Dumbledore is gay. Okay!

As if the Christian right didn’t have enough to worry about already. First came the notoriously gay Teletubbies, followed by SpongeBob, the Terrible Token of Tolerance. (Following condemnation from the right, SpongeBob was immediately welcomed into the United Church of Christ. Go UCC!)

dumbledore.jpgBut now, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has announced that the beloved Hogwarts Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, is gay. (That loud “pop” you just heard was the sound of James Dobson’s head exploding.)

I, however, celebrate this news. As others have pointed out, given the still-pervasive culture of shame surrounding gay and lesbian people in America, it’s vital that gay kids have positive role models growing up–in literature as well as in real life.

However, to the extent that past behavior can predict future behavior, we can expect to see continued Christian-driven censorship of Harry Potter with this new revelation. People have already had a problem with the “witchcraft” in the books (this despite the fact that there are blatant Harry/Jesus parallels to be found as well).

Some may ask, “why does this even matter?” or “why now?” Since Dumbledore doesn’t have any apparent romantic attachments throughout any of the seven books, why would Rowling bother to ‘out him’ at this point?

mugglenet.pngIn my view, Dumbledore is one of the greatest father-figures in children’s literature. People of all stripes and prejudices have come to love him; gay, straight and anti-gay alike. Without knowing about Dumbledore’s gayness, people’s perceptions of him weren’t diminished by their preconceived notions about gay people.

Now, months after the story has been finished, we are free to decide for ourselves whether or not Dumbledore’s homosexuality somehow makes him to be worse (or better) than we’d previously thought. I would think that most honest people would agree that he doesn’t retroactively change into a worse person just because of this news.

Kudos to J.K. Rowling for providing us all with a positive, prominent gay role model in literature.


Here’s how this Harry Potter fan (and founder of mugglenet.com) answers the ‘why now?’ question.

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Domestic and foreign plights of the Congolese

This past week, two articles were published about the plights of the Congolese. First, the New York Times reveals the systematized sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Put simply, women are being brutally raped by paramilitary groups at a horrifying scale. In 2006, in the relatively tiny South Kivu Province alone, there were 27,000 sexual assaults reported, according to the UN. At just one hospital profiled in the article, ten new rape victims arrive daily. Read the article; this reality is horrifying.

“…The United Nations peacekeepers here seem to be stepping up efforts to protect women. Recently, they initiated what they call “night flashes,” in which three truckloads of peacekeepers drive into the bush and keep their headlights on all night as a signal to both civilians and armed groups that the peacekeepers are there. Sometimes, when morning comes, 3,000 villagers are curled up on the ground around them…”

I can’t imagine the terror they must be living daily.

But while the UN may be making headway (the daily assault rates have not diminished yet), the World Bank has seized the opportunity to sponsor the decimation of the 2nd largest forest in the world, at the expense of its inhabitants.

According to its own internal investigation, since 2002 the World Bank has “encouraged foreign companies to destructively log the world’s second largest forest, endangering the lives of thousands of Congolese Pygmies.”

This is inconceivable: in the same regions that women in the DRC have been sexually mutilated for years, the World Bank has simultaneously pursued cold financial gain on behalf of foreign industrial forestry companies. Worse, it’s supposed to be “legally committed to protecting the environment, and trying to alleviate poverty.”

According to the Guardian:

“In a scathing analysis of the bank’s economic reasoning, the panel said the bank had “distorted the real economic value of the country’s forests” by looking solely at the tax and revenue that increased industrial logging might generate. ‘There seems to have been little action to support alternative uses of the forest resources,’ it said.”

—snip—

“One Pygmy leader told the panel: ‘We are being made poor in every aspect … the [logging] company prevents us from going into the forests.’ Another said that the company had bought the land so that people could no longer live in the forests.”

In response to all this, I am completely overwhelmed. This information must come to light. We in the international community must not sit idly by, unaware while the Congolese people are savagely victimized by domestic sexual assault and foreign theft of their land.

Liberating Leviticus

Ask and ye shall receive…

I asked a blogger on this thread to offer me some specific scriptural citations that indicate that homosexuality is a sin. So, somebody pointed out that in Leviticus 18.22 and 20.13, two men having sex “as with a woman” is clearly condemned.

leviticus3.JPGThis got me thinking, because it is also true that Leviticus is full of mandates, rituals, and practices that, for a variety of reasons, are no longer considered to be instructive for how we ought to live our daily lives today. (See Lev 11, 12, 15, 19.20-28 for particularly choice examples.) I frankly don’t see any standard by which Lev 18.22 and 20.13 should be literally applied in lieu of these others, per se.

Furthermore, I don’t agree that Lev 18.22 and 20.13 necessarily represent God’s final word for gay and lesbian people. To the contrary, according to Jesus, the social relevance of Levitican law actually suggests the exact opposite.

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The Call of Dag Gadol

 

SUNSET OVER MORTON BAY BRISBANE AUSTRALIA AT LOW TIDEHaving only recently arrived at seminary, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be follow God’s call. Yesterday, I had a story-telling class in which I offered an unconventional perspective of a familiar story about a call from God…

It was three in the morning when the LORD called out to me.

Dag Gadol…

Dag Gadol…

Dag Gadol!

Yes? This is Dag Gadol…who is this? What do you want from me?

Dag Gadol…

Who is this? Is this the LORD?

Dag Gadol!

I remembered that when God calls, even when it’s late, the best response is: “Speak LORD, your servant listens.”

But what I actually said was, “It’s three in the morning! Please come back another time.”

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Hallelujah, but it ain't over yet.

Today, the U.S. Senate joined the House of Representatives in passing the Matthew Shepard Act and sent it to President Bush.

The Matthew Shepard Act provides an opportunity for communities to receive federal resources in the prosecution of crimes based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, disability, gender and gender identity.

This can make a huge difference in the manner in which local law enforcement are able to prosecute crimes in their community.  In 1998, both James Byrd, Jr. and Matthew Shepard were savagely murdered due to race (Byrd was an African American man) and sexual orientation (Shepard was a gay man).  In prosecuting the murderers of James Byrd, Jr., the local law authorities were able to use the existing federal hate crimes legislation to pull in federal assistance in financial resources and human-power.  With the Matthew Shepard prosecution however, the county could barely afford the costs of the trial, and had to furlough five law enforcement employees (.doc) in order to pay the bills.  That’s completely crazy.

As a Christian who strives to follow Jesus’ mandate to love my neighbor as myself, I see no less of a mandate to do so based on someone’s sexual orientation, gender, disability, or gender identity.  This legislation is long overdue, and yet it remains under the threat of an impending presidential veto.  May God truly speak to this leader, and may Mr. Bush truly have ears to hear God’s mandate to love others just as we love ourselves.