Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Traffic Court - before

I have to go to traffic court tonight. I've never been before and I can't say that I'm looking forward to it, but here's the deal: I got a ticket for speeding in a construction zone (thus doubling the fine and looking really bad to my insurance company) when I don't think I possibly could have. I'm fighting the ticket in the hopes of saving paying a hefty fine and insurance rate increase.

It happened more than a month ago when I was driving my friend, Bekah, home from the airport. She lived in a small town (one that is completely surrounded by KC proper) and I'd only been to her house once before so I didn't really know the way. As she was directing me, we came upon an intersection full of orange cones. It had recently been paved but didn't yet have lines painted, and I was waiting at the stop light to make a left turn. While waiting for the light, Bekah was telling me where I'd be making my next turn, but I was trying to figure out where I was going to go when I made my left turn. There were so many cones and without the lines being painted I was nervous about turning into oncoming traffic. I slowly made the turn and tried to make sure I was going where I needed to go, and it was maybe a block out of that turn that the cop pulled me over. I don't know how fast I was going - the speedometer had not been my focus - but I was cited for doing 45 in a 25 mph construction zone. I don't think there's any way that I could have accellerated that fast - and Bekah and I were honestly VERY surprised by the whole incident. As it turned out, where I ended up pulling over was also right by where I was going to be making my next turn to get to her house (a second reason I couldn't have been going that fast, if I was going to be making another turn that soon). I used to work for a police department and for the most part I respect the work that those officers do, but this guy wasn't very nice about the whole thing. He never once tried to be friendly or even cracked a smile. He was really kind of mean - and I'm hoping he was just having a bad or something, because I'd hate to think of anyone being like that all the time.

Like I said, I've never been to court before (other than being called once as a witness at a hearing when I was a police dispatcher). I'm dressing up (even wearing a skirt) and going to try to be polite and succinct. I'm really hoping the officer doesn't show up for court, which supposedly happens quite often. Then I won't have to pay the fine and the charges will be dismissed. If the officer is there, I will simply state me case as best as I can and hope for the best. At worst, the charges hold and I have to pay the fine as if I would have just signed the ticket. I've got nothing to lose. I just wish that made my stomach stop flip flopping...

Monday, May 29, 2006

My KC Star Debut - for real!

Well, the article wasn't in the Saturday paper as I was told it would be - or the Sunday paper. But it made it in today!!! Here's the link. I was a little scared about what I might have said and how it might have been used. As it turns out, I'm only quoted once, but it was a pretty good (although grammatically bad) comment. It's even the closing line!! Whew - a sense of relief, and yes, pride. I even managed to get the seminary name and group name both mentioned. I hope nobody at SPST minds. :)

Friday, May 26, 2006

My Debut in the KC Star!!

I'm very much still processing this, so bear with me. Today I was contacted by a reporter with the Kansas City Star, our main newspaper. She's the reporter for "minority concerns," which I think is an interesting title (who determines when it's a "minority concern"? - someone from the majority apparently). She's writing an article on Joe Nadeau, the music director of the Heartland Men's Chorus who was recently fired from his church job at a local Catholic church. I don't know the specifics of the story other than the mass of rumors and talk that are going on around the Kansas City LGBT community, but essentially he was fired for refusing to give up his position in the gay (and gay-friendly) chorus and to not renouncing his gay lifestlye. The reporter had heard that I was with a new organization here in KC that works on issues of the LGBT community in churches and wanted to get my perspective on it.

Whoa! Who am I? Why does anyone want to know what I think about anything? How did she get my name and email address in the first place?! I still don't know and I debated on getting in touch with her, but I decided that I needed to do it. I don't really trust the media - I've seen first hand how messed up they can get a story and how they can twist people's words by taking them out of context. The last thing I want to do is say something - or be considered as having said something - that gets the KC Coalition or the larger LGBT religious communities in more controversy than they already are everyday. But what if this is it? What if this the reason I'm in seminary in the first place - my call? I don't know if I even like using that word, but this could be the beginning of a prophetic ministry that moves beyond my local congregation and seminary campus. I'm afraid to say that "God wants me to" do this - or anything else for that matter. Too many people use that line as reason to do things that are anything BUT Christian. All I can do is my best, and that's what I tried to do when I talked with the reporter on the phone this afternoon.

She asked me a lot of general questions about what the issues are and how I feel about them. I tried to make it clear that I could only speak for myself and not all members of the Kansas City Coalition for Welcoming Ministries, but I said exactly what I think and how I see the issue. I'll be very curious to read the article and see which statements of mine get printed and how they connect with Joe's story. The truth is that what happened to him sucks - but it happens to LGBT people everyday and they don't all get articles in the newspaper about it. The Heartland Men's Chorus is pretty popular in Kansas City, so this is getting some attention and if nothing else, at least I got the name of our group in the newspaper so more people will know about us and the kind of work we're trying to do. Best of luck to Joe, whatever the future holds, and he gets my respect for the way he's handled things thus far.


