Friday, December 14, 2007

Quiet period

Sorry for the long period of quiet...I haven't felt like I had anything pithy or even interesting to write. Trying to tie up loose ends at work--exploring databases for my liaison areas and ordering new library materials, trying to resolve format issues for our library faculty annual report with the development & retention committee, dialoguing about how to conduct the personnel reviews coming up next semester, choosing the recipient of the Pew Excellence Award for Library Faculty. A new and exciting project involves working with the LGBT Resource Center to create its library--they're lucky to have a grad assistant who has library acquisitions experience.

What I've been reading lately: a Celtic fantasy called Darkhenge by Catherine Fisher--what I would call fantastical realism, where myth and contemporary world intersect and where the conscious and subconscious cross; and "inspirational" novels about the Amish by Beverly Lewis. I've been wondering why the novels about Plain folks appeal so much to me. I like modern conveniences, my Quaker community and beliefs, wearing pants rather than skirts, individuality, my lesbian marriage. Maybe it is the appeal of the "other" who can seem so different and yet can still have the same types of emotional quandaries I do.

I'm looking forward to my days off between Dec. 21 and Jan 1 and yet I already know it won't seem long enough. My wealth of friends and family means traveling on both weekends. In between, I hope to read more novels (!), walk in the woods, and bake. Oh, and help A with her portfolio, as she needs/requests, but to stay out of it until asked.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cold Tuesday

Dratty cold virus has me back in bed at home (OK, sitting up in bed right now) with a very sore throat. I knew as soon as we left the driveway that I should have stayed home in bed, but I spent the morning profitably finding Arabic booksellers. I've settled on 3: Multicultural Books will buy titles we specify in several languages, provide a transliteration card and an OCLC number; Schoenhof's will do the 1st two items; and Al Kitab (Middle Eastern materials only; can't tell what they will provide, but their website is in English and they list their materials offered, with transliterations, for the U.S. buyer).

OK, now how about sheet music vendors who will provide cataloging as well?

Back to sleep now, really. : (

Friday, November 9, 2007

Autumn gratitudes

This week we were at the Michigan Library Association Annual Conference, and the programs were better than I had anticipated (based on experiences of past years). I came away with a few ideas and a better understanding that being a librarian is more about connection and relationship than providing resources. A & I had dinner with friends Ann & Mike and all of us enjoyed it so much that we're looking forward to getting together again. Turns out that they were the mysterious "anonymous" donors to Big Pink! We also dined with several other librarians and Jessamyn West, who gave a very fun and lively talk on Thursday.

Driving home, I felt filled with fall colors, faded past brilliant but still with yellows gathering the light, browns of maroon and chestnut and umber and beech. I came home and saw that we have a row of flame-red bushes that I had forgotten about. Thanks to a friend, we also came home to clean windows around the house. Before we left town, after lunch at an excellent little cafe called Crumpets, A & I stopped at Elderly Instruments and I played a $4300 viola--warm, mellow, resonant. I've heard violas like that but had never played one. I don't play often enough to warrant making such an investment now, but if I were rich, I might consider it.

As the daylight fades, I'm grateful for my wonderful wife, our nest-home, many friends, health, a decent job, and the amazing natural world. Beauty everywhere, if one has eyes to see.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Grieving

My friend and colleague Pat died 2 mornings ago. I had sat with her a week ago, knowing that her body wouldn't last long and that she was already essentially gone. I sat with my hand on her arm and tried to let her know through that touch that I was there, that I loved her, that I was letting go. I hoped she would go gently, despite Dylan Thomas--she had lived for 15 years with cancers of various types, not raging against the dying of the light but focusing on the here and now. Pat didn't want pity or false sympathy, but she did want to be asked how she was--and for the asker to truly want to know. A few folks made assumptions or gave her insensitive pamphlets about hospice, etc., when she was brimming with verve. Pat really lived by telling it like it was, telling jokes to make the stupidity of others funny and to lighten up our lives, and by constantly reminding her friends that we were bright, amazing people and that we couldn't let others get us down, no matter what. And it seemed to me that she made peace within herself about most of the general human craziness during the past year. She used to tell me to write a book about all of the things people did to her, but she stopped blaming them, about the same time that she stopped saying that her tombstone should say things like, "I was a good girl, I was I was" and "It wasn't all my fault!"

