sad sad sad

A beloved children’s book taught our family the power of Koko the signing gorilla.

Koko signed a three word litany when her beloved kitten Ball was killed.

She knew the way of grief. She knew how to express it:

Sad sad sad.

I know the way of grief, but I struggle in these days with how to express it.

The money and power grab evidenced in the recently passed tax bill bespeak a nation made belligerent about being morally compromised. Folded into the removal of supports for college students and the poor is the agreement that our nation will now allow drilling in the Arctic Wildlife refuge.

Turns out there is no refuge from those who must drill drill drill.

The phallic imagery is intended.

There is a close race in Alabama between a man accused of drilling into the future of girls running against a man who sought to bring to justice Klan members responsible for the bombing of a church that killed four black girls. This is a contest?

Our nation’s president, forever caught on tape boasting of perpetrating violence on women because he is rich and powerful and can do as he likes is championing the man who has helped himself to young girls because a despoiler of girls is better in the halls of power than a Democrat.

And where are the people of Jesus the Christ as this is happening?

How are we speaking out against the violence against women and against the poor and against the earth and against communal compassion?

When do we become willing to explore the violence that has been folded into our faith narrative?

The raw power of “sad sad sad” is holy necessary work.

And, it is not sufficient.

Marge Piercy in her poem “The Art of Blessing the Day” puts it this way:

“…Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue. If you
can’t bless it, get ready to make it new.”

Find a church or an organization or a people.

Cursing is necessary.

And, it is time to make this nation new.


Today I am so tired.

I cannot much fathom that our nation is running up to the brink of electing to our highest office a man who has held no office.  None.

This is a man who has insulted and demeaned and fomented and this is a man who seems to revel in the bizarre theater of buffoonery.

I am tired of the barely veiled woman-mistrust that under-girds the unlikeliest of presidential contests ever held.  In the race is a woman who has been consistent in her concern for and advocacy in regard to children and community and decades of work and philanthropy are also-ran material in the circus of misdirection and media clowning.

The circus seems to be the desired reality show of our day.  How can this be so?  The implications are staggering.

Gone with the stroke of a pen would be environmental protections and choice and health care coverage and most terrifying of all?  Gone would be our sense of who we are as a nation.

I am tired of black people being gunned down in the streets. I am tired of the stifling of outrage and I am tired by the sense that somehow it is wrong to name the injustice.  It is as though naming the mattering of black lives equals disdain for the police and isn’t that a convenient way to silence allies?

I am tired of navigating Sunday morning preaching.  I am tired of knowing that there are some who will pounce on the opportunity, any opportunity, to feel affronted by what is preached or named in God’s house.

I am tired of the sniffing around of others as though a different view point or world view is affront.

I am tired of the repeated trope that politics don’t belong in church.  You’re kidding, right? Everything we do is political.  Jesus was intentional about the fact that black lives matter and poor lives matter and women’s lives matter and all lives matter to the Holy and they must matter to all of us or surely we are destined to wander this world broken and afraid.

Such insistence upon the sanctity of each life was dangerous for Jesus.  It seems dangerous yet, God help us.

I am tired of “broken and afraid” as the seemingly inevitable harvest of this season.

On this day I give thanks for the solace of work that matters, a community that is courageous, and the ongoing compassionate invitation of Jesus the Christ:

“Come onto me” says Jesus.  “I know what loving costs.  I’ll give you rest”.

There is so much pain.  Being tired makes sense.

So too does believing that God is far from finished with this world and we are walking miracle and there is  Spirit movement in the midst of despair and that movement is about coming together and learning through differences and allowing ourselves to hear the pain and naming tired for sure but also naming the power of love and hope and a conviction that we have the courage to live love.

We have that courage.  Through the heart of the Christ, through the unity of the Holy Spirit and through the stunninng gift of those who hold us when we are so tired, we have that courage.







woman song

“Today at Jeanne Audrey Power’s apartment we saw all her shelves of feminist theology books and on the female face(s) of the Divine–was it all a dream? What about the last 50 years of women’s voices? Does feminist theology matter anymore?”  Facebook post.

The above Facebook post sings out at a powerful time in the church calendar.

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we turn our ears and hearts to the song of Mary:  the Magnificat.  It is a song taught her through the voices of her ancestors, since her kinswoman Hannah generations before sang much the same song when she found she was to bear an unexpected son, Samuel by name.

The song resonates with the voices of God’s prophets through the ages:  God uses the least in order to proclaim that the vision of the Holy images fullness of life for all.  The mighty are brought to the level of the least.  The poor are filled with the food of life and soul that integration into community can bring.  The world can and will turn from scramble for power over to cultivation of power with in order that all might know grace.

And, Mary marvels, God calls her blessed in her decision to magnify the Holy. A thirteen year old girl who says “yes” to bearing the Word Made Flesh is called blessed.

