It’s Treason! Reflections under a Dictatorship

It’s Treason! Reflections under a Dictatorship

By Bradley Christopher from inside Uganda, August 25, 2018

August 13, 2018, was the final campaign day for candidates vying for the Arua Municipality MP (Member of Parliament) slot in far NW Uganda. The post fell vacant after the assassination of theformer area MP, apparently for peddling Mr. Museveni’s “life presidency” project. National television networks in Uganda had camped in Arua for days, frequently airing live reports as the country followed every twist and turn in the hotly contested race with held breath.

As has become tradition in Ugandan politics, aspirants invite ‘bigwigs’ from Kampala to boost their ratings and amplify their message. The heavier the bigwig, the better. Contestants from theruling NRM typically invite Mr. Museveni, who has ruled Uganda for 33 years and counting. But after three decades in power, he has run low on lies and characteristically reminds his audience “where he brought the country from,” promises a local youth or women’s group a few million shillings (couple thousand U.S. dollars) and warns them of faltering government services should they not vote his candidate of choice.

Opposition-leaning candidates on the other hand could count on Retired Colonel Dr. Kizza Besigye. He is the poster child of political opposition in Uganda having challenged Mr. Museveni 4 times for the presidency, losing each time in elections marred by intimidation and worse. Since his maiden run against Mr. Museveni in 2001, he has lived and experienced everything imaginable that an opponent can be subjected to under a dictatorship, including trumped up charges of rape and treason (the favorite pet charge), as well as countless grave assaults, detentions and imprisonment. He has endured deep personal loss—as when his younger brother was carted off to prison on hispolitical account under a phony charge of murder, assaulted in detention, denied medication, and ultimatelydied in prison. This lengthy CV has endeared Dr. Besigye to the Ugandan masses and a mere rumor that he will be in town easily raises huge crowds. Just so we are clear, this fact has not changed. But then enter Bobi Wine!

Bobi Wine shortly after being sworn in as a Member of Parliament in 2017. (AP)

Bobi Wine, until early last year, was just like any other Ugandan pop star. That he was successful in the realms of music and acting in Uganda is uncontested; I dare say he is an accomplished poet as well, although his poetry is more often interwoven in his music rather than stand-alone pieces of art. Born Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu, 12 February 1982, Robert shot to the limelight in the early 2000s with a new version of Ugandan pop on a music scene that had been hitherto dominated by Congolese music. His songs, even from early days were songs of justice, frequently advocating for the betterment of the ghetto youth. That pattern remained consistent with the crowning moment in July 2017 when he was elected area Member of Parliament for Kyadondo East beating his opponents by the biggest margin by any current MP in Uganda, in an area barely 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Kampala City Center.

Again, just so we are clear, both NRM (National Resistance Movement), Mr. Museveni’s party, and FDC (Forum for Democratic Change), Dr Besigye’s party, fielded seasoned politicians against him, but he and his “people power” message sent his opponents to a crushing defeat. He has since delivered three more parliamentary victories to the “opposition” in a period spanning less than six months, throwing his “people power” support in turn behind the 2018 victories of Paul Mwiru, JinjaEast (March 14), Asuman Basalirwa, Bugiri Municipality (July 27), and Kasiano Wadri, Arua Municipality (August 15).

As the sun set on August 13, and Mr. Museveni’s armored convoy snaked out of Arua town, he knew his candidate of choice, an additional parliamentary rubber stamp to his dictatorship stood no chance. The voices of thousands of young men and women that came out and chanted “people power, our power” had not only thundered through the streets but also ripped through the heart of the dictator.

Bobi Wine in court after being badly beaten in custody. (Getty)

Under the cover of darkness, the army sealed off hotels where the opposition candidate and strategists were, brutalized journalists, stole their equipment and belongings, arrested scores of MPs and their staff, shot dead Bobi Wine’s driver, and released a photo-shopped picture of a shattered hind window of a presidential convoy SUV, apparently stoned by “people power” supporters. What a shame!

Almost a fortnight later, Bobi Wine’s driver is now buried; a widow and eleven orphans left behind, MP Francis Zaake, was brutalized and dumped at Nsambya Hospital, left for dead. He continues to receive treatment there. And Bobi Wine, due to the injuries he sustained while in custody, can’t walk unaided. After a short stint in the Court Martial, he has since joined 32 others atthe Gulu civil prison on charges of, guess what? Treason!

Bobi Wine after his court appearance. (Ghetto TV / GULU)

But as one born and raised in Uganda, awed by her natural beauty and cultural riches, yet troubled by the long history of political violence and corruption, I cannot help but ask, in these times is it treason to press for change? Or is the real treason to maintain one’s power and wealth at the expense of democracy, justice, and civil freedom? Many Ugandans are asking the same question. And the voices get louder each day.

 

Bradley Christopher is the pseudonym of a friend I met third-hand while in Uganda several years ago. Unsettled by recent events in his homeland, he reached out to me asking if I might help him offer an inside view to those on the outside. This is one such view. ~David

For further reading, these two articles provide helpful news reports of the recent events:

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/08/uganda-bobi-wine-arrested/568549/

http://vanguardafrica.com/africawatch/2018/8/16/ugandas-dictatorship-becomes-increasingly-brazen

 

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On Joy, Junk, and Honey Pots

“On Joy, Junk, and Honey Pots – A Sermon in Three Acts”

UCC Focus Text and Theme: 2 Sam 6: 1-5, 12b-19 “God-inspired Joy”

David R. Weiss – July 15, 2018 – St. Paul’s UCC (St. Paul, MN)

Children’s Message:In today’s reading King David has a big box that he’s bringing into Jerusalem, the city where his palace is – and he’s pretty excited about it. Now our box (just a big cardboard box) here is just plain, pretty new, and empty. So you’ll need to use your imaginations because David’s box was very decorated, very old—about 300 years old!—and, most important, it had some really special things in it.

In fact, while David led the box—called “the Ark of the Covenant”—into the city, he was dancing like crazy he was so excited, so happy. But why? What was in this big box that could make a grown man—a king!—risk looking silly in front of all his people? Well, two big flat pieces of rock. But not just any rock, these rocks had writing on them.They held God’s Covenant: Ten Promises to the people of Israel.

