About 25 to 35 years ago there was a paper called The Berkeley Barb, a hip paper for der Lumpenbürgerstand (the scum bourgeoisie) which specialized in free sex, drugs, rocknroll, and pseudo-radical politics. While The Barb eventually folded, its been replaced by similarly hip papers catering to the same clientele, but now vastly expanded due to the permanent cultural revolution dating from the Sixties. Politely called bourgeois bohemians, theyve got lots of money to throw around. The replacement papers are thick with ads the advertising revenues are so abundant that the papers are free. Just about every restaurant and shop carries them, and youll find them on the newsstands along with the San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times.
One such paper hereabouts is the East Bay Express. We rarely peruse it. But the front cover of the February 11-17 issue had a huge picture of Jesus with the accompanying headline Outing the Bible: The New Queer Theologians Dont Need Your Approval by Malcolm Gay. We suspected it would be about the glories of homosexuality at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and it was! But before getting to that, you should know about the ads in this issue. They range from Cingular Wireless, Pet Food Express, and Altoid Mints (title of ad: The Root of All Evil) to gobs of sex ads such as Nicoles Dirty Talk, Strictly Sex! (Gay? Bi?), and The Kit Kat Guest Ranch in Carson City, Nevada (Safe Sex/Legal Sex) and, oh, lets not forget the Santa Clara University School of Law.
The article by Malcolm Gay begins: One thing is clear: 2003 was without a doubt the Year of the Queer . The years crowning moment came on November 2, when the Episcopal Church ordained Gene Robinson as its first openly gay bishop . But this didnt appear out of thin air. Its intellectual and physical roots have been growing just beneath the surface for years. In seminaries across the country, at both the parish level and within whole dioceses, homosexuals have been preaching, studying, and remaining sexually active . Whats the difference between a Jesuit rec room and a gay bar? asked former Jesuit Robert Goss, who said his sexual experiences at bathhouses mirrored his early days at Harvard Divinity School. Only the location. Christianity is changing. And nowhere is this change more apparent than at Berkeleys Graduate Theological Union [GTU].
The lengthy article is mostly about the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at the GTU, whose mission, according to the article, is to advance the acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in communities of faith. The Programming and Development Director of the Center is Episcopal priest Jay Johnson, who is quoted as saying: Straight people are right to worry about what queer people are going to do to the church. Fr. Johnson also says: Tolerance is a horribly weak word. We tolerate a cold sore. The author of the article comments: Todays queer theologians are no longer extending the olive branch to their conservative rivals. They are no longer asking to be tolerated. They are moving on, and sowing division in their wake. (How often have we heard that orthodox Catholics are divisive! But if youre homosexual, its just fine to be divisive.)
The article reports: For years now, gay Christians have been attending Bible self-defense classes where they learn to parry the passages that speak explicitly about homosexuality. The Sodom and Gomorrah story? Its not about anal sex; its about gross inhospitality, xenophobia, and humiliation. And so on.
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