On listening to injustice and my new direction

I am going to explain to you about my new direction for the church project. Stay with me, I know this sounds off topic.

During the process to wait for a healthy infant of any ethnic background, and the process to adopt a particular child of both white and black background, I read about racially mixed families. And I learned some stuff.

I am white. I come from a really white saturated area. My husband is white. In learning about opening our family to a baby with a different background from us, most sources said it would be important to connect with communities of people that look like our baby. And I gathered that it would be important to listen. And I have been listening as best I can. It had not seemed important before to discover what it was like to be stopped by the police while black. It does now. I’m sorry I’m late.

Once I started listening, I heard from many communities of people who suffer injustice. And recent political events brought it all together sharply. My background is Christian. I call myself agnostic. But those Christian stories are still very powerful for me. In them I hear of a man who welcomed outsiders and challenged those in power. And I want to know: is any of that man still in the church today?

As presidential candidate and president-elect, Donald Trump and those around him have by their actions and inaction, caused vitriol and violence towards marginalized groups. People now feel emboldened to threaten and harm in Trump’s name. But I think there’s someone else’s name that needs to be invoked.

Donald Trump has denigrated the following communities: LGBT, Muslim, Black, Disabled, Immigrant/Migrant/Refugee, and by extention has encouraged others in hatred. There are probably groups I left out. My new church project will ask how the church plans to instead lift them up. I will be asking two questions:

1) How does the church feel about current political events and the recent election?

2) What is the church doing in support of any of the following communities: LGBT, Muslim, Black, Disabled, Immigrant/Migrant/Refugee?

I will not be doing this in a fixed order, but will try get a mix of locations and denominations. I may revisit churches I’ve been to once and hit a few new ones. I’ll write what responses I get and hopefully have a comprehensive list of good works, protests and outreaches when I am done. If not, then Jesus help us all.

Life update late 2016

I thought it might be time to get a proper update posted. A long while ago I wrote a post in which I said “God is all my friends” because God is supposed to be there for you when you need him. I saw that in the many friends who comforted me. At the time my husband and I had been working with an adoption agency trying adopt a baby. It is a long emotionally fraught process to adopt a healthy infant domestically. There are certainly other emotionally fraught adoption processes, but we had not experienced any of those. After filling in a ridiculous amount of paperwork, we had a match and expected to adopt a baby girl. This however fell through. The day we learned it wasn’t going to happen after all I was quite devastated. My friends were supportive and I was and continue to be thankful for them and their kindness.

Fast forward several years and we were still with the same agency, but still hadn’t gotten a second match. We decided to sever ties with the agency. I realized kids were not in our future and tried to figure out how to live my life under this assumption.

In late 2015 I was working to convert the spare bedroom into a project area. We got an urgent message from a friend of ours “possible adoption opportunity 5-year old”. I was hesitant. I didn’t know how to raise a half-grown kid. What if it fell through? Now fast forward to today. We have adopted our 6-year old and our family is doing well. Another drawn-out and emotionally fraught process had to be undertaken in the interim. Things are busy now and happy and difficult and rewarding and emotionally fraught. My life has changed a lot. I pay attention to different things. My child is of biracial heritage, and I worry about the challenges my family and my child will face. I don’t know what the future will be like. In my next post I will talk about hopefully restarting the church project anew and how it relates to the changes in my life.

I need to ask you not to call me brainless

Let me start by saying I’m not a very confrontational person. I’m not good at thinking on my feet, and don’t defend myself well verbally. If I do find myself in a position where I need to force an issue, I am extremely uncomfortable. So it makes me nervous to engage others in face to face political banter unless I know the person very well. Because I can’t get upset at work (I have a job to do) I tend to ignore the political talk I hear there.
I am not a supporter of Trump, but I work with a very vocal supporter of Trump. It is difficult to listen to at times, because I find myself wanting so badly to insert my thoughts. Usually I don’t, because the backlash from my coworker is so swift and at such a fevered pitch that a second response from me or even a clarification, is often impossible. Occasionally something so fully incorrect or insensitive is said that I feel I must say something. And tonight I felt I couldn’t let it lie. Speaking to another coworker about the election, my coworker who I’ll call Marc, said, “At this point, anyone who votes for Hilary has to be completely and utterly brainless.” Here is the conversation that followed five minutes later in the adjacent room.

