Saturday, November 25, 2006

Back at last

So much for blogging every day during November. At least I've gotten back into the blogging habit, which makes me very happy actually.

I ended up really sick; got through my professor's site visit OK (I think; can't really remember the sermon except people seemed to like it and find it thought-provoking as well as humorous, so it can't have been as awful as I fear it was). Dr. G., my professor, is a mensch, he really is, and he hung in there for the whole service and the meeting of my lay committee, had lunch with us, was full of insights and questions and respectful attention to the committee. I don't think this particular prof can DO "disengaged," and the committee was delighted by him. One committee member remembers the last faculty member who supervised a candidate from our church, and that faculty member just popped in and popped out and basically said, "Carry on." Dr. G. is a huge contrast, offering his contact information to the committee, telling them he is available for support and suggestions, affirming them, enjoying them, being very self-disclosing, offering his insights into the competing priorities I am juggling, etc. I thought it was a very productive meeting, and Dr. G. said he thought it was "terrific." He also enjoyed the humor at church. I wasn't sure how he would respond to the humor in my sermon because I like to play off stereotypes, we all do, and so I was playing with the stereotype of the Gay Male with perfect taste. I had the whole congregation laughing over my accomplishment of choosing, by myself, an outfit that complemented my Bible cover. Dr. G. had said, don't preach to him but to the congregation, so I resolutely didn't even look at him. One committee member asked what he thought of the humor and he responded immediately that he loved it, laughed his head off, and believes that if there is a playful spirit in a church that's a sign that something important is going right. So that was good. One more task left on the site visit, and that is a meeting between me, pastor, and Dr. G., and hopefully that will happen in the next couple weeks. The committee wants to work further with the learning goals, inspired I think by our discussion of how the denomination's agenda (have the student clergy acquire ability to do certain tasks, or proficiency in certain areas) differs from the school agenda (have the student define areas he/she wants to explore). So we'll talk further in December about that and about how that conflict has rather caught me in a squeeze. Especially since I am very interested in chaplaincy.

My final papers totally sucked, and I hope I can pass what I need to pass. I was still quite sick plus on a large dose of antibiotic plus 40 mg of pred per day, and I felt edgy and driven but absolutely unable to focus, as if ideas kept swirling around and just as I'd got a grip one one it would recede into the muck, so writing was (unusually for me) utter hell. I was just relieved to hand the things in, and I expect really poor grades, but it was all I could do.

Finally feeling a little better, breathing better, two more days of antibiotic. Of course, in the middle of everything, a huge chunk of filling AND tooth have fallen out. In the holiday week. I did get an emergency temporary put on, but that lasted less than twelve hours before IT fell out too. I will go in either Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. Luckily not much pain, just a dull aching on that side of my face. This'll be a crown, which is fun with NO dental insurance. I will hold out for the least expensive fix; we can always get fancy some other time, I think. But I'm virtually certain it can't be filled again, because there's almost nothing left.

A bit behind on my brother's first Advent box-let. I have had to do the dog club newsletter. However, a plethora of little items awaits wrapping and shipping. I *did* find something perfect but it is out of my price range. The item rendered me speechless, featuring as it did a music box, some lovely resin sculpture, *and* a snow globe containing -- wait for it -- three Wise People, gifts, and a palm tree. What's not to love? It is all the fault of Sara at Going Jesus for getting me to notice, really NOTICE religious kitsch.

So tonight I need to get the labels printed, so tomorrow we can ship the newsletter (friends are helping with the mailing assembly, bless them!!!) and then on to whatever is next. HOORAY!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Aaaaaahhh, good drugs

Lucky me, I am sicker, so off to the doctor I toddled today, and now have 5 days' worth of prednisone and 10 days' worth of amoxicillin and that should knock out this crud which decided to awaken my asthma. Whee!!!

