Saturday, August 27, 2005

Montgomery Ward Winter Catalogue

Thanks to RETURNING's piece Christmas in August, I just spent a few happy minutes reminiscing.

Winter in the Adirondacks. For a child who preferred reading and imagination over cold and wet farming activities like, oh, say, feeding the cows or banging nails backward out of boards so we could use them again, or hauling supplies up to the sugar house (this was back when sugar houses were in the actual maple stands, when you didn't have a million miles of ugly blue or black tubing weaving through the woods standing at the ready to decapitate an errant snowmobiler) The Sears Wishbook and the Montgomery Ward Winter Catalogs were the delight of my childhood.

I'd sit for hours in our back kitchen, with my feet in the oven of the wood stove, a blankey around my shoulders, and the Montgomery Ward catalogue on my lap. My favorite imagination game was, at that time, Let's Raise an Army and Go and Free All the People under Apartheid. (I'd heard an early radio broadcast on PBS or the CBC-Radio Canada, and 12 year old self was pissed off. Equal work for equal pay was a commandment, wasn't it?)

The Montgomery Ward Catalogue had clothes and boots and camping supplies. It had hard cheeses and saucages and fruitcake, rifles, hunting bows, rope, parkas, trucks, motorcycles and tools. Everything I needed to outfit my army.

I'd make long shopping lists, making sure that my army had enough food and supplies, that everthing would fit in their backpacks. I'd make sure that they had light sox and heavy sox, that their underwear would hold up over time, and that there was a good amount of candy included in their supplies. I'd order different kinds of boots so my army would have choices, and they could share and make sure that everyone had shoes that were good for them. I had worn army boots, and they stunk.

In between bouts of outfitting my army, forced to do chores, I'd lean on the clothes dryer while waiting for it to finish, and I'd read about Deitrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin and Malcolm and think about using violence to end violence.

Then I'd close my books and fold clothes and wonder why no one else was doing anything to free people in South Africa.

This compulsive planning thing would later come in handy when I decided to be a DRE... Happily, my job doesn't require guns.

Although....
Nah.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Update on Gwen

Gwen has been in Bay State Hospital Peds for 20 days. They removed her Gall Bladder, hoping that was the underlying cause of her current crisis, but although her g.b. was sick, it seems that maybe it was more of a symptom than cause.

Without all the Dr. speak, which I don't understand, I do know this... Gwen's liver is very sick. Gwen's bilirubin numbers keeps rising, and she is quite jaundiced.

Bilirubin is a break down product of red blood cells, and they check this w/ a blood test, it shows how well the liver is working. High numbers are bad. Jaundice occurs because red blood cells are being broken down too fast for the liver to process.

I visited her yesterday and we told stories. I told her stories about cats and dogs and chickens and cows and my granddaughter feather dusting the pulpit during my wedding. I told her about the time I accidentally drove a tractor into a lake, and the time I won a softball game with a big BURP, and the time my cat got stuck in the cupboard and couldn't figure out to push the door to get out. She told me about her first birthday and the candle she blew out that was stuck in a jar of honey.

She remains in critical condition in the Pediatric ICU.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Church Windows

is turning out to be a great management program for me.
Church Windows. The people who do finances aren't as happy as I am, but I just printed out a complete registration list, by grade, with phone #s and alphabetical in about 1.3 minutes start to finish.

Excel can go to ...

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Fred Phelps, Tom Cruise and me: Readings

This is a sermon preached at the UU in Plattsburgh NY on July 10. It's long and therefore unblog-like. oh well. I've added some links to external sites for fun, but please remember to come back here afterwards.

Fred Phelps, Tom Cruise and Me :
Respecting the inherent worth and dignity of every individual on a free and responsible search for truth and meaning

READINGS

These excerpts are provided for educational purposes, and are re-printed here under fair use.

READING 1

The Free Church, James Luther Adams

I call that church free which enters into covenant with the ultimate source of existence, that sustaining and transforming power not made with human hands. … I call that church free which brings individuals into a caring, trusting fellowship that protects and nourishes their integrity and spiritual freedom; that yearns to belong to the church universal; It is open to insight and conscience from every source; it bursts through rigid tradition, giving rise to new and living language, to new and broader fellowship.

… It aims to find unity in diversity under the promptings of the spirit “that bloweth where it listeth and maketh all things new.”

