July 19th, 2006
All day today I’ve been writing a weblog post in my head. It’s about Bush’s opposition to stem cell research, and it focuses on his hypocrisy in saying he’s against research with new stem cell lines because it involves killing all the precious little embryos. It asks what about all the millions of embryos disposed of every year by fertility clinics? Where’s his outrage about that? And then it sarcastically and cleverly says something about how I suspect he’s keeping mum on that issue because of all the Republicans that rely on them.
But then I read that Bush has, in fact, done what he said he would do and vetoed the bill which would have eased limits on stem cell research. And then I realized that I am really very tired. Too tired.
July 6th, 2006
I’ve been struggling for years with my religious faith — I don’t buy a lot of the hogwash that mainstream Christianity emphasizes (virgin birth? Please. I have *some* sense), and the denomination I used to belong to (United Methodist) chased me away with bigotry and political indifference. And yet, I’m not an atheist, and on most days I’m not even agnostic. I believe, I’m just not sure in what. I want to be engaged with a religious community, one where I can engage these issues. I’ve visited Unitarian churches, but I’ve had the opposite problem with them — the limited number of common tenets doesn’t work for me.
Since the 2000 election, I’ve been uncomfortable identifying myself as a Christian. I want to tell people “I’m not one of them! I’m not crazy! I’m rational!” So I’ve mostly avoided religion altogether, in conversation and in practice. But I cannot ignore my own thoughts and feelings, and I feel the lack of religious practice keenly. Also, I increasingly want to fight the progressive fight from inside a religious institution. My own politics are colored quite deeply by my religious beliefs, and expressing one without the other is difficult.
So I’ve been thinking and reading and praying about religion a lot lately. This past Sunday, I visited an Episcopalian church. There are things about it that feel very alien to me, like taking communion every Sunday, and the communal cup of wine, and kneeling to pray, and bowing to the altar and the gospel, but the priest’s sermon was astonishingly progressive, even radical. She was a great speaker, but it was really her message that compelled me. Preaching about the story from Mark 5:21-43 about the unclean, poor woman Jesus healed and the dead girl he resurrected, the priest’s message was that Christ broke down social and economic barriers, and so should we; the Kingdom of Heaven will be realized on earth when no one has too little, and no one has too much.
I’m not sure that I’m cut out to be an Episcopalian, but I can tell you that I will be going back to that church.
July 4th, 2006
One day in November 2004, I got annoyed by comment spam and turned my comments off completely, thinking that I’d figure out a way to deal with the spam and then turn them back on. I never intended to have the comments off for 19 months! But, being the lazy sort I am, that’s how things turned out.
I’ve finally dealt with the problem, and comments will be on for all new entries. I’m too lazy to go back and turn them on for old entries.
July 4th, 2006
I went to church this past Sunday, and it being the weekend before the Fourth of July, we sang several patriotic hymns. It was kinda fun. I was particularly moved by America The Beautiful. The congregation I was visiting was small, but very friendly — the people obviously like one another a great deal. Their voices were warm and passionate. The second verse spoke to me particularly:
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
Recognition that America has flaws, a desire to improve the country, the value of self-control, and a recognition of the importance of Liberty to the rule of law — these are virtues we are sorely in need of right now. I was left wondering if Katharine Lee Bates, the school teacher that wrote that poem, would be called un-American for these sentiments today?
Sad days, these.