May I Use the Restroom?

Apart from liking some things I’ve seen on the Facebook, I’ve not said much about the bathroom laws and yesterday’s Obama Administration edict that public schools must allow students to use the bathroom and locker room of the gender with which they identify (side note: love. that. man). But I’m kind of done being quiet now. I am so over the Chicken-Little-esque cries of “THEY’RE COMING FOR OUR CHILDREN!” Because “I don’t think transgender people are necessarily pedophiles” is the new “I’m not racist, but…”

Today someone I know, who is an honestly smart and good-hearted person, posted their concern for the safety of children if we allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice and I had to say something. Not because I think that he is wrong about wanting to protect children. I think all children should be protected without qualification. But I think that this question of bathroom use and gender is the greatest gift to child molesters that they will ever see. The folks who now are fastidiously eyeing who goes in and out of bathroom stalls have taken their eyes off the other adults in their children’s life who are much more likely to be committing these atrocities. When have you ever heard a survivor of sexual abuse say, “Yeah, it was a dude in a dress in the bathroom at Target.” Never. It is always a family member, a friend, a coach (Hello, Dennis Hastert), a teacher, or a pastor. I’m not advocating we take one form of paranoia and re-focus it on those closest to us. But the hyper-vigilance, in this case, is misplaced.

Here’s the full text of the comment I posted. I wanted to share it here, mainly because I know that like 2 people read it and it will be easier for me to find it:

The fact that this is just now coming to light as a concern means that the folks who are freaking out about this do, in fact, equate transgender people with pedophiles. Don’t you think that someone who was sick and twisted enough to mess with children would have already thought about dressing as the other gender and entering public bathrooms for prey? This is not AT ALL giving people the right to dress up and go into a different bathroom for any reason at all. It is incredibly difficult, and in some states illegal, to change the gender on a birth certificate. The trans people I know look like the gender they identify with, not the one on their birth certificate, so it would cause way more chaos if they went into the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate.
 
Which brings me to my next point – how is this supposed to be enforced? I’ve heard stories of people going into restrooms at Target and then having other customers trying to look into the stalls WHILE THEY’RE IN USE to determine the gender of the person in there. Seriously. So which is creepier? To let someone just go in and use the restroom and be done with it? Or to look in ALL THE STALLS before you select yours to make sure you and your children are safe? Again, to spy specifically on people who appear to be transgender is to equate transgender people with pedophiles. Not. The. Same. 
 
Next – why are people sending unattended children into public bathrooms at all? For any reason?
 
Still more – there has historically NEVER been a recorded incident of someone trying to dress as the opposite gender and sneak into a restroom to abuse children. NEVER. So again, it comes up in conjunction with a conversation on transgender rights which means the subtext is that a transgender person must be a pedophile. Transgender people have been using the bathrooms of their gender identity since FOREVER and this is just now coming up?
 
And finally – before anyone cries “THEY’RE COMING FOR OUR CHILDREN” please tell me how many transgender people are friends of yours, people in your life whom you love, part of your family? How many have you spoken to? Did you know that when the NC law was passed , calls to suicide hotlines for LGBTQ people TRIPLED? Did you know that Transgender people are twice as likely to have a college degree than the cisgender population but also twice as likely to be unemployed?
 
The bathrooms of 2016 are the water fountains of 1956. This is fearmongering and nothing more. Last I checked, loving your neighbor didn’t mean spying on your neighbor when they try to use the restrom at a big box retailer. Children should be protected. Always. Unconditionally. But you’re barking up the wrong tree when you think that protecting them from transgender people in the bathroom is the way to do it. Unfortunately the culprits are people who are presenting as the gender on their birth certificate and show up in your lives as coaches, teachers, pastors, family and friends.
 
So while you’re watching the bathroom, who’s watching your kids?