READING 2

Answer to a Nit-picking Freak Who Pretends Not To Understand Why We Call Fags Fags

Rev. Fred Phelps

Get a grip, you presumptuous toad.

….We could [hold signs] that say "God hates dogs," but this generation of blind men has no clue about the Bible and grasps at straws on the best of days. They wouldn't have any idea what we were talking about, and we would have failed at our mission – to publish a pure, unambiguous Gospel to this world ("Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." 2 Tim. 4:2); to get in their face and make it crystal clear what the Lord God of Eternity requires of them and what their sin is ("Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." Isaiah 58:1).

What I'm trying to say here is that we don't give a rat's tutu what you think about our words; we've told you plain and straight the reasons why we use these wonderfully elegant metaphors. Here is what Jesus Christ has to say about you: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!." Matthew 23:23

…Once again, I must say: GET A GRIP! GET A CLUE! These are filthy beasts, no matter what you call them! Those three letters don't change the fact that the Lord will shortly return to execute judgment on this evil, froward world – and you will have to give an accounting for your rebellion against the Lord your God (and your attempt at distracting the saints).

God hates fags. You are going to hell. Have a lovely day.

READING 3


The following is an excerpt from the Scientology Operating Thetan level three.

“The head of the Galactic Federation (76 planets around larger stars visible from here) (founded 5,000,000 years ago, very space opera) solved overpopulation (250 billion or so per planet, 178 billion on average) by mass implanting. He caused people to be brought to Teegeeack (Earth) and put an H-Bomb on the principal volcanos (Incident II) and then the Pacific area ones were taken in boxes to Hawaii and the Atlantic area ones to Las Palmas and there "packaged".

His name was Xenu. He used renegades. Various misleading data by means of circuits etc. was placed in the implants.

When through with his crime loyal officers (to the people) captured him after six years of battle and put him in an electronic mountain trap where he still is. "They" are gone. The place (Confederation) has since been a desert. The length and brutality of it all was such that this Confederation never recovered. The implant is calculated to kill (by pneumonia etc) anyone who attempts to solve it. This liability has been dispensed with by my tech development.

One's body is a mass of individual thetans stuck to oneself or to the body.

One has to clean them off by running incident II and Incident I. It is a long job, requiring care, patience and good auditing. You are running beings. They respond like any preclear. Some large, some small.

Thetans believed they were one. This is the primary error. Good luck.”

Cited in Margery Wakefield, The Road to Xenu, p. 76-77.

READING 4
The Free Mind, Ellery Channing

I call that mind free which masters the senses, and which recognizes its own reality and greatness:

Which passes life, not in asking what it shall eat or drink, but in hungering, thirsting, and seeking after righteousness.

I call that mind free which jealously guards its intellectual rights and powers, which does not content itself with a passive or hereditary faith:

Which opens itself to light whencesoever it may come; which receives new truth as an angel from heaven.

I call that mind free which is not passively framed by outward circumstances, and is not the creature of accidental impulse:

Which discovers everywhere the radiant signatures of the infinite spirit, and in them finds help to its own spiritual enlargement.

I call that mind free which protects itself against the usurpations of society, and which does not cower to human opinion:

Which refuses to be the slave or tool of the many or of the few, and guards its empire over itself as nobler than the empire of the world.

...

I call that mind free which sets no bounds to its love, which, wherever they are seen, delights in virtue and sympathizes with suffering:

Which recognizes in all human beings the image of God and the rights of God's children, and offers itself up a willing sacrifice to the cause of humankind.

I call that mind free which has cast off all fear but that of wrongdoing, and which no menace or peril can enthrall:

Which is calm in the midst of tumults, and possesses itself, though all else be lost.


Tom Cruise Fred Phelps and ME The Sermon


Thank you for inviting me here today, and for not running away when you saw the readings I chose.

First of all, I’d like to congratulate you as members of this congregation and this town and county for the excellent way Plattsburgh responded to last Sunday’s protests.
Bullies came to town, and people denounced their message without incident. After years of interactions with this family, Americans have finally realized that confronting them, or attempting to dialogue with them is like trying to teach a bull to sing - it's frustrating for you and it only makes the bull more angry. I applaud communities that are able to respond as positively as this one.

