Okay, one of the amazing things about moving to a new place is realizing people actually read this blog who aren't related to either of the authors. Who knew? A priest I recently met said about the blog, "You are one of the fun, fabulous voices of the church." That compliment is the equivalent of this dessert at a local restaurant called "Little Black Dress" - it's chocolate ice cream and chocolate syrup and about twelve other layers of chocolate. But I digress.
These voices of the church is offering a few things we'd like the church and her people to fast from during Lent. Even, perhaps, for longer. For your perusal.
1. Using the word Nazi to mean anyone other than those who actually did partake in the tragic events of World War II. I last heard this when a priest was calling another priest a liturgy Nazi. I mean, seriously? Simply because someone does liturgy differently than others does not mean that in the back of his/her mind, between the Sanctus and the Lord's Prayer, s/he is planning to embark on ethnic cleansing. As a whole, the people of God would be far better off if we discarded calling each other names.
2. Using "should" as a personal directive. Arun Gandhi recalls that his grandfather (yes, that Gandhi) observed that the most prolific forms of violence were unsolicited advice. I'll let that sink in a bit, because it's a form of violence in which most, if not all of us, are complicit. Telling people what they should do, from a book they should read to how someone should respond to God - yep, all forms of violence. Perhaps we might simply encourage a person read a book you really enjoyed or simply listen to someone without offering any advice.
3. Letting go of dualism. That nasty either-or thinking that, by itself, isn't particularly evil, but we humans have a spectacular way of taking lots of things and tarting them up, don't we? Dualism is that nature that says for me to be right, you have to be wrong. We've likely all had the experience of negating someone else to prove our own point (or perhaps our self-worth), and we've also been on the other end of that experience - being negated by someone. Spiritual maturity does not need to tear down another to support one's understandings (i.e. call someone a Nazi because s/he likes Gregorian chant). A truth of Love: that there are many, many ways to be right. The most courageous sense of right is knowing that God is constantly revealing to us, so something we embraced as "right" at one time may indeed not be "right" as we delve deeper into God. Letting go of dualism means living into the love of a God who is unafraid of mistakes, including our own.
4. Making friends with Fear. We all know her/him (mine's a her). That voice that convinces you that you are going to mess things up so badly that you decide to cocoon into some life of stasis or (even worse) let someone else's unsolicited advice be your gospel. From one of the DioLex Goddesses: take Fear out for coffee (or wine or bourbon, depending on the day). Let her have her voice. Hear his big concerns. Don't offer unsolicited advice. Instead, listen. Cry, even, because if you aren't emotional when you're connecting with Fear, you've met her cute cousin Ego, and getting to know her won't help you. Share your darkest thoughts, and watch what happens. When I've made peace with Fear, I've been honored to meet her soul mate, Courage. I wonder if the Church regularly sat for coffee with the Church's fears, would the same happen.
5. Thinking bigger is better. That only works for chocolate. And even then, if it's a giant bar of sub-par chocolate, I'll pass. Roughly quoting from a sermon I heard: how many people do we think Jesus needs to make ministry matter? Big has a place. So does small. This is the church. Egalitarianism should reign. Love is most important. Save bigger is better for the offensive linemen in SEC football.
6. Pretending monologues are dialogues. If, when one has finished talking, that one does not really care what the other person has to say and has no real intent on listening, much less responding, to the other's truth, we have engaged in a monologue. A dialogue creates space for all voices, dissenting ones included. And for the advanced class: dialogue may mean you realize you are wrong. A monologue generally means you are completely unconvinced you could ever be wrong.
7. Ill-fitting clergy shirts. This is Dirty Sexy Ministry, after all. For the love of all that is holy, PLEASE someone make a female clergy shirt that doesn't fit like a box with buttons. Well-tailored pleats and darts that recognize women have curves. And if it didn't cost some absurd amount of money, that would be even better. Almy, WomenSpirit, and Wipple - this is not rocket science.