I grew up Menno in Iowa, then I went to Goshen for a bit and now I live in Minneapolis. I work as a volunteer for Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests. See me for all your Mennonite or Brethren related queer advocacy needs. I also love to get my cooking on and if I'm not stirring up shti in the Mennonite church, I can be found stirring up shti in the kitchen.
A little while ago, I got an email from Tim relating to the latest poll. He wanted to know if I had any thoughts to share on the issue of gender balance and women’s participation in particular on YAR. This has been discussed some before on YAR but it continues to be an issue. This is pretty much what I sent him, but he’s currently out of the country and I felt compelled to share it now.
As many of you know, I used to write more and now I don’t at all. This is largely due to being back in school and spending a lot less time in front of my computer and thinking about being young, anabaptist, or radical. If I really wanted to, I could make time to read YAR more than I do, even comment and contribute.
But I got tired. I got tired of the samestupiddiscussionsoverandover with basically the same person (actually different people, but it started to feel so familiar). I got tired of watching my friends and allies get tired and burned out (sometimes they just got quieter, sometimes they gave up and walked away in frustration), I got tired of having to defend my own existence and belief to straight white men who, as a friend of mine so aptly described it, “come on the blog for a while and do the virtual equivalent of beating their chests and yelling.”* (more…)
At this point, it seems somewhat likely that beginning January 21, 2009, a new Democratic administration of the United States will start working to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and beef up Hate Crimes laws. Glad to hear it. What isn’t clear yet is whether the discussion around same-sex marriage/civil unions will be about “what is achievable,” “states rights,” “a man’s journey,” or “the separation of Church and State” (all themes from the recent HRC/Logo forum). The Democratic front runners (the Republicans declined the invitation) want us to know that they are all for lgbt equality … as long is it doesn’t interfere with their chances of getting elected by including marriage equality. It is encouraging to hear that in the coming election, the most electable Democratic position is 90% gay friendly (not as good as 100%gay friendly but I’ll take what I can get for now). We’ve come a long way in the last few years but plenty of work remains.
I don’t have more to say about either Edwards or Richardson for now but I think Clinton should fire whoever came up with those states rights talking points. Didn’t we learn anything from the civil rights movement? States Rights is code language for “long, painful, tortured journey to someone else’s equality” now just as much as it was forty or fifty years ago. She should know better than that.
What I really want to address is Obama’s call for the separation of Church and State, which, for him, somehow means separate but equal (he, of all people, should know where that gets us). I first heard him go down this road during the CNN/YouTube debates. He didn’t seem to have a very good grasp of his own talking points and he ended up confusing even himself with his tortured explanation. He did quite a bit better in the HRC/Logo forum as he seemed to have prepped with his aides more and at least didn’t confuse himself. When he was done I said to myself “well…that’s almost a good idea.” (more…)
I’m afraid this didn’t come as a huge surprise to me but I definitely have a sick feeling in my stomach right now. This is a clip from 1994 of Dick Cheney. He even uses the term quagmire. It’s like he was looking into a crystal ball at the future…and then they did it anyway.
As it happens, I didn’t manage to keep writing throughout the week at San Jose. For that, I am sorry. I do want to share one little bit I found interesting during one of the presentations at the conference. One of the items that the delegate body voted on was a resolution (pdf) in support of bill in the US Congress to “acknowledge a long history of official depredations and ill-conceived policies by the United States government regarding Indian tribes and offer an apology to all Native Peoples on behalf of the United States.” Part of the presentation before this vote included some words from Steve Cheramie Risingsun, a Chitimacha Indian who leads Native Mennonite congregations in Louisiana and Alabama. You can read more about it at the Mennonite Weekly Review article.
The thing that I found particularly interesting about this was a comment made by Risingsun. He was talking about the various ways white colonizers mistreated Native Americans, tried to take away their culture, and were generally pretty nasty. He said that there was a phrase that was often used by these white folks: “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.”
One of the items discussed by delegates at the Mennonite Church USA churchwide assembly this month in San Jose was an resolution proposed by a group called Menno Neighbors. It is an informal group that meets once a year and they have a pretty active listserve. The resolution was changed to a statement for discussion by the resolutions committee of the executive board so there would not be a vote, just discussion. I was one of delegates that signed in support of this statement (didn’t get on the printed copy because I signed to too late).
The resolution is a call for conferences to stop disciplining congregations for differences in interpretation of the Confession of Faith from a Mennonite Perspective and was written largely in reference to a number of congregations that have been disciplined or expelled from their conferences for being publicly welcoming and affirming of LGBT members (most recently Hyattsville Mennonite in Maryland).
