Monday, October 31, 2005

mixed bag - judicial council, federal budget, ordination

I don't know quite what to blog about. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and under-motivated.

-Beth Stroud was defrocked (again) because she is a practicing lesbian. The Judicial Council determined that because non-practicing gay and lesbians are not prohibited from ordained ministry that her defrocking was not based on her status as a lesbian woman. I disagree, of course, with the decision because I hope to see gay and lesbian people welcomed fully into the life of the church without condition. But I also disagree with the logic of the argument that a "non-practicing" gay or lesbian person can be a pastor but a "practicing" gay or lesbian person cannot. What does it mean to practice your sexual orientation? Clearly, the logic here limits our whole sexual identity to who we have sex with. I'd like to think our sexual identity is more than that. After all, as a single heterosexual woman, if I am not in a relationship and not having sex, am I "non-practicing"? My sexuality is unchanged whether or not I'm actually having sex. So we've reduced sexuality to sexual activity. To me, that's very dualistic, very mind-body, flesh vs. spirit, in a way that seems contrary to the gospel message.

-Even more disturbing is the decision that the pastor who refused to let a gay man join his congregation was within his rights as a pastor to refuse him membership. I find it frightening, really, for the church and it's future. Where is the line drawn? If we as clergy can decide who can and can't join the church based on what we perceive to be their sins and what we perceive to be their repentance or lack thereof for particular sins - what sins should be bad enough to prohibit membership? What if we say we repent of certain sins, but don't really mean it? What if? I just feel like this is setting a terrible precedent enabling us to exclude anyone - not just from ordination, now, but from membership, based on who they are.

-On a more positive note, today I handed in my ordination paperwork. It felt good to turn over the big box full of copies for board members. Interviews are in February. Til then, time to relax.

-Also, previously I had posted about visiting Capitol Hill and talking about proposed food stamp cuts to pay for hurricane relief. Well, earlier in the week, the Senate Agriculture Committee proposed that no cuts be made for the 2006 fiscal year in the food stamps program. The proposed cuts had originally put 300,000 families at risk for losing food stamp eligibility. The other cuts I've heard proposed are still troublesome to me - student aid, money used to pursue child support payments, etc., but this at least is an area of relief.

A question for you all - where do you find hope? When you are bombarded with news that says that the issues that are close to your heart are far from where you want them to be, where do you continue to draw strength from, how do you continue to stay motivated? I find it difficult sometimes. Being in community with others who have a shared vision is renewing. Finding comfort in the Word of God in unexpected ways is another source. What about you? What keeps you on the path, keeps you full of hope?
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