Monday, November 27, 2006

Another Reason I love Oprah

OK Oprah can get a little full of herself. Fine by me. She is doing such good in the world. All things considered, I think she has held it together pretty well. In addition to the vast amount she gives away every year to support charities and causes, she gave her audience a chance to do good deeds. A few weeks ago she gave each of her 314 audience members a $1,000 check card and a video camera. They were -- within a week -- to give that $1,000 to one or more complete strangers and to film what happened. What hap pend was, predictably, nothing short of miraculous. Go to Oprah's Internet Site to read about it.

My favorite story was not one of the "big stories" --where a person had managed to parlay that generosity into a huge amount -- but a smaller tale, a story of a 68 year old man, Alferd, who could not read. He had decided, at age 68, that he would learn, and was attending a local first grade class to learn. Part of the way one person spent their money was to buy him books. Alferd's Story tells more details. But the truth is that here in America we have many Alferd's, young and old, who cannot read.

Imagine that for a moment, living in America and being unable to read. What must his life had been like before now? How impossible was it for him to navigate this land, on any level? What did he miss? And more importantly, what do we miss as a nation with thousands of Alferds do not have this most basic of skills.

But there were many stories. Oprah knows how good it feels to give -- she kept saying to people who had given "didn't it feel great???". That is almost the world's best kept secret. We feel better when we give -- our hands were not meant to be clenched.

We have more than we imagine -- loaves and fishes do multiply -- and mercy pours down like rain. When we lovingly open our purse, our heart follows.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Decorations Gone Awry

I somehow managed to keep the idea of Christmas at bay until Thanksgiving evening, driving home from friends and noticing all the houses and stores already twinkling with lights.

I was reminded of a trip several years ago in early December to Asia. Places like Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong make us look like decorating pikers. In these largely non-Christian settings, Christmas has been appropriated on a wildly embellished secular level as a time for giving gifts.

The sides of skyscrapers are even decorated - so there in tempratures approaching 100 degrees are skyscrapers with brightly lit snowflakes cascading down 60 or 70 floors of external metal. Or in front of a fancy hotel will stand a 30 foot inflatable snowman. Or two.

There are no nativities.

It is mind jarring to the average Westerner, but it's hugely inappropriate symbolism makes sense given the merchantile nature of the event. My favorite display was a skyscraper in Hong Kong that had a light-adornment on its side that must have taken up 30 or 40 stories. It was a bunch of holly leaves and berries. But because they didn't know the plant, they got it backwards. It had red leaves and green berries.

This is what happens when we suck the content away from the form -- we just look extravagant and silly. It made me sad.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Oh there are days when I can barely get the word out of my mouth -- "Thanksgiving" -- days when I am so awash in the sea of my own delusion that I forget how lucky I am, how blessed. To forget that is like forgetting I have hands or feet or skin. Shame on me.

I think we need a Thanksgiving Day because LOTS of us are really bad about saying thank you for our blessings. I know that I am.

The holidays tend to focus us on the proposed traditional model -- or perhaps the marketable model -- of "family" life: multi-generational; straight; everyone gets along; no divorce ; no serious illness; no funerals to attend; happy and appreciative children; no family skeletons in family closets; no addiction; no poverty; no abuse; home ownership; filled shopping baskets; full larders; jolly jolly jolly.

The reality is that few fit that mold. Each of us has stories to tell that wrench us at some point out of that false image of who 'the world' thinks that we 'should' be.

I have spent my share of holidays crawling through shards of emotional broken glass, feeling bad because I was divorced, or childless, or or or or....and now, this year, I have no family. Everyone that was blood related to me in any close way (parents, aunts, uncles, cousins) are all dead. I look at commercials of the holidays and it is like I am seeing a broadcast from Mars.

So I was prepared to feel grim.

I am so bloody stupid.

