Banal creativity

September 27th, 2011

So at work, I sometimes order stuff from a company that prints banners and other promotional materials. And this company is really insistant about giving me free magazine subscriptions when I place my orders. They don’t carry Mothering or Cricket or McSweeney’s or anything else I’d consider paying for, so thus far I’m getting Disney Family Fun (which I clicked on because my friend Sarah, not the type to fall for something just because it has Walt’s name on it, said it had some good ideas in it sometimes), and Martha Stewart Living. It’s a little embarrassing having them pile up in my mailbox at work – I’m the *rector*, for Pete’s sake. But only the parish administrator sees them. Amusingly, they don’t have my name on them – they have the parish treasurer’s name, because her name is on the church debit card. She is an amazing human being, and decidedly not the Martha Stewart Living type.

Anyway. I picked up a new pile today, including the Halloween issue of Disney Family Fun. Naturally, it has a feature article on clever Halloween costumes. And one is featured on the front – a little girl dressed up as a paper doll. See? So cute.

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But wait. A paper doll costume. So… she could be dressed up as anything that anyone modestly competent could draw with markers on posterboard. And they go for… a blue dress? With a hair bow and a purse? Seriously?

She could be dressed like a wizard. A Valkyrie. An Egyptian queen. An aviatrix. A toreador. Come on. Markers on posterboard – the sky is the limit. And … a blue dress?

I can’t help wondering if this is more than a lame magazine cover. If this isn’t something about…. limiting little girls’ dreams, their imaginations, their aspirations. “I could look tidy and cute in a puffy blue dress!”

Whatcha think? What would *you* draw for that little girl?

Something to ponder

August 16th, 2011

I learned today that the previous rector of my parish wrote a monthly column for the church newsletter in the voice of her dog.

It was apparently wildly popular.

I’ve just been writing columns as my boring human self. I feel so … disappointing.

Maybe I should get an iguana?

6y & 21m

August 12th, 2011

Writing about the trip a little reminded me that I used to use this blog as a way to record some notes about my growing and changing kids. And after vacation, when I’ve had some time to really soak them in, is a good time to jot down some memories and observations.

About our Zag, now 6 and as clever as clever. Zag is discovering the delights of being a big kid. In the final two months of kindergarten, he went from sounding out three-letter words to reading at a second-grade level. It’s hard to tell how much he reads to himself – I think he does a lot of “coasting,” reading bits here and there and enjoying the pictures in whatever he’s working on – but anytime he gets serious about it, he’s got the skills. Any month now, maybe any week, he’ll turn that next corner and start reading by himself in earnest, and we won’t see him again until he gets interested in girls.* The reading is just a piece of it, though. We stumbled into geology as sort of a running theme of our recent vacation – gathering interesting rocks in several creeks, visiting two different geology museums – and he really took to it, not just following along but taking it in and working it over. He had a summer school course on bugs, and now he spots bugs and tells us what they are. Tonight he was telling me about the geology and history displays he wants to set up in his bedroom. He’s always had phases of intense interest in something or other – Egypt, mining, ninjas – but it seems like he’s owning it intellectually in a new way, enjoying knowledge and inquiry. When we baptized this boy, we prayed, as we pray whenever we baptize a child in an Episcopal church, that the Holy Spirit would bless him with an inquiring and discerning heart, and the gift of joy and wonder in all God’s works. It’s lovely watching those gifts unfold.