I want to talk today about our Unitarian Universalist covenant to affirm and promote two particular principles:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person.
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

Last weekend a family with over 80 members, who, coincidentally are also most of the congregation of their church, sent 20 representatives to picket churches in Plattsburgh. They call it their hobby, picketing, although I’d call it their mission.

Last weekend was also Tom Cruise’s birthday. You may not have noticed. He recently made news as a true believer who jumped off a couch and very nearly onto Oprah out of his delight at having a beautiful girlfriend ½ his age. The next week he nearly leapt off a stool and onto Matt Laurer who was unwilling to believe Tom’s claims that Tom has a special knowledge of the real history of psychiatry and the evils of ADHD and anti-depressant medication.

Tom Cruise and Fred Phelps don’t look at all alike at first glance. Different religious systems -- one new religion, one old religion -- diverse personal styles; and certainly different levels of personal attractiveness; what they have in common is their claim to a rigid belief system that controls the totality of their lives.

***

As a Director of Religious Education I am frequently faced with people, usually young people but not always, asking me, So UUs can believe anything we want? We accept all beliefs and religions?

The answer is no. The UU principle is that we affirm and promote the worth and dignity of each individual. Not necessarily each individual’s belief system. Our fourth principle is that we both affirm and promote a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

I believe that we hold responsibility to assess and interpret our world, and to oppose religious beliefs or actions that denigrate individuals or make a responsible search for truth all but impossible. Our task is to name these perceptions in a way that doesn’t denigrate the value of the other person but does honestly name what we see.

It is a complex proposition to respect an individual’s worth and dignity while honestly assessing their beliefs, ethics, and impact on the world around them. Especially when they are people who can really push our buttons.

***

It is hurtful that The Westboro Baptist Church denounces my life with such bullying venom. It’s hard not to take it personally. Worse than hurt feelings though, is the spiritual violence (see below) they do and the danger they pose to young people who don’t have the life experience and self esteem necessary to let this vitriol roll off their backs.

It’s also silly, on a certain level. The Phelps family seem like buffoons, lemmings following the leader, their prophet, if you will, who makes insightful statements like this one quoted in the Press Republican, which was new to me--

“George Bush worships Mr. Peanut, whose name is the great God Goober.”

So Silly, Buffoon, or Bully, their beliefs about me, and, I would argue, about G-d and the bible, are wrong and completely counter to my personal value system and to UU Principles; but that isn’t the greatest problem. The problem, and subject of this sermon is the coercive means they use to instill those beliefs in their members, and to assail others.

Coercion is also the problem with Scientology. I could simply say that I think that Scientology beliefs about an alien life form implanting spirits in our bodies where they run amok and interfere with our mental health, and that a science fiction author invented a technology that could clear these spirits from our bodies—I could say this is silly. It would be an accurate reflection of my beliefs about their beliefs, and it might end this sermon early, but it would not get us anywhere useful.

Because silly or not, beliefs are just that, ideas we cling to help us make meaning out of the world. Meaning-making is the most human of endeavors, and the stories all cultures invent to create meaning out of their world may not be meaningful to me, but the existence of these stories does not hurt me or other non-believers.

The problem with Scientology is that their methods of proselytizing are coercive. Scientology actively discourages questions and critical thinking, and enforces compliance to an outside authority that takes complete control of the individual. Tom Cruise goes nowhere alone.

***

I am sure that you all are aware that Fred Phelps isn’t the leader of a typical Fundamentalist Church. Simple evidence of that is that only one person from the North Country joined his family at the protests last week, and other fundamental Christians, such as Capt. Cregan of the Salvation Army, counter-protested him. Rev. Phelps is a charismatic leader of a totalistic religious group that uses coercive and abusive tactics on its own members. The fact that he uses the biblical rhetoric of Christian Fundamentalism doesn’t mean that he is representative of Christian Fundamentalists.

At the Fundamental Christian Church where I grew up, the Cadyville Wesleyan Church, I remember being 12 and sitting in a pew and listening as the preacher told me that Jesus was my friend. And I listened closely, because I needed a friend.

I had made no friends at Saranac Central School, and it would be years before we would learn enough about ADHD to help me – that help would come long after I’d set fire to the IOWA standardized test scoring sheet with a magnifying glass just to see if you really could; long after I’d had my seat changed so many times kids started calling me Just Visiting. I was almost always alone and lonely, and often afraid.

