Vaguebooking

 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” -John, 18:23

I can’t remember when it was that my fiancé said to me after I’d posted something cryptic on Facebook, “You’re vague booking.” It’s the act of expressing a feeling or emotion without specifically addressing the issue itself. Sometimes its shady, sometimes it’s done out of a need to turtle; retreat to safety but at the same time somehow reach out to say help–just enough that people notice and say, “they’re vague booking”. Before social media, I think this would be the character who continually sighs in a sitcom until someone asks, “Ok, what’s wrong!?”

I’ve been vague booking. The reality is, I’m in a place where I am experiencing grief that I didn’t think had a place in my life–because I thought I’d dealt with. And yet, there’s more.

And I want to speak more to that grief. But I’m also feeling that, having expressed it, I haven’t been heard because that grief is somehow not pertinent, or its too challenging to hear, or requires that a truth be acknowledged that might be uncomfortable to hear.

Right now, in a place where I felt I had worth, in a place I felt I mattered, I feel the complete opposite. And while I recognize that the power to change lies in my hands, it can’t change the fact that I’m broken.

This morning around 5:00 am I got out of bed because I couldn’t sleep. My mind would not shut off, would not stop thinking in a childish way about how I could try to change situations. It’s the time liturgically of Ascension, and depending on how you celebrate, it either just happened this past Wednesday, or will be happening for you on Sunday. I should be focused on hope right now, yet my mind was drawn to the moment when Jesus was struck during His passion. At that moment, we see when not to turn the other cheek. Christ, knowing the full torment of His passion is upon Him, stops, and chastises the man who struck Him, challenging him to explain his actions, to justify the assault on His body. It’s a beautiful moment for so many reasons. It is a moment that gives me hope–just a little bit of hope–that in the situations that feel to me to be unjust, disrespectful, that the truth still is the truth.

I’m left still with the grief, with the disappointment. I look at the scripture I’ve chosen for this post, and have to really fight against the voice in my head that tells me “You’re just being a martyr, suck it up, tote the line, go along with it.” But I can’t. Because my values to the truth forbid me to do that. My commitment to my vocation forbids me to do that. My grief is in that I cannot speak, I cannot change what is, and likely what will be.

So I’m vague booking.

Vaguebooking

Before you jump on this bandwagon…

Something bothered me about this this morning when I saw it. And of course, it means I need to dig into it to see why, right?

So let’s unpack this, shall we?

It seems to me that the first statement is saying this: Excluding people from the fight for social justice, from the spaces where social justice takes place, is a form of injustice. To say that it is toxic, to me, implies that it is harmful to the social justice space to exclude people who make mistakes. So people who may have made a mistake shouldn’t be excluded from a social justice space (which has not been defined either…so this could be a meeting, a protest, a social media thread). Forgive, and move forward. Maybe? Maybe not? Let’s keep digging.

Second statement.

The demand for moral perfection, ideological purity, and conformity to exclusively academic language (which is classism btw) is simply transferred fundamentalism.

So I’m going to make an assumption that in this case, the morality and ideology the person is referring to reverts back to the first statement. Now it’s getting juicier. Because I think what this statement is saying is this: You put people into boxes when you expect them to meet your standards of morality, ideology, and academic capability. Which is the exact kind of fundamentalism that creates the impulse to cancel people from social justice spaces.

By this logic then, people who have harmed queer people by means of violence that have served their time in jail, educated themselves, and want to act as activists should have the right to do so, because to exclude them would be an unfair demand for moral perfection and ideological purity.

It’s actually also very much an argument that could be made for the Apostle, Paul.

I have issues with Paul.

And of course, in working all this out like I have, it makes me realize that I’ve probably missed the mark completely.

Here is the issue I have with the statement in this image. I don’t believe it addresses anything of accountability…..hey wait a minute….

The very statement is SELF REFERENTIALLY ABSURD!

Isn’t that statement absolutely conforming to a sense of moral perfection, ideological purity, and exclusively academic language? Hello?

This is a meme. It’s a joke. And it went over mine, and a whole lot of other people’s heads that felt they could use it to justify something.

And I can’t get that two hours of my life back.

Fuck.

Before you jump on this bandwagon…

Prayer, April 19, 2021

I’m lost.

not so much lost in terms of place

but

what do I do

when everything i do ends in party horns

trailing off in the distance

watching parades blocks away

past me not left behind

my voice shouting the panic realizing

i have

been left

behind

looking forward fists raised

voices shouting anger justice causes

i have

been left

behind

irrelevant empty like a chrysalis broken

a wrapper trapped in the eddy of a stream

spinning

going nowhere

I’m lost.

but not lost in sense of place or time but in ego defeated

broken

shattered

an imposter

exhausted by impotent anger

Prayer, April 19, 2021

Conversion Therapy

When I heard that the City of Regina was considering a ban on conversion therapy, and that there were actually numerous people speaking in favor of it–one pastor apparently claiming to speak for every Christian in Regina–I was dumbfounded.

