Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Sky Won't Fall

By now, you may have heard about a commercial called The Gathering Storm airing in certain local markets scaring folks into believing that if gay marriage happens, then all evil and heck will break loose and churches will be forced to perform these marriages or face governmental penalties.

The forces that organized that commercial are targeting states such as Maine and New Jersey, those who are now considering legalizing gay marriages. Their hopes are to scare folks into believing that gay marriage will destroy the institution of marriage and force everyone to do abide by gay marriage or face dire penalities.

There really isn't anything to fear about this issue since churches have always had the right to not perform any marriage it doesn't want to or can't, due to denominational constraints. This video explains that in more detail as well as showing, in States that have gay marriage, that the sky hasn't fallen and all the scare tactics of conservatives who use fearmongering to scare folks simply have not come to pass.

* Update: I found another video that speaks directly to the original video.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

An Interesting Conversation

Given that Vermont just passed a gay marriage initiative and Iowa is paving the way for such, and given how our church is Open and Affirming, I am thinking that the following post is applicable to conversations about tolerance and affirmation.

As we learned during our Open and Affirming resolution process, tolerance is not the same thing as affirming. Tolerance continues to allow or acknowledge, with restrictions, the value of another person or thing. Affirming, however, seeks to enable, strengthen, and support as equal a person or thing. To help illustrate this point, Huffington Post has a great article about a conversation between a conservative Jewish woman and an openly gay man as they sit next to one another on a plane trip.

I knew it was going to be a long flight when I asked the sweet grandmotherly woman sitting next to me why she was flying into town. "I'm the head of a non-profit Jewish organization," she said. Cool, I thought, until she finished. "We're here to work with the Christian Coalition."

Oi vey.

I twisted. I turned. I squirmed. I picked up a book. I did not want to have a conversation with this woman. But having grown up with a Jewish grandmother, I knew resistance was futile.

So we talked. And sure enough she raised a question so Jewish it practically comes with Matzo balls: "So are you single?"

There's a time and a place for coming out. This wasn't one of them. "Yes," I answered, quickly changing the subject. But she kept returning to the subject. "A nice boy like you not married?" I said something about not meeting the right person and changed the subject again.

Ignoring the subject switch, she said, "Well, I bet you have plenty of girls you're dating."

I told her I didn't and changed the subject. *Again.* She changed the subject right back. "So, really," she asked me. "Tell me why you haven't married."

I cracked. I put my book down, turned to her and said,

"I would if I could." She was confused. I looked in her eyes. "I'm gay."

Judging by the length of her silence, I clearly surprised her. And she surprised me right back. Her reaction wasn't at all what I expected. She didn't turn her shoulder and ignore me for the rest of the flight. She didn't suddenly go quiet and change the subject. Instead, she narrowed her eyes and said,

"Why do you people constantly flaunt your homosexuality? The peace on the plane was about to turn into a fight on the flight. "What do you mean 'flaunt,'" I said, exasperated. "I've been trying to keep my private life private but you've been badgering me about it for the last 15 minutes. What did you want me to do -- lie?"

"Yes," she said.

And with that one word I understood something about conservative people that I hadn't realized before. If they can't change you to fit their narrow view of the world, they expect you to at least have the decency to lie about it.

I stared straight ahead for a few seconds then turned to the woman. "You wanted me to pretend I'm something I'm not so that you wouldn't feel uncomfortable."


"So honesty is a virtue, unless it makes people uncomfortable?"

Now it was her turn to change the subject. Unfortunately, she turned it to every defamatory and derogatory distortion about gay people.

This was why I was trying to avoid the subject altogether. The only legitimate complaints on an airplane should be the food and the legroom. And now I had a stranger complaining about the most intimate aspect of my life.

I figured I could argue or ignore. The problem with the first strategy is that I'd never win; the problem with the second was that I'd never win.

It was a lose-lose proposition. Until I realized I was focusing on the wrong kind of win. I'd never triumph in a debate because conservatives react to logic and reason the way asthmatics react to pollen dust -- badly.

But there was something else I could win -- her heart. The only way to do that was to be everything she wasn't -- respectful, considerate, tolerant, gracious and funny. I didn't let her get away with any of the half-baked lies conservatives love to talk about (AIDS is a gay disease, etc.) but I also made my points in a way that disarmed her. In the end, I proved what everyone knows intuitively -- that what you say doesn't have nearly the power of how you say it.

By the time the plane landed we had moved on to other subjects, laughing and joking all the way through. When she got up to leave she offered her hand. I took it. "You didn't change my mind about the subject," she said. "But you changed my mind about you."

As I stepped off the plane I wondered how long it would take her to figure out there wasn't any difference between the two.

h/t to Kenneth in the (212) for posting the Huffington Post story.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Town Hall for Hope

As many of you know, we have been providing Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, a debt management program that helps you get out of, and stay out of, debt. Some of you have asked how Dave Ramsey would respond to our recession and how we might make the most of this difficult situation. Given that his DVDs that teach our class were produced before the economic disaster, we've wondered how to respond using his methods and techniques for debt management.

On Thursday, April 23 at 8:00 PM, Dave will be hosting a nationwide discussion and you're invited to participate. At churches all across America, and in 3 local churches nearby, his national discussion will be televised. This is a great opportunity to hear his thoughts and ideas about "choosing not to live in our current recession."

As a church, we could host this event. However, I just found out about it and I wonder if 3 weeks is enough time to put something like this together. If you're interested in participating or going to a church nearby, then drop me a note and let's organize something. In the meantime, here is a brief video about the national discussion.

The Ark

The Ark is a short film animated by Grzegorz Jonkajtys and Marcin Kobylecki.

It's premise is that an unknown virus has destroyed almost the entire human population.
Oblivious to the true nature of the disease, the only remaining survivors escape to the sea. In great ships, they set out in search of uninhabited land. So begin the exodus, let by one man...

I found it truly fascinating.

h/t Jane Ann Groom on her Facebook page.