Friday, October 27, 2006



How many things can you find WRONG with this picture?

I went Christmas shopping the other day, and I think these dolls alone reminded me why I hate it so much. (That's why I went already in October; when the feeling strikes, I gotta go with it!) I mean, what does it say about our culture that we create babies getting married? They're BABIES. Of course they're brats, but brides? I think not.

Sigh. Do people teach the difference between play and real to their children, or do they hope their babies will get married so they don't have to raise them? Or do they care?

This was just so ridiculous, it's almost humorous, but it touched a feminist nerve in me, who often advises that 25 is a good age to *start* thinking about whether one might be getting close enough to being old enough to marry! Perhaps it's because my daughter is a bit old for Bratz dolls, but she *is* old enough to start dating. Or thinking about dating, at least.

May something ridiculous in our culture make you laugh and appreciate who and where you are today!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Get Ready, Get Set...

In the next month, there will be two extraordinary ordinations in the ELCA--one in Chicago and one in San Francisco. "Extraordinary" in this case does not mean that these candidates are better than others who are eligible for ordination, in this case. No, the adjective modifies the "ordination", meaning "this isn't the way we usually do things". In fact, it is NEVER the way the ELCA does things--to allow a person who is completely qualified for ministry in every way, but who is GLBT and chooses not to be closeted or celibate, to be ordained "ordinarily". And so, the Extraordinary Candidacy Project was founded in 1993 as a project of Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries (more info at They have found, in fact, that these candidates are extraordinary--called by God, gifted by the Spirit, and perfect for the congregations who have called them to be their pastors, at the risk of discipline and possibly expulsion by the ELCA.

The first extraordinary ordinations happened in January, 1990, in San Francisco. I was a first-year seminarian, and it was a scary and thrilling time to be in the church. As a seminarian, I felt somewhat vulnerable: could "someone" decide I couldn't be a pastor because of my support of GLBT ordination? I found it was worth the risk, and attended the satellite, simulcast service at church in Minneapolis. I even signed my name on a petition as being supportive of the ministry of these three newly and extraordinarily ordained pastors. I remember hearing a chapel sermon earlier that month by a visiting preacher, Rev. Barbara Lundblad, (who later became a mentor to me), who said, "...even if the church doesn't ordain these three, God does!"

Well, that was almost 17 years ago. I survived candidacy and have become a stronger and more vocal advocate for GLBT ordination. But the ordinations of those who refuse to remain celibate or closeted are still "extraordinary"--not the way we usually do things. And they continue to happen, despite the difficulty of getting a call or of mobility once one is ordained.

So, the "get ready, get set" title is a challenge to us who are part of faith communities, especially in the ELCA: we have candidates who are certified and educated and called to ministry, but where will they serve? Are there "extraordinary parishes" out there who will call "extraordinary candidates" so that the Church can be everything God intends it to be? Are there extraordinary call committees who believe that we are called to full participation in the church in our baptism, and that some, indeed, many, GLBT babies have grown in years and in faith to discern a call to ordained ministry? How shall we prepare our congregations for such ministry?

I write to you because I believe there are extraordinary people of God in the pew each Sunday, and you are among them. You are in congregations, worshiping, praying, eating any number of cream of mushroom-based hot dishes. Yours is the voice that can suggest, "Can we look at pastors from both rosters?" Yours is the life that can share stories based on GLBT people you have known who will make extraordinary pastors because they are faithful to the calling to which God has called them. Yours is the desire for wholeness that will not let the church remain broken, stuck on keeping some out and guarding those who are in.

The world is longing for a word from the Lord; this is no time to argue about the merit of the messengers, when the message can carry itself. If we but trust in God to guide us, we will discover there is room enough for all of God's people to live out their baptismal covenant. We will trust that God has indeed called many GLBT people, created in God's image, to pastor in this world. We will welcome all that is extraordinary about GLBT ministers of the gospel, and our lives will be richer for it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Recipe: Chili

Here's the chili recipe several have asked for. No, I'm not actually a Texan, so this isn't a "specialty" or a family recipe. It's from "Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home: Fast and Easy Recipes for Any Day" by the Moosewood Collective; NY: Simon and Schuster, 1994, ISBN 0-671-67992-9.