Now this is really important, because it helps you understand why King David was so excited. (And besides, most of the gown-ups don’t even know this, so you might need to explain it to them later on.) Sometimes we call these the Ten Commandments, like they’re ten really important rules. Almost like God is wagging a great big finger at us each time and saying, “Now you better not do this, and you better not do that …”

No.These are “imagine-with-me-promises.”They’re ten things God said to the people of Israel as if to say, “Now listen, this is what our life together can look like … I will be your God, and you will be my people, and you will love me more than anything else in the world … And because my very name means freedom and good news, you’ll never even want to use my name to hurt anyone—I mean, how could you? … And each week we’ll set aside one day to just enjoy each other’s company—won’t that be great? And because we’ll build a whole life around love, your children will grow up loving their parents … and there won’t be any killing, or any cheating, or any stealing, or any lying, and nobody will get jealous.”

Those aren’t rules.Why would David be so excited about a box of rules? No, they’re promises: “imagine-with-me” promises spoken by God about what life can look like when we put LOVE first of all. King David was so excited—silly excited—because he was already carrying these promises in his heart, but now he knew that the big box carrying the flat rocks that these promises were first written on was going to be at home in his city. No wonder he danced with joy.

And whenever youremember the promises of what might be—what can be—when God loves us and we love God, you might also finding yourself dancing with joy.

*     *     *

Message for adults:

First—a concluding word about my message to the children. Probably any of us who learned the Decalogue—the “Ten Words” of the covenant God made with Israel on Mount Sinai—learned them as “Ten Commandments.” I don’t mean to argue about that. Well, I suppose I do, a little bit. In Hebrew the verb form translated as “imperative”—as command—is actually the same as “future” tense. Only context—or perspective—determines whether it’s best to translate it as demand … or promise. I simply want us to remember that the God we recognize as still speaking today has alwaysbeen a God of gracious promises, even when our ears weren’t attuned to hear them as such. We have a mostly checkered relationship with the Ten Commandments. It might do us good to try relating to them as Promisesfor a while. And maybe the kids can help us learn how to do that.

Okay, on to my message: “On Joy, Junk, and Honey Pots – A Sermon in Three Acts”

Act One: The King’s Joy . . . and the King’s Junk

Sure, it was covered in gold, this big crate. But it was something like 300 years old. And it had seen better days. Been through sandstorms during the forty years that the Hebrews wandered in the wilderness before reaching the Promised Land. Been through battles, too. Sometimes victorious, sometimes not—and at least once captured by a foreign army. It was, no doubt, showing its age by the time King David brought it to Jerusalem.

Nevertheless the Ark of the Covenant had been the stuff of legend from its very beginning. It held the stone tablets containing the ten covenantal promises God made to Moses on Mount Sinai. It was regarded as Israel’s most sacred objectand the tales associated with it, both miraculous and frightful, wrapped this box in a mix of wonder and dread. Besides holding the stone tablets, the Ark was seen as home to the very presence of God.

Now, after having been carried by these people to and fro for several centuries, the Ark was coming to Jerusalem, the capital city of David’s united kingdom. It was coming home.

David’s fascination with the Ark had less to do with itsmany legends and more to do with hissingular love for God.

David loved Israel’s God—Yahweh, their liberator, the Holy One who pledged a future framed by justice and mercy—with a pure passion that was unique among Israel’s kings. In fact, despite his failings and flaws—and there were some big ones!—David’s exuberantlove for God became the standard against which every other kingin Israel’s history was measured. And nearly all of them were found wanting.

Because David loved God so dearly—with something like a mystic’s zeal as can be heard in his many psalms—he was entirely overcome with joy at the prospect of bringing this ancient well-traveled mysterious box to rest in a tent specially built to be its home in the city that was also David’s home.

And it is this joy that brings us to the king’s junk. Sometimes the Bible is so honest it catches you short. We read that David was giddy at God’s presence. So much so that, wearing only a linen ephod, he leapt and danced with total joy before the Ark as it was brought into the city. Now that linen ephod was something like a cross between a loincloth, an apron, and a hospital gown.

And this was the measure of the king’s joy: that both the royal jewels and the king’s junk were on full display as he danced. That’swhy his wife Michal despiseshim when she glances out the window in verse 16. Right after ourreading ended, in verse 20, she accuses her husband, David, the king, of having“uncovered” himself in front of the palace maids as any vulgar fellow might. Unfazed, David replies in verses 21-22, “You can’t even imagine my joy at the presence of God, you have no idea.”

Sometimes showing your junk is the risk you take to be clear about your joy.

Act Two: A Different Kind of Junk . . . A Different Kind of Joy

My Grandma Belling—my maternal grandmother—was the type of grandma who—like the Ark of the Covenant—filled you with a mix of wonder and dread. She was a stiff, stoic, stern German Lutheran woman. Her lips were almost always pursed in something just short of a frown, even when she was happy. I would not call her “wistful.”

But it seems she hada wistful side in her younger years. In the 1920’s and 30’s, over a sixteen-year period, she gave birth to nine children, eight of whom lived into adulthood. She loved them all, with a stern quiet joy. But during those years I’m told she also spoke often—wistfully—ofher hope that she might have a Christmas baby. Just like Mary. She prayed for this. But it never happened. Not to her.

But at 4:28 a.m. on Christmas morning, 1959, my mother, the youngest of my grandma’s eight children, gave birth to me. Grandma Belling died when I was eleven years old, but for those eleven years this woman of wonder and dread regarded meas the answer to her prayer. It was a regard that rested upon me with its own mix of wonder and dread.

Moved by the timing of my birth, my parents gave me a “Christmas name.” They didn’t dare name me Jesus, of course. And they didn’t care for Joseph or Zechariah or Simeon. Thankfully, they steered clear of Herod as well. They named me David—after King David—because, in Luke’s Christmas story, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, “the city of David.”

SoI’m named for this king who danced with such joy in today’s first reading. Maybe that makes me particularly well-suited to preach on this text, EXCEPT—… while I doshare David’s passionate, nearly all-consuming love for God … and I share with him, as well, some rather big flaws and failings, I have never been on such intimate terms with joy as King David was.

So this is a glimpse at MY junk: I livewith anxiety and depression. Some of it is just my temperament: in spiritual terms I have melancholy. Some of it is connected to trauma earlier in my life. On my better days I live with an understated inner quietness, knowing with cheerful irony that much of the time what strikes people around me as inner peace is just my exhaustion at simply being alive. But there are occasional days when a sense of nothingness swallows me whole and I prefer not even to come downstairs. Maybe thatmakes me uniquely UNqualified to preach about a text on joy. But listen to these words, which I wrote just over a decade ago:

For most of my intensely spiritual journey, I have felt nothing, or better said, Nothing[with a capital N]. No warm feeling in my heart. No soothing sense of peace. No creed held with calm (or fierce) conviction. I have lived in stillness—and yet I have known all along that it was a BreezeI longed for. I have always sensed, in a way just beyond the reach of words, that it was the Wind of Godthat stopped just short of touching me. I have felt the absence of God to such an unmistakable degree that God’s absence has been an unmistakable presence in my life.

