Activity Being Avoided: shopping
Music In My Head: Peggy Gordon – The Dubliners
Tea Being Drunk: mint
Book Being Read: Daniel Deronda – George Eliot
Lent has ended. For me, this is sort of a let-down. I’m not one who goes in for fasting or deprivation of any kind during Lent. A long time ago, I gave up following Lenten rules and decided to add something for the 40 days. (Actually, one of my sisters will eagerly tell you the story of the last time I gave up something for Lent. I believe I was about 11 years old, and I told the Sunday School teacher that I gave up chewing gum. I’ve never liked chewing gum….) The new addition always gets me excited and duly focused, so I’m a little disappointed when I no longer have an excuse to obsess about this new thing.
This year, I added two things: a selective study of Christian text and a new religion.
More on the former in another post.
The “new” religion is Unitarianism. It’s one that I’ve appreciated since I was adolescent and picked up a book–was it William Blake or Walt Whitman?–from my parents’ shelves. I studied it a little in university. In truth, it’s always been more my style than Anglicanism. Don’t quite know why I didn’t give it a fair try years ago. Anyway, I rather like the parish here, so I’ve had my name-tag made and will let you know how it works out in the long run.
One of the things I like about Unitarianism is the “positive space” sign by the front door. While it’s very sad that our society still needs these things, it’s better to have it than not have it. What’s even sadder is when this sign is ignored… or re-interpreted by people.
I was really upset to hear that “positive space” could be interpreted as “You’re welcome here, but I’m uncomfortable with your choice because it goes against my religious beliefs”. This was said in a sermon by the minister, a sermon that was supposed to be supporting transgenderism. Perhaps as an English major I’m rather too narrow-minded about the precise meaning of words, but I don’t think this interpretation of positive can be anything other than “conscientious stupidity”. What was even more disheartening was that no one boo-ed her down from the pulpit; as far as I know, no one else had a problem with it.
I wrote the minister a letter. I’m not good at speaking (and I would have whacked her over the head with my cane, which is not conducive to changing someone’s mind, I’m told), so I thought a letter would be the way to go. Her response to the letter was a request that I meet her for tea, ostensibly so we could further discuss the matter.
She apologised, but then spent the rest of the time justifying her sermon. Her main justification was that she’d preached the same sermon in Halifax a while ago and no one had said anything about it… and she knew someone who was transgender so it wasn’t like she was prejudiced.
The minister left the coffee shop before I did; I stared at the dregs of my lemon-blueberry tea and thought about how disappointing humans can be. Then I thought of the Unitarian Seven Principles, my favourite of which is “Justice, equity and compassion in human relations”. If I’m ever to be proud of my manner of living, I have to think and act with compassion. I need to have compassion for those who prefer ignorance and stupidity, who hold their beliefs above someone else’s personal comfort in a “positive space”.
When I was growing up, we had a really tacky cookie tin that had sappy proverbs on it. The side that always seemed to be facing me said, “Be to her virtues very kind; be to her faults a little blind.” Ironically, I’ll have to keep the quote out of context for me to be able to say it without being struck by lightning. The rest of the stanza is this: “Let all her ways be unconfin’d; and clap your padlock–on her mind!”
As I would have anyone else do, I will become “a little blind” to this minister’s lack of consideration for other people so that she, too, might feel that it’s a positive space we gather in.
But I won’t stop trying to educate her. The padlock must be removed from her mind.