Just recently, I’ve heard talk that colleges across the country are finally beginning to do something about the rampant “rape crisis” occurring on their campuses. Their solution? Prohibiting hard liquor on campus. Those celebrating this news find their joy in the logic that decreasing access to alcohol will decrease the number of rapes.
Let me just clarify something: Alcohol does not rape. There are plenty of alcoholics who manage to get through a bender without raping anyone. Yes, cognition is impaired with alcohol, but there are plenty of impaired individuals who stagger around without disregarding another human being’s right to her own body. (Please don’t read this as a defense of alcoholism but rather an attempt to restore accountability.)
Rape is a crime of power and control, not a sexual act or a crime of Sex While Impaired. You can remove all the hard liquor you want and even come back for the beer and wine, but you will still have rape, because you will still have men who feel entitled to treat women like property. You will still have men who encourage one another to treat rape like a game or a hunting party, with women as the prey.
It is my opinion that as women become more empowered, men feel an increased need to act out in this shameful way, an attempt to put women in their place by dominating them sexually. Have you noticed that rapes on campus have increased since Title 9? It is a theory of mine that bears consideration.
If we truly want to make rape a crime of the past, we need to raise young men who are not threatened by sharing power. We need to teach our children that gender equality is a basic human right. They need to hear that sex is not a game or a sport. We need to stand up to the rapists and abusers in our midst to very clearly let them know that these kinds of actions are not acceptable.
If the colleges really want to make a difference, they should begin monitoring the actions of their students more closely and when a transgression occurs, remove the perpetrator — NOT the victim — from the environment. Until perpetrators feel there is a real, long-lasting consequence for THEM, rape will continue, alcohol or no alcohol.
Power seeks to retain power. And by the way, it is not the rapists who hold all the power. Power is shared by the administrative bodies of colleges, along with the wealthy alumni who influence decision-making. They are the ones who receive the failing grade from me, for abuse of power and for continuing to privilege athletes who “make money” for these institutions of higher learning at the expense of the safety of their female students.
Alcohol is not the culprit, it is the excuse. Rapists are responsible for rape, along with the colleges and universities that enable them. I give you an F- and insist you repeat all Humanities courses until you achieve that “higher” learning you espouse.
Went on calls yesterday. Visited a few church friends who are struggling with poor health and the changes it has brought to their lives. It is a subject my beloved and I discuss often. We are all a heartbeat away from life-altering circumstances and we see evidence of that every week in our respective lines of work.
It is enough, at the very least, to give us pause. At worst, it scares the daylights out of us. We recognize that we are already on the downward slide of life, where we will begin downsizing in preparation for physical disability that may prevent us from navigating stairs and doing yard work. We know that, if we live long enough, we may end up in an assisted-living facility, where our room may consist of a bed, a chair, a dresser and a television, our roommate may be the anti-Christ, and the food may taste like sawdust.
These and other similar thoughts were on my mind as I concluded my last visit. Exiting the hospital elevator, I found myself walking next to a young man in his early 20s. He was crying. I couldn’t help asking him if I could help. He said no. We kept walking toward the parking lot and I intruded on his grief again, saying, “I don’t want to bother you, but I hate to see anyone so upset. Do you know someone in the hospital?”
He began telling me about his grandpa, who was struggling with the same life challenges that had crowded my thoughts a moment before. Grandpa was never going home. Grandpa was never going to be able to go fishing, or bowling, or attend ball games. Grandpa was never going to be the same again. “What’s the point of it all?” he asked. “You spend your whole life working and then bam, it’s all over. What’s the point of any f—ing thing?”
As he talked about how much he was going to miss doing those things that he used to do with his grandpa, it sounded as if all his fun days were over, as well. It sounded as if he would never be the same again. I asked if his grandpa would want him to stop fishing and bowling and going to ball games. “Of course not” he said, “but that’s not the point.” “Isn’t it?” I asked. We talked a bit more about his grandpa’s legacy of fun and how he could continue that legacy by sharing it with others. After all, life isn’t about where we end up, but how we spend our days getting there.
I don’t know about him, but I felt better as I drove away.
“In the end, it is not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln
Here’s a message, along with a little unsolicited advice, to our incoming Bishop, Karen Oliveto, the first openly lesbian Bishop elected by the United Methodist Church.
First, I greet you in the name of Christ. I am glad you will be our Bishop. I acknowledge the good work you have done as Sr. Pastor at Glide UMC in San Francisco and hope you find a loving and inspiring home here in the Rocky Mountain Conference.
Next, I pray strength for you and our Conference as we break new ground in God’s realm of love on earth. I pray courage for you as you do what few have done before you: To be the first. I pray you remain God led, Christ centered, and Spirit borne as you continue your faith journey and life of service.
And, if you will permit me, I offer a little advice. Remember Jackie Robinson, the first African American to move from the Negro Leagues to integrate major league baseball. Remember Margaret Sanger who opened the first birth control clinic in the USA — an illegal act at the time — and later founded Planned Parenthood. Remember Queens Elizabeth I, Victoria, and Elizabeth II, three of the longest reigning monarchs in the history of Great Britain, the latter two owing their acceptance and success to the first female ruler of that country. Remember Malala Yousafzai, who is still paving the way for girls to get an education in a land where so many violently try to prevent it.
Remember you are not alone. You may be the first lesbian Bishop, but you are not the only one who has walked this trailblazing path. Others have done it in their own fields — and survived. You are not alone. You may be the first lesbian Bishop, but that is not why you were elected! Your gifts and graces in leadership and vision have been recognized and honored with your election. You are now charged to take authority and lead.