About our Bean, 21 months old, bright and imperious and utterly charming. Oh, those big brown eyes just melt me. She has a lot of words (one of the most recent: “Pod game,” meaning she wants to play a game on my iPad), but what’s striking is how much she understands – and thinks, and plans. We stopped at a big water park one afternoon on our trip. We didn’t tell the kids about it till a few minutes before, because the weather was dicey and we weren’t sure it would work out. So I told the Bean, “We’re going to a water park, where we can swim!” When we got there and I got her out of her seat, she held up a doll (”girl”) and a blue dino and said, “Water?” I said, “Oh, do you want to take those in the water?” and absentmindedly stuck the dino in our bag and the doll back in the car. In the dressing room, while I was getting her suited up, she found the dino and immediately started looking through the bag for the doll: “Girl? Girl?” I hadn’t really taken her seriously – but she had, in fact, understood that we were going swimming, and picked out two toys she wanted to take with us. (Fortunately, she took the lack of the doll fairly well.) I am learning not to underestimate my daughter; she knows what’s going on and she knows what she wants. She hustles us out of bed in the morning: “Up? Glass(es)? Dress? Up! Come!” She fills us in on her agenda: “Dada. Sit. Book.” She defends her turf (as a little sister must): “MINE,” sometimes pointing at herself to make things crystal clear. She gets mad at us for doing things for her instead of helping her do them herself, and sometimes even gets mad that she needs help at all. Lord help us, she’s starting to have opinions about which parent does things for her: “MAMA push chair!” But this all makes her sound bossy – which she can be, but she’s also quite even-keeled, and so sweet. I got a little weepy about having to leave to go to work, the first morning back after our trip, and she noticed I was crying, and patted me on the head, and said, “Happy.”

About both of them together. Oh, those two. They play off each other. They’re definitely close enough in age to have a real, robust sibling relationship – they can make each other laugh like nobody else, and they can make each other mad like nobody else. We’ve started occasionally calling the Bean “Me Too,” because whatever Zag does, she wants to do. At a park on our big drive, Zag needed to empty gravel out of his crocs and I sent him over to a nearby bench to do so. The Bean witnessed this and refused to proceed to the picnic table for lunch until she, too, had gone over, sat on the same bench, and had me make a show of emptying out her sandals. It works the other way, too – whatever the Bean is playing with or doing suddenly becomes very attractive to Zag. This is a little frustrating if, say, we’ve hauled her off to play with Duplo so that he can do Lego in peace – and suddenly he wants to play with Duplo more than anything else.

They drive each other nuts sometimes, but very clearly, they really love each other. And I really, really, really love them. My kids.

Lancelot Andrewes (alt):
O God, not of us only but of our seed,
bless our children among us,
that they may grow in wisdom as in stature,
and in favor with you and with all.

Amen.

* Or boys, of course. But my guess, FWIW, is that it will be girls.

Home again, home again

August 10th, 2011

I am approaching the end of my first honest-to-goodness vacation from my first honest-to-goodness job as Person In Charge. We will be away a total of twelve days, plus an extra day out of the office to pack, prep, and load the car – which was awesome; it was great to have time to do that right and not have that panicked chaotic rush to get on the road. I wish I had a day off at the other end for unpacking, resting and re-entry, but it just didn’t work out that way this time… Ah, well, at least we’re returning midweek so it won’t be long till the weekend.

It’s been terrific. I haven’t heard a peep from my church, God bless them. Tilt and I, and many of the people we’ve been visiting, sort of like talking about liturgy and churchy stuff, so I can’t say my mind has been entirely away from my work. But such conversations have been recreational, not professional, and haven’t broken my sabbath. I’ve played with my kids, and shopped, and talked with family and friends, and done art projects, and read, and chatted with my husband, and eaten a lot of good food, and drunk a quantity of good beer and wine that, while not by any means embarrassing, is far greater than I would likely consume in any ten-day period that was not vacation.

We are, this moment as I type, alomst 18 hours into 30 hours of total drive time on the trip, and knock on wood, it’s gone pretty well. The kids have been troupers. We’ve been experimenting with having some of the driving happen between 7pm and 11pm, putting the kids to bed in the car and using the time when they’re asleep and we’re still up & alert enough to drive safely. That works well with Zag. The Bean isn’t crazy about sleeping in the car; it was really bad th first time, and so-so the second time. We’ll see how it goes this evening, our third big drive day.