So when Rev. Klob told me that Jesus would be my friend no matter what, my hand shot up and I practically raced down front to pray with the ladies of the church. I was getting Saved, not just from sin but also from loneliness and fear. I was invited to accept Jesus to hold a certain kind of fundamental absolute belief. I accepted that invitation willingly.

In the summers during adolescence, I attended Chazy Lake Camp, a dusty collection of old buildings and a field we weren’t allowed to play in for fear, I believe, of fornication.

My first summer I went with only one dress, for Sundays. I’d given up wearing dresses years before, and it didn’t occur to me or my mother that the culture at a fundamentalist camp would be that girls would wear a dress every night to the revival meeting. After three days with the same one, some girls were teasing me at dinner. I remember later that evening Mrs. Klob stood outside her cabin and called me over. She quietly explained that her daughter had too many dresses for her own good, and she loaned me two of them. It was the nicest thing ever, and it reaffirmed my belief system that friends were to be found in and through Jesus.

After dinner, evening entertainment would be a long revival service, complete with all the old standards of revival songs, hugging, hand holding and swaying. We would sit and stand and sing for 2 hours. A minister would preach about some pretty gruesome wages of sin, and emotionally manipulated us to make sure our souls were saved. I stayed scared, and accepted Jesus every night, just in case the previous times hadn’t took.

Sometimes instead of revival meetings, they would invite us to watch a movie, horror films about the end of the world and the Anti-Christ, always presented as prophesy of how the End of The World would Really Happen. They were similar to the videos of the Left Behind series, but with less quality control. These movies manipulated us children into accepting Jesus out of fear of hell or being left behind when the Rapture came, or having the United Nations take us away from our parents. Summer camp was about creating situations where it was more likely that we’d turn to the belief system they espoused, we were invited, cajoled, and manipulated. But it was not coercion or abuse.

***

Phelps’ children who have left the family, and to my knowledge there are three, describe Rev. Phelps’ venom, which you saw here demonstrated in the street by his family, as being worse against his family. They describe “persistent and poisonous child abuse, wife-beating, drug addiction, kidnapping, … and other forms of physical and emotional coercion” (Addicted to Hate)

This hatred which we see for a few hours at this soldier’s funeral or at a picket in that city, is directed 24 hours a day at members of his congregation and family. Rev. Phelps viciously beat his children to insure absolute obedience. One Christmas day he beat two of his sons a total of 260 strokes with the handle of a maddock, which is a tool that’s a heavy combination of a pick and hoe. One brother passed out after 40, but the other brother counted the strokes, which was his way of coping with the pain and terror.

Phelps uses various forms of coercion whenever his flock disappoints or disobeys him, and during his 4 hour long Sunday services, he takes them to task in the same way he took Plattsburgh to task. At the same time, his charismatic love and affection is turned on full force whenever they please him. And so of course, like any children, they want to please him.

The problem with the Westboro Baptist church isn’t that they protest against Gay people, or churches, or America, in the most despicable manner, or that they misrepresent the core messages of Hebrew and Christian Scripture, it’s that the members have given up their individual identities. They’re almost all lawyers, they live together in a cluster of houses in a large walled compound, they all travel to picket except for the submissive wives who must stay home with the children. It is a church/family of people who do everything they can to avoid the wrath of Rev. Phelps.

It is a group of people who no longer have the ability to embark on a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

***

At age 12, while I was becoming a fundamental Christian, my partner Rebecca joined her brother and her boyfriend at an introductory Scientology meeting. Her parents had signed a liability waiver for her to attend. TR-O, which stands for Training Routine Zero, is the first level of scientology. They were told that it’s special knowledge, so they should get only a little at a time. Hence scores of Training Routines that built on the previous one.

She was seated at a table facing a coach, and the assignment was to stare in a coaches’ eyes-- not blinking, not moving, not twitching, not scratching an itch. When the student fails to control their bodily impolses, the coach identifies the failing and shouts “TWITCH, FLUNK!” or “BLINK, FLUNK” and they start over.

All that is asked of the student at this point is, literally, unflinching compliance.

Sometimes the coach will flunk the student for no reason the student can understand and refuse to explain. This creates an intense level of confusion and fragility in terms of knowing how to please the coach, how to comply. TR-0 can last an afternoon, or several weeks until the person is able to put themselves into what is basically an eyes-open trance.

