Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Five Things I'm Thankful For...

1. Cough medicine with an expectorant
2. Chatty neighbors
3. Window Fans
4. Lava Lamps
5. e-mail

Me and the World

I often get frustrated.

It has taken me so long and so much work to come to grips with what it means to be a gay man. I have gone from hating myself to, if not quite loving myself, at least thinking I am pretty ok. I have discovered things about myself that are actually pretty cool and that have been hidden for so long.

I have moved from being almost constantly suicidal to occasionally thinking that ending "it" would just be easier. And if you have ever been suicidal, you know that this is a HUGE change.

But then there is a section of the population who insist on telling me that I am a pervert. There is a section of the population who insist on telling me that I am an abomination. There are people who feel so superior because they are not evil like that fag.

This may just be my own embedded homophobia. If so, it is still a representation of society; I didn't develop this homophobia in a vacuum.

People who think homosexuality is bad; just entertain the thought: What if homosexuality were not an abomination? Would it be that bad?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

5 things I'm thankful for

1. Kites
2. Cars
3. NyQuil
4. Cell Phones
5. Summer Church Schedules

Friday, May 26, 2006

Five Things I'm Thankful For...

1. Cookie dough ice cream
2. People concerned about my health
3. Unexpected visitors to my office
4. Inquisitive cats
5. Lucite grapes swag lamps

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Question

"So, have you found a girlfriend?"

I want to say, "Now let's think about his: I am in my 40's and single. Either I am a total social reject or I am gay. Either way, do you really want to know?"

No Gay Pastors

What is so annoying is that I have to drag my personal life out and have to defend it. If I were not gay, I would not have to leave my job. I would not have to face unemployment. I would not have to worry about what I will do.

I wish I could just sit back and say, "I know God will see me through." I know God will see me through, I just hate the feeling of being in limbo.

Kind of a whiney post.

I really don't think heterosexuals can truly understand how degrading this is. A heterosexual does not have to take someone aside and tell them that they may not see that person again because they must leave their job beaus of their sexuality. I had to say "good-bye" to some of my colleagues this past weekend. People who I love and respect.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Having Good People in Life

I have been so blessed to have Nick in my life. Yesterday, I e-mailed saying that I was not having a good afternoon. He picked up and drove an hour to meet me half-way for lunch. I think of all the people I could have run into; all of the people who could have been there to take advantage of me. But I met Nick. God puts good people into our path!

Friday, May 19, 2006

New Billing Cycle

After using a ton of minutes talking to
Nick about all the stuff going on with the senior pastor, I have finally started a new billing cycle on my cell phone. Nick does not live in the same city as me so I try to call at night when I have free minutes. But this past month has been Hell.

Maybe now things will continue on. Actually the senior pastor has been quite helpful. We have been looking at ways to make the transition as smooth as possible. Still not the best situation but getting better.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Gettin' Real

Things are starting to get real. I have been getting all the paperwork to transfer to the ECUSA. I could convince myself that his was just a bad dream until now. Now I have to face the fact that yes, because I am gay, I must leave my call and go somewhere else.

I still struggle with the question: Why doesn't the church that I love, love me? Why must I deny what I am to stay a servant of Christ?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Early Morning Post

Hey Bill

I don't know why I am waking up at such wonderful hours with my thoughts racing. Haven't felt this way since I got off Zoloft.

I e-mailed a colleague of mine, one I had e-mailed before. He was kind of "ah" when I first e-mailed him so I was kind of unsure of saying anything more. But I also felt that I needed to follow up somehow; you don't just send someone an e-mail saying your gay and then never e-mail again! Well, this time he was very supportive. He reassured me that (as have you) God has known me (and known "this") before I even knew it. And I can lean upon the empty cross in certainty. He also said we needed to get together to talk, I would like that.

I had hoped he would have some idea of something that I could do within Lutheranism but did not hold out much hope of finding a life and remaining a pastor. At least not a Lutheran one. I know I have skills, but sometimes it seems like I am just a stream of failures.

