Friday, November 5, 2010

Revgal Friday Five: It is Well with My Soul

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: It Is Well With My Soul Edition
Kathrynzj has posted an interesting Friday Five:

We lead privileged lives.

True, some are more privileged than others but the fact that we are communicating right now via technological devices puts us in the privileged category.

There are many perks in my life for which I give thanks and then there are some that make everything right in the world during the moment I am enjoying them. I'm wondering what a few of those things - five to be specific - are for you.

It is easy to get into a whinetune about our lives during a recession. But after I worked as a missionary in Latin America during my 20’s, even my working class status was considered privileged. I owned a car—therefore I must be rich! But it was a beggar woman who really taught me how poor I was. It was her generosity that lifted me to understand what it meant to be a child of God who is blessed in ways that have nothing to do with the world’s standards.  Muthah+

1. Last night I bought an Iphone. For me, who has carried an ancient BB for which I could no longer see the keypad, this acquisition is the height of luxury. I haven’t learned really how to use it but I DID text my first message to a friend last night. But it isn’t the phone itself that claims that it is well with my soul. It is more than this item really does ‘make my butt look big.’ (Nothing makes my butt look big—it just IS big—TRUTH!) And even though finances are tight, I have succumbed to keeping up not with the Joneses but with the young people that I am now ministering to in a local campus ministry.

2. Education. Presently I am a part of an international effort within my denomination and I am so profoundly grateful for an education that allows me to understand different cultures, and appreciates the vagaries of values placed upon different understandings of the Gospel. This allows me not to be afraid of differences. In a denomination and a locale in which fear-mongering has been developed into an art form, my education has allowed me to listen a bit more deeply to what is being said by those who are discussing issues “on high C.” This does not mean that I don’t get hooked by some of their comments, but the knowledge and being conversant with a broader world-view allows me to slow the conversation down and listen to the fear that is under outrageous accusations.

3. Love: That old hymn “Love Lifted Me” comes to mind. I could have written Faith or Christ or God or Grace here. But as I really get to it, somehow, somewhere, I was found by love. I didn’t ‘learn’ to love at home, I don’t think. I WAS loved, sort of, but I did not understand that because of the way that love was manifested at home. So, somewhere, somehow love FOUND me. I identified that love in my 20’s with Christ—the incarnated holy first manifested by Jesus. And I have been trying to manifest that love since. I think at one point I would have used the word ‘Truth’ to explain this privilege but now I know it to be something much more relational.

4. Social Media: When I was small, my grandmother lived in a small No. MO town that had a ‘telephone central’. All phone calls were on the same trunk line. My mother remembered the when the first telephones were installed. Now I have an Iphone, a laptop and yet feel woefully out of touch because I have just learned to text. And yet last night I sat and corresponded with friends in Scotland, Canada, Australia, the UK and Uganda. I have no idea of how the technology works. I just know that I can type things in a computer in my lap and the disembodied words from all over the world show up. And often they are words of love and encouragement, of faith and respect. I don’t need a visa; I don’t have to cross any time zones. I find it a privilege to live in an era so that I can do this.

5. A house all on one floor: For the past 8 years I had lived on the 2nd and 3rd floors of an ante-bellum horse barn. Before that I lived in split-level dwellings for 15 years in which stairs were ubiquitous. Interestingly enough the churches I served were mostly on one floor. But since June, J and I are living in a house with NO stairs—not even a step—except in the garage. My knees and my whole body consider this a blessing. God is GOOD, All the time!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Comfort Media Edition

Friday, October 29, 2010Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Comfort Media Edition

Katherine posted today's Friday Five:  It is about movies that comfort, but I have gone beyond the movies....Muthah

I don't get to watch that much tv anymore, but I actually wrote today's Oprah show down on my calendar. Why? Because she is hosting a Sound of Music cast reunion!!! Those of you who know me may be surprised that I would care so much about such a stereotypically girly flick, but I love it (although admittedly fast forward through the Reverend Mother's rendition of Climb Every Mountain). I can watch this movie over and over and over again.

It seems no matter how many new movies, tv shows or books come down the pike I still have my ol' stand by favorites that I can watch/read over and over and when I do they actually bring me comfort - like an old sweatshirt or a favorite food.

Today's Friday Five is an opportunity for you to list five of your favorite 'go-to' movies/tv shows/books. You can use images, links, explanations or netflix.

If you play the Friday Five at your blog and would like visitors, be sure to share a link in the comments. For a complete how-to on how to post your link, click here.

