Thursday, November 21, 2013

I'm Still Here. Making Fruitcake and Remembering to be Thankful

My Swanky Office

I make fruitcake when things are going well.  

It's time consuming and expensive so it's a good sign when I make fruitcake.

This is the thing.  

I write a blog for a living now.  So it's just not so pressing to do it on my own anymore.  In case you missed the news, I'm the new Director for Evangelical Mission for the Northeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA.

It's a strange but wonderful position. As I described in my Staples post, I work for the ELCA but am deployed in the SYnod Office.  And I am doing stuff no other DEM is doing.  

Most DEMs are all about new starts and mission congregations.  Well we don't have many of those so my job description was written to include helping congregations use Social Media for outreach.  

It's kind of scary because I keep getting introduced as the "Expert in Social Media" when I'm really not all that expert.  I've just tried some stuff that works, read some stuff and know where to find answers,.  Usually.

I'm doing stuff I love.  I work with a Bishop I admire and other incredibly hardworking, knowledgeable, talented and downright pleasant to be around staff.  I wake up in the morning thinking "Yea I get to go into work today"  I travel around to different churches to preach and people are happy to see me.  People listen to me.  It is for me, anyway, the Best Job in the World.

But this is the thing. 

 There are parts I don't like. Sometimes I have to do things I don't want to do.  And even though just a few short months ago I couldn't breath I was so grateful and excited to get this job, there are times now when all I do is think and grouse about those silly things I have to do that I don't like.  

What the hell is wrong with me?  I guess that is what sin is. 

Because this is the thing:  Gratitude does not come easy to us.

And when it does, it doesn't stick around.  You have to work at Gratitude.  You have to make an effort.  Get lazy and you will default to bitchin and moaning about those things you don't have you wish you did or the things you do have and wish you didn't.

Don't get lazy.  It's Thanksgiving time for crying out loud. 

Maybe things are not going as well for you as they are for me. Let me tell you in the darkest of my times, I have found gratitude to be all the more important. 

 Thinking about what I did have that was good in my life has kept me out of some deep wells of despair I could have easily plunged into. 

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you"  I Thess. 5:17-18

Yea, what he said. 

Oh and here's my Fruitcake Recipe

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Landing on My Feet or How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I really wanted to do interim ministry. I knew I would be good at it for a lot of reasons. I got the training and completed a successful two year interim.

But this is the thing with interim ministry. There is this thing called "downtime" when there are no churches needing an interim and so there is no work. And if you are a single mother who has lived paycheck to paycheck your entire career, well down time can be pretty terrifying.

So this summer I went to work at Staples for my "down time". I came to hate hearing this time referred to as "down time". Down time sounds so relaxing and refreshing. There was nothing relaxing or refreshing about this time. They would often "forget" to give me my break and it was not unusual for me to be on my feet for five hours at a stretch without a break. Funny story. As part of my "Training" I had to watch a video about how bad unions are and how everyone gets along we don't need no stinkin union. All I know is that if I had a union rep, I'd sure as heck get my breaks when I was supposed to!

But back the term "Downtime” --Here are some other things pastors said to me during this time (and after) that I did not appreciate:

I worked at Staples at a relatively large town with a lot of ELCA churches and pastors around. Apparently a lot of ELCA pastors shop at Staples. Who knew? So a very strange dynamic would take place when they saw me. They would seem a little uncomfortable. It reminded me of right after my husband died and the couples our age we hung out with didn't really want to be around me. Because I reminded them of what could happen to them.

I think seeing me in my bright red staples shirt made pastors uncomfortable because I reminded them of just how insecure our jobs really are. They could be wearing a red shirt themselves. Actually they would be lucky to get this job.

So in their discomfort they would say stupid things to me the way, in their discomfort, people say stupid things to people in grief. Pastors know better than to say stupid things to people in grief. But they don't really know what to say to other pastors in red Staples shirts.

"Oh I think I would enjoy a little down time like you are getting" No, I'm pretty sure you would not enjoy being on your feet 7 hours all day, then having to clean the bathrooms before you can go home at night (Speaking of which, there is nothing like cleaning a public men's bathroom to really destroy your faith in humanity.)

"Oh I bet you are collecting a lot of sermon material” Um, no. Not so much. Not much material in sorting pens. A couple of funny stories to tell at dinner about stupid rude angry customers, perhaps, but a sermon? Nope.

