Andy & Rick

Andy & Rick March 11, 2009

Before belatedly getting into the other aspects of the hubbub over the Rev. Rick Warren and his invitation, by then President-elect Barack Obama, to provide the invocation at the inauguration, I want to mention this: Andy Warhol was a devout Catholic who attended Mass nearly every day.

AndyRick
I point this out because whatever else Rick Warren may be — an evangelical leader, a political figure, a best-selling author — he is, first and foremost, a pastor. He is pastor of Saddleback Church, the largest congregation in California, where more than 23,000 people attend worship each week.

That astonishing attendance figure suggests that Warren is probably a pretty good pastor, but it also suggests something else: Rick Warren's congregation at Saddleback Church almost certainly includes dozens, probably even hundreds, of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered believers.

I'm not just talking about deeply closeted folks who have internalized everything they may have been taught about the inherent wickedness of homosexuals and who stagger through their lives in the heartbreaking existence of full-on Ted-Haggard mode. I'm sadly sure there are plenty of those folks at Saddleback too. But I'm talking about evangelical Christian believers who also happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Or, if you prefer, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons who also happen to be evangelical Christian believers. The two categories do overlap.

Saddleback Church is organized as a community of communities. Its thousands of members aren't just isolated individuals drifting in the sea of its huge congregation, they also belong to small groups within the larger church. That's where the mutual support of real fellowship happens for these believers. And that's where, I would guess, the not officially sanctioned sexuality of many of Saddleback's members is a shared secret. It's in those dozens of small cell groups that the GLBT members of Saddleback are fully known, fully loved and fully welcomed, just as Andy Warhol was fully known, fully loved and fully welcomed at St. Vincent's.

I wonder if Rick Warren realizes this. Or, if he does, if he's ready to understand what it means for him as a pastor — as their pastor.

I doubt he is, yet. But I think he may be more ready now that he was four months ago, before he was placed in a national spotlight by Barack Obama's invitation to pray in Washington. That's one reason I think that whole brouhaha — both his invitation and the resulting protest, taken together — may turn out to have been, on balance, a Good Thing, both for Pastor Warren and for his 23,000 parishioners and perhaps for the rest of us too.

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  • Ursula L

    But having your sexual behavior not match with what your church teaches is something lots of people experience, no matter their sexuality.
    There is a qualitative difference, however, between being told that the particular way you are currently expressing your sexuality isn’t appropriate, versus being told that you can never have a fulfilling and healthy sex life, and you’re sinful for even wanting one.
    There is also a qualitative difference between condemning a sin that potentially affects everyone, versus singling out a minority group, and setting them up as being the biggest, worst sinners, thereby making all those who are never tempted to that particular sin feel good about themselves at the expense of others.

  • Kit Whitfield Actually, I go further than love. I am, and always have been, quite uncomfortable around religious people. Everything with them is conditional. They’ve got a hidden line of judgement, and if I do something (what? I don’t know) that crosses that line, they stop being my friend and try to hurt me. Either I’m with them, or against them, and its frighteningly easy to fall into the “against them” camp without either trying, or even being aware of it.
    I’ve lost two friends, and one job, because the friends and employer were religious, and somewhere, I don’t know where, I crossed the line into the enemy camp. The employer fired me, I “didn’t fit in with his team”. One of the friends had been very close, when whatever religious thing made him decide I was the enemy happened he hurt me and my reputation. To this day I have no idea what it was that I did to trigger their religion, what hidden test I failed, what bit of dogma I offended so damningly.
    So I don’t merely think that love from the religious is conditional, but that all things are. They can, and will, turn on you with no warning, and with no cause that is visible to the non-religious mind. I’m closeted at work these days, I not only don’t talk about religion, but if asked where I go to church I lie. I don’t admit to being an atheist, one job lost for that reason is enough. And my friends? I’ve still got religious friends, or at least I think they’re my friends; but I can’t really trust them, not the way I do my non-religious friends.

  • I’m with The Devil’s Advocate. The relationship with Rick Warren has with his GLBTQI attendees, if any, is not a pastoral one. Saddleback’s a corporation, and he’s the HMFIC.
    Now, here is a pastor (mine, actually) intent on relationship with his GLBTQI members. Of course, this church is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Saddleback in theology and size. I gotta say, it warmed my heart to see a nonagenarian parishioner there blithely introducing one of her friends to Jenny (the member formerly known as Rob) a couple of weeks after this sermon. Full love and acceptance right there.

