The Quest
Volume 3 Book 7 Part 16 of
Living in the Bonus Round

[ Book 3-6 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ]
[ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6 ]  [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ]
[ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ]
[ Pt 14 ] [ Pt 15 ] [ Pt 16 ]

February 28 - March 5, 2004.
Reactions from Anderson University.
I've started this diary entry about a hundred times over the past week. I never finished it because I've spent the last week doing nothing but car maintenance, house maintenance, website maintenance, body maintenance, all boring everyday kind of stuff. All in getting ready for our trip to Chicago in the morning.

But today, as I began once again to finish this entry I realized that it's the end of Volume 3, Book 7. I don't know why now. It just feels like an ending. It also feels like a beginning.

Endings and beginnings are good. (Notice I started that sentence with "endings." Life is actually about being in the middle. Your birth was the real beginning. So from that point on, you can't have a new beginning until you have an ending.)

So, this diary entry is an ending. It's the ending of a personal journey that, in the bigger scheme of things out there in the big world -- things I rarely refer to here in my insular world of music and Internet ravings -- was but a speck on the sun.

In this one man's journey, chiefly in Indianapolis, what I witnessed were miracles, little human miracles, but miracles nonetheless. I keep going back in my mind to that class at Anderson University. The class on Human Sexuality. It was so weird to be standing in front of a University class on Human Sexuality and begin the lecture with, "When I was in Sunday School...".

But that's who I was talking to. Sunday School kids.

These were young adults whose entire lives, up to that point, consisted of their (for the most part) rural town, their small high school, their church, their Sunday School. And, frankly, that was me 30 years ago. 30 YEARS AGO!!???!!!

The teacher, Lisa Pay, sent me a copy of the reaction forms they filled out after my talk. This was a typical reaction:

"I've really never had a conversation like this. I come from a small town with little diversity and much prejudice. So this was something new for me... Books can only explain so much."

"I really have never come face to face with homosexuality and I have never heard a homosexual's story face to face. I was amazed that the music helped him, the more he wrote his music the better he felt."

And look at this one:
"Not everyone is normal, but every one has a soul, a heart and feelings. But nothing can open your eyes like seeing someone whose pain can overcome all of us by just saying this is who I am."
Isn't that an interesting turn of phrase? "Someone whose pain can overcome all of us." And this truth, that:
"Homosexuality does not just hit those with a homosexual orientation."
The following remark, though, was the most telling. I direct this especially at people outside the American conservative Christian world, but also maybe for those inside of it. This is something I have tried to explain while referring to the character of Buddy in The Last Session and what the "Going It Alone" moment means:
"I had never thought of gays falling in love. I try not to be naive in this world, but the concept of gays and love never popped into my head. You hear about gay marriages, but I always thought they fought for marriage in order to set precedent and make a point."
She/he had never thought of gays falling in love. And I remember hearing back in Texas, "Homosexuals CANNOT fall in love because they don't know Jesus." People outside that world don't realize how pervasive this belief is.
"Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the "right and wrong" that we forget there are real people struggling and suffering because of our ignorance, and judgment."
Right now, in the larger world, the conservative Christian "person in the pew" is being inundated by a lot messages about how they should feel about "homosexuals." But all of that is controlled by the adult media. No one KNOWS what these kids think. No one is listening to them.

That's why it came as suck a shock this past week when the student paper at Baylor University, a gigantic southern Baptist university in Texas proclaimed that they supported "gay marriage." How dumbstruck were the pastors and parents who heard THAT piece of information?

Even the kids in this semi-rural college, home of Bill and Gloria Gaither -- they're not stupid. No, tthese kids are not "pro-gay". They do not believe that homosexuality is "okay with God." But look at this:

"I really am mixed in my feelings about gay people feeling so horrible that they get angry with God when it is not God but the people of God and bureaucracies that shove the "imperfect" away. It makes me not want to associate with the Christian paradigm."
Now, listen to what this person just said. That it's the actions of Christian leaders pushing gays away that has caused her to question her faith.
[Sidebar for those who saw the word "imperfect." Christians believe everyone in imperfect. This is not a specific slam against homosexuality as if the writer is implying that Christians are perfect and "homosexuals" are not, so don't be misled by the syntax. That's exactly her point. These kids feel that their elders are being hypocritical.]
In other words, these kids are NOT prejudiced and they are NOT bigoted against gays, and they feel the adults in their lives are. Yes, they believe that homosexuality, in the words of one, "falls short of God's best," but they truly believe that this "shunning" thing -- this idea that gay people are systematically hounded out of the home churches they grew up in because they fear being exposed -- is wrong.

That's why The Last Session worked in this community. They saw the play as something presenting a moral dilemma that they themselves are facing. Because we don't demonize the character of Buddy, TLS presents a safe place for them to discuss what they would do if they were Buddy.

"We never know whom God will use to teach us -- need to be open to that."

"While he was talking I was almost feeling the way he was feeling."

"I appreciate his willingness to have an honest discussion about this issue."

And by the way, it wasn't easy standing in front of them. I don't go there to change their minds about homosexuality or religion. I do not have a hidden agenda. I told them what happened to me and then I answered their questions. I'm not a "gay activist" in the sense of someone who stands in the foreground reading all the news and staying politically connected.

I'm just a rabbi, remember?

And finally, this last comment from someone who came to see TLS:

"Steve is, and I don't say this lightly, a hero to me. He knows who he is inside and out, he's a fighter for life itself, his pursuit of God is real, and his art is life and life is art. To take the most painful aspects of your life and weave them together into a production that changes the lives of those who experience it -- what an act of redemption. I say all these things while still maintaining that homosexuality falls short of God's
best... but lately it seems like God continues to speak through the "foolish" in order to shame the "wise." I am thankful to Steve for better acquainting me with the wisdom of foolishness."
When I read it out loud to Jimmy and he said, "Did she just call you a fool?" Maybe, but what this person was really saying is that we're all bozos on this bus.

And then people ask me why I love to speak in front of students.


Tomorrow we take off for Chicago. Once again, not unlike Los Angeles, we will be in a small theatre with little or no budget for promotion. Our ticket sales will rely almost solely on word of mouth. It'll be interesting to see who finds us; or to see if ANYONE finds us. I have a good feeling about Chicago, though. It's a genuine theatre city.

So, we put Volume Three, Book Seven to rest. An ending.

Next diary entry you read will be from the Windy City. A new beginning.

[ Book 3-6 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ]
[ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6 ]  [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ]
[ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ]
[ Pt 14 ] [ Pt 15 ] [ Pt 16 ]

© 1996-2004 by Steve Schalchlin.
You have permission to print from this diary and distribute for use in support groups, schools, or to just give to a friend. You do not have permission to sell it.