Hostages of Bigotry

I am truly disgusted by the latest moves by conservative churches to deny services to the homeless and hungry in order to protest gay civil rights ordinances by local governments.

The needs of the poor and homeless have nothing to do with the civil rights of the LGBT community. Yet these conservative churches have decided to express their displeasure over the legal protection of LGBT families by leveraging much-needed social services.

What this means is that these churches are going to refuse to serve a hot meal to a homeless family in Washington D.C. because they don’t want to respect Adam and Steve’s love and commitment to each other.

It’s a heartless political move, and they will one day be ashamed of themselves.  Right now, Christian charities that serve the hungry and homeless should be worried about filling the gap of those who are food insecure, making sure kids have enough to eat so that they can stay focused in school and learn more effectively. Instead, they are worried about their influence over local governments to continue the discrimination of LGBT people and families and deny their civil rights. It is seemingly more important to them to make a statement about homosexuality than it is to feed the hungry or shelter the homeless.

It strikes me that many conservative Christians resent being called bigots when they express their anti-gay sentiment. They claim to love gay people, but acts like this, withholding social services in the name of discrimination, this is not a loving act. It is an act of bald-faced bigotry.

I bet Jesus would overturn the tables in the temple.

Counting Our Blessings

This week has been a doozie for my family; a death in the family; a divorce; a lost job; and many serious health problems.

In response to all of this, Dad sent out an email to all of us this week asking us all to share good news, he being the first to collect some really choice pieces:

  • Noah had a successful piano recital
  • Alex won an important prize at art school
  • Max got a sports casting internship
  • Phoebe will be in an ice skating show this May
  • Faye is having an art exhibit in New York
  • Sarah (my niece) was elected Student Body Vice President at her college
  • Rick received an Eagle Scout award
  • Elizabeth was recently reacquainted with an old family friend who has published a book
  • Elise got a part in the school play
  • Dad recently celebrated his 77th birthday, where Rachel helped him unwrap his presents. Daughter Sarah (me) was also there from out of town to help celebrate.
  • Martin learned how to whistle (his dad still can’t)
  • Andrew read a poem at the MLK celebration at his school
  • Robyn and Charlie finally replace the 20-year-old linoleum in their home
  • Margaret and Sarah (me) both had positive reviews at their jobs
  • Sarah (niece) won some sort of spaghetti wrestling competition at college

You can probably tell that these are mostly grand kids and young nephews and nieces. Children most certainly are a blessing and a joy, and I think that we grownups need to learn from them to look within us and around us and count all of our blessings. It makes me realize that it is the small things that are bringing me joy and satisfaction, as well as appreciating the larger things that I take for granted.

Last week, my new friend Jean made me aware of a gratitude meme on Twitter, asking people to participate in an online and real life dialog about all the things they are grateful for. I have been thinking about all that I’m grateful for ever since, so when Dad sent out the email calling on us to share everything positive that is happening in our lives, it really resonated with me. Even the small things that seem mundane can make a difference in the right direction. Here are some things that I am grateful for:

  • A job and career that provides for my family and gives me personal satisfaction
  • An exceptionally strange and wonderful family that I adore, whether they realize it or not
  • Getting acquainted with old friends through social networking tools, many of whom I wouldn’t have any idea how to reach
  • Five years of marriage to the love of my life, and the community that supports our relationship
  • My yoga practice that is making me increasingly mindful, open-hearted, and grounded
  • My beautiful home in my favorite city
  • Watching the drama of the change of seasons
  • Challenges, past and present, that make me stronger, and life lessons that I continue to learn from years later
  • The incredible generosity of my parents who provided me with everything that I need (and then some) to lead a meaningful life

So when the stress of my job rears its ugly head, making me cranky and moody and blue, or when personal drama threatens to bring me down, I now react by taking a step back, breathe deeply, and think of all of these the wonderful things in my life. This is not to deny the reality of the things that are hard, and sometimes suck, but to simply look at the good stuff along side of those challenges recognize the opportunities.

