In some ways this church serves those of us who are on The Fringe. The Christian faith properly worked out lives and finds is compass on The Fringes. In fact our daily lives are cluttered with God talk and God here God there. Politicians talk about God; TV shows introduce God in various forms, “In God We Trust”, even goddammit! Televangelists, Mother of the Church scowling, politicians laying claims even “pastors” in political office of politics clutter the universe and our heads with God-talk. With such a universal God clutter I suggest then God is on the margins God is on The Fringe.
Yet on The Fringe is precisely where God is and has always manifested Godself. “Come unto me all ye that bear heavy burdens”: The Fringe. “Blessed are the Poor for they shall inherit the earth”: The Fringe. “Blessed are the Peace makers and the meek”: The Fringe. The widow who gave all that she had even if it was a penny: The Fringe. In the clutter in the social noise that surrounds us some of us stand in The Fringes. And if we find ourselves in The Fringes then we are in the same location that God finds Godself.
For decades if not longer LGBT community have been a Fringe Fest of their own. A form of social criticism has developed along the lines of wit and caustic critique. An intricate and often mind boggling cultural set or rules, understandings, and phenomena have developed “underground.” What you don’t think that I know about those handkerchiefs, or the code of a people oppressed like “Bear”, “Bear Trapper”, “Cub”, “Otter” and so on? Of course I do. How different is that than the sign of the beast “666”? Did you know that was code? Indeed it was a code and symbol meaning Nero or Neron, the personification of evil. The Fringe is where the oppressed find themselves. Within that Fringe arises, often, vast and abundant creativity is the only way to push back on oppression! Where is God? God is creator! The Fringe has, therefore, cosmic meaning.
As one wanders the tents and locations of Fringe Fest be very mindful, that for artists and musicians, it is a reflection of our own community within communities. The Fringe Fest is most often populated with the cultural outliers that have not been invited into convention. LGBT community expresses herself in so many ways – outliers moving slowly and grudgingly into acceptance and convention.
Perhaps these musings are a cautionary tale of staying in tune with and in touch with The Fringe. That dynamic community that proclaimed love, which proclaimed radical inclusion that had code language and when brought into convention and full inclusion lost its code and became oppressive: The Church. Somewhere we lost our appreciation for The Fringe – that God Place. That spiritual Fringe is being rediscovered in wonderful ways in the 21st century. But it was oh so forgotten for so long. In it and by it and from it the oppressed became the oppressor. Churches that are rejoining The Fringe are often criticized with the language of discord words like “relativized, secularized, Post Modern, and heritics” are being echoed in the halls of convention. But arise the churches are.
The caution is this. Do not buy into convention too much you may lose God. Do not become so main stream that you lose community memory of what it was like and how to truly love your enemy. Do not lose the great giftedness of a caustic amusing social critique because there is so much in this world to work with on that score. If it is not you or I or LGBT community that are marginalized it is someone or some group and we as a community within communities MUST use our historic gifts to push back wheresoever we find oppression. We, you, all of us MUST keep one foot in The Fringe for it is there that we see the face of God and of his messengers and manifestations.
Step out, enjoy Fringe Fest, and see in your wanderings if you can glimpse even for a moment in your imagination a little of that same stuff that created the universe, the heart and mind of God.