Archive for the ‘writing’ Tag

Scenes from Stalled Marriages: Free Writing Workshop Justice Event   Leave a comment

 

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WHEN:  Sunday, April 6 at 12:30pm (pizza will be provided)

WHERE:  Fountain Street Church (Chapel)

Are you an LGBT couple affected by the marriage ban? Are you an ally who knows friends who have been affected by the marriage ban?

Join us in this Equality/Justice event. A letter writing campaign with a twist.

We’ll be meeting together to write scenes from “stalled” marriages.  Help show them how the marriage ban is affecting you, your families, and your friends right now.  We believe your scenes will show lawmakers, justices, lawyers and everyone how a ban on marriage hurts a relationship, a family, friendships. These are your stories. We hope that you tell them to make them known, and to make a difference.

We intend to get as many people together as we can on SUNDAY, APRIL 6th, 12:30-2:30pm to craft small written scenes. Pizza will be provided. You don’t have to have a writing background at all. Just a willingness to tell a story, your story.

Author, and Lambda Literary Fellow (2013), Dr. Jerome Stueart, will be facilitating a writing workshop focused on writing scenes from your family, if you are an LGBT person/couple affected by the marriage ban, or, if you are an ally, from the family of someone you know.

Why scenes? Scenes are a powerful writing tool in creating change. We know the best tools, and those that have gone viral, have been “stories” –real stories of LGBT families and individuals who desire marriage.  We want to use those same powerful tools to talk about this period of stalling, the reinstated ban on LGBT marriage.  Show HOW the actions of lawmakers and the Court of Appeals are affecting your family today by showing them actual scenes, like small memoirs, of your family.

At this guided writing workshop, you will write down scenes from these stalled marriages–of yours or your friends. We’ll be using some of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” as a guide, as well as other writings.  Our hope is to send those scenes to those who can make a difference, but also, maybe, a broader audience. At this time, we have no idea what that would be—but we’re open to suggestions. Getting the word out, getting your scenes out, will move people and show them how waiting and stalling marriages are harming families.

If you’re an ally, or one of the 300 couples married before the ban took effect again, or if you were planning on being married, come join us for a couple of hours, write some scenes with us, help us send your stories to those who can end this ban, and to the world.

Everything is FREE. Lend us some time, and send your “scenes from stalled marriages” to those who are making decisions about your marriages.

FOUNTAIN STREET CHURCH, 24 Fountain Street GRAND RAPIDS MI
SUNDAY, APRIL 6th 12:30-2:30pm Food provided. Paper, pens provided. Facilitation and workshopping provided.

 

 

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Writing the LGBT Spiritual Journey, Saturday April 5, Fountain Street Church, Grand Rapids MI   Leave a comment

WritingLGBTthe_StueartUnfortunately, this class did not gather any students.  But I wanted to teach a workshop anyway, and the Michigan LGBT community is facing a huge battle right now. So we’ve designed a FREE class instead, on April 6 Scenes from Stalled Marriages.  Please join us to write about YOUR family under the marriage ban, or your FRIENDS’ families or individuals.  We’ll see you APRIL 6 at Fountain Street Church.

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Please join us in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the weekend before the Festival of Faith and Writing (at Calvin College), for Writing the LGBT Spiritual Journey Workshop, APRIL 5, SATURDAY, 9am–5pm.

For the LGBT person of faith, the journey has not been easy.  Many of us are refugees from mainline denominations that offer faith but only to some, or only with clauses attached.  Some of us have escaped into better, more accepting faiths or denominations–but that journey may not have been easy.  Charting our spiritual journey, though, can help bring focus and fulfillment to our lives as part of the LGBT community.  Writing our spiritual journeys also completes the missing parts of society’s spiritual journey.  In this Workshop we will read LGBT writers of faith, as well as writers of faith in general, to pick up tips and techniques that will help you write about your journey.  If you like discussing spirituality in the context of the LGBT community, with others like yourself, and exploring through writing what your journey has discovered, come join us.  Using writing exercises, games, techniques of professional writers, and your own lives, you will create writing that struggles, overcomes, even heals, as it maps the spiritual journey of your life.  All faiths are welcome.  All struggles are welcome.  Even if your spirituality doesn’t fall neatly in a box, join us.  Boxes aren’t the best places for spirituality anyway.

This class needs a minimum of five people to run.  Some reading will be sent to you via email before the workshop begins. Cost is $80 per person.  Sign up early so we can be sure that the workshop runs, and that you receive readings for the workshop.  Bring a journal, a pen, and the heart of an explorer.

To sign up, follow this link.  For more information,  please contact Fountain Street Church.

