Tag Archive | Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Married Again

I am flying back to CA today to be with my wife, spend the holidays with our children, and get ready for our January wedding.  We had a friend perform a legal marriage for us there in July.  Then we came back to Utah and were unrelated, our relationship not recognized by our state.  This afternoon, when I arrive in the Bay Area, or maybe even as I fly over the Sierras, we will be married again.  We will soon have a big wedding ceremony and reception, and our relationship will be blessed by a fabulous minister and affirmed by 100+ family and friends.  Afterward, we will drive back to Utah.  Once we cross the boarder into Nevada, we will again be legal strangers.  It is not fun living in a so-called “family values” state that doesn’t recognize our commitment to each other.  After 39 years together, our lives are completely entwined.  “Families are forever” is an LDS slogan that refers to eternal  marriage or marriages in the afterlife.  Mormon men can have more than one wife once they get to heaven.  I’d be just fine having my one marriage recognized in this world, all the time, wherever I might be and wherever I might travel.

Maybe the Supremes will sing again.

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The Curse of Perfection

A video of this sermon can be seen by clicking (here)

Sermon Notes:

How many of you have ever heard the story of the Princess and the Pea?  She had the perfect bed.  There were mattresses piled upon mattresses, feather bed upon feather bed.   How many were there?

Hmm, some different answers, but it doesn’t really matter for the point of the story.  There was a tiny pea underneath all that soft, comfortable, wonderful bedding, but she couldn’t sleep because of that tiny pea.  She had a simply terrible night.

Ah, the curse of perfection!

One could even say it is the curse of fairy tales.  How many of them just set us up for feeling like our own lives are failures?

Will that handsome prince never arrive?  Probably not, so we settle for a good-natured frog.  Then we try to turn the frog into a prince.  We can kiss him and hug him all we want, but he will still be happier in a swamp.

Dear people, it is time we realize it.  We are all pretty much frogs and we all live in a swampy, messy, world.  With climate change, the swamp is slowly heating up, and I just hope we notice it in time.

That is another myth, as I understand it.

A real frog will actually jump out of a pot of water long before he is cooked.  That is, as long as no one has clamped the lid tightly shut on her.

The never-ending search for perfection is a curse, but so is never trying to improve your life.

Balance, it is always about balance.  Our culture tends to push us toward seeking perfection.   As in our reading, we are often reminded to do our very best.  But what if our best isn’t good enough?  What if our best is not perfect?

Voltaire said that the best is the enemy of the good.  Sometimes that is translated, as the perfect is the enemy of the good.  We see this all the time in politics, where elected officials don’t want to compromise.  No law is perfect.  Democracy is messy.

We also see it in our personal lives, in our marriages and our relationships.  We see it in our jobs.  Life is not a fairy tale.  Stuff happens.  Things go wrong.  We blow it.  If we don’t make a lot of money, or even enough money to survive in some comfort and security, we can feel like failures.  If our partner still leaves wet towels on the floor after all these years, then we sometimes begin to question the relationship.   Why won’t they change?  (I want to make it clear that Anne doesn’t do that!)We might have an addiction that we think we have completely recovered from, but the craving comes back.  If we give in to it, sometimes we are afraid to try again.  If we have messed up too many times, we can feel like it will never get better.

We fail one math test and then we decide we hate math.

I loved math when I was younger.  When you got the answer right, it was right.  There were no grey areas; it was pure perfection.  Geometry was beauty. Calculus, on the other hand, made no sense to me, and I did not enjoy it at all.  Statistics were great, however.  I loved the idea of being 95% confident of something.  It seemed pretty good.

There is nothing wrong with 95%.  There was an old commercial that used to play on TV.  Ivory Soap was supposed to be 99 and 44/100 % pure.  Remember that?  Ivory was also “the soap that floats.”

We too can float, even if we aren’t 100% pure.  The curse of perfection can also damage us spiritually.  We aren’t supposed to do bad things, fine, but sometimes all of us think bad thoughts.  Sometimes we also do bad things, even things we define as bad.  Does this mean we are evil and worthless?  Can we really control all of our actions, much less our thoughts?

Historical Unitarianism maintained that we all have divine potential, that Jesus was not uniquely divine.  The same is true, as I understand it, in LDS theology.  Talk about pressure!   To live up to our divine nature, must we be perfect in all things, in word, in deed, and even in our thoughts?  I don’t think so.  I don’t think perfection is possible.  It might even be ungodly.

I love the story from Matthew 15.  A Canaanite woman asked Jesus to help her daughter.