Thank you for playing

I didn’t catch Oprah and I am not a DVD fan. We have one but I don’t know how to make it work. So I don’t watch movies over and over unless they are being shown on the TV channels. It takes me a long time to read novels because I am a bit dyslexic so I don’t reread novels too often either. But there are a few movies that I rewatch and a few books I reread that just feel comfortable.

1. For some reason, I enjoy True Lies. I am not a Schwartzeneger fan, but I do enjoy Jamie Lee Curtis and the whole incredible story is just catches me and I laugh at the same jokes over and over. The scene with the Harrier Jet just cracks me up!

2. Any Harry Potter film I will watch again. I have seen them all. I love to go back and see Harry when he was a little kid and then think of him as a grow person as he is now. But I just have always loved the British school scene of Hogwarts.

3. A couple of British mysteries I read over and over: Dorothy Parker’s Gaudy Night and Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time. And now I turn to Laurie R. King’s Folly which I think is the best mystery of the 21st century that I have read. Laurie’s husband attended my church in CA back in the ‘90’s. And I feel privileged to have met her. But that novel touches me in a way that few have. Deeply feminist, deeply attentive to the creative work of women, deeply imbedded in the family systems that often create us.

4. I think that comfort has taken a different turn since I have retired. I find great comfort in writing and thinking about where my life has been and where it is going now. Perhaps it is because I am no longer preaching and this “voice” of mine will out, no matter what, but I am finding comfort in writing about church, faith, lgbtq presence in the Church and where I think that we are headed or where I would like to go. It isn’t memoires, per se. But it is the same kind of energy that I would find in bringing the Gospel to life in the parish. Cf.

5. I have found comfort in cooking in times past. But for some reason I don’t find it as much now that we have moved. I think part of the reason is that I don’t have Wegmans, the supermarket that I loved in NY. My local markets here in FTW are not as foodie-friendly as Wegmans was. The supermarkets here in FTW are so far away that it makes it hard to get excited about coming home from the store and fixing something special. Also, I find that food does not store well here. We can’t buy a gallon of milk and have it last. It sours much faster than it did in NY. Also during the summer, it was hard to bring home delicate items such as chicken livers, or freshly baked bread without it ruining before it could be fixed. My menus have gotten rather prosaic here. Sigh. I guess I will have to find something else that gives comfort.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I have been going to a number of conferences lately. Some have to do with LGBT issues and some have to do with the Emerging Church. All of it has to do with CHANGE. And change is what I try to facilitate as a pastor/priest—the change that comes as a result of being loved by a God who calls us to be better each moment.

While I was still functioning as the pastor of a parish, someone accused me of being a “gay activist”. I was startled by that. I felt that I had been fairly low-key about being lesbian in a congregation. I didn’t demand that the church fly the rainbow banner. I didn’t call for registry with the ‘affirming’ parishes. While a parish priest or a pastor, one cannot, in my mind, be a one-issue person. The demands of serving a parish require what used to be called a “Renaissance Man” or a person who could address a multiplicity of issues. But LGBT issues have been in the view of the Church of late and what I included in sermons was appropriate, I thought, to address the zeitgeist.

But the events of the past couple of months, with the coming to light of numerous deaths by suicide by young gay teens calls for something more than a passing comment in a sermon, or prayers “for those who are alone.” It requires speaking out like the Ft. Worth Councilman Joel Burns and Bishop Gene Robinson have done to preserve our young people who find that they are different.

LGBTQ teens are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers. Mostly this is due to just not being able to ‘fit in’. The demand for the young to be acceptable to their peers and/ or their families is often so overwhelming that young people do not know what to do if they find that they are attracted to those of the same sex. Add to that the bullying that is so prevalent in our society (not just in our schools) and the demand by schools and parents that the “gay agenda” be kept from our young, means that LGBTQ kids never get to see good and wholesome LGBT folk to emulate.

Kids know that it isn’t just getting through school. Being gay or lesbian is a life-long recognition that you will always be a minority, that you will never ‘fit in’ and that is crushing to adolescents whose only goal at that point in life is to be just like one’s peers. I have not checked the statistics but I would imagine that the level of depression among LGBT kids is much higher than the average population. I know that my own bouts of depression were often rooted in my identity and my inability to embrace my own sexuality. They began in 7th grade and did not stop until I came out.

But it is the culture of bulling that most disturbs me. Trash talk is considered de rigure these days. Sit coms are full of it. Even when there are gay-friendly shows, the humor is still about being different, being on the fringe. We use bullying in sports so that we can win. We use bullying just to get the basic needs from institutions in order to get what we want or need. The police bully the ‘bad guys’. Our political candidates resort to smear campaigns and bullying rhetoric. We resort to lawyers who bully to maintain our rights from other bully lawyers and we bully nations as a normal foreign policy.

