Monday, November 24, 2014

Standing on the Soap Box

I love my church.
I love working there.
It's nice working at a place where you know that pretty much everyone is going to smile at you or say "hi."  It's also pretty great when the majority of your work involves sitting at a lovely grand piano. ;)
I also happen to have the nicest "boss" in the world.  (I am referring to the priest I work for...I am guessing that some of you assumed I meant God, considering I work at a church.
I suppose he is my boss too.  And I'm hoping he is nice.  (I am pretty sure he is...if we skip over the Old Testament....which is what we will do right now.)  So, I have two fabulous bosses! Yay me!
Yes....I have lots and lots of "feel good" moments at church.
But that isn't always the case.
In my 734 years as a church musician...I have been privy to a lot of interesting church chat.
I was raised Catholic, and am currently working in a Catholic church...but have also worked in churches of various denominations.
Now, I realize, as an employee of the Catholic church, I am expected to uphold the teachings and beliefs of the Catholic faith.  Or at least keep my mouth shut.
(Did you all get a little chuckle at that last part?)
Well, there are some things that I just can't keep quiet about.
In all honesty....this entire post really does not even need to involve the church at all.  It just so happens that something occurred at church this morning that started the fiery rage in this mama bear's belly...and I needed to write about it.
Let me start by stating these facts:
Yes, I believe in God.
I believe the church should be accepting and loving toward all who enter.
I believe the church should be a safe haven.
I believe everyone who comes to church each weekend should do so with an open heart and mind, both toward receiving the message given, and toward the other people in the congregation.


I do NOT believe the church is a place for people to judge others, to be unwelcoming toward others, or to treat anyone in a hurtful manner.  Period.
Unfortunately, this happens all the time.
What happened today was stupid.  It was childish, and quite frankly, when I consider the really was not much of a surprise at all. bothered me.  A lot.
My daughter is playing the role of Mrs. Van Daan in "The Diary of Anne Frank."
(and my son is an evil Nazi soldier.)
(He is too darn cute to be a mean guy.)

If you know Lexie, she has tons of wild curly hair.  In order to get her hair to look like it does in this pic, she has to put it in rollers, and let it dry for several hours.
Well...that meant coming to church this morning in her curlers and Aunt Jemima head wrap.  Luckily, she is so used to this lovely look because of show choir (where everywhere you turn there are girls in curlers and head wraps) so it doesn't really phase her.
As she walked to her seat in the choir, a woman (who I know well...and who should totally be able to figure out that she isn't coming to church with curlers in her hair because she wants to!) shot her the most obnoxious, obvious look of disgust and superiority the ENTIRE time she walked by.  This was a full-blown, panoramic, "even though I am in my 50's....I am going to act like I'm 15, and auditioning for the movie 'Mean Girls 2.'"  I am sitting about 2 feet away, watching this happen....and saying (while playing piano) "she is in a SHOW! She is in a SHOW!"  She was too busy staring at my daughters head to hear me.
Now, I realize this is ridiculous.  However, this is also a woman who has come after me before with adolescent there is a history here.  And...this is my child that she is obviously judging, and we mama bears protect our cubs.  And's not like Lexie was wearing a robe and slippers with her curlers!!  
Had I not been in the middle of playing prelude music...some verbal "scratches" may have occurred. 
What made me laugh, was after church, I was talking to a girlfriend about it, and she told me her son turned to her when Lexie walked by and said "Hey mom, is she in a play or something?"
If a little KID can figure this out.......good Lord.

I am tempted to have business cards printed up with^^ this on them.
Wouldn't that be awesome to have on hand...for those moments when the perfect opportunity presented itself? ;)
Watching that oh-so-obvious display of judgement this morning got me thinking about how rampant judgement within the church really is.
In fact, I recently heard about a church that will not allow the song "All Are Welcome" to be sung at Mass, because all are not welcome. :-o
In my perfect world....a church (and this would encompass the church universal...rather than dividing us up by denomination, religion...etc) would be a place where everyone was equal.  Everyone was welcome.  Everyone was safe, and loved.
That is what baffles me...SO much.
We read about Jesus tending to the poor, the sick, the sinners, the prostitutes, the lepers....there was no one unworthy of his love and care.
So, why are there so many churches that push people away.  
"We love everyone!  As long as you are just like us!"