I just put a loaf of banana bread in the oven to take to Thanksgiving dinner at John's house. John is like a brother to me, and was very close to my Mom as well. We refer to each other as brother and sister. He and his husband, Mark, are preparing a dinner. They have been married for 9 years and are the healthiest couple I know. They love me, and I them.

How dare I say that I am without family! How dare I indulge an instant of self pity when I have a life filled with friends. A roof over my head. Food. And a life that would be regarded as extravagant in 3/4th of the world. Today, while I celebrate largess, people are dying, starving.

When I finish typing this I am going to go to Heifer.Org and give away a flock of geese or chickens or a hive of bees. If you do not know of this charity that is built on creating self-sustaining communities -- please click over there and learn.

Today, I will say thank you to God in part by giving to someone else. Many of you have already done that, I am sure -- through food banks and other charities. I encourage those of you who have yet to do that to take the plunge.

In closing, I was reading an article on Oprah's site that was promoting a book. It said :

A gripping testimonial to the stamina of the human spirit, Dream BIG! tells you how to:
stop fighting fear
get focused
create something from nothing
play beyond the rules and win
and why:
quitting is necessary
desperation is deadly
fighting is essential
suffering is optional

I would add "Thanking God is essential." But, the last line is one I will be taking with me through the holidays...."suffering is optional."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

43 years ago

The assassination of John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, took place on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, USA at 12:30 p.m. CST (18:30 UTC). Kennedy was fatally wounded by gunshots while riding with his wife in a presidential motorcade through Dealey Plaza. He was the fourth U.S. President to be assassinated and the eighth to die while in office.

That is exactly what Wikipedia says.

On that day I was sitting in the school assembly hall listening to a pep rally. I was 13 and in Jr. High School in Westfield, Massachusetts. Cheerleaders were bouncing up and down to get us all worked up for the upcoming weekend's football game.

Suddenly the school principal, took the stage and asked us all to be quiet...something seemed wrong. He announced that school would be closing immediately, as the president of the United States had just been shot. He said that it was not yet clear how bad the injury was, but that we were all to go home and pray for the well-being of our former senator, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Almost everyone was crying -- teachers and students. JFK was "our man". At age 11 and 12 I had worked for his campaign by driving brochures around from place to place on my bicycle. He was Roman Catholic, the first Roman Catholic president. And the anti-Catholic prejudice in the election had been vocal and strong and hateful. Yet, he had won. He had won for all of us Catholics, all of us who were kids of immigrants. And, he had been the beloved senator of Massachusetts -- our home town guy. The day he was inaugurated was my birthday, and a snow-day to boot. So I got to stay home from school and watch the inauguration on our little black and white TV and to hear his now famous inuguration address.

And that day he was shot -- I remember going to my locker and seeing everyone walking fast, confused, like a hive of disoriented bees. I think I walked home with my friened, Sandy. I must have.

The next days were a blur. School was closed because it was a weekend. So we were all glued to the TV. We had fallen in love with a president who had a vision for this country -- who found it scandalous that children of different races experienced different qualities of education -- that anyone in America went hungry at night. He was strong enough to stand up to other countries without dragging us into war. There was the Peace Corps, an honest expression of our obligation to help those less fortunate than we. Project Head Start - a way to give low income kids a chance at education. There was a feeling of vision, of hope --a sense of proud and valient leadership.

And that afternoon, it was taken from us.

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Prayers : Part Three : Prayers of Supplication - Cicumstances

This is where I pray my heart out.

The prayer for Altered Circumstances.

-- praying for peace, for global abundance, for religious tolerance around the world, for ecological sanity -- I pray into the Big Messes We Have Made freely.

-- praying for the health of another, for a family in mourning, for the safe travels of a friend, for relief to someone's crisis.

I can even pray for my own circumstances - to better discern G0d's will for me, for example, or to lift from me some current sadness or burden at least long enough for me to see what the world has to offer other than that.

