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OtherWise Christian 3 and 4 and More!

We have formally started our conversations about the next TWO (perhaps three) books in the OtherWise Christian series!

In case you haven’t been able to keep up, OtherWise Christian [1] is a survey of 25 years of transgender-affirming biblical scholarship. Meanwhile, OtherWise Christian 2 is an anthology that includes 29 testimonies from transgender, intersex, and non-binary folk.

OtherWise Christian 3: What Shall Prevent Me? will take a deeper look at the Acts 8 story of the Ethiopian eunuch. Contributors will provide a variety of viewpoints on this evocative story. This conversation actually started as a part of OtherWise Christian 2, but we set it aside to provide sufficient space for a multi-vocal conversation. Deadline for contributions is August 1, 2020. [More details]

Continue reading “OtherWise Christian 3 and 4 and More!”

From Christendom to Freedom by Jonathon Thunderword

I’ve always said that OtherWise Engaged Publishing is not limited to the OtherWise Christian brand. It is a multi-tradition publishing operation for projects from OtherWise-gendered folk that are in alignment with our values. Easy to say, but the first four books were pretty specifically Christian, including the first two OtherWise Reflection Guides. Granted.

OtherWise Christian 2: Stories of Resistance began to offer some more diverse perspectives. However, we have more explicitly turned that corner with From Christendom to Freedom: Journey-Making with a Black Transgender Elder (2020) by Jonathon Thunderword.

LAUNCH CONVERSATION with Louis Mitchell of Transfaith
Saturday, May 9, 3pm Eastern
Join us on Facebook Live!

I first met Jonathon at a Fellowship of Affirming Ministries gathering in 2008. Under Bishop Yvette Flunder’s direction, we co-led (with others) a workshop on transgender experience. Little did I know then how either of our lives would unfold.

Like Appendix C in OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation (2019), Jonathon talks about Christendom as something different from the Jesus Movement. Christendom is what happened with the Jesus Movement got deeply entangled with Empire. While it touches on Jonathon’s experiences (pro and con) in Christian community, this is a decidedly post-Christian memoir.

As he puts it, Jonathon “followed Jesus into Judaism” and shares some of that journey, but he does not stop there. Jonathon reflects on early years in the Nation of Islam as well as his experiences listening to non-believers. I learned a lot more about his experience with Amma and Hindu tradition in his book than I ever did in conversation around conferences we attended together.

I know that some of the memories Jonathon dredged up working on this book were painful for him. While each section is quite short, I should offer trigger-warnings for sexual abuse by religious leaders, as well as references to sex work, use of illegal substances, and sexism/misogyny. Of course, these experiences are offered in a reflective context which explores them with sensitivity.

Jonathon does not pull any punches in talking about his experience as a Black man, either. The image that opens his Introduction is more than uncomfortable, but it is offered with deliberate intent. He frequently reflects on how racial dynamics impacted his faith journey(s). I found his candid revelations about struggling with contemplative practices particularly insightful, as he embraces both the search for stillness and African-American cultural influences.

So, many of the patterns of community engagement among African-Americans emphasize call and response between the congregation and a leader in ways that do not require widespread access to books, paper, or even literacy. These patterns are also connected to our roots in Africa, which predate the written word or modern educational standards. (Chapter 8: Cultivating Quiet)

Religion is never simply one thing. It is race and gender and culture and teaching and mystical experience and physical practice and community and individual discernment and more. Jonathon manages to speak to these dynamics (and more) in a brief and accessible way, based in anecdotes from his personal adventures in religious experience.

Each chapter includes between four and six short sections. Each section is followed by a reflection question. This dynamic turns his spiritual auto-biography into a kind of workbook, which invites the reader to reflect on their own preferences and experiences. Because of his long journey and deep questions, the core of From Christendom to Freedom is not just another transgender memoir, but an an object lesson in what he calls “Finding Another Right Road Authentically and Holistically.”

