It was the end of a rehearsal one night at the Mickee Faust Clubhouse, and I was gathering up my scripts into a folder. We’d just finished prepping a musical number for our tenth annual “Queer As Faust” cabaret, a song poking fun at the president and his gay supporters in the Log Cabin Republican group. One of my fellow cast members wanted to know how I “do this” (meaning Faust) while being a Christian.
This was not the first time I have been asked this question. I had something of the reverse put to me years ago when I arrived at St. John’s Episcopal Church in my leather biker jacket. A member and fellow Eucharistic Minister said to me, “You can’t come in dressed like that. This isn’t Mickee Faust!” (I should note, he was smiling and clearly ribbing me.) But his joke was likely a serious matter for others.
How can I be in Faust and be an active Christian?
I doubt anyone would call the Mickee Faust Club a “holy place.” It is very rooted in the secular world with a mythology built on the quest for world media domination by a giant rat who smokes a cigar, cracks bad jokes, and is the unloved twin of another much more famous Florida rodent with a Magic Kingdom in Orlando. The woman under the rubber rat ears is an avowed atheist as are many of the company members. Some were raised in households where church attendance was mandatory or were put through a parochial school where education came with a heavy dose of Roman Catholicism or Southern Baptist Convention. Many of us identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community and as such have experienced the cruelty of Christians coming to our events and railing against us while waving the Bible in the air. Such experiences tend to color one’s opinion of Christianity and not in a good way. And when Christianity asserts that its name sake is God in human form…well, it then makes God a culprit in the nastiness of God’s followers.
But then look at Jesus and the people and places where he primarily moved and lived and had his being. Yes, he taught in the Temple, and people were astounded and amazed at his teachings. Yes, he would have dinner with Pharisees (probably because he was of that set). But much of the time, Jesus was hanging out with all those people who were “those people.” He was close to women and men who had no power to speak of, who were the discarded, ignored, or abandoned of his society. He didn’t assert himself with hellfire and brimstone; his power was in his presence and his willingness to enter the experience of these “others.”
Why do you suppose Jesus preferred to be in these settings? Some might say it’s because “these people” needed to be saved. That would be the popular approach to these stories. But I think another way to see this could be that Jesus was searching for those who were the most fertile ground for achieving His ultimate goal: bringing God and humanity together. If Jesus’ mission was to meet people where they were and not where they ought to be, and if his mission was to go in search of the lost and those who had been pushed away, then he’s going to be seen in some places that his society might have deemed “impure.”
Which brings me back to Faust and being a Christian and that whole notion that if I’m a Christian, how can I possibly be part of Faust? I’d say because Jesus expects to be part of the mix of perfect imperfection of our lives so that the mission of Love and reconciliation continues through us. God doesn’t just love that part of me that can recite prayers, or kneel at the altar. God works through me whether I’m at Faust or offering healing touch to someone on my massage table.
God isn’t contained in things and buildings. The spirit of God lives and moves within us and the way we treat one another and live into that new commandment to love and seek out each other. That can happen at Faust and at Church.