Growing up in the Midwest, framed by forested hills and rich farmland, I spent years yearning for a lush, green spirituality, one full with palpable and obvious evidence of life. I felt nothing. I looked around inside myself, and where I hoped to see verdant fields or deep woods, I saw only vast stretches of barren land, sand that occasionally shifted in the Wind, but showed no sign of life, except for a cactus here or there, which only seemed to highlight the inhospitality of my inner terrain.

But what I came to learn is that the desert literally teems with life. Certainly not as lush as other places, not as crowded in green. But if you are Still. If you sit in Silence, in that place where the Wind Itself rests, you begin to see a landscape with life enough to fill a heart with wonder.

That was a decade ago. You see, mine has been a long meandering path. And I have neverdanced with wild abandon like King David did. I doubt I ever will. But not every instance of Joy comes as exuberance. And unless I let you see my junk, you can’t fathom my joy.

Act Three: Winnie the Pooh and his Honey Pots, too.

I’m going to close with a few words about Winnie the Pooh. And by now, I trust you recognize I’m not merely trying to be cute.

There is a tale in which Pooh and his friends are out adventuring and realize they are lost. If I remember, right, Tigger is mostly unfazed, but also mostly frenetically unhelpful. Fear sets in with Piglet; panic begins with Rabbit; and resignation is voiced by Eyeore. But it is Pooh who finally leads them home. Here’s how the scene plays out:

Pooh’s tummy rumbles. Piglet asks in a trembling voice, “W-w-what was that, Pooh?” Laughing Pooh replies, “My tummy rumbled. Now then – come on, let’s go home.” Piglet asks, “But Pooh, do you know the way?”And Pooh responds calmly, “No, Piglet, but I’ve got twelve pots of honey in my cupboard, and they’ve been calling to my tummy.” “They have?” Piglet asks incredulously. “Yes, Piglet.” Pooh announces. “I couldn’t hear them before because Rabbit was talking so much. I think I know where they’re calling from now, so come on. We’ll just follow my tummy.”

As for me, do I know the way to Joy? No, I don’t. There are days when my anxiety prattles away like Rabbit, or my depression sounds a lot like Eyeore’s resignation—only not nearly so cute. I don’t know the way. But I know this. Like Pooh, my tummy rumbles. And that rumbling bears witness to a truth deeper than anxiety or depression—or anything else in life.

That rumbling whispers, “justice is possible—and if not perfectly so, then dammit chase after it imperfectly.” It reminds me, “every instance of suffering is held in the heart of God—if you would find God, then go to where the suffering is and meet God there.” It declares with quiet resolve, “peace is the fruit of love—so love one another, that you might know peace.”

And, yes, my friends, that rumbling—though I can barely imagine it myself—sometimes dances with a joy far beyond words, its exuberant movementproclaiming, “God loves YOU, and you have no idea how much.”

Like Pooh, we have Honey Pots that call out to us. Our Honey Pots include the stories we tell from Scripture. The bread and the wine we share in Holy Communion. The water we sprinkle in baptism. The music that fills this space during worship.

But, just as much as these, our Honey Pots alsoinclude the stories of our lives shared with one another. The fair trade coffee hour as well as other meals we gather for. The restless longing we have for a world that truly reflects God’slonging for justice. And even the simple warmth with which we greet each other.Those, too, are Honey Pots.

And if we, too, listen to the rumbling in our tummy, it will lead us unfailingly to Joy. And that’s gospel—good news—for each of us.

So I hope you leave today with a deeper appreciation of King David’s joy—and perhaps a quiet smirk at his junk. With the recognition that there are other types of joy and other types of junk. And with a keener awareness of the rumbling in your own tummy—and a fresh attentiveness to the Honey Pots in our midst.

Amen.

drw59mn@gmail.com

This entry was posted on July 15, 2018. 1 Comment

For Just Such a Time as This

“For Just Such a Time as This” (Esther 4:14)
David R. Weiss – June 10, 2018 – St. Paul’s UCC

(Esther 4:1-17 was the text for the day, chosen by the Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ as the theme for their annual meeting. St. Paul’s UCC clergy were at the weekend conference, which is why I preached in church today. I wrote up this short version to share with the children during their time up front; it’s also helpful to set the context for my message.)

A short version of the Story of Esther

The story of Esther happened long ago—several hundred years even before Jesus was born. Esther and all of her relatives—the Jewish people—were living in another land, called Persia. While she was just a teenager, Esther was chosen by the King of Persia, to be his queen. No one expected this. It was a big surprise. But the king liked Esther very much. However, no one in the palace, not even the king himself, knew she was Jewish.

One day, one of the King’s friends got very angry at a Jewish man named Mordecai. Now Mordecai was a good man; he was also Esther’s cousin, but nobody knew that. Well, the king’s friend was so angry that he tricked the King into making a new law to kill Mordecai—and ALL the Jews—everywhere throughout Persia. Can you believe that?

When Mordecai heard this, he was sad, and he was scared—not just for himself, but for ALL the Jews. So, he sent a message to his cousin Esther. He told her that all the Jews were in danger, and that she must try to change the King’s mind. She was the queen, after all.

But Esther said, “I can’t do that. The King has a very strong rule: No one—not even the queen—can go see him unless he asks them to. If I break that rule, I might get killed myself, even though I’m queen.” Then Mordecai replied, “Listen, Esther, all the Jews are in danger. You might be the ONLY person who can save us.” And he added, “Esther, maybe God you made you a queen for this very moment.”

So Esther agreed to go the king. But first she asked Mordecai to have all the Jewish people pray for her, that she would be both brave and wise before the King.

Well, she went to the King, and she changed his mind. All the Jewish people were saved. And still today the Jewish people celebrate the bravery of this teenage girl who dared to ask herself, “is it possible that God made me for this very moment?”

“For Just Such a Time as This” (Esther 4:14)
David R. Weiss – June 10, 2018 – St. Paul’s UCC

This morning I’m going to sharemy“Mordecai moment.” I don’t claim to be as daring as Esther. But the day Mordecai spoke to me changed my life.

It was February 1997. I was a Lutheran graduate student in Christian Ethics at the University of Notre Dame. But we need to start before that.

