Peonies and Pride Month

Peonies and Pride Month June 2, 2021

Well, it’s pride month, which around here doesn’t mean much because those little flags are ubiquitous year around. “Love is Love” is our constant state. I like June–the green, so long gone, bursts forth, and the peonies finally bloom. I love them so much (love is love) that I even dream about them sometimes. But the whole idea of having “pride” as a morally good act is so bad that I generally also feel depressed, in spite of the riot of color and glory. To get through it this year, I’m taking three mental and emotional postures toward reality in general, and pride month in particular. I hope they will help me keep my cheerful estate.

First, I’m remembering that the American way is to construct an identity. Everyone does this, not just people who adopt all those letters to define themselves. And, more and more the identities that people are constructing are political in tone and expression. Covid has rushed this along, and the age of Trump, and social media. We only have binary decisions to make and we have to make them. To not make them would be so difficult that most people don’t have the wherewithal to resist.

Second, I’m praying for the young lady across the street who, every June, furtively places her rainbow flag on her front lawn next to her rhododendron. I have never met her, because the people on this part of the street generally don’t speak to each other, but only nod vaguely and turn away. All the road construction has been a great help in this regard. Finally, I have been able to stop and complain and commiserate with my neighbors about the noise and inconvenience. That young lady doesn’t look like the sort of person who would really consider either her own identity, or pride in her identity, did not the whole tide of the culture carry her along and admonish her to. In other words, she is trying to be good. So, for the whole month, I’m going to pray for her as often as I can.

Third, I’m going to spend the whole month railing against pride in general–for everyone, me, you, random people, Twitter, everyone. Like so many unquestioned cultural and theological tropes, there are prior and more basic truths to be upset about. When the Episcopal Church careened into apostasy, the presenting issue was a partnered same-sex oriented Bishop. “Love is love,” splained everyone, which made it immediately apparent that really the question was the authority of the scriptures. Is it possible that God does speak? And can be understood? And that the text makes sense? And that it can be trusted? If you answer no to any of those questions, then all the supports have been knocked out from under you and you will end up wandering into a howling spiritual wilderness, which is a state possible even in a beautifully old, well-endowed church where all the vessels are made of gold. In the present instance, the ordinary person putting up a trans flag this month has put all hope in a panache of color. The Christian walking by doesn’t need to be upset or angry about the presence of such a flag, nestled into the earth alongside God’s gorgeous flowering creation. Rather, the Christian can know that pride is at the very heart of every one of us. No one wants to have all the markers of identity and self-hood swept away in any kind of judging flood. The best way to observe this month for the person who loves and adores Christ is to walk away from every kind of pride, to take no comfort whatsoever in any kind of personally constructed identity. There are not some kinds of good pride and other kinds of bad pride. All of it is wicked. All of it separates the person from God. All of it requires the blood of Jesus.

And now I must dash because I only have a few days to stare at all the gorgeous peonies in my neighbor’s garden.

Photo by Zoë McCrum on Unsplash

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