Polarization

It can’t be ignored. We are in whopper of a political season. As a follower of Jesus, I feel compelled to try to ride out this season with some measure of personal integrity, but also a large dose of lip zipping. Although somewhat of an introvert in my private life, lip zipping or maybe more politely calling it, verbal discretion ☺ is not my very best characteristic especially when it comes to politics. John, my husband and I are in different camps but we have been able to live together by observing a modicum of verbal discretion. Most of the time… It’s hard… We want to be heard and for the most part we are sure we are right, that’s human nature. Maybe we are right, maybe we aren’t because viewpoint is such a powerful part of being human. We look out at the world through our own eyes which have seen specific events and we have experienced those events through the theater of our backgrounds, the way we were raised. Some of us are in complete agreement with the way our parents and families see things and some of us decided to go in the opposite direction. Some of us have had it easier than others but everyone has been through some kind of stress, turmoil, personal loss at some time or another and that colors the way we see things. We choose to read and watch those media outlets which echo our beliefs, so all that stuff we feel inside is reinforced. We may be horrified by what the “other side” says. Unfortunately, I believe, we are also whipped into an emotional hurricane by political hyperbole that really doesn’t do anyone a whole lot of good and that’s where God comes in.

You have every right to your point of view. It is the American way, though I personally feel some of the points of view are flagrantly deceptive and rather damaging to our wellbeing. Still, we are entitled to our perspective and that is a privilege we ought to cherish while we allow it to others. May I make a suggestion this month? Make friends with just one person you are sure has a different view from yours. See if you two can come to some kind of agreement about how to talk to each other with respect. Learn how to share your own views without vitriol and listen to the other with as much of an open mind as you can. It’s not easy, I know, but I have faith in you! Here’s some thoughts attributed to Jesus to guide you along the way:

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, Let each of you look not only to his/her own interests but also to the interests of others.

Matthew 7:24 Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock. (not my words, Jesus’ words…)

1Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Be well and take care of yourself and your loved ones, for you are loved!

It Doesn’t Work That Way. Really.

The issue with 50 Shades of Grey (book or movie) is not the sex. Sex is fine, in fact sex is great! The issue is that it is basically a story about a ridiculously naive young woman who is exploited. I know, I know there’s the contracts they make with one another and the “safe word” (doesn’t that just throw up a red flag?)- but that is just part of the ruse, which of course the young woman doesn’t understand because, well, she’s ridiculously naive. Plus the male character is embarrassingly sexy handsome and he has a lot of money. These are specific things young women are taught to desire. He uses those to exploit her. You will read that I use the word exploit and exploitation often in this piece for the obvious reason.

Should you happen to be a person who is “into” BDSM that’s your prerogative, as long as your BDSM activity is consensual and not with a minor or a person who is not fully capable of making a clear choice. 50 Shades of Grey may be titillating but it’s not about sex or BDSM at all. It is about a person who is captivated and aroused by another person so much that she (in this case) thinks she can cure him of his painful past. In the meantime, his painful past is what makes him such an abusive person and, frankly, he is a pretty mentally sick puppy, though handsome, wealthy and powerful. BDSM folks say that all participants in this form of sexuality are not emotionally unstable or mentally ill. I believe that, but the guy (Mr. Grey) is, and that is what the public is exposed to by viewing or reading about him. The impossibly beautiful “heroine” if we can call her that, decides her love will save him from his emotional disability. I’m writing to tell you, it doesn’t work that way, not at all. So don’t waste your breath. I know, I have been there. I have been in a severely abusive, power unbalanced relationship/marriage and pretty nearly lost who I was. I was also in physical danger and pain but that was only part of it. The bottom line is, if you think your “love” can heal or change the behavior of an abusive personality disorder, you are terribly mistaken. People who are abusive are more than likely that way for some very good and deep seated reasons. Most of us are not mental health professionals and even they have a hard time helping sociopaths who are abusive. That’s usually because the abuser doesn’t really feel they are wrong about the abuse they hand out. They can’t, because their very sense of self depends on their denial about it. I know this, I’ve been down this road a number of times and finally (as the cliche goes) I am never going back.

