Wish Me Away

Wish Me Away is Chely Wright’s powerful story about coming out while being a major country music star. It’s sometimes hard to watch someone coming to terms with who they are, knowing that they could be hated for it. The strength that Chely Wright has in sharing who she is – merely to help others – is amazing.

Of course, the film touches on themes of Christianity and the conservative culture that makes up country music fandom. Chely is a Christian, and someone close to her reminds her:

There’s nobody quite as mean as people being mean for Jesus.

So disappointing, and so true.

I’m glad that the film focused on the positive aspects of her journey, while showing her internal struggle with wanting to share who she is with the world.

A quote from her brother-in-law, I think, really shows where many Christians minds are on the subject. Many people only know what they have been told by someone else. Many people are relying on other people’s opinions to express their faith. He says,

Being gay is a sinful act.

This, of course, doesn’t make sense – and I believe that’s the issue with how many Christians see homosexuality. They haven’t thought about it enough for any logic to come into the picture. To suggest that “who somebody is” is a “sinful act” just shows the ignorance of the culture. I think it’s just a demonization of a people that many Christians don’t want to understand. As soon as we start to looking at the LGBT community as real people – and not just as a faceless crowd – we might have to see the humanity. And love might have to enter into the picture. And I think that’s what Christians are scared of.

The Church and “Status Quo”

So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent – and often even vocal – sanction of things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

This is something that could have been written yesterday.

But as you can tell by the “twentieth century” reference, it was written before 2000.

In fact it was written in 1963 by Martin Luther King, Jr. Sadly, 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Jim Crow laws were still in effect, preventing people of color from being treated equally under the law.

So often, the church is surprisingly silent on social issues – which is odd when Jesus spent so much time talking about love, and stressing the importance on how we treat each other.

Of course, some say, “look how far we’ve come 50 years later.” But progress is still slow. Heck, even in the 2012 election, people tried to suppress minority voting in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Anyone who suggests that racism and equal rights for all isn’t a problem has their head in the sand. When a white man murders children in a school, church people rally around gun rights and want to arm kindergarten teachers. But when a white man kills a black teenager in cold blood, no one went on a crusade to help get guns in the hands of young black men so that they could defend themselves against racists.

And we must avoid the racism that ignores generational poverty and states that if I was raised middle class, that someone raised in a poor environment has the exact same opportunities as I do. (We hear this all the time – even at church – that the poor in America are poor because they are lazy. We do not like to think that there different people in our country are afforded different opportunities.)

The church needs to forget about trying so hard to defend the status quo – we need to get off our asses and truly make a difference in this world. It’s going to take a lot of work, but I think we can do it. I think Jesus would want us to.

That’s Absurd

Some spoilers…(if you haven’t read The Stranger)

I guess I’ve never really read any nihilist or absurdist literature.

So I wasn’t prepared for the utter mope-fest that is Albert Camus’s The Stranger.

Looking back on it, I get playing with the idea of life being absurd, or meaningless. And on reflection, it reminds me a bit of Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes.

But I really hated it. I probably would have loved it when I was 16. Would have totally bought hook-line-and-sinker the idea that life has nothing to offer and is completely meaningless. And I have my moments now, though they are few and far between. But ultimately, I ascribe some meaning to life. Mainly in relationships. With God. In community. I’m not drawn to the idea that everything is pointless.

I got to the point where the main characters states:

I have never been able to truly feel remorse for anything.

“So,” I thought, “this is the memoir of a sociopath? ”

I don’t recommend it unless you have an interest in absurdist literature.

One thing I did find interesting in my research, though, was that one English translation of this French novella adds the words to the last scene, It is better to burn than to disappear. Oddly, this isn’t in the original French or in the translation I read.

For rock music fans of my generation, we’ll recognize this in the words of Neil Young’s Hey, Hey, My, My:

It’s better to burn out, than to fade away.

For the younger generation, they’ll recognize the exact quote from Young’s song as part of Kurt Cobain’s suicide note.

Of course, who do 800 people on Goodreads attribute this quote to? Kurt Cobain.

*sigh*

Maybe life is absurd.