Flying the Not So Friendly Skies

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve read about United Airline’s forced removal of a passenger from a flight on Sunday. The video is disturbing – A bleeding man is literally dragged down the isle of the aircraft while other passengers plead with police officers. Numerous passengers filmed the incident and now United is facing some serious backlash from consumers. The outcry from the internet seems to be that this man’s rights were violated; he bought a ticket, wasn’t acting up, and should have been permitted to stay on the flight despite the overbooking.

A few things to keep in mind before I get on my soap box:

  • United should have handled this situation prior to boarding the aircraft. That is the usual procedure and it likely would have made for a much less aggressive situation.
  • Whether you take the time to read it or not, you do sign a passenger’s rights statement when you buy plane tickets that states you can be removed from a flight in the event of overbooking.
  • Just about all airlines overbook flights. Doesn’t make it right, but United shouldn’t be singled out.

Okay, that being said. Let me get out my soap liberal soap box…

There are plenty of laws on the books protecting a business’ right to mistreat customers or to deny service – and they don’t even have to be overbooked. They just have to claim a religious exemption. Hobby Lobby does not have to provide contraception. Businesses in some states do not have serve members of the LGBTQ+ community and anything defined as a “ministry” of a church (like a school) can be exempt from all kinds of supposed requirements in hiring and firing.

It’s easy to argue that this is different from the plight of our United passenger, that the above situations should be protected because of religious freedom or personal beliefs or whatever. After all, gay people are not dragged into the street when a baker refuses to make a wedding cake for them – their emotional turmoil doesn’t count, after all. And Hobby Lobby employees can just go buy their own contraception on their meager Hobby Lobby salaries. No one is forcing them to get pregnant even though it might be harder not to. Oh, and folks in the ministry sign a contract. They know what they are getting into when it comes to their rights!…. Just like the United passenger, right?

Honestly, I don’t have enough information to take sides in the case of the United Airlines issue right now. I’m in hide and wait mode. But honestly, if this outrages the conservative community, shouldn’t they be outraged about the above issues as well?

Your thoughts are welcome.

First Panic Attack since Quitting

I had them in high school and some in college… and I don’t think I’ve had but maybe a handful since. I’m not medicated for anxiety…. even in high school, medication was not seen as the answer. My anxiety was seen as a weakness, something to be prayed away.

The thoughts came like a flood… What if I can’t find a new job? What if my savings runs dry? What if I spend ALL my savings while job hunting? What if I lose my friends, my family when my views become known?

Most of these thoughts are ridiculous, but in true form, anxiety and panic attacks don’t really care if you have ridiculous thoughts. Your body just reacts. Soon your heart is pounding, your palms are sweating, and you feel like you can’t breathe. It’s debilitating. For me, this is usually followed by being ridiculously tired… but I can’t sleep because, you know… see above.

Oy.

I AM OKAY. I’ll just keep telling myself that.

In the meantime… back to job hunting. Anyone looking for someone with 10+ years of ministry and teaching experience? 😛

56 days to *some* freedom… 56 days to no paycheck.

I Quit My Job Today

I really don’t know how to expand on that. I submitted a resignation letter, and things went better than I thought. I gave 60 days notice, which is what it says in my contract that I have to give. 

The scary thing? I don’t have another job lined up. I do have savings. I will be okay. 

There is a huge sense of relief associated with this decision. Ultimately, I hope it means that I can live freely and not worry about expressing my true political and social leanings. That being said, I still have my family to consider… 

baby steps. 

I Could Have Been There

I could have been there.
Only a few days ago, I walked down Westminster and took the tube from the station of the same name. I had a fantastic view of the Houses of Parliament and the Abby. When I heard about the attacks, as I was getting off my flight from London, I immediately thought…
I could have been there.
I was in central Paris when I heard of the attack at a small airport outside the city. It didn’t effect my day at all but I could not help but think…
I could have been there.
Last year, the day before the Brussels airport attack, I flew home from an overseas trip through Paris. It was uneventful. But watching the news of the attack on the TV, I knew that….
I could have been there.
I shop often at a mall that’s close to my house. When I heard about the robbery and shooting there, I thought…
I could have been there.
When my husband and I chanced upon a car wreck that occurred only a moment before and witnessed a family, screaming, their arms frantically clawing at the ground to pull themselves out of an overturned vehicle, I thought…
I could have been there.
The reality is that at any moment, any time, we all could have been there. No matter where we are, home or abroad, this world is crowded by danger and human evil. Am I putting myself at risk by continuing to travel despite the world’s horrors? Of course. But leaving the house in the morning is a risk, a curious gamble that we take every day.
I could have been there.
But I will not live my life in a box of fear. I will not allow the “could haves” to turn into “I would have, but…” Staying home will not protect me or anyone else from the dangers of living life, and I will not let human evil stand in the way of my desire to see the world. When I am sitting on the front porch of old age, I will sing the songs of a woman well-traveled, one who speaks the cultures of many peoples and welcomes all to her table with trust and love. My songs will not be crowded with shoulda, woulda, couldas but will ring with the thundering bell of I DID.
Yes, I could have been there. That is true. But I’m already there, each and everyday when I decide this world is worth living for.