Oh Pat, I hope you're laughing, wherever you are!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Voice of God

Looking back a year ago:

I had to laugh to myself when I heard people singing (or saying) that they "wanted to hear the voice of the Lord," because for me it meant accepting that my life would be turned upside down time and again. It demanded complete self-honesty, courage, and strength. When I haven’t been totally honest with myself and have done things the way I wanted to, I made mistakes that hurt others badly. Sometimes I was so used to feeling upside-down that I didn’t realize how uncomfortable and dreadful it could be for others. Feeling upside-down also made me sensitive to wrongness, when people around me turned their environment upside down to suit themselves, instead of being willing to suffer change themselves in order to help the community grow. But sometimes my presence or example seemed to act as a catalyst for people to begin to make changes in their own lives, or sometimes a wounded person could begin to heal him/herself because of the gentleness which flowed through me.


I reexamined my call to ministry, tried to discern whether or not formal education in seminary would be helpful, and assessed what my spiritual gifts are and considered how to best use them in compliance with God’s will. My job situation had been disquieting for half a year (at that point), and I tried to analyze my strengths and weaknesses objectively, living with my feelings, which said one thing, and the doors closing, which said another. I came to think that the first half-year of 2006 in particular was an exercise in obedience and humility. Plunged into despair and shame, into the dark night, wondering if there would ever be clarity or hope, yet linked with an underlying and deep-rooted willingness to be changed, to take emotional (and some physical) risks—all of this left me believing that I had come out on another side of my spiritual life, extraordinarily transformed (not the goal of submission to the will of God, yet a welcome side-effect!) and more quietly, that I have become more “attuned to authentic movements of the Spirit leading us into greater fullness of life” (Loring 15). This experience seemed to “reflect an experience of God which is more verb than noun, more relationship than knowledge….” And I seemed to have groped my “way in search of reality, past easy definitions and conceptions of” myself, becoming “graciously freed from the distortions imposed by ‘the world’” (ibid.).

Loring, Patricia. Spiritual Discernment: The Context and Goal of Clearness Committees. Pendle Hill Pamphlet 305. Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill Publications, 1992.

Well, I am always surprised by my lack of humility when I look back! Yet, when I take stock, that dark night did seem to help me empty myself, and there was then room for a new person to enter my life, for that relationship to turn my self-concept upside-down in a marvelous way. And I do seem to have made my way into a new conception of myself as a librarian, on the other side of grief and loss.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Human pace, Human face

Live at a human pace, face intimacy. One of our friends is failing at a faster pace than before so we went to see her in the hospital. The TV show, "desperados" as we call it, aka Desperate Housewives, did make a good point this week--it is in those dreadful hospital visits that our human face is most revealed, at its most human pace. Holding a hand, saying, "I love you," is one of the most intimate things we can do for a friend. Keeping a visit short, to accomodate the patient's flagging energy as well as others who want to visit, is to live at a human pace.

Intimacy sometimes begets human pace--and more intimacy. After the hospital visit, I went home exhausted, and slept the following day away as a virus worked its way through my body--and I did my best to accept the loving care of my wifely.


So, the face of God, in the pace of God?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sabbatical a long way off; thee says truly

I have a list of publishers now who might be possibilities for my Seventh-day Quaker book. I realized after hearing the talk by Wade Rouse that the draft might be considered a memoir, which helped shape the publishers I've noted. But after negotiating with another librarian in my unit who is also applying for sabbatical, I realized that if it is granted, it is still a year and 3 months away. What will carry me through: the discipline of hope, small tasks like creating the bibliography in the citation manager, refining the publisher list, and perhaps an intensive class at Earlham School of Religion.

By the way, I continue to be fascinated with the Spanish Sociolinguistics class I'm sitting in on this semester! The question of English-speakers using the singular came up Wednesday--and I wonder if there are any Friends who still use either thou or thee? I do have a non-Quaker friend who uses "thee" as an intimate and affectionate term for her spouse, as do I. But are there folks who use it as a regular practice, at home or in Meeting, school, in blogs, etc., or has it truly died out? I see that jeanne_d_arc has urged us to observe "October (Tenth Month) 24 ... as International Talk Like a Quaker Day." I also see this article citation from Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts, which says that a 1990 survey of 28 Quakers showed that the 2nd person singular is still in use:
Birch, Barbara M. "Quaker Plain Speech: A Policy of Linguistic Divergence." International Journal of the Sociology of Language. 1995. v. 116, pp. 39-59.
If anyone would like to weigh in, speak thy mind, Friend!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A list of blessings