In the mid-80’s I was a student at Wartburg Seminary, in Dubuque, Iowa. While there, the “question of homosexuality” took on flesh in the lives of classmates who felt God’s call to ministry, but found that call unambiguously rejected by Lutheran policy.

I didn’t work through the biblical or theological questions back then. But I did the emotional work. I listened.I heard their ache and fear. Their longing, their love, their joy. Quite beyond any societal stereotype or religious teaching, I came to know their full God-beloved humanity.

A decade later, at Notre Dame, I took up the biblical and theological questions. The ELCA (the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) was wrestling, rather begrudgingly, with the place of gay and lesbian persons in its pews—and potentially in its pulpits. In a graduate seminar paper I did my first careful study of biblical texts and theological perspectives alongside the ELCA study. I began to do my own thinking. Humbly, cautiously, quietly.

The following summer, my Lutheran congregation met to discuss the ELCA’s draft statement on sexuality. I don’t know if there were any gay or lesbian people in the room that day. I do know the room had plenty of half-truths, stereotypes, outright prejudice … and very little grace.

I listened, and finally, my knees trembling, I stood up. I spoke about my friendships with faithful gay and lesbian Christians. I was hardly eloquent, but I managed a rambling witness to the goodness of persons too easily and too often dehumanized.

Afterwards, several persons thanked me for my words. Mostly I breathed a sigh of relief—and resumed my quiet diligence as a grad student. That was June 1994. It would still be more than two years before I heard Mordecai’s voice.

But other pieces of the puzzle were falling into place.

The Notre Dame student newspaper published every day but Sunday. It always featured a lot of opinions. Letters to the editor and entire columns regularly focused on homosexuality. Often in response to current events on campus, in the news, or in the Catholic world, they were overwhelmingly negative.

I’d read them and cringe. But I held my tongue. I was there to do graduate work, not change the world. I didn’t know a single undergraduate student. And I was Lutheran, anyway, on a very Catholic campus. It wasn’t really my argument to get involved in.

That fall, one of the friends I’d mentioned in church—a gay man who’d been my junior high Sunday School teacher—suffered a massive stroke. He’d spent most of his adult life heart-broken, bereft because he’d been kicked out of seminary for being gay. Dale buried his sorrow in drink and food, and at forty-three his body just gave out. He lingered, half-paralyzed, in a nursing home for another year-and-a-half. He was just thirty miles away, so I visited him about every three weeks for the rest of his life.

In spring 1996 I taught my first undergraduate class at Notre Dame. These students, at least, became real to me. They had names; but also thoughts, ideas, academic struggles and successes. And at the edges I also saw hopes, dreams, sorrows, lives. They were so fully human.

Suddenly when I saw gay-bashing letters in the student newspaper I shifted uneasily while reading them. I didn’t know whether any of the eighty students in my two classes were gay, but I knew the odds. And I knew—inescapably—that whichever students found themselves in the crosshairs of those letters, they were fully human, just like mine.

Midway through that semester Dale died. He had asked me to preach at his funeral, and I did. He’d never come out to his family—but wasout to his circle of un-churched friends. So I gave a sermon that carefully held the tragic truth of his life, still largely hidden from his family, in words that comforted people listening from very different places. I spoke unremittingly of God’s love.

But I still hadn’t heard Mordecai speak to me. So, here’s one thing to note. In the Book of Esther, the moment of decision builds quickly, compressed into a few months over just a few chapters. Usually these moments have roots that reach far back and meander on the way to their culmination.

It was ten months after Death’s death that Mordecai met me in my upstairs apartment on Marquette Avenue in South Bend, Indiana.

Earlier that day I’d picked up a copy of Scholastic, a Notre Dame student literary magazine. I usually scanned it with mild interest. The February 20thissue changed the course of my life.

In a short prose-poem titled “Living in Fear,” a gay senior described coming to Notre Dame four years earlier, already knowing he was gay—and lamented that he would graduate … without having told a single person the truth of his life. He’d spent his entire college experience “living in fear.”

He recounted wondering almost daily whether perhaps thiswould be the day he dared to tell someone he was gay. But so far that day had never come. He ended the poem voicing his desperate hope that at least God loved him “anyway”—despite his being gay.

That’s when Mordecai spoke to me.Unmistakably, in the stillness of that night, I heard—not so much as words spoken, but as breath sucked out of me: “Perhaps you—David—are here … for just such a time as this.”

Scholasticpublished his piece anonymously. To this day, don’t know who he was. But long into that night, as I read and re-read his words, I knew—because I found myself shaking and sobbing over the words of a complete stranger—I knew THIS was my moment to speak.

Behind me were my seminary friendships, my childhood connection to Dale and my months of visiting him in the nursing home. My graduate seminar paper, my testimony at my church, my sermon at Dale’s funeral. But it was on thisnight that I poured out my passion for a welcoming God with nothing held back.

I wrote a prose-poem letter directly back to him. I titled it, “Words offered at the end of the day to an unknown friend living in fear.” It ran in the next issue of Scholastic.

In it I ransacked the Bible for images—there is no shortage of them!—that bear witness to a God who persistently welcomes those that society prefers to exclude. I wanted him to see—to feel in his very heart—that the Biblical story of welcome held a place for him, too.

Among the first words tumbling forth through my tears were these: “I see now that if God keeps silent in the face of your anguish, it is only because I wouldn’t lend God the use of my words. Well here they are.”

Unlike Esther, I had no royal dignity to leverage. But I had words.And that night I opened a floodgate, and God’s grace and welcome came spilling out onto page after page after page. I went on to write essays, plays, hymns. I’ve published a book, taught college classes, spoken at churches and on college campuses all across the country.

I didn’t planto be such a strident ally for LGBTQ persons. And while there are certainly deep and winding roots to this, it truly all turned decisively that February night in 1997 when an echo of Mordecai’s voice summoned my gifts and my passioninto action.

I’ve had a few other “Mordecai-moments,” including my recent pull to think and write and speak around climate change. But nothing has so reshaped my entire life as that night twenty-one years ago.

And yet, while my story may be compelling, it’s YOUR story that matters most to you.

This weekend leaders from UCC congregations across Minnesota have gathered … precisely to ask where Mordecai might be directing our attention today.

Surely still toward LGBTQ persons. But also Black … brown … and Native Lives. Immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers. A nation entangled in white supremacy … and imperiled by gun violence. Those who say, “Me, Too.” Those plagued by anxiety, depression, or thoughts of suicide. Those left behind or excluded from economic security. People and places threatened by climate change. And more.

