Friday, October 19, 2012

After a Long Absence

Ahhh... I love writing. I love it. Seeing the words and releasing the feelings. I've loved this blog, even when I'm not writing for it. Just knowing it's there with all my truth and thinking of how it's drawn Sara and I close to each other's hearts. This blog has brought me so much peace. I relish it.

I've been gone for awhile because I've been keeping a great, enormous, terrifying wonderful secret and even though I don't think that anyone from my actual immediate life (aside from Sara) reads this, I had to wait to write it until we got over the hump. As of last Wednesday I'm 13 weeks pregnant and basically my entire brain has been taken up with this knowledge since the day two lines showed up on the test. It's amazing I can get anything done.

Along with the joy has come the anxiety, fear, worry, confusion, etc of realizing the enormous responsibility of caring for and teaching another human. A real person, just like me, with a heart and soul, mind and thoughts, just like me. It's astonishing, awe-inspiring, terrifying. A friend asked me the other day, what am I going to teach the baby about God? Will I be angry if she gives them a children's Bible?

I told her bring on the children's Bible, but not the brand with the cartoon people with the bug eyes. I don't cotton to them. Their bug eyes freak me out. Plus they make the Bible look WAY too cheery. Like, "Lala... then happy cartoon David killed scowling cartoon Goliath! Yay!" None of that shenanigans. The illustrated Bible I had growing up had realistic pictures. Goliath had blood spurting off of his face where that stone hit him. I am not making this up.

The other question was just too big to answer. It's going to be complicated with my spouse and I not really seeing eye to eye on who we believe God is and how God interacts with us. I guess it's going to be a case of "Mommy thinks this, Daddy thinks this, what do you think?" The hardest part is going to be church. But that might be another post for another day.

In conclusion for today, if you pray, pray for me. For my growing baby, for my worries, for wisdom. For my wonderful husband who is being a perfect angel to me and baby but is full of worries of his own. We're the typical first time parents, worrying about everything, vowing that WE'RE gonna raise our kids better than THAT and such. Even though it's scary, I love it. This is the most magical experience.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Thought About "Worship"

I'm a little hesitant to write this post because I'm afraid it's going to come off a lot worse than I mean for it to be. However, I've been thinking about it for awhile and then I saw this on PostSecret:

So. Here I go. 

I always loved worship time at church. The church I grew up in was a little unusual in that we had musicians who took turns playing each Sunday but they didn't prepare "sets" according to the message or according to anything. The idea was instead that they could lead a song but so could anyone else in the church. If the Spirit led you, you would just start singing the song on your heart and the rest of the church would join in as the two teenage boys that ran the projector furiously flipped through overheads until they found the words to the song. I know this sounds chaotic, but it really wasn't. You might think that multiple people would start singing different songs at the same time, but they didn't. You could stand or sit or kneel as you wanted and it (forgive me for this buzz word) all felt organic to me. Most of our songs were scripture set to simple music and I loved it. I've never known anything like it since.

Then I got older and went to a more "hip" church and worship became something different. More like a concert. Somehow, I never noticed until I had been happily participating in the concert vibe for years. Maybe it's because I hadn't been to many concerts or because all the ones I had been to were Christian bands so I had the expectation they should feel similar to worship times. I seriously never had any issue, no crankiness, no cynicism about worship time. It was always when I felt connected and could put down my questions and confusion. 

A couple years later I was at an Arcade Fire concert, my first secular concert and after a year long absence from church I felt the same feelings I used to feel during worship. Euphoria. This could be interpreted 1 of 2 ways: 1. God was making me euphoric via Arcade Fire (and later Death Cab and certain musicals) or 2. Music makes me euphoric. Wonderful, sweeping, emotional music. Now, I'm more inclined to lean toward choice 1 but I had to acknowledge that choice 2 existed. Which made me more conscious of worship times. The words I was singing. The promises I was making. The peer pressure involved. The way worship leaders tell you what to do. 

[That last bit really bothers me. "Lift your hands up! Kneel before God! Feel his presence here! Tell God you love him! Tell him you're sorry! Let's all weep for the nation!" Commands like this leave you in a place where you are forced, if you don't feel what they want you to feel, to either pretend you do or, not participate and have people wondering, "What's up with Sara?" And, don't tell me no one thinks that because they do. I know that they do. Not only have I thought that myself, but I have had people directly confront me about myself and my spouse. "Why didn't you take communion? What's going on?" None yo' business.]

Now, I've never led worship. I have no idea what the "behind the scenes" of creating a worship time is like and I have no idea if the emotional manipulation is intended or it just happens. What I do know is that it definitely happens, to me if to no one else. Also, I think, to whomever wrote in that Postsecret. 

