Recipe for Q-CROSS Meeting

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Nick Huard Q-CROSS Secretary

  • 1 whole, authentic Jenn Tafel
  • ½ serving of a well-dressed, but mono-colored Trevor
  • A hint of Mary covered in animal hair
  • 1/3 kind-hearted Harold
  • A whole, intelligent, thoughtful, handsome Nick
  • The loving presence of God Almighty
  • The over-looking protection of the Holy Spirit

 

  • Combine all ingredients into an awkwardly silent room
  • Have Jenn share her wisdom—this will insure solidarity within the group
  • The Trevor may be stressed, but ensure him 1½ hours of peace
  • Mary may be covered in hair but she won’t trigger your allergies
  • Any presence of Harold will work for this recipe. Typically, he is talking about something he doesn’t understand, but he enjoys it anyway

 

Yields 1½ hours of tired, overworked, underpaid, hungry, stressed out, (possibly spaced out), sleep deprived community members taking time to support one another.

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Rebuilding Campus

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Rev. Jenn Tafel: Religious Advisor of Q-CROSS@MSU

This semester has been a rough one. It’s enough to be a student on campus navigating class schedules, financial aid, dorm life, homesickness, life/career plans, and work-life balance. Add to that the journey of coming out in sexuality and/or gender identity. Add to that the intersections of race, culture, religious/faith practice, ability, class, and more. Being a human on this journey is difficult. Being alive is a political statement. Breathing and existing can take every ounce of strength. And then there are the good days. You find your community. You find your groove. And yes, it is a roller coaster—but with friends by your side it becomes a little easier.

And then there are the headlines where truth comes to light. What has been swept under the rug is brought to the public. Pain takes center stage. A speaker comes to campus who thrives on hate and division. Turmoil and resistance are added to our calendars. It’s enough! Hiding under the covers would be a great temptation.

What about our faith? In our group as practicing Christians and spiritually-minded folks we believe in a God of rebirth, resurrection, and renewal. We know that what is before us is not the end of things—it is part of the journey. We are called to do the work of seeing beyond the pain to healing. We are called to see the acts of justice for us to do. We are called to see wholeness where there is currently brokenness. We are called to lean on a God of love, mercy and justice. We are also called to take care of ourselves.

If you are looking for community we are here for you.

to the MSU Student Body

Blog: Welcome Back

By Rev. Jenn Tafel

By Rev. Jenn Tafel

Classes are about to begin. The telltale signs are around us: the air is a little cooler, traffic has picked up in East Lansing, there are long lines in the store as people scramble for supplies, and if you listen closely you can hear the marching band practicing. There is no doubt about it and there is no avoiding it. Are you excited? Nervous? Eagerly anticipating the parent drop off? That’s all part of the journey. For new students: a new chapter is about to begin. For returning students: the routine is awaiting your arrival. For grad students: the routine, deadlines, and other students anticipate your wisdom. All of this energy creates a buzz on campus that no one can deny.

Photo taken 9/26/15 during game against Central Michigan University

Photo taken 9/26/15 during game against Central Michigan University

For those of us involved in the campus ministry, Q-Cross@MSU, the school year begins with the welcome events Sparticipation and Spartan Remix. We also have a display at Michigan Pride which is move-in weekend. It’s a whirlwind couple of weeks as we celebrate who we are as a campus ministry/student organization in queer, religious, and student-oriented terms.

Our first official gathering as a group is on Wednesday, September 14th at 7:30pm. We are hosting an Open House where people can gather, reconnect, hang out and play games. Our weekly meetings will continue from that point through the semester ending with a meal at a local restaurant during finals preparations.

Photo from our promo video on YouTube

Photo from our promo video on YouTube

Is our group for you? We are a group that meets weekly to support one another, discuss topics relevant to the queer and Christian communities, and we celebrate worship once a month (with an open table for Holy Supper). We laugh, cry, discuss, learn, disagree, and share our lives with each other. It is a space where a person identifying on the LGBTQ+/queer/questioning spectrum and as a Christian/spiritual seeker can have their identity affirmed and valued. We are a space for support in a large community that can be isolating. The routine of classes, papers, and projects can be overwhelming. We offer space where you can be your whole self—whoever that is today or tomorrow.

Blessings on the school year ahead,
Rev. Jenn Tafel

Blog: School Year Reflections

 

By Rev. Jenn Tafel

By Rev. Jenn Tafel

The final strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” are but shadows in the air now. The cap and gown are put aside. The books are shut and exams are finished. Bags are packed and the campus is quiet. It is the end of another school year and for some the end of an era and chapter in life. Did you do what you set out to do in August?

