*This is a conversation between my newly arrived summer intern Christian Parks and I. Christian is a Mennonite and a senior at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Identifying as queer, I met Christian a few months back when he was censored and not allowed to direct the play Corpus Christi at his school. Christian will travel throughout the summer with me on my The Courage to Be Queer Tour.
J: Christian, I feel so blessed that you are here. You are one of the queerer individuals I have ever met and I am so excited to be spending the summer with you. What made you want to do an internship with such a rogue minister as myself?
C: In my journey with the Christ, I have found myself in a place hungry for hope – hungry for new life in the Gospel. When we first met, Jeff, you made a comment that gripped my soul and peaked my curiosity, you told me “God is queering the world and saving it from the sin of normativity.” This statement hasn’t left my mind and has encouraged me to take a step of faith and join you this summer as we offer this message of Christ’s liberating Gospel to all that we meet.
J: In recent days, new collective awareness of the many injustices in our land has created a heightened desire for social justice that is sweeping through our land. As a variety of people are raised to greater levels of consciousness, I believe that the time is right to help people understand that liberation comes through the individual at the intersections of their existence. Christian, I believe that you are committed to living out your queerness and working to help others find their own paths of liberation.
C: We are a world hungry for authenticity, a Jesus-like authenticity. We are constantly bombarded with illusions that oppress our consciousness and our spirits. I hear the Church crying out, “No More.” I hear my Queer family, my brown-skinned family yelling for the world to recognize our Divinity. This summer is for them. This summer is for me to learn the skills to be a queerer in this fallen, normative world. I just want to live as Jesus lived…liberating the people. Right now, I am thankful that I get to spend the summer following a rogue pastor. Together, I know we will blur many categories and set the captives free.
J: Christian, I am excited about this moment. I believe that beauty grows when we push against the lines that hold our colors in. The mixing of colors reveal the colorful reality of what God created us to be. May the beauty of it all never stop growing.