Then, just when the person thinks they have succeeded, they move onto the next part of TR-0, and their coach begins shouting words and phrases that will make the student twitch or blink or laugh, to force them to flunk. This further increases the tension and unpredictability, which increases the student’s desire to succeed. Rebecca was in TR-0 for several months. She couldn’t do it. It made her sick to her stomach.

Her brother quickly continued onto TR-1. At this level his task was to read aloud out-of-context snippets of nonsense from Alice in Wonderland, they seemed to be the excerpts that appear to be the most drug induced, without reacting in any way. Again, hours or weeks are spent until the students can separate their critical thinking from what they are saying.

They spend hours and hours getting used to saying and hearing things that don’t make sense. Each TR level increases the cognitive dissonance and undermines the individuals’ ability to critically reflect on what is happening to them. It’s usually a couple of years, and hundreds or thousands of hours, before they find out, in OT III, about the alien commander Xenu, spirits under volcanoes, hydrogen bomb and human bodies.

Luckily for my partner, she never passed TR-0, and her boyfriend got her out of Scientology. Her brother stayed in it for several levels, and to this day he can’t look people in the eye.

***

Tom Cruise only gives interviews now to people who will listen to him talk about Scientology for an hour first. He’s totally surrounded by other Scientologists, who are managing his career and controlling the information he gets. His wife and girlfriend seem to have to embrace Scientology to remain in relationship with him. Even when he is on the set, there are Scientologist Chaplains with him at all times. He is no more able to engage in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning than the Phelps boy counting strokes. Each has been told by people they trust and believe, and yes, love, that the society you and I live in is corrupt, filled with false science, with sin, with the seeds of their own destruction, and that there is only one true belief system that will save them. The people around them are unwilling or unable to allow them the freedom to see beyond that.

***

There are two challenges UUs and other liberal religious folks face in facing these kind of totalistic belief systems.

The first is to recognize and be able to name boundaries in religious belief and activity. We must be unafraid to respectfully name those beliefs that run counter to our principles, and those actions which run counter to the value of human autonomy and freedom of thought and inquiry. The city of Plattsburgh was able to honor the inherent worth and dignity of the individuals of the Phelps clan by ignoring them, ringing church bells, singing, or blocking them with Angels. No violence was done to them; not physical, not emotional, not spiritual. At the same time, truth was spoken about the destructive messages they carried.

The second is illuminated by Mark Rinzel when he wrote this about his sojourn into Scientology,

What can I say? I was raised Unitarian and remain fairly open-minded regarding spiritual matters. I have no ingrained mechanism for dismissing any belief system outright, no matter how silly some of its terminology or practices may seem on the surface.


The second challenge for UU’s is that we have to raise our young people to cast a critical eye on religious beliefs and traditions. As we teach about religious traditions and spiritual beliefs, and give our children reverence for the sacred in all faith traditions, we must teach students to examine these beliefs and actions with the minds that G-d gave them. We don’t want them to dismiss something out of hand, but we do want them to explore critically.

Unitarian Universalist young people are disturbingly vulnerable to totalistic and fundamentalist groups. As we encourage them to look around for insights and answers to the big questions in life, we have to teach them how to tell the difference between those who would witness or share their beliefs and those who would manipulate, lie, or coerce them into joining.

***

In a way, I think understand what it feels like to be Fred Phelps or Tom Cruise. Not that I know what it is like to feel such blind hatred, no. Nor can I imagine exactly being a heart throb ...
What I mean is that I had once, as a fundamentalist, that same absolute assurance that each and every belief I held was ordained from above. But unlike them, I had been trained in traditional fundamental Christianity, and believed in proselytizing, witnessing through persuasion, even really pushy persuasion – but not coercion or abuse.

After I let go of that fundamentalist belief system I had to revisit my education in critical thinking skills. My father had instilled in me a solid foundation of critical thinking skills, but I had what my friend Ava would later call “Ideology blindness.” I could only think critically about what was already inside my world view. I have had to learn to critically evaluate sources for both the content and context, and to be willing to personally check out citations. That’s but one hallmark of a responsible search for truth and meaning. I still think I’m right most of the time, but I’m willing to be proved wrong, in fact, I often seek out alternative perspectives.