  • But having your sexual behavior not match with what your church teaches is something lots of people experience, no matter their sexuality.
    True, but a sexually active heterosexual person doesn’t face nearly as much discrimination from the rest of the world they inhabit as a gay person does.
    A hetero who has some extra-marital sex will face disapproval from their church, but the rest of the nation will pretty much shrug or give them a thumbs-up. A gay person faces disapproval from the church and from society, expressed in laws that deny them marital rights, frequently higher ages of consent, a political party that made decreeing them second-class citizens a major platform, a culture where teenage boys, at least, are expected to jeer at them constantly to prove their manhood, and the risk of assault and murder simply for being who they are.
    So a heterosexual who’s using condoms or having sex may have to exercise cognitive dissonance if they want to feel right with their church, but a homosexual has all that plus a whole lot more.
    In a way, homophobia is one of the few pieces of Christian dogma (in some denominations, not all) that’s actually in harmony with the wider society. Most of the things it condemns, like fornication and contraception, are things society no longer forbids and in many cases positively encourages. It’s both in this world and of it when it comes to gay-bashing, which is a shame.

  • Jessica

    @Liz
    This is exactly why I left Saddleback years ago. I remember thinking that it seemed very important to not only Pastor Warren, but to a large part of the church’s leadership, that exorbitant sums of money should be spent to “pretty up the place” (my quote, not theirs). Every week they would ask for extra money to pay for their building projects, and extol the virtues of people who were very obviously giving way beyond their means, to the point of being irresponsible. It wasn’t asking people to turn off their TVs for Lent and donate the money saved on their electricity bill. It was bragging about individuals who were giving money out of their grocery budgets. That seemed unconscionable.
    That, much more than the anti-gay rhetoric is what actually drove me away. I was deeply closeted at the time, but being trans is one of the things that now helps keep me away.
    @DN—
    While many individuals do or practice things that are not in line with the official position of their church’s leadership, I think the point that many of us are making here is that LGBTQI are often pointed out, singled out as being especially worthy of damnation. The pope’s end of the year message denounced gender theory, calling on the church to protect the nature of man from manipulation. The undercurrent here is that it’s also a denouncement of gender reassignment for trans people—we’re nothing more than vain manipulations. The issue here is the singling out of LGBTQI people, denying church membership to us, calling us “contrary to the Creator”. This isn’t denouncing your action as a bad thing, this about singling others out as bad people. You had sex while you attended a church. Big whoop. The pope insinuates that combatqueer, Liz and I are undermining society. Since it’s Thursday, STFU.

  • Thel, your pastor rocks.

  • Jeff

    their aheteronormative nature
    How did Lyra and her Compass come into this conversation? What? Oh, never mind.
    ========================
    Also I assumed Johnny Pez was riffing off the Manchurian Candidate.
    From M. Pez’s prior posts, I feel very confidant in saying, “Well,duh.”
    =======================
    Gay/Les/Bi/Trans/Queer/Intersex
    I’ve also seen “I” as Inquiring (as in, “where do I fit in?”)
    ==========================
    Until then, he can bite me.
    I thought that was MY job. Hurt now.

  • Izzy

    Sotonohito: Going from what you’ve said, it sounds like you’ve had the misfortune to meet some real assholes. Are you sure that the firing/reputation-destroying stuff was because of religion, though, and not general assholeishness? I’ve heard of the lame “you don’t fit in with your team” firings because people weren’t willing to work eight hours a day, or didn’t seem enthusiastic enough about the Red Sox, or whatever, so it’s by no means exclusive to religious belief.
    As someone with some spiritual beliefs, I can say that neither I nor the more mainstream religious people I know have invisible lines of Hating You Now. If you’re a dick, or you haven’t bothered to develop social skills, or you’re a racist or a sexist or a homophobe, then yeah, I’m going to stop being your friend, but that has nothing to do with my religion. The only cases I can think of where religion would be involved were if you were either a “ha ha you guys believe in flying purple leprechauns what marooons” atheist dick or a “my church is THE WAY and yours sucks and you’re all going to hell” religious dick. Either way, the relevant word is “dick”–if you’re not one, then I’m probably not gonna hate you.
    I mean, yes, my love and my regard and my friendship are pretty damn conditional. I don’t have much of a problem with that: frankly, *un*conditional love and friendship creeps me out a little, because you take that to the extreme and you end up one of those chicks on Law & Order, sobbing all “I know he kills nurses but I love him anyway!” while Briscoe and Curtis exchange rightfully disgusted looks over your head. I think conditions are good. I just think that the conditions should be things like “don’t be a dick” or “don’t strangle puppies” or “shower more than twice a week”. These are good conditions. Establishing “don’t be gay” as your condition violates my “don’t be a dick” condition, so there we are.

  • Cerberus

    Actually it’s the Q that is also Questioning on top of standing in for queer which includes genderqueer and asexual in that word.
    On that note, I always boggle at the sexual morality idiots. It makes me want to take my agendered, gender-queer future sex organs and march right up to their face and say, “I’m asexual, I automatically win your game. I’ve never had to so much as struggle with an impure thought. Done now? Good, it’s time for you to get over something Jesus himself specifically stood up against. No one cares about your sex life or that of others, get over it.”