In this week of so many things going wrong, what have been the blessings?
  • My wife, the best blessing of all.
  • No one was hurt when the garage door broke on Sunday morning, and on Tuesday the repairman fixed the cable and the one on the other side of the door as well.
  • On Monday I saw a bunch of really cool inukshuk outside Lake Ontario Hall.
  • A & I heard an excellent talk by memoirist Wade Rouse on Wednesday.
  • My talk with the dean and director about my sabbatical proposal went well today and they gave several solid suggestions.
  • The dining room is now a beautiful greeny-robin’s-egg color.
  • I’ve been playing the viola quite a lot lately. I had a good walk in the park this afternoon, then when we got home, A put together a great dinner while I played the viola. We decided where to have the outdoor motion detector lights, where to plant the mums, and I put together a few inukshuk.
  • Tomorrow the electrician is coming, along with the garage door salesman, and Ffriend Walt for a chat—and I am only working a half day.
  • Sunday our best friends are coming over for dinner.
That's it, just a list. Sometimes all I need is to count them.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Overshoot

Warning: spoilers for the novel, don't read this if you intend to read the novel Overshoot by Mona Clee!


I just re-read this book, and wonder if her idea of an "empathy" gene which mutated and got passed along to most of the population as damaged, could be close to the truth. Why are there only a minority of people who look for and understand the point of the view of others? Why do there seem to be so many people who can do harm to others without seeming to care or understand? And her idea about finding the gene through mapping, repairing it, and then spreading it to the world's population via a cold-like virus...marvelous as long as it was for good but scary since it could so easily be used for evil!

So what does it mean to be obedient? To listen for that still, small voice, to discern the message, to act on that knowledge? If we could only agree on what is "good," or when that voice truly comes from God and the message is meant to be acted upon, and our interpretation valid. If only we were more able to listen openly to those with whom we regularly disagree and take their viewpoints into consideration...REALLY take them into our hearts for discernment!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Joy and Responsibility of Teaching Well

This morning I attended our Pew Faculty Teaching & Learning Center’s annual Teaching Conference, at which the keynote speaker was Dr. L. Dee Fink, who spoke on “The Joy and Responsibility of Teaching Well.” Here are my notes.

Colleges should be ranked on: meaningful general education, good pedagogical practices, high student engagement, and quality learning.

Joy comes from the things that are important to us, and from the feeling that we did them well.

Is what we’re doing as college teachers important?

  • the new world economy is highly knowledge-intensive—we have to keep learning or we fall behind.
  • the global problems get worse unless our students (or graduates) work on solving them.

How well are we doing in higher education?

  • employers say that our graduates can’t solve problems, work with diverse co-workers, or work collaboratively in small groups
  • the National Study of Adult Literacy reports that 2/3 of college graduates are functionally illiterate
  • data from the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) can be interpreted to mean that seniors are not reading, analyzing, interpreting, or applying information in their class assignments
  • “Declining by Degrees” –students don’t learn how to engage in critical thinking
  • Derek Bok says in “Our Underachieving Colleges” that students are not learning and that there is a lack of overarching purpose in undergraduate curricula.

What can we do? Re-examine:

  • what we teach
  • how we teach
  • how we gear up to teach
  • who we are as teachers (see Parker Palmer’s work)

What we teach:

· what we want students to learn is not just knowledge about the discipline

· significant learning comes from a combination of foundational knowledge, application, integration, human dimension (working with others and knowing oneself), caring (new interest, feelings, and values), and learning how to learn.

· Liberal Education – America’s Promise (LEAP)’s Essential Learning Outcomes—engage the big questions in addition to the above combination

How we teach: course design includes learning goals, teaching & learning activities, feedback & assessment

· is there significant learning? active learning? educative assessment (reflective and forward-looking=how will you apply this knowledge?) [we librarians should use minute papers to ask not only what students learned as the most important point in library instruction sessions and what they still have questions about, but also to ask how they will apply their new knowledge to future research]

· criteria & standards=rubrics [we library faculty should work with classroom faculty to encourage them to design rubrics which address the quality of resources students include in their papers and how well students integrate those resources]

· teaching strategy=combination of activities, in a sequence that matters

o readiness test (have they read the material?)=individual, then immediately following the same test in small groups

o application problems=small groups

o exam on content and application

o culminating project

o all of this leads not just to “exposure” to the material but also to understandings, the ability to use the content, and to valuing the content