What Fred Phelps, Tom Cruise and I still have in common is that we all think we’re right. The difference is that they are unlikely to change their minds about any aspect of their belief system in the next year. I almost certainly will.

I am a Unitarian Universalist, on a continuing journey toward truth and meaning.


NOTES


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote that the philosophy and practice of nonviolence has six basic elements.
First, nonviolence is resistance to evil and oppression. It is a human way to fight.
Second, it does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win hislher friendship and understanding.
Third, the nonviolent method is an attack on the forces of evil rather than against persons doing the evil. It seeks to defeat the evil and not the persons doing the evil and injustice.
Fourth, it is the willingness to accept suffering without retaliation.
Fifth, a nonviolent resister avoids both external physical and internal spiritual violence - not only refuses to shoot, but also to hate, an opponent. The ethic of real love is at the center of nonviolence.
Sixth, the believer in nonviolence has a deep faith in the future and the forces in the universe are seen to be on the side of justice.

(Stride Toward Freedom Perennial Library, Harper & Row, PP.83-88)


The Road to Xenu online, http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Fishman/Xenu/xenu.html#toc

"Since 1986 authorities in France, Spain and Italy have raided more than 50 Scientology centers. Pending charges against more than 100 of its overseas church members include fraud , extortion , capital flight, coercion , illegally practicing medicine and taking advantage of mentally incapacitated people." - Time Magazine, May 6, 1991

A list of crimes. lawsuits and convictions can be found here. http://www.scientology-lies.com/crimesindex.html
I have not personally verified these, please check them out on your own.
A list of comments by various judges can be found here http://www.xenu.net/archive/judge_quotes.html


(From The "Cult" of Many Personalities, Mark Rinzel Takes a Peek Into Scientology's Online Battle, Silicon Alley Reporter magazine, Issue 27, Vol. 3, #7 (Oct 1999) (http://bernie.cncfamily.com/sc/siliconalley.htm)


Friday, August 19, 2005

Wedding

Our wedding was beautiful! Friends, family, children; good food, well behaved relatives, overly warm Great Hall/short ceremony; people brought not only delicious but beautiful dishes to the potluck reception. It rained at the end, which is good luck.

Snapshots:
  • The kids twirled and ribbon danced while Greg plays wonderful music for the prelude
  • My dad and mom are walking me down the aisle, and dad leans over and whispers in a stage whisper "HUSKVARNA" (which I'd recently confessed to him was my new favorite word)
  • I get to the end of the aisle and there were some of my favorite girls in the world dancing and jumping wth excitement. Lillian and Abby were delightful. I looked over my shoulder and saw Sam and Grace. I missed Gwen and Sue and Kim, but Gwen was in the hospital and her moms needed to be with her.
  • I get to the front of the church and there was the most beautiful woman I've ever seen.
  • Tom lit the chalice and read with great fabulousness
  • Our 4 year old granddaughter Cami gave us the flowers, then spied the feather duster she'd hidden earlier, and dusted the pulpit while the ring bearers, Jacob and Sopira showed us rings and our families lit candles we placed on the altar cloth Adele weaved for us..
  • Beloved suggested to her that she might come and hold our flowers for us, and that got her off the dais.
  • Rachel read an excerpt from the Riverhouse Stories

[She loved her] and loved loving her. Out past the edges of the world's agreement, beyond even her own standards, her own approval, the rules of her childhood, beyond even her own mind, she loved her and loved loving her. The loving brought forth in her all of her courage as well as all of her limitations, all of her blind desire to be lie the others, to melt in, to be invisible. It took her out of the roles she thought she would grow up to fill. It took her away from her automatic stream of pictures of what life should be and forced her to create her own version of what life could be. and beyond all of that was the woman she loved, living a life made from nothing more than her own imagination, and she was beautiful.