Five days into this vacation, I was so happily detached from work and so-called “real life” that I really didn’t want to think about going back. I was counting the days, reassuring myself that I still had plenty of vacation left. But inner process is a wondrous thing. A night or two ago, I noticed that subtle inward shift where the heart turns homeward. I miss our house and our garden. And my sewing corner. I’m not itching to get back into the office – though I know I’ll re-engage happily enough when I go – but I am sort of, provisionally, almost, kind of, ready for this trip to draw to a close.

It’s been sweet and a bit sad, this trip, that our Bean, now 21 months, has started naming and identifying people – which also means she can be sad about leaving them. She’s currently in the back seat chattering about Sadie (”Dadie”), our almost 4 year old friend (daughter of the Bean’s godmamas) whom we just parted from this morning. The Bean spent much of our last long drive, from my parents’ to the godmamas’, asking if we could go back to Gamma and Gampa. It’s a blessing to live close enough that when we need another visit, we can just plan one, without plane tickets having to be involved. But still, it’s so lovely to see our kids building closer relationships with all their grandparents that it perversely makes me long for even more time together.

Speaking of time together… When I have some time away from work and with my family, one of the things that percolates up to the surface – maybe the Big Thing, really – is that I desire and need more focused time with my daughter. It feels so good to be around her, with plenty of time to talk and play and snuggle. It feels so good to have enough free time to spend some focused time with each of my kids. That’s a lot harder to achieve, in the average work week. Zag is, as he has always been, so closely bonded to me. I come home from work and he wants my attention and my time – and those are legitimate needs. The Bean is more ambiparental, if you will – she wants time with me too, but both because she’s the little sister and tends to get drowned out, and because she’s also so close to and at ease with her daddy, it’s easy for my home time to be more focused on Zag. I remember the dynamic from when I was being primary parent to Zag, while Tilt was working full-time – even while he was home (and even though he wanted to spend time with his son), it took conscious effort for the person who usually meets the toddler’s needs not to go right on meeting the toddler’s needs when the other parent is around.

I want to give the Bean more time – and give myself more time with her. But it’s going to take some attention and intention to figure out how to do that without taking time away from Zag, who also needs and deserves it. I’m sure these are elementary issues for people who’ve parented two (or more) children for longer than we have, and I welcome advice and encouragement.

The parish picnic

June 5th, 2011

We just had our parish picnic, and I’m feeling a need to process. No drama, just subtle dynamics I’m still trying to sort out. (I feel like I need to do a Critical Incident Report, for the CPE survivors out there.) So I’m gonna blog about it. This may be a long one, but if you’ve got the time to read it, I’d welcome your thoughts.

So there’s a woman in my parish – let’s call her Alice. She’s probably in her late 60s. Active churchwoman, active in diocesan life, past deputy to General Convention – a deeply committed and deeply involved Episcopalian. And I was warned about her before I even came to this parish. I was warned that she was controlling – that she ran the parish like her kingdom – that she sabotaged ideas she didn’t like – that she had made the lives of previous clergy very difficult.

I still don’t know how fair any of that is. Those warnings mostly came from folks at the diocesan office. I have since learned that Alice put up a stiff fight a few years back when the diocese was selling its campground, which Alice’s family is very attached to. She seems to have a bit of a reputation as a troublemaker, at the diocesan level. At the parish level…. I’ve heard a lot of stories about Alice. But the common thread of those stories is, “I do coffee hour/ushering/parish life/….. because Alice told me to, fifteen years ago.” And not infrequently, the coda is, “And now I’m tired of it, and I quit.” (I am working hard and, I think, largely successfully to be a non-anxious presence as all those stories unfold. Anybody who’s been doing the same ministry for 15+ years deserves to quit without being hassled about it. Any really essential roles will eventually get filled, one way or another.) So I’ve heard a lot of stories about Alice strongarming people into doing what she thought needed done – or, to look at it another way, about Alice holding the parish together through sheer force of will, during some rocky years. As challenging as it is to recover from Alice’s domination, who knows where the parish would be if she hadn’t done what she did? And I haven’t yet heard a story about Alice being unkind or unethical. Maybe those stories exist and nobody’s told them to me yet. We’ll see.

