Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Economic Crisis: Hard Come, Easy Go

WARNING: The following interconnected postings may contain adult material and hard language. Parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously.

So today when I open my email, I see a Yahoo headline announcing that Americans are feeling anxious about the economy. Now we’re feeling anxious. We’re anxious now, weeks after we were presented with the most insultingly ill-prepared team of candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency in the history of our nation. We have suddenly become anxious after weeks of letting ourselves be lied to in the most bold-faced way possible by said ill-prepared candidates.

Now we’re anxious.

I’m trying to understand the anxiety (and, yes, I share it). My outlook on the ups and downs of the stock market and of the banking system is probably non-normative. It’s skewed by my experiences as a gay man struggling to be open about his life and relationship within church-related academic institutions that find it impossible to welcome and affirm openly gay personnel.

As I follow the economic news this week, I’m sometimes struck by the fact that, due to our checkered careers, the fluidity of Steve’s and my financial status actually makes me a bit less anxious than I should be, as markets tank and banks go under. It’s not as if we’ve ever had much, after all. It’s not as if we have actually been able to save much, anyway.

Here today, gone tomorrow. Or as my Poor Clare friend Courtney used to say when one of her pots exploded in the kiln, Hard come, easy go.

I’m not saying that this attitude is ideal or desirable. I’m just saying it is: it’s there. I have it, after years of working in church institutions in which my being gay and in a long-term committed relationship has made all the difference. Well, being gay and in a long-term committed relationship and refusing to hide these facts that count more than anything else in the eyes of many church leaders and leaders of church-owned colleges.

So if there’s blame to apportion—for the economic place in which Steve and I find ourselves, that is—then we must share some of it, mustn’t we? After all, it’s not as if we didn’t know, when we chose our vocations, that our own Catholic church and many other churches are, shall we say, somewhat less than civil to gay people. What did we expect, after all, when we knocked at the door and asked not only to be let in, but to be let in as we were, without apologizing for our outrageous dishabille?

Well, I suppose it’s safe to say we didn’t expect what we got: kicks in the teeth, when carved in big letters over the door on which we knocked was the inscription, “Let every guest be received as Christ.” Stones instead of bread.

We were naïve, you see. We believed that we had not chosen the vocation of theologians: it had chosen us. We had no choice except to respond. It was a calling rather than an employment choice. We were naïve.

to be continued . . . .