(Remember that Canaan was cursed in the story of Noah that we talked about a few weeks ago?  If you missed that sermon, it is on youtube.)  The Jews despised the Canaanites.  Jesus ignored her for awhile, and then said,

“God sent me only to the lost sheep, the people of Israel.”  She still asked for his help and he said, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs.”

The woman answered, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

Then Jesus replied, “Woman, you have great faith! I will do what you asked.”

I love that story because it was a woman who challenged Jesus, and I love it because he realized he was wrong.  Even Jesus was not perfect.

Gandhi is also lifted up as an example of goodness.  I was actually rather pleased to learn that when he was a young man, he beat his wife.  It was something his culture told him was necessary, but he later realized how wrong it was.  Even Gandhi was not perfect.

Monday is Veterans Day.  It is a day we set aside to honor those who have fought and sacrificed in our country’s many wars.  There are always wounds from war, even if someone comes home physically whole.  It is very appropriate that we honor our veterans.  It is also appropriate that we honor their families, who have also suffered.

If you have served or are serving in our armed forces, please stand if you are able.

Thank you.

If you have a family member who is or has served, please stand.  Thank you too.

Because we love you, we know that you are heroes, and we also know that you are not perfect.  War is never easy; there are times of great courage and also of great fear.  There are feelings of pride, honor and glory, and also feelings of regret and sorrow.  No one is perfect.  You are still heroes.  Even our country is not perfect.

When we try to make our country perfect, when we try to make ourselves perfect, we close our minds and our hearts to pain and suffering.  We also close ourselves off from love.

We can love our flag better when we see it as a symbol of aspiration, a struggle for a more perfect union, as a dream that will never be fully realized.

I spoke of the Unitarian side of our heritage earlier, but the Universalist side is what creates the balance.  Our Universalist ancestors believed a loving God, a God who loves everyone, no matter who they are and no matter what they have done or haven’t done.  Universal salvation means no one is left out.

Not even you.  Not even you.

Some of you may not know it, but Joseph Smith was raised in a Universalist family, so the LDS faith also has Universalist those roots as well.  It is all about balance.

Leonard Cohen wrote a song called “Anthem.”  It is an anti-war song, a little awkward for Veteran’s Day, but it is also about the beauty of things that are not perfect.  Let me read some of the lyrics:

 The birds they sang

at the break of day

Start again

I heard them say

Don’t dwell on what

has passed away

or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will

be fought again

The holy dove

She will be caught again

bought and sold

and bought again

the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

That’s how the light gets in.

Don’t you love that line? There is a crack in everything.

Sue Browning, in our earlier reading, said, Maybe ‘the best is the enemy of the good’ when it drives our energies toward comparison and judgment, rather than toward kindness and encouragement.

But maybe there is more to it than that.  Maybe striving always for perfection robs us of the beauty we might otherwise see, if we only let the light in.

Can we love weakness as much as we love strength?  Can we love it in others as well as in ourselves?

Can we free ourselves from the curse of perfection, and how might we do that?

Some of you may have heard of the “Curse of Macbeth.”

Those of you who are involved in the theater certainly have.  It is considered very unlucky to say the name of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth in a theater.  This is a church not a theater, so relax.  The play is instead referred to as “the Scottish Play.”

But if someone says the dreaded word, “Macbeth” there is a remedy.  The offender must go outside, turn around three times, spit, and say the foulest word they can think of.

You might want to try that later if you suffer from the curse of perfection.  Remember that the word doesn’t have to be truly foul, just the worst that you can think of at the time.

Or maybe you just want to repeat the words of Mary Oliver, slightly changed to the personal pronoun.

I do not have to be good.  (repeat)

I do not have to walk on my knees for a hundred miles through a desert, repenting. (repeat)

I only have to let the soft animal of my body love what it loves. (repeat)

We, all of us, no matter what our failings and our flaws, have a place not only in the family of things, but also in this church community.

Our light can show through the cracks; it is the light of truth, warmed by love. Our imperfect offerings are blessed. You are blessed, and you are a blessing.  The rose will begin to open if you let yourself be guided by love.

Ordination of Women and LGBT Acceptance

A few days ago, I posted about the LDS church and their continued opposition to the ordination of women as well as their persistence in naming  same gender relationships as sinful.  (Click here to read that post.)  I commented that I thought the two issues were related.