At any rate: As far as I can tell, Alice and I are doing OK. We have sort of a tentative friendship. She decided before I arrived that she was going to step back from nearly all of her ministry roles in the parish and take a “sabbatical” – she even quit choir. Now and then – sometimes at my request, sometimes unprompted – she sends me an email that says something like, “This is what we’ve done at Shrove Tuesday in the past….” The phrasing is never “This is what you should do,” or “This is how it has to be” – it’s “This is how we’ve done it.” She’s a very smart woman, and I think she’s honestly trying to be helpful. I think that she would very much like it if things kept being the way they have always been, but she also realizes she can’t keep running it all forever, & that in letting it go, some change will happen. So… I would say Alice and I are finding our way, bit by bit.

What I’m finding much more difficult than dealing with Alice, is dealing with the hole Alice leaves by stepping back from her former central role. There’s a lot of what I would almost label learned helplessness around here. If Alice doesn’t make it happen, people just stumble around in confusion. My first experience of this was the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper. One of the gentlemen of the church asked me, “Will we have a Shrove Tuesday pancake supper?” I said, “I don’t know. Will we?” It took a little while for me to understand that his question was really a question about the Alice-vacuum – “Will this happen if Alice doesn’t make it happen?” Very much to his credit, that gentleman stepped up and organized Shrove Tuesday, which went very well.

But it keeps happening – the Alice-vacuum – in things great & small. Sometimes, for smaller things, she just shows up & does it – like their Mother’s Day observance. Sometimes she communicates with me about what needs doing, and who might be willing to do it…

Which brings us to the parish picnic. I asked for, & she sent, a long document about the food, the set-up, the games. She suggested a sign-up sheet for various roles – set-up, grill, clean-up, etc. I created a sign-up sheet, & made announcements about it for a couple of weeks, including an invitation for someone to take on the role of Picnic Point Person & make sure all the roles are covered. (During these weeks, I had this inner dialogue with myself repeatedly: “IT IS NOT MY JOB TO RUN THE PARISH PICNIC AND I MUST NOT LET IT BECOME MY JOB. BUT it’s important for there to be a parish picnic…. So I’ll just post a signup sheet/buy a few prizes/help organize the grocery shopping *this year* ….”)

Nobody signed up. Well, almost nobody. Someone signed up to run the grill; someone signed up to buy the cake; someone eventually signed up to bring prizes for the games (though she did NOT want to run the games, due in part to past dynamics with Alice, as far as I can tell). Nobody signed up for setup or cleanup. I had no idea whether anyone would show up. I spend way too much time worrying about whether this picnic would happen.

I wanted the picnic to happen. Alice has other ideas – like a summer outing to the theater – that I can take or leave. But there’s something pretty archetypal about the end-of-the-year parish picnic. And it sounded like it was important to people! – the food, the games, the blankets spread on the grass, kids playing bubbles and drawing with chalk on the sidewalks, the lounging around in the sun together…. It sounded like a keystone fellowship event. I wasn’t going to take on responsibility for making it happen RIGHT, but I felt an obligation to make sure it happened at all…

I contacted Alice early last week to touch base about the lack of volunteers, and she offered to do the shopping, and said that she and her husband could do set-up if nobody else did it. I was relieved to have her help – and I thought, Well, I appreciate her stepping back from leadership roles in many areas, but it would be just fine with me if Alice ran the parish picnic for another decade; that’s a perfectly appropriate role for a long-serving matron of the church!…

The picnic was today. And it was OK, fine, lovely…. but. It felt unstructured. Nobody seemed to know when go to outside. Nobody knew when to start the games. We eventually pulled a couple of games together and played them. I think exactly three people got involved with the games who were not either my family, or Alice’s family. Maybe ten people played in both games, total. Maybe forty or fifty people stayed for lunch (out of 70 at church). But they started trickling away pretty soon. There were maybe 25 there when we started the games. I don’t know, it’s hard to put a finger on. People like to sit and eat together, that’s fine, but it didn’t feel rollicking. It didn’t feel like it had a life of its own.

