Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Out-Luthering Luther?

Well, I've just about had it. A full year after I'd thought our pastor had given up on her "Let's hide the gays from the Latinos" scheme, I find out she's still at it. Balkanizing us into groups to avoid dealing with us as individuals, and pushing us around like pawns on a chessboard. And my fellow church councilmembers (the straight ones, anyway) have morphed into The Stepford People -- totally without consciences or wills of their own, apparently. Over this entire year, no one has had the backbone to stand up to her. Have I missed something, or have we elected her pope?

These people like to brag about their Lutheran heritage, but they'd toss Luther out the first time he made them the least bit uncomfortable. The Lutheran Church -- even its most liberal branch, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America -- has gone Catholic. Sooner or later, the institution becomes all-important. Don't rock the boat...don't make waves.

This is as insulting to the Latinos as it is to the gays. It is downright degrading to everybody -- even the pastor. Especially the pastor. I am so outta there.

The ELCA's "Sexuality Statement" is also an insult to everybody. They manage to take half a gazillion words to say absolutely nothing. And they took seven years of "study" to do it! I. AM. OUTTA. THERE. With bells on.

Truth be told, my two years in the United Church of Christ spoiled me for anything else. I lost my head and returned, from there, to the Catholic Church, quickly realized what a boner that was and then, too embarrassed to return to the UCC, went through my whole rediscovery of Luther -- who did, indeed, help me through my final break with Rome -- and returned, anew, to the Lutheran Church of my youth. Again, I have popped a massive green one.

There's a UCC downtown that everybody's talking about. Several friends and acquaintances of mine go there, and they all are proud to call it home. I'm on my way there, myself. Is the UCC for me? To quote them quoting Gracie Allen, "God is still speaking," and "Never place a period where God has placed a comma." Among all the children of Israel, Gracie is my favorite prophet.

The denomination has a stellar history. They didn't do so well with the Salem Witch Trials, but they pulled out of that tailspin pretty completely. Half the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Congregationalists, as the denomination was then called. They stood strong against slavery when few other churches did anything but cheerlead on its behalf. They were staunch champions of women's rights when that, too, was, to most of Christendom, considered uncool. And they have led the way for GLBT rights like nobody else under Christ.

Obama's church, too, huh? Jeremiah Wright said some wacky things, but I must admit I agree with at least 95% of the things I've heard him say. Including some of the stuff Obama himself has disavowed. I like the way they stood up to the IRS, too. Were there any justice in this world, most of the churches on the Religious Right would have lost their tax-exempt free ride decades ago.

First Congregational United Church of Christ. The "Church of the White Spire," as it's known here in Phoenix. Historic building -- it even looks the part of an old-style Congregationalist church. Come this Sunday, God willing, I am there. And maybe -- if, again, God is willing -- I will truly be home at last.


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