Meaningless Musings from Rev Ron’s Daughter

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Rev Ron and the Rondelles, AKA his wife and two *absolutely stunning* kids.

I am donning my PK (preacher’s kid) hat as I write this post.  Hopefully in doing so I won’t remove all relevance for those of you who had normal, well-adjusted upbringings at the hands of parents with normal jobs.

I kid.  Kind of.

Anyway.

There was a remarkable thread on Twitter this weekend where Jack Jenkins compiled a list of faith groups and leaders who have publicly condemned the current administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents.  You can read the whole thing here, but I’ve copied a couple of personal highlights.  I think the final count was in the upper 30’s.  I’ve gone with the ‘remarkable’ descriptor because of the vast diversity of Christian organizations named.  I was not terribly surprised to see the names of mainline Protestant organizations I’m familiar with:  Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, as well as the two nearest and dearest to my heart, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America of which I’m currently a member, and the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, which I was raised in.  I was more surprised to see the likes of Franklin Graham, the Southern Baptist Church, and the Nazarenes.

It got me to wondering:  Since so many denominational leaders were speaking out against family separation, would it be mentioned in local churches on Sunday morning?  

Who the hell would ask such a question?  A cynical, cantankerous, crabby ass preacher’s kid.  That’s who.

In my lifetime, my dad served five different congregations.  All Christian Church Disciples of Christ, which I’m placing solidly in the mainline Protestant category, and, as mentioned above, whose General Minister and President signed on with other religious leaders calling on Trump to end family separation.  My dad’s retired now, but I can’t help but wonder what the reaction would have been if this were 1988 and he had so much as mentioned the word immigration from the pulpit of the First Christian Church in Larned, Kansas.  I imagine he could easily have been fired, or at the very least, he’d have gotten quite a talking to from the board.  I also question whether church leaders on the regional and national level would’ve had his back if he had been fired or reprimanded for delving into ‘politics*’ from the pulpit.  Even had they signed petitions and letters, even if they 100% agreed with what he said, it seems possible they’d have told him to pipe down and settle for the path of least resistance.

Maybe, or perhaps even probably, my parents will read this and tell me I’ve gotten it all wrong.  I’m not necessarily saying this is the way it was, but I can tell you it’s the way it felt to me.  I do trend towards feelings of oppression, like any good drama queen.

Of course, those were different times.  There was no social media.  A pastor couldn’t scroll through twitter and facebook to get a feel how his or her parishioners were feeling about current events.  Or log onto the denomination’s homepage and see a letter signed by ministers and other church leaders from all over the country.   Conversely, lay people couldn’t follow Popes or bishops or General Ministers on social media.  The phenomenon of local lay people even knowing who their denominational leaders are, let alone following them on Twitter, is a relatively new one.

Even though I can’t really know what would’ve happened 30 years ago (thus my ‘Meaningless Musings’ title), I’d still like to know:  Was the current refugee crisis at our southern borders mentioned in your church on Sunday morning?**

I’ve tried gathering some data via facebook and twitter.  While I did get some affirmative responses, they were primarily from sources I would’ve expected a yes.  So, all I can do, based on what I’ve experienced, is surmise that in many churches, the topic simply did not come up.

I hope I’m wrong.  I hope most people of faith had to dig in and wrestle with the issue this past Sunday morning.  Because, if they didn’t, is there really any relevance to organized religion?  Is there any relevance to denominational big wigs signing letters of opposition?

There was a time in my life, about a decade ago, when I was ready to walk away from church.  There were a lot of factors, most were logistical (getting to and thru church with two small children seemed less desirable than a root canal) rather than philosophical or theological.  But there was definitely a question of relevance for me, even then.

Ultimately, I couldn’t walk away.  I’m in a church now where congregational leadership has few or no barriers to talking about issues that are relevant to me and heavy on my heart.  And I have just barely enough optimism to think more churches addressed family separation last Sunday than would have if this had happened thirty years ago.  It could be a function of the bubble I live in, but it does feel like churches of all stripes are being pushed (sometimes kicking and screaming) towards relevance to the times we are living in.  I say this because of those surprise names in the Twitter thread.  The Franklin Grahams and Southern Baptists and a bunch of other Evangelicals called out Trump.  The newly elected head (or president or whatever he’s called) of the Southern Baptist Church ran on a platform contending human beings without penises might have something worthwhile to bring into the life of the church.  Let me say it again, for the bazillionth time:  What a time to be alive.


*Yes, I’m calling this politics.  Even though it’s really an issue of humanity.  We’re living in the Trumptocracy, after all.

**Yes, I’m calling them refugees and terming what’s happening a crisis.  Artistic license.  Or maybe a bleeding heart. Or something.

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This particular exchange, where Doug insinuates that all these folks are apostates who cannot interpret scripture ‘correctly, with spiritual discernment,’ also contributed to my use of the ‘remarkable’ descriptor.  Wowza.

Fits and Starts

I’ve mainly watched the aftermath of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas shooting  play out on Twitter, 280 characters at a time and in fits and starts.

I have all but entirely shielded myself from televised coverage of this atrocity.  On some level that’s a cop-out, but on another it’s self-preservation.  I cannot bear to hear the same talking points.  I cannot bear to see the anguished students who we’ve put through hell.  I cannot watch footage of caskets being placed in hearses.  I just cannot.  Not even in fits and starts.

And yet, I joined millions of other Americans and watched last night’s town hall.  Kind of.  For me to have watched it in one uninterrupted sitting would have put undue strain on the world’s zoloft supply, so I watched it, once again, in fits and starts.