God be with you, Bishop Oliveto, and with all of us in the United Methodist Church as we travel the new paths God has placed before us. May we all make this journey together with grace and love, following Christ in word and deed. And may the peace of God that surpasses all understanding guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus, now and always. Amen!
I feel like I knew him. His writing affected me so profoundly that he feels a part of me, part of my psyche. His history has become part of my history. His life has impacted mine. And yet I never met him, never heard him speak. He was a stranger, but one whose words rippled into my life and left a permanent imprint. And now he is gone.
The death of Eliezer Wiesel has barely been mentioned in the news. While we are still subject to the details surrounding the disposition of the estate of the artist formerly and currently known as Prince, the Nobel Peace Prize winner seems hidden from view. Or is it possible that I’ve just missed all the accolades that have been raining down on Elie from the national and local media?
I could fill that gap here, and go on about the numerous awards Wiesel received, or the famous people he inspired, or the political leaders he counseled and scolded, or how unswervingly determined he was to fight human indifference in order to end all genocide. But what I really want to say is simply this: read “Night.” If you’ve never read it before, you must read it now. Even if you have read it before, read it again. Just read it. This book is on my list of Must Reads for all humanity. It is not a summer beach book. It is not an easy read. But it is an important work that will at least edify if not modify your world view.
Elie, thank you for your work. Thank you for opening your life to us. Thank you for being the catalyst for our memories. We will not forget.
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. Elie Wiesel
This day is not easy for everyone. For some, it brings bitter-sweet memories of fathers lost. For others, it is an all-too painful reminder of fathers who were not loving. And then there are those who mourn the fact that, either by choice or by chance, they are childless.
While most folks honor loving, heroic dads, there are those of us who have struggled with these 24 hours, where others celebrate what we lost, or never had. Whether we experience fractured families or sorrowful loss, Father’s Day carries with it the potential to be a major sob-fest.
However, if we are wise, we find ways to celebrate. We focus on those men who were there for us, who filled the gaps left by inattentive, absent, or abusive fathers. We rejoice in friends who walked with us through the valley of disappointed hopes and missed opportunities. We celebrate the father-figures.
For me, it was the men at church who filled in the gaping holes left by my father. What would I be today without the faith family of my youth? How can I ever repay the kindness, the care and concern, the time spent at Family Camp, at the Father/Daughter Luncheons, on bike rides, playing guitars, and in simple conversation? Instead of feeling maudlin today, I counted my blessings and gave thanks for Wayne and Ray and Jim and Fred and Weldon, father-figures every one, who gave time and attention to me in addition to their own families.
This is not to discount the strong, amazing women who also influenced me. But today is for fathers. So, to all you father-figures out there, don’t ever forget that your love and care and kindness to that “extra child” matters. You may not realize it, but your words and actions make a difference that may last a lifetime.
God bless you and happy Father’s Day!
John Lennon asked us to imagine a world with “Nothing to kill or die for,” a world of people living in peace, a world without greed and hunger, a world of sharing.
I love that song.
A long time ago, a church friend asked me how I could love that song when it was so clearly anti-religion. I shrugged my adolescent shoulders and gave a reply worthy of Dick Clark’s American Bandstand: “I don’t know, I just really like the music.”
Now, however, I would give a different answer. I would say that I love that song because it is anti-anything — including theology — that divides people and prohibits peace.
In the wake of yet another mass execution, I mourn as I acknowledge that either we didn’t imagine hard enough or we imagined and then failed to act. We got so caught up in our individual ideas of what is right and wrong that being right became the act we imagined, rather than being agents of peace and reconciliation.
As the spiritual leader of a local church, I pray that we are not only people of dreams and vision, but also bearers of the Light. I pray that we imagine a way to prevent any more mass killings and then turn that way into a reality. I pray that we work with other faith communities to strengthen unity and break down what divides us. I pray no more Columbine, no more 9/11, no more Sandy Hook, no more Aurora, no more Orlando — no more city names or dates that become associated with death.
If we do not stop perpetuating hate between religions and countries, if we don’t curb our gluttonous appetites for more, more, more, and if we don’t put an end to this senseless violence… eventually, there will be no one left to imagine anything.
What are we waiting for?
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one.
from “Imagine” by John Lennon, October 11, 1971
I witnessed an incident of road rage this morning. Thank God, I was not involved. By the time I heard the honking and became aware of what was going on behind me, two cars were head to head, refusing to yield the right of way and displaying their anger with a great deal of shouting and waving of arms. One car finally backed up and went on its way, but the other car did a u-turn and took off in hot pursuit of the first car.
What on earth happened that could make people that mad that early in the morning? I could see at the end of a bad day, where everything had gone wrong and they were on their last nerve, that losing their temper might be at least understandable, if not acceptable. But at 9:00 in the morning? You’d have to wake up mad and carry that into the car with you. I can’t help wondering what kind of mental and emotional nightmare those people must be living through to get into such a public confrontation first thing in the morning.
Maybe they work the night shift. Maybe they’ve been up all night with a sick friend. Maybe they just lost a loved one and are in the anger stage of grief. Maybe they just went 15 rounds with their teenagers. Maybe they are not fans of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and are still outraged over the results of the Tuesday New York primary.
Whatever the reason, I have a solution. They need to watch preschool children sing the Inky Dinky Do song. Once you have heard 30+ little kids singing about having a “think-boxer” and an “ear-flapper” and a “food-chomper,” and “That’s what I learned in school,” you have to smile. And when they do the hand motions that go with it, well, I was laughing out loud. In my humble opinion, this should be required viewing for anyone waking up with a chip on the shoulder.
I pray more Inky Dinky Do days for all of us and a lot less of whatever it is that causes us to rage out of control at one another. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). For me, it doesn’t get any purer than Inky Dinky Do.