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Sunday, October 23, 2011

my St. Luke's Experience 1

Today's church experience made me feel warm. Far from being Episcopal, I went to St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

I felt odd going there because it's where Monica attends but she's never invited me to come. It could have been a natural invite both when we talked about me visiting places in an attempt to find a church and also when I asked her if she had ever heard of St. Luke's and if it's the place she goes. Showing up could be like invading her space and I don't want to do that. She wasn't there today. I went because it's Episcopal and the Episcopal Bishop is gay; why not be open and affirming? More so, I went because a guy at TEP told me to go there. He thinks it will be safe so I decided to check it out. SN: Bishop Robinson is listed as the New Hampshire bishop on wikipedia. Maybe Jackson's Episcopal bishop isn't gay after all. Oh well.

Other cons of the church: Quiet-style. Kneeling. Afraid I'll fall asleep. lol

On to some pros:
They said a prayer I remember praying before and liking even then. I suppose it's a common Episcopal prayer, perhaps something I'll read each time I'm there? It goes:

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

They do that extended call and response before communion. I LOVE saying, "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ WILL come again." Most folk don't seem to emphasize the "will" though :/.

Initial observations: older, white congregation. Then I looked to my right and saw that all of the young people sat there. I found it funny that Monica talks about her young congregation when only about 1/3 of them are young. I had a totally different imagine of who was there from her comments verses what I actually saw. White. All white. Towards the end of service, I saw another black. He was sitting in the corner on stage so I couldn't see him seated. He saw me when I went up for communion. His eyes lit up when he served/saw me. I think he's excited to have another black person there. It's okay to be in service with all white people when black, but it's better when it's not that way imo. Even if he and I are the only two, we are no longer alone and maybe others will come. I spoke to this minister after service. His name is Brodrick and he's a Social Work major thinking of entering "the ministry". We chatted for a while at the door leading out of the sanctuary. I stood in line to shake hands on my way out. My meeting with him just happened to not be so brief. I look forward to chatting with him more.

I also spent a while chatting with the Rector (pastor), Father Sean. I mentioned starting Small Town Progressives when I got here to meet people and he told me I was in a good spot to meet other progressives. Yea! And, they're reading Love Wins. You know, the first time I went to Rock Bridge in MO they were talking about a book some Quaker ministers wrote that exclaimed God's saving love for all that pissed off people.... The reading group meets at 9:45-- that's painfully early to me. I wonder how far along the are in the book. Maybe I should join them.

Other people were especially friendly to me when it was time to greet one another during service. One man made me think of my Italian uncle that I don't have. Loved him. I enjoyed my brief talk with a really tall guy that's a student at Freed-Hardman at service's end. I squealed, "Wait! I can't be first in line on the way out. I don't know what to do," as he was in front of me then got out of line, as if waiting on someone. A brief chat followed. He seems to be friends with Broderick.

So it was a good experience. It was socially positive but the question remains, can I be an Episcopal? If I do stay, Monica and I can have different circles... kind of. There were like 60 ppl there. Still, I can not hover around her and find my own way there if I stay. Yes I can.

Friday, October 21, 2011

life in 4 pics

This year, I have new types of items for the Art for Hope fundraiser art fair. I'm quite excited to present my first magnets and bookmarks:

I plan to make these magnets too:

Also, there is new reading:

I'm enjoying the Gita, though I've read less than 1 chapter. It was awkward at first, but now I see it in light of Life and Christian Scripture. It's beautiful for the most part.

There is so much to be done before the Nov 3 art show. So much, so much, so much. I guess this weekend will bring cards, magnets, and more bookmarks?

I stopped dating Memphis. I did like her but I did not like the drama of the two of us as such. We still talk daily but now 1-2x per day instead of 3-4x. I suspect the decision to leave a romantic us alone was a good idea.

All week, I've been way too sleepy. Tonight, I will be in bed by 9pm. I quit the allergen elimination diet but I do have an appointment to talk to a doctor on Monday about a food sensitivity test, the ALCAT.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tonight, I went to my first ever TEP meeting. I have mixed reactions to it. They seem busy and energetic, but a space for me was not obvious from the interactions I had. I recently read that they are forming a faith outreach committee. "Formed" and closed is a better description. Last month, Tilley told them she had a friend she thinks would be interested in helping with it. They were focused on trying to convince a certain someone else to do it. A day or two ago, on facebook, I said I couldn't make the meeting due to a scheduling conflict but would like for someone to contact me about the faith outreach committee. No response yet, but I just posted it, right? Tonight, I was there and voiced my interest. Nothing. There are 2 ppl working on that and they will continue to do so. Well okay then. I'll watch them a little more before I make a conclusion on our relationship. They probably will be a group to make progress but that doesn't mean I don't need to show up to their events just to be another warm body without a real voice. Many people and groups will allow me to stand with them and say what they think should be said. I prefer to spend my time doing more.

