Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A sad story

Have been thinking about the young shooter at Virginia Tech and about those who came into contact with him. His behavior as described was overtly bizarre, his writings dark and violent, it seems clear that those around him found him abnormal and even disturbing. And yet all who wanted to help him, including a teacher who tutored him privately, were hindered because the young man was legally of age, not a minor child. No one could order him into treatment or even make a call to his family. Such a tragic story. For some reason this was a man filled with rage. I wish it were possible to intervene in such cases, but of course the risk of altering current law is that merely eccentric behavior, or unpopular but not dangerous speech/writing, could become grounds for intervention. At least that is the fear. And so at least in my state the grounds for involuntary confinement are very narrow. I don't know what I'd have done, confronted with a man like the shooter. I imagine him to have been far beyond the kind of help his teacher tried to offer by tutoring him--but, faced with an individual in such pain, it would be difficult to fail him in the class, even though he was unable to participate meaningfully, for fear of triggering some sort of violent or self-destructive behavior. Which, of course, is what ended up happening anyway. So sad for his family, roommate, teacher, along with the hundreds affected by his appalling choice of mass murder and suicide. I wish so much that he could have been linked to the bomb threats before he put his murderous plan into action. But that was not to be.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech mass killing

Can't stop watching the coverage. Feeling raw, vulnerable. Why? I am a student now. A bit closer than Columbine (I was working then). We create distance as we can. How horrific this is, can't imagine the friends, the families.

One student here has relatives near Virginia Tech. One student in the class I taught tonight has a parent connected with the university. Other connections will emerge over time.

Nothing to do but watch the coverage. That, and pray for everyone affected.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I can talk about it now...

I have been such a bad blogger (bad! bad!!) but there is a reason--huge discernment process about whether or not to proceed to ordination in my denomination. This has been a helluva year so far, but now I have made the decision NOT to go forward and have notified both my supervising pastor and the PTB in the denomination, so there is no reason to be silent about it anymore. I couldn't be open because of the (admittedly very remote) chance that someone would discover this before all was said and done, and I feared that would complicate matters. I have disagreements with my denomination over some things that are extremely important to me and found myself unable to compromise, and even though the denomination is entering a period of theological change and growth, it occurred to me that going forward on the hope that the denomination would move in directions that would make me more comfortable would be the ethical equivalent of choosing a life partner who "will be perfect as soon as he/she stops doing X..." In other words, not ethical or feasible at all.

Having made and communicated the decision, I feel tremendous and deep grief and also a sense of openness and possibility that has been missing for a long time in my life. I graduate with my M. Div. on June 1, and am looking for work now; I will also be looking for a denomination! One unanswered question is whether I am called to ordained ministry--it's unanswered sort of, in that I believe I am called to ordained ministry but not in the denomination where I thought I was called. That's one difference I have with them--I have a rather stricter notion of pastoral role, and theology of ministry, and their notion and theology is sort of indeterminate right now. Officially it takes one shape, but codes of conduct and so forth do not support what is verbally stated, and there is an undercurrent of resistance to the official position that means effectively that individual churches have different notions and individual pastors have individual notions, with sometimes very little theology behind them I think. There are wonderful people in that denomination and many find the openness both theologically and rulewise to be the most liberating thing about it, but I have found that I need more structure. And I need a place where I can ask some theology questions that interest me, that I think the place I've been is not ready to engage. Things like: how can we use religious sources of authority to reach sexual/relational ethics, without either oversimplifying to the point of absurdity or being so restrictive as to be irrelevant to much of current society? And, is it feasible to hope for an ethical framework that is valid for all persons, regardless of gender or orientation?

So that's that, and I will try to be a better blogger. Any thoughts on my questions, the one of you who reads this blog, let me know!!! It feels good to be back.

Also I am scooter riding again which cheers me immensely.