A conversation has been happening on the God’s Politics blog that Sojurners does on the issue of New Monasticism and Diversity. The conversation has been interesting, and super important, but I find it at least a little disheartening.

You can check out that conversation here.

It’s a bit weird in how it’s set up, but its basically an archive of all the blog posts, with the beginning blog that incited the conversation at the bottom of the page.

And here is the comment I wrote on the most recent blog, Beilers’ “Will Christians Lead or Follow on Questions of Diversity?”. It pretty much sums up why I find the conversation, though valuable, disheartening:

“I just recently picked up on this conversation, I often find myself too busy to keep up with blogs, but I’m glad I’ve stumbled upon this conversation, so much so that I’d even like to put in my two cents.

First of all, I’m thrilled that this conversation is being had! Too often, I think, we assume that the new monastics, in their radicalness, are ahead of the game in issues of diversity–and many times that may be so… but not necessarily, and this conversation seems to point out the complexities of this issue of diversity—what defines reconciliation, who defines it, how do minority communities feel, etc…..

One wrench I would like to throw into this conversation is the expanse of which we define diversity. I have been disheartened (but not at all surprised) that the scope of our notions of diversity have centered on racial and ethnic issues. Now, to be fair, the thread IS called New Monasticism and race, and I think that race is a VASTLY important issue, especially in light of what the NM movement is trying to do.

Yet I think this post Belier, and others who’ve posted, have rightly asked what diversity means and how far it reaches–what about economic diversity, about more nuanced ethnic diversity (it goes beyond black and white!)–what about women as leaders within the new monastic community. One of the bloggers drew our attention that most of the people in the limelight in the NM conversation are white males. This is problematic–not only because of the white part, but the male part as well……

But, I’m frustrated with Beiler, and with ALL the other posts and comments on this whole long thread. Not ONCE is sexual orientation mentioned. If we are going to speak of diversity, isn’t it fair to speak of all the ways in which diversity is manifested? To leave out a major category of diversity is to reproduce a hegemony.

Now, I know the whole gay question is one a lot of people aren’t comfortable with…. its something people believe is wrong, or that they’re unsure and uncomfortable about. Fair enough.

But, like it or not, there are gay and lesbian (and bi, and transgendered, etc…) Christians who care about the same things many new monastics do and who feel entirely abandoned by the NM movement. I’m one of them.

I’m not asking that everyone agree (though that would be nice, or that people stop struggling with this significant theological issue—but know that its more than an issue, and that there are some of us who are now struggling in a different way (not with integrating our sexuality and our faith, but with dealing with the Christian community that ignores or rejects us), and getting very exhausted by continually being left out of the conversation. Many of us were so excited when the New Monastic movement started—FINALLY, we thought, there is going to be a movement that cares about the radical things we care about–about social justice, about reconciliation, about Christian community. And, in many of ways, we were right. But, we didn’t expect that we weren’t going to be invited to the table.

I found the title of this blog post very illuminating–Will Christians Lead or Follow on Questions of Diversity? Sure, we’ve finally gotten around to talking about racial reconciliation—something many thoughtful people have been doing for a long time. But, the struggle for LGBT equality (or even voice) has been happening for a long time, yet gets nearly ignored in these conversations–in this case, completely ignored.

I worry that the answer to Beiler’s question is that we are following. I hope that this is not the case, and that, regardless of our personal beliefs, we can let ALL of those who have been ignored and marginalized into the conversation.”

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