One of the good things about the movie in particular is that it shows it takes two to make an abusive, sick relationship. That is the truth. The bad thing is that the female character makes us think that not only will her love cure her sick, twisted lover but that her prize is marriage to a handsome, wealthy man. Let me say it again: it doesn’t work that way. Just ask Nicole Brown Simpson or Whitney Houston or any other person who was in a relationship of unequal power like this. Oh wait, you can’t because they are dead. I am happy to report I am not dead and yay. I am alive and I can look back on the pain and abuse I struggled through in my situation. You can ask me anything and I will tell you the truth as I see it.

Covid week 2

June 26, 2021

Lord, lord, I wrote the stuff below way back in March of 2020 when in Covid isolation but I never hit the Publish button, not sure why. I think really I was afraid of reality because reality was like a SciFi novel. Now, the blog below is a time capsule of what life was like at that particularly scary point. It is now the end of June 2021 and things are very different. We are nearly back to normal. For instance, people are no longer using annoying “air quotes” when they say “normal” I am happy to reflect. Yet, in honest, things are still a little weird. The wearing of masks, THE thing which saved our lives prior to the Moderna, Pfizer and J&J vaccines are optional. There are many spangly, sparkly masks hanging lifelessly on kiosks in Malls all over America. They look very sad. I do not feel sorry for the masks – I am so happy not to be masked all the time. It was suffocating, necessary but suffocating.

I am amazed to report that the husband and I are still together after being together day after day after day after day during the shutdown. I think I even like him better now. You could not have convinced me that would have happened. He is out and about now, again which means we are no longer joined as symbiotic twins and I am grateful for the freedom. His posted bird photos are a thing of beauty and surely that means he is happier to be set free out of the house. Those birds. I will have to write about that some time. Those birds he is beyond captivated with. Those birds are the husband’s id. They are his disorganized, creative self who does not have to answer to anyone. That’s how it feels when I see them on Social. I do believe the birds, the hikes we took where no one else was around saved us. Nature, she saved us during Covid and I am eternally grateful to her for her presence through all the seasons of the year. SO! Here is the Covid blog from March 2020 and I will be quiet now so you can remember your own experience as I am remembering mine. Enjoy:

Started to write about life in covid-land on March 14th and now it is 11 days later. That’s a long time to be in captivity, isn’t it? If you are currently incarcerated it certainly wouldn’t seem like it’s that way but I am generally an ants-in-the-pants type so it is a long, long time. I’m trying to laugh and be this girl above. She looks normal, happy and completely oblivious to a virus that was probably brewing just about the time the photo was taken. It has taken years to cook itself up to just the right consistency and contagion ability. However, it is true that we had been warned that something like this might be coming in what was then “the future” which we are now best friends with. We weren’t taking that warning seriously.

Here are some things learned in the last 11 days:

The 850 sq. ft. house is plenty big for the husband and I to have a space of our own and a place to come together intermittently.

It is best if we have breakfast & coffee together, go off to our separate spaces, maybe come together for a brief lunch then join up together in the evening. More than that has no charm.

We depend on TV. Especially funny series and thank God for Antiques Roadshow which seems to soothe the savage beast in the husband.

We depend on our dog, Bella, breed and origin unknown. She has proven to be the most compassionate of us and really needs very little in return. Bella is a God send.

At this point in time we really find we cannot depend on the leadership of the Trump White House. They have simply lost their minds and it sounds as if they are happy to misguide us in order to shore up the stock market numbers.

We are relying on the wisdom of Dr. Anthony Fauci. Like Bella, Dr. Fauci is compassionate, smart, thinks before doing and seems utterly trustworthy. Dr. Fauci too is a God send. I read today he is now being skewered by Right wing media? Really, this great guy getting the once over. Shameful.

People who are incarcerated and undocumented people are in dire circumstances. Can you imaging being in prison with nowhere to go and Corona Virus starts to infiltrate the population? Can you imagine being in hiding or in sanctuary without access to medical care when the virus comes to visit? These people in particular need our help.

My connection to God has been tested more than usual. I don’t mean that God is not there it’s more that I am not looking to a Divine to make this situation better. Still reading theology as usual and meditating as much but somehow there is a distance. It may be that I am feeling betrayed but I know that is not logical. It is not betrayal, it is the inevitable pitfalls of human existence. Still, that “where are you” feeling tugs at my tunic.

The husband is the only one who knows how to load the frigging dishwasher. I tell you I am gifted in other ways but this is for sure something I will never again be able to do without my husband’s guidance.