The Afterword points explicitly to Jonathon’s Trans-Anointing ministry which supports people of trans experience to claim their own spiritual journeys, as he encourages spiritual independence for each of us as we live out our own truth.

I am the editor and publisher of From Christendom to Freedom: Journey-Making with a Black Transgender Elder, so, naturally, I am a fan! More importantly, I want to say what an honor and a privilege is has been to work with Jonathon (and Triptta) in birthing this project.

Anyhow, much of Jonathon’s front and back “matter” is available online on the OtherWise Engaged website: Table of Contents, Foreword by the Rev Monica Joy Cross, Preface, Introduction, Afterword, Works Cited (or Recommended). Please take a look!

While this offering is not the first in a formal series, it is still the first of a kind that you can expect more of in the OtherWise Engaged Publishing catalog. Bobbi Taylor and KimiFloyd are each also working on book projects that will be spiritual autobiographies drawing on their own experiences navigating multiple cultural/spiritual influences. Sign up for updates from OtherWise Engaged Publishing to hear about what is next!

Compiled by Mx Chris Paige on May 4, 2020.

“Nonprocreative Males,” Eunuch Scholars, and the OtherWise Christian series

Since OtherWise Christian 3: What Shall Prevent Me? has an open call for reflections on the well known story in Acts 8, I’ve realized that it may save me some time if I publicly clarify some background material that may be relevant for authors.

To be blunt, if you are talking from your lived experience, it won’t matter so much what scholarship you have standing behind you. But if you want to press a scholarly point, it is important that you be close to up to date on recent developments asserted by this editor.

1 – OtherWise Christian 3 will be the third book in the OtherWise Christian series. While reading the first two books is not essential to being considered for the third, being remotely familiar with the foundations of the series can be useful in building relationship with the editor.

Continue reading ““Nonprocreative Males,” Eunuch Scholars, and the OtherWise Christian series”

Shifting Gears

So, it has been interesting trying to launch a book in this time of isolation and global upheaval, of disruption and global connectedness.

I was asked to relaunch my #YouAreLoved series on my personal page. I started playing with technology during our Launch Party for OtherWise Christian 2: Stories of Resistance. Meanwhile, I’ve been connecting with the Drew Theological School (seminary) community in preparation for the beginning of my first degree program in 25 years–and finally realized that I am less than a year away from the 25 year anniversary of my (first) ordination (as Presbyterian elder).

Meanwhile, I have been finishing off preparations for Jonathon Thunderword’s first book, From Christendom to Freedom: Journey-Making with a Black Trans Elder, which has been a bit of an “earworm” for my deeply multi-faith heart. Mir Plemmons, himself recovering from COVID-19, called for support for our young people through our #ShelterInGrace campaign. I have been talking with friends and colleagues, not just about writing chapters and books (though there is that), but also about illness, frustration, fear, and what it means to be in this quirkier than usual time of ministry.

I plan to continue using this blog, my own books, and my OtherWise Christian social media to make offerings specifically toward decolonizing Christian tradition and celebrating the #SacredOtherWise who are apparent within Christian communities–past, present, and future.

However, I am also feeling a strong pull toward elaborating my multi-faith inclinations, highlighting the ways that OtherWise Engaged Publishing extends far beyond Christian tradition, and beginning in earnest to vision an Order of OtherWise. Right now, I want to start by posting more on my personal Facebook page with experiences that are not so Christian focused. You’ll also find books launching at OtherWise Engaged Publishing on Facebook.

To witness that evolution, you’ll want to follow my personal page and maybe adjust your notification settings so Facebook will tell you when I post something–which is touch and go if you only like the page. There will probably be further updates on such evolutions here, but they will also be occasional in terms of those broader themes.

Compiled by Mx Chris Paige on April 19, 2020. This blog is a work in progress. Please be in touch if you have comments or concerns!

