The Museum of the Bible opened in Washington, DC last November. The owner is Steve Green, who also owns Hobby Lobby. Green is a conservative Evangelical who is anti-gay and anti-choice. He appears to seek political influence and to court the press. Some of the recent press was negative because he acquired artifacts from Iraq illegally, for which he was fined.
Because of all these reasons, I wasn’t in a hurry to visit the museum. But a couple of my congregants went and were enthusiastic about their experience. As their pastor, I knew it was important for me to go. Also, I am preparing to return to Israel and Palestine in March (my first visit since I wrote Chasing the Divine in the Holy Land) and I was curious to see how the exhibits treated the land and political situation.
When cold weather closed school for a day, my husband (who’s a teacher) and I decided to draw on our steely Minnesota backbone and venture downtown. We used the website to print free timed tickets (there’s a suggested donation of $15). I would not have gone if I had to pay because I will not support Steve Green and his agenda.
The museum is big on drama, in terms of scale, lighting, and sound effects, with heavy use of films featuring Dave Stotts. (more…)
Drinking has changed. In the late 1970s when I was in college, my friends and I drank cheap beer which we bought by the pitcher and shared. We rarely drank wine, other than an occasional bottle of sangria, which we repurposed as a candleholder when it was empty. Wine was for rich, old people who knew French. We ourselves would never be rich, or old, or pretentious.
These dynamics have reversed. Cheap, shared beer has given way to a world of microbrews which require a specialized vocabulary. Wine has gone the other direction, descending from the world of mystique into the clang and jostle of shopping carts.
Not only has drinking changed, but my drinking has changed. Wine was once a treat to accompany a special meal, maybe monthly. But as the price went down and availability went up, it became easier to pick up a bottle. And isn’t every weekend special?
Weekend drinking bled into weekday drinking, innocuously enough. Pastors live by an odd rhythm. Saturday night is a work night and the “weekend” — to the extent we have such a thing — begins on Sunday night. I resolved the mismatch by having a glass of wine both nights, Saturday evening to be social and Sunday evening to reward myself. Don’t look at me askance. Ministry is hard work, my friends, and there are plenty of scriptures about enjoying wine!
As my husband and I became older — and if not rich, at least no longer impoverished — we added mixed drinks to our repertoire. Martinis, to be exact. Let’s blame it on Mad Men. Martinis look so elegant in their shapely glasses. Plus I adore olives. The sound of the shaker became the cue that the day’s cares would soon be dissolving. (more…)
Last weekend we took an overnight trip to Maryland’s Eastern Shore to view the wintering waterfowl at Blackwater NWR and take in the new Harriet Tubman Underground Railway site. I’ll admit that the “Eastern Shore” terminology confuses me.
The region gets its name from the stretch of Maryland’s Atlantic shoreline that’s sandwiched between Delaware and Virginia — but the part of Maryland’s “Eastern Shore” we explore (closer to the metro area) wraps around the Chesapeake Bay, which has both eastern and western shores. As someone who has trouble with time zones, this confusion of west and east seems unnecessarily complicated! I suppose a person always needs to know which direction they’re pointed, no matter which body of water is in front of her. Basic orientation — now that’s an appropriate thought for the New Year! No wonder I appreciated Harriet Tubman’s words about the North Star (we’ll get to her below).
The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a marsh that’s actively managed to have freshwater, brackish, and saltwater areas, to provide for a variety of species. The Blackwater “River” spreads rather than flows. Nearby is the Choptank River which flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The closest town is Cambridge. The new Harriet Tubman site is entirely surrounded by Blackwater NWR, which is appropriate because these marshes and inlets provided cover as Harriet escaped slavery, and then returned to lead other enslaved persons to freedom.
My husband and I arrived around sunset and saw thousands of geese in the marsh and the air, continually rising and resettling — huge flocks of Canada Geese and Snow Geese. We also saw a lone pair of Tundra Swans enjoying a moment on the tidal flats, their white bodies forming the two halves of a heart shape. Later we saw (more…)
When #MeToo Becomes #ChurchToo
I have an article at the Tyndale Read the Arc website. I hope you’ll click over to read it, and let me know what you think!
My #MeToo Article the second most-read article in Christian Century for 2017
2017 has been a year full of groundbreaking news stories — and still the #MeToo movement rises to the top. I believe this movement will continue to change our culture in the years ahead, and am glad my article contributed to the national dialogue, particularly within the church.
The January issue of Christian Century includes two articles I wrote. The cover story is my #MeToo #ChurchToo story about abuse at the hands of my senior pastor. Of course I want you to read that one!
But don’t miss the other article, which is a list:
18 ways that churches can fight sexual assault in 2018.
What would you add?
I’m happy — and rather nervous — to say that my article is on the cover of the Christian Century (January 2018). It’s a deeply personal story that I have not told before: A Pastor’s #MeToo Story
I also wrote an accompanying list: 18 Ways Churches Can Fight Sexual Assault in 2018.
As always, I look forward to your feedback. #ChurchToo
I saw this letter in the December issue of Sojourners — written in reaction to my “omitted chapter” which I titled: Skin in the Game. I share the letter here because it is evidence that sharing our stories can be helpful to others. Perhaps this letter will support someone else making a difficult decision.
Ruth Everhart’s article “Even In Cases of Rape” in the August 2017 issue helped me with a difficult decision. For years, I hung in with the church of my roots where three generations of my family were christened, married, and died. As a child, I witnessed behaviors by some clergy that I now know were grievous sins. As an adult, I listened to a pastor who told us 9/11 was God’s punishment for homosexuals and women who had abortions. When I questioned at a meeting why our church would not permit women to attend seminaries or become deacons, I was snubbed by the congregation. Feeling that I was in a spiritual crisis, I sent a heartfelt letter to our bishop, our spiritual leader, but received no reply. Still, I remained tied to my church, albeit by a thin thread. Thank you, Pastor Everhart, for helping me to finally cut that thread and pursue a church that is more godly.
What a treat to spend an hour in conversation with Michelle McKormick! We hardly stopped for a breath — there’s not even a station break. Michelle is dynamic, curious, and a people-lover — exactly what a radio host needs to be.
“Sound Off West Michigan” is on WJRW 1340 AM in Grand Rapids — the city where the “Heritage Hill Rape Robbery” took place in 1978. Michelle and I talk about the crime that “ruined” me and the events that followed, including the faith journey that spanned a decade.
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As a pastor I know how difficult, but important, it is to address the topic of sexual abuse — from the pulpit, in leadership meetings, and in adult education classes. Because I have unsought expertise in this topic, I am committed to sharing resources with my readers. Please feel free to use these and share them with others (please keep my byline in the footer). Let me know what happens when you use them, and feel free to make suggestions for revisions, or suggest additional resources that would be helpful to you.
~ Devotional on Tamar, found in 2 Samuel 13.
For Team Training on responding to abuse:
~ Training Scenarios of various inappropriate behavior in churches — how would you respond?
~ Readers Theater version of the story of Tamar, found in 2 Samuel 13.
~ Discussion Guide (Ministry Leaders) to facilitate a church’s response to #MeToo.
For Small Groups responding to personal stories of abuse:
~ Discussion Guide (General) for groups responding to the experience of sexual abuse.