Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Queer Theology Synchroblog 2017 - Identity

Very Random Thoughts on the Theme of Identity

I remember, shortly after coming out, that I did a lenten exercise wherein I wrote daily to answer the question, "who am I?" I have no idea where that notebook is now, neither do I remember much about the exercise. It seemed important at the time. Maybe it was.

+ + +

Today, I made a list of words that all fit me. Fifteen words, none of which fully covers me (except maybe hairy?), and even when combined, doesn't get to who I am. The words might apply to any number of people, millions of people, really.

In any one adjective, I am commonplace. Start mixing them up, and things start getting a bit more unique.

But even gay performer, American writer, hairy single educated cis Lutheran doesn't tell you about my interests in the early history of modern dance or super-hero comics or how I have more than a few photos of flowers on my cell phone. And what will that tell you?

Only so much.

Even as I tell you those things about me, I think of things left out.

+ + +

“‘He’s a gay artist?’ Well, what do you mean, I’m a gay artist? I’m gay. I happen to be an artist. ‘He’s a black artist?’ I’m black, it’s true, but how do you define a black artist? Is that how small you want me to be? I live my whole life with my dukes up in this pugnacious stance, and a lot of it has to do with keeping the motherfuckers away with their stupidity and their reduction, because I am mystery to myself and I am certainly not an open book to you.” 

Mystery. There's a word.
It's a word we use a lot when we get into God territory. It's a word that fits someone who tells a follower, "I Am who I Am." It's as if God is telling Moses, "I'm creator, sure, I'm law giver, okay, but if you really want to know who I am, get to know who I am, because I'm not going to fit inside your pocket." 

When we are honest with ourselves, we carry that bit of God's Image in us, the part that is mysterious, indefinable, best known by being known

I am not the Great I Am, but I am who I am. You're not going to comprehend it in one visit.

Or a lifetime. 

+ + +

We are shaped by so much. Geography, family dynamics, patterns and accidents.  I'm a German Lutheran farm boy from Paige, I'll often say, and it's all true, but wait, there's more. 

I think I can say, without hyperbole or overstatement, that who I am has been mightily shaped by being a Christian. It has opened and closed doors for me. It shapes what I write, what I perform, how I interact with other people . . . Whether in obedience or rebellion, Christianity has shaped me. Take Jesus out of my history and I am someone else.

Even saying that has some mystery in it. 

+ + + 

I'm finding myself questioning every line I've written here. No, not exactly, but I want to qualify, explain, expand most everything I've written. I think about that notebook from 20 years ago, daily lenten scribbles answering "Who am I?" I wonder how much of it is still true, if any of it was. I wonder if I should do it again. 

Lent is only a few weeks away. 

No comments:

Post a Comment