The $10 In My Pocket

I have $10 in my pocket. It might as well be $1,000,000. I have that much of a clue as to what to do with it. It doesn’t seem like a lot of money but it is heavy with meaning and generosity

I’ve had a rough, well, let’s say year and a few months. I’ve been quiet over here because I am more of an internal processor when life goes south and in many ways it has. But in many ways, it’s pretty great. I am on the verge of a new chapter and over the last few months, I have spent a lot of time practicing the disciplines of trust, silence, meditation and prayer.

This morning I had the privilege (and I actually mean that) to lead worship at a service that is held weekly at Justa Center in downtown Phoenix. Justa is a day center for homeless senior citizens that is a ministry of the United Methodist Church. There were only a handful of people there but God was there, and the room was full.

The last couple of weeks has been pretty hectic for me, including an out-of-state job interview, final projects for a class, leading music at City Square and starting a business. I’m not going to say I phoned in planning the service at Justa Center, but it didn’t get my full attention until the night before. I had been reading the lectionary passages but nothing really struck me. As I went through past messages, I pulled out some thoughts on hope from John 20, which seemed appropriate as Thursday was Ascension Day and this was the last Sunday of Easter.

In John 20, the disciples have locked themselves in a small room, but even though the doors were locked, Jesus showed up. We talked about the importance of being hopeful and not allowing our perspectives to get small and trust that Jesus will show up. After the service, they asked me to do another song, so I pulled something out of my back pocket and sang for them for a bit.

It was so lovely and there was such a great spirit in the room. My heart was full and I was so happy to have been there. Then Nola came back into the room and pressed an envelope in my hand. She said had been blessed by the service and wanted me to have the donation she had put in the offering plate. She was thankful to have good news about possible permanent housing and felt God told her to give something to me. It was $10. A five and five ones. From an older woman who is in recovery, living in a shelter, one rung above homeless. I froze, thanked her, and then went to find the coordinator.

“What do I do with this?” I asked him. “I can’t take money from a homeless woman.” He said that she had felt very strongly that God wanted her to give that to me and that I should take it in the spirit it was intended, from a pure, generous heart.

So I have this $10 in my pocket. It’s the heaviest paper money I’ve ever had in my possession. I cry every time I think about it. I still don’t know what I’m going to do with it, but I am going to spend a lot of time praying and meditating over it. She is the woman who gave all she had. To a woman who has stuff and who just this week was expressing anxiety about being unemployed. I am humbled and thankful. Nola is not a lazy taker. She is a woman with a generous spirit despite her circumstances who wants to contribute and has a heart to worship God. I have been taught a great lesson and will use my $10 wisely.

 

Colorado

Friday Five: Taking Stock

3dogmom writes:

We’re midway through summer (for us northern gals and pals), a good time to pause for a moment to take a breath before the force of autumn’s gravity takes hold too fiercely, and pulls us into its grasp of programming and schedules and commitments. This might be the last chance we have to pause and check in with our inner divine compass, the soul, and reflect on our inner life.  Here are a few questions to consider as we do so.

What is one thing bringing you joy today?

Tomorrow, my niece is performing in her FIRST MUSICAL! I’m so excited for her. I’m also taking her to see her first Broadway show at the end of August. Sssshhhh! It’s a surprise.

What is a disappointment you are experiencing today?

I wouldn’t say I’m experiencing disappointment, per se, but I am waiting on a couple of things for which I was supposed to have answers by this time and I don’t. I’m disappointed that I don’t have enough information to know whether or not to be disappointed.

When you think about the past six months, when did your soul feel most awake?

The two times I preached at church. I’ve been out of the saddle for a while and I really miss it.

When did you experience a sorrow or regret?

Probably for a miscommunication that caused a temporary breach in a relationship.

For what is your soul most longing?

To see more of the world and to do more good in the world.