Got the second paper done. Two down, two to go. I have the sermon more or less sort of in place. I'm not real happy with it, it's not one I really feel passionate about, but there you go. After another couple slugs of antibiotics it may seem better, and of course there's still 36 hours to go (35 but who's counting?) before I have to deliver it, and anything can happen. The Visual Arts people made the slides all wonderful as they always do. There's one image I absolutely adore--two kids in what appears to be a praise choir, and one is clapping away but the second is clearly over the whole thing, and the look on her face is priceless. Isn't it true that, even in the middle of the most inspiring singing, sometimes you just "don't feel it??" The point for that one is that part of what church is about is being with others, so on those days you aren't alone and can maybe get carried along on the confidence of others, and some other day you'll carry someone else along, and that's how it goes, because there are times when all you can see in front of you is a steep uphill climb. I want to talk about how what looks like an uphill climb is sometimes absolutely accurate, especially at this time of the year, when the messages from the culture get so loud, telling us that our value is based on looks/money/amount of Stuff we have. And then propose some alternate things to look at other than ads--those we love, the beauty of nature. I've got a stunning photo of a climber on a very exposed ridge with summit in view, and beauty all round, and to me that works for the notion that perseverance may not lead us on a flat, easy route, but one filled with all the joy and beauty and inspiration of God.

Smarmy, isn't it? Feh.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Paper for tomorrow is done...

...though badly. Thank heaven I am taking class pass/fail, although I have a terrible and perhaps unreasonable fear that I will fail. At least the paper is the right number of pages. That has to count for *something.*

Going to slam some medicine and off to sleep. One down, 3 to go. Plus sermon.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Final paper I thought was due next Tuesday???

Due this Thursday. At 1 PM.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Good grief, I missed a day!

But I have a good excuse: after the two services in the morning (with the hallucinating congregant at 9 AM who scared some of the volunteer liturgists half to death with bizarre behavior), and a nap in the afternoon to keep trying to ward off the cold, it was off to Boulder to set up for the worship service there. The man who had panicked about not knowing what to bring to set up the altar--the one I had promised to work with in Denver after the 11 AM service--had forgotten that discussion and decided to go to Boulder only, so I hauled everything up and was met by him, distressed that I was ten minutes later than I'd said. We still had 50 minutes before service, so it was no big deal. We set up, I ran the service with the volunteers, although not as carefully as I ought to have; they'd all been chosen by Church Plant Pastor, but apparently he'd not told the guy leading congregational prayer any guidelines, so we got a lengthy prayer with all masculine images of God, and such formal wording I doubt the college students even understood it; it's not what church means to them. Turns out it is a generational thing and an educational thing; Prayer Guy is a lovely man who was trained in a very conserving theological seminary many years ago, and his language reflects how he prays in private. Next time, I should remember: when someone says, "I have a prayer all written out!!" ask, tactfully, to see it. So, schlepped all the stuff back down, and off to sleep again. I have to take the stuff back to church tomorrow.

Oy, today was drafting a paper for Ritual and Worship and then meeting with the group to run the service demonstration we are doing tomorrow. It is as hard for me to negotiate with too MANY good ideas as with too few. I think we have something more-or-less workable even if theologically a little scattered; we are presenting an interfaith service, and those often *are* a bit theologically wide open.

So--time for more sleep!!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The cold is winning...

Thank heavens for tissues with lotion.

The memorial service went well. A lovely family. And the doves co-operated, and the cat was nowhere near when they were released. Luckily.

The news yesterday said that Britney had dumped K-Fed via text message. A class act to the very end, no?

I do not think I will *ever* get all the papers done, especially not with my head stuffed up. This is just what I needed, NOT.

However I had to go to the bookstore to get some books for the group presentation that happens Tuesday, the one that keeps growing willy-nilly to the point where I no longer have even a clue what we're doing, and THAT was nice. They have some grand gift items. Like the Marie Antoinette action figure with the button you press to make her head fly off. Now THAT's a visual that might actually hold the attention of middle schoolers.

Church is having its art auction this evening. I *should* be there, but my excuse now is that I am contagious. Plus having to study. And now I am going to bed.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Quick post

I did get a couple of things done; I have, I believe, my slides in order for the sermon a week from Sunday, and that's no small feat. I also have got more reading done, and am thinking through about 3 papers. OY!!!

Cold medicine and sleep. Memorial service tomorrow morning. Have got Director of Ministries now sharing my worry about the big cat that hangs around the church, and the doves, and the potential for proximity of same. Am imagining a stealthy approach, a swift pounce, a flapping noise, a screech, and a very feathery disruption of the somber dove ritual. This would not be a Good Thing.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thursday evening,

and what a relief; I was afraid somehow it had become *Friday* evening and I had gotten nothing done. That may still happen, but I am hoping it won't. Cold is continuing to fight back. Took big silly dog for walk to college campus, oh joy!! people!!!! to see ME!!! My sweet dog.

