Combating Commercial Christmas in a Seasonal Church

As the season of Advent approaches, a reflection on the true meaning of Christmas from one Christian’s point of view.

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The Holidays. Some people love them; some people hate them. I, personally, navigate them in much the same way that I navigate baseball, basketball, and football season. Sports and the holidays mean everything to a lot of people. They throw their heart and soul into the appreciation of them. I don’t want to spoil anybody’s fun, not to mention the fact that being critical of these practices can get you quickly dropped from any number of social calendars. I just try to go with the flow, and manage to find some things to enjoy in all the hubbub. So I’m not exactly Scrooge and I’m not exactly Charlie Brown.

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Like, Bridge over, Troubled Waters

Bridge as a healing force in a time of division.

I breezed through my freshman year at Marietta College. I carried five subjects—math, chemistry, physics, English and geology, 18 hours of credit—and ended up with a 4.5 average. Naturally, I emerged from that experience just a little bit too cocky. I also had decided to be a GDI and not pledge. As the next fall rolled around, I acquired a freshman girlfriend; I’ll call her Debbie. I discovered bridge through Debbie, and I went wild. I did love to play cards, but bridge was not a game that came with my family. Those games were canasta, poker, and pinochle, games at which my parents, uncles and aunts were masters. Unfortunately, Debbie went home to the East Coast at the end of her first semester, and I was a contributing factor in that eventuality. Decades later, I would encounter her on TV by chance channel surfing, and I was glad to see that for all appearances, she had made a successful life for herself.

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Old Age Ain’t for Sissies. Oh, really?

A reflection for the International Transgendered Day of Remembrance

About ten years ago, I was in the lobby of Barnes-Jewish Hospital going to my car from a visit with my spouse, Stephen, who was recovering from an operation. Crossing my path on his way into the hospital for tests was an old friend and former colleague of mine and his wife. We exchanged greetings, brief “catchings up,” and the reasons for our presence there in the lobby. I’ll call this colleague “Roy.” He says to me, “Well, old age isn’t for sissies.” Irrepressible as I am, I stepped back slightly and turned my hand in a gesture of self-display and said, “Oh, yes it is.” And I laughed. He and his wife did, too. Perhaps for each of us, it was a bit of a nervous laugh. I mean, a couple of decades before that, my gay activism had been on display at the campus on which Roy and I then taught. I was known to Roy as a gay activist, a hard-working and competent university professor, and also a man in a long-term same-sex relationshp.

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In Case We Lose

I am a peon. It’s interesting to look at the English Oxford Living Dictionary for the definition of this word:

  • A Spanish-American day laborer or unskilled farm worker.

    1. North American A person who does menial work; a drudge.
      ‘racing drivers aren’t exactly normal nine-to-five peons’
    2. historical A debtor held in servitude by a creditor, especially in the southern US and Mexico.
  • B (in South and Southeast Asia) a low-ranking soldier or worker.

    1.  An attendant or messenger.

It’s hard to be honest about my situation, because my male white privilege has shielded me from the blunt truth: despite my academic skills, acquired through decades of study and sacrifice, despite my somewhat sedentary 33 year career as a professor, despite the fact that, in retirement, I carry no debt, despite the fact that I, a sometime gay activist,  have always kept more than one foot in the straight world, despite all these things, I am a peon. I work for the man. The man lets me live.

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