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At Q-CROSS@MSU we had an amazing year packed with rich content, heartfelt discussions, trips and conferences, panel discussions and guest presenters, and of course—fellowship. It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone.

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I get sad at the end of a school year as I miss our weekly conversations and check-ins. I’m also aware that for some it’s difficult to go “home.” For some, home is campus and friendships become family. Summer can be tricky to navigate waiting for August to come around so that one can breathe again. We don’t always hear about this stress, but I’m aware it exists. My prayers are with each person who’s come and gone through our group—life can be rough but you don’t have to do it alone.

Summer is also a time for jobs, camps, inter/externships, preparing for the next academic year, and hopefully some fun. At Q-CROSS@MSU we spend time during the summer preparing for the upcoming year and evaluating the previous one. Is there something you’d like to see, learn, or experience within our group? Email us: qcrossmsu@gmail.com and we’ll include your idea(s) in our brainstorming sessions.

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Blessings on your summer,

Rev. Jenn Tafel

Go Green!

Blog: Gearing Up For the New Year

By Rev. Jenn Tafel

By Rev. Jenn Tafel

There is a buzz in the air: a mixture of excitement, anxiety, curiosity, and more. A new school year awaits and the MSU campus is beginning to come to life once again. Spartans from all corners of the world will descend on East Lansing in the next couple weeks. Studies and sporting events will begin, parties around campus will spring up (yes, they do happen!), and all kinds of extra-curricular activities will vie for students’ attention.

There are many aspects to college life including time for personal exploration. It is a time to investigate personal goals and values. It is a time for one to figure out one’s identity, passion, discipline, and life path. A question to ask may be, “What will I find at the core of my being?” People in many disciplines of study have been asking this for centuries. Included in one’s identity is gender expression and sexuality. Also included is an understanding of a force greater than ourselves—whether a person chooses to believe it exists and if so, if one will choose to engage it through religious practices.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

“The Thinker” sculpture by Auguste Rodin Photo Credit: Public Domain

This is where Q-CROSS@MSU fits into the equation. We are a student organization at MSU that celebrates the intersection of queer-identified and Christian* students. We come together for weekly events including Bible study, fellowship activities (movie and game nights), discussions on current events in the queer and trans* community, and worship that includes the Holy Supper (denied to many in the queer and trans* community). Our gatherings celebrate the wholeness and holiness of each other. It is a place for those who are questioning various aspects of their identity. It is a place to share stories and reclaim missing pieces of self-hood.

Photo Credit: U.S. Library of Congress

Gutenberg Bible Photo Credit: U.S. Library of Congress

The concepts of sin and abomination have dominated the conversation about the queer and trans* population in Christianity for decades. However, current scholarship on the intersection of queer and Christian invites one to take a different look at how these terms are used in Scripture and how we can find affirming language in the Bible. When the concepts that used to color perspective and understanding are off the table a new life emerges from ancient texts. New life also emerges within a person when they are affirmed on every level.

Photo Credit: Project Happiness (Facebook)

Photo Credit: Project Happiness (Facebook)

We are looking forward to a year of educational opportunities, fellowship, worship, and collaboration with other student organizations. This is another year where anything is possible. We look forward to meeting you. You are invited to our Open House on September 2 from 7-9 pm (location is TBD). Our regular weekly meetings begin on September 16 in the Union building. Connect with us on our Facebook page so you stay up to date on our events. Connect with Religious Life at MSU here for other opportunities on campus. Blessings on your academic life here at Michigan State. Go Green!

Blog: God and the Gay Christian

By Mary Sinnamon

By Mary Sinnamon

In the book entitled, “God and the Gay Christian,” Matthew Vines outlines scripture passages that have caused the gay community severe grief and even death over the past several years. He wrote this book after examining other authors’ research and perspectives, studying scripture in different translations, and after reflecting on his own experiences as a gay Christian. He takes these passages and confirms that there is a better, more sophisticated, and loving way to interpret and understand them. He had collected information on the culture of the time and place in which the books of the Bible were written and analyzed the original language and terminology (e.g. Greek, Hebrew) of which the verses were written. That way, he could discuss the Bible verses appropriately in context with deeper insight, unlike those who have read and interpreted the verses frivolously at face value.

