In this week’s Gospel we explore Jesus’ invitation to “come and see” and how that might resonate with queer communities.
In this week’s episode, we unveil our new, longer format podcast! You get more about what we’re up to, hear a listener question, and of course we queer a text!
In this episode, we:
- Talk about the new website and what’s coming up with Queer Theology [starting at 0:35]
- Talk about what’s going on in our personal lives [starting at 2:22]
- Answer a reader question about books for young people wanting to know more about sexual identity [starting at 6:19]
- Share about the online community and things that are coming up next [starting at 11:12]
- Queer the Gospel of John and talk about the good news of queer community [starting at 12:13]
If you want to support the Patreon and help keep the podcast up and running, you can learn more and pledge your support at patreon.com/queertheology
If you’d like to be featured in future episodes, email your question or Bible passage suggestion to email@example.com (more deets in the ep)
Links Mentioned in this episode:
- Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth
- The God Box by Alex Sanchez
- Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community by Robin Stevenson
- Lumberjanes comic series by Noelle Stevenson, et al.
- When Kids Ask Hard Questions: Faith-Filled Responses for Tough Topics by Bromleigh McCleneghan and Karen Ware Jackson
- Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
Other Podcast Mentioned in this episode:
Parenting Forward by Cindy Wang Brandt
Brian: Welcome to the Queer Theology podcast!
Fr. Shay: Where each episode, we take a queer look at the week’s lectionary readings. We’re the co-founders of QueerTheology.com and the hosts for this podcast. I’m Father Shay Kearns
B: And I’m Brian G. Murphy.
B: Hello, hello, hello! Today is Sunday, January 19, 2020, and today is also the first episode of our newly reformatted Queer Theology podcast.
FS: Yay!!! So exciting!
B: So bear with us as we might hit some road bumps, speed bumps along the way as we dive into this new format, but we’re excited to expand the podcast a little bit, feature some more of you, have extended episodes. So remember, if you would like to be featured on the podcast if you have a question, a topic, a Bible passage that you want us to talk about, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also have a new website coming up very soon thanks to all of the supporters on Patreon. Shay, what are your thoughts on this new website?
FS: I am so excited. What we’ve been hearing for quite a long time is that people have had trouble finding things on the website or they’ve been looking for specific resources, and you and I knew that we had created them, but even we couldn’t always find them. So we’re super excited to roll out this new website and it’s really designed to help walk folks through, meet with folks wherever they are on their journey and kind of walk them through the next steps. So there is a really slick homepage that you can kinda select, here’s where I’m at, I’m looking for affirmation. Or I know that it’s okay to be gay, but I wanna figure out how my sexuality, my spirituality interact. Or I’m a religious leader and I need some resources to do that work better. So super excited about that, it’s gonna be really exciting for people. It’s gonna be exciting for us to be able to point you to new stuff and everything’s gonna be right there. It’s gonna be great!
B: Yeah! I’m excited as well. And also, how’s your January going so far?
FS: It’s fine. [laughs] It is very cold in Minnesota and Brian you’ve been sending me screenshots of the weather in LA which is not helping. And so that’s making me a little crabby…
B: Okay, I’m gonna stop doing that.
FS: Yeah. It’s January Minnesota so things are… yeah, it’s winter.
B: I’m trying to get you excited for your trip to LA.
FS: Yes! I am heading to LA at the end of the month to attend a 2-day Communication Workshop with Rob Bell which I am super, super, super excited about. And I am excited about the New Year, just getting used to a new schedule and trying to accomplish some new goals and so I’m a little bit overwhelmed at this point. But it also is getting exciting. How about you?
B: Yeah. And we’re gonna have a Facebook live on the 29th while Shay is in town to celebrate the new website. So keep your eyes and ears peeled for more of that. So yeah, my January is going well. It’s sunny and lovely here in Los Angeles. Today it’s only going to be in the mid 60s and so I’m wearing a sweatshirt because it’s a little chilly [laughs].
FS: -1. It is -1.