  • My incredibly handsome sibling family, my brother and his wife and Naomi, read from Anne Morrow Lindberg
Here the bonds of marriage are formed. For marriage, which is always spoken of as a bond, becomes actually, in this stage, many bonds, many strands, of different texture and strength, making up a web that is taut and firm. The web is fashioned of love. Yes, but many kinds of love: romantic love first, then a slow-growing devotion and, playing through these, a constantly rippling companionship. It is made of loyalties, and interdependencies, and shared experiences. It is woven of memories of meetings and conflicts; of triumphs and disappointments. It is a web of communication, a common language, and the acceptance of lack of language too.... It is a web of instincts and intuitions, and known and unknown exchanges. The web of marriage is made by propinquity, in the day to day living side by side, looking outward and working outward in the same direction. It is woven in space and in time of the substance of life itself.
  • We surprise each other with vows and that was nice, but neither of us now remembers what we heard. We're looking for the text papers which we know are somewhere...

  • I was petrified I'd cry, as I really only have two settings-- on and off-- and on is whole-face screwed up like that old Life Magazine picture of that craggly old man with the super flexible face. (If anyone can find it on line, I'd love to link to it) A single tear escaped while I was listening to Beck's vows, but no one knows it was only because the sweat got in my eye.
  • The minister shared his pulpit so that Karen, who we'd asked 5 years ago if she'd officiate when we got around to a commitment ceremony, could get a one day license to wed us in legally married broohaha. Karen did an incredible job of officiating, focusing us, leading with dignity and grace, and cooregraphing everything.
  • The children, young and grown-up alike, were all beautiful.Beloved 's children, Eric and Micaela were so incredibly involved and supportive and present it was beautiful to see.
  • The reception site setter uppers were amazing, getting so much done and making a simple picnic site so beautiful
  • My brother and god-son and I'm not sure who else decorated our car w/ a big florescent orange Just Married sign and soda and coffee cans and Boosts tied on to make noise.
  • Beloved hates parties and large groups of people doing extroverted things. She'd been telling me for two months, "Don't leave my side," "Stay with me." Well, come the day, she was a butterfly. I saw her four times. Total. Once at the actual ceremony. Once when it was time to cut the cake, once when her sister made a toast, and once I actually bumped into her.
  • The kids had fun and played played played
  • All of our relatives but one section of my biological family attended our wedding.
  • Beloved's conservative fundamental brother came (I love my sister very much) and helped bar-b-que
  • My conservative uncle didn't, which was best for all involved (my dad sadly jokes that my uncle writes for Rush Limbaugh)
  • I had a great moment of joy and beauty to introduce my grandchildren (via Beloved) to my niece (via my brother) ("This is your cousin Naomi." "Hi Naomi. Hey Grandma Cindy, she looks like you!")
  • Beloved and I drank ginger ale all afternoon out of champagne glasses that Michelle gave us, being as how she planned her life not around our wedding ;-)
  • My old friends Sharon and Mags came from Philly and DC respectively. Mags was the friend who remained my friend when I came out at Eastern College, now Eastern University, in the mid-80's. Sharon and her partner Ava took me in when I had an ideological breakdown a couple of years later.
  • We left as it started to rain harder, and after a couple of miles the orange florescent Just Married sign started to come de-attached, and safety wonk that I am, I immediately had visions of it blowing off my car, and causing a crash and so pulled into the hospital parking lot to take it off.
  • The adult children, Beloved's cousins and sister and friend Marilyn (who acted as our wedding planner) stayed to clean up, and before they finished there was a deluge. They waited it out with the only party supplies not yet packed into the cars, the flower vases and a couple of boxes of wine. Apparently they had a good time, which they continued at our house when they unloaded the cars. It would seem that we missed a really good time.
  • We went to a hotel and Beloved was asleep 10 minutes later.
A great time was had by all.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I'm getting married in 4 days

One of the two readers of this blog asked where I've been all summer and not posting... I've been visiting my new niece, preaching at the Plattsburgh NY UU and visiting my parents, and planning our wedding. Four days left.

I'll post some out of order material, bad blogger, bad blogger, when I get a chance.

For now let me use this opportunity to write out today's To-Do list:
  • buy more helium
  • get the kid across the street to come mow our lawn
  • clean the pool (we got a pop up pool, the kind it says put it on level ground so it doesn't collapse, so we found a pretty level area, but then it collapsed in on the Mole family. oops.)
  • clean bedroom
  • pack overnight bag
  • clean upstairs bathroom
  • bundle up the linens for overnight guests for single/double and couch
  • make sure the matches are out by the fire pit
  • pack board games
  • buy the hamburger
  • iron muslin tablecloths
  • watch the weather channel compulsively.