Christians get a bad rap; hell, I give Christians a bad rap. While my aim was true, the blast radius tended to be a bit too large: I included too many of the Christian individuals in my slamming of the Christians Who Speak And Politic Too Much.
Truth be told, I was raised Catholic, my family are all Catholics. Mass-going, Communion-taking, tradition-respecting Catholics. And they’re all more than just ok with me, they love me. They accept the bio-diversity and/or socio-diversity that produces homosexual individuals. My partner Sam isn’t my “friend” Sam, he’s just as much a part of the Barbose clan as my sister-in-law Karen or my soon-to-be-sister-in-law, Jessica. Sure, my parents had expectations from their children which were in line with what the Catholic Church wanted: marry a Catholic girl and have lots of Catholic babies who will grow up to be Catholics who marry Catholics and have lots of Catholic babies.
And so on.
I remember telling my Mom on the phone after I came out to her that the hardest part of coming out at all is the loss of expectations. Everyone, when they’re young and living in the ‘normal’ section of society (belonging there or not) has a set of expectations for how their lives will play out. And most people’s expectations in NormalLand tend to be very similar to one another. In this similarity is the tacit assumption that there’s really nothing outside that small population of expectations, and that to fall outside the ±2 standard deviations of Median Normal was to fall off a cliff and be forever an outlier.
The Silent Majority of Christians are out there, I’m certain of it. And, there is evidence in the numbers that go with the movie Brokeback Mountain that people like a good love story over and above the circumstances and traits of those whom the story is about.
In returning the favor, in relaxing about Christianity, in setting aside the politicos who falsely fly under the banner of Christianity, in paying attention to those authentic Christians out there, in choosing story and talent (Aidan Quinn, Susanna Thompson, and, OMG, Ellen Burstyn), I have very much enjoyed the experience. It is just a TV show, after all is said and done.
I have never really lived my life as a contrarian. Not to the Catholic Church, not to Christians, not even to Republicans. Sure, I go up against each of those groups, but if you look back, you’ll see that it’s in response to something they’ve said or done (or both). For instance, because Pope Panzer says stupid things about homosexuals and homosexuality doesn’t mean that I deplore my very Roman Catholic mother.
So I wasn’t automatically predisposed to dislike The Book of Daniel because it was about an Episcopal priest. Not even because Jesus was in it!
On the contrary, the trailers and ads for the show—which, granted, got seen only because I caught images of Aidan Quinn in a Roman collar while fast-forwarding through commercials—were impressive for their originality: honesty.
Nothing cloying and sugary like Touched by an Uncle Angel or Hallmark-cardy like Seventh Heaven, but something involving prescription drug abuse and the nuances of relationships and the reality of gay people in families and politics and how even Churches have to live in the real world instead of the abstract and idealistic world of theism.
Watching the show has helped remind me not that reconciliation between my world view and the majority-christian-worldview is possible, but in fact, that there’s very little to reconcile at all!
Those who profess faith in the Christian mythos (def: a set of beliefs or assumptions about something) aren’t different enough from me and my particular spirituality when it comes to the things in our daily lives to matter.
I identify more strongly with the main character, Daniel Webster (Aidan Quinn), than I do with the gay son. In fact, I identify more with their particular version of Jesus in the story than with even Daniel Webster!
What’s wrong with a mild, understanding, non-judgmental pose? What’s wrong with accepting the differences in people while also identifying their strengths and encouraging those while also continuing to understand what might be identified as short-comings? What’s wrong with looking and dressing differently to everyone else? What’s wrong with patience and meekness even in the face of “Evil”?
I’ll answer: there’s nothing wrong with any of those things.
These were the things I was taught as a Catholic, and these are the things that remained with me, even as I came to understand myself and my lack of belief in the theological aspects of Catholicism and walked away from it.
Those out there who identify as Christians or Catholics, I have a question for you: am I wrong in any of this, according to your own values? And those who identify as atheists or agnostics? Is any of this off-the-charts crazy?