Tuesday, July 8, 2014
I've heard it described as Purgatory.
When the steel mills closed, so did Aliquippa.
And gangs and drugs and all that moved in when the jobs move out.
Last year a nun was raped in broad daylight in a church parking lot.
My teenager is working at Uncommon Grounds, a Church Army café which is working toward building Aliquippa, starting with the self esteem and moving on to the Gospel and the arts and some good old fashioned reasons for living.
And people like to hang out at the café, smoking on the sidewalks, drinking (actually quite decent) coffee, playing pool.
Making art, too, which is awesome.
But nobody knows if its working, changing, making an impact.
Its an uphill climb.
But you get glimmers sometimes,
like the guys that sit outside the café and greet everyone coming and going,
as if it were 1950 and times were still good, if hardscrabble and rough around the edges
Good ol' Aliquippa.
Today I dashed into the café, with my nine year old in tow,
in the rain...
and I guy I didn't know,
dark skinned, with an earring, walking around the "bad part of town" (all the stuff my mama told me to stay away from, right)
comes up the sidewalk in the other direction.
He raises his umbrella a bit and extends it over me,
Just a gesture,
I thanked him, he smiled,
He made my afternoon...
People are people...
And my daddy always said "95% of the people out there are just good people."
Not just Aliquippa.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." St. Paul to the Philippians (2:3-4)
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Treat them royally...
Love one another...
Count others more significant...
Maybe this Anglican experiment might work.
Maybe we can stitch back the fabric of the last thousand years.
Or put otherwise, "we cannot claim that our division is anything less than a scandal and an obstacle to our proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to the world." Pope Francis to Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
Sunday, June 22, 2014
And I'm encouraged.
And most of what encourages me has to do with the currently difficult topic of women's ordination. Archbishop-elect Beach does not ordain women to the priesthood. But that's neither here nor there. What encourages me is this:
- The folks who felt marginalized by Archbishop Duncan's pro-ordination-of-women stance and practice will feel a sense of returned balance.
- The folks who were uneasy enough to consider walking away from the table will no longer have this as a motivation to destabilize the ACNA.
Those things are good and helpful, but even more importantly, I have already seen and heard encouraging signs:
- Everywhere I looked at today's reception I found bishops who don't ordain women greeting women clergy as friends and respected co-laborers in God's vineyard. Do not tell me these guys are misogynist jerks; these are men who love all people but have discerned through prayer and study that they should not be ordaining women. I may not agree with them, but I sure do respect them.
- And then I turned to Facebook and heard from the other side of the equation, as women priests, who I also love and respect, who have long been conditioned to fear an archbishop who might not support them, poured out their support and kind words for Archbishop-elect Beach. This election was not about their rights to an ordination (no one has a right to be ordained) but about the good of the church and goodwill among Christians and even respect for godly authority.
And so today, both sides are showing their best sides. And I'm encouraged. Maybe we can keep it up all week, by God's grace, and enjoy the upcoming Assembly on a high note. Oh there will always be internet trolls, no doubt, but if we don't feed them, they will have to be quieter.
And after all, now we can say:
"Life's a Beach... and so's the Archbishop."
Congratulations, Archbishop-Elect Foley Beach. Here's to the next five years!
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Transgender priest to preach at National Cathedral
The Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge, the Episcopal chaplain at Boston University, will be a guest preacher on Sunday. He'll be the first openly transgender priest to preach from Canterbury Pulpit at the cathedral.
The Right Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, will preside at the service. It's part of the cathedral's celebration of LGBT pride month.
The service will also include readings and prayers from members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the cathedral, says he hopes Partridge's appearance "will send a symbolic message in support of greater equality for the transgender community."
(borrowed from Foxnews.com)
You know, just when I think enough has been said, the world has moved on, and what's done is done... something like this happens to remind me that liberals are throwing the rest of the church under the bus day by day.
None of these names are new to me. Cameron Partridge is surely setting him/herself up to be the first gender confused bishop of TEC. That's neither secret nor surprise. The Attention-Deficit church of what seems like a good idea at the moment is looking for its next starlet.
Pride itself being one of the seven deadly sins, 'goeth before a fall' and most clearly cometh along right after a fall also, has no place in a "national" cathedral. Sexual sin has no place flaunted about in a church.
Anyway, I guess I should leave the commentary to the pundits. I put this here for your information, nothing more.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
*The math teacher, who was a brand new teacher this year, has decided to quit and become a nun. (Not kidding!)
*The boy conned the History teacher out of a broken down electric water cooler on the last day of school. You should have seen him dragging it across the parking lot in the rain shouting "Hey, mom, look what Mr. ***** gave me!!!"
*The religion teacher, whose exams were always cheerfully entitled "Nice Little Quiz" doesn't teach 7th grade, so we'll miss him next year.
*The Latin teacher does teach 7th grade, so he's probably spending the summer taking up drinking. He also has a new baby in his house, so perhaps he should make it a double.
*The building is still standing. Though the construction on the new place is not done, at least the boy's damage impact has been minimal.
*He has stained a total of four dress code shirts, lost one gym shirt, and outgrown every single pair of pants (including gym pants) and shoes that he started the year with. I won't count the notebooks destroyed, plus a couple of backpacks (thankfully none of those started the year new... I know this kid) and two pairs of glasses (the first under warranty, thankfully, and the second was about the right time to just get a new prescription... whew). Sixth grade boys grow like that plant in Little Shop of Horrors... I remembered that from my first kid.