An adult gay couple of my friends had to move just this week because their neighbors threatened them and the police would not do anything even when there were witnesses to the harassment. I am leery about putting a rainbow ribbon on my car here in TX or fly a rainbow flag or wear rainbow earrings in this environment where macho still reigns.

The problem with bullying is that the only way that bullies will stop is to ‘bully back’. “Might makes right” is learned early on the school ground and is carried on throughout our lives. Personally I am not easily bullied, whether due to size or sharp tongue, I am not always clear. But I do not like when I must “bully back” just to be heard, or just to get what is just or safe. I do not like what I must become to live peacefully in this world.

Christ was not a bully. Even in the anger he displayed in the cleansing of the Temple, Jesus was not a bully. He called people to hear a radical message in which manipulation and force were greeted with humility and generosity—difficult tools in this post-modern age.

Yes, I am an activist in my retirement. I am an activist that says that LGBTQ kids do not have to abort their lives in their teens because there are those who interpret some scriptural passages wrongly and heap it on youngsters grappling with their own image. As a person of faith I must be willing stand against those whose religion says that they can demonize people who are different because they manipulate some 7 passages of Scripture to ostracize those who march to a different drummer.

I live now on the ‘Buckle of the Biblebelt’ and I must be willing to say to the bullies of the religious right that the time has come to say NO to religious exclusivism for the sake of the Gospel.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friday Five: Connecting

I have somehow lost a day. I have had a mean cold for 2 weeks now. I have done the antibiotics, the stay in bed, the sleep the clock around and still I have no voice. I feel really disconnected and this Friday Five seems to highlight this. In addition I am often stopped dead by the questions that my friends on Revgals (usually Boomers) ask. Some of these question are asked in ways that someone of my generation (Silent? Never! War Babies, always!) would ask them.

So here are some questions to ponder for this Friday Five about connecting with:

1. Self: Who was your hero/heroine when you were about ten years old?

Let’s see, I think my heros at that time were cowboys: Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry. I had only lived in TX for about 6 years at that time and cowboys and Indians was the game we played endlessly. It may have nurtured the Crusader Rabbit syndrome I have.

2. Family: Who are you most like? Who is most like you?

Visually I think I look like my dad. My brother says I look like my paternal grandfather. He knew him; I did not. I have a temper like Dad had to my great shame and burden but in some ways I am like my mom. The nose which so many of us in the family have was my maternal grandmother’s. A noble Crowder nose. But my concern for others I think comes from Mom. But in many other ways, I am not like anyone else in the family. I have always felt that I was the black sheep or the odd duck. But that may have just been from being lesbian. There doesn’t seem to be anyone in the family who is like me either.

3. Friends: How do you stay in touch?

Email! and telephone:  I don’t text yet. When I get a new phone (which will be fairly soon) I will get texting capabilities but that will be AFTER I have had the second cataract surgery next month. I just can’t see the keyboard of my Blackberry. The problem about getting older is that Social Media leaves those of us who were not teethed on the computer in the dust. I find it increasingly more difficult to keep up with technology. I miss much of what the young people are saying and doing simply because I do not understand the jargon of the technoworld. I want to shout, “slow down, you’re going to fast” but it doesn’t seem to do any good. When I ask the young people at the Verizon shop, they smile at me like I am some doddering old biddy; they can’t explain to me how things work because they speak a totally different language.

4. Neighborhood, community: What are ways you like to be involved?

We have just moved to my hometown in June but are still trying to figure out how to get home at times. We have registered to vote but we still don’t know our polling place. We have met our neighbors on either side and across the street. Many on our street are Spanish-speaking only which is a problem for J as she has no Spanish. But at least I can wave hi and comment on ‘la clima’. We are taking our time getting into neighborhood things. I have made contact with my high school reunion group and will assist with our 50th reunion coming up in 2012. Maybe the world will end before that????

5. Job/church: Do you see a need that will help in developing connections?

The bishop asked us to visit the parishes in the diocese. We have been doing that but we want to settle down in one parish or another. J and I usually go to different churches—we find it works out better that way but it doesn’t witness to what we want to say in our relationship. I haven’t really settled down. I can’t figure out where I want to go—where the worship is good so that I can worship OR where I can be a part of a community that I find fulfilling and can assist. They don’t seem to be the same here. But until the Diocese gets it property back from the schismatic group, we both have to be ready to step into parishes if needed. Most of the retired clergy have churches at present.

