a cavalcade of hits and misses

Protecting the Vulnerable

 

As victims of sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape are finding, for the part, the times and culture have just enough to allow many of them to say “me too.” If you have never been abused, assaulted, or raped, then understanding what these people have experienced and carry with them throughout their lives may be difficult, but we’re called, at the very least, to be compassionate and empathetic to their experience

We do a complete disservice when our concern over this abusive behavior is limited to those of an opposing political party or which network or outlet reports the criminal behavior. It is wrong. It is wrong when it was done and lied about by President Clinton. It is wrong when it was done, bragged about, and lied about by President Trump. It is wrong whether it is Anthony Weiner or Roy Moore. It is wrong whether it is Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, or Louis C.K. It is wrong whether it is a Democrat or Republican. It is wrong whether it is a Christian, Jew, Muslim, someone of a different or alternative faith, or someone who claims no religious affiliation or faith. It is wrong if it is a star college athlete or a professional athlete. It is wrong whether the sexual predator is a male or a female. It is wrong whether the sexual predator is a well-known or unheard of. It is wrong whether it happened 15 minutes ago or 40 years ago.

What appears to be the common denominator in all cases of sexual assault: The sexual predator is someone the victim knows; the sexual predator is someone in a position of authority, leadership, responsibility over the victim.

Several years ago, we started opening discussing child sexual abuse within religious organizations. It started with the men who, as young boys and teenagers, were sexually abused by some of the clergy of the Catholic church and then the church’s coordinated attempt to protect themselves by moving the sexual predators from one parish to another, from one diocese to another. As the story unfolded and more people who were sexually abused by those with religious authority, we found it was not just young boys, but young girls. We found it wasn’t just the Roman Catholic church, but other Christian churches and in other religions.

In response, my faith tradition implemented what we call the Registered Youth Worker program. Recognizing that we can’t stop all situations that may entice a predator to take advantage of, we can do our best to limit those situations as much as possible. Some of the things we have implements are fairly simple: Anyone who works with youth, is in a leadership position, and/or is a member of the priesthood is required to take a class where basic youth protection skills are taught; anyone who has not had the training is not allowed to work with youth they are not the parents of unless there are RYW also working; there should always be two RYW when working with children; all activities with youth need to be where others can see what is going; do not become social media friends with youth unless you are also friends with their parents. A part of the RYW process includes background check and references.

As I said, fairly simple. The training we have as youth workers can easily be translated into working with other groups who tend to be at the most risk and vulnerable to those who would take advantage of them: The elderly and those with disabilities or impaired cognitive abilities. In my congregation, we try to get as many members as possible to attend any and every RYW class we conduct. It is better safe than sorry, and it holds each member – whether in a position of leadership, ministerial authority, or a member  – accountable and responsible.

What does your church, religious organization, or any organization you affiliate with do to promote the protection of youth and the more vulnerable? What do they do to hold their leadership, ministers, volunteers, and members responsible and accountable for their behavior?

As we watch the continuing coming forth of victims of sexual assault, how do you respond? Do your values and convictions allow you to turn a blind eye in the voting booth? How will you hold those people who hold positions of responsibility and influence at the city, state, and national level responsible for abusing the public trust, for destroying young people’s lives, for breaking the law? What does your civic responsibility and/or your faith call you to respond?

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Sixteenth Anniversary of 9/11

Source: Sixteenth Anniversary of 9/11

Image result for peace candle

Today marks the sixteenth anniversary of the events of the morning of September 11, 2001. As many of you, I remember where I was and what I was doing that morning as coverage of the events filled almost every channel and radio station.

Over the past few years I have updated my annual remembrance, editing, re-reading it, adding to it. I have tried to list some of the bigger issues we faced during the previous year and each year there is more and more. The obscenities of greed and selfishness causing the further marginalization and scapegoating of groups, the efforts to normalize white supremacy and neo-Nazism, and the current rhetoric and what seems like intentionally calculated attempts to further divide a nation by the 45th President of the United States have been concerning, frightening, infuriating, and exhausting. “Never Forget.” “Always Remember.” We learn nothing except how to be more violent, more violent, less compassionate, less tolerant today than we were yesterday.

On this sixteenth anniversary, I remember and hold up those who continue to experience difficulty with this just as I do.

I hold up those who still hurt, feel lost, incomplete, and lonely.

I hold up those who are caught in the midst of their sorrow and pain, unable to see past it.

I hold up those who ran in as others ran out. I hold up those who put the need of others before their own needs.

I hold up those who didn’t make it out. I hold up those who continue on. I hold up those whose health continues to suffer and those who succumbed.

I hold up those who cannot escape their anger. I hold up those who found the ability to forgive.

I hold up those who see no other course than violence. I hold up those who struggle with how to respond.

I hold up those who work to make room at the table for all who want to participate in discourse.

I hold up those attacked for their faith. I hold up those attacked in the name of someone else’s faith. I hold up those who lost their faith because of the behavior of others. I hold up those who only see what the extremist of a faith or political party do and never see the silent majority. I hold up the silent majority of a faith or political party, hoping they find their voice.

