Revival, Intersectionality and Harry Potter with Brit Barron
Brit Barron is one of my favorite people on earth. The more time I spend with her, the more I know she is a kindred spirit. She loves music, dancing, tequila, and just happens to be my pastor at New Abbey Church.
We were so happy to sit down with Brit and her wife Sami, and talk about revival, intersectionality, and Harry Potter.
Q: I remember when you said that LGBTQ Christians are leading revival to the Church, can you elaborate on that?
Part of it is because is the way that our Western American culture has absorbed church. If you grew up in the United States and even if you didn’t grow up Christian, you still kind of know some Christian things. It is sort of the premier religion. So not a lot of people have to sacrifice much or try very hard to be a Christian and what that means in society. I think it’s the LGBTQ Christians who are some of the only Christians in our current society who are actually fighting to have to their faith. They’re actually having to go through the process of someone saying “you can’t be a Christian”, and them saying, “I actually want to find what this is about, and find out if God loves me, and actually want to find out whats happening and fight for this.”
Q: So they have to work to do it, where as normally you don’t have to work to be a part of the Church.
And what you find when you’re forced to do that is its a little more unshakable then something that you were kind of given. I think it’s something special.
Q: So you think that since we’ve had to process it and work through it, and it takes faith, that’s why you say they would lead a revival? It’s because of that?
Yes, I feel like what I know to be true about God can not be taken away from me, because of how hard I’ve worked and prayed and cried and fought to get it. And thats super powerful. There’s a lot of people who feel like that. You can say whatever you want, you can quote whatever Bible verse you want, but you can’t undo what I have learned through experience with God.
It was kind of like, even though it was presented in a very emotional way, my faith prior to coming out was very intellectual. It was answers to questions. And that’s why when you go through an experience like coming out, and deconstruction and reconstruction, and keeping your faith, no one can come at you with any kind of book thats going to challenge what I’ve experienced.
Q: You didn’t feel that before when you were pastoring before you came out?
No, I think there was a lot of push-back against questioning. So part of me felt like, “Maybe there is a question that I could ask that would bring this whole thing down? What am I gonna find?”
I think it’s the LGBTQ Christians who are some of the only Christians in our current society who are actually fighting to have to their faith.
Q: If you had to explain intersectionality in a sentence or paragraph, how would you just break that down?
I would say essentially, it is truly the intersection where different identities meet. So like no one gets to walk into the room just as one thing. So you never just walk into the room as just a gay person. You’re a gay man. A gay cis-gendered man. A gay cis-gendered white blonde man. Those identities can’t separate from one another.
So, if I’m ever in a room and someone is like, “It’s a black woman” I’m like, “I’m also married to another woman.” All those things are true about you. It’s just realizing that any single person that walks through any door carries multiple identities, which can’t often be separated. I can’t say, “now I’m thinking as this kind of person, or now I’m gonna think of this. I’m going to put my female identity aside and just think as a single identity. Which I can’t.”
Q: So is it important for us to understand that for you? or for ourselves?
I think like most things, we can only understand for others when we understand for ourselves.
Q: So when you’re talking about it in church, it’s not for us to understand all of your intersecting identities, but to say…
It’s to remind us that we all have intersections. The problem can be if we don’t acknowledge our intersectionality in our own self, and if we compartmentalize one part of our identity, and we feel like it’s possible, it’s actually not possible. So that’s something like that will come up at some point. To say, “I’m not going to be like this anymore, I’m going to put this to the side,” which is something many of us have done with our sexual identities at some point, and that didn’t work.
Q: Have you read “How the Bible Actually Works” yet? There is this quote, “The Bible’s diversity is the key to uncovering the Bible’s true purpose for us.” He is basically saying if you don’t understand the intersectionality of the bibles authors, youare going to have a hard time understanding the Bible. you’ll make it a book of laws as opposed to relationship. I think it’s the same thing that you’re say.
Yeah, it's the same. It’s like Jesus as a character, as a person. If we don’t understand that Jesus was male, and Jewish, and from a certain line, and all of these identities, then a lot of the stories aren’t as powerful. If we don’t understand that, then going through Samaria was no big deal, but if you understand that this was a Jewish man, born of a certain lineage, going through there — those key parts of His identity you had to understand for that story to be powerful.
Q: Tell me about Harry Potter and how it relates to your faith?
I had a friend who said she had finished reading Harry Potter. No one still knows if she actually did. I wasn’t done, and she told me at the end of the book Harry Potter wakes up and it is still in the cupboard under the stairs and it was all a dream.
I believed her because I had no reason not to, and I got to the end and it obviously doesn’t end that way. I still feel like, to this day, my whole entire experience of Harry Potter is tainted because when you think something is going to end a certain way, or when you think something is about something, you read it all in a different perspective. So when a character dies, you think, “oh that’s no so bad, because it’s just a dream.” That shifted the entire story.
So relearning how to see a story is essentially what we are doing with the Bible. If the whole story is humans being bad and Jesus having to die because of that, you’re going to see everything in a different way. If the whole story is that humans are good and Jesus is coming to show us a different kind of way, to live with us in relationship on this earth, you’re going to see a whole different story.
Brit Barron resides in Southern California with her wife Sami where she works as a pastor at New Abbey Church (Pasadena, CA) and is a speaker, writer and diversity and inclusion trainer. Brit spends a lot of time thinking about and talking about how faith, race, gender and sexuality interact with our everyday lives. She believes that we all have a place in this conversation and it is her goal to create spaces and environments for people to feel comfortable and confident in having conversations about spirituality and inclusion.