Capitol Hill Religion: For the Jew, the Italian and the Red Head Gay

Last week, I put up this post about religion on Capitol Hill in Seattle, hinting that I'd be posting again about what I think religion should look like here. Having thought about it a bit, I've come to realize that that whole endeavor is a little bit silly. Capitol Hill is a sampler platter of culture, and religious diversity itself is the should. (Looking at a place like this, God seems to be pretty well into diverse expressions Godself.)

The fact is that I'm glad that there are a bunch of different groups that have organized the varieties of religious experience on the hill, and it's crazy to try to distill that into one "should" of religion here. That might be obvious to some, but honestly I think that ultimately that's what a lot of religious leader types aim for--at least those coming from a Christian perspective, which I can speak for somewhat authoritatively. As an individual, at best I think what you can say about the "should" of religion on Capitol Hill is that you have to hold to it pretty loosely. You have to approach things from a generally pluralist perspective if you want to be able to stay sane in a culture that is as mix and match as this one. It's not surprising that you meet a lot of cafeteria religion types around here. For faith communities, my guess is that the best you can do is try to fill a niche. The Hill for Jesus is great, as long as you don't mean the whole Hill.

As a member of a religious community, this is a difficult tension to keep. I'm a St. Mark's Episcopalian, and despite my aspirations to religious leadership, I'm generally personally unwilling to assert the universality of religious suggestions that go beyond "be good" and "love people". However, I've also got an interest in seeing my community continue to survive and thrive, and that sort of saccharine generality doesn't often go far enough to be appealing. We're a healthy community in terms of population and resources, but we have to figure out how to continue to be so. Because there just aren't very many Episcopalians out there anymore, it's not exactly clear how to do that. Speaking in the cultural vernacular is important, and we've done that pretty well in adopting an aggressive position on social justice issues and inter-religious dialogue and cooperation. My feeling is that people on the Hill, in all of their diversity, have a generally positive view of the St. Mark's community, which is a good thing I suppose. (See The Stranger review of their worship here: It's number 29.) We've also been aggressively gay-friendly, which goes a long way in our neighborhood. Despite it's recent troubles, St. Mark's is actually probably in a more stable position than any other church in the city besides Mars Hill. Go figure.

(On MTV's old show The State, there was a sketch called "The Jew, the Italian and the Red Head Gay" which I was going to use to preface this post. However, apparently they haven't finished putting everything that has ever happened up on the internet, so I couldn't find video. Here's the script though. Thanks for the transcription whoever's site this is)

The Jew, The Italian, and The Red Head Gay
David (Jew), Ken (Italian) and Kevin (Red head Gay): The Jew, the Italian and the Red Head Gay, we all live together on Avenue A, we have zany adventures from day to day.

David: The Jew!

Ken: The Italian!

Kevin: And the Red Head Gay!

David: Come on Ken, it's the end of the month. We need the money for the rent, where's the money?

Ken: Oh, I'm sorry Dave, I spent it all on pasta. I'm gonna make a big tomato sauce.

Kevin: Oh, I would help you with that Ken, but I'm busy picking out these pretty curtain patterns for the apartment.

David: Fine, I'm gonna go get some bagels, I guess.

Kevin: Okay. Toodleoo schnookums!

Ken: All right Dave, Ariverderchi!

Ken, David, and Kevin: The Jew, the Italian and the Red Head Gay, we all live together on Avenue A, we each see the world in our own way.

David: The Jew!

Ken: The Italian!

Gay: And the Red--Head--ha--Gaaaaaaaaaay!!!

(great 70's disco music)

Whole Cast in ridiculous costumes: The Red Head Gaaaay, the red head gaaaay, the red head gaaaaaay. The red head gay!


Anonymous said…
any mormons in seattle?
Unknown said…
Lots of em all over the west.