I will not speak for anyone else or any other situation but my own. For me, worship is tricky.  It's all about feelings and feelings are not to be trusted. Worship songs today, they say things that I think aren't always true. They want me to tell God things that might not be true. I don't like that. If there is one thing I try not to do, it's lie to God. When I was a kid, the man who led chapel at my Christian school said that if we could not sing the words of a song honestly, then don't sing. It made sense to me. But now, if I go to church and I wait through a song I don't feel I can sing honestly, I feel like I'm being watched and judged. Maybe someone thinks I'm making a statement that I'm not. I don't like that either. Music stirs up my emotions. It makes me cry, it makes me laugh, it makes me think a lot. It shouldn't be treated lightly, it shouldn't be trite. 

[Two fast songs to get people excited for the message. One slow song to calm us down. [Message] Two more slow ones so we can contemplate the message and feel sad for our sin. One fast song to end church on a happy note! Tell me, does this sound familiar?]

I hate being cynical, I really do. I hate to enter a time I used to really love feeling nothing but wary, but I am. I want honesty in my life so much right now, more than anything. I don't want to be manipulated by fear or emotion. That Postsecret really shook me up. I think it's something to think about. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012


There used to be a post here about the Chick-Fil-A drama. I have since decided I did not want it here so it has gone bye bye.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You've Got to Be Taught

The spouse and I have been in the serious talks about having kids in the past year so I've tended to think more and more about what's going to happen to our lives when there's a child present. What will we tell them about God? Will we take them to church? What will our parents say if we don't?

Heavy stuff that I guess we're going to mostly play by ear.

I worry a lot about being a parent and all that it entails. I worry about who my kids will be and the ways I'm certain to fail them. I worry about teaching them the right things and making them feel safe and loved. I feel anxious about disciplining them and getting them ready for being adults. I wonder how we'll relate when they're my age and have lives of their own.

I hope I can at least teach them to love and have open arms. To be kind, polite and thoughtful.

This post by Dan Savage has been preying on my mind for weeks since I ran across it. It's quite old and I didn't see it when he originally published it. At that point I had no idea who Savage was. Now, I know that he's kinda obnoxious and very controversial. A lot of people don't like him and I completely understand and wouldn't try to change their mind. But, I like him. I think he's got a temper and he's sometimes a little loose-lipped, but I also think he's intelligent and an excellent writer. He's made me think about things I never could have come up with on my own and given me some understanding of what it can feel like to be discriminated against.

Anyway, back to my point. In this article, Savage says,

"You don't have to explicitly "encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate" gay kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It's here, it's clear, and we can see the fruits of it."

Now, Savage is talking specifically about teaching children to hate gay kids, but it's true of hating anyone. Feelings about all kinds of things. We are taught.

I grew up watching South Pacific. I could probably sing you almost every word of every song even though it's been years since I last saw it. But, it wasn't until I read that article in which Savage inserts a video clip of the brief and poignant song, You've Got to Be Taught, that I realized how much that musical is trying to teach people. If you're not familiar with the musical, a French man who has lost the love of his life, an American woman, because she is disgusted that he was once married to a Polynesian woman, angrily insists to an American soldier that he doesn't believe that this racism is born into you. And, reluctantly and with a lot of emotion, the American soldier confirms his suspicions with this little song:

You've got to be taught to hate and fear
You've got to be taught from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught....
You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are 6 or 7 or 8
to hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught

I want to believe that as long as I never say anything to teach my children to hate, I'm safe. But, I'm not. It's beyond not saying something hateful. It's not doing something hateful. Not making a snide comment, getting road rage, being overly sarcastic or just plain uncaring. So it's not just that I need to be careful to NOT teach hate, I have to be care TO teach love. Scary stuff. As another great musical, "Into the Woods" says,

Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say "Listen to me"
Children will listen

Monday, July 9, 2012


I said it. I have one. I learned this only when I started my period at the tender age of 11, and for the next 15 years was taught nothing about it, only to ignore it. No talks, no classes (my best friend while school offered sex ed classes was a Jehovah's Witness, who was religiously unallowed to attend the classes. I just wanted an excuse to hang out with her in the LIBRARY, where all things wonderful lived), and so I found myself a pseudo-adult, trying desperately to "catch up" on knowledge about my own body, and clinging to my gynecologist like the therapist I only recently found. What's this? What does this mean? How do I? My poor doctor. Mostly her nurse. My nurse is my favorite. Literally hugged her the last time I went in for my annual exam.

That's ridiculous. I love my life, I love that I found a doctor and a set of people to help me through my ill-formed adolescence, and BEFORE anything unexpected or terrible happened. BUT. This is my body I'm talking about, something I live with every day. I should know it intimately. Nope.

And to think there are other people out there who most likely had a similar upbringing, that other girls and boys are growing up being taught to ignore or dishonor their bodies. That groups like "1Flesh" are touting falsehoods to scare teenagers and young adults into doing the exact things they're scaring them into not doing. Sara will have beautiful insights into this as she sent it to me this morning to enjoy over my lunch break. This website reads like a horny college boy trying to lure girls into becoming baby mommas: "Condoms ruin my experience", "Birth control will make you pregnant", and my favorite "Condoms don't lower STD rates". Stop lying. Really. It makes you look fat.

