On the Tethering of Hearts and the Changing of Names

Marriage, fraught with social and religious baggage, is often rightfully perceived as a normatively oppressive construct. But in this case, the embrace of the ceremonial marker in tandem with the understanding of consensual exclusivity is not being done out of fear or subservience to an unjust ordering of desires.

In this case, it is the next logical step in our journey, the tethering of two hearts and joining of two lives in a mystical and practical fashion.

We become as united as we are separate, committed to the mutuality of matrimony, a glorious subverting of individuality in the interest of an “us”. It’s crazy, it’s counter-intuitive, and it’s good.

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Nathanial Totten Comments
Finding Space for Worship

Music moves us, whether to tears or action, and it provides a measure of unity as voices and instruments join in a textural composition unique to its contributors. It informs a collective identity, creating a sonic table around which we can gather and be fed, enfolding one another with love.

For some Christians who've abandoned Evangelical theology and ecclesial spaces, there remains something of a gap between the theology and forms of expression in the faith spaces comprising the spectrum of progressive ecclesiology. I've not conducted a study on this—it's purely anecdotal, and I'm speaking from my experiences and conversations I've had with others.

There also exists a population of relatively progressive Christians embracing conservative Evangelical churches strictly for the relevant forms of expression, whether through music, forms of visual art, or open engagement with cultural trends. (Again, this is an anecdotal observation.)

Somewhere between my post-Evangelical year in a mainline church, Pentecostal upbringing, Lutheran education, and Southern Baptist degree, a longing for a kind of expressive freedom was reborn in the wake of theological reconstruction.

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I Can't Make You Understand

I know it's two years after the election, but every fucking week is a searing confrontation with its consequences.

I can't make anyone believe this is bad, if for any other reason than the fact that those most benefiting from this presidency are those whose privilege has protected them from collective marginalization.

I can't make anyone believe that putting children in cages as a punitive policy measure for deterrence is incontrovertibly wrong. I can't convince you the suicide rate for LGBTQ+ youth is unequivocally related to your beliefs. I simply can't make you understand, but I don't have to, either.

I love you enough to be angry at you, enough to tell you I'm hurt, and this pain is wholly justified.

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What Liberty University Taught Me

Two years ago, in the onset of my faith journey, I thought I could put my head down and just get it over with.

I was wrong.

It's not that I exclusively needed my experiences at Liberty to inform the person I am today, but they unwittingly became an invaluable part of who I've become. The friends, the memories, and the cost of coming out taught me - and I'm still learning - much about life and the pursuit of collective justice. I've lived and participated in a culture that blames the victim, vilifies the marginalized, and refuses to acknowledge its own sin.

Still I'm finding, through the trauma, the loss, and the anger, the early signs of a coming spring.

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To the Queer Kids

For queer kids, it's harder than most appreciate to find a safe space.For those of us studying in Evangelical colleges, even primary and secondary private Christian schools, we're met with open hostility.

I'm one of you.

This is an experience few can understand and many belittle, perhaps unwittingly. The inability of your peers to empathize with your situation only adds to your pain. The emotional burden placed upon you time and time again by these same people is immense; most humans don't have to provide epistemic justification for their own existence. It hurts no matter the source. It suffocates, coming in every direction.

Your family, your friends, your professors, your administrators, your pastors, the leaders whose paths you cross - it's overwhelming. Somehow, your desire to love and be loved is a threat to the fabric of culture. And it doesn't make sense. It's not fair. But if there's anything you should know, it's that you're not alone. We're not alone. You're not the first, and you won't be the last.

So this is for you.

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What Evangelical Colleges Can Do for Their LGBTQ+ Students

The Dean of Students asked me a simple question: Given our significant theological differences, how can Liberty hold to its "views" whilst being more hospitable to its LGBTQ+ students?

It's a fair question more administrators need to be asking.

Evangelical colleges can move towards a broader inclusivity without "compromising" their standards of right and wrong, but it will be uncomfortable and seem counterintuitive.

Ask yourself: would you rather win the argument or liberate the oppressed?

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Queer the Church

Queer the Church.

We'll make it as colorful, dynamic, and joyful as we are. We'll make space for hurting people to hurt, for doubting people to doubt, for the disbelieving to disbelieve. We'll feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and give comfort to the mourning because that's exactly what God's Beloved do.

We'll re-appropriate the songs penned by those who condemn us into songs of joy, singing our theology as a witness to our hardship.

We'll read Scripture critically, engaging it with open hearts and open minds, refusing to be shamed by the hermeneutics we were taught to believe.

And we'll stand up to cisheteropatriarchy in every way, shape, and form. No more white-washed, privileged theology with nothing to say on the ills of racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, patriarchy, and so on.

Queer the Church.

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On Taking a Break from the Bible

When existential questions of sexuality and faith uprooted the fragile certainty of my biblicist framework, the Bible quickly lost its appeal. The colorful depth and texture of Scripture assumed an evolving character, one whose apparent hostility to my identity I was reticent to acknowledge. And in the darkest throes of my faith deconstruction, the last thing I felt I needed was another passage of Scripture to trigger a personal crisis in the midst of what was an extended personal crisis.

If I'm honest, I haven't had a consistent practice of reading Scripture in something like a year and a half.

And that's okay.

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President Falwell is Everybody's Problem

No matter what you think of Liberty University as an institution, whether you're in the thick of the controversy or casually observing, it's inevitably crossed your newsfeed or the chyron of your favorite cable news network. Ever the bastion of conservatism - social, political, and theological - Liberty espouses with flagrant pride the ideals of a people in power. As an institution intrinsically tied to the Southern Baptist Convention, its values are that of right-wing Christians, and love it or hate it, it's here to stay.

Thanks in large part to the statements and actions of its partisan president, Liberty swings like a pendulum in and out of the news cycle with exhausting persistence. Ask any student on campus, and chances are they'll respond with exasperation to the give-and-take of controversies swirling around Liberty Mountain.

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