On Yoga Pants and Women’s Day

BurgerThe first thing I did on International Women’s Day was open my Facebook feed, and there, staring at me from the very top of my feed, were two pictures (taken covertly) of a woman in tight yoga pants sitting a fast food chain at midnight eating two large orders of French fries. The woman was perhaps of medium stature and curvy though not large by any stretch. Still, the yoga pants were pretty tight fitting and admittedly not very attractive. The pictures were accompanied by a comment which mocked this woman, her choice or pants, and her foray into junk food. The pictures and comment were posted by a fellow female.

THIS. This is a small battle I can fight.

Yes, I can advocate for women’s equality and speak truth about pay gaps and snarky comments made by men. But honestly, unless we women can also hold each other accountable for our own cattiness, nothing we say will hit home. We – both men and women – must stop making fun of each other and accept that, gosh darn it, sometimes you just want French fries in the middle of the night and you happen to be wearing yoga pants! That doesn’t give anyone – male or female – the right to take covert pictures of you and attack your body on Facebook. These small acts of anti-body-acceptance, childish bullying add up.

So I made a comment.

I pointed out that we’ve all had these days and that passing judgment and taking covert pictures seemed to me to be very unkind. It wasn’t an aggressive post, but it was honest. So what happened?

I was promptly unfriended and blocked without any explanation. This is a person I see on a regular basis, not some distant friend from high school. So… yeah… Confrontation anyone? We shall see…

And that was my International Women’s Day. 😛

Hello, the Defunding of American Public Education

House Bill 610: You can find the summary here. But I’ll give you a quick run-down:

I cannot think of any good reason why anyone would want to support such a bill… unless…

Take a look here.

Why I’m Not (Quite) an Atheist

First, why on earth do I feel the need to talk about God and religion when I’ve set myself up as the closet liberal – not the closet atheist? The answer to that is pretty short in my mind – In today’s world, religion and politics are intertwined, especially when we discuss social justice issues. People who have issues with LGBTQ community? Usually religious. People who don’t understand Black Lives Matter? Mostly white, religious folks. Those opposed to abortion no matter what? Conservative, Bible-beating republicans. Scripture is often used to justify political action and prayer to show just how wonderfully Christian you are. Let’s face it; it’s difficult to be both religious and liberal in this world…

Or is it?

Until November, I attended a very conservative bible church. Their beliefs were based on scripture alone – or rather their interpretation of it. The pastor preached against homosexual marriage the Sunday after it became legal. He wanted to hang signs on the bathroom doors, too, explaining that at this church, you had to use the bathroom of the gender on your birth certificate. I was told – even though I did and still do have a leadership position in an entity associated with the church – that women were not permitted to lead men in scriptural understanding. The congregation of this church? They voted out a family when the wife had an abortion because the baby was already dead in her womb. I repeat – Already dead. They wanted to force this woman to carry to term and give birth to a dead baby. Oh, and they also shunned a woman who sought divorce against an abusive husband. Somehow I survived this past election season thinking that when Clinton won, things would get better. They had too!

And then I woke up on November 16th, 2016.

I honestly did not know how I was going to make it through the day. I almost called in sick. I had to listen to the gloating and the horrible, racist, ignorant comments all day long at work. Everyone assumed that I had voted for Trump, too, so there was no holding back. Behind closed doors and among their own, the conservative, religious right fired away at black people, those gays, and lying Hilary- who was going to be locked up any minute!

I decided that day that I was not going back – at least not to church. Period. I would worry about answering questions later, but I could no longer stomach being surrounded by the religious-political-right-wing gobbly gook that was “my” church. But could I leave the Christian church all together? After a lot of thought, I decided that no, I wasn’t quite ready for that step. I couldn’t leave the church completely until I did my best to find a place that could embrace my liberalism and my faith. If I found a fit, great! It I didn’t, I would be content to know I tried, and I could leave in peace with the confidence that I’d given it my best shot.