I worked for a private company as a behavior specialist working with people with mental retardation. Then I worked for the state, working with people who were deaf, blind, and mentally retarded. Then I went to seminary. Then I was at a terrible church in the north. I was depressed and suicidal there. Now, in retrospect, I don't know how much of my problems there were from the system that was there and how much was from my trying to remain closeted, even to my self. But I was only there two years. Now I have only been here two years and it looks like I may be leaving here too.

I really wish I could talk to my senior pastor but I don't think that is a good idea yet. I also wish I could talk to my bishop but he more or less told me that I am an embarrassment. (Actually, the paraphrase was "After meeting your parents, I knew I couldn't put you in a upper-middle class or suburban church")

This I am telling you because you said you were working with another person who is having a sexual identity crisis. Maybe this will give you an understanding of the distress this can cause: In the process of coming to grips with this, I had actually contemplated genital mutilation and self-castration. The thought that if I could just render the parts inoperable, maybe the feelings would go away. My shrink at the time (a Mennonite pastor) and I had an agreement, I could call him any time, but if I attempted suicide, I would have to find a new therapist. Happily, I am no where near that level of depression. Actually, I would not consider myself depressed at all right now. No feeling like crying or wanting the world to end.

I just keep praying for strength and insight. What I don't like is that I have mentally placed myself in the "lame duck" category. I need to stop doing that or I will create a self fulfilling prophecy.

Peace to you bro'


I can relate to your racing mind, sort of. My problem was not being to get to sleep because of the racing mind. I've discerned (correctly or not) that it was due to my lack of turning things over to God, and trying too much to deal with them myself. Ah, such foolish pride I have!

Here's hoping it goes well with your pastor friend, but it sounds as though it will. Being a bit closer to home, and a fellow ELCA pastor, that should be helpful in some ways that I cannot be.

Hey,you can't be the only one failing! Join the club. We have T-shirts and everything! There's nothing wrong with feeling like a failure sometimes. The trouble comes when we let that affect us to the point that we start acting like one. Carrying a cross is hard work, especially on days when it feels like it's all uphill.

Ouch. Have you expressed your feelings to your bishop? I mean the ones about feeling like he thinks you're an embarrassment. You might want to air that out a bit. As for your senior pastor, I wouldn't tell him until you're totally sure you're ready to leave your church placement. You don't know for sure which direction he'll go.

Graceful Peace,

Stereotypes and Unbidden Thoughts

More of the posting conversations.

Good Morning,

Just a funny thing: I was coming up from the basement and went flashing across my cortex was,"Benton, you can't be gay, your not neat enough!"

Have a good Friday.



God bless you, Ben. I so needed to laugh this morning.

Graceful peace,


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I'm not going to tell them!

This is kind of odd.

If you haven't gotten it yet, this is the continuation of a series of private messages between me and another pastor.

Hi Bill,

What makes me sad is that a friend of mine that I have had for 20 years will not let me talk. She keeps moving the conversation to finding a girlfriend. I asked if it bothered her to have me talk because I would not want to make her uncomfortable. She said, "No, that's ok" but I feel that mentioning wanting to find a man to share time with is taboo. I also feel that trying to get feedback on changing denominations or even leaving my call is also taboo.

I enjoyed talking with my shrink because he is very supportive of my struggles. I just hate the feeling of needing support but feeling like I am an imposition.

In talking with Archie (my shrink), I keep finding more and more "incidents" that point to this being more than a "choice." I am trying to realize that I have avoided relationships with women because I didn't want to be with them. But I wanted to be with women because I wanted to be "normal." But I think I have had a gay bent all of my life. It really feels liberating to come to grips with it.

I still do not know how I am going to talk to my family about it, but that is down the road.

I want to go out and meet someone. I've lived alone for way too long. But yet I feel I have made a promise to not only my congregation but to the ELCA. Right now I am wanting to turn the whole thing back and jump back into the closet. I feel like it is all going to overwhelm me.

I need to trust in God.

