Sunday, June 27, 2010


I'm feeling moody at the moment, so I'm taking a break from other tasks to do a little journaling. My moodiness is partly worry: Hugo's trapped out-of-town because of car trouble, and we don't yet know what the trouble is (or how expensive it will be).

My mood is also a carry over from last weekend. Two members of the Episcopal church Hugo and I attend here were ordained deacons as the next step in a journey which will end with their becoming priests. That was on Saturday at an old fancy church in Raleigh. On Sunday, there was an outdoor Eucharistic service at a campground where the two new deacons preached and assisted with communion, which was celebrated by a former member of the same congregation who became a priest a couple years back (the same person who created for me the Liahona icon you see on the top of this blog).

It was a homecoming, and the congregation was very happy, and I felt selfishly depressed. Watching these individuals, all of whom I know quite well, move into their vocations reminded me that I do not have a faith community that's willing to help me live out what I perceive to be my vocation. A few weeks ago, I was asked to orchestrate the reading from Acts at the Pentecost service, which in this congregation's tradition involves people reading in multiple languages. I organized something that hadn't been tried in previous years but that I hoped would enrich the spirit of the celebration, and afterwards the vicar asked me if I hadn't been gay, would I have become a Mormon priest. She was assuming that Mormons have a professional clergy, like the Christian groups she knows, so what she was saying was: You seem to have certain pastoral gifts; before you came out and had to leave the Mormon church, did you contemplate entering the ministry? It was a depressing question, and I was reminded of it again last weekend as I watched the new deacons exercise their new roles.

I don't think I've told this story on this blog before, so here goes: In 2001, I did a three-day retreat at a Trappist monastery. Doors that I'd thought had been standing open as options for my future had closed, and I was trying to figure out what God wanted me to do with my life. I had these loves and yearnings—to teach, to go back to the Dominican Republic, to do ministry, to explore new ways to tap into the spiritual resources of Mormonism. What was God trying to tell me about my vocation?

So at one point I'm walking down this snowy road, reflecting, and all of a sudden the question comes into my head: What would you ideally like to be doing, if you could do anything? And I knew immediately what the answer was: I would like to be a full-time missioner, like I'd seen in other denominations, working in the Dominican Republic, helping to build up the LDS Church, which in my imagination was more like a liberal Christian church. That, I thought, is what I yearn to do. That's my calling. And of course, it's a calling that can never be.

Whether I would actually have the skills and the stamina to do the kind of full-time missioner work I was envisioning is a whole different question—and working through that question is what discernment of vocation is all about. But the point of this story is: I realized at that moment that I yearned to do with my life something that I simply couldn't do because the possibilities just didn't exist. You might think that would be a depressing realization, but it was actually liberating. I didn't have to wonder anymore what these yearnings of mine were calling me to do. I knew—and I knew I couldn't have it. And I'm hardly the first person to live and die in this world yearning for opportunities they simply couldn't have. Think of all the women suffragists who didn't live to see the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Think of all the slaves who never obtained the freedom they dreamed of. Etc., etc., etc.

So the pressure's off. My task now is simply to find little ways to lay the foundation for a day when, hopefully, someone who wants the things I want will have realistic possiblities for achieving them. Maybe that day won't come. But the hope by which I live—as in "faith, hope, and charity"—is that God can somehow make the little seeds I sow grow into something else.

Which doesn't, however, stop me from indulging in a narcisstic self-pity about the fact that other people do get their wishes. Last weekend, I started a moody little prayer about my dreams deferred, but then I stopped and thought: Oh for God's sake, John-Charles, pull your nose out of your navel and pray for people whom life has really robbed.

My prayers are with Hugo, dealing with this mess with the car. One of my nephews was baptized this weekend. My mother continues to be slowly devoured alive by the tumors taking over her body. I derive an angry, dark, helpless satisfaction from the thought that when the resurrection comes, she will rise again, but the tumors will not. We may not be able to keep you from taking her down now, you s.o.b's, but someday we are going to take her back. Now is all you get.

Friday, June 18, 2010

This is what prophecy looks like

I was reminded of the street theater of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.

UPDATE: Ancient scriptures (for that matter, modern LDS scriptures) leave us the names of far too few female prophets, so I should name this one. An NPR new story identified her for me as "Diane Wilson, a 61-year-old fourth-generation fisher from Seadrift, Texas, near the Gulf Coast." God bless her for her courage.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wo to BP...

...and to the corrupt federal officials who collaborated in their deception. Kudos to the AP's Justin Pritchard, Tamara Lush, and Holbrook Mohr for doing what journalists should be doing: digging through the bull**** shoveled out at us by the powerful to uncover truth. Their exposé of BP's bogus spill response plan and risk assessment is here.

I really am trying to cut back on this kind of ranting, but the ongoing disaster in the Gulf is too infuriating. So here goes:
Wo to those who are deceivers,
for thus says the Lord:
I will bring them to judgment.
(D&C 50:6)
Let's see heads roll already!