Friday, June 26, 2009

Get a Job!

I was talking with a dear friend and member of my church last night and she was sharing her frustration with the comments of Rep. Cynthia Davis of Missouri, who represents a wealthy suburban district outside St. Louis.

Rep. Davis has suggested that young people old enough to get jobs should be working at McDonald's, where they will get a free meal during their shift, rather than having lunch at churches offering free lunches over the summer.

(Parenthetical Thought: Maybe I should work at McDonald's. The Bristol makes us pay half price for lunch, which makes most of the menu out of reach for servers who are making an average of $25-30 for a lunch shift.)

Back to Rep. Davis. Her comments are dumb. And typical of social and fiscal conservative thought. If you are having a hard time, you should get a job. And ya know--they're right. Working is the best way to make money, if you don't happen to be part of a wealthy family in, say, suburban St. Louis. Of course, it is a lot easier to get a job if you happen to have all of the privileges of being from a wealthy family in suburban St. Louis.

And that's all I'm going to say about this, because my friend Andy has written an insightful, wise, brilliant blog article about the whole thing. Read it here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stop Talking, Reverend. Please.

I have defended Jeremiah Wright in the past year. He has used language I wouldn't use, but we do not preach in the same context. I have tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, and have even blogged about how unfair it is to lift words and phrases out of the man's sermons in order to somehow taint him, and by extension, Barack Obama.

But I wish now that he would go on retreat and spend some time alone with God, working through his prejudices. Because when one doesn't have the sense to avoid making blatant anti-Semitic statements into a microphone, it's time to go up on the mountaintop and get straightened out. (Yes, I said "straightened." It's only a word, and it has more than one meaning. In this case it means "subjected to a little can of divine whoop-ass.")

Asked by a reporter whether he had talked to his former parishoner Barack Obama, Wright answered "Them Jews ain't going to let him talk to me. He'll talk to me in five years, when he's a lame duck, or in eight years when he's out of office." You can listen to it here if you have the stomach.

Questioned about the remark later, Wright said that he misspoke.

You think?

Unfortunately, he elaborated. What he meant to say was "Zionists."

Oh, well that's alright then.

I wonder who stayed up all night thinking of that clever semantic dodge?

Here's what he should have said: "Yeah, that was an awful thing to say. I had no idea that I was capable of such a hateful stereotype, and I'm ashamed to have said it. I apologize to the Jewish people, and to anyone who was offended by my remark. I am going up on the mountaintop now."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Panic in the Streets! Digital TV is Here!

Seriously, and I do mean seriously: if the conversion from analog to digital television signals is catching you by surprise, as it is some 16,000 people in the KC Metro today, then you obviously don't watch television. Because if you do watch television, you've been bombarded with reminders that you have to do something to your TV if it isn't digital-ready. You've also been bombarded with ads which suggest that you'll lose your signal if you don't subscribe to a cable provider. The premise of these ads is completely untrue--you just need a converter box, which costs an average of ten bucks if you use the free coupon the government sent out. It makes one wonder how much money Time Warner and Comcast paid to facilitate the switch, which is surely making them a fortune.
I'll just be glad when the switch is completed today, so that the constant reminders will cease, and I can return to the wholesome and educational programming normally on my television.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

That Wishy-washy Love Thing

Sunday, June 7, 2009. Lindsborg, KS. Central States Synod Assembly--Day Four.

This would be a very long blog entry if I tried to capture all of this Synod Assembly in a single article. So I'll try a few impressions first, with a promise to write more later. Right now I'm actually still sitting in a session, so just impressions for now.

First, the Synod Assembly is a yearly gathering of ELCA members, rostered leaders (clergy, Parish Ministry Associates, Associates in Ministry, etc.), synod staff, and churchwide leaders. The Central States Synod is comprised of all of the congregations and associations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America located in Kansas and Missouri. The Synod Assembly is the highest legislative body in our synod.

We've all been in Lindsborg, Kansas ("Little Sweden!") since Thursday afternoon. There's been lots of business, but really we've been focused on sex. Again. Not sex, really, but human sexuality. Not human sexuality, really, but homosexuality. And not homosexuality, really, but the burning question before our denomination: Will we let gay and lesbian persons who admit that they are not practicing celibacy to be pastors in our church?

We're also talking about the blessing of same-sex unions, but that issue doesn't seem to have the heat around it. Not sure yet what to make of that. It seems like the two are connected, actually...

We had conversation--a one hour "Committee of the Whole," more about this later--about a Statement on Human Sexuality which will be affirmed (we hope) by vote at the Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis in August. We voted to memorialize (this is church speak for "ask") the Churchwide Assembly to affirm the Statement. That vote passed by one vote more than a two-thirds majority. A good mandate, I think.

We had conversation--another one hour Committee of the Whole--about the Recommendations of the ELCA Task Force on Human Sexuality. I'll say more about the conversation in a later entry. After lunch, we voted on memorials to churchwide affirming the recommendations, which would allow for the recognition of persons in "publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships," the rostering of such persons, and a commitment to "honor the bound conscience" of persons who disagree across our church.

Some quick thoughts:

Tone of the Assembly: Anxious but respectful. There were few nasty remarks made at the microphone, and the only time the listeners reacted to what was being said was when a guy started in with Sodom and Gomorrah, which he informed us is "about homosexuality." About a hundred people said "no" at the same time, which is an interesting sound. Then the chair told us to settle down.

Number of hugs, high fives, winks, pats on the back, fist bumps and collegial arms-around-the-shoulder I received: I have no idea. I lost count somewhere after a hundred. Apparently people want this change to happen, realize that I will be a big beneficiary of the change, and are okay with that.

Final proof that conservatives just don't get Jesus: The most fascinating line of the whole Assembly was uttered at a red microphone during the discussion of the ministry recommendations on Day Three. The gentleman, having waxed irritated for a minute or so about how he didn't understand why we're even doing this, said, "I've looked at the [Sexuality Statement], and as far as I can tell, it seems to be based on some kind of wishy-washy love thing.

Yes, we mustn't be making decisions based on some ethic of love. Egads.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Out Is In

Here's one for the "Things You Already Knew" category. This just in from CNN: the generations are split about same-sex marriage. Forty-four percent of those polled recently by CNN believe same-sex marriages should be legal. Fifty-four believe they should not. Two percent apparently believe there is another category between "legal" and "not legal."

When you poll 18-34 year-olds, the number jumps to 58% in favor of legal same-sex marriages.

Yeah, so that's all stuff you probably already knew. The numbers continue to improve week by week (at least from my perspective); you probably knew that as well.

And here's something you probably knew intuitively. According to CNN polling director, Keating Holland, "People who say they have a gay friend or relative support same-sex marriage. Most of those who say they don't know anyone who is gay, oppose gay marriage."

People who know gay people like us and think we should be able to get married. People who don't know us (or think they don't) are probably more likely to see gay marriage as a sterile "issue."

Not everyone can come out, but the more of us who do, the more of us there are out there to know. And the more of us out there to know, the better we'll be doing.

So thanks to all of you who are out there. Thanks to all of you who live your lives without apology and allow your friends, coworkers and relatives to know you and love you. Thanks to all of you allies who love and support your LGBT friends and relatives.

We're coming a long way, friends. It gets better every day.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Rock Obama!

I keep telling people they need to see this great bit from Saturday Night Live. I can't get a nice video posting from Hulu, but you can watch it if you click here.

You'll probably have to watch an ad first. Sorry about that. It's worth it, though. At least I think it is.