A letter from John D.:
I just finished Soulfully Gay. I liked it a lot. I picked it up in a bookstore and ended up buying it when I saw the introduction by Ken Wilber. I’m gay, raised catholic, and am currently on a Ken Wilber jag. (Right now I’ve got five Ken Wilber books piled on my bedstand, and I’ve got another one on order.)
Four years ago I decided to return to the catholic church after 35 years away (I’m 58). Over the years I had seriously checked out other religious traditions (I was and am particularly attracted to taoism). However, when push came to shove it seemed natural for me to approach Spirit through the tradition I was raised in rather than trying to work through another tradition in which I would always be in some sense a foreigner.
For me, a major factor in all this is that I live in the SF Bay Area and am able to attend Most Holy Redeemer in the Castro. I’m sure that you’ve heard of MHR so I won’t bother describing it. I didn’t so much make a rational decision to return to the church as much as I just started attending MHR and one day realized “Well, I’m home.”
I actually got into Ken Wilber by way of Centering Prayer. One of Father Keating’s books gave a favorable mention to Wilber. I was initially a little dubious but I’m increasingly impressed. I have some remaining reservations (mainly around elitism) but Wilber’s framework seems really useful for anyone with a serious spiritual practice.
After reading Soulfully Gay and checking out your website I’m curious about why you haven’t sought out a parish like MHR or a group like Dignity. Any thoughts?
In the Spirit,
For your question, as you know I wrote extensively in Soulfully Gay about my relationship to institutional Christianity over the period of 2003 to 2004. Like you, it seems I’ve concluded that it’s more practical for me to embrace and deepen my appreciation for the tradition of my upbringing rather than look exclusively to non-Western traditions.
However, I define the tradition I was raised in as Christian, not just specifically Roman Catholic. Therefore, I’ve not confined my search for a home parish just to Roman Catholic circles. Indeed, given the sorry leadership in the Roman Catholic branch these days, I’m afraid I would just be too embarrassed to return to the RC Church in good conscience.
Any church I join will be flawed and have its own issues. But I really want a church I can feel proud of and welcomed by. I don’t think the RC is an option for me.
In any event, I expect to be officially welcomed into the Episcopal Church later this year. it’s just taken me this long to go through the process of figuring out the right direction and institutional approach to religion that suits me.
I respect that others can make different decisions with regard to the Roman Churh than mine, but I would find it impossible to respect myself and still actively support an institution in such dire need for reform and so adamantly opposed to reform. I’ll always feel a kinship with the Roman Church in my heart, but fond memories are not enough to justify a church membership that I would find beyond the pale of my conscience.