Queer. Peculiar, different, surprising, unexpected, even unwanted. While this word has been used to condemn and hurt sexual minorities, many of us are reclaiming it with pride, because it is precisely in our difference that we are a gift to the world.
Formation. The taking on of a certain character, a settled inner disposition to pick out certain facts in the world and respond to them. Against the obsession of contemporary ethics with elaborating rules or principles (the greatest good for the greatest number, or Kant’s universal maxim), formation seeks to understand what makes human persons good within, shaped into wholeness and capable of bringing about creative goodness in the world.
These two words—queer, formation—are perhaps the key interests of my life, along with a third: Jesus.
I do not here say “Christian,” although I could; but as this word has taken on resonances that directly oppose both “Queer” and “Formation” I want instead to talk about the way of Jesus, the unfolding of the peaceable shalom of God that Jesus called “the Kingdom.” I am deeply convinced that the way of Jesus is a lens that can help us understand more deeply what it means to be queer, what it means to be take on a formation befitting our humanity, that these are best expressed in a relationship of following the Jesus way.
This will take some unpacking, for these three sit in tension: Queer, Formation, Jesus. Most people I encounter will welcome perhaps one, at best two of these. For many reasons, queer and formation seem to pull away from one another. And Christendom has made it intensely difficult for queer people to welcome Jesus, or to see Jesus as welcoming them.
But for me, it is the in unexpected, peculiar — even queer — pulling together of these three themes that I find the playful fire, the fresh breeze of Spirit hovering over my chaos. So I want to hold these together and join the play, and see where this journey of Queer Formation with Jesus leads.