Sunday, October 26, 2008

in defense of the wink

I am a winker.

I feel my way is threatened, and I wish to speak out.

With Sarah Palin winking to the television camera during Vice-Presidential debates, she seems to suggest that the gesture builds her credibility with millions of living-room viewers. Her promiscuous winking makes me feel cheap, used.

Certainly, the wink, like any other intimate gesture, can be misused and abused; most precious things can. I do not mean to excuse predatory, manipulative winks, meant to insinuate a relationship that doesn’t really exist.

I resent that, when I speak of winking these days, people tell me it makes them think first of Sarah. Or Tina Fey as Sarah. Of shallow, deceptive attempts to shape democracy around leaders who are just like the kind of folks next door with whom you might enjoy sharing such connection. This wink, though, has become a veneer, lacking substance. It attempts to gain broad power through deceit.

I believe a wink is best shared in mutual relationship, between consenting parties. The wink is intimate, embodied communication.

Simple and loaded with layered meanings, I cherish its multivalent possibilities. Across a busy room, the wink flies under the radar of the dominant discourse, carrying a silent greeting, a daring acknowledgement, or recognition of the absurdity of a situation. With grace, subtlety and speed, it builds connections between winker and recipient, and invites creative response: another wink, a smile, rolled eyes.

Free of the baggage of words, and easily layered on top of other, more public conversation, the wink connects two people in an instant, with more than words can say and without missing a beat.

Lately I have noticed my own hesitation to use this beloved gesture. Instead, I’ve found myself turning to bold smiles—which convey a similar meaning but lack the covert grace of a wink.

So, I hereby commit myself to reclaiming its usefulness. If you happen to catch one across the room, I hope you’ll wink back.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

8 reasons I oppose Proposition 8

On our November ballot here in California, we will be asked whether we support a proposition that would remove the right of same-sex couples to enter into legal marriage.  As a heterosexual, married, Christian woman, I oppose this proposition for many reasons.  Whether you agree with me or not, I would be honored if you'd consider these 8 reasons why I'm voting against it.  In my mind, any one of them is enough reason to vote against this proposal.

1.  This is a matter of legal rights, not a referendum on how religious people should interpret marriage.  As a part of a nation built on ideals like justice and equality, I see no reason to restrict the legal rights of people to enter into the marriage contract with one another.   I would like to live in a California that affords rights, not one that adds clauses into its Constitution to deny them.

2.  This proposition has nothing to do with the rights of homosexual people to have children. Regardless of marital status, gay and lesbian people are already raising children.  I would contend that it does our society good to have children being raised by people who are married--that the commitments made in marriage tend to help create home environments that are more stable, especially because of the way the community beyond the couple understands what it means to be married.  Allowing same-sex couples to continue to marry in California will give greater stability to families, not less.

3.  Heterosexual marriage does not need protection from same-sex marriage.  I do believe that heterosexual marriage needs work in our culture--too many marriages end in divorce.   It is a challenge to succeed in marriage--I struggle with the difficulty of separation during deployment, with my own independence, and much more.  My marriage is not, however, threatened by the marriages of same-gender couples.  I wonder what we believe we're protecting marriage from?

4.  Our understanding of marriage, in the church and under the law, has been continuously evolving.  I celebrate that, as a woman, I enjoy rights to choose my own spouse (as well as the right to choose not to have a spouse and still own property) that have not always been available to women--certainly not always in our biblical tradition.  I also celebrate that marriage does not exist only for the purpose of having children.  I give thanks for the love shared between couples that have chosen not to have children, and between couples that have been unable to have children.  I delight in couples far beyond their child-bearing years who are able to marry.  There is not an unchanged understanding of marriage stretching back through the Bible, nor through our nation's history.  The Supreme Court's decision to extend the rights of marriage to same-sex couples is another change in this evolving history.  There is no one "original" understanding of marriage that we can preserve. 