  • mcc

    But I think he may be more ready now that he was four months ago, before he was placed in a national spotlight by Barack Obama’s invitation to pray in Washington
    Is there anything Rick Warren has said or done which leads you to think this, or think anything about his position has changed?
    Or are you just hoping, or imagining something about his viewpoint has changed, based on what you know about what happened to him and/or human nature?
    I mean, it’s obvious Warren has learned some things about the PR of bashing gays, someone has already mentioned some lines disappearing from his website once that spotlight got turned on him. But since this was done silently and in the dead of night as it were I don’t think this by itself says anything about what he thinks or intends to do, by itself it talks only about how he may present himself in future.

  • McJulie

    All love given in fundie circles is conditional love.
    I can’t say I move in them very much, but surely that’s a bit sweeping?

    Yes.
    And I haven’t moved in all fundie circles, of course, so if you’re going to bother to call me on it — it’s hyperbole.
    Why would I say “all”? (Other than being poetic, which I suppose is a mistake on the web.) Because it seems to me that there is something deep down and persistent in Protestant fundie culture that encourages and sustains the habit of fragile, touchy, conditional love.
    I know that my parents weren’t comfortable going to their church while my brother was going through his divorce — instead of turning to people there for comfort, they felt shame, and when they told me that it didn’t surprise me, it seemed to fit with how I’d always seen the people there.
    It might be related to their view of God — you know how L&J don’t *really* seem to see God as forgiving? Like that.
    On a tangent, I vaguely remember reading in How the Irish Saved Civilization that the Augustinian Christianity in vogue before St. Patrick had a “forgiven once” model, which obviously — in mainstream Catholicism — changed to the “forgiven over and over” model. It seems a bit like maybe Protestantism is still influenced by that original Augustinian view.

  • McJulie

    As someone with some spiritual beliefs, I can say that neither I nor the more mainstream religious people I know have invisible lines of Hating You Now.
    I just wanted to point out that my original “fundie love is conditional love” was referring specifically to the sort of socially conservative Protestant type conveniently nicknamed “fundie” on this blog, to which neither our esteemed host, nor many other religious people, belong.

  • Just Me

    In fact, I don’t believe anyone who runs a mega-church can be a good pastor – or a bad one, for that matter. He ceases to be a pastor at all when he can no longer name the regular attendees.
    A congregation should probably never exceed 400 to 600 people in my opinion. 1000 parisioners is the largest acceptable size for a parish.
    I attend a church that’s on the large size – in the thousands/week. It’s different than a smaller church. No, a parishioner is not automatically going to be known by the pastoral staff, he/she has to make themselves known. My church responds to this by having many, many opportunities for parishioners to make themselves known, when they want, when they choose to do so. For someone like me, having that choice is a good thing. A church where everyone knows everyone is not a place of rest or peace for me, while I’m sure that for some people that environment gives a feeling of support and comfort.
    While having a large congregation doesn’t necessarily make a pastor a good pastor, it doesn’t make one a bad pastor either.

  • Crazy F

    Liz- Please tell me you go to Pepperdine, I keep hoping that there are reasonable people hidden somewhere on campus. Tell me where you guys all hang out. If you say you go to APU I will be absolutely crushed. :(
    On that note, my Church (Glenkirk) recently held a vote on whether being against gay marriage should be added as the third tenet to the two major tenets of the Church’s “mission statement”. Needless to say, despite have been born and raised in this Church I am finding it increasingly difficult to attend, which has my mother concerned about my “spiritual welfare”. I lent her my copy of the Screwtape Letters, but I think she missed the point.
    Andy Warhol was a brave man.

  • ako

    Every Christian I’ve met who has declared themselves to have a ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ attitude about homosexuality has at least one thing in common; they completely fail to show anything that looks like love to me. What I see in those circumstances is two types of behaviors. Hostile and condemning behavior, apparently whenever they feel like it, is passed off as ‘loving correction’, now matter how it’s taken, or what effect it has on the person being ‘corrected’. And being social and pleasant whenever it’s most convenient for them: when they don’t want to deal with potential negative social consequences of being visibly anti-homosexuality, when it’s easier for them to have smooth and convenient social relations, when they want to have ‘gay friends’ to ‘prove’ their attitudes don’t harm people, or when they simply have expended all of their urge to condemn people and want friendliness.
    Christians who accept homosexuality tend to be different, I don’t know about ones who might believe they’re hating the sin and loving the sinner but don’t feel the need to declare it, and most of my interaction with people of other religions involve people who either accept gay people, or at least feel no need to express condemnation.

  • Cowboy Diva

    recently held a vote on whether being against gay marriage should be added as the third tenet to the two major tenets of the Church’s “mission statement”.

    Crazy F, that’s actually pretty funny right there; what are the other 2 major tenets of the mission statement, “Serve god and love others?”
    As for Andy Warhol, I would like to direct you here for much different cultural history.