I do know that my own faith tradition of Unitarian Universalism has been in the forefront of the struggle for full inclusion of both women and LGBT people.  The first  woman in the US to be ordained by a national denomination was Olympia Brown, who was ordained by the Universalist Church of America on June 25, 1863.  Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell was earlier on Sept. 15, 1853 by a local congregational church.  She later became a Unitarian and preached frequently in Unitarian churches.  In terms of of LGBT issues, as early as 1970, shortly after Stonewall, our General Assembly called for an end to discrimination based upon sexual orientation.  Currently, roughly half of our ordained clergy are female and we have many ministers serving our congregations who are openly LGBT.  I am one of them.

Many different denominations will now ordain women but relatively few will ordain openly gay ministers, particularly if they are in a marriage or relationship.   What is striking is that there is no religious tradition that is at all supportive of same gender relationships that does not also ordain women.  (I started to research various other world religions, but gave up as the information of GLBT acceptance was much harder to find.  Someone else may wish to do so.  I suspect the same dynamic would be there.)

The major examples of Christian denominations that ordain non-celebate LGBT people are the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA), and the Episcopal Church.  All ordain women.

Most of the other mainline Christian denominations are still dealing with the issue.  The Methodists, Presbyterians, American Baptists, and the Disciples Of Christ (all of whom ordain women) have not reached a consensus on the issues of GLBT ordination but they are not actively engaged in trying to stop GLBT progress in the area of civil rights including civil marriage.

Who are the major Christian denominations that are actively opposing full civil rights for GLBT people?

The Southern Baptist Convention

The Missouri Synod Lutherans

The Catholic Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.

None of them ordain women.

I suspect it is mainly about patriarchy.  Stable loving same gender relationship challenge the patriarchal ideal of men always needing to be in the leadership role both in the family and in the church.   Male privilege and power is threatened both by women who demand significant roles in religious life and by marriages that are based upon equality.  Women should no longer be silent in church.  Paul would never have written that infamous line anyway if there were not already a lot of sisters making their opinions known in the churches of that time.

Jesus spent a lot of his ministry with women and he never said anything to indicate that same gender relationships were sinful.

The struggle of women and of GLBT people for full inclusion in society and in religious institutions are clearly linked.  If women are not equal participants in a faith community, then GLBT people have not been accepted there either.   So there is a good reason for LGBT people to be cheering on those working for the ordination of women in male dominated faiths.  Not that we wouldn’t be doing so anyway.  It is both a justice issue and a spiritual one.

The Real Sinners

As a Unitarian Universalist pastor in Utah, I serve a congregation composed of many people who have left the LDS church.  Most have left with great pain, shunned too often by family and friends.  Some were shamed for who they are and what they believed (or just could not bring themselves to believe.)  My sermon yesterday addressed some of that pain (click) and I hope it brought some healing to some who heard it.

We always have more visitors during the LDS conference weekend, and the same was true yesterday.

I do follow what happens during the conference and was encouraged by some of the remarks made by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, said “there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles or doctrine.”

Wonderful words, words that generated hope among many.  If the church could admit past mistakes, perhaps the future could hold positive change.  Then 200 women were turned away from the priesthood meeting.  Then Elder Oaks had to go on and on about how sinful same gender marriages are.  The two issues are not unrelated.  I truly believe if women had more real power in the LDS church, the bigotry against GLBT people would soon diminish.  Almost all Mormon women are mothers, and given the large family sizes, many have GLBT children.  They know the importance of unconditional love to a child’s spiritual and physical growth.  They have also learned that rejecting such a child can lead to that child’s death either through suicide or through risky self-destructive behaviors.

President Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve, was relatively subdued this time.  Elder Oaks took up his message, however, by saying,

“There are many political and social pressures for legal and policy changes to establish behaviors contrary to God’s decrees about sexual morality and are contrary to the eternal nature and purposes of marriage and child-bearing. These pressures have already permitted same-gender marriages in various states and nations.”

Laws legalizing so called “same-gender marriage,” he added, do not change God’s law of marriage of His commandments and standards.

“We remain under covenant to love God and keep His commandments and to refrain from bowing down to or serving other gods and priorities — even those becoming popular in our particular time and place.”

I wonder if he answered his own, earlier question:

“Are we serving priorities or gods ahead of the God we profess to worship?” “Have we forgotten the Savior who taught that if we love Him we will keep His commandments? If so, our priorities have been turned upside down by the spiritual apathy and undisciplined appetites so common in our day.”

Yes, I think the answer is definitely yes.  The priorities of the LDS hierarchy are truly upside down.  Patriarchy, homophobia, greed and arrogance have led them to forget the greatest commandment.