I mean, it’s bad enough that we’ve had to undergo second, third, and now potentially fourth wither (ugh!).

But there were, and are, many of us who experienced a moment of wanting to pray the gay away. I was one of them. I didn’t start out wanting to be this way. I remember very poignantly having a conversation with a man who was a friend, Dave, who said that he’d successfully been through conversion therapy, that being queer was a condition that could in fact be psychologically altered through therapy. Granted, the man was on his third marriage by the time I met him, and I think he may have been heading for his fourth by the time I stopped having an interest in our friendship.

I believed the my Christian faith was at odds with who I was as a queer person. So I began a journey that took me through paganism, Buddhism, Indigenous Spirituality. In my mind, there had to be a faith practice that accepted and valued who I was as a person.

I returned to my faith in my late 30’s. I believed at that point that if I was to follow in the footsteps of Christ, I needed to live chaste. I needed to suppress my desires, my yearnings; not just sexual, but a yearning for intimacy, closeness, a relationship with someone I could call a life partner.

Someone once told me that God just wants us to know who we really are. In the pit of my soul, I knew I was queer. I knew that this was how I was made, this was God’s Image.

So how can someone believe that therapy can bring someone out of their queerness?

Because accepting a God with limitations like ours is easier than accepting a God with limitless boundaries.

Because we become incredibly uncomfortable when faced with a concept of infinity with no boundaries, and must force ourselves to create boundaries to protect ourselves.

It’s 2021, and there’s a conversation happening in the walls of city hall about whether they should stop conversion therapy. Sure, we could argue that allowing it to continue would give those who feel a desire to accept it as an option is part of living in a free and just society. Except for one thing.

Conversion therapy is based on a theology of boundaries. And whenever I hear the theology of boundaries being preached, I go to St. Anselm of Canterbury.

I can picture a God that exists infinitely. While the other version of God might be easier to fit into our limited world view, it’s not as great as a God who exists infinitely. God’s purpose is not to allow us to be comfortable hiding behind His skirts. God’s purpose is to help us walk beyond our limitations, beyond our concepts, beyond our ideals, holding those principles we embrace as given us from our birth–goodness, compassion, charity, love–so that we can know and love Him better.

We should not be surprised when people with limited views of the world are supported by those who also hold limited views. But I am tired of it. I’m tired, and I’m sad, and I’m angry.

Conversion Therapy

We’re going to do this for Silvia.

My arm really hurts, and I’ve had a head ache for about 9 hours now. I feel like I have cotton in my mouth, and my entire body aches.

I’ve been ranting on Facebook and to anyone who could listen that I’m frustrated because, as front line direct support workers in the community, we’re not receiving covid 19 vaccines. A lot of my frustration is driven by the fact that times in a pandemic are mores stressful than anyone could imagine.

The hardest part for me has not being able to spend time with my family at holidays. My mom’s moved out to Fort Qu’Appelle because she feels safer there, and I can’t say as I blame her. In the two or so interactions I’ve had with people in commercial stores the last few weeks I haven’t felt really safe. Yes, people are wearing mask and sanitizing their hands; yet, there’s something selfish about how people just carry on. In a way it feels like walking over someone’s grave every time I go out. It feels like I’m taking a risk–Saskatchewan has a lot of new cases, and over 1000 of them are in Regina.

Yesterday, I got word that I might be eligible to get in for a vaccine. Today.

Then later last night, I got absolute confirmation that I did in fact qualify.

I cried. I sobbed. I’m on the road to being able to see my mom again. And there I go, crying one more time.

Damn it.

I felt grateful, I felt relieved. I felt guilty.

There are still so many people who haven’t got their vaccines yet. People that I know, that I care very deeply about. People that I want to see safe. People I want to be able to share experiences in life with. I want to get married! I want to be ordained! I want to travel! While I know it’s probably never going to be like it was before covid, there’s going to be (I hope) some sense of normality again.

When I sat down next to my nurse, I started crying. I told her about how my family in England had all got covid, and how I’d lost someone so special, Silvia. I told her about how Silvia was the type of person that if something was going to happen, it was going to happen to her. She was a magnet it seemed for medical issues. I told her about how when she went into the hospital in Arizona, her numbers weren’t great, but she was doing really well. Then I told her about how fast and how suddenly Silvia just passed. And I cried some more.