And then....there is that big issue that so many churches can't even begin to wrap their heads around.
This is where I am supposed to say "I am Catholic, and I cannot condone gay marriage."
Okay then.
How about this.
I support the right for every damn person on this earth to be HAPPY.  
I support the right for every person to be treated EQUALLY.
I support the right for every person to be FREE from any form of oppression.
^^^^I love this man.^^^^ 
So let's talk about the whole "gay" thing for a minute.
First of all....why is it even a "thing?"
Quite frankly....people's personal lives are called PERSONAL for a reason.
We are who we are.
I didn't choose to be slightly manic, moody, musical, and to like men.
That's just who I am.
And I don't always like men.
When it comes to companionship....I prefer dogs.

It's interesting, isn't it?  The "hand we're dealt."
The fact that I am white and straight automatically gives me an advantage.
If I were a male...I would be set!  
I wonder if the fact that I have brown hair and eyes put me at a disadvantage?
I mean, it really does come down to that, doesn't it?
Our society is that messed up, I think.  
And these labels we attach to everything.
Why is a gay man always labeled that way...but a straight man is just a "man?"
Or a black man...again labeled.  What difference does it make if the man is black or white, straight or gay?  Isn't he still just a man?
I pray that there will be a day when the labels cease to exist, and people can just be people.  
If we insist on labeling people, I think it's time we do it based on their character.  Isn't the way a person acts and the way they treat other people the one thing that a person can fairly be judged upon?
It is ridiculous that society insists on judging people for things we have absolutely NO control over.

I will also never understand why people are so afraid to allow everyone equal rights.  
We seem to have no problem whatsoever with the ridiculousness that occurs everyday in Hollywood.  
This is one of my favorite quotes regarding marriage:







You have to is pretty ridiculous.

And then, this interesting tidbit

Ok.  So, I am not sure how I got from curlers to gay marriage.
Let me just take a moment to summarize.
This is how I will rule the world...if I'm ever elected ruler of the world, of course.

1. All people should be treated as equals. 
2. All religion should be based on kindness, compassion, acceptance, and love.
3. Everyone should be accepted, and appreciated for who they are.  We all come to this earth with gifts.  We can not nurture and share those gifts if we aren't allowed to first nurture and grow into who we really are. 
4.  Hatred will not be tolerated. It will be obliterated, and haters will be taught to love.  (Or, if they prefer, haters will be sent to the dark that pit with teeth that Jabba the Hutt tries to throw Luke and Han down in Star wars) that should take care of the hater problem. ;)
5. People will slow the heck down, and start thinking about the bigger picture.
Today's homily at church was short, sweet, and important.  Father asked:
Do you feed the hungry?  Do you clothe the naked?  Do you care for the sick?  Do you welcome the stranger?

Good food for thought.

So, as we begin this week of Thanksgiving....I think it's the perfect time to really keep these thoughts at the front of our minds.
I know for me, once Thanksgiving hits....I feel like time flies right up through Christmas.
This year, I'm going to make a conscious effort to slow it down.
So what if the cards don't go out, or the presents don't get wrapped until the last minute.
I want this year to be about more than material things.
I want my kids to see me setting an example...and I want them to have a desire to follow it.
Bethy Crocker and Markus Stewart may not make an appearance this year...and that's ok.  I'm pretty sure that is why they sell "ready-made cookie dough."  
This year, I don't want my holiday's to be about "stuff".  I want, instead, to focus on family, and people...and what I can do to maybe make someone else's Christmas a little brighter.  I think a quiet, peaceful Christmas sounds heavenly.  
And if the craziness of the season starts to weigh heavily on you....take a step back, and think about what you really want...or really need.
Maybe letting go of some of the craziness and allowing some quiet into your home is just what your family is craving as well.
We get so used to constant action and noise and activity.
We forget to just be.
Give yourself that gift.
Just be.

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