Is ElderPride Simultaneously a Queer and a Christian Organization?
Is ElderPride an Oxymoron? Queer? Christian? New Thought? How does it all mesh?
Good question! What if… “Just as many of us have reclaimed the world Queer to be an attribute of empowerment rather than oppression, what if we were empowered to do the same with our expression of Christianity?” – Rev. Jack
We like good questions here at ElderPride. Let’s start with this: ElderPride is Focus Ministry aligned with the Centers for Spiritual Living and philosophy known as The Science of Mind. Just as my spirituality is rooted in my Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) upbringing, the roots of this philosophy were born out of a Christian tradition. The early writings and teachings of Ernest Holmes (the founder of the Science of Mind philosophy) evolved out of his experience of a western Christian context. As his life evolved, so did his perspective. Both evolved into more of a mystical tradition that drew inspiration from the Metaphysical lens of the master teacher Jesus and his teachings. Yeshua, whom the world came to call Jesus, is not the great “exception”, but indeed the great example of our Oneness with God.” Taught Holmes.
Ernest Holmes and other new thought authors believed that their writings would help liberate and transform the Christian Church. Ernest Holmes (Centers for Spiritual Living and the Science of Mind philosophy) and Charles and Myrtle Filmore (Unity International) and others all considered their teachings to be “Christian” in as much as they embodied the healing truth of Jesus (but was not limited to the teachings about Jesus). In fact, Holmes often offered; “We are more Christian in our practice than those who claim to be in doctrine.” Simply, from a historical perspective - we are blended “Christian” and “New Thought” movement. What makes us unique is how we define Christianity.
In my experience Christianity, in our lifetime, has surrounded itself in the cloak of religion rather than an expression of spirituality. Bound by the confines of “a religion” Christianity today is often narrowly defined by limiting religious doctrine with fear-based tenants - namely, Salvation, Trinity, Original Sin, Heaven and Hell, all non-negotiable measures of loyalty. Historically, these tenants have brought great harm to many for whom our ministry is called to serve.
ElderPride’s Focus Ministry serves our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters 60 plus. I know that many of us have been abused, shunned, and victims of the oppression of those that have usurped the loving elements of Christianity. In the name of Christianity, they have weaponized fear as their compliance tool to assure obedience of their fundamentalist interpretation of what Christianity is perceived to be in today’s world.
Rev. Dr. David Alexander, the Spiritual Leader for the Centers for Spiritual Living (CSL.org) offers that in the long history of Christianity there are emerging and evolving trends - that have not always existed and are ever changing. “Christianity has always been a diverse table - from a definition standpoint. And I think it always will be. How we (Centers for Spiritual Living and the Science of Mind philosophy educators) define Christian - fits on that broad spectrum - and has roots that date back to the first century, even to Jesus himself, who was more metaphysical Jew than doctrinal Christian.”
Alexander goes on to say: “We like to think our (Science of Mind) view is unique - but the truth is - it is not. From the Theological School of Origen of Alexandria to Paul Tillich, to Bishop John Shelby Spong, Richard Rhor, Bishop Carlton Pearson, and Bishop Yvette Flunder and MANY others in between - there is an evolutionary pulse within the Christian Family - that has often been suppressed and attempted to be eliminated - but it always finds a way to reemerge. New Thought is part of this timeline.”
Here at ElderPride if you claim Christianity as part of your Spiritual Expression, that is great. Just as we welcome those that proclaim to be Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, or of no faith tradition. In our community and throughout the CSL organization, we see the Spiritual world as pluralistic and universal. Therefore, we encourage and dare I say, expect our community to build their own unique spiritual tool kit. We teach that your spiritual tool kit (or portfolio) is yours to design and honor. Alexander also reminds us that many perceive Ernest Holmes to be the integrative synthesizer of his time. But I believe and teach, that you are called to be such a synthesizer as well. Meditate, pray, read, work out, practice yoga, sing, and honor the traditions that serve your life. We honor all paths to one Universal (loving) God. This is what I mean when we say we encourage members of our community to be Spiritually engaged.
Simultaneously, and with equal appreciation, as students of the Science of Mind Philosophy, we are also committed to the integration of scientific knowledge and psychology with Spirituality, to fully understand how the world got to be the way that it is, and to discern our best path for getting from where we are, to where we want to be.
Finally, Alexander offers, and I agree, that we are a tapestry of diversity - inclusive of Liberal Christianity, Mind Cure Movement, and Transcendentalism - grounded in ancient wisdom of perennial philosophies.
Therefore, just as many of us have reclaimed the world Queer to be an attribute of empowerment rather than oppression, we are empowered to do the same with our expression of Christianity. We end, as we began. Is ElderPride an Oxymoron? Is ElderPride Simultaneously a Queer and a Christian Organization? The answer is…
Rev. Jack Elliott, is the Founder and Spiritual Director of ElderPride Incorporated. A CSL Focus Ministry. He is licensed with, and ElderPride is a chartered affiliate of, the Centers for Spiritual Living (CSL.org).