Then, after prayer I start wondering -- what does it mean that prayers for someone's good health were not met with favor, when prayers for someone else's were? The glib answer is that God has something in mind and that it is part of His plan and that is that. I don't buy it. I do not think everything is part of God's plan. I don't think the Holocaust was part of God's plan. I don't think Darfur is part of God's plan. I don't think the female genital mutilation of millions of women is part of God's plan. I do not think rape or incest or cold-blooded murder is part of God's plan. I do not think that slavery was or is part of God's plan.

Could it be -- with the health prayers -- that illness and death are random events? How does a faithful person explain prayer that does not heal?

Could it be that some things we take to prayer (like war and injustice) -- we should also be taking to the streets?

I pray for Altered Circumstance most easily, but question it most deeply.

Please, chime in....

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Prayers : Part Two : Prayers of Supplication - Things

It seems to me as I try to write about this, that there are any number of different sorts of "asking" prayers --but that it basically comes down to asking for "things" and asking for "circumstances", either for ones self, or for others.

Today I am thinking about asking for objects -- this is so thorny for me, coming from a Christian tradition originally (pre Vatican II , ethnic, RCC) in which asceticism was next to godliness. It is also hard for me as an American, living in a country of such plenty that it feels like an insult to the world at large to ask for something more.

First, does God even want to be asked for things? I love the book of Luke because it is so instructional about prayer - in it(Luke 1:1-ff) Luke speaks of Zacharias praying successfully for a child, but this is a far cry from "praying for stuff". I heard a conservative Christian once tell her child to pray that Baskin Robbins had her favorite flavor in stock, and that they would walk over there to see how well she had prayed. The hairs on my neck stood up. If they did have Vanilla Faith ice cream, what proof is that? Do we want to trouble God with requests for ice cream? Maybe the Roman Catholics are right to have saints, people who serve as more minor league prayer interceptors -- the Joseph who is willing to have statues of themselves placed upside down in the dirt when someone wants to have help selling a house -- the St Anthony who helps us find our misplaced TV Remotes or glasses -- the saints who field the prayer chaff from the prayer wheat, but who take it all in to heaven for consideration.

This is where I would love folks to chime in.

I understand and see in scripture God telling us to pray for what we need. The Lucan example I quite like is of the man whose friend comes to him at midnight after he is asleep asking for 3 loaves of bread. Jesus says that we will get out of bed and give in this circumstance not because the man is our friend, but because he needs the bread. I understand praying for what we need.

But then on the other hand, I believe that this is an abundant world, and so is it wrong to ask God to help find me the right house to buy? Is it wrong when so many people have nothing over their heads but suffering? Is it right to pray for more imbalance?

I can pray that my friends get "stuff" in some cases, but I really jam up if it is about me -- or if the "stuff" is stuff like the right flavor of ice cream.

Help me out here -- where are you all in this prayer issue?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bye Bye OJ Book

Both the OJ Book and the interview have been cancelled.

Viva Vox Populi!!!!

Types of Prayer: Part One : The Happy Prayers

It seems that ALTO ARTIST and I have both been swimming in adjascent seas of prayer lately. I find her most recent posts really thought-provoking and spiritually very helpful -- helpful because they make me look even closer at how it is I relate to God through prayer, and because they help me see new paths through they eyes of another. I've been thinking that there are different kinds of prayer -- and in a blog a couple of entries back I talked about the setting of a prayer -- whether it was communal or private.

But then there is the "stuff" of prayer -- what is one praying about? I know this is where my prayer life hets skewed. This is where what should be easy gets hard.

First, there are happy prayers -
The Thank You for Doing Something Wonderful prayers, or Prayers of Gratitude.

The Thank You for Being prayers, or the Prayers of Praise.
This is where I think the Jewish tradition "gets" prayer in way that we in the Christian tradition often miss the point. So many Jewish prayers begin "Blessed art Thou, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe..." - the blessing over wine, over bread, before reading the Torah, before sleep..and on and on many touch points in the day, circumscribed touch points that allow for the opportunity to praise G-d and to thank Him for doing something wonderful. These prayers are part of the daily warp and weft of a Jewish prayer tapestry.