The gratitude I feel in my heart for the postal workers, the medical professionals, the teachers struggling to keep their students engaged is beyond my ability to express. I have a sister in law who is a nurse at an acute care center dealing specifically with the covid cases right now as we speak. She is scared and I am scared for her. Still she goes to work and that is love.

You can make money online as a research answerer. $1.00 at a time. Really, $1.00 and I wonder if there are people who spend the whole day on their computers or phone actually trying to make a living off it. It seems impossible. Maybe you could make $50 per day if you really hustled? This is not a scam but it’s certainly not a viable work at home deal.

There are ways to reach out to others while in isolation. I have had numerous Zoom meetings and conferences. Some are free and some I have paid for. Even my favorite 12-Step Group is meeting via Zoom tomorrow! I am ridiculously happy about that. I imagine therapists are working in their pajamas overtime and I would be delighted to do Pastoral Care sessions with anyone who would like to. Phone, Skype or Zoom.

We had a sensational Virtual Happy Hour last Friday at 5:30 with close friends and family. We all sat around drinking and snacking and it was fun. The husband built a small backyard bonfire so he and I could sit out back and do it. Love these peeps who are so sweet and kind. Hope we do it again.

I learned a new app called “Marco Polo” which boils down to a way to leave audio/video messages for either an individual or a group. It’s cool but so unflattering in the way it makes you look on camera. Progress not perfection and now I feel obligated to wear full on makeup ALL the time. Of course some brave (or gorgeous) people do not do that but having been an actor I cannot help it. I want to look good if for no one but my own ego which is fragile.

We are eating less! Of course the obvious is we are not dining out which we love to do for the social contact if not the food variety. We are having groceries boxed and handed to us curbside from a small local market called “Spic & Span Market” in Southport owned by Greg & Lori Peck for the last 34 years. It’s great little place, I mean super old fashioned good with fabulous food. Even though Spic & Span is pricier than Shoprite or Stop&Shop, we are saving money since we don’t need as much as usual. Not sure why that is.

Feeling closer to my family who live far away than usually do. Like we’re all sharing this experience and we want each other to be all right. The sisters, Liz, Momo and Dossie are just a hoot to text with and they are masters at it. Typically we share what we are making for dinner and our delight over “Schitt’s Creek” which is just bangin. Even the husband loves that and he is not usually into any kind of series that has no spies, murder or mayhem. The Sissies (as we call each other) are keeping my spirits up considerably, thank you my loves.

Andrew Cuomo is smelling like a rose. It’s a complete surprise to everyone in the world! The Governor of NY is known for being bristly and uncompromising. All of a sudden he is almost cuddly and women are swooning for him in his khakis and polo shirts getting’ it done. Way to go Andrew, where have you been?

Prologue to that last paragraph – see how easy things can flip in life?

🙂

Get a Shot or Not?

Today I was fortunate to get an appointment for a Covid-19 vaccine in a few weeks from now. So, by mid to end February I should be fully inoculized from the Pandemic. Yes, I know that is not a word. Since March, I have been waiting for the development of the vaccine, then waited impatiently for a chance to get one. Today I set up the appointment online and it wasn’t actually hard but it wasn’t easy either. There were lots of questions, one of those encryption things (select all the photos with traffic lights) which is aggravating and then there was the digging through different locations to see where there might be an open appointment, which were exploding into the atmosphere like fireworks on the 4th of July. I was thinking to myself, what if I didn’t have a computer or a smartphone? What if all I had was a landline phone? Would I have been able to accomplish the task? That is most definitely a problem for people of age and others without computer or internet access. Yes, there are Public Libraries, but those are operating on a very limited basis. Even if you can get into a library, if you are a person who is at high risk for contracting Covid or/and you have an underlying condition, going out and into a Public Library is not an ideal option.

Sorry to lay this back on government but, we need better solutions to the vaccine roll out. My husband said “isn’t it awful that the elder people (whom btw we are) had to wait in line in Florida for hours to get their vaccines?” Well, no, I would do that in a heartbeat because I am totally on board with the medical community’s findings on this vaccine and I want to see the world back in gear. But again, I am able to do that. What if I don’t dare stand outside with a bunch of people whom I don’t know have Covid or not? What if I don’t have a car? What if I don’t have the money for a Lyft or a cab? What if I have no family nearby to help me out?

