Thursday, 29 October 2009

An advantage to praying in a language you don't understand?

I posted this to my Facebook Wall, where it produced a really interesting comment thread. So, I thought I'd post it here, and see what folks think.

"The other advantage of praying in Hebrew without understanding it is that it spares you the temptation to argue with the prayer book." Harold Kushner, in To Life!: A Celebration of Jewish Thinking and Being, pp. 201-202.

(I said, "Yeah, right!!")

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

PRAYERS FOR PEACEMAKERS, Weds. Oct. 28, 2009 | Christian Peacemaker Teams

I get CPT's Prayers for Peacemakers every Wednesday. Because of some conversations I'm having, I felt like sharing this one.

PRAYERS FOR PEACEMAKERS, Weds. Oct. 28, 2009 | Christian Peacemaker Teams:

Pray for the Palestinian children who walk to school from Tuba to At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills. Earlier this week they were threatened by Israeli settlers when the Israeli government-mandated military escort failed to appear to accompany them.

How do we talk about, get support around, death?

Samhain is fast approaching, so of course I am thinking about death. About those dear ones who've died and whom I miss fiercely, and those whom I've been able to let go a little more. About those whom I don't miss at all. About those I love whose death was a release; those who died in old age after a long life; those who died young; those who died suddenly; those to whom I was able to say goodbye; those who died without any final contact.

About a dear F/friend who is actively dying.

Anastasia Ashman, a sister Mawrter, posted this recently, which I recommend to you. She asks questions like, How do we find support around grief? How do we talk about grief and death? Do we mourn silently and privately, or in community? What determines this?, as well as shares some of her own experience.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Nearly-equal rights. Still second-class citizenship.

This is the story (so far) of our civil union in New Jersey, and why I am not, in fact, excited about it.

My wife and I recently moved to New Jersey for her work. After we arrived, I started researching NJ's domestic partnership and civil union laws.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Respecting LGBTQ families

Wow. Thank you, Joanna Grover. (H/t Vonn.)

If you don't believe this shit doesn't happen, or that it's just not that bad when it does, read this amazing and heart-touching article.

Imagine having only five minutes to say goodbye to your dying husband or wife of nearly two decades. Imagine being a 10-year-old girl and being physically blocked from saying a last, ``I love you,'' to your mother, who is just down the hall at the hospital. This may sound unconscionable, but it happened, just as described, to the Langbehn-Pond family at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

Reflections on Marriage

This is an excellent article. My thanks to Nif for pointing it out. - sm

Reflections on Marriage:

Today, many same-sex couples in the United States live in a fraught, contingent space of loving attachment, unprotected by state recognition. My fierce commitment to marriage equality derives, in part, from my personal biography as an interracial child, descended from American slaves, and raised in Virginia, beginning less than a decade after the Loving decision. Even though I am heterosexual, marriage equality is personal. I learn from the history of racial and interracial marriage exclusion that the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples is wrong.


We must do more than simply integrate new groups into an old system. Let's use this moment to re-imagine marriage and marriage-free options for building families, rearing children, crafting communities, and distributing public goods.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Not the National Coming Out Day conversation I expected

If you're on Facebook, you may have noticed a number of folks over the last few weeks with standardized status updates that read:

[Name] is (a lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender). There are X days until National Coming Out Day and I pledge to have heartfelt conversations for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. Donate your status and join me by clicking here:

I didn't donate my status -- for one, I rarely do apps, since I like my privacy -- but I did post one or two status updates to this effect.

I'm always surprised when people who know me at all well are surprised to find out I'm a lesbian. It's less startling, but still frustrating, when people are surprised I'm bi, because there's still an assumption of monosexuality in this culture: either you're homosexual or you're heterosexual. Folks who are startled to learn I'm bi either know I've had successful romantic relationships with men and assume those are invalid now (because I must be monosexual), or assume that because I have been involved only with women since they've known me and am not that interested in men, I must be monosexual.

But those are still the conversations I more or less expect to have. The kind where I refer to my partner or spouse in conversation at an event, the other person asks what my husband does, and I say, "My wife is a mathematician," and they blink. The kind where someone I've known for a long time says in shock, "You had a husband!?," and I say, "Yes, my first partner was male, and yes, I was out before we got together. He took me to my first Pride event."

But these conversations have progressed and changed over time. For example, more and more over the last few years, the conversations I've been having around the fact that I'm a lesbian center around civil rights, and especially marriage equality.

And while there's one little thread on my Facebook Wall about National Coming Out Day and how people identify and what labels mean (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer), there's another, completely different, conversation I've ended up having about the reality of my life as a lesbian in today's society.

And it really does feel like a coming-out conversation: Here is my reality. Here is the truth of my experience.

And as with many other such conversations over the years, I'm finding someone I'm talking with disbelieves the uncomfortable truth.

