35 Hours Traveling, only 2 of them Sleeping

Your Favorite Blogger and Laura Tremaine (Hollywood Housewife)

I arrived home this morning, exhausted, but thankful for a wonderful trip. My hosts in Malaysia were wonderful people. And my journey home was made far less agonizing because I got to leave the airports of Taipei and Los Angeles to hang out with friends new (Grace and Tim Heebner in Taipei) and new (Laura Tremaine in LA). In both cases, they knew I was traveling because of social media, and they reached out about getting together. In both cases, they picked me up and brought me to some great food.

When I arrived home, I immediately fell asleep, and Courtney just rousted me out of bed so that I wouldn’t sleep the whole day away. I’m going through mail and returning email and running to the Apple Store to replace the MacBook power cord I left in Kuala Lumpur.

And I’m very, very grateful for friends old and new, who would drive an hour or 90 minutes to hang out with me during a layover. I’ve done nothing to deserve such friendship, but I am thankful for it.

Tim and Grace Heebner at the Taipei night market. We ate chicken hearts and (what’s up?) chicken butt.

Malaysian, Christian…and Gay

The wonderful people of Good Samaritan Kuala Lumpur

I visited three churches here in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, and I shared a message at each. The first, Tabernacle of Shalom, is a Tamil-speaking emergent church. The second, Eternal Harvest Center, is a Tamil- and English-speaking Pentecostal church, and the third, Good Samaritan, is a church for GLBT persons.

In fact, it’s the only GLBT-friendly church in this entire country.

Malaysia is a parliamentary democracy, but it is both religiously and politically dominated by Malays, who are Muslim. (In fact, Malays are required by law to be Muslim.) While homosexuality, per se, is not illegal, homosexual sex acts are, and those laws are enforced.

Homosexuality was unheard of in the minority Christian church here for many years (Christians are 5-10% of the population). But in 2006, prominent pastor Ouyang Wen Feng came out with his book, Is Now the Future? An Asian Gay Man’s Coming Out Journey. That book, and Ouyang’s outspokenness, caused a huge stir in the Christian church here, but Ouyang moved to New York City, where he  got married and still lives.

Meanwhile, Joe Pang was a seminary graduate and a youth pastor at a Baptist church. When his senior pastor asked if he was gay, he said yes. He was fired on the spot.

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More Evangelical Islamophobia

I asked Bishop Solomon (Lutheran) about the threatened Bible burning. He wasn’t concerned.

Last September, Brian McLaren called on evangelicals to choose whether or not they would continue with their Islamophobia. In a post that garnered nearly 9,000 comments, he cited emails and articles meant to gin up evangelicals in their fear of Muslims.

So it was interesting to me, as I round out my week in a majority Muslim country, to read this headline, screaming out from the front page of the American evangelical rag, The Christian Post:

Malaysia ‘Bible-Burning Festival’ Over Use of ‘Allah’ Threatens Country’s Stability

Here’s what’s interesting: unlike the reporter of this article, I’ve spent the last week in Malaysia. Indeed, I’ve spent it with Christian pastors of many stripes, with the Lutheran bishop and the Methodist district superintendent, and at the leading Malaysian seminary.

And no one is the least bit interested in the Bible burning.

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“What Is Brian McLaren’s Position on Homosexuality?”

Brian McLaren in Malaysia in 2007

That was the very first question I was asked at the first coffee break at Thursday’s conference here in Kuala Lumpur. It was a conference of pastors and other church leaders to explore the perspectives of the emerging church movement. The question, asked honestly and not aggressively, brings up all sorts of issues for a Christian leader/speaker/author like myself in a foreign land like this.

Brian was here in 2007, and many people have spoken fondly of his visit. I’ve addressed and met with many of the same people. The pastor who asked the question was one of them.

But, he told me, he’d read lots of things on the Internet about Brian since that visit — about Brian’s universalism and social views and that Brian blessed his gay son’s wedding. He said, “I’d like to ask Brian about sexuality and about John 14, but I figure asking you is the next best thing.”

He said this with a smile. Like I said, he was not being disrespectful or aggressive. He really wanted to know.

There are three issues that this confronted me with:

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