I’m writing from the Mennonite Church USA Churchwide Assembly in San Jose. I’ll try to keep some updates coming as I have time and content. I’m here more as a delegate from my congregation than as BMC staff but of course I still have similar concerns whether I’m wearing a BMC hat or just the Katie hat.The speaker at tonight’s adult worship session was Juan Martinez. I didn’t know of him before but you can read a bit about him here. As I listened to him speak, I was reminded once again that the church has a long way to go. The reason I say this isn’t because I disagreed with much of what he had to say, I felt he was right on as he spoke of the need for the church to deconstruct boundaries and break down walls. He spoke of the church needing to able to change and deal with diversity and I was there with him. I wish I took notes at these kind of things because then I would be able to give a better idea of his words to those gathered tonight. I’ll try to get my notebook out more the rest of the week so I can give better synopses.The thing that bothered me was that as he was talking about deconstruction and breaking down walls, and boundaries and such it was clear he was talking about language, race, and culture boundaries (maybe even gender, wish I had those notes that I didn’t take) and anything outside of that gets a little fuzzy. When I hear a good speaker talk about themes like this, I tend to apply the inspiring words to my own experience and think how well it all fits but, as far as I could tell, he wasn’t talking about some walls the church needs to deconstruct (or if he was, he wasn’t making that clear with his words). He wasn’t talking about the boundaries that push lgbt people out or tell them they are unworthy. He wasn’t talking about the walls for heterosexism, homophobia, and transphobia. (more…)
Well, this poll has been up long enough. It is time for a change. So, I’m posting the results for posterity and I’ll put up a new one when I’m done. The poll was up for about a month and a half and received 86 responses – here they are.
YAR or OAR? How old are you? (don’t worry, all are welcome, we’re just curious).
For some background on this poll and others, you might check here and here.
Eric, Tim, and I just realized that the three of us will be at the Mennonite Church USA Churchwide Convention in San Jose in July. We also figured that a few other contributors and readers might be as well. So, we want to have a little gathering with anyone that wants to show. We are leaning towards supper on Wednesday, July 4.
If you are going to be in San Jose for the MCUSA Convention, please leave a little comment here to tell us and we can work on plans for a gathering.
Also, you might consider coming to the Bay Area a few days early (if you haven’t already gotten tickets) to attend a weekend conference in San Francisco. It is being planned by Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests’ Supportive Communities Network in conjunction with First Mennonite Church of San Francisco and MennoNeighbors (a group that could fit the nickname OAR pretty well – don’t be offended Lin if you are reading this). For more information on the conference check out the BMC website.
I was watching CNN today as I was eating my lunch (black beans and saffron rice with piccadillo and spinach salad – awesome) and they were playing a rerun of an Anderson Cooper special on Christianity and faith. One portion of the show touched on recent findings that a person’s capacity for faith and spirituality may be genetically related. The story was based on the idea proposed by Dean Hamer in his book, The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired Into Our Genes. I haven’t read the book, and probably won’t but I did check out a couple reviews of it (Scientific American and Washington Post).
It turns out that Hamer’s science is a little dodgy as it is full of caveats and contradictions and has yet to stand up to the rigors of peer-review. Maybe he should have done a bit more work before publishing, but that’s not really my point. Whether or not Hamer’s work is grounded in what we like to think of as “reality,” it brings up some interesting questions for discussion. And since the blog has been spookily quiet for about two days, I thought I might stir the pot a little (I’m sure you’ve all realized by now that I enjoy stirring it up). If you are game, follow me down this rabbit hole and we’ll see where it comes out.
The US House of Representatives just passed hate crimes legislation that would extend hate crimes protections to be based on sexual orientation and gender identity in addition to current protections for race, religion, color, and national origin. It still has to go through the Senate and then face veto by you know who.
The thing that really blows me away is that people are actually against this, and that those people happen to call themselves Chrisitians. Now, if folks have a problem with the idea of hate crimes protections in general, eh, I would be happy to discuss that. But the idea that some groups of people should get protections while other groups (groups which happen to experience a disproportionate amount of hate crimes) should not is completely ridiculous. As it happens, the religious right is coming out en force against hate crimes protections for lgbt people. I linked this article about this in an earlier post.
The term “the homosexual lifestyle” has appeared a number of times on this blog in the last few months. I continue to be perplexed every time I see it and hear it in the church or society. Along with all those other terms that are used against the lgbt community, it is a term that somehow carries enormous weight and meaning in our society despite the fact that it really should not be considered a valid term. My problem is that I don’t often hear this term (or other similar language) challenged for what it is – bigotry. I’d really love it if this ridiculous language would stop, both on the blog, and in church and society.
The Homosexual Lifestyle. The Homosexual Agenda. Against Family Values. Against God. Unnatural. I’m sure you can think of some yourself. Wasn’t the same of rhetoric used against other hated people in the past? Jews? Communists? Multiracial couples? Check out this comparison between the Anti-Semitic language and propaganda used by the Nazis and Anti-Gay language and propaganda seen today. (more…)
Some things to think about before you get yer posting and commenting on.
This blog is moderated to keep spam out but we’re not in the habit of deleting comments or blocking dissent. There are, however, certain behaviors that are rude and annoying and others that aren’t. The line isn’t always clear and we all cross it occasionally. If you feel someone has crossed a line or have questions, feel free to contact one of the moderators (Tim, Eric, or Katie). You are also welcome to politely challenge behaviors yourself, as you feel led.
Our poll on white, non-gay men in ministry is now closed. In the month it was up, we received 30 votes of which 5 were abstentions. So of 25 votes, there were 15 yes votes. That is a encouraging 60%. Unfortunately, it is also two votes short of the 2/3 super-majority needed so I guess it’s too bad for you white, non-gay, males out there.