Monday, June 30, 2008

Get this woman a pastor, stat

I stayed up too late last night watching a recent rebroadcast of 30 Days on the FX channel. I'm a huuuuuuge fan of this show. For those who've never seen it: It follows the premise of "Walking a Mile in Someone Else's Skin" for 30 days, with the idea of, once you get to know someone intimately, you can no longer judge or hate them. So they took a Minuteman and had him live with an undocumented family, an anti-gay evangelical and had him live in the Castro District, a hunter with PETA activists, a born-again Christian with Muslims, etc. And if you think it's left-centered, that it's out to show that progressives have open minds and conservatives just need a crowbar, think again: One episode featured an atheist from Kansas living with an evangelical family in the Dallas area; the evangelical dad was completely defensive at first but really tried hard to make an effort to understand his houseguest and by the end of the 30 days had come to rearrange his thinking a bit; the atheist was a complete jerk who didn't budge a iota. 

So last night, the premise was "Put staunchly anti-same-sex-parenting person in a home with a same-sex family." And it was a terrible experience for everyone around. Kati, the woman undergoing the experience, came in feeling defensive, and so she felt attacked every time the conversation came up and dug in her heels around her beliefs so hard that she left dents in the hardwood floors. She cried after nearly every engagement and progressively looked as if she was falling to pieces as the days went by, as she struggled to stand up for her beliefs.

I was upset by Kati from the very beginning, because she started off with the statement, "I believe that children should be raised by a mother and father." Basically, the nuclear family is the only proper family. Well, I was raised in a non-nuclear family, without a dad, and I can tell  you that it wasn't Not Having a Dad that was the problem, it was world being snotty (and it still is being snotty, mind you) about Me Not Having a Dad that was the problem. 

Families do not fit in a single, narrowly defined box. What about extended families that help in raising kids? What about friends who live together and share responsibilities? Neighbors who help each other? Where are the boundaries of family? Does the raising of a child leave off at the parent(s)? Doesn't the efforts and work and love put in by grandparents, step-parents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, godparents, family friends count? Expand your mind to include all the possibilities, and you can't help but see that same-sex family is family, too.

But back to 30 Days. Kati held forth with her beliefs, blatantly telling the Patricks (the same-sex family hosting her) that she thought that their family was wrong, telling a child with lesbian moms that she was damaged, telling same-sex parents that what they were doing was against God and if they were hurting because the law didn't give them protective rights over their child, so sorry, it was their own fault for going against God and Law in the first place. And after nearly every encounter she was shown weeping at the unfairness of it, that why should she be punished for holding onto her beliefs?

I kept thinking, "Someone get this woman a pastor. Get her a pastor, NOW." This is interesting because a year ago I wouldn't have thought this, but ain't it funny how life is? There was no way Kati was going to be open to different ways of thinking as long as she felt like everyone was against her. As Kati was very religious (a devout Mormon), a supportive pastor would have helped guide her through her angst and used language Kati spoke to reassure her that turning over new and different ideas in her mind would not mean that God was going to smite her at any moment. Shown her biblical examples of the different kinds of families (and I tell ya, the Bible is NOT family-friendly). Read Ruth and see if that family arrangement is nuclear; it's Naomi who's left holding the kid by the end. Same-sex parenting, indeed. 

This is not to say a pastor would have helped Kati change her mind on the issue. That's not really what a pastor is for. But maybe she could have helped Kati clue into the fact that maybe one reason she was crying after these encounters because she was seeing the human collateral of her beliefs and her expression of them. And helped Kati pray on that. 

So I'm rather peeved at 30 Days for not giving her a session or four with a pastor to help her get through her crisis. 

1 comment:

Erudite Redneck said...

Cool. I sent this is a future pastor friend of mine at Brite.