The sources of suffering are many. They can be overwhelming. Which is Mordecai’s voice matters so much. Because God doesn’t ask you to be Esther—or to be me. God asks you … to be you.

It happens somewhere. Some when. You may or not see it coming. But the needs of the world cross the path ofyourlife where and when yourgifts, passions, and skills—maybe even your own wounds—have all conspired to make YOU ready for just such a time as this.

And in that “Mordecai moment,” God nudges you toward becoming the YOU that is truly gospel—good news—for God’s world.

We might encounter such moments as individuals, but there is particular power when we encounter them—and respond—as whole communities, through our interwoven gifts.

I expect Norma Rae, Clare, Kay, Bob, Becky, Anna, Brien, and Jacquelynn will come back from the Minnesota Conference Meeting ready to wonder where Mordecai is nudging us, not simply as individual persons of faith but as a deeply gifted faith community.

My prayer—for you, for me, for us as a church, is that when Mordecai speaks, like Esther, we will be ready to respond. AMEN.

 

This entry was posted on June 10, 2018. 1 Comment

Called to vulnerability – Intended for intimacy

Called to vulnerability – Intended for intimacy
Sermon for Earth Day / Integrity of Creation Sunday
David R. Weiss – April 22, 2018 (Earth Day) – St. Paul’s UCC
 

It’s not my parents’ world anymore. They’re both still alive—in their early 80’s. But this is no longer the world they grew up in. It’s barely my world anymore, for that matter. People my age and older, we live on a planet increasingly unlike the one of our youth.

But my daughter, Susanna, was born into a world altogether different than the one my parents knew. She 22, and within her lifetime—in fact, just since she was a toddler, she’s lived through all eighteen of the hottest years on this planet since 1880.

Why “since 1880”? That’s the year there were finally enough accurate temperature reports from around the world to calculate a true “average global temperature.” Since then we’ve kept very precise records. And according to those records, out of the past 138 years, every one of the hottest eighteen years has happened during Susanna’s lifetime.

I’ll read them off, because I want you to FEEL the weight of this heat. Susanna was born in 1996. The hottest 18 years since 1880 have been 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. It’s possible—in fact, it’s likelythat for the rest of her life, she’ll only ever add to that collection, year by year.

I’m going to be blunt. We face an APOCALYPSE. Not the once-and-for-all “end of the world,” but, true to its biblical meaning, the ending of oneworld—and the beginning of another. The world that we will bequeath to our children is notthe world we were born into. That worldis no more.

And while we measure the threat in temperature degrees, it isn’t just the heat. It’s the whole set of cascading consequences. Here’s just a small sampling:

As polar ice melts, sea levels rise, permanently flooding many coastlines, displacing tens of millions of people, as well as the industries, economies, and ecosystems found there.

Increasing carbon dioxide in the air drives ocean acidification, which, in turn, harms coral, shellfish, and plankton—the very infrastructure of the ocean ecosystem.

And warming oceans make stronger hurricanes, greater storm intensity, more flooding in some areas and increased drought and wildfires in others.

The ripple effects will fan out through human societies and wildlife communities. Some regions will see gains in agriculture, but overall crop yields will drop—even as population continues to rise. Whole ecosystems will shift . . . and sometimes shatter. By the time my grandchildren reach my age up to one third of all plant and animals species alive today will face extinction.

And nearly all the consequences of climate change will fall first and hardest on those least able to adapt: the poor. Well, animals, plants, ecosystems—and the poor.

The more I learn about this, the more I want to say to my own daughter, to all of my six children and nine grandchildren, I AM SO SORRY. Because we did this.

Not me, personally. And not my generation alone. But we humans, mostly in the West (although the rest of the world is rushing to emulate us . . . with a vengeance)—we humans did this.

Our economic systems and industrial structures were put in place over the last couple of centuries, but the impact of our unrelentingly acquisitive human society is spiraling upward. Scientists report that in just the last 50 years—less than my lifetime—human activity has warmed the planet morein these past five decades!—than in any … 1000-year period … since the end of the last ice age about 12,000 years ago.

I’m not exaggerating when I say we face an apocalypse.

So on this Integrity of Creation Sunday, I ask, how do we do theology—how do we think about God (and ourselves)—on a dangerously warming planet …in a time of apocalypse? And how does that spur faithful action in response to climate change?

These are—quite honestly—the pressing questions of our lifetimes.

We’ll die before we have fully answered them. But the welfare of coming generations—that’s our children and grandchildren and beyond—and the welfare of all beings for whom Earth is home, hinges on our answering them as faithfully as we can.

I’ll offer three guiding insights and briefly suggest how they can frame our actions.

First,imago Dei.

The Genesis creation accounts are notpoor (or even primitive) attempts at science; they’re profound attempts at truth, which is why they’re worth our attention still today. The Latin phrase imago Dei comes from the tale in Genesis 1, where, as we just heard, God fashions us—human beings—in God’s own image.

People have debated for ages exactly what constitutes this “image of God,” whether our capacity for tool-making or language or reason or something else.

But the core Truth in the tale is this: somehow the creative impulse of the universe is reflected in us. Whether you conceive of that Impulse as a supernatural personal God or as the purposeful energy behind the primeval fireball, the creation story tells us that we carry an echo of That which birthed the cosmos in our souls. And in this moment of impending apocalyptic climate chaos, that truth is worth holding onto.

And yet, just how we understand imago Dei does make all the difference. How we imagine the God whose image we bear undeniably shapes how we relate to the planet. Across history we’ve tended to presume we image God by exercising power over the world around us—often over each other as well.

As my second insight, I propose that imago Dei is about Vulnerability.

We often look right past it, but the Bible portrays a vulnerable God. Yes, God certainly exercises power at times, but God chooses vulnerability—again and again. Look at the company God chooses to keep: second-born sons, enslaved people, slow-tongued leaders, women, Gentiles, and awkwardly outcast prophets.

These choices open God to a depth of emotion we rarely connect with divinity: God feels anguish at the suffering of the Hebrews in Egypt; later, betrayal by their infidelity; then sorrow at their exile in Babylon. God even feels compassion for the Ninevites in the Book of Jonah. It might overstate it to call God an emotional wreck, but the God of the Hebrew Bible chooses to be whole not by avoiding vulnerability but by embracing it.

Jesus continues that pattern; he incarnates it. It culminates on the cross, where the vulnerability of both Jesus and God reaches a crescendo, but it’s at the very heart of his ministry all along. In daring to touch lepers and others whose illness has set them apart, Jesus heals by stepping into the vulnerability of others. By eating with outcasts in a society where table companions were carefully monitored and could cost you your reputation, Jesus’ mealtimes are choices to be vulnerable.