What are you grateful for?

Life and Choice

“Pro-life” and “pro-choice” are not mutually exclusive terms. Indeed, I claim to be both.

I am pro-life. I value all living things that the Creator has blessed us with. I embrace my responsibility as a human being to steward the Earth and its resources.

I am pro-choice. I believe that women should have the right to privately make decisions about their reproductive health with her doctor and her loved ones.

Right-wing Christians who call themselves “values voters” don’t have the lock on moral issues that they claim. My moral compass informs my politics and the way that I vote. I support candidates and policies that I believe will build a just society.

  • I support family values, where every child is a wanted child, no person fears violence in their own home, and where any loving marriage between two consenting adults is honored and respected.
  • I support environmental conservation and policies that make sustainable day-to-day living practices possible for more people.
  • I support fairness and economic justice for everyone.
  • I believe that healthcare is a right.
  • I support public education.
  • I support working for peace with justice, and working towards building a non-violent society whether it is combating gun-violence in urban neighborhoods or finding diplomatic solutions to international conflicts.
  • I support the abolition of the death penalty.

As articulated by the Matthew 25 Network, I support “life with dignity, caring for the least of these, supporting families, stewardship of God’s creation, working for peace and justice at home and abroad, and promoting the common good.”

Perhaps I have a broader definition of what being “pro-life” means than how it is used in popular discourse. In the same way that I am reclaiming my religious faith, I want to reclaim what it means to be pro-life. I want all children to be born into a sustainable peaceful world where they have access to the food and healthcare they need, the education that they deserve, peaceful parks and clean air in their cities and towns, diverse communities where they can learn about and respect different cultures and traditions, and freedom to make decisions about their personal lives. I want all people to be able be who they are and to live without fear for doing so.

These are the Pro-Life values that I embrace.

I don’t know what’s worse…

I went to a new church today. Nice place. But I don’t know what’s worse: Standing around awkwardly not talking to anyone and not knowing what to do with my hands, or having my time monopolized by the sweet church lady who was so obviously trying to connect with a younger person and convince me to come back. Its almost like going out on a date with someone who is, you know, a little desparate.

Nice people, though. I think I’ll go back and try again. Hopefully I’ll be able to meet some others next time.

Finding Yoga’s Sweet Spot

While I am sitting here mustering up the energy for my daily yoga practice, I thought I’d inspire myself with a little blogging about it.

I have had the hardest time getting my home yoga practice going. G and I got an apartment with a yoga/meditation/massage room (for G’s massage practice). I injured my arm earlier this year doing a bound triangle pose, and had to chill out on yoga for a while, but for the last month or so I’ve been getting back into in earnest. It has been hard getting there, but I think I finally figured out the routine that works for me.

Discovering free yoga podcasts last year was a life-changing occurence for me. With the whole work-life balance thing, home practice is the only thing that is really going to fit with my schedule, though I do intent to find a teacher someday soon. I recognise my need for guidance in-person. But the home practice just never came together for me. I always had such a hard time pushing myself to do a full practice on my own.

The various podcast sites that I have found have been an absolute boon, helping me give shape to my home practice. I especially love Philip Urso’s Baptiste Power Vinyasa podcasts, but they can be burly sometimes, (and they are really for people who’ve had some yoga classes). My arm is still painful sometimes, and some days I need a little something gentler.

Lately what has been working for me is a gentle morning practices with a podcast from Yoga Journal. It’s about a half hour, and designed for rolling out of bed and just waking up. Like most people, I need to move a little more slowly.

So, each morning, I have been doing a half hour practice before getting ready for work, and in the evenings when I have time and on the weekends, I indulge in a longer Baptiste practice with Phil Urso. With these two, I am finding a nice balance and am able to gently push myself into a deeper practice. The combination is helping me find patience with myself and enjoy the sweetness of heart-opening.

Okay, I think I’m ready now.