I hate blog entries that begin with, “I haven’t written anything here for a while…” so I won’t begin this one that way, although I certainly would have good enough cause.
I was at a Walk to Emmaus this past weekend, and it was about 92% wonderful. Unfortunately, the 8% that wasn’t wonderful was comprised of prejudicial comments made by some leaders of the weekend about people of other races and sexual orientations than themselves. Not all the leaders of course, but it was more than one person, and it happened more than one time.
And now I’m not sure what to do with it. Setting aside for a moment the question of whether such comments are appropriate for a follower of Christ at all, such comments are clearly not appropriate for a Walk to Emmaus, where the theme is all grace, all the time. The comments were made in informal times, not in any of the official programmed moments, but still they dulled the colors of the weekend somewhat.
There’s a stone on my desk with the word “First” painted on it. I got it at my Cursillo weekend, and it reminds me of Jesus’ teaching that only the one without sin is able to cast the “first stone” at another person. Well, it feels to me like the “first stone” was cast this weekend. The word “homo” was used in a derisive and scornful tone, intended to evoke laughter from the group. There were several snide remarks about “that rainbow group” that were intended to compare the Emmaus logo to that of the gay rights movement in a negative and judgmental way. There were several negative comments directed toward Hispanic immigrants, and racially charged comments about “the hood” that were intended to stereotypically portray African Americans.
I confess that I was stunned into inaction, and I should have spoken up right then. But truthfully I was so caught off guard that I couldn’t think of what to say. It was just so unexpected to hear at a weekend like that, and I didn’t want to add to it by drawing extra attention to it, I guess. I decided to let it go and come at it from a positive angle instead by emphasizing as often as I could that God’s grace is there for all, even for us.
Other than those isolated comments, the weekend was wonderful. I loved being able to make some new friends, to offer spiritual guidance to some who are working through some spiritual issues in their lives, to be present and pray with a man who rededicated his life to Christ on Saturday night, and experience the Christian community in action. In no way shape or form do I believe that these comments are a reflection on the Emmaus community as a whole or the Show Me the Way Emmaus group specifically.
And so I would especially like to hear the opinions of people who have been involved with Emmaus weekends, or Cursillo or Camino. What should I do with this? I think it needs to be followed up, but how exactly?
And (because I think it needs to be said again) please be respectful and gracious with your comments, not attacking anyone personally while affirming what you believe. There is a spectrum of beliefs about this topic, and it is possible for good and faithful people to find ourselves in different places.