B: I literally can’t even imagine that so cold. But my unemployment is running out next month and so it’s a little nervous making, so I’m super thankful for all the folks that have supported us on Patreon and the ones who are yet to come who are going to support us on Patreon in the future, name that and claim that. Really being unemployed and Queer Theology being now my only job, every single dollar makes a difference so thank you to all of that. And I got a little late of a start, I felt like to the New Year. I like to do an annual review, and set some goals, and make some plans at the end of December, but I was traveling to visit family and friends on the East Coast. So I’ve kinda been doing that, still at that process has spilled over into the New Year. But I’m feeling really good about journaling, and getting back into running, and Matt and I went to the pool a few days ago and went swimming for the first time – which was really cool. So, just new adventures. I’m really excited about this Faithful Sexuality course that we’ve got coming up. I’ve started working behind the scenes. So it’s a really exciting January – February. It’s cold and more cold where you are than where I am, but it’s cold and dark and winter, in the Northern Hemisphere at least, but some cool stuff is coming along so I’m pretty excited about that.
FS: Yeah. It’s gonna be a really good first quarter of 2020. It’s exciting.
B: So before we dive in, this podcast is brought to you by over 125 supporters on Patreon.
FS: Our Patreons not only help to keep the show on the air, but also support all the free resources we create at QueerTheology.com: articles, videos, PDF guides, and more. So thank you, thank you, thank you to all our Patreon supporters.
B: And this week, we want to give a shout out to Bex who was one of our supporters of our Patreon. And they’ve been a supporter for two months now. So thank you Bex, we really appreciate your support. As I said, literally every dollar makes a difference.
FS: If you enjoy this podcast and want to support it, you can do that for as little as $2/month at Patreon.com/queertheology. Learn more about why we need your support and check out all of the perks at Patreon.com/queertheology.
B: Ok. And so, let’s get on with the show.
This week we have a question from Jennifer, and Jennifer asks: “My daughter is turning 12. Very mature for her age. She has recently expressed an interest in the LGBT community, she is also at the same time, questioning her faith. 12 is such an uncertain age and she likes to read. So my question is: could you recommend any age-appropriate books that she may enjoy and may discover who she is?”
Shay what would you recommend in this situation?
FS: Yeah. So 12 is tricky right? Because I think that you could potentially read middle-grade books or even books aimed at younger kids or you could be reading some young adult novels. So sometimes it depends on your reading level and maturity level. So some books that I have really loved that I think are great, and that are more on the LGBTQ side, I really love The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth. It’s a really beautiful book. It might be challenging for a 12-year-old: it’s a little bit of a tough read, but…
B: It’s heavy.
FS: Yeah. But it’s so beautiful and so well done. And this book is a little bit older and I haven’t read it in a while, so I’m not entirely sure how it holds up, but The God Box by Alex Sanchez is another young adult novel. That’s about coming to terms with your sexuality and your faith all at the same time. I remember really liking that one when I was grappling with my own sexuality and faith. It’s aimed for young adults. And then doing some Googling, there’s a book called Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community by Robin Stevenson. This is a non-fiction book that’s aimed at middle-grade folks and so I think that would be a great look at just the diversity and community. And there are lots and lots and lots of people who have been reading and loving the comic or graphic novel series Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson. It’s been on my list for a long time, but I hear people raving about this series and little kids are reading it, older folks are reading it. So that’s a great book. It’s gonna be really fun and will be good for all reading levels.
B: Another book recommendation that I have is Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle. It’s set in a school context and the protagonist is a young character and it’s queer, and about other kid stuff as well. I work with Tim a few years ago on some LGBT issues in education work. He has since gone on to writer-broadway musical and has a cocktail book for adults. And he’s just a marvelous person. And so Better Nate Than Ever is a good read. I also just want to acknowledge that this is such a lovely question to hear from a parent. Wanting to be proactive in cultivating this sensitive exploration of queerness when it comes to your kid. So many queer kids or questioning kids with an interest in the LGBT community have had parents shut that down or read books about how they can fix it. So it’s heartwarming to hear.