And the line that really annoys me the most... "Oh I think it is good for us [sic] to do work like this every once in a while so we [sic] can see how real people live.

Okay let me rant about this ridicules statement for a while. WE??? Someone with a call says to ME, on leave from call making 8.25 an hour says how good this is for US??? And secondly...I grew up poor with a single mother. I know how real people live; probably a lot better than the pastor telling me how good it is for "us" to have this experience. I did farm work, cutting asparagus in the early morning before going to school when I was 14 years old. I worked my way through college and seminary doing everything from cleaning houses, waitressing, and receptionist and was even a church secretary. My husband and I raised our kids on my far less than synod guidelines salary alone because we didn't want daycare workers raising our children. I know how "real people" live, thank you very much. I was very grateful to get the Staples job because it was a lot easier and more interesting than a lot of other jobs I could have had and it helped me pay my bills during my "down time" but no it was not a lark or Sabbatical to learn how the other half lives and it was really really difficult for me to keep temper when anyone said that to me.

This is what people said to me that I did appreciate. "Joelle I know you have a lot more to offer the church and I am praying that you will get that opportunity soon". I did have a lot of people praying for me and that meant and means a lot. I know many of you who are reading this were praying and I thank you for that.

All of this is not to say that I regret this past summer because I don't. It’s one of those experiences I would not care to relive or repeat but I a glad I had it. I especially appreciate it now that it is over. I have been called and begun to serve the Northeastern Iowa Synod as Director or Evangelical Mission. And I am very excited about the position. It's an odd position in that I am actually paid by the ELCA and am considered deployed staff but I work for and answer to my synod bishop. Our synod is doing a lot of cutting edge stuff. We have a great staff that I could not be more tickled to be part of. I am going to have to stop saying shit and damn and hell and pissed off. And forgitabout the f word. So I could still use some prayers in that transition.

So stay tuned as the adventure continues.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Corn & Black Bean Salad

I'm waiting until this particular episode of my life is over to write about it.  I hope that will be soon.

In the meantime I signed up for a Fuel-Saver card at Hy-Vee Grocery store.  You buy certain items and you get cents off gas at some gas stations.  I recently saved 23 cents a gallon.  After a while it can add up.  

So sweet corn and red bell peppers were fuel saver items this week.  I made black bean and corn salad to take to work with me this week. (I'll tell you about the work when I have a new job.  Which I hope will be soon.

1 Cup cooked black beans (I cooked them in chicken stock with cumin and garlic)
1 Cup sweet corn
1 Red bell pepper, chopped
1 Red onion, chopped
1/2 C Cilantro, chopped
2 Tb  Olive Oil
1  Tb   Balsamic Vinegar

Stir in all up and refrigerate a few hours.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Evelyn Underhill, Mystic, died 1941

You know sometimes how one goes to see a church which one is told has magnificent windows--and seen from from outside they all look alike--dull, thick, grubby....Then we open the door and go inside--leave the outer world, enter the inner world--and the universal light floods through the windows and bathes us in their colour and beauty and significance, shows us things of which we had never dreamed, a loveliness that lies beyond the fringe of speech.  And so in the same way we cannot realize God and all our Lord's lovely meaning as a revelation of God and His eternal Truth and Beauty from the outside....

It is from within the place of prayer, recollections, worship and love, where the altar is, where the sacrifice is made, where we are all bound together in a life of communion and self-giving to God, that we fully and truly receive the revelation which is made through Christ.

Light of Christ by Evelyn Underhill

Quoted in Philip H. Pfatteichers' New Book of Festivals & Commemorations 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Chopping Down Thor's Oak

Dearmer, Percy (1904). The Little Lives of the Saints illustrated by Charles Robinson. London: Wells Gardner, Darton & Co.

In today’s Huffington Post blog, Diana Butler Bass wants to Retire St. Boniface.

Boniface was an 8th century English missionary to Germany.  See what I wrote about him last year.  What I remember about him is how his last confirmation on Pentecost ended badly.

It's not that surprising that I forgot the other thing he is known for.  He was trying to convert pagans who worshiped trees.  So to show them that there was nothing divine about trees, he felled an ancient sacred oak tree.  When nothing bad happened to him, the story goes; people switched sides and became Christian.  

Now to our sensibilities, this is a horrible thing to do.   And our Christian history is stained with too many incidents of lack of respect for other cultures and the environment.   And it still goes on.  Lots of Christians still think that God is going to blow this earth up anyway so we might as well exploit and squeeze as much out of it as we can.  Save the earth?  Why the hell should we save the earth?  Jesus is coming back pretty soon and he’s bringing the nukes with him.