Oh! I found this funny. Archie is Jewish and told me that Levitical Law is no longer relevant to our world. We need to look at law with intelligence.

This is hard, I would never choose this.

Thank you my friend.

Happy Birthday! Celebrate like no one's looking!



Your friend may be struggling with this in her own way. She'll have to come to grips with the changes in you - not to the extent you do, obviously, but still. When a person's "obvious" orientation shifts, many of their old relationships shift as well. Be patient with her, the change is undoubtedly hard, or she would show by her actions that she's more comfortable. Perhaps it would be better not to talk to her about some issues until she approaches you with them.

In feeling like you are an imposition, two things here. Shrinks and pastors both exist to listen and help where they are needed. Everyone, in their own way, needs help. You're not an imposition, you're in need of those who listen. Nothing wrong with that, at least you're willing to do it. Think of all the other clergypeople who are GLBT and refuse to deal with those issues. Better to need help and get it than need it and suffer in silence. I don't think that's what Jesus had in mind.

About talking with your family, that will come in its own time, and only you will know when. I'm all for taking this one slowly, coming out as a slow, gradual process. And I hate to say it, but it's true so I must, some relationships must be kept in the dark to actually continue. Only you know your family and friends, don't let anyone push you into telling them sooner than you're ready. When the time comes, you'll know.

If you feel heterosexual orientation was an underlying factor in both your hiring and your ordination, and to act on what you feel your actual orientation is would betray that trust relationship, then perhaps simply choosing to wait until you clear matters up a bit more in your own mind would help. I'm all for the honoring of covenant, but covenants between humans and covenants between a church and a human can be dissolved. It's something akin to a marriage - both sides agree to the covenant. When the relationship is no longer tenable, I think it's best to dissolve the covenant before taking action outside the relationship. Of course, I'm also a fan of counseling and trying to keep covenants together. But it also sounds like neither of your partners will support you in your recent revelation. But. They might. It's surprising where you find support and where you don't. Sometimes you think that someone or something will be unsupportive and find an immense amount of love there, and vice versa. A difficult path to walk, for sure.

Amen to thinking about Levitical law! I would extend that to all scripture, that we look at it with intelligence. Half the fun is discernment of what the authors have to say to our context. Literalism only works in the context in which the books were written, and even then it leaves no room for nuance, sarcasm, or irony. The thing that most people forget (especially when dealing with the Epistles) is we only have half of the conversation. The letters from the churches to Paul have been lost, but would fill in a lot of gaps. But to the Levitical Law, as is pointed out repeatedly by our liberal brothers and sisters, we're not Levites, no not any, because we no longer need temple mediators because we are ruled by the Lordship of Christ.

I know this is hard, my brother, I know. I am also in conversation with a young person from my congregation who is struggling with orientation discernment. They are not fully convinced, however, that same-sex attraction is not a choice. They are also reading books about orientation-changing therapies. Dangerous waters, and I pointed out to them that every GLBT person I know and have known has said precisely what you just did, which in itself is one of the most compelling arguments for genetics I have found, more compelling than any lab test, because it comes from the heart. While I think some people choose, or are nurtured (normally by neglect or abuse), to an alternate orientation than their own, I think the numbers of heterosexuals who are molded differently (which does violence to their person) are exceptionally low compared with the GLBT population. I think the converse is far more often true, that GLBT persons are "nurtured" - a far kinder term than it should be - to deny how they have been created and choose the other option. The world does violence to GLBT children and youth - and adults, yes - every day. That is not God's plan for social justice in action. That is humanity's inhumanity to humans.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Do I continue my call or not? The process continues.

This is a continuation of the series that started here. I have been internet chatting with a pastor I encountered in on a Christian Chat site. I had just recently "come out" to myself and was struggling to see myself as not as gay but as a pastor and person of integrity that also happens to be gay.

