Shuck and Jive

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Celebration Without Apology

When we get to 87 I am going to celebrate.

Let there be no doubt. I am happy that the PC(USA) is on the verge of changing its harmful, discriminatory, bad, mean, ignorant and abusive policy. I have been an advocate for change in this denomination since I first entered seminary 22 years ago joining a struggle--a battle--a fight--for equality and dignity that started long before I was conceived.

Oh yes, I am going to celebrate.

I am aware of the advice from other advocates for change that some of us should be less competitive or less obviously joyful about the change that is coming. We are reminded that there aren't winners and losers. We are all one in Jesus and so forth. We need to be gracious to those who are saddened about this change. We want to extend the arms of welcome to them. We shouldn't be like the "secular" world in terms of how it handles politics. We should be more Jesus like, I guess.

As if putting a Christian halo around our stench makes us smell nice. Life is struggle. It is no different within "the church" or without. The only difference is that within the church we pretend to be something we are not. That is called hypocrisy. "Let's be passive aggressive for Jesus."

This is a battle. This is a struggle. This is a fight. There are opposing sides. There are winners. There are losers.

Having been on the losing side for the past 22 years, I am happy to be on the winning side for a change. I am happy that our denomination won't officially suspect and condemn gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, and unmarried heterosexuals as being "sinners". It is long past time that the church got this right. And yes, there is a right and wrong.
  • It is wrong to exclude people based on prejudice.
  • It is wrong to deny people privileges and rights.
  • It is wrong to use spiritual violence against people.
  • It is wrong to use sacred texts as weapons.
  • It is wrong to lie about people.
These wrong behaviors have been used by the opposition consistently throughout this struggle. I know this is a fight when I talk to students on campus or hear the stories of people in our PFLAG group. I hear the stories of harassment and bullying, excommunication from faith communities, rejection from family members because of what has been preached in church.

Oh yes, this is a fight.

And it will not end when the PC(USA) reaches its 87th vote. There is no guarantee yet that we are even getting to 87 this year. The steepest part of the climb is yet to come. I am not worried about reconciliation with the opposition at least until we get there. In the meantime, let's get out the vote.

And pardon me if I don't shed a tear for those who
  • say the church is apostate,
  • threaten to leave,
  • threaten to form alternate synods,
  • threaten to withhold money,
  • threaten to take the church to court for property,
  • [insert behavior here],
because of this change that is coming.

Barbara Wheeler and John Wilkinson will shed tears for you. In the latest edition (April 18) of Presbyterian Outlook, the two have written an article entitled, "Please Don't Go."

In the cacophony of voices, we hope that those who are distressed by the change will hear a clear message from Presbyterians like us who helped to bring it about. The message is this: PLEASE DON'T GO. Don't separate from us, either by leaving the PC(USA) or by withdrawing into a cul-de-sac inside it. We want and need to share a denomination with you.
It is interesting that Barbara Wheeler in particular says of this change that she "helped bring it about". She was the one who advocated for No Action which is NO the last time we voted on equality.

Whatever. Unlike those authors I will not grovel or plead with those who are unhappy with equality. I will treat you like an adult. If you want to go, feel free. If you want to stay, feel free.

Do know this:
  • If you stay, I will not enable your prejudice by rearranging deck chairs so you can find some way to reap the benefits of affiliation with the denomination while at the same time seeking power to exclude.
  • If you stay and you continue to use spiritual violence against my people I will fight you at every turn.
  • If you stay, I will never for the sake of "unity" with you throw LGBTQ people under the bus.
For my LGBTQ friends and allies who are excited about the change that is coming:

A little spark of justice is on its way, my friends. You don't have to be one bit apologetic for celebrating its arrival.


  1. Wow. Gotta love the little bit of revisionist history on Wheeler's part there. *guffaw*

    Anyway, I do hope we'll be more gracious in this win than the anti-gay folks have been for the last 30 years. There's no need to rub other people's faces in it, of course. Because this really isn't "our" win, it's the whole church's win, so I don't see anything wrong with celebrating the end to this particular injustice.

    We, the church, have lost for 30 years, and I never saw much in the way of grace shown by the BFTSs, who used each of their wins as another opportunity to whore out that victory out as a money-making venture, while simultaneously whining about their phony victimhood. So far I see only more of the same in their losing.

    It does raise an interesting question... If their behavior when losing looks exactly like their behavior when winning, what the hell have they been arguing about for 30 years? And why bother?

    Anyway, I hope we can do better than that.

    So far, we've been mostly gracious in accepting the results of these votes and instead of whining like a bunch of spoiled children, we simply redoubled our efforts.

