Thursday, June 25, 2009

30 Years On...

I'm noting an interesting anniversary this week.

June 1979 - I was 14 years old and found myself on a trip to General Synod of the United Church of Christ in Indianapolis. 1979 was the summer I "grew up." Just a few weeks before I left for Indianapolis for the General Synod, my parents announced their divorce and I was wondering how our family would move forward from that point. That trip was the first time I was any distance from my family for a week and that's a good and necessary experience for teenagers to have.

What I didn't realize is how much that trip would impact my life.

Growing up in rural Iowa in the late 70's, there were few, if any, persons of color in my hometown. I know there were gays and lesbians, but they certainly weren't out. At 14, I was introduced to the "heady and exasperating mix" known as the United Church of Christ at the national level. Even though the titles came later, we strive to be a multi-racial, multi-cultural, open and affirming, just-peace church. We believe that God is still speaking and that another world is possible. It was a wonderful way for this small-town girl to be introduced to the wider world beyond media stereotypes.

And now, 30 years later, I'm enjoying my eighth General Synod. This time as an associate delegate because of my role as the chair of the board of directors for the Iowa Conference. This church is a very large part of my life. So many of my most foundational relationships have come from my belonging to this church. these relationships qualify as "chosen" family.

God is good, all the time.....all the time, God is good.

Wow, You are my age.

I met Rev. Geoffrey Black tonight, the candidate for the President and General Minister of the United Church of Christ tonight. Maybe it's because I'm older. My boss is my age. My physician is younger than me. The First Lady, Michelle Obama, is my age. President Obama is only a few years older than me. And now, the next President and General Minister of the UCC, my church, is a contemporary.

I can relate to that. Very cool.

Friday, June 12, 2009

And the hate goes on...

About ten years ago, I had a pastor who shared the theory that humans were at the end of their "teenage" years. Makes sense when you think about the vast history of human evolution. The teen years are visceral, passionate, filled with hormonal emotion. Teens tend to be impulsive, to believe they are immortal and indestructable. They act first and then think. They say incredible things without any filter.

For thousands of years, the human race has been solving conflicts through war, hate-filled words, segregation (the cool kids sit at their own table at lunch) and the condemnation of anyone who doesn't fit in.

As adults we cringe when we hear how mean teenagers can be to each other. But, the examples we are setting are more serious and harmful. Here's a situation my close friend Arlene is dealing with. Anti-gay messages full of hate, targeted at others. The assassination of Dr. George Tiller. The 88 year old neo-Nazi who walked into the National Holocaust Museum and killed a guard at point-blank range. There is nothing noble in this. There is nothing that advances the human race through these hate-filled actions.

My hope is that this is the end. That enough people have evolved into young adulthood who begin to hold the rebellious, hell-raising teens accountable for their hate. My fear is that they will not "go quietly into that good night." The teens realize they are quickly being outnumbered and they are very, very afraid. My fear is that things are going to get much worse before they get better. It's up to us to hold the line and not let these domestic terrorists continue to push their hate-filled agenda and actions on anyone else.

It's up to us to bring our children into a new world, populated with young adults who are more idealistic in our world view. As the saying goes, "another world is possible."