Not Today, Death

Even if you declared NEVER to GoT, this meditation will stick with you.

Michelle L. Torigian

This contains Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3 spoilers.

FBB2E8EC-D476-40AF-811E-06F84D20913FNot today, Death.

Now, I haven’t been on the Game of Thrones bandwagon too long. But since I’ve been watching the past two seasons in real-time and now going back to watch from the beginning, I’m seeing a phrase that Arya Stark learns in season one and follows her into the intense moments of season eight: “Not today, Death.”

This phrase gave Arya the energy she needed to rise about the negativity, the doubt, the potential death she could be facing and take care of a major, necessary task which would save Winterfell and many, many people.

Being people who live into resurrection, we as the followers of Jesus the Christ embrace this statement each year through the season of Easter. Death could not contain the Christ and his love in a tomb. Death could not stop the movement of…

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As we grow old

Quiet, soft wisdom

Mizana Gheezhik (Sen. Murray Sinclair)

As we grow old
the ground we walk on
rises up
so that,
as each of those few moments
left to us
pass by
and we grow old
and hair turns greyer still
we move a bit more slowly.
At such a speed,
we can see around us
more of life today
and feel we understand 
the present 
for we have lived
among the weeds
and trees,
from which it came.
And we have much we want
and need
to say.
But, sometimes,
no one asks

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The Stages of Faith

Here is an excellent outline of what it means to be faithful. We need to understand these stages, especially if we are in a church community working to help others to find their way.

Paula Stone Williams

The decision of the United Methodist Church to reject the LGBTQ population has been on a lot of minds and hearts this past week.  I talked about it in my sermon on Saturday evening, and got choked up enough that I couldn’t go on for a few seconds.  It reminds me of my own swift departure from the church of all my days, and all my parent’s days, and at least two generations before them. Whenever I begin to take personally my ostracism from the church, I remind myself of the bigger picture.

In 1981 James Fowler wrote a book titled, Stages of Faith. He wrote about the six stages of human faith development.  Everyone has a spirituality, whether acknowledged or not.  It is a part of what it means to be human. And everyone is in one of the six stages, or in the liminal space between stages.  While…

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“Rage against the dying of the light?” or “Let go?”

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Soon bears us all away;
We fly forgotten, as a dream
Fades at the opening day.
-Issac Watts, 1719; alt

It used to annoy me when someone use “passed away” for “died.” I am glad to say I have come to see that everyone can, and maybe should, use any euphemism that helps in grief.

Changing my mind may have to do with my age.

Thirty-five years ago, in a small group of Unitarian University clergy, I took part in a mini-debate about whether, as Dylan Thomas wrote, we should “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” or simply, as the 12 Step phrase reminds us, just “Let go, let god.” As I have hinted, I argued that we ought not “go gentle into that good night” while others, with the gray hair I now possess, suggested that faith, and a longer view, made them see that dying should be not a struggle but an acceptance.

There are certainly tragic deaths for which “passed away” seems a ridiculous description. School shootings, tsunamis, childhood cancer, just to mention a few, are events for which “died” is the only appropriate word.

But there are, every day, the examples of humans who have simply gone the way of all creatures. A stalwart church member in Hanover was over a hundred at the end. A dear Bailey family friend just went at over a hundred My mother was 96. It is just the way life is.

This concept is more difficult for those who are left behind. No matter how old the person may be we still never want that day to come. I thought this when we lost Bill Coffin and, in another way, when  George Carlin had a fatal heart attack. What they were to us and their closest love ones make the passing away to be filled with utter loss.

There never really is enough time and as we approach the end of our days, that becomes more poignant. For me, the concept of passing away which comes to us all, helps me to use the time I do have in a more meaningful way.

At Least Tell The Truth

This is a very important blog post. Hope it helps you.

Paula Stone Williams

I was in Palm Springs to present a keynote and workshop to psychotherapists who work with the LGBTQ population.  My keynote was warmly received, as was my workshop about the evangelical church and its rejection of LGBTQ people.

One delightful couple talked with me after the workshop.  They are from a city in the west where they work as psychotherapists.  In my talk I mentioned that 100 percent of the 100 largest churches in the nation are non-affirming of LGBTQ people.

As we spoke, the couple mentioned that they were a part of a megachurch.  I asked the name of the church, and when they told me, I said I used to have a friendship with their senior pastor.  Not only that, but a little over a decade ago one of my family members served on their staff.   The couple said they would say hello to the senior pastor for…

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Here’s the thing


God ain’t a he or she, but an it.”  

