Quote for the Day: March 8th, 2022

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.

Steve Jobs

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: August 4th, 2021

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

Nothing you can say can fuck up the space for God.

Maggie Nelson

Maggie Nelson, more so than any other active American writer, is a master of queering form while maintaining literary excellence. Her work is experimental yet grounded in traditions of expression as old as language itself.

I love today’s quote because it dovetails quite significantly from accepted dogma. As someone who was raised in an evangelical tradition, as I’ve probably mentioned before, I was taught that our words can separate us from God, from the divine, from the inner sanctum.

When I first read The Argonauts, it made me think perhaps this wasn’t 100% true. For if we’re to believe in God or a divine intelligence that set all This in motion, then surely God can stand up to our scrutiny. Before I went to college, I would never have thought about saying something so (in my experience) unorthodox, but I’m glad I changed. I even had a conversation about it with my mother once. She said that she worried about some of the things I said when discussing religion, and I told her point-blank that I couldn’t believe in something I couldn’t question.

So ask your questions. Have your arguments. Take what you think you know and hold it up to the light. Smell it. Investigate it. Demand of it transparency, because nothing you can say can fuck up the space for God.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

From the Archives: Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Bolz-Weber (Part 2)

Allow me to first offer my sincere apology to all of you, my devoted readers, for making you wait so long for Part 2. This part is going to be a lot different from the first one because I’ll be sharing and discussing my favorite passages from Nadia’s book. Are you ready for it? Let’s go.

God planted so many of us in the corners, yet the center-pivot irrigation of the church’s teachings about sex and sexuality tends to exclude us.

This is so life-affirming. For all #exvangelicals out there and for people who still have ties to the church, the feelings of exclusion that we experience in relation to our religious upbringings are so strong that they almost manifest in corporeal form whenever we’re exposed to the teachings inculcated in us from when we were congregants.

We were taught that the body is a site of shame. We were taught that we were tainted by Adam’s original sin, that our flesh is something we must overcome in order to become one with God. We were taught that sharing our bodies with others outside the confines of monogamous, heterosexual marriage separates us from the holy.

We were taught that sharing our bodies with others outside the confines of monogamous, heterosexual marriage separates us from the holy.

We were even condemned for finding pleasure(s) on our own. Masturbating was something we all discovered by accident, performed in secret, and never talked about. It was the secret sin that tainted our relationship with God, with our families, with ourselves. The rose is not branded an apostate when it blooms, so why then should we be branded? This is not even mentioning the shame accompanying your masturbatory fantasies if you were anything other than 100% straight.

The rose is not branded an apostate when it blooms, so why then should we be branded?

But our sexual and gender expressions are as integral to who we are as our religious upbringings are. To separate these aspects of ourselves—to separate life as a sexual being from a life with God—is to bifurcate our psyche, like a musical progression that never comes to resolution.

I love the imagery Bolz-Weber (I think from here on out I’m just going to refer to her as Pastor Nadia) uses here. So many of us who were raised in the church had to develop a dichotomy between our spiritual and corporeal identities, thus the bifurcation she’s talking about here. We were all musical progressions never coming to a resolution. If you ask me, we were robbed. That forced separation caused us to become less of ourselves, meaning that in the end we had less to offer God and less to give to others.

That forced separation caused us to become less of ourselves, meaning that in the end we had less to offer God and less to give to others.

What would we be like if this bifurcation had not caused us to tear ourselves asunder? What if instead we read the Scriptures with new eyes?

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]? You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (AMP)

At what point did the church carnalize our bodies? When we are taken in totality, no bifurcation is necessary, and if we are to believe the Scriptures, our bodies house (contain) the Holy Spirit. Now, I am by no stretch of the imagination a Bible scholar or theologian, but there’s nothing wrong with my reading comprehension.

When we are taken in totality, no bifurcation is necessary, and if we are to believe the Scriptures, our bodies house (contain) the Holy Spirit.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’ And he said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’

Genesis 3:6-11 (NIV)

Here we see that shame was a consequence of the first sin—before sin, the first humans were naked, without shame, and free.

So what are the implications for us? Because man fell [from grace or right standing with God], we all have an awareness of our nakedness, of our bodies as a site of inherent shame, and this inherent shame is a direct consequence of the serpent’s temptation. So every time a little effeminate boy is called a faggot and beat up by his classmates, or a transgender Black woman is murdered for having the audacity to exist in public, the serpent wins, and the anti-LGBT people of faith rejoice with him. Is that saying a whole hell of a lot? You bet it is. I said what I said.

So every time a little effeminate boy is called a faggot by his classmates, or a transgender Black woman is murdered for having the audacity to exist in public, the serpent wins, and the anti-LGBT people of faith rejoice with him.

I refuse to accept or participate in a faith tradition that excludes some while exalting others, that prizes some bodies above others, or draws lines of demarcation between who can and who cannot be joint-heirs with Christ. He didn’t just die for them. I don’t know which version of the Bible they’re reading, but in every one of the baker’s dozen I own, Jesus welcomed everyone to his table, and there are no garbage tables in God’s Kingdom.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

From the Archives: Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Bolz-Weber (Part 1)

My first introduction to Nadia Bolz-Weber was through her book Shameless: A Sexual Reformation. Now, because I was raised in the church, I am almost immediately skeptical of books or lectures or even tweets by people who claim to be speaking for [as representatives of] [in the place of] God. I was subjected to a lot of harmful and hateful ideology at an age where I was too young and too innocent to reject it.

I was subjected to a lot of harmful and hateful ideology at an age where I was too young and too innocent to reject it.

I still consider myself to be a person of faith, but I don’t go to church. I don’t attend services virtually. I do not have a spiritual community of like-minded people. I cannot hold space for the holiness of God’s love and the hatred of dogmatic theological teachings under the same roof. The dissonance is too strong. The wound is still too fresh. Every note rings hollow in a place where you are told about love and never shown it.

I cannot hold space for the holiness of God’s love and the hatred of dogmatic theological teachings under the same roof. The dissonance is too strong. The wound is still too fresh.

So in walks Nadia Bolz-Weber. Looking at her, she is the reason we have the identifier “biker chick”. She is tattooed and foul-mouthed and feminist and angry. She’s also a Lutheran minister and was the founding pastor of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. She’s equally as likely to pray for you as she is to tell you to fuck off if she hears you spouting biblical untruths.

Needless to say, I had a feeling I could trust her. She would not fill my head with bullshit about what God supposedly thinks about me. I might finally hear the Truth. I was more than ready for it.

She would not fill my head with bullshit about what God supposedly thinks about me. I might finally hear the Truth.

I read Shameless in (nearly) a single sitting. Reading it helped me to vomit up so much of the filth I was forced to swallow about my body, my gender, and my sexuality. Inside, you’ll find a new sexual ethic based on individual care and attention (biblically-backed). Some readers will thrill and others will cower at what they find between the pages of Shameless, though if I’m being honest, I doubt that Nadia cares one whit what her detractors have to say.

Be warned before you begin: this book is not for the faint of heart or those who are overly-attached to dogma. It has to be approached with an open heart, mind, soul, and notebook (you will be writing things down, so keep a pen handy).

Note: As I started writing, I intended for this to be only one post long. However, being as there are several quotes from the book I’d like to share and explore, I decided to break it into two.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.