Potty Mouth 2

One of the most fascinating things about the 2008 Presidential primary was a snag that Obama ran into about his church affiliation. Trinity United Church of Christ is a very large and active congregation on Chicago‘s Southside. We were proud that the Barach and Michelle were members there, but that came to be a problem for him.

Dr. Jeremiah Wright, a former pastor of Trinity, had been Barach’s “spiritual mentor” and even inspired him to state publically that he was a Christian.  However, Wright, a fiery preacher of black liberation theology, became a political albatross in the primary race for Obama challenging Clinton. It is a long and involved story but at the kernel was a quote from a Wright sermon in which he said: 

The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing “God Bless America.” No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.

It is is one of those, “you had to be there” things. For all the issues surrounding the racist behavior of the US government, Wright’s comments made perfect sense but the furor over Obama’s affiliation was a firestorm.  Obviously it all worked out in the long run but it was a sad day when Obama had to disassociate himself from Trinity.

Is saying “goddamn” that much worse than any other striking curse? Well, maybe. You would have go back and study the Ten Commandments to see more clearly what it mean to avoid using the lord’s name in vain. The most challenging and annoying swear word used to be “fuck” and its derivatives but social media had changed all that. So for me, for whatever reason “goddamn” is reserved for something that goes beyond the run-of-the-mill offenses.  I will say that It has popped into my mind more and more as we see American going even down hill from the thoughts of Jeremiah Wright. Trump and his crazy actions definitely inspire “goddamn” much more often for me. How about you?

Potty Mouth

I’ve wanted to write about profanity for a long time but I just couldn’t get my shit together.

Did I stop you, even for just a second, with the “bad word”? Why? Would it have made a difference had I put it “sh**t”?

So-called swearing or cursing bothers a lot of us. From a “Language!” admonition all the way to demanding a US Representative resign, the reaction to certain English words is universal.

When I was a college pre-ministerial student, I attended Southside Estates Methodist Church in Jacksonville and was invited to preach my first sermon there. As I am sure you can guess, it was far from a memorable gem but I worked hard on it and put myself into it. So, after the service, I hoped for at least a little positive reaction from the minister of the church. His first words: “I am very disappointed that you used the word ‘darn’ because you know it means ‘damn’.” (If this seems too much to believe, I have dozens more examples from those Methodist days)

So, they supposed a minister using this kind of language to be a sin and I can’t tell you how many times over the years when a swear word was followed by “Sorry, Reverend.” I don’t when or where I finally got past that but a big influence was our wonderful Wisconsin Association Minister, Jim Savides, who to say he “swore like a sailor” was to put it mildly

In our family, we seem to have to unconsiously moved far beyond that a very long time ago. When our intrepid daughter turned out to have no qualms about using her sparkly language around her parents and when we in turn had no adverse reaction we were there.

Reaction and worry about certain “bad” words probably won’t go away. However, give credit where credit is due. When Rep. Rashida Tlaib referred to our dear President as “motherfucker” how much more of a perfect description do you want?

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 
more,
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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