‘Belonging is the antidote to loneliness’, writes Mary Kay Duchene. And loneliness is at the heart of too much violence, tragedy and loss. As we celebrate Pride – while continuously grieving tragic and senseless shootings; as we enjoy the beginning of summer – while reeling from climate change extremes; as we honor BIPOC leadership – while struggling to ensure that every Beloved Child of God is valued, here are resources to expand and deepen welcome and ensure every soul’s sense of belonging.
Persons with multiple marginalized identifiers tend to be pushed ‘out’ with great force and consistency. Find new ways to ensure they are welcomed ‘in’ with Reclaiming Two-Spirits: Sexuality, Spiritual Renewal & Sovereignty in Native America (Beacon), which shares the beautiful and tragic history of Indigenous traditions around gender, sexuality, and resistance to colonizers intent upon subverting Indigenous affirmations of queer folx.
Gender Euphoria: Stories of Joy from Trans, Non-Binary and Intersex Writers (Unbound), reveals ‘the… variety of ways being non cisgender can be… a joyful experience’.
Invite the whole community to grow in awareness and create a more expansive welcome with UnClobbered: Expanded Edition with Study Guide: Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality (WJK) and/or Unbossed: How Black Girls Are Leading the Way (Broadleaf), the adult companion (with discussion guide) to the youth-oriented, Black Girls Unbossed (Broadleaf).
Share this for a quick way to affirm LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC welcome in your home or congregation.
Generalize that awareness of and welcome to the traditionally marginalized with Scapegoats: The Gospel through the Eyes of Victims (Fortress), which invites Christians to revise their lens and read the New Testament from the perspective of the victim, rather than the victor.
For folx wondering if the church is still – or ever has been – the place for them, Brian McLaren once again offers a powerful perspective with Do I Stay Christian?: A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned (Macmillan). An honest query may be the most hospitable opportunity a congregation can provide.
If your concern lies more with some peoples’ over-affiliation and you’re ready to tackle the challenge of Christianity’s complicity with nationalism, check The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at His Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened (Macmillan); or get right to the heart (or head) of the question with The Psychology of Christian Nationalism: Why People Are Drawn In and How to Talk Across the Divide (Fortress).
If you’re willing to voice the extraordinary lament our addiction to nationalism – and too many other ‘isms’ – is calling forth, right now, you might find The Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette‘s new/old hymn, God, Our Nation Feels the Loss helpful.
And if it all feels like too much, let Anna Madsen remind you of Joyful Defiance: Death Does Not Win the Day (Fortress) – a personal exploration of death’s power and the determination to ‘refuse to cede death any more wins’.
May you, too, find ways to joyfully defy loneliness through Beloved Community – for yourself, those you love, and those who linger now on the margins.