Friday, February 15, 2008

Northern Illinois University Tribute

Words seem so inadequate as yet another campus grieves the violence and death of another rampage. They're in my prayers.

We need better mental health care in this country. We need to increase our skills in communication and anger management. Steven, the shooter, is not unique, he's only the latest person who's fallen between the cracks of our society. May he and those whom he killed rest in peace and rise in glory.

This video tribute is by NIU alum Nick Tadin.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

for the Bible tells me so

I saw this movie last week as part of the "It takes a Rainbow" conference on campus. The movie is SO good and features some of my favorite people like Bishop Gene Robinson and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The film features several families and how they came to terms with their gay children, especially in light of all that the Bible reportedly says about homosexuality.

In reality, the Bible doesn't say anything, ever about homosexuality. The concept, much less the language, of sexual orientation didn't exist when the biblical writers were writing. Leviticus says it is an abomination for a man to have sex with another man, but so is eating shrimp. I can't take that command very seriously in the age or refrigeration and food thermometers which ensure I'm not going get food poisoning. Paul talks about men having sex with other men, but not as part of a loving, egalitarian, committed relationships. He's talking about what happens in Greek temples and perhaps, imperial orgies. I'm against it in that context, too. Or when it's a one night hook-up or an abusive use of force over another person (which Paul also would have been familiar with.) Watch the movie to hear more about these kinds of understandings of the Bible.

For me the movie is a great celebration of the power and liberation which comes when friends and parents and spouses and people themselves are free to be honest about who they are. Each story is about someone moving from a life of shadows, condemnation, and brokenness into a life of joy, wholeness, and love. I think that's what the Gospel is all about. It's what I see Jesus inviting his followers into when he heals them, or when he invites a woman to sit with him like any other disciple, or when he "proclaims release to the captive." Even in Rebecca's story in the movie, there is hope and redemption. It all comes from being honest and embracing God's full acceptance of all of us. We are all beloved of God and there is great power and freedom in knowing that. That's what the Bible tells me.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


This past weekend I spent Saturday and Sunday with 21 other people working on our skills for multicultural dialogue and community. The training was led by Terry and Jim from Visions, Inc., an organization I became familiar with through my studies at Episcopal Divinity School. We talked a lot about race and gender and the many differences which too often divide us. You can imagine that some of us were apprehensive before the weekend began, and there were times when the conversations were difficult and challenging. AND we laughed a lot and got to know one another better. We were all tired at the end of Sunday afternoon (as we headed home to watch the Superbowl, or not!) We were also glad to have been a part of the training.

Multiculturalism is more than diversity. It's not merely tolerating others, or making sure everyone gets represented in the headcount. Rather, it's about appreciating the differences between us, valuing them and being enriched by them. Multiculturalism is about real relationship that challenges us to become more than who we are alone. And real relationship always involves conflict. It's inevitable that we're going to hurt and offend one another. Being committed to multiculturalism means becoming more aware of the ways in which I hurt others - knowingly and unknowingly - and of the ways in which I make assumptions about others based on stereotypes and preconceived notions. It also means learning to talk to one another about those conflicts.

It's not easy and it's not quick. It's an ongoing process that never ends. On Sunday evening I wasn't sure that I was up for an ongoing process! Do I really want to examine every interaction I have with someone else?! Not really. But I do want deeper relationships with the people around me who have so much to offer. I don't want to hurt others because I'm insensitive and unaware of the ways in which being white, straight, educated and employed gives me power and privilege in this society. I want to practice the self-giving love of Christ and step into the reign of God that is standing open before us. So, I'm committed to genuine multiculturalism that challenges me and makes it possible for me to better understand and appreciate those around me.