powerful if we were told that everyone at Mike's church knew that he had molested a child but that their love had turn him from that destructive and life-shattering behavior.
It would have been a lie, but it would have been more powerful.
The sad, likely fact is that Mike may have had a profound, life-changing experience of God's forgiveness, but he probably keeps the particulars from the majority of his fellow church goers. He probably talks to people just like he spoke in this video: "If you knew . . . "
But he's probably not going to let them know, because most of us longtime church members know that it's not safe to tell everything. There may be very close friends who know Mike's past, but not everyone, I can nearly promise you. We're kind of back to the previous bit about how the church is full of hypocrites and preach forgiveness while shunning the forgiven.
I sound very cynical, don't I? Well, here I am. And there's a thin line between being a cynic and just paying attention.
And I'm not done here, yet. I have to stop here for the evening, but I'll try to get the rest done tomorrow. There's at least one more part to this rant. Maybe two. But we're through all the "excuse/response" portions of the video, so we're close to the end of my general grumpiness with this video.