This person isn't a bigot. They seem to be a well-meaning straight person, but someone who just doesn't want to believe the discrimination I live with every day is as bad as I say -- that their legally-sanctioned heterosexual privilege is, in fact, just that.

(All names changed but mine; all quotes paraphrased except where indicated.)

The conversation has gone something like this:

  • Friend A posts to their Facebook status that they're grateful to the marriage equality movement for helping them understand how many rights and privileges go with legal marriage [which this person has].

Conversation ensues in the comment thread, and then it gets interesting:

  • Person B: I thought it was just the death tax that can't be addressed in a contract; what other rights can't they have?; of course anyone should marry whomever they want!; isn't Toys R Us great, they give domestic partners full health insurance.
  • Person C: Oh, no, there's the whole hospital visitation thing; do you want to wrangle with a resistant family member in order to say goodbye to a dying partner?
  • Person B: Wrong! If you have a living will and a signed and notorized agreement, the family can't keep you away!
  • Person C: Uh-huh. So, my husband's in the hospital, and I have to dig out my legal paperwork before I go to the hospital?; in my case, take the bus home from work, find the paperwork, and drive back into town, when on top of it I'm probably not safe to drive?; assuming we've gone to the expense and trouble of getting such paperwork?; oh, and by the way, because we're an opposite-gender couple, they're not going to ask us for a copy of our marriage license, and we're in less need of powers of attorney and living wills, because we're legally married.
  • Person B: Gosh, it's really awful when family members are jerks, and I'm really sorry for anyone who has to deal with that; but you do kind of know what you're getting into; spending $100 on a contract is nothing at all for the peace of mind it gives you, and of course if I had to do that, I'd know exactly where my paperwork is; so what else are the issues?, I know there aren't a lot of people who have to worry about taxes on huge estates.
  • Me (direct quote):

Jana update

I just learned my F/friend Jana is going home tomorrow. She's still got a cast on one leg, and will still have lots of medical and rehab and therapy appointments, but she's going home.

When I think about how uncertain I was about Jana's survival the first weekend after the accident, and then think about her going up and down her house's stairs on her behind, I want to weep with relief and joy.

And gratitude for love and community.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Queries for Full Moon Worship-Sharing

First, I encourage folks to familiarize themselves with FGC's information on worship-sharing, available here (

These are some queries I've developed for the Full Moon. You, or your meeting for worship, may devise your own, or already have some of your own.

Queries for Full Moon worship
  • What am I thankful for in my life in the month since the last Full Moon (or in my life since we met last)? What do I wish to bring to fruition in the next month, by the next Full Moon?
  • The phases of the moon -- waxing, full, waning, and dark/new -- can be seen as the phases of a woman's life: Maiden, Mother, Crone, and the space between death and birth. How have I experienced the Goddess as Mother? (Or, how have I experienced another face of the Divine as Mother?)

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Full Moon Meetings for Worship/Worship-Sharing

For the last year, I've been hosting Full Moon Meeting for Worship/Worship-Sharing each month. Usually I've done this at my home; last month, I knew I would not be that organized, less than a week after moving cross-country, but Emrys and Nimue in the Philly are organized a Meeting at a local Meetinghouse.

Something that was different, that time, was that since there was on-line discussion about our get-together, we knew there were people joining us from afar -- either at the same actual time we were meeting, or at the same hour in their local time, or just at another time that same day or evening.

This gave me a marvelous sense of connection, similar to the one many Witches have to everyone else who celebrates the Full Moon or the Sabbats, similar to the one many traveling Friends have to their home Meetings...

So this month, I am proposing both virtual and in-person Full Moon Meetings for Worship/Worship-Sharing.

We are meeting Monday night, 10/5/09:

  • 6:45-7:00, gather; local groups decide on worship or worship-sharing
  • 7:00-8:00, worship/worship-sharing
  • 8:00-8:45, potluck tea (I was thinking this would be local groups, but I can imagine having tea in virtual community!)
  • 8:45-9:00, clean up together (local groups)

For full details, please click here.

Local, in-person groups

You can host a get-together by inviting Friends and friends. If you let me know, either through comment or an email, then there's an increased sense of community. Also, with your permission, if I know of someone looking for a local gathering in your area, I can put you in touch with each other.

I am willing to host in central NJ, or someone else can host here or in the Philly area.

Please click here for important details for in-person groups.

What do I mean by "virtual"?

I was originally thinking of individuals and groups who would be meeting at either the same time, or the same hour local time, or some time the same day or evening. But in on-line conversation, I'm realizing there could also be on-line Meeting for Worship, perhaps through, or using Skype's IM function (which I've used for large classes, small conversations, and small-group worship before).

I look forward to more discussion about this, seeing what other questions and ideas people come up with, and seeing what happens Monday night.

Blessed be!