Firstly I would like to thank you. The NALT Project is such an important message. It has certainly touched my heart.
I don’t really know why I am writing an email to you at 1:00 a.m. EST. I have come across the NALT project online. I think it has awakened a longing that I’ve forgotten. I used to be very devout in my youth. I can still remember the feeling of holiness in my youth.
For so many youth, especially gay kids, the turmoil begins at puberty, and it was no different for me. I had the good sense (or grace) to avoid the Gay Catholic Trap of “I’ll become a Priest so nobody will question why I’m not married.” Catholic High School and Boy Scouts seemed to just exacerbate my crisis of faith at the critical juncture.
Despite the best of intentions, I have a Pavlovian response against many of the NALT videos. I feel deeply unsettled with “God Talk.” It strikes my jaded ears as saccharine when I know that it isn’t. I want to get over this, and seek faith again. But I’ve been conflicted for six years now.
Have you heard from others who have hit this same stumbling block as me?
How did you experience God’s Grace?
Thank you so much for listening.
Dear Guy Who Wrote Me This:
Everyone has “jaded ears.” We have all heard and seen it all before. We all have a million reasons to dismiss or flat-out despise Christians and Christianity, to hold that “organized religion” is a crock, to ascribe ulterior motives to anyone who in any way whatsoever seems to be encouraging us to be spiritual in the exact same way they are.
Possessing half a brain means being repelled by “God Talk,” since “God Talk” usually comes wrapped up in insincerity and pretentiousness—with a bow of passive-aggressiveness on top. Not exactly the gift that keeps on giving anything anyone wants.
You asked if I have heard from others who, like you, as children were into church and Christianity, but after hitting puberty and/or going to college fell away from the faith. Friend, that’s like asking me if I’ve ever received an email from a person who knew how to type. By far the story from people I’ve most often heard about their faith journey matches yours exactly: wholly into it as kids; decidedly less into it after hormones and Ever-Engaging Life took hold of them; again interested in it once life has proven to be … less engaging than it promised to be. (Included in my book UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question are about thirty extremely powerful letters I received from gay Christians whose stories … well, you should read, which I swear I’m not saying just so I can sell a book.)
In when you’re ignorant; out when you know it all; in again when you realize that you can’t know jack.
Ah. The cycle of life. The training wheels on that cycle should be permanent.
Finally, you asked how I experience grace. The same way as you do, I guess: when I’m meditating; when I’m praying for more than about ten seconds; when I’m listening to and caring for a person in need; when I’m freely creating; when I’m surrounded by nature. When, in the main, I let myself experience God’s presence.
God’s here, within me, all the time. He/she is as close as my next breath. I just have to be attentively aware of that as I take my next breath. If I am, then boom: grace. If I’m not, then boom: regular life.
It’s the same with you. It’s the same with everybody. That’s just … part of the phenomenon of being human.
If you’re feeling yourself pulled back to Christianity, don’t fight that. Don’t worry about being taken in, or duped, or playing the fool. Screw all that noise.
Why should you let what others have done to Jesus ruin what Jesus has done for you?
(Hey! God Talk! Oh well. Sometimes grace and saving face can’t be in the same place.)
Best to you. Thanks for writing.