Like most churches, we occasionally receive requests for money from people in our community. I suspect I am not alone when I say that I have come to dread these calls. It’s not that I don’t think that the church should help people in need, or that I resent the “intrusion” on my time or anything like that.
I grew up on evangelical praise choruses. I cut my musical teeth playing them at church. As a young adult I found a home in a more liturgical church, and I turned against choruses with a vengeance. I adopted two go-to arguments: worship isn’t about me and my personal-relationship-with-Jesus, and its purpose isn’t to pump me full of arena-rock enthusiasm.
In a recent interview with the Century, Michelle Alexander, the civil rights lawyer and author of The New Jim Crow, wonders about the stigma in many churches attached to people who have been recently released from prisons. “The deep irony,” she says,” is that the very folks who ought to be the most sensitive to the demonization of the ‘despised,’ the prisoners, have been complicit and silent.”
But the kinds of conversations that Alexander’s book seems to demand are very difficult to have--in churches and outside them.
After Sen. Rand Paul made an offensive (and unfunny) joke involving the word "gay," Tony Perkins (of the Family Research Council) criticized him:
I don’t think it's something we should joke about. We are talking about individuals who feel very strongly one way or the other, and I think we should be civil, respectful, allowing all sides to have the debate.
Last week I joined the chorus of those who wished for a bit more from the president's endorsement of same-sex marriage. Among those who were more unambiguously enthusiastic, I found E. J. Graff's later post pretty compelling.
I was drying dishes and absentmindedly singing the song that had been stuck in my head for days when my husband suddenly came barreling down the staircase and into the kitchen. Looking frantic, he asked me what had happened. We were both confused; he was convinced that I had cried out in pain, and he fully expected to walk in on a grisly cooking incident.
We quickly realized the source of the miscommunication. The song I’d been singing was Lady Gaga’s “Judas,” and I sounded like a lady in distress as I belted out, “Judas, Juda-a-a.”