Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On Protest Movements

I was watching a documentary on the public protests in the U.S.A. during the closing years of apartheid in South Africa, protests that eventually, without financial backing but only the will of the people, brought the U.S. Congress to overthrow President Reagan's veto of a bill to impose economic sanctions against South Africa.

As I watched, I was thinking throughout of the Occupy movement in this country and overseas, beginning with Occupy Wall Street. I was thinking of the attempts of some churches - St. Paul's Cathedral in London, Trinity Wall Street in the U.S. - to show support by making indoor spaces, on a schedule, available, or to limit the number of tents and tent dwellers.

Suddenly I saw what was and is happening: If you can say you are supportive, and here are some rooms you can use, but no space, or limited, controlled space for camping out in public in protest, then you have domesticated the movement and can guarantee making it invisible, thus pulling its teeth so in the end the protest and the movement behind it will have no effect at all.

This was tried again and again during the years of protest in this country against apartheid. From outright racist observations that black people should be about dealing with drug addiction and education among their own people instead of meddling in foreign policy (best to leave it to your betters, was the implication), to the President of the United States claiming that economic sanctions would hurt the very people we hoped to save, the goal was to pull the teeth of the anti-apartheid movement.

It failed.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Not Baltimore's year

Well, the Baltimore Ravens lost to the N.E. Patriots yesterday.

I don't like sports, except for Formula 1 grand prix racing. I do like Baltimore - the Orioles and the Ravens. It's been a long dry spell. 2001 was the last time the Ravens went to the Super Bowl. Without them there, I will, of course, not be watching the Super Bowl, because it's not the sport, for me, it's the team.

But I have to say, the Ravens played a very good last game.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Quoth the raven, "On to New England!"

The Baltimore Ravens have just defeated the Houston Texans in the divisional playoff.

Now they go on to play the New England Patriots, and from there, to the Super Bowl.

With absolutely no apology to my friends, colleagues and parishioners here in Connecticut, I will be rooting for Baltimore all the way!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Epiphany sermons

Here is the link to the sermon I preached yesterday, Sunday, January 8th, for the Feast of the Epiphany, the 10:00 service of Holy Communion.

I also presented the first Sunday afternoon Protestant Christian evening service of prayers at Norwalk Hospital yesterday, at 3:30. Here is the link to my message for that service.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Snark revisited

I have my answer to why it's okay, if you're a young woman in your twenties to park blocking access to and egress from my driveway: "You know what?" Today's parker said, "It didn't hurt you."
There you have it. So long as something you want to do does not hurt anyone else, it's okay to do it. Rudeness and inconsideration notwithstanding.

I had read in an article in a past issue of Christian Century that this is the moral compass of the current young adults - okay to do it so long as you don't hurt anyone else. In theory, this didn't matter to me, until I realized my experiences over the past eight months are an object lesson in this moral compass.

Now, as for the adult male construction workers who can't see that the end of their truck is blocking my driveway, well, that's another matter. I'm tempted to park on the street, in front of my own sidewalk. Trust me - if I do that, I'll be the only person in all of Norwalk to be ticketed for blocking a driveway! Of course, I'm assuming that is still a law. OCICBW...

Now, how come I don't get any little smiley face emoticons with this program? : )

Monday, January 2, 2012

First snark of the year

Please tell me, why is that people cannot tell they are blocking a driveway, even when there is a car in the driveway? If they do know they are blocking a driveway and do it anyway, why is that okay?

9th Day of Christmas

New Year's weekend I spent in New York with family. On Friday we went to The Rubin Museum of Art for the current Himalayan Art installation. I had my breath taken away by some of the works I saw. I was also horrified by the one painted wood figure clothed in the flayed skins of humans with their heads still attached.

One floor had figures and paintings of the young Buddha. Another was an exhibit of art representing the kings of a mythical kingdom, each of them surrounded by differing numbers of those who had achieved enlightenment. At some point I found I was uneasy that not one of the enlightened ones were women. Later, as I reconnected with my nieces, one of them told me that she was enjoying the exhibits until she realized there were no portrayals of women except as consorts and a couple of dieties, either dancing on a recumbent man or as what we would see as monsters.

This was our experience. Yes, we brought our modern expectations with us. Yes, we saw the art in its own context and appreciated it. And yes, too much of it became oppressive to us as modern day women.

Next, we went to The Tank, a small not-for-profit theatre on the 8th floor of some building off Times Square. We were there to see Scott Blakeman, stand up comic, and a "panel of liberals and conservatives from the media, the arts and politics". It was a mix of comedy and serious political conversation. One of the panel was a woman, a Catholic and a physicist and ethicist, who has been on an important panel that most recently made ethical recommendations to the current Pope regarding stem cell research. Again, my niece, although the woman was a self-described conservative while saying that these labels are no longer useful, found herself in sympathy with what she was saying.

That is, until the young - and she was very young, and very tiny and beautiful - woman, in an interruptive comment to what one man, another Catholic, was saying about the need for abortion to available to women who have been raped, said that, well, the human body is very adept at defending itself and only a tiny percentage of rapes will result in pregnancy.

My niece shut down. Of course. Because even is only one woman in the entire course of history becomes pregnant as the result of rape, that is too many.

So, all this proved to be the background for a sudden, late night challenge to me: How could I, a woman, be a Christian and, worse, serve a Christian church, when Christianity and Judaism before it have been horrible to women, have virtually no positive images of women in their scriptures compared to men, and even in modern times persist in being dismissive of women when, without women, their religions wouldn't even exist because men just plain don't go to church in enough numbers to matter?

Again, this is not an occasion to fact check. Perception is 100% of reality. And I have to agree that we do not have an acceptable record with regard to women. Even when a positive female role model arises in scripture, we dismiss it - ie Mary Magdalene becomes portrayed as a prostitute, where there is no evidence at all that this was the case, and her position as first apostle, the first one sent out by Christ to carry the Good News of the resurrection, is ignored when it comes time to ordain women.

My niece has a point. I am never going to be able to break through her perception. Why should I? She's right.

I can only do what I am compelled to do. I serve Christ as a priest in The Episcopal Church. Sometimes I don't know why. Sometimes I do. I cannot and will not try to defend the record on women in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. There is little defense, and what is there continues to be downplayed.

Meanwhile, I have a sermon to prepare, on The Epiphany. And a congregation to serve at a time in history when the very way we are church no longer works and is changing.

Rock on.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Well, it's 2012. Now what?
Is this a nice, clean, blank sheet of paper to work with?
Or is it the cumulative mess of the preceding years and centuries for us to continue to deal with?
Would that it were the former.
Another annual chance to begin again, to start all over, to wipe the slate and begin to dream and to build those dreams.