The faith outreach update did allow a 30 second blurb about churches. St. Luke's Episcopal was recommended. I'm not sure that I can be Episcopal but they were already on my list of places to check out. One of the guys who got their ass kicked by the church folk said Truth and Love was a good spot-- non-affirming maybe, but non-condemning. I politely raised my hand and disagreed when he said they don't preach against homosexuality. I guess he missed my memo.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


I just woke up from a nap, sleep to supplement my disturbed sleep from last night and help keep me going. I fell asleep to For the Bible Tells Me So and incorporated the death threats for Bishop Gene Robinson into my dreams. Having one's being threatened does not make for relaxing sleep. I tried to get out of the dream but it resulted in me being terrorized by a cop and abused with helicopter wings (we knows dreams don't make much sense, right). Nedra Johnson was there and brought some intellectual comfort but there was a division between us. She was there as a a celebrity giving music lessons of various kinds. She was a stranger to me, someone I planned to visit for a guitar lesson before she left (she was to be in the area for 2 weeks for the lessons). She was in no way involved in the threats I received but served more like a reminder that I'm not alone. I was so glad when my alarm went off 'cause it finally brought me out of the dream. Sad thing is what I really remember hearing about Jackson before moving here is about all of the people assaulted for their sexual orientation. We don't really have places for communion like we do in Memphis. I think there used to be a bar but it was issue-filled.

truth and love (church)

I went to church this morning. My goal has basically been to go to church every other week when in Jackson. My goal has basically not been met. Today, I intended to make visit #3 to Bible Fellowship. If it was a good experience, I would then dig for more information on the church and learn important things like their stance on homosexuality. However, I had one of those nights that I wish existed less often where I spent hours awake but too tired to do anything productive. Goal in mind, however, I got up. Late. And slowly. I got ready for church but started thinking making that 10:30am service was asking for a bit much. No problem. I'd check out an 11am service... where? Apparently, my list of places I want to visit is almost none existent and the one church I could think of started at 10:15. For 20 minutes, I used the Internet to find somewhere to go today. It didn't work. I remembered the list I pulled from the newspaper and tacked on my refrigerator and there I found an 11am service: Truth and Love Church. I made an online friend that is a lesbian and goes to the Truth and Love in Humboldt or somewhere. She said she hadn't really heard them talk about homosexuality and they knew she was gay and didn't treat her any less. She recommended I check it out. Today, I did.

The Scripture today was I Thessalonians 2. The opening piece of that, for me, was affirming:

But even[a] after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. 3 For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit.

The pastor said he was going to preach on priorities. He said Truth & Life needs to have 4 main priorities.

I thought this might be a good sermon 1 for me to hear. I figured I could hear what the church was about, and maybe I would learn its take on homosexuality. I did.

The priorities?
1) Be Biblical
2) Be Authentic
3) Be Gracious
4) Be Relevant

It was a good sermon. I would go back because his sermon was full of love. Love, love, love, and be real. I don't think Pastor Cupples has to worry about blood being on his hands from his congregation members verbally or physically abusing LGBT people in the "name of Holiness". Pretty much everything that came out of his mouth made it plain he wouldn't approve of something like that, no matter the person's perceived sin. And, after saying homosexuality is a sin he told the congregation to hold their applause 'cause adultery, shacking up, and having premartial sex are sins too. I appreciate that he didn't just lay it in on homosexuals. Of course, queers are the only ones in his listing that just are; everything else had to do with a choice people make. Although I enjoyed the sermon's overall message and the style of service, I still found myself leaving church going, "Gee. God, am I a sin? Do I have it all wrong? This pastor seemed like such a nice guy, smart and authentic, yet he said I'm a sin." (of course, HE would probably say he said homosexuality is a sin, not the person. But ask a queer person the difference.) So no, I can't go back to Truth and Love because spiritual violence (a phrase I picked up from Walter Wink) occurs there and I have no desire to help perpetuate that but also, I don't need to experience it.

Some positives from today's experiences:
1. I obtained For the Bible Tells Me So. I intended to buy it but it costs more than I tend to pay for DVDs. I downloaded it, legally, I think. I'd be happy to make a donation to whatever agency made it available for me to download as such. You can also watch it online. It's sad that going to church made me feel the need to find affirmation that I'm not a Christian in vain, that God isn't inherently disgusted by who I am because of who I love.
2. I was reminded of the need to work in my Christianity. I don't pray enough. I don't read the Bible enough. I don't stay the course. I think of starting an affirming group in the back of my mind but before I get the go-ahead or a new course or a nothing, I must be consistent and take steps to grow. Grow, grow, grow. I think of starting something like Columbia Progressive Christians or the Stone or maybe even Soulforce.
3. I went to another church. That's church #3 for this area.
4. I'm gonna ask other lgbt ppl where they go for worship. Tilley went to a TEP meeting and apparently, a bunch of them go to church.

