Under The Collar Experiment

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Silly Rabbit

I want to share with you an old story about a rabbit hunter.
One day, the hunter was out in the woods when a rabbit ran right past him and collided with a tree stump, knocking itself unconscious.  The man could not believe his good fortune as he put the rabbit in his game bag.   And from that day forward, he gave up everything he had learned about hunting and came back and watched the stump, waiting for this to happen again. 
Even a broken clock is right twice a day, right?
It seems so obvious to those on the outside when our attention is focused on the wrong thing to reach the goal we desire.
Sometimes ministry feels like the rabbit hunter: We are invested in things large and small that are not producing results.  Social justice work can feel this way.  But, like the hunter, we have skills.  The big question is “Will we use them?” 
What could your gifts bring to change a situation?  
I had a dream two nights ago that I was trying to ride my bike somewhere. I pushed and I pulled on the pedals.  They turned but I was going nowhere. I got off the bike and realized that the chain was not connected to the gears.
I remember thinking (in the middle of dreaming it) what a great metaphor!  Sometimes we have to get off the bike to know why we aren’t making progress.

And the work we all want to be engaged in is the kind that when we put forth our time and talent, energy and resources, we move ahead, we contribute to the stream of life.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Gay la la la

Last weekend I attended the annual Dennis R. Neil Equality Center Gala in a collar.  I will say I missed puttin' on the ritz.  I clean up pretty well and would have loved to been able to get all dolled up. The gala is one of my favorite events of the year.  

There is something so encouraging to see 1,000-plus people turn out to support LGBT community.  Among the 1,000 in attendance were many gay men and women I have never seen before.  How is this possible?  It could be because I am in bed by 8:30 and up at 5:00 am.  But still I wonder ... where do all of the lesbians hide?  I never knew there were so many in our city!

Also among those present were many candidates running for office.  My wife was able to stand up and be celebrated, as was the incumbent judge she is running against.  I think that is a blessing. In a state where we are still fighting for non-discrimination and our legislators still believe that they do not represent an LGBT contingency, we can't have too much attention.  I am much more easily recognizable in my collar as clergy, and I was grateful to represent.

What inspired me most were the many tables filled with youth.  There were two full tables of youth from our church.  I can't imagine what my world would have been like to have attended such an event with my Youth Director and my ministers at that age.  It was one of those strobe light moments, where a new reality flashed in front of my eyes in fits and starts. I don't know how we arrived at this place, but I am so blessed to have been alive to see the progress.

Jared Tyler and I were invited to sing my new song at the event.  It was an honor to be asked to do so.  So there I was ...singing in a collar. Again.  

I feel like the Universe is taking special effort to show me that all of parts of me can inhabit one body.  My joy is in my music and my ministry.  I love that I am fortunate enough to do both.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Death Row Debaucle

In my role as a minister, I have seen people die.  

Technological advances appear to have made death easier, including for the observer. This is true in the hospital as well as in states that routinely kill offenders.  I have never witnessed anyone killed by the Department of Corrections. I am clear that, improving methods to decrease the pain of capital punishment does not make it less cruel or more just.  This week my home state is in the news for a death row debacle.  The offender, Lovett, shot a teenage girl in a robbery gone bad and then buried her alive. There is no excuse for what he did.  I fear that our distance from the experience of death is allowing us to feel better about choices we should in fact be struggling with more closely. I have never understood why, as a society, we would synchronize our moral compass to one of a murderer.  We are part of a system that is torn about how to handle this issue.   We tried to kill Lovett for his crime. When his execution did not go as planned, we tried to save his life so that we could kill him again. The irony of this is indicative of our moral struggle. Lovett ended up dying  in the hospital from a heart attack. We still did this to him. You and I the voters of Oklahoma allowed this to happen.  His painful and complicated death requires us to take a serious look at our participation in this process. If it had not gone awry, his death would have gone largely unnoticed by most Oklahomans.

To be responsible in our decision as a state to execute, I believe executions should be public, televised, and in the light of day. We should not be able to hide from that which we silently endorse. 

Now that execution has our full attention. Let us consider the purpose of the Department of Corrections.  If revenge is the goal, then the offender must be alive to receive such revenge. If retribution is the goal, then they must be alive to serve. If Rehabilitation is the goal then they must be alive to learn. If reconciliation is the goal then they must be alive to atone. Killing is not an answer for any of these.