A telling moment: Early in the event, while people were still milling around trying to figure out how to transition from coffee hour to picnic, I found myself standing briefly with two other women of the parish, who were trying to figure out who was in charge. Maybe John, who’s running the grill? No, John says Alice is in charge. But Alice says she’s leaving (no idea what that’s about; she was there before the event and after it, so if she left, it was to sit in her car during the picnic itself…). So if Alice isn’t in charge, who can tell us what to do? The question, it transpired, was whether it was OK to bring out the side dishes and put them on the outside table yet. I suggested that they could make their own decision based on what made sense to them. They looked at each other, looked at me, shrugged. One of them said, “OK, I guess we’ll bring them out.” And they did. And of course, that was fine.

That’s the moment that brought the phrase “learned helplessness” to mind. I truly don’t think Alice meant to do it, but she has these folks believing that they need her permission to bring the side dishes from the kitchen to the picnic table. That’s… not good.

So… the picnic, as a whole, felt flat to me. Underwhelming. OK, but not a rollicking good time. And I don’t know why not. I fretted a little, vaguely, about whether I could or should have done anything differently (before reminding myself for the umpteenth time that organizing the parish picnic is NOT MY JOB). Did the picnic underwhelm because Alice would have done more to round people up, organize and bully people into being there and doing stuff and playing the games and having a good time?

Or is it the opposite: is the picnic stale and under-attended because people are a little weary of these events that were Alice’s signature events?… I think especially of those games. My husband and my son and I, making a good show of being gung-ho; and Alice’s two teenage grandkids; and three other people. Something tells me we’re not meeting a widely-felt need, there.

Which all means that maybe it *isn’t* OK after all if Alice runs the church picnic for another decade. Maybe people around here are just weary with anything that has the faintest echo of Alice’s past bossiness around it.

So… *does* the parish picnic matter? Is this an outworn paradigm? Does this event have Alice’s fingerprints on it too much to be salvageable? – should we try something entirely different next year? ….

Your insights, reflections, further questions I should be pondering, are always welcome….

Supermama

March 21st, 2011

I’ve been on a sewing tear. I got a great book for Christmas that’s inspiring me, and I’m still exploring/enjoying the free!!! serger that came my way last fall, and I have a sewing station in this house which, while far from perfect, is muchly much much better than the one in the old house. So I’m having fun with fabric. I finished a pair of pants and a light pullover raincoat I’d started for Zag way back last summer, and I’m working on a batch of skirts and a batch of T-shirts.

Here’s a shirt I just finished for Zag, and one of the skirts – terrible photos, hardly ¬†Etsy-worthy, but hey, at least I’m posting pictures of something!…

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Noticing, wondering

February 15th, 2011

1. The baby woke up screaming one night, about a week ago. She kept trying to nurse, but then arching and screaming – whatever was going on was hurting her too much for her to find comfort in nursing. The arching made it seem like her tummy hurt, but I couldn’t think of anything weird that she (or I) had eaten that day. We jiggled her and cuddled her and fretted for several minutes, which of course feels like an hour when your baby is screaming in pain. Then Tilt figured he’d change her diaper, just in case. I lay there worrying and listening to her screams – and then the screams subsided to sobs, to sniffles – to silence. He brought her back to bed in a dry diaper and almost asleep again already. Apparently she just has some sore spots on her bum that were stinging in her wet diaper. I lay there in the dark and said Thank you, thank you, thank you God for solvable problems. That my baby screaming in the night just has a sore bum, and nothing that’s going to require an army of specialists, nothing that’s going to tear our hearts out. Thank you thank you thank you for healthy children.