In calling us to love our enemies, to meet them with creative nonviolence rather than brute force, Jesus’ approach to social change is to become vulnerable. And in using his parables about the “kingdom of God” to turn our notions of kingship inside out and upside down, Jesus’ invites us to imagine a very different way of being imago Dei.

So I say, we image God in our willingness to be vulnerable. To be sure, vulnerability is one inescapable facet of our finitude. But when we embrace it as part of our vocation, we lean into it . . . with holy zeal. In the face of climate change—a fierce tutorial in vulnerability if there ever was one!—our readiness to embrace vulnerability as vocation will be crucial.

Which leads to my third insight: that truly, from Eden onward, we were—intended for Intimacy.

We have a kinship with creation that we have not yet fully acknowledged, but it’s been true for as long as long as human beings have been (and longer). We live thanks to the nearly countless creatures with whom we share an unimaginable intimacy. My relatively healthy human body is home to approximately 100 trillion microbes. These tiny critters are NOT ME. They live in and on me, aiding in digestion, supporting my immune system, and more. Some just call me home, keeping me company without ever making me sick. 100 trillion of them.

In fact, because their cells are so much smaller than human cells, right here, standing in front of you, there are more cells that are not David than cells that are David. Altogether, these intimate neighbors of mine weigh about seven pounds. That’s a lot of “not me” that is entirely interwoven with me.

I am my own ecosystem. And so are you. Both theologically and scientifically we are intended for intimacy. So I am convinced that the path forward for us, people of faith on a finite and fairly fragile planet, is by way of deepened intimacy: with each other, with our companion creatures, and with Earth itself.

To conclude: we stand on the precipice of a genuine apocalypse. Our planet is warming at an alarming rate and with such inertia that even the best technological gains will only mitigate the damage—and even then not soon enough for many of the least of these, our brothers and sisters and our companion creatures here on Earth.

So, as we face the prospect of life on this fundamentally different planet, as part of an ecosystem we’ve heated in ways that will ripple—and rip—through creation’s very fabric, HOW DO WE ACTas individuals and as communities of faithin a time of climate change? We can only really answer this question as we unfold our life … together.

But I believe if we remember that we carry the image of a vulnerable God in our very being, and that we were always intended for intimacy… across the whole web of creation, these insights can guide action that is faithful.

This will include opening ourselves to sacred lament. We won’t change the patterns of living that have wreaked havoc on our planet until we allow ourselves to feel—and grieve—deeply for the damage already done.

It will also include summoning forth sacred hope. We must lament, but we’ll only be able to endure that if we have hope that runs deeper even than our grief (and our grief must be nearly boundless).

Finally, faithful action, framed by vulnerability and intimacy, will include both mundane and daring innovation such as our Earthwise team has been pursuing for a decade now, . and ALSO prophetic resistance, as we seek new ways to honor the web of life—and bear new risks in defending it with love.

Called to vulnerability. Intended for intimacy. There is no work more worthy of our best faith and our best action. May we pursue it . . . with joy.

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This entry was posted on April 22, 2018. 1 Comment

A PBS Easter

A PBS Easter (A 20th Anniversary Post)
originally March 23, 1998 – David R. Weiss

On April 6 and 7 PBS debuts a new entry among the annual Easter specials. Beginning the day after Palm Sunday, coincidentally the day Jesus cleansed the Temple (no doubt unnerving a few of his own fans), the PBS Frontline special, “From Jesus to Christ: The Story of the First Christians,” will surely unsettle its fair share of the faithful. [NOTE: you can find this and watch it online now–still worthwhile.]

Contrary to the usual Easter viewing fare, which retells the story of Jesus as though the Bible allows us to recreate it in all its detail, PBS will instead confront us with just how shadowy this man’s life was, and will suggest that from the very beginning the Jesus story was a contested narrative. Indeed, the documentary covers four centuries in the conviction that telling the life of Jesus requires telling the story of how that life, with all its historical gaps, came to be told, retold, and often argued about, already in the first Gospels and continuing on into the early church.

This might seem like nothing more than agnostic scholarship by historians determined to get at the truth in history no matter what. At best it might anger us in its arrogance to purportedly tell “our” history, minus “our” faith. At worst it might do such a good job of that as to unravel, or at least fray, that faith itself. And yet Christians are, after all, are convinced that the Truth has gotten at us–in history, and no matter what.

There are good reasons, both for Christians and non-Christians to tune in. Non-Christians, put off by endless intra-Christian disputes, may have the edifying insight that it’s always been like that: we’ve always argued about who this guy was. That’s not so much reason to discredit us as it is cause to be curious about why we remain so tenaciously fascinated with something that’s been unclear for 2000 years now. Meanwhile, despite the in-house squabbling, many Christians still believe that the Gospels record Jesus’ life purely, without the messiness associated with other historical sources. The PBS production will make painfully clear that whatever guarantees God might make, a crystal clear record of Jesus’ life is not among them.

That’s worth knowing. And it really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Just reading the Bible one senses that if this whole story, from Genesis through Revelation, is to be trusted at all, it involves trusting a God who thrives on working with messiness. From the chaos prior to creation to the cataclysms envisioned by John on Patmos, God is not shy about pressing historical messiness into divine purposes.

More importantly for Christians, given our claim that Jesus is God incarnate, the PBS documentary deepens the wonder of that. It’s somehow too easy to believe that God became human—but in a majestically humble way: born in a stable, yes, but heralded by angels and with his story preserved indelibly for future generations. Much more astounding—and biblical—is the PBS intimation that becoming human meant setting aside most of the divine PR apparatus we assume was kept in place.

Becoming human for this God, unlike the deified rulers of ancient Egypt or Greece, meant slipping into the world at the margins. And for the most part staying there. When Jesus sought to describe the Kingdom of God he chose images like mustard seeds, leaven, and salt, precisely because of their apparent insignificance. PBS will show that in many ways Jesus himself lived up to that billing: he was barely worth noticing … until suddenly he was so much worth noticing that everyone, from friend to foe, had to have a special slant on him.

That’s worth knowing, too. Because we so easily forget it. If PBS succeeds in presenting the ambiguity of Jesus in history, it does Christians a favor. For the first Christians, faith meant staking one’s life on the pretentious claims, almost always rendered second- or third-hand, about the decisive importance of a no-name preacher from a small town who eventually got crucified for, among others things, insisting that compassion was the way to live even in a society driven by values not all that unlike those that drive American capitalism today.

