Sunday, December 8, 2019

Possibilities and Transformation

Sermon 2 Advent, Year A
Isaiah 11:1-10; Ps.72; Romans 15:4-13; Matt 3:1-12

(10am: May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.)

If I were to pick two words that I see as themes of our readings this morning they would be “potential” and “transformation.” 
There is such potential arising from the stump of Jesse…a shoot…a small twig…sprouting up out of dead wood. A light shines upon the shoot…a spirit of wisdom and insight and counsel is present. And then—imagine this? --wolves and lambs, calves and lions, cows and bears are all living together in peace on God’s holy mountain. In our translation, there is a little boy who leads this menagerie. The Hebrew—in some translations—is that the boy will herd them, which might make more sense given this unusual grouping of animals. 
There is even potential harmony in Paul’s letter to the Romans as Jews welcome Gentiles into the fold and the two are grafted together into the love of Christ.
And then there is John the Baptizer calling out in the wilderness: 
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight!” 
He’s like a trumpet sounding a blast to alert the populace: a new thing is coming! Come! Repent…which is to say turn over a new leaf in your life… get baptized in the River Jordan and be transformed! 
When the Pharisees and the Sadducees show up…(speaking of odd pairings?!)…John blasts them with some tough love…and yet he tells them to “bear fruit worthy of repentance.” There is still the potential for them…these keepers of the old…to become part of the new. For John, this is a demand that these two groups let go of their fixations on how one is to worship God and transform their “right way to do things” into the task of doing “the right thing” of God’s work: feeding, healing and caring for one another.
There is so much potential in all of these readings, so much promise. So much opportunity to hit the reset button and live differently and be renewed. 
And yet…these visions are not fully realized. The peaceable kingdom of Isaiah forecasts an amazing future…in this case a future for a post-war people of Israel. But it is only a vision.
The fledgling Jewish Christian communities of the early church will undergo many breaks and accusations of who can be a real follower of The Way.
And while the prophet Isaiah paints such a hopeful and shiny portrait of tranquility in the future, John is prophesying something wild and definitely disruptive. His is the potential of upending the current world order, one in which the religious authorities of the Temple, the Sadducees, and the keepers of the Law, the Pharisees, are considered “a brood of vipers.” And we all know snakes pose a threat in the Biblical story. John is predicting the arrival of someone wilder, woolier, more radical than himself who will bring a fire of baptism of the Holy Spirit. And that Spirit is going to burn away all the rot. Just wait and see!
In many ways, our biblical theme of seeing a future of what could be, what might be, what ought to be shouldn’t feel that foreign to us. Humanity always seems to be on the cusp of turning a corner and overcoming the things that ail us. We always seem to have great potential…but are full greatness lies just ahead of us. In this country, we have mass production of food and yet we have children who are hungry.  More women are in the professional work force with a third of all lawyers now being women and yet wage inequality between the sexes still exists. We support our troops, and yet too many veterans end up in homeless shelters. We promise racial equality…yet the systems remain in place that undercut that pledge. Oh, yes: The kingdom of heaven is near…and yet it has not arrived. 
Is there hope for ushering in a new heaven and new earth? 
Because there is a shoot…a twig…growing out of the old stump of Jesse.  New life is coming and is possible. It begins with following the call of John the Baptizer for us…each of us…to enter into a time in the wilderness and do the work of inner transformation. A time to reconsider priorities, and remember the mission of God, so that we can go about the task of healing, caring, and freeing our community to receive God’s gift of abundant and unconditional love that God so wants to bestow upon us. When we become reformed and reshaped…our transformation manifests in the spaces we inhabit. A prime example? Right here.
Just in the few months I’ve been with you I am seeing this image of this shoot as a perfect metaphor for St. Monica and St. James. 
This parish family has certainly known challenges over the past decade. Two congregations have become one body in Christ. Pruning has had to happen with the sale of the rectory. And the construction and refurbishing of the physical space has led to some periods that might have felt a little bit like venturing out into the wilderness. And yet something such as the installation of an elevator points to the potential of full access for all people to our newly painted worship space. 
At the town hall meeting two weeks ago, Father William noted some of the changes in our parish hall and the office area downstairs. The remodeling has such potential to bring in new life into this space and make this building a place of meeting God both in the quiet of worship and in active community engagement. 
All these grace-filled possibilities, all this God-given potential…lies ahead of us. Something new can happen…if we dare to dream it into reality. And it all begins with us tending to ourselves, welcoming in what is new, and allowing for the transformation to happen. 
We’re not there yet. But the possibilities lie before us.
May this Advent be a time for us to strive for our greater potential through our own transformation both in our hearts and in our house of worship. And let us do this so we can prepare the way for those who are seeking Christ in our community.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Bullies and Tyrants Beware: Christ the King Sunday