Of course that’s not a biblical worldview at all.   And I don’t think that was Boniface’s worldview either.  I want us to stop judging ancient people’s by our standards.  Boniface was doing what seemed right (and pretty courageous) by his time, his place and his worldview.  Look at it from his perspective.  To him these people were beholden to trees, which were simply another part of God’s creation.  As far as I read the story, he didn’t advocate a mass deforestation to exploit the commercial value of the land.  He destroyed one tree to show them that tree had no power over them.  

 Would it be okay to do that today?  Absolutely not.   But we can say it is not right to do that today without vilifying a brave man of God who wanted to show the people that they were not beholden to trees.  

We progressives are always wanting to be sensitive to other cultures (to such a fault that some people don’t want to denounce female genital mutilation for fear of “interfering with culture”).  And yet we are quick to judge people in history by our modern (or post-modern) standards.  Do not historical figures deserve the same willingness to understand their culture and their world view as other cultures today?  And if we are not willing to do that for history, what makes us think we can do it for cultures today?

So I say give Boniface a break.  We don’t have to throw him under the bus to find other ways besides destroying other culture’s sacred objects to share the Gospel.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New Star Trek Movie is Not Really A Star Trek Movie

Star Trek:  Into Darkness uses familiar characters and story lines but it's really just another shoot people and blow up things adventure film.  It is entertaining except that I found the gratuitous violence just boring and tedious after awhile.  "Yawn...okay well...are we done cracking his skull yet?"

While I enjoyed the adventure, when I got home and thought about it I kind of felt like I had been manipulated as a Trekkie to go and see a film I probably would not have otherwise gone to see.

I understand that a movie cannot be as cerebral as the television shows and has to have more action.  But I thought the 2009 Star Trek with Chris Pine managed to make an exciting adventure film AND stay true to the star trek "feel" as well as enhancing the narrative by giving us an insight into the young Captain Kirk and what made him the captain he became. 

Into Darkness gives us no real insights other than the cliche he's a rebel who does what he thinks is right, damn the consequences.  Blah blah blah.

Take the opening scene.  The crew of the Enterprise have violated the Prime Directive.  Personally I think the whole of Star Trek is about the Prime Directive.  Can we really interact with other cultures, other people, without interfering?  What is the price of our influence?  What is the price of our refusal to get involved?  Do modern humans bring good or ill?  Or both?  For me, grappling with these questions is the real draw of Star Trek for me.

There was no such grappling in this movie.  Kirk disregards the Prime Directive because it's stupid.   We are not even supposed to question if he did the right thing; we are just supposed to feel sorry for him that such a talented and earnest young man is thwarted by stupid Federation rules.

I thought most of the dialogue was not particularly clever or insightful to the characters.  If it was a little amusing it was only because it exploits what we know of these characters from other movies and TV shows.  It is disappointing that the movie does absolutely nothing to further our understanding of them as young adults as they are forming their characters. 

Without "spoiling" it, I'll just say the main storyline is just a further exploitation and cannibalization of a familiar plot that does nothing to enhance that story either.

And my final complaint is that in trying to entertain us with the special effects of explosions and giant star-ships crashing into San Francisco, the loss of property and life that would be so devestating to real star trek era people was glossed over.  That is probably the most "un-Star Trek" part of the whole movie.

All in all I give it a "meh".

Monday, May 6, 2013

Who We Are

Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis and daughter Anna

No cemetery is willing to take the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Not just Boston.  Anywhere in the US.  "Send him back to Russia!" is the rallying cry.  

I was not one rallying to insist everybody sing Kumbya and forgive Tsarnaev.  But this is a really disturbing trend.  The man is dead.  His final resting place can only cause more pain if people choose to make it so.  And people are choosing to do so.  This is why forgiveness is so important.  Not because of any love or sympathy or understanding of the one who hurt us.  But because if we do not forgive and let go of our anger and grievances, they continues to hurt us.  Tsarnaev is dead.  We do not hurt him by refusing his body a place to rest.  We hurt his family.  But most of all we hurt ourselves.  Because of this story, he is still in the news, still taking up our attention, our thoughts, our energy.  We are the ones who choose to make this an issue.  

