• Stephen Oliver B-M

Queer choice: Two kinds of wisdom

For simplicity, let us imagine that there are fundamentally two different kinds of people, or better still, fundamentally two ways of relating that are true for all of us, two aspects of us.

One group (or aspect) is good and the other bad, but not good or bad intrinsically, but simply judged good and bad based upon the consequences of their way of thinking. Maybe a yet better distinction between the two groups (aspects) is a distinction based upon what they ‘see’, their sensitivities, their abilities to inwardly feel and intuit and go beyond the surface of what happens around them.

In consequence, they (one part of us) interpret the world of nature and matter, people, life and personal purpose quite differently. The two types of good and bad people are but the two sides of each of us that represents contrasting capacities for empathy and understanding and which, depending upon context and situation, may in time become habituated into one of hope or desperation. We each of us are pulled in these two opposed directions. The distinction is one of spirituality, a feeling capacity or depth of awareness, root sensitivity to matters of the heart, soul and mind. Sometimes we hear a voice that speaks with sensitivity and understanding; at other times a voice characterised by superficiality and a judgmental disposition.

[Notice how we are seeking to avoid a ‘binary’ way of categorising people as good or bad persons, as indeed we must to be truthful to how people are - we are a mix - just as in queer theory we avoid the binary way of categorising people into masculine or feminine genders because from this point of view, that is how people are - an incomprehensible mix].

Our sensitive and aware side experiences other people 'for who they are’, and not as projections of our own needs or prejudices. Others are recognised as having transcending qualities that go beyond appearances so that there is no such person as a lesser person. Our better side knows we all belong to one family of humanity. We recognise a fundamental unity or relationship regardless of a person’s race, gender, creed, peculiarities or age. We intuitively recognise all people as having inalienable rights, dignity and inexpressible loveliness that is the mystery of shared personhood. In sum, the sensitive part of us is aware of the sacred depths that we all possess simply because we are born people with uniquely existential consciousness; a capacity to love and be loved; aspirations to freedom, goodness and a desire for heaven on earth.

Queer Christianity calls on us to allow the above awareness to really take hold of us, to enter and claim this consciousness profoundly. Here we may open ourselves to experiencing the mystical heights and depths of love that we name as the mystery of Christ in us and present at the heart of creation - indeed the living resurrected Christ because it is the power of inner transformation, the messianic power of wholeness, goodness and of real change; heaven on earth. It is the secret wisdom that lies at the heart of Queer Christianity, what faith is all about, that which confounds the wise of this world. It is the kind of heavenly love that queers seek in queer marriage, the kind of love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres - what remains when all else disappears.

The converse is also patently true. If we reject this wisdom, this faith or spirituality as the nature of human reality, what reason or grounds do we have for hope of a better world? Love must then be only a matter of sensation, lechery or infatuation. Why not treat people like things, entities to be used to further our own interests? What dignity could there be outside of a quid pro quo? What reason could we have for believing in anything but self interest; that morality could be anything but mutual social convenience? Why not be greedy and live out of grandiose dreams of power and wealth? Once we abandon faith in love as the secret wisdom of the cosmos, of our bodies and lives, doesn’t love become mere sentimentality or foolish blindness? Fundamentally money, economic necessity, the interests of the rich and the elites must be determinative. To gainsay this must be to live in a pipe dream, a fantasy created by tender souls unable to live with the world the way it is. It is not cynicism but honesty, saying it the way it is.

Ultimately we have to make a choice, as Cervantes would put it, between that side of us that understands the wisdom of Don Quixote (the choice for heavenly love) and that side of us that understands the ‘worldly’ wisdom of Sancho Panza. Are we hopelessly bound by the law of violence, of treating people as things, objects of sexual manipulation, a morality of expediency? Is this the way the world is, the way of necessary lustful consumption, a place where we are forced to bury our deepest feelings behind inner castle walls, isolated by fear of others and hardened against any feelings of compassion?

Alternatively, could it be that the side of us that knows the truth of the love that Jesus lived and died for, is in fact ‘the way, the truth and the life’, the truth of our inner being, the cry for heaven on earth? Could it be that the cries for liberation come by mercy, acceptance and forgiveness is the source of our redemption, the kind of love that exorcises the demons of fear, hurt and rage?

We surely do have a dual nature, a choice to be a citizen of two kinds of ‘kingdoms’, the hellish one where it is logical to be depraved, to abuse people’s ‘queer’ feelings like toys, a hellish realm of exploitation for greed, passion and egotistical power, or the choice of an alternative ‘kingdom’, that of transcendent love, what Jesus called the kingdom of God.

As queer wisdom would put it, it is finally not a matter of understanding, but a matter of choosing a way of living, a way of loving, the authentic kind of bodily love that arises from the innermost depths of our being and out to the stars of the universe.

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