Queering Contemplation: Finding Queerness in the Roots and Future of Contemplative Spirituality
with Cassidy Hall, MA, MDiv, MTS
Friday, May 24, 2024
What would it mean to queer contemplation? To disentangle contemplative spirituality from heteronormativity, patriarchy, and Eurocentricity, and instead engage with openness, curiosity, and a little weirdness?
The world of contemplative Christianity has yielded to the same voices for far too long, many of whom are from centuries before our time, with lives unlike our own, and often from experiences disconnected from marginalization, oppression, and what it feels like to be an outsider.
Cassidy Hall, an LGBTQIA+ Christian contemplative scholar, award-winning filmmaker, author, and podcast host, takes us on a journey to queer the contemplative tradition. For Hall, queering is not solely about identifying as queer or applying queer theory; it is about what is gained by seeing things differently. “Queer,” she says, “is the way I tilt my head to look at the world.”
As queerness reawakened her own contemplative life, Hall discovered that queering and questioning the tradition allowed her to listen more closely to voices that are queer, marginalized, and oppressed–voices that have long existed but have often been overlooked or silenced. For Hall, that also meant moving differently into contemplation, into silence, into liminality and ritual. In showing us the way, she helps us envision what contemplative faith can look like, what spiritual spaces we can reclaim for welcome–and how queering contemplation, and lifting up queer contemplative voices, frees us to seek the infinite possibility of our own identity and engage our spiritual lives with open hearts and open hands.
Our time together in queering contemplation will examine what it means to queer the deserts of our lives, what it feels like to queer our inner sanctuary, and how letting go of the contemplative status quo and trusting our own inner experience can expand our lives into infinite possibility. Through Cassidy sharing her own story of coming to the contemplative life while reading Thomas Merton and traveling to all seventeen Trappist monasteries in the US, she will explore the ways her own experience as a queer woman has shaped her engagement with contemplation, mysticism, silence, and solitude. Our practices together will include an inner staircase meditation, exploring our inner sanctuary (please bring paper for your own reflection), a video meditation utilizing Thomas Merton’s “Jazz Meditation,” and other ways to queerly glance at contemplative life.
Whether you’re queer or want to queer your own perspectives, or whether you want to uncover the queerness and queer voices in the contemplative tradition–Hall throws open the doors of contemplative spirituality for all, bringing us to contemplation in very new, sometimes old, but always queer ways. Her book, Queering Contemplation: Finding Queerness in the Roots and Future of Contemplative Spirituality, will be out with Broadleaf books in May 2024, available for pre-order in July 2023.
We will turn on closed captioning during the live Zoom session (which you are able to turn off in your settings if you find distracting) as well as provide a video recording after the event with closed captioning available and a text transcript of the session.
The program will be recorded for those who pre-register but are unable to attend at the scheduled time or who want to view again. You will be sent a notification when this is ready to view.
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Your Guide for the Journey
Cassidy S. Hall, MA, MDiv, MTS,
Cassidy S. Hall (she/her/hers), MA, MDiv, MTS, is an author, award-winning filmmaker, podcaster, and leading voice in contemplative spirituality. She is the cohost of the Encountering Silence podcast and the creator of the Contemplating Now and Queering Contemplation podcasts. Her films include In Pursuit of Silence and Day of a Stranger. Cassidy is widely published and currently resides in Indianapolis, where she is studying for her DMin degree. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Queering Contemplation: Finding Queerness in the Roots and Future of Contemplative Spirituality, due for release in May 2024, available for pre-order in July 2023.
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