· President Haas said that faculty are “professional educators”

· all professionals value their own professional development very seriously—

o learn

o use

o assess

o share with colleagues

o reflect

o repeat

o how much time should faculty spend on learning about teaching & learning? Airline reservations employees spent at least 4 hours/month (48 hours/year) in professional development to learn new skills & about changes in the industry

o our job as professional educators is to:

§ be human alchemists

§ change the ordinary into the special (i.e.,—transforming students into confident, capable, caring people

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Same-sex Marriage, Wedding, Wife

As I've been reading about Friends at New England Yearly Meeting grappling with LGBT issues regarding FUM's sexual ethics personnel policy, I am moved to share my joy in our monthly meeting's support, acceptance, and engagement with the lesbian and gay members and attenders. A & I were married 4 weeks & 2 days ago "under the care of the Meeting," "in the manner of Friends," the whole nine yards.... It is marvelous, wonderful, amazing to be taken for granted. To follow a process already in place. To use the same words (marriage, wedding, wife) that other people use. We had some variations, to be sure: our "best girls" ran the show unobtrusively and our overseers read a passage about same-sex marriage as they explained the Quaker process to those unfamiliar with Friends' weddings. I was most moved by the verbal ministry of one of A's aunts when she spoke about love and partnership and welcomed me to the family, because I had had an impression that she was not friendly to same-sex relationships. Yet she, too, was moved to take me/us for granted. Maybe Friends in FUM will be able to unite someday to take us for granted--so that we will no longer need to marvel, wonder, or be amazed.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Meeting space

This morning I dreamt about feeling that I have been missing the experience of Sabbath--I haven't been feeling particularly rested or connected to God and nature. Today I am going with A to meet some of her family-like friends in Chicago--I will try to be more deliberate about being mindful and aware, resting, being present, meeting each person, and that of God within them, graciously and gracefully.

Our Friends Meeting is also seeking a place to rest (or is it roost?). As happened last time, every possibility seems to be falling through, and probably the one which will work for us will come at the last moment, so I trust. At work, we senior faculty struggle to identify when to trust, and when to act decisively to lead. There is a lot that goes into finding a meeting place for our spiritual community; so too with creating a space in which to find common understanding with our junior colleagues who have more formal authority in our library organization but far less experience. We experience being broken open and re-formed again, as individuals and in community, inextricably part of forming relationship, be it with Spirit or each other. (Both/and, one of my colleagues/friends would remind me.) May this struggle give all of us a spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that, with the eyes of our heart enlightened, we may know what is the hope to which we are called (see Ephesians 1:17-19; thanks to Micah Bales in his July 8 post in The Lamb's War for reminding me of this passage and to look for connections). Hope, a constantly deliberate act of will.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Back to work; converging quakerism

It wasn't as difficult as I had thought it might be to return to work--there is plenty to do, and I am trying to figure out what to propose for a sabbatical project. I want to finish my book and get it published, but as it isn't about libraries, I'm not sure how my colleagues will respond to that. I'd like to study theology (Quaker theology specifically), or even Spanish, at the MA level--that could be tied into my being an Arts & Humanities librarian. Maybe I can make the case for the book in that it goes toward both scholarship and A&H--and may help me to understand my A&H colleagues' professional lives better, and help me to mentor my younger librarian colleagues in the scholarship & publishing aspects of their jobs.

P.S., why do I consider myself a "convergent" Quaker? Because, despite my liberal tendencies and membership in a FGC Meeting, I experienced a calling to study and worship with an evangelical-type Christian church in a very different and newer tradition than liberal Friends, which continually took me out of my comfort zone, and let me learn an enormous amount about the Bible. Because I visited an evangelical Friends meeting and felt the lack of connection between us. Because I believe in dialogue rather than dismissal, and understanding rather than merging.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Return from the Honeymoon

For details of our wedding and travels, see Amy's blog. Not looking forward to returning to work tomorrow; would much rather be sitting outside on my deck looking at the trees and sky. I still don't know what else to do, instead of my current job, but maybe playing music, doing some artwork, and finishing the book will help.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

God-Given Nature

Written for my SDA friends specifically, but also applicable to other denominations including branches of Friends--I addressed the Biblical texts as best I could.

