Selected posts from around our network of affiliated bloggers
What is it that defines us, as beings? What gives cohesion to our sense of ourselves, and then establishes our relationship to others? These questions were bopping around in my head the other day as I was walking the dog.
Last week Caitlyn Jenner’s picture appeared on the front cover of Vanity Fair. Immediately people online began to juxtapose her photo next to photos of veterans and first responders, saying that “real bravery” looked like the latter, and that Caitlyn was not brave. I reject that false dichotomy.
When I was learning to be a missionary in Japan, I went to language school. Five mornings a week, we got together in small classes with only about eight students in each classroom, because the emphasis was on oral language learning and drills. There, we met missionaries from other traditions as well as students in Japan for more secular pursuits.
The Internet is awash with reactions to Caitlyn Jenner’s photos in Vanity Fair magazine. Some thoughtful stuff, and plenty that’s predictably … less than thoughtful. I write this post with some trepidation, because there’s still much for me to learn, and I hope those who have walked this road will offer correction with a generous spirit, for it’s in that spirit that I write this.
The question is one my first boss liked to ask at staff meetings. It's important to say he was asking through the perspective of visitors. First-timers or travelers. Equally for people who would come to make the church their home and those who would never visit town again. For all of these, on a Sunday, when does a church first feel strange?"When you go up to communion," one of us offered one time.
Is it possible to be too generous? I think so. Church leaders can be too generous with their money, their time, and their forgiveness, in ways that are not good for them or the people they are being generous with.
When I arrived at Old South Church about a decade ago, I was fortunate to have found a church home that, though it had never had a female pastor, was well-acquainted with the leadership of women. The organist–music director was a woman and women held posts in the board of deacons and trustees. There were a few women that I was drawn to almost immediately.
I submit that there are two kinds of ministers: ministers who’ve been hurt by the church, and ministers who haven’t been hurt by the church, yet. I suppose you could apply this bifurcation to any group of persons.