From my limited intake of media surrounding this event, this picture is the image that is seared in my brain.

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I realize that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.  We’re supposed to remember those lost and pay no mind to the perpetrator.   Give him as little press and exposure as possible.  In my head, I understand this line of thinking.  I have less trouble getting my heart to act appropriately, though.

Perhaps if I would put my big girl pants on and watch the news and read all the available information and get the whole story on this kid, I’d feel differently.  Based on my limited scope of the situation, though, I’ve gleaned that he’s orphaned.  He’s troubled.  Prior to last Wednesday he had cried out for help.  Maybe not in the ways society would have liked for him to, but he cried out.

When I initially saw his picture, I cried.  And looking at it as I write this, I could cry again.  I don’t need to know the whole story to know we failed this kid, because I can see it in his eyes.  And I know how our society treats the outsiders and undesirables.

So, last night I cringed each and every time the NRA lady (yes, I should look up her name; no, I’m not going to) referred to this child as nuts and crazy and a madman.  And wanted to cry all over again.

I cringed because she couldn’t simply label him as mentally ill, she had to call him names.

And, I cringed, because on some level, we did this to him.  We made him into this and then failed to help him.  And then we made it really, really easy for him to get his troubled hands on a weapon designed for mass casualties.

My faith and heart, which both feel really, really fucking inconvenient right now; make me yearn to take this child into my arms and tell him he is a beloved child of God.  And, upon the end of that embrace, I’d like to look him in the eyes and apologize.

I’m pretty sure the societally appropriate thing for me to do after telling you all of this is to once again apologize.  For feeling this way.  For being sympathetic to this kid.  Or maybe not.  I don’t know.

I don’t know if I’m sorry I feel this way.  I don’t know if I’m supposed to be sorry I feel this way.  All I know is I’m telling you my truth for today.

 

 

 

*Not* On a Mission

If all goes according to plan, I’ll be well on my way to El Salvador by the time this is published.  And, since I can’t get enough teen spirit in my life, I’ll be with a crew of high school aged kids (none of whom are related to me) from the church I attend.

Approximately 99% of the time I tell someone about this journey, they reply with some variation of, “Oh, like a mission trip?”.

∼To which I reply, “Yes, exactly.  Because I have all the mysteries of the world and life itself completely figured out, making me uniquely qualified to advise people I don’t really know how to live their lives. I’m hoping they’ll ask me about best practices for living with teen/tween kids.”∼

By the way, I learned today that the tilde (∼) is now being used to express sarcasm and irony.  I am so over the moon excited about this development that I decided to write a sentence in headline sized font.  Also, I’m trying to figure out how to put tildes around this entire damn POS blog.

Which is all just a really verbose way of saying no, it’s not a mission trip. Which I suppose means I owe anyone posing the question more of an explanation.

Before I go on, I’m going to remind you I have no actual expertise on anything, most certainly not theology or the Bible.  Of course, lack of expertise has never kept me from prattling on, so here we sit.  BUT, I have attended church most of my life, the first 18 years of which were as the preacher’s daughter; and I do believe that lends me somewhat of a unique perspective on communities of faith.  And coming from that perspective, I can tell you that church people can really, really, REALLY get their panties into wads over language and terminology.  Speaking in generalities, it’s not a bad thing. But it is, most definitely, a thing.  And I’m most definitely participating in said panties wadding by writing a whole post on why this isn’t a mission trip.

And, going further down this long and winding road of my thoughts, let me talk at you about my thoughts on being fortunate (or maybe even just experiencing dumb luck) and blessed. My view of the circumstances of me being born white to two college educated parents, in a land where I had access to quality public education, where I always had three meals a day put before me, and ultimately had the means to attend college myself; make me fortunate.  In other (typically more fundamentalist) circles, folks really want this scenario to be painted as being blessed.  As in, all those things happened in my life because God smiled upon me.  Which leaves girls born in Taliban controlled Afghanistan(and one or two gazillion other humans on the planet) in quite a conundrum. And, in my mind, makes God seem like some sort of blessing wand waving jackhole who trends toward disproportionately waving said wand over white people. Put another way, it seems a bit of an oversimplification to use blessing, or lack thereof; as a way to explain why the kids from our sister congregation in El Salvador attend school (for only a half day) in this facility:

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While my kids attend classes all day in this facility:

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The language used when I first went to El Salvador in 2014 was ‘a journey of accompaniment.’ This time around it’s being referred to as a ‘pilgrimage,’ and that terminology is a product of overall youth (high school) programming that is at least somewhat rooted in things like Liberation Theology and Critical Pedagogy; and this whole ball of wax is way to heady for me to even think about dealing with on this blog. Or any blog, really.  This is more the stuff of epic non-fiction volumes than stream of consciousness online journaling.

So, all of this is to say that I’m currently off serving as an adult chaperone for a youth trip which I’m not at all qualified to describe.  But I’d like you to know I’m not trying to save anyone’s soul.  Because we all know that would be ironic enough for Alannis to write a whole ‘nother song about.

Also, those kids of mine I’m always griping about?  I haven’t even left yet, and I miss ’em already.  Parenthood is a strange beast.


I’m a white man living in a white man’s nation

I think the man upstairs must’a took a vacation

I still have faith but I don’t know why

Maybe it’s the fire in my little girl’s eyes

-Jason Isbell

You can listen to the whole song here.  Then go to the music streaming service of your choice and listen to the whole album.  You can thank me later.