The official statement from Adventist.org entitled "Seventh-day Adventist Position Statement on Homosexuality" asserts that “sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and a woman. This was the design established by God at creation. The Scriptures declare: ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh’ (Gen. 2:24, NIV).” Yet sex is a god-given impulse, not evil in and of itself. This verse isn’t prescriptive, meaning that all men must leave their families and be married, nor does it rule out other reasons to leave one’s parents’ home. It tries to describe why men and women are drawn together joyfully—as helpers, interdependent companions. It doesn’t say that other types of partnerships are prohibited!

However, the SDA official statement does go on to say that “Sexual acts outside the circle of a heterosexual marriage are forbidden (Lev. 20:7-21; Rom. 1:24-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11).”

Within the cited Leviticus passage, verse 20:9 says that “All who curse father or mother shall be put to death” (NRSV). There are those who would argue that we cannot pick and choose which laws in Leviticus we obey and disobey, yet certainly we would not execute children who curse their parents. If we were to pick and choose which laws to obey/disobey, then this particular Levitical injunction, as with the wearing of mixed-fiber clothing, is no longer relevant to our society. However, the more compelling argument comes from Christ having superseded the Torah laws and ordinances. Rom. 10:6 “For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Eph 2:15, “He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances….” Paul’s letter to the Galatians also speaks to blind obedience to the ordinances, especially 5:4, “You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from Grace.” Hebrews 10:1 states that “the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities….”

Romans 1:24-27 refers to those who do not honor or thank God and who make images of creatures to worship instead of worshipping the one God—and thus they do not love God or neighbor but express toward their fellow humans “acts of exploitative dominance or lust, not love” (Marston). That “God gave them up to degrading passions” (Rom. 1:26) concerns God’s abandonment of idolators, and should not be read as His cursing those who love and are committed to each other and God.

1 Cor. 6:9 addresses male prostitutes and sodomites—which indicates sexual abuse of children, the forcible rape of those who were foreigners or guests, and/or sex outside of committed relationships. Sodomy was also used to indicate copulation with animals. Forcible anal or oral-genital violation of an unconsenting person (be they child, woman, man, or animal) is wrong and is thus defined as illegal, as well as immoral.

Regarding 1 Cor. 6:9-11, reflect also on 1 Cor. 2:11-16. 1 Cor. 2:11 says, “For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God.” I was challenged sharply once when I stated that the nature of being gay or lesbian is “God-given.” The nature of lesbian/gay/bisexual (LGB) people isn’t yet truly understood by any of us; nevertheless, our spirituality is of God and I don’t doubt that sexual orientation also comes from God, just as one’s spiritual nature does. My orientation seems to be a basic part of who I am, just as my contemplative disposition is.

As humans who can understand only a small part of what God is, who are we to decree that certain groups of people must not live out their connection to God and each other? 1 Cor. 2:15-16: “Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny. ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’” Who would be so bold as to tell God that LGB people are not His? 1 Cor. 3:16 says, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” Yes, even those of us who are not heterosexual! Read 1 Cor. 4:5 on not judging others; “God will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.” Each person can choose how to act based on his/her character and temperament, yet integrity requires acting in accord with one’s deepest self.

1 Cor. 3:17, “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” This seems to me to be an exhortation to those who disfellowship and shun lesbians and gays who have entered into relationships, and try to nullify and change the basic integrity of LGB people! 1 Cor. 4:7 “What do you have that you did not receive?” Sexual orientation is a gift of God.

1 Cor. 5:9-11 exhorts us not to associate with immoral persons—yet if we don’t allow same-sex marriages, then we define immorality, instead of God. We judge and condemn, and thus will be condemned. Romans 10:11 “The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame,’” i.e., God accepts all, and who are we to judge, shame and destroy our neighbors?

The SDA official statement also contains as justification: “Jesus Christ reaffirmed the divine creation intent: ‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two, but one’ (Matt. 19:4-6, NIV).” In this passage Jesus defines remarriage after divorce as being adultery—why is it taken out of context and interpreted as addressing same-sex relationships? As previously stated, it is neither prescriptive (meaning that each and every man will marry a woman) nor, since it addresses remarriage, should it be read as proscriptive regarding same-sex matrimony. More relevant is Heb 13:4, which says, “Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” Same-sex marriages should be held to the same standards regarding adultery, letting God be the judge. Yet not only “heterosexual” marriage should be honored by all. If we limit marriage to “one man and one woman” then marriage certainly cannot be revered by all, since all do not honor those who respect and wish to enter into the covenant.