  • I didn’t blink at “all fundie love is conditional,” mainly for suspecting things to be as McJulie describes them. However, I did wince at “uncomfortable around all religious people” because (Yep, gonna take that bullet again!) “religious” does not equal “Christian” does not equal “fundie”. Sotonohito, I really, really sympathize with what you’ve been through; I have *religious* friends who got the same treatment because they followed *the wrong religion*. Has your negative experience of “religious” people really been as universal as your choice of words indicates? Buddhists ostracize you, Pagans shun you, Hindus make gestures to ward off evil when you come nigh?
    Also: not all hyperbole is poetic. Some of it is just bad choice of words. McJulie, saying “I suppose being poetic on the internet is a mistake” when it’s pointed out that your hyperbole unfairly indicts undeserving innocents, reminds me uncomfortably of people who deride political correctness as unfairly restricting their freedom to speak like total assholes. Same reaction here as to Sotonohito’s post: I sympathize with your point, but I suspecting your tarring brush of being wider than is fair. “Poetry” is a poor excuse for friendly fire and nondiscriminate shrapnel.
    As for DN’s post, I specifically think Roman Catholics using birth control is a poor analogy. The difference I see here is in how popular the Church leaders’ decrees are amongst the Church laiety. In Churches such as Rick Warren’s, the majority of the congregation seems to agree with what most of us here think of as hateful preaching; in the Roman Catholic Church, it is very, very common for the rank-and-file to think the Pope is on crack in re: birth control, HPV vaccines, and even GBLTQI issues. Which issues count as “The Pope’s on crack, I decline” probably vary in degree according to what corner of the world you’re talking about, but I get the impression that most day-to-day Catholics have their list of Vatican mandates they consider mean-spirited, illogical, or simply optional, regardless of the whole “Pope gets to speak for God” thing. Heck, most the Catholics I know are fairly skeptical about the Conditional Papal Infallibility thing, too.
    There may in fact be a difference between the …atmosphere, you might say, in the Roman Catholic Church and in such Churches as Saddleback. Perhaps if Saddleback truly did turn into a denomination, there’d be enough distance between Joe Schmoe and Rick Warren that, as seems to the the case where there’s all that difference between The Priests Of My Home Parish and The Pope, the rank-and-file will feel more free to say “This religion gives me spiritual peace, but some of the people at the top are kinda on crack when it comes to what they want me to believe about my gay friend Billy or my low-income friends who can’t afford more children and do reverence to Saint Latex and Saint Modicon .5/35, right?”
    I dunno. Could someone raised Catholic in a less laid-back Parish than mine comment? I mean, I’ve been known to summarize New Orleans area Catholicism as, “Lent? No meat on Fridays? Aww. Let’s have a crawfish boil then.” And it may be my generation, too – post Vatican II, much less with the nuns-with-rulers-across-your-knuckles, etc. What do y’all think?

  • Izzy

    McJulie: Good point. I was going by sotonohito’s later description of all religious people whatsoever, which seemed more in need of response.
    Fundamentalism has a mixture of “Jesus forgives everything as long as you’re one of us!” and “Jesus hates you if you’re gay or get divorced or don’t believe in him!” that I find frankly bizarre and infuriating. Yes, Jesus forgives your abusive spouse and so should you…but God help you if you get divorced!
    Irksomely enough, I remember having a discussion about this last week with someone, and one of us having an insight I found very useful at the time…and of course I don’t remember the damn thing. That’ll teach me to talk religion at 12 AM in a moving car, I guess. ;)

  • ako

    My grandparents are Catholics in Orange County, and while I can’t tell you what their church is like, I can tell you how they practice it. Official church dogma on homosexuality, divorce, and out-of-wedlock sex trumps having a relationship with their own children nearly every time (the one exception they made was when my aunt was married to a man with severe anger issues and a tendency to scream at her and the kids; I think they were afraid he might turn violent). They’ve broken off relationships with all of their children over those kinds of issues, eventually coming to an uneasy “You’re still wrong, and you are not bringing that man you live with in the house, but it’s been long enough that I’m willing to talk to you and see you on holidays again” truce.
    Needless to say, they’re outraged to the point of being apocalyptic about the current political situation. The only positive sign they see is that they managed to vote in a law preventing their own sons from getting married. Needless to say, I’m not planning on outing myself to them for the foreseeable future.
    So Catholic tolerance varies a lot. Some do put church teachings ahead of people they know, and even their own family.

  • Lori

    This?
    On that note, my Church (Glenkirk) recently held a vote on whether being against gay marriage should be added as the third tenet to the two major tenets of the Church’s “mission statement”.
    Makes me more sad than I can express. The idea that anyone would think that opposing gay marriage is one of the 3 most important things a church can do is just so wrongheaded on so many levels that it breaks me heart.

  • Lori

    breaks me heart?
    I’m either very early for International Talk Like A Pirate Day or sadness is one of the (many) things that ruin my ability to type.