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Excluding people from full inclusion in a faith community  based upon their gender and or their sexual orientation does not follow that commandment.  Jesus also did not say the church should build high-end shopping malls.

My marriage to my beloved partner is a blessing not a sin.  The LDS church’s naming it a sin, is the real sin.

So keep praying guys (and you are all guys). Start listening to the God that lives outside your moldy doctrines.  Start listening to the women who could lead you home.

Summaries of the conference talks are (here)

Is the Pope Catholic? Is the LDS Church Christian?

The Pope is clearly Catholic, and what is more he is acting very Christian lately.  By Christian I mean someone who tries to follow the religion of Jesus.  You know, all that love thy neighbor and don’t cast the first stone stuff.  Pope Francis thinks we should worry more about how to feed the hungry and create more peace in the world.  He has said that the Church (and it is HIS Church by the way, he is the POPE for God’s sake!) should stop focusing on narrow divisive issues like gay marriage, abortion, and contraception, and be more compassionate.   He has even had a few good words to say about Atheists.  Jesus said good things about a Samaritan, remember?  Who knew that a Pope could be so cool?  The Bishops are listening of course, and the conservative ones are freaking out.  

Contrast that with the LDS church.  I have to do that because I live in Utah and it is an institution that affects almost every aspect of life here.  There a lot of very cool Mormons, don’t get me wrong.  Some of them are flaming liberals and some of them are just flaming.  (The double entendre is intentional.)  I don’t have issues with their theology.  It isn’t any stranger than a lot of other things many people believe. I also think Mormons are just as Christian as a lot of other groups that use that label.  But just because someone calls themselves a Christian, doesn’t mean they are doing what Jesus would do. 

Like in the Catholic church, at least until now, with this rocking new Pope, most of the problems, the entrenched attitudes and the frankly unchristian actions, come directly from hierarchy.  You have probably heard the phrase “Cafeteria Catholic” to describe folks that decide to ignore teachings they don’t agree with.   They practice birth control, for instance.  Maybe they believe gay marriage is just fine and don’t dispute the right of a woman to control her own body.  Maybe they think comprehensive sexuality education works better to prevent disease and teenaged pregnancy than “just say no.”  In Unitarian Universalist circles, we say instead, “Just say know.”  Maybe they take love thy neighbor seriously and want a pathway to citizenship for immigrants.  

There are Mormons like that too.  I call them “potluck” Mormons.  By the way, I LOVE potlucks and I like green jello!  (Sorry non-Utahns, but green jello is sort of a regional joke.  I ate it rather a lot of green jello growing up in California, not realizing it was a Utah joke. )

The cafeteria Catholics are cheering today, shouting Hallelujah.  Not so the potluck Mormons.  On the same day that Pope Francis’s interview was published, the news hit about the LDS church’s response to the likelihood of marriage equality becoming a reality in Hawaii in the very near future.  (see news article here) They aren’t as heavy handed as they were during Prop 8, or as they were in earlier struggles in Hawaii.  No, this time they are trying to be subtle.  They only sent a letter to church members in the “Aloha” state. (“Aloha” in Hawaiian actually means affection, peace, compassion, and mercy, not just hello and goodbye.) 

The letter says, in part:

“We have received a number of questions in the last few months regarding proposed legislation that would redefine the relationship and nature of marriage in Hawaii.

(Um right, somehow I don’t think this was written just in response to questions from their Hawaiian membership)

“As members of the Church we should be actively engaged in worthy causes that will affect our communities and our families. This legislation will directly affect both. Members are encouraged to study this legislation prayerfully and then as private citizens contact your elected representatives in the Hawaii Legislature to express your views about the legislation. As you do so, you may want to review “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and other Church publications available on the Church website at lds.org.  You may also wish to consider donating your time or resources to one of the community organizations addressing this issue.

(The letter itself doesn’t tell members which position to take, but the referenced publication is clear that marriage is only between one man and one woman.)

“Whether or not you favor the proposed change, we hope that you will urge your elected representatives to include in any such legislation a strong exemption for people and organizations of faith. Such an exemption should:

“ — Protect religious organizations and officials from being required to support or perform same-sex marriages or from having to host same-sex marriages or celebrations in their facilities; and

(This is ALREADY protected under the 1st amendment and is just a scare tactic.  They know this.  Not even all Mormons are allowed to get married in the temple.)

“ — Protect individuals and small businesses from being required to assist in promoting or celebrating same-sex marriages.

