Happy Fourth of July, everybody!
This is one of those holidays that most everyone can enjoy with friends, families, hot dogs, potato chips, apple pies... or in the case of my family... salmon and peas. For the record: I have never understood why my family believes this ultra-American holiday warrants salmon instead of a hot dog, especially when I think salmon should be left to swim freely in the water.
I do like this mid-summer celebration of when we, a nation of rag tag religious upstarts, told the British we were gonna do it OUR way.
Our way has had definite advantages. On the whole, the United States is a place where people can make a go of things in business. Our students do have the freedom to change their minds about what direction they want to go in with their studies. And we can voice our opinions without the government sending in soldiers to silence us... forever.
But we are far from realizing the potential of being a truly great nation because we still are hampered by the tyranny of greed and fear.
When I stepped on a rusty nail yesterday in our back yard, I knew that, as I was hobbling to my scooter to head to Patient's First, I was about to be hit in the face with the tyranny of a health care system that is designed to make insurance companies rich, and poor people even poorer.
For someone like me, who has an income that fluctuates wildly based upon consumer confidence and willingness to seek out massage therapy, it would be a financial hardship to pay $250-$300 a month to maintain health insurance that wouldn't kick-in to help until I've spent $50,000. My health care costs don't ever reach that, and my immediate needs of paying off debt, and the essentials of food and shelter, trump fattening the salaries of CEO's at health insurance behemoths. And so, until one of the professional organizations I've joined decides to band together to form a health care purchasing group, I'm pretty well screwed.
And when the emergency such as yesterday's occurs, I am stuck with paying $100 for seeking out medical attention... and another $43 for a tetanus shot that is overkill because I know I already have had a tetanus shot, but couldn't name the year. If I still worked for the state and had my managed care insurance, the visit, in the end, would have been $25.
And so, the person who is nonsalaried and low-income pays significantly more for necessary health care than the person who has a job with regular pay. And any attempt to change the system to make it more fair... where EVERYONE could have access to health care is deemed 'dangerous' or 'not as good'. And the "I've got mine and screw you" attitude persists at the peril of the poor. Tyranny of greed.
Next week begins the Episcopal Church's General Convention in Anaheim, and I can already see the other major tyranny, that of fear, beginning to raise its ugly head. There are some in the Episcopal Church, especially in the hierarchy, who are unwilling to accept LGBT people as full participants in the sacraments of the church. They don't want to bless our marriages. They don't want us to become priests. And they sure don't want us to become part of the episcopate. One gay man (or, at least, openly-gay and partnered man) is enough, and even he makes them squeamish. They want to keep things just as they are: welcoming gay people to be in the Church... especially in the fall during the Stewardship drives... but that's about it.
Some may not state it, but probably do think it, that the only way a person with a sexual orientation that isn't like theirs should have access to all the sacraments is if that person repents of their homosexuality. This is as absurd as asking a leopard to change its spots.
If you are gay, you are gay. Even if you don't act on it, or attempt to hide it... you are gay. And trying not to be gay when you are is extremely difficult, tiring, and can lead to depression... and separation from God. Why on earth would someone who is supposed to be leading people to God throw a stumbling block in front of a gay person by telling them to change who they are before they can be full members of the body of Christ? Hmmm... seems to me I remember Jesus saying something in Matthew 18 about putting stumbling blocks before "children" and what that might do to the person who is placing the impediment to God.... is that a millstone around your neck....
The only motivation I can see for this effort to keep excluding the LGBT community is fear. Fear that the Church may be changing. Fear that more of us "others" will start arriving in the Church seeking someone to minister to us in a world that treats us like crap. Fear that they might have been wrong about the meanings of Romans 1:26-27 or Leviticus 18:22 and God does NOT really intend to keep us as strangers at the gate. Fear that they might have to live into the Baptismal Covenant and really "respect the dignity of every human being." Fear of God... and not that fear that means "awe", but really fear as in "afraid" that God really is on the throne in heaven and has the earth as the footstool, and we are NOT to usurp his desire to be heard by ALL those with ears to hear and eyes to see. The tyranny of fear.
So, on this Independence Day, I'm thinking about how to toss off this tyranny. Let's have independence from fear and greed. Amen.