The Quixotic Pastor

Friday, March 30, 2007

RDO Goes To Washington, Part 1

Thanks to the generosity of fellow LGBT activist Unitarian Saint [I know quite a few Unitarian Saints actually, but they'll have to have different names] I am joining at least 3 other clergy and lay ministers from Michigan at the Human Right Campaign's Clergy Call For Justice and Equality at our nation's capitol to lobby our federal legislature on April 17 regarding hate crimes and workplace discrimination legislation.

I am grateful for the opportunity "to do justice." You'll be reading more about my adventures.

Meanwhile, closer to home here in my state, we have an Anti-bullying bill [Matt's Safe Schools Law] which has successfully passed our state House, but will face stiffer opposition in our state Senate.

This may seem at first glance to be a no-brainer, but it is not the bill itself which is in danger, it is rather a clause that enumerates those who would be protected from bullying. Because that clause includes sexual orientation and gender identity, there are some who want to gut the bill and limit its power by removing the enumeration portion. The enumeration portion also includes such things as religious affiliation, height, weight, sex, race, and "any other distinguishing characteristic", but its opponents are so fearful of being perceived as condoning homosexuality, they are fighting to remove the enumeration clause --which would render the law almost useless.

In the meantime, kids who are bullied because they're queer, fat, Christian, atheist, muslim, goth, wear glasses, wear braces, make straight A's, are failing, are differently abled --or because they are PERCEIVED by their peers to be that way-- become truants, drop out of school, kill themselves or each other because some school districts don't know what to do with bullies and bullying, and don't always train teachers and staff about intervention in these matters. So the State of Michigan requires that students be in school x number of days --but it doesn't address making its schools safe in this key area for its students.

So the school that a youth from one of my congregations attends is not technically required to do anything about the kids who followed him home and tossed him in a dumpster full of stinking garbage one day ... all because he has a certain kind of disability that makes him different from the majority. This must change.

Friday Five: Holy Week, Batman!

Reverendmother posts this week's Friday Five

Well, the Clergy Superbowl is almost upon us, and so, I offer up this Friday Five (with apologies for the irreverent title):

1. Will this Sunday be Palms only, Passion only, or hyphenated? I like hyphenated, since in my current mode of existence I can't always schedule Good Friday services for both churches. Got to get Passion in there somehow --cannot skip from Palms to Easter, no, no, no, no, no!

2. Maundy Thursday Footwashing: Discuss. I have done footwashing services --made damn sure I trimmed my toenails and pummiced off the callouses first too. Made sure that everyone knew it was a footwashing service well in advance so they could do the same.

Isn't it interesting how so many of us have such issues with our feet? If it is indeed true that the hebrew word for foot served as a euphemism for genitalia, [for instance in the story of Ruth and Boaz' romance, some commentators have suggested that it was not his actual feet she uncovered] I certainly intuit why. At any rate, how we treat our feet is probably one of the most reliable markers for how well we do self care ... and how comfortable we are with our bodies.

Jesus' feet were his main mode of transport and took him all sorts of interesting places, on rough and rocky roads and terrain. I can just imagine the callouses, bunions, blisters, corns ... It is significant to me that, after Mary anoints Jesus' feet [how good, how refreshing that must have been for him!], Jesus follows Mary's example and washes the feet of his disciples. Their feet, after all, were probably in a similar state to his own. The lesson he taught was about discipleship as servanthood --but among the lesson's blessings was the refreshment of the experience. [I bet Peter secretly enjoyed it, after so much bluster ...]

I have done handwashing services in lieu of footwashing services. I have given participants the option to choose one or the other, hands in one line, feet in another.

I have done Tenebrae services instead.

Wonder what I will do this year?

3. Share a particularly meaningful Good Friday worship experience.

When I discovered On this one, pay close attention to the hands

4. Easter Sunrise Services--choose one:
a) "Resurrection tradition par excellence!"
b) "Eh. As long as it's sunrise with coffee, I can live with it."
c) "[Yawn] Can't Jesus stay in the tomb just five more minutes, Mom?!?"

How about choice D --I just love someone's else Sunrise service. ;)

5. Complete this sentence: It just isn't Easter without...

Easter is one of those holidays that engenders homesickness for me. My large, multi-generational extended family, who, with one notable exception [me, up here in Michigan], all live within a 3 hour drive of each other in Texas, gathers at my brother's house. There's a ginormous easter egg hunt for all the third generation kiddoes. Adults hide the eggs, and have been known to pelt each other with the candy eggs. Adults surreptitously consume the chocolate covered maple nut eggs --there's quite the competition for those. Then we loose the hordes of children. Adults hover and give clues ["You're getting warmer ... warmer ... you are hot ... you are on fire!"].

