Religion in lesfic #brokentaboos #amwriting #shortstory

I write lesfic, and I write religion, and the two do not often mix. There are some places that this works, but most likely, whatever I write with a women loving women bent and religion is not going to take off.

I know this, but still I write it. Why? Because lesbians are Christians and Christians are lesbians. I tend to stick in the Christianity realm (versus other faiths) because that is my area of expertise. There are a whole slew of LGBT et al folk in the Christian faith. The loudmouths like to let us believe otherwise, but it’s not true.

I’ve got a romance novel that’s sitting finished on my laptop. I finished it in July. And here it sits. I did submit it to one publisher, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be rejected because one of my main characters, my lesbian character, is a chaplain at a hospital. Now, to note, she may be a chaplain, but this is ironically one of the least religious books I have ever written. I think she prays twice in it.

My Spirit of Grace series and anything to do with Grace and Amya is religious. Grace is named for the grace of God. Can’t get much more connected than that. I’ve had people tell me the book series is preachy, but well, I’m a preacher during the day, so I disagree. If they want preachy, I can give them preachy. =P

But why is it that these two subjects can’t seem to go well together and sell. I can’t sell it on the Christian market because well, lesbians and women loving women and sex (sometimes). I can’t sell it on the lesfic market because apparently all Christians are assholes and don’t like the gays (not true).

I’m left with the conundrum. Do I keep writing it? Do I stop? Where do I put it out for others to read? And who the hell wants to read it other than me?

I’ve been literally working on a short story serial called Kansas Beatitudes for four years now. You should know where this is going. The Beatitudes are scripture. There are eight of them. For each Beatitude, I am planning on writing a short little romance story around the central theme. I’ve already written two. But the first Beatitude is Poor in Spirit, and I’m struggling beyond compare with it.

Two reasons: poor in Spirit is far more religious centered than mourning or being meek. Secondly, I really want it to be an open relationship, F/F/F, with a pastor as one of the F’s in there. So what happens if and when I write it? Hmmm? Because I can’t imagine a publisher who would be willing to publish it. Yes, there is self-pubbing, but the questions about marketing and production are the same. Who will read it? Who on earth is the market? Is the market big enough to warrant the story and the time and the effort? Do I write it anyway because it’s not about sales but about story itself?

It would be easy enough to change the story. To write something different. But I tend to go where the muse and the little green men in my computer tell me to go and write.

Why is this taboo so taboo? People come in all shapes and sizes and religions and faiths and colors. Why is it that religion and the LGBT et al combined is so hard to sell and so repulsed by every side of the reading spectrum?

I recently finished reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Shameless, and I’ve got to say, we need a sexual reformation in the church, but we also need a religious reformation in the world. I live in a world where I almost have to 100% keep everything separate from each other. I can’t talk about my lesfic writing in church; I can’t talk about my church in my lesfic writing.

Sex and religion have so often been at odds with each other. It’s time we stop fearing both. It’s time we open the table for discussion. It’s time we shut up and listen, truly listen, to what is being said and what is being felt.

If you haven’t read Nadia’s book. It’s worth it. Trust me. So worth it!

Open when you have doubts about God… #openwhen #loveletters

IMG_6680This one isn’t easy. I’ve watching you in faith since we’ve known each other, and I’ve seen you grow so much. Partly it might be because of my job, but I don’t ever want my work to force you to have doubts. You’ll readily see the good and the bad about faith if you stand by me.

 

But I’ve watched you. I’ve seen you go from being a person of faith in belief only to a person of action. I watched you be baptized. A little over a year ago from my writing it. And it was beautiful to watch. You changed so much when you emerged from those waters. You had a smile on your face the entire night that you couldn’t get rid of. You had this essence about you that was bursting at the seams with light.

 

Then on top of that, you want to be involved. And I can’t think it’s just me and my work. You want to be doing something, to be helping out at church in some way. It doesn’t seem to be because you think it’s your responsibility, but you genuinely want to be doing God’s work.

 

You are doing it. You’re doing it every day when you support me, when you support your coworkers. When you listen to everyone complain, with every face you see come into your job and they know you are a person of faith. You are doing exactly what God asks of each and one of God’s believers.
Your faith has grown exponentially. That means doubts will creep in, but try not to fear them or worry them too much. Doubts are a part of faith, and I know yours is strong.

