Pride of Place

First things first, there is still need to fight for racial justice. Look into your local sheriff/police chief/whoever election, donate to bail funds, read minority voices. This will not go away because white people say they’ll do better and then forget about it.

Our learning link for the week is here. Not the most comprehensive description of microaggressions in the world but a handy introduction if you’re not familiar.


This Pride Month has been substantially different than I expected–first because pandemic, second because protests for justice (which, to be clear, I absolutely think are the thing to do right now, and all our liberation is tied up together) but I did want to have a time set aside specifically for this, for me.

June is a good time to think about the stories I tell regarding my sexuality and things. Stories I tell others, stories I tell about myself, stories I tell to myself. This past year or so has been interesting on that last front and I hope you’ll pardon me if I muse here about it for a while.

I feel like I’ve come a long way since coming out four-ish years ago, in terms of coming to be a part of a community. I have resources and relationships now that have brought me into a deeper understanding of myself, others, sexuality, faith, justice, intersectionality… you name it. There is a kind of belonging in that community that can’t be matched anywhere else because there’s a common bond that is unlike others I, at least, have ever experienced. But at the same time, I feel a bit like an outsider at times.

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Camaro doesn’t feel like an outsider

I guess part of what I’ve been trying to understand is how to be a part of a community while having a different story. Sometimes, minority communities can become very rigid in their definitions of self. That is, they have an identity that creates the community and, to preserve that community, adherence to that identity is sometimes overemphasized.

For a majority culture, that’s called assimilation. In some respects, it’s the same principle in operation though it takes on very different mechanisms and meanings when working on a sub-culture or minority group. But the message is mostly the same, in one way or another: your belonging here is dependent on you exhibiting the behaviors and attributes that we have deemed acceptable.

Sometimes, these are pretty overt things. Cultural referents or shared norms of socialization that can cause outrage when transgressed. Take, for example, two gay men talking. When one hears that the other has never seen High School Musical or something (it’s true that I’ve only seen parts myself), he exclaims jokingly, “I have revoked your gay card!” Like, it’s a joke but also very telling the way in which that joke it told. Again, your membership in this community is contingent. Fragile. It’s insidious, if you ask me.

That kind of stuff annoys me but generally, in the circles I move in, it’s not super prevalent and I do feel confident in people really not meaning it when it does occur. I try my best not to do anything like that but I do slip up from time to time. Forgive me those times. There are other things, subtle and totally unintentional, that do strike me a little harder, however.

In many conversations with friends in the queer Christian community, I am made aware of how different my experience of both those things has been than how I see sexuality and faith interact in most others. A recent example: talking about the difficulty of father’s day as many gay Christian men have a strained relationship with theirs. Or talking about the struggle of reconciling faith, the anguish of being closeted, the pain and fear of homophobia and rejection.

There is so much for me to learn from those friends. And I do strive to learn, and to comfort and to care as I am able. And I rejoice that those things can be healed, in part, by sharing with friends who understand. But there are questions that I ask in the silence of my mind. How do I relate? How do I listen? How do I make room for others but maintain space for myself? I feel it’s important to keep quiet in those times when I can’t really empathize, but when things that are really different from my life dominate conversations time and again, should I really be there at all? How can I participate without bragging or minimizing pain or seeming either preachy or self-centered?

The thing is, after all is said and done, that I do belong. I belong to those people in ways that I can’t explain to others. Those spaces are my spaces–not all the time, not for everything, but my voice is welcome there. It is a kind of fitting in that I have lacked in most all other environments I’ve been in and that is the kind of pride I want to celebrate today.

In the midst of all our current difficulties around community (the impossibility of gathering, the stress of life and events, the uncertainty of it all), I have been lucky enough to be welcomed into a group where I have pride of place. Not that I am most important but that I can show all of myself, all of my story, and know that I will be welcomed unconditionally. That’s Pride and, while we’re at it, that’s love.