And it hurts us because we become less than who we are.  Civilized people do not desecrate the dead of our enemies.  Desecrating bodies, refusing burial rites, condemning the dead to some sort of hellish after life by what we do, all these practices are from another time, an ignorant and brutal time.  Do we want to be *that* people?

Mother's Day is coming up.  Few people remember the origins of that day.  Anna Jarvis campaigned for this day in honor of her mother who worked to bring mothers of soldiers on both sides of the civil war.  One of the things those mothers did was care for the graves of soldiers of the other side.  These mothers of slain boys did not grieve their losses any less than the people of Boston.  They did not view the soldiers who killed their sons any less "traitors" than we view Tamerlan Tsarnaev.  And yet they brought themselves to take care of their graves. This is our history.  This is who we are.

I don't even believe this is a Christian issue.  This is about who we are as Americans.  If it is no longer who we are, then the terrorists have won.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Five - Healing Edition

I haven't done a RevGalBlogPals Friday Five for awhile but they are doing a Healing Space Edition today.  Besides waking up this morning to news of a manhunt, international terrorists on a killing spree, a shootout and a city on lockdown, I have a bit of stress going on in my own life so a Heaing Space is a good thing to think about.  So five healing things:

1. A piece of music

I love the hymn "How Can I Keep from Singing?"  Enya's version sounds very healing to me today

2.  A Place

I just look out the window to the bird feeders and watch them, along with the antics of the squirrels, skunk and woodchuck that come by for their share, to be very healing.

3. A favorite food (they call it "comfort food" for a reason)

I always make ham stock from the Easter ham and the other day I made gumbo.  Gumbo requires a dark roux and a dark roux requires your constant attention for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Just stirring and attending to the roux, watching it turn that rich Carmel color can be very healing.

4. A recreational pastime (that you watch or participate in)

I don't live anywhere near a skating rink but I need to get my skates out and drive to one.  Soon.

5. A poem, Scripture passage or other literature that speaks to comfort you.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:4-9
 BONUS: People, animals, friends, family - share a picture of one or many of these who warm your heart.

Sweety - the cat that I took in because I thought was pregnant
, was not pregnant but has turned into a very sweet affectionate cat.

This is Tommy my oldest cat.  Probably close to 20 years old, his tongue is hanging out because he only has two teeth left.  He is skin and bones and not long for this world.  I think he knows it and is very affectionate, saying his goodbye. He wants to tell me everything is going to be okay.  I believe him.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

This is Exactly What I was Talking About

So in the comments in my previous post on abortion, Gary want to engage in exactly the kind of philosophical, abstract debate that I think is not helpful.  One that pits the rights of one group against another group (unborn babies vs. women)  And I'm not playing.  I want a different discussion. I want a discussion about how we can take care of each other as a community.  How can we make this world a safe place for women to have and raise children.  So he goes and has a little hissy fit over at his blog and claims it is "Impossible to Discuss Abortion with Liberals" and accuses me  (in response to a comment that I am not nearly as unreasonable as he claims) of "plastering the Lutheran blogosphere" with my views and that because I won't play his game I'm insulted and angry.  

Dude.  I'm not angry.  I'm just bored.  And your warning that I was going to get A LOT of traffic from your post?  Yea.  12 people clicked through from your blog.  I get about 150 hits a day so I can probably handle the extra 12 people.  But I still don't think that qualifies as "plastering the Lutheran blogosphere"

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Gosnell Case - A Combination of Poverty and Restriction of Abortion

I've always wished we could have an honest and sane discussion on abortion.  

It is my belief that a compassionate and just society makes it possible for women to both bear and raise the children they conceive.  

This idea that women are just casually getting abortions is simply not true.  

Many many years ago I read "In a Different Voice" by Carol Gilligan that is about how the way women make moral decisions is different than men.  The book was not about abortion, though she used women making decisions about abortion as an example of how women make decisions.  

But what struck me was how many women ended up getting abortions to keep men in their lives, who were needed to support the children they already had.  

People think feminism is responsible for abortion but it seems to me if women were more independent, they'd be able to have and raise their children.

So you can't get rigid "pro-life" (really who is anti-life?) people to discuss abortion in a sane way and you can't really get feminists to discuss it either because they are so desperately trying to keep it safe, legal and  available.  Which I understand.  

 I wish pro-life people would understand that trying to forbid abortion does not solve anything, it only makes things worse.  And I wish pro-choice people could talk about the fact that we are discussing life and there is a violence and a loss for women who must make this choice.  

