Keshet is a national organization that works for LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. The organization equips Jewish leaders with tools to build LGBTQ-affirming communities, creates spaces for queer Jewish teens to feel valued and develop their own leadership skills, and mobilizes the Jewish community to fight for LGBTQ justice. Keshet’s blog spotlights this work, as well as the voices of LGBTQ Jews, our families, and allies.
Almost everyone I know is bone-weary or disillusioned or angry or ashamed or frightened or struggling. Paralyzed with stunned disbelief.
Or something they struggle to name.
They are hopeless or hopeful or disenchanted or fired up or silent or moving or still.
Or something they cannot name.
They are pushing forward, searching for something to write or join or do or be.
Some combination of things that will obscure the overwhelmingly painful truth that we are witnessing hatred – hiding in plain view—winning this round.
Hatred of blackness of brownness of femaleness of queerness.
Hatred of our non-binary non-conforming non-Christian multigenerational multi-heritage differently-abled multiracial believing observant non-believing questioning lives.
Or some combination of us we dare to name.
Sitting with all of this, I questioned my faith and found that it offered me no way to accept the unacceptable; I questioned my faith in humanity, in “meaning.” In me. Through questioning, I uncovered the need to reshape and redefine my faithfulness. The need to Warrior on, fighting fiercely in this struggle. And the need to rest, refocus and renew. Evolve my way naming and holding my faith. Breathe my faith anew.
I am discovering that I lean toward a radical faith; one that rises above scripture and dogma to embrace a love of humanity. It requires a renaming, reshaping and reclaiming of my faith. I do not (yet) disavow religious faith, but I have made it secondary—maybe tertiary—to holding love supreme in all things. It is a process of missteps and reevaluation. It is unsteady, unnerving and not for the faint of heart. It requires self love, self acceptance, forgiveness and clarity of vision and purpose.
Radical faith requires a praxis-based, strategic approach to faith. While many would argue that Dr. King’s faith was rooted in a conservative ideology that places dogma at the center of the fight for justice, history suggests to me otherwise. While perfectly imperfect, Dr. King was a man who used theology to actualize compassionate change, breaking through the limits of the theoretical and reaching a faith that resulted in a greater expression of his own humanity.
This is the radical faith I seek.
In celebrating his life, I offer no scripture or verse or quote. Instead, I put forth the idea that above all things, Dr. King’s powerful legacy is one of a man who sought a radical faith—rooted in love—that allows each of us to live our lives free.
May his spirit enrich and inspire us to love and to live our lives in service to justice through cultivating a radical faith. May his memory be a blessing to the world forever more.
Happy Birthday, Dr. King.