To the Editor:
I was deeply moved by the Shannon Jamieson exhibit at the Arbor Gallery and in particular by Chris Dainty’s film ‘Shannon Amen’, which in itself is both a work of art and a tribute to his late friend. The film brings together Shannon’s work in a vivid rendering of the conflict that can exist between religion and sexuality.
Religions tend to pick up cultural artifacts the way ships pick up barnacles. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny don’t have much to do with Christianity, but are indelibly associated with it. In other religions, dietary laws and dress codes are prevalent. These are cultural manifestations that provide shape and tradition, but don’t have anything to do with morals or ethics. The container is not the contents, aside from form and the discipline of ritual.
Less benign is humanity’s tendency to use religion as a prop for its cultural propensities, validating what it is comfortable with and vilifying what it is not.
This has always been the case in regards to sexuality. Setting aside the fuss that is generally made in matters concerning sex, sexuality per se is not really an ethical issue any more than the money in one’s bank account. How the money got there and what you do with it has moral implications, but the simple fact of the money itself, no. In the same way, sex can be used to hurt and manipulate people or it can be a positive enrichment of life, but as to the simple fact of sexuality, whether gay or straight, no.
As an ally of the Prescott-Russell LGBTQ Group, I’ve witnessed the struggles some people have reconciling religion with sexuality. To my mind there should be no conflict, but easier said than done. Shannon Amen.