It's like there are only two ways of looking at abortion, abortion is the equivalent of Hitler killing Jews, or it's just removal of unwanted tissue.  Both these view points is harmful to women and harmful to society.

I won't post any links to the Gosnell case.  If you haven't heard about it you can Google it.  He was a butcher who took advantage of poor women.  Period.  And now he's the poster boy for the argument that there is a pro-abortion, left wing media conspiracy because the press didn't pay much attention.  The truth is nobody ever pays attention to poor women. 

People don't like the idea of late term abortions, but these are the result of lack of money and access to health care to detect pregnancy and to earlier abortions.  

Then women get desperate and they go to butchers like Gosnell.  

This is what happened before abortion was legal and it's going to happen more as more states make end runs around the constitution to block access to safe legal abortions.  And unfortunately the way the "left wing" media has played into anti-abortion's narrative of this case, this is just going to make it worse.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Never Again? I Call Bullshit.

Bangladesh, 1971

"Operation Searchlight" - 1-3 million Bengali civilians, systemically killed by the West Pakistani army.

Cambodia, 1975-1979

Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge massacred 1.7 million Cambodians.

Guatemala, 1981-1983

200,000 Mayans systematically killed by the Guatemalan army

Bosnia, 1992-1995

Over 200,000 Muslim civilians systematically murdered 

Rwanda, 1994 

800,000 Tutsi killed by Hutus

Darfur, Sudan 2003 to the present

Mass slaughter and rape of Darfuri men, women, and children in Western Sudan by government-armed and funded Arab militias continues to this day.

Never again?  Bullshit. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Let's End Hunger in America. AGAIN

 You need to see A Place at the Table.*  And then you need to show it at your churches.  And then we need to mobilize to convince our worthless congress to do something that has proven to solve hunger (or "food insecurity" which is the new word for it) in our country.  We've done it before, we can do it again.

Back in the 70s I was pretty into World Hunger and especially Bread for the World.  I was always organizing Offerings of Letters.  And this is the thing I didn't realize but was pointed out in this movie.   We actually pretty much solved the hunger problem in the United States.  I know to hear the Right Wing mantra of what a failure the "welfare state" was and what a waste the war of poverty was, you problably didn't realize this.  But between food stamps, WIC and school lunches, people stopped being hungry.  We still had poverty and unemployment and drugs and racism and all kinds of problems that are harder to solve.  But at least people were not hungry.  And you have eat before you can do anything else.

And then the 80s.  And Reagan who everyone thinks was such a hero.  And complaints about "big government".  And food stamps and school lunches were defunded.  And now people, children, go to bed hungry.  In this country.

And now the popular thing is to say "Let the private sector take care of it"  Let the churches feed people.  This is the thing, churches ARE feeding people.  Churches and charities are making a herculean effort.  If churches and charities could solve the problem, they would have.  People are not hungry because Christians don't care.  This is what solves hunger in America - Government programs like food stamps, WIC and school lunches (funded at more than 90 cents a meal)  That's the truth.

Yes there are more complicated and difficult issues like our Agriculture polices.  But I think we can start by making people understand what a difference we can do by funding food stamps and school lunches.  It's a start.  Let's go back to offerings of letters.  Let's sponsor more Lutheran, Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Jewish, whatever, Day on the Hill, where we all advocate for doing what we did before, ending hunger in America.  We did it before.  We can do it again.  Or least we can try.

* Information on public screenings of A Place at the Table here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Days Facebook Went Red

I used to have two facebook accounts, one for church and one for me.  It was a way for me to maintain boundaries.  I was not being dishonest or not real, I was myself in both and had many friends who were on both.  It’s just there’s something you talk about in church, and some things you talk about with your friends.

Recently I decided it was too much time and work to go on both and I was missing relationships with everyone so I switched as many people as would come over to just one.  And I learned to make lists for who would see what posts.  I have my crazy liberal list.  And my parish list.  And my no politics list.  I am kind of outspoken and like to talk about things but I don’t want to alienate people in the parish who don’t share my views.  I have facebook friends I have pretty much hidden because their political posts annoy me and I did not want to be *that* person to others.

Then came the day everyone was changing their profile picture to a red equal sign in support of marriage equality as the Supreme Court took up the California Prop 8 and DOMA .  And I had to make a decision. 