Last Sunday After Pentecost (Christ the King), Year C
Luke 23:33-43; Jeremiah 23:1-6; Ps. 46; Col. 1:11-20
St. Monica and St. James, Capitol Hill

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 
In the name of God…Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Church has been calling this last Sunday after Pentecost “Christ the King Sunday” since the early part of the 20th century. Yet nothing about this situation in our Gospel seems fitting for a king.
Let’s consider this scene for a moment. The man Jesus hangs bloodied and bruised between two criminals. “Leaders” are shouting at him. And in their taunting, they are calling into question his healing works and undermining faith in his teachings: 
“You saved others; save yourself!” 
Soldiers are making fun of him and laughing as they take articles of his clothing like they are party favors at this execution. The people stand by watching. We don’t know who they are, what they are thinking or feeling. We can imagine that if they are fellow Jews living in this Roman-occupied state, they might be angry, dejected, hopeless in the face of tyranny, and quite probably afraid. That was the purpose of crucifixion: to instill fear into the hearts of anyone who might dare to stand up to the authority. Terrorizing people who are powerless is a favorite tactic of bullies and authoritarians. It’s the way to keep people anxious, uneasy, silent. 
What kind of a King dies in such a horrible way, stripped down with his arms outstretched and pinned high above his chest and his head dropping to one side? How can a king be hung up on hard wood like a common criminal? If he’s a king, why are the leaders mocking him? As our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry once noted, the man called “The King of the Jews” was nailed to a cross by the unholy alliance in First Century Palestine of the political, religious and economic powers out to protect the status quo. Sadly, we know that such unholy alliances continue to remain in force in our world today and are ready to crush any attempts to change things. 
For those who claim earthly power, both then and now, 
Jesus is a joke. 
Encouraging an ethic of love, 
loving the stranger as your neighbor, 
forgiving the wayward one who comes home and says, “I’m a screw up and am not worthy,” 
healing people struggling with all kinds of demons; 
that’s not how a powerful person lives their life. By earthly standards, such caring and compassionate behavior shows weakness and vulnerability.
But then isn’t it interesting that even though there are three people being crucified, only Jesus draws out the ire of the powerful. 
There is something about Jesus that makes them so bitter that they make a spectacle of his death. Something about him has a strange pull on them. He seems to be such a threat to their comfort at the top that they feel they must not only inflict punishment and shame on him; they have to kill him in order to remain strong. Perhaps deep inside their hearts they are also afraid. 
Maybe they sense that he is stronger than them and his strength might expose their own weakness. 
That is the paradox of being a bully, isn’t it? It’s because they are weak, the bullies and tyrants of the world act out in destructive ways to mask their own vulnerability. 
In this whole scene there is only one person who sees through all the horror and the mayhem and can fix upon the truth of Jesus. 
And it’s not a soldier. 
Not a leader. 
It’s one of the criminals, another rejected member of society. 
In his own dying moments, this condemned convict looks to Jesus, and in his suffering, he pleads: “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” This man knows that Jesus is innocent. And in his request to be remembered into Jesus’ kingdom he is signaling to us that he has seen below the skin level of Jesus and is perceiving something more. He is seeing God made incarnate in the flesh. Realizing this, he knows this is the one who came into the world to 
“preach the gospel to the poor, 
heal the brokenhearted, 
free the captives, 
give sight to the blind, 
and liberate the oppressed.” 
It takes one who is among the broken, one who has been brought low himself, to know the divinity of Christ shining through that bruised and battered skin. It is one without earthly power who can perceive the real power hanging in agony with him.  
Here again we see the wonderful and un-worldly way that God’s grace works. Because it is not the prestigious and powerful or the bullies and tyrants who recognize Jesus. It’s the one who’s been banished to die. The one who might otherwise have been intimidated into silence. The one who, realizing that he has done wrong, begs Jesus: remember me. Remember me when you come into your kingdom. 
What this man sees in Jesus is what so many who have ever found themselves on the margins of society throughout history have seen in Christ. 
This is the king who can maintain compassion in the face of violent opposition. 
A king who can resist anger and can keep loving all the way to the end. 
A king being unjustly crucified by a corrupt system and yet can still maintain dignity enough to promise Paradise to the repentant criminal. 
If social media had existed in the First Century, Jesus would have been vilified by all those hiding behind their avatars. Because he is type of king whose power of love and true righteous justice intimidates and topples the bullies who feed on fear and hatred. 
We proclaim Christ as King because…in his dying and then his rising again… Jesus makes a pledge to one on the lowest rung of society that he will restore and liberate him from his worst self…and deliver him from his separation from God. 
If Jesus can say this to a criminal, how much more so do his words apply to us? How much more is he bringing us into his mission to face the injustices of our time which keep people in poverty, keep them captive to their fears and addictions, and press down upon those who yearn to breathe free?
This promise of being “re-membered” into God’s kingdom is renewed each time we come to this Eucharistic table and receive the body and blood of Christ. We are being renewed and reinvigorated with a life force, grounded in love, to resist the powers of this world that want to break us. When we take in Christ we are being given the strength to meet the needs of our community in the mission of God to love those who are lost, alone, or afraid. 
It is through us and our resilience to live into that love that we wear the crowns of our royal priesthood. And it is in this way…working through us… that Christ reigns as a true king on earth as in heaven. 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Difficult Work of Forgiveness