The SDA definition of same-sex relationships as sinful forces people to behave in ways that deny their own integrity. But the real question is about how and why we fall in love with another person—and the answer seems to be derived from a mixture of elements including biochemistry, environment, and God. Authentic integrity can include living a life of deep commitment to another person. Same-sex relationships do include the healthy, consensual, physical expression of ongoing care and interest (i.e., sex).

At their best, romantic relationships are founded on spiritual connection—the two people connected with each other and with God. Sin is essentially about separation from God, self, and others. Marriage is about the union of two people caring for each other in relationship to God. With this understanding, why would the marriage of gay or lesbian couples be sinful? That would be a contradiction in terms.

The way we see God is the basis for our response to others. If we understand God to be threatening, domineering, condemning, controlling, abusive, then we carry out these beliefs in our actions toward others. If we are faithful to a loving God, we will practice fidelity in caring not only for our neighbors but also in faithfully uniting with another person in a devoted, healthy relationship. Heb 13:1 “Let mutual love continue.”

Redemption is through faith alone, not works (which includes acts). But as David Glenn pointed out in his sermon on July 9, 2005, faith in our salvation frees us up to do good works. We are instructed time and again to answer when called by God. When two people feel called together by God, an essential part of answering faithfully consists of defining a loving relationship. It would be sinful to ignore that calling, denying the truth of God’s vision for us and the strength of His will.

Most LGBT people I know are very spiritual, very cognizant of “that of God” within their lives. It is God who calls souls into community with Him. However, it is people who decide who may and may not be part of a particular religious community or take part in specific rites. Religion is the form in which groups define the way they reach out to God. It is also a way of codifying human behavior. As humans who can understand only a small part of what God is, who are we to decree that certain groups of people must not live out their connection to God and each other, in healthy, consensual relationships? Our predecessors denied the right of marriage to African-Americans because they were considered less than human. Until recently, our laws restricted marriage between people of different races. Our predecessors also believed that left-handedness was sinful and persecuted those who insisted on using their dominant hand. Should we follow in the same direction? Again, let God judge, and let us not set ourselves above Him.

Ellen G. White wrote compassionate arguments for racial equality; many of them could easily be applied to equality for LGB people. “Caste is hateful to God. He ignores everything of this character. In His sight the souls of all men are of equal value….without distinction…” (White, Desire of Ages, 403). "You will always find Satan on the side of the oppressor. God does not oppress" (White, Manuscript 5, 47). Why not read her texts in The Southern Work on equal love, reward, salvation, destination, relations, responsibility, and priority?

The standard for Seventh-day Adventist Christian behavior is stated in the church's Fundamental Belief No. 13, "Unity in the Body of Christ:"

In Christ we are a new creation; distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation.

Meister Eckhart said that, “When God laughs at the soul and the soul laughs at God, the persons of the trinity are begotten. When the Father laughs at the Son and the Son laughs back at the Father, that laughter gives pleasure, that pleasure gives joy, that joy gives love, and that love is the Holy Spirit.” One soul laughing with God—no matter the sex, gender, or sexual orientation—or two souls laughing with each other and God—is that not also part of the Holy Spirit and Trinity?

Works Cited

Coogan, Michael David, Marc Zvi Brettler, Carol A. Newsom, and Pheme Perkins. The New Oxford Annotated Bible: with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books. New Revised Standard Version, 3rd Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Glenn, David. "Why Are We Missing Out?" Central Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Grand Rapids, MI. 9 July 2005.

Marston, Walt. Unpublished Letter to the Editor. 25 March 2005.

White, Ellen Gould Harmon. The Desire of Ages: The Conflict of the Ages Illustrated in the Life of Christ. Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Association, 1940.

White, Ellen Gould Harmon. Manuscript releases: From the Files of the Letters and Manuscripts. Washington, D.C.: E. G. White Estate, [1981?]

White, Ellen Gould Harmon. The Southern Work. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Association, 1966.

[For additional, extensive exegesis of the Biblical passages cited by the SDA statements, see the Seventh-Day Adventist Kinship site at http://www.sdakinship.org/anotherpov/index.htm and Someone to talk to...for families of gays and lesbians, at http://someone-to-talk-to.net/.]

