I was going to do a few posts about media that shaped my worldview, but today is the 10 year anniversary of Mean Girls. Yes, today is a Wednesday, and yes, I wore pink today.
I didn’t see Mean Girls until after I was a teenager, which is one of my greatest regrets. Why didn’t I go see it in the cinema? I thought it was a chick flick and didn’t even think to see it, so I can’t really say it had a profound affect on my worldview. I think I bought it on DVD for $4.95 once I found out Tina Fey wrote it. I’d already been watching 30 Rock and needed to know what else she’d done.
Now it’s in my top three movies of all time. Like, once I watched Mean Girls and then I watched it again immediately after but with commentary.
Did you know this is what Glen Coco looks like? You go, Glen Coco.
Everyone should watch Mean Girls. It’s just so great. It has this rhythm with its punchlines, one about every two seconds—just enough time to laugh. It’s so quotable, and it’s just weird enough to become a cult classic. It’s perfect. The writing is spot on and Tina Fey is outlandishly talented.
I’m not watching Mean Girls tonight because I just watched it a few weeks ago, but you should watch it. It’s been 10 years, and you should watch this movie.
It’s a little late to be blogging about Easter, but I never mentioned it in Holy Week and I won’t get another chance to dwell on it so deliberately for another year at least.
In the current edition of Journey we have an article about experiencing Easter afresh so we remember its true power. One of the things I reflected on over the Easter weekend was the line from Peter Lockheart near the end of that article, “It is good to have that personal notion that Jesus came for ‘me’, but Jesus didn’t come for ‘me’, Jesus came for the cosmos.”
That’s not necessarily a new idea for me, but meditating on that, it occurred to me that thinking about Jesus’ death and resurrection in this way is fundamentally different to how many people live out their Christian faith. At Easterfest I heard a lot of people talk about how, “You might not think you’re good enough, but Jesus died for you and God has a plan for your life.” That’s encouraging in one way, but it really just reenforces the idea that I am the centre of the universe. If anything, that’s the real problem and the real thing I need to be released from.
I’m so thankful that Jesus died for the cosmos. The Spirit is actively at work doing whatever it wills. Whether or not I am a part of that it totally irrelevant, and that’s a relief. I don’t need to save the world—that work is already in progress.
But for whatever reason, I am invited to take part in that work. I am caught up in it as it swirls around the cosmos in which I exist. I’m courted to take part in it, even. I get the feeling that any effort on my part, no matter how small or irrelevant, brings enormous joy to God because he loves me and has enabled me to contribute. It isn’t about me, but I am still able to participate in this story.
Silly old me, so unsuited to so many things, not best at anything, forever having to learn and relearn everything, gets to be part of the many-personed body of Christ and his saving, restoring work. Thank God I’m not an irreplaceable cog in that mechanism, but he saw fit to make use of me anyway.
It’s now too late at night for me to really finish off this blog post how I want, but that’s it. That’s my Easter.
I’m not a massive cat person, that is, except for on my Facebook cover photo because the internet is for cats. But yesterday I changed my cover photo to yet another cat and not a single person liked the post.
What isn’t to like?
Is the cat not funny enough? Will people think I really, unironically love cats? I have that problem enough when I post silly pictures of cats, like cats in tights, wet cats and cats eating spaghetti. It doesn’t matter how silly the cats are, some people think I just like cats because they are cats!
But no, I only like weird cats. I like them because cats take themselves too seriously, but they are very silly animals. This is the inherent humour in cats.
Trust me I have thought long and hard about this. No other animal quite captures the simultaneous pride and folly of cats. Beautiful cats just don’t do it for me. They just don’t capture the true spirit of cats.
But like I said, I’m not really a cat person in the sense of cat people people. I’m not into cats the same way I’m into chickens, for example. I just think they are kind of weird.
That’s a little better.
I mean that’s what the internet is for, right? Sharing strange, interesting things. What is the point of not-weird cats! Did I make a bad cover photo decision? Was my cat not weird enough?
I think I need to find a new cat for Facebook. I need to find a picture of the quintessential cat. A paragon of feline foolishness! Because that’s what the internet is for. It is for cats.
It might take a little while though, because like I said, I’m not really a cat person. I just think they’re funny. It’s not like I search Google for cats all the time or as if I regularly take selfies with a cat. I don’t want everyone to think I’m obsessed with cats. I’m just doing it because it’s the internet and the internet is for cats.
