THE CURSE OF AMERICAN RELIGIOUS CENSORSHIP

CENSORSHIP

NO INCOVENIENT TRUTHS

America believes in positive thought and American religious organizations mostly follow suit, often with a vengeance. Organizations don’t want your criticism however reasoned or justified; on the Net especially you are required to fill in boxes saying how a book or broadcast or crusade blessed you.

If you had messages from heaven for notable ecclesiastical figures or religious writers, you wouldn’t get through. Their system of minders or their publishing houses, their publicity machine or something will be in the way. They are just efficient businesses. And just as business corporations can be ruthless and immoral so too are many religious organizations. There is so little real, meaningful accountability because criticism doesn’t reach the top which hears what it wants to hear with the result scandals often go long undetected.

The system will however regulate you, the ordinary believer, the insufficiently connected nobody. I cannot for example even write any more replies to conversations on the Christian Post because on one occasion I mentioned and gave address to my Songs of Puritania on a Gay Theme. The word “Puritania” derives from famous religion writer C.S.Lewis. An automatic notice came up that indecent language etc is not allowed. I pointed out more than once to management the source of my vocabulary. I have never received a reply and there has been no correction to the faulty system be it of computers or values. I don’t trust American religious journalism and journalists but I won’t go into stories on that subject even though as regards discussion of the Bethlehem Star it would be seasonal enough to do so – be assured even to mention the word “astrology” where that subject is concerned can be red rag to a bull.

Enough if I relay here my most recent gripe over something refused publication……a decision conveyed me through a convenient noreply address….which I consider an insult. American Christians are just too street wise and clever altogether in their management of people. They corrupt other societies (as Africa and Asian churches have been corrupted with prosperity gospels) with the artificiality of their practices, and as it’s computerized America has almost invented the abrupt rude answer or none the “good” Christians follow suit!

NO TRUE CONFESSIONS

From Twitter I had seen that FashionedofGod was asking for Gay Christian experience stories of any length written or videoed. I gave one titled A Long Disappointment (I paste it below). It was a longish account (but I checked and found it not longer than one they had printed). It was consciously different in emphasis as stressed from the first, and it was certainly heartfelt, almost gut spilling. It genuinely constitutes my experience. It is not flattering to the gay (Christian) community of especially America, but it needs to be said. It received the following response.

After review, we decided that your submission falls outside of the primary focus of our website (to share and highlight personal memoirs of gay Christians as they struggle reconciling their faith and sexuality). Though very well written, your submission focused more on your struggles of an author and your views/theologies being rejected. We hope you are able to find a better outlet for your submission, but unfortunately we have decided not to post it to fashionedofgod.com. We are open to posting another submission that focuses more on your personal memoir of being gay and Christian.

Well, at least I wasn’t accused as I once was by an editor of the White Crane gay spiritualities magazine of not being able to write properly in English! But no, I shall not be submitting anything else. I have told the simple truth as I know and have experienced it. It is not an American story of happy endings, it is not a story of the gay person persecuted by straight conservative Christians. My struggle as writer, scholar, but also a gay Christian one, my effort to contact and communicate, that is very much part of my story even if it constitutes a different and inconvenient truth. And the kind of abuse indicated needs to be on record as much as any other kind of abuse or prejudice.

Any more sympathetic editor of more Christian sentiments ought to have regretted my situation and/or advised where the article might find the alternative home he hopes for it. But no, I don’t fit the American religion and culture factory size and that’s all that matters; and I so won’t get equal treatment with the rest to say my bit however deserved.

One of the concerning aspects of the gay movement as it has developed, is precisely that it speaks so much of “equality” and fairness but it isn’t necessarily about that and practicing it itself. (This unevenness of practice is a problem with especially queer theory and activism as this works out – the problem is the basis of a recent critique by an atheist about the way the gay marriage issue has been treated.(See Brendan O’ Neill’s Spectator magazine article, Gay Marriage and the Death of Freedom.)…..I also hint at it in my latest poem at McCleary’s Alternatives, see A Saint’s Mistake”: A Poem of St Paul. I don’t of course seek to blacken the entire Gay Christian community, but I do have questions and suspicions with regard to especially its leadership much as I likewise do of the secular gay movement and especially the American wing of both. Anyway, just for the record and to give myself some peace of mind, I reproduce my contribution here because I say NO MORE; I refuse this constant silencing and censorship, especially as a religious person by religious people. It is nothing short of a curse, one I refuse.

PASTE OF OFFERED STORY

What I shall say here will be different from anything else you will receive but it needs to be stated and put on record. Anyone interested in actual details of my life and beliefs as a gay Christian person can go to my memoir, Reflections of an Only Child (amzn.to/1rRagvl) which includes on such matters, so I will put the stress elsewhere. My feelings about being gay and Christian is that I might as well not be so as especially American and Canadian gay Christians, (the main core and source of identity and thought in this line), have never helped or supported me in the slightest degree. My record of dealing with them is so negative that I am left a species of alienated anti-gay gay, much as Camille Paglia is the anti-feminist feminist.

My doctorate, subsequently published as A Special Illumination: Authority, Inspiration and Heresy in Gay Spirituality (2004) (amzn.to/17b8z1b) was a world first on gay spiritualities from any religious studies dept anywhere. It was even hoped it could help make gay spirituality an academic study akin to women’s studies. Though flatteringly reviewed on Amazon by Jewish agnostic novelist, Perry Brass, and mentioned by former MCC leader Kittredge Cherry, that’s it in ten years.