2. I ate lunch with the sisters at our local ecumenized Benedictine monastery the other day. It was a remarkable experience. The cook set out exactly enough food for the five of us – five smallish tuna melt sandwiches, a smallish bowl of soup for us to ladle into our own smaller bowls, a little bowl of fruit salad, a little bowl of marinated veggie salad, and five cookies. I thought, One-fifth of that food isn’t going to be enough for me. I took my one-fifth servings, and sat, and talked, and ate. And everything was incredibly delicious – I would happily have eaten another serving of anything – but, in fact, it was exactly the right amount of food to satisfy my hunger. Good food without the option of gluttony. I wish I could eat that way all the time.

3. I met a parishioner Sunday who is struggling with a particularly nasty form of progressive dementia, which is rather swiftly taking away her ability to understand English words. She used to be a teacher, and a writer. She told me, standing right there in the foyer of the church with coffee hour bustling around her, that she plans to take her own life before she loses her mind completely, because she has no intention of having her family have to care for her for years when her mind and personality are gone. I had no idea what to say, though I think I got by with sympathetic nods. I’m meeting with her next week, and I still have no idea what to say. I ask myself what I think about this woman’s intentions, and no answer emerges. I need to pray on this, and look up the church’s official position on the matter, for what wisdom it may contain. But I’d welcome your thoughts, friends.

The magic door opens.

February 2nd, 2011

Suddenly, Zag is really reading. For a good many months now, he’s been able to sound his way through something like Green Eggs and Ham or the Elephant and Piggy books (which are a very cute/funny recent easy reader series to look out for at your library, if you know any 4-5 year olds). But it always took some coaxing to get him to sit and read, and he would get discouraged or tired easily.
Now the penny has dropped. Suddenly reading something to one of us is near the top of his list of favorite things – below Lego and iPad games, but still, it’s something he suggests and clearly enjoys. He read me a chunk of One Fish Two Fish this afternoon, then later, a chapter of an easy reader about a grasshoppeer detective. He cruises right along, only needing to sound out a few words. And he’s clearly got the cognitive mechanism that lets you recognize/guess a word from context – he’ll come to a word like “forgot” or “blanket,” which I’m sure he’d have to sound out if he encoutered it as an isolated word, but in the flow of the text he just nails it and moves right along. It’s really fun to watch.
I expect this phase to last approximately another nanosecond. Then he’s going to realize that he can read well enough not to need an adult beside him. He’ll just start reading on his own. That will be a great leap, and it will be fun to share favorite chapter books with him, in the not-too-distant future. But I do love having my son read to me. And I sure hope he lets us keep reading to him.
He misses, and I miss, his relationship with his teachers at his Montessori school in our previous home. Zag had a special friendship with one of the teachers, Miss Pia – they would talk about books together; she was familiar with most of the books we were reading him at home. He likes his new teacher, but she’s got her hands full and doesn’t have time to chat quietly with one intense and imaginative little boy. Thinking on this tonight makes me resolve to support him in making some new grownup friends. I’ll have to canvass our new acquaintances for an in-depth familiarity with children’s literature. And maybe his grandparents should call him sometimes. He has a rich interior life, this one, and sometimes his parents don’t have the time (or aren’t the best people) to process it with him.

Transplanted

January 27th, 2011

1. So we moved, like, 1600 miles. We own a house. I’m the rector of a parish. Big changes. The house is wonderful. It snows a lot here, and there are lots of restaurants. There are two Indian markets (possibly three?) within half a mile of our house. Zag seems to be adapting well to his new school. We think we’ll like it here. It will be nice to have (non-church) friends, eventually, but we’ll get there.

2. The kids are great. Zag is on the steep part of the curve with reading – it’s fun to watch, and share. He zips right along through things at a Cat-in-the-Hat type level. I love the notes he writes me. His handwriting is atrocious, but he came by it honestly. Handwriting was the worst grade I ever received. The Bean is 14 months old, and so funny. At this age they seem more like some other species entirely, here to study us in the wild, rather than like junior human beings. She putters around the house busily, talking to herself, pursuing her own projects – redistributing the dishcloths, filling my boot with Playmobil, etc. We watched Despicable Me recently (cute!) and she reminds us a lot of one of Gru’s yellow minions.