    Hopefully this is yet another lesson we can teach the church, because God know's there are a number of BFTSs who need to learn it.

  2. Well said, Alan.

    I think being gracious means treating people like adults.

    Free to go.
    Free to stay.

    I will continue to work together on common projects as I have done throughout my whole career.

    But I will not plead or grovel.

  3. Battle won; war begun. Looking forward to it.

  4. Your war against human beings has been going on for some time. Justice will win.

  5. Unfortunately the folks on the anti-gay side like our friend stushie don't quite realize what they're in for.

    War begun? Stushie is looking forward to another 30 years of flaccid threats to leave by tall steeple pastors who wouldn't dare leave their BMWs and pensions. He's looking forward to another 30 years of wish-washy "white papers" declaring that this time is absolutely the right time to sit around and talk about possibly one day daring to consider thinking about oh, you know, perhaps doing something.

    I think I'd rather spend the next 30 years watching paint dry. It would be more productive. And, at the end, there's a far greater chance that something actually would have happened.

    But unlike our friend Stushie, I think most of us are looking forward to doing something more useful than another 30 years of arguing. Like, oh say, spreading the Gospel.

    War begun? LOL Hey Stushie, the name "Custer" mean anything to you?

  6. When I moved from my last congregation to my present one, I wanted to be in a congregation where I did ministry rather than fight about whether to do it. Serving here has been just that.

    However at the denominational level we are still fighting about whether to do it. At least amendment A will level the field a bit. Hopefully, with this change we can work for positive changes for justice and do ministry.

    Stushie can join us or fight us, his choice. Nevertheless, we move ahead.

  7. Just in:

    Northern Kansas YES 69-20.

    Tally 79-58.

  8. War against human beings or battle for eternal souls? You've made your bed on Earth, John, and are welcome to the dust. Me? I'm focusing on higher places.

    As for Custer, Alan, I guess that's an American thing. Me? I'm with Wallace, Bruce, and Knox.

  9. You know Stushie, that would be great if you worried over your superstition and left the rest of us be.

  10. If the FBTSs would focus on higher places, rather than other people's midsections, what a wonderful world this would be! ♬♪♩♬♩

  11. I have been on the edge of my seat watching the PCUSA during this vote for equality. I hope it is not too early to say congratulations! And I hope you all get to celebrate a new moving of the Spirit in your churches as a previously excluded class of ministers get to share their unique gifts.

    I, unfortunately, still work in a denomination where GLBT folks cannot be ordained - and probably will not be for some time. This means that I cannot fully express who I am in my ministry. I am currently exploring ways to exit my denomination, but for now I am stuck.

    I think it is interesting that our brothers and sisters so often called the "chosen frozen" are ahead of those of us who claim, as followers of John Wesley, to be a people born in the fires of the Spirit.

    Again, congratulations. And just as we have a pre-celebration on Palm Sunday, may the celebration begin for all of you now!

  12. Stushie,

    This question, this contrived dualism, is absurd: "War against human beings or battle for eternal souls?"

    First of all, there is no battle for human souls. If there was one at one time, its the one Jesus already won.

    Secondly, he didn't win it by fighting against human beings, but by standing along side them, interceding for them, for us - Rom 8:34 - as if you had forgotten.

    It's called "the Gospel"

    So what is this rhetorical bull s___?

    Let me ask it this way. If it was you on the plains overlooking Sodom and Gomorrah, and God told you he was about to wipe them clean off the map because of their sin, what would you have done?

    You can either stand side by side with Jesus, arguing your case before God for the human race, or you can stand against him, arguing before men God's (supposed) case against the human race.

    That's the REAL choice.

  13. San Francisco is today too, isn't it?

  14. Yes, San Francisco is voting right now. I will post the result as soon as it is in.

  15. Hey Will in Grace,

    Welcome! Thanks for commenting. Yes, the struggle is on in your denomination as well. I am hoping the Methodists make the move for equality soon.

  16. @Snad : ) Hee hee. How do you do those little musical notes?

  17. I know it's stupid to comment here, because you'll just malign me, call me names, etc., as you've done in the past, but I was bugged by Alan's remark about "tall steeple pastors who wouldn't dare leave their BMWs and pensions." Also I noticed John's comment "I wanted to be in a congregation where I did ministry rather than fight about whether to do it."

    At the tall-steeple church where I work, First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue, WA, the senior pastor would much rather do ministry than fight about it, but he will step in to defend the truth of the Gospel as he sees it if he has to. But his views are views that are much maligned by you people over here at Shuck and Jive.

