June 29, 2010

Verbatim: Movie Review

Sheba went to see "Twilight" today. She gave a one-sentence review.

"Twilight's like soccer: they run around for two hours, nobody scores, and its billion fans insist you just don't understand."

Update: Apparently she's quoting this review that is all over the InterWebs. I still like it, no matter the author.

June 24, 2010

This Is A Post

So much going on, but the muse has abandoned me. So this is a report just to keep you informed.

I attended my second Pride, and this one was three times bigger than last year's. Even with high temps and muggy humidity, the throng swelled and filled the new venue. I sat at the booth for our AIDS support center, selling water bottles to raise funds for our food pantry. We surpassed our goal and made enough to stock the pantry for a week. Pretty cool to see a lot of straight couples wandering through all the booths, and my favorite sight was seeing a knot of six junior-high boys, out and proud, laughing and gaping at the fabulousness. Now THAT'S a sign of progress.

Later the same week, I manned the booth for a company health fair. One of many tables under a tent, most employees came by to sign up for our raffle (restaurant certificates), but some still glanced sideways at us and wouldn't get closer than six feet.

I write this from St. Louis, where I'm staying with my nephew at a hospital during the day when his parents are working. He is in traction, preparing for surgery on his hip on Monday. The traction was a last-minute call by his doctor, so my brother asked if I could help them out. They already are taking all of next week off to be with him post-surgery. The little guy (age seven) has a hip injury that refuses to heal properly. Without the surgery he would have a permanent limp and eventual arthritis. This on a kid who is a natural athlete. He's good at everything. Of course he won't stop moving, which exacerbated his injury. I'm really hoping this surgery is the repair that ends it. "Tony Hawk: Underground" keeps him occupied.

[This picture has been pulled due to an extraordinary amount of traffic on this post which I cannot otherwise explain.]

At some down time this evening, I went for a walk from my brother's house. He is smack next door to Grant's Farm where all the Budweiser Clydesdales are raised. I took pictures that I will download sometime later. No hardware here. This one is from my BlackBerry (as are the two above).

I'm grateful for the flexibility in my job that lets me take off on a moment's notice and help out. I'll be back home on Saturday and ready for church on Sunday.

I have finished two books that require some time to digest before reviewing:

Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor

and The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World by Dr. Alan Downs.

Very different subjects, but each of them tells the story of coming to terms with the essence of self. I highly recommend both of them and would love to hear from anyone who's also read them.

I really can't explain why I'm stuck and unable to post anything more meaningful right now. I'm commenting and wishing I could say more. It will return. I'll let you know when.

June 12, 2010

Local Fauna

Courtesy of my little BlackBerry, I have some photos of local wildlife.

Just after a rain, the new neighbors went for a stroll.

I was enjoying lunch al fresco in my new car when a goldfinch happened by.

Sophie joined me at work for a day.

Sophie goes topless whenever she can. (Her harness attaches to the seatbelt.)

June 10, 2010

Answered Prayer

Early Sunday morning, I was getting ready to leave Fort Wayne to attend worship at another church in Indianapolis. I checked my phone for any emails that I might need to answer before heading out. The one I received from our good friend "Kevin" made time stop as I went back to the early weeks of 2008, when my world fell apart.

In a stretch of ten days in late January 2008 two friends died; we learned our son was on drugs; and our daughter was hospitalized for stress due to keeping the secret about her brother. Thus began the most difficult year of my life. We were reeling, and we turned to our friends for help. We told everyone we knew what was happening, hoping that someone could help us. Kevin and his wife are longtime friends and introduced us to someone whose son was going through similar straits. (It was that acquaintance who started us in the direction that led to our healing.)

In February of that year, Kevin sent an email to me:

"I already asked Abe this question and he gave me his own individual answer. I would like to know what I can pray for, for you (not for someone else, but for you).


Here was my response:

"Thank you for asking, Kevin.

I would like prayers for WISDOM: the right words, the right actions in relating to all members of my family. For PATIENCE under stress: a silent tongue. For the ability to show my LOVE for Abe, Sheba and Ben in a way that they know it to be love. For STRENGTH to not hide from the fear, hurt and anxiety and work through it instead. For PEACE and COMFORT that God is in control and His good will come of this.

I have many good friends praying for us, and it lifts my heart to know this. God bless you."

Kevin re-sent this email this past Sunday, and it brought tears then (and again now) as I recalled those days of fear for our children. I can now say with confidence that they are going to be okay. Last year was the first time I could say that about both of them, and it is such a gift. Sheba is living with her boyfriend and working at a job she enjoys. Ben remains on the high honor roll and is considering school beyond high school as he finds a sense of direction.

