Rev. Paul M. Turner

Clearing Out the Temple

Since the end of March I have been trying to write my next blog. I know the subject I want to cover, but I have hit that “writers block” which is made of solid brick.

Part of the reason for the block is there is just so much un-Christian like behavior and events going on that about the time I settle into something I want to say or share something else happens and I find myself unable to write anything that makes any sense or is the least bit thought provoking.

While rummaging in my wasteland of a writers mind, a friend and colleague of mine Rev. Lisa Heilig needed to let off some steam concerning the world we live in and the community in which both are Pastor’s. She is one of those Pastor’s that I greatly admire because she is one who has a “pastor’s heart” and wears it right out there for everyone to see and experience. Currently she is on a Sabbatical so she can do further Studies in the Gospel, Culture, and the Transformation of the Church at Columbia Theological Seminary.

She like a lot of us who work so hard for our communities is tired and frustrated and when I read her words I knew what my block was about, what my frustration is and why I feel so helpless in writing about any subject much less anything pastoral.  She hit the old theological nail on the head!
So while I pull myself out of the swamp of unending excuses for not writing, I give you my friend’s pastoral rant.  I will have my mind cleared to write the blog about gun control and gun violence next week.  In the meantime without further delay I hope Rev. Lisa will touch your heart and jangle your nerves.
Warning: rant ahead. But, even though it is a little lengthy, please read to the end.
 I am over it. I am over the sexism, racism, heterosexism, Transphobia, xenophobia, ableism, ageism, and classism! I have witnessed, sometimes very closely, all of these happen over the years, but at least once in the last week.
I am over it when a woman says something and it is ignored until a man says the same thing. And, while I’m at it, rape jokes are NEVER funny.
I am over it when people of color are targeted by law enforcement in harsher ways and people in mixed race groupings are stared at.
I am over it that my wife of 19 years and I cannot just go down to the courthouse, but have to plan to go out of state to secure our rights.
I am over it that trans* and gender non-conforming people are victims of violence – physical, emotional, spiritual – so often.
I am over it that derogatory “jokes” based on nationality are considered funny.
I am over it that businesses (including some churches) are unwilling to make even minor accommodations for person with differing abilities.
I am over it that young people and their outlook and opinions are so often easily dismissed and that older people’s experience is devalued.
I am over it people are so concerned about affiliating with people and organizations that are the “right” ones, i.e., middle-class…
I am beyond over it with the ways that violence has been become so commonplace
I am over others saying those of us who share these experiences are “too sensitive” or playing a “card” or that when we hold people accountable for their actions of exclusion, that we are bullies.
While I am in rant mode, let me make this clear:
Just because I look like you, does not mean I think like you. And, just because I do not look like you, does not mean I don’t feel like you.
My parents grew up in a segregated South in the 60’s and probably should have been exclusionary and taught us to be, and yet, they did not.
They taught us LOVE.
Not perfectly, because none of us can. I remember one time asking them, specifically, about racism and how they escaped the worldview they grew up in.
My mother talked about how moved she was by watching the news reports about Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement and how that spurred her to read and learn more. My father, A Vietnam vet with a colorful way with words, said that, “When the enemy’s on your ass, you don’t care the color of the person who’s got your back, you just care that they do.” They opened up and learned to know better and did better by their children.
I am not perfect, either, and despite my best intentions, may end up with a negative impact on someone or a group of someone’s – for times I have and will do this, I am truly sorry and beg forgiveness as I strive daily to know better and do better, to bring down barriers and build bridges.
And, in the end, although I am over all of the ways we hurt instead of help each other, I have hope for a world where we walk together in the ways of healing and wholeness for all.
It is a deeply spiritual hope that love will be lived out and peace will prevail, a hope bolstered by my faith in the God of my understanding, which is a God of radically inclusive love.
It is a hope strengthened by other situations that I get to see…
when little girls are praised for their smarts and strength, not just for being a pretty princess, when groups of children play together in harmony with no regard for the skin color of those next to them, when discriminatory marriage laws fall and more and more communities pass inclusive non-discrimination laws.
When trans* actress and activist Laverne Cox graces the cover of Time magazine and is interviewed in a respectful, thoughtful manner,
when the gifts and achievements of peoples of all nationalities are lifted up and honored.
When persons of differing abilities are included in the lives of our communities as a matter of course, when the leadership of youth is sought out and valued, and our elders are listened to and appreciated, when we care less about being affiliated and getting things done in the “right” way and more about coming together for good, and when we indeed come together, even in our pain, and find ways to reason together for peaceful resolutions.
We have so much work yet to do. And the work can seem so hard, but it isn’t really just about us. We tell our kids “It gets better” and it gets better faster if we work together with open hearts and minds, with compassion and kindness, so that when our faith flags, someone else can lift us up and carry us until we find our footing again.
Thank you to so many of you who do that for me. Rant is over,
The way and work of love calls – meet you there…
Amen sister, Amen!