Sermon for 17 Pentecost, Year C
October 6, 2019   SMJEC
Texts: Hab. 1:1-4; 2:1-4; Ps. 37: 1-10; 2 Tim 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10

Increase our faith! That’s what the apostles are demanding from Jesus, but why are they asking this question? I feel as though I have just walked up in the middle of a conversation. Because…well…I have. 
For whatever reason…maybe to save time…or to reign in the preacher…our lectionary diviners decided to simply pick up basically in mid-thought with our Gospel passage. So I looked a little further back in Chapter 17 to see what exactly made the apostles so concerned that they would need to increase their faith.
Here’s a quick summary of verses one through four:
Jesus lays down some hard truths about what it is to be one of his followers. To draw nearer to God through Jesus we must realize that we are going to fall short of perfection…a lot. And while we are apt to stumble along the way…anyone who causes another to trip and fall and falter in their journey with God…that one might as well be prepared to die because a great millstone will be tied around their neck. That’s harsh. But then Jesus goes on to tell the apostles that if a person does them wrong…and then that same person repents and asks for forgiveness…the expectation is that the offended one will forgive their offender. And if the offender then sins against them again…and again…oh, and again and again and again and again and again? If the offender turns around and asks for forgiveness…the offended has to forgive. Not “ought to.” They have to.
I think we can now see why this might cause the apostles to swallow hard. In the days of Luke’s writing…the way of justice was one of retribution and revenge, not repentance and mercy. Even in our own litigious society, we would rather haul someone into court and seek judgment against the wrong doer than to engage in an act of forgiveness. Think about it: we’re less than a mile from the Capitol Building and the U.S. Supreme Court. Can you imagine if every contentious debate would invoke this Jesus model of forgiveness and mercy? 
If you have been following the news in Dallas with the trial of the white police officer who shot and killed her black neighbor, you might have heard that Officer Guyger broke down in tears and admitted that she had shot an innocent man. In her initial phone call to 9-1-1, she had openly worried that her actions would cost her in her career. That doesn’t exactly sound remorseful for the fact that she shot a guy who was in his own apartment eating ice cream because she had mistakenly thought she was at her own door. But at the trial, she expressed sorrow and openly wished that she had died. The jury found Amber Guyger guilty of murder. The victim’s family members were then allowed to give testimony about the life of Botham Jean which had been cut short. He was a happy man. He sang beautifully and was a member of his church choir. He loved people and they loved him. His death was like a crater in their lives. I’m sure many of us can relate to that feeling when a sudden or unexpected death plunges us into the numbing other worldliness of grief.
But then in one of those rare instances that happens in a murder case, Botham Jean’s brother, Brandt, looked at his brother’s killer and forgave her in open court. He did not excuse her crime. But what he expressed later is that he did not want to spend the rest of his life saying, “I hate you.” He wanted to free himself and his heart knowing that he had settled this matter with her conviction. And he hoped that she would find Christ. He then asked the judge if he could hug her. The two bee-lined toward each other and embraced. How much faith did that take for him to offer forgiveness to his brother’s murderer and to believe her repentance? How much faith did it take for her to embrace his act of mercy? Meanwhile, outside the courtroom, the protestors, who were deeply hurt and angry at the 10-year sentence in this case, chanted “No Justice! No Peace!”  And yesterday, news broke that one of the key witnesses who helped to convict Officer Guyger…one of Botham Jean’s neighbors…was shot to death. “Increase our faith.”
The ability to acknowledge that we’ve done something wrong, that we have caused hurt to another person… and to say we’re sorry requires humility. And the act of having the compassion to offer mercy also requires us to step down from a seat of judgment and stand on that floor of forgiveness. 
Increase our faith indeed!
I can imagine on most days, when we’ve been wronged or violated we might feel more like the prophet Habakkuk. Rather than asking for more faith, we wail to God “Where are you?! Why are you making me witness this?!”  
I know I am upset every time I hear of yet another shooting, or when I hear the newscaster say that each month is “the hottest we’ve had on record” as scientists confirm that—yes--the temperature of the planet is rising. Yes, we are losing more species of birds. 
Such tragedies and hardships can leave us feeling powerless and hopeless in the face of what seems to be a cruel and unjust world.  In the words of the theologian Howard Thurman, “Why does the evilness of evil seem to be more dynamic than the goodness of good?”  Such a force can feel too difficult for us to handle.
Here’s the thing: it is too difficult for us to handle! That’s what Habakkuk realizes in his complaint. God answers him: “There is still a vision for an appointed time.”  God is not going to say when that time is, but he is telling the prophet Habakkuk to have faith and keep watch. In other words: stick with me and I will get you to the other side of this troublesome time. 
Spoiler alert: the book ends with Habakkuk singing a victory hymn and declaring God’s glory.
All the evil and the brokenness in the world is too much for us, but it is not too much for God. That’s Jesus’ point when he answers the apostles.  Note that he tells them they don’t need to have faith the size of a boulder; just faith the size of a mustard seed…just a jot of faith…just a small amount of humility to trust in God. 
Putting trust in God is a way of finding inner peace and strength in times of difficulty. Wecan’t solve all the problems of the world or our community. But if we gave even one ounce of our energy to connecting to the Source of Light and Love that became Flesh through Jesus Christ…the promise of God is to meet us and strengthen us for God’s service to free our hearts to bring more love into our world. It’s about making our faith so strong and free that we could uproot a mulberry tree and toss it into the sea. 
There’s a closing sentence in our daily morning office that I have found to be a helpful reminder of this as I head out the door to start my day: 
“Glory to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to God from generation to generation and in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever.” 

