I'm fighting off a virus, my kitchen flooded in the deluge on Wednesday, and I'm sooooo ready for vacation.
But I go with joy, because today my church voted to recognize the intimate ("monogamous, chaste and lifelong") relationships that bring joy to the lives of my gay and lesbian colleagues. For the first time in my ministry, I don't feel quite so bad about the privilege that my marriage and my ordination indicate.
There is still a lot of reconciling to do, but I am proud to be a Lutheran today -- not only for the decision but for the respectful, prayerful way the discussion was conducted.
And now, I head to enjoy God's cathedral of sabbath for a while. Be back in September.
Just finished The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan. It's been a while since a memoir really grabbed me, but this one did. Her story is partly about the dual battles with cancer that she and her father fought, but more about that "middle place" many of us find ourselves in at this stage of adulthood -- both a daughter and a mother at the same time. One could say it's about discovering that we are the grown-ups now.
It's particularly affecting to me because of the number of peers I have dealing with cancer now, and because Corrigan and I became mothers in exactly the same year. But Corrigan's humor and ability to capture some of the realities of growing up when we did in the 80's is wonderful. Anybody remember the status of Guess jeans in high school?
There's a tricky balance between the utterly honest confessional voice that we associate with Anne Lamott and pure self-absorption that gets whiny and irritating. I couldn't finish Eat, Pray Love because I felt like Elizabeth Gilbert couldn't get over herself. Corrigan, maybe because she is so consumed with love for her family, made me care much more about her emotional journey. Take and read, my friends!
Our middle schoolers took the initiative and -- finally -- we're composting organic material here at the church with a bin built by one of our members.
We formally dedicated the bin on Sunday. I know of no formal blessing for compost (try googling that one!), so I wrote one:
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, for you have made the earth
on which we stand, the soil from which our sustenance comes, and the ground to
which all living things return.
We praise you for the cycles of life and death, for your
precious ways in which no good thing is lost. Make this compost bin a sign of
your goodness, a reminder to us of death and resurrection, and a signal to
remember all your creation as we live and eat and move upon this earth. Amen.
The beer-at-the-White-House has already been overanalyzed, but I'm still struck by the way in which this conversation shows some wisdom on Obama's part.
This was, from a public perspective, a no-win for all parties. The sergeant had based part of his cop identity on being diversity-friendly. The professor based his identity on being a Black man who had made it in the intellectual world. The President has framed his whole political career on bringing opposites together. So to assign blame, to say that anyone was "wrong," was beside the point. Guilt, the assigning of right or wrong to particular actions, would get you nowhere to reconciliation.
This was, in short a potential situation of public shaming for everyone involved. And shame, not guilt, is what drives most Americans to this day. As much as we Lutherans still try to act as though everyone operates on a guilt-righteousness axis, the truth is we're much more concerned about honor and shame -- and in a hyper-fast media age, this is more true, not less.
Honor and shame are why people disappear from church when their lives are on the rocks. It's not that they necessarily feel guilty about their divorce or job loss or addiction. They may even believe that God's grace is absolutely available to them. They are not wracked by guilt. They are dealing with shame. It's their identity that is at risk.
So how do you bring people together who all stand to see a situation as publicly shaming? You sidestep the entire question of guilt. (For the record, I cannot get around that Gates was being arrested for BEING IN HIS OWN HOME, but that's not my point here. .. ).
How do you restore honor? You sidestep the question of who was right or wrong. Instead you honor them-- you invite them to the White House. You have a conversation, assuming that all parties are honorable -- and by conferring the honor, you prove they are.