I haven't really done a rant on the environment, but with Al Gore's new movie on global warming and the ever increasing talk about oil prices and the need for cars that get better mileage, it's about time. As I was driving home from dinner last night, I was not only looking at the houses (frequent habit now that we're thinking about buying one) but also the cars that were in the driveways. I am still amazed by the numbers of people who drive SUV's and I can't help but think of the ad campaign "What would Jesus drive?" that was done a couple of years ago and caused a lot of media attention (here 's one article among many others criticizing the idea ). While there was a lot of flack for such thinking, what is the "Christian" thing to do with the environment? What should Christian's consider when making purchases?

I don't have the answers, but I try to make conscientious choices that will have even a small effect on lessening my impact on the environment. I found a nifty little exercise that shows people how their lifestyles affect the planet - it's the ecological footprint quiz over on my links section. You answer a few questions (it takes 10 minutes or less) about what you eat, your travel habits, type of home, etc. and it calculates how much impact you have on the planet and tells you how many planets it would take to sustain the whole human race if everyone lived like you. I found it interesting that my answers came out to HALF of the average American impact, yet still more than this planet has to offer (it would take 2 1/2 planets to accomodate everyone living like me). We need to cut WAY WAY back people!! There's no other way to say it. Business, daily life, etc all has to change drastically or we're going to end up with severe shortages in ways that, I'm afraid, won't lead to some big natural disaster that ends the world as we know it, but rather causes massive amounts of poverty and inequality greater than anything we see today. How many people have to suffer before we realize we're all in this together and have to help each other - including the environment?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hot town, summer in the city....

Well, I wish my summer break was starting off with more of a bang, but I'm working in the seminary library today. After shelving books (and moving massive quantities of dust in the process), I'm taking a breather on the computer. My job is boring without people around - or maybe that says more about the fact that I'm an extrovert than anything else. :)

I'm trying to start looking for job options - preferrably something here in KC that I can start before I'm actually done with school. I still don't really know what I'm looking for, but likely a non-profit agency working on some kind of social justice issue. If anyone knows of any good places to search, let me know. I've really been enjoying looking around on and I recommend that site for anyone else who is looking for that kind of job. They also have volunteer spots and internships and you can search nationwide!

Okay, now for something else fun (not that I put much stock in this but it sure sounds good!):
Your Birthdate: October 5

You have many talents, and you are great at sharing those talents with others.
Most people would be jealous of your clever intellect, but you're just too likeable to elicit jealousy.
Progressive and original, you're usually thinking up cutting edge ideas.
Quick witted and fast thinking, you have difficulty finding new challenges.

Your strength: Your superhuman brainpower

Your weakness: Your susceptibility to boredom

Your power color: Tangerine

Your power symbol: Ace

Your power month: May

Monday, May 22, 2006

Pomp and Circumstance

Friday afternoon was Saint Paul's graduation ceremony and I was struck by overhearing several conversations. You would think that this being a seminary graduation, people would somehow be different, nicer, more appreciative - at least I thought that, but no. I know this time of year brings up a lot of graduation ceremonies - high schools and colleges nationwide have big ceremonies, and it seems like more and more younger kids are having graduations from kindergarten and elementary school (which I personaly think is ridiculous and only takes away the meaning for the later graduations!) and every ceremony is essentially the same. There's music, speakers, student in gowns and tassels, etc. Tex Sample was our speaker this year, and I was impressed with him, except that his message had little to do with graduation and was more of a promo spot for his workshop the next day on use of technology in worship (another blog entry another time).

What really amazed me was the demeanor of the crowd. People come hours before to get seats, and often save seats for other family members and friends - this is something we deal with every year and I remember this from other graduations as well. What killed me is that we had elderly people, many retired ministers or seminary professors, who were refused a seat on the main level so that people could save seats for their 30-something friends. I don't dare assume that everyone there was Christian, even though we are a Christian seminary, and I know that being Christian does NOT mean that you are nice and have a sense of compassion, but come on! Where is common human decency? If it's not in the church (using the term loosely) where should it be?!? I think a lot of my other issues with the church come out of this same idea - people not treating each other the way they would like to be treated. I know family wants to sit together and not everyone can arrive at the same time, but when things are getting full and someone with a walker is looking for a seat, it seems appropriate to tell the other members of your party that they were late enough that they will have to sit in the balcony section (rather than making the lady with the walker go up there). Am I wrong? Too idealistic? Putting too high expectations on people in general? (It wouldn't be the first time, and someday I hope people live up to them.)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

New Season, New Look

With the end of the semester (and a deep breath of relief) I felt like I should change things up a bit around my house and on my blog. Let me know what you think about the new template, and someday maybe I'll be cool enough to make big, original changes like hipchick! :) I'm trying to use more pictures and interactive things that continue along the lines of how I think and feel about the church and life in general. I'll likely post a little more often in this summer and would encourage people to leave me more comments! Thanks for reading...

"The devil made me do it."