“I need to ask you to not call me brainless.” I say.
“What- did I call you brainless?” He says.
“What you said to James? About people voting for Hillary.”
“I didn’t mean you!”
I give him a look.
“You shouldn’t take it personal. (Continues with me, walking into the room I’m also walking into) You should hear the stuff the other side says though.”
“I don’t say those things.” I say quietly.
“Ok, well. I apologize.”
“Thank you. I appreciate that.”
And a few minutes later.
“You know about before, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again. I just get so passionate about this stuff.”
“I know. Rhetoric seems to be getting out of hand everywhere.” I say.
“It’s the election. It’ll be over soon though, alright?”
This guy and I disagree pretty fundamentally on a very lot of things. But otherwise we get along. I don’t find him to be a person that knowingly harms people. I called him out on a personal insult and he stepped back and apologized. I feel angry enough sometimes at Trump voters to call names, but I don’t. I’d like to think that if I fell to personally denigrating others, I’d back off when someone called me out. It’s going to be really important this year to remember that the US is populated by other human beings. We are going to vote as human beings and accept the results as human beings and live together the next four years as human beings. I implore you to remember to treat others as human beings in your words and actions. By all means rail against injustice, despicable policies, or the words of the opposite candidate that you find thoroughly distasteful. Do not call the human beings in your life brainless, asshole, deplorables simply for the way they are voting. We are better than that.

Just a little update

Time for another update! A couple things happened simultaneously. First, I haven’t actually been to new church since the Quakers. Second my blog application quit working from my computer. So I would normally be keeping up with some other thoughtful posts on religion and Christianity, but I haven’t been able to easily. At the very least I plan a long book review soon. Hopefully I can get that posted up in the next week or so.

Request for a buddy

I am putting it out there that I’d like someone to accompany me to churches on a Sunday morning. My new church visit speed has hit a new low and I’d like to find a way of not stopping together. If anyone would like to come along to any church I haven’t yet visited please let me know and we will plan it. I am discarding the rule of ten miles as well as the need for any particular order. I am ok with a one time partner or longer term. I just find myself wanting some new motivation. I also decided some time ago to accept invites to someone’s home church. I prefer to drop in unannounced but I can be ok with a more solid plan. I’m just looking for idea to keep the project interesting.

Church #66, Friends Meeting in Albany (Quaker)

Date: 11/9/14

Church name/type: Friends Meeting in Albany, Quakers

Pastor: the unique style of the meeting doesn’t seem to require a pastor

Style of worship:
Well, they sit, mostly quietly for about an hour. No, for real. And it actually wasn’t too bad. It’s a time for listening to see if God is going to speak to us. If anyone has a message they consider good for sharing they share aloud.

These were the messages this week:
1) Someone spoke about feeling welcome and having been given coffee that was exactly the way she liked it. This really seemed to have made her happy.
2) Another person said some remarks the Pope made were along the lines of God having given up some of his power in creating us. Some of the power is in us.
I tried to look up these remarks for reference but was unable to find them. The Pope says a lot of things I guess.
3) A visiting Quaker Friend? Quaker?….anyway, a visitor felt led to make the effort to find a local Friends Meeting and things just seemed to fall into place allowing her to be here on time.
4) One person observed that it’s amazing we are in what’s called the ‘goldilocks zone’ where life is possible.

After approximately an hour we all greeted each other then there was sharing of announcements as well as the standard joys and concerns. I stayed a long time talking with members of the congregation about different things.

I guess I really liked it. I say I guess because I can’t figure out why I liked it so much. It’s difficult to sit mostly still and quiet for an hour. But then again, I often like things that are a little difficult. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something worthwhile. I’m drawn to the fact that Quakers don’t have much doctrine going on. They seem to believe that God speaks to (or potentially speaks to) everyone equally. This is nice. I’m going to have to learn more and probably write more.