Category Archives: spiritual

ortho-wha-xy?

I received an email from a very close friend “Little Shoes” (LS) today, which read, in part, as follows:

I … would really love love love to discuss with you in some fashion what you’ve come to as to spiritual ‘doctrines’. I know you’ve said it’s been a journey, and that it’s a bit of a departure from the Calvary teachings [e.g., those of the church LS currently attends and I attended for 16 years]. I don’t personally consider that a bad thing at all — we’ve really done quite a bit of journeying ourselves too … starting … shortly after we were married. It really made me aware there was much about the history of the Church that I was unfamiliar with. So, when you’ve mentioned possibly going into the ministry, I’ve really wanted to hear more about what your beliefs are at this point. I know you’ve mentioned it, but I can’t remember the specific denomination that you’re a member of … but since I don’t consider deominations to be the full definition of a person’s beliefs, I would love to hear more from you.

Unsurprisingly, my reply was so long-winded that Facebook (the venue wherein LS sent the email) didn’t allow it. I had to break it up into thirds. Here, somewhat edited, are the second and third parts of my reply to my friend. 

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in which the character of the (anti-)hero is measured and found wanting

Put downs are so popular. It was cool to have a witty jab back in the 70s, in the 80s, in the 90s. But the counterculture was still counter culture, not mainstream. What has become of us? The issue has been nagging me a lot, lately, especially as I’m inheriting two teenagers who both revel in fast tongues and rapier wit. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got a quick wit. I’m good at the come back. Wittiness will get you everywhere with me. Check out my favorite quotations on Facebook. But demeaning, belittling, denigrating, cruelty—these are unconscionable.

When I was in junior high and high school, we found it acceptable to tell “Polack” jokes, to mock “retards,” to use the word “gay” as a pejorative or a synonym with “stupid” or “tacky.” We judged each other. We did our level best to appear “in the know” even if terribly naive, not wanting to appear stupid or ridiculous (i.e., worthy of ridicule). There are countless times I chose to laugh heartily with so-called “friends” at dirty jokes I didn’t get, so as to avoid being seen as less than my peers. It was almost an instinctual reaction.

So I understand the need for kids to fit in. I understand the hierarchical mindset that dictates youth culture. But, unfortunately, this isn’t just youth culture I’m addressing.

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soundbite theology: perfection & forgiveness

Recently, I posted a status on Facebook, requesting friends to give me any well-worn Christianese sayings, sayings popular as bumper stickers, aphorisms, or catch-all encouragement expressions. I was looking, in short, for soundbites that seem, unfortunately, to form the ‘foundation’ of certain groups’ theology.

It was a fun thread, and a number of friends, of very diverse political and theological backgrounds—from the very liberal to the very conservative—participated in good humor and great memory.

But the fun was dampered quite suddenly when one friend wrote simply, “I feel attacked.” It wasn’t even an hour later and she had unfriended me. I was shocked and hurt, since this friend was a dear discovery, a found ally from decades ago, with whom I had many shared trials and victories, a friend I treasured. That a simple list of aphorisms, outside of any usage context, could make one feel attacked in one’s faith, pulled me up short. What is it that this portends?

My concern is that an increasing number of Christians rely not on scripture and its ambiguities, not on the ineffability and mystery of a God who is greater than we can think or imagine, but on the certainties such soundbites promise. And when these soundbites are merely listed together as a set of aphorisms, they somehow fail to stand up with such vigor as do other lists of aphorisms, like, for example, the Proverbs. The soundbites, when looked at for what they are as aphorisms, even before we consider content, seem paltry and trite. But such a subconscious suggestion challenges one’s faith, if one stands on these, and not on the complexities and paradoxes expressed in scripture and those faith traditions that have endured for centuries.

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the woman at the well: a meditation

There once long ago was a woman who had no good fortune with relationships. She lived in a world where the best thing anyone like her could ever have was a good marriage, a strong son, and a solid community reputation. As a girl, she’d dreamed about what her future husband might be like. He’d be respectable, strong, intelligent, romantic, awe-inspiring. She’d dreamed of her future sons, who would, of course, be supportive and devout, growing up to the stature of community pillars, as all the town would look to her as a great woman whom God had smiled upon, and who, because of her virtue, had been blessed with honor and comfort.

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Yes, Gay is Definitely OK

For Immediate Release, June 23, 2009
By Affirmation Co-spokesperson Tim Tennant-Jayne

As is the sexuality of all of God’s children who are lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, straight, or queer!

Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and  Queer Concerns supports and congratulates the Reverend Diana Holbert, for her courage and strength in preaching the truth about homosexuality. Rev. Holbert is the pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Dallas, TX. While other clergy seek to continue spreading distortions of God’s message, Rev. Holbert courageously preached the truth of God’s gift of homosexuality. Her congregation is blessed to have this strong person as their pastoral leader. The United Methodist Church is blessed to have her as one of their clergy persons.

In true David vs. Goliath fashion, the Rev. Holbert was willing to dispute the message coming out of a much larger congregation. As she prepared to do so the forces of ignorance rose up in fear. Her sermon was mocked even before she was able to preach it. Unable to stand the light of God’s truth and love, those who obtain power by demeaning us sought to cloud the issue by questioning her message. Rev. Holbert persevered with preaching God’s message to her congregation.

We applaud the Rev. Holbert for her courage to speak out. We hope her shining example will empower others within this denomination and in all faith traditions to recognize God’s love of this varied gift of sexuality. Love of another person is indeed a rich gift from God. Let us all celebrate it and proclaim its value.

As an independent voice of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people, Affirmation radically reclaims the compassionate and transforming gospel of Jesus Christ by relentlessly pursuing full inclusion in the Church as we journey with the Spirit in creating God’s beloved community.

Affirmation is an activist, all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization with no official ties to The United Methodist Church.