May 302012
 

 

 “He drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win
We drew a circle that brought him in.” – Edwin Markham

 

 

Jared  says:

I’m not so sure it’s brave to write a post that seems mostly meant for shock value and link bait. And just so happens to be on the hot button topic of the day….

 

 

Dear Jared,

Actually this post has been brewing for two years. I believe it’s my sixth post about gays and the Church . . . an issue that – hot or not –  is dear to me. I finally posted this essay in direct response to last week’s news story that had me in tears – about a preacher who said, from the pulpit, that gay people should be put inside electrical fences and left to starve to death. As I watched this pastor spew hate and fear, what hit me first was the calls of agreement and laughter from the congregation. What hit me next and hardest was my absolute certainty that there was at least one precious child sitting in one of those pews, knowing he or she was gay, listening to his or her preacher condemn him or her to death, and watching her parents nod in ascension. In the name of Jesus. I thought of that little one dying inside, knowing once and forever that she was not loved. Not by her God, not by her parents, not by her community. Learning right then and there that because of the way God made her, she would have to choose between loving who she was made to love and the acceptance of everyone in her little world.

I did not want to give the fearful pastor any more press by writing directly about him, but I felt strongly that for each action of fear and exclusion there should be an equal and opposite reaction of love and acceptance. And I decided it was my responsibility to use my platform to offer this reaction. I wrote this post for gay children and adults, just as one more piece of evidence that the tide is turning, and that there are Christians who believe Jesus loves them just as they are. And that these desperate, hate and fear filled folks who always seem to make it to the evening news, are the last, desperate gasps of a dying era. I believe wholeheartedly that soon, very soon, homophobia will be understood to be about as Christian as racism.

Jared, I already have a very large, loyal, and beautiful following and a second book deal with an incredible publisher. I am not into shock value or “link bait.” I’ve never even encountered the term “link bait” until you wrote it to me. I’ve never once advertised or promoted this little blog ANYWHERE, in the four years I’ve been writing it. My writing priority is not the growth of this blog, but my own personal growth.

I predicted I’d lose readers with yesterday’s post and I did. I predicted I’d receive hate mail and I have. The last twenty four hours have been very, very hard for me, as I knew they would. Posting this essay was a LIABILITY to my writing career, and I was advised as much. But the first post I ever wrote about this subject was titled “A Mountain I’m Willing to Die On,” and I meant that. I’d rather watch my writing career go up in smoke than stay silent on a subject about which I feel led to sing about from the mountaintops.

Jared- obviously, I’m not “right.” I guarantee that none of us is. But if I’m going to err, it’s going to be on the side of love and inclusion. And I’m prepared to have that conversation with my maker. I believe He/She/They know that I am doing the very, very best I can down here to find the downtrodden and forgotten and lift them up anyway I know how. We interpret and understand scripture differently. All of us do…every single last one of us does. To read or listen is to interpret.We do not see scripture or the world AS IT IS, we see it through the filter of who we are.

But if it helps- there is a scene in the Bible during which the disciples become concerned and angry because someone is trying to “drive out demons in Jesus’ name.” They say to Jesus, “We tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” Jesus answers- “Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you.” *

I might not be one of you – a “traditional Christian” – whatever that means. But I am not against you. I am just trying to follow the most important commandments- to love God with my whole soul, heart and mind – and to love my neighbor as myself. I am struggling and wrestling with scripture daily with my whole mind, soul and heart. I am considering that if I were my neighbor, if I were gay, I would want the option to love Jesus and I would want to know that He loved me, just as I am. And I would would want a straight, Christian woman to write the essays that I write. I would want someone from the “inside” to look at things from the “outside.”

And I write because although my position is clearly infuriating to many people today, I believe it will leave me on the right side of history. I believe what I’m doing is worth all this time and energy and difficulty. So I believe I am standing where God put me. Perhaps you are, too, Jared. I will not accuse you of anything less, nor attack your motives or heart or interpretations or understandings.

We do the best we can, in the name of Love.

I am a follower of Jesus, and maybe following looks different for each of us. Maybe some of us run and some of us skip and some of us mosey around and walk in circles for awhile and some of us take two steps forward and forty steps back. Maybe some of us just sit down and think for awhile, and come up with a hell of a lot of questions.

I believe that in my spiritual walk, I am allowed as many questions as I need. And I ask them and try my best to answer them here, because this is my blog, and my special place to think and pray and love and heal.

God Bless You, Jared.
G

 “If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.” – William Wilberforce

 

*Luke 9: 49-50

 

 

May 282012
 

 

So, this is the thing. Christians are always talking about how since He was God, Jesus was the only person who ever walked the Earth without sinning. They say Jesus was sinless, perfect.

Okay, BUT. That’s our perspective today. That is a post-resurrection perspective.

When Jesus was living out His life on Earth, most folks thought of Him as Sinny McSinnerton.
Jesus – although He was a devout synagogue-going Jew- appeared to be walking around purposely breaking the laws in the Torah. This was nothing short of scandalous at the time. Scandalous enough to get a guy crucified. Because the Torah is the book that the Jews in that day (and today) view as The Sacred, Inerrant Word of God. A faithful Jew did NOT stray from the rules in that book. Especially the religious leaders of that time, the Sadducees and the Pharisees. They PRIDED themselves on how closely they clung to these laws. Understandably.