None of this is going to deter me from getting immunized. I would, however, like to find out if there is a way we can do this thing better, so I am open to your ideas. More than happy to help others navigate this maze. Let me know if you know of a way I can do that. Who can I call to offer a ride? Who can I help get an appointment with my laptop or phone? What can I do at the vaccination sites to move folks in and out in a caring, safe way? While we are experiencing the National nightmare inherent in the unpredictable outgoing of the current Admin. what can we all do to improve on this Covid-19 vaccination roll out? How can we do it better, faster, with more equanimity and serving everyone in the U.S. fairly? I’m listening and ready to act.

That Is So 2020

Waking up this morning I thought, “this is going to be a very, very weird Christmas Eve.” I’ll be damned if I am not going to love it anyway. Why? It’s the only one I’ve got this year and someday fairly soon this awful, life-sucking-year is going to end. It is going to be almost 60 degrees today in Connecticut at the end of December. That’s so 2020, messing with the weather even. Before I got out of bed I did a Centering Prayer on JOY which didn’t feel quite authentic but still worth the effort. Meditation or prayer does have a way of sneaking up on you with the simple goodness it can bring. Goodness is a gift any time, any year. After that I read another Pastor’s social media post which contained a copy of an acidic letter from a super messed up parishioner at her church. This was THE meanest letter I have ever read from a person who is part of a church to their pastor. Merry Christmas you crusty Grinch, whoever you are. Why in the holy name of Jesus would you send a gruelingly cruel note demeaning your Pastor’s title, ability and pretty much his whole reason for being? Whoever you are, the Pastor is not the one with the problem. You, my “Christian” friend are. There are therapists (Christian and other) out there who can assist you to extract the venom from your fangs and many (though not all) are covered by Health Insurance. Go for it. Now.
You may wonder why this bothers me, if its about another minister? Well, once I had a Congregation Member repeatedly refer to me as ” That Woman…” but only to others in the Congregation when I was not in earshot. Mind you this was someone I thought liked me. It was quite the opposite, but instead of talking to me about her feelings, she called me “That Woman” which if you’re a woman, you know what that means.

Sometimes I wonder if Parishioners really understand the power of their words, especially the negative ones. Urging you here, to think twice before you lay it on your Pastor. Believe me, they are trying.

Since it is going to be so balmy today we’ll go for a walk on the beach but can’t take Bella our dog because she has a torn ACL or whatever it is called in veterinarian speak. If we lived in California or Florida or Costa Rica that’s what would happen. Stuck Costa Rica in there as a fantasy destination. Since it is a highly unusual Xmas Eve it seems appropriate to do something you might do in CT say, in August. Guessing there will be lots of befuddled owners and dogs at the beach today wondering, why is life so strange? How did this Covid-year happen? Who can we blame for it today to make ourselves feel avenged?

Personally, I like to blame The current Occupant of the White House because he has painted himself into the corner of “Dastardly Dans” or Dons. Growing up as a fellow New Yorker I am not shocked by him because his swagger and coarseness is commonplace in the circles I am accustomed to. That part of his act is an obvious choice and does not impress me much. However, there seems to be something deeper, more malicious, as un-compassionate and dispirited as a person can stoop. Kind of like the person who wrote the cruel letter to the Pastor I mentioned above. What makes a person so mean? So selfish? So egotistical? His niece Mary’s book spells it out brilliantly and for that she has become renowned and has probably made a nice buck. Who can blame her? She has spilled all the familial beans and the world could not wait to cook them up and eat them.

Truth is, the raping of the world by the pandemic in which we are swimming is not the fault of this President, although you could argue he has not made it any better. The real horrible truth is, disease, epidemics, pandemics happen to mortals. Even though we spend hours and hours in a manufactured-to-be-perfect cyber world and seem to have a grip on the Science of carbon based life, we are still clueless. God and the other side of God, evil, are not things we fully understand, still. A betting person will tell you we probably never will because we are just people. Complicated, brilliant, just scratching the surface of the meaning of life, people. That’s not “so 2020” that’s just life in our fragile universe. Coming face to face with that is the beginning of knowing peace and knowing peace may just be what it is to begin to know God. I think. That’s what I’m thinking this Christmas Eve morning. You?