    Nevertheless, despite those views you all despise, the people at the church he heads up, along with 7 other pastors (4 of whom are female), accomplish a whole heck of a lot of ministry, including a ton of ministry to oppressed people at many places around the world. For example, that very same tall-steeple pastor just got back from a trip to Cambodia, where he worked with people who were being unfairly evicted from their homes. No fear of leaving a BMW for him.

    Please try to rein in your ignorant and prejudiced maligning of entire groups of people.

    Debbie Berkley

  18. San Francisco YES, 198-143-1!


    Tally 80-58.

    Seven more to go!

  19. Debbie said, "please try to rein in your ignorant and prejudiced maligning of entire groups of people," in defense of her tall-steeple people.

    Help! I need someone to perform the Heimlich maneuver on me, as I am silently choking on the exceedingly large chunk of irony I just tried to swallow.

  20. "Please try to rein in your ignorant and prejudiced maligning of entire groups of people."

    Heh. Indeed, Snad. We both had the same reaction.

    You know what they say about skunks not being able to smell their own smell.

  21. "War against human beings or battle for eternal souls? "

    Stushie, I know it's a waste of time because you prefer to troll rather than engage, but what exactly do you even believe?

    Because the notion that you, as a pastor, are in a "battle" for souls, souls I might add that were saved 2000 years ago by a Jewish carpenter, isn't Calvinist, isn't Reformed, isn't Presbyterian, and isn't even Christian.

    The arrogance is astounding.

    You should read up a bit on a famous general, George Armstrong Custer. Arrogance was also his Achilles heel. Learn the lesson.

  22. "Please try to rein in your ignorant and prejudiced maligning of entire groups of people."

    This, from a Berkley? You are kidding, right? LOL!

    Seriously, it reminds me of a child's singsong taunting "that's what you are, what I am?". Obviously, Debbie, you are once again confused by your own reflection. It's a mirror, Debbie, not a window.

    1 Cor 13:11 - Cor 14:1a

  23. Never mind about the Heimlich Maneuver. I managed to get that big lump of irony dislodged with the following bitter pill of attempted self-victimization:

    you'll just malign me, call me names, etc.


  24. By the way, Jim is no longer at IRD, in case anyone hadn't noticed. He's pastoring again (a teeny church, by the way, not a tall-steeple one), and has been since July 2009; he left IRD almost a year earlier. And no, he has never been in the business of maligning anyone, not that you would believe that, since you all tend to assume what the motives are of those you disagree with.

    Too bad you can't believe what I say about all the incredible ministry going on at First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue. You just have to keep maligning it instead! It sure would surprise all the recipients of that ministry that you think that, including all those low-income people at the Jubilee Reach Center in Bellevue, for example, who benefit from the myriad programs run by (theologically conservative) volunteers from FPCB, who sacrificially give both time and money. If you weren't so busy despising tall-steeple churches, you'd be surprised to find out the many ways they minister to those you care about.

    Debbie Berkley

  25. "Uh... Debbie, I'm sure you won't bother actually re-reading what I actually wrote since you didn't read it the first time, but just to reiterate, I'm sure it's clear to anyone that I was specifically speaking about those tall steeple pastors who, every two years or so, make empty threats to leave the denomination then never do.

    I have no doubt that those churches can also do mission while whining about the apostasy of our denomination. I also believe they can chew gum and walk at the same time.

    I also know of many tall-steeple churches who instead of whining work for justice and equality in our denomination and in the rest of our world.

    So what's your point? Oh right, you don't actually have one other than tall-steeple churches do good work.

    Well, duh.

    In any event, I think you're absolutely correct: when it comes to overgeneralizing about an entire group of people, there is no question in my mind that you are indeed the expert in this conversation.

    (BTW, IRD? Who mentioned IRD? Oh, did "in case you hadn't noticed.") LOL

  26. Debbie wrote, "despite those views you all despise..."

    and, "if you weren't so busy despising"

    and, "Too bad you can't believe what I say"


    Debbie wrote, "since you all tend to assume what the motives are of those you disagree with."

    Since I never said anything about despising anyone or anything, I'd say it's a wee bit hypocritical to say that I do, wouldn't you? So, could you please try to pare down the irony/hypocrisy to just once in every comment? The cognitive dissonance overload is giving me a headache.


  27. Finally Debbie, I think, if you're going to accuse us of calling you names you should back that up with some actual evidence rather than just making such an accusation and hoping it will stick.

    So, I for one would appreciate you providing direct quotes of where I have ever called you a name along with hyperlinks. Or an apology for bearing false witness.

    Otherwise, I'd say that making such an accusation without evidence to back it up would definitely count as "maligning", wouldn't you?

