A week ago I shared this article on Facebook, along with some incoherent words about how the headline pained me. There may have been wine involved. I was frustrated, because I knew the ‘Lutheran leaders’ the headline was referring to were not those of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which is the organization my congregation is a part of.
Perhaps I should backtrack. I may not have known immediately. In fact, I think I had a ‘what the hell’ moment. But by the time I’d had enough time to blink twice and process a bit, I knew the headline was referring to a different Lutheran denomination than the ELCA. Why? Because I have context. I’ve been a member of an ELCA church for something like 15 years. I’ve heard the Bishop of the Minneapolis area synod speak on a number of occasions, I once drank wine in the church parking lot with her daughter (yeah, really, it’s a story for another day), and I’ve osmosed at least of the vast information my kids took in during their Confirmation process. Choosing not to comply with current guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of a virus is wholly inconsistent with everything I’ve heard, read, and seen from my time in the ELCA.
But, of course, I clicked it anyway. Due diligence or some shiz like that. And I was quickly reassured. The headline was referring to the Missouri Synod- a denomination who doesn’t ordain women, practices closed communion; and, I kid you not, has a section on their website expressing concern over the practice of yoga. This would be just the tip of the iceberg of dissimilarities to my experience in the ELCA.
For what it’s worth, this is what you see now when you click on the link.
I appreciate the clarification, but still file this under incompetent journalism. I don’t have exact stats, but I feel confident in saying the number of ELCA congregations is equal to, if not greater than, the number of Missouri Synod congregations in the Minneapolis area.
OK. Got that off my chest. Moving on.
Amy Cooper. Yes, I’ve got to go there.
This headline was WAY less shocking to me than the one stating Lutherans would not comply governor’s orders. Apparently much of the interweb had jumped to the conclusion Amy’s a Trumper. That thought never entered my mind. From the get-go, I had her pegged as a nice, white liberal lady. Just as unfair on my part, as none of us really had any right to be labeling her politics based on initial details of the story.
I like nice white liberal ladies. I count myself as one, though admittedly I don’t fancy myself all that nice. I know them. I know myself. And this is one group I feel I have no shortage of insight into. While I choose to believe we ultimately mean well, we are somewhat of an entitled bunch. We sometimes feel our donations to Barack Obama absolve us of any latent racism (and, perhaps, give us liberty to let our dogs off leash in areas where such behavior is prohibited).
If you’ve been here before, you know I was on a Civil Rights tour a little over a year ago. With people from my church, were anyone is welcome to Communion, the council president is a woman, one pastor is a woman married to a man, another pastor is a man married to a man, and our deacon is a woman married to a woman; which is why I get edgy about being grouped with less loving groups.
That was a digression. Back to my trip. I ate dinner in a church basement across the table from Joanne Bland. Our group leaders had prepared us for the fact that she would not mince words or sugar coat the truth, so I wasn’t terribly surprised when, in the midst of our conversation, she said, “You know what group I can’t stand? Liberal white women.” She elaborated about how we frequently need to tout our own virtues and let everyone know about our good works (which trend more towards words than actions). I didn’t argue with her, because what grounds would I really have for an argument? She’s right, and I’m guilty as charged. And even if I had thought her assessment was an erroneous over-generalization, that wouldn’t have given me any right to disregard her perception.
So, yeah. When I first read details of Amy’s encounter with a bird watcher in Central Park, I classified her as a nice white liberal lady. Maybe it was Joanne’s voice in my head. Maybe it was my own shortcomings. Or maybe I simply acknowledge we white liberal ladies have some biases, some shit to work out, and an irrational amount of fear dwelling within us.
I’m really not altogether certain why I’ve written about these two things today. I guess they’re just on my heart. As is, of course, George Floyd. Sighs too deep for words.
Speaking of sighs, this is where I see if you’re still reading. This morning I was tested for COVID-19. I don’t feel awful, but I’ve been dealing with shortness of breath for a couple of days, which makes it seem like I’m sighing more than normal. After texting with an acquaintance who is a family practice physician, exchanged FB messages with a friend who has recovered, and an online visit to Virtuwell; I decided to make an appointment to be tested. Results are expected in about three days.
I don’t know what to think. I don’t feel terrible, I’m just having a little trouble catching my breath. I have a long history with anxiety, but my manifestations have never been so overtly physical. And yet, I’m guessing there’s a mental component to what’s going on here. We shall see. More to come.
Be Well, Friends.