I grew up in the Buckle of the Bible Belt, and although I was raised in a Pentecostal church, the Baptists and Methodists really held the corner market on religion. Being raised with kids who generally believed the same thing as me made life easy…and fairly boring. Except for one seemingly random Wednesday in 7th grade, when one of my classmates showed up with a big splotch of dirt on her forehead.
Trust me when I tell you: dirt and Annie didn’t go together. Her Momma was a real estate agent and her father was a banker. Everything Annie wore was smocked, embroidered, and color coordinated. But this particular Wednesday, Annie had dirt smudged on her forehead, and everyone saw it.
My classmates and I gave our friend more than her fair share of hell over it, until our social studies teacher calmly explained that, “Annie is Episcopal. And today is Ash Wednesday in her church.” Now, I’d heard “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust,” in some old black and white movie I watched with my Granddaddy, but I had no idea people smeared actual dirt on their foreheads. Our church only used olive oil (which caused little old ladies to fall on the floor, but that’s another story).
I didn’t know anyone else who was Episcopal. Where I came from, the only thing more strange than an Episcopalian was a Hindu or a vegetarian. It wasn’t until my wife and I visited a Methodist church in our late twenties that we really began to learn about the symbolism and beauty of Ash Wednesday. Since that time, I’ve made friends with another girl with dirt on her forehead. Now, Liz Edman, author of the influential book, Queer Virtue, has created a new way of approaching Ash Wednesday.
It’s a black smudge.
Kind of looks like a cross. You can’t unsee it.
It tells everyone in your world — in the office, at the grocery store, walking down the street: I’m a Christian.
This can feel weird if you are left of center. You kind of want an asterisk on that smudge: “I’m not what you probably think. Really. I believe in pluralism and science and LGBTQ people. Did you notice my NPR tote bag?”
Ash Wednesday is as visible as some of us ever get. But it isn’t enough. Too many people are being hurt by “fake Christian news” — teachings that run directly counter to the Gospel.
This year for Glitter Ash Wednesday, progressive queer-positive Christians will come out as the kind of Christians we are. This is your invitation to get glittered!
This Ash Wednesday: March 1, 2017
Progressive, Queer-positive Christians will come out
as the kind of Christians we are.Join me for #GlitterAshWednesday! Let's get glittered!Click To Tweet
WE WILL BE SEEN
Yeah, we’ll get ashes — with a bit of glitter.
Glitter is like love. It’s irresistible and irrepressible. Any contact and it’s all over you. Try to get rid of it? You can’t. Want to put it back in the bottle? Good luck!
WE WILL TELL THE TRUTH
Ashes are an in-your-face statement that death and suffering are real.
The glitter will be a sign of our hope, which does not despair.
The glitter will signal our promise to repent, to show up, to witness, to work.
Glitter never gives up — and neither do we.
Glitter is an inextricable element of queer history. It is how we have always displayed our gritty, scandalous hope. We make ourselves fabulously conspicuous, giving offense to the arbiters of respectability that allow coercive power to flourish.
If you belong to a church, contact your priest or pastor to see if they are holding an Ash Wednesday service or an “Ashes To Go” event in a nearby public space. Ask if they will be offering glitter ashes (and direct them here if they have no idea what that is!). If they are participating, GO, and bring friends!
For more detailed information, just click here.
THEY’LL KNOW WE ARE CHRISTIANS BY OUR LOVE
And by that big ol’ glittery/ashy smudge on our foreheads.
Share this on social media using #GlitterAshWednesday!