I've had a few emails lately asking why I've posted or linked to some of the sites you've recently seen appearing linked off to the left. Some of the sites are "of the flesh" (Thank God) and some are, of the Spirit (Again, Thank God!).
The rigidity of faith based role playing, political litmus tests, and our denial of desire isn't serving us well.
These days we seem committed to reaction rather than creation. We react against things. But we create so very little to counter this.
I've learned some of my more Christian readers are upset over witnessing examples of fairly intense sexual language or images featured on the blog roll to the left. That little hints of pleasure can be found over there on that blogroll when they drop in is, I've come to find out, very disappointing. To suddenly see some thumbnail image of a dude leathered up with a whip in his hand, well that just ain't right. Unless it's a gladiator movie involving Christian Martyrdom. Then, hell yeah! Long live Christian victimdom.
And the gay folks are wondering why I'd link Image Blog---the very faith-based online journal that looks at faith and the arts from a brave and even sometimes diverse perspective. One that comes complete with occasional wanderings into such page turning topics as: How to make the church "hip". What does a Christian Gal do when her hubby goes gay? Or maybe a feature recounting a spirited debate: Is the banning of the alternative group The New Pornographers from a Christian Campus the express ticket to heaven?
Still, one finds lots of filters here and the folks who weigh in on the positives and negatives of being "of the world" verses living 24/7 in the realm of the "Kingdom of God" have a fairly unified perspective, the boundaries are predictable, and many writers do a lot of double talking in denialism. Lady Gaga, she's easily defined as "of the world" and she will take you down. Fast.
But The New Pornographers or maybe Over the Rhine? Hmmm, that's a bit harder.
I refuse to live in exile. I see no point in pretending large parts of the universe either don't exist or have this tremendous power to leave ruin in their wake if, God forbid, I'm exposed to them.
Wow, really? Can just the mere image of a some guy, portrayed in a leather harness or the sight of a nun creating beautiful stained glass renditions of her faith really ruin a day? My day?
This does a tremendous disservice to humanity. It fences in our lives.
Still, lately I get a lot of "Why are you featuring these sites Tim?"
Readers email me. "Why do I have to see that?" Followed by "Your site used to be different."
But really I must respond to such readers, why shouldn't you be exposed to things you might not read or see in a church or at jock night at the Cuff? Is your perspective so fragile that the mere exposure to the unexpected, the beautiful, the sexual, the transcendent will empower the ruin of your day?
Many Christians isolate themselves in some sort of holier than thou passion pit of "avoiding the world" at all costs. They listen to Christian Rock, get Christian Tatt's, drink Christian Lattes before their praise jams on Sunday and then during the rest of the week they join Christian Quilting Circles or Basketball Leagues, and they only run around with fellow believers. The only time they have time for non believers is when they are trying to convert them. They hate the world, damn it.
But gay friends, before you pat yourself on the back, because you are so, like, better, "de gays", many of them at least, "b no bettr."
Many gays live in safe, ultra liberal neighborhoods, and they only go to gay coffee houses, bars, "affirming" churches, and they prefer gay softball, ballet, and bowling leagues. All their friends are gay. They hate the "breeders", damn it. That is unless they are trying to seduce them.
Yes, it's exactly like that in many communities. Don't even...
So to link from both groups, here, allows what in lefty talk is called "dialogue". My news service of choice is FOX News (whom I personally can't stand). Among my fav writers are dog poet and masc writer dude. I like Anne Lamott. I like Drudge.
One of the most wonderful things about living in the west is this shared understanding: that most of us hate fence lines. We hate the church, the Feds, the beltway gang or even urban folks telling us how to live our lives. We despise the thought of "being fenced in." We want to roam. We want freedom. We want to make up our own minds. We want our options. We want to explore.
Hopefully the changes you're witnessing on this blog will reflect this. Maybe by clicking on a few of the wonderful writer, photographers, and artists featured off to the left, being of the world will look a lot more like open range and a lot less like a master planned community. Maybe, that leather get-up won't seem so strange, nor will the church seem so dang fake and intimidating. Maybe for the first time in a long time, we won't all feel so fenced in.