The very next Sunday, I found the church that I’ve been attending ever since. And not only am I attending, I’m slowly getting involved. I love it. I can’t wait for Sundays now. I bound joyfully out of bed and look forward to every moment spent in that building. So what’s so different about this place?

btc-rainbow-vertical_grandeThis church ordains women and members of the LGBTQ community. It does not look down on those who need abortions or who get divorced. The church looks at scripture differently, and while there is reverence for it, they do not use it as a political weapon. In fact, during my Sunday school class today, the pastor told the group to be careful of scripture and to use human reason to discern the best beliefs and actions for our time. He also cautioned that the bible is “not a science textbook!” He made clear his and the church’s stand on creationism, and he had no qualms about calling out the fundamentalists. I am desperate for this brand of theology right now.

So, I’m not quite an atheist. Instead, I take some spiritual nourishment from a very liberal church and am happy to just know in my head that I may not believe entirely in prayer or the god of the bible. I have a feeling that many of those around me now – perhaps even the pastor himself – believe the same way. Someday perhaps Christianity can evolve into this… A church of the historical bible? A church of human reason that embraces the relics of traditional Christianity? I’m not sure. But I am happy with where I am right now.

In the end, I’m not quite an atheist because I’m not ready to leave spirituality and tradition behind. This is a very personal reason, something I will never use to judge others who chose to leave the church entirely. I can understand that position, and perhaps those that do leave all together are stronger than me. I’m just not there yet.

I’m Sorry for Who I Was

When I was in high school, my atheist, freethinking cousin and I went head-to-head over religion, the universe, and everything. Don’t get me wrong, we got along just fine. In fact we were pretty good friends. He challenged me, and I think I did a pretty good job of challenging him. We were good for each other. But here’s the thing… I had to tell him over and over again that according to my beliefs, he was going to hell. Now, 20 years later and wiser, this has to be one of the most ludicrous and hurtful things that you can say to someone.
So… I apologize for who I was.
I think the hardest part about coming out of the liberal closet will be that I have to apologize to a lot of people for who I was. To many, I’ve been a religious conservative for as long as they’ve known me. For a large part of that, I was judgmental and hypocritical. And to those over the last few years while my views have been changing? Maybe I’ve been a nicer person… But I have been lying to you.
So… I apologize for who I am.
Right now, I don’t have the courage to be honest with everyone. Maybe someday you’ll understand why.

The Correct Way to Respond to Hate Speech

We live in a country where the right to speak whatever nonsense that comes into your head, be it true or false, hateful of compassionate is mostly protected by under constitutional law. You can deny the holocaust, proclaim that the world was created by a space alien god, promote the supremacy of one race over others, refuse to acknowledge science and spew forth sexist insults against women and the law will protect you – And it should. To deny one side the right to speak is to limit the free discussion of ideas on all sides. By silencing the extremes, we risk that sane discourse will die away as well.

So, how do we as a people who believe strongly in freedom of speech stand against that which is reprehensible?  How do we fight back when the opposition stirs our soul to action with its hateful words and when calling senators does not seem powerful enough?

CA: Women's March Los AngelesLet’s start with protests which are a phenomenal way to stir up the media and rally groups together for a cause. That being said, there are a few major problems with the protest movement as of late. First, protests may quickly turn to riots. I can’t stomach most of what Milo Yiannopoulos says but the rioters who cause his events to be canceled are only bringing more attention to his ideas. He will continue to use such occurrences to make himself a martyr for his cause. The second issue with protests is the use of ignorant, often vulgar shock tactics to draw attention. Dressing as a woman’s vagina does not make a point about women’s rights. Carrying a poster depicting an aborted fetus may shock but it speaks little truth about your cause. Again, such nonsense gives the opposition fuel and prevents you from changing minds that are in fact open to change.

This brings me to my next point: Engaging in meaningful discourse. Bill Maher is having to defend his decision to have Milo Yiannopoulos appear on his show with another ap17033125284839.jpgscheduled guest, Jeremy Scahill, canceling his scheduled appearance. While on the surface, this may seem like a good protest, but it is ineffective and short sighted. Again, it only brings more attention to the opposition. Worse than that, it eliminates the opportunity for Scahill to provide a rebuttal to Yiannopoulos’ ideas. If we are to spread truth, we must be willing to engage with the opposition openly for the sake of changing minds. Yiannopoulos is unlikely to ever change his mind on his most provocative topics, but those who follow him or those still on the fence, might be persuaded.

It’s unlikely that I or you, dear reader, will even get to the national stage in terms of discourse, but there are still ways to effectively engage in meaningful conversations and even arguments against such revolting ideas. Everyone in today’s world is on some form of social media and that may be your first instinct. Unfortunately, arguments made on Twitter and Facebook are rarely productive. Face to face, personal conversations are. If a friend or family member says something you disagree with, it is alright to graciously disagree and present evidence to your point. We are often too cautious in these areas. Also, those who write, should write. Local papers need thoughtful opinion pieces and even national news sources print letters to the editor. Engage with the media however you can.