Covid

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” –1 Cor 12:12,  26-27

Thursday March 12 – This morning I cannot help but reflect on just how much this passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Community mirrors our own feelings in our new normal. The new normal I am referring to is not the disconcerting Trumpian era but rather the era of repeated hand washing as if the whole world is a contamination site, endless squeezes and pumps of hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and a suspicion every time we reach for a door handle. My husband and I are now kissing each other goodbye in the morning on the cheeks instead of on the lips (my beloved husband for Christ’s sake!) I think twice before I go for a drive thru coffee and wonder how many of God’s people are sitting in the ER worried about catching something more heinous than what they came in for.  On our phones we are relentlessly confronted with statistics of infection levels and the CDC’s Dr. Anthony Fauci (my God bless his holy name) has become our go to hero for information and some small sense of equilibrium.

Friday March 13 – I am going for a Drive thru Corona virus testing. I feel lousy and it is time to take the next step. I will report back after I do it.

Saturday March 14 – Well, that was a unique experience. I filled out three forms online to verify my existence and possible reason for a test. Then my darling, doubtful husband drove me to a parking lot off the Merritt Parkway (I-15) in Stamford, CT not more than 20 minutes away from our home in Fairfield CT. The obvious unusuality about the afternoon was that on any given Friday afternoon “the Merritt” as we call it here is likely to be a parking lot, either way, North or South. This day it was eerily clear, no traffic jams and cars flowing freely from one exit to the next. This does not happen. For us it was nice because it made our trip easy but we both noticed it immediately for its weirdness. When we arrived we were not sure we were in the right place but I texted the physician who graciously offered to do the drive thru testing and asked me by phone to do so when we arrived. Within 10 minutes he, the physician, dressed in a suit came out of the building but did not approach the car. He waived someone forward and a person dressed head to toe in a white hazmat suit with a clear visor face mask came to my car. Somehow they were confused because I was in the passenger seat which means my husband who drove me was likely infected, if I was. Nevertheless the hazmat person turned out to be a very kind man with a Latinx accent who held a pouch from which he pulled a long, long stick with cotton at the end (think giant Q-tip) which he said he had to swab up my nose. Oy. He was very clear that it would not be comfortable and he apologized ahead of time but oops, up it went and yes, it is not at all comfortable but it is something I felt I could live with if it would give me the answer of whether or not I had Covid-19.

This is probably a good time to confess that I am a minor germaphobe and that the prospect of this virus has got me in a complete whirlwind of concern. When the ubiquitous authorities on every possible media began to request everyone wash their hands thoroughly and repeatedly, especially after using the bathroom I’m like well ya…duh. Who doesn’t do that? But apparently everyone does not and now you can understand why I am a germaphobe. People cannot be trusted to be diligent with their personal washing, sneezing, coughing and I am vigilant to combat those wanton ways. Just ask my husband – I drive him crazy with the “did you wash your hands?” “did you use soap?” “did you sing happy birthday twice in your head while you did or at least try to wash for 20 seconds?” To which he responds “you want to smell my hands?” Of course, that is something a germaphobe would never agree to. My cleanliness need goes so far that I have brought my own sheets to a hotel when I have occasion to stay in one. I march in the room, place my sheets on the sheets and immediately inspect the towels and toilet. Personally, I think everyone should do this but I understand that most people do not. So. Be. It.

Today, I have felt fine, then lousy and now fine again. Is this a delusion? Am I creating an illness in my head? I have no idea though I tend to think not. I understand that today the CT authorities have decided we all should stay at a proper social distance and not go to the movies, out to dinner, to a sports venue, in short not to congregate. Churches are closed, as are schools and other gatherings. I think it’s a great idea. It can get boring to spend all my time with the dog and the husband but I can totally see why keeping people away from each other is the only reasonable thing to do to combat the person to person spread of Covid-19. I’ve seen the bell curve we are all trying to flatten so I am complying. If I have to be in contact with anyone, I put on latex gloves and a mask but mostly I spend my time at home or out taking walks with Bella the dog and don’t stop to talk with others. This is okay as I am pretty much of a private person anyway but like I said it’s a little bit boring. I contact the MD who did the test about when I will know the results of the test and got a response that Tuesday morning we will have a teleconference and hopefully we will have the test results to discuss. More then.  Thank you for your patience in reading. That is love in action.