I thought this was an interesting picture. I found this whole website with various church signs that caught people's attention. Some of them are funny, but others, like this one, just scare me. I don't understand why we have this idea of a character who comes and takes away our ability to live in right relationship with God. Why do we need to blame something external from ourselves? Not that I want everyone feeling guilty all the time either, but shouldn't there be something in between? There's something between "The devil made me do it." and complete human depravity, but how do you express it and explain it?
At this website, you can also make your own sign message, which is interesting and got me thinking about what I would put if I had that job. Unfortunately, I think it's really difficult to put good theology in a soundbite or slogan. What do you think? What would you put on a church sign?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fun Stuff

Continuing the fun stuff while my brain recuperates (aka vegging out!):

You Were a Rabbit

You are fast thinking and tend to live by your wits.
Getting over fears is important to you, as is strengthening intuition.

You are Agnostic

You're not sure if God exists, and you don't care.
For you, there's no true way to figure out the divine.
You rather focus on what you can control - your own life.
And you tend to resent when others "sell" religion to you.

Interesting.... I believe that God exists, but I don't believe that we can say much about God - most of what we say is limited by our own understanding. I'm curious to see how my seminary friends do on this one...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday - breathing easier

There's something about a sunset, or a night sky full of stars, that just helps me take a deep breath, relax and put things into perspective. The week is done, at least as far as classes are concerned, and I think I made it through ok. I don't know that I'll get the grades I wanted or hoped to earn, but at least it's not hanging over my head. I have two smaller papers due next week and this whole semester is done. No idea what I'm doing for the summer yet, other than continuing my jobs on campus and maybe cleaning my house. :) Well, there are two weddings to go to, one to be in and one wedding shower to throw, so I guess I'll really be staying plenty busy. Life moves on...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Love that Schulz

Just something amusing - and kind of the way I wanted to open my credo (but I don't have to write one anymore).


It's finals time and I'm stressing out this week. Due to lack of brain function at this point, I'm just posting some random stuff.

First, here's my johariw window, and if you know me and would like to add to it or want to try out your own, I recommend it. :)

Second, my partner has finally gotten her own blog as well, YAY! To check it out go to

Third, and maybe my happiest news of this week - Children's Mercy hospital (employer of my better half) is changing their health insurance policy to add benefits for domestic partners - which means I no longer have to deal with BCBSKC and paying the school every month way too much money for a policy that barely covers anything. Thank you to anyone in the hospital system who made this possible - you have no idea how much this means to us.

Okay, I have to go study for a Warren Carter exam...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Now what?

I've been debating the last couple of days how to deal with the news that the Judicial Council decided not to reconsider the decisions they made last October regarding openness of membership in the UMC, particularly depending on one's sexual orientation. I'm mad, hurt, sad, bewildered and many other emotions I have yet to name and identify. Someone asked me not too long ago why I stay in the UMC and how hard it must be to do so. Today it feels harder than ever, but I am committed to sticking it out. I don't even know that I can say exactly why except that I wasn't born into the United Methodist Church - I found my spiritual home and made a choice when I joined it. The reasons I found to join remain just as true today as they did when I joined almost 10 years ago. However, this wound just keeps getting deeper and I ask myself how much more I can take before it becomes a matter of self preservation. An abused person will stay with the abuser in the hopes of change, but that can often lead to their own demise....

I read a response from the Council of Bishops in the UMNS:
Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, of the Texas Annual Conference, said she was disappointed that the church court did not vote to reconsider the rulings, but said she "respects the Judicial Council and their process." Huie began a two-year term as president of the denomination's Council of Bishops this month. She said she also agreed with comments made in a concurring opinion issued with the ruling that "it is time for the issues addressed in Decision 1032 to now be debated by the United Methodist Church, as is occurring.""I agree that this larger issue belongs to the church, and the proper place for the debate to continue is in our church, specifically at the 2008 General Conference," she said. "We will continue our dialogue on how the church responds to homosexuals." (emphasis mine)

I have to say that while I appreciate Bishop Huie's support for the reconsideration of the original decision, I'm not sure that she understands that this issue is not about how the church responds to homosexuals. Yes, homosexuality is a part of this particular care, but the issue is about membership. How does our church decide who is in and who's out? It's a questions that has long been debated in the church at large, and it has great theological implications. We can't say that a pastor can decide who gets to join the church without putting a theological burden on them to make that call. There are some pastors who are more than happy to take on that responsibility, but I would be hesitant to wield that kind of power over anyone. Are we not ALL sinners and all humans, fallible and flawed in many ways? Can any one of us really make the call about who God would include and exclude from the Body of Christ??

Of course, this assumes that membership in the church = membership in the Body of Christ and I don't necessarily buy into that notion either. God throughout history has been on the side of the oppressed, and if the church becomes the oppressor that won't change God's faithfulness. I hold out hope for General Conference 2008 - and I plan on being there in person to make a witness for the inclusive nature of God's grace and love for ALL people. We'll see what happens then, and how many more times I'll have to hold onto hope and wait for the next meeting...