Use a Comma, not a Period

Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart

May 20, 1932–Amelia Earhart took off from Newfoundland to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

May 19, 2009, a blogger on Richmond.com cites the Apostle Paul’s admonition, “Wives, submit to your husbands. . . .”

Thank you, God, that Amelia–like the suffragettes before her and the women (and men) who brought, and bring, us feminism and equal rights for women–did not listen to Paul or the churchmen (and their female allies) who were, and are, determined to control, that is, limit, divine Creation.

God created, and saw that it was good. That is the biblical foundation of our relation with God. The biblical writers put their own spin on God’s creating, trying to fit the limitlessness of what God did into limited human concepts.

But God refuses to be limited. God is creating today.

As our friends in the United Church of Christ say, quoting Gracie Allen, “Do not put a period where God has placed a comma.”

A Dandelion at the Vatican

I finished mowing our lawn today. About half of it had gone two weeks without a cutting, so you can imagine how tall it was.

I don’t like it to get so long, but life (and rain) just kept getting in the way.

There is something satisfying to me about a well-manicured lawn–a feeling that may have something to do with a modern impulse to tame the jungle or subdue nature.

But nature, I mean nature in its natural state, is rarely, if ever, well-manicured.dandelion

Jonathan likes dandelions and the little flowers that grow up in our lawn. I admit they can be pretty, but I also like mowing them down (then I can pretend they don’t exist).

Maybe thats how some folks feel about LGBT people–or Black people, or other people who don’t look or behave like them. They see us as threats to their well-manicured lives. Maybe they want us mowed down.

I am enjoying my newly mowed lawn, but I also am glad there are weeds that will come up again. I am glad that a bright yellow dandelion will show up again–like a Queer showing up at the Vatican.

Thank you, God, for Staying

I started to write about something that happened to me two weeks ago, calling it “a small miracle.” Then, I stopped, and wondered, “Is there such a thing?”

Here is what happened.

I was at Clergy Call in Washington (see post on May 14). I was waiting to thank a speaker, when I noticed a name tag reading  “Heather,  Livonia, MI.”

So I said, “How are things in Livonia?” She said, “Fine. Have you been to Livonia?” I said, “Well, I grew up in Milford (my birthtown) and have worked in Livonia.” Heather said, “No way. I am from Milford, too.”

Now, please understand. Milford was a place of 5,000 when I left in 1981. You just don’t run into that many folks from Milford.

Turns out Heather’s father and I were in the Rotary Club together. We graduated from the same high school, albeit 30 years apart.

But get this: when I left Milford, I did not know any LGBT folks. It was very white and conservative. Now, Heather is an activist for LGBT equality, and leads the Martin Luther King Day march, too.

Milford Main Street on MLK Day
Milford Main Street on MLK Day

We shared dinner, and she brought me up to date on the place that long ago ceased feeling like home. I cried, letting myself feel long buried feelings of loss and hurt, and also feeling joy that the past is not the end of the story.

Small miracle? Feels pretty big to me.

Thank you, God, for staying in Milford, when I left. And thank you, Heather.

The Juggernaut of Justice

Rev. Dr. Cindi Love speaking at Clergy Call
Rev. Dr. Cindi Love speaking at Clergy Call

Last week, I joined more than 300 clergy from around the country in Washington, D.C. to speak to Congress for LGBT equality.

Human Rights Campaign's 2009 Clergy Call for Justice and Equalit
Bishop Yvetter Flunder and Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson at Clergy Call

We were part of Clergy Call, a program of the Human Rights Campaign Religion & Faith Program. There were talks by leaders–Jewish, Christian, Muslim–and break-out groups organized by state–we had about 20 folks from Virginia in attendance.

We represented many different understandings of God, and we felt not only safe with one another but blessed by each other. At a two-hour inter-faith service, we received incredible gifts.

So much passion, so much spiritual power, in one place. I have been on a high ever since.

Rev Pat Bumgardner and Rev Karla Fleishman at Clergy Call
Rev Pat Bumgardner and Rev Karla Fleshman at Clergy Call

But it may have been the visits to Capitol Hill on Tuesday that filled my heart the most.

Visiting Senate and House offices–mostly seeing staff–can be a mixed bag. You can feel like a beggar, asking for a crumb of justice.

However, this time, there was something extraordinarily powerful going on for me. As we went from office to office, and ran into colleagues visiting their states’ representatives and senators, I felt the air changing.

We are going to win this, I thought. There is no stopping us.

We are not begging. We are giving our elected leaders a chance to join the juggernaut of justice that will sweep them up in its wake.

There will be another HRC Clergy Call in two years. I can taste the joy already.

Let It Begin with Me

Change is the foundation of living. If we are not changing, if things are not changing, they are not alive.

Still, I need to remember that just because I want some situation, or someone, to change, doesn’t mean they will. Or should.

Maybe I am the one who needs to change.

Pardon My Planet, May 12, 2009
Pardon My Planet, May 12, 2009

In fact, the change I want always begins with me.

What change do I want to see happening today?

Let it begin with me.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

I am not always a fan of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. But I do appreciate how much the paper does to promote civic engagement–like the Public Square forums they sponsor on significant local issues.

There is one tonight. I have strong feelings on the subject, although I will not be going due to other commitments.  The topic: Baseball in Shockoe Bottom. Click here if you want to know more. http://www.timesdispatch.com/rtd/news/local/article/SQUA12_20090511-222637/267211/

Can I be subtle? I think building a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom is just plain crazy.

Instead of a stadium in Shockoe Bottom, there is a crying need to develop the historical treatment of the area to draw tourists. Richmond has so much history, but we don’t begin to capitalize on it to draw visitors. A stadium in the Bottom will not do it.

But we do need a real baseball team. And we need to invest in other areas of the city, not just downtown.

The Boulevard area north of Broad is crying out for public help. Developers just built a wonderful cinema there. Let’s support their investment with an up-to-date ballpark, either re-doing the Diamond or building a whole new facility.

What do you think?

Jumping for Jesus

I am always excited when I discover new images for things that are important to me.

Rob Bell
Rob Bell

Rob Bell, the evangelical pastor and teacher from Grand Rapids, MI, uses a metaphor I find especially delicious.

Bell says that if faith is seen as a wall of bricks piled carefully one on top of another, then you have to defend your wall at all costs, talking about how right you are, and how wrong the others are who aren’t building your wall. If one brick is pulled out, the whole thing totters and falls.

Instead of bricks and a wall, Bell experiences faith as a trampoline–something that helps him jump as high as he can.

Faith understood this way helps you ask questions and stay open to mystery–not mystery like Agatha Christie or television series where in the end the solution is revealed, but mystery that leads us to ask more questions. God likes us to ask questions; it means we are paying attention and we know the source of life.

trampolineI don’t own a trampoline, but I can jump for Jesus. Will you join me? If we jump together, we might go way up!