Next we BBQ ... and make scads of devilled eggs. Then we sit around patting our tummies ... or attempt to bring the sugar-high kiddoes down from the ceiling ...

Bonus: Any Easter Vigil aficionados out there?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Who Let the Snow Out? [Who? Who?]

Well it's not really bad in my neck of the woods. But it was rather disconcerting to wake up, go to let the dogs out, and see an inch of fluffy white covering everything, especially when yesterday it was so bright and sunny, although not exactly warm.

Of course, it will all be gone tonight, when the snow turns to rain and temps reach 42 or so ...

I leave at 11 or so to go to Lapeer to make a hospital visit. I'm anticipating no problems on the drive.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Five: Whatcha Doin'?

Revgalblogpal ReverendMother writes:

"Well friends, this is one of those weeks when I simply must work today, which is normally my day off. I know, I know. We may tut-tut all we want, but the fact is, some weeks are like that. So, this week's F5 is simple. Name five things you plan to do today.
Bonus: If today is about "have-to" for you as well, share up to five things you'd like to be doing today."

Yeah, I'm working on what is my normal day off also --but that's because I didn't work all day this past Tuesday because the sunny warm weather beckoned me away from my desk. It's also because I am going to be doing something a little different this Saturday having to do with St. Paddy's day and a hospital visit, among other things.

So, today I plan to:

1. Prepare two worship services

2. Prepare one church's newsletter

3. Compose a few articles for the other church's newsletter

4. Edit and send some congregant info files to the Board Clerk for one church

5. Work on another project that sort of dropped in my lap this morning, requiring some travel planning. Faithful readers will hear more about that later.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Two Kinds Of Prodigal and other thoughts

Ah, that wonderful, unique parable of Jesus, variously called the parable of the loving Father, the prodigal Son, the Jealous Older Brother. Personally, I kind of like the Parable of Two Prodigal Sons as a title.

At this point, I'm thinking we have two kinds of prodigal here. Both sons are out of touch with their father's love for them. The younger thinks he can live his life better on his own [maybe he was trying to escape his older brother?], the older one describes himself as his father's slave and works so hard at being so obedient and dutiful, he forgets to ask for his own party along the way. He's so busy concerning himself what is RIGHT ... that he forgets what is GOOD, a la the movie The Rainmaker. I think that is the movie with that quote ...

What both brothers have in common is a joyless existence and the experience of being lost --one in riotous, loose living, the other in believing he has to be "good" in order to "deserve" or "earn" the father's love. Each one is selfish, self-centered, in his own way.

Notice the father goes out to meet BOTH sons --the more obviously lost one on his return home, the more subtlely lost one as he stands outside the house and refuses to welcome his brother home, even as his father gently reminds him --this is your brother.

The father knows how much the brothers could benefit from loving each other as he loves them: think of the balance each of the sons could gain from one another. The message of the younger to the older: life is meant to be enjoyed and celebrated --lighten up. The message of the older to the younger: excess leads to pain and sorrow --settle down.

It is important also to remember the context of this parable. Jesus tells this story in response to the Scribes and Pharisees' complaint against him that he welcomes sinners and eats with them.

The commentators from HRC as found on Textweek [Out In Scripture, A Party for Everyone]claim: "All "sinner" stories in the gospel of Luke have one thing in common: in none of them does Jesus correct the sinners or call them to change their behavior. Rather, Jesus simply enters company with them. Indeed, in his parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14), Jesus describes a sinner who merely pleads for mercy rather than one who repents. No wonder the religious leaders, those invested in a theology of judgment, complain about Jesus’ company — Jesus made his home with sinners (15:1-3). "

It's gonna be OK

Just for grins, I opened a bottle of second batch homebrew today, on day six of the bottle conditioning process, just to see if it is carbonating.

It is!!!!! Popped the cap and received that tell-tale hiss, music to a brewmistress' ears. Poured it into a glass and, even only on day six, was rewarded with a decent head of foam.

Tastes [of course I had a sip or two] like a cross between Guinness and black coffee. Decided next time I do this recipe, I'll add a cup of local Michigan honey as well as the brown sugar the recipe calls for. The flavor is a bit thin, and I think the honey will add some complexity.

Put the rest as a marinade on my chicken wings.

And now, I get to turn my attention to worship preparation and the Story of the Prodigal Family, to borrow a concept from ReverendMother as she posted on Tuesday's Lectionary Leanings.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

63 degrees outside!

I. Can't. Stand. It.

Must. Go. Outside.

Wash the car ... and the other things I wash at the car wash, like the grill grates and my secondary fermenter.

Walk the dogs ...

It's short sleeve weather in Michigan, in March ... to sit indoors at a PC is a sin against God and my own humanity!