So on towards 7th grade. Look out world.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
A conversation with my eight year old...
revealing the importance of being shaped by the insanity of our forebears....
M: I need to spray oil on this. I'll use this cocoanut oil. Can you open it for me? Which side does it spray out?
Me: The side with the hole in it.
M: You mean with the red dot?
Me: Yes, there's a red dot there to make it more obvious so you don't miss it and spray oil all over yourself... like your great-grandy did, only paint. She accidentally painted herself.
And so I ended up telling my youngest about how his great-grandmother somehow missed all the cues on the spray paint can and instead of spray painting the furniture she was aiming for, painted her face and hands in one fell swoop. And then, in perfect Grandy fashion, she couldn't get the door open (paint on her hands) and so ran screaming toward the kitchen window to alert (read: Frighten the heck out of) my mother so she would let her in to wash up.
My parents told me family stories growing up because they were 1. utterly hysterical and 2. often a fabulous example of what not to do. My dad talked about "teaching a dog to drive" and taking apart his gym teacher's car to reassemble it on the school balcony. Yup. My mom told about the goofy things her mother did and how dad's teaching a dog to drive was more successful than anyone attempting to teach Grandy to drive.
And except for my mom, all the main characters in those stories are gone now. And my kids don't know these people who, for better or worse, still impact their lives.
And so I'm glad my parents told me stories.
I try to remember to tell my kids.
And I put this here as a reminder to you to do the same.
And be careful which way the spray can points. You just never know....
Sunday, May 4, 2014
When I was a kid, one of my mom's "embarrassing" stories was when my brother, then four years old, saw his first black person. He pointed (because, hey, he was four) and he said loudly, "Mommy, look! That boy is made of chocolate!"
Why should that story be embarrassing for my mother? Kids do this all the time. It shouldn't be embarrassing for the other kid or his mother either... we all know chocolate is beautiful.
But the story *is* because it *was* embarrassing, even if it shouldn't feel that way. Even if it was just a four year old kid asking a question and admiring someone beautiful.
The other side of that is one of my favorite stories from Korea. Really, I love this. It is effectively the same story, only it is coated in a liberal dose of innocence, outside the American system of expectations.
It was when we were in Ganghwa Korea. And not a lot of westerners go to Ganghwa. One of our local hosts even asked "Ganghwa? Why do you want to go there?" No worries, most Americans don't realize there is a Korea outside of Seoul and maybe that other city, Busan, which most people would likely translate as "Not-Seoul City." Ganghwa doesn't even have guide books in English. We were the only white people we saw there, and we only met one proficient English speaker. Quite a contrast to English-ready Seoul.
Along the way we met a little (and I do mean little, she couldn't have passed five feet if she were standing on a box) old (old enough to tell us she'd lost all of her children due to the Korean war) grandmother (which is what you call old ladies in Korea... and she was cute and grandmotherly). She spoke no English and we may have been the only non-military white people she'd ever seen. She certainly acted that way. She wanted to tell us everything about Ganghwa, but in Korean, which we didn't understand. "Follow me" I knew that Korean hand gesture. And she took my arm and was literally petting it. And thankfully at that moment the only proficient English speaker we met on the island appeared. I asked him what she was saying. He told me "she says your skin is really really white and she thinks its pretty."
She was telling me how white I am.
Thanks, I noticed.
But that's the thing. She didn't make me feel "different." A quick look around would make me know I was different. She acknowledged my "different" and said it was beautiful, and showed me that it was a curiosity to her, and that she liked me. She acknowledged my difference and made me feel welcome. Different is not the opposite of beautiful and it is not the opposite of welcome.We just think it is in America, where we're all so decidedly different from our neighbors and yet yearn so much to balance it with "sameness" that we fail to appreciate difference.
Asian friends in America would be rightly annoyed if all the white people around them wanted to touch their hair (trust me, my Asian son who has been kept a bit clueless about this little American tick often asks why so many people rumple his hair... they're being friendly, you're cute, etc. That's okay. Its all true. Other Asians like to rumple his hair too, its right at hand level. But if he only knew what other Asian kids know about touchy-feely hair lovers... Ignorance is bliss.) I might get tired of arm-petting if I lived on Ganghwa. But as a single encounter, I was charmed. Charm is good.
A friend posted a thing on transracial adoption and racism on facebook today. I started to reply, but will basically sum up here instead:
Transracial adoption definitely makes people think differently about race. And mostly what I have come to think about race in America is that it's messed up. Not because race relations themselves are so messed up, but because the culture as a whole has this sickness where we are so easily offended (or assume the other person to be) that we are afraid to talk openly with one another. And so instead of a relationship between races that says "I like you, what is it like to be you?" We mutter "I like you" and shuffle our feet and wander off and the other person doesn't feel very liked or welcomed at all. I wish we could regain an innocence about race, on both sides, that we need to have a productive conversation... alas, that does not seem to be available in America right now.
Both of the above stories are about innocence and appreciation... I wish we could recover that, but most of our efforts have gone towards stamping them out in the name of anti-racism. I probably shouldn't say "recover" because a country founded on slavery and racial injustice never had the quality to regain, but I do think each of us does have an inherent innocence, if we don't have it stamped out in the cradle, that we can recover, and maybe one by one heal some wounds.