Bonus: is there a word or image that succinctly summarizes how you find your soul today? Please share it with us.Colorado

Friday Five: Fast and Furious Cuisine

Deb writes:

I know RevGals is not a cooking blog. But, I also know that we clergy balance multiple tasks, roles and responsibilities. And many of us want to keep eating healthy and serving with stronger, healthier bodies. At the same time, unless you are living with a personal sous chef, you’re throwing dinner together in between afternoon office hours and evening meetings, sometimes with a little homework and soccer practice thrown in the mix. So, for this week’s Friday Five, tell us:

1) What’s your tried-and-true recipe for picky eaters?

Because I don’t cook for other people most of the time, I don’t have an answer to this. I know that when I was a kid, being a picky eater wasn’t really an option. I do have a niece whose tastes change on a weekly basis, so if I’m cooking for her, I’ll try to find alternative options, because, well, I’m an auntie. The nephew eats anything. I do have a recipe for a lasagna with prosciutto that is a pretty universal crowd pleaser.

2) Breakfast for dinner: totally cheating or a lifesaver? Discuss.

Totally AWESOME. What’s to discuss?

3) Go-to casserole for potlucks, new parents or your family’s favorite?

I did not come from casserole people, so the 9 X 13 culture is a bit foreign. Usually when I have to bring food for something, I do a pot of chili or chicken & corn chowder, and I do a fair bit of baking so I like to bring dessert. My current favorite recipe is chocolate chip cookie bars with salted caramel, all from scratch. Not as hard as you’d think, and crazy tasty.

4) Favorite take-out place, preferably with a drive-through? (Let’s be real!)

I’m an In-n-Out Burger girl.

5) ‘Fess up! What’s your “bad-for-me-but-super-easy” dinner?

I throw together some chicken breasts, a can of cream of chicken soup, a can of Rotelle and cover it with cheese and bake for about 30 mins, then serve over rice. Comforty and delicious.

BONUS: RANDOM!! REVGALS version of “CHOPPED” episode, starring you, the tired, harried, cook and pastor who has to feed everyone and get back to church for a meeting in 45 minutes… What would you make with:
a can of garbanzo beans
chicken breasts
radicchio
sweet bell peppers and
some “Testa-mints”?

I would make southwest spicy chicken with peppers in radicchio wraps, I’d fry up the garbanzo beans and roll them in cayenne, paprika and a few other spicy, smoky things, and make a peppermint ice cream for dessert.

Friday Five: Right NOW

now-watch

janintx writes:

News in our world is overwhelming with politics, tragedy, dissension, and hope. If you prefer for this Friday Five, you may write about any of the current affairs that you are thinking about.

However, I suggest that you look at your life at this moment, right now, TODAY:

1. What are you thinking about?

Finishing up this class. I’m doing an online MA in Organizational Leadership, and my first class is wrapping up. It’s 3 credits in 8 weeks, with assignments due every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Except the final paper, which is due next Friday. Argh! It’s on Leadership Theory and Practice, so my head is swimming with leadership concepts.

2. What book are you reading or have just finished reading?

But even with academia, I’m balancing it out with some leisure reading. I just finished A Murder of Magpies and just started The Girl on the Train. A Murder of Magpies was a fun murder mystery with interesting characters. I am LOVING The Girl on the Train. Really well done.

3. What is your favorite television or radio program?

Do they still have radio programs? I have many favorite TV shows, but right now I am OBSESSED with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. It is by far the funniest thing I’ve seen in a really long time. It comes from the brilliant mind of Tina Fey, so it’s guaranteed awesome. It’s so much fun and I’m super sad that there are only 13 episodes available right now. More are on the way!

4. What was the best movie you have seen in the past year?

I probably liked Birdman and Boyhood the best of what I saw this past year.

5. Who do you think of for Father’s Day?

I obviously think of my great and amazing dad, but I also think about my friends who have either lost their dad or never knew their dad. This is a tough weekend for many of them, so I am doing my best to reach out and say something encouraging to them.

Friday Five: Hither and Yon

3dogmom writes:

After traveling through 13 states to arrive at 6 distinct destinations over the last five weeks, I am road-weary, and ready to be home for a good, long stretch. Weariness notwithstanding, they were all good trips that included wonderful scenery, with introductions and reconnections with people and places. Ahhh. The sojourning inspires today’s Friday Five.

