Friday, April 24, 2009

potential pitch

People come to me almost in tears: "We simply cannot pledge any more. We want to, we want to support this place we love, but our circumstances prevent it." Someone you know and care about is worried, that this community, to which they have given their time and money, tears and laughter, needs them, and they cannot respond the way they wish they could.

I am not worried, because we can step up, where they can no longer. There are many of us who can increase our pledge--some already have; some are still thinking about it. Some want to make a substantially larger pledge, to make a generous pledge as part of a larger spiritual re-commitment. Some want to, and fear to, simultaneously.

On behalf of the future, on behalf of the children of our congregation, on behalf of the many people we help, on behalf of ourselves--on behalf of our dear friends who can no longer do as much--we who can, know it is our turn to take the lead.

So may we be.

Feedback welcome; results to be preached at final stewardship sermon. Thanks to any/all who participate.

Friday, April 17, 2009

shame & public intoxication

On a flight from Las Vegas to Minneapolis/St. Paul, there were 3 young people behind me who were just barely old enough to legally drink alcoholic beverages. Over the course of an hour or two, they drank all the vodka on the plane, then switched to another liquor, getting louder and more obnoxious as they went. As their language became more profane, I grew more annoyed. Finally, in response to some kind of wisecrack from hir drunken friend, one said, “don’t embarrass me!” I turned my head and said over the seat, “actually, you’re doing a pretty good job of that yourself.” They were *much* quieter from that point forward. The woman next to me whispered, “thank you.” The youth immediately behind me pressed hir knees into my seat a few times, and said just-loud-enough comments about my bald spot, but they were much less annoying for the final hour of the flight.

Now, I wish I had spoken to them earlier, asking them politely, instead of shaming them—and I do not know if it would have worked, anyway. I think it’s easier to ignore a request than it is to ignore the powerful emotion of shame.

Second, I wonder how much one’s upbringing and culture play into this. Had they grown up in families where shouting and public use of obscenities were common, would they have been shamed by my comment?

I still feel guilty about ruining their good time, and about resorting to shame to quiet them. Was this an appropriate use of shame?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

so B.B. can pronounce your name

Texas State Rep. Betty Brown, (R-Terrell), asked "Chinese people" (actually, folks of Chinese, Japanese and Korean descent) to "adopt a name we could deal with" when voting and filling out forms. Brown's spokesperson denies any racism in her comments.

Racialicious has a nice list of the ways this is wrong.

Thanks, Catie, for sharing this.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

a real live wire

Coincidence? Hardly:

The Naked Theologian contrasts the "interruptive" model of deity (actively interrupting human history with miracles and instructions) with Arthur A. Cohen's model of God as a "filament within the historical." Cohen's God neither alters history, nor stands apart from it. Rather, God runs through history, in continuous community with us. Sometimes, in extremis , we humans may even be called to furnish the current running through the filament.

Andy Burnette quotes Angus MacLean: "Our not to worship history and culture like fetishes, but to feed them into our living, creative stream of personal life for spiritual and intellectual reprocessing."

As Passover and Easter approach, this is our task: to connect with the live wire of the Holy, take its sustaining and transforming power into us, and then feed our living understanding back into our culture and evolving history. To touch the filament is to risk being changed. I fear it, and yet I feel called to let the current flow.