Bib # 3: Religion

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In analyzing space, I have had to get better acquainted to the possible definitions or contexts in which "space" can be analyzed. In my third annotated bibliography I have decided on religion as a concept of "space" and in this sense I am inquiring on the "queering" of a religion or religious space through the various ways in which it could be defined: A spiritual space, moral space or in a more literal sense, the involvement of non-normative identities within the congregation.
The Episcopal Church while known for its strong Anglican roots is a liberal Christian community that is notably against the death penalty and supported civil rights groups and affirmative action. Today, the Church calls for the incorporation and equality of gay men and lesbians. The current presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female presiding bishop in the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion is an international association of Anglican churches and the third largest Christian denomination in the world including Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. In 2009, The Episcopal Church passed a resolution which allowed any ordained ministry within the Communion to allow gay men and lesbians within the clergy and membership of the church. This ended a previous resolution passed in 2006 that served as a moratorium to electing gays and lesbians into the clergy as a reaction to the election of V. Gene Robinson in 2003. While it was not taken lightly in the community (4 dioceses split from the Episcopal Church), many feel that the large population of openly gay and lesbian clergy deserve representation in a faith that bases relationships on its authenticity. To further the changes occurring within the Church, the House of Bishops and Deputies is currently considering creating a liturgy to bless same sex couples. Laurie Goodstein, July 14th 2009, The New York Times: Espiscopal Vote Reopens a Door to Gay Bishops
This year, Mary Glasspool became the first elected openly lesbian Episcopal Bishop and is one of Out Magazine's "100 Portfolio". 35-Glasspool.jpg
Buddhist leadership, on the other hand, cites the five ethical precepts and monastical rules. These strictly prohibit monks and laypeople against any sexual misconduct and all sexual activity for the latter. However, western Buddhism is known for its highly liberal politics and stances for social equality. The religion place great emphasis on tolerance, compassion for others, self-seeking enlightenment and many temples offer same sex wedding ceremonies and religious rites. As a practitioner of Zen Buddhism myself, I was interested in the LGBTQA community within Buddhism and came across the Gay Buddhist Fellowship, a support group within the Buddhist practice in the gay men's community in the San Francisco Bay Area. From their website, I read a series of newsletters written by various members of their community. The most prominent reading being Gay Sexuality and the Dharma written by Eric Kolvig who addresses the question of where sexuality can be interpreted and extrapolated from within the Buddhist Dharma (teachings). The main point I received from Kolvig's article was his interpretation of the text which states that Buddhist texts state only of the different between "skilled" and "unskilled" or good and bad. Sexual acts are permitted only if said sexuality is used in a way that does not intentionally or unintentionally harm another person. He speaks on celibacy, monogamy, repression, meditation and sex, physical vs emotional pleasure and sexuality as it pertains to a dharma driven practice. Within each he reinforces positive image in one's sexuality and an explanation as to how in a religious context, one can be reaffirmed in both one's faith and sexuality. Neither has to be separate from the other nor does one need to take more precedence.
For my third source I found a senior paper submitted by Nathan Gass to Trinity International University entitled The Homophobic Church: New Perspectives in Reaching Out to the Gay Community. While giving a strong theological outlook on homosexuality, Gass examines the current social views surrounding homosexuality and the strain of churches to re-examine theological texts to support a changing view. The church, Gass states has been " confused and unsure of how to address homosexuality
realistically" The best option being to look at the person individually instead of focusing on a community as a whole that may not reflect who he/she is. Gass examines the story of Sodom and Gomorrah by analyzing the debate between the views singularly pertaining to homosexuality vs ambiguity of multiple sins. This article ended up placing together my previous sources, pertaining to the changing demographics and world views of the Christian church and the tolerant decision of focusing on the individual of the Buddhist faith. What made his thesis strong was its lack of bias. While Gass is a theologian, his aim in his thesis is not to take one side or the other but simply to shed light on both sides of what is an can be.

While spending a long time researching this I found myself asking in what ways are ministries queering their space? While I focused primarily on non-normative sexualities, queering a religious space could mean developing inclusionary practices that embrace all races, disabilities and spiritualities. Consider this -> I found a powerpoint by the 02.23.09 FINAL Welcoming Synagogues Project.ppt. Are they also queering their space by simply considering an alternate viewpoint?

Also check out: LBT Muslim Women
LGBT Synagogue
Resources for Gay and Lesbian Hindus and Vaishnavas

2 Comments

I think the concept of religion as space, as you used it is very interesting. Religion as a queer space is even more hard to fathom! My tracking topic is masculinities and I almost decided to analyze masculinity in religion. I think it's interesting to see how masculinity can function in dominant institutions, and religion is definitely one of them. Many of the ways our country is organized is patriarchal and hegemonic. I am happy to see that there are sects of religion out there that place equal value on all people. If masculinity is the ultimate homophobia, then acceptance of homophobia in such dominant institutions is necessary to create understanding, change, and equality. It's important that people who support and believe in these institutions create change from within. The people involved will be more affective at changing mindstates than people who do not associate with that particular sect, religion, or church.

I agree with smilelotsplz; this is really interesting (perhaps I should admit that I was a religion major and have a masters in theology, ethics and culture). I briefly wrote about troubling/queering religion on my blog. Check it out here. You might be particularly interested in Carter Heyward's sermon about the queer christ--there's a link to it in my entry.

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