  28. Alan, as I said in an earlier comment, the name-calling and maligning was done to me in the past here at Shuck and Jive. And the reference to Jim being at IRD is in a quotation by him over on the side of John's blog.

    And I did read your quote, and it is ambiguous as to whether or not you are referring to that group of tall-steeple pastors or not exclusively, and anyway, my particular tall-steeple pastor is in a fellowship group with them, so he is associated with them in many people's minds.

    And maybe not in these blog post notes, but in my past experience, you and others who post here have definitely assumed what the motives are of those with whom you disagree. I could find numerous examples both here and on other blogs. But I don't want to get into a drawn-out argument, because I know from past experience (not here, but in years past in other locations) that these arguments are fruitless.

    Alan, conversations between you and me just don't work out. And as you've been doing all along in these notes, I expect you'll have something more to say about why that's my fault, but there are other points of view about that.

    Debbie Berkley

  29. More Light Sunday is the first Sunday in June. Maybe we can plan celebrations on that day all over the country. Even if we don't get 87 (which I think we will) we can celebrate that we made it this far and will do it next time.

    I am planning a big party for More Light Sunday. A celebration during worship and the party continues.

    Snad's got the rainbow cupcakes. What else?

  30. Debbie,

    Are you OK? Your thoughts seem a bit less organized than usual. You come in claiming everybody hates you, say something stupid, then when we comment on it, you make random connections and answer the voices in your head instead of what folks text in black and white.

    We don't hate you. But we do think you should see your doctor. At least I do.

  31. Debbie,

    I am bored with this conversation. For any and all of the times that I have maligned you and called you names, I apologize.

    Blessings to you...

  32. First basic lesson learned in seminary: if there is free food you go no matter what the occasion (unless the food is being consumed in a pagan temple You aren't dancing naked at midnight yet are you John? And if you are I wouldn't go because I don't want to watch!). So if Snad is making cupcakes and someone else brings the beer (forget Miller or Bud, some good stuff please) I'll be there.

    Of course I will have to tell you all I love you but you are wrong :)

  33. @Bob

    You would be most welcome. Sounds like beer and cupcakes are on the menu so far. A yeasty adventure.

  34. I just found a recipe for Chocolate Whiskey and Beer cupcakes - and the photo shows a rainbow of colors on the decorations.


  35. "Alan, as I said in an earlier comment, the name-calling and maligning was done to me in the past here at Shuck and Jive. "

    So you don't have any evidence at all? Not a single link or quote? Or is it that you don't have any evidence that I specifically called you names? If so, aren't you then guilty of exactly the same sort of over-generalization of which you wrongly accused me?

    And as for maligning other's motives, again, do you have any evidence that I did so, or is that another over-generalization? Even if I did, why is that a reasonable excuse for your doing the exact same thing?

    Your purpose in commenting here seems to me, though I may be wrong, to chastise me for a statement you found objectionable. That is, you incorrectly thought that I was over-generalizing and maligning about all tall-steeple pastors. That's fine. But once I corrected your misunderstanding, you could have said, "Ok, I see now. I still disagree with you, but I see that you didn't say what I thought you said."

    Instead, you go on to over-generalize and then malign me, and bring up random issues that have nothing to do with anything. (Since your original comment was more or less directed at me, I think it's reasonable to assume that people thought you were speaking about me when you said that "people" call you names and malign you.) And then, when asked about that, you don't provide evidence, nor do you apologize, nor do you even specifically clarify, "Oh, I wasn't talking about you."

    You could have made the first choice, but you didn't. Now you play the victim saying that I think something or other is "all your fault." Well, you were the one who made the decision to attack without seeking clarification first. You were the one to include exactly the sorts of maligning over-generalizations that you were criticizing in the first place. You were the one who chose not to apologize for bearing false witness. So is that your "fault"? Well, I would certainly say it is your responsibility, unless you want to claim that someone else wrote your comments.

    Personally, I stand behind what I write, and if I'm wrong, I acknowledge that rather than try to rationalize and save face. If there is misunderstanding I take the responsibility for attempting to clarify, as I did here. How you decide to respond is your decision, so please don't try to use your typical passive-aggressive "oh woe is me" bit to suggest that it isn't your responsibility.

    So with that perhaps you can understand why I don't put much stock in the opinions you've stated herein, which seem to me to be blatantly hypocritical and bearing false witness.

  36. I am flattered that Viola is once again concerned for my soul.

    Even Earl Tilford, the angry little professor man, has chimed in with his evaluation of the huge mistake our denomination has been making since the time of Adam and Eve.

    Are you ready? Seriously, this is it:

    "Tolerance for the likes of John Shuck."

    The purpose of the PC(USA) is to tolerate me.


