Saturday, June 07, 2008

More on Uganda

I was truly honored to receive this comment on my "Uganda News" post. It warrants more exposure up here on the "front page." The comment is from an Episcopal priest currently serving as a Kiva fellow in Kampala, Uganda.

Just listen.

She writes:

I've been in Uganda now for almost three months.

I saw this story as well, which was front page news in the daily paper. There was another difficult story about a week ago about a traditional healer named Lady Suzanna who avoided being admitted to hospital for meningitis because she knew the staff would discover she was transgendered (called transvestite in the article). Crowds of gawkers came to look at her. (I'm sorry I can't find a reference to this article online so I hope I have the details correct.)

And of course there was an article today reporting that Archbishop Orombi had stated that "pro-gay" bishops should apologize.

It seems that there is a story in the paper almost every day that belies the suggestion that homosexuality is a pernicious foreign curse while trying to make it so. I could go on and on but will try to be brief.

I bought a book here as part of my own listening process entitled "Same Gender Unions: A Critical Analysis" which is car-crash fascinating. The distance in perspective between myself and the authors of this book is so vast, I don't even know where to start. I did take some grain of hope in the sometimes suggested recognition that there actually ARE people who have same-sex orientation, that it's not just something people are making up, but that understanding comes and goes. Mostly it is viewed as a learned behavior (from Arab traders, boarding schools, parental abuse, etc. The old story), an addiction, and a plot.

One of the unspoken stories of the Uganda Martyrs, whose feast was Tuesday, was that the Kabaka reportedly often used his pages for sex and part of their martyrdom was based on their refusal to have sex with him. It seems to me this gets all mangled and mixed in with their faith and with a local understanding that homosexual relationships are not based on love, trust and mutual respect. Certainly, the newspaper articles on the topic didn't seem to identify these differences.

What I sense in my admittedly brief stay is a society trying desperately to keep the lid on. Things are happening fast because too much is available from the West in the form of popular culture to pretend homosexuality doesn't exist. It is not going to work, but I'm afraid--let's be honest, I KNOW a lot of people are going to get hurt while the fearful try to nail that box shut.

There's much I would like to write in response. I'll settle for this one. I believe that the best thing we can do to preserve the Anglican Communion is to keep meeting and keep nurturing partnerships. Several of you know that I spent a couple of weeks with the Episcopalians in southern Sudan in 2006. I saw and heard similar attitudes there -- always offered gently. The Sudanese I met think we are dead wrong about our tolerance of homosexuality. But they love us, and they embraced me. I truly believe more face-to-face mission and ministry is what we must do if we are to keep this Anglican Communion together.

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