For the first Christians, the movement from Jesus to Christ, from history to faith, wasn’t guaranteed by the Gospel text or a Hollywood movie. It was purchased by individual discipleship and communal commitment in the midst of ambiguity. If PBS helps us recapture that chance, I say thank you, and God bless.

Finding Joy While Seeking Justice

NOTE: I wrote this reflection in response to a reading for my Encore Impact seminar at United Theological Seminary. Thus it will feel a bit like an “insider’s conversation.” We are beginning to ask the question, “What Promise do you serve?” as part of our “next steps” discernment. This isn’t a fully polished essay–it’s more a simmering pot. But go ahead and try a spoonful. 🙂

Finding Joy While Seeking Justice
David R. Weiss, March 14, 2018

Frederick Buechner describes vocation (that sense of purposeful calling, perhaps “the promise we serve”) as that place where your own deep gladness meets the world’s deep need. Yet, in most of our lives vocation gets reduced to “career”—the skills we acquire and trade to earn the money to buy a life that at least tries to pass for “success” by society’s yardstick. As Nancy suggested in our second session, those of us feeling jaded about that yardstick (regardless of how much “success” we’ve notched on it) may be exactly the ones whose disorientation represents the birth pangs of a reorientation to purpose.

But here’s the rub. Because we’ve been socialized all (or most of) our lives to play the game set before us—and “socialization” is a nice way of saying we’ve been trained to serve powers and principalities rather than Promise—it’s easy, even as we “wake up,” to mistake obligation for purpose. I’m “supposed” to work for social justice. It’s my “obligation” to leave the planet (hopefully including our politics, or churches, and our society, too) in better shape for those coming after me. Well, yes. Sort of. But only in the shallowest—and usually self-defeating—way.

My experience in social justice work is that often those doing the organizing (usually those with an excess of extravert energy that eclipses my introvert leanings) are so damned eager to make change that they plug any body they can find into a task that needs doing without asking—or even seeming to care—whether doing that task will be life-giving, joy-bringing to the person doing it.

Thankfully, the George Lakey article (albeit too subtly if you ask me) acknowledges the folly of this. Near the bottom of page two he writes, “The organizer, on the other hand, experiences joy (emphasis mine) from collecting people . . .” That’s the key facet of discernment: joy.

There are a zillion things that must happen for a just world to become. But it is a supreme act of faith to affirm that we are diverse people precisely so that making justice might ring with joy for each of one of us—as though THIS is the divinely wrought warp and weave of the cosmos’ moral fabric. This is the heart and truth in Joseph Campbell’s encouragement to “Follow your bliss”: there is joy on the path to justice. That isn’t to say there won’t be grunt work along the way. But no one serves their Promise by merely being a grunt. We were made for more.

Two last thoughts.

First, on the nature of joy. Joy (in its vocational expression) is only rarely simple happiness. More accurately put: Joy is the profound inner awareness that one’s gifts—indeed one’s deepest self—is (even if only momentarily) in alignment with the universal longing of life to flourish. This alignment, which is more or less as unique as each of us is unique, is life-giving and joy-bringing, even in the midst of arduous work. Sometimes my joy is not about the smile on my face; in fact, more often it is the smile deep in my soul—a smile that bears meaning even when there’s a full fledge shit storm going on around me. 🙂

Second, on my particular role. I am nothing, if not a poet-writer: a word artist. Someone whose joy lies in using words artfully to provoke, inspire, imagine. At times to decry what is. At others to declare what might be. This is powerful, essential work in social change. So I was surprised/disappointed to find an absence of any direct recognition (in Lakey’s piece) of Artist as a key role. Yes, you can “smuggle” it in as an adjunct to any of the other four roles, but by now you know I have a spotty history with being adjunct. (On this point the Kaleo Center description of the eight dimensions of Social Transformation Praxis is more helpful as I can more easily see room for art-poetry-writing to shine across these dimensions in ways that respect its independence—its necessary surprise—rather than subsuming it to the utility of others. That’s dense, I know, but important to put into words, even if they’re muddy.)

So, the vocational question for me is Where does the joy I find in being surprised by what words can do find a welcome home in work to change the world for justice? Your question will almost certainly be different than mine, but make sure that JOY has a place in how you frame it.

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Postcard from a Dislocated Life

Postcard from a Dislocated Life
David R. Weiss, March 3, 2018

I’m in an unfamiliar place these days. Truth is, I’ve wandered my way here over the past decade or longer. Partly through choices I’ve made. Partly through choices made by others that have impacted me. Only in the past two years has the awareness become all-encompassing. Yet here I am. Quite dislocated. Knocked off balance. Okay, knocked on my ass.

I suspect—no, I desperately hope—that the way forward lies through this muck. And that writing about it (because writing is what I do) may help ground and guide me, enlighten (or simply entertain) others, and perhaps collect a nugget of insight along the way.

So this is a postcard from a dislocated life. And, no, it doesn’t read: “Wish you were here.”

Over the past decade I’ve lost track of how much I’ve “lost.” Of course, every loss is relative, but there are a handful that have rocked me to my core. Like a yawning abyss, they’ve threatened to swallow me whole. At times, they have. Succinctly, these losses involve my children, my sense of self, my work, my vocation, and my church.

I’ve lost the future I hoped for with my children. I’ll say quickly that I haven’t lost the future per se. But the future in front of us now is wholly different than the one I had hoped for, the one I had actually laid a foundation for.

Going back twenty years, as my second marriage was twisted by emotional and then physical violence, my whole sense of self collapsed. That’s not quite true. I maintained just enough of a sense of self to function pretty well in the outside world, but not enough to function well in my inner world. It was a deceptive combination that’s proven toxic as the years wore on.

My parenting became a game of emotional dodgeball. At times a matter of physical dodgeball. Both kids may have intuited my best intentions and my deep love. But both also saw me fail them, sometimes due to finite time and energy, sometimes to fear, and sometimes to folly. No one parents perfectly. I get that. But I parented across a battlefield, and I regret the years I “agreed” to do that because it lessened the joy and weakened the trust that should have been there.

In those years my own self-care rarely reached the front of triage. I gave one of my first public talks on welcome to LGBT persons while living in daily fear of the woman I slept with each night. I taught feminist theology in a long-sleeved shirt to hide the bruises on my arms left by the violence in my home while I tried so hard to impart insight and hope to others. That’s an abyss. And even when I finally crawled out of it, the damned thing chased after me.