Spiritual direction today, thinking about the twists and turns of life, how it takes us over and over to the same questions, with different viewpoints each time. The big questions don't get quick final answers at all--you get to see them reliably, and each time feels like the beginning.

Will do a memorial service Saturday AM. It's a simple one except that the family has arranged for doves to be released outside at the end. Last time I saw the dove thing, it took awhile to get them to agree to come out of their cages and fly. I hope these doves are more cooperative. The family, I am told, is grieving deeply as one would expect, and stupid doves will only make the whole thing worse.

Off for Nyquil.

In California it is still November 8

so as far as I am concerned I am still writing a post a day.

Fighting a cold.

How could I have forgotten to mention the most momentous piece of news from yesterday? Britney Spears filing for divorce. I mean, who could have seen THAT one coming? Gosh. (Tongue firmly planted in cheek of course.) I think what they once had in common was that they both thought he was hot. Not sure how that could be, but stranger things have bound people together.

The one person I know reads this blog should be getting Nervous. This year, I won't do the Twelve Days of Christmas, but am seriously considering the Four Weeks of Advent. There is some lovely giftware in the world that just BEGS to be sent. That same person has the best looking bunch of grandkids anywhere. There ought to be a law against such good looks.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Well, crap.

Craptastic end to the day. Proposition I, to create some legal protections for same-sex couples, going down in flames. Amendment 43, to define marriage as "between one man and one woman" passing with a big fat margin.

Tis a privilege to live in Colorado. If you're straight, that is.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Caffeine, wonder substance

...without which I would not be even trying to keep up! Wilson Wolfhound got a long walk today and a chance to Meet People and Meet Dogs; he directed us to friends' home, where we sat in the backyard with Jenn, visited with her and bichons frises Jake and ZZ, and got to see Jenn's husband Eric as well. Wonderful time, wonderful friends. Jake, the smaller bichon, is fearless when it comes to Wilson; Wilson properly recognizes Jake as The Bigger Dog. ZZ is Passionately Ambivalent about Wilson, but ran around him and sniffed, while wagging his tail--confident as long as Wilson didn't notice him. Silly dogs.

One more piece of work to do and then I can go home... and feed dogs... and go to bed. High speed Internet works much better than my dialup for Internet research (I had "web surfing" but "Internet research" sounds much more worthy, and it *is* for school).

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday night short musings

..short because I need sleep. Congregational meeting followed by pot luck dinner tonight after two services in AM. Lots of changes going on in church--the only constant in church life is change.

Reading Ted Haggard's letter of apology to his church brings lots of mixed emotions. On the one hand, would that all of us would be so clear in accepting responsibility when we sin. Note I do not say "if." There's some achingly direct wording there. No attempts to weasel out or sugar coat the reality. For this I have respect.

On the other hand, I realize how much shame for him and his congregation is tied up in the fact that he transgressed with a man and not a woman. To me of course there is no moral difference at all, and I wish it could be thus for them as well. I wish he could stay away from James Dobson, who will not help Rev. and Mrs. Haggard to put the factor of orientation on the table in an open way, I fear. To folks like Rev. Dobson, same-gender-loving feelings can only be a sign of temptation and failure. Who knows if Ted Haggard is gay; I certainly don't know, but it seems an important question in the future of the marriage, at very least; and I would think it important to find out what the image of sex with a man actually means to Haggard. And it is hard to ask oneself those questions when paralyzed with shame.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Keep New Life Church in your prayers...

The board of overseers has ruled, and Ted Haggard, who started the church, is out; the board believes that without a doubt he was sexually inappropriate.

I hope the members of this church can work through their disappointment/anger/pain without becoming MORE anti-gay. I hope Haggard's wife and five children will get help. I hope Haggard, in the course of his healing, can begin to answer the question of why on earth he was willing to do so much damage, just for sex.

If only these damn men (Haggard, McGreevy, et. al.) would just figure out a way to do what they feel they need to do without thinking they've got the right to have it all: the big job, the lovely wife, the kids, AND the something on the side. If only they could understand that their story, their feelings, their needs, are NOT the only show in town.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Three days in a row now...

