Monday, March 24, 2014


I recently had the privilege of attending a Narcotics Anonymous meeting and an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting as part of a training course.

The experience was profound.

It was particularly moving to see the amazing amount of love and patience a group of people recovering from life-controlling substances showed with each other.  Not only was it infinitely more love than I ever saw in Fundamentalism, it's more love than most of the world exhibits, especially with "difficult" people.

Oddly enough however, I was also struck by how many of the concepts they discussed applied to me as a non-addict.  And though I don't want to take away from the struggle of those recovering from addiction and make it about me, I learned a great deal.

"Drunk: bad.  Sober: good."
"Sobriety gives you everything that alcohol promised *it* would give you."
"I was in a prison of my own making."
"Thank you all for loving me until I could love myself."
"The only person I was deceiving was myself.  Everyone around me knew there was a problem."

In a particularly poignant moment, a young woman in the group said that she had been lying in her warm bed the previous night and the thought crossed her mind - for the first time since she could remember - that she deserved to sleep in a warm bed.  She hadn't ever though she deserved anything like that before. What a tragedy that one of God's children, an imago dei, didn't think she deserved something even as basic as shelter from the cold.

And at once I felt not only compassion for her but a kinship with her.  Because if there's one thing Fundamentalism is good at, it's taking the human condition and adding to its pain rather than emphasizing the love of God and the comfort of grace.

Through that experience, I came face-to-face with the fact that my name is Clara, and I'm a Fundamentalist.

I am addicted to following rules and feeling superior.  I'm addicted to having a right answer for everything.  I'm addicted to being so busy doing things to "take a stand" or to "hold the higher standard" or to "avoid the appearance of evil" - ironically all the while proclaiming that salvation isn't works-based.  I work so hard to explain away my arrogance and lack of love - all while fooling nobody, except maybe other Fundamentalists.

And then I found grace.

Grace gave me everything that Fundamentalism promised *it* would give me.
Fundamentalism: Bad.
Grace: Good.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Big Easy

This year on Shrove Tuesday, the Episcopal Church we attend installed an associate pastor.

It wasn't just any installation.

This person was ordained a Lutheran minister and this is his first call - meaning he's fresh out of Lutheran seminary and this is his first church to serve in.  It was a monumental cooperative effort on the part of the Lutheran Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Episcopal Church.

Three of the of the four members of the clergy performing the installation were women.

And oh, by the way - he's gay.

Now, in my fundamentalist life, every part of this event would have been, literally, anathema.  Every denomination involved is considered apostate by all but the very liberal fringes of fundamentalism (and even they have a lot of reservations).  Not to mention that female clergy or the ordination of a gay priest are utterly unthinkable.

And yet...

And yet, my husband and I could not stop talking that night about how present the Holy Spirit was during that service.

I can't explain it.  I wasn't expecting it or looking for it.  But God was most certainly in it.

Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


GRACE and BJU are now back under the same original contract, with no changes.

BJU called their termination a "suspension" when they announced the re-engagement.  BJU even changed the wording on their original announcement to engage GRACE as an ombudsman, now terming victims as people "inadequately helped by the University's response" - presumably largely in response to Pastor Ryan Ferguson's incredible video appeal to the University (now marked "private" on YouTube, but you can still find the transcript here.)

But nowhere has the University apologized for its actions, admitted its gaffe, or given even a hint that the enormous public outcry could have had anything to do with the re-instatement of GRACE.  There's nothing to see here, and you all should just move along.  We were going to finish this investigation anyway.

We are at war with Eurasia. We have always been at war with Eurasia.
- Nineteen Eighty-Four

BJU supporters also continue their cognitive dissonance. The leaps of logic required to get from "GRACE was doing something illegal" before the reinstatement to "GRACE owes BJU an apology" after the reinstatement are just too exhausting to parse.

However, there are a small subset of BJU supporters who are waking up as they ask very good questions and get very unsatisfactory answers from the University.  The facade is so much harder to maintain now thanks to the openness the internet provides.

I suppose it's only human to try to evade that much honesty in a place so insistent on perfection even to the point of rewriting history.  And it's my opinion that the report that GRACE will publish will devastate BJU and its supporters, so they have good reason to be squeamish.

However, my hope that BJU will do the right thing at the end is a lot more feeble than it was mere weeks ago.

Please, BJU, surprise me.  Because I have the sense that you're just filling up your cup of wrath rather than realizing your error.