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I recommend this book as a good “first read” for Christians who are in the process of coming out and for the family of those who are coming out who are struggling to reconcile their family member’s sexuality with their spirituality. I believe this because it was the first thing I read after having come out myself and impacted my spiritual growth greatly. I also hope to share this with my family eventually. It is a relatively short and easy read while also including all the relevant and compelling arguments surrounding these Bible passages. Vines hits on many of the big topics such as Adam & Eve, the gift of celibacy, Sodom & Gomorrah, the laws in Leviticus, Romans 1, who will inherit the Kingdom of God, a biblical argument for marriage equality, the image of God, the hurts of the ex-gay movement, and the uplifting work & hope of the reformation project. He also discusses the importance of understanding sexuality as an “orientation” and the ways in which it affects how the Bible verses are interpreted. Vines examines all these topics and wards off the misconceptions bridging the gap between Christianity and the gay community.

Book CoverStain Glass

I don’t want to give away too much detail about this book because I want you to read it, rather than reading a giant paraphrase of it by me lol 😉 but I would love to share some of my favorite quotes that I’ve highlighted under various topics from the book. This way, you get a good sample/snapshot of what the book is like!

  1. About the laws in Leviticus & Paul’s idea of natural: “…Leviticus prohibits male same-sex relations, but it uses similar language to prohibit the eating of shellfish. And while Paul did describe same-sex relations as ‘unnatural,’ he also wrote that for men to wear their hair long was contrary to ‘nature.’ Yet Christians no longer regard eating shellfish or men having long hair as sinful.” (and there are many more laws that aren’t valid today!)
  2. Vine’s reflection on same-sex relations relative to sin: “…as I became more aware of same-sex relationships, I couldn’t understand why they were supposed to be sinful, or why the Bible apparently condemned them. With most sins, it wasn’t hard to pinpoint the damage they cause. Adultery violates a commitment to your spouse. Lust objectifies others. Gossip degrades people. But committed same-sex relationships didn’t fit this pattern. Not only were they not harmful to anyone, they were characterized by positive motives and traits instead, like faithfulness, commitment, mutual love, and self-sacrifice.”
    “Sadly, negative attitudes toward gay relationships have led to crippling depression, torment, suicide, and alienation from God and the church. I suggested that, if for no other reason, those destructive consequences should compel Christians to take a closer look at the relevant Scripture passages.”
    “There was no word in ancient Greek, Hebrew, or Latin that corresponds to the English work for ‘gay,’ as the concept of an exclusive, permanent same-sex orientation is little more than a century old.”
  3. On sexual orientation: “…sexual orientation is not a choice, and it is highly resistant to change.”
    “If you are a straight Christian, I invite you to think about your own experience with sexuality. I doubt you could point to a moment when you chose to be attracted to members of the opposite sex.”
  4. On celibacy: “We can embrace gay relationships and maintain a traditional view of celibacy, or we can change our understanding of celibacy and keep a traditional view of gay relationships. But we cannot do both.”
    “…the New Testament endorses celibacy as an honored way of life. But at the same time, it makes clear that celibacy should be a voluntary choice, not an imposed requirement…Jesus said celibacy could be accepted only by ‘those to whom it has been given.’ Celibacy is a gift, and those who do not have the gift should marry”
    “…for those who have the gift, lifelong celibacy should at least be possible without causing them grave damage. Sadly, for many gay Christians, that isn’t the case.”
  5. About creation: “…the account of Eve’s creation doesn’t emphasize Adam’s need to procreate. It emphasizes instead his need for relationship…Adam’s spouse couldn’t have been a man any more than she could have been an infertile woman.”
  6. About Sodom: “Sodom’s sin was declared to be arrogance and inhospitality.”
    “…this (requesting Lot’s guests to have sex with them) was not an expression of sexual desire. It was threatened gang rape. In the ancient world, for a man to be raped was considered the ultimate degradation…Aggression and dominance were the motives in these situations, not sexual attraction.”
  7. God’s image: “In Genesis 1:27 ’in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them’—most likely means ‘that both male and female are created in the divine image…[and] that all the dignity, honor, and significance of bearing the divine image belong equally to men and to women.’”
  8. About marriage: “In Jesus’s understanding of marriage, covenantal commitment is foundational. The ability to bear children is not.”
    “…and despite the significance of procreation in the Old Testament, infertile marriages were not considered illegitimate.”
    “What seems to me to be the most important in marriage is not whether the partners are anatomically different from one another. It’s whether the inherently different people involved are willing to keep covenant with each other in a relationship of mutual self-giving. Differences in personality, passions, careers, goals, and needs are the differences that require each partner’s self-sacrifice, which reflects Christ’s sacrificial love for us. Those kinds of differences, when valued and sacrificed for, bring the Bible’s basis for marriage to life. Same-sex couples can and do live out that deepest sense of difference.”

Oh my goodness gracious, now I’m writing the whole book. There’s no way one blog post can do it justice, so read it. It’s really great! 🙂