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

anxieties & tools

Pre-wedding anxieties times two? Ya, you betcha. I was reminded yesterday that I need to do what I believe in terms of practicing kindness & not practicing revenge (the latter always smacks me in the face), and that kindness starts & ends at home (and especially includes the car, since A & I carpool). I'm so glad I took a course on conflict management, but do I remember those tools when the heat is on and my feelings are hurt? Of course not. I remember them when A cries. I also remember what I've learned from Friends Meeting and study with the Seventh-day Adventists when I have time to think and be rational, not when I'm feeling unpleasant.

What news on the library end? After our first year with a collection development vendor, yesterday I finished comparing the profile I had set up for my liaison areas with what was purchased, revised the profile, and put some items I had overlooked into a folder for later purchase. Use the tools, human!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Passage

Yesterday when I stepped into the arboretum at work for a few minutes, a hummingbird with a brilliantly silver belly and scarlet throat zoomed at me then away; the pink water lilies with yellow centers seem to focus the sunlight. This morning I dropped A at work and went back to the nature preserve to walk. I heard the warning whistle of deer, saw them leaping away; I could see the world of dappled green.

Everything seems uncertain except these kinds of experiences. I suppose I feel chaotic because I am in a passage, about to enter into the rite of marriage (in front of many people!). The work I do as a librarian doesn't seem to hold much meaning or interest for me these days but perhaps that is perfectly normal.

As I look back at my journal from a year and a half ago, I am relieved that I don't feel the tearing pain I did then, though I still don't understand the organizational culture I'm in. On 3/9/06 I wrote, "What are my dreams? To see (to live in) Spain and New Zealand, to see a glacier and the Canadian Rockies—to travel. To go hangliding once. To ride a scooter—even to test-drive one." Well, I camped in the Canadian Rockies for a week and saw glaciers (awesome), I went hangliding (hated it because I felt motion sick), and rode a couple of scooters and decided not to buy one.

I have yet to live in Spain and travel to New Zealand. But, I met my wife-to-be and we are going to vacation in Montreal and Vermont, both new places for me. A brings totally unexpected direction, goodness, warmth, grace, and beauty to my life. Now I have someone to tell my dreams to, who will tell me to get my viola out because it needs to be played, who tells me to go for a walk in the woods. Pretty amazing. Oh, and she bought a Prius hybrid--not quite as good on gas mileage as a scooter, but a lot safer on the road. Life is good.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Question of Evil

We've been watching Babylon 5, which is about battles between good and evil and the "way of the warrior" instead of the "way of peace." I've never believed in an evil being (Satan or fallen angels--"Shadows" as they are known on B5). Isaiah 45:5-7 says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other…. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” This passage seems to provide fodder for the idea of God as an integrated, holistic being rather than solely good with a separate evil counterpart.

I see God as intersticial, existing not only in everything but also in all of the spaces between things, in the connections, infinitely loving and compassionate. Yet when people begin to describe God as wrathful and vengeful, thus destroying connections, that seems to me to be one way of describing evil. (Do I need to accept these as qualities of an integrated God?) I also think both good and bad thoughts come from our own minds and our experiences. But, when I hear that "still, small voice," from where and from whom does it come? Especially when it asked me last year, "why do you deny me?" an ironic and humorous question I'm still pondering.

I see “sin” as separation from self, others, and God. If we choose not to listen and respond to a loving and compassionate God, well, we have free will and can choose to do harmful things, but that doesn’t limit God. But could God ever be separated from the Godself? Jesus seemed to feel that disconnection briefly while on the cross, so perhaps yes, since he is our greatest example of a life of continual connection with God, even as Godself.

I tend to think that the “end of time” (or the "Advent") could refer to the absolute present (past, present, and future all one). “Final judgment” could mean that all will be incorporated in God, and thus we will know all of the harms/evil done in all times, as well as all of the love/goodness. To know infinite darkness as well as infinite light—unimaginable pain and grief as well as joy and rapture—could be horrible and terrible and wonderful and amazing. That’s why it’s important to act in the belief that we are all connected (whether or not we feel this), to love all—self, enemies, friends and family, those who are unknown—because all will be revealed when we abide in God.

So perhaps the questions of whether or not evil and Satan exist are moot, if we could live out this last principle, the way of peace.



Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Experiencing Sabbath

I wrote to A today that, "When I walked in the woods and through the arboretum this afternoon, I realized that I really want to stay here. We can re-make our yard at home bit-by-bit, and the house too, and we have lots of nature/natural beauty around, and I think I have to re-learn how to work in this culture, to remake my understanding and passion and focus. I love it here."
Her response was, "Ah-ha. I've been waiting for you to really say that. Good. Now we can get on with the so-called 'real life' I've been hearing about ... Thanks. Love you, A."