I hold up the Muslims who fight against the extremists of their faith.

I hold up the Christians who fight against the extremists of their faith.

I hold up those who do not follow a path not leading back to Abraham.

I hold up those who pursue peace and shalom in all its meanings.

I hold up those who actively stand up to those who call for war, especially those who call for war because they stand to profit from it.

I hold up those who feel called to the service of their country. I hold up those they leave behind as they step into harm’s way.

I hold up those who join me in calling this place home. I hold up those who see skies as blue as mine in the places they call home.

I hold up those who are marginalized by the ones entrusted with the responsibility to lead.

I hold up the leaders of government, religion, society, and challenge them to see those who cannot do anything to further their ambitions or line their pockets.

I will continue to pray for people to remember the mistakes of the past and work to keep from repeating them.

I hold up those who struggle with understanding the difference between revenge and justice.

I will continue to pray that people find strength to hold those in leadership positions accountable and not allow ideology or mob mentality to overshadow compassion, generosity, and dialogue.

On Facebook, on t-shirts, on bumper stickers, I see “we will not forget” and “we will remember” on backgrounds of American flags or bald eagles or the gift from the French people (the Statue of Liberty). Though I continue to struggle with understanding, I have not forgotten, I will remember, and I do not require the commercialization or religious-aztion of 9/11 to remind me.

I am going to remember 9/11 is not just about us in the United States. I am going to remember there were friends and neighbors from other countries visiting the WTCs, the Pentagon, and on the flights that morning.

I am going to remember some of the heroes of that day do not live or serve under the U.S. flag.

I am going to remember there were people of all shades of skin, different accents and languages, different religious and spiritual paths, different political and social views, different genders and orientations, who were just as impacted as everyone else and just as heroic as others.

I am going to remember there are partners in other countries who have an empty space next to them in bed.

I am going to remember there are other parents who continue to set a plate at an empty place at their dinner table.

I am going to remember there are other children who will never see one or both parents walking in the front door, home from the trip to the U.S.

I am going to remember there are aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, grandchildren, friends, lovers, companions, coworkers who continue to be missed by someone.

I will remember there are people also remembering this day in places I will never visit and missing people I will never meet.

It’s not just about us. It never was, never is, and never will be.

I am going to close with the words of two hymns from the Community of Christ hymnal, two stanzas of “This Is My Song” and “A Place at the Table.”

“This Is My Song” text by Lloyd Stone.

This is my song, O God of all nations
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
My land is home, the country where my heart is:
A land of hopes, of dreams, of grand design;
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
Oh, hear my song, thou God of all nations,
A song of peace, for their land and mine.

“A Place at the Table” text by Shirley Erena Murray

For everyone born, a place at the table, for everyone born, clean water and bread, a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing, for everyone born, a star overhead.

And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy.

For woman and man, a place at the table, revising the roles, deciding to share, with wisdom and grace, dividing the power, for woman and man, a system that’s fair.

And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy.

For young and for old, a place at the table, a voice to be heard, a part in the song, the hands of a child in hands that are wrinkled, for young and for old, the right to belong.

And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy.

For just and unjust, a place at the table. abuser, abused, with need to forgive, in anger, in hurt, a mind-set of mercy, for just and unjust, a new way to live.

And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy.

For everyone born, a place at the table, to live without fear, and simply to be, to work, to speak out, to witness and worship, for everyone born, the right to be free.

Faith & Politics

mattfrizzell.com

donkeyelephantcrossChurches everywhere need help with faith and politics these days.  On the one hand, partisan perspectives seep into our faith communities without us looking.  There’s really nothing we can do about it.  The animosity between “liberals” and “conservatives” is part of our culture.  (I put them in quotation marks to remind us that these are labels, not people.)   It’s impossible for “independents” and “centrists” to even state their politics without them.  The opposition inherent in partisanship defines how people speak, think, and interpret any political statement or issue.  It’s nearly impossible to navigate faith and politics without it.

Pastors and leaders can try to mitigate the tensions by reminding members to leave politics out of the pews and pulpit.  They can try to keep church a safe place, reminding parishioners that the Gospel is neutral or knows no single party.   And, to some degree, this is partially right.

The Gospel…

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Unity in Diversity…

From my friend Pam.

Preacher Kid's Weblog

One of the principles expressed by my faith community is expressed in the phrase “Unity in Diversity.” I like–and believe in–this ideal, but I am becoming more and more aware how difficult it is to live it.

There are short statements that help clarify the principles; these are three of them related to this one:

  • The church embraces diversity and unity through the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • We seek agreement or common consent in important matters. If we cannot achieve agreement, we commit to ongoing dialogue and lovingly uphold our common faith in Jesus Christ and the mission of the church.
  • We confess that our lack of agreement on certain matters is hurtful to some of God’s beloved children and creation.

While this particular statement is related to my faith community, I believe it is also important to the country–and the world…and right now I see that as a huge 

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remembering911

christmascandle

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the events of the morning of September 11, 2001. As many of you, I remember where I was and what I was doing that morning as coverage of the events filled almost every channel and radio station.