Share with us:

1) a favorite city, and what makes it so.

My top favorite city is and always will be San Francisco. Sure, there are other cities that I enjoy – London, New York, Sydney, Paris, Chicago, etc. – but my one and only city love is San Francisco. I had the privilege (and challenge) of living there for 15 years. I grew into myself there, I made life-long connections there. It’s beautiful, diverse, has amazing food, and it’s where all the loves of my life reside.

2) a favorite getaway spot, far from the maddening crowd (far being a relative term).

Anywhere with a view of the ocean. I can drive about 5 hours and be in either San Diego or the LA area. Tack on another 2ish hours and I can be in Santa Barbara. I find that just the sight of the ocean calms me. When I’ve got less time, I head up north to the mountains here in AZ and catch the calm of the breeze through the pine trees. Works in a pinch.

  
3) a great local eatery that you stumbled upon while passing through from one place to another.

In general, I avoid chain restaurants at all costs, both at home and on the road. When I was in Dublin, I found this amazing spot for shwarma and I pretty much ate nothing but the entire time I was there. In fact, I had to rush out and grab fish & chips late the night before I left so I could do something local. I also ate probably the best Indian food of my life at a gas station in El Doret, Kenya while on the road from Nairobi to Bungoma. Of course, I had to eat at the Old Navy café in Paris. Was treated to some amazing local spots in Egypt and Australia by some awesome and knowledgeable tour guides. I’m kind of a food person. Can you tell?

4) a landscape that inspires or nourishes you.

I’ve always found desert landscape nourishing because it’s where I grew up. It’s comforting and grounding. I like to go on what I call “noticing walks” where I go very slowly and take in the I’ve always found desert landscape nourishing because it’s where I grew up. It’s comforting and grounding. details of the nature around me – the colors in rocks, the shapes of things, the scents of flowers, etc. We’ve had an actual spring here in AZ and I’ve had more opportunities to walk outside than I have in years past. I’ve always found desert landscape nourishing because it’s where I grew up. It’s comforting and grounding.

  
5) a place you long to visit.

I have a serious case of the Wanderlust and that combined with a generous vacation policy in my job means I long to visit ALL THE PLACES. Currently, I’m obsessed with Spain and Italy, and also returning to Egypt. Hopefully one or more of those will happen in the next year.

So…This is Happening…

One of my favorite movies is An American President, not because of the cheesy romance, but because of the sharp, rapid-fire dialog that is a hallmark of any Aaron Sorkin project. Late in the film, as Michael Douglas’s President is giving the press conference that marks the climax of the film, he makes the following comment about his conservative opponents: “They’re only interested in two things: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it.” Or something like that.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the same is true of the religious right. In general, the religious right is what one would refer to as a bounded set. There’s an “in” group and an “out” group. Furthermore, the pastoral leadership is personally invested in making sure the community hangs on their every word and buys what they’re selling from the pulpit because their livelihood depends on it. Of late, the conservatives have been losing the cultural battle against the gays. Turns out, they’re just like straight people, for the most part, and not scary at all. Would you believe they’re not even recruiting children? As greater percentages of professing Christians fail to see what the big deal is about gay people wanting to get married, the conservatives have had to find a new Boogey Man to blame for what’s wrong with the world.

Enter: progressive Christianity. In the picturesque hamlet of Fountain Hills, AZ, a group of conservative churches have united against the scourge of Progressive Christianity to preach six sermons with the same theme, all to answer the following question:Credit: @lindawfox10

It’s even made the local news. Yes, these banners have been seen around town as advertisement for this expression of church “unity” against an EVIL WE NEVER SAW COMING!!!! I bet that you figured out that the quotes around “progressive” give you the answer to that puzzling “fact or fiction” question. By the way – is it a question? There’s no question mark. So clearly, they’re not asking. The answer is fiction, obviously.