Bonus: A link or anything else about connecting.

Being a blogger is a connection to a much wider community than I would have thought. Last week I attended the national gathering of Believe Out Loud. I met so many people who knew me from my blogs even though I have not been writing as much lately. Going on B3 was helpful and have made a few connections. I am so aware that the Gospel is preached in so many more ways than standing in a pulpit. I preach so much more effectively from my laptop than I do to 60 people on Sunday mornings. And I am finding that the connections I make with others are important to my sense of well-being. The isolation of the pastorate seems to wither in the face of them.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Church of the Past-The Church of the Future

I am going to a small (2hr) workshop on the Emerging Church today.  I have been reading about the emerging church or the future church for some time now, but have heard very little about how to introduce emerging church principles into already functioning churches.  I have heard about churches being started under emerging church principles of hospitality, post-christian era theology, etc.  But I have not heard how to help a church or a parish to embrace emerging theologies into present Christendom.  If anyone would like to post about what is happening in their churches regards to address, I would love you to comment.

Photo:  Libby Hedrick

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Five: Insomnia

Mompriest is having difficulty sleeping. They are “beast sitting” with extra dogs and cats in the house who feel that the bed is theirs. Bleary-eyed she has posted the following Friday Five:

"A number of my facebook friends seem to have similar challenges sleeping....
So, on that note our Friday Five today will focus on sleep, or the lack there of."

1. Are you prone to sleep challenges? Insomnia, snoring, allergies? Other sleep challenges?

I snore. Even the cat won’t sleep with me. But he sleeps with J. who snores louder and flops around more than I do. Go figure.

Every week or so, I have difficulty going to sleep, or wake in the middle of the night but I have meds for that. I have a hard time GOING to bed. J. is a serious night owl and is most active between 2 and 4 am. My best time is from 9am to about 2pm. If I stay up to have some community, I am not good the next day.

2. When you can't sleep what do you do? Toss and turn? Get up and read? Play computer games?

I read. This is where my Kindle comes in handy. It is not too heavy and it will turn itself off when I go to sleep with it in my hand. I also can have more than one book on hand. If I am too wound up, I read some professional reading: theology, biblical history or something that is fairly dry that will put me to sleep. If I have a gripping mystery, I may stay awake all night.

3. When you do sleep do you remember your dreams? Or just snipets of them?

I seldom remember dreams, just the feelings produced by them. Those feelings often stay with me for a good while after I have awakened. I have tried to write my dreams down, especially when I was in therapy. It never worked. I am just hoping that the confused look I have on my face before coffee is due to my confusing dreams and not Altzheimer’s.

4. Can you share a funny or confusing dream you've had? Or a dream you have over and over?

There is one that I think I have had since I was a child—it is like I am walking on a large vat of milky way nougat that is being stirred in a huge copper vat. (OK, Process Counselor, what can you do with that????)

5. When you don't sleep how do you get through the day? Lots of coffee? or a nap later in the day?

I don’t drink a lot of coffee. But protein seems to help—an egg in a milkshake or something like that helps. A nap often helps. Of course I take my “nice” pills.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I remember when..

There is one thing about being retired: there is a great tendency to reminisce. It is one of the more discouraging aspects of getting older. I have never really been a “give me the good ole days” person. I have always the bear who wanted to get to the other side of the mountain so I could “see what I could see.” With that said, there are some things that I long for from my past:

• I miss a time when people who “talked to themselves walking down the street or driving their cars” were understood to be “a bit tetched” as they say here in TX and not having a conversation on their cell phones.

• I miss when “taking Sabbath time” on Sundays was a given, not just something you fit in between the football game or the kid’s soccer practice, when Sunday dinner was de rigure.

• J. misses the Orange Julius stand. For me, it was snow cones in the summer.

• I especially miss the freedom that children used to have to play in their yards, pick-up games of football or ‘catch’ played in the street and the call of parents at supper-time to come home to a family meal.

• I miss a time when you could pull your car into the mechanic’s shop and you could both put your head under the hood and listen to that strange sound that made you bring it in and the mechanic would say, “let me put that up on the rack and see what the problem is” without having to schedule an appointment. Same thing about doctor’s and vet’s appointments.

• I miss the time when you could depend upon having at least one wonderfully creative gay guy as your hair dresser who would help us helpless dykes figure out what was attractive. Now they are technocrats, lawyers or financial consultants. ( I know, I know—stereotyping is a bad thing, but I’m just sayin’)