Then along came Jesus. Jesus healed people on holy days, interacted with unclean women, hung with folks from the wrong side of the tracks, and told the world that some of the most religious folks were actually the most wicked folks around.* The religious leaders of the day were absolutely scandalized. Here was a RABBI, openly defying the rules CLEARLY WRITTEN IN THE TORAH. The WORD OF GOD. Jesus appeared to be demonstrating a blatant disregard for what appeared to be the rules.

The Pharisees confronted Him with this apparent treachery time and time again. They continuously tried to catch him breaking the rules, then demanded He explain himself. Once, when Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath (BIG NO, NO. NO – working on the Sabbath- as clearly stated in the Torah) the Pharisees said AHA! How can you justify doing that? It’s clearly stated as wrong! Right here- in black and white! In the Torah, the Sacred Jewish script- and you call yourself a Jew!

And Jesus said, “If one of your lambs was stuck in a hole on the Sabbath . . . wouldn’t it be the right thing to get him out? Wouldn’t you do that for your lamb? And aren’t people much more important than lambs?” **

In other words: Isn’t there a law of love in our hearts that overrides the individual laws in our books? Is there not? Jesus knew there was, because He created their hearts. He was asking them to trust their conscience. To trust the Love He put in their heart. To use not only their scripture, but common sense.

This sort of talk made the religious leaders nervous. What would happen if everyone just started walking around, following the laws of Love?? For one thing- they might’ve been out of a job. They were terrified. That happens – you know – when common folk start to question established rules; start to raise their hands and ask permission to look at things differently.  Questioners get SQUASHED. Or crucified, or humiliated, or hushed, because people in power get nervous. But in response to the religious leaders fear and anger about the “rule changing” –  Jesus says something interesting. He says, “I have not come to abolish the law, I have come to fulfill every letter.” But he promises this WHILE He’s clearly breaking the little laws. So what did He mean by that?  Could He have meant that there is an Ultimate Law, a law that starts to rise at the first page of every sacred script and falls on the last page like rainbow? A law that’s stamped into our hearts and weaved into all of creation?  Could that law be LOVE? Could Love be the law we are to follow, when in doubt?  Even when if it means breaking a smaller law? Just like Jesus did, again and again and again???

And so I just wonder…what form would Jesus take if he came back to Earth again? If the form He chose last time is any indicator, He’d appear as someone whom religious leaders and we common people would least expect. Last time, they were sure He’d come as a powerful king and He arrived as an homeless infant.  I wonder what He’d say, who He’d befriend, how He’d live, WHO He’d be this time around? Again, if past behavior is indicative of future behavior- His way of being and friends and every word He said would scandalize and challenge the religious folks of today, and He’d walk around breaking THE WORD OF GOD for Love. He would challenge and change all of our perceptions about who is in and who is out and He would ask us to fulfill the law, not by nitpicking isolated scriptures that have been translated by humans for centuries but by soaking in and understanding His entire message. The whole rainbow. LOVE.

LOVE GOD and LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR. AND PS. EVERYONE IS YOUR NEIGHBOR.

How would He hammer His LOVE GOD AND YOUR NEIGHBOR message into our heads today, in this time, in this culture, in this country? Who are God’s children in this day and age that might be considered the least of these, the oppressed, the disenfranchised, the people religious leaders are least likely to embrace? How would He turn the religious world upside down once again?

I think Jesus would come back as a poor, black, gay teenage girl.

I’ve been reading scripture and observing the world around me for a decade and this is the ONLY prediction makes sense to me.

So I think all you folks waiting for the second coming should leave your pews and start hanging out on Skid Row or the high school LGBT meetings.  Because often Love looks nothing like what we expect.

God, I love my counter culture, subversive, scandalous Jesus.

I love you, every single one of you. Even the ones who are frantically trying to find the UNFOLLOW button.

Love forever.

G

Post script…

I sent this to a friend who is also a speaker/writer/author…she sent the following, which i love-

When Jesus taught that all the laws and the teachings of the prophets hang on two commands – love God, love your neighbor – he was giving us a rubric through which to judge the validity/necessity of all our other rules and regulations. So, for example, “thou shalt not bear false witness” usually sticks because, it’s hard to love God or love your neighbor when you’re lying to them. Same goes for “thou shalt not covet.” It’s hard to love your neighbor when you’re jealous of his stuff. But “thou shalt not wear a material mixed of wool and linen”? Whatever purpose that law once held no longer serves to help us love God and our neighbor today. Similarly, “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy,” indeed helps us love God and our neighbor, until we elevate that law above God and our neighbor themselves (hence, the lamb in the pit story).

I think this is what John meant when he wrote that “everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

 

 

* Luke 11: 39-46 Matthew 23: 2-36

**Matthew:  12: 9-14

***Matthew 23: 37-40

May 222012
 

 

I let Craig handle last night’s round of “Whack-a- Mole” (bedtime) and settled into the couch at 7:45. It’s like my victory lap –  that couch settling.