This is Still News

I don’t really have anything further to say on the subject right now but I know it’s important to remind ourselves incessantly: black lives matter. We cannot let the luxury of forgetting afforded by our privilege overcome the momentum of this cultural moment.

My little addition to the education effort this week is this compilation of charts that helpfully illustrate in about as clear a manner as possible the systemic nature of white supremacy in the US. Education, law enforcement, finance, housing… And that source barely scratches the surface. But it’s a good place to start if you feel like you don’t completely understand how things currently stand.

Black people are still here. White supremacy is still here. Prejudicial systems are still here. Let’s do something.


I’ve been thinking about old growth forests. Because I love them, obviously, and because there’s really nothing we can do about all of the trees we’ve cut down. Centuries of growth, beauty, shade, pine cones, snuffed out so quickly. Individual trees and entire forests. Totally destroyed.

There are only two things to do: refrain from cutting down trees and plant new ones. Then just hope and pray that the centuries will be kind to the good you’ve tried to do.


Here is a small cat interlude.


I do want to spend a sec this week in celebration of a victory, something this year has largely been so stingy in bestowing. I have actual rights in this country!

There are so many things I could say about that but for today, I will settle for just this: never take privilege for granted. As the court has bestowed workplace protections upon LGBTQ people, so it could one day take them away. Jurisprudence is guidance, not law. And, further, no legislation is permanent. Rights are a delicate, fragile thing in any political system, regardless of what you think should be inalienable.

This is especially important to remember in our current times of protest. Given all the attention that has been paid recently to structures that circumvent the meaning of laws, the discrimination that belies legal equality, the attitudes that reflect deeply ingrained and typically subconscious white supremacy–with all that in mind, let’s recall that legal protections for women and people of color haven’t been around for ages and ages. They’re still pretty young.

And now this new category gets to count those rights as our own. And it will still take decades and decades for them to really be achieved. Centuries?

I just want you (straight, white, male) people to bear that in mind whenever you interface with minorities of any kind. Even if they are a ‘protected class,’ that was a fight that had to be fought legally and is still in progress socially. We have come so far but let’s be very real in admitting that we’ve got so far to go.

I know I said this was going to be a celebration and it’s ended up being a bit sad. I am truly very happy about this ruling which I didn’t not expect but I certainly didn’t expect, either. But let’s remember, to paraphrase a tweet I’ve seen a few times: if you’ve never had a court ruling (or a special law) tell you that you have the same rights as everyone else, you have privilege.

‘Til Each One of Us is Free

What are you doing to confront racial injustice?

How are you committing yourself for the long haul?

What questions are you asking?

What are you doing to examine your privilege?

How are you caring for those who are struggling right now?

How are you educating yourself to be a better ally and a better person?

How are you incorporating critical self-reflection into your life?

How are you listening to voices that are very different from your own?

What are you doing to prioritize justice over order?

What opportunities have you passed up? Why? What will you do differently next time?

How is your worldview changing?

How are you changing yourself?

What are your core values?

What is justice?

What is peace?

What is freedom?

How can you expand your definition of love?

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Dismantling Our Empires

I have been hesitant to say much publicly about the recent murders, protests, and riots firstly because I wasn’t sure what would be helpful for me to say and secondly because I’m not convinced that posting on Facebook really amounts to much. This is precisely the kind of situation where voices like mine need to become less. But it is also the kind of situation where I must be unequivocal, so I offer a few words to white people.

I have decided to say something–even the bare minimum–because I know I have the space and the privilege to do so without consequence. White people need to be talking about these things and we need to be making progress on them right now. It is not a time to wait and take stock (though it is absolutely the time to listen). This will not be exactly the right thing but I feel that it is important to try.

I urge you in the strongest way to seek out first the voices of people of color and heed what they have to say. Only when you have done that do we come to this place to be really clear with ourselves where, exactly, we stand and to communicate that we are doing something about it.