The past few years I have updated my annual remembrance, editing, re-reading it, adding to it. I have tried to list some of the bigger issues we faced during the previous year. The obscenities of greed and selfishness causing the further marginalization and scapegoating of groups, and the current rhetoric of a presidential candidate and his supporters have been heartbreaking, frightening, infuriating, and exhausting. We learn nothing except how to be more violent today than we were yesterday, and I do not feel a need this year to list the evidence that is obvious to all observers.

On this fifteenth anniversary, I remember and hold up those who are having difficulty with this just as I am.

I hold up those who still hurt, feel lost, incomplete, and lonely.

I hold up those who are caught in the midst of their sorrow and pain, unable to see past it.

I hold up those who ran in as others ran out. I hold up those who put the need of others before their own needs.

I hold up those who didn’t make it out. I hold up those who continue on. I hold up those whose health continues to suffer and those who succumbed.

I hold up those who cannot escape their anger. I hold up those who found the ability to forgive.

I hold up those who see no other course than violence. I hold up those who struggle with how to respond.

I hold up those who work to make room at the table for all who want to participate in discourse.

I hold up those attacked for their faith. I hold up those attacked in the name of someone else’s faith. I hold up those who lost their faith because of the behavior of others. I hold up those who only see what the extremist of a faith or political party do and never see the silent majority. I hold up the silent majority of a faith or political party, hoping they find their voice.

I hold up the Muslims who fight against the extremists of their faith.

I hold up the Christians who fight against the extremists of their faith.

I hold up those who do not follow a path not leading back to Abraham.

I hold up those who pursue peace and shalom in all its meanings.

I hold up those who actively stand up to those who call for war, especially those who call for war because they stand to profit from it.

I hold up those who feel called to the service of their country. I hold up those they leave behind as they step into harm’s way.

I hold up those who join me in calling this place home. I hold up those who see skies as blue as mine in the places they call home.

I hold up those who are marginalized by the ones entrusted with the responsibility to lead.

I hold up the leaders of government, religion, society, and challenge them to see those who cannot do anything to further their ambitions or line their pockets.

I will continue to pray for people to remember the mistakes of the past and work to keep from repeating them.

I hold up those who struggle with understanding the difference between revenge and justice.

I will continue to pray that people find strength to hold those in leadership positions accountable and not allow ideology or mob mentality to overshadow compassion, generosity, and dialogue.

On Facebook, I see post after post of “we will not forget” and “we will remember” on backgrounds of American flags or bald eagles or the gift from the French people (the Statue of Liberty). Though I continue to struggle with understanding, I have not forgotten, I will remember, and I do not require the commercialization or religious-aztion of 9/11 to remind me.

I am going to remember the people I promised above to hold up.

I am going to remember 9/11 is not just about us in the United States. I am going to remember there were friends and neighbors from other countries visiting the WTCs, the Pentagon, and on the flights that morning.

I am going to remember some of the heroes of that day do not live or serve under the U.S. flag.

I am going to remember there were people of all shades of skin, different accents and languages, different religious and spiritual paths, different political and social views, different genders and orientations, who were just as impacted as everyone else and just as heroic as others.

I am going to remember there are partners in other countries who have an empty space next to them in bed.

I am going to remember there are other parents who continue to set a plate at an empty place at their dinner table.

I am going to remember there are other children who will never see one or both parents walking in the front door, home from the trip to the U.S.

I am going to remember there are aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, grandchildren, friends, lovers, companions, coworkers who continue to be missed by someone.

I will remember there are people also remembering this day in places I will never visit and missing people I will never meet.

It’s not just about us. It never was, never is, and never will be.

I am going to close with the words of two hymns from the Community of Christ hymnal, two stanzas of “This Is My Song” and “A Place at the Table.”

“This Is My Song” text by Lloyd Stone.

This is my song, O God of all nations A song of peace for lands afar and mine. My land is home, the country where my heart is: A land of hopes, of dreams, of grand design; But other hearts in other lands are beating With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine. My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean, And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine. But other lands have sunlight too, and clover, And skies are everywhere as blue as mine. Oh, hear my song, thou God of all nations, A song of peace, for their land and mine.

“A Place at the Table” text by Shirley Erena Murray

For everyone born, a place at the table, for everyone born, clean water and bread, a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing, for everyone born, a star overhead.

And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy.

For woman and man, a place at the table, revising the roles, deciding to share, with wisdom and grace, dividing the power, for woman and man, a system that’s fair.

And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy.

For young and for old, a place at the table, a voice to be heard, a part in the song, the hands of a child in hands that are wrinkled, for young and for old, the right to belong.

And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy.

For just and unjust, a place at the table. abuser, abused, with need to forgive, in anger, in hurt, a mind-set of mercy, for just and unjust, a new way to live.

And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy.

For everyone born, a place at the table, to live without fear, and simply to be, to work, to speak out, to witness and worship, for everyone born, the right to be free.

 

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