Thursday, December 21, 2006

1 Corinthians 13 for the Holidays

This is cool. I like it better than the original. (But will have to deny that in court, or give up my Lutheran Seminary Credential. The Lutherans, they just luuuv Paul.)

Anyway, surf over to Gallycat's blog and read this:


That's "What Wall Would Jesus Build?" of course.

Today's Star carries an article headlined "Muslim group asks congressman to apologize." You can read the whole thing by clicking above. (The headline's different online. I have to say that, because I am an English major, and don't want anyone thinking I wrote it incorrectly, or something horrible like that.)

It seems that Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode Jr. is one of the many folks unhappy that Congressman-elect Keith Ellison--a Muslim--wants to be sworn into office with his hand upon the Qu'ran. The stated objection is some nonsense about how every American leader has been sworn in with his (and they probably are saying "his") hand on the Bible. This is patently untrue, but truth is increasingly unlikely to serve as a litmus test for public statements in Our Nation's Capitol.

So Rep. Goode sent out a letter in which he touted his zero tolerance policy on immigration, saying: "The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran."

Of course, this dustup really isn't about the Bible and the Qu'ran, which are, after [Side story: I went to San Francisco State University, which is a wonderfully diverse community, accepting of a huge variety of lifestyles, "Christian" not necessarily one of them. I got over it--hey, I usually understood their point of view. But I was annoyed, or at least bemused when a young woman in one of my classes said, at least three times, "most of the bad things that have happened in the world throughout history have been done by the Bible." I wish I could draw, because I've had this cartoon in my head ever since that day, of a Bible, decked out like Rambo, rushing around in an evil stupor, leading crusades and burning witches and bad stuff like that.]

Anyway, as I said, this isn't about the Qu'ran and the Bible. It's about Muslims and Christians. It's about how Christians have been in the majority in this country, especially when one looks at the annals of leadership. For a lot of years now, this country has been run by white, Christian men. (Presumably straight, but that one is up for review.) And those white, Christian men like it that way. Most people like being in charge, or at least like to have their opinions count more than other people's.

So now there are Muslims in this country, and one of them has been elected to the US Congress, and lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Clearly the new terrorist plot is to have Muslims elected, one at a time, to the congress, so that they can take over this country.

In 434 years, which is when they would have a majority under that plan.

Those of us who live in and around Kansas City should probably be grateful to Rep. Goode, along with Senator-unelect George Allen. (If that isn't ringing a bell, here's a memory-jogger: "macaca"). For a brief moment in time, Virginia is replacing Kansas as "most backward US state." And since most of the folks I know who don't live here do think I live in Kansas (we really do need to improve our secondary schools' geography classes), it is good to get Kansas out of the spotlight. For the people of Kansas and the people of Kansas City. Missouri. And Kansas. It is confusing, isn't it?

But all kidding aside (hard for me but I can do it), this is truly sad. That walling ourselves off from the huddled masses yearning to breathe free can be considered a legitimate "policy" is beyond me. Truly disturbing is the desire to wall ourselves off from other American citizens, just because they practice a different (and very much related) religion.

We keep hearing about the "global economy." We are increasingly caught up in the World Wide Web. The walls between peoples are coming down. That's a wonderful development here in the global village.

It's certainly a development which should be applauded by Christians. Perhaps Rep. Goode and his comrades ought to spend less time worrying about folks putting their hands on the Bible, and take some time to put the Bible in their own hands. And open it up. Try Galatians, chapter three, last verses:

As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, seed heirs according to the promise.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pink Christmas

I love Christmas. It is truly the most wonderful time of the year, as the song says.

But I also reside within two bodies which can be challenged by the holidays.

The first of those bodies is my physical body, which is gayer than a three dollar bill.

The second is that branch of the Body of Christ which we call Abiding Peace Lutheran Church. Within that body are the most wonderful people one could hope to meet. Many of them are also "three-dollar-bill-like."

This is a prayer for my sisters and brothers in the Pink Triangle Nation. May God surround you with joy and hope this Christmas. May you be loved and accepted for who you are. May your families, and extended families, and in-laws, and neighbors treat you with all of the affection, kindness, and respect you deserve.

The holidays can actually be a little rough on us homos. Family is at the center of the holidays, and it sucks when your family doesn't seem to have the same value as a "normal family." Or when the older generation asks every member of the younger generation about their love lives--except for you, because they don't actually want to know. Or when the person you've shared your life with for twenty-five years is introduced once again as your "friend."

Or when your mother-in-law sends you a copy of her E-Christmas-Card, and it waxes rhapsodic about what each of her children, grandchildren, and sons-in-law are up to, and how proud she is of them. You, her daughter's partner, have apparently been on a desert island all year, because you are strangely absent, and apparently didn't even accompany your partner on her fabulous vacation to Hawaii.

That last one isn't about me. It's about someone else who went to Hawaii this year. And I'm not bitter, either.

Just a little sad, and a little tired of those emotional left hooks out of nowhere. I'll have a little eggnog and get over it. Because I am blessed with a terrific wife and terrific friends and a really amazing church family. So little slights are a small cross to bear.