  • Not Really Here

    When it comes to sexuality, I really don’t see what all the fuss is about from either direction. I mean, so many people seem to tie their whole identities up with sex and sexuality, and spend so much time and effort trying to find someone to have sex with, it’s just ridiculous.
    Sex (at least of the hetero variety) is useful for making babies, and most people want babies. It’s somewhat physically pleasurable, so conception is kinda fun rather than being a chore, but really, people, it’s not all that.
    Personally, given the choice between having sex and reading Scientific American, well, there was a really great article about naked singularities in the February issue, (OK, you can all snigger up your sleeves. OK, stop now, I’m going on with the post), and then there’s the special Darwin’s 200’th birthday issue that I haven’t gotten to yet…
    Sex doesn’t even begin to compare.

  • Jessica

    I don’t know about ones who might believe they’re hating the sin and loving the sinner but don’t feel the need to declare it…
    I think not declaring it is exactly the point. You can disapprove of something someone is doing, or say so if they ask, but telling them all the time, without invitation or provocation is tantamount to just being a jerk.

  • mcc

    When it comes to sexuality, I really don’t see what all the fuss is about from either direction. I mean, so many people seem to tie their whole identities up with sex and sexuality, and spend so much time and effort trying to find someone to have sex with, it’s just ridiculous.
    …I’m not sure how serious your comment is, but sexuality isn’t actually about sex necessarily. If this were about sex for the LGBT rights side, then the entire debate would have ended in 2003, when the supreme court found a constitutional right for gay people to have sex. It turns out that what’s primarily important here isn’t sex, it’s the ability to get married, start a family, have equal access to employment opportunities etc.
    That’s the LGBT “direction”, of course; I can’t speak for the other side myself, but judging from some of the signs outside the Cailfornia supreme court during the prop.8 arguments last week, I get the distinct impression that even when we’re talking about, say, the ability of gays to get married, all the religious fundamentalists seem to be thinking about is sex.

  • Izzy

    What ncc said.
    Also, it really depends on who you are. Some people have high libidos, so sex one way or another is a big deal; some people are asexual and really don’t give a damn. Either way, any attempt to keep people from pursuing what many of them see as a highly desirable pastime, without a good reason, seems fairly oppressive and jerkish.
    I mean, I don’t give much of a damn about sports, and I don’t quite get why other people care so much if the Patriots or the Red Sox or whoever win the thingummy. But if someone starts trying to make it a crime or a point of social ostracism to prefer baseball to football, I’m going to come down hard on the side of That Guy Is A Douche.

  • interleaper

    Is it your intention, NRH, to suggest that all the LGBT people who have ever been ostracized, beaten, or killed, or who have had to suffer the lifelong torment of unwanted celibacy and pretended desire that living in the closet entails, really only had themselves to blame for not being able to find a sufficiently engaging hobby?

  • Sex [is] somewhat physically pleasurable, […] but really, people, it’s not all that. Personally, given the choice between having sex and reading Scientific American, […] sex doesn’t even begin to compare.
    I completely respect that opinion, NRH, but I can’t agree with it :)
    Sex is hardly the primary pursuit in my life, but I have a lot of fun and enjoy a great deal of self-expression with it. Sex is one of many opportunities NurseCat and I take to bond wonderfully. It’s at least as high, if not higher, on the list of life’s pleasures as a properly-made thin-crust sausage pizza or the theme from Doctor Who played on Tesla coils.

  • DN

    I thought I qualified it enough in the middle paragraph to be clear, but from the responses to my post, apparently I didn’t. Let me clarify: I agree completely that there are vast differences—qualitative and quantitative—between the various kinds of condemnations of sexual behavior coming from the pulpit.
    But differences and similarities can coexist and my point was solely about the similarities: that churches are screwed up and hypocritical not just about minority sexualities, they’re screwed up and hypocritical about sex, period. That lots of people are currently living lies within their congregations.

  • Izzy

    Also, for my part? I like spending time on things that are fun. Sex and many of the related activities (flirting, dressing up, playing the little tactical excuse-to-end-up-alone-in-a-room-with-you games) are an awful lot of fun for me. Technical or scientific reading really *isn’t*, unless it’s presented in a very accessible manner, and even then I tend to prefer fiction (which often involves sex).
    People get really into different things. That’s…how people work. For the majority of us, it’s sex. For some, it’s becoming a CEO by thirty. For still others, it’s Dr. Who trivia. (These things are not necessarily incompatible, but trying for all three would probably cause your head to explode.)

