Thursday, October 14, 2010

“I call you in righteousness…to believe out loud.”

Meditation for the Holy Eucharist
Stakeholders’ Council Meeting at the Believe Out Loud Power Summit
10 October 2010
Orlando, Florida

The Rev. David Norgard
Integrity USA

It is amazing that we are here in a way. Episcopalians are not typically the type to say they go to church, much less really “believe out loud.”

We have an inclination for subtler, more classical expressions of our theology. We know the four cardinal virtues, for instance: prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude or courage. To our way of thinking, these are not “believe out loud” kinds of virtues. “Out loud” has an urgent, proactive ring to it. “Out loud” is the way those secular activists operate.

For those in a church that holds a deep respect and appreciation for tradition, prudence often translates into caution. Temperance means not rocking the boat – being “fair and balanced” (just like Fox News). To work for justice is to work for incremental progress. And fortitude is demonstrated by not complaining in the face of adversity.

…But then comes the news, fresh new lines in an all too long litany of lament. There are the stories of suicide, of murder, of torture, of harassment, of bullying. It did not end with Matthew Sheppard. It did not end with the Stonewall Riots.

And we know this news could have hit close to home. It could have been our brother, our son, our daughter, our mother. In West Hollywood, where I live today, a gay mecca, a friend of mine from school was beaten right on Santa Monica Boulevard, the “gay strip,” just last year. In Minneapolis, the city of the country’s very first municipal gay rights ordinance, I was attacked by a man with a knife just for walking down Hennepin Avenue.

In the face of danger and conflict, frankly it is tempting not to believe out loud…especially when we have settled into churches and neighborhoods and livelihoods where we can be comfortable most if not all of the time. It is tempting, as LGBT folk, not to be out loud.

Yet, I also believe we know in our hearts that the times do call for new expressions of old virtues…before it is too late. Could it be that prudence is about knowing when to stand up as much as when to back down? Could it be that temperance is as much about holding firm as it is about holding back? Could it be that courage is about speaking up and not letting the moment pass? Could it be that justice is not about improvement of the status quo but rather about creating a new status altogether?

I believe that is why we are here. We are called to new expressions of old virtues…not for the sake of individual halos but for the sake of moving toward a horizon shining brightly with the light of the dignity of every human being.

Believe out loud.


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