Monday March 16 I took the day off from worry yesterday to go walk, sort of hike up a spot here in beautiful upstate CT. Sometimes we forget just how rural and lovely CT can be and it is a real good idea to get in the car and just pick a spot to hike, walk or roam. John and I went to Peoples State Forest which I had never heard of. Here’s the drift: “The Peoples State Forest Nature Museum is a state-run museum on Greenwood Road in the Peoples State Forest in Barkhamsted, Connecticut.” It is a great place filled with tall, tall trees and a number of trails where not many people go. We took Bella our dog and up we went, really up to a group of vernal ponds that will not be there after the next few weeks. The top vernal pond was the most fabulous and we heard about it from the critters which inhabited it from probably a half mile away. There was a strange almost quacking sound coming from off the trail. When we arrived we were serenaded by what must have been hundreds, maybe thousands of tree frogs all chanting and chatting in a loud unison. In a word it was amazing, a transcendent moment in the craziness of corona virus madness. Thank you nature for providing this mesmerizing respite. My gratitude is boundless.

As of today CT is shutting down in many ways. Schools, restaurants, bars are closed or closing. People my age and above are asked to stay home and if working, to do so at home. Social distancing is become the norm. I join my friends and colleagues in saying this sucks but will do my small part to make things better not worse. Here is a prayer from my tribe the UCC that I think is a good one to practice:

“Holy God, ever present with us, we are mindful of these times in which we live. Uncertainty, anxiety, and fear are present among us as we listen to and care for one another in these days.

We ask that your peace and healing presence be with us, as we pray for and hold each other in love. We ask your guidance and direction as we live out your command to love one another as we are called to love you.

In the name of the one who has called us and prepared us for these challenging days, we pray. Amen.”

Sting – the preacher

Whenever I get really hot under the collar about something, I know I have to write about it and I also know I will probably get a lot of equally heated pushback. Not looking forward to it.

Working as an Interim, a Church Minister can hear it all. Recently, I am more and more aware of the phenomenon of church desires to hire a Rockstar Preacher. I mention Sting in the title simply because I adore him and maybe he will read this. I am not immune to loving a good rockstar. The point is, we all love a rockstar but when it comes to church I fear we have gotten into territory that closely resembles idolatry. This sacred cow-ism of hiring a “dynamic” preacher at all costs has long been a no-no in the Christian faith and yet, we churches are so into it. Why?

It’s clear from myriad studies by the Alban Institute, Progressive Renewal.org, The Emergent Church, The Christian Century, Christianity Today and many, many other prestigious institutions and publications that church attendance, participation and giving are waning at an alarming rate. So, what do we frightened Christians do about that? We solution hunt. There are equally as many solutions (or attempts at solutions) as there are diminishing churches and this writing will not once again throw more solutions at you because you know where to find the data. What I have encountered is a desperate attempt at making church really, really entertaining or really, really radical by way of hiring the best over the top preaching performer. I get it, I really do. Here’s my own personal pushback though not to offend anyone in particular. Was Jesus actually a rockstar? The Gospel accounts certainly make him sound like a person we’d like to know but, a rockstar? I don’t think so. He didn’t seem to care about money. He seemed to avoid crowds rather than seek them out. He was definitely not into fashion and did not seek to promote a Jesus clothing or perfume line. That was Paul’s mission. Jesus was into two things: worshipping God (his father Abba) and living out God’s desire for us to love one another in a Beloved Community. He did not count butts in the pews and he did not develop stewardship strategies which is what most churches do in a desperate attempt to save their edifices. Once again, I get it so, I am sorry if I sound, well, mean. That’s not the intent.

Perhaps it is simply wishful thinking to imagine if we churches focus back on loving one another (even loving the non-members and unchurched) and on worshipping God, things will sort themselves out. Maybe it’s true and church is going to look a whole lot different than it has and does now. That’s really the problem, isn’t it? We want our churches to continue in our image, not necessarily in the image of God’s work. God’s work is unpredictable. We can’t harness it, stage it, promote it or make it more dazzling. Because God is already dazzling. We don’t need another rockstar. We have one.