Creative Buzz Hop: To do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly

It may come as a surprise to many to find out that I am training to be a minister. With what I write, it does shock a lot. (Don’t worry, I shock congregants too.) The prompt for this weeks Creative Buzz Hop is justice, and I can’t help but think of Micah 6:8.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

It was this passage that I was thinking about yesterday when the scripture of the Good Samaritan was being read for the sermon. I have to say, God might have told us to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly, but we obviously didn’t get it the first time, since we had to be told it again and again. Since I’m so cool and handy with online Bibles, I’ll give you the story of the Good Samaritan just in case you don’t remember it. (Luke 10:27-37)

25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.[j] “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii,[k] gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Go and do likewise…well what is it we’re supposed to be doing? Showing mercy, walking humbly, doing justice, loving kindness? What on earth does that all mean? So many sermons say that we’re supposed to stop and help those in need, that we’re supposed to be kind and loving to our neighbors and that we’re supposed to Christ-like. Again, I ask, what does that even mean?

The sermon I heard yesterday, while interesting and there are parts I massively disagree with, did have an poignant thought. The only person in that parable who knew what a Good Samaritan was or how to be Christ-like was the victim. The one who was beaten down by society. Jesus wasn’t someone who hung out with the rich and the famous, or online reading blogs. He was out in the real world, teaching, but most importantly, talking and walking humbly. Jesus is the true Good Samaritan.

There’s something important I want to point out in these passages. Each time someone is looking for an answer and the answer is provided. So why the hell haven’t we, in this day and age and thousands of years after this was first written, figured it out yet? How many times do we have to be told to do these things before we’ll actually get up and off our asses to do them? Not only that, but how does the rest of the world know that you’re doing it?

I was talking to a congregant yesterday during our VBS, and he was telling me about a bible study someone held. It had to do with lawyers, so it became quite interesting. “What evidence is there for you to be convicted of being a Christian?”

It’s a great question to ask.

As a minister, I would hope for me it’s fairly obvious, but in the day to day living of my life outside of the church, I do often wonder where people see Christ in me. I’ve had many co-workers and friends tell me that I should give up ministry and become a full-time writer because that’s obviously where my passion is. But it’s not. It’s not at all. I enjoy writing and I love it; it is a passion of mine. But it is NOT the passion that I choose or want to live by. It is not a passion that can sustain my life.

I am failing in collecting enough evidence to convict me of being a Christian.

This does not mean that I’m going to stop writing erotica and start writing Christian fiction. There are religious elements in many of my books and I will keep putting them in there. It’s not the point, though. The point is that by looking at me people can’t tell that I’m a Christian. In some ways, I want this. I don’t want to be the traditional image of what a Christian is. For one thing, I’m a woman and a bisexual and I want to be a minister–that is so NOT a traditional image.

I do, however, want people to know and see that I am a Christian.

Today I had a friend point something very important out to me. We were talking about futures and kids and what we want in life when it comes to those things. Both of us want children, and both of us are going about it in very different ways. First of all, I’m still single and she most definitely is not and is passionately in love with her husband. Secondly, I have no desire to actually birth children of my own. I want to be a foster parent. Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: He’s [a kid I used to counsel] part of why I want to be a foster parent

S: Making a difference in someone’s life who is already born and needs someone

Me: more just

why would i have my own when there are so many others that need love and care and a safe home, which I can easily and readily provide.

Also, I have experience dealing with kids from tough situations, so I don’t see why I wouldn’t put those gifts that God gave me to use

S: My goodness I think I’m going to cry!

Me: …why?

S: Because that… how to explain it. It feels right, and it’s touching, and from knowing you… it just feels like a really good path for you

It makes me happy to hear the difference you want to make in other’s lives. So I know how much you like writing, but I GET why ministry is so much more important

Me: thanks

now I’m crying

S: Aww, *hug*

Me: *hugs*!! it’s a cry fest now

S: Lol yeah it is

The passion I have is for helping and talking with others. Creation and writing is my outlet for myself. Doing justice, walking humbly, loving kindness, showing mercy–those are the things that make a difference. Those are the things that will label me and convict me of being a Christian.

I’m perfectly comfortable with someone pointing a finger at me and shouting “Christian!” in my face. It is who and what I am. It is who and what I want to be. My faith in Christ is strong and thriving. I nurture it more than I nurture my writing. I nurture it like it is a living being. Faith is what makes us strong in the face of adversity. Faith is what makes us want to do justice, love kindness, walk humbly, and show mercy.