As a small aside, because music is powerful for me, I want to call to your attention this version of the Battle Hymn of the Republic and in particular this line, which replaces the original “As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free”:

Dismantling our empires ’til each one of us is free.


This country is and has always been built on racism, colonialism, and misogyny. Not accidentally but with absolute deliberation and clear intent. Do not appeal to the Constitution, it is a racist document written by racists. Those legacies have never been dealt with. There have been acts of progress but we as a racial majority in power have never fully reckoned with the roots of oppression, the realities of privilege, and their generationally compounded costs on uncounted lives.

All of our systems have been built by white supremacy. Law enforcement, politics, voting, education, healthcare, employment, entertainment. Everything. As a white person, it is a mistake to imagine that I can erase my complicity by any action or wokeness. Those actions and that awareness are critical but just by living here I continue to be a part of systems of oppression. This is not about white guilt but an admission that we are all touched by white supremacy and there is no escaping it.

I support any protest of injustice, particularly when the language of protest has again and again been restrained, reinterpreted, co-opted, and rejected by those in power who are not the victims of that injustice. I do not love violence, I do not think that we should repay evil for evil, but I will not condemn people for responding to unanswered violence that has been done to them.

No one can tell you how to respond. People change, even as people grieve, in their own ways. But I will advocate that you listen to the needs of your community–local and national–and respond appropriately.

Donate regularly and strive to keep racial justice in your active consciousness, as people of color have no choice but to do. Watch and read stories and information that will teach you truth and help you respond. Listen to people of color and let them guide you on this issue, though be wary of expecting them to instruct you constantly. Use your political and economic privilege to agitate continually for a better society. Look into local police. Contact your local politicians. Protest, if you think that’s right for you. Do the rhetorical work when people of color are tired of explaining their existence. Acknowledge the diverse intersectional nature of injustice, from race and ethnicity to class, gender, and sexuality.

I will tell you that one thing I am doing is reading I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown. There are many other resources available for you to take advantage of without requiring personal emotional labor to teach you. I posted a friend’s helpful list on Facebook with many good options. You can also look here, here, here, here, and here. There are a million more places to look, literally google “how to educate yourself about race” if you have to. Do not feel like you must learn it all, read it all, master it all. But do not feel like you’ve done enough.

We must dismantle our empires. Tear them down. It will take a long time. It will often seem hopeless. Do it anyway. Do not stop until each one of us is free.

The Jury

I don’t recall exactly the first time I heard the phrase “the jury is no longer out” in the figurative sense but I’m pretty sure it was in Ms. Kurtz’s AP Lang class junior year of high school.

I think of three questions to ask about books–particularly when reading ‘literature’: Did you enjoy it? Do you appreciate what it has to say or how it says it? Can you understand its broader importance?

You can enjoy a book, or not, solely based on your own tastes and understanding. You can appreciate a well-crafted book, even if it’s not really your cup of tea. And you can acknowledge a book’s importance in a cultural and historical sense even if you didn’t enjoy it and don’t think it’s all that well done.

But the point is this: you can’t really say that a work of a major literary canon isn’t good just because you didn’t like it. The jury is no longer out. People have spent decades, even centuries, by and large in agreement that certain books have got it, whatever that may be. Some may fall in and out of favor with English teaching or academic regard but I doubt the consensus will ever say, “Charles Dickens and all his works are unmitigated trash.” Even if people no longer support it, they’ve got to admit that his writing had a huge literary and cultural impact for a long time.

And so I have been making an effort to train myself to present my opinions as they are, that is, as opinions only, without particular weight in any area, lacking any personal authority. I try not to say “it is bad” about a book or movie or whatever that I don’t like and instead say “I don’t love it” because it may well have weight beyond my enjoyment of it and I don’t need to yuck your yum all the time. By the same token, I’m also wishing that some people could be more able to acknowledge things as well-done or important even if they personally didn’t enjoy it.

