Monthly Archives: January 2017

Beatitudes 2.0

Hopping Hadrian's Wall

Blessed are the losers, for they are winning.

Blessed are the guys who got caught, for they are free.

Blessed are those whose skin is black, for they are my next-door neighbors.

Blessed are those nasty women who have blood gushing out of their wherever, for they are my mothers, and sisters, and daughters.

Blessed are those who get grabbed by the pussy, for their consent will be sought.

Blessed are those who march in the streets, for they will see justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream.

Blessed are the lawless, for they have kept my commandments.

Blessed are the gangs, for they will be my disciples.

Blessed are the gays and lesbians, for they are truly married.

Blessed are those who are transgendered, for they know what it means to be a real man or woman.

Blessed are the uninsured, for their pre-existing conditions are…

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That Time I Shared the Hotel Shuttle with Trump Supporters

22march9-superjumbo“Were you here for the Women’s March?” The woman joining me as I waited for the hotel shuttle to the airport was friendly.
“Yes!” I responded.
“Where are you from?”
“Berkeley, CA”

“How about you,” I asked.
“Phoenix, AZ.”
“Were you here for the March?” I was expecting to launch into another conversation about what a wonderful event it had been.

“No,” she said, “we were here for the inauguration,” indicating her adult son who had now joined her. He was wearing a knit cap with TRUMP stitched across the front. I then noticed her American flag scarf. (7:00 am is way too early for me; I wasn’t as observant as I might have been later in the day).

Then she went on to say, “We’re some of the ‘deplorables’ you’ve heard about.”

Oh, boy. I responded by shaking my head and saying something like, “No, no. Let’s not go there. We have to learn how to talk with one another.” They agreed.

The conversation continued in the shuttle. Mostly I listened. I did state my own opinion several times. I wasn’t trying to hide or play down my own position. I explained to them about my book and that I think the process of the intrafaith conversation could be the same for an interpolitical one. She took down my email address and book information and said she would check it out. She said I was “level-headed.”

I thought about this encounter often over the next several days. I wondered if I had sold myself short by not speaking out against some of the things she’d said. I worried that I was becoming a hypocrite, advocating interpolitical dialogue, but then going back to my Bay area bubble where I can easily speak out against He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.

When I boarded the Amtrak train for Philadelphia, I found it was filled with women from the March. Yea! I was back among my peeps! I even met two ELCA women who were sitting right across the aisle from me. We had a grand time talking about the weekend and discussing next steps in the resistance.

But that shuttle conversation keeps nagging at me. Will I ever have the courage – or the will – to bring together an interpolitical group? It would have to have the same safety and respect guidelines that I wrote about in my book. And the same expectations – that, while participants positions may not change drastically, the ability to listen respectfully would.

Because it’s got to be about relationship-building. I don’t agree with a whole lot of the political opinions of my friends on the shuttle, but I don’t feel good about calling them names either. I have a feeling  they’re going to stay in my mind, nagging at me and challenging me to put my money where my mouth is. One thing I’ve learned about discerning whether something is a calling is that the thing you don’t want to do is often he very thing you’re being called to do.

Great.

More discernment is definitely necessary.

 

 

Enneagram Types and the INTRAfaith Conversation

enneagraphiclarge2Do congregations have Enneagram types? My friend who leads workshops on the Enneagram, thinks so and has helped two of the congregations I’ve served to determine their number. Lately I’ve been wondering whether different religions also have different Enneagram types. What got me thinking was a friend who is a Religious Scientist (not a Christian Scientist or a Scientologist) and a Seven on the Enneagram. Listening to her one day, I realized how compatible her theology was with her personality. Then I had the stunning revelation that the same could be said about me as a Lutheran One. type1f

So I went looking to see if anyone had done any work in this area. The best I could find  (at least in a pretty quick search) was an article about a book called Travels In Consciousness by David Hey. It confirmed my thoughts about me as a Reformer One and my friend as a Positive-Thinking e537eef8b8827cfb3dcec2cc0a6a45ceSeven. I have to do more thinking about some of the others.

Then I also started to wonder about how these insights might be useful to us in our interfaith relationships. If Islam mirrors the Type Four (Idealist or Romantic) personality and Judaism is akin to Type Six  the Questioner or Skeptic) and Karma Yoga from the Hindu tradition reflects Type Three (the Doer, Achiever or Performer) and Buddhism reflects Type Five (the Sage or Observer), how do these personalities interact?

I also wonder how this relates to our intrafaith relationships. What do the diverse Enneagram types in our congregations bring to the conversation? How might a One and a Seven view such things as grace, salvation, social justice, etc. differently?

Of course where one is on the continuum of integration and disintegration is a factor. When I’m at my perfectionistic, sarcastic worst is not the same as when I’m in my healthy range. And the same is true for all of us.

It’s an interesting rabbit hole to dive into today – gets me away from politics for a little while. Although I do believe that we as a country are dealing with an unhealthy Eight (but that’s a subject for another day).

 

 

 

Pluralism and Election Politics

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How different might this election cycle have been had more voters been willing to be curious about, understand, accept, or even embrace a pluralist nation, rather than panic in the face of “the other? – Kate Blanchard

Kate Blanchard, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Alma College, asks a very important question. If we think that engaging in interfaith activities and education is just a nice “add-on” to the more important work of ministry in our churches, we are sadly mistaken.

And if part of our hesitancy of doing  it is that people within our congregations might disagree on some of the issues that will be raised, we need to buckle up and prepare for the ride.

It would be strange if there were not differences of opinions and beliefs within a group of people – even in our credal, doctrinal churches. Trust me; if you allow people to express themselves and ask questions without fear of being branded heretics, you’ll discover a wealth of theological perspectives. Maybe that’s why so many leaders don’t want to ask!

But the truth is that people do have minds of their own, they do think about spiritual and theological matters, and they do form opinions about other belief (and non-belief) systems.

A wise leader would be willing to enter into the experience of interfaith and intrafaith discussions, not in order to tell people what to think and believe, but to facilitate the process of discovery.

As Professor Blanchard’s question articulates so well, this isn’t an abstract matter. There are concrete consequences to our avoidance of the challenges of pluralism.