Saturday, March 31, 2007

Grandfathers and Grandmothers

With the blogalogue finished with Dave Glesne, I'm back to collecting and sharing stories. Three weeks ago I met some great grandmas in Minnesota. The week before that a couple of amazing grandfathers in Washington. If you'd like to sign up for regular newsletters, you can do so at NEWS on the website. Both of these articles are posted there, too.

BTW, I've started compiling the recent blogalogue. Word count is almost 120,000 words between Dave, myself, and our commenters. 120,000 words is the size of a book. No wonder there was much to read


Regrets for the long delay in writing. Three weeks ago I was in Minnesota. Since returning home my days have been busy with work and I’ve been missing putting these words together. I’ve been wanting to tell about two grandmothers I met.
She spoke up at the luncheon at church. The congregation had started a “Reconciling in Christ” study to see if the church wanted to make a formal declaration of welcome to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. I’d already preached earlier in the morning and talked about how this kind of welcome literally saves lives. Too many LGBT people are receiving messages from churches that God hates them. After the worship service a dad came up to me with tears in his eyes, “Our family drove an hour-and-a-half to be here this morning. At our Lutheran church at home the pastor tells me I’ve done something wrong to cause my son’s homosexuality, and that my son can be, should be, cured of his homosexuality.”
Now Grandma was speaking up at the luncheon, “Reconciling in Christ doesn’t just save gays and lesbians,” she began. “Reconciling in Christ saved me, too. My husband divorced me five years ago, against my wishes. After that I believed that God hated me. Not until we began the Reconciling in Christ work here did I really understand that God loves us all, including me.”
Maybe hearing Grandma speak these words meant so much to me because of the questions I get about advocating for LGBT equality. Yes, it’s for LGBT people, but, it’s for all of us, about creating the kind of world where there’s a place for everyone.
After the luncheon another Grandma came up to me. “My husband he asks why I come to these meetings. He’s not going to attend.”
“Why not?” I ask.
“I think the difference is that I was raised as a missionary child, around all sorts of different people. My husband was raised in a very strict church. I think that makes us see things differently.” And then she smiles. “Nothing’s keeping me away from these meetings. I’m making my own decisions.”
More stories. Always more stories. Blessings for the telling and the hearing.

Grandpas in Darrington

Two retired men attended my book talk this week in Darrington, Washington. Both had been in the military. One remembered a soldier getting 20 years in the brig for getting caught in a homosexual act. The other remembered warnings to watch out for gay men. In their retirement one of them has a gay grandson, “a wonderful young man.” Still, this grandpa struggles with acceptance, “the only way to accept homosexuality is to throw out the Good Book.”
The other retired man is a counselor. He’d seen an article in the paper about the presentation and driven over from Granite for the evening. “I’ve counseled dozens of gay and lesbian people. It’s remarkable to see a pastor speaking up for gay and lesbian equality.” A wonderful evening ensued — speaking into respectful differences and common understandings. Lots of laughter, too. New connections. Thanks to George and Bridget and the Darrington Library for arranging the evening.

This weekend I preach at First Lutheran Church in St. Peter, Minnesota. They’re in the process of discerning whether to proclaim themselves a “Reconciling in Christ” congregation- a publicly welcoming place for LGBT people. Monday and Tuesday I have talks at Gustavus College and then a presentation at Augsburg College in Minnesota on Tuesday evening (6:30 p.m. in the Science Building, room 123).

I’m thinking this week of the difference between coming in as “the invited one,” as opposed to the recent experience of “intruding” and sueing our city to enforce its building size cap. More to the point, the Equality Bus riders are underway. Already one of the buses has been defaced as they motor their equality message onto campuses that discriminate against gay and lesbian students. ( More to the point, Indiana either has or is close to adopting a ban on same-sex marriage. Seven states have recently done so. And to the point again, my Washington state is expanding its domestic partnership rights. Individuals, each working from their own place, weave these tapestries of more good and less good.

Dad keeps encouraging me to the center. Others prompt me toward biblical literalism. Still others invite me to a deeper activism. I’ll keep working on my place. Blessings in the work of living in your place.