So the story of the evangelical pastor and the escort continues and gets sadder and more bizarre. After reading first thing that some admissions had been made, I guessed that the pastor's move would be to admit the drugs and deny the sex. Guess what. He'd have been more believable if he had not tossed in the bit about never using the drugs. Meanwhile the escort took a lie detector test which, though the tester had reservations about its validity, indicated some deception. Further, the escort indicated in an interview with the gay press, published on (go look) that he wishes the pastor no ill will and hopes the pastor can continue with the church.

Is either of these guys for real??

I sure don't know what's true and what's not, but what seems clear to me is that if there was a sexual relationship this is a perfect illustration of why sex, especially clandestine sex, cannot be simply "a private matter between consenting adults." First, there is never any guarantee it is private. Second, it absolutely affects far more than the two "consenting adults." I imagine that, if there WAS a sexual connection, the pastor's family, friends, church, and political allies will suffer and suffer badly. From fellow students in parish settings I am hearing stories about the brokenness that illicit sex causes in church communities. The attendant lies, deceptions, hypocrisy--these are damaging behaviors. Some say that promoting a "sex positive" theology would be good, that what causes so much trouble in churches is the notion that sex and sexual pleasure are bad. I don't know how this plays out when a pastor chooses illicit sex; would a sex-positive theology allow the pastor to face her/his needs more openly and seek to attend to those needs in a more ethical manner? I don't know. That might happen in some cases, but in the case of wealthy and privileged persons it seems likely that such a theology would simply allow them more permission to do what they want. Perhaps I am just too cynical.

One can imagine that a lot of shame and a lot of denial have to be operating, to make a highly visible person take a huge risk for sex. Perhaps a combination like that, along with opportunity, explains what often looks from the outside like sheer stupidity.

On the other hand, if the escort is lying about the sexual connection, what on earth would justify telling such a story?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sadness, sordidness

So the news web sites are full of stories tonight about Ted Haggard, pastor of an evangelical megachurch in Colorado Springs, who has been accused of having paid a gay male escort for sex for three years. The escort is the accuser, and he also claims that Haggard consumed methamphetamine.

This feels so sordid. If the escort's story should be proven true, I feel most sorry for Haggard's wife and family, then for his church. I cannot imagine how shocking it would be to consider oneself a married woman, a pastor's wife, and then find out about a whole secret life. And find out in the most public way. My heart goes out to her.

If the escort's story is true, I hope against hope that he was not motivated to tell this story because of money or other favors promised by politicians. It's hard for me to "get" his motive unless it has something to do with the upcoming election. Given that he is said to have accepted money for sex for three years, why the sudden outrage? Granted, if the story is true, Haggard is a hypocrite, but surely not the only hypocrite to have paid for sex. It's fishy.

If the escort's story is not true, then the queer community has been damaged very badly; the public relations backlash will be huge because of Haggard's status. And the damage to Haggard and his family cannot be overstated. I would hate to think that anyone would be willing to cause so much damage.

Much is being made of Haggard's placing himself on leave at his church. It really is not a statement of guilt but rather a proper decision to let the investigation go forward. I hope the investigators can be thorough and unbiased; of course, if the story is true, I hope Haggard is forthcoming with the investigators and moves the situation forward.

Mind you, I am a queer woman, woman before queer, and I would not be honest if I did not acknowledge a huge fascination with this story and also a frisson of delight at the thought of a hypocrite being publicly found out--but there is huge collateral damage here. Should the story be true, I would be furious at Haggard for betraying his family and his church. And, if the story is false, I will be furious at the accuser for the damage to all parties concerned.

Nothing good will come of this.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


National Blog Posting Month, of course. Can I do it? Can I post We shall see. Feeling better now that the sucky paper is off MY desk (laptop, actually) and oozing suckitude onto the desk of the professor. Won't feel better when it comes back, most likely, but will take whatever I can get in the meantime.

After snowstorm last week, I have TWO bad shoulders from shoveling. Nerve injury in the right side which eventually causes nasty headaches; inflamed rotator cuff on the left side which, well, hurts. So I am carrying as few things as possible and shifting them from side to side. Oh, poor me. Not.

Church History professor came to class yesterday garbed convincingly as a wizard, with a tall pointed hat, black robe, and a very impressive set of false hair and beard. Carrying a huge wizardry book. Guest lecturer wore his academic regalia; I didn't get why until I asked him, DUH on me. His PhD is from Princeton, whose colors are black and orange. Black robe with orange striping and whatevers. Much levity.

And that's all for now!