I told the nurse that I wanted to do the injection for Silvia. I wanted to remember her in that moment. And I cried some more.

I know a lot of people are posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram of themselves with their stickers. I’m going to ask, when you get your first vaccine injection, do it for someone you’ve lost. Remember someone who’s gone.

I miss you so, so much Mama. I’m sad you won’t be here for my ordination, or my wedding. I’m sad I won’t be able to come to Arizona to see you.

But I want you to know I’m grateful that there are still people who miss you with me, that share the grief still with me.

I miss you so much.

We’re going to do this for Silvia.

What do you say to a Christian on Good Friday?*

This post was inspired by an interaction on Facebook this morning by a friend I’ve know a while, Jean. I’d like to dedicate this post to her, and thank her for this, and continued inspiration elsewhere! Thank you, Jean! You inspired me today in a dry spell!

The Seven Last “Words” of Jesus Christ from the cross are actually 7 short phrases that Jesus uttered on Calvary. To find all of the seven last words of Jesus Christ, one must read all the gospels since none of the evangelists records all 7 last words. The sayings would have been originally uttered by Jesus in the Aramaic language, but only one of the last seven words of Jesus is preserved for us in the original Aramaic, namely “Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani” or “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me,” which is actually a direct quote of the opening verse of Psalm 22. The rest of the seven last words of Jesus are found in the gospels after having been translated into Greek by the four Evangelists.

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook today, and it’s a great question!

I never know what to say to Christians who observe “Good Friday,” since it’s not exactly a celebration. By now, I don’t think I’m on close enough terms with many Christians to wish them anything, but I know that some sincerely aim to do good in the world. “Condolences for your loss” would probably sound sarcastic, but it seems on-track. I remember feeling confused when my Unitarian mother told me that “Good Friday” wasn’t actually good. I think I asked: then why not call it Bad Friday?

I replied by saying that it was complicated, and I’d blog about it. This is my experience–not necessarily a shared experience for everyone.

Good Friday is one day in the liturgical year of the church, one of the holiest. This is the day the church uses to mark the Passion, Crucifixion, and death of Jesus. But it’s one day in a long, long line of days in the calendar. Something that I love about my faith is that liturgically, the year is marked by the passages of festivals, feasts, fasts. And in looking at that calendar, it’s complicated to actually say where things end and things begin because like the literal seasons, and ending is simply another beginning. While it may be easy to say that the church simply linked these times of the year to already existing pagan festivals (and they certainly did in some cases), there is also emerging evidence that the pagans also commandeered existing Christian festivals and practices as well. The point is, the time of the feast, the fast, does purposely coincide with changes in our season. Regardless of how it was formed? It’s beautiful when Easter approaches and the weather reflects a literal rebirth as well of plants, the return of bird, and a freshness in the air we’ve all missed.

I’ve of course realized that there might be some tongue in cheek here as well. It was a bad Friday for a couple of thieves for sure.

What’s the best thing to say to a Christian on Good Friday? Well… would you like me to buy you breakfast? How’s your day? What’s new with you?”

It’s a different kind of holy day. In my Franciscan vocation, I try and put myself in the shoes of the people who are oppressed, the people who are in pain and poverty. Today, it means trying to put myself in the shoes of Christ on the Cross,; it’s an impossibility. To conceive a persons’ physical pain compounded by the pain of literally billions of people past, present, and future–to conceive the Infinite, the Divine, pinned to a cross and not coming down, not stopping the pain, but pushing through it. I can’t conceive that. I wouldn’t know how to begin.

When I try, I weep. And I’m not completely sure why. But I do.

There are moments when it’s easier to feel a connection to Christ in my life. This season is somehow like an amplifier, bringing the real presence somehow closer to me, somehow easier to understand, easier to feel.

And for others, this is just another Friday.

And that’s how it should be.

What do you say to a Christian on Good Friday?*

40-As I have done to you, so you do also.

Before the festival day of the pasch, Jesus knowing that his hour was come, that he should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And when supper was done (the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray him), Knowing that the Father had given him all things into his hands and that he came from God and goeth to God, He riseth from supper and layeth aside his garments and, having taken a towel, girded himself. After that, he putteth water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. He cometh therefore to Simon Peter. And Peter saith to him: “Lord, dost thou wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him: “What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.” Peter saith to him: “Thou shalt never wash my feet“. Jesus answered him: “If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me.” Simon Peter saith to him: “Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” Jesus saith to him: “He that is washed needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who he was that would betray him; therefore he said: “You are not all clean.”
Then after he had washed their feet and taken his garments, being set down again, he said to them: “Know you what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord. And you say well: for so I am. If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.” John 13:1-15

40-As I have done to you, so you do also.