The thing is, this mindset is transferring to other areas as well.

Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz around the US about postal voting. People are having arguments about it. As though it’s a new thing. And it is not. The jury is no longer out on voting by mail. We’ve been there, done that, it’s fine. Haven’t received a million complaints, haven’t had our elections thrown out. There is literally no defense for people trying to limit voting by mail.

I truly do not understand it. Multiple states have held entirely mail-in ballots for years. Not a word was spoken against it. No one has claimed that all of Washington’s elections for the past several cycles have been illegitimate, massively tampered with, or somehow undemocratic. I didn’t vote in person until I lived in Michigan and I honestly thought the whole experience was a waste of time.

And let’s be clear, it’s not some liberal plot, either. You can find basic information here. The five states that currently do postal voting for everything all the time are Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, and Utah. Let’s hear your argument about how the Utah State Legislature is part of the deep state conspiracy about… literally anything. It’s Utah. Further, there are three states that permit counties to decide to conduct all elections by mail (this is how Washington arrived at its current mode) and they are California, Nebraska, and North Dakota. The list of places that sometimes allow postal votes for some things in some places is actually pretty long.

I’m reasonably confident that I’m preaching to the choir here. I imagine that most of my readers don’t mind postal voting, and may even have been doing it for years. I just needed to have this little moment here because I see on Facebook plenty of people–who I would generally consider left-leaning–doubting the security of voting by mail. As if we don’t have any data about it. As if it’s an unknown quantity, an untested method. It drives me nuts.

We don’t need to eliminate in-person voting, though I think it’s a huge expense without many advantages. But the possible shortcomings of postal voting could be addressed on a local level within a context where postal voting is default and then circumstances for individuals or communities could be addressed by special dispensation. Unlike now, where postal ballots are special dispensation and the standard is waiting in line on a non-national holiday and all that.

Bah. There’s a lot to it. To make us feel better, here is a calming nature cat.

Generously

This week, I restarted my gratitude journal. It had fallen by the wayside this summer while travelling and I just hadn’t cared to resume it this fall or winter. Or spring. Until this week. It’s only been a few days so it’s not like I’ve been transformed by it–I also don’t think I was really transformed by it when I kept it regularly. But I think it’s a positive and healthy thing nonetheless.

To remind you, or tell you for the first time, this is how I structure my gratitude journal entries, pretty much verbatim:

Today, I’m grateful for [something that I’m grateful for]. I’m praying for [something about my own life] and [something outside of myself]. I enjoyed [something that I enjoyed that day].

That’s it. I write in the evenings so I can try to account for the whole day when thinking about something I enjoyed, but other than that, it doesn’t really make much difference. The whole reason this blog happens is because I’m a trash journaller so it has to be short, simple, and routine for me to make it happen. But resuming it this week has me thinking about another thing, which I’ve kind of structured in my mind in a similar way.

I don’t think it’s all that unusual, but I spend a reasonable amount of time thinking about what I would do if I had money to spend. Sometimes, of course, it’s imagining how I’d dispose of lottery winnings (if ever I play, much less win). But often, I just think about normal things to spend money on. Furniture, plants, silverware, fancy spices (cardamom, always cardamom).

Some purchases are necessary and kind of exciting in that they are good things that you need, but mostly are actually not all that interesting. For example, my government virus money went to getting a new car battery (which I desperately needed) and a new phone (which wasn’t absolutely necessary but which was long overdue. Both of those purchases made me happy and improved my life but I don’t really care about them that much, as purchases or possessions. I guess that’s very materialistic of me, that I need possessions that I don’t even care about but I am what I am.

The current question about how to spend all my money is about donating. I feel pretty strongly that I want to be a regular contributor to things and I’m not sure what. At the moment, I do actually donate to Wikipedia monthly which I love (it’s like $1.75 or something so I feel it’s very in my grasp). But I’m wondering what you guys think? What are causes and organizations that you donate to? Do you do it monthly? Annually? Just on occasion?

