Eli loved to dream big. Several times over the years, he and I dreamed together about putting on some kind of event - perhaps a mini-conference - in State College that would highlight the call for the Christian church to be fully inclusive of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, as well as the many gifts that our LGBTQ siblings have to offer the church. This call, we believed and still believe, is one that issues from the heart of the gospel and is also one that many Christians are longing to hear (whatever may be the 'official line' of the churches to which they belong).
You've probably heard about moral foundations theory, which is described in detail in Jonathan Haidt's book The Righteous Mind. Simply put, this theory suggests that human moral judgments are points in a higher-dimensional space: we don't just evaluate actions or policies along a "good/bad" axis but along several different axes such as "care/harm", "fairness/cheating", "liberty/oppression", "purity/disgust", "authority/subversion" and so on. These axes (okay, I know that a high-dimensional space does not come with a preferred coordinate system, but bear with me) are referred to as "moral foundations".
It's been suggested further that the cultural-ideological fissures evident at least in American society are tied to the relative weighting of these moral foundations: "progressives", it is said, prioritize the Care and Fairness foundations almost exclusively, whereas "conservatives" give the other foundations equal weight with these two. I find this helpful in terms of understanding the different ways in which people think.
A few posts ago I was sharing some of the themes that are, or have become, prominent on Points of Inflection - among them, faith-based commitment to creation care, support for the LGBTQ community, and dealing with cancer which has recurred since my treatment in 2014. Though these seem quite a disjointed collection of ideas, I believe that as I live through them and their implications, I'm going to find connections and intersections. In talking friends recently, I've come to feel that one important connection is this question: where exactly is the boundary of the beloved community?
In Psalm 60, the writer has a complaint to make to God. Trouble has been piled upon trouble. You have made your people see hard things, says verse 3; you have given us wine to drink that makes us stagger. We're reeling!
In a recent post I tried to sum up some of the themes of Points of Inflection; the faith-based concern for the earth; the math and the climbing; the sound of lamentation, most recently and personally in the loss of our dear child; cancer as a metaphor, and my own cancer struggles in 2014. When I wrote that post, our cup of trouble was full. Since then it has been overflowed by further news, the wine that makes us stagger; my cancer has returned in a different part of the body, and we are facing an uncertain future.
I wanted to mention this on Points of Inflection once, but I am not this time going to be blogging regularly about my personal health news here. Instead, I have established a private web site at Caring Bridge which you're welcome to visit for updates. The address is
and you need to establish an account at Caring Bridge to log in and view news updates. Meanwhile, I will continue posting here on the regular subjects of this blog. I think it will be helpful to keep health news separated.
Right now Liane and I are on vacation and enjoying time together in California. If you're the praying kind (actually, even if you're not) we value your prayers for us.
One of the great, haunting images of the book of Hebrews - stretched out over three chapters, from 11 to 13 - is an extended portrayal of believers as strangers and exiles upon the earth. Let us go to Jesus, says the writer, outside the camp, and bear the reproach that he endured. For, here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Let us not become too comfortable here, settling down, rounding out, accumulating privilege. Our job is to run a race, to go through a great shaking-up - in order that things that cannot be shaken shall remain.
Okay, I shouldn't be writing this. I am not transgender (that is to say, I do not experience a mismatch between my gender identity and my birth-assigned sex). I'm a privileged, heterosexual, white guy. Stop listening to me. Go listen to some actual transgender Christian people like the ones listed in this post instead.
It started out with my involvement in the GreenFaith program. I wanted to think in a numerate and faith-based way about the way the world changes when we human beings are no longer a (physically) small "disturbance" on the surface of nature, but have become the "main event". This change is the "point of inflection". If you can spend ten minutes with me on video, this TEDx talk gives an introduction to some of these ideas.