Friday, December 28, 2007
She had let me know that she knew "all about" my journey with the ELCA. If you're new here, you really only need to know that I live in a weird liminal space in my denomination. I'm not allowed to be on the clergy roster because I am a lesbian in a committed relationship (and choose--it's all about choice--not to lie about that). But I serve an ELCA church. Like I said, a liminal space.
The lady and I were having a very nice conversation. I'm not sure how it even got around to the subject of the Great Debate. I guess it just always does.
So there we were, talking about the church's struggles with its gay and lesbian members and pastors, and she looks at me and says, "Well, as a straight person, I just wish we could quit talking about it all the time."
I can only hope that I didn't roll my eyes, because, like I said, I was enjoying our conversation. I found this lady's sense of humor and presence absolutely delightful.
But gee, I'm tired of hearing that sentence. I'm tired of what seems to lurk beneath that sentence: a sense that lesbian and gay people in the church are somehow interested in prolonging the discussion of our sex lives.
Um, because we're really not. I say that with some confidence. I have yet to meet a gay or lesbian Lutheran who relishes the fact that our intimate relationships, our love lives, and "what y'all do in bed" is fodder for church assembly conversation and debate. I don't know any gay or lesbian Lutherans who like being "studied."
I'm leaving out transgendered and bisexual Lutherans because I'm afraid we've only just begun to study them. We've had some conversation about bisexuality, but it hasn't really gone anywhere. The church has yet to actually legislate around gender identity or bisexuality. You're only precluded from serving a church if you are in a "homosexual sexual relationship." So the defining issue is still "what y'all do in bed."
Look, here's where the confusion arises. I hate this debate. I hate being studied. But if we're ever going to have justice, this unequal, uncomfortable conversation has to take place. The alternative is to continue the longstanding, unstated "don't ask, don't tell" policy we have used for years. And at this point, there are just too dang many of us to try to cram back into that closet.
So as a lesbian, I wish we could quit talking about it as well. Yesterday. But I guess there's no other way through the crucible moment than to play with fire.
I know politicians are opportunists; that's the way it's done. But using the birth of Christ is too much for me. There's no need for Mike Huckabee to remind people that he is a person of faith--he's a Baptist pastor, for goodness' sake. There's also no need for Mike Huckabee to remind people of faith that Christmas is about the birth of Christ. And there's no point in trying to remind those who don't care, as well. People aren't going to discover the true meaning of Christmas in a campaign ad.
But clearly it is important for Mike Huckabee to position himself as the candidate of the religious right. I'm a little surprised that he seems to be their only candidate. After they elected, and re-elected George W. Bush, one would think the Republican party would throw a few more bones to the Christian right. But nearly all of the GOP candidates seem to be folks who not only won't excite this part of the base, but are more likely to irritate them.
You wouldn't want to irritate Pat Robertson, would you?
Actually, maybe so. The problem with the Christian right is that their most high profile folks seem to prone to spectacular rises and equally dramatic falls. Here are a few names to illustrate my point:
All of these fellows, with the possible exception of Ralph, are the punch lines to a barrel full of jokes. Ralph Reed is just a guy who rode the coattails of the "Christian Coalition" to a position of influence and subsequent corruption. He was once the darling of the party. By 2006, he couldn't get himself elected Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. Ouch.
There are a bunch more names. Certainly we can add Pat Robertson, who is no longer relevant in national politics since his mouth just won't stop venturing into Crazy Town.
In the interest of fairness and balance, there are plenty of scandals on the other side of the political/religious fence. But it's just more interesting when pretenders to the throne of American morality fall on their derrieres (or the attractive derrieres of secretaries and male prostitutes). Americans love irony, even if we can't always recognize it. It's dang funny, and tragic, when Larry Craig, virulently anti-gay senator, gets caught soliciting sex from a man in a bathroom.
Since it's more interesting, it's a bigger liability. It's safe to assume that none of the candidates will ask Senator Craig to campaign for them. Even in Idaho. I'm thinking Mr. Potatohead will get you a lot more votes in Idaho.