Those of you who were here with me through that time of turmoil were caring and sympathetic, and I am grateful for your prayers and words of support. If you are not familiar with this story (pretty much the reason I started this blog), you will find it under the title "Amazing Grace" on the right-hand column. Life is good.

June 8, 2010

Love And Light

I spent this past weekend in Fort Wayne with Abe. He had an extended work week and invited me to join him for a couple of nights. After getting everything ready for my absence on Sunday, I left Friday afternoon to join him for dinner. It was a glorious two-hour drive, temps in the high seventies with the roof down in late afternoon.

We ate at Casa’s, his favorite restaurant outside of Indy. This time we managed to meet the owner, who sat down with us and told us that they’re planning to expand from their small chain of restaurants in Fort Wayne to a couple more in Indy. I think they’ll make it, too, in spite of the economy. Their places are packed every night of the week.

The next morning we went to Abe’s favorite breakfast place, the Liberty Diner. It is owned and managed by a Greek couple from New York. They have built the quintessential East Coast diner and plunked it in Fort Wayne. The interior d├ęcor has a human-sized Statue of Liberty by the front door. American flags drape various parts of the diner, and large black-and-white photos of Manhattan hang high over one row of booths. It is next to Bambi’s Exotic Lounge and across the street from a truck stop. And it is packed with locals who want a great breakfast any time of day or really good Greek food. The owners—better dressed than most of the patrons—drop by your table to make sure everything is good.

While I highly recommend both restaurants, the top place to go remains DeBrand Chocolatier. They make some of the finest chocolates I’ve ever eaten, and they ship! I asked about summer shipments, and I was told their freight company uses special ice packaging to insure fresh chocolates wherever they ship. If you have a chocolate connoisseur you wish to impress, this is the stuff to send. Warning: Not Safe For Budgets.

Abe and I had a lovely time. It was Date Night times three! He was so sweet and planned all of our ventures. I just went along for a wonderful time. Let’s say we both had a wonderful time.

I had to slip out early Sunday morning to head for Indy again, but not to my own church. I made arrangements with a friend to meet her at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church for worship and a meeting afterward. “Jane” is from Columbus and has been instrumental in helping me in my efforts to have my church become open and affirming. She has pointed me to resources, events and authors more than any other person I know. Jane was bringing her church group to St. Andrew, so I joined them.

St. Andrew* is the first and only Presbyterian church in Indiana to join the More Light Presbyterian network of churches. The mission statement of MLP says “Following the risen Christ, and seeking to make the Church a true community of hospitality, the mission of More Light Presbyterians is to work for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA).” It is a strong statement to make in this denomination, and some churches who are truly open and affirming still have difficulty adding this label to their names.

Jane and her group of ten or so fellow supporters and I met with the two pastors of St. Andrew after worship. We asked about the process that led them to this important—and to some, risky—step of affirmation.

Although for each church it is different, this small congregation had already been “More Light” in practice for some time. The session—that is, the ruling group of elders—held a three-hour meeting to discuss and vote on the idea. Three hours, and it was done! Of course, it was years in the making.

Something struck me when I was driving home that afternoon: for the straight members of that congregation, declaring the church More Light changed nothing. All would go on as before. For its gay members and those seeking a church and gay children growing up in this church, everything changed. They are affirmed not only in general but in writing and in action. This is powerful stuff and it costs the straight members of the church nothing but understanding. I will be taking this idea to my church group. We are years away from this step, which frankly I considered an impossibility in my congregation. I don’t see it that way anymore.

I hope to partner our church with St. Andrew in LGBT outreach and advocacy. I have some thinking, talking and reading to do about this. We continue to move toward the Light.

*I have yet to find out how a Presbyterian church comes to call itself Saint Anything. Sounds Catholic, doesn't it?

June 4, 2010

I've Been Castled

Actually, it isn't what I crave. I've never had a White Castle burger until last night.

Our church has facilities that permit us to house people in times of need (showers, room for folding cots, etc.). We offer hospitality to homeless families one week a month, one of a number of churches that have combined for mission in that field. Last night, the Red Cross Emergency Shelter team enacted a mock drill to prepare us for response to a large number of homeless families due to an emergency. (Our "emergency" was an apartment fire that displaced fifty people.)

It went well. I managed to contain a "member of the press" to the public areas and keep him busy and informed without violating the privacy of our residents. This was our second mock drill, and we still have a few bugs to work out, but our team of about fifty volunteers could respond now and do a good job, I think.

Our reward at the end of the drill was dinner. And dinner was nothing but White Castle hamburgers. They're okay, I suppose. The Red Cross serves food that is donated by local businesses, so we can't complain. But even after I removed just about all those little onions, they haunted me the rest of the evening. I took four Tums over the course of the night.

Maybe next time Chick-fil-A will donate dinner.