Hi Bill,

I just got back from my appt with my therapist. The dilemma is what to do with my call here. If I want to pursue anything that might lead to a relationship in here it will become public knowledge. If I were dating a woman, that would be ok, but to be out with a guy, well, that would raise some eyebrows! My congregation is pretty conservative. In a congregation of 900, I know of two possible gay folks (one man, one woman) but this is only speculation on my part.

I know that the Episcapal Church is pretty open to openly gay clergy. So are UU but I don't think I could be a UU. I could stay here and stay celebate but why go through all the work of coming out if I just have to stuff my feelings again.

The person in the ELCA I thought I could trust is not sure of his feeling about gay clergy. He said he is behind me but I need to know that he is out with the jury. I had hoped I could find someone within the ELCA who might have some ideas of what I could do within the ELCA.

At this point I would be uncomfortable even chatting with a guy in a bookstore for fear of people finding out. I guess once or twice wouldn't be bad but if I start showing up in public with men not from the congregation, things could get weird.

Then the other question is: Do I want to continue as a pastor or is there something else I want to do? I have wanted to go into counseling but I only have a MA in psychology and I do not have a license. If I were licensed there would be more optionis. I love teaching but I do not have a teaching certificate nor is the teaching market very open.

I know that as I come out more and more, I will meet different problems. But right now, I don't even know if I will be able to come out more and more.

Any ideas would be appreciated, otherwise, thanks for your ear.

Peace to you,


I'm afraid I can't help too much, but only listen. Your call is between you and God. All of this, really, is between you and God. That's who we really work for. Congregations? Sure, but we wouldn't be in this line of work if God hadn't have said something at some point. God called you as you are, not as the congregation, or society, or your denomination, or any other denomination, wishes you to be. As you are. Warts, gifts, sexuality, pet peeves, eye color, and all.

I wish I could be of more help. I will always listen. God bless your search, and may you hear God's voice calling you in the right direction for you in the now on the Way.



This is funny!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sometimes this just sucks.

I have just had some really bad days. My life is in turmoil but I can't talk to anyone about it. People do not expect their pastors to have a bad day, we are supposed to be superpeople who can handle anything. When we have a bad day, we are expected to buck it up and continue to absorb what other people throw our way.

The Episcopal bishop was not overly helpful. I know he is trying but it is difficult to find a call (at least one that pays). So I could be out of the ELCA and into the ECUSA but have no financial support. I want to trust God but God seems to be hiding.

What I really hate is not having people I can just talk with. I cannot say anything to my congregation and it really is isolating.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Why "Dr. Benton Quest"?

I guess I should explain why my blog is titled as it is.
Benton has to be one of the best role models for gay kids in existence. Here is an attractive, older, intelligent, masculine man living with another man. He is out there living life and he and Race Bannon have a nice life together.

I know Hanna Barbara probably does not sanction this understanding of the cartoon, but if we look, it makes sense. Unfortunately, Benton and Race must live closeted. But who are they really fooling.

When I finally started to come to grips with my sexuality, I took Dr. Quest as a kind of mentor. I hope to be able to hold my head high as a man first, and a gay man next. It is my hope that eventually, we will not have to make the differentiation between a man and a gay man.

Oh bla dee bla da...

I haven't written in a while. I don't know if I even have anyone reading this. Oh well, it is more for me anyway. If others can get something out of it, great!

It keeps becoming more and more real the fact that I will be leaving my congregation. I don't want to leave but I cannot stay either. I just hate the feeling of being up in the air. I also hate that now that I have finally found myself and have begun to love myself, the church I serve does not love me.

How does my sexuality effect the congregation? Do I preach differently now that I have gay sex? Actually, it seems that I have been preaching better. Would the congregation prefer that I remain miserable and celebate instead of having a shot at being happy?

I am sure there are some who would say that I am placing too much emphasis on sex and should give it up for God. Of course these people go home on Sunday afternoon and have sex with their spouses. It is easy to place this sentence on someone else.

I am happy Nick has been there to listen to me whine. He has been great! I know I must get tedious, but he patiently listens (he is a pastor too). Sometimes it is knowing that he is there that keeps me going.