Friday, April 10, 2009

My Spiritual Oasis

About 4 years ago I became a member of Integrity Saskatoon. It has been such a spiritually nurturing place and I give thanks to God for their presence in my life.

I thought I would share some pictures of this group. These pictures can also be seen on their blog site.

The first is a picture of one of our summer BBQs. During Fall, Winter, and Spring we meet at St. James Anglican Church, Saskatoon, to share in the Eucharist and to have fellowship with coffee and goodies afterward. This latter is also where we celebrate events in each other's lives such as birthdays, anniversary, retirements, transitions etc. We break for June, July, and August but gather at various members houses to eat and share fellowship. These times usually take the form of a potluck BBQ.

We experimented with where to meet. We met in the sanctuary but felt that some people were not comfortable with that space. We meet in the basement now. We celebrate in the round. It is not a very formal service although we do use the Book of Alternative Services. We read one lesson, generally the gospel. Whoever is presiding will make a few comments and then the floor is open to others to offer their reflections. Each person if offered a non-threatening opportunity to pray. We pass an item around - usually my folded stole. The group is told that they may hold on to the stole and pray aloud, or pray silently, while the rest of us hold that individual and their prayer in our hearts, or they can simply pass the stole to the next person. The stole acts as a "talking stick" so that whoever holds it is the only one to speak at that moment. During the eucharist we administer the bread and wine to each other.

As chaplain I try to arrange for various different people to preside at the eucharist. This helps us network with the various churches in the diocese. In the fall we are hoping to extend this networking ecumenically and I will be inviting representatives from other denominations to preside.

Integrity Saskatoon is an amazing group of caring and committed people. I have learned so much from them and have been given such life through my connection with them. I give thanks to God for their presence in my life.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Same Sex Marriage and Traditional Marriage

I have been reading Elizabeth A. Johnson's "Truly Our Sister." I am just into it and have been reading the chapter on dualistic thinking and the idea of complementarity. Elizabeth points us to Genesis 1:26-27 and reminds us that there is no assignment of masculine or feminine qualities. We each experience fullness of being in God's image in our distinctive sexuality.

I know that I have written about the dangers of dualistic thinking in a post somewhere below. Dualistic thinking does contribute negatively in the move toward full acceptance of human sexuality in general. In every couple there must be a distinct male and a distinct female. Because of traditional negative reactions to the "feminine" homosexuality causes fear in "men" and threatens "women" in traditional relationships.

Because we are conditioned to thinking in terms of masculine or feminine rather than personhood being complete in each, the supposed ambiguity of roles in a same sex marriage/relationship throws our traditional understanding of "self" into question.

How many times do we look at a gay couple and try to determine who it is that plays the female role and who plays the male role. Same sex marriage/relationships place traditional/patriarchal understandings of marriage into question. Ultimately the man must be the head of the traditional/patriarchal household and to have a male in a perceived female role or a woman in a perceived male role provides a disconnect and challenge.

I remember an internet conversation with a Canadian Promise Keeper a number of years back (he really did stress that he was a Canadian Promise Keeper as opposed to an American one). We were "talking" about marriage and relationships. He kept stressing that neither he or his wife were head of the household - Christ was following Paul's writing. When pressed on the actual working out of that, he finally admitted that between him and his wife he was the head.

I spoke of my marriage as a partnership of equals. He wanted to know how that worked. I explained that we discussed decisions, which of course he and his wife did as well. Where he struggled was when we couldn't come to an agreement on something - who made the decision then - the man in his marriage. I explained that there were a number of factors that could come into play - that sometimes it was who felt the most strongly about the issue, sometimes it was who had the most knowledge and sometimes one gave way knowing that in another instance the other would do the same thing. He could not grasp that. In his mind - one person had to be designated to ultimately make the decisions and that person should be the husband.

I have done a few marriage preparation classes. Although I will willingly admit that I have a bias for a partnership of equals I do respect and accept how the couple has worked out how their relationship will play out. I have held my tongue when the relationship is based along more traditional lines as long as it is a healthy and mutual understanding. But I can see where, for those who have chosen to pattern their marriage along more traditional/patriarchal lines, same sex marriage without those defined gender roles is a challenge.

I have come to believe that it is partly the ambiguity of roles that causes such hostility to same sex marriage/relationships (once people manage to get past the sexual intercourse and anal sex visuals). Same sex marriages/relationships do challenge traditional marriage and it is a challenge that needs to happen as so many of us discover what it means to be fully human without the overshadowing, oppressive and totally false understandings through the millennium of what defines us as male or as female and the results lived out in a husband and wife relationship. Because same sex marriage/relationships challenge such entrenched ideas, reactions are often extreme and passionate. It's not just about marriage - it challenges a whole way of understanding.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

(PS: Malcolm - I finally posted something.)