The Christian counterpart of Grace before meals is growing to be an overlooked custom, and one which was never standardized across denominations -- such as the Lord's Prayer. I like having certain formalized prayers to use in prayer. They help me not miss what I consiser to be a Holy Obligation, done willingly and with joy.

But the truth is I often forget to thank, and to praise in the course of daily life -- I neglect spoken gratitude for the ordinary miracles of life. I assume God knows that I am thankful and that I acknowledge His Lordship. But whether or not He knows is not the point. The point is whether or not I am as conscious of these things in my day as I should be.

The truth of the matter is that I have has a crummy year -- it has had hard things to deal with at every turn, and has made my world shift and change before my very eyes into something I almost do not recognize -- and yet I know that what lies ahead will be good and nurturing and whole. Thank God. Praise His Holy Name.

I have come through this year and have left many large pains behind me. Thank God. Praise His Holy Name.

I have work to do yet on making myself more whole. Thank God. Praise His Holy Name.

I woke up this morning. Thank God. Praise His Holy Name.

Oh, Beloved Lord, I do not thank you enough, praise you enough for the rich bounty of my life -- for the small and large loves in my life -- for the opportunity to make so many mistakes and learn from them -- for friends who buoy me up -- for all that I regard as ill fortune that ends up teaching me-- for the chance to be of use -- for everything around me -- I see your vastness in it all, your Kingship in it all, from the smallest of microbes to the largest of oceans, Your hand holds it -- please help me to remember to thank you for this luxury, as I praise Your Holy Name.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I felt as though I had been transported to another galaxy where the rules of common human decency no longer applied.

OJ Simpson has written a book, which will be published -- called "IF I DID IT" which reportedly is his recounting of how he would have brutally slaughtered his ex-wife and her friend Ron Goldman, if he had really killed them.

Of course a civil court has found him guilty of causing their deaths, while the criminal court did not. According to US law, he cannot be retried for a crime of which he has been found innocent.

So now he writes a book -- and there is supposed to be in interview on FOX network...FOX is asking how people feel about this on their site.

I plan to write and tell them I find it morally reprehensible and that I will not watch FOX on that night or any other. That a network can even consider allowing this sociopathic escapade is both vile and alarming.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Communal Prayer -- Individual Prayer

Alto Artist made a helpful comment on my prior post about prayer. She said "... I think of communal prayer differently; for me it's small, in a way. In a group I can lean on the thoughts of others; when my attention wanders, I still feel like the prayer is being carried by the people around me to wherever it has to go. But praying alone--sometimes it feels too intimidating, knowing that no one else but myself is responsible for what God hears at that moment.

Alto, bless you for this. Prayer is deeply nuanced by its setting; you are so right. There is a difference between communal and individual prayer for me too - most often, in my Christian faith tradition, communal prayers are part of the liturgy, so that great ribbon of formal prayer has been winding itself out Godward for centuries. Once in a while I grok the fact that my voice joins billions of others in timeless supplication. It is at that moment that the clouds slam together, and zillions of irridescent stars tumble out.

One of the other times I get that feeling most keenly is with my extended family at Passover Seder every year. As part of their (and now my extended) tradition, at one point in the evening's liturgy, the door is held open for the arrival of Elijah. Without fail each year I get this moving image of household doors being opened in Jewish homes around the world, like a travelling wave of earthly welcome. I get that we are all a part of something bigger, a larger reaching. The Passover Seder has a way of driving home that point every year -- perhaps because it is a liturgy about community and about joy.

Then there is silent communal prayer, which has a whole different tone to it, as the prayers are not formulaic. There we sit at worship, or in retreat, sharing intention, which is a very powerful thing to share. There is a huge difference between the way a quiet room feels and the way intentionally contemplative space feels.

