The last couple of weeks have provided me with an opportunity to think again on the dangers of being controlled by the crowd, of being conformed to the spirits of our age rather than allowing our minds to be transformed by the working of the Holy Spirit. Two weeks ago in the “new” Orthodox liturgical calendar we read Luke’s version of Jesus’ encounter with the demoniac who was possessed by Legion, so called because the forces that were driving this poor man were many. The appearance of this reading in the lectionary was providential, as it reminded me of the readings offered by René Girard and adapted to a gay audience by theologian James Alison.
Bryce E. Rich
AAR 2009 Annual Meeting
8 November 2009
Over the past couple of decades the Church has been increasingly pulled into the conflict over homosexuality. As Christians rush to take up sides in arguments over scriptural authority, cultural norms, scientific data, and theories of social justice, debates have become increasingly polarized, with both sides engaging in polemic that dehumanizes their opponents and incites some to physical violence. Indeed, not a month goes by without reports of intimidation, assault, and murder of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people caught in the crossfire. Many LGBT Christians have found themselves separated from family, friends and communities of faith.
Of all the material that I have read for this independent study, I have found Faith Beyond Resentment: fragments Catholic and gay to be the most thought-provoking. I am not sure whether this is because of my own lack of familiarity with Catholic theology or perhaps because so much of what Alison has to say is fresh and new. Based on the responses that I have seen from accomplished theologians and people much more familiar with Catholic theology, I am inclined to believe he has added something new to the conversation by applying Girard’s theories to the gay question within Catholic discourse. However, Alison’s insights are not narrowly related to LGBT issues only, but rather can be adapted to larger questions of group dynamics within the Church and personal identity in a life of faith. In the paper I will reflect on a few key insights from the text that have helped me to review certain events in my own life from a different point of view.