A couple weeks back I spotted a post on my meeting’s listserve, soliciting personal anecdotes from people of faith who have disabilities. I’ve long been willing to be vocal about having a chronic illness. This is partially to negate the still-potent stigma of bipolar disorder, and partially to ensure that insurance companies cover mental illness as they would any other medical condition needing regular treatment. Within a day, the editor contacted me back, eager to inform me that he liked what I had written and that my story would be published as part of a book he was compiling. When released, it will be called Amazing Gifts: Stories of Faith, Disability and Inclusion. The book will be published by the Alban Institute.
Mar 24 2011
I’ve often been interested in genealogy, and have recently discovered that I have some first generation Quaker relatives. A Friend from my Meeting recently asked about my family history after worship, so I thought I might provide that which I know. The people described here all hail from from a village named Hunsdon, which is in Hertsfordshire, north of London. If you need a point of reference, Hunsdon is in the East of England, roughly 25 miles north of London.
Nov 22 2010
So many of our causes, passions, and movements could be characterized in terms of David versus Goliath, requiring superhuman strength to set right. At the outset, the odds are stacked against us. Business corruption must not be allowed to metastasize, lest the country be utterly eviscerated by it. Environmental pollutants must not destroy our fragile ecosystem. The military must have its spending curtailed in order to prevent massive waste and a swelling national debt, a belief held even by those who do not object to the very existence of a military. The prison-industrial complex must not be allowed to grow ever larger, while it incarcerates men of color at rapidly growing rates. It’s easy to get burned out, knowing the vast size and sweep of these problems, and easier still to believe that no amount of effort expended for any length of time will make one iota’s worth of difference either way.
Aug 08 2010
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak informally at length with several college-aged young adults. Most were at least a decade or so younger than me, and it was interesting to compare how a younger generation’s perspective was both different and similar to that of my own. We covered a wide variety of subjects in a relatively short period of time, but one particularly interesting discussion grabbed my attention. To some extent, it might as well have sufficed for the main idea of every related topic we covered. Many were within a few semesters of graduation, and starting to contemplate what life after college would have in store for them.
Nov 08 2009
This morning I spoke at meeting to deliver a vocal ministry that, once it had fully formed in my consciousness, I knew would likely not be received with accolades. Because I believe that the only way to keep forward progress and to foster growth is to at times make light of hard truths, I did not sugarcoat my message. Having been raised in a Christ-centered tradition that was decidedly not Quaker, I recall many sermons over the years designed to call out the congregation when they had gone astray. As such, I am a firm believer that criticism can be constructive and is not uniformly destructive in nature, even when the words themselves make waves and challenge assumptions. This may have been my background, but I came to understand that it was not the reference point that many fellow Friends in attendance understood. I fault them not for this.
Perhaps I should qualify that I use as my guide the words, wisdom, and intent of Jesus. They are, as I understand them, rarely, if ever, composed of feel-good platitudes or self-congratulatory statements. Some of them were highly inflammatory in their day and when one contemplates the sum of their impact, one can hardly fail to recognize why Jesus was eventually crucified. He had quite a knack for enraging the powers that be and making absolutely no attempt to smooth over his lessons and teachings with anything resembling tact or diplomacy. Though we, in my humble opinion, ought to consider him a hero, he was a rabble-rouser in his day and in our time, those who threaten the establishment enough usually pay for it with their very lives. Jesus did not coddle anyone and neither do I.