I’m not really all that into cats.
If anyone finds a good cover photo suggestion I’d really love to see it. Clearly I need all the help I can get.
What is this doing here we were talking about cats.
Tonight I went to Freedom2b, which is a support group for LGBTI people from Christian backgrounds. I don’t always go, but this month we watched The Cure—a documentary about gay and lesbian Christians who went through ex-gay programs.
It feels strange for me to go to f2b sometimes, because I’ve lived a pretty charmed existence as a gay Christian. Watching the movie, it really reinforced the sense I have that I dodged a bullet. I never wound up in an ex-gay program. My parents weren’t openly hostile to gay people while I was questioning my sexuality and took my coming out really well. I even had a primary school teacher who set me up to handle coming out in a Christian environment (although I didn’t realise that’s what was happening at the time).
How did I get away with it? I didn’t do anything to make any of this happen. How could I?
Perhaps it was divine intervention. Perhaps I was just lucky. Either way, my gratitude is so deep I’ll never be able to fully express it.
Also, it’s not over yet. Charmed lives don’t always last.
Today (or maybe yesterday? I’m behind) my friend Amandamade a short post on Tumblr that I love so much I’m just going to repost it here in its entirety.
The thing is that feeling good and moral and righteous for being The Politically Correct one perpetuates relationships of oppression. If your political correctness brings you attention, you’re doing it wrong—it’s still a dominant group exploiting an oppressed group for personal gain. Performing your political correctness means using the oppressed group as a soapbox.
Political correctness and sensitivity are about removing obstacles to equal participation in the discussion. Dominant groups ought to be seeking to extricate themselves from the conversation—to clear some space, finally, for those to whom space and voice have been denied. Allies ought to redirect attention to those who can speak from experience about oppression and prejudice. Being an ally means taking a slice of humble pie and making oneself small in order to let others stand up.
My oppression should not make you feel good about yourself. If it does, you’re doing it wrong. Dominant voices continue to dominate the conversation when political correctness becomes “This is how those people want us to talk about them.”
A year or so ago I came across a video on YouTube from the Oprah Winfrey Show, in which the eponymous host was interviewing religious figures. It was all very Oprah-style, self-helpish philosophy, and one minister, on the topic of homosexuality said, “Being gay is a gift from God.”
Oprah was shocked and visibly impressed. I was incredulous.
Although I was out to all the important figures in my life and relatively comfortable with my own sexuality, I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. A gift from God? Seriously? My orientation was a given; God could do with it whatever he liked, and I wasn’t expecting it to change. All the same, being gay didn’t feel like a gift from God, it was a thorn in my side.
If I wasn’t gay I could’ve dated a girl and had a wedding like my friends at home.
If I wasn’t gay I might’ve avoided the rumors and bullying that dogged me all through school.
If I wasn’t gay I wouldn’t have woken up one morning to find an email from family friends asking me why I hadn’t come out to them yet—they’d heard on the grapevine months prior.
It was to me then an inconvenience, and if you had asked me if I would take a magic pill to make me straight, I probably would have said yes. If I was straight my life would be easier, but I figured I would just have to make the best of it.
Since that time my perspective has changed. It hasn’t been one thing in particular, but many small things that have made me think differently. I’ve discovered communities of interesting, thoughtful people like me through the internet and by visiting churches scattered across two continents. It’s meant I can empathise with other people who don’t fit in at churches for some reason or another. I’ve also been able to speak more openly about my faith, often in places that are resistant or hostile to any sort of spiritual discussion at all. Sometimes I speak through the lens of my sexuality, sometimes not.
I see a lot of gay Christian bloggers express a similar sentiment to what I had back then, that being gay is something that only makes their lives difficult and is something you just have to suffer through. Sometimes that’s true, and I understand where they are coming from, but I also have this growing sense that, yes, my sexuality really is a gift from God. I have unique opportunities not open to other people. I have challenges too, but I can live with that.
Back before I came out, I didn’t expect or even want to be in the place being gay has put me. I think a lot of people feel that way about all sorts of parts of their lives, not necessarily their sexual orientation. But even though this isn’t where I thought I’d be, I know it’s okay for me to be here. My circumstances are a privilege, and I want to honour them and the God who has placed me in them.