The Raleigh Rant
This weekend I attended a couple of workshops conducted by a prolific author. Chris Glaser lives in Atlanta and has written twelve books as well as having conducted numerous workshops and seminars. Rev. Glaser has been an activist in the movement for full inclusion of LBGT Christians in the Presbyterian Church, or PCUSA, for more 30 years. He is currently a minister in the Metropolitan Christian Church (MCC). He has a web site Chris Glaser.com and a blog Chris's blog.
Chris got his Mdiv degree from Yale Divinity School in 1977 but wasn’t ordained by the Presbyterian Church even while serving in numerous official capacities. He was ordained by the Metropolitan Christian Church in 1995. He is a Christian theologian and has published a book about the theologian Henri Nouwen. He has incredible energy and insight, and I wish I had half the drive he does.
You can read his full biography on his web site, but he is well documented as someone who has thought through many of the most controversial issues of our day and how the church has responded to them. I won’t try to summarize his presentations that he taught from just a few notes (no boring Powerpoints) and a couple of handouts. Obviously he is experienced in conducting workshops and seminars, particularly in interacting with his audience.
I didn’t get a chance to interview him about how he works as a writer, particularly considering his busy schedule. Although all of his books are on Amazon.com, he obviously markets them via his many public appearances. His appearances are carefully directed to the specific topic he is addressing and are not generic stump speeches. He admits that he can’t immediately recall some of the names or people of projects he’s working with over the years, but he has complete command of the fruits of all his education and both the theological concepts and religious issues across many generations. He expresses himself not as an academic but as a scholar with knowledge and skills to use simple language. He says, “I just love all the stories in the Bible.” He states that the fundamentalist/evangelical approach to the Bible is a relatively recent 19th Century version of the scriptures.
The second local authors’ reading and book signing was held at the Raleigh LGBT Center on Sunday afternoon October 13th. I participated in the first one in August. This event included three very different authors. Jimmy Creech’s book “Adam’s Gift” recounts his experience as a former United Methodist Church pastor and his crusade to change the official doctrine of the church that classifies the LGBT community as second-class members who are restricted in many opportunities for membership and service and specifically prohibited from marriage in the church. He has done many book tours all across the country and is well known for his position as a martyr because he was forced to give up his credentials after many years of service.
“AD 2040” is the work of a pen name author Grantham West, who wrote a science fiction novel speculating on the take-over of the United States by the radical right in a theocracy. The American Economy has suffered its second depression, gone through bankruptcy and the collapse of the Federal Government. The long-neglected HIV/AIDS epidemic is ravaging the country. The religious right fundamentalists have dictated mandatory testing and proposed a shocking solution to the problem in the police state of America. The situation in the 2007 book seems strikingly similar to today’s headlines. The author has worked as a volunteer with the local AIDS Service Alliance.
Melody Moezzi was perhaps the most surprising selection since she is a straight Iranian-American Muslim woman who also is a lawyer. She also suffers from the BiPolar disorder, and her memoir “Haldol and Hyacinths: a Bipolar Life” describes the many forms of discrimination she has faced. Even her personal appearance defies the passive stereotype since she looks more like a rock star than a lawyer.
Authors, Librarian, and leader of Affirming Faith Forum at LGBT Center