But too many people can't step up and think for themselves and that's why this website and others touting its views are abusing power. I can't help thinking it's all about control - if it can scare you enough, you'll follow the rules and become the group so that the group leader will say, I have this much power, look at how many people believe what I say is true. Yuck. Cults went out of style with David Koresh and his push-up bar glasses. Think for yourselves and ask some real doctors, not religious organizations. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Chance to Rest

So my co-author and I have gotten the amazing opportunity to visit each other in the last month and it was awesome. We couldn't manage to get enough words in; there was so much to share and say and laugh about. So we've been a bit distracted (not to mention the other Sara had a grievous injury she is recovering from) but, fear not! I will not give up on writing at this blog. There's still too much to say.

Something I noticed when Sara and I were talking to each other last was how we both are walking the line between hope and cynicism. I think we both desperately want to be hopeful but we're also both sensitive, especially to harm done to people that we love. Those awful moments send me into a spiral of anger and cynicism, throwing my hope by the wayside. But, once I've calmed and got the chance to see a gorgeous sky or trees lit up by wildly flashing fireflies, hope floods through me and I find myself reaching for a God who loves me, who loves us all, and made these beautiful moments to restore me.

Sometimes, I still want to be simple and naive. I want to ignore all the questions, complexity, translations from Greek and Hebrew, ugliness, contradictions and confusion. I want to just bask in the love of a good Creator who cares and the people I love around me.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Tearing Each Other Apart

The passing of Amendment 1 in North Carolina, which essentially said, "Hey, we know homosexuals can't get married already but we just want to make EXTRA sure they know we are against it," has really stirred up the fires on the issue of marriage equality and the Church is responding. Terribly.

First, there was a sermon in which a pastor told his congregation that he thought all homosexuals should be put in an electrified fence, fed via flyovers and left to die out because they can't reproduce. (Because we all know gay children come from gay parents. Oh... wait....)

Don't get me wrong, the electric fence guy made me feel upset but at least his idea was insane so I just dismissed him as crazy. It was disturbing, but, to be honest, I wrote this guy off immediately. He sounded ignorant. He used terrible grammar. It disgusted me he would suggest something like this, disgusted me that his congregation would applaud and say "amen", but on the whole I thought, "Stupid nut job" and moved on.

But these comments from Curtis Knapp made me sob. I made it about 30 seconds before I completely lost it and started crying my heart out.

"They should be put to death.... it tends to limit people coming out of the closet. 'Oh, so you're saying we should go out and start killing them.' No, but I'm saying the government should. They won't, but they should."

What is wrong with this man? These men?! The people in their churches!?! Did anyone stand up and leave? I want to believe that next Sunday he'd stand before an empty church. Unfortunately, I'm sure that's not true.

I don't, I can't understand how that man could think it would ever be okay or the will of God to say something so terrible. In his reaction to the responses he's received as a result of his sermon, Knapp said, "My hope is for their salvation, not for their death" but did not apologize for or retract what he had said. So, sorry Knapp, I'm going to have to call bullshit on that. And I'm going to have to call bullshit on other Christians who try to pull this same thing, ie, attacking the LGBT community, oppressing them, calling them animals, debased, abominations, etc. and then claiming they are acting in love. That, I'm sorry, is not love.

I know, I know, that many Christians believe they need to stand against the LGBT community and stand for the Bible, but I ask you, is that what they are doing? Is saying hurtful and hate-filled things what Jesus would do? I just can't believe that. Even if you believe that homosexuality is not the way God wants someone to live, you should not threaten that person or do harm to them, whether that be physically or emotionally. Shame on us. Shame on the Church for crushing these people's spirits with hateful speech. Shame on us for claiming we think their sin is the same as ours and yet treating them like lepers. Shame on us for allowing men to stand in positions of authority in the church family and say such horrible things. Shame on us for letting our desire to win trump our desire to love and care for the humans around us. Shame on us all if we don't stand up and tell people that this is not acceptable, these words are not okay, these men do not speak for me.

Friends, don't let this issue of marriage equality divide, destroy and devolve the Church. Whether we all agree about whether or not homosexuality is sinful, whether or not your church wants to allow LGBT members into the fold, we should all be able to agree that we should have one response to them- love. Love like we love ourselves. That is just not happening. These men are not loving these people, they are not even beginning to treat them as they would wish to be treated. I don't believe that these pastors would suggest death or imprisonment for themselves. I believe what they are doing is reacting to the social environment with fear, extremism and hate. They believe there are too many Christians not upholding that "old time religion" and damn it! they are going to fix it by showing that they will obey the Bible no matter what! Be it insane or cruel, no problem!

"My friends, you were chosen to be free... use your freedom as an opportunity to serve each other with love. All that the Law says can be summed up in the command to love each other as you love yourself. If you keep attacking each other like wild animals... you will destroy yourselves." - Galatians 5:13-15

We are destroying ourselves. The Church is becoming synonymous with hate. We are the hate people. And I am grieved.