Saturday, February 17, 2007

Potentially Hazardous

Every time I go to the Post Office to drop off a package, the nice people behind the counter always ask the same thing. "Anything fragile, liquid, potentially hazardous, or perishable?"

They have to ask, they have a script. They know who I am and what I do. They know I am sending books. But they always ask. "Anything fragile, liquid, potentially hazardous, or perishable?"

It's books! DUH!

But then I think. Well, fragile, no, the truth is not necessarily fragile. But these are days in which lies are told at the highest levels of government, the news media, and even the church. Whether it is Dick Cheney, or Bill O'Reilly at Fox "News," or Peter Akinola, lies are told with the authority of truth and are often swallowed whole by an uncritical public who wants to believe the worst about others, whether it is Saddam Hussein (remember weapons of mass destruction and strong ties to al Qaeda?) or liberals or gay people who just want to be an Episcopal bishop at the call of his people or even just married!

So maybe the truth is fragile, and books containing the truth about what the Bible really says about homosexuality are a fragile commodity.

Liquid? No, not even. OK.

Perishable? Well, maybe. In the same way the contents of our books can be fragile, I suppose. But I don't know about that either.

But it's that "potentially hazardous" that always gives me pause. Books are ultimately the most potentially hazardous things out there. The free exchange of ideas, the spreading of new revelations, new understandings, new facts, what could be more hazardous to the corrupt status quo? Is it no wonder that one of the common threads in totalitarian movements is the burning of books? Why do fundamentalist and conservative movements always want to ban books from schools, libraries, and stores?

What could be more hazardous to the likes of Peter Akinola than "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse" by Dr. Rembert Truluck?

Or “The Bible and Homosexuality,” by the Rev. Michael England?

What could be more potentially hazardous that a book of daily devotions that treats all people with the inclusive love of God, like “Living as the Beloved: One Day at a Time,” by the Rev. Dr. Sandra Bochonok?

Or “Christian with a Twist,” by Bill Gaston?

For Presbyterians, and indeed for all people of faith, what could be more potentially hazardous than a book like “Called OUT: The Voices and Gifts of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Presbyterians,” by the Rev. Jane Adams Spahr et al?

Or any of the books by the wonderful Rev. Chris Glaser, perhaps the best known Gay Christian writer? Chris waiting for a very long time for his Presbyterian denomination to recognize his gifts and calling until he finally accepted a call in the Metropolitan Community Churches. He is now serving as Interim Pastor of MCC San Francisco. He is a contributor to “Called Out,” and his book “Come Home! Reclaiming Spirituality and Community as Gay Men and Lesbians,” is a classic in the genre and VERY potentially hazardous to LGBT people of faith.

What could be more potentially hazardous to the people who tell those living with HIV/AIDS that they are evil and deserve their disease, than a book by a long-term survivor of AIDS who is a healthy, vibrant, Christian minister like the Rev. Steve Pieters, still alive after over 20 years. His story is told in “I’m Still Dancing! A Gay Man’s Health Experience.”

So my frequent trips to the Post Office give me pause. When Pat or Joyce or Lawanna ask me, "Anything fragile, liquid, potentially hazardous, or perishable?" I really have to stop and think. Some times it’s easy. “No, it’s just the Liturgical Calendar and Lectionary, nothing really hazardous there!”

But some days, it’s Truluck’s book, or Glaser’s, and I have to stop and think.

And I am proud to be the publisher of books that are potentially hazardous to people who are mired in old ways of thinking and hating. The truth is hazardous. It will make you think, and it might, just might, change your life.

But I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before.


Abp. David F. Milne DD said...

The Word of God is always "poentially hazardous" especially if written by one group not welcome by another group. For the most part the word of God in any form is welcomed equally by Moslems, Christian's and Jews. However it seems that it is within the core of each of those three the Word is not easily accepted. How many Christian denominations accept MCC, see my point? I ways I wish I was amoungst your author's. I've been told I should find a publisher for some of my documents on my 360 blog. But as I said before the thoughts of one christian group can be "potentially Hazardous" to others...or is that just because those who can see are blind, and those who can hear are deaf?

Peace and Blessings

Abp. David F. Milne DD

Rev. Robert Johnnene OFA said...

Excellent blog, the truth is always a dangerous thing. Is it any wonder that the writings of Thomas are among the "Lost Books of the Bible", since the first two supposed sayings of Jesus are; "Whoever finds the correct interpretation of these sayings will never die " and "The seeker should not stop until he finds, When he finds he will be disturbed.After he is disturbed, he will be astonished. Then he will reign over all". The RCC has done well keeping secrets that contradict with their agenda. After more than 40 years working in the church I had never heard of Saints Sergius and Bacchus and was astonished to learn that their are saints who were gay.

Duane said...

An interesting and excellent piece of wtiting. I must say, however, that it begins with a "duh" to Postal Personal who have no choice. Postal Employees are not paid to think they are paid to do.