Never One Thing
CW: Strong Language
I’m a Lutheran because of our theology of both/and (simul justus et peccator)–this human tension of holding constant reminders that I’m f*cked up, loved and holy.
Coming out in my late 20’s felt like an explosion of both/and. Fears, insecurities and messiness were held together with excitement, joy and learning to love and to know myself; seeing myself the way that I now know God sees me. As Joel Workin professed, “living in forgiveness, claiming my wholeness,” my fullness. There is a never-ending depth to the ways God invites me, invites us, to pronounce ourselves in the fullness of who God is calling us to be.
May Erlweine’s song “Never One Thing” offers a center to the ways I embrace and embody queerness in this “Lutheran-ey” way.
“I’m the underbelly, I am the claw never one thing no not one thing at all. I’m a street fighter, I’m a prayer for peace. I’m a holy-roller, I’m a honey bee.”
bell hooks wrote about the ways that queerness speaks to a self that is “at odds with everything around it and has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live.”* Queerness centers how I want to be in the world. Being a part of visions for new ways that we can thrive and live, at odds with the forces of oppression. queerness orients me in my faith. Faith that compels me to confess when I f**k up, and to account and course correct in accountability to community. Queerness locates me in the work of justice and call toward unmasking and confronting systems of injustice, especially when they benefit me. “I am the truth, I am the lie. I am the ground I am the sky..”
I hold the tensions of what it is to be a queer person, especially in this month of pride. While there is space to mark this season with kinfolk around the world, with ancestors of the multitudes of ways that love and this vision of thriving exists, we hold and know the pain we still face of violence and discrimination. How, as hooks speaks to, are we in tension with the world around us. There are tensions in this month of pride coopted by capitalism, while rooted in foundations of protest started by Black and brown transwomen. There are tensions, the both/and of movements that have been co-opted by whiteness culture and racism.
I have learned that to be queer does not absolve me from being racist or oppressive. Queerness doesn’t absolve me from participating in systems that perpetuate oppression and violence toward BIPOC siblings (especially Black transwomen). I know that I cannot simply center my queerness when it comes to Black liberation and anti-racism.
I am never one thing; and both my queer identity and my Lutheran theology help to remind me and hold me accountable – or at least they can. As an elder in my internship community says, I get to “live out the risk of being faithful.” There is risk, there is tension, and while systems of domination have a strong pull, community calls me to remember to take risks for love.
Weighed down with grief and exhaustion of our world, (you know and can name what your body and spirit hold tender dear one and what it may need to recognize too that you avoid or numb to); we hold the tensions which call us to intersectionality and to the possibilities of both/and. There is brokenness in our world and our world contains beauty and resilience which compels us to action and to thriving.
How is our queerness calling and inviting exploration of tension? How will you embrace the many things and never one thing which claims you, and which always names you beloved?