  • Not Really Here

    Is it your intention, NRH, to suggest that all the LGBT people who have ever been ostracized, beaten, or killed, or who have had to suffer the lifelong torment of unwanted celibacy and pretended desire that living in the closet entails, really only had themselves to blame for not being able to find a sufficiently engaging hobby? interleaper, I really don’t mean to trivialize the issues of people having suffered over aspects of their lives that ain’t nobody’s business nohow.
    I just don’t happen to think that sex is really all that, and don’t understand why people get so worked up about it, whether it be in the pursuit of it, or in the caring about who is doing what, and who with, and how many times.
    OTOH, I just played the clip MikhailBorg linked to, and that was just way better than any sex I’ve ever had. I’d even put it up there with Scientific American

  • Jeff

    As for Andy Warhol, I would like to direct you here for much different cultural history.
    Wow. Just wow. That was one raged-filled rant, wasn’t it? I wonder what happened to her to get her panties in a twist (yes, i do like pouring gasoline on the fire, why do you ask?).

  • Jeff

    OTOH, I just played the clip MikhailBorg linked to, and that was just way better than any sex I’ve ever had. I’d even put it up there with Scientific American
    To be truly impressive, the music should have been played on a therimin, and that translated to Tesla Coils. That would be better than sex (maybe).

  • burgundy

    I just don’t happen to think that sex is really all that, and don’t understand why people get so worked up about it, whether it be in the pursuit of it, or in the caring about who is doing what, and who with, and how many times.
    Frankly, that sounds more like a failure of empathy or imagination than anything else. Your personal reactions are, or should be, separate and only marginally relevant to your understanding of other people’s reactions and the importance thereof.

  • Not Really Here

    People get really into different things. That’s…how people work. For the majority of us, it’s sex. For some, it’s becoming a CEO by thirty. For still others, it’s Dr. Who trivia. (These things are not necessarily incompatible, but trying for all three would probably cause your head to explode.)
    I think you mean asplode, Izzy. When a head explodes, you get bits of brain all over the wall and people possibly being injured by skull shrapnel. When a head asplodes, all the neurons in the cerebral cortex fire off at once, causing the whole system to shut down.
    How long it takes to recover from this depends on how much Doctor Who trivia is involved.

  • Izzy

    Thank you, burgundy. I was going to say something along those lines.
    It may just be the mood I’m in, but statements like “Why do people get so worked up* about [thing X that I’m not interested in]? It’s ridiculous!” followed by an attempt to instruct all us ridiculous people from your lofty perch Above All Of That, strike me as wildly fucking obnoxious. It’s obnoxious when Thing X is fanfiction, it’s obnoxious when it’s roleplaying, it’s probably obnoxious when it’s sports, and it’s obnoxious when it’s sex.
    You’re not into Thing X. Great. Go over there and be into whatever you’re into without holding up how much more awesome you are for that, because I bet some of your hobbies are equally ludicrous when seen from outside. You don’t understand why everyone else is? Because we are.** Explaining it to you is not our job, especially when you’re not so much politely requesting an explanation as using “I don’t understand” as not-so-secret code for “Actually, you suck”.
    *For values of “worked up” that mean basically standard human emotional reactions to things they’re interested in. If you’re stalking your lover or killing yourself when Black Leaf dies, yes, that is a ridiculous level of “worked up”.
    **Back on fanficrants, I used to call this the “Applejacks Principle”: we eat what we like. Do we need a reason?

  • Not Really Here

    Interestingly enough, I also enjoy writing fanfiction a lot more than sex, and I think getting worked up about fanfiction is also ludicrous.
    Actually, I think writing fanfiction is just a damn silly thing to do, but I don’t let that stop me from doing it.

  • Izzy

    That came out a skosh snippier than I’d been intending. Sorry about that. Like I said implied, this is something I’ve been getting from various sides for a while.
    Ironically, my general response to the “Why do you spend so much time and energy on Fandom Thing X” questions tends to be along the lines of “Well, there’s only so many orgies you can have in one day.”

  • Not Really Here

    Don’t apologize, Izzy. It is, after all, Thursday (at least here in the US).

  • interleaper

    And thank *you*, Izzy; I was wanting to say something along those lines.
    *Walks away for the rest of Lent. Maybe the rest of the year.*

  • Izzy

    I guess it depends on what you mean by “worked up”. In the sense of “spending a lot of time on this and occasionally getting into heated debates about it”…well, that’s what people *do*. It’s why we have sports, and Best Garden competitions, and sociopolitical blogs. ;) Because otherwise, what the hell would we do with ourselves? Let alone think about during meetings?
    In the sense of “it offends me personally that people ship this paring, and everyone who does sucks as a person” or “my morning glories are doing badly and thus I will refuse food and human contact”…yeah, that kind of getting worked up is a sign of the crazy.

