Friday, October 2, 2009

My Seven Deadly Sins: Your Reasons to Hate Me

I’m no saint. I realize that there are plenty of reasons for people to hate me and call me a hypocrite. So, to be fair, let’s name the unspoken reasons you might hate me.

My Seven Deadly Sins:

1. I’m a white male. (I hate the generic racial and ethnic boxes into which we are forced put ourselves in this country, but that’s for another post.)

2. I was born and raised in Middle America: Iowa to be exact. I currently live in Los Angeles, CA. (So, you Middle Americans can hate me for being a crazy, immoral Californian, and you Californians can hate me for being one of the Idiots Out Wandering Around: I.O.W.A.)

3. I’m well educated and currently in the 23rd grade. I’ve forsaken my Hawkeye and Cyclone roots by enrolling in the Masters of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California. Go Trojans! (Yes, I feel the hatred!) I also have a B.A. in Theatre Arts and a Masters of Divinity.

4. Using my brain and my education has left me liberal and politically progressive.

5. I’m gay. And…I have “gay sex.” Not as much as militant homophobes would like to imagine. Even worse than just being gay, I’m engaged to be married! Yes, I’m in a monogamous and committed relationship with the man I love and call my husband. We are a family and consider ourselves married even if those who claim they don’t hate us and claim that they aren’t bigots continue to vote against our equal rights in the name of their gods.

6. I’m an ex-priest. Yes, I was a Roman Catholic priest. (I feel that hatred seething.) I got straight As in seminary, except for one B in Metaphysics. (I hated that professor! He hated me, too, gadfly that I was.) I was the golden-boy of the seminary. My friends even chided me for being so golden that light shined out of my ass. So hate me for leaving, for blowing all that potential, for stepping away because I developed my informed conscience to the point that I could no longer remain part of an institution that harbors pedophile priests and bishops (even in Middle America), denies its bloody past (Isn’t Galileo still owed an apology?) and discriminates against women, gays, etc. etc. etc. (“What is this et cetera?” The King and I—yes—I’m known to burst into spontaneous Broadway musicals now then. So hate me!)

7. Finally, I’m not only an ex-priest and ex-Catholic, I’m an atheist. (I smell the fire of the Inquisition’s fagots being stoked.)

Why Hate?

In the desert a voice cries out: “Proclaim a fast! Blow the trumpet. Call an assembly. Gather the elders. The time for catharsis is here. Embrace your wrath, your hatred. Forsake love for the sake of finding it again.”
-The Gospel According to Hate 1:1

For the next forty days and forty nights I’m fasting. I’m wandering into the heart of the dark forbidden desert of my hate. You are cordially invited to come along.
What lies in the heart of my hatred: wisdom, healing, or even love? Or are the shame-filled voices of my religious past correct? Will exploring my hatred breed only more resentment? Will I find only despair? Will I sink myself in a sea of ire?
“Why hate?” you ask, “Why go there? What good can you possibly find?”
You see, I have this enormous fear, one that has hounded me for decades, and, at age thirty-five, I find myself unable to elude it. My optimism has been consumed; my hope, spent. I did my best to love my neighbor as myself. I loved my enemies and prayed for my persecutors, but the truth that was supposed to set me free has failed.
Everywhere I turn, I’m greeted by fearful faces speaking with hateful voices, but no one admits it. Denial is the true “Way”—the gospel of our globalized culture. We deny not only our own feelings and how they affect our decisions and our relationships at home, but also how they negatively impact the poor, vulnerable, ill, and marginalized. Good guys are finishing last, and bad guys are reaping the benefits of their deceit, greed, and ignorance. I feel the optimism of my youth slipping away, my inner voices of hope and awe drowning in a cacophony of anger, pain, and resentment.
I stand at the precipice of my greatest fear: becoming a jaded old bastard, a cynic with no sense of awe, a misanthrope without the ability to trust or love.
I don’t want to be a hateful person, so it’s time to do something about it. It’s time to face my fear, to turn and run into the face of it, to leap into the unfathomable chasm. I’m going on a forty day diet of hate (for you religious folks out there: a hate fast or a Jesuit spiritual retreat of hateful reflection). I’m naming my fear and entering it.
Wasn’t it Aristotle who first said that the opposite of love isn’t hate, but indifference?
This will not be a journey of indifference. This will be a journey of passion and honesty. I hope that honestly naming my hate will help to understand it, overcome it, and maybe to move beyond it, but really, I have no idea where this will end, if naming my hate will temper it and transform it into something less powerful or if I will still end up like the crusty old cynics that I saw in the seminary and priesthood, no longer men, but shells of resentment and regret.
 What I do know is that the most common confessions that I heard while a priest were for anger or hatred. Many of us have been religiously conditioned to fear our feelings viewing them as sins. We’re taught to cut them out, bury them deep within, or to exorcise them with prayer. Well, that hasn’t worked for me.
So, here I go. I’m on the edge of the dark precipice. Those of you, who already hate me, may be itching to push me in. Too late! I’m diving.

The hate feast will begin on Sunday, October 4, 2009, and conclude forty days later on November 12, 2009.
Until then, it’s a Marti Gras of love!