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Queer Theology?

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Last weekend somebody on facebook invited me to a forum on queer theology: “Let us tell the world of His Love” Part 2.

This is the event poster

Why, you might ask, would I ever go to an event with “Theology” on its title? Because Queer Theology was just way too interesting a title, of course. >:)

I was wondering how this Theologian was gonna reconcile the gay rights movement with Christian doctrine. It was promising to be a particularly juicy presentation. If you know me, you know that I just love bursting somebody’s bubble, and I was expecting more of that Catholic accomodationist claptrap we have come to know and hate. I’ve even had lines of reasoning prepared.

As a matter of fact, I was a little disappointed. Everything went better than I expected. Instead of what more “love the sinner” garbage, the speaker was actually quite sincerely pro-gay and doesn’t stick to the dogma. And I didn’t even get to use my kung fu.

The speaker, Karl James Villarmea, focused more on using the LGBT movement for advocacy on other social issues or something like that.

People shouldn’t waste their time worrying about the clergy, he says. It doesn’t matter what your sexual identity is as long as you are loyal to Jesus.

And then things get weird. His next point becomes that “Queer Love”, which I think means the love of the LGBT community, is a force for social change which can challenge oppressive authorities, and we should use this for social issues. I can agree with that, but then, like a brick dropping out nowhere, he says we should fight against capitalism.

I do understand that gay rights is not the only social issue, and that the LGBT should have a prominent role in stimulating social change, but isn’t it a stretch to talk against capitalism in a Queer Theology forum? I mean, come on! Socialism vs. Capitalism is another issue altogether, one that different people within the LGBT community have different positions on. If the gay rights movement is to promote individuality, then the LGBT have their own opinions on an issue which is far removed from their own cause.

There is a difference when it comes to citing previous works in a scholarly paper versus giving one on a talk. On paper, the reader has the time to read the references that are cited. On a lecture, the audience does not, so the lecturer, when citing points made by other authors, should actually say those points rather than take it for granted that the audience understands, especially if the audience is not familiar with the topic. This was another quality of the talk that I had my beef with.

From his first point to the last, Villarmea’s lecture was peppered with citations to authors and previous works, without even giving us a brief overview of the points. This left the audience grasping for threads of discussion which we couldn’t connect with each other. It’s amazing how he managed to make the audience lose interest on such a controversial and interesting issue just using this method alone. His capitalism reasoning probably had some slight credence to it too, but he just cited some names and then popped it out without explaining the connection between the two, why capitalism is bad for LGBT rights.

I had to ask him in the Q&A portion to explain the connection between the two. What did he answer? That A) apparently, businesses have usurped the unique fashion of the gay community which once was worn to express freedom from the norms, and turned it into lucrative clothing lines, and B) blah blah blah we must fight not just for our own cause like for feminists blah blah blah. I swear, point B sounded like that to me. Maybe it was just me not listening properly to points made conflicting to my own (as per cognitive bias of the human brain), but I do believe he deflected the question with that argument B by making it intentionally incoherent. As for point A, I don’t need to be an expert in logic to know that that doesn’t even approach a solid case against Capitalism.

Of course the gay rights movement should support the feminist movement. Women empowerment falls within the penumbra of gender issues which the LGBT movement is entrenched in. It is easy to see a move towards greater equality for women being beneficial for sexual minorities, and vice versa. Now, is socialism a good predictor of how well the LGBT are tolerated in a particular society? Why is there neither a good reasoning explicitly given or empirical evidence provided?

at least this isn't about capitalism

One last thing, a question relevant to queer theology this time unlike evil evil capitalism. Villarmea says that it doesn’t matter what the church thinks. As long as one is loyal to Jesus, then one is still a good Christian. Well, a lot of the bigotry towards the LGBT has basis in the bible, and surely the bible is Villarmea’s basis for believing in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. How does he separate the Jesus from the bible, and the bible from the bigotry? It’s just something I would like to wonder out loud.

To be fair, Villarmea did spend some time talking about other things. It’s just that they really didn’t stick as much as his social change talking point. I have to say that I would be surprised if a lot of people in the audience got them. The train of thought for his other discussions were just so loopy, the language too abstract and rarified that it might have been more profitable to talk about the more esoteric implications of string theory. That would have made more sense.

All in all, it wasn’t really worth my going there. There was none of that hypocritical tolerance for the LGBT while denying their rights, so it wasn’t as much fun to bash. Also, though the points were pro-LGBT, they were done badly and mixed in with irrelevant and tangent issues.


This post is brought to you by coffee, exhasparation and my hair getting longer.


Written by rubiscodisco

January 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm

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