  37. I guess that's one way to get them used to having Teh Gay on the ball team: "At least they aren't John Shuck!"

  38. Re: Debby

    The constant references here to FBTS while not a direct reference to Debby is not exactly friendly.

  39. Really, Bob?

    Let's see:

    "BFTS = Busybody, fusspot, tattletale, scold"


    "decadence, unnatural lust, non-Christian, sharks, apostate,"

    But, they are friendly.

  40. You know, exactly the same arguments happened over at the Episcopal blogs, where I have hung out for years. Things have calmed down there now. I hope that with passage, you folks can also move on from this really (in the overall scheme of things) small issue.

    One thing I did notice amongst the 'piskies (Obl Discl, I'm married to one, tho' not one myself) is that for years, the inclusive people tried to get everyone to stay together, but the excluders absented themselves, and then claimed they'd been forced out. Apparently this is a human, not a denominational, characteristic.

    Last summer, our diocese announced that it would begin to bless same sex couples. Walking out of church after the announcement, surrounded by joyful people, me included, I found myself alongside an elderly retired military man. "YOu know," he told me, "I don't always agree with everything here. But we're a family, and we come together regardless. And that's what we should do."

    I hope those who are angry and scared of change in your community will find it in their hearts to be open too. After all, that's what families do.

  41. Thanks IT, that is quite insightful. I have to say, we often engage in these things in isolation. It is good to recognize as you say that this is a human struggle not denominational one. I am glad to hear things have calmed down in Episcopal circles. I do think when this passes we will follow a similar path.

  42. Gee Robert, how about the constant comparisons between Nazis and gay people at one particular blog we all know and love? How about the use of "abomination" or "apostate" or "heretic"?

    How about the constant rhetoric about "the gay agenda" which is only slightly less inflammatory than the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" but used for exactly the same purpose?

    How about the suggestion that pro-LGBT people should be fitted for a millstone and drowned?

    How's that for friendly? Do you think Debbie has equally chastised her friends for that sort of rhetoric? Have you?

    Unlike that garbage, at least calling people who are busybodies, fusspots, tattletales and scolds has the virtue of being true.

    Or I suppose we could just use the same argument that the anti-gay folks use when they call us abominations and apostate, that they're only doing so out of "love." Because no matter how inflammatory the rhetoric, no matter how many lies one tells, apparently claiming that you're only saying such garbage out of "love" makes it all better, right?

    Or I suppose we could attempt to be adults and recognize that this game of "gotcha" played by some folks who are perhaps only interested fisking comments in order to find anything to get irate about is a stupid waste of time and is merely a distraction from the actual point of John's post and subsequent on-topic comments.

  43. ...a distraction from the actual point of John's post and subsequent on-topic comments.

    Exactly. And the topic of this post is our celebration without apology party on More Light Sunday.

    So far on the agenda we only have Snad's cupcakes. Beer has been suggested as good idea, but we need a bit more flesh on that. I do hope someone will bring those little hot dogs in blankets.

    I advocate for two things:

    1) A specific party for those around our mountain to coincide with...

    2) A big nationwide Amendment A party on More Light Sunday. Organize your own and we celebrate virtually a la interweb.

  44. If we have a budget for food, I will gladly make a gazillion little hotdogs in pastry to go along with the chocolate-beer-rainbow cupcakes.

    We can easily start a nation-wide movement for local events on facebook, I think.

    I am looking forward to More Light Sunday! We need special music to go along with it. "True Colors" is like to gay anthem of our time, but it is so damn depressing. We need something joyful!

    And afterwards, we can all do our ironing together in the Tom Dixon Room!

  45. The we can all go gay parking.

    We'll find a way to fund it.

    I'll create a FB page as soon as we get the 87th vote. I am too superstitious to do it beforehand (and probably bad form).

  46. "We need special music to go along with it. "True Colors" is like to gay anthem of our time, but it is so damn depressing. We need something joyful!"

    How about "Siyahamba" (We are marching in the light of God)? I don't think it's in the Presbyterian Hymnal, but it's in the little paperback addendum of liberal hymns no one else liked if you have that. :)

  47. I like both of those songs. Good ideas. Keep 'em coming!

  48. Our choir sings that one on occasion, Alan. It's a good one. Also, Bonse Aba (We are Singing for the Lord is Our Light). Light is made up of all the colors of the spectrum, after all...

    I hear the choir director is doing that song at her school this year. Maybe if the pastor takes her out for dinner she'll agree to do it (hint, hint).

  49. There's always "We are the Champions!" by Queen.

    Sorta fits with the "celebration without apology" theme. And who doesn't like a 70's power ballad in church?