  • Crazy F

    Yeah I got through paragraph three and just couldn’t hack it anymore. I’m sorry, “maleness is a deficiency disease…”
    What. The. Hell.
    Shock aside, I had no idea. Andy Warhol was only briefly touched on in my Art History class, and mostly only referenced for his use of contrast. Everything else I know about him is thrown together from movies and the occasional book. That guy had hate coming at him from all sides, huh? I should read more.
    And @ Lori and Cowboy Diva
    The way the church proposed the vote was pretty cowardly too, actually. The sent out a letter one day before the vote to members that more or less declared its inevitability by offering a “forum” to explain why they were doing this on the Wednesday afterward.
    Nothing was posted online, and it was barely mentioned before the Sunday sermon. The pastor didn’t even say what the the topic of the vote was. I found out because I read the letter, and the addition read something like: we also promote the purity of marriage as declared by God to be between one man and one woman.
    It’s ridiculous, and exactly the opposite of what I expected the pastor who abolished the Living Stones (pray the gay away) program. I suspect he was coerced, but I have no idea. I hope this isn’t a trend within other California churches.

  • Not Really Here

    I also enjoy heated debates and sociopolitcal blogs more than sex.
    And it offends me personally that people ship Snermione. Honestly, anybody with half a working brain knows that if Snape were to develop feelings for a student, it would be Luna Lovegood.

  • Nicole, I grew up in a strict Catholic parish, but with liberal parents, so I’m not sure I can help you. It was a conservative town in general, so my parents would just keep quiet about various issues unless they knew they were among like-minded people. Back on the church side, my mother is able to strike a balance between her personal experience with Catholicism and the official church teachings. My dad seems to be more fed up with the hierarchy lately.
    I have been unable to strike a balance lately, and have all but left the church.

  • Just me:
    A church where everyone knows everyone is not a place of rest or peace for me
    Maybe 5 years I read a bunch of stuff about Rick Warren, Ted Haggard, and the megachurch movement (through Jeff Sharlet and therevealer.org, IIRC). One of the forces driving megachurches is that most Americans *don’t* want the intimacy of a small congregation, because that intimacy so often goes along with nosiness, gossip, and the kind of recursive social circles you get in high school or Jane Austen novels.

  • Not Really Here

    You’re not into Thing X. Great. Go over there and be into whatever you’re into without holding up how much more awesome you are for that, because I bet some of your hobbies are equally ludicrous when seen from outside. You don’t understand why everyone else is? Because we are.** Explaining it to you is not our job, especially when you’re not so much politely requesting an explanation as using “I don’t understand” as not-so-secret code for “Actually, you suck”.
    I’ve thought about this some more.
    With most “Thing Xs”, people don’t think there’s something wrong with you if you’re not into it. People don’t think you’re weird if you’re not into science fiction, or sports, or gardening, or Harry Potter, fine wine, or reading Scientific American.
    If you’re not into sex, it’s a whole different attitude. Whether you’re hetero, homo, or bi, whether or not you believe that the only moral way to have sex is in the missionary position with your lawfully wedded spouse of the opposite sex, it’s a basic assumption that if you’re a human being with functional plumbing, you’re going to want to join pipes and fittings with someone else.
    Monks, priests and nuns who choose to forego sex in pursuit of a higher spiritual goal are either regarded with awe (How can you live without it?) or, especially in the case of priests, suspicion (you know they’re secretly doing it, probably with someone underage).
    I remember in my intake interview with the nurse practitioner who was prescribing my meds that I hadn’t been involved in a relationship in over ten years, and probably never will never be married. In what I guess he considered a spirit of compassionate optimism, he told me, “I think there’s someone out there for you.” He just didn’t grok that I’m not freaking interested in having a romantic relationship of any kind.
    People generally don’t consider the possibility that sex may not be among the “Thing X’s” that you’re passionately into. I’m into a lot of things. I’m a strongly believing Catholic. I like science fiction, Harry Potter, sociopolitical blogs, reading books and magazines and watching documentaries about a wide variety of scientific subject (archaeology, paleontology, astronomy and quantum physics top my list, but hey, if it’s science, I’m interested). I’m into well-made thin crust pizza, birds, cannabis (does anyone have any, BTW?) and Alan Rickman. I can get quite passionate about any of these subjects, but I don’t think that it’s the default that anybody else should be interested in them, and passionately at that.
    But I’m just not into sex. I’ve tried it, and didn’t like it all that much. And it’s the only thing I know of that people will ask, “Whaddya mean, you’re not interested in…?”
    And that’s the thing I really don’t understand.

  • burgundy

    NRH – ok, that makes sense. I haven’t dated anyone in 2 years, by choice, and I’m perfectly happy with that. I can definitely understand getting angry at being made to feel that there’s something wrong with you.
    Some of the response is a failure of imagination and empathy on their part. “I think this thing is so great, how could you possibly not like it?” Although I’d quibble with your assertion that sex is the only thing that prompts it. See also: chocolate, Firefly (or Joss Whedon in general.)
    And, to be fair, it’s a basic biological urge (I’m going back to sex here, not talking about Joss Whedon). It’s not one that’s universal, but it’s more nearly universal than most other things that are likely to come up in conversation. It is the default, in a way that interest in science fiction or thin crust pizza is not. I think it’s understandable that people might be surprised, just because a total lack of interest in sex is pretty darn rare.
    There’s a difference between “I don’t get why people get so hung up about my not having a sex life, what’s up with them” and “I don’t get why people are so invested in sex, what’s up with them,” especially when the latter is said in a way that implies that therefore said investment isn’t really valid or of value.

