Thanksgiving makes me nervous.
For years, I’ve gotten a sinking feeling in my stomach as the month of November draws to a close and this day looms. On the one hand, Thanksgiving is about joy and gratitude. It is a time when I travel to see family and friends, welcome a few days of rest and look forward to the holiday season. In my mind, I know it is a good thing to have a day where the sole emphasis is to give thanks to God for all God has done. I also appreciate the opportunity to celebrate all my loved ones do and are to one another.
And yet Thanksgiving reminds me of a beautiful but altogether itchy sweater. Sure it looks good on the rack in my closet. It is slimming, well-made, gorgeous color—everything you could hope for in a sweater. But if I put it on I’m guaranteed to spend the whole day tugging, scratching and feeling downright uncomfortable. Try as I might, I can’t shake that weird feeling about that good ole holiday. It gets to the point where weeks in advance I’m trying to come up with other things to say besides “Happy Thanksgiving.” And since “Happy Day Off” doesn’t cut it I go ahead and mutter the greeting anyway, wheels still turning for a suitable substitute. (more…)
November 25, 2008
activism, Anniversary, Bias, Change, Church, Civilization, Clothing, communication, Community, Conscientious Objection, Consumerism, Contemplation, Corporations, culture, Current Events, Death, Economics, Education, Environment, Ethics, Fair, Faith, Family, Food, Foreign Policy, God, Group Identity, Guns, Hate, History, Indigenous, Interpretation, Language, Leadership, liberation theology, Love, Loyalty, Nonviolence, Peace & Peacemaking, philosophy, Power, Prayer, Privilege, Race, Schism, Spiritual Life, Stewardship, Stories, The Bible, Theology, Tolerance, Tradition, Wealth, Writing, Young Folks
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It is time for the 2nd preach-off between Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and Goshen College. The first one was in 2006 (organized by some YARs) and it was very successful.
For the preach-off, folks will give three-minute sermons on scriptures they’ve received 24 hours prior. People can vote with their donations, and a panel judges will give humorous feedback.
The donations benefit up and coming young adult leaders from the Global South by giving them a full scholarship to attend the Global Youth Summit (July 10-12 in Asunción, Paraguay).
In addition to the fun of preach-off, we realize that the lives of many people in Northern Indiana have been enriched by connections with the global church. So this event will be interspersed with short testimonies from people in the area, celebrating these ties as we raise funds to support the next generation of Anabaptist leaders from around the globe.
So, YARs…we’re collecting crazy passages. If you know of one, please write the reference as a comment. Your help is appreciated…and if you’re in Northern Indiana at 6pm on Dec. 6 you are warmly invited to materialize and participate!
October 17, 2008
Anabaptism, Anniversary, Awesome Stuff, Change, Church, communication, Community, Current Events, Dumb Stuff., Economics, Ethics, Evangelism, Fair, Faith, Fun, Global Church, God, Group Identity, Interpretation, Language, Leadership, Love, Objective, philosophy, Poetry, Poll, Sports, The Bible, Theatre, Theology, Tolerance, Wealth, Writing, Young Folks
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I’m going to start by saying that everything that follows is totally disputable, as in the words of Paul:
“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” – Romans 14:1
Mark Van Steenwyk has written a series on “hipster” culture and what he calls the “style of subversion”, over at Jesus Manifesto. It’s great and I highly recommend it, it has been helpful for me (thanks Mark).
Something that struck me was in Part I, when Mark notes:
You see, I came of age in the mid 90s. The commodification of the counter-culture was well under way, but it could hardly be called mainstream yet. Because of this, most of the “alternative” folks that I knew were social outcasts, or at least were socially akward. Like me. To put it indelicately, most of the counter cultural types I knew weren’t academic enough to be nerds, weren’t athletic enough to be jocks, and weren’t attractive enough to be popular. The counter cultural types tended to hang out together with all the other lower-order social groupings. And since I was unpopular (in fact, one poll that the girls did in junior high put me as the 3rd from the bottom in the social pecking order).
So, my brain was confounded by what I saw at PAPA Fest. Most of the 20 something crowd was attractive. There were young men aplenty with chiseled, shirtless, chest throwing footballs in a perfect spiral to other young men with similarly perfectly chiseled chests. In fact, if it weren’t for their dreads, I would swear that they were jocks.