I think there’s a lot of value to being a consistent contributor and so I’d like to have my basis of donating be something monthly. That also just makes more sense for the way I budget. Not to say that I would refrain from other, once-off things.

Thinking about this a number of times the past few years (during which I’ve never really felt able to put it into action more than sporadically), I have a bit of a system devised. I have a few categories of things I want to support and then trying to think about local and global questions. So here’s what I’ve come up with thus far and I’d love to hear your thoughts. The thing I like (about this in general, not my system here) is that it’s scalable by nature–it’s not like I have too many options because the amount I’ll be able to donate will just be evenly divided. Anyway.

I want to support the arts (something local like a community choir and something not local like the Smithsonian), the environment (something local like Harbor Wild Watch and something not local like Conservation International), justice broadly defined (something like local homeless initiatives and something not local like the Trevor Project), and the church (perhaps to the church I end up attending locally and something not local like the International Justice Mission).

I haven’t done loads of research or anything, some of those examples are just things I’m familiar with. What do you think? Any suggestions? I’d love to hear what you’re committed to yourself, if you wouldn’t mind sharing. You can just message me, I won’t make you post it to the internet, of course!

I hope that during this time, you are still generous as you are able, and willing to receive generosity as you are given it.

A Slow Flower

What a tremendous sin impatience is. It blinds us to the moment before us, and it is only when that moment has passed that we look back and see it was full of treasures.

I am bookending this post with a couple quotations from a book I finished a couple days ago. They were such great lines that I really wanted to share them, though I couldn’t bring myself to offer much commentary on them.

Both of them strike me as particularly topical, relevant, and encouraging but at the same time, I promised myself that I wouldn’t keep hounding on the same old themes that I’ve been occupied with lately. I just need something else going on, as I’m sure you all understand. So while their content is really something I think we need to hear right now, I’m going to spend more time talking about their source.

I have finally read a book! The past couple months, I have been reading essentially not at all. No motivation to read, even things that I knew I’d enjoy. No drive to find something new, no yearning to refresh something old. Just general listlessness of the worst kind. But last week, I sat down, checked out an ebook from the library (that I had actually gotten by hold a couple months ago and eventually returned, unopened) and just started reading. I don’t know what switch flipped but I’m happy that it did.

I finished it altogether too quickly but I’m grateful that I at least had a couple days back in the enjoyment of reading a good book. It was the final book of a trilogy that I have quoted on this blog before, this entry being City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett. And what a wonderful conclusion it was.

Each book of the trilogy focused on a different main character, all three united in the first and then the following only having relatively small appearances by the others. Normally, this is a format of multi-book writing that I really dislike but these books made it work.

More on that in a sec but first, cat gallery. Lots of cute moments captured this week. And I’ll reiterate to whomever of my friends do read this: please always send me cute cat pictures. I may post them here, with your permission, but I will cherish them regardless.

Gah, I love them so much.

Anyway, these books were so interesting. Such a fascinating look into the way we construct our worlds, the agency we do and do not have, the faith that drives us–whether divine or wholly personal. I enjoyed the way the fantasy world was constructed, and how it held together in view of a number of existential plot-driven crises. There was a cohesive structure to it all, even if that structure was, by nature, bound to change.

It reminds me of something I often say in defense of reading fantasy and, particularly, young adult fantasy (which this was not, but the idea still applies). Regular fiction is great, no problem, but I love having the questions raised be not only vital to a person or a family or maybe even a town. The scale of fantasy novels tends toward the dramatic: the fate of the world, the universe, time itself.

When you raise questions with stakes like that, your answers may be a little less personally applicable but I think they’re a lot more clear. Fantasy can give an opportunity to ask big questions, provide small answers, and urge us to seek the rest in our own lives. That’s kind of what these books did.

