In Memory: Charles Stephen Hughes

www.charlesstephenhughes.com

 

 

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From Particles and Disputations: Writings for Jeff, a book of hours

 

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Selections from

Via Obliquities:

 a philosophical coming-of-age collection

 

I.  Isolation

Depths

Most life is lived in shallows by creatures accustomed to light -- flashy, sun-accustomed creatures of a social, carnivorous nature, whereas in depths are solitary, here and there loners.  Having been there, I report there is distance, not mystery in the depths, except what mystery shallow-dwellers imagine, expecting things not seen to be invisible rather than merely dull.

II.  Anger

City Christ

Walk on, sister, on flotsam, on muddy night waters, on.  Are you envisaging yourself a city christ walking the alley galilee past rats fishing fast-food refuse as from the putrid, decay-laden air you breathe adrenalin because the frightful ugliness is so beautifully reassuring to your sense of mission?  And at the far distant end of the shifting, perpendicular shadows do you think you see a pale yellow light beneath which there is a door behind which do you imagine there is an upper-crust party going on?  Amen, brothers and sisters, I am with you and always have been, amen.

III.  Despair

at a loss

Time without word coming, I'm waiting through a few more moments of void; dropping into the ashtray are stories aborted, willed distractions.  This kind of pain must negate language, or we'd have common words for it by now, like anxiety, only more specific.

Where the spine joins the head, tightness, throbbing tension, unrelieved, caged, caged, implosive words unsaid, we are losing the sense of it, we are losing -- alone, finding myself alone, I, finding myself alone, I, sat for a chat?  No, I, bereaved expatriate talk is of how we were, people define our definitions, take us away.  Finding myself alone, I observe, an inability to concentrate, effect, dispose, communicate, connect with particles of ideas.  Nothingness makes sense.  I can tell you about this pain he feels, and I cannot touch it, this throbbing tightness where the spine joins the head, these too many thoughts filling the brain, seeping out, spoiling, poisoning down the neck, turning muscle into a meaningless, ineffectual nothingness I fear I am speaking now to those who wondered what I meant by my not saying.  Newly conversant with death and loss, I discover a whole new litany of unresolved rage, amen.

IV.  Reconciliation

Dear Mama and Papa,

Thank you for the letter. I truly appreciate the love it expresses. I know we will probably never agree on homosexuality, but that doesn't mean I will ever stop loving you, praying for your well-being, and appreciating all that you've given us. I do wish you could see homosexuality as a part of God's design. It occurs throughout the animal kingdom -- in lions, giraffes, sheep, penguins, in many, many species. The more scientists look for the phenomenon, the more they find it taking place. Biologists believe that it helps ensure the survival of the clan because the homosexual individuals, who are free of concern for their own offspring, are able to help gather food and protect the young of the other clan members, particularly the young of their siblings. If you could accept that, you could probably feel as happy about my life as I do. I've had two God-given companions in life who couldn't have been or be better for me. I never stop thanking God for them, as I'm sure you continually thank God for each other. I'm sad that you can't believe that, but I am thankful that now that my depression is under control with the appropriate medication, I'm able to receive letters such as yours that call my life sinful without feeling angry or upset -- instead, I can see past what I believe are mistaken beliefs and appreciate the love underneath them.

I know you believe that the Bible condemns homosexuality as a perversion of God's order, and it is true that some Biblical passages do proscribe the practice, but at the same time, many Biblical passages, in both the Old and New Testaments, accept as a given the practice of slavery. In the Old Testament, many of the Israelite men have multiple wives as well as slaves. Thankfully, since Biblical times, humanity has moved toward realizing that slavery truly is a perversion of God's order because one human cannot own another and extend to that person Godly love.

God exhorts us not to idolize the works of man, even the works of the most Godly of men. The human condition is to be fallible. The writing and selection of passages for inclusion in our present day Bible was an historical process accomplished through the minds and souls of men - holy men sincerely seeking God's guidance, but men nonetheless. As with all things produced by man, we must separate the chaff from the wheat, the truths from prejudices and preconceptions of the various times in which the words were written.

So that we might more fully realize the wisdom and grace conveyed to us through God's word, God gave to us through the teaching of Jesus the great commandment that fulfills all the commandments: that we love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. That is the standard by which we are to discern God's voice as it is transmitted to us through human channels. God has given us the Bible to direct our lives, but God expects us to engage the minds and souls we have been given as we glean its truths.

Because we are all human and fallible, we will probably always disagree on some points about how God's word applies to our lives, but I believe God works through our creative, loving conflict to bring us closer and closer to a more perfect understanding of divine love. As the human family has slowly progressed beyond such things as the universal acceptance of slavery, so I hope it will eventually progress beyond the rejection of its gay relatives to an acceptance that God has a purpose for creating some of us this way.

Anyway, that's the last I'll say on the subject. I just felt I needed to at least offer you a way to see how my being gay need not be in conflict with your spiritual convictions, how you could accept it as one of God's gifts to me.

We've had company the last couple of Sundays, when I usually call. I'll be sure to give you a call this week or next at the latest. We have plans for this Sunday afternoon, but I don't think they'll go too late into the evening.  I hope this finds you both well. I'm glad you have plenty of firewood, and that you were able to participate in gathering it. Stephen sends his greetings.

With love and prayers,

Philip