Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I, Thou, We, Us

Last Sunday we saw Gail Geisenhainer, a UU Minister, tell her congregation how she came to the Unitarian Universalists. When she first visited one of the smaller UU fellowships more than 20 years ago, she was an over-the-top in-your-face lesbian, wounded, lonely, and hurting. She found acceptance with that congregation--except a couple of weeks after her first visit, a lady stood up and said in effect, "I don't know how we can have gays in our community. They bring their filthy diseases and dangerous ideas with them, and should be quarantined, preferably on some remote island away from all of us decent people, so they can't spread their loathsome creed to us healthy people."
Need we say? Gail was stunned. She crawled into her shell, drew her aura in about her, and ran for her car. She didn't want to see or talk to anybody; she was just in that space where holding your breath and hoping the world would stop was all there was. As she reached the exit door, one of the congregation opened it for her, looked her straight in the eyes, and gently said, "See you next week."
This shocked her out of her trance. Was he crazy? What was he thinking? Was he on another planet? Impaired? But no, he didn't seem crazy; he was looking her straight in the eyes and he spoke in a soft, pleasant voice. "See you next week."
That next Sunday she decided to gather her forces and brave it out. In a part of the UU service called "Joys and Concerns", almost every member of that congregation stood up and said, "There were views expressed last week which I didn't agree with; I will not stay in this congregation if we believe that gays are diseased and should be quarantined." It all took a long time, because almost everyone spoke, saying essentially the same thing; but Gail realized that she was home. Thinking about it afterward, she realized too that nobody had denounced the woman who had attacked her.
This was an interesting epiphany. She stayed with the fellowship and eventually became a respected UU minister.
Our point is this: The congregation as a whole was tolerant of diverse views no matter what those views were. If the congregation had criticized the woman who wanted to quarantine gays, then she would have dug in, cast her ideas in concrete, probably left that UU church. Since she stayed, her views had a chance gradually to change.
You cannot change people's fast-held opinions overnight, nor can you torture them out of them. Always remember that the Buddha said, Hate generates hate.
We think this is a lesson that all we Wiccans can gain from. Blasting someone for his/her opinion does not work. You can defend your beliefs on a topic; in fact you should, especially if that means you have to think them through. Not, though, by attacking someone else for theirs; we see that too often in the pagan/Wiccan community.
We ourselves were partially doing it with BDD. Everyone is entitled to their opinion--yes, even the Christians--but to be a community, we must think of life and the lessons it brings in terms of "we" the community, not "Mine is the one and only right and true way." The Christians say, "Love your enemy." We like better the idea, "Tolerate your enemies and their views."
In the future is it to be I, or thou, or you, or we, or us -- ?
Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne


Unknown said...

I never try to change anyone's spiritual path and I try to respect every religion. I believe that each person is where they need to be on their spiritual path for this time and space. I also agree that if people change, it is a matter of understanding and time. Lots of Wiccans started out with their family religion and have chosen the Wiccan path as they have grown to understand and matured. We don't all fit into the same cookie cutter mold. But we can respect the different paths of others. Hopefully that kindness with help them to respect our path.

I love both of you and have enjoyed many a workshop over the years. It was a nice surprise to find your blog.

Thanks for sharing.

Bountiful Blessings

wushih said...

Greenleaf Coven has a gay priest. Over the years (many years) we have heard stuff like, "stay away from Greenleaf Coven, their priest is gay, they aren't really Wiccan/Pagan, their priest is gay therefore he is WEAK, they are WEAK, etc".

How boring.

Greenleaf is made up of families, straight and gay. We have people of all ages (three generations) and sexual orientation. Since we have our kids in the circle, we all keep our clothes on and a person's sexual orientation doesn't apply and why should it? A person's sexual orientation is personal and private. Our priest has always realized that, while in circle, he represents the masculine aspect of deity and he has done an excellent job.

We have always it our policy to ignore this kind of shit and I can't help but notice that most of our detractors have disappeared while Greenleaf continues to bumble along with our "weak" (hah) priest.

Now, he and I are both getting older and will eventually turn the Coven business over to younger people - actually, we have been working on this for a long time. Their sexual orientation is their own business. Their ethics and attitude is everything and I anticipate that the next generation of the Coven will be just fine. We will be proud of them no matter what.

Greenleaf Coven

Unknown said...

This is sad, very sad. Sexual orientation should never be a prerequisite for how people worship or teach. Many people see the Universal God as androgynous, being both male and female. As humans we all have those same qualities. So if we lean to one side or the other it makes us no less than wonderful. We need to embrace the difference and accept one another. There is greater work to be done on this planet than pigeon holing people.

Ever since time began men have loved men and women have loved women. Some of the greatest leaders in the history of the world have shared these affections and experiences. It didn't stop the world then so why should it now? People need to see the heart of a person, not what they do in the bedroom. As a friend once put it "kinky may be anything other than the missionary position to the couple next door, wouldn't they be shocked by the Kama Sutra?"

Ethics and the elements of ritual are what the focus should be, not sex or the color of one's skin, or where they came from. As a Priestess I would be tempted to pull this person aside and have a nice cup of tea with them and an extra cup of kindness.

Bountiful Blessings,