I also wanna offer some resources for you, Jennifer, for parents out there. There’s a podcast called Parenting Forward by Cindy Wang Brandt who I met last year at the UCF conference. We were both in the podcast stage there. She’s so smart and thoughtful and it’s all about progressive, faithful parenting. So the whole podcast might be helpful, but this specifically I’m thinking of a recent episode that was specifically about talking to your child about doubt and questions. The episode that I’m thinking of, I’ll put a link in the show notes to this episode which you can get at queertheology.com/312, but that episode is aimed more towards a younger kid, but this is an advice that transcends age, how to address kids when they come with questioning their faith. Then a book for you, they might check out is called When Kids Ask Hard Questions: Faith-filled Responses for Tough Topics by Bromleigh McCleneghan and Karen Ware Jackson. We will put links to all of these books in the show notes for this episode, so you can go find them and buy them or get the full title so you can check it out from your local library at queertheology.com/312.
FS: And just a reminder that if you’ve got a question that you want us to tackle on the podcast, you can send us an email at email@example.com. You can send an audio file if you want us to feature the audio of your question, that would be really fun. Or you can also send it just in a regular email format. We would love to answer your questions on the air, so please submit those at firstname.lastname@example.org.
B: Throughout the week we dive into questions just like this and many more inside of Sanctuary Collective which is QueerTheology’s online community and resource library. We talk about parenting, we talk about dating, we talk about creativity. There’s actually a book club inside of there so very topical for this discussion this week. We talk about doubt, and queering our faith, and what our faith says about our sexual or gender. It’s just really awesome and I’ve met some amazing friends, and we hear from folks that they’ve really learned and grown, and so if that’s something that interests you. The podcast is whetting your whistle and you want some more, head on over to queertheology.com/community to learn more about Sanctuary Collective and join up!
FS: Alright! Now we’re gonna head into our lectionary reading for January 19, 2020. We’re super excited to continue to tackle theology and the Bible. So let’s open up our Bibles and queer this text.
B: This week we’re going to be looking at John 1:29-42. I will read it to you now from the Common English Bible.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is really greater than me because he existed before me.’ Even I didn’t recognize him, but I came baptizing with water so that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified, “I saw the Spirit coming down from heaven like a dove, and it rested on him. Even I didn’t recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit coming down and resting is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testified that this one is God’s Son.”
The next day John was standing again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus walking along he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard what he said, and they followed Jesus.
When Jesus turned and saw them following, he asked, “What are you looking for?”
They said, “Rabbi (which is translated Teacher), where are you staying?”
He replied, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.
One of the two disciples who heard what John said and followed Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Christ). He led him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
Okay, Shay. What do we do with this text? And in what ways is it maybe a little queer?
FS: Yes, it’s kind of a quirky little story and I think you and I both know this that we talk a lot about how the gospel narratives don’t always match up. And I think that this is really a clear one. Right? Not only is the baptism narrative that we get in John very different than the one that we get in Matthew, which we talked about actually just last week. But it’s also this beginning of Jesus’ ministry is really different right? Like in Luke, Jesus gets baptized and He goes into the desert for 40 days. And so in this text, we have Jesus gets baptized and then the very next day he’s hanging out with his disciplines. He already has disciples and lunches in. So that’s super weird. So I don’t know, do you have other thoughts about this inability to match the text?