When you change your profile picture everyone sees it.  And I knew not everyone in my parish would not appreciate it.  But this is the thing.  When my former parish was all up in arms about the ELCA Churchwide decision to allow those in same sex relationships to rostered leadership I took what I thought was a measured and “neutral” position.  I did put forth the argument for full inclusion and acceptance of LGBT people but did not necessarily advocate for it.  I talked mostly about the importance of our unity being in Christ, not our position on this issue.  And I still suffered and lost my job.  Neutrality didn’t help anyone.   I might as well have been more outspoken for all the good being neutral did me.

I have a lot of unchurched friends on facebook, many of whom have had bad experiences with the church when it comes to being judgmental.  And I decided that it was more important that they see a Lutheran Pastor advocate for  rights for all people, than worry about offending some church members who think their pastor must agree with them.    So I went red, along with most of my facebook newsfeed.

Funny the only pushback I got was from my young Wisconsin Synod great-great niece.  I still used my lists because I didn’t think it was necessary to be in your face about it.  I made my stand known. 
Did going red influence the Supreme Court?  No.  Is it enough to change your profile picture or posts memes to work for justice?  No, of course not.  But sometimes a red profile can mean a lot to people.  It did this week.  And I’m glad I went red for couple of days.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Red & Scarlet are Different Just Like Pentecost & Passion Sunday are Different

The lighting makes this look pinkish but it's actually scarlet, made for Holy Week.
Every year, no matter how long I am at a church I have the same argument with the Altar Guild.  No we are NOT going to use the red paraments on Passion Sunday.  "But Pastor,  it's RED on the calendar!"

The Augsborg Fortress Calendar is the bible when it comes to church Altar Guilds.  The little strip is red so we must put up the Holy Spirit paraments for Passion Sunday. 

"No," I say in a voice I imagine is kind and patient.  "It's scarlet.  That is a different color.  We don't have scarlett and the red we have is not appropriate for Passion Sunday.  So we will continue to use the purple"
"Are you sure, Pastor?" 
"Yes, I am sure"
"But we always use the red"
"Not while I've been here"
"But the other pastors..."
"The other pastors either don't know better or don't care.  I know and I care"

Scarlet Chasuble
Yes I care.  I think symbolism and colors and vestments have value and meaning and I don't think we should make up our own rules. That's kind of why I am a Lutheran among other reasons. I think pastors should care and should explain to the people why they should care.  If you think they don't care, why is that silly AF calendar so important to them?  They care.  And you should respect that enough to help them understand why they care.

This is what happens when pastors ignore tradition and do whatever the hell they want.  The lay people stop paying attention to you because every new pastor just does whatever the hell they want. It no longer becomes about tradition and symbol and ritual that touches the deep parts of us that words cannot.  It becomes all about whatever the pastor thinks and wants.  And that doesn't really touch anyone.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Yea Yea It's Holy Week. We're All Busy. Get Over It.

Everyone is busy.  Not only that...everyone is proud of how busy they are.  Everyone is happy to moan and lament how busy they are.

Pastors are busy during Holy Week.  Some pastors like to whine about how busy they are.  Well I'm in a situation where just remaining a pastor is a precarious thing, so no, I'm not going whine about being busy.  Besides the  Holy Week I had two funerals and teenager whose boyfriend was killed in a car accident cured me of ever whining about any Holy Week ever again.

At a recent interview I was asked about how I "balance" work and family or personal life.  My answer was that losing my husband when my children were young cured me of ever being tempted to neglect my or my family's well being for church "stuff".

 The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. ~Thomas Merton

I don't like this quote.  I get what he is saying but it's not "violence" when you make choices that make you too busy.  I don't like vocabulary that trivializes the real violence real victims experience.  I don't like this tendency of us well fed, well housed, educated folk to make out like we are powerless victims.  Being too busy does not make you a victim.

We live in a society that values busyness and so everyone feels obligated to be busy and then complain about how busy they are.  

I call bullshit on that.  You don't need to be busy.  The church doesn't need you to be busy, your family doesn't need you to be busy and you don't need to be busy and you know it.  You are not the only one in the world that can do all that stuff you think you have to do, and in the rare case that you are the only one that can do it, the world won't end if it doesn't get done.

Note - I'm not talking about single parents who have to work 3 jobs.  That's not "busy".  That's trying to survive.  God bless you and I pray that it changes soon for  you. 

But life goes in cycles.  You aren't "balanced" every day.  Some days are crazy busy.  Some weeks are crazy busy.  But if everyday and every week is crazy busy, you are making bad choices.  Period.  Stop whining/bragging and change something.