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Pride Hits 50ish

Hello to those of you who are still occasionally checking this blog site. Seminary definitely has taken the ginger out of me having the mental bandwidth, energy, or actual time to keep up with posting on here. Pity! And that's why God gave me a summer break. That's right: a break. No tests. No papers. No CPE. I will have to do all of that in good time. But for now, I can do things in my own way, and at my own pace. 

It also means I've been free to participate in the Mickee Faust Club's "Queer As Faust XII" cabaret. Originally, I was only cast in one piece, in which I was acting behind a screen. Not much to do there. I was also directing two other pieces.  Fortunately, our artistic director made the artistic decision to put me in the cast of our opening musical number, one of the pieces that I read and had wanted to direct. But to be in it was much sweeter. It was a chance to dress in drag, Drag King in my case, leather jacket and blue jean cut off shorts. And it was the opportunity to tell the song...of our liberation as same-gender loving people.

The struggle which, in truth, began even before those hot summer nights in 1969 in New York City remains a modern day movement of continuously working for our right to be treated with respect and dignity. Transwomen of color are at tremendous risk of being murdered. The attacks on lesbian and gay people are on the rise worldwide. And we are living under a presidential administration in this country where the second in command pushes for policies to encode homophobia in the name of "religious freedom." All of these things seem to me to be contributing factors as to why the youth
of this country are showing signs that they aren't as "tolerant" of the LGBTQ+ community as in previous years.

It is a curious argument to make that Christians, who should be living in the liberating love of God, lack some sort of earthly freedom that keeps them so shackled that they need a law to protect them. Of course, they aren't actually under any kind of duress; they just want ban queer people from jobs, housing, or public accommodations. In other parts of the world, it is permissible to kill someone if they are discover they are gay.