Votes are the bottom line. As much as money seems to be the measure of viability in politics today, ultimately you don't get elected unless people vote for you. While the Christian Right comes with a whole bunch of votes, it also comes with a whole bunch of baggage. And it seems as if the Republican party isn't so much interested in carrying those bags across the election day threshhold any more.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
Below is an article from the Washington Post that reminds me that we're going backward when it comes to peacemaking.
Bush told in Aug Iran may have halted nuclear program
By Tabassum Zakaria
Wednesday, December 5, 2007; 11:21 PM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush was told in August that Iran may have suspended its nuclear weapons program, the White House said on Wednesday, a day after Bush said he was not given a full report on the issue.
A new intelligence estimate released on Monday said Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003, raising questions about whether the president was aware of that when he increased his rhetoric against Tehran.
Some Democrats seized on this week's intelligence report to suggest Bush took an aggressive stance against Iran even though he knew that U.S. intelligence had a different picture of the threat posed by Tehran.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Bush said he was informed of the intelligence report last week, but said U.S. intelligence chief Mike McConnell told him in August there was new information on Iran.
"He didn't tell me what the information was. He did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze," Bush said.
On Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said McConnell told Bush in August that Iran may have suspended its nuclear weapons program and that the new information might cause the intelligence community to change its assessment on Iran.
I'm going to be accused of bashing the president here, because "politics" is such a dirty word that one can't discuss foreign policy without being accused of partisan hackery. So I'll say it right up front. I think he's a bad president. I'm not sure he's a bad man, and I was quite touched by his conversation with Jenna on Ellen Degeneres' show this week. He obviously loves his family very much. He is also funny and charming.
But I think he's a bad president. I think our country is in serious danger, danger we weren't in seven years ago. I think we are largely unaware of the damage that has been done to our relationship with the rest of the world. I don't think that's bashing. It is my opinion, based on information like that in the article above.
This administration has been laying the groundwork for war with Iran. I think if you asked them, they might even admit that. It's pretty clear. So this report is alarming, since the president actually used the phrase "World War Three" in a speech in October regarding the Iranian regime and its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
If, back in August, the US Intelligence chief told him that it was likely, or even possible, that they had suspended their program, then this saber-rattling is not only dangerous (which it would be either way), it is also unfounded.
It may be that this Intelligence Estimate is wrong. The President has certainly asserted as much all week. That is most assuredly a possibility. We know that the intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program was wildly innacurate. Or it was made up--history will have to let us in on that one.
I'm pretty sure history will report that this administration has handled truth in a devastatingly careless way. Yeah, they all do. Yeah, it's been raised to a new art form since 2001.
I am a liberal.
I'll give you a sec.
Over the shock?
Okay. So anyway, I'm naturally suspicious of conservativism--although this is more a function of my faith than my political leanings. I just can't find support for most conservative positions in the person and teaching of Jesus Christ. And I'm doing my best to try to follow that guy--failing gloriously at times, but trying. So yes, I have suspicion of those who don't put emphasis on caring for the poor and who are actively working against the marginalized. And that description fits a lot of conservative platforms, though it certainly doesn't fit all conservative people.
But this isn't about conservatives, anyway. This is about neoconservatives. This is about an agenda which sure seems to be hellbent on "World War III." The current administration bends facts until they break, manipulates (or dismisses) intelligence, and foments fear of The Other in order to advance its goals, which seem to have something to do with taking over the Middle East.
Does the President really want us to believe that intelligence chief Mike McConnell came to him and said "We have new intelligence about Iran," and the President of the United States said "Okay, Big Mac, thanks for lettin' me know."?
Are we supposed to believe he didn't ask what the intelligence was? Or does he--does this whole neoconservative steamroller--just not care what we think? Do they think we'll go blithely on with our lives, paying no attention to the man behind the curtain, fiddling with our remote controls while Washington burns?
I think they might.