Friday, April 9, 2010

Damn the Torpedoes Full Speed Ahead

I'm too over-scheduled. I find relief in knowing that life should return to something resembling a more normal routine in another month. Until that time I'll focus on my unscheduled weekends.

We're both excited about our glass blowing class. In our first lesson we went over the different tools used in manipulating the glass and the proper way to move about the work area to minimize the risk of burns. We also learned some fundamental considerations when working with the molten glass. Something that became apparent once we sat at the bench and began to shape the glass was that nothing was as easy as our instructors made it look. There's a knack to everything. More to follow as we progress.

I've been struggling with Hosanna's (our church) decision to leave the ELCA. Whether we remain a part of the ELCA is unimportant to me but what does concern me is why we're leaving. The ELCA recently voted to allow gay persons in a committed relationship to serve in leadership positions in the church including pastoral positions. It was this decision that caused us to poll our membership to see what we collectively wanted to do; to remain a part of the ELCA or to part ways. Our membership voted overwhelmingly, 97%, to leave. We're quite sure of ourselves. I'm in the 3%.

The Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin and it's not my intention to argue that. Where I'm finding difficulty is how we're able as a congregation to single out homosexuality among a whole lot of other sins (sins that many of the 97% in our congregation embrace) and make this our line in the sand. We're taught that there aren't degrees of sin; that one sin isn't worse than another. What about gluttony? That too is a sin but I don't see us removing persons from leadership positions in our church with a body mass index above a set level. Why not? To me it's hypocritical to single out gays and lesbians.  What message does it send to them? It's certainly not one that says 'you're welcome here'.

Shortly after Hosanna's decision to leave the ELCA was announced I was volunteering at Hosanna's Tuesday night community outreach. I was helping an elderly man from his car to a meeting he was attending inside and down the hall from where we were set up painting nails and applying religious themed tattoos to little arms. I knew Ike when he lived across the street from me up until 5 or 6 years ago. I walked with him over to the table where he liked to sit and a man got up out of his chair to greet him. "Ike, did you hear the news? ...we're leaving the ELCA...isn't that great?" The man was gleeful but did he know that Isaiah also has a daughter who is gay? I doubt it. I'm not sure that Ike shared in his friend's happiness.

To be fair, our lead pastor was very careful to tell the congregation on more than one occasion leading up to the vote that this wasn't about taking a stand against gays but rather, following biblical doctrine that makes it very clear that the direction the ELCA has taken is opposed to what the bible teaches. I get that but this to me is a very clear message that there are degrees of sin and while we're able to overlook some we're not able to do that for them all. We've got lots of gray areas here and it's troubling to me. I don't have an answer but I do have a suggestion: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

I took to the roads this afternoon to get in some much needed saddle time. I had visions of a 100 mile ride working through my head but once I got to Belle Plaine I lost my motivation and headed for home. Coming through Chaska I opted for staying north and crossing the river on highway 101. I wouldn't learn until I got there that it was still flooded over. I pressed on up Flying Cloud Drive past the airport and looked back at the flooded river valley. It's taking a long time to subside.

I passed under highway 169 in west Bloomington and considered mingling with rush-hour traffic for the mile and a half it would take me to cross the river but it's considered a freeway there and bikes are prohibited. I took a chance and headed over to the Bloomington Ferry Bridge thinking I might be able to cross there but no such luck. The paths along the river were under water. The further east I pedaled looking for a river crossing the less I cared about being pulled over but 35W wasn't the place to test the law. Rather than the for sure bike crossing at 494 I considered my next option of Cedar Avenue, another bike prohibited route. I rode past it before turning around and headed down the ramp passing cars being metered to get on the freeway. This would only take me a few minutes I figured and any cop would understand since all the river crossings for me had been flooded over the last 20 miles. No cops and no problem.

I arrived home after 84 miles just in time to help Tammy unload her car of some fresh organics from Nature Valley Foods. She said she wanted to try and make a fresh pizza for dinner and by the time I got out of the shower our entire main level smelled like a pizzeria. I'm digging this organic stuff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am very impressed by your stand on what is sin and what is not sin. I guess I need an order of importance on the various God don'ts if I am to understand the opinions of the very rightous.