"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer."--Dorothy Day


Job Update.

So I'm in the middle of my third week at the new job, and it is brilliant. Everyone is nice to me. No one has mocked me for my quietness, my ideals or my shoes. I feel respected and valued and all that stuff you should feel at work. The neighborhood is great...my bank is three blocks away, there's a Starbucks directly across the street, and there are all sorts of fun/healthy restaurants nearby. The learning curve for the job is pretty steep, so I'm not doing alot of client work yet, but will be soon. Today I met the man who was my predecessor. And he turns out to be someone I saw speak at a seminar I went to a couple of years ago. Really that seminar and this man's words changed the way I thought about my work, and increased my convictions that the system I was working within was in many ways furthering the problems of many of my clients. I am very honored to be filling this man's shoes, as much as that is possible.

But sadly there is a downside to the new job. My commute is so short that I'm a bit behind on my reading. And it takes me two commutes to listen to an episode of This American Life. If only I could find a way to spend more time on the train...


Picking Sides.

I still have two more weeks to make my primary election decision, but today the New York Times has made theirs (here and here). Though I'm not sure that I fully agree, I am moved by their arguments and particularly enjoyed the paragraphs in which they reem Rudy Guiliani (who my father has repeatedly threatened to vote for as a means to get a rise out of me.) But then there's this, serving to continue my indecision.


Figuring it out.

Originally written for communion meditation at CCfB on 1.20.2008:

It is only recently that I learned that my belief system was an actual belief system, rather than simply a coping mechanism. I did not know that there was Universalism outside of the Unitarian Church, which I contemplated joining at a theologically desperate point in my life. I came to Universalism circuitously, having simply lost the ability to worry about salvation any more.

My religious background is much like most of yours. I was raised in the Church of Christ, baptized when I was 14 at church camp, because that was what the kids in my youth group did. I don’t think I even grasped what my baptism was supposed to have been about until I had a crisis of faith in my early 20s. But then as I thought about it more, I began to wonder if I was truly saved. So I went to retreats and on missions to Mexico, to Bible studies and devotionals. I wept many, many tears in the interest of finding what I thought was missing. Then I got a second job, which is often the case with me. I began working for the newspaper at UT in hopes of finding a career after I decided not to teach. I edited and designed the paper sometimes 5 nights a week and I began missing Sunday night and Wednesday night church in the interest of this endeavor. But what I found at the paper was what I had been searching for. As I edited, I read every story in every section of the paper. I started reading the New York Times, and the BBC, and watching a constant stream of news, as to stay informed about what should go on my page. One night in particular stands out in my head as a turning point in my thinking about God and salvation and redemption. That summer, there were several executions covered by our paper, but one in particular got national coverage--the execution of a man named Gary Graham. The eyewitness testimony had been called into question and this case was being appealed to every level, up until the final seconds. And because of where I was on this particular day, I watched it unfold. Hearing the story of this man and his crime, the pain of his victims and their families, the distinct possibility that an innocent man was set to die, I was shaken. I could not help but think about the value of his life, of the consequences of his actions set in motion by circumstances far beyond his control, and about the state and destination of his soul. And over the months that followed, these questions only persisted and multiplied. How can a person trapped in the cycles of poverty and marginalization in this country be expected to find God when they have no hope? Why is it that so many people I love are instantly condemned for things that are intrinsically part of who they are? How is it that a person a world away, who has never known peace, can be expected to accept our narrow vision of God?

These questions being far too large for my 21 year-old mind to handle, I decided to stop trying to understand it. Instead, I decided to focus on what I could do. Volunteering at various places, getting wrapped up in the issues that moved me, which led me to a career change and has entirely changed my perspective. With each new person that I meet in my work and in life, it becomes clearer to me the value of every human life. And when I look at the view of Christianity that I was taught from my earliest memories, there is no longer room for me there. I firmly believe that we do ourselves a great injustice by living our lives simply to stay out of Hell. There is nothing man can do to earn a place in Heaven, and under the same umbrella of grace, there is nothing man can do to fall out of God’s favor. For me, once I realized this and was able to stop worrying about my own salvation, and about winning souls for Jesus with the five steps and the multicolored bracelets and the fliers and strategically placed information tables and the fun, but salvific, events, I was able to more fully be who God intended me to be. An imperfect being, in a far from perfect world, who has been known to do and say outlandish things, who has a definite penchant for the radical and is probably wrong about so many things. But who is striving to live her life in love, to do what is best and to know that God wholly loves us for who we wholly are. That we are all covered by grace and by this grace we are free.


Campaign 2024.

Let me just say that I heart Hilary Clinton. I always have. Even during the first Clinton election in 1992, though such things were probably not allowed to be stated in my vastly Republican Junior High school, I had a secret appreciation for her. Hilary and I have special bond. She is the only person I've ever voted for who actually was elected. So I heart her and support her and hope she wins this thing. That being said, I have some problems. I am supremely bothered by the fact that her tears are reason for news stories and op-eds (though they're both really good op-eds) and blogs and tirades by drunken subway riders. If John McCain, talking to a group of people at a restaurant, had expressed his exhaustion and had to pause for a moment because he is under a considerable amount of stress, there would be no stories titled 'War Hero breaks down in Diner'.

As a crier myself, I am bothered, very bothered, by the perception of tears as a sign of weakness. I am not fragile. I can and will destroy you in a verbal fight. And then I might go into the other room and cry. Or I might cry right there. But my words will still be the same. Despite cracks in my voice or tears in my eyes, there is still power in my ideals and my actions will still hold the same meaning. This is simply an emotional response to a difficult situation. No one was ever thought weak for raising their voice during an emotionally charged conversation. The same should be said here.

That being said, I have some other election related problems. I heart Hilary, but I also heart Barack Obama. His message of hope and driving change appeal to my radical tendencies. And the things he has called for are not outlandishly idealistic, but simply show great movement in what I believe is the right direction. And I'm bothered by Hilary's votes for use of force in Iraq and Iran, and the fact that both she and Obama support the construction of the Border Fence, and the death penalty, and have not made a stand for equal marriage rights. I'm kind of ridiculous when it comes to my politics. I'm looking for change with such fervor that I am brought to tears any time I hear or read a speech by either candidate, especially Obama. So I'm looking for someone to tell me which way to go. I don't like picking a lesser evil without outside guidance.

I have for a long time now said that I am planning a run for president. I'm eligible for the presidency as of 2018, so any time after that all bets are off. My best friend told me last week that he would certainly vote for me, as I have good experience in the public service and he agrees with my positions on most things (though he is not always comfortable with my penchant for the radical). My campaign will be about bringing humanity and honesty back to politics (or possibly to politics for the fist time). This means not avoiding issues because they are controversial or difficult; not talking in circles to avoid stating an definitive opinion or admitting fault. The slogan on my backdrops and my podiums will be 'Just stop it. You're being ridiculous.' People get ready. There's a train a-coming.


A Threat.

I got a Yahoo! alert on a story about the current conflict between Iran and the U.S., regarding a "he said, she said" fight about some ships. GW is reported to have called Iran "a threat to world peace." This is one of the statements that just makes me want to call GW up. "For real?," I'd say, "You are calling someone a 'threat to world peace'. Really? Really?" He is soooo lucky his number is unlisted.