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“Theology Amidst the Stones and Dust”

1 November 2011

The profound “do not be” which the social and ecclesiastical voice speaks to us, and which forms the soul of so many gay people, was profoundly rooted in my own being, so that au fond I felt myself damned. In my violent zeal I was fighting so that the ecclesiastical structure might speak to me a “Yes,” a “Flourish, son,” precisely because I feared that, should I stand alone before God, God [Godself] would be a part of the “do not be.” Thus I was absolutely dependent on the same mechanism against which I was fighting. Hiding from myself the fact of having despaired of God, I wanted to manipulate the ecclesiastical structure so that it might give me a “self,” that it might speak to me a “Yes” at a level of profundity of which the ecclesiastical structure, like any human structure, is incapable. For the “Yes” which creates and recreates the “self” of a [child], only God can pronounce. In this I discovered myself to be an idolater. I had been wanting to negotiate my survival in the midst of violent structures, and negotiation in the midst of violent structures can only be done by violence.

[…]

And then, at root, what began this whole process of beginning to untie myself from the idols I had so assiduously cultivated, what I had never dared to imagine, the profound “Yes” of God, the “Yes” spoken to the little gay boy who had despaired of ever hearing it. And there, indeed, I found myself absolutely caught, because this “Yes” takes the form, not of a pretty consolation of a spoiled child. Rather, from the moment it reached me, the whole psychological and mental structure by which I had built myself up over all the previous years began to enter into a complete collapse. For the whole structure was based on the presupposition of a “No” at the center of my being, and because of that, of the need to wage a violence was so as to cover up a fathomless hole. The “I” , the “self” of the child of God is born in the midst of the ruins of repented idolatry.

James Alison, “Theology Amidst the Stones and Dust,” in Theology and Sexuality: Classic and Contemporary Readings, ed. Eugene F. Rogers, Jr. (Oxford, UK and Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2002), 396-397.

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