Mark goes on to say:
Members of a majority or dominant group may (perhaps) achieve alterity by being ostracized as a subversive or deviant. However, we live in a culture where it is easy for mainstream twenty-somethings (and younger) to embrace the style of subversion. And because they speak a certain lingo, wear certain clothes, and use certain products, it is socially understood that these stylish subversives care about social outcasts, the poor, and the downtrodden, even if no tangible evidence exists of that care. In other words: it is great when people begin to challenge the status quo as they pursue justice and mercy, but how excited should we be when it is very easy in our society to look, sound, and act radical without it costing anything?
Even more, what happens when hipsterism gets so tied into consumer capitalism (you know: Messenger Bags, Hot Topic, Ipod, Apple, Moleskine, American Apparel…) that you become a radical in appearance, but a profound reinforcer of the status quo in your way of life?
I want to take this in an entirely different direction than Mark might have taken it but his thoughts got me thinking. Up until two years ago, I was a fat guy. I was 6’3 and 280 pounds. I was not healthy and it had a lot to do with a cycle of poor body image mixed with eating to feel better and drinking alcohol excessively to forget how hopelessly unattractive I felt.
But a couple of years ago, I was called by Christ, and have lost a lot of weight and stopped drinking heavily (no… this is not one of those “testimonies”, I’m just telling it like it happened). (more…)
September 1, 2008
Clothing, Economics, Ethics, Fair
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Sigh. I’m exhausted from preparing for a mediation session tomorrow.
A white highly educated straight man new to the church community has remained apparently oblivious to racist and unkind remarks, gestures and communications that he has done in the last number of years. I spoke up about them after I’d been profoundly hurt. Now we are going to have a mediation session. I’m nervous about so many aspects of this conversation tomorrow. I was doing my homework, but I thought I’d write to YAR for encouragement since I can’t concentrate anyway.
I keep praying that I don’t get angry or try to make a point to make myself feel better/look better. Vengeance is not mine. I must entrust myself to the one who judges justly. But the balance is hard when I have to speak up for myself and for others who are still silent. I’m praying that no matter what happens, myself and others who have felt isolated and marginalized by his behavior will be able to move on and not let him control our lives at church. (more…)
April 14, 2008
Church, Ethics, Fair, Faith, Mental health, Polarization, Privilege, Race, Stories, Young Folks
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Last Thursday, I had a conversation with a professor and a fellow student that gave me a window on the Mennonite narratives on heterosexual privilege. We had discussed Obama’s speech and white privilege in class. After class, I asked about heterosexual privilege. My prof and classmate both responded that a concept of heterosexual privilege “trivialized racism” since the sufferings of African-American are so embedded in our culture (I guess with the implication that the sufferings of LGBTers aren’t). My prof even claimed that the bans against single-sex marriage and other anti-sodomy laws were not persecution, but just limited the “freedom” of LGBTers.
This was a quick conversation in passing, so I didn’t really have my wits about me to respond. These are both caring, intelligent people who care deeply about social justice issues. Yet, for some reason, they don’t consider queers a persecuted group. I realize that I also don’t know yet enough about the history of this issue to be really comfortable about a response. However, after more reflection and conversation, I do have a couple of responses / observations —
- I don’t think that my colleague’s response is really about “trivializing racism.” It’s about not defining the queer experience as a social justice issue. As soon as LGBT is defined as a social justice issue, then the Mennonite Church is on the wrong side of the issue. As long as we can keep this just about Scripture and not how Scripture has been used to persecute or block access to institutions, then the Mennonites can have it both ways — we can advocate for social justice and keep the gays out.
March 31, 2008
Bias, Bigotry, culture, Education, Exclusion, Fair, Group Identity, History, Language, LGBTQ, Nonviolence, Power, Privilege, Race, Sexism
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I wrote this for the Brethren Mennonite Council blog but thought I’d cross-post it since it’s been quiet here for the last few days. If you need more context, you might check out the previous post on the BMC blog about the Human Rights Campaign/Logo Presidential Forum that j alan meyer mentioned here a while ago.
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…)
August 16, 2007
Change, Current Events, Fair, Language, LGBTQ, Politics, President
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From the New York Times: Justices Limit Discrimination Suits Over Pay.
From 2001 to 2006, workers brought nearly 40,000 pay discrimination cases. Many such cases are likely to be barred by the court’s interpretation of the requirement in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that employees make their charge within 180 days “after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred.”