This realization came to me because I've become very interested in boulders for the yard, and a small pond, and native plants (plus some that aren't native...I'm not a purist but I'm trying to avoid the invasive species now that I know better). I don't want to do the work of re-making the yard if we're not hoping to stay here. Also, I thought it was funny that A picked out a house in another town she was considering for a job, and the house seemed quite similar to ours.

A sabbath can be a resting point in one's mind when one feels resistant. It can be the pointer for something that doesn't need to be changed. That still, quiet place in which I feel settled and suddenly tranquil. Sabbath can reside in the response of a loved one to a deeply-felt realization.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Tempering hammer

Chris M wrote, "Similarly, whatever guides the universe -- whether God is singing each present moment into being...." What a breathtaking metaphor: I can picture God singing the spirit into the first human, God's singing spirit filling Jesus at baptism, and God singing in my own heart. Right now that singing may be more like the insistent and uncertain "Flight into Egypt" (in Hector Berlioz' L'enfance du Christ), but it is still present.

The tempering hammer is swinging...what is it Thee is asking me for? I hear Thee, but I do not understand the message.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Whither to Rest?

I'm trying to find a place for my mom to live. She has early-onset dementia, and I have found some sources for support: A Place for Mom (thanks, Google) and the AARP site (thanks, A), plus a terrific HR staff person at work who leads a support group for families of those with Alzheimer's. Finding a place seems difficult since I don't have a specific prognosis and don't really understand the financial situation. Yes, I'm another daughter who prefers not to deal with mom directly, so I have to cope with not-so-much information, a curse for a librarian but a blessing for me as a daughter. A&I have been thankful that each of us has long-term-care insurance; we're having a lawyer prepare wills, trusts, powers of attorney, etc.

In the meantime, I'm trying to prepare for our upcoming wedding under the care of the Friends Meeting, actually accomplish some work at work, and still have something of a social life with our friends. I feel overwhelmed and depressed both yesterday and today, tired and cranky. I need to spend time in the woods but twisted my knee yesterday. Thus, that connection I can readily sense with God while I'm in the woods and fields isn't quite as accessible. I encouraged A to pick out a book of the Bible that interested her, for us to read bit-by-bit at night...maybe we'll be able to take that up this evening. I wish for a sense of sabbath.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Caution: Deep Listening at work

How do we listen each other into being?

In one meeting I heard a deep fear voiced; I heard the reassurance that this fear would not be realized; yet I knew that the action had already been taken and that the original speaker's fear was indeed realistic; s/he had a valued task taken away. In this same meeting, we were asked for specific examples of lack of openness, honesty, and integrity.

How can I bring this to the collective attention without making accusations? How can I help all of the parties think through the issues and come to a solution which works for each and all? It sounded as if the decisions had been made--but were they irrevocable? Can the decisions be re-made after deep listening to one another, followed by a problem-solving process?

Attention and presence, the thoughts of Mary Rose O'Reilley about spiritual friendship/companioning in Radical Presence, are also the underlying constructs for conflict management.

Let me be led.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Who am I?

I'm reading Radical Presence: Teaching as Contemplative Practice and just finished The Garden at Night: Burnout and Breakdown in the Teaching Life, by Mary Rose O'Reilley, both thought-provoking and very relevant to my state of being. I seem to be called to teaching and learning, information literacy (as a relational practice instead of the behavioral and skills-based model), holistic and visionary thinking--I enjoy strategic planning and brainstorming and fitting ideas into the bigger picture and assessment, contemplation, convergent Friendliness, and ecumenism.

I'm in the midst of writing a book about having spent 2 years as a Quaker recorded minister in the Seventh-Day Adventist church. It helped me understand evangelical Friends without feeling the need to change them to be more like me (a liberal Friend and radical Christian who still feels like a non-theist at times, despite God having asked, "Why do you resist me?" while I was driving one day).

I'm also in the middle of wondering why I am in this particular job at this particular time. Students are the people we are trying to help in their learning...if we don't value their input and seek their feedback, what is the point of teaching? Teaching is like healing--we're never really responsible for the learning of our students or the health of those who come to us for "healing." We facilitate, walk alongside, challenge to think and live differently.