The highlight of today, I mean, of course, apart from memorizing the 14 changing initiatives of Jesus for an early morning quiz, was running home for lunch in between work and a second long trail of classes, only to realize that I haven’t really had time to grocery shop since school started almost a month ago. So in the five minutes that I had before my statistics class started, I threw everything I could find in the blender, which ended up amounting to some ancient –but-still-edible raspberry yogurt, frozen mangoes, some cinnamon apple cider, and a dash of soy protein to top it all off. Now, since I am trying really hard to be authentic here and everything, I feel obligated to add that I have two or three pitchers of strawberry margaritas in my fridge that my friend J and I made last week, but never quite got around to finishing, and I definitely gave some serious consideration to trading my mango apple cider smoothie in for one of those. But I decided that things have not gotten that bad…. Not yet anyway. And it could have been the fact that I was working off of about four hours of sleep from the night before, but I swear the smoothie tasted like an oddly satisfying hybrid of pumpkin pie and baked apples, which sort of felt like drinking Fall in a solo cup, which got me to thinking that maybe the seasons are changing… which got me through the rest of the day.

 

But what is getting me through the week is the fact that I went to see the play Wicked last night, and it is brilliant. I mean this in the most thoroughly British sense of the word. Absolutely brilliant. I saw it a couple of years ago, and I remember thinking in a vague sort of way that it had some deep undertones I ambiguously agreed with… but this time I was absolutely floored to find my own life dazzlingly portrayed in a story about the mishaps of a green witch in an upsidedown version of Oz. Now, without ruining too much of the plot for those of you who are unfortunate enough to not have seen the play, its a thoroughly postmodern take on the Wizard of Oz that tells the other side of the story. It asks, essentially, what if the story we’d been told all along about what was wicked and what was good wasn’t right at all? What if the “wicked” were simply different, and because of this, they were scapegoated by a narrow-minded few who need a common enemy in order to control the masses? What if an entire community within your society had their rights taken away, their ability to speak silenced? Wait a minute, is this all starting to sound less and less like the magical fantasy land of Oz, and more and more familiar? There’s no place like home.

Now it may be this collective instability, this wave of hopelessness we’ve all be riding, or possibly just the fact that I’ve been a bit emotional lately, but when the play reached its climax and the “wicked” witch flew through the air, singing about how she was through playing by the rules of someone else’s game, and was going to try “defying gravity,” I was most definitely watching through tears. I don’t think I was the only one.

Because who can’t, to some degree at least, understand what it is like to be marginalized or misunderstood because of something essential to your identity and out of your control? So what I’m asking here is, why do we keep doing it to each other? Is it so that we have somebody to blame? So we can push and push until we find somebody who won’t fight back, because they are already blaming themselves?

And as Glinda the Good floated around the stage in her bubble, making proclamations that were still hurtful and one-sided, no matter how “good” she seemed to genuinely believe they were, I was reminded of a comment a professor made yesterday. Now, don’t get me wrong. I respect this man. He has a beautiful heart and a bright mind. That’s what makes it all the more painful when he makes comments in class that go something like this: I believe that the practice of homosexual behavior is wrong and its a sin, but the radical thing is, I think that a sin is just stuff that’s bad for you, and psychology has proven that it is in fact bad for you. What made it all the worse was that he thought he was being radical and generous. I am almost positive the rest of the class thought so too. How nice of the professor to float around in his bubble and teach that “the homosexuals” are not sinners who are going to hell. They are just sinners who are a hazard to themselves. But, to quote Wicked, “well we can’t all travel by bubble, can we?” For the rest of us, his simple explanation leaves some questions unanswered. Oreos aren’t good for me. Are they a sin? Nobody would argue about the fact that cancer and abuse aren’t good for you, but I don’t hear anybody calling them a sin (and praise God for that).

Now to be fair, he also included a speech on how the church needs to “stop making the practice of homosexual behavior ‘the bad sin'”, and I definitely don’t disagree. I also don’t necessarily disagree with his assertion that a recent graduate of my program did a study with gay and lesbian individuals, and found that they suffered psychologically because of their sexuality. But come on now, I may have 246 weeks of school left until I’m an official psychologist, but even I know the golden rule of psychology is that correlation does not equal causation. He would suffer too, I think, if instead of a wife and two small kids, he had a lifetime of being told that he loved the wrong gender, that he was sinful and wrong and clearly wasn’t praying hard enough, or things would be different… it would all just go away, and you could be “normal” again. I’m not doubting that there is some psychological damage that comes along with all this sexuality business, and I’d even be willing to use myself as an example. What I am doubting is who should be taking most of the blame.

Here is where, traditionally I end the post with something hopeful. Today, I think it goes something like this… that all is not lost because smoothies made from all the shit you have left over in your fridge and freezer can wind up tasting like Fall in a solo cup. Like the season is changing. And the season, the season is definitely changing… because a year or two ago, I would have heard my professor make a comment like that and truly believed that he was a generous man making a radical statement… believed he was so “good” for showing such grace to the sinners. And now, I am thinking a thousand angry, hurt, conflicted things… but at least I am thinking for myself.

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