In both of the above -- liturgical and silent communal prayer, I feel held, even embraced -- but also I feel limited. I know there are people who can pray with others and on their own at the same time, rather like those vocalists that appear on NPR occasionally who can sing whole chords at once. Or people who can rub their tummies and tap their heads at the same time.

I can't do that.

I am a one-note-at-a-time prayer person. I can pray melody, or I can pray harmony.

Then there is solitary prayer -- such a reedy thing, like the orchestra's piccolo. I wonder how my little prayer finds its way to God. It has to work its way through so much -- through the noise of cities, the rumbling of volcanoes, the music of millions of other prayers wending their way heavenward. I think there is so much going on, that my prayer will fall like autumn's last leaf, unnoticed at the foot of the heavenly throne. I feel the weakness, the vulnerability, the impossible nature of my prayer. But then something catches in my heart, and I pray and I pray and I pray.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Thinking about Prayer

I recently found the site which collects prayers from many spiritual traditions and creates some interesting ways to access them. I tried a feature called "Spin the Prayer Wheel" that just displays a random prayer. Here is what displayed:

Wage peace with your breath.

Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.

Breathe in terrorists
and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.

Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.

Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.

Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.

Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.

Make soup.

Play music, memorize the words for thank you in three languages.

Learn to knit, and make a hat.

Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief
as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.

Swim for the other side.

Wage peace.

Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious:

Have a cup of tea and rejoice.

Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Celebrate today.

wage peace - judyth hill - september 12, 2001

This is where my synapses start jamming. I am used to prayer as supplication, as asking or thanking. I find myself drawn to this prayer, but also find myself asking what about it is a prayer? I suppose the writer is instructing us how to pray. And that makes sense. I confess that seeing chaos as dancing raspberries makes my nerve endings grate against sandpaper. I start reacting to this instruction as though it had no truth -- just because it has a phrase or two that reminds me of some airhead hippie handing out a jellybean when people are starving.

There is a thin line between innocent simplicity and triviality.

But then I get all jiggly again -- I get caught in that dreadful place where I start to inhibit joy because there is pain in the world -- yet I also know that to have peace we have to live it --even in those times when to 'live peace' may be an act of defiance.

I suppose if I had one prayer today it would be for a simpler faith. I think the world is not so complex as we would make it. And in making it complex, we muck it up. Lord help me to love more innocently. Help me to unsnarl my life and just live my prayer.

Yet I know that prayer is powerful and communal prayer is BIG. Can it be that if we all simplified, the world would change?

I don't always know where the line is between simple and trivial. But I know that I make things complex, sometimes needlessly so. It may be time to turn my prayer practice into something more simple, less dense, less intricate.

So........Here I sit, breathing out maple trees. Care to help me?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veteran's Day


People articulate the steps of change differently. Some experience abxiety before making a decision, some after, some both before and after, some not at all.

Here is how I do it.

I waffle around seemingly aimlessly in prayer-laden chaos, taking care of business until what feels like the right path emerges. If it is right, a way to commit to it becomes obvious. I see the way. I get excited and buoyant. I make the commitment. The reality sinks in.

Then I panic.

This is where I am about the move to Massachusetts. I have every reason to know in my heart and soul that this is the right move. But now all the anxieties I spared myself in the decision process are blossoming like toadstools after a rain. I am awash in "what-if's". What if the very first house I ever buy has horrible problems and I end up homeless on the street?

It can happen. I watch Oprah. I've seen it.

What if something happens to my finances and everything collapses? That is the big one.

Whenever I hit the crippling money anxiety I know what I need to do. I need to throw money away.

You heard me: I need to throw money away.

Here is how I learned that. (Caveat - this is a lesson which should be made possible in all countries, but it is not -- yet.)

