Remarks given on the Capital Steps in Lansing on 05/26/09

Posted by Bushel Basket in , , , ,

The following is a transcript of the remarks a dear friend of mine gave on the steps of the Michigan Capital building at a pro gay marriage protest on May 26th of this year. This protest was a response to the California Supreme Court's upholding of Proposition 8. She says it better than I ever could.

My name is Nicolette Lee Calcagno-Siragusa, and yesterday I celebrated the first anniversary of my wedding to the most wonderful woman in the world.

I should clarify – you see we have a domestic partnership in Cook County, Illinois, where we lived before moving here. We entered into that on October 1st 2005 in the Cook County Clerk’s office – very romantic. No rights, no responsibilities – just a certificate & a public record.

Then, on December 28th, 2007 we entered into a Civil Union in New Jersey, where we met and grew up, in the living room of her parents’ home presided over by the mayor. A simple event – an exchange of rings and vows in front of the fireplace.

And then came one year ago yesterday. In the sanctuary of the church where I had served as an intern, presided over by my friend and mentor. We had flowers, and music, and in the presence of our family, our friends, our church, and our God had a “proper” wedding, complete with the breaking of bread during the sacrament of Holy Communion, and the breaking of bread during a fun and festive reception.

For those of you keeping track:
Domestic Partners in Cook County, Illinois,
Civilly United in New Jersey
Married in the eyes of our friends, our family, and our church
And yet considered single by the state of Michigan!

As a member of clergy, I am told that the state respects my ecclesial authority to join two people in marriage – as long as they get to pick the two. I am a firm believer in the separation of Church and State, and it is simply wrong to use the beliefs of a church as justification for refusing same-sex couples the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage on one hand, while on the other hand deny churches and clergy who see unequal treatment as injustice the ability to marry those couples.

I am a member of the United Church of Christ who at their General Synod in 2005 resolved to affirm equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender, stating that the government should not interfere with couples regardless of gender who choose to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities, and commitment of legally recognized marriage.

I believe in the life and example of Jesus of Nazareth who demonstrated radical inclusivity and abundant welcome. I believe in a biblical tradition that affirms and celebrates human expressions of love and partnership. I believe in a God who is still speaking, and that there is always more light and truth to be revealed.

There are those who would tell us that we are not worthy of marriage. That our families are not as beautiful, that our love is not as strong, that our commitment is not as deep.

But they have not seen how we care for our ailing parents, have not heard us sing lullabies to our children, have not seen us support one another through trials and adversities, have not witnessed the struggles we go through simply to keep our families together.

But the time is coming. A new generation is at hand who has seen, who has witnessed, and who understands.

So I tell you – do not lose hope, do not lose faith. May you always remember that you are God’s beloved children. May the Holy One encourage you in times of struggle and disappointment. And may God strengthen you as you walk on the path of love and justice, for though it is long and winding, I know we do not walk alone.

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fun with deer, sadness with ribs

Posted by Bushel Basket in

Why I love where I live\work.

Last night, I was doing my laundry at the camp's machines (as my new washer and dryer aren't here yet), talking to a friend on my cell phone. I look up, and there's three deer in the middle of the camp. Gently walking by. They are checking me out, but not overly nervous. Not being able to resist, I chased after them, like seagulls on the beach. Those three, and two more I hadn't been able to make out in the dusk, all take off.

Shortly after, I'm walking around the camp, and I come across a few more deer. These I approach slowly. They don't take off, in fact, one comes closer. I get within 20 feet of them. It was tremendous.

Why I'm sad to not be closer to friends.

The freezer in the kitchen went out today, thawing some of the food. We were able to save most of it, but decided to ditch most of the meat as a precaution. There were two sides of ribs which had thawed, but were still cold. I got to take them home. Now, I'm all ready to grill out. Now, I just need friends nearby to grill out with. I'm in a beautiful location, near good brewers and vinters, but it gets kinda lonely.

On to

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A crisis of identity, but not of faith: a postmodern Lament

Posted by Bushel Basket in , ,

Do I still want to be a Christian? Do I have a choice?

Lately, I've been thinking more about how I outwardly identify my faith and who that groups me with and who it separates me from. I'm not doubting my faith; I am solid in my beliefs and they haven't significantly changed in some time. But really, what does it mean to assume the label of a Christian?

I'm down with Jesus. Now, even that statement is quite loaded. What I believe about who Jesus was, is, represents and how his life, death, and resurrection influences the way I live my live would be at odds with the belief of many Christians. Really, that's the point. I'm not much for confessions of faith, I prefer to give my personal testimony. But, I believe that Jesus crystallized a renewal of faith that subjugated a blind dogma that separated us from our fellow humans. Our fellow beings are also created in the image of the divine and our alienation from them also separated us from our Creator and from all of creation. Yet, too often it feels that more and more Christians are falling prey to the easy allure of a similar dogma that is more concerned with defining who is in and who is out than if we are loving others as ourselves.

By calling myself a Christian, I associate myself with those who I feel are missing the message of Jesus. Also, and what pains me more, is that those who reject Christians and Christianity because of the bigotry and non-Christ-like actions of many individuals and denominations see no difference between me and those who oppress in the name of Jesus, creating more distance between us. I have tried to associate with those followers of Jesus who are shouting back that Christianity is not bigotry, but it feels like we few are shouting across a larger and larger abyss and there are fewer and fewer of us left to do the shouting.

So, we have three groups, the un-Christlike Christians, the faithfully departed, and the shrinking shouters. Lord knows, I like to shout. But I find myself wondering, is redeeming the word Christian really a fight worth fighting? I find myself thinking of a quote from Pelagius, asking if it is more important that a person professes to be a Christian, or acts like a Christian. My books are not yet unpacked from my move, so I'll have to find the quote later. Essentially, he questioned which is more important, orthodoxy "right belief" or orthopraxy, "right action." Again, another loaded theological question, sure to set my seminary friends at odds. Myself, I tend to lean toward orthopraxy. So did Pelagius, but then he was branded a heretic. Again, I find myself wondering if that isn't the point.

So, I find myself thinking about who I'd be standing with if I keep calling myself a Christian, and who I'd be standing with if I start calling myself something else. By being a Christian, I get a lot of (and pardon the over generalization) right wing conservative whack jobs who wrap Jesus in a red, white, and reluctanly blue American flag and a few Jesus followers who are defensive about our faith, tired of being persecuted by those that say we aren't really Christian because we support homosexual marriage, national healthcare, and dare to bring up the fact that Jesus is the prince of peace. On the other side, I'd be with the many non-believers, a growing fraction of younger America, according to a recent Pew Study. Many may or may not care about faith or spirituality, but some would be exactly the people that I'd want to be with, the spiritually moved who cannot associate themselves with a faith that has such a checkered track record.

So, do I need to call myself a Christian to follow Christ? Is the word Christian worth fighting for? As followers of Christ, we are called upon to be in communion with one another. But if trying to maintain that communion drives others away, what then?

I have more to say, but it is late, and my thoughts are becoming less and less focused, so I'll stop for now and see if any readers have anything to say in response.

I'll leave you with some Bible verses that have been coming to mind as I write this:

Mark 9:38-40
John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us.

Matthew 21:28-32
A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' He answered, 'I will not'; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, 'I go, sir'; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

1 John 4:1-8
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world. Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

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