Same-sex Marriage

 “What does Obama’s announcement {supporting same-sex marriage) mean to you? Will it make any difference in your life?” asked CNN’s blog this morning

Here’s how I responded:

“The President’s declaration has not changed my life, but it has moved it one step closer to leaving behind the trail of tears the church has inflicted on its own members. I am a pastor. My family and church are straight and gay. I have shared the tears and listened to the sobs and shouts. I have cried their tears and shaken my head and wanted to make a fist.

“Here in the state of MN a referendum to amend the State Constitution –  similar to the one that just passed in NC – will be on the ballot.  I cringe that the proponents of the amendment – the opponents of marriage equality – often do so “in the name of Christ,”  ignoring the fact that we have nothing to indicate any statement by Jesus on this issue, while at the same time they ignore the Beatitudes and other teachings of The Sermon on the Mount that clearly oppose the church’s endorsement of and participation in state-sponsored violence and war. It saddens me.

“My family makes no distinctions among us. Orientation is orientation.  Families, churches, and cultures change slowly, and sometimes tumultuously

“My professional life will change when both the church and the state celebrate the commitment of two people, regardless of their gender, to the estate of marriage. Until then… every heterosexual wedding celebration will also remind me of those who cannot celebrate the same.

“A comedian once asked why GLBT folks shouldn’t be allowed to be as miserable as we (heterosexuals) are. Misery and joy do not reside within the lines we draw between “us” and “the other.” My gay son pays little attention. He’s not married, and, although his state permits it, he has chosen otherwise. But, in the event he decides that the blessings and miseries of marriage are for him, the choice should belong to him and his partner of 12 years. And, in the event he should so choose, the church should be there to celebrate and share the cake. When that day comes, my life will have changed.”

How would you respond the CNN question? Leave a comment to generate the discussion here.

And, if you’re looking for a welcoming church, stop by Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church in Chaska Sunday morning at 9:30. Whatever your opinion, or any other source of division – no matter who you are – you’ll be welcome.

Child found in burning house; Mom at a casino

Click HERE for the story that triggers this morning’s recollection and reflection.

Richard and I walk through the big doors of the giant casino. We’re there to pick up a charitable contribution from a casino. We enter the space between the big outside door and the big doors that lead into the vast space of cachinging slot machines.

I’m going through the second set of doors when I realize that Richard isn’t going in. He’s standing in the no man’s land between the two sets of doors. He’s frozen in his tracks.

“I can’t go in there,” he says. “I hate this place!”

“What’s happening? Why? What’s going on?”

“My wife’s in there. We’re broke. We’re losing our house.because of this damn place. Can’t pay the mortgage or the water bill ’cause she’s throwing our paychecks into a slot machine. I hate this place! I don’t want their —–  money!”

Eventually we walk together through the doors. Richard points across the room. “That’s her,” he says. “Let’s go this way. I don’t want her to see me.” We go to the executive suite to pose for a photo-op with the casino’s executive. He hands us the blood money. “Smile,” says the casino photographer. I smile a disingenuous grin.  Richard has too much integrity to sacrifice himself on altar of the golden calf.

The story of the mother who left her children in the middle of the night to head for the casino reminds me of that day years ago when we went to pick up the check that came from ripping off Richard’s wife and this latter victim of false hope.

The State of Minnesota considers expanding the “gaming” industry to generate revenue for a tight state budget. We need to change our language. It’s not a “game” unless there’s a level playing field. The casino always wins. And we lose…not only at the slot machines and pull-tab tables.  We lose our homes, our children, our souls, and a culture of shared responsibility. All because…well…because we prefer slot machines to taxes. We sneak out on our kids at midnight, knowing full well that if we do, the whole house could burn down.

“It’s Beautiful!”

Sometimes it takes a visitor from someplace warm to remind us of the beauty in the cold

Gordon C. Stewart published by MPR December 30, 2010

About this time of year, people in the Upper Midwest are wishing we were in Florida, Arizona, California or Mexico. The snow and cold get old.

But there’s a beauty to the snow and cold. Last week my friend Steve, who lives in Florida, finally came to Minnesota. Steve and I went to junior high school together in Pennsylvania. He’s lived mostly in the sunny climates of California and Florida. I’ve become a Minnesotan.

I’ve been trying to get him here for years; he always laughed when I told him how beautiful it is. “It’s cold!” he’d say.

Last week when, to my eyes, the snow had gotten dirty and the cold was bone-chilling, Steve finally came to Minnesota for his nephew’s wedding. When I picked him up at his hotel, the first words out of his mouth were, “It’s beautiful! This is really beautiful!”

We drove to the Dunn Brothers in downtown Chaska for a cup of coffee. “Wow, this is really neat,” he said. “We don’t have anything like this in Florida. This is a real town.” After an hour of catching up over coffee, he asked if we could walk down to the river. We walked the few blocks to the river and along the path that runs along the top of the levy in front of the townhomes.

It’s a beautiful scene of the Minnesota River. I was freezing up there, but Steve shot pictures, as excited as I would be snapping pictures of sea turtles spawning on a warm beach in Florida.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Steve was beholding it. I was not — until I got home and saw the picture Steve had posted on Facebook, and the comment posted by someone who hadn’t been chilled to the bone on the riverbank. “That’s beautiful!” she wrote. “It’s so perfect it doesn’t even look real.”

And I realized: It is beautiful, and it is real. Just like the real downtown and the old corner coffee shop where strangers get to know each other by name — a real place to warm ourselves while we complain about the winter weather over a cup of coffee.

About the middle of January I’ll forget how beautiful it is here in Minnesota. I might spend a few days at Steve’s condo in Florida just to get warm, and to realize again what we have here that Steve doesn’t have there.

In the meantime, when the snow and cold get old, I’ll look at the Currier and Ives picture Steve put up on Facebook to remind myself of the beauty I take for granted in the Land of 10,000 (frozen) Lakes.