5.  I have been blessed and enriched by same-gendered couples.  Both as domestic partners and as married couples, they have shown me what mutually-life-giving, committed relationships can look like.  Often persevering through immense challenges, they have demonstrated how married couples can care for each other and strengthen one another.  These couples have been a blessing to our communities, too.  I welcome ways that we can do more to honor committed relationships and let them be an asset to our communities.

6.  Opposing this proposition does not mean that clergy are required to perform same-sex marriages.  As a pastor, I always have the right to refuse to marry a couple.  Opposing the proposition does not compel churches to change their definitions of marriage.   Already, many churches have requirements for marriage in that church--such as requiring both spouses to be members of the church.  Churches can continue to define their own rules for marriage, even without this proposition.

7.  This restriction of rights does not belong in our Constitution.  In my mind, a Constitution exists to provide rights, not take them away.  

8.  I am bothered by the fear-inducing tactics used by supporters of Proposition 8.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ demands that we move past our fears to dare to include more of the world in God's love.  I refuse to be convinced to restrict legal rights to members of our community because I am afraid.    I do believe that there is real evil in the world, and that this campaign is distracting us from work is necessary for God's kingdom.  Over and over, Jesus commanded us to care for the poor.  Never once did Jesus speak about same-sex marriage.   Proponents of this initiative are asking us to be afraid of the wrong thing.  We have a lot of work to do if we want to follow Christ's example of love for our neighbors.  This Proposition will not help us in that work. 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

fruitful life

I didn't make a conscious decision to plant holy-sounding fruits in my garden, but this week's yield certainly does have that appeal.

Here's a bunch off my Praying Hands Banana, named because the bunches (called hands in banana-speak) look like hands held in prayer.
And passionfruits, named because the flowers reminded Spanish missionaries of Christ's passion.
Pretty good choices for the backyard of a preacher who images it to be here little promised land, in the spirit of Micah 4, complete with vines and fig trees, eh?
So far, I've mostly been freezing passionfruit juice, or dumping it into iced tea--but I'd be very keen on hearing of any favorite uses you have of either bananas or passionfruit.  Maybe there's a jar of passionfruit-banana jam in store for whoever can come up with the best idea...

Friday, October 10, 2008

in remembrance

Sharing communion last Sunday, with a congregation divided by our US border fence, reminded me just how much work remains to be done in remembrance of Christ.  Our border much more easily dismembers the human community.
The broken bread, handed through the fence in violation of the US Customs rules our Border Patrol says they're to enforce, became a vivid symbol of our own division.  In sharing it, we mark our belonging together.

It seems to me that whatever border policies we might choose for our national interests are irrelevant to our call to see one another as brothers and sisters in Christ across this fence.   In our Christian practice, if we are going to take Christ's salvation seriously,  we must be willing to share this sacrament across anything that might seek to divide us.

Of course, once you've shared in holy moments together, it's hard to imagine advocating for a policy that would treat others as anything less than people of infinite worth.

I suppose that's part of why I love communion so much: it makes Jesus real.  Sharing the broken bread helps me know and taste that Jesus really meant those wild and crazy things he said.

Friday, October 03, 2008

a taste of fall

I was up in Julian today, and last weekend, too; even though San Diego's weather is mostly sunny and 80, it's possible to get a hint of real seasons by going uphill for an hour or so.
We've been working on a house up there for a long while now.  Today, I had some time to walk around a bit, and find some lovely signs of fall.
Last week, after a little work, I explored the joys of apple season, with my moms.  It was a beautiful (though a bit hot) clear day.  Tasty, too.
During some canning adventures earlier this year, a friend found a recipe for Swedish Apple Pie that I love.  It's fabulous with just-picked apples.  Really, it's as much like a giant, apple cookie as it is like a pie.  A pookie, perhaps?   I'd post a picture, but it didn't last long enough to catch in pixels.  Dad suggested that it might have been even better with some oats that he brought out from the family farm.  I'm confident that it would be fun to try.
The least-expected part of my fall days in Julian was the appearance of local belly dancers at the festival.  But hey: why not?!