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Showing posts from June, 2010

Coming Out

Our preacher yesterday had something very interesting to say about closets. His purpose was to encourage members of our parish, whether gay or straight, to march with the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago in the 2010 Pride Parade, as, in fact, my husband and I (and, for at least part of the way, our dog) did (when she pooped out, she got to ride in the Episcopal car). But what business did we, a clearly (and demonstrably, right there walking through Boystown on Halsted) heterosexual couple (we kissed and held hands--really!), have marching alongside those of our fellow parishioners who have spent their lives wondering whether it would be socially acceptable or, indeed, safe to "come out" about the basis of their sexuality? Surely, nothing could be easier socially to live openly as husband and wife. It's what the Bible says we should do, after all. None of that messy stuff about whether it is "natural": God made us to be each other's Adam and Eve.

Or did He? …

Practice Makes Perfect

I'm not very good with schedules. I think that I am, but in the past few weeks, I've come to the realization that I'm really not. Nor am I very good at practice, at least not practice that involves incremental improvement of skills over a long period of time. I wish that I were. Indeed, I have spent hours and days of my life lamenting the fact that I don't get enough practice, be it at writing or fencing or yoga or any one of the many skills at which I have tried my mind, hands and body over the years (piano, calligraphy, knitting, drawing, languages). And yet, truth be told, I suck.

Okay, okay, so I have managed for the better part of twenty-some years to do my yoga on average something like five times a week (in good weeks), and there was that year or three when I actually sat down at the piano on a daily basis for the better part of an hour. And, okay, I have stacks and stacks of notebooks that I filled with daily Morning Pages, which may (possibly) have someth…

“Mrs. B"

I spent much of the day yesterday waiting in line at various government offices so as to show off my marriage license and legally change my name from "Ms. Fulton" to "Mrs. Brown." Despite the fact that the license is dated July 6, 1994, neither with the Social Security Administration nor with the Illinois DMV was there actually any fuss. And yet, I was a veritable bundle of nerves by the time I got home. Why? What, after all, is so scary about having to decide whether to call myself "Rachel Lee Fulton Brown" or simply "Rachel Brown"? I even feel nervous now writing about it. What gives?

Our marriage counselor suggested one reason last night: I quite literally don't know who I am at the moment. Am I really "Mrs. Brown"? In truth, or at least, in potential, that's who I have been already these past sixteen years. And yet, it's not how I've asked people to address me in public, nor is it a form of my name that I'…

Right Balance

When I was growing up, I used to take great comfort from having my homework done. Indeed, I even had a (self-imposed) rule that I would not allow myself to play until after all of my school work was taken care of. This was a discipline that served me moderately well at least until I graduated from college. I remember lying in my dorm room soothing myself to sleep at nights by going over each of my classes in turn and checking off all of the assignments that I had completed that day. Almost invariably I was able to convince myself that I was "caught up" and so allow myself to drift off to sleep.

And then came graduate school. Doing coursework was fine: there were, once again, limited reading assignments and clear paper limits. Orals was another matter, however. No matter how much I had read, it was never enough; my professors always knew more and could always add more items to the list. But this was nothing compared with the dissertation. My life's work (up to tha…

The Song of Experience

I am, to put it mildly, in something of a dilemma. Here I've been, keeping this blog for a little over two years, not entirely secretly (at least, not to myself) in the hope that somehow, if I wrote about it honestly and openly enough, I might undergo something like a spiritual journey, ending in enlightenment or, at the very least, awakening, much as Elizabeth Gilbert herself describes in Eat, Pray, Love. Well, as I am sure some of you have already guessed, something huge has happened to me over the past six weeks that I am all-too-willing to class as a major spiritual event (I don't know how to categorize it otherwise), perhaps even the transformation that I had been hoping for, but--irony of ironies--I can't talk about it here on my blog! I really don't know what to do now. Even hinting at the source of my awakening could be problematic, although it is possible that hinting in the way that I am now could be even worse. Oh, there are so many things that I want t…

Conversion, Step 3: Blanching the Memory Clean of Past Sins

"Once the will has been turned and the body subdued to service, as if the fountain were dry and the breach filled up, a third and very serious thing remains still to be done: the memory must be purified and the bilge water drawn off. But how am I going to cut my life out of my memory? The dark ink has drenched my cheap, flimsy parchment: by what technique can I blot it out? It has not only stained the surface, it has soaked into the whole thing. It is useless for me to attempt to rub it out: the skin will be torn before the wretched characters have been effaced. Forgetfulness might perhaps efface the memory if, for example, I were touched in the head and did not remember what I had done.

"But to leave my memory intact and yet wash away its blotches, what penknife can I use? Only that living and effective word sharper than a two-edged sword: 'Your sins are forgiven you.' Let the Pharisee mutter and say: 'Who can forgive sins but God alone?' To me it is …

How to Have a Happy Marriage

1. Don't divide up the chores between each other, so that one person is exclusively responsible for some things and the other for everything else. If you see something that you feel needs doing (the laundry, cooking dinner, changing a light bulb, picking up toys), do it. Above all, don't keep count of what you do and what your spouse does, as if you are filling up some great tally sheet. Don't worry about "being fair" (see below, #4).

2. Don't assume that just because your spouse says he or she isn't interested in trying something new at the moment that this means he or she will never be interested. Timing counts, as does context. If there is something that you really want to do, say so and explain why. Then give your spouse the opportunity to ask him- or herself whether he or she would be interested. The likelihood is that, given time, he or she will, but only if it is not presented as an obligation or a trade (see #1).

3. Accept that your spouse …

On Christmas

"A place of blood and terror is not the only place where God can be found, but it is the only kind of place where God can be born. For God can only be born in the context of God's wrath. The wrath of God is not some senile ghost throwing a tantrum in the sky: the wrath of God is the revelation to man of the hell that man has made of his life on this earth. When we speak of the death of Christ as appeasing or atoning for the wrath of the Father, we mean that the death of Christ on the cross makes it possible for man to see a few other things besides hell."

--Northrop Frye, "The Leap in the Dark," in Northrop Frye on Religion, eds. Alvin A. Lee and Jean O'Grady (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000), p. 301.

Insight of the Month

God loves us.

Because God loves us, God suffers when we sin, that is, separate ourselves from Him by denying His love and hurting ourselves.

God loves us so much and suffers with us so much that He became incarnate. Our suffering made Him incarnate. Our suffering brought Him down to earth.

Becoming incarnate, God took our sins upon Himself and died of them.

God died of our sins to take them away from us, but every time we sin, He suffers again--and again--and again.

We crucified God. We crucify God with our sins. And yet, God loves us.