So where is my faith leading me? I’ve given plenty thought about these four things throughout my life and I still haven’t come up with a go-to answer.

How do people know that I am loving kindness? The answer is that I will try not to be mean to people, I will try not to speak behind others backs, I will try not to judge others, and I will try to love everyone who I meet. My goal for this week is to say “hello” to those I pass on the street or sidewalks or grocery stores. We need to be there for others in their times of need, and we need to be congnizant of when those moments occur.

How do people know that I am showing mercy? I donate my money and my time to a great many things, but I do not readily talk about it. Money is a taboo topic anyhow, but I do think it is still important to discuss charities. Maybe so many people prefer to donate time and energy rather than money because it is so taboo. Each month I donate a 10% of my income and 10% of my royalties to the charity Sanctuary for Kids. I also tithe as much as I can. It doesn’t matter if I’m rich or poor, what matters is that I do it, that others should and do do it. This is showing mercy. Stopping on the side of the road to help someone who has a flat tire. Picking up that dog running across the street and returning them to their home. It’s the little things that show mercy, not the big ones.

The little ones also show others how we walk humbly. It’s not about the big and flamboyant things going on. It’s not about the confetti and the streamers that get brought out each time we do something good. It’s about having a moment that we know we are doing this for Christ and for God’s people. That we are doing it because we were told to, by God and by the basics of our faith.

How do people know that I am doing justice? The topic of this entire blog is supposed to be doing justice, but without the other three, I can’t see justice. They are so interconnected and related in how they work that to me they cannot be separated. Doing justice is loving kindness, showing mercy, and walking humbly. Doing justice is action, not sitting on our butts on the couch and watching TV or playing video games. Doing justice is getting out into the streets and talking and listening to all those people out there. Doing justice is teaching and being present with others. Doing justice is exactly what Jesus did in that parable.

So…what’s the evidence against you? Will you be convicted as a Christian?

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If you want to join in the Creative Buzz Hop, write a post about “justice.” It can be anything from a personal story, a poem, a short story, flash fiction, your thoughts on the topic, or apparently a mini-sermon like this. Go to one of these two blogs (penpaperpad or gettingliteral) and link up your post. Read the others posts about the topics and comment on them as you go. You have one week to do it until the next topic comes out. Please, join us.

“A person is a person, no matter how small…”

I wasn’t going to write a blog about this at first, but my facebook blew up with the conversation. I should give a small amount of background. I write lesbian-fiction, for the most part. I’m co-writing a novel with a gender-shifting alien, and I have experimented with writing slash fiction. Queer sexuality does not SCARE me at all. In fact, I’m even part of that group.

I “label” myself as bisexual. Throughout the years, it’s never been a question to me, never an issue, just simply part of who I am. But that’s the catch. It’s only PART of who I am, it is not who I am at all. I have resisted joining LGBT communities and groups on college campuses and outside schools because they seem to want those labels to take over lives completely. Well, that’s not going to happen with me. I’m a daughter, a woman, a minister, a lover, a friend, a listener, a geek, a writer, a random individual, but most of all I am a PERSON.

Recently, my friend asked me a question about a new label that is floating around. There are so many names for the community: LGBT, GLBT, LGBTQI, QUILTBAG, etc. The newest one I’ve seen is LGBTQqi2. Say what? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/sexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersexed, and Two-Spirited.

The two-spirited is the one that I haven’t seen before. Briefly, it is a name for Native Americans (hereby referred to as Indians, since I grew up near the reservations and that is their preference), who feel they have both gender-identities.

This sparked a debate on facebook. I wrote about the new identity and how I can’t stand that more labels are being added to the alphabet soup in order to be all-inclusive. There’s already a category for that; it’s called HUMANITY! Simply put, humanity, thus far, is the only all-inclusive group that humans can be associated with. (We’re excluding aliens from outer space thus far, seeing as how they have yet to show face). A person is a person, no matter how small–Dr. Seuss had it right. Go figure.

By adding more and more categories, they are striving for something completely unattainable: an all-inclusive group. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the LGBT community or the work that they do; I just think that they are very naive in understanding as to what exactly they are doing. By fighting for rights of those only in their category, they are excluding others–which goes against the very nature of why that group was founded. A group that was excluded, creates a group and excludes other peoples, who need another group. DO YOU NOT SEE THE CYCLE!?

