Show Forth, Signs of the Spirit!

Instead of wearing purple today to commemorate Spirit Day, I tweeted this reflection:


In honor of #spiritday, let’s stop w/ anti-bullying articles (See which don’t address anti-gay theology that’s deadly.

With only 140 characters, I didn’t have space to add that for an organization that claims to be on the cutting edge of social justice, Jim Wallis’ decision to regurgitate last year’s post illuminates the fact that  they’re behind the times. Surely someone connected to Sojourners could have offered up a litany or some other acknowledgment that could bring their audience up to date regarding the the recent rash of LGBT teens’ suicides. As evidenced by the comments that followed the post, I appear not to be the only one who feels something is amiss here.

At a press conference prior to Dan Savage’s recent speech at Union Theological Seminary, Savage professed his exhaustion at this crop of progressive evangelicals who claim to be “affirming” of LGBT people, but are not actually “welcoming”; he calls them “God Hates Fags with a smile,” adding: “You look at polls of younger evangelicals and they’re over it already by wide margins. The change is coming and so what I guess what I would say to him [Jim Wallis] is hurry up and die so we can get this social change going. I don’t believe anyone should ever die. I believe all people should live forever. Especially Republicans.”

For those of you who might be biblical literalists, please note Savage is speaking metaphorically when he wishes death on those standing in the way of social change. For those who feel Savage has nothing better to do with his time than Google Rick Santorum, check out his It Gets Better Project. When Savage addressed the crowd of over 400 academics and activists at Union, he noted what while this viral sensation he launched to give hope to LGBT youth has saved lives, as we’ve seen recently, it hasn’t saved everyone. Still, one can scroll through the more than 40,000 videos posted to date and see kids giving help to each other.

I felt similar stirrings that something new might actually be happening on the horizon when I went to see Rev. Billy speak out at Knock Knock Who’s There, 911, 911 Who?, a 9/11 political cabaret memorial with proceeds benefiting the UFA Widow and Children’s Fund. He reflected back to the solidarity exhibited at Union Square and throughout New York City in the days following September 11, when we all seemed to unite until Bush and Cheney starting singing “Hail Halliburton” and marched us off to war.  Accompanied by the Earthalujah Choir, Rev. Billy preached to the receptive crowd about the stirrings of a new change that he sees on the horizon—He can feel it in the air. It’s a-coming.

Little did I know that less than a week later Occupy Wall Street would hit the ground running—a movement first dismissed as a hippie-dippie drugfest. Time will tell if this New York Fall will emerge into an Arab Spring, but the initial signs indicate the stirrings of a global grassroots movement that shows no signs of slowing down.

Becky Garrison is a satirist/storyteller whose most recent book is Roger Williams’s Little Book of Virtues (Wipf & Stock, March 2020). Also, she edited Love, Always: Partners of Trans People on Intimacy, Challenge and Resilience (Transgress Press, 2015). Her six books include 2006’s Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church (PW, starred review).