Editors' Note: Guest blogger Chris Glaser, a graduate of Yale Divinity School, is an author of 12 books, a contemplative blogger, an MCC pastor and an elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Visit his contemplative blog, "Progressive Christian Reflections," and his web site at chrisglaser.com
Media preoccupation with clergy sexual abuse scandals and cover-ups overlook the far more pervasive spiritual abuse that virtually all LGBT people have endured. Such abuse is why a gay Christian like me often copes not only with church resistance but with LGBT rage - not just my own, which I have learned to manage (or not), but also that of others who may not have their original perpetrators in sight! The rage is sometimes manifest overtly, but more commonly comes as a kind of shunning - itself an ancient religious practice to shame the nonconformist.
Despite its expression, the rage itself is justified. Not only have we been misjudged and mistreated and excluded by religious institutions, but they self-righteously infringe on our civil rights and impose their ignorance and restrictions on us in the public square. When I served as a news reporter and then editor of an LGBT newsmagazine, I realized that much of the news we were covering was about spiritual warfare waged against our community.
Yet our rage is itself spiritual in nature. It is the rage that prompted Hebrew slaves to join the exodus from Egypt. It is the rage that motivated Jesus to rail against the self-righteous and to reject principles of religious purity that ostracized multiple human categories. His one recorded angry action was clearing the area of the temple where women and outsiders could gather that had been usurped by merchants helping temple-goers fulfill mere ritual obligations.
The rage for justice is at heart a spiritual yearning. To believe in ourselves and others as worthy of justice and thus seek equality, love, and marriage are ultimately spiritual affirmations. Our faith is that we too are sacred. Such faith brought down the Berlin Wall, ended apartheid, and prompted a friend of mine to burn all of his family Bibles to ritualize his newfound progressive Christian abandonment of fundamentalist beliefs.
Rage fuels movements, but it can burnout individuals. As an activist of four decades, largely in the church, I believe my greatest assets have been stamina and tenacity. And neither would have been possible if I did not begin my day reflecting on the larger picture, the greater purpose of life - in other words, creating time in my schedule for morning meditation.
Whether we contemplate the stars or spiritual writings, the eyes of a lover or beloved pet, a regular period of reflection may restore our souls even as we reform homophobic institutions. "Breath" and "spirit" are the same word in the Bible. Thus to take a breath or a breather is to rediscover spirit.