Somedays, my head goes to an angry place. Yesterday was such a day.
It started with a Sentencing Guidelines Commission meeting. That is the state of Washington's think tank that advises the Senate and Congress about things we think would be really helpful. It is done with deliberation and care. Last year, we carefully crafted a proposal that would give a second look to those who were convicted under three strikes laws in Washington. The idea was that during the down-time between sessions, we would shop it around and find legislative sponsorship. Yesterday, our chair went into a whole presentation on why we should add in another group but he didn't tell us outright that he wanted to add another group into the second look--it was a clumsy attempt at a run around. It struck me, as I was sitting there, that this person is the worst politician in the world and we will get nothing done. We will not be able to make the world more just, merciful, and safe because our commission is inept. As I sat there with these thoughts boiling through my head, my angry place reared up.
Then I drove to a meeting at juvenile detention. And traffic was amazingly abysmal. That didn't help.
At the meeting which was about a chaplain who did something wrong (that was all the upfront information that I had), I found out that a chaplain volunteer told a youth that gay people were going to hell. Well, that did it. I lost my filter and perhaps let some foul language come out in my bluntness that this was not okay. A youth, in the way kids do, asked a generic question of a chaplain volunteer regarding what they thought of gay people. The chaplain replied, "They're going to hell." The youth also asked about unbelievers and received the same response. Holy f***. The reality is that the youth was really saying, "I'm gay, I'm not a believer, what do you think of me?"
Oh yes. My angry place.
The good news is that this youth reported it to her parents who told a friend who told councilperson Joe McDermott. Joe contacted people in the county and eventually, it came back to detention. And who do you think gets called to the table? On the plus side, I get to do some things I have long wanted to do (write chaplain standards that are in line with state and national standards). But this hurt a youth and their family enough that they had to respond.
My inner policy wonk is super excited about being able to write good policy. But it grows out of a sense of righteous anger that says, "Oh, church! You do such harm to my queer community with your exclusion and outright misunderstanding of our sacred scripture. We are not issues, we are not problems, we are not distractions. We are children made in the image of God. Get over your attachment to bad theology. And structural church, get over your attachment that all theologies are equal and deserve a place at the table. Because, church, it is your sin that hurt this child in detention on this day."
Today's practice is inspired by music from Sara Bareilles, a poem from Jill McDonough , and sacred wisdom from Emma Donoghue, along with readings from the Jewish and Christian lectionaries, the Qur'an, and the Buddhist tradition. The photo is from Thomas Hawk. And as always, we have our BIBOLOVE practice from Soyinka Rahim. (BIBO = Breathe In, Breathe Out).
Let my heart rise up to meet mercy, my voice to meet compassion, my hands to meet action.
BIBOLOVE: Breath In, Breath Out--roar!
Brave by Sara Bareilles
You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody's lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
*caution, explicit content*
Dear Gaybashers by Jill McDonough
The night we got bashed we told Rusty how
they drove up, yelled QUEER, threw a hot dog, sped off.
Rusty: Now, is that gaybashing? Or
are they just calling you queer? Good point.
Josey pitied the fools: who buys a perfectly good pack of wieners
and drives around San Francisco chucking them at gays?
And who speeds off? Missing the point, the pleasure of the bash?
Dear bashers, you should have seen the hot dog hit my neck,
the scarf Josey sewed from antique silk kimonos: so gay. You
missed laughing at us, us confused, your raw hot dog on the ground.
Josey and Rusty and Bob make fun of the gaybashers, and I
wash my scarf in the sink. I use Woolite. We worry
about insurance, interest rates. Not hot dogs thrown from F-150s,
homophobic freaks. After the bashing, we used the ATM
in the sex shop next to Annie's Social Club, smiled at the kind
owner, his handlebar mustache. Astrud Gilberto sang tall and tan
and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema... and the dildos
gleamed from the walls, a hundred cheerful colors. In San Francisco
it rains hot dogs, pity-the-fool. Ass-sized penguins, cock after cock in
azure acrylic, butterscotch glass, anyone's flesh-tone, chrome.
Jewish Daily Reading
Christian Daily Reading
Muslim Daily Reading
Buddhist Daily Reading
Please bring your own sacred readings to the daily pattern. If there is something else you'd like to see, let me know!
“Scared is what you're feeling. Brave is what you're doing.”
― Emma Donoghue, Room
I will be taking the weekly prayer from the World Council of Churches rather than writing a new prayer daily. At this point, we know the world needs to be surrounded with prayer and positive thought. This allows us to work through the world country by country. I know it is not de rigeur to have repetitive content, but I believe that these prayers deserve to be repeated.
Focus countries: Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland
Let us pray.
We know that we fail to live up to being makers of peace. Let us bring in rather than push out, be invitational rather than confrontational--seeing signs of life while decrying the desecration of hope.
For signs of hope and peace, we pray for
Those around the world who worked for an end to apartheid and who continue to strive against racism in all its forms.
Nelson Mandela, a beacon of hope, a leader who brought his people to freedom, and then gave up power as a model of democracy.
For Ntsikana who wrote music for his people and he preached peace.
Those who care for children who have been orphaned by the HIV and AIDS crisis.
Those who raise awareness of HIV and AIDS and provide services for those living with this disease.
Those who dare to bring the issues of sexuality into the forefront in order to prevent people from dying.
Songs which proclaim justice, freedom, and hope.
Overtone singing, the ability to sing two notes at the same time, and the uhadi, a musical bow used to accompany songs.
Ecumenical and inter-faith efforts in these countries as they seek to find unity and face political, social, and cultural challenges with a united voice of faith and witness.
For the oppressed and weary, we pray for
Stability and justice in the government, that all may receive fair treatment.
Those who lead subsistence lives, who continue to live in substandard housing, are unemployed, who do not have access to safe water or sanitation, who suffer from malnutrition and the effects of drought.
A fair distribution of wealth from natural resources so that it contributes to the general well-being, not just that of foreigners.
Continued healing and rebuilding of these nations that have been torn apart on the basis of race.
Land and educational reform, economic justice, and access to medical care for people of all colours and ethnicities.
Women and children who continue to bear the brunt of poverty and are vulnerable to domestic violence.
Young girls who have been raped in the mistaken belief that this is a cure for AIDS.
Parents who see their children die of disease and malnutrition, and children who see their parents die of AIDS.
For those who suffer, are homeless, or are sick
For those we love, those we hate and those we are indifferent to
For the transformation from ME to WE
Let peace prevail on earth.
So may it be.
Translation by Neil Douglas Klotz, Sufi
O Birther! Creator of the Cosmos,
Focus your light within us— make it useful:
Create your reign of unity now-
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all,
from age to age it renews.
Truly— power to these statements—
may they be the ground from which all
my actions grow: Amen.