Shug from THE COLOR PURPLE by Alice Walker
“Here’s the thing, say Shug. The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don’t know what you looking for. Trouble do it for most folks, I think. Sorrow, lord. Feeling like shit. It? I ask. Yeah, It. God ain’t a he or a she, but a It. But what do it look like? I ask. Don’t look like nothing, she say. It ain’t a picture show. It ain’t something you can look at apart from anything else, including yourself. I believe God is everything, say Shug. Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you can feel that, and be happy to feel that, you’ve found it.”

In 1995, the United Church of Christ published The New Century Hymnal, its official worship book-in-the-pews. The “black book” (Often sitting next to the “red book”, the Pilgrim Hymnal of the previous Congregational Christian Church), has many qualities to be appreciated. However, it also stirred arguments in many churches. The bone of contention was its use of “inclusive language”. As Wikipedia puts it: “The New Century Hymnal is perhaps most famous both in and outside the United Church of Christ for its approach to using “inclusive language”.”

When it was first published we were “between churches”, so to speak, and didn’t have to face arguments in our local congregation. Then when we went to Hanover, the black book/red book was the thing. Some churches, however, just couldn’t seem to handle the far-reaching changes of language.

The editorial committee probably bit off more than it could chew but there wasn’t going to be another chance for a long time. As a result, many and assorted issues were addressed such as militaristic language, words like kings, kingdoms, and masters, the use of “Lord”, archaic language in general, and on and on.

The easiest for the conservatives to take was gender inclusivity in regards to humanity. After all, “man” can’t really refer to all humans, everyone is not a “he”. However, I would guess the hardest adjustment was about the gender of God. (Picture an old white male with flowing white hair sitting on a throne.) As one writer put it, The editors were “seeking to reduce the solely-masculine use of language for God, and/or balancing masculine images with feminine and non-gendered images”

How has this worked out? The Lord’s Prayer still begins, Our Father. Male pronouns are hard to drop. Some try to use “she” or “her” but does that really do it? For example, does it really help to say, as one writer did recently, “God goes to battle for you, Her weapons of choice are…”? (Sounds a bit like Wonder Woman to me)

My view is that the whole question should be who or what is the divine? Using male and/or female pronouns still anthropomorphizes something that is indescribable. Alice Walker really did get it right:

Yeah, It. God ain’t a he or a she, but a It. But what do it look like? I ask. Don’t look like nothing, she say. It ain’t a picture show. It ain’t something you can look at apart from anything else, including yourself. I believe God is everything, say Shug.



Why “Neo-Nazi” should scare us


I have been bingeing on “The Man in the High Castle” on Amazon Prime.* The Nazis won World War II and, after dropping an A-Bomb on DC, established the Reich in the eastern part of our country while the Japanese had the western.

If you can suspend your knowledge of history a bit and enter this alternate reality, it becomes very frightening. The Japanese are despotic with a vengeance but it is the Nazi government, white supremacy personified, that is the most striking to me.

Swastikas are everywhere in one form or the other, Heil Hitler and Sieg Heil ring out, the less than ‘perfect’ human specimens are euthanized, the brown-shirted young people stand with the Nazi salute, on and on.

Normally, such a story, similar in tone to Phillip Roth’s “The Plot Against America”, would just be fascinating fiction. But consider Charlottesville, Virginia in the Summer of 2017. White nationalists marched on the University of Virginia campus. Counter protestors gathered. Chaos ensued with violence, the worst of which was the death of young anti-Nazi protester when a white supremacist drove his car into the crowd.

New American Nazis represent the absolute worst of racism and anti-Semitism. They must be taken seriously. Never, for even a moment, think like Trump that there is “good” amongst them. History, if we could only learn from it, is clear about that danger.

Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League, wrote: “We have seen” (referring to the Holocaust) the mounds of corpses and visited the camps where they killed us. . . . By our sides were the ghosts of those who were no longer, whose blood was shed like water because Jewish blood is considered cheap. We saw their outstretched hands and looked into their burning and soul-searing eyes that peered into our very being and heard them say: Never again. Promise us. Never again”

If ever there was a time to renew this promise, the time is now.


*This series is based on a Philip K. Dick book, one of 44 published novels and approximately 121 short stories. Dick died much too early at age 53. That  he was so prolific and creative was a gift to the world nonetheless.