The sun is shining, it's getting warm outside ...

... and I am having a really difficult time sitting at this PC, preparing tomorrow night's Bible Study and attending to a few other paperwork details.

Bet I am not the only one. Bet absenteeism soars in my part of the state today.

Ah, but if I can successfully apply my nose to the grindstone, my hand to the plow, I have promised myself a long stroll in the sun around 3 or 4 this afternoon.

And, I'm grilling burgers and boca burgers for tonight's dinner when DH gets home. Maybe we'll have a margarita too, and celebrate a brief Spring Fling while it's above 60 outside, before winter returns to Mid-Michigan tomorrow.

Booooooooooooo winter! Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaa spring!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday Five: Matters of Taste

Songbird posts:

"My mother loved figs. I only like them in a Newton. It's all a matter of taste. Name five things you like a lot that some close relative or significant other did/does not like. This could be food, movies, hobbies, music, sports or whatever springs to mind."

OK, here goes:

1. Meat, fish, seafood, poultry. My DH is a lacto-ovo vegetarian. This sometimes make food preparation and dinner planning a challenge ... but she's worth it.

2. Sushi. Last week when I was eating at our local sushi place, a little old lady of the blue-haired variety came up to me, looked at what was on my plate and asked, "Is that really raw?" I smiled at her, and pointed to various delectibles on the plate with my chopsticks. "Well, this is raw ... and this, and this, and this. But this, and this, and this, and this isn't raw." She smiled at me, and said, "Well, it takes all kinds, I guess ..." and wandered back to her teriyaki chicken.

3. Jazz. DH doesn't like jazz because she thinks that most of it is chaotic. I like jazz because I know from personal experience that it is challenging to play, that to play it, one must think outside of the box and be prepared to ad lib. Jazz repertoire is a common language among its players and listeners. Jazz is rare, because innovation, imagination, flying by the seat of the pants and "rule" breaking are universally rewarded. That virtuosity is rewarded goes without saying. If the Church Universal could be described in terms of musical genres, we're called to be Jazz ... but some of us settle for Muzak or Top 40 Pop ...

4. Grits. Hominy Grits, the Breakfast of Southern Champions. Someone, probably an uninitiated Yankee, once referred to grits as being "wallpaper paste with sugar and butter." Emeril Lagasse, on the other hand, tells us that the only difference between grits and polenta is the price ... I like my grits with butter, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cheese grits are a special treat.

5. Genealogy. The last time that DH and I drove home to Texas for a visit, we took a detour from I-30 onto US 82 so we could swing by the cemetery in Reno [Lamar county] so I could visit my ancestors. As we were trooping through the graveyard, and I was explaining to her that "this is grandfather so-n-so," she responded, "Honey, I can't keep up with your living relatives, much less the dead ones."

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaack

Yes, I know it has been two entire weeks since I last blogged. [One of my congregants expressed concern --"should I be praying extra hard for you?" It is nice to be missed.]

It was a combination of several factors: illness, SAD, some extra church-related tasks and, on my days off, a certain revulsion about even looking at a computer screen, much less touching the keyboard. Instead I read detective novels --6 of them. Amanda Cross' Professor Kate Fansler and Rita Mae/Sneaky Pie Brown's Harry, Mrs. Murphy, Pewter and Tee Tucker.

Just to catch you all up, in no particular order:

**I know Spring will be here soon. Why? Because when I removed half an onion from the vegetable drawer in my refrigerator to make home-made soup [ooooh! That's what I'll have for lunch!] it had sprouted and begun growing. I almost hated to cut it up, my very first personal sign of Spring ... but, being hungry, I applied the knife ruthlessly.

**I have bottled my second batch of home brew, which looks like Guinness, at least in the secondary fermenter ... not sure what it will taste like yet. Won't know until at least the Feast of Annunciation, which just happens to be my birthday, and happens to be a Sunday. Maybe I'll rush things, and open a bottle on the Vernal Equinox [March 20]. Rainbow Pastor doesn't know this yet, but I'm bringing a couple of bottles to share with her at an upcoming event we both may be attending. Of course, I could really rush things and open a bottle on St. Paddy's Day --particularly since it does look like Guinness. And I do have green food color in the cupboard somewhere ...

**DH has found a permanent job closer to home, instead of the temporary job an hour's commute away! This is real important since she is having much difficulty with her neck right now, C5 through C7, and driving is one of the worst things she can do. We're celebrating this evening ...

**Some of you may be aware, since it made the national news, that there has been a school shooting in one of our Mid-Michigan communities, that I will label "Pleasantville," yes, after the movie. There's a person in my church, Zed, who is close to the brother of the girl who was shot. Please pray for Zed and the entire Pleasantville school community. God will know to whom and what you're referring ....