 Day is done, gone the son, gone the girls and the the fights and the whiiiiines. All is calm- Bravo ooooon- sleep is nigh….

One of the myriad problems with this parenting gig is that they save the hardest part for last. BEDTIME. Bedtime should be in the morning – when we’re fresh and kind and sweet –  and decent parenting still seems like a very real possibility. But no, the hardest parts – dinner and baths and bedtime – arrive at the end of the day- when we have nothing left. When the truth is, we are counting the minutes. Counting the moments until no one is the boss of us anymore. Until we can sink into that couch, book, internet, or glass of wine – whatever our victory lap includes.

It doesn’t help that in our mommy minds, we have this idea that bedtime is supposed to be the most peaceful, loving time of day. That we are supposed to send our lovies off to dream land with songs, stories, soft, sweet voices and strokes of their cherubic heads. Sometimes bedtime happens this way for us. Not often.

Each of our kids gets a story at bedtime. They never pick a good one, they pick the longest one.

And the little one wants to “help read” her book. So, let’s see. It takes her about six minutes to sound out each word, and so if the book is one hundred words, well, I don’t specialize in math but I am telling you that I am stuck in that room FOREVER. It feels like I will be reading that book with Amma until I die. And I know I’m supposed to be SUPPORTING her reading. I mean it’s good – this is good stuff, this wanting to read. I was a reading teacher, I know this is GOOD stuff about which I am supposed to be EXCITED. But for me, exhaustion trumps excitement every single time. And I can’t help but notice that the ONLY TIME SHE CARES THIS MUCH ABOUT READING IT HERSELF IS AT BEDTIME. When she can hold me hostage and stay up six minutes later with every sounded-out-word.  And so while I’m supposed to be thinking sweet thoughts, all I can think is: OH MY GOD. I AM GOING TO DIE. JUST JUMP RIGHT OUT OF MY SKIN. YOU SUCK AT READING. YOU SUCK YOU SUCK YOU SUCK. PLEASE GOD. PLEASE MAKE THIS BOOK..just..just …DISAPPEAR so I can take my victory lap. I DESERVE MY VICTORY LAP!

But No. Nope. No help from above. So it goes on. And on.  “S….o…….soooooooooo  t-h- e….tuuuuu—-huuuuuu—-eeeeeeeeee?” says Amma. I am held hostage for forty five minutes. When she is finally done. I decide that after that debacle there is NO WAY that the Universe also expects me to sing the “song” that is also part of her “bedtime routine.” I say goodnight and pray she’ll forget.

But they never forget. They PRETEND to forget ONLY so that they have another excuse to pop out of their rooms and remind you of what you forgot.

So three minutes later, when I think I’m in the clear, here comes my littlest mole. “You forgot my song,” she says. And I stare at her for a long second and admit to myself two things.

1. She is unbelievably cute and precious and one day I will miss these visits, especially when she starts  sneaking out of her room to party with her friends instead of to find me to sing to her.

2. Doesn’t matter. I’m going to lose it.

And so I sing her song. But I sing it like an insane person. Eyes wide, teeth clenched, just a little too loud. No sweetness. Like a robot. “You. Are. My. Sun. SHINE. My. Only. Sun. SHINE. I sing it like there are implied curse words between every lyric.

She gets it. She finally goes to sleep. They know when mommy’s done. It’s not pretty, but it’s effective. And often that’s the best I can do.

So last night as I waited for Craig to whack the last mole –  I half listened to the bedroom doors re-open and the typical mole-y excuses –  “I can’t sleep because my elbow hurts!” “I need ICE COLD water, not reg-a-lar water” “My closet doors are open.” There’s an elephant shadow on my window.”  Whack- Whack-Whack- Whack.  Nothing new. The moles are not too creative tonight, I thought .  But then – I hear a door open and one appears to say to poor Craig- mallet in hand- sitting against the wall in the hallway – “I can’t sleep because my finger smells because I keep scratching my bottom.”

Hmm. Not bad, I thought, and I giggled, because it’s funny when it’s not your turn. Craig says, “Okay. Go wash your hand.” I hear the water run, hallway waddling, child returns to her room. Two minutes later, door re-opens, child-mole re-appears. “My finger still….” “GO WASH YOUR HAND AGAIN,” Craig says with that very even, controlled tone that indicates the Whack -a-Mole machine is about to BUST. Water starts, child- mole slowly creeps back to her room. A minute later, door re-opens. Mole child says, “My finger still…THEN STOP SCRATCHING YOUR BUTT. AND STOP SMELLING YOUR FINGER! OR PUT IT UNDER YOUR PILLOW. HOLD YOUR BREATH. WHATEVER IT TAKES. JUST GO. TO. SLEEP!

Mole child gets it. She is out of quarters. Daddy’s broke. Machine is done for the day.

No more doors open.

Craig comes downstairs.

He joins me with tea and Mad Men for our victory lap. He’s asleep within ten minutes.

 

Love,

G