  • ako

    I think there needs to be more acceptance of things like asexuality, low sex drive, and not being interested in a romantic relationship, Not Really Here. That, by itself, is a good and valid point. Little or no interest in sex shouldn’t be mean being treated as being broken.
    But anything that sounds like faulting people who are interested for feeling like a piece of themselves is torn away when their asked to endlessly suppress or deny all of their desires for sex, a romantic relationship, a chance to make a new family, a chance to have a satisfactory and binding commitment to the person they love, etc., is the wrong way to go about it. It shouldn’t be asexuals versus sexuals. There’s no need for it. It may feel like it’s been sexuals against asexuals forever, but taking the opposite side is lining up with the My Specific Idea Of The Right Way To Be Sexual Or Nothing crowd, against everyone else.

  • not someone else

    One of the friends had been very close, when whatever religious thing made him decide I was the enemy happened he hurt me and my reputation. To this day I have no idea what it was that I did to trigger their religion, what hidden test I failed, what bit of dogma I offended so damningly.
    So I don’t merely think that love from the religious is conditional, but that all things are. They can, and will, turn on you with no warning, and with no cause that is visible to the non-religious mind.

    You know, you’ve passed “concerned” and hopped straight into “paranoid”.
    I don’t mean that as an insult; though you restrict it to religious people, you sound like you’ve been betrayed deeply to the point where you can’t interact with people without the suspicion that some random horror is going to pop out of the woodwork at any moment. I empathize with that, but it’s really not healthy, and if you do feel that way, perhaps you ought to work on finding some closure?
    Does it help to point out that there are a number of religious folk out there who don’t actually believe they get to or ought to apply the rules to people other than themselves? I know I’m a bit biased, but that seems like a better deal than you get from secular morality.

  • Not Really Here

    ako- But anything that sounds like faulting people who are interested for feeling like a piece of themselves is torn away when their asked to endlessly suppress or deny all of their desires for sex, a romantic relationship, a chance to make a new family, a chance to have a satisfactory and binding commitment to the person they love, etc., is the wrong way to go about it.
    First off, I’m sorry if I came off that way.
    Now… with sex, you’re talking about a desire that is nearly universal. Me, I’ve tried it, I didn’t think it was that great, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. The trouble is, everybody seems to be making a fuss about it in some form or another. I think the obsession with what other people are doing between the sheets, and whether or not they should be allowed to do it, and with whom, inside or outside a committed relationship, is part of an obsession with sex in general.
    Even if you happen to believe what other people are doing is immoral, it ain’t none of your bidniz. Refrain from it yourself, and keep your nose out of other people’s private lives. And don’t try to use the force of law to impose what is essentially a religious belief on people who don’t believe the same as you do.
    Conversely, if you feel your church is rejecting you because of who you are as a person, and your sexuality is a big part of that, find another church that will accept you. If the people you’re currently hanging out with don’t like you, go find other people to hang out with who will love and accept you. The United Churches of Christ are actively advertising for you, and the Episcopalians seem to be pretty cool with you, too.
    When you’ve tried something and found it to be pretty near the bottom of your list of fun things to do, it’s pretty easy to wonder why the great mass of humanity is so invested in it that they’re concerned not only with wanting to do it themselves, but also monitoring the ways in which and people with whom other people are doing it.
    Chocolate, OTOH… I had a friend back in Vegas who didn’t like chocolate. The only person I’ve ever met who didn’t like chocolate. I worry about her, sometimes. But I can also sympathize, as someone who doesn’t particularly care for something that everybody else, and I mean EVERYBODY else, seems to be really into.
    Joss Whedon, I don’t consider to be so nearly universal. I think thin-crust pizza is a lot higher on the scale of “Thing X’s” that people are really into. I find the Whedonverse to be a very strange place. To me, that makes it highly enjoyable, but to quite a few other people, that just makes it strange.

  • Not Really Here

    So I don’t merely think that love from the religious is conditional, but that all things are. They can, and will, turn on you with no warning, and with no cause that is visible to the non-religious mind.
    You should try hanging out with me. Most of the (admittedly few) atheists I’ve encountered are highly intelligent, thoughful people. One, in particular, was a supervisor at work who turned me on to some really great books.
    I’m actually somewhat amused when an atheist or agnostic apologized when they think they’ve said something that might be offensive to me as a Catholic. I actually enjoy having my religious beliefs challenged. I find it forces me to think about why I believe what I believe, rather than just relying on blind faith, and I find it ultimately faith strengthening. I don’t see secularism/atheism as a threat to my beliefs.