That last one is the kicker, and it is talking about giving for profit businesses the legal right to discriminate when they are selling their goods and services to the general public.  That just isn’t right.   I am in the midst of planning a big wedding.  When we contact wedding vendors we are very careful to let them know that it is a same gender wedding.  We do this because we want good service.  If someone seemed less than enthusiastic about our marriage, we would definitely not choose to give them our hard earned money to take pictures or bake a cake for us.  But even though I wouldn’t choose to use them, I don’t think private businesses should be able to refuse to do business with people they don’t approve of.  Interracial marriages of course come to mind.  I suspect most of those couples don’t want to give their money to bigots, but they also don’t want to be refused service by them.  Should a bigoted grocer be able to refuse to sell food to a Muslim?  Of course not, but if they are looking for halal food, they probably won’t want to shop there anyway.  It would be too creepy.  They might slip some pork into the ground beef.  And who wants ground glass in their wedding cake?

Businesses don’t have to promote or celebrate anything, but they should not get to decide what customers they will turn away just because they don’t like or approve of them.  Individuals can do what they like in their private lives.  Don’t invite me to your house, that is fine.  But if you work in a flower shop, your boss just might ask you to prepare two identical wedding bouquets for two brides.  So what?  It has nothing to do with religious liberty, it is just how we do business in this country.  

All that said, you will never see me shopping at City Creek, the giant SLC shopping mall owned by the LDS church.  I wouldn’t want them promoting my lifestyle by selling me anything.  Why does a Christian church own a shopping mall anyway?  Did Jesus sell the loaves and fishes to the multitude? Did he ask if they were gay or straight before feeding them?

In answer to the title questions:

Yes, the Pope is Catholic

Yes, the LDS church is  Christian.  The leadership of that church?  Not so much.  

Gay is Great! 6/2/2013

Today is pride Sunday. Many of our members, both gay and straight, are not in church this morning because they are attending the parade and celebration down in Salt Lake City.  That is great!  That is so gay!

It is interesting how much tone can matter.  If I had said, “That is great” or “That is so gay” it would have drawn a very different reaction from this mostly straight but hardly narrow group that is gathered here today.

When I attended seminary, there were a number of students there who identified as transgender and the issue of pronouns came up.  It can be awkward.  The solution was to simply ask what individuals preferred and then try to be respectful of their wishes.  People made mistakes, however.  Gender cues are complicated and cultural norms run deep.  One of my professors, understanding this, said, “Whatever you call me, it will be OK, as long as you say it with love.”

Another story comes from when I worked for Social Security.  I was in a meeting with other line managers planning a strategy for handling a large workload that was coming soon.  We wanted our plan to be approved by our boss, so we were discussing how to approach them.  One of the other managers said, “We don’t want to queer the deal.”

Without thinking about it, I said, “Joe, some of us think that would be a good thing.”
There was some silence and then he turned bright red. There was some laughter in the room and he said he hadn’t meant it that way, and I just said, “I know.”

He hadn’t meant anything by it, in fact; it was just a figure of speech.  But he never used it again.  He’d learned something.

Most of us do not go out of our way to hurt other people’s feelings.  Sometimes it takes someone saying “ouch” before we know that something we have said or done has hurt.

This has been a banner year for GLBT rights.  Marriage equality is now the law in 14 countries, 12 states and the District of Columbia.  The Supreme Court will issue a decision this month on California’s Prop 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.  It is great to be gay in times like these.  It is a level of progress that I never thought I would see in my lifetime.  When I first came out, it was a crime in most states to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same gender.  Then again, this country used to have segregated drinking fountains and schools.  The struggle for desegregation was a long and bloody one.

I will never forget the image of George Wallace in 1963, when he was the Governor of Alabama, standing in a doorway at the University of Alabama, trying to prevent two black students from entering.

There are a lot of public schools in this country named after Martin Luther King, but I don’t know of any named after George Wallace.
He was and remains a symbol of racist bigotry.  Naming a school after him would be hurtful to African Americans and others.

Some of you probably know where I am going with this.

Yes, I want to talk some about Weber State University’s decision to name their Center for Family and Community Education for Boyd K. and Donna S. Packer.

It is a tricky and controversial topic. The folks at Weber State are our friends.  Many members of this congregation work and study there.  Others are former students.  The University has been very supportive of our OUTreach program.  Still, their decision indicates to me that Gay is still not so great here in Utah.  Of course we knew that.  This legislative year statewide non-discrimination ordinances failed yet again.  (Stuart Reed, the state senator who represents Ogden was one of the prime opponents of that legislation by the way.  He said he could not support legislation that condoned immorality.)

