🖋 Looking back, it is no wonder I have such different Beliefs. Having moved to Tyler in my teen years, we again found a Church home that had a lot of things going on. The big “downtown” church had a gym/roller rink, a large almost Cathedral building, and a very active Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) group. Mirroring The College Kids we have been discussing, Sunday evenings were started with Vespers, and then dinner and fellowship, with some light lessons to think about. And in the mid 70’s they decided to offer Sex Education – at church…
… so, nothing better than sitting in a classroom with boys and girls as teens observing leaders talking about the birds and the bees. Recall also this was the season I was taking tap dancing with 30 other girls in leotards. Awkward cannot even begin to touch the feelings I had, again recalling I was the shortest person in the room, even including the girls… with this voice, and this mind. Luckily, I engaged the latter and didn’t use much of the former and mostly observed…
Another radical stance observed by the early Church was Monogomy, something that is often now seen from the “right”. Aligned with the support for women, the Church took a radical stance that relationships ordained by God were for a lifetime, and were a gift. Recall that all of the government and laws came from the strife and division that arose … AFTER we had the bright idea to think we could do better on our own, exiting the Garden stage left.
🎵 Early in the Staple Singers formation, Pops went to see Martin Luther King, Jr. “In Montgomery, Alabama, one Sunday morning, Pops called my sister and I to his room,” Mavis said. Her father told them: “Listen, y’all, this man Martin is here — Martin Luther King. Pops had heard King on the radio — and wanted to go see him conduct a service in town. “We’re glad to have Pops Staples here this morning and his daughters,” King would tell his 11 a.m. congregation. Later they would all shake hands and talk. “I really like this man’s message,” Pops told his daughters after coming home from the church. “If he can preach it — we can sing it.”
And so, after meeting King, the family became activists, singing at his talks and rallies as he led the Civil Rights Movement. “I got very serious about it,” Staples says. “We were on a mission. Dr. King — I would never forget — he loved us; he loved Pops. One of Pops’ songs, that Pops wrote, was his favorite: ‘Why Am I Treated So Bad’” – a song that King used to request before every show. That song was about the first group of black children to be enrolled at an all-white school in Little Rock, Arkansas, in September 1957.
🖋 So talking about Sex in Church is only slightly harder than talking about it in the office 😉 I have already talked about inclusion of everyone earlier. This is a more difficult stance – what standards of behavior are appropriate? My father had a very simple stance – meant for my drive to Freshman year at SMU – but leveraged throughout my life: “Keep your pants zipped, and everything will turn out fine”. Simple… and I have observed, easier for me than others. I am blessed that most of the sexual issues go right over my head, other than language that consistently downgrades. The subtle context of your Values and Beliefs that come out in your Language (an Action) constantly surprises me.
I was also taught “Known, or should have Known” as the standard for all Behaviors, and therefore, Beliefs. Just stating you are against racism or sexism, or whateverism is one thing – actually facing it and calling it out when you observe it, another thing entirely. In one culture it was openly accepted that drunkenness led to womanizing by senior leaders and other more junior leaders had to “protect them”. I had left by the time that was clear to me, and watched as that behavior, without being called out by others, cratered the senior leadership team, including violence believe it or not. And I would love to take the high road and say I took a strong stance, but honestly, I knew the actions of a couple of these people and didn’t say anything…
Each of these stances are Simple, and for sure Not easy. observing the Bret Kavanaugh hearings, and the very different views of his Values based on the asserted Actions opened up a dialog that could have been rich. There were many women who related stories of their own experiences that mirrored what was alleged. Those emotions were real, mirroring King’s favorite song from yesterday. I wish that the dialog had turned to what standards do we want in our relationships, vs. which Tribe can get a scalp, which shows the Beliefs of frankly all sides currently. Diversity of thought from yesterday could have helped tremendously if it had been developed before the heat of battle.
My Beliefs were formed in a family system that was “normal” for its time. Parents, Grandparents, and Great Grandparents on both sides were married to the same partner for life. As my Mom and Aunt said often, “Divorce was not allowed – murder, maybe.” And I have come to realize that was not at all common. Those around us are always carrying stories that formed their Beliefs from a completely different reality. My only counsel today is to know first what is important about your own Beliefs and what they are… and then, my constant advice – Listen and observe those around you. Particularly today with so many looking for easy judgments, we are mostly Walking in Water Above Our Head.
Never thought we would let it go this far
We better think a little baby, before
We tear each other apart
Let’s stop fooling ourselves
We’ve been playing much too long
If we keep in this direction
We will all end up dead wrong
Once the water was way too shallow to swim
But now it is much too deep, y’all,
to keep jumping off the end
We keep walking in water Over our head
We keep walking in water Over our head
Our future is getting dim
They won’t tell us, They won’t tell us…
Where too scared to tell them
Oh, yea – ain’t it a shame?
Got to stop it and turn around, yes we have,
Because if we don’t, friend,
We are all going to drown
People we have to stop while we can, well,
It can be too late when the tide comes rolling in
You go your way, and I’ll go mine
That’s the reason, That’s the reason, That’s the REASON
Why we’re blowing our minds
Walking in water Over Our Heads
Walking in water over our heads
Our future is looking dim
They won’t tell us, They won’t tell us
And we’re too scared to tell them
Go your way, and I’ll go mine
Walking in Water Over Our Head