Still Fucking Here: A Resurrection Story

Well, having dug out the final chapter of In Remembrance of Me, Bearing Witness to Transgender Tragedy: An OtherWise Reflection Guide already this morning, I guess it only makes sense that I am wandering over to the closing of OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation.

I’ve already excerpted this section to talk about Mother Major. However, it is the first Easter/Resurrection since I published, so it seems like the right time to share my testimony more broadly. This is the final section of the final chapter (chapter 25).

Continue reading “Still Fucking Here: A Resurrection Story”

Hope

It is Easter/Resurrection Sunday 2020 and the world has changed. Some of us are simply stuck at home. Others are struggling to breath–or have crossed over already. Some of us are missing our lost loved one, while others celebrate a Resurrection hope.

I am listening to the quiet this morning. I’ve had my bagel with cream cheese and red wine for virtual communion, but I don’t much feel like going online. As I wrote “Do this in remembrance of me” on my #QueeringTheBibleChallenge post (see Instagram), I remembered that I recently published a book called In Remembrance of Me….

It’s funny how you can know things and forget them and how writing a book can be a reminder. Long story short, I went back to that work (published just two months ago) to re-read my final chapter on Hope. I decided to share it with you in honor of Easter/Resurrection Sunday 2020.

Continue reading “Hope”

Not Christian? Not Clergy? More on #OtherWiseSacred #ShelterInGrace

There is plenty of OtherWise-gendered-antagonism to go around. As we built the #ShelterInGrace campaign yesterday, we grappled with how specific to make it. We decided to gently emphasize the context of OtherWise-antagonistic Christian narratives, because we wanted to emphasize counter-moves that are specific. This raised two very important questions!

  • What if you are not Christian and/or not Christian clergy?
  • What about speaking into the hearts of folk who are isolated among Jewish antagonism or Muslim antagonism or even general cultural antagonism?

What if you are not Christian and/or not Christian clergy?

If you feel that you can speak helpful liberation and grace into the hearts of folk who are struggling with anti-trans, anti-intersex, binary-enforcing Christian narratives, then we welcome your participation!

One of the ways we break out from oppressive Christian narratives is to experience other ways of being. I know many Christian clergy (OtherWise-gendered or not) who have experienced liberation by visiting, joining, or sojourning amongst those who profess a different spiritual, philosophical, or energetic path. OtherWise Christian 2: Stories of Resistance includes three Jews as well as encounters with Wiccan and Buddhist traditions. The next book from OtherWise Engaged Publishing will actually focus on similar themes–and there is another in the works!

If you are not Christian clergy, you are still encouraged to participate! Each one of us has an important testimony. Full stop. #ClaimingOurStories is also part of what we are encouraging with OtherWise Christian 2 and #SacredOtherWise efforts. Anyone who has grappled with an antagonistic Christian narrative can #ClaimYourStory and speak from your truth.

What about speaking into the hearts of folk who are isolated among Jewish antagonism or Muslim antagonism or even more general cultural antagonism?

We decided that it would be useful to start with messaging that specifically speaks into the ways that Christian antagonism dominates so many (Christian and non-Christian, both). We also recognize that the #ShelterInGrace frame draws on language that is generally considered Christian (though “grace” is also used in a more generic way sometimes).

That said, we are closely connected to the multi-faith, multi-racial, multi-gender efforts of Transfaith, and OtherWise Engaged Publishing is not exclusively Christian. We are currently exploring ways to build on the #ShelterInGrace idea in other ways–perhaps with parallel #SacredOtherWise campaigns. If you are interested in being a part of launching such alternatives, please be in touch!

Watch the #ShelterInGrace playlist.

Make your own contribution (instructions are on this post).

Let us know what you are thinking!

Please share whatever good news you have to share about liberation in whatever ways you can!

Compiled by Mx Chris Paige on April 9, 2020.

