Thanksgiving Table Conversation Pep-talk

The day is fast approaching, and with it the looming threat of one of those conversations. Grandpa’s talking about politics again! The fights–and everyone else just staring at their plates hoping it will be over soon. I know

Photo by Jonathan Harrison on Unsplash

how much it can suck. But I need you to keep your head in the game (it’s a pep-talk, remember).

Boundaries are an expression of love. They are especially necessary with those you love dearly. And extra-especially necessary with family.

I’ve heard it said–far too often–that politics and religion should not be discussed around the dinner table. I call bullshit on that! It’s precisely because we’ve failed to have these conversations around the dinner table that we are so utterly divided along political and religious lines.

But we have to have healthy boundaries while we have the conversations. I’mma go full Brené-bro on ya! “Clear is kind.” Boundaries simply state what is and what is not okay for you.

“It’s not okay with me that you use that term. I find it offensive. Would you consider using a different term?”

“It’s not okay with me that you raise your voice when I attempt to express my thoughts. Would you consider giving me time to speak before you respond?”

“It’s not okay with me that you engage in and promote personal attacks. Would you consider expressing your thoughts and feelings without attacking another person’s worth or dignity?”

State, simply, what it was that someone did that is not okay (and if necessary why), and ask if they would consider a clear, active, positive change in their actions that would be okay with you.

And if they continue to cross your boundaries then let them know that you choose to not eat with people who disrespect you. Then leave. Then come back after dinner to see if you can sort it out. Hold to your boundaries, but be kind in doing so.

I know this is going to be so hard. They know how to push all of your buttons. Every single one. That’s what family does. But if you hold to yourself, your clear and kind boundaries, you can at least walk away from the table knowing you did your best.

Dinner isn’t a game or debate to be won. It’s a chance for people to share a meal and conversation. Do both with integrity. And, as Brené says, don’t forget to “speak truth to bullshit!”

The Pace of Progress

I happened to see the above image on a tote-bag a few days ago and was immediately struck by it. I had a good conversation with the owner of the bag about progress and how it can feel like progress is being lost right now. One step forward and two steps back. But for me the image represents exactly the way in which the arc of history is bumpy when you look at it up close.

I got home and started researching the image. I found out that Women You Should Know commissioned David Trumble to riff off of the classic depression-era image colloquially called “Men at Work” calling his image “Feminism at Work.” In it, in chronological order, are some of the most influential women in advocating for feminism and the rights of women, whether it was the right to vote, use birth control, or have a seat at the political table.

Then I got to work on a writing assignment I have in which I’m exegeting the book of Romans. I know the Apostle Paul isn’t known for his staunchly feminist viewpoint, but try to follow me on this one. Up to this point in the letter to the Romans Paul systematically showed how neither Jews nor Gentiles could claim to be righteous before God based on what they’d done or how they were born (side note, and probably fodder for a future blog post, whenever you see the term “righteous” in the New Testament it almost certainly carries the weight of “justice” as understood in the Prophets of the Old Testament, so economic, gender, and racial justice are all in view when the New Testament refers to righteousness).

From there Paul went somewhere that seems a little strange at first:

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Rom. 5:1-5, NRSV)

Because we are declared just people and have peace with God we should boast in our suffering. Wait. What?

I think Paul is giving advice to woke people. I think he’s saying, once you’ve settled your shit with God, you realize all the ways that you’ve been unjust and unloving and admit that you can’t fix any of that, all you can do is work towards being just and loving in the future, you’ll have peace within yourself. You have to start by loving yourself even though you participated in unjust systems, did unjust actions, and were unloving to yourself, others, and God. Once you accept that you are loveable and can forgive yourself for all of your unjust and unloving actions, then you start seeing all of the injustice around you. That’s when you need to develop the skills of hope.

I think every woman depicted on the girder above became an expert in hope. They endured suffering, they built character, and they strengthened their hope-muscles. It’s easy enough to hope for something that’s a day away, or two. But to do work in the hopes that maybe in a decade or a century your work will bear fruit. That’s some strong-ass hope!

And that’s exactly the hope that we all need to cultivate if we want to continue seeing progress towards gender justice, racial justice, economic justice, and all forms social justice. Some Christians want to attack social justice as if it doesn’t have anything to do with God or the gospel (more blog fodder I guess), but the bible makes it clear that there is no difference. The good news of Jesus is that everyone is worthy of love and belonging, that we get to put down our various hustles for worthiness (TM – Dr. Brené Brown), and start the work of seeking justice. I believe that’s what Jesus meant when he said:

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30, NRSV)

Once you let go of the hustle it’s easy to see suffering as something to endure rather than a commentary on your worth and value. Once your worthiness is not on the line it’s easy to advocate for the worthiness of other people. Once you know that you are lovely and loved no matter who you are, what you’ve done, or how you were born, it’s easy to hope that everyone can receive that beautiful gift.

Then the work begins, that has always been the work and will be until it is done: “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, NRSV).

_______________________________________________________________

hope

when the world
takes two steps backward
progress is not lost
merely delayed

vision progresses
ever forward
imagination unleashed
inevitable

a game of inches
and miles
hearts growing
together
slowly…
so…
fucking….
slowly!

do not forget
the whiff of freedom
glimpses of equality
puzzle-box covers

find the corners
and edges
the shape of
what might be

and make it so

Season 1 Episode 9 – Vulnerability

In which I talk about the necessity of vulnerability, yoga, time travel, and paradoxes.