This is why it is so important, now more than ever, for Christians who are queer and have known the loving, lifegiving, and liberating God make themselves known and seen. This isn't the time for us to be tame and toothless. We know we are part of the Gospel story. We have experienced God's truth as a loving, loyal, leader for Love. Therefore, if there is a group that must be ready to take to the streets on behalf of our community and show our young men and older women that when Jesus talks of "other sheep" who he must gather into the fold, he is searching for all those who have been hurt by the church corporate. And we must also be ready to shine the light of Christ into the dim places of our society where racism and anti-immigrant feelings still prevail. We are called to be bold and brave...just like those drag queens, butch lesbians, and street hustlers were at the Stonewall Inn in 1969. As this Pride Month ends, let's not forget the struggle our predecessors endured gives us the strength to keep fighting on. Or in the words of our Faust opening anthem:

We're here! We're queer! We'll never give up the fight.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

When the Homework Hits Home

Sometimes, I scare myself.

With our usual Old Testament professor in the Holy Land, the Academic Dean Melody Knowles was filling in as our lecturer. Her assignment was for us to write a psalm of lament for a community (thus assuring people would write on broader topics).  After much thought and prayer on where to go with this assignment, I decided to write on a topic that has driven much of my recent political action:  the wide availability of guns and the wanton killing of people in various otherwise innocuous settings.

And then, it happened again on Saturday. This time at a synagogue right before morning Shabbat services at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Just hearing the names and ages of those killed told a story to me. My wife is Jewish and routinely attends the Saturday morning service at her temple. The congregation is usually some of the stalwarts and most committed members of that Jewish community, the ones who volunteer to lead in any number of ways. Saturday is also the day when major ceremonies such as bar and bat mitzvahs take place. At Tree of Life, a baby and his family would be celebrating the bris, the time of circumcision. And so at this time of happiness, a man armed with an assault rifle and Glock pistols came into the sanctuary, shouted about killing Jews, and proceeded to do so. Eleven died at the scene...others were wounded.

And we are back to another round of a local community in mourning, the communities around that community offering love and support as they mourn, and a nation reeling from its own negligence to address gun violence.

So, with that....hear is the psalm that I wrote and posted for my class on Friday morning:

A Psalm Lamenting Gun Violence

1 O God, where are you?
        Why do you not answer?

2 Do you not see the body counts rising,
        or hear the mourners’ scream?

3 The tears of fathers and mothers
            Soak cheeks and inflame throats.

4 Does this blood cry out to you?
            Will these lives cut short touch you?

5 The opponents say not to talk of the horror.
            They reprimand us, saying “Too soon!”

6 Answer, Lord! Is it too soon?
            or is it too late?
7 Are we left to offer thoughts and prayers
to an empty void?

8 You are the God who hears our prayers
            and you know our thoughts both in our hearts and minds.

9 You wipe away the tears from the eyes;
            you do not take pleasure in violent deaths.

10 You alone hear the hoarse cries for help.

            Lord, come quickly to save us.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

"Welcome Home": Remembering Matthew Shepherd

Matthew Shepherd's remains have finally found eternal rest at the Washington National Cathedral, twenty years since a brutal murder in a Wyoming field sent his soul home to God.

I will never forget where I was when I learned the news of the attack on Matthew Shepherd. I was sitting at the traffic light at Magnolia Drive heading east on Apalachee Parkway. I was listening to NPR at the top of the hour and the news anchor announced that there had been a murder in Wyoming. A young man had been brutally killed, tied to a fence to die. His crime deserving of this gruesome death: he was a gay man.

And I wept. Twenty years later, I still weep.

Words cannot adequately capture all the emotions swirling inside me as I came to honor his life and the legacy that rose up out that act of senseless violence. To see Bishop Gene Robinson carrying Shepherd's ashes in the procession had multiple levels of powerful meaning. I found myself brought back in time to 1998. Gene Robinson was still Canon to the Ordinary in New Hampshire. It would be another five years later that he would be elected the ninth bishop of New Hampshire and my otherwise sweet and somewhat mild-mannered Episcopal diocese of my childhood would be attacked from all corners of the Anglican Communion, and +Gene would receive hundreds of death threats and have to put on a bulletproof vest every time he presided. Bishop Gene shared that on the day of his consecration in November, 2003, he received a note of encouragement from Judy Shepherd, the mother of Matthew. A connection was made. 

In 1998, I had already gone into exile from the Episcopal Church in Tallahassee. The traditional welcome signs had already disappeared at St. John's in downtown Tallahassee. In their place, an eagle that looked straight out of the Third Reich adored the corners of the church. It was truth-in-advertising: not everyone was welcome and the LGBTQ community most certainly was not. I was covering the Florida legislature where I regularly had to deal with lawmakers who had no problem telling gay teenagers visiting their offices that they were going to Hell, or looking this particular reporter in the eyes and gleefully talking of their latest piece of legislation that would attack the gay community. These were the years when I really should have been able to turn to the church.

