A Brief Introduction

Endeavoring to define myself outside of a "job title." I'm a nomad of sorts who fell in love with technology, activism, and helping others. I run a web & media consulting firm, have a blog specifically for activists & non-profits, and travel often. I love talking about theology, politics, and social change. I love doing something about it even more. I also like to be a well-rounded and fully present person. That's why I write here. Connect with me on twitter

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Personal Experiments

As I set out to read Gandhi's autobiography, subtitled “The Story of My Experiments With Truth,” I find myself asking many questions. What does it mean to be a person of faith? What does it mean to be a member of the global community? How does that relate to family relationships and local communities? What does it mean to be a man, a human? What does it mean to be queer? How does one practice non-violence in daily life? Is non-violence the solution? Is it a path? What would Jesus do? What does justice look like? How does one foster truth and create justice.

Gandhi viewed his life as a series of experiments. Experiments with nonviolence, with diet, with celibacy. Experiments in creating personal change and spreading social change. This idea of experimentation resonates with me. Conversations I had over many months led me to understand the impact of diet, demand, and food processing on not only the environment but on the economy and ability to deal with poverty. I was not an overnight convert. As I strive to maintain a vegetarian diet, I find myself not living up to that ideal. “Stumbling”, “slipping”, “falling” are Christianese words I might have used in the past.

Is perfection possible? Perhaps the lens I should look through is not purity. Let's be honest, one person's vegetarian diet is not going to end the abuse of creation nor solve global hunger. When I understand my pursuit to be one of many experiments, the weight is lifted a bit. I have some breathing room.

In April, I made the decision to work toward a vegan diet. Having been a vegetarian for almost a year, it was not hard to begin removing the remaining animal products from my diet. Life happened. A series of stresses, increasing time away from my apartment and ability to cook for myself, lots of travel. I cracked. A pretty gross “chicken” sandwich at Roy Rogers was my undoing. There are so many problems in the world: US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, violence across the global, a food crisis, global hunger, rising gas prices, domestic party, the second-rate treatment of LGBT people. And a chicken sandwich the only option unless I want to skip dinner or subsist on french fries. Great.

A chicken sandwich is not the end of the world. Yes, there are many problems inherent in the meat industry. But at that moment, I was juggling too many other experiments. Experiments in social justice for LGBT people and a reawakening that I—as a privileged member of Western society—have much to account for when it comes to my, perhaps indirect, subjugation of the world to my desires.

The seas have settled. I have centered myself and my advocacy around queer issues in New York City. I am educating myself around poverty, hunger, and homelessness issues. I'm preparing for studies and service. With those experiments in balance, I can return to my experiment with a vegetarian diet. Why adopt such a diet? What are the benefits? And more importantly, what are the costs? Are there unintended consequences? How do I balance a desire to reject violence and excess with the risk of indulging in what CS Lewis describes as a new kind of gluttony... a gluttony of “moderation” made to order through imposition?

I don't know. Perhaps a vegetarian diet isn't the answer. Perhaps non-violence is untenable. Perhaps the critics are correct and religion is not a force for good in the world. Perhaps.

In experimentation I have the freedom to be unsure. To test, to observe, to analyze and to adjust.

In what ways have you experimented?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Do I Believe?

The calling toward seminary or divinity school has been on my heart for a year now. I am settling into New York City, my family is a short trip away, I'm getting involved with social justice and LGBT activism in the city, Marble Collegiate Church has quickly become a home-away-from-home for me, work is exciting, and life is good.

"Life would be great if I didn't know any better," I often tell friends. But I do know better. I know that our global community is in the middle of a food crisis, I know that war is tearing up countries in the Middle East and Africa, I know that politics have been polarizing and divisive in the supposedly United States, and I know that a generation is aching for something deeper. I love my job, I think that I may have the best first job imaginable, though I am obviously biased. But I'm not quite sure how long I can stay put.

