There’s something very refreshing about being able to laugh. It disarms the situation and takes away the power from the critic. It reminds me not to take myself so seriously. It gives me perspective on the situation. It helps me not to hate myself, because otherwise I’d be crying or drinking. Or, I’d be stuffing it down into my gut, until the toxicity becomes ulcer-sized.
I recently read The Circle, Dave Egger’s dystopian novel about a benevolent Internet company that eerily creeps into every aspect of our lives, taking it over, one smiley emoticon at a time. Think about it like this: a company encompasses Facebook, Google, and Amazon, and then it begins to partner with the government.
As we know the shooting of Michael Brown was not just one incident, in one town. The reason that the fear and concern grew was because it was that proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. It was the outcry of people who have been living under a system that has targeted young black men.
It’s always bad for the sisterhood when we target our resentment amongst ourselves. And it’s called the Old Boys Network for a reason. Because the Old Boys know how to work together, network their power, and add younger men into their ranks. And we should do the same. There’s no way that we are going to get beyond the one-slot conference tokenism until we put some money, support, and voice around other people in the field.
Boyhood takes 12 years and condenses it into one sitting. With some sort of mystical time-bending power, Linklater does not lose the slow pace. We still have a chance to savor ordinary moments. There’s no Hollywood makeup, smearing artificial age onto the skin. There’s no switch-up of actors. There is the aging process—that alluring rearrangement of the face and body. The effect is astonishing.
Most of us who work in a church can see parallels between bookstores and church. We had small, physical spaces in which we met and built community. We watched as big-box churches moved in, allowing for many more options, but individuals became much more anonymous in the process. Now, we know there are a growing number of people who are leaving church, but the search for God is still happening digitally.
They constructed the rainbow-colored crosses on holy ground. That very soil bore witness to the fact that love could overcome discrimination. It was the same plot where the Rev. Leroy and Gloria Griffith were married over forty years ago.
About three times a week, pastors ask me 1) how to get on the speaking circuit or 2) how to get published. The questions go together, because the answer to how to get on the speaking circuit is usually to get published. Sometimes they are just starting out in the ministry, and other times they are retired. Either way, my answer is the same, no matter what stage of life you’re in: Writers write.
Our faith communities are often the only places in our society where we learn to think intergenerationally. We have a chance to care for one another from cradle to grave. In the challenging times ahead of us, I hope that our churches can continue to be places where we understand the unique positions of the young, old, and everyone in between.
I was in the midst of that crisis of middle life. The one that made my eyes roll when I read of white women who felt they had no meaning. It always sounded like they inhabited a fog of luxury-malaise. They had to create drama because they didn’t have enough challenge in their day. So they began dieting, exercising, shopping, and sleeping with friends.
We cause particular damage to teens when we use fear as a motivation or manipulation. The part of the brain that produces fear and anxiety develops far quicker than other parts. So, teens are often walking around like fear factories, but they don’t having access to the usual reasoning that quells fear.
It’s kind of hard to worship. I used to get frustrated with the retired ministers who worshiped in the churches I served. They used to take me aside to mentor me, but often it just felt like criticism. They pointed out the weirdest things, like the song didn’t rhyme like it should or the elder serving communion had the wrong sort of look on her face. Now, I suppose I understand them a bit more, because it’s difficult to turn away that critical eye.
During this General Assembly, the PC(USA) made some historic moves. One of the main ones was that there was an authoritative interpretation passed so that pastors who serve in states where marriage equality is legal can preside over those ceremonies.