Posts Tagged ‘healing’

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Exilic Theology

30 December, 2017

A new study has shown that of the 100 largest churches in America 7 have a person of colour as their pastor, 1 has a woman as their pastor, and 0 are LGBTQ-affirming. A faith that once offered hospitality and hope to the disenfranchised and minoritised outsider has become the arm of the white, straight, cisgender man. We have seen this approach to faith before and we have seen how it ends:


Enslaved by monarchical theology in Egypt,

an exodus restored freedom to the oppressed.


Ruled by monarchical theology in a divided kingdom,

an exile restored commitment to the poor, the widow, and the orphan.


Dominated by monarchical theology under Rome, a pacifist Messiah ate and drank with tax collectors and sex workers and brought them salvation.


The church must abandon supremacist theology

or face a new exodus.


The church must abandon patriarchal theology

or face a new exile.


The church must listen to the messianic voices of and among the LGBTQ community

or they will lose the way to salvation.

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Abide With Me

11 September, 2017

Abide with me, let me know rest
Relieve the sorrow in my breast
Let not my strength or joy recede
Divine-healer, abide with me

Light my way in the darkest hour
No foe’s aggression robs my power
Let fear and doubt and anguish flee
Divine-healer, abide with me

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Draw the Circle Wider

9 December, 2016

​I do not like having to be political. I do not like drawing “us” and “them” lines when it should always be a collective us. I want to find common ground and shared hope. I believe that all people can work together for basic human rights regardless of their background. We are made more human by our willingness to listen.

I am heart-sick over the increasingly antagonistic posts I have been seeing friends make. Instead of working together to hold administrations accountable despite differences in politics or opinions, people are digging metaphorical moats to divide themselves. Instead of looking at actual actions taken by those in charge and rationally questioning their choices and motives, people are pointing fingers, calling names, and inflaming the aggressive fever ripping through us. Posts are becoming more polarised and less humane. In denouncing the other’s dehumanising actions more and more of my friends are resorting to stripping the other of humanity. Words like “libtards,” “croney-conservatives,” “sheeple,” and “brown shirts” are common place on my news feed. These words divide us from the humanity of those who have disagreed with us. These words divorce us from the reality that we are speaking about real people, with real struggles, and real fears. These words do not invite discussion or compassion or healing.

Now I am seeing people whose politics were in general alignment and whose interests paralleled one another flinging accusations at one another and blaming allies for what went wrong. Accusations of being too “politically correct” or too “moderate” or too “divisive.” People who should be comforting each other are instead othering their neighbours and blaming them for what has been lost. Our culture is becoming so fractured that we cannot even see the humanity in the very people we say we are trying to help. We carve up our country into camps of “rational” and “irrational,” “white collar” and “blue collar,” “urban” and “rural,” “queer” and “normative;” then we label those camps “righteous” or “self-serving,” “all progressive” or “all regressive,” “wise” or “foolish,” “heroic” or “villainous.” We drive equality from our nation because we no longer see all people as deserving respect and dignity.

I am put in mind of the Gospel of Matthew. The Jesus we see in Matthew is different than the Jesus in Luke and Mark and radically different than the Jesus in John. This Jesus is angry and draws lines. He divides people into two camps: those worthy of heaven and those not worthy of it. He says to the crowds, if you do this you are not worth to enter my father’s house but if you do that you are. Then, a while later, he says to those who were deemed worthy, if you do this then you shall be cast into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then he turns to those who remain saying, if you do this you are fit only to the pit and the never dying flames. Soon he is even drawing divisions in his disciples and then he is saying even to those left they have failed him by falling asleep while praying. And then he is alone but, in the end, even he is unworthy of God’s kingdom and love “for it is written ‘cursed is he who hangs on a tree'” and he cries out to God asking why he has been forsaken. He dies and in the story Matthew’s pen tells what happens is love. Love that reaches out past the tree and the forsaking to extend to the outcast, to extend to Jesus, but the catch of that love is it must then be extended to everyone else, it must be extended to everyone that Jesus’s lines excluded. There is no middle ground. All are worthy of respect and dignity or none are worthy.