3. Things are different here, diocese-wise. Like, really different. I had my first Fresh Start gathering today. Fresh Start is a program for clergy who are in the first two years of ministry in a parish, so it’s kind of a cross-section of clergy in the diocese. I enjoyed the program in my previous diocese, and was looking forward to today. And then, I don’t know, it just felt odd. Here’s the thing: I’ve pretty much spent my whole life as an Episcopalian in more or less progressive dioceses. This is not a progressive diocese. It is a very mixed diocese, with some parishes and clergy on both the far right and the far left. Our bishop won’t allow gay clergy to serve in the diocese, in part because he wants to keep the more conservative folks on board.
I knew that living with that diocesan context would be one of the strangest and hardest things about taking this job. My parish is progressive, and I strongly suspect my nearby clergy colleagues are, as well. But that doesn’t change the situation any; it just means I have some good folks to share the discomfort with.
So – first day of Fresh Start – introductions, check-in, discussion about role clarity – through it all, starting to get a sense of a few folks in the room who are kinda conservative; a few folks in the room who probably aren’t; and a whole buncha folks where I genuinely have no idea. It’s such a mixed group, and I don’t know how to suss people out, here. I was in this weird space of feeling pulled between “oh, boy, chance to meet other new clergy and start making friends,” and, “let’s see… who in this room do I actually want to be friends with?”
Mind you – they’re all decent faithful people and probably good priests. But there’s only so far a friendship can develop when the prospective friend won’t acknowledge the priesthood or even personhood of some of the best people and priests I know. I’m not even sure how far I can go in developing basic friendly collegiality, without laying it on the table that I see the relationships and ministries of gay and lesbian Christians pretty differently than some of my colleagues do.
Does this make me a bad person? I believe, in principle, that people of good faith should be able to share fellowship and mission across these differences. In practice, when the guy sitting next to me starts offering me his rationalized homophobia, I tune him right out – like, entirely. Done with you, bud.
Also: I really missed having queer clergy in the group. A room full of straight clergy that just happens to turn out that way feels really different from a room full of straight clergy where gay and lesbian clergy have been excluded. It felt like someone was missing. It made me sad.
What the fuck would Jesus do?
Well, I’ll be here a long time. Reckon I’ll have time to walk through it.

*Important edit:*
I have realized (duh) that I have in fact had some pretty solid and warm friendships with people who did and do see homosexuality differently than I do. We knew it about each other, and tacitly agreed not to make it an issue. What makes that work in some contexts or relationships, and not in others?
Thinking of one friend in particular, part of why it worked is because she is also a faithful believer, but a rather different religious tradition; so we honored that about each other, while accepting that of course our convictions were somewhat different. Maybe my new conservative colleagues here are too close to home for comfort? Or maybe I’m just being super knee-jerky (emphasis on the “jerk”), and after living here and working with them and getting to know them, I’ll be in a more tolerant place? A little less “some people do not love their fellow man, and I HATE people like that,” in the immortal words of Tom Lehrer? ….
Set me straight, friends. So to speak.

Pop quiz, take II

December 6th, 2010

The General Ordination Exams used to feature what were known as “coffee-hour questions” – short-answer questions that might actually come up over coffee and donut holes after church, and which demand theological, historical, liturgical, and pastoral acumen from a clergyperson. My son posed me a good one which I reported here, a couple of years ago.

I got another in my inbox when I opened my mail just now. We have one outspoken traditionalist in our current parish; she participates principally by being active in the choir. The Boss made a strategic decision to invite her to join the worship committee, so that she would feel heard as the worship committee tries to take a fresh look at some aspects of our worship life. I think the jury is still out on whether that was a brilliant move or an utter disaster. Anyway.

So today he sent out a tentative agenda for this week’s meeting, and she wrote back saying she wanted to raise the issue of people being disrespectful to our music director by getting up, moving around, and talking during the postlude. Read the rest of this entry »