Guest post: #SacredOtherWise #ShelterInGrace

Guest post by Chaplain Mir Plemmons (#ShelterInGrace #SacredOtherWise)

My siblings in faith and grace,

We need your help reaching out to those who are suffering in isolation during this time.

Across our countries and around our world, people are sheltering in place–and many of those places lack grace for the realizations of one’s true identity. Clarity about one’s identity may come in the midst of such seasons when we have a lot of time to think.

It is in precisely a time like this that I, an intersex person who felt forced to pass female, realized that I could no longer–in honesty, integrity, self-understanding–do so. I was housebound for a month with a concussion. At 49, I discovered that I could no longer ignore that truth that I was presenting the wrong direction. Because I had already been a chaplain among the BLTGQUIAetc communities, I had grace for myself.

Today, there are teens and children shut in with families who tell them they are abominations, that God hates them. This is not a theoretical. I have been talking with one–trying to keep him from despair by affirming who he is and reminding him that he is not alone..

Today, there are teens and even adults shut in with their thoughts, wondering what and who they really are–with those same messages swirling around their heads: that they are abominations and that God hates them.

When they start searching online, we must make every effort to speak grace into their situations. We can be the #ShelterInGrace that they need during this time–as they learn their inner truths during this time of physical isolation.

PLEASE join us in creating videos affirming the sacredness of ALL of us.

Thank you!

Mir Plemmons

Here’s what we are asking…

1 – Keep it short, so people can browse easily. We want to make it easy to find a community of support online. This is not a sermon. This is a quick encouragement. Not more than 2 minutes. You can link to additional content in the description and/or comments.

2 – Cut to the chase. Make sure you get to your specific affirmation of gender transcendent people in the first 30 seconds.

3 – Be specific. We are especially looking to help people break out of the abusive Christian narratives about OtherWise-gendered folk–transgender, non-binary, intersex, two spirit, and more. Of course, other kinds of affirmations are also good to be putting into the world! [Not Christian? Please see this followup]

4 – Post on social media and tag your video with #ShelterInGrace and #SacredOtherWise. Additional tags might include #TransAndSacred, #IntersexAndSacred, #NonBinaryAndSacred, or other variations of specific affirmation. There are lots to choose from! #FaithfullyTrans, #FaithfullyIntersex, #NoBodyIsShameful, #YouAreNotAMistake, #YouAreLoved, #URLoved, #TransPhobiaIsASin, #TransAntagonismIsASin

5 – Let us know! We are creating a playlist (maybe more than one!) at OtherWise Christian on YouTube. If you need help getting your video onto YouTube, please contact otherwisechristian@gmail.com or contact us via social media.

The #ShelterInGrace video playlist is below and will be updated as new offerings come in! The first 6 offerings emerged organically from the OtherWise Christian 2: Stories of Resistance launch party.

OC2 Launch Festivities

Many thanks for the contributors who are making themselves available to discuss OtherWise Christian 2: Stories of Resistance.

There are a few more who are swamped with Real Life stuff–from grief to family concerns to pastoring. This is a strange time. The remainder may or may not chime in if they get a break in their schedule. Sending love to one and all.

That said, we have TWENTY-TWOTHREE contributors confirmed for EIGHT NINE sessions over THREE days (PLUS we have added a BONUS ROUND during HOLY WEEK!).

While not all of our contributors are transgender (“OtherWise” includes intersex, two spirit, and more), the Transgender Day of Visibility (#TDOV) lands right in the middle of our launch on Tuesday, March 31. Visibility is only part of the equation.

This TDOV, we are also proclaiming #YouAreNotAMistake, #NoBodyIsShameful, #NoBodyIsDisposable! We also encourage you to post, blog, tweet, and OtherWise lift up the #OtherWiseSacred hashtag (together with variations on #TransAndSacred, #IntersexAndSacred, etc)!

Click through to see recordings of our lively conversations among the author-contributors!

Continue reading “OC2 Launch Festivities”