I was particularly interested in the big questions because they’re ones I’m interested in with regard to this world. Questions about colonization, race, and governance as much as faith, sorrow, and personal agency.

This final book in particular sought out the hows and the whys along with the whats, perhaps even more so. In many ways, for example, it concerned itself largely with the question not of ‘what does a just society look like’ but ‘how can we begin a change from an unjust society toward a more equitable one?’ The status quo is a powerful thing but it is not permanent. We can always strive.

Change is a slow flower to bloom. Most of us will not see its full radiance. We plant it not for ourselves, but for future generations. But it is worth tending to. Oh, it is so terribly worth tending to.

Turtles, Rivers, Mitochondria, Figs

There are certain moments in life where it feels like a light has come on. Not sudden understanding, exactly, but sudden vision. Where before there was darkness, now there is light. You look up and realize, hey, my life can look different. I can improve my life. I can change things and those changes could totally transform me and my life for the better.

I think everyone can, and maybe does, experience this to some extent. But a really startlingly clear example would be queer people as they begin to come out. Finally opening up your heart–even just to yourself–enough to see that there could be happiness for you. That there is more than everything you thought your life had to be.

I can’t explain how powerful it is to come to a place where you can dream about falling in love when you have literally never been able to really imagine it before. It’s like being practically frozen and taking a sip of rich hot chocolate: you can feel it travel through you, track its progress across your body, feel a change instantly in a way that was hard to conceive of when all you could think about was how cold you were.

The thing queer people won’t hesitate to tell you is that coming out is not one moment, one choice. It’s a choice that, once made, must be made over and over again as you encounter new people, new situations, new realities. And therein, I think, is one of the most powerful lessons about these light-on moments.

I’ve written (to varying lengths) about our current situation several times the past several weeks. And I haven’t really known what to say but I keep repeating it over and over again, that I hope this changes things. That I hope we come out the other side of this better, different, more compassionate, more whole. But here’s finally something I can say that is, at least in some small, kind of psychological way actually actionable.

Think about your life changes like coming out. It’s something that, once you realize, you can’t imagine going back. Once you feel the freedom, you’ll do whatever you can to keep it. And as you move forward, you’ll always be on the lookout for moments when you might need to make the decision all over again.

Just as opportunities to come out come up all the time, so will opportunities that test your resolve on any change you’re trying to make. It’s not a sign of failure if you choose against your first decision. But if you’ve really seen the light, you’ll at least know what you’re striving toward, even if you don’t walk that direction every time. Once you have seen what life can be like, once you’ve granted your imagination permission to dream greater dreams, you can’t help but come out over and over again, even if imperfectly.

I guess I just want to encourage you in walking in response to whatever light-on moments you may have had in response to this pandemic. Whether related to your own life or social structures beyond your direct control. If your imaginations have been opened about what your life can look like, relish that. Exult in the joy of finally realizing whatever it is that you’ve realized. Give yourself grace in the months and years to come, knowing that change is hard and choosing over and over again is hard. But take heart.


I’m thinking about what I said last week. I know it wasn’t much but the thrust of it I think is about the most powerful change we can make. To love anyway. To forgive when we have no good reason. To be kind when we know it won’t be reciprocated. To be glad for a friend’s happiness instead of envious or melancholy that we don’t have the whatever.

These are all choices that we can make. Moment to moment, over and over again, until we die. And the best part is, they’re exactly the kind of choices that will treat us kindly when we fall short, and spur us to choose good more. The world is having a hard time right now, even more than usual, but we can choose to grow through it, choose to look different on the other side.

There’s such a beautiful natural analog to this in twisted trees and things like that. When the light changes or the wind shifts or the ground moves, they adapt. They don’t abandon where they’ve been but neither do they feel the need to continue in a course that no longer results in good growth. Their trunks and branches contort themselves so that they can flourish where they are, and every ounce of energy must again and again make the decision to support that new, different growth.

