Theology as Survival — Broderick Greer speaking truth

Perhaps the greatest joys I get from traveling around as a performance artist and Bible scholar is that I get to meet amazing, thoughtful, interesting, fun, and beautiful people. I think it was back in 2008 when I first met Broderick Greer when he was an undergrad student at a small Christian college in Tennessee. Then over the next few years it seemed everywhere I went Broderick popped up with a bowtie, smile, and hug.

If you do not follow Broderick on Twitter, I strongly recommend you do. His tweets are insightful, prophetic, hilarious, and searing.

Broderick Greer at the GCN Conference 2016

Broderick Greer at the GCN Conference 2016

According to the bio on his site:

A 2015 graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary, the Rev. Broderick Greer is Curate at Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. At Grace-St. Luke’s, Broderick coordinates ministry to people in their 20s and 30s, preaches and leads worship, oversees the parochial school chapel, and directs City of Soul, a new Episcopal Service Corps (young adult service year) program. He offers lectures and facilitates conversations at the intersection of social media, American history, queer theory, black theology, human rights, and racial justice. His work has appeared in The GuardianReligion News Serviceand The Huffington Post.

In addition to writing, Broderick is speaking at more and more LGBTQ friendly Christian events and Justice gatherings around the country. Last week he gave a absolutely brilliant talk at the Gay Christian Network Conference. Drawing on his personal life’s journey, he connected with the mostly white audience on a range of issues that I imagine both comforted and challenged those listening in the room and on the live stream.

He begins by sharing a little of himself and expertly brings the audience in close.

I am Broderick Lee Greer, a child of God, baptized in Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church on November 1, 1998 and since that time I have sought to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. I tell you this because I ended up being “baptized” three times after this November 1, 1998. I tell you this because while some try to “pray away the gay” I – in dramatic fashion – attempted to “wash away the gay”. I tell you this because I survived – and am surviving – the strain of being subject to white heterosexist patriarchal theology.

I tell you this because I have a hunch, given that you’re here, that you’re a survivor as well.

hqdefaultI will not quote much more because I think you should read the whole talk as he connects Bible narratives to queer issues to Black Lives Matter and police violence.

Towards the end of the talk Broderick references the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8, a story that in most white Evangelical circles gets stripped of race, ethnicity, and gender differences as the focus gets turned on Phillip the Apostle or Jesus the Savior. But Broderick rightly puts the focus squarely on the Black African sexual and gender minority character in the text tying together the strands of the themes he has been weaving throughout his talk:

And how can the eunuch not see himself in this passage? How can he not read his own experience of castration, sexual otherness, marginalization along with this text? Which may be why he ends up asking in verse 34, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Besides learning that the eunuch is polite, we learn that he is inquisitive, even curious about where her fits in God’s economy. He is doing theology as survival. Is this about me? Am I the one being led like a sheep to the slaughter? Am I the one being denied justice?

Read Broderick Greer’s Theology as Survival. Share it with your friends, pastors, fellow survivors, oppressors, and whoever you think needs a concentrated shot of truth and justice.


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