Saturday, April 5, 9am-5pm
Fountain Street Church
(616) 459-8386

Gays Will Save the Church: my story in the Queer Story Archives   1 comment

This website has a lot of my story on it–but this is the less than ten minute version of my story with the church.  The Queer Story Archives came up to Whitehorse–Lulu from OnMyPlanet.ca–in July 2013, recording stories of Yukon Queers, and we recorded this right before I was to leave for Dayton, Ohio. I think it’s turning into a positive story so I’m sharing it. Ultimately I’m suggesting that including gay people can save a rapidly diminishing Church population. To do that, I tell my story. Some of you have heard it–either through the Yukon News, or through DNTO. Both sources were good but heavily edited.  It feels better in my own words, complete.

We grow from hard times in our lives and this was a good growth for me. Eventually, I’ve come to retain and re-establish many friendships from the first church. I hope my story still helps others. Thanks to LULU and onmyplanet.ca

Posted December 26, 2013 by jstueart in Uncategorized

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If You Come Here from GEEZ #27 where I have two memoir pieces…   1 comment

Geez Magazine, editor Melanie Dennis Unrau, selected two of my short pieces to go in Geez’s fall issue.  One of them, Undercover at the Festival of Faith and Writing, you can read as a web-exclusive.  The other “As the Spirit Moves Me” is available in the newsstand print copy.

If you came here from Geez 27, thanks!  and Welcome!  You’ll find some additional pieces from my trip to the Festival of Faith and Writing.  Think of them as addendums–things I couldn’t fit into such a small space.

Four essays:

Gay at Calvin College: more about going to the festival and wanting to do something to help those who are gay at Calvin College

The Last Supper: Johnny’s Cafe remix: mainly a photo where I asked students in the cafe to recreate Da Vinci’s  Last Supper.

Christians (Wanting to) Talk about Sex: where I go into depth about one of the seminars there—as no one recorded it for later discussion.

Marilynne Robinson, Hero–which talks in depth about her keynote address and the reaction of the crowd, and later comments at the college

Together, they comprise most of my Calvin College experience.  I should write up more of the seminars–and I will.  Certainly they will not be what others gathered there.  Take into consideration who I am and what I felt being there.  I am a Christian, a Writer, and a gay man.

I enjoyed Calvin College’s conference immensely and will go back in two years.

I hope these four supplemental blogposts will enrich the essay you did read in GEEZ.

It’s sometimes impossible to boil down an experience into 1000 words, or 1500, or 750.

“As the Spirit Moves Me” is a 500 word piece on going to my birthmother’s church, at Camp Chesterfield, a famous psychic institution.  I need to write the full story there—it’s quite amazing.

Thanks.  J

 

Geez #27 has two of my short pieces   Leave a comment

Thank you, Melanie, for accepting and working with me on two short pieces that tried to find a common theme.  I took a trip to see my birthmother, the spiritualist, and went to the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College.  All in the same trip!  And man that was a trip!  I think the commonalities between how spiritualists look at communicating with Spirit, and how Christians communicate with the Holy Spirit and “inspiration” are fascinating.  And I’ll probably turn that into another piece one day.

For now, “As the Spirit Moves Me” and “Undercover at the Festival of Faith and Writing” are in Geez #27, forthcoming!

Posted July 4, 2012 by jstueart in churches, writing

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Christians (wanting to) Talk about Sex: a conversation with John Estes and Amy Frykholm   1 comment

At the Festival of Faith and Writing today, two intrepid authors/speakers, John Estes and Amy Frykholm, offered a seminar called The Word Needs Flesh: Sex and Faith in Contemporary Writing. As you can imagine at a Christian conference, the room was packed. People stood along the walls; they sat on the floor.

How we Talk (badly) about Sex

Amy started by saying, “There’s a misunderstanding about sexuality in the church. As Christians, we’re really bad at having this conversation. So, we’re going to step out now and try–though we’re going to make some mistakes. But if we don’t start a conversation, we leave it to the Mark Driscolls.” This received long sighs and laughs of approval, with a tinge of fear. If we were ever going to hijack the conversation, it best be right here, right now.

Many of us in the room were still giggling at double entendres before the session began, but all were rapt at listening to Amy and John have the dialogue the church should be having. I won’t spoil anything by telling you the last thing anyone said in the room. An older woman, in her “seventh decade” so she felt a freedom to speak her mind. “I learn more outside the church than I ever have in it,” referring to all that she had heard today in this seminar. We found ourselves agreeing. How do we get this conversation in the church?