Fast-forward to sitting in Washington National Cathedral today and being twenty years beyond that time. And all the things that have happened in between. There are far more people willing to be out and visible as LGBTQ and there are more straight people who are OK with the likes of me. Hard-earned rights such as marriage equality have been won, and lots of Fortune 500 companies were ahead of the government on recognizing the partners of their LGBTQ employees. In the Episcopal Church, there has been a sea change in the number of outwardly-queer clergy in the church, and there have been changes in the canons to live into the words spoken by former Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning: "in our church there will be no outcasts."

But progress doesn't happen without more struggle. I couldn't help but remember that Matthew Shepherd's death would be followed by one of the most deadly mass shootings in the history of the country at an Orlando gay night club on "Latin Night." And as Bishop Robinson mentioned in the sermon, Matthew Shepherd's murder was preceded that year by another grisly hate crime involving the dragging death of a black man, James Byrd, in Texas. Even though Matthew Shepherd felt welcomed and included in his Episcopal Church, not all Episcopal Churches or dioceses are equally welcoming.

I have quoted before the words from Judaism's Pirkei Avot that "it is not our duty to complete the work but neither are we excused from doing it." We owe it to the generations growing up today to break up the boulders of prejudice and hatred that keep blocking our forward progress. Those boulders are becoming larger and more formidable in today's Trump-inspired climate of trash talking and viciousness toward "the other." But that means it's time to switch out the pick ax for the heavy machinery. And we need to be willing to do it. As Bishop Robinson says that begins with the fundamental act of voting.

Matthew Shepherd's remains have now been laid to rest in a safe and public place. It is too bad his life could not be kept safe in public spaces in Wyoming 20 years ago. Let us not allow his death to be an ending but a beginning for some and a recommitment from others to equal justice for all, no matter "whose arms they're wrapped up in."* Today was a beautiful homecoming for the entire Shepherd family. May God continue to stay with them and make Love's presence known.

*paraphrase of Randi Driscoll's lyrics, "What Matters" sung as a prelude at the service.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Uncovering the Truth

Today, the nation is standing by as we watch and listen to an ugly, painful, personal account of when privilege thinks it can do whatever it wants whenever it wants to whomever it wants.

I am, of course, talking about the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as she recounts what happened to her many years ago when she was attending a party at a private high school in Washington, DC. Dr. Ford has stated that an inebriated 17-year-old white boy named Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when she was a teenager. Kavanaugh is a nominee for a lifetime Supreme Court appointment. A lifetime appointment. A lifetime of making decisions that will affect the lives of all of us in this country, and especially the women of this country.

Dr. Ford is not the only woman who has accused Kavanaugh of attempted or actual rape. Two others, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, also say Kavanaugh attacked them during roughly the same period. The Republicans and the man who calls himself the President of the United States have refused to honor the request of the women to have the FBI investigate their stories. An odd decision if they want to clear the name of the man...their man...accused of these assaults. They also have refused to subpoena Kavanaugh's friend, Mark Judge, who was also present during the alleged assault of Dr. Ford at that prep school party. Judge apparently wrote a book, a fiction, in which one of the characters had a name remarkably similar to Kavanaugh was known as a drunkard who liked to put notches in his belt in his conquests of girls.

Instead, the Republicans have hired a female prosecutor with an expertise in sex crimes to be the primary interrogator of Dr. Ford.

While I don't know any of these women or Brett Kavanaugh, I know this culture of prep school in the 1980s. Male power, privilege, and entitlement were a toxic cocktail that existed unchecked and unchallenged in these places. Dr. Ford's story...and those of the other women...ring so true that in a strange way, I find myself shaken at a personal level. There were incidents very similar to these types of assaults that happened on my campus and the typical reaction from the school was to keep it all under wraps, with no police involvement, and punishment meted out by the school's Discipline Committee. In my Freshman year, there were members of the hockey team expelled for a violent sexual assault on a female student. It was a terrible and scary event, and I attempted to use it as a way of convincing my parents to please withdraw me from the school. After a weekend of discussion and tears, my parents convinced me that it was better for me to stay at the school. And so I did. And I still want the T-shirt that says, "I survived a New England prep school."

Listening to Dr. Ford, she sounds like women I have heard tell their stories of what happened to them in sexual assaults. Their voices are tense. They sound small. It is hard to listen to them. And yet their voices must be heard.

I believe her.