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What if?

10/16/2020 12:00:02 PM


One of my favorite comics growing up was Marvel’s “What if…?” comics.  The main conceit of the series was to ask a “What if…?” question that would set the stage for the ensuing issue.  Questions such as, “What if Spiderman went bad instead of good?” or “What if Captain America were Frenc­h?” provided for compelling reading.  More than fun narratives of alternate realities was the thought exercise this series provided.  By reading these issues I was able to look at my personal routines and ask, “What if…?” questions about what I had always done and how I thought the world worked.  Suddenly, I was able to see other possibilities for the order of things.  Possibilities that had remained hidden to me suddenly became revealed.

The whole Torah start with a big “What if…?” question.  God asks, “What if there were something instead of nothing?  What if instead of darkness there was light and darkness?  What if instead of a barren world it were teaming with life?  The story of creation is an exercise in creating dynamic narratives about the fabric and nature of the universe.

This past Sunday was National Coming Out Day.  One of the things I truly appreciate about the LGBTQ+ community is their desire to ask the “What if…?” question.  What if sexuality was actually not binary, but fluid?  What if identity went beyond male and female designations?  The LGBTQ+ community has pushed us to think of the universe, our world, and society in dynamic ways - the way our tradition intended for us to look at the world. Sometimes looking at the world in these ways is uncomfortable.  Viewing the world in this way can be uncomfortable because it can cause us to question our previous behaviors or assumption.  A “What if…?” questions that reflects a previously unthought of truth can be unsettling because it makes us question what we thought we knew about how the universe works. 

The LGBTQ+ community comes the closest to approximating how our tradition wants us to think about how the universe works.  Instead of looking for limiting or simple solutions, they embrace for us the dynamic nature of gender and by doing so the dynamic nature of life.

Thu, October 29 2020 11 Cheshvan 5781