Her song is sung and it resounds in our midst yet.

And, the song of woman is strangled yet.  A recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune shares this sobering fact:  one in three women in this nation have experienced violence directed at the Word Made Flesh of their bodies.  Women are targets of violence meted out through fists, through advertising, and through the sorts of systemic violence that creates a culture in which women who lead and women who sing are subjected to derision and barbed-wire ceilings.

Was it all a dream, the Facebook poster asks?  Can it be even timidly conjectured that Feminism has wrought the sort of systemic change it sought to name and challenge?  Does anyone care?

Who is singing woman song any more?  And why is it there seems to be a “there, we did that” sense that the song is needed no more?

The ways we language through worship and public discourse is bound yet by images of the Holy as male muscle-flexer.  Introducing inclusive language through mindful choice of prayer and hymnody can make for exquisite challenge.  The resource aren’t much there.  And the push back is relentless.

The song is more powerful than our cultural penchant for ostrich-stance.

I care.  My daughters care.  My men-beloveds care.  The Holy cares.

The song of woman is the song of life and thousands of years ago a young woman took up the song and the world was changed.

Oh, that we would carry on the song of the Word.  We are called to magnify the vision of God.

We are blessed.

what is (?)

There are dramas aplenty for the living.

Republican candidates are posturing, the President is mingling, protesters are gathering and the polite veneer we put on being community in these days is being fissured but good.

We are what we read and believe, aren’t we?

Charts are flying through cyber space indicating that the economic well-being of many is in worse shape than it has been since before the Great Depression.  Corporations are flourishing while actual earning power is languishing for those who are working.  The number of those who cannot find work is dismally high.

Facts is facts, right?

Except that facts get spun, depending upon ideology.  Whether liberal or conservative, we latch onto the “facts” that support our perspective.  And if those facts get our hearts racing and our sense of umbrage pumping, they are precious indeed (evidently).

I’m aware of the power and privilege of preaching every Sunday.  I’m aware that every time I approach the fear-and-trembling task involved in weaving Holy teachings into the plot of daily living, I’m coming from a perspective molded by which facts I cotton to.

Facts don’t lie, right?

But whose facts?

I was in conversation recently with someone working in a drastically changing profession (so say we all, right?).  The benchmarks for what makes for professional integrity in her field are shifting.  She is doing her work grounded in what she holds to be basic tenets of competency.  Others have tossed off those tenets as expendable.  It is wracking her.

As Wesleyans, we are called to assess our preaching, our living, our giving and our being through the lenses of Scripture, tradition, reason and experience.

Nothing I have encountered through any of those four lenses prop up the gouging of the poor. Nothing.

Nothing I have encountered through any of those four lenses prop up the notion that God and God’s people are to dismiss and seek to silence the crying out of the oppressed.  Nothing.

Which tenets are expendable in the practice of Christianity?

The question is wracking us, but good.

It ought.








I am trying not to sink into either anger or despair.

At the state and national level, politicians are taking aim at the misguided and seemingly flat-out evil they can readily find in those they have identified as enemies:  elected leaders of the opposing party.

This impasse in sensibilities has huge implications.  We have borrowed from our children’s future in order to buy a short-term fix at the state level.  At the national level, the jousting for ideological bragging rights may result in untold catastrophe.

All this while the chasm between the rich and the poor grows ever more immense.

We are not a “Christian” nation.  Clearly we are not.  Scriptures are a recurring drum- beat calling us to awareness of the plight of our brothers and sisters.  That plight is our business, it is our concern, it is our call to heart action.

What is the best instrument of redistribution?  Many, and rightfully so, insist that government is an inefficient manager of playing-field leveling.  So, consequently, government ought not be trusted with such.

But if not the government, then who and what and how?  Those who insist on downsizing (and the downsized are seniors on fixed incomes, children who didn’t choose to be born into poverty, and people shaken by health crises) have much to say about what isn’t working: government.

The same voices seem to believe that government does work to mandate decisions about intimate life decisions.

Evidently in such thinking, government cannot be trusted with ensuring that each child born in this country has access to fullness of life, but it can be trusted to enter bedrooms and bodies.

I am afeared.  The rhetoric saturating our nation is all about finger pointing.  It’s a great diversionary tactic; it feels good to take aim and fire at another while the tender dream of “justice for all” burns itself into extinction.

There is enough for all.   Economists have named it, and in the unsoundbited portion of our tender souls, we know this to be true.  God has promised ongoing care and nourishment for creation.

So while children are starving in Somalia, elders are wrangling vulnerability in Minnesota, and assets are stockpiled by the increasing few in our nation, we could choose to stop the slashing of he-said-she-said and work with what we have.

We have enough.  How will we see it shared?  We move toward becoming a nation grounded on Christian values when we ask that question and work with what we have – our government, our churches, our hearts – to live into the power of communal care.