Other states have the freedom to marry, but here many people have to stay in the closet for fear of losing their jobs or their homes.

It isn’t right and Boyd Packer, like George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door, has been standing in the way of justice and equality for the people of this state.

Let me say clearly that I have no problem with honoring someone who is active in the leadership of the LDS church.
A Gordon Hinckley Center for Family and Community Education would not give me heartburn.  It would not cause my heart to ache. I’d be OK with Thomas Monson too, or pretty much anyone other than Boyd Packer.  The LDS church has contributed a lot of very good things to Utah.  It is appropriate to recognize that.  It is also important to understand that the LDS church seems to be trying to change how it responds to gay people.  The changes are coming mainly from internal pressure, from the people in the pews.  There are literally hundreds of devout Mormons marching in the Pride parade today, carrying signs and speaking out in support of equality.

The LDS church believes in ongoing revelation, and I am confident that eventually they will come to understand that God does not make distinctions based upon either sexual orientation or gender.  In other words, and you can call me crazy, but I think that someday Mormon Lesbians will hold the Mormon priesthood.

Let me say another thing, slightly off subject, but important.  We need to be very careful in how we talk about the LDS church here in this congregation.  Followers of that faith are on their own search for truth and meaning.  It is not OK to mock their theology or their spiritual practices.  Every religion has its quirks.  Some would think our flaming chalice is a bit odd, for instance.  There are also hundreds of jokes about the number of Unitarian Universalists it takes to change a light bulb.  We can make those jokes and laugh at them.
It’s kind of like the difference between saying, “That is so gay” as a gay person or an ally and saying “that is so gay” in a disparaging way.

Respect for the worth and dignity of others and recognizing that all religions contain at least some truth, does not mean, however, that we should be silent when people are being hurt.  Respect sometimes means telling them that you don’t like something they are doing.  Boyd Packer’s many statements over the years have hurt many people, most of them members of his own faith tradition.  By this time, he must know they are hurtful.

Publicly honoring him is just not appropriate.  Maybe the decision makers at Weber State just weren’t thinking.  Maybe they were like my friend at work who “didn’t want to queer the deal.”  Maybe.  I hope so.  I hope they did not realize how hurtful this would be.  I hope they did not decide to go ahead anyway, despite knowing the pain they would be causing.

They clearly know now, if they did not before.  Even if they do not change their decision, they have learned something.

When you can say “gay is great” and mean it, then you aren’t afraid to say “ouch” when something hurts.  A least most of the time that is true.

I have another story.  When I worked for Social Security I traveled a lot and often took a cab home from the airport shuttle stop.  One time, fairly late at night, the cabbie yelled, “Move it faggot!” at another driver.  It scared me.
I wanted to say something but worried that if he figured out I was a lesbian things might get really ugly.  I stayed quiet and got home.  He did not get much of a tip, but I didn’t say why.

About a week later, I was riding in another shuttle to my office through downtown Richmond CA.  It is a low-income, primarily African-American community that was plagued by crime and gang violence.  The driver started making cracks about the neighborhood, and about “those black people.”  I was able to respond and said that I worked with a lot of the people that lived there, they were good people, and even more unhappy about the crime than he was because they had to live in the midst of it.

It felt safe to say something because I was obviously white.  I did not feel vulnerable to a racist attack, verbal or otherwise.  It took some courage, but not as much as it would have to confront the cabbie on his homophobia.

We need to forgive ourselves when we are silent because of fear.  It will make it easier to speak up in other situations.

Utah is a funny place.  I love it here. I really mean that, but it is a state full of contradictions.  Salt Lake has one of the largest Pride celebrations in the country, despite the fact of no state level protections.  It also has a very high percentage of same gender partners raising kids, despite the fact that it is against the law for gay couples to adopt or even to be foster parents.  They can’t even foster a gay teen that has been kicked out of their family for being gay.  It could make you crazy if you let it.

Still, there is progress, even here in Utah.  People speak up when something hurtful happens.  There is a dialogue at least, and time really is on our side.  One by one, counties and cities have adopted non-discrimination ordinances.  We even did that here in Ogden although it took a lot of hard work and dedication.  The city council chambers looked like church, there were so many of us there week after week.  We stood up for our religious principles, we stood on the side of love.

That’s so Unitarian Universalist!

Let all that we do be done in love.