Though the straight Prof Martyn Percy of Oxford opined I had probably given the best summary of gay theology to date, I never received any gay Christian mention, not even by the Gay Christian Movement in London where the book was published though I did ask. I was also shockingly widely misrepresented on media from Australia to America and beyond as someone paid by the Australian government to research Jesus’ sexuality, but no one came to my aid to undo this nonsense. Advocate magazine ignored an appeal to correct what they had repeated from false report. During the last year as the rarest of rare events, Jeff Chu of A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage did nicely reply to a message of mine, but didn’t look at something I asked him to examine.

By contrast to the misrepresentation, if and when I have had intelligent things to say about Jesus’ sexuality, more reverent and theologically and esoterically coherent than the likes of queer theology and Robert Goss’s Queering Christ, or the often profane wanderings of Marcella Althaus-Reid (who privately worshipped the goddess Bast) nowhere have I got heard and supported by gays for that. In fact, it was the lack of essential support from within the right religious and academic circles that has meant that the kind of post-doctoral work I was at one time ready and able to do on the needed subject of gay ethics never went forward. Also that my book was not more widely distributed and translated into Spanish as originally intended and expected – I was told there were people in S. America wanted use of my studies.

I have been undermined. I was told by Soulforce they couldn’t give a link to a former personal website because I was “too commercial” having supposedly “advertised” my writings on it. I have got and get no replies out of anyone, even if it’s a person I have written or spoken favourably of like Andrew Sullivan. From the first the now trendy Matthew Vines has never contacted, or mentioned me. I have tried three times to make contact, but no more. Same with Justin Lee of the Gay Christian Network. But even here in Australia the MCC pastor in Sydney has never had the courtesy to reply to me. (As to the American MCC forget about it, I might as well never have existed). I tweeted Lee and numbers of others just recently because my blog has issued a quite meaningful, accomplished poem, A Saint’s Mistake: A Poem of St Paul, (http://goo.gl/gBL4oA) which highlights and explains something about St Paul that not even the theologians have been able to explain and which potentially helps resolve a problem about the apostle’s attitude to same sex matters.

Who bothers to look at this – except the straights?! I have had appreciation from readers of my blog, but gays or gay orgs I contacted made no comment. I wasn’t surprised. At this late date in time, I was merely curious to see if anyone might actually think to relent and reply. Last year (in the gay month) I had out a longish, satirical poem Songs of Puritania on a Gay Theme. (bit.ly/16ybdts). This almost summarizes and gives answers to the gay situation. It was again quite accomplished poetry – it could do for Brecht in a satirical moment – and it could and should have gone viral if it had had any appropriate gay interest and support. It had none just as many years before and even before my doctoral studies gays wouldn’t look at, wouldn’t publish and weren’t interested in some quality gay related verse of mine, belatedly issued as Puer Poems. Leave it to straights to appreciate that sort of thing. (Actually Songs of Puritania is to be videoed next year in Canada but I am not expecting gays will bother to look at it even then).

I haven’t told the half and I am not even prepared to depress myself doing so. I am moreover sick to death of straights telling me they now understand or like gays better now because of me, while gays I thereby help can’t be bothered to acknowledge of understand me. But sufficient I have made a point here. Today I am the carer of an elderly parent. Gays and their issues play ever less part in my life. I only ever write on the gay issue to support truth or to protest the worst abuses such as one may find in Africa or Russia which Christian conservatives have facilitated. One protests this kind of thing simply because human feeling and Christian conviction impel it, but for the rest I am dissociated from gays because they have too long been dissociated from me.

I know a former actor and one time leader of several gay groups here in Australia. He suffered various setbacks, strokes etc which have limited him in numbers of ways. He has told me he now thinks gays are useless, no help or support, they are made for parties. If you’ve got problems and need help, go to the straights! I should like to think he was wrong and still more that one could except gay Christians from his judgment, but I have no special reason to do so. If you are gay, and I believe most gays are born that way, you won’t and can’t be cured of being so, but you can be cured of needing gays and I have been. I have learned other social and intellectual interests.

Today I even feel more identity as a poet than as any gay person. It would be nice to be recognized for one’s work and ideas and I could have contributed so much more had that been the case; but I’ve survived without that recognition and now I don’t need it. I can forgive, but obviously I can’t forget, the appallingly insensitive treatment which has been in its way career damaging as well as demoralizing. Nothing would change now if somehow I or anyone shamed the community, as it should be shamed, into at least basic politeness towards me, a proper acknowledgement of my existence.

Really what I think is needed is nothing short of a whole new culture and value system for gays who are just caught in varieties of self-obsession, Americans more than most. I could laugh at all this recent talk from Vines about “New Reformation”, there’s more than any theological one is needed! My experience can be called a peculiar one. It is as though all the kind of problems of which gays complain in terms of no social acceptance, the prejudice and put downs, has come to me instead through the gay community itself rather than the straight society accused of so many wrongs..

It is too late to be rid of the long hurt I have experienced. I can only hope that my very negative experiences can become known and some kind of lesson can be derived from it. Some relevant articles and poems of mine are God and the Gay Gaps in the Vision of Matthew Vines bit.ly/1izBz2C The Fatal Flaw in the Matthew Vines, Albert Mohler Gay Debate (bit.ly/1mHDclQ) Songs of Puritania on a Gay Theme (bit.ly/16ybdts) A Saint’s Mistake: A Poem of St Paul. http://goo.gl/gBL4oA >

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