39-Today you will be with me.

And one of those robbers who were hanged blasphemed him, saying: “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.” But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: “Neither dost thou fear God, seeing; thou art under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly: for we receive the due reward of our deeds. But this man hath done no evil.” And he said to Jesus: “Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom.” And Jesus said to him: “Amen I say to thee: This day thou shalt be with me in paradise.” 

From the readings of the Mass, The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of Luke

39-Today you will be with me.

38-Why have you forsaken me?

And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole earth until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying: “Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabacthani?” Which is, being interpreted: “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?” And some of the standers by hearing, said: “Behold he calleth Elias.” And one running and filling a sponge with vinegar and putting it upon a reed, gave him to drink, saying: “Stay, let us see if Elias come to take him down.” And Jesus, having cried out with a loud voice, gave up the ghost.
And the veil of the temple was rent in two, from the top to the bottom. And the centurion who stood over against him, seeing that crying out in this manner he had given up the ghost. said: “Indeed this man was the son of God.” And there were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joseph and Salome,
Who also when he was in Galilee followed him and ministered to him, and many other women that came up with him to Jerusalem.

-A portion of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Saint Mark

38-Why have you forsaken me?

37-Are you kidding me, Judas?

Jesus therefore, six days before the pasch, came to Bethania, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life. And they made him a supper there: and Martha served. But Lazarus was one of them that were at table with him. Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.
Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him, said: “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor?” Now he said this not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief and, having the purse, carried the things that were put therein. Jesus therefore said: “Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of my burial. For the poor you have always with you: but me you have not always.”
A great multitude therefore of the Jews knew that he was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. John 12:1-9

Ok so this may have been something you missed as well.

The disciples and Jesus are having supper. There’s a huge crowd of people there because Jesus has recently raised Lazarus from the dead, and the people are there to see Jesus. But. They’re also there to see this guy that was dead. And isn’t dead any longer. And is eating supper with Jesus and his disciples.

Martha’s serving the goat, passing olives, making sure everyone has enough wine to drink. Then suddenly, everyone can smell nard. And it’s strongest from where Jesus is sitting and permeating out from there. I’m going to assume that even the crowd is smelling it. And if it’s a large crowd, then that crowd is going to know that someone has broken a vessel of nard.

Judas, who’s described as a thief, and is the holder of the purse, says that it’s a waste–that could’ve been sold and the money given to the poor. It doesn’t say what tone Jesus speaks in, merely that he says that they will always have the poor, they won’t always have Him.

This is the part that I’m a little shocked by.

Judas is sitting with a man who, only a few days ago, was raised from the dead. He’s sitting with the man who brought Lazarus back from the dead. He’s concerned that nard was wasted because it could’ve been sold and the money given to the poor. Now everyone there (the last two lines of the passage are clear) is there to see Jesus, to see Lazarus. Judas is concerned about money. He’s concerned that there’s a strong smell that’s going to attract attention to Jesus, to the disciples, to the scene.

Is Judas stupid?

What is this reaction really about?

If you look through the gospels, many times you will see places where Jesus is accused of associating with people who have tainted reputations. This is another situation where an assumption could be made because of an interaction with someone who has a reputation.

Is Judas concerned with the character assassination of Jesus? Or is something more subtler happening here?

As we get closer and closer to Golgotha, we see a shift in the view of people, bleating like sheep, “Crucify Him!” Here in this scene, where Mary recognizes and accepts , even before the disciples are willing to, that something is going to happen that is going to shake the world they all know–and it’s going to mean the Passion. Judas in his darkness lashes out in the easiest way possible. He accuses the woman of waste, needless waste, and attempts to amplify that waste by pointing out that it could’ve eased the suffering of others.

He can’t see, he isn’t able to see, the suffering that will be eased in 4 days by the Passion. His scope is limited by his attachment to the world. Jesus I think is speaking with a gentle tone in this passage. A gentle tone fits. He is saying, “Judas, lay off. She understands where you don’t, or you all refuse to. She’s letting Me go, this is her process. You, my closest disciples, have fought from the first time I’ve told you that I must go, must endure. You’ve all sluffed me off even though I’ve brought this man back from the dead!”

Jesus is giving everyone an opportunity to come to Him, without force. He is beckoning, “come”. Even as Judas carries the purse of the disciples, Jesus knows he’s a thief. And He continues to let Judas carry the purse. Why? Why not call him out?

Because even Judas, the disciple categorized as the betrayer, is given the opportunity to answer the call. Jesus has not given up on Judas.

Where is Judas now?

Can you be so sure of your answer?

37-Are you kidding me, Judas?