Red, Gold, Black and Green Chili

35 minutes to prepare; 4-6 servings

1/2 cup bulghur (I use brown rice or couscous; easier to find than bulghur; just cook it up and add it later)
1/2 cup hot water
3 cups undrained canned tomatoes (28 oz. can)

3 TBSP olive oil or vegetable oil
3 cups chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 generous teaspoon ground cumin
1 generous teaspoon chili powder
1 TBSP Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce, or 1/4 tsp cayenne

2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen cut corn
1-1/2 cups drained cooked black beans (14 oz)
1-1/2 cups drained cooked red kidney beans (14 oz)
salt to taste

grated cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese, optional
chopped fresh cilantro, optional

If using bulghur: place the bulghur, hot water, and about a cup of the juice from the canned tomatoes in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat, then lower the heat and simmer gently.

While the bulghur cooks, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
Saute the onions, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and Tabasco or cayenne.
When the onions are soft, stir in the bell peppers and saute for 2 to 3 minutes more.
Chop the tomatoes right in the can and add them to the pan.
Stir in the corn and beans, and heat thoroughly on low heat.
Taste bulghur. When it is cooked but still chewy, add it to the pan with its liquid.
Cover and simmer for a few minutes for the flaors to meld.
Add salt to taste.

Serve plain or topped with grated cheese and fresh cilantro.

Serve with warm tortillas or chips. Leftovers can be used for burrito or pita filling.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Good Texas Nature

I saw a roadrunner on my bike ride yesterday.

I always think that must be good luck. I'm totally making that up, I guess; still, I think it's very cool to say

I saw a roadrunner.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

New World

I have been volunteering at the School Age Pregnancy Education and Parenting program in our local school district. Pregnant teens and their new babies. I reason it's hard enough to be a teenager, and hard enough to be a parent; to do them both at the same time requires some kind of stamina I have not experienced. I found it a challenge to be a new mom in my 30s; these parents, men and women, are half that, trying to graduate from high school at the same time. Some of their stories rival the best of daytime drama, but they don't get to turn off the TV to escape the madness. They hardly have time to turn ON the TV to escape the rest of daily life.

In these interactions, I am struck by two kinds of awe: first, that life can be so terribly complicated by the time one is 16 years old. I have entered a world that I used to believe existed only in torrid fiction: early, usually unwanted pregnancy requiring one to enter the social services nightmare of Medicaid, food stamps, and free clinic medical care, sometimes accompanied by expulsion from the home, your own or a foster home, in which you had been living; betrayal, anger, immaturity, depression, denial. I ache for these young women, and the children who, though well loved, are having a difficult beginning in life.

But secondly, I am struck by how much courage, joy, and resiliency these young people have. They are in school, and their children are cared for by a school-run licensed daycare. Most will graduate. Many dads are still in the picture, attending the accelerated classes with the women so that both can finish high school on time and have time each week as a family and for a job. They are moms and dads whose babies and toddlers light up when they walk in the room and speak their name, and the parents break into a smile in return. One sentence can describe both more pain and more joy than one adult should have to know in a single day, much less live in as a teenager.

I am reminded, oddly, of Luther's reputed death bed quote: "We are beggars, every one." My life is very different from theirs, due in part to one choice made at the right, or wrong, time. But what I see in them is a need to be loved, to be affirmed, to be accepted even with this untimely choice poking out from the bottom of a T-shirt that she wishes still fit. And I realize we are all beggars, and these are the beggars I want to hang out with right now. I'm not sure my capability to hide my mistakes always serves me well; in their need, these women are more real than I usually risk being, especially with strangers.

And that is the grace: I am stranger, who thinks their life somewhat strange, certainly foreign to me, yet we are all on this road together, helping one another to understand each other and herself, and to see a glimpse of hope and truth and beauty.