One day at a time.

One day at a time.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Rights of Women: Pain in the Public Square

Reproductive rights in the United States are once again under attack.  At least, that's the language used by some seeking to revoke reproductive rights.  Siege, battle, and operation.  It's a supposed holy war except all I've heard are lies, manipulations and hate speech.

Murderer.  Killer.  Lost.  Liberal.  Those are the words I was called last Saturday.  At least they gave me one compliment (liberal).

I bore witness this past Saturday to reproductive rights, after hearing from friends and colleagues of the tactics employed by anti-abortion groups in Charlotte, NC.  I've been to clinics before as a defender and peace partner.  I've heard a lot, seen a lot, and so I was expecting the usual. Before I posted a blog entry about the state of reproductive rights, I wanted to hear for myself what was happening.

What surprised me was how viciously some of the male protestors went after women who were going into the clinic.  They would shout, "You're a murderer."  Sometimes, I would hear "You don't deserve mercy.  God's wrath is going to come--just wait."

The protestors would call these women out by what they were wearing or doing.  They would shout words of violence across the 300 feet between the protestors and front door of the clinic.  I find it hard to reconcile their behavior with the compassionate, merciful, loving religion I know to be Christianity. I find it impossible to understand their conflicting messages of respecting life and then offering words of hate to women and men who-last time I checked-constitute life.

A holy war that incites violence against women and families is hardly holy.  Sure, there aren't weapons drawn or trenches dug, but make no mistake that the words shouted by these protestors to the women entering these clinics for a range of services-- many of which have nothing to do with an abortion-- constitute acts of verbal violence.

Oh and p.s. dear protestors many of the women and men entering the clinics are not even receiving abortion services.  You just called a woman a murderer for getting STD testing or a routine exam.  And you don't have to take my liberal word for it.  For further information on how services and monies are allocated see NPR interview here.

But I digress.  The more critical piece is this: the language of violence is being used against women across the country as a political tactic.  Here is the truth: no protestor or pro-choice advocate could possibly know without asking why a woman may be entering the clinic.  And no woman, regardless of her choice or service received, deserves a verbal assault for seeking care of her body.  It may be legal to stand on the sidewalk and scream murderer, but it's far from moral.

I've been trying to find where in the Bible it says you should invade a person's body, pass judgement, verbally assault them and claim it all in the name of a God who I heard was mostly primarily a God of love.  I just haven't found the passage.  What I did find is the following from Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
   And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
   and to walk humbly
 with your God.

We could use a modicum of humility, an ounce of justice and whole sea of mercy these days.  We all deserve mercy of all kinds in this broken and beautiful world.  We all deserve a little more humility than to pretend to know the judgement of a God.  And as for justice, what is more just I ask than preserving the life of a woman and entrusting her to make decisions about the body she has been given?  

Do we need mercy these days?  For protecting our bodies, for making our women and families safe, for upholding the basic rights to privacy and health?  No.  For verbal assaults that pollute the air with hate and inflict pain?  Yes, more than a whole sea could hold.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Unitarian Universalist Lent Complex

Hello dear occasional readers and avid followers (I know avid may be a bit presumptuous),

I'm back after a short hiatus, due in some measure to the bustle of the holidays, followed by conferences and just good fun at my congregation!

Years ago, I attended Roman Catholic school from Pre-K through high school.  Each year, Lent was a pretty big deal in the life of our school.  You had to say what you were going to give up and how you were using this time in preparation for Easter.  In short form for those who didn't grow up Christian, Lent is the time of spiritual preparation before Easter.  It's 40 days long, though Christians calculate the 40 days each a little bit differently.

Growing up, I had a slightly less spiritual understanding of those 40 days, which for me were often measured in terms of when fish sticks would be served in the cafeteria and what days we would have a religious service instead of our first few classes in the morning.  While for a good portion of my life, Lent was framed in these terms, it also included a built-in time to reflect, reconsider and recommit that I often took for granted.  And though, I am no longer Catholic, I must say I miss this time of intentional preparation, reflection and quieting.  So, that got me to thinking...

I think I need a Unitarian Universalist Lenten practice.  Well, maybe not in those terms but I can't help but wonder if there isn't deeper truth in a human craving to go deeper, shrug off what we no longer need, and embrace a certain openness in our lives.  Easter or not, it would seem Lent has a lot of uses.

There is something incredibly important about entering into a time of reflection just as the earth is breaking loose from winter and readying for the green and bloom of spring.  My congregation is preparing for its vernal equinox service this Sunday.  I feel in my own bones a need to clear out, say goodbye to the accumulated emotional and literal physical stuff from winter in order to welcome in new growth.  Release and renewal seem so desperately needed.

So here is what I am hoping my UU Lent will look like:

-Prayer/meditation each day in the morning and evening
-Instead of TV, time for reading and writing letters to loved ones

I hope maybe you'll join me in this Lenten practice, shaping it to your theology and spirit.  Let's see what spring has in store...