B: Yeah! I think that that’s so important because for so many people it’s ingrained that the Bible is literal. If you’re not reading it literally, you are doing something wrong. Or it’s a lesser way of reading the Bible or sort of an imitation version of Christianity. That’s just not the case. As you were saying, we just last week looked at Matthew’s version of this story which if you want to go back and listen to, you can listen to queertheology.com/311, but I think more to the point is that these differences are a reminder that the Bible isn’t even asking us to take it literally. That John was written a long time after Matthew, the author of John may or may not have seen Matthew or known that it existed. But John is so different than Matthew, Mark, and Luke that the author is not even trying to make it line up. And then the people who compiled the Bible obviously looked at John and Matthew, and were like yup, these two are both valuable and put them in the Bible and called them Canon, and could have said: if we were trying to discern a literal history when compiling a Bible, folks might have said well we have to figure out which one of these are “real”. And instead, the people who compiled the Bible looked at all four of the gospels and said, all four of these are real and true in some way. And because they contradict themselves like matters of history. They’re clearly not real and true and sort of like history textbooks sort of way. And so just like remembering that. Then those differences can then lead to really important questions like, “What is this text trying to tell us?” In the places that they are different, “What did those differences mean? Why do they matter? What can we learn from those differences?” And I think that is, perhaps a more time than we have in this one episode to explore, but there is some juice there. And we talk a little bit about that in our How to Read the Bible Course, which if you didn’t take, you can get on the waitlist at queertheology.com/courses. But looking at how it all comes together and what we know and what we don’t know is just part of the process of taking apart Scripture and finding meaning.
What else is coming up in this passage for you Shay?
FS: I was really intrigued by this section where the people, Jesus notices that these people are following him around and they ask Him: “Where are you staying?” And His response is “Come and see.” So they go and they see where he’s staying and they remain with him and then some of them just never leave. I just think there’s something really beautiful, both about that response of “Come and see”. And you and I talk a lot about how the goodness of Queer Theology and the goodness of queer and trans Christians is a gift to the church in the world, and that we don’t necessarily need to be fighting to stay in the church. Instead, we often say to people “Come and see.” That’s happening out here. That’s happening amongst our communities. That’s happening in our clubs, and in our homes, and all of that. There’s something to me that when cis-gender and straight allies do that work of coming and seeing – that it’s actually really beautiful and that they get something out of it, and that they can then choose to stay and be a part of it. That’s where the goodness is. It’s not like these disciples said to Jesus, “Why don’t you come back to the temple and to the structures and try to get them to change?” It’s, “No. We’re gonna do this new thing over here, so why don’t you come with us?”
FS: That’s really powerful to me.
B: It also reminds me of stories that I’ve heard from people and/or representatives in plays or movies about big urban cities that became queer enclaves in the 60s’, 70s’, and 80s’. And waves of new queer people coming into the city and trying to find their way in the era before smartphones, and the internet, and Yelp. Just sort of being taken in and “come follow me and I’ll show you to this club or you can crash in this apartment.” This is so silly but in the Downtown Abey movie which it takes place in 1940, maybe, the character Tomas – spoiler alert, is gay and he gets taken into this warehouse/club in the 1940s’ and there’s this British man in British, fancy attire but being queer together. This idea of “come and see”, this beauty and divinity of both queerness and faith – I love. It reminds me in ways in which I met some of my friends. I’m thinking of a friend in particular, Leo who we just met at a diner and came home with us, and stayed on our couch and ended up living with us for quite a long time. Became one of my best friends. I think that queer people can really resonate with this idea of becoming fast friends with strangers and then coming into homes and creating family. Something magical happening there that is lovely and can change the world. I love this little queer nugget in the weird, weird gospel of John.
FS: We hope that you’ve enjoyed this new and longer podcast. Just a reminder that we’re gonna put a bunch of links in the show notes, so you can see those at queertheology.com/312. We’ll put the links to the books, to the entire podcasts that we mentioned. Just as a reminder if work like this matters to you, if you wanna support this we would love for you to become a Patreon. You can go to Patreon.com/queertheology and join for as little as $2/month and help keep this podcast expanding and on the air.
B: Thank you and we’ll see you next week.
[outro music plays]
B: The Queer Theology podcast is just one of many things that we do at QueerTheology.com which provides resources, community, and inspiration for LGBTQ Christians and straight cisgender supporters.
FS: To dive into more of the action, visit us at QueerTheology.com. You can also connect with us online: on Facebook, Tumbler, Twitter, and Instagram.
B: We’ll see you next week.