It’s not enough to fight for the rights of only one category. We need to fight for the rights of all humanity to be completely equal. Equality can’t come from just one or two groups, it needs to come from looking at every one and for every one–for all of humanity, not just certain parts of it. That doesn’t mean we can’t have parts or have labels–it just means that those labels are defined, understood in their definition, and are not expected to be the definition of a person.

People can argue with me day and night, but I will not be changing my mind. The work that the LGBT community does is fantastic; it’s great and wonderful. But it is not all-inclusive, and it does not fight for the rights of everyone. As a bisexual, I think I get this more than a lot of people. I get shit from both sides of the track in the world (the LGBT community and the straight community). I break the binary that the LGBT community set up to oppose heteronormatives. I break the chain.

So, why can’t we break the chain of working toward rights for only certain people? Fight for every one. Understand the small amount of work you do within the greater context of humanity and the world. Fighting for smaller groups and the rights of those smaller groups is great, but know that you’re not fighting for everyone.

 

All right. =P Rant over. Whew!

The Brick Wall of God

I have been asked so many times in the past few weeks why I’m still in school studying to be a minister if my passion is obviously in writing and writing only. The answer is that I have many passions, and that God told me to be a minister. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it, but saying no to God is oft times like talking to a brick wall. Once God has made a decision for your life, you better get on board because the train is leaving with you on it whether you want to be on it or not.

I’ve had many discussions with my mom about this, because she’s wondered the exact same thing. I get thrills out of writing, and I enjoy it like no other hobby I have ever had. But to me that is all it is. I have no desire to become a professional writer where I spend days upon days writing and only writing (I’m sure there would be some editing in there, too). It’s not what I want to do with my life. I want to be a minister, to spread the good news that Christ is Risen and that God is in our land and that the Spirit loves us with all that she can. This is my passion for life, for living, for being who I am.

Well, that was a bit of a side note, but it leads me to this. My mom (whom I adore and love) forwarded me this email today. Scott Hedegaard writes daily devotionals that he sends out in a mass email. This was today’s.

Check out Isaiah 44:24-28.

God makes some strange choices sometimes. God chooses Abraham, who at the beginning of the story is pretty nondescript. Abraham’s grandson Jacob – a deceiver and a cheat – is chosen over his brother Esau. Moses, a murderer, is elected to be the one to bring Israel from slavery to freedom. David the shepherd boy is considered the ideal king.

Still one can imagine the people in exile, upon hearing this announcement, saying, “Who? Really?” God calls Cyrus a foreign warrior, someone not even of the people as the one to shepherd Israel, the one to bring them deliverance, the one by whose command the Holy City will be rebuilt.

But we know how that goes. God called us too. And I suspect with a lot of us (me especially) people around us said, “Who? Really?” We may have even remarked that ourselves. Yet we are chosen and we are called and we are sent. And it is not by our own power that we are able to fulfill God’s calling. No, God gives us what we need to be messengers of grace and rebuilders in the city of God.

Send us out, Lord; give us power. Amen

It’s just something to think about the next time you have the reaction of “Who? Really?” Do not doubt what God had set in place and in motion. Breathe in and accept that God’s work is at hand in the moment.

Writing for speech

As most of you, or at least some of you, might know, I dapple in the world of ministry. I recently (meaning only a short few hours ago) had to give a sermon on a text from the gospel of John (4:5-42, if you were curious). Now, I obviously love and enjoy writing and the rush that it gives me.

I’ve heard tell that if one can write, one can preach. That is SO not true! Writing for reading and writing for speaking are two completely different things. Now, one who writes might have a one up on those who don’t, because we know how to plot something out. There’s a beginning that grips, certain moves that are taken, a heightening in action or emotion and then a sweet conclusion to wrap everything up.

Writing a sermon is much like writing a short story–however, I do not write short stories, at least not often (planning on two this next month). I wrote my sermon, I plotted it out like I was writing a short story about this one moment, a moment that changes. The moment when the Spirit enters into our lives and carry us away on the breeze.

Describing a moment in words is one part of this, the other is in voice. If I talk about this moment like a dull school teacher that has no passion for the subject, then the moment will never come. If I talk about the moment with energy and excitement, with joy and praise, then that moment is transferred to those listening, the experience it again. That is the difference in writing a sermon and writing a novel/story. The writing for the sermon is the prep–the reading of it is what makes the sermon a sermon.

If enough of you want, I might post my manuscript for my sermon on here. Not sure if I will though.