When I was married and we were both in graduate school, one of the lovliest moments between my now ex-husband and me happened (of all places) in a shopping mall. We had just finished buying something essential like socks, and I had seen a little trinket that I liked. It cost $20. In those days that was not a trivial sum at all. It was about all we had until the next week's paychecks. No big deal. We continued to wander around. My then husband said he needed to find the Gent's room, and that I should sit at this bench and wait for him, which I did. In a few minutes, he arrived back, with a gift wrapped tiny box in hand that contained the little trinket I had admired.

"B...b....ut I can't keep this! We can't afford it! We are broke!" I said, tearing up. He had been so sweet, but we could not afford this.

"Well, you were right honey," he said. "If we were poor we could not afford this. So now that we have it -- I figure we are not poor anymore!"

I kept the gift. I kept the learning, too.

So now when I am feeling anxious about money, and when I forget the abundance in the world, I reach in the bottom of my purse -- grab whatever coinage is there, hopefully a hunky handful, and throw it away. I always throw it where someone will find it, trusting the universe to bring money and person together.

I have thrown it out car windows, dropped it in elevators and supermarkets, flung it in parking lots, sprinkled it on sidewalks.

I know when I have thrown enough away when I stop feeling anxious.

After all, if my life were near financial collapse, could I throw money away??

I don't give it away -- as that seems like bargaining with God. I throw it away. I say to myself and the world at large --Phoooey -- this is what I think of your worry!

And good things always happen after I do.

Signing off for a moment now -- it is time to throw away some money.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I cleaned out a closet recently. And when I came to all my business suits used in corporate life, I took a deep breath and put them in the "Charity" bag.

When I arrived in NYC in the early 80's, I was going through a dreadful divorce. I didn't know what to do. I ended up getting a job in a NYC office that was the North American Headquarters for a British lodging-related company. Soon I managed a department there, and the rest is history with about 20 years of my life (SURPRISINGLY) spent in the corporate world of upper management -- except for the last 5 or so...when I have worked as an independent consultant. I have tightened my belt, learned to live more economically and relished the change from the corporate insanity that America has become.

And there I was, standing at the door of my closet, taking out he most serious suits and donating them. Out went the sensible work pumps as well. I was abruptly admitting the end to a phase in my life. Not only do I not want to return to corporate life, at age 56 (almost 57) I could not return if I tried. 57 year old executives, no matter how talented and accomplished, are not in demand. But that is neither here nor there, as the reality is -- I don't want to ever return to that life.

It has been interesting paring down the expense level in my life -- and lovely. I still have enough to make me a zillionaire in most 3rd world countries. I am just fine and earn a good if modest living at what I do. If I wanted to be a lot more aggressive, I would earn more. But I don't.

I look around me at friends who buy houses that are 10 times the size of what they need, and who fill them with "stuff". I do not understand it. It is their path, however, and they will learn what they need to, I am sure. It is just not my path.

I mention friends with houses, because I am looking to buy a little house in western Massachusetts. I have never owned a house, but at my age it is time to put down a root and to secure a dwelling. I am looking for something compact, manageable, large enough for overnight company and some modest entertaining, and with enough yard for a big dog, a garden, maybe a tomato plant or two.

I have started the search and, like the closet discovery, I am learning all sorts of things about myself and decisions I made without consciously making them -- especially my attitudes about "home". I think I didn't buy a house before because I was afraid to commit. I was never sure where I would live next. But now there is a good reason to return "home" to New England, and a substantial community of old dear friends who want me to do just that.

It is funny to have come full circle. I left my home town at age 19 swearing to never return to live there. It was small; it was provincial; it was insular; yadda yadda yadda.

Now, it looks charming. And warm. And welcoming.

God seems to have done some serious work in my heart over the past few years -- although it seems to have been a fairly smooth time, everything has turned upside down or inside out. Romance zoomed out. I worked in England for a year. I saw 9/11 happen. I left corporate life. My father moved in with a woman. I decided to move to Arizona. My father got very ill. Then he died. Unpleasantness during and after his death (enough said). Unsettledness about direction of life of work of dwelling. Whew !!