I do not know how our nation can pull itself back together or even if it can, but I can offer a small example from my life. It is not an example of success nor is it an example with a happy ending, but it is an example of making the attempt:

My brother and I had a falling out several years ago and we are on very different paths politically and socially. He does not read what I post and I do not read what he posts. He no longer shares his political opinions with me and I do not share mine with him. But, in spite of all that is between us, I still hold his humanity at the fore. I still send him texts asking how he is, expressing sympathy when something bad happens, or just saying I love him. Sometimes he responds and sometimes he does not, but I do not let that interfer with seeing him as a person with struggles and concerns. If I allow my dislike of his politics to prevent me from recognising his heart and humanness than there will never be common ground between us and there will never be a potential for reconciliation between us.

I cannot bank on a person’s politics because politics are fleeting and change when convenient. I cannot trust in their understanding because their ability to offer understanding is so dependent on their experiences. I can only look for the common threads. I can only weave love with these threads and offer a garment of peace. If I polarise my life on the political alone, I create new enemies everyday. If I seek to build relationships on shared humanity, I open myself to potential allies and friends. Accusations and hate cannot bind our wounds, but maybe love and respect and basic dignity can.

As the song says, Draw the circle wide, draw it wider still. Let this be our song; no one stands alone (Gordon Light & Mark Miller).

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Grandma’s Rag Bag

30 July, 2014

My maternal Grandma is 94 years old. She grewup during the Great Depression, buried two husbands, raised three daughters, taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, and preached. She got her college degree when she was 80. Until this year, she lived independently in an apartment complex for senior citizens. Aside from being my Grandmother, she is, also, my Godmother. When I was little I thought she was my fairy godmother, as a teenager I could talk to her about stuff that was on my mind, and as an adult I have profound admiration for her. I still call and chat with her, not nearly as often as I should but I’m working on that.

We chatted on the phone for an hour today. Our conversations always start with her health and the weather. From there, she will tell me the latest gossip concerning the other ladies, who is mad at whom, who won the BINGO games, or who she isn’t talking with and why. She gets a little muddled sometimes and occasionally repeats herself; I think, when you’re a nonagenarian, you’ve earned the right to repeat yourself as often as you like. She tells me about growing up on a farm in the nineteen-twenties, stories from when my Mum was a girl, or about things we did when I was little. Today, we talked about Grandma’s Rag Bag.

I have warm, comforting memories of Grandma’s Rag Bag that I love to wrap myself up in like a patchwork quilt on a cold, damp day. It wasn’t an actual bag; rather, it was a big, worn pillowcase and it was stuffed fuller than Santa’s sack at sunset on Christmas Eve. Inside were old towels and shirts, pantyhose and stockings, hats and purses, and sundries containing such magic as only a fairy godmother can provide. She would pull out this bag of wonders and let me play in her bedroom with the door closed so nobody would disturb me. This special time allowed me to be anything I wanted, needed, to be. A fancy lady. A Cinderella princess. A princess-knight who slew her own dragons and rescued herself. I could be me and that was important because, as a young trans girl, I couldn’t be me anywhere else.

My Da hated that bag and I knew that. I knew there was something unspeakable about it, but I didn’t care because it was Grandma’s magic and magic is always secret. As an adult reflecting back, I have often wondered why my Da never stopped me from playing with those feminine cast-offs and hand-me-downs. He was uncomfortable with and angry about it, though I didn’t understand why, nor, to be honest, did he.

Today, Grandma told me a part of this story that I had never heard; a part she had kept secret, perhaps, to protect my safe place or, perhaps, because grandma hearts are mysterious and know when the time for telling is. My Da had come to pick me up and opened the bedroom door. I, hosiery pulled up over my denim jeans, too-large floppy hat drooping over my eyes, and purse hanging from my arm, was too enraptured in being myself to notice. But, he noticed and was furious, as my Grandma says, fit to hit the ceiling. He turned and said to her, No boy of mine is going to walk around dressed like a girl.My Da is a six foot, broad-shouldered, farmraised man. He is imposing and my Grandma, four foot nine and plump, is not, but she stood her ground and told him to “sit down and shut-up.” She told him this was my time at her house and she didn’t see anything wrong with what I was doing. He told her, “But, you have to make him mind.” My short, feisty Grandma told him I was minding, because she had told me to play and that was what I was doing. And nothing more was said on the matter.

Grandma tells me this over the phone and cannot see the tears welling in my eyes. I tell her I love her. She says, “You don’t even know how much I love you. You are my Granddaughter and my Goddaughter and you are so precious to me.” She is my fairy godmother and her love is transformative.