the mercer weave

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Archive for the tag “Washington”

Keeping Mr. Z

Firstly, I have a couple of caveats;
 I was born and raised Catholic.
 I am no longer a practicing member of the church.
I start with these statements because I don’t really have a dog in this race. But I love and respect people who do. And I also happen to be gay although frankly, I don’t think that really matters.
There is an interesting debate going on in and around Seattle. A local vice principal was recently fired from his position at Eastside Catholic High School when fellow teachers confided (I prefer the term ‘tattled’) to the president that he’d recently married his male partner.  Now I don’t claim to have an insider perspective but there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of disagreement over the facts. Here are some links for reference: http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2013/12/gay-vice-principal-loses-job-at-catholic-school-after-marrying/
The president of the school said the teacher resigned. The teacher said he was fired for being in conflict with Catholic doctrine. Many of the  students at this high school were furious as were their parents. They protested, created Twitter and Facebook feeds and pushed the issue to a national   forum. https://twitter.com/KeepMrZ2013 and https://www.facebook.com/keepmrz2013
I innocently jumped into the fray by tweeting something like “proud of these kids” and went back to watching the news. Suddenly my twitter notifications blew up and I was besieged by replies from complete strangers from everywhere but Washington. And they were on a roll. Clearly very conservative and fundamentalist in their opinions, they tried to paint anyone in support of these students as ignorant and/or subhuman. Your choice.
I should have known better. Because I have friends and family who are devout Catholics and who love me and my (now) wife despite our ‘gay’ marriage, I was a little startled by the virulent trolling I received. After all, I’d just tweeted ‘way to go kids’, not ‘viva la gay revolucion.’
It didn’t matter and of course, I engaged these folks in a relatively civil manner. In the police academy, I remember one piece of advice that I have carried with me to this day; if it’s going to feel good to say it, don’t say it.
 Here’s a sample of one response:
“@ lewandowskijohn: @ debdog would you prefer I called you trash? Because that’s what you are.”
Nice, huh? (And believe me, I mustered a HUGE amount of restraint in my replies.)
I know, I know – it’s not good to feed the trolls.
But they’re so cute!
I’m not a big fan of conflict and I really don’t go out of my way to engage with people who apparently (at least based upon the thousands of tweets they put out) do this as a full time job. They are way out of my tweet league.  I mean really, how does one generate over 230,000 tweets as one of my ‘fans’ does?
What I do find fascinating is how threatened, defensive  and misinformed these folks are on the subject of sexuality. It appears they still hold to the opinion that gay people have no business teaching children because – I don’t know – they’re incompetent?  Lacking the requisite degrees? Not Catholic? Fabulous?
 Mark Zmuda has multiple degrees, was well respected and loved, and by all accounts, a marvelous teacher and administrator. He’s a practicing Catholic and I’m sure, quite fabulous. I can’t speak for him but I’m guessing he never asked the church to sanction his marriage or a priest to marry him.
And while we’re on the subject of marriage, my partner and I were married in August of 2013 after twenty-two years together. I’m not sure either one of us were really prepared for how different it felt to be married. It did.
Are these the type of folks  the Catholic school system wants to wash out? How about a good solid education from a teacher who has a passion for teaching and who no one has ever suggested acted in an unprofessional manner? You know, unlike the multitudes of priests who molested children and then were protected by the church.
Want to know what one ‘traditional catholic’ had to say about that?
“@ TradCatholic1: Active homosexuals should not be teaching our children let alone work at a CATHOLIC school.”
OK, well I guess that settles that, doesn’t it?
(Twitter isn’t private, by the way. All of the tweets, some if which were pretty reprehensible, are public and open source. )
For the sake of my friends and family who are Catholics, I just want the church to be just and compassionate, and at the very least, consistent. Don’t tell me that Mark Zmuda’s sexuality didn’t factor into this decision because if he was truly fired for violating Catholic doctrine, then when are the other ‘violators’ on staff going to be terminated? You know, the birth control users, the out of wedlock scofflaws, the ‘non-pro creative sex-having folks?’
There are truly wonderful and faithful members of the Catholic church. I received an amazing education from a Catholic school. But I know an equal number of gay Catholics who have left the church because of the cacophony of dissonant voices who continue to push them away, suggest they try celibacy and ‘reparative therapy’ and email them happy little ditties classifying homosexuality as ‘disordered.’
There is a lot of good the church can do and those resources can and should be spent on the poor and teaching people how to be kind and productive. That’s what I learned as a child. And I do my best to live those teachings out every day. But I can’t change who I am. I was born this way and I still believe I am a child of God.
#KeepMrZ2013
G4JoBFSG

 

Faith and Reason

One of the first books I read about Buddhism was Sharon Salzberg’s book Faith. It is a wonderfully reasoned book about her transformation and journey that has ultimately brought us all here for this challenge. I have to say that I was intrigued by the title of the book because the word ‘faith’ is not one that I normally associated with Buddhism. And in fact, faith has always held more of a mystical and certainly Christian connotation for me. And I’m not a very ‘mystical’ person. I’m very pragmatic and practical, perhaps to a fault. To me, having faith in something meant believing in something you couldn’t prove.

When Sharon writes, “Faith is the animation of the heart that says, `I choose life.’ This spark of faith is ignited the moment we think, `I’m going to go for it. I’m going to try.’ “, I think to myself, ‘That’s it. That’s what faith means to me, too.’

So where am I going with this? On Saturday, the Westboro Baptist Church is going to travel to the Pacific Northwest and picket at the memorial service for the two little boys killed by their father, Josh Powell last Sunday. This ‘church’ is pretty much just one family headed by Fred Phelps and his daughter Margie. The reason they are going to picket is because Washington Governor Christine Gregoire has pledge to sign the bill to legalize same sex marriage in Washington state passed by our legislature two days ago. Their reasoning?  God was punishing those two little boys for the actions of the legislature and the governor. Make sense now? I didn’t think so.

Now the Westboro folks are notorious. I won’t link to their site because frankly it is repulsive, but if you want to see for yourself, have at it. A few years ago, they came to Seattle to protest several synagogues and a high school. I had to work a plainclothes detail essentially to protect their First Amendment right to free speech and assembly. Suffice it to say, it was not a pleasant experience. However, I was so proud of our local high school kids who came out en masse to protest the protesters. And there was no violence despite the very heated rhetoric.

This is where I come back to faith and why this word really needs to be re-acquired by the good and compassionate followers of all religious traditions. The Phelps family uses the word faith as a weapon. They believe in a wrathful and vengeful God who compels them to compound the misery and sadness that so many feel in the name of ‘faith.’

As I sat this morning, I struggled mightily to put into some sort of context a world that rushes by us day after day bringing us everything from the joy of a new life to the sadness at the end of another. My faith will not be defined by anger. It will be defined by ‘the animation of the heart.’

Haters Gonna Hate

This kind of says it all for me. Washington passed a same sex marriage bill yesterday and Governor Gregoire is going to sign it into law. And then, the haters are gonna hate and ask for a referendum so people can vote on whether or not my partner of twenty years and I can get married. I love Cory Booker.

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