Blaine Hogan created a video showcasing Mars Hill Grad School and it captures in words, songs, and images my thought process as I weigh my future. Thanks to Stef, a YoungLife leader from my high school for the tip.

"what if..." an mhgs short film from difted on Vimeo.

Am I ready?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Marking History

When the California Supreme Court decision on marriage equality for gays and lesbians is remembered forty years from now, I hope that we remember the people and not just the policies. I hope that we remember my friend Diane Grey-Reed and her wife, who were married in a religious ceremony only months before and who rushed to the courthouse to legalize their nuptials. I hope we will remember the couples already signing up for ceremonies at my former church, La Verne Church of the Brethren. I hope we remember the brave San Francisco couples who boldly started this journey four years ago.

I am excited about couples we don't even know of yet. I am excited for the conversations between partners sparked on Thursday, "Is it time for us now?" I am encouraged by the young people who will find support and courage to share their stories and raise their voices. The relationships that will from the very first date hold open the option of marriage.

Unlike Massachusetts, California allows all couples to marry in the state which means when that person and that time comes, I have a pastor and a church in Los Angeles already waiting for me to come back. And that feeling is indescribable.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Congratulations California!

I have been tempted to rush a blog post off about California's recent decision. I've already seen 6 scroll past on my Google Reader and I've received (literally) 17 IMs about the case. I won't even bother linking to coverage because by now, only 3.5 hours later, you've probably read most of it. I'm going to give myself some time to digest the significance of what was just accomplished. And since I'm flying to Los Angeles tonight, I'm going to revel in the moment a bit before I put it all out in writing.

I will say though that I have been filled with overriding sense of happiness. My Facebook News Feed is now almost completely full of status changes about the decision. As I talk to friends, I hear that they too have been receiving happy IMs about it. The country is a buzz, justice is contagious.


Uncomfortable Anxiousness

With the California Supreme Court decision for marriage equality less than an hour away, I am uncomfortably anxious. In the past weeks, I have responded that I am "cautiously optimistic" when asked my thoughts on the case. Soon, I will be either excited or disappointed.

Having spent four years in California, I feel invested in this decision. As with the Maryland court case, I am reminded of the interesting position I find myself. Men and women I do not know will determine the validity of my relationships. Ability to form long-term relationships, affect on children, influence on the political climate ... very personal parts of my life are up for public debate.

It is uncomfortable for me and in that uncomfortable place I find strength. It is uncomfortable for the "Arab looking" man who is always stopped at airport security. It is uncomfortable for the black youth getting suspicious glances from subway patrons. It is uncomfortable for the female presidential candidate who is called a conniving bitch while all the men are bold and determined leaders.

And so today, I will not let this decision define me. If it is positive, I will celebrate and if it is negative, I will take a moment to grieve. But always I will continue striving for a world in which justice rolls down like water.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

"How do I feel about the gays?"

At the Middle Church street fair, she spoke to the lady next to me who was passing out information about a theatre company. Their conversation was casual and ordinary. As she walked over to me, she surveyed the materials on the table, information about Soulforce NYC and various publications from national. Then she looked up at me,

"How do I feel about the gays?"
She asked as if it mattered, that her assessment of my humanity would mean something.
"I like you all."
It sounded a bit off, I wondered if she might have a mental or emotional disability which effected her interactions. But still, I heard it as if I should be grateful for approval. But that is not what she was saying.
"I used to be homeless. When I was pregnant and living on the street, three gay guys came up to me one day and said "You are coming with us." They picked me up and took me with them. "You need to be eating for two now," and they took care of me until I gave birth.
She grabbed my hand to shake and pulled me in to kiss my cheek. "Gay people took care of me when I needed it, there will always be a special place in my heart for you." She collected one of each publication we had on the table. "They didn't forget me and I won't forget you. I'm going to do everything I can for you."

She scribbled her name, number, and address down in case I ever want to talk. And then she hugged me and walked away. I hope I get to see her again.

And to the three gay men who took care of Lucille all those years ago, thank you. By touching her life, you touched mine as well.

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