If you are carrying a big cross this holiday season, reach out. Find a church, call a friend, do something wonderful for yourself. You are a unique part of God's creation. You are beautiful. You're created in the image of God--you have to be beautiful. There's no other option.

If you are reading this, and you are one of the beautiful straight people who treat gay people just like you treat everyone else: thank you. You probably don't know what a gift you are. You are the face on our hope for the future--the time when we can look forward to Christmas without bracing ourselves.

May this Christmas be a time of hope and joy for all. And may you get everything you want, and especially what you need.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Grace Is Making a Comeback

The name, Grace, that is. According to the online Baby Name Wizard, Grace was the fourteenth most popular name for girls in 2004. This surpasses the popularity the name enjoyed back in the 1890's, when it ranked number eighteen.

Grace has rebounded nicely. Back in the seventies, Grace had fallen to a dissappointing three hundred seventy one on the list. Three hundred seventy one with a bullet, apparently.

Were I a sociologist, I might have a lot of fun figuring out why Grace dropped so low in the "Me Decade." Aw, heck, it's just nice to see it back.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

All I Want for Christmas Is a New President

That is all. My whole Christmas list. Okay, if Santa brought me a papasan chair I wouldn't complain. But I'd trade every dream gift I could imagine for someone leading this country who would work for the good of the nation. The whole nation. And while we're at it, how about the world? The whole world.

It has been absolutely depressing to watch George W. Bush receive the Iraq Task Force report. It's so painfully clear, since prevarication isn't his strong suit (apparently practice doesn't make perfect), that he has every intention of fighting the recommendations he doesn't like. From what I've read, that's going to be most of them. He says things like "there are some...interesting recommendations in the report." "Interesting?!" That's what you say about a casserole you don't really like, to spare the chef's feelings.

So things will continue to spiral out of control, the civil war will continue to get worse, and we'll continue to waste time arguing about whether it is in fact a "civil war." Because when people are dying by the hundreds and thousands, what you really need to worry about is semantics.

All I want for Christmas is to be a shepherd on a hillside and hear the promise: "Peace on earth, goodwill to all." And to know that my country is invested in that promise, even more than it is invested in Exxon-Mobile.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Okay Tavis...

See, Tavis is giving me a hard time because I've been back from vacation for a couple of weeks and haven't written anything. The thing is, my mom was here and I was behind at work and oh never mind. I just haven't written anything.

So here it is, though anyone who isn't into college football won't be all that interested.

I rooted for the wrong team a week ago. I thought I was rooting for the right team--USC--because they were number two in the BCS standings and the good guys--Michigan--were number three. So I wanted UCLA to beat USC, so that Michigan could play Ohio State for the National Championship. See, we only lost to Ohio State by 3 points when we played them in Columbus. A rematch in a neutral place (which is what bowl games and the championship are supposed to be) would be a great game.

Against the odds, UCLA beat USC. I'm not surprised USC lost--I just thought Notre Dame had a better shot at knocking them off than UCLA. The Trojans were #2 by virtue of playing in the Pac Ten and because they were nearly unbeatable in the Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush era.

So here's the thing. USC was #2 and they lost. Michigan was #3 and didn't play. But for some unbelievable, unknown, ridiculous, stupid, assine reason, Florida, which lost to Auburn earlier this year, jumped over Michigan into the number two spot. As Chris Berman would say "What?!" Michigan lost by three points to Ohio State, the number one team in the country. Florida lost by ten points to Auburn, a team not even in the top ten. Florida had to work very hard to beat a sorely lacking Florida State team (arguably Bobby Bowden's worst team ever, which isn't that bad, but still...).

Being knocked out of the #2 slot was always a possibility. A rematch for the title game is a stretch. The only way it would happen, according to all of the analysts, was if the Michigan/Ohio State game was really close and USC lost.

Three points. Close enough for ya? Oh, and USC lost.

Okay, so it's all done, and we'll play in the Rose Bowl. Which used to be the prize winning the Big Ten, but turns out this year to be the runner-up prize. The Rose Bowl is great. It is. It's the Granddaddy of bowl games, rich in tradition, and played on New Year's Day, when bowl games are supposed to be played.

But here's the thing, the thing that has always been wrong, historically, with the Big Ten/Pac Ten Rose Bowl matchup (which is no longer a shoe-in with the BCS): now we have to play a bowl game against USC at home. So much for the old bowl neutrality.

When you can't get a break...

Actually, this could be a good break. Michigan will win the Rose Bowl. Not to sound like Joe Namath or anything, but the Maize and Blue will break the Trojans (he he he). At home. And Ohio State will steamroll Urban (The Pope) Meyer and his choppy Gators. So in the end, we will know who the best two teams in college football are. And we'll have to be satisfied with being number two, since we don't get another shot at number one.

Last night Stephen Colbert said the best thing I've heard about this whole BCS mess. He thought it only fitting, since the BCS is decided by electronic voting, that the two teams vying for the national championship are from Florida and Ohio, the states which gave us the two terms of George W. Bush.