In a vigorous dissenting opinion that she read from the bench, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the majority opinion “overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination.” She said that given the secrecy in most workplaces about salaries, many employees would have no idea within 180 days that they had received a lower raise than others.
According to NPR, one of the cases cited as “precedence” for this ruling has been overturned by congress. If you find the details, link it up.
May 30, 2007
Bias, Bigotry, Current Events, Fair, Gender, Privilege, Sexism
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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.
April 13, 2007
Blog, Church, Fair, Gender, Meta (YAR), Poll, Power, Privilege, Sexism
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As someone who raised a bit of a stink about the whole Lancaster Mennonite Conference-vote-to-not-ordain-women thing, I want to direct your attention to some good news. There was also a letter from the bishops recently to people in the conferece that I would also call hopeful.
So, to the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board, I want to say “Thank you.” I must confess, I wasn’t sure you had it in you, but with a little time for pondering and for the dust to settle, I see hope, strength, and wisdom in this resolution. I guess I had too little faith. Well done, the church will be better for it. I’m curious to see how this will play out.
To the bishops – you are asking some good questions and bringing up some important issues and I’m also curious to see where this will go.
March 29, 2007
Church, Fair, Gender, Sexism
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I’ve spent the last year and a half doing voluntary service with Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests (BMC). At the end of my term (August), I’m moving on to other things and BMC is looking for another volunteer. If you are a person (or know someone) who is especially concerned with LGBT justice as it relates to the church, you might consider looking into this. (more…)
March 16, 2007
Awesome Stuff, Change, Church, Fair, LGBTQ, Military
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Good grief! I need to be studying, but I was sucked in by the latest poll (look to the right)[update 4.15.07 - click here for info about the poll]. Whoever put that up deserves a gold star!! Ever since I read the report about the ordination of women in the Lancaster Conference News last month I have been thinking about posting something about this (Katie already did). I’ve copied the relevant report below from the February 2007 issue. I think the poll speaks for itself; its commentary is more poignant than any I could muster. (more…)
March 12, 2007
Bias, Change, Church, Community, Fair, Gender, Polemics, Power, Privilege, Sexism, Theology, Tradition
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I ain’t actually, but Sojourner Truth was. I copied this from the Modern History Sourcebook.
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain’t I A Woman?
Delivered in 1851 at the Women’s Convention, Akron, Ohio
Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about? (more…)
March 12, 2007
Awesome Stuff, Change, Community, Fair, Gender, History, Politics, Power, Privilege, Race, Sexism, Tradition
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I wrote this yesterday before I read Angie’s post. Her thoughts on Dorothy Day and the church reflect very well my own thoughts. While Angie’s post is thoughtful, mine is angry. Maybe in a few days, I can manage thoughtful but for now, this is what I’ve got:
A Little Stunned
A couple days ago, as I was skimming through the Mennonite Weekly Review. I noticed this item on the front page. My immediate response was to roll my eyes and think, “well, they would wouldn’t they?” and I went on with my day. Now, the more I think about it, the saltier I get. Carol Oberholtzer, the chair of the conference’s Women in Leadership Subcommittee, said she “was a little stunned.” Well, I guess so. I mean, this is 2007, and they are having a vote on whether women can be ordained? LGBT people don’t have a chance there. Here’s what I have to say to all those “credentialed leaders” who took that vote: “well done, the church will be better for it.” No, I’m not just blaming the minority that voted against women and justice but all of them, and the rest of the Mennonite Church with them. (more…)
February 2, 2007
Church, Current Events, Fair, LGBTQ, Power, Tradition, Young Folks
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i’m sure others have said this better. feel free to link to them.
as i read and watch the news i am continually surprised by the lazy reporting that comes out under the guise of being objective. i’m not concerned about fox news being a GOP lap-dog, or the fact that every news source actually has some bias – that seems so obvious as to be inconsequential. what bothers me is the method through which all the media outlets, with all their different biases, attempt to fascimilate objectivity.
i read over and over again that so-and-so said “this-and-such” and ‘the opponents’ are saying “that-and-whatever”. but at no point does the journalist bother to look into the facts on their own. we are still left taking the word of whatever sources are quoted. it’s the “crossfire” issue all over again. ‘fair and balanced’ lap-dogging is very different from solid objective reporting. we already know what everyone is saying, that’s a PR job, what we want to know is who has the facts behind them.
October 2, 2006
Bias, Fair, Journalism, Media, Objective
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