This experience wasn't great in the story of me loving me but it did serve the purpose of reminding me that there is much work to be done. Biblical. Authentic. Gracious. And Relevant. Amen, Preacher, Amen.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

forced to choose, thoughts I

I've been thinking about Tilley and Memphis more than I'd like in terms of making a choice. I find myself thinking about how much I like them and why. I ponder things done/characteristics of which I'm not so fond. And then I compare. I want to date Tilley and let that relationship be. I want to do the same with Memphis. Being asked to choose leads my brain to compare but I'm not consciously sure that there is a reason to compare, if not being forced to choose. So then I drift back to tunnel vision-- Tilley tunnel, Memphis tunnel. From there, my mind drifts to my must have's/can't stand list that I made in livejournal. Previously, I kept telling myself not to look until I made the 30 day mark with both. Tonight, I look anyway as I question whether the drama is worth the gym. The list (1/2):

Must have's

Christian is a perk, though I admittedly have a warm spot in my heart for pagans & earthy people (take care of the earth & of each other). Being connected to some spiritual body is a plus; I want to know that the person is spiritual without them having to ask them, "Are you spiritual and/or religious?" and waiting for their answer. I want the person to be able to support me in my spirituality, even if our paths don't merge.

Social justice oriented
As of the writing of this, my myspace profile says something like, "I like people who give a shit about something beyond their own nose." Yeah. What I especially can't stand are people that don't understand why I have an issue with something like shopping at Wal-Mart and are disrespectful, snobby, and mocking with my choice to avoid shopping there. Of course, I don't want to be with someone who (figuratively) beats me up when I do shop at Wal-Mart. Progress, not perfection. 2011 edit: Social justice oriented doesn't seem like an appropriate title for this. I'm pretty lazy these days but I do think about things like buying fair trade coffee. I don't want to fall into total laziness and don't give a f_ckness so I want to be with someone that helps me not fall into the abyss.

Family friendly
I adore my nieces and nephews. I am close to most all of my relatives (well, family in the general sense). I need someone who's into that. It would be nice if they have a family that they get along with, people to extend my network of relatives in the long range, people for them to talk about. Short-term, I need them to not be annoyed when I talk about my peeps b/c they are my peeps. I need them to not be bothered by how close my family and I are. I am independent, but I am connected.


Willing to let me know them
A relationship cannot last on fluff alone. I want to feel connected to their soul, feel like it has somehow been shared/shown to me. I want to know what they like to do, something besides make me happy, and I want to know why they're troubled when they reach that point. I want someone who will let me in without me begging to be there.

Honesty & Trust
Doesn't this go without saying? I must be able to trust my partner.
I also need them to trust me.

Physical Touch
I have this thing, "If you don't want to touch me, then why do you want to date me?" I'm not talking about sex; I'm just a touch-feely person when it gets down to it. Withholding touch is a good way to make me feel not loved.

Disease Talk

Do you ask your dates to get a HIV test? When's the last time you got one? It amazes me how opposed some people are to getting tested. I'm not gonna marry you without a test. I'm sure as hell not going to have sex with you.

I'm not into, "We went on a date on Friday. We are monogamous, committed lovers on Monday." However, I can't see forever spending my life with someone who always wants the freedom to date (and fuck) other people. Eventually, it has to be decided that we will be together or we can move on.

More flexible/spontaneous than I
Too much so and we wouldn't work but there's that other kind that is perfect for keeping me from getting too bogged down into a funk of having to do so and so and always having a plan. My "J" has weakened over the years and I like that.

Able to view things from various perspectives, not stuck on just their view

Not sure if this is a must have or a would be really nice if

Set goals and actively work to progress toward the goal(s)

Have decent credit or at least be working towards repairing his or her credit.

I want to see a credit report before marriage. How I Met Your Mother Inspired that extra. lol.

Financial Stability, Financial Vision

I want to be with someone that can agree to some common financial goals and work with me to accomplish those goals. I need to be with someone that can and does save. I need them to think about their spending but not be so anal that they don't spend and don't want me to spend. I want to save enough to cover 4-6 months (preferably 6) of our expenses should we both lose our income. I want to have a money market account someday, assuming it pays more in interest than the standard savings account. I want to be with someone that can get a credit card but does not aim to rack up debt, someone that can get that item on credit but can suck it up and save to buy it with cash when 0% interest is not an option. I want to be with someone that can flow here with me. I need to be with someone that can calm my money anxious center that needs a storehouse to feel secure.

Umm. What an interesting list to read. Funny how much what I want hasn't changed much over the past 5 years or so. Some items are more important at times and less important at others, but the above are definitely good traits for my match even if not a "must". Reading this and thinking about my current dates makes me nervous, nervous, nervous. Almost 100% but not quite there. What does that mean???