There is huge relief in having decided at all.

I want a house. In a place I love. With a dog. Near friends. I want the kind of life that makes roots possible. Can this be me speaking?

Lord, where are you sending me now?

--David Bowie --
Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace I'm going through

(Turn and face the strain)
Oh, look out you rock 'n rollers
(Turn and face the strain)
Pretty soon you're gonna get a little older
Time may change me
But I can't trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can't trace time

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Seeing The Intention

I just had a conversation with a woman who has been my friend for many years. We have seen each other through some very deep chasms and celebrated on some very high mountaintops. In summary, we know the best and worst about each other because of a lomg and enduring friendship.

At one point in the conversation she said something very simple and very loving about my general character. It was the product of years of observing and being summed up by someone. I must say I was stunned and very moved. I felt that what she had seen was the best of my intentions. She had seen the way I want to be in the world. I felt, beheld. I have been carrying that feeling with me all evening.

It made me wonder how may people I tell the simple and best truths to about themselves -- letting them know that I see the deepest best of who they are. I need to do this more -- to reflect back more the basic goodness in those around me. Those I love should feel as cared about as I do right now, as summed up, as found worthy.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Haggard and Me

Today Ted Haggard is in disgrace. The pastor of The New Life Church in Colorado Springs (with a membership of 14,000 people) was outed by a man in Denver who said that for three years Ted Haggard had paid him for gay sex and for methamphetamines. Haggard, also the president of the 30 million the National Association of Evangelicals, resigned both posts pending investigation and admitted that he offered to buy meth, but never used it and never had gay sex.

This is going to be one big mess. Watch for the ensuing shame-fest. Haggard had recently run afoul of Colorado fundamentalist bigot James Dobson's crew for suggesting that perhaps homosexuality and abortion might not be the only social issues that Christians should be worrying about -- adding that there were such things as poverty, starvation and global warming imperatives too.

Now we have neocons weighing and measuring which is worse -- meth addiction or homosexuality. And we have Haggard willing to cop to some association with meth -- which only the most stupid, or damaged and ill-advised people on this planet would touch with a 20 foot bargepole, rather than suggest that for a moment his sexual identification might not be 100% straight.

If it is true that he paid for sex, don't hold your breath waiting for anyone to challenge what I think is a real issue -- that he was unfaithful to his wife. That he violated his wedding vows. Watch for this to get all muddied up between the sides that say he us a damned and vile sinner for being gay and that he has every God-given right in the world to be gay.

Expect no one to address with any consistent message that the groups which rant and rail about homosexuality are those so divorced from and frightened of their own bodies that they see any sexual union outside a proscribed contact as dirty and frightening and worthy of punishment. Homosexuality, because of the likeness of bodies, can be seen as acceptance of self in a deep spiritual way - and to find homosexuality repugnant is to ultimately be an expression of ones shame at ones own body. Watching that hatred is like watching bigots screaming into a mirror.

And here we have it -- or at least it is alleged that we have it ... but the political crapstorm around all of it will probably not address the real issues -- and we will get so caught up in blame -- that we miss the truth of things and the healing that can come from them.

Part of me, for example, is thrilled. "Point your scrawny old fingers at yourselves," I say. "Damned hypocrites. Serves them right. I hope they nail the bastard."

But what fouled glass I am looking through to say that?

Here is my better wish -- if it is true, my prayer is that his wife and family heal from the disloyalty and that -- in an epiphany of self-discovery -- Ted Haggard is lead to accept who he is and undertakes a ministry of healing for any damage he has done to helping build an inclusive Kingdom of God. I will remind myself thus weekend whenever I get haughty, "How would I feel if I loved this man and his family?"

If I do not do this, I may as well place my own soul under the wheels of a speeding train.
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