Starting fifteen years ago, my time with my daughter came under siege—the seeds of our bright future framed by laughter, wonder, and trust, were unsown by a series of legal and barely legal maneuvers by my ex-wife and then utterly scattered to the winds by a series of court orders that dismissed my standing as father and sought to reduce me to a bit role in her life. This lasted for more than a decade, from her fifth birthday through her eighteenth. I lived ten years and more under the terror of having my parenting proscribed by decisions that derided my love and demeaned my personhood. To say that takes a toll is understatement. It unravels you. And sometimes it doesn’t even wait to unravel; it tears whole pieces from the fabric of your self.

Did I teach and write and work well enough during those years? Perhaps. (Occasionally I’d add an emphatic Yes!) But did I have nights of rest-full sleep? Or draw breath that truly filled my lungs with life? Or hold her tightly in joy not fringed by fear? Hardly ever. And more than once—indeed more times than I can count—I was gut-punched by events that left me psychically traumatized. There is no other way to describe it. Most of what I battle today is the ongoing echo of those years: ugly scars, gaping wounds mis-healed, landmines still live and buried, just waiting for a single misstep. That type of trauma, left untended, becomes gangrenous.

Against this backdrop—over-extended and inwardly exhausted—I cobbled together a work life with a fair measure of vocation to it. By “cobble” I don’t mean to disparage the work itself. The writing and speaking (and some of the teaching) that I did over these years was undeniably passionate, frequently creative and insightful, occasionally even visionary. And up until just a couple years ago that cobbled career kept me busy enough in each present moment that I was able to avoid inquiring about its sustainability. Until suddenly it wasn’t. Now, with miles (and years!) to go before I sleep (and promises I hope to keep!), I find myself feeling altogether worn out, used up.

Over the past fifteen years as an adjunct professor—particularly over the last seven—I’ve lost any predictable sense of work as a teacher, never knowing what or whether I’d be teaching. As a direct result of that, I’ve lost far too much of my skill as a teacher. Both intuition and instinct, as well as actual subject knowledge, get rusty without practice. I am a shadow of my former classroom self. Less than once in a blue moon do I have any real choice in teaching courses fully aligned with my interests. My theology used to be in direct conversation with my teaching; nowadays the two rarely even speak to each other. In fact, nowadays I teach very little. The phrase “never again” is in the wind.

Worse, I mislaid somewhere along the way of doing other good work (most notably building a union for adjunct faculty), my very best and most important work: theology. These days I ransack my mind and I know it’s still there, buried beneath the ungodly amount of mental-emotional clutter that finds material expression in my office as well. (This is not the clutter of a creative mind; it’s the clutter of a fractured self. Trust me, I know the difference.)

This past week I attended a conference at United Theological Seminary. Checking in at the registration table, Mark (who knew an earlier me) said, “Hello, David!” then reached for the wrong set of nametags, saying, “You must be here to present.” Because at an earlier point in my life, I might’ve been. Not today. Moments later, as I took my seat for the opening session, Kathleen (who also knew that earlier me) greeted me in the exact same way: “Oh, David! Are you here to present?” She then introduced me to her wife, describing me as “an amazing theologian-poet-ally,” while I silently switched all her glowing words into past tense.

Then, after one of the panel discussions I went up to greet one of the panelists, Emmy, a young queer pastor that my earlier me knew, though only in passing. During our brief exchange, she shared with me that back in 2004-2005 my writing on the Book of Acts and LGBT welcome—writing that she still has in its pre-publication 3-hole punched blue binder on her office shelf right alongside her published copy of To the Tune of a Welcoming God—played a singular role in giving her the strength to remain in the church during the years before the church had found the wisdom to welcome her. Emmy’s words of gratitude were so specific (and so unexpected) that they caught me so off guard and before I could flip anything into past tense, I was teary-eyed. The sheer power of theology I once wrote whispered to me through the tears, that just maybe there is more yet to come. Though perhaps it was only a wishful whisper.

Finally, over the past year I lost my church. For someone whose theology has always been driven by the church’s life rather than by academic debates, this last loss has been both spiritual and vocational. I dedicated my book, To the Tune of a Welcoming God, to this congregation, declaring, “The manner of our life together, imperfectly but passionately seeking justice, fills me with hope. Within our walls the tune of a welcoming God is always in the air.” But today I am no longer myself welcome within those walls. Informed by official edict (that is, on church letterhead) that my welcome was henceforth conditioned on leaving my words at the door, on silencing my voice as theologian in this congregation. Bereft is not hyperbole.

Since September I’ve been settling into a new congregation. But the anguish remains, not least because Margaret and I, who in college drove forty miles round trip each week so we could sit side by side in a church where we both felt welcome and at ease, now we worship six blocks (or is it six thousand miles?) apart. She affirms my pain but is, for the time being at least, committed to maintaining relationships in the church that was once so life-giving to both of us, but which now welcomes me only on terms that would rupture my vocation and my faith each week.

Thus, from my hopes, my work, my vocation as writer-teacher-theologian, and my own church: DISLOCATED.

So what’s next? Whoa—not so fast. Something is next. Most days I believe that—though my confidence ebbs and flows like the tide. But disruptive as it is, this dislocation (damn it!) has work to do. If only by way of undoing. By stripping away almost everything before starting afresh. Believe me, I’m as impatient as the next person to get on with this. Likely more impatient than the next person since its my getting on that’s at stake. And yet, here I am. Right now. Feeling quite dislocated on too many counts to count. Certain there is a way forward. Not at all certain that it’s anywhere close to “soon.” On my good days I regard dislocation as that long season that precedes resurrection.

But whether this is truly so remains to be discovered.

*     *     *

 

David Weiss is the author of When God Was a Little Girl, a playfully profound and slyly subversive children’s picture book (2013, www.WhenGodWasaLittleGirl.com) as well as To the Tune of a Welcoming God: Lyrical reflections on sexuality, spirituality and the wideness of God’s welcome (2008, http://www.tothetune.com). A theologian, writer, poet and hymnist, David is committed to doing “public theology” around issues of sexuality, justice, diversity, and peace. He speaks on college campuses and at church and community events. He and his wife, Margaret, make their home in St. Paul, Minnesota. Their blended family includes six children and nine grandchildren. They like keeping close company with creation and their household has included dogs, cats, birds, fish, guinea pigs, hamsters, and even worms. Their home, like their life, is fairly cluttered with joy. You can reach him at drw59mn@gmail.com and read more at www.ToTheTune.com where he blogs under the theme, “Full Frontal Faith: Erring on the Edge of Honest.”

This entry was posted on March 5, 2018. 5 Comments