Dr. Brené Brown has done extensive work on shame and vulnerability that has informed my theology deeply. I believe that her work directly expresses how to live out what Jesus called the greatest command: love. If we can’t be vulnerable, if we can’t process our shame, then we can’t love ourselves, others, or God.

We all need love and belonging; Dr. Brown has shown this to be an unquestionable fact. Without vulnerability we can’t give and receive love and belonging. With vulnerability we are at risk of the pain of shame. It is a risk to love and be loved; yet unless we take that risk we all lose.

The paradox of love is this: to belong you must risk not belonging. The choice to be vulnerable is the choice to pursue love, despite the cost.

Image credit: brenebrown.com

Cannabis: Golden Pineapple from Eco Firma Farms

Season 1 Episode 9 – Vulnerability

 
 
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Season 1 Episode 8 – Deathology

In which I talk about how death is the impetus for the central question of the universe, consider the ultimate cause, and question whether that first cause was based on intent.

Death, which is inevitable, drives us to consider whether our lives have any purpose or not. Further, it drives us to consider whether the universe has any purpose or not. So a theology of death calls us to align our views of death and the purpose of the universe. If it’s all random chance or intentional choice. And if we can choose, what is it that we choose: harm or healing, joy or pain?

What do you think is the purpose of the universe? What do you think happens after we die? And how does that affect how you live?

Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash

Cannabis: Zkittlez from Farma

#deathology #bothand #intersectingspectra #fearbasedeconomy #dietohate #egomurderers #otherpeoplearepeopletoo #depressinghope #depressingoptimist

Season 1 Episode 8 – Deathology

 
 
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How Truth isn’t Truth to Fundamentalists

In an interview on Sunday with Meet the Press, lawyer for President Trump, Rudy Giuliani said, “truth isn’t truth” by way of defending his client against possible perjury. He has since attempted to clarify his statement via Twitter:

To me this points to the larger problem within fundamentalism (whatever the politics, creed, or beliefs, for more check out the podcast on the theology of fundamentalism): truth as proposition rather than pursuit.

The fundamentalist need to avoid being wrong (because being wrong is tantamount to being dead) leads to seeing truth as a proposition to be accepted (or rejected if you want to be excluded from the community). You must accept this doctrine or that political belief or this scientific theory or else you are capital-W Wrong. And being wrong sends you to hell or destroys the country (or world). It’s based on fear and the shame associated with being wrong.

Mayor Giuliani said that he wasn’t attempting to pontificate on “moral theology” when he said “truth isn’t truth,” but rather was saying that it’s often impossible to determine what actually happened when two people say contradictory things. While that’s an accurate statement on the surface, I don’t believe that it correctly portrays the situation nor the underlying motivations of most fundamentalists.

There is plenty of actual evidence (not hearsay nor unsubstantiated testimony). This is far from being a case of “he said, she said” and I believe Mayor Giuliani and President Trump are smart enough to know that. With all the fundamentalists that I’ve known, grew up with, and continue to talk to, the common denominator has always been a deathly fear of being wrong, even to the point of changing the definitions of ‘truth’ to suit their position.

Mayor Giuliani came out and said exactly what is at the heart of fundamentalism and exactly why there’s almost no space for dialogue between fundamentalists and anyone else. For fundamentalists truth isn’t truth if it means they’re wrong, being wrong is unthinkably dangerous, therefore truth much change to keep them safe. That’s why the morality of President Trump hasn’t been a problem for the vast majority of White Evangelical Christians (i.e. rebranded fundamentalists).

Moral theology is exactly the point, despite Mayor Giuliani’s dissembling. Morality and theology must, of necessity, be located outside the experience and understanding of the individual. Put another way, morality tells us how to interact with other humans and so should require us to be wrong at times as we learn and grow. If we aren’t ever wrong morality is a useless construct. Similarly theology is meant to tell us how to interact with the divine. If the divine is nothing but a reflection of what we already want then we can stop wasting time pretending that we’re doing something dictated by a higher power and simply take responsibility for our own actions. But that’s anathema to the fundamentalist mindset because it requires embracing being wrong, placing themselves as subject to a higher truth, higher morality, and higher calling rather than justifying what they already believe to protect their fragile illusion of being right and therefore safe.

Truth is only truth if you are willing to let it change you.

 

Season 1 Episode 7 – Fundamentalism

In which I talk about the, um, fundamentals of Fundamentalism (and how all of us recovering fundamentalists can pave the way towards a better future).

Cannabis: Silver Tip from Farma

 

Season 1 Episode 7 – Fundamentalism

 
 
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Season 1 Episode 6 – Science

In which I talk about terpenes (like beta-Caryophyllene), the endocannabinoid system, science, and how it’s not at all in conflict with theology.

Cannabis: Obama Kush from Farma

 

Season 1 Episode 6 – Science

 
 
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Season 1 Episode 5 – Gratitude

In which I express gratitude for the eucharist, Hamilton, and frugality.

Cannabis: Diesel Tonic

Method: Pulsar APX Vaporizer

Season 1 Episode 5 – Gratitude

 
 
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Season 1 Episode 4 – Liberation

In which I discuss homemade tincture, the arc of history, and liberation theology.

Cannabis: Homemade AVB tincture (Already Vaped Bud).

Season 1 Episode 4 – Liberation

 
 
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Season 1 Episode 3 – Holiness

In which I discuss the nature of holiness, not as being right all the time, but as being fully and completely you.

Cannabis: Lemon Meringue from Satchel

 

Season 1 Episode 3 – Holiness

 
 
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