“Why are we so bad at this?” Amy started. We didn’t know. “Sex is part of our core being.” Still we had problems discussing sex unless it was to talk about it as the glorious bond of marriage or the ever present temptation that could destroy that marriage. We avoided it, perhaps, because it made us more like the animals than we wanted to be. Still, it was not a topic in churches very often–and we weren’t really talking about the joy of our sexuality. We acted like it was a weapon against us till the wedding bells rang.

John’s phrasing sometimes caught me off guard as he tried to find the words for it. “Our sex is a problem without a solution. The solutions offered by the church are wanting.” Here he referred to sex only inside marriage–but also something wider–the inability, even the avoidance of talking about sexuality positively. Though I didn’t like him referring to sex as a problem, I understood which perspective he was taking. The church’s position was that sex seemed to be treated as something OUTSIDE us, a separate thing.

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How Anne Lamott Saved My Life: the Mercy of ‘Traveling Mercies’   3 comments

Having been raised in churches all my life, having done the double, triple, renewing salvation genuflect that Baptist kids do over their lives, knowing the plan of salvation in scripture form, calling card form, bracelet form, code form— you’d think that I was duly saved.  You don’t really have to do it so many times.

Until your life is at stake.

Coming out to myself really hit me hard.  It threw my sense of what I could believe in the Bible.  Waking up to the idea that I had been misinformed at such a deep level about who I was, and what I was, made me wonder if the Bible (or Christians) could get wrong how God felt about being gay, what else could they get wrong?  It threw me, too, into a world where I felt pretty lost.

But then one day, I found Anne Lamott.  Actually, she was given to me, and the man who gave her book to me said, “Many people who have lost their faith have found it again after reading this book.”

He was a pastor in Oyster Bay, Peter Casparian, 1988 Quatrofilio Alfa Romeo-driving liberal Episcopal pastor preaching in an historic church, Christ Church, the church of Theodore Roosevelt.  Over croissants and jam outside of a French Bakery, I came out to him.  Because I was shaking, because I cried, and because I didn’t know what I wanted to believe any more, he said I should find a copy of Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies, that it would restore my faith, or at least calm my nerves.  I was frightened of churches, a little scared of the Bible…as if it were now riddled with land mines.  If I go to Romans, bam! If I head to Genesis, boom!

Traveling Mercies is Anne Lamott’s honest memoir of trying out church.  It’s not written like anything you’d find in a Christian bookstore.  It’s refreshing.  It comes at faith from a non-churched point of view.  God is surprising, he’s real, he’s around the corner; Anne is the kind of believer who questions God, gets upset with him, does things wrong! does things surprisingly well!  She is fearless in her attempts to believe in God, and in a quirky group of believers.  Thank God she didn’t go to a stuffy, we-have-all-the-answers church.

I’ve heard people come away loving this book–and I certainly did.  It renewed my faith despite having had it trounced by well-meaning folk.  She provided a way back to the parts of faith that I loved and remembered.  Faith is not Religion, but Religion can be made of Faith.  For her there are only two prayers, “Help me, help me, help me!” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”   I think that sums up most prayers well.

Anne Lamott allows herself to be so vulnerable, to be, as she puts it, “such a mess.”

It allows the rest of us to be imperfect, to approach God as people who don’t have it all together, who aren’t doing everything right, who don’t sometimes believe in every unbelievable thing, but we’re trying.  Traveling Mercies reminds me of that Tim Allen show, Home Improvement.  Tim’s marital problems are given the best advice by Wilson, who seems to embody Robert Bly and Joseph Campbell and God all rolled into one.  But Tim, as he tries to carry that advice in his cupped hands back to his wife and family, spills most of it, and always blurts out a tainted version of that wisdom, a splattered, messy version of wisdom that somehow works–mostly through the forgiveness of his wife.  Anne Lamott is messy in that Tim Allen way.  She wanders into the same kinds of sermons and wisdom we all do but the application is messier than she thinks.  And wow, it’s messy for all of us, but none of us admitted it.

Anne allowed my faith to be messy, and allowed me to approach church in a different way–not of trying to regain some shallow perfection I thought I had, but in trying it out in whatever way I could muster.  She allowed my approach to God to be a little wobbly, a couple of bounces and skids, and sometimes I circle the runway for days…  It was never a perfect landing.  Faith is trial and error not a performance.

If Anne Lamott can be human again, then so can I.  If she can be a Christian, outside of perfection, then so can I.

Churchiness takes the humanity out of you.  Traveling Mercies somehow puts the humanity back into Faith.

Here’s an excerpt from Traveling Mercies on someone else’s page.

Thank you, Anne Lamott!  I know you’ve probably saved a lot of lives before–and perhaps you don’t even know that you’re doing it, but honest memoir saves lives.  We may write it only to save ours, but it ends up having multiple life-saving effects.  Resonance.  Mercy.

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