Children, Highbrow Family Values, Ministry


When Snowman was home a couple of weekends ago, we got talking about my ordination. He was in 6th grade, and I asked him what he remembers.

"It was EPIC!"

"What do you mean? I mean, I know it was important to me, but how did it seem that way to you?"

"All these old ministers came up out of the congregation. This one old lady hobbled all the way from the back. It was like an Entmoot!!!"

And really, it was.


Children, Grrrls, Highbrow Family Values, Living in This World, Love, Mothering, Sex, Sons

On Love and Sex

I think I’ve written about this before, in various ways, but in answering Kristin’s post referenced here earlier today, I used these words and want to blog them here:

Here’s what I want for [my children] (who are 23, 18 and 14 now). I want them to view themselves as whole people, loved body and soul by God. I want them to love themselves, body and soul, and to recognize how inextricable those two parts are. I want them to love another person, body and soul, and to regard that person’s wholeness to be as precious as their own. In talking to them, I’ve called it a Love Ethic where sex is concerned. Love yourself, love your partner, and remember that how you live is an expression of how you love God. It’s for them to work out when that happens, and I trust them to be true to their teaching.

To go further, this is not an idea about what is good for children to know but what I hope people can know about themselves, that they have value and a responsibility to attribute that value to others and to treat them with love and care in relationships, whatever names are attached to those relationships.

I avoid discussions of marriage for two reasons. First, I think it should be available to everyone as a civil right, and until it is, I’m irritated that I can have it and others can’t. We’re coming closer to having that right in Maine, but face a campaign this fall to overturn the new legislation extending the right to all.  Second, I don’t really want to get into a scripture throw-down with anyone about marriage, because I don’t have the patience for a discussion based on ancient rules and stories that devalued women and treated them as property. That is no basis for any arrangements in the 21st century, and people who use those texts to justify a point of view are beyond debating, in my experience.

My own experiences in the sexual realm are pretty limited for someone born in the 1960s. Very, in fact. I played by the good girl rules. I’ve had sex within marriage and sex outside it, and I’ve had it with love and without it, both inside and outside marriage, and all I can tell you is it’s better with love. But that love is not about romance or even necessarily a long-term commitment. It’s about a sense that your existence matters deeply to the other person and your coming together is holy because of it.

There’s lots of sex in lots of marriages that does not meet that definition.

So even though we don’t often associate it with sex, which we want to affiliate with the “eros” love, and it’s hard to sustain a marriage without that particular connection, I want to say that what really matters is agape. What really matters is being in the arms of a person whose love you trust to be unselfish, generally, and giving, mostly, and freely offered, as much as humanly possible. To get a higher score on those, grace helps, too.

Books, Highbrow Family Values

“Only Connect”–Book # 31, Howards End–and other things, too

Howards-End-2 Have I mentioned that I love E.M. Forster?

Howards End, written 100 years ago, explores the collision of commerce and poetry, the desire for something more, the need of the whole world for certain kinds of people to act as an engine, and the general discomfort of connecting in ways that may lead to greater depth.

Here's the famous quotation:

Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the
prose and the passion and both will be exalted, and human love will be
seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.

Did you hear/see the John Hodgman speech that asked whether President Obama is a Jock or a Nerd? The dichotomy is similar.

I'm a Nerd, essentially (though in my family we prefer to identify as Geeks, and there are nuances), serving in a Jock church in a Jock town. It's fascinating to me. My kids grew up in a Nerd world, a place where we talk about George R.R. Martin at dinner and name our dogs after Hobbits, in a culture of Highbrow Family Values, with as little knowledge of sports as any people could possibly have, with a father *and* a stepfather who follow NO team sports, with a notion of teamwork that comes from school projects and participating in drama or orchestra or band or choir.

We are the Schlegels. But out in the world we meet the Wilcoxes.

My father was a Schlegel, like his mother and his uncles, but his father was a Wilcox, and he somehow learned to straddle two worlds. I've watched my older son do it, surviving high school by learning "to walk among them." I've watched my second son reject them and go away to live in his own universe. I see my daughter wondering how to make meaning out of the difference, assigning the people she meets their Myers-Briggs types to the best of her ability.

The world is full of Wilcoxes. We are Schlegels.

I watched the movie recently, in which Emma Thompson played Margaret and Helena Bonham Carter, Helen. While mostly true to the book, I think the movie made Leonard Bast a little less pathetic, with dream sequences of walking through the woods: he seemed almost a poem himself.

I wondered what I understood of this story when I read it in my twenties. As my friend Ruby once said in a comment on one of the posts linked above, " I wonder if the 67 year-old me
will look back at the 47 year-old me with the same rueful affection I
feel for my 27 year-old self."
I hope so.