Finally, many of us are too far removed from our local elections and pollical representatives. Hopefully the changing pollical climate will unleash a wave of town hall participants and engaged voters. We’ve certainly seen the stirrings of such a movement, but we must not let the enthusiasm diminish. Whether the issue is chickens in the city limits, school choice, or community budgeting, be informed and show up to the discussions. Such actions force elected officials to pay attention to the needs and desires of their constitutions.

For now, as a closeted liberal, I can’t join the fight in the way I would like… But soon. There are changes coming to my life which promise the freedom to speak.

Who am I?

cross-images-004I’ve been asking myself that a lot in the last year. Born and raised in the evangelical church, onward to a Christian university, fully indoctrinated to believe in certain things in a certain way. That’s certainly who I was. But who am I now?

Honestly, I haven’t believed that homosexuality is sinful or deserving of condemnation for a long time. I probably shed that belief sometime in 2006 after a close friend came out of the closet to me, and I had to decided how I felt pretty quickly. As that friend’s perspective evolved, he very quickly began slamming the “love the sinner, hate the sin” response. After all, it’s hard to be close friends with someone who condemns a very large part of your life, even to the point of believing your marriage is illegitimate. If someone believed that way about my life, I wouldn’t keep them very close – even if they were nice to me.

And then there’s abortion. I was anti-abortion for most of my life simply because I did not have a full understanding of all the complex circumstances and issues surrounding it. I still don’t think abortion is a wise choice in all circumstances BUT I now see that it is not may place to pass judgment. I also see the harm that making abortion illegal would do to women and women’s health care in this country. Do I think it should be restricted in some ways? Absolutely. But I cannot support any action that would endanger the life of the mother or take away her right to a safe, legal reasonably early term abortion. I also can’t stomach legislation that would cause clinics to shut their doors for no legitimate reason.

Oh, and then there’s science. My favorite project in the second grade was creating this hamdino-1024x706.jpglarge poster that showed the evolutionary timeline. I’ve always been pro-science, and I did not even know there was such a thing as a creationist movement in the church until I was in my 30’s. One day, a pastor who I had enormous respect for stopped me to talk about a lesson he was working on discussing how dinosaurs and humans lived together in Genesis. I was so dumbfounded, I don’t even think I was able to muster an intelligent response. Really? People take those stories literally? I’m still processing this one.

This leads naturally into what I think of scripture and ultimately God. My view of God and scripture has only shifted in the last two years as I began to independently explore and honestly question my faith through the writings and arguments of Sam Harris, James Radi, and many others. First, let’s discuss the Bible. It was written in a completely enhanced-buzz-4728-1374605113-6different time and place than the world we live in now. It condones slavery, puts women in a place of subjugation, and even directs us to kill people for minor offenses of the religious law. It’s filled with contradictions. It speaks of a God who created us, loves us, and yet would condemn us to Hell if we cannot accept the barbaric human sacrifice of his son. Yes, there are good lessons in the Bible, and there is enhanced-buzz-10568-1374604593-16scripture that can be leaned on for comfort and encouragement…. But if you are a person that believes the Bible is the true and holy word of God himself…. Good luck. You have to view the whole thing in its full context, and chances are, there’s something you should be stoned over.

So I don’t believe that the Bible is the true and holy word of God. I believe that it is book
written by men trying to understand who God is/was in their time, in the context of their morality. So who is God to me now? I’m not 100% sure, and I’m comfortable with that. I’m not quite ready to abandon him entirely, but I now choose to view religion through the evolving moral lens of humanism. Call me agnostic. Call me a cultural Christian. I’m not fussed. Just please don’t lump me in with the evangelicals anymore. I might vomit.

Now that I’ve said all of this, I must confess that I have spent the last ten years or so of my life working in a form of Christian ministry. The majority of my professional experience is with Christian organizations and churches. I’ve signed agreements to statements of faith and position papers that I do not agree with now. My friends and professional colleagues are all Christians or are in the ministry. Yeah. I’m stuck and I’m surrounded!

But I am trying to get unstuck. I’ve left the evangelical church that was associated with so many stifling beliefs mentioned above, and I’ve been slightly more vocal about my views at work. This has raised eyebrows and questions. I’ll keep the blog updated as things are moving forward. Regardless, I’ll leave in a few weeks to months… I would just like to have something in place before joining the ranks of the unemployed.

So that’s me in a nutshell. I am the voice of the closeted liberal screaming at the closed door in the hope that someday, I will be able to shout from the mountaintops.

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