Bullying Redux

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a good thing that First Lady Melania is focusing on ridding us all of cyber bullying. It’s dreadfully ironic, being married to the Bully In Chief, but good. It is also just a wee bit hard to swallow that she said today she is one of the most bullied people in the world (“if you consider what people say about me”) Forgive me for not feeling too terribly sorry for a 6’whatever beautiful model type person who is married to money and doesn’t seem to spend a lot of time doing good for others in the world. If she was really serious about the bullying thing? She could, say, call out her man in the Oval Office. Charity begins at home after all. That would be impressive and it might even help curb the guy’s natural inclinations to dump on the person next to him.

Meanwhile, today we have been treated to a peek at the visit to the White House by Kanye West! At the gym I heard a Fox Contributor say Kanye’s rant was inspirational. Seriously. Jedediah, please you need a refresher on The View. To imagine that Kanye’s inability to think before speaking is inspirational means that we should all admire the President for the awkward, insulting, incoherent, unthinking things he spits out every day. Granted, these two are peas in a pod but nobody wants to put them in a salad. Too bitter. My opinion? Kanye go home and get a good night’s sleep. His media coverage today was not only dopey, it bordered on the I’m-going- to-break-down-any-minute-isn’t-it-fun-to-watch-me voyeuristic quality of TV Land.  I am sure Kanye and Donald get along great, being pretty much on the same intellectual level which they have labeled genius. Not at all surprised they are friends and boy oh boy doesn’t that red hat just look spiffy on Kanye?

p-s-s-s-t!! Melania and Donald (ok and Kanye): there was a hurricane in Florida in the last two days. People are suffering, think you could spare a minute from you self aggrandizing to see what your considerable positions can do to help? Yes, you.

River

Joni Mitchell wrote a sad but beautiful song in 1970 called “River.” In it she described a feeling that I would guess most of us have had at some point in our lives. It is that sensation you get when you are in a spot in your life which you don’t like, at all, and you want to drift away on the movement of a river somewhere, anywhere, as long as it’s not where you are right now. In Joni’s considerably brilliant imagination, it is a frozen river that she would like to just skate away on. When I used to play that song on my (get this) “record player” back in the 70’s, I was transported down that river with her. Or at the very least, it gave me the opportunity to romanticize whatever issue it was that I was wanting to run away from, and there were a lot of those. Rivers are amazing bodies of water. They aren’t static like a lake nor are they salty and rip roaring like the powerful, untamed ocean. Rivers move and speak as they swoosh by the shoreline, beckoning us to come along for the journey. At a Bible study we did with residents at the Millbury Congregate Housing this week, one of the people said something quite wonderful. She said, once you touch the water in a river, you will never touch that same water again. River waters are of the moment and gone, of the moment and gone. She felt it was an apt metaphor for living a life that is in the present moment, not expecting things to be the same or to repeat itself. I liked that. It’s a good way to think of our Churches too and their history. One year, not even one Sunday can ever be repeated, it is all new like the passage of the river or of time. For that we can rejoice or grieve. It’s a choice, that’s all. Choose. Embudo_River_58

To be continued Sunday September 24, 2017 25 Francis Street Worcester, MA

 

Will Never Forget

We used to walk home for lunch during the Elementary School years, imagine that. The school building was right up the hill from our house and you could see it from the upstairs windows. I was usually late to school anyway, always finding more interesting things to do at the last minute. A kid at school one day did the “Heil Hitler” Salute and not knowing at age eight what that was all about came home for lunch and when my Mother greeted me at the door I gave her that salute I had just learned. She was astonished and not in a good way. “Where did you learn THAT?” she rightfully asked with a look I had never seen on her face before. I told her about the kid at school and thought it was funny. Like I said, I had no idea what it was all about. My Mother had actually lived through Hitler’s reich and as we all know now, it was no laughing matter. She told me in her most stern way that I was never, ever to do that again. That Hitler was the worst person the world had ever seen and that to make fun of the terrible atrocities he and his people committed was completely out of line. I will never forget that moment because I could see in my Mother’s eyes and in the ashen quality of her usually rosy Irish complexion that death and destruction was at the core of her admonition to me. 

At eight years old a lesson was learned. There are some things that should never be made fun of or taken lightly. I am glad we have the freedom to parody President Elect Trump but let’s not forget that when we compare him to Hitler and the Third Reich we are comparing him to a despot who murdered 7 million human beings in the name of Germany and the protection of the so-called “Aryan Race.” “It’s not funny” my Mother would say. It’s not funny at all. 

t-h