I encountered this poem from Jane Hirshfield entitled Optimism. I am thinking about what resilience means. Those parts of us which do not merely spring back but take a new shape, grow into something strange and twisted and beautiful. The sweetness of figs.


More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam
returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous
tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers,
mitochondria, figs — all this resinous, unretractable earth.

Love Anyway

I heard a song this week and, besides being something that I aspire to in my best moments regardless, felt like a direct response to the world right now. The lyrics are simple but clear and the message is about as concise as one could wish: love anyway.

What dreams may come, what trials we may face, love anyway. I have nothing more for you this week.

 

Different Kinds of Counting

Greetings and welcome to another post about trying to make your time during this pandemic matter, written at the last minute because I can’t manage to make my time during this pandemic matter. No one’s perfect. Anyway. I guess I have some thoughts to share with you, make of them what you will.

There are a few different meanings to the word “count” and I’d like to take a sec to have a few moments with a selection of them. First, a look at probably the default meaning for most people. Count as in numbers as in, I can count to ten.


So that old song Minnie the Moocher, you may know it from The Blues Brothers, has a great line. Like, my favorite from the song, it’s kind of haunting.

She had a million dollars worth of nickels and dimes, she sat around and counted them all a million times.

Makes me feel a whole lot less positive toward the idea of counting, I don’t know about you. I have this maddening image of a woman slouching lower and lower, scowling deeper and deeper, body dwindling away while the piles of coins slosh and shift, building up piles that inevitably collapse only to be counted again.

Please don’t think it’s an exaggeration when I tell you that that is low-key what I envision whenever I think about millionaires and billionaires. My mind doesn’t generally linger on the image (thank goodness) because I’m aware that people actually aren’t caricatures but even so. It’s  still kind of gross to me to think about a person, one person, having that much money.

It reminds me of one of my favorite lines from Oscar Wilde, for those of us without piles of coins to count (as much as we might still be obsessed with counting what little we have). He said, “Who, being loved, is poor?”


Number two way to think about counting (hahaha yessss number twooooo, it’s like I’m counting!): people counting, like, people mattering.

I think I’ve talked about this on here before and with good reason. Probably most people have gotten to the point that they at least pay lip service to the idea that all humans matter. That we should all count. There’s an easy and lazy way to say this in democracies because you can simply say, “Look, we vote and all votes count the same.”

I think that’s ridiculous for a lot of reasons but even taking it at face value, you’re saying that you must vote to count. This question is very relevant with the US Census occurring recently (and ongoing??) and it makes me recall the debates about what questions they would ask, specifically about citizenship. It was a super clear signal that they weren’t interested in the first kind of counting that I talked about, the plain old numbers kind, but instead were pursuing an agenda meant to limit the people who count in this second way.

Makes me think of equality and equity. The former being where you treat everyone the same and the latter where you treat everyone the way they need to be treated. Example: wheelchair ramps because some people have different mobility needs, treating everyone as though they could climb stairs isn’t actually good for society.

That’s what I think whenever people try to come up with conditions for ‘counting’ in any way. First, that they make a big show about equality as a way of actually ensuring a lack of equity. Second, that whatever they may say to the contrary, putting conditions on counting means that you don’t think all people count.

Also v relevant with regard to queer people and the church, but that’s a topic for another day.


Finally, thirdly, lastly, I submit this meaning of count to you: that which we mean when we say ‘make your time count.’

This is very related to the second point but with this difference: we can say whatever we want about who counts and who doesn’t (not that it makes one jot of difference) but we cannot say, corporately, whether our time mattered or not. That is one only for the history books.

As I discussed last week, for many of us, this time has been ripe with opportunities for personal growth. And not more pressingly but perhaps more lastingly, opportunities to change